Several backstories get long-awaited updates in the best episode of the new season (so far).

Last week the stars were still turning, ever-so slowly aligning themselves, which meant we got more starts but not a lot of progress, yet somehow that was all just fine and dandy with most folks because last week also brought to an end one of the series’ most enduring and fan-favorite mysteries: will we ever meet Diane? We did at long last get a glimpse of Coop’s Gal Friday, but in line with the rest of the new season’s most gasp-inducing moments, a glimpse was all we got. This week, however, not only did we get more of Diane, we were also blessed with a couple of updates to some plotlines that have been dangling for a quarter-century. Add to this the advances in contemporary plots, and the result is a Twin Peaks that finally started forging ahead.

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Episode seven opens in the town of Twin Peaks with Jerry Horne out in the woods looking for something he can’t seem to find. He calls brother Ben and reveals the trouble: someone stole his car. Maybe. By his own admission he’s quite stoned. Ride the snake, Jerry, ride the snake.

At the Sheriff’s Department, Hawk is showing Frank Truman the pages he found in the door of the bathroom stall last episode. As a buddy of mine predicted, these pages contain the missing message from Annie Blackburne delivered to Laura Palmer from the future in a dream in Fire Walk With Me –” the good Dale is in The Lodge and he can’t leave” – a message Annie told Laura to write in her diary, but until now no one had ever seen. Hawk remembers Annie but makes no mention of what happened to her after season two. As for the pages, they’re three of the four missing from Laura’s secret diary, the one found at Harold Smith’s place back in season two. There’s another interesting passage in them, one in which Laura confesses to knowing the true identity of BOB. Hawk, knowing the BOB story, deduces it must have been Leland who hid the pages in the stall door, probably while he was there in 1990 being questioned about the death of Jacques Renault, who Leland smothered with a pillow. Furthermore, Hawk knows what the message about good Coop being in The Lodge means – his people have known of The Lodges for centuries – and most importantly he knows this means the Coop who came out all those years ago wasn’t the Coop they know and love, but rather a shadow self. Frank decides to bring Harry up to speed, but it sounds like Harry’s illness is getting worse. Frank decides to spare his baby brother the news. Harry isn’t long for this world, it seems, despite Frank’s wishes he “beat this thing.” I for one am loving how Lynch and Frost have kept Harry an active part of the narrative despite the absence of actor Michael Ontkean. It shows a lot of respect for a much-beloved character, as well as for the narrative: you can’t tell Coop’s story without Harry, even if Harry isn’t around.

Elsewhere in town, Deputy Andy is questioning the owner of the truck who killed the young boy in a hit-and-run last episode. Said owner is not Richard Horne, who we all saw driving the truck at the time of the accident. The actual owner is big-bearded and nervous as hell, but he’s willing to tell what he knows, only not here, not now. He’s scared of something, of someone more likely. He sets up a time and place for he and Andy to meet later; Andy for some reason allows this.

Frank gets Doc Will Hayward on the phone, played by the late, great Warren Frost, co-creator Mark Frost’s father. From the phone they move to Skype – btw Frank’s computer is rad, the monitor rises up out of the desk like a Bond villain’s – because Frank wants to know about the day Doc examined Coop after he came out of The Black Lodge. Doc can’t remember what he had for breakfast this morning but he remembers that particular day in vivid detail. I’m trembling with anticipation to hear what he says. Doc remembers Coop acting strange – understatement – and so took him to the hospital to have him checked out. Later though Doc caught Coop sneaking out of the hospital. Thing is, he was sneaking out of intensive care, a ward in which he wasn’t admitted. Doc thinks Coop was visiting Audrey Horne, who was there in a coma after the explosion at the bank seen in the season two finale. This is the first mention of Audrey in the new season, but no outcome of her condition is provided. Don’t be surprised if when she shows up this season it’s somewhere other than on this mortal coil.

Out in Buckhorn, South Dakota, Air Force Lieutenant Knox arrives at the police station to follow up on the fingerprints they ran, the ones from the body found in a hotel bed with the head of Ruth Davenport in the season three pilot, the ones who came up as belonging to one Major Garland Briggs, previously assumed deceased. Knox thought there were just going to be prints, like has happened on numerous other occasions since the Major’s death; she didn’t realize there was an actual body. She’s shown the corpse and naturally wonders about its head. The cops and medical examiner, they don’t know where it is. Knox asks the corpse’s age; late 40s. She asks when he died; within the last five or six days. Knox is freaked out and excuses herself to make a call to her superior, Colonel Davis. After being brought up to speed, Davis decides he has “to make that other call.” Knox leaves him with two troubling facts: one, Briggs’ head is missing, and two, he’s the wrong age. If alive – which remember he presumably died in a fire in 1991 a day after meeting with bad Coop – he would have been in his 70s five or six days ago. As she shares this news, we see a man coming down the hallway behind her. She looks over her shoulder but doesn’t seem to see him. For an instant, though, we do: it’s the burned man last seen in the pilot fading out of a cell down from William Hastings (Matthew Lillard), the man accused of killing Ruth Davenport. We see the burnt man one more time this scene when Knox is telling the Detective this investigation won’t be his much longer. This figure, this apparition, is a portent somehow attached to these deaths. He could be a Black Lodge denizen, specifically one of the woodsmen seen in the room above the convenience store in Fire Walk With Me, possibly even The Log Lady’s husband, the one who died in a fire 30 years before Laura Palmer’s death and who in the room was shown in the context of crackling electricity.

Cut to Gordon Cole in Philly being debriefed by Albert Rosenfield on his meeting with Diane. It didn’t go well: “no fucking way” was her response to being asked to evaluate the Coop in South Dakota. Now it’s Cole turn to take a crack, but he wants Albert to go with him. Albert wants a “please.” He gets one.

Next thing we know we’re at Diane’s townhouse being greeted by her younger lover, who was just leaving. Diane isn’t impressed by Cole showing up, she’s still not going to see Coop and says so adamantly, with plenty of expletives. She’s doesn’t give a flying fuck about Coop, it seems, and vengefully-so. I don’t know about you, but I’m loving Diane so very, very much much. Cole and Albert share their concerns there’s something off with Coop, and how they want her to verify their concerns with her own observations. “This is extremely important, Diane,” Cole tells her, adding mysteriously, “And it involves something you know about, and that’s enough said about that.” I’m thinking bad Coop might have kept up good Coop’s habit of sending Diane tapes after he left Twin Peaks. Whatever this means, though, it causes Diane to concede and just like that everybody’s on a plane to South Dakota, including Agent Tammy Preston, who’s showing Albert and Cole Coop’s fingerprints from 25 years ago versus those taken upon his recent arrest. They’re identical except for the left ringfinger: in the new print the swirl is backwards from the original print. Cole ties this curiosity to the word “very” that bad Coop said backwards when greeting him. He does so by counting out the words on Tammy’s fingers, the backwards “very” falling on the spirit mound or spirit finger, her left ringfinger. Albert pulls out the only known photo of Coop in the last 25 years, him at a house in Rio de Janerio. Diane overhears all this and seems forlorn.

This group arrives at the prison. Diane’s willing to talk to Coop for 10 minutes at most, nothing more. She goes in to see him alone, beyond nervous. She raises the curtain and there he is. My goosebumps had goosebumps seeing these two characters together for the first time ever, not to mention seeing Laura Dern and Kyle MacLachlan in the same scene for the first time since Blue Velvet. Coop has been expecting her. As a barometer, Diane wants to know when they saw each other last? Coop defers by asking if she’s upset with him. She asks her question again. He answers: “at your house.” She asks if he remembers that night. He “always will.” Same for her, but not in a good way. I’m getting really creepy sexual assault vibes at this point. Diane sees through bad Coop, she wants to know who he is, really. He doesn’t answer. She tells him to look at her and he does, but she doesn’t like what she sees and immediately terminates the conversation. She’s shell-shocked, on the verge of a breakdown, so storms out. Cole tells the Warden to hold Coop until he hears from them. Outside, Diane, panicked, takes Cole aside: she tells him that man in there is not Dale Cooper, something inside him, or not inside him, clued her in. She’s emotionally devastated, post-traumatically-so, and this is good enough for Cole. But he has to ask about that night she and Coop talked about. Not now, but some time she says she’ll tell him all her secrets. Whatever the specifics, it would seem this “last night” occurred after bad Coop left Twin Peaks. And whatever transpired, it ruined Diane and possibly drove her to drink.

Inside, bad Coop is taken back to his cell. There he tells a guard he has a message for the Warden and needs to deliver it in person: a message about “a strawberry.” Bad Coop mentioned a “Mr. Strawberry” back in episode five when wondering aloud for the benefit of the Warden who he should reach out to with his “private call.” Seems that was a message itself, one bad Coop is ready to expound upon.

Back in Twin Peaks, Andy is waiting at the spot where the truck owner wanted to meet, but the fella’s a no-show. At the owner’s house, an ominous open door is shown. Andy gives up waiting.

Bad Coop is brought to the Warden’s office, where the cameras have been turned off for privacy, – the Warden’s apparently, as he then pulls a gun. Coop, unfazed, mentions the severed dog’s leg found in his trunk when he was arrested. He tells the Warden the canine’s other three legs went out with the information Coop knows the Warden is thinking of right now, and furthermore said information went out to people the Warden definitely doesn’t want coming around, which they will should something happen to Coop. To drive home the point, Coop says a name: “Gil McClusky.” This takes the wind right out of the Warden’s sails. He sits down, drops the gun, and asks Coop what he wants: a car for himself and a fellow inmate named Ray Monroe; a “friend,” presumably a gun, in the glove box; and all by one a.m. tonight. Do this, and Coop tells the Warden he will never see Coop again, and no one will ever hear the names of “Joe McClusky” – not Gil – or the late Mr. Strawberry again. The Warden acquiesces.

Jump to Vegas where Janey-E is waiting for Dougie outside his office building. He’s inside at his desk. Anthony Sinclair (Tom Sizemore) is there obviously prodding for info about Dougie’s recent meeting with the boss. Meanwhile Janey loses patience and storms inside. Coop has no answers for Anthony, lost as he is in another drawing. His assistant interrupts, says some officers are there to see him. They’re shown to his office the same time Janey walks in. The cops have come to discuss Dougie’s car, found exploded at Rancho Rosa along with a few scorched bodies. The official Jones explanation is that the car went missing and was presumably stolen. Thanks to Janey’s aggressive insistence, the cops buy this, but they’ll need to see Dougie later to fill out some paperwork. On the way out, Janey is telling Coop about how she settled his cash problems with the bookie thugs. That’s when Ike the Spike shows up with a gun he intends to use to kill Dougie Jones, a.k.a. good Coop. Coop though, in contrast to all his behavior until now, reacts to this aggression by making the first move, pinning Ike to the ground and disarming him. That’s when Coop sees a vision of the evolution of the arm (the Man from Another Place) telling him to “squeeze his hand off.” Coop balks at this instruction, perhaps realizing its inherent evilness, and Ike escapes, his plot foiled.

Later, the cops are taking Dougie and Janey’s statement. Meanwhile eyewitnesses are interviewed by a news crew. A little girl among them caught my attention in particular: she says the assailant, Ike, “smelled funny,” but doesn’t elaborate. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that funny smell is scorched engine oil, like the smell at the entrance to The Black Lodge. On the gun Ike used there’s a piece of flesh; it gets bagged.

Back in Twin Peaks at The Great Northern, Ben and his assistant Beverly (Ashley Judd) are discussing a humming sound she’s been hearing in her office and trying to pinpoint where it’s coming from. They go to a lamp in the corner. Not it. They go to the opposite corner, by a totem pole. Not it. She shows him an old key that came in the mail that day. It’s a blast from the past to Ben’s old eyes, especially when he notices the room number and remembers it as where Cooper was shot. He doesn’t seem too interested beyond that, and tells Beverly to have maintenance check out that humming. Once they’re both gone the camera moves back to the corner where the lamp is, then fades to black. Josie?

Beverly comes home just as a nurse is leaving, a caretaker for “him.” “He” didn’t have a great day. “He” turns out to be Tom, Beverly’s husband, who is very sick, presumably with cancer. He’s suspicious why she’s late. This seems like a routine, his doubt, and she’s tired of it, she doesn’t want his paranoia “to fuck this up.” No doubt she’s referring to whatever deal she has (had) with the criminals bad Coop was travelling with in the pilot, the now-dead criminals, though it sounds like Beverly doesn’t know this last part.

Across town at The Bang Bang Bar (The Roadhouse), Jean-Michel Renault gets a call about a couple of prostitutes he sent somewhere; apparently they were underaged, 15-underaged and straight-A students at that. Jean-Michel calls them straight-A whores. Gross. Seems the family charm runs as strong as the family business in the Renault blood. He closes the call by saying he doesn’t give a fuck about the girls’ ages, he wants his money regardless.

Cut to the prison in South Dakota, right around one a.m. Coop is let out of his cell. He’s dressed to travel. This Ray character is let out, too. They’re escorted to the car the Warden procured. Ray seems to know Coop, or seems at least to not be bothered by these circumstances. They drive out of prison.

We close back in Twin Peaks at the Double R Diner. A guy runs in asking if anyone’s seen “Bing.” No one has. It seems like a throwaway scene – “Bing” is billed in the credits as Riley Lynch, David’s son and the guitarist for Trouble, who closed out episode five – but look closer. Before this dude runs into the diner, there’s one set of customers; after he leaves, the customers have changed, like physically. It’s a sly, slight shift, one made more confounding by camera angles, but there are three things to note here – one, Shelly notices the shift, you can see the confusion on her face but two, she brushes it off, like it’s a regular thing, or at least not as unexpected as some of the other things that have happened in town during her lifetime. And three, check out the guy in the bottom left of the episode’s final scene, under the “N” in “MacLachlan:” is that Bobby Briggs?

It sure as hell looks like him.

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So, in true Twin Peaks’ fashion, for as many mysteries as were somewhat solved this week, a dozen more began. The new storyline continues to be more episodic than cohesive, but pieces are finally starting to co-exist, which means their coming together can’t be too far behind. In my opinion, this was the best episode to-date of the new season, one with one foot planted firmly in the past and the other firmly in the future, bridging a murky present the veil over which is finally starting to flutter away. With 11 episodes to go, you start extrapolating, wondering if there’s going to be time to wrap up everything that’s unraveled, and while it might not seem like there is, remember this is Twin Peaks, where the mystery’s the thing, not the solution. This go-around in particular Lynch and Frost seem to be leaving things wide open for interpretation; if you’re expecting this to all end with more answers than questions, you’re watching the wrong show.