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‘Twin Peaks’ update: David Bowie’s back (and so’s Audrey)

I’ve been away on vacation. Where? Well, let’s just call it “the Black Lodge.” (Okay, it was Madeline Island.) What did I miss on Twin Peaks? A lot. Three episodes have aired since my last recap. I won’t detail everything that’s happened, but here are some of the major developments as the season closes in on its final weeks.

Bowie’s back. Asterisk: well, not exactly. David Bowie’s character, Phillip Jeffries, made an appearance in episode 14 via footage from the 1992 movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. He’s described as having appeared to David Lynch’s character Gordon Cole in a dream, reminding Cole that he pointed at Agent Cooper and asked, “Who do you think that is?” The implication is that in Twin Peaks, doppelgängers abound and you can’t always trust your senses. With a note in the credits, Lynch dedicated the episode to Bowie, who was reportedly planning to film new scenes for the current season.

Major Briggs holds the key. Jeffries’s name has come up repeatedly in recent episodes, in connection with a top-secret FBI project dedicated to exploring mysterious phenomena. At the beginning of episode 12, Gordon and Albert ask Tammy to join the Blue Rose Task Force. She eagerly accepts, which is brave given that the task force’s attrition rate is pretty high: previous members have included Jeffries, Cooper, and Chet Desmond (played by Chris Isaak in Fire Walk With Me).

The task force followed an Air Force operation called Operation Blue Book, overseen by — yep, Major Garland Briggs. The clues he left for his son Bobby lead to a pivotal episode 14 scene. Guided by notes from Major Briggs and by his own childhood memories, Bobby leads Truman, Hawk, and Andy to a towering tree stump that he and his dad used to call “Jackrabbit’s Palace.”

Nearby, the cops find a foggy clearing where a woman is lying — naked, with eerily scarred skin growing over her eyes. A familiar portal opens in the sky, and the Black Lodge claims Andy. That’s right, Deputy Brennan, whose shocked tears greeted Laura Palmer’s dead body in the original pilot, finally gets to see where she’s been all these years. He sees a vision of her face, flanked by angels, and he also sees a montage that includes an image of Cooper’s space splitting from his doppelgänger, in addition to other images from the infamous episode eight.

How much of this will Andy remember? Enough to know that the stranded woman, who only utters unintelligible squeaking sounds, is very important and needs to be kept in protective custody. Sharing her cell block are a creepy dude who’s drooling blood — and corrupt Chad, the police deputy who’s finally been nailed for his crimes. Andy and Lucy (who donates her pajamas) seem unaware that Chad is a connection to exactly the people they’re trying to hide their new ward from.

Audrey’s back too. At long last, Sherilyn Fenn returns as Audrey Horne. Her appearance confirms that she is indeed the mother of the remorseless Richard Horne, and she’s desperate to find him. Her husband, a patient man by the name of Charlie (Clark Middleton), is eventually convinced to help her — but only after a couple of long conversations that contain a lot of exposition. Audrey, we learn, is flagrantly carrying on an affair with a man named Billy, who’s unseen but might well be the “drunk” in the cell with Chad and the woman from the woods.

Sarah gets a Bloody. Much of the past three episodes have been devoted to the odyssey of Sarah Palmer, Laura’s widowed mother who still lives in the same house, watching TV and drowning her sorrows in Bloody Marys. She gets a visit from Hawk after an incident where she freaks out in the local liquor store because they’ve started selling a new variety of jerky. She assures Hawk she doesn’t need any help, but it’s not until the end of episode 15 when we learn just how little help she needs. Accosted by a pervy guy at a bar, she removes her face to reveal that she has the power of the Black Lodge — and she can “eat you” (like, literally) if you push her buttons.

Over the top. Meanwhile, Cooper’s doppelgänger confronts the underworld gang who seem to run the Pacific Northwest drug trade. You know, Richard Horne’s posse. Challenged to an arm-wrestling match he’s seemingly sure to lose, the leather-clad Cooper of course prevails, and kills his former accomplice after extracting the information that he was set up by “a man named Phillip Jeffries. At least, that’s the name he gives.” Don’t step to the Thin White Duke, Coop.

Don’t stop the music. Recent musical guests include the Chromatics (episode 12), Lissie (who ends episode 14 with “Wild West,” finally getting the Roadhouse rocking), and…James. It turns out that Twin Peaks’s most romantic loner has a sweet voice, and a job working security at the Great Northern Hotel. Late in episode 14, we meet one of his coworkers, a young British guy who’s been given a garden glove that gives him super strength. He picked it up on a tip from the Giant — or, as he introduces himself, “the Fireman.”

Catch up with Twin Peaks: The Return

Twin Peaks returns, with the Cactus Blossoms and a whole lot of whaaaaaaa???

Twin Peaks episode five recap: The cow jumps over the moon

Twin Peaks episode six recap: Diane! and Sharon Van Etten

Twin Peaks episode seven recap: The dark side of the river

Twin Peaks episode eight recap: Nine Inch Nails drop the bomb

Twin Peaks episode nine recap: Ground control to Major Briggs

Twin Peaks episode 10 recap: Intimate violence

Twin Peaks episode 11 recap: There’s no backup for this