Twin Peaks: The Return Episode 8 Is One of the Scariest TV Episodes of All Time - VRGyani News and Media

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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Twin Peaks: The Return Episode 8 Is One of the Scariest TV Episodes of All Time

The horror genre has certainly expanded throughout the decades of TV history, from the strange and existential like The Twilight Zone (see: The Doppelganger) to the supernatural cult classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (see: The Gentlemen) and Doctor Who (see: the Weeping Angels) to the popular modern terrors like American Horror Story (see: Twisty the Clown) and The Haunting of Hill House (see: the Bent-Neck Lady).

And then there's Twin Peaks, the 1990 cult classic co-created by David Lynch (Eraserhead) and Mark Frost that challenged the scope of what television could do—a show that somehow exists as its own genre, a blend of horror, mystery, and soap opera all in one.

When it was announced that Twin Peaks would return, 25 years later, for an 18-episode limited series on Showtime, one of the biggest questions that loomed was how Lynch and Frost would portray Killer BOB, the demonic interdimensional entity from the original 2-season run who possesses humans and feeds on pain and sorrow (otherwise known as "garmonbozia"). Unfortunately, the actor who played BOB in Seasons 1 and 2 (Frank Silva) died in 1995, leaving fans to wonder if Lynch and Frost would recast the iconic villain.

Luckily, Silva was not replaced; rather, BOB mainly appeared in the form of Agent Dale Cooper's (Kyle MacLachlan) evil doppelganger (henceforth known in this article as "Evil Coop"). Silva was certainly missed in the revival, but BOB's unnerving presence still managed to seep into every corner of Twin Peaks: The Return, not only through Evil Coop, but also through the show's characteristic evocation of uneasiness knowing that BOB was still out there, lurking and feeding.

Twin Peaks: The Return expanded the universe beyond BOB, Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), and Agent Dale Cooper, opening the door to a new type of horror. This is where Part 8 comes in, Lynch's surrealist masterpiece of the Twin Peaks universe.

To recap the key plot points, Part 8 opens with Evil Coop/BOB and his associate Ray Monroe (George Griffith) driving. They pull over to a secluded area where Evil Coop/BOB tries to shoot Ray with a gun he found in Ray's glove compartment. Ray, who had already planned for this, left the gun unloaded. He shoots Evil Coop/BOB. Once the shot is fired, however, something strange happens. Shadowy men (officially referred to as The Woodsmen), dirty and bearded, emerge, flickering like a mirage. In a horrifying, almost dream-like sequence, The Woodsmen swarm around Evil Coop/BOB's body, tearing at him and smearing his blood until BOB emerges from the doppelganger in the form of an orb.

Following Nine Inch Nails' mood-setting performance of "She's Gone Away" at the Roadhouse, Evil Coop abruptly awakens, very much alive.

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The rest of the episode takes place in the past, beginning on July 16, 1945 in White Sands, New Mexico, the site of the Trinity nuclear tests. Following the world's first detonation of an atomic bomb—a chaotic plunge into a canvas of surrealist imagery—we see a white humanoid figure (who may or may not be the mysterious supernatural entity Judy, or Jowday) floating through space, who regurgitates an orb bearing BOB's face, marking the first real canonical explanation of Killer BOB's origins.

From then, we are taken to the Fireman's fortress where he observes from his theater the nuclear test, and in turn, the birth of BOB. The Fireman levitates and a golden orb emanates from his head bearing the infamous picture of Laura Palmer. The orb lands in the hands of a woman who lives in the fortress, Senorita Dido, who kisses it and sends it to Earth.

We are then back in the New Mexico desert, August 5, 1956, where a strange, frog-like creature hatches from an egg. Then, we see a young boy and girl passing a gas station who share a kiss before the girl goes inside her home. (Many viewers have theorized that the unnamed girl is actually a young Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie), Laura's mother.) Shortly after, The Woodsmen descend from the air. One in particular wanders into the KPJK radio station, cigarette protruding from his lips, and asks the receptionist, "Got a light?" before crushing her skull. He then interrupts the disc jockey, who is playing The Platters' swooning single "My Prayer." He cuts off the record, and clutching the disc jockey's head in his hands, The Woodsman takes the mic and broadcasts the following mantra: "This is the water and this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes, and dark within." As he repeats the mantra, everyone listening to the broadcast falls unconscious, including the young girl from earlier. While sleeping, the strange, frog-like creature crawls into the girl's mouth. The episode ends with The Woodsman crushing the disc jockey's skull, his blood splattering the ground, the sound of a horse's neigh heard in the background.

What makes Part 8 so unnerving isn't exactly what happens, but how it happens. It can best be described as an assault on the senses, with absolutely no discernable explanation for almost any of it. This is understood as part of the appeal of the Twin Peaks franchise—the type of horror that can't quite be explained, but rather, insists on being experienced. The Return in particular raises the stakes by branching into a type of horror that can't be clearly traced back to a knowable monster or creature, but rather introduces the horror of the unknown. In the original Seasons 1 and 2, we at least could find some semblance of solace that, despite the fact that Lynch never intended to give us all the answers, we could at least trace the horrors back to BOB. We didn't know if BOB was an actual demon or perhaps a manifestation of Evil itself, but at the very least, we could tie the horrors in the town of Twin Peaks to BOB.

With Part 8 of The Return, BOB is given an origin, and yet, it feels like the universe is even more unknowable than it was before. As the bomb explodes, a high pitched shriek sucks us in without warning into the explosion itself as the entire screen morphs into utter mania, raging and untethered. Even though we are going further inward, visually and sonically,—bursts of screaming reds and oranges, blinding flashes of black and white static—it somehow feels like we are stepping outward into a vast and horrific expansion of the Twin Peaks universe, as if we are falling headfirst into evil itself.

Part 8 is a portrait of Lynch's appeal to surrealism, packed with visuals as mystical and beautiful as they are horrifying. The juxtaposition between the chaotic explosion and the smooth, otherworldly silence as the white humanoid figure regurgitates BOB is a prime example of Lynch's trademark dreamy surrealism, as are The Woodsmen. The Woodsmen do possess the traditional hallmarks of horror, crushing skulls and splattering blood—which again, is another unsettling visual and sonic experience—but they are also unnerving in a classic Lynchian fashion. Visually and sonically, they are a surrealist dream (or nightmare, perhaps), particularly as they flicker into a jittery existence outside the Convenience Store and as they repeatedly utter "Got a light?" in a voice so jarring in an episode often punctuated with silence, that it feels like shards of glass under your feet.

The Woodsmen are the closest thing to a definable "monster" in Part 8, but even so, their presence is anything but definable, aside from the fact that they seem to be operating as henchmen of BOB. The "monster" in Part 8 of Twin Peaks: The Return is Evil itself. The collective burst of chaos from each seemingly dissonant scene in the episode weaves itself into a tapestry that could only serve as fuel for the most terrifying of nightmares imaginable. Part 8 of Twin Peaks: The Return is unmatched, a visual experience that challenged the horror genre and that undoubtedly will continue to linger in the minds of Twin Peaks fans for years to come.

KEEP READING: The Scariest TV Episodes Ever



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