Twin Peaks Recap: Donna 'Returns'

Twin Peaks Episode 13

You may not realize it, but Lara Flynn Boyle’s Donna — the heart of the original series, the activated burgeoning girl detective, my one true love — returned to Twin Peaks Sunday.

Where exactly was she in the show? Well, it’s complicated. First, her face appeared in an old framed photo (of Laura and Donna, from the original series) sitting on a side table in Sarah Palmer’s living room. Then her voice (it was indeed Boyle’s voice) wafted out over the Road House as James Hurley sang his sweet, crazy, retro 50’s ballad “Just You And I” from Season 2. (Yes, they used the original track, with Boyle and Sheryl Lee as Maddie singing backup, and let me stop you in the hospital hallway here for just a second to say that when I heard the guitar kick in on James’ song, I shouted out in glee. With that song Lynch and Frost were doling out a massive slice of fan-service with a delicious side of troll: the song is notoriously loved or hated by Twin Peaks fans, and bringing it back was pure brilliance.) Also, those two brunettes on stage with James? Merely stand-ins for Donna and Maddie.

Finally, the ghost of Donna Hayward hovered over that one very popular Road House booth (Blue Velvet fans are calling it “the Frank Booth”), as “Renee” listened to James sing and started to cry. Make no mistake, that’s Donna’s booth. You should remember, back in Season 2 when the Giant appeared in the Road House and warned Agent Cooper “It is happening again”, that Donna was sitting over in that same booth, just starting to cry for her lost best friend Laura. (And that handheld, grainy shot of Donna sobbing is, in my humble opinion, the most heartbreaking and beautiful moment from the show overall hands down.) But now, instead of Lara Flynn Boyle crying, we get Jessica Szohr crying. It would have been so poignant if it had been Lara! And apparently it almost was. Rumor has it that a certain beloved actress from the show leaked a bunch of production details at a fan convention (getting herself into hot water with Showtime) and one of those details was that Lara Flynn Boyle was offered a part in the new season, but turned it down. Is that true? I don’t know. Nonetheless, in an episode filled with beloved character updates and “yes, we remember” details, it was so wonderfully melancholy to be reminded of good-girl-who-wanted-so-badly-to-be-bad Donna. “Oh Donna, Madonna, there’s always mañana…” And now, on with the recap of Twin Peaks, Part 13:

IN UTAH l Hutch and Chantal drive through the night, discussing Mormons and their mating habits.

IN LAS VEGAS l Dougie, the Mitchum brothers, and the showgirl triplets bring gifts to Dougie’s boss, Bushnell Mullins. They are so happy with their recent $30 million settlement that they bought Dougie and his boss matching BMW’s (and they didn’t kill Dougie to boot). They also bought a jungle gym (complete with creepy swirling Lynchian spotlight) for Dougie’s son Sonny Jim. Janey E lovvvvvves her husband. But Anthony Sinclair (Tom Sizemore) is terribly worried. Now he will have to kill Dougie! (according to evil Mr. Todd). Sinclair gets some poison from a crooked cop (who also seems to be working Mr. Todd), but he can’t go through with it. His dandruff leads to an accidental massage from Dougie, and soon he is sobbing to his boss, confessing his evil ways (BTW the name Anthony Sinclair comes from the cut of James Bond’s suits. Who knew?). Meanwhile the Fusco Cop Clowns have the fingerprint results: Dougie is a missing FBI agent. But they don’t care. Also, shout out to the coffee into the urinal joke (“That bad?”) – first time I’ve laughed out loud at my TV in weeks.

IN MONTANA l Evil Coop surprises Ray by arriving at “The Farm.” Evil Coop wins an arm wrestling contest, kills Renzo the boss (aka Mr. Clean) and seems to take over the gang, which surprisingly includes his maybe-son-on-the-run Richard Horne! (The dangling question of that reunion alone will keep me chomping at the bit for next week’s episode.) Evil Coop interrogates Ray and we learn that someone using the name Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie’s character) hired Ray and Darya to kill Evil Coop. Where is this Jeffries now? At “the Dutchman’s” (where or whatever that is). Ray also produces the all-important coordinates (to Twin Peaks?), and the infamous green ring, which transports his dead body into the Red Room after Evil Coop shoots him in the head. Most Valuable Player of this scene? The nerdy accountant asking “Do you need money?”

IN TWIN PEAKS l Sarah Palmer, on a bender, watches a short segment of boxing on repeat (is she even aware of this? And is the boxer Dougie’s boss Bushnell Mullins?). Surprise couple Dr. Jacoby and Nadine are slowly coming together (despite Nadine’s wedding ring, which suggests she is still wedded to Big Ed). Ed and Norma eat and chat in the Double R Diner. They are joined first by Bobby, then by Norma’s business associate and seeming boyfriend Walter (handsome Grant Goodeve, looking maybe only right years older than he did on Eight Is Enough). Walter has big plans for Norma’s chain of restaurants (there are five Double R’s now!) but he seems cheap and I just don’t trust him. Nobody else in Twin Peaks seems to have escaped their relationship pattern, so Walter is probably just as devious and two-faced as Norma’s first husband Hank (who was killed in prison by the way. Read Mark Frost’s book The Secret History of Twin Peaks). Shelly comforts her daughter over Steven’s two-day disappearance. And late that night Big Ed sits at the counter of his deserted Gas Farm, sadly sipping Norma’s soup, and burning up what looks like a teeny love note (from Norma?). They’re still not together.

BONUS POINTS l Finally, back to Audrey. We find her mere seconds after we left her last week, still fighting with the unusual Charlie. We are supposed to think he is her husband. But… twitter was on fire last week with chatter that Audrey is actually still in a coma, or has lost her mind and is institutionalized and going through role play therapy with her “doctor-posing-as-husband.” I didn’t like these theories last week, but I must admit they seem more plausible after watching Part 13. This scene was so bizarre. I watched it five times in a row (who am I? Sarah Palmer on a bender?) to try and catch all the details. Audrey seems to be losing her grip, breaking down, suffering. She doesn’t know who she is. She feels like she’s in two places at once. She wants to go to the Road House and look for Billy, but she also wants to stay where she is. She wants both. She asks: “Which one will it be, Charlie? Which one would you be?” So odd. It smacks of the red-pill blue-pill dilemma from The Matrix. What will become of Audrey and this world if she stays or if she goes? (She’s like Cooper in this way: what will become of him if he leaves the Red Room?)

Also, Charlie says to Audrey one of the most ominous and confusing lines I have ever heard on television: “Do I have to end your story too?” What can this possibly mean? Is he controlling her somehow? Is he her doctor? All I can think of here is that they are like George and Martha, the nasty fighting couple from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? George and Martha have a long running myth they build upon day by day: they tell stories to each other about their non-existent fictional child. And then George “kills” the child (in a story), destroying Martha’s spirit. Is something like that happening with Audrey and Charlie? Does he have the power to “end her story”? It’s so strange. As Charlie says, it’s “existentialism 101” (and don’t forget that picture of Franz Kafka in Gordon Cole’s office). Fenn performed her scene beautifully. And in yet another moment of fan-service call-back, she gasped in desperation: “Feels like Ghostwood here.” You should remember that Audrey got blown up and put into a coma back in the original series finale, by the bomb in the bank vault. Why was she in the bank vault? She was protesting the Ghostwood Estates project, an act of civil disobedience. So, is she… a ghost? Is she dead?? Is she still in that coma? I can’t help but think that this story is headed for a really awful, bizarre and explosive twist. And maybe we’ll get it next week, in Part 14. (–Written by M.T. Wentz)

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