Though the finale isn’t until next weekend, the end really begins this episode, part 16, which based on the ramping-up of various plotlines over the last few episodes I, and many others, were expecting to be a stage-setting hour clearing the detritus and revealing the path to whatever “end” Lynch & Frost have in store for us. In that regard, we got exactly what we were expecting, plus much, much more. The stage is definitely set, and it’s going to be a hell of a show. Here we go…
Things start off with Mr. C and Richard Horne driving through the night. In time, paved road gives way to dirt, just as it did when Ray and Mr. C were traveling together in episode 8. That trip ended with Mr. C gutshot and left for dead, and this one doesn’t bode much better. Mr. C stops the truck at a fork in the road and flips on the flood lights. Both men exit the vehicle and step into the light. Mr. C tells Richard to pay attention, he’s looking for a place, a place to which three people have given him coordinates (Ray, Jeffries, and Ruth Davenport). Of those three sets, two match, and they lead to right near here. The two set off. As they do, another figure runs into the scene, Jerry Horne, whose been lost and stoned for days, just running through the wilderness. From a safe distance he spies Mr. C’s truck. As for the driver, he and Richard are approaching a large rock, the top of which Mr. C thinks is the exact coordinates point. He tells Richard to climb up and gives him a device that will beep when he’s close to the spot, then emit a tone when he’s found it. Mr. C closes his instructions with quite the ominous charge: “Let me know what you find.” Richard, oddly without question, obeys. Mr. C watches him disappear around the rear of the rock. Jerry continues to watch both of them from afar. On the rock, Richard finds the spot, as indicated by the tone. He just has time to call out “I’m there” before he starts to combust/sizzle in some white, electric force; his hands and the center of his chest burn like a bundle of sparklers, and from his screams, it isn’t a pleasant sensation. He burns away to ash from feet to head, blinking out of being with a sharp pop and one last ember. Jerry freaks, but Mr. C is calm, almost as though he expected this to happen. Which it sounds like he did, because all he says is “Goodbye, my son,” then turns back to his truck. That’s one hell of a way to reveal this season’s most obvious mystery, that of Richard’s paternity. We should have expected nothing less. Jerry meanwhile, blames everything on his binoculars. Before leaving, Mr. C sends a text to his unknown friend: a smiley face and the word ALL in caps.Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME
Cut to Vegas, specifically the home of Dougie and Janey-E Jones, near which a black van with South Dakota plates pulls up to the curb. Inside, Hutch and Chantal. They’re munching on Cheetos and scoping out the place. As they watch, two black sedans pull up to the Joneses, out of which four black-suited figures deploy. It’s Agent Headley, his assistant Wilson, and team. They knock on the red door but no one answers. Headley leaves Wilson with another agent to stake out the place while he heads with the other to Dougie’s place of work, Lucky 7 Insurance.
But Dougie isn’t there either, he’s unconscious in the hospital following his self-inflicted electric shock, Janey-E and Sonny Jim at his side. Battlin’ Bud Mullins, Dougie’s boss, is there too and it’s from him we learn Dougie is in a coma despite his vital signs being normal. Sonny Jim asks his mother if a coma has to do with electricity. That’s not the real question, I think, the real question is: what does electricity have to do with Dougie? Just then the Brothers Mitchum show up to pay their respects. This is the first Janey’s meeting them, though she knows who they are from their generous gifts of automobiles and gym sets. This time they’ve brought food, knowing how hard it is to remember to cook during times like this. Candie, Sandie, and Mandie arrive with a veritable buffet. Rodney takes things one step further by asking Janey for her house key so they can stock the pantry there. Janey gladly obliges. And the scene closes with yet another shocking reference: Bradley, asking about the cause of Dougie’s calamity: “What was it? Electricity?”
Then to South Dakota for just a brief moment where Gordon Cole stands silent and still before a blinking, beeping bank of electrical equipment.
Back in Vegas, Janey-E and Sonny Jim take a bathroom break, leaving Bud alone in the room with Dougie. Bud gets a phone call from Phil about the FBI coming by the offices looking for Dougie; Phil rerouted them to the hospital, they should be there soon.
Meanwhile, Chantal and Hutch are still staking out the Jones home when another car arrives down the block. Inside, Wilson and the other agent on their own stakeout. Then, as everybody watches, a white stretch limo and a utility van pull up to the house. This is the Mitchums come to prep the place for Janey-E and Sonny Jim. Both sets of observers note Dougie isn’t among these newest arrivals. Then, as if all this wasn’t enough, a fifth vehicle arrives on the scene, a white Mercedes with “Zawaski Accounting Inc.” on the side. It pulls right up to the black van and parks. From it emerges a very unhappy looking bald man, Zawaksi, I presume. He’s pissed cuz Hutch and Chantal are parked by his driveway. They refuse to move and cuss him out so he decides to move the van himself by driving into it with his Mercedes. Chantal pops off a round from her pistol because this douchebag is pissing her off, and Zawaski fires back with what looks like an Uzi, winging Chantal in the arm. Hutch gets off a shot of his own as Chantal tries to get them the fuck out of there. Zawaski, though, isn’t done, and unloads his weapon – first one clip then another – into the van as it speeds past him. Chantal’s hit fatally, then Hutch. The Brothers Mitchum and the Feds can only watch. The van, riddled with holes, drifts to a stop, and finally someone makes a move. The Feds take Zawaski into custody and the Mitchums decide to beat it. Holy shit, what a scene! The only thing dying faster than name-characters this episode are the subplots.
In the hospital again, Bud is still watching over Dougie, or he is until a trancelike state takes him over and he wanders out of the room. In the empty chair next to Dougie’s bed, the face of MIKE manifests. Coop darts awake. You’ll notice I said “Coop” and not “Dougie.” The man’s alertness, the purposeful way he pulls the breathing tube from himself, the way he sits up, quick and focused, this is the Dale of old. MIKE confirms this with a “You’re awake,” and then Coop says, as Coop, “100% percent.” I shit you not, I shouted a resounding “YES!” at this moment that could be heard for miles around. “Finally,” MIKE says, knowing everyone watching right now agrees with him. He’s back, old Coop, our Coop; now it’s getting GOOD. “The other one,” MIKE continues, “He didn’t go back in. He’s still out.” Mr. C, he’s talking about. “Take this,” says MIKE and hands Coop the Owl Cave Ring. It goes unsaid, but if Coop can get that ring on his doppelganger’s finger, it’s back to The Lodge for that asshole. Coop, on point, asks MIKE if he has “the seed.” MIKE does, it’s the little gold pea Dougie was reduced to back in the premiere. Coop plucks a hair from his head and passes it to MIKE, telling him, “I need you to make another one.” MIKE understands, accepts the hair, and fades out. More on this a little later. Just then, Janey and Sonny Jim return to find their beloved “Dougie” awake. Coop knows them, and furthermore he seems to have genuine affection for them. Bud comes back, too, also amazed to see Dougie up and kicking. Coop sends his loved ones out of the room. After giving him some sandwiches, Bud tells Coop about the FBI headed his way, which suits Coop just fine. The doctor tries to stop him from leaving, but Coop won’t be deterred. His vitals are perfect, so they gotta let him go.
As Janey and Sonny head for the car, they note his change in personality.
Coop, now in full, glorious Coop-uniform, borrows Bud’s gun and has him get the Mitchums on the phone. Coop tells Rodney he’s bringing his family to the casino for safe-keeping, and he needs a plane to Spokane, Washington. Oh man oh man oh man, the band’s getting back together. Sealing the deal, right at this moment Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks theme swells. Coop tells Bud a man named Gordon Cole will likely be calling; if he does, Coop has written down a message for Bud to read him. Coop then says his heartfelt goodbye to Bud, a scene which reminded me of Coop’s goodbye to Truman back in season two. That goodbye turned out to be preemptive, this one, though, is for real. “What about the FBI?” Bud asks, referring to the agents en route. “I am the FBI,” Coop says. Damn right you are, Dale, damn right!
Janey’s got the car and Coop kicks her out of the driver’s seat, another change. Making sure all seatbelts are fastened, Coop drives them away. As they exit the lot the Feds arrive, too little and too late.
In South Dakota, Diane’s at the bar. She gets Mr. C’s ALL text and is immediately unnerved. She has a little muted breakdown, silent but for the words “I remember,” followed by “Oh Coop.” She repeats the part about remembering and grabs her phone, texts back to Mr. C the following numbers: 48551420114163956. Coordinates, the same Jeffries steamed last episode, the same written on the corpse of Ruth Davenport, the coordinates that point to somewhere in Twin Peaks. Diane whispers “I hope this works” then presses SEND. Then she checks to make sure the gun is still in her purse before walking out of the bar like someone approaching their execution. She takes the elevator as dark, throbbing music fills the scene. This isn’t good, this is the opposite of good. The determination on her face is unnerving me, now, there’s a resolve in it that will not be hindered. She exits the elevator and moves through the hotel corridors (a lot like Lynch had the same actress do in a pivotal scene of Inland Empire). Oh shit, she’s going to kill Cole, isn’t she? Just as I think this, we see Cole in his room of equipment, turning his head as though somehow he senses the assassin’s approach. Diane arrives at his door, and indeed, Cole knows she’s there. He calls for her to come in, by name, though she hasn’t knocked or made a sound. She enters. Albert and Tammy Preston are in the room as well. So the gang’s ALL here. Diane sits and starts talking, finally willing to describe the night Cooper came to her, meaning the night Mr. C came to her. Albert offers her a drink before she starts. She accepts, and opens her purse, the latter move Cole notices with interest. She reaches in, but pulls out her cigarettes only. The purse stays open, though. Diane begins…
The night in question happened three or four years after she stopped hearing from Cooper, meaning three or four years after the events we witnessed at the end of season two. She was still with the Bureau at the time. Cooper just walked in, “no knock, no doorbell,” he just appeared in her living room. She was elated at first, embraced him, and tried to find out where he’d been, what he’d been doing, but all Coop wanted to talk about was what had been happening at work, he was grilling her about it, in fact. Then, suddenly, he leaned in to kiss her, a thing she says had only happened once before, but as soon as their lips came in contact, “something went wrong.” She felt afraid, and saw Coop see her fear, saw him enjoy it, and then he raped her. We all suspected as much. Afterwards, she said he took her somewhere like an old gas station – the convenience store – and here she pauses. She’s so frazzled, so broken by her revelation and by all the trauma it’s caused her over the years. Dern here is the best she’s been all season, and maybe ever. She looks at the ALL text again. She comes out of her panic into an eerie calm, but only for a moment before she starts saying “I’m the Sheriff’s station” over and over, talking about the coordinates she sent Mr. C – this is where they lead – and saying “I’m not me,” almost like an apology. She reaches for the gun in her purse and shots ring out, but not from Diane. From Tammy and Albert, who pump Diane full of lead. But there are no bulletholes, no blood, Diane is simply sucked out of the scene and vanishes into thin air. No one was expecting that. There aren’t even holes in the chair where she was sitting or the wall behind it. “They’re real,” Tammy says, shaken, “That was a real Tulpa.” Oh god, how many of the characters this season don’t actually exist???
Before moving on, there’s obviously a lot to process here, but what sticks out the most, to me, is the rape. Mr. C, we now know, also assaulted Audrey while she was in a coma, impregnating her with Richard. Could the assault on Diane have resulted in a pregnancy as well? Could that have been the point? Good Coop was told by The Fireman at the beginning of this season to “beware Richard and Linda.” It would make sense if he was to be wary of them because they were the progeny of his bad half and thus hardwired to hinder him. Why Mr. C would be eliminating his son now is still up for grabs, but that’s not the most intriguing part; we’ve heard mention of a Linda, she’s an older woman at Fat Trout Trailer Park in need of a wheelchair. But what if this Linda is a red herring, and there’s another Linda out there, one we maybe haven’t met in any capacity, who’s Mr. C’s kid with Diane? It’s not impossible.
Back to our story: as expected, we’re in The Lodge with Diane, sitting before MIKE in the same green chair in which Dougie found himself. MIKE says the same thing to her he said to Mr. Jones: “Someone manufactured you.” Diane knows this. She willingly transforms herself into another gold seed, but not before offering one last characteristically Diane goodbye.
The real Cooper delivers Janey-E and Sonny Jim to the Silver Mustang where the Mitchums are waiting with a jet. Coop takes a private moment to say goodbye to his “family,” telling them how much he’s enjoyed spending time with them. It made his heart so full. He says he will be back and Janey gets it, he’s not Dougie. This freaks out Sonny Jim, but Coop assures him he’s his father as he also assures him, both of them, that he loves them. He says he’ll see them soon and when he walks through that red door again he’ll be home for good. This is where that other “one” Coop asked MIKE for comes in, I think. I think this new “one” is another Dougie Tulpa that will come back to the Joneses no matter what happens to Coop; it’s a safety-Coop, for lack of a better term, a guarantee that Janey and Sonny Jim will have the man they love home again, one way or another. For now, a passionate kiss between Coop and Janey closes this scene – “Whoever you are, thank you,” Janey tells him – and Coop leaves. As the camera pulls away from Janey and Sonny Jim, it passes a slot machine with a distinctive beetle image on the screen that fades away. This is not coincidental.
In the limo with the Mitchums and their showgirls, Coop sips coffee as Rodney tries to put everything together: Coop’s not an insurance agent, he’s a federal agent, and they need to get him to a sheriff’s station in a town called Twin Peaks. They’re nervous about being around law enforcement given their lifestyle, but Coop has seen the good in them and says they’ll be fine.
It’s showtime at The Bang-Bang Bar, and playing tonight is one Edward Louis Severson III, or as you better know him, Eddie Fucking Vedder. And just when you think things are winding down, in walks Audrey on Charlie’s arm. So she’s alive, she’s real, and she’s actually in Twin Peaks. Or so it would seem. She’s looking around for Billy. Charlie gets them seats at the bar. Edward ends his set and our attention turns to the unhappy couple, sharing martinis. Charlie toasts to them, Audrey toasts back to Billy. Then another act is announced: “Audrey’s Dance.” The floor clears, everyone moving aside so Ms. Horne might do her thing. The music starts, that old, familiar, sultry tune. Audrey is hypnotized by it, dancing in a trance off her stool and into the center of the room. The spotlights swirl around her like fairies conjured by her gesticulations.
This isn’t real, it can’t be. Hence Eddie’s other name, perhaps? I can see young Audrey as a definite Pearl Jam fan to the point she’d summon a version of him in a delusion now. She’s dancing, dancing, loving it, this is the old Audrey, revealed for the first time just like the real Cooper was minutes earlier. Then violence shatters the scene, specifically a beer bottle over the head of a man in the crowd, inflicted by another man screaming about his wife. They go at each other and Audrey, distressed again, runs to Charlie, grabs him by his shoulders and leans into the camera as she tells him to get her out of there.
Then it happens.
For a few, inexplicable seconds, Audrey, sans makeup, in an all-white environment – like a sanitarium, or Heaven – is speaking these same words into a mirror. She seems to come to herself for a second, a terrible, terrifying second. And that’s it. The only hint of where she might be comes during the closing credits, which take place back at the bar: “Audrey’s Dance” is still playing, but backwards.
I never thought, however much I thought about it – which was a lot, obsessively so, my wife says – that I’d be this excited going into the finale. Most of what I’m excited by is that after this season’s very distinctive and individual tone, there were hints this hour that the next two are going to be in a more classical vein. The return of old Coop and the parallel glimpses of real Audrey – the dance and the mirror – paired with old musical cues would seem to suggest that as different as this Twin Peaks has been, we’re headed home for the final act.
The original ending of season two, as scripted, at least, was a physical showdown between Cooper and Windom Earle. It was only when Lynch started shooting that all this was scrapped for the more metaphysical finale we actually got. What’s on the narrative horizon now would seem to be an amalgam of the two, Cooper and Mr. C in physical conflict with their metaphysical selves on the chopping block. Whoever winds up with the ring loses, it’s back to The Black Lodge for who knows how long, and that’s the best-case scenario. Worst case, we probably can’t even imagine the possibilities but a total obliteration of the soul has to be among them.
When it was announced that Twin Peaks was returning, there were some voices who doubted the show’s ability to still be relevant let alone innovative in the current landscape, so far removed from its origins. It is clearly apparent now that the show needed to be removed from its origins to arrive at the proper conclusion, whatever that will be. Twin Peaks, in short, needed The Return. It might not have been built into the original narrative blueprint, but it gives the best possible service to that narrative, propelling a localized drama into a universal saga, a story beyond time and place, the kind of thing that makes for philosophies, or even religions.
I have a tendency to be hyperbolic, especially when talking about something I love, like I do Twin Peaks, but I want to be perfectly clear that it isn’t H. Perry Horton the fan making this next statement, it’s H. Perry Horton the media critic: Twin Peaks is why television was created, it is the best example of long-term episodic, visual storytelling ever known. There has never been an American saga like Twin Peaks, and there never will be again. Hell, there never can be.
And we’ve still got two hours to go. Brace yourselves.