Major spoilers below for “Twin Peaks: The Return” up to Part 13.
Part 13 of “Twin Peaks: The Return” was filled with memorable moments — like when Evil Cooper toyed with a man at arm wrestling before killing him — but one of the most memorable was one of the most understated.
David Lynch has made a habit out of ending each part with a musical performance. Most so far have been guest spots for artists such as Trent Reznor, so when James Hurley (James Marshall) took the stage, viewers knew they were in for something different.
But fans of the original series knew exactly what he was going to perform the moment he started strumming on his guitar.
James is singing “Just You and I,” which is an original track by David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti and was a direct callback to the original series and a very memorable scene.
What makes the original scene so enduring for “Peaks” fans (besides Marshall’s comically high falsetto — and yes that is him singing) is how it almost perfectly represents Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) and James’ relationship. In the scene, Maddy (played by Laura Palmer actress Sheryl Lee), sat between the two budding lovers.
In the series up to this point, the ghost of Laura has been sitting over Donna and James. The latter was attracted to Laura before her death, so seeing her cousin — who’s the splitting image of his former crush — always created tension amidst the trio.
Donna clearly has feelings for him in this scene as she looks longingly at him. At the same time, Maddy is also staring, but in a different way, conveying a lust that we saw often with Laura. It’s why Donna runs away at the end crying. It’s almost as if she knows she can never live up to her former friend.
The irony of the song title “Just You and I” with three people present is not lost on anyone.
It’s a strange scene — and an ever stranger song — that has split the “Twin Peaks” audience. Some find it heartbreaking and somber while others find it over-the-top and cheesy. Maybe it’s somewhere in the middle.
The song is performed once again at the Bang Bang Bar at the end of Part 13, with two random women (only credited as backup singers) standing in for Donna and Maddy. The scene takes on a different tone thanks to James performing the tune in front of a large crowd instead of in the comfort of the Hayward home, but it still feels intimate. This is thanks in part to the longing looks of Renee (Jessica Szohr), who noticed James in Part 2, even after Shelly told her that he got into a motorcycle accident and has “been quiet” ever since.
Like Donna, Renee is watching James perform. Also like Donna, the focus is on the eyes. Renee is wiping away tears by the end of the performance, clearly touched and broken by his singing. It’s unclear what she feels for James — or what her connection to him is besides a distant crush — but the performance clearly elicited something in the woman connected to James, just like it did the first time around.