Twin Peaks fans have been left stunned and confused by the show’s return so far. Less TV show and more an experience, it’s crawled along at a slow pace, offered very little in the way of explanations, introduced new characters only to forget about them almost instantly and presented weirdness at every turn. For all the frustration it seems to be creating, it’s also hypnotically addictive and a work of brilliance.
Episode 7 provided more of the same, as Cooper/Dougie continues to wander through life in a catatonic state, with the rest of the world seemingly oblivious to his problem. Until, that is, he’s attacked by the knife-wielding assassin tasked with killing him. For a brief moment the old Coop returns, defending himself while being spurred on by another appearance of the sentient tree known as The Hand. Meanwhile, more people realise that his evil BOB/Cooper doppelganger is a fake and Deputy Andy waits by the side of the road in Twin Peaks for a meeting which never happens.
And then there’s the sweeping scene. Which is, literally, an extended shot of a man sweeping the floor of the empty Bang Bang Bar roadhouse to the song Green Onions. He sweeps. And sweeps. And sweeps. That’s pretty much it. By contrast, the Double R Diner is packed with customers and we’re treated to another extended scene where they do nothing more than sit and eat while Santo & Johnny’s guitar classic Sleep Walk plays.
These scenes have been seen as some as pointless, and in the world of David Lynch it’s possible they’re exactly as they seem. Or, alternatively, they may symbolise the show so far as well as the theme of the episode. The sweeping of debris into a pile, a boring but necessary task, may be more about all the random elements of the show finally being brought together. The seedy roadhouse now being empty while the bright and friendly diner now thrives may reflect that for the first time in the series we’ve been presented with a return to the hopeful Twin Peaks of old instead of the darker Lynchian side of life.
Or maybe a cigar is just a cigar. Once more that’s what makes this show so fascinating. It reflects whatever the viewer thinks about it. Like Doc Jacoby’s golden sh*t shovels of previous episodes, sold via a broadcast that may either be seen as meaningful or hilariously bad, the new Twin Peaks is a glossed-up version of the original, sold to viewers who will get what they want out of it.
David Lynch has repeatedly failed to explain his work, preferring to let his audience figure it out for themselves. If it were any other artist, it would be a pretentious statement; With Lynch it’s justified. Is it art? Is it nonsense? Is it both? It doesn’t matter. It ignores the rules of storytelling because life isn’t like that and the story never truly begins or ends. It’s full of random moments, random people and things we can’t explain, and the show is a reflection of that.
This episode may be the most typically old-school Twin Peaks one yet, but that isn’t the point. It’s as baffling as the others, and whether you enjoy watching someone sweep a floor for minutes on end or not, it’s still brilliant.