In Twin Peaks: The Return Episode 8, BOB/Coop, the evil doppelganger host body, makes his escape from jail with Ray Monroe but ends with a bloody double-cross. Meanwhile, the testing of the first nuclear bomb in 1945 triggers the genesis of BOB, alerting those in another place to act. And in 1956, a small town comes under attack from nightmarish visitors while an egg hatches, revealing a locust/frog which makes its home inside a young girl… Seriously. What the **** was that?!
Oh, I’m not talking about the episode, which was the most bizarre, terrifying and beautiful episode so far.
I’m not talking about the strange ghostly (alien?) lumberjacks who could tear their way into people’s heads and kill them with just a gesture while killing others just by speaking to them. Nor am I talking about the black-and-white silent movie world of another place where the giant levitated and emitted a golden gas and a glowing Laura Palmer ball from his mouth. I’m not even talking about most of the episode ignoring the current storyline in favour of events over fifty years ago, the locust-frog, the chaotic editing sequence of a petrol station, or the Kubrick-like infinity shot of an atomic explosion.
What I’m talking about is the appearance of “The” Nine Inch Nails. Of all the bizarre things which bombard your senses in this episode, this one has to be the weirdest. Why? Because, as the old saying goes, one of these things doesn’t belong. It’s normal. Too normal. And again, that’s why it works.
Their appearance and song work perfectly in context, following the unexpected slaying of BOB/Cooper. If that moment triggered a knee-jerk reaction from the audience, then the sudden unexpected appearance of Trent Reznor and company at the roadhouse doubled down on it. And suddenly the roadhouse is packed, everyone turning up and transfixed… leading to Bob/Cooper’s resurrection, like a stock villain in a horror movie or Frankenstein’s monster rising from the slab once more. It’s an intentional, conscious, attention-grabbing moment.
That’s when the sucker punch of real nightmarish horror hits and the clock ticks back. From the moment the human race created its own promethean fire in the form of the atomic bomb, man became gods and gods became man – with neither side doing a convincing job in their new roles.
There’s so much to say about this episode and this show in general, but so little of it would make sense that it’s almost pointless. Like with many David Lynch productions, you just have to hold on for the ride and accept or dismiss it on your own terms. When Nine Inch Nails is as normal as things get, that’s all you need to know.