An episode of mysterious convergences and heartbreaking closure.
Four episodes to go. Just four. And I don’t know about you, but every time I sit down to watch a new hour of Twin Peaks, I am the best kind of nervous because, honestly, this whole world Lynch and Frost have been showing us, it spins on a dime, it can be anything from one minute to the next. As last week’s phenomenal episode proved, it only takes one single scene – like Andy in The Fireman’s abode, or Sarah Palmer in the Elks’ bar – to completely change everything. And with dozens upon dozens of scenes yet to come, we might be near the end but we’re nowhere near done with Twin Peaks, or, rather, Twin Peaks is nowhere near done with us.
We begin this week in the Town of Twin Peaks. Nadine is walking down the side of the highway with a gold shovel in her hands and a determined smile on her face. She arrives as Big Ed’s Gas Farm. We’ve been wondering if they were still together, as we haven’t actually seen them together this season. Sounds like they are, but possibly estranged. Ed asks about the shovel, which Nadine says is the reason she’s come. She says she’s changed, she loves him but she’s also been a real bitch to him over the years, as he’s been to her. She knows about his feelings for Norma – how could she not? – and she cops to manipulating him into staying in the marriage (she’s talking post-season-2). Now, she wants him to be free, and free to love Norma as he should (perhaps because she’s in love with Doc Amp/Jacoby?). She’s releasing him, and she seems legitimately happy about it. Ed tries to convince her to sleep on it, considering it just another of her impulses. It’s no impulse, though, she insists, she’s better now and she’s made up her mind. The dissolve is sealed with a cheerful hug, then Nadine’s back on her way again. Ed seems just stupefied, and perhaps a little sad, but also hopeful.
Naturally, he makes a beeline for the Double R. Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” a live version, is playing loud on the jukebox, setting the perfect tone for the scene. He walks right up to Norma and tells her the good news, but she doesn’t have time to talk to him, Walter – her business partner and beau – is there. She leaves Ed alone at the counter as she saunters into a booth with Walt. Otis sings undeterred. Ed settles for a cup of coffee, and, jokingly, we hope, “a cyanide tablet.”
In their booth for two, Norma has some news for Walter. He thinks she’s going to add her name to the Double R like he’s been suggesting, but it’s kind of the opposite, she’s exercising her option to have him buy her out of the bigger business. He asks why, she says it’s for family reasons, he says she said she didn’t have any family. Now, we know this isn’t true, she has her mom Vivian, who is likely dead by now, but she also has Annie, her sister. The fact that she’s apparently never discussed Annie with Walter does not bode well for the fate of Dale’s beloved. Norma’s plan is to keep the Double R and have Walt take over the other seven diners she owns. Walt doesn’t think this is a good idea, but he has no choice but to accept. Ed at the counter is lost in the music, in a sorrowful trance, eyes closed, mired in moments that have already been or will never be. Then a hand lands on his shoulder, shaking him back to the present. It’s Norma. Ed says two words, whispers them, really: “Marry me.” Norma answers with a big, fat smooch and a “Of course I will” a quarter-century in the making. Kinda. Because he’s done this before, back in season two when Nadine, then a mental teenager, released him from their union. That proposal never came to fruition; will it this time? Also like last time, Shelly watches with beaming approval, like a child of divorce watching her parents getting back together. For all the talk of time loops this season, there have been a handful of event loops, and this thus far is one of the most blaring. What is it they say about folks who forget the past? However it works out, this is still the best romantic scene since An Officer and a Gentleman. Nothing but blue skies overhead.
Then a distinct tonal and temporal shift. The sound of wind, of electricity. A truck drives down a dark highway, Mr. C at the wheel. He pulls up to the remains of the convenience store we saw the Woodsmen milling around and inside back in episode 8, the convenience store, we assume, where BOB and MIKE once lived above and where the denizens of The Black Lodge held their meetings, one of which at least was attended by Phillip Jeffries. There is a man waiting for Mr. C in the lot, a full-color Woodsman. Without a word he leads Mr. C up a side staircase to nowhere; the apartment is not visible. I’m trembling and sweating at the same time. Both Mr. C and his Woodsman guide crackle out of this dimension.
An image of trees and then next we’re in – OH FUCK – we’re in the room depicted in the painting given to Laura Palmer by Mrs. Chalfont in Fire Walk With Me, the room in which Laura “dreamt” herself trapped. So she’s been to this wing of the Lodge, too. Mr. C tells a seated Woodsman – possibly meant to be the one played by Jurgen Prochnow in FWWM, the one I and others think could be the Log Lady’s dead husband – he’s looking for Phillip Jeffries. The Woodsman flips a switch on a large contraption and electricity crackles. We see the Jumping Man – he of the red suit and white mask with the pointy nose, another FWWM tie-in – and possibly the face of Sarah Palmer. Then another, heavier Woodsman guide appears to lead Mr. C down a long, dark corridor into another room. Another image of trees. Both figures are transparent as they walk, as though crossing into yet another dimension. They reach the set of stairs we saw in Cole’s glimpse into The Lodge through the vortex in South Dakota. They ascend and enter the room at the top. From there, Mr. C opens a door to the outside. It’s night still, but the same? Both his guide are out here and lead him to another building, an apartment numbered 8. Mr. C stops at the door, which is locked. He looks over his shoulder to see not his guides but a woman in nightgown and robe shuffling towards him. Her face in shadows. Something about her body language made me think this was going to be Ronette Pulaski, but despite similarities, this woman is much older. In that Black-Lodge-backwards-tongue she tells him, “I’ll unlock the door for you,” then does so, opens it, and leaves Mr. C be. He enters the room, characterized only by a flickering overhead fluorescent light, hints of red in a lampshade, and chevron in the shadows on the curtains. Across the room, a radiator tinks. Eraserhead, anyone? The wall behind the radiator slides away, revealing yet another giant-bell-like electrical device, the third we’ve seen this season: the first was shown to Good Coop by Naido atop the room in the purple ocean, just before we saw the floating head of Major Briggs, and the second was in the Dutchman/Fireman’s abode back in episode 8, right after BOB was reborn and right before Laura was. This device is spouting steam or smoke (like that above Andy in the Fireman’s quarters last episode) like a tea kettle.
Then I shouted out-loud.
Because the kettle starts speaking in a decidedly Bowie-like voice. Mr. C confirms this: “Jeffries.” Sounds formal, like they haven’t met. And whether this kettle is the Evolution of Jeffries, the device through which he’s speaking, or even some kind of containment, we don’t know.
“Oh it’s you,” Jeffries says, “Thank god.”
Mr. C gets right to it, asking PJ why he sent Ray to kill him. Jeffries seems surprised, says only that he “called” Ray. Does he mean summoned? Conjured? Tulpa-ed? Mr. C moves on to his next question, which is about the phone call he received in the season three premiere; he asks if Jeffries did indeed place that call. Jeffries again plays charmingly dumb, saying he doesn’t have Mr. C’s number. This means someone else made that call. Jeffries does concede, however, that he and Mr. C used to talk all the time. Then a flashback to the Jeffries scene from FWWM, specifically the line in which Jeffries says he’s “not going to talk about Judy.” I have to pause the show, stand up and pace the room for three minutes to burn off the excess adrenaline coursing through me; Twin Peaks – it’s not just a show, it’s a workout. Back in the “present,” Mr. C reminds Jeffries of this Judy conversation. This somehow confirms, for Jeffries at least, that this being before him is really Cooper. He’s not though, right? RIGHT? Ugh, this show’s gonna be the death of me; the glorious, glorious death of me. Mr. C wants to know why Jeffries wouldn’t talk about Judy, he wants to know who Judy is, and if she wants something from him. Jeffries suggests Mr. C ask her himself, and says he’ll “write it down for ya.” The smoke/steam turns to numbers: 48 degrees, 55 degrees. More coordinates, and based on that first number, the north latitude coordinate, Judy’s in Twin Peaks. Mr. C scribbles them down. He asks again: who is Judy? Jeffries: “You’ve already met Judy.” Okay. So, she’s in Twin Peaks and Mr. C has already met her. That could be anyone who was around back in the day when Mr. C first emerged from the Lodge who’s still around now: Audrey, Shelly, Norma, or the most likely candidate, Sarah Palmer. But of course, this is just assuming that a) Judy has a female guise, and 2) she’s only sticking to one person. Mr. C doesn’t like this answer. A telephone rings. Angrily, Mr. C answers it. The room goes crazy with cracking electricity. And just like that, Mr. C is transported to the phone booth outside the convenience store, expelled from the Lodge. Someone is waiting for him though, Richard Horne, his maybe-son, who recognized him back at the farm where Mr. C killed Ray. Richard has a gun, and he has it pointed right at Mr. C because he thinks Mr. C is FBI; he’s seen his picture in his “fancy FBI suit.” Mr. C wonders where he saw this picture. Richard says his mom had it, and furthermore he knows this guy’s name, Cooper. His mom, of course, is Audrey Horne, he says so. C then violently disarms Richard, but leaves him alive. Oh shit, it’s true. He tells Richard to get in the truck, they’ll talk on the way. About him being Richie’s dad, that’s what they’ll talk about, we all know it by now. Then C sends a text to an unknown recipient, most likely Diane, but also possibly Hutch and Chantal: “Las Vegas?” They drive away and the store comes to life, flickering and spewing smoke, eventually fading out of existence, just a stand of trees alone in the night where once it was.
In Twin Peaks again. A man is walking with his dog through Ghostwood Forest. Elsewhere in the forest, Steven Burnett (Becky’s husband) and Gersten Hayward (Donna’s youngest sister) are hiding out and sweating out what looks like a rough chemical comedown. The gun in Steven’s hands makes the scene even more perilous. He’s saying, “I did it,” over and over and she’s trying to convince him otherwise, trying to get the gun. He touts his status as a high school graduate then loads the gun, meaning, it seems, to kill himself. He rambles about god, about life, about death, about rhinoceroses, bottles, and fucking Gersten, and this last note seems to ground him, as much as a dude in his state can be grounded. Then the man and his dog stumble upon this unfortunate scene, immediately confirming that Gersten isn’t there entirely out of love for Steven, he’s holding her against her will. She bolts as soon as Steven is distracted by the newcomer. The man too, splits. Gersten seeks safety behind a tree, and from there she hears a single gunshot. We know who fired, but we don’t know who was the target. Gersten, herself incredibly fucked up, becomes mesmerized, or entranced, by the trees around her.
Target or not, man with dog is safe, as we see them both trotting into Fat Trout Trailer Park, meaning likely he knows Steven, as Steven and Becky live there, too. This is indeed the case, as while explaining what he’s seen to Carl Rodd, the man points out the Barnes trailer. This man with dog character is named Cyril Pons, and the actor playing him is none other than series co-creator Mark Frost. Last time Frost appeared in the series was back in season one, as a TV reporter; the name confirms this is the same character.
Next stop, The Road House (aka The Bang-Bang Bar, but I’m old-school), where the whole joint’s jumping to ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man.” At a booth, Renee’s sitting with her husband Chuck and another couple when James Hurley comes by, Freddie Sykes in tow. James says hi to Renee and Chuck freaks the fuck out. He berates James, who stammers in reply, seemingly nervous or intimidated, possibly having a mental lapse. A result of that motorcycle accident Shelly mentioned in the premiere, maybe? Either way, Chuck clocks him, then he and his buddy proceed to kick and stomp James. Freddie warns the buddy to knock it off, buddy doesn’t, so with one deft punch of his gloved hand, Freddie flattens the buddy, then does the same to Chuck. Both punches, it should be noted, land with an accompanying crackle of electricity that momentarily disrupts the jukebox. James calls for an ambulance and tries to apologize to Renee, realizing in the process that both these guys are likely on their way out.
(Side note: is this Chuck the same Chuck that Audrey says told her Tina was the last person to see Billy? Probably.)
We jump to Vegas for the first time this episode where Agent Randall Headley – the man Cole charged last episode with gathering info on Dougie and Janey-E – is burning the midnight oil at his desk. Speaking of the Jonses, Headley’s assistant Wilson says the two of them are here now and ready for questioning. And he mentions kids. Plural. Headley apparently hates kids. Needless to say, this isn’t the right Dougie and Janey.
Over to Duncan Todd, who calls his assistant, Roger, into the office. Duncan wants to know if they’ve heard from Anthony yet. Anthony’s supposed to be killing Dougie for them, but he hasn’t checked in since being given the order. Duncan’s patience has run out, he tells Roger to find him, now. That’s when Chantal walks in and pops both of them in the head. “One down one to go,” she tells Hutch over the phone, meaning Roger was likely just a bonus execution.
Twin Peaks yet again, the Sheriff’s station this time. Freddie and James are both deposited in holding cells by Hawk and Bobby. The last time we saw Bobby and James down here, the circumstances, and the men themselves, were much, much different. The bleeding-mouth, parroting drunk is still there, as is disgraced Deputy Chad. James asks about the men at the bar: both are in intensive care. Sounds like major assault charges are pending. The Deputies leave. James notices Naido gesturing to him and trying to speak. The drunk parrots her. Chad screams his annoyance.
Back in Vegas, Chantal and Hutch are enjoying a post-kill fast-food feast while talking shop, ketchup packets, and Mars.
It’s cake time at the real Jones house. Janey serves her man a thick slice and revels in watching him enjoy it. She’s so happy, she feels like all their dreams are coming true, and all because of him. If I know David Lynch, this happiness is a foil for terror, heartbreak, violence, or all three. Dougie just wants cake. Janey goes to do the dishes. Dougie eats, moves a salt shaker, and presses buttons on a TV remote. Eventually he hits the power button and the screen flickers to life. Sunset Boulevard is playing. This sets off alarms in my head, and Dougie’s too, for the same reason: the name Gordon Cole. Cole is a character in the film and in fact the source inspiration for Lynch’s character in Twin Peaks. As soon as his name is spoken, Coop recognizes it. He pauses the film, looks to the electrical socket. He’s coming back to us, real Dale, I just know he is. He gets on the floor, crawls towards the socket, crackling now, and sticks his cake fork in it. Predictably, he’s shocked. The lights flicker, Janey screams, and then darkness. Terror, heartbreak, violence; check, check, and check.
Then comes the most difficult and most beautiful scene of the episode and most likely the entire series.
The Log Lady’s on the phone for Hawk. She says she’s dying (which the actress, Catherine Coulson, was while filming, so this is, to a degree, not a performance, but real). “You know about death,” she says, “That it’s just a change, not an end.” She tells him it’s time. She has some fear in letting go, but wants him to remember what she told him, not like this, over the phone, but when they were able to talk face-to-face. She can’t say more on an open line. “Watch for that one, the one I told you about, the one under the moon, on Blue Pine Mountain.” She’s weeping, I’m weeping, we should all be weeping. “Hawk,” she says, “My log is turning gold. The wind is moaning. I’m dying. Good night, Hawk.”
Ms. Coulson was a friend and collaborator of David Lynch’s for more than forty years. She worked on his early short films and was crew on Eraserhead. She was married for a while to that film’s star and Twin Peaks’ Pete Martell, actor Jack Nance. She was family to Lynch, and I can’t imagine how difficult a scene this must have been to write and film. It was appropriately beautiful, brave, respectful, and loving. Hawk says goodbye to her, and clouds cover the moon.
Elsewhere in the station, Bobby, Andy and Lucy find Frank in the conference room. They say Hawk told them to meet him here. He arrives and shares the news of Margaret’s passing. It’s a real moment of genuine emotion. This is a wonderful tribute to the actress, the woman, and the character, especially the final moment of the scene: Margaret’s cabin seen from a middle distance, enveloped in darkness but for one dim light glowing behind the window; that light slowly fades to nothing.
Then Audrey. She’s still trying to get out the door to The Road House. Hubby Charlie is there, dressed to accompany her. There’s not going to be anything outside that door, is there? Audrey’s contentious, Charlie’s impatient. She can’t seem to go, to leave the house, she keeps getting distracted with argument. She reiterates her love for Billy, and Charlie asks yet again for her to put on her coat. But she keeps arguing, she wants to go but she won’t actually do it. It’s like she can’t. She’s seeing Charlie in a new way, calls him “a different person.” She asks who he is. On this show, this is more than just a question, it’s an insinuation, and a nefarious one at that. Charlie’s had enough, he takes off his coat. Audrey flips, starts choking him and yelling how much she hates him. She needs to be with her Billy, yet she still hasn’t left.
Meanwhile at The Road House, two bikers approach a young woman, Ruby (Charlene Yi) sitting alone. She tells them she’s waiting for someone. Without a word they move her out of the booth to the floor and take it over. She doesn’t resist this but starts to crawl, crying, across the floor, through the dancers. Then she starts screaming bloody murder. Why? What? Who? Not this week, people, and maybe never.
The credits roll over apartment number 8.
Where do I even start summing this episode up? When it was all over, all I could think was, “They’re gonna END this son of a bitch.” For all the discussions of a season four, and for all my love of the show, Twin Peaks needs to be over. The Return was written, as far as we all know, as a coda to the story, and that’s what it should remain. As the last 25 years have proven, Twin Peaks will live on no matter what through the enthusiasm of fans and freaks like me who are never going to stop thinking about it. But for the good of the narrative, for the sanctity of what’s been done, it needs to end. All of the storylines are converging, all of the characters are stepping into the light, even if that night is still dim and strobing. A reckoning is on the horizon, and with only three hours to go – just three hours – you can bet your bottom dollar that Lynch and Frost are going to go full-throttle until the final second. It took me 90 minutes to get through this episode – I like to pause to process – and between the apartment 8 scene, the beautiful if repetitive Ed & Norma scene, and the Log Lady coda, there was a ton to process. Not to mention the addition of Richard to Mr. C’s mission (where’s Linda?) and the continuing psychological experiment/purgatorial torture that is the Audrey subplot. What the next 180 minutes have in store for us, I can’t even imagine, and that’s the best fucking part about all this. We are under the spell of Lynch and Frost, and the final incantation is starting: prepare to be bewildered.