What is The Return ...
 

What is The Return 'about'?  

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(@myn0k)
Deputy

Normally I can quite easily watch something and latch on to hidden meanings or overarching messages. Or I can relate the message to my own circumstances and find meaning in this way. I looked at the title of this thread and thought I'd have something constructive to add. But I find myself without anything to contribute. 

The Return has stumped me. I actually cannot tell you what the underlying message is. I could add some observations, but if I'm being honest, I don't think I want to. I almost feel like to do so would be to pigeon hole the experience I'm having - which is I guess like watching Frost/Lynch's abstraction of amazing ideas - into some rigid, grounded, humanised idea. I don't want to do that. 

I'm not trying to be difficult. It's just, without meaning to sound sensationalist, The Return has really, really left a mark on me. It's very important to me. I'm not sure I can easily say that "The Return is about this and here are some of its meanings". 

Sorry if that sounds pretentious. I'm just stumped!

Boy. I don't think there's going to be another film or series that will have the effect on me that this show has (I use the term "show" loosely - that in itself doesn't label in a way that does justice to what "it" is).

Don't get me wrong - I've experienced similar feelings with other works of art before. But the experience of watching the show, the wait between episodes, the discussion amongst members on this forum, and just the "wow" feeling you get after watching an episode. 

It's pretty hard to top. 

 

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Posted : 11/08/2017 4:56 pm
(@the-conversation-is-lively)
RR Diner Patron

Evil.

I also think that one of the intentions of this new season is to examine evil on a different scale to the original. Twin Peaks was very much about the evil that lurks beneath the surface of a small town. The Return has opened that up to include the evil of the world or at least, evil on a much bigger level.

I'm not 100% sure what I think about the decision to do that. Does The Red Room really work when you expand it mean something global and universal rather than just something hiding in the woods and the psyche? 

Obviously it's possible to say all humans have a psyche, but there's something about Twin Peaks that's bound up in folklore and domestic suffering. 

Having said that, I think that the story of the glass box is one of the best things Lynch has put in any of his works and (I'm up to episode 13 at this point) I really, really hope we revisit 1956 and learn more! 

Electricity.

One of the most interesting things about The Return for me so far has been how much has been explained about electricity. It's so important and we learn so much about it. It's like a kind of lifeforce and it's being monitored and regulated by strange fusebox (?) looking devices in a world of an ultraviolet ocean. 

https://aroundthedinnertabletheconversationislively.wordpress.com/

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Posted : 11/08/2017 10:50 pm
(@the-conversation-is-lively)
RR Diner Patron

What do people thing about um... ALIENS!? 

https://aroundthedinnertabletheconversationislively.wordpress.com/

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Posted : 11/08/2017 11:11 pm
(@steve_moss)
Roadhouse Regular
Posted by: The conversation is lively

What do people thing about um... ALIENS!? 

Great film but Alien was scarier. 

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Posted : 12/08/2017 1:44 am
(@klynched)
RR Diner Patron
I love threads like this one. Thanks again Badalamenti Fan!
 
I've been meaning to respond for ages but every time I sit down to write a response it ends up like an essay and probably very tedious for many Forum readers. The topic also brought me back to a couple of other thought-provoking topics that you started, on what Twin Peaks: The Return means to us and how our reading of it is influenced by our other reading and thinking (for me it's also the other way round right now, to tell the truth).
 
At the risk of my response being accused of being a cop-out (as per original OP), I really don't feel that I will be able to say what The Return is about until all 18 parts have aired. If then. I'm with Myn0k on that.
 
Provisionally - and rather simplistically boiled down - for me it is about Cooper's return to himself. This "return" may not turn out to be very literal eg to Twin Peaks, though I do hope so.
 
It's also about, I think, other types of return, some of which have been mentioned.
 
Though it can be difficult to say what The Return (or any Lynch film, come to that) are "about", there are certainly recurrent themes and motifs, as you and others have pointed out. The ones that most interest me are:
  • "returns" of various types
  • time (both as subject and as medium), how it changes with perception, circular (apparent loops, history repeating itself), and linear (mortality), etc
  • dreams, dreaming, the dream-like qualities of "reality", etc 
  • "the absurd mystery of the strange forces of existence" and the strangeness of the normal, as The Conversation is Lively so aptly put it.
  • identity
 
Loads more but to tell the truth each topic merits a thread in itself. Maybe we could do that and keep the reflective discussion going post Part 18.
 

 

( EDIT: I just tried posting a thread under Part 14 on dreams, dreaming and dreamers (in relation to "we are like the dreamer") so I tried in the RR diner and it failed there too... perhaps someone will open up this subject? Please?)
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Posted : 13/08/2017 3:18 pm
(@eric_g)
Lodger

Great thread -- and I agree with almost everything here. 

Riffing off what others have written about identity and returns and the constructed nature of reality, I'll propose simply what Jefferies averred: "We live inside a dream."

It's been at least a decade since I accepted everything in Twin Peaks was a dream. But whereas that revelation cheapens so many narratives, in Lynch's work it only serves to reinforce the realism because if life really is a dream, or a fictional construct, or a simulation, or whatever metaphor you want to use --then a realistic work of art has to take place within a dream as well. 

The best we can do is arbitrarily assign a "base reality" to, say, the world of the sheriff's station and the sawmill, and go from there with what's a dream inside a dream etc etc. But even the base reality is a dream. 

I'll say one more thing, less macro more micro, and about the Return. If one presumes that Agent Cooper is the primary dream-self of the Dreamer whose mission it is to navigate the dream (navigate the mind) and arrive at the truth or the self -- then it's bad news! All the Dreamers are guilty --Betty in Mulholland Drive was a murderer, Frank in LH was a murderer, Nikki in IE was a murderer . . . and so the man behind Cooper --the man dreaming Cooper -- is more like evil Cooper than good Cooper. The good Cooper is just his delusion of his self- -just as bright successful Betty was guilty Diane's self-delusion and innocent Pete was guilty Frank's self delusion and moviestar Nikki was guilty Sue's self-delusion . . . .

And so "the real Cooper" might actually be the bad Cooper, and it is good Cooper's job to find that out.

 

(Also, I have a long-standing theory that David Lynch killed a woman in Philadelphia in the 1970s. It's a theory I've been between 10% and 33% serious about, but I'm in a 33% phase. I always saw Lynch more clearly in Cooper than in his other protagonists. Twin Peaks is so darn personal and populated with references to Lynch's personal past (Philadelphia, Missoula). I imagine Agent Cooper in FBI gear as David Lynch's investigative consciousness, navigating the mind of David Lynch, trying to figure it all out, and perhaps trying to expiate his creator's guilt.) 

 

 

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Posted : 02/09/2017 4:45 pm
(@caoimhin)
Detective
Posted by: Badalamenti Fan
Posted by: Sammy Weir
Posted by: Steve Moss
Posted by: Sammy Weir

One of my first posts on these pages was about a theory I'd seen which is that Dougie is Lynch showing the horror of Alzhiemers or dementia in the same way a lot of what FWWM showed the horror of incest and childhood sexual abuse. 

It's an interesting take, one I can't take any credit for, but something that gets lost in a lot of crazy theories that exist. 

I get no sense that Dougie is experiencing any horror. 

Neither do most people who are afflicted. 

Tough to generalize here... depends on the condition, how advanced the disorder/disease is ...  A relative of mine suffering from dementia has, of late, tended to project embarrassment/self-consciousness about memory lapses re: routine tasks (keys, thermostat, etc.) onto anybody in the vicinity (family members, care providers, etc.) ...  Rather like Corrado Soprano ("Uncle Junior") in the Sopranos...  Likewise, aphasiac stroke victims often suffer enormously if they are fully able to think but unable to speak...

That said, your point is well taken re: advanced Alzheimer's, etc.  One can be entirely unaware and thereby not at all self conscious... Like Dougie/Dale seems to be... 

Agree here. I was my grandfather's caretaker for the majority of his last several months (he had dementia/Alzheimer's). He lived in a town with a population of around 2,000 and he relied heavily on an automobile for sustenance, entertainment, etc. When I took the keys away he attached to his loss of being able to drive and pick up groceries, etc. whenever he wanted a loss of freedom. He was essentially a prisoner in his own home thereafter. This grew into a devastating paranoia that, in the end, I could not handle on my own. Unfortunately, a once gregarious and charismatic man became a self imposed exile and this worsened when we finally decided that it was necessary to put him in a high functioning memory care unit.  He never recovered and it was quite painful to see him trapped in a very real version of his personal hell. 

Great thread, BF, I will be contributing more but am unfortunately short on time at the moment. Can't wait to see where this thread takes us.

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Posted : 02/09/2017 6:24 pm
(@woodsman)
Lodger

Great thread! All of these ideas resonate on different levels for me as I have watched the show. I don't know if I can (or would) narrow it to any one theme. They all apply on pieces.

I would like to offer another takeaway I have had, not so much a theme but still something the show is "about."

One the most enjoyable aspects of the show has been its extreme departure from everything else on current TV, which makes it a comment on current TV. It is slow and meandering, with episodes that fizzle out in songs at the Roadhouse rather than cliffhangers that make you want to watch the next episode. 

It is anti-GOT. Anti-Breaking Bad. Anti-modern episodic TV, which the original TP basically invented. I have loved watching the new season of GOT (currently the height of episodic binge watching) and then watching the latest TP:TR immediately after. As this season of GOT (imho) got too clever, too rushed, too intent on being cool and binge worthy, TP got slow and thoughtful, making me question every second of what I was seeing, 100% unsure of what I might see next, and 100% satisfied when I did see what comes next.

In the same way that the original TP was a play on late night soaps and TV melodrama, The Return is a play on all the incredible TV that TP inspired. 

"The Return", is a reference to our hopes for a return to the original show, the original vibe, the original soundtrack, the original characters, all of it. Instead we get 16 hours of slow buildup and delay, teasing out our desire to see the return of what we remember. But Lynch says, "No. F you. I invented this shit and now I am reinventing it. Sit back and listen to the sounds."

It has to be the most meta thing that I have ever seen. It is telling us how to watch it as we go. It places characters in as standins for the audience, telling us to listen to the soundtrack, asking Charlie why we can't hear what he heard on the phone, making jokes about and going in the opposite direction of what we expect based on the old episodes.

Absolutely fascinating to watch.

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Posted : 02/09/2017 7:17 pm
(@caoimhin)
Detective

Here are some of my thoughts (some of which have already been touched on):

Pace of Modern Life: Scenes like the dude sweeping the Roadhouse floor, after hours, aid in highlighting the lightning-fast pace of modern life. The frustration that some felt watching that scene can probably be likened to, I imagine, being stuck in a traffic jam on the way to work. Why do I feel as if I’m always late? This feeling is encouraged by instant gratification: Instant access to information and answers, online shopping, social media sites, binge watching, etc. (and outdated adherence to Industrial Age conceptions of time and organization – though this is slowly changing). This notion is further enhanced through noir imagery and settings. It’s quite a balancing act to comment on the pace of modern life without indulging in too much nostalgia. But then, I’m not certain how much some of Lynch’s aesthetic choices are pining, preference or commentary.

The week-to-week format also questions how television shows are currently viewed and internalized. The fourth wall breaking further questions how active and engaged viewers are in their viewing experience. 

Big Questions: TPTR asks a lot of metaphysical and ontological questions. It also alludes to answers through various schools of thought: existentialism, solipsism, Indigenous religious mythology, occultism, etc. This allows the viewer to investigate differing schools of thought on the matter, and question one’s own view of reality and sense of self, without necessarily leading to the acceptance of New Age conceptions. 

(I)dentity (connected to the above): The results of disruptions to, or the altering of, identity formation is a theme that crops up a lot, IMO, and it takes several forms. The obvious examples are Special Agent Cooper, Mr C, bad-Dougie, and presumably good-Dougie. Outside of how the show presents the aforementioned "Coopers," one could think of these as various versions of Dale Cooper as the result of changes to nurture and environment, or Dale Coopers existing in different universes (many worlds-interpretation). Diane is also a great example: The fracturing of her tulpa's identity from og Diane's was intense and thought provoking. However, the more finessed questions on identity are more interesting to me, like Audrey, for instance, or Sarah or even Candie (don’t want to comment further on these until after the finale).

Mystery: Like most of Lynch's work, the Frost and Lynch collaborations are filled with mysteries, the uncanny, and unanswered questions. Also, the idea that an answer actually splinters into more questions and mysteries is a lot like the human thirst for knowledge and a want to know. An obvious analogy would be doing research online: One link to a sourced paper leads to another link that then leads to another leak and dozens of more sources ad infintium. The more one knows, the more one wants to know, but then realizes how little one actually knows

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Posted : 02/09/2017 11:40 pm
(@caoimhin)
Detective
Posted by: The conversation is lively

Evil.

I also think that one of the intentions of this new season is to examine evil on a different scale to the original. Twin Peaks was very much about the evil that lurks beneath the surface of a small town. The Return has opened that up to include the evil of the world or at least, evil on a much bigger level.

I'm not 100% sure what I think about the decision to do that. Does The Red Room really work when you expand it mean something global and universal rather than just something hiding in the woods and the psyche? 

Obviously it's possible to say all humans have a psyche, but there's something about Twin Peaks that's bound up in folklore and domestic suffering. 

Having said that, I think that the story of the glass box is one of the best things Lynch has put in any of his works and (I'm up to episode 13 at this point) I really, really hope we revisit 1956 and learn more! 

Electricity.

One of the most interesting things about The Return for me so far has been how much has been explained about electricity. It's so important and we learn so much about it. It's like a kind of lifeforce and it's being monitored and regulated by strange fusebox (?) looking devices in a world of an ultraviolet ocean. 

Electricity is one of the things I find really fascinating in the show. Humans have become so reliant on it that it's hard to even fathom what would happen if the proverbial plug was pulled in our modern world. It's like a kind of life force, yes, but it's also like a cosmic nervous system with how it is utilized and represented in the show. 

 

ReplyQuote
Posted : 02/09/2017 11:56 pm
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