New faces, old friends, thumbs up.
After last episode’s flurry of Coopers, the wheels stop spinning in space this episode and we start off down the long road(s) to answers.
The episode pics up back at the Silver Mustang Casino, where good Coop’s insane jackpotpalooza at the slot machines continues. There are more alarms going off than after a power surge at a home security convention. The Black Lodge icon continues to show him which machines to play, and they keep dumping quarters in his lap to the tune of 30 mega-jackpots. In the midst of this he’s recognized as Dougie by one Bill Shaker (Ethan Suplee, My Name is Earl), who reveals to us “Dougie’s” last name: Jones. Coop’s still in a childlike daze causing him to ape others, and this leads to a mostly one-sided conversation that causes Bill and his lady friend (Sara Paxton, Shark Night) to deduce Dougie wants to go home, which Bill describes as being in Lancelot Court, near Merlin’s market, the house with the red door.
A few things to unpack here: first, those two Arthurian references – Lancelot and Merlin – are not coincidental. In Twin Peaks the town, the portal to The Black Lodge is located in Glastonbury Grove Glastonbury Abbey in England is the burial place of King Arthur. Coop himself noted this connection back in season two. And the red door, well, the portal to The Black Lodge is red curtains, so that parallel should be obvious.
Armed with just enough information to function, good Coop tries to leave but is stopped by a casino employee who takes him to see the manager (Brett Gelman, Married), who has his winnings, a whole giant sack of them. They then provide him a limo to Lancelot Court. As Coop stands outside the house with a red door at a loss for what to do next, an owl hoots and flies overhead, then the red door opens and out comes…Naomi Watts. She knows Dougie, and she’s pissed about it. She gives him a good hard slap across the face and demands to know where he’s been. Three days he’s been gone without a word, and he missed “Sonny Jim’s birthday.” He has no answer. She drags him inside – the place decorated for a birthday party – and only then does she notice the physical changes to him. Then she sees the money, and her tune changes real quick. But only for a second. Gut reaction? This lady only trusts Dougie Jones about as far as she can throw his fat ass, and given how we met him – with a naked hooker – we can understand why. Once she understands it’s legit winnings, though, relief floods her. They can pay “them” back, she says – “them” likely being whoever’s behind the planting of the bomb under Dougie’s car as seen last episode – then proclaims this the most wonderful, horrible day of her life and goes to the kitchen to get Dougie a sandwich and a piece of Sonny Jim’s birthday cake.
At the offices of the Chief of Staff of the FBI, Gordon Cole is led into chambers by Bill (Richard Chamberlain, The Thornbirds), an old friend. Cole isn’t here to see Bill, though, he’s here to see another old friend – and a fan-favorite character: Denise Bryson (David Duchovny, The X-Files). Happy as everyone is to see each other, this isn’t a social call: Cole has come to report to Denise about finding Coop, who he says in in a Federal Prison in South Dakota. Denise already knows this, however, and alludes to Tammy Preston, the attractive young agent Cole is planning to take with him. Denise is concerned Tammy is too beautiful, for reasons she doesn’t really get into, other than to half-heartedly accuse Cole of being an old hounddog hunting ladybirds, but ultimately after some back and forth and reminders of past benefits of doubt granted, Denise gives her blessing and wishes Cole luck; this is something big, she knows.
Cut now to Twin Peaks, the Sheriff’s Department, where Lucy’s on the telephone talking to Sheriff Truman – the fishing one – about the heating, but as it turns out, this Sheriff’s no longer fishing, he’s here, and he’s Frank (Robert Forster), Harry’s older brother and Sheriff before him. Lucy passes out because apparently she doesn’t understand cell phones. There’s a com room in the station now, where Frank checks in, learns of the overdose of a high school student named Denny Craig, then goes to see Hawk in the conference room, along the way bumping into…Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook)! Oh, wait, I’m sorry, DEPUTY BOBBY BRIGGS!!! That’s right, Twin Peaks’ resident bad boy is now on the side of the angels, uniformed-up and making sure others uphold the laws he so frequently broke as a coke-dealing, murdering, thieving teen. Frank wants to know if he’s seen any drugs coming down from Canada on their trail cams, “Chinese designer drugs” in particular. Bobby hasn’t, so Frank goes on and gets caught up on the Cooper developments by Hawk. There’s a funny throwback moment when a new deputy, Chad, wonders why they’re entertaining anything The Log Lady says because she’s not even allowed in the building. Lucy says that’s on account of “a kind of gum,” which fans will deduce is pitch gum, made from tree sap; back in the old series, Norma threatened to kick Margaret out of the Double RR for sticking her chewed pitch gum to the walls; she must’ve been caught doing the same thing in the Sheriff’s Station a time too many. Chad leaves and Bobby enters but is paralyzed and brought to tears when he sees Laura’s prom photo on the table.
As Booby is brought up to speed, he drops some major information bombs: Cooper was the last person to see his father, Major Briggs, alive. Bobby says Coop came for a visit, he and the Major had a chat about unknown matters, Coop left, and the next day Briggs died in a fire at his station. This was also the last known sighting of Cooper, meaning it would have occurred shortly after bad Coop emerged from The Black Lodge back in the 90s. It also means that likely bad Coop started the fire that killed the Major for just that purpose. What isn’t for sure is if this is the conversation with Briggs to which bad Coop’s mysterious caller made reference in episode two. Given that we saw Briggs’ giant floating head deliver a message to good Coop at the start of episode three, death isn’t necessarily an obstacle to conversing with the Major.
This is interrupted by the arrival of the stunt casting we all should have seen coming: Michael Cera as the son of Lucy and Andy. I mean, there’s perfect casting and then there’s perfect casting; this is the latter. He’s named Wally Brando, and he’s the new character everybody’s going to be talking about. True to his namesake he’s a motorcycle-riding, leather-wearing, Wild One-representing mumble-mouth. He’s blown into town unannounced to pay his respects to Frank, having heard that Harry’s sick. Harry, of course, is his godfather. A multi-tasker, Wally’s also come to let mom and dad know they can finally turn his childhood bedroom into that study they’ve been wanting. Wally Brando is a romantic, a wanderer, a poet, an aesthete, and an absolute blast to watch. He’s the Twin-Peakiest of the new Twin Peaks characters, a chip off the old log, and Cera, as mentioned, is the only person who could have brought him to life.
Back at Maison Dougie, Coop’s in pajamas – the same or same kind of pajamas he was in at the end of season 2 – staring at a hideous lime sportscoat while in The Black Lodge one-armed Mike feels the air, opening a portal of communication between he and Coop. “You were tricked,” is the message Mike delivers, and he shows Coop the gold pearl the real(?) Dougie Jones turned into last episode. As a result of this trickery, “now both of you must die.” On that ominous note, Mike fades and Naomi Watts (still don’t know her name) directs Coop to where he can take what sounds like his first pee in a quarter century. Then, cuz you knew those pajamas weren’t just for nostalgia’s sake, Coop sees himself in the mirror. This is an exact parallel to the last scene of season two, Coop leaning into his reflection, but this time there’s just Coop, no BOB.
Naomi dresses Coop in the hideous sportcoat and other clothes that are too large, and as he heads down to breakfast, he and we meet Sonny Jim, a little kid about 10. And in case you’re still wondering if he’s a Cooper, the kid flashes a perfect-form thumbs up.
At breakfast, Coop’s still confused about the simplest things – neckties, chairs, pancakes – but there’s one thing in particular he seems to identify with. Can you guess what that thing is? Coffee, black as midnight on a moonless night. This scene, this reunion, is the most Coop thing ever, and a sheer damn delight to behold. They’ve already started engraving Kyle MacLachlan’s Emmy, right?
Cole, Albert, and Agent Preston arrive in sunny South Dakota. Cole’s upset they’re nowhere near Mount Rushmore, but Albert brought a picture to assuage him. They are taken to the prison where they expect to find their old friend Dale Cooper. First though they get the story of how he was found, how his vomit sent the responding patrolmen to the hospital, and what was found in his trunk: a kilo of cocaine, a machine gun, and a dog’s leg – yes, just the one.
The interrogation begins, Cole, Albert and Preston on one side of the glass, bad Coop on the other. As a hello, bad Coop flashes Cole a thumbs up. After some pleasantries, Cole asks the million-dollar question: where has Coop been all these years? Working undercover, bad Coop says, primarily with Phillip Jeffries. I don’t know about you, but at this point of the episode I was sweating I was so excited. Bad Coop wants to be debriefed by Cole, he wants to tell him the whole story and claims that’s what he was on the way to do when he had his car accident. He’s very, unnervingly insistent on this: he needs to be debriefed by Cole. He says he’s left messages. What messages? “Messages so Phillip knows it’s safe.” Bad Coop wants out, basically, but there’s the little matter of the drugs, gun, and severed animal part, so he’s stuck for the moment, but Cole assures him they’re working to make the debrief happen. Another thumbs up ends the conversation. In leaving, Cole advises the warden to give Coop his private phone call, “and I expect to hear all about it.”
The Feds talk on their own outside, Preston bringing up that Cooper was heading west when his accident occurred, not east towards Philadelphia like he claimed. She then asks who Phillip Jeffries is. Albert gives her the most succinct explanation possible: “He’s a former FBI agent.” Ah, Albert, don’t go changing. Tammy’s wearing a wire, at Cole’s request, so he sends her into a diner so he and Albert can talk alone. Cole wants to know about Albert’s reaction to seeing Cooper, it makes him wonder if there’s something Albert isn’t telling him. There is. Years ago, Albert authorized Phillip to give Cooper some information. Phillip had called him saying Coop was in trouble and needed the information in question: “the name of our man in Columbia.” A week after giving that information, said man was killed. All this and what they’ve just seen leads both of them to the same conclusions: something is very wrong, and neither understands the situation, other than that this is the bluest of a blue rose case. Before they go any further, Cole says, they need “one certain person” to take a look at Cooper. Albert concurs. I can’t breathe.
Cole: “Do you still know where she lives?” Oh god, it’s a woman, is it Annie? Let it be Annie. Heather Graham didn’t make the cast list but Don S. Davis (Briggs) didn’t either and he had a line in last week’s episode, so there’s precedent.
Albert: “I know where she drinks.” Oh god, no, wait: it’s gonna be Diane. Laura Dern as Diane. No one alive would know Coop better than her. My heartrate just tripled.
Cut to The Road House, another musical performance – by Au Revoir Simone – to end the episode. Our mystery woman will have to wait another week. At least. God, I love Twin Peaks.
Bonus though: in the credits we learn the name of Naomi Watts’ character: Janey-E Jones. Love it.
I’ve conversed with some folks about the tonal shift this episode takes, because it’s palpable. This is more in line with what we consider old-school Twin Peaks, where the mystery is balanced with humor and quirk. In fact, outside of the sinister overtones of the Cole-Cooper interaction and its subsequent discussion, the episode is predominantly lighthearted in tone, from the pleasant absurdity of Wally Brando – not to mention the augmented dim-wittedness of Andy and Lucy – to the timebomb that is “Dougie’s” family situation. People worrying these new episodes would be all doom and gloom got their reprieve this week, but relish the sunlight while you can, because the darkness is coming, we don’t know when and we certainly don’t know how, but you can bet your life on it.
Til next week.