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[TV Review] ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’ “Part 16”

Lynch and Frost throw one to the Twin Peaks fans and deliver the season’s most satisfying episode yet. Wow, Bob, Wow.

“Finally.”

Damn, Lynch can actually cover some ground when he wants to, huh?

For all the time he may spend focused on someone sweeping up peanut shells or taking the longest amount of time possible to leave a hotel room, he can really get things moving when put in a corner. And with this episode being the antepenultimate one, that time has come. Philip Gerard speaks for everyone when he responds with “Finally” in regard to Cooper waking up 16 hours into this adventure. It’s not that this show taking its time hasn’t been pleasant, but who doesn’t love good old fashioned plot progression? Besides, would Cooper’s momentous return be all that significant to begin with without the tremendous amount of build up behind it? Perhaps, but it certainly makes Cooper’s awakening all the more satisfying and momentous due to it being a season-long journey as opposed to a multi-episode arc.

Before jumping into the gloriousness that is the return of Dale Cooper, let’s first touch on the Special Agent’s evil half and what that pesky doppleganger is up to. Mr. C is still driving around with Richard Horne after the fallout from last episode. As the two close in on what could be the proper coordinates that Evil Coop is looking for, he begins to use Richard as his interdimensional guinea pig. It’s not long after Richard is given such an honor that pop goes the weasel. Richard Horne’s deconstruction at what are apparently the incorrect coordinates is really thrilling stuff. Not only does the Black Lodge Home Alone him pretty hard, but it seems to indicate that there are some Lodge points that are purely meant to act as booby traps. Mr. C’s flippant reveal that Richard is in fact his son is also pretty damn wonderful. The fact that all of this happens to dovetail with the nonsense that Jerry Horne has found himself in is also quite satisfying.

Before the episode turns everything up to 11, it appears to be jerking its audience around a little. “Dougie’s” adventures in electricity last episode have sent him to the hospital and stuck him in a coma. It’s a visual that’s extremely worrisome and it wouldn’t be surprising if many viewers instantly had the vision of the series wrapping up with Cooper stuck in a hospital bed; the ultimate sick joke. This trip to the hospital does seem to end up inadvertently saving Cooper’s life once more. It keeps him away from the house while Hutch and Chantal continue to try to pull off their assassination attempt.

On the topic of those lovesick assassins, Hutch and Chantal, the way in which they go out is far too fitting for Lynch. The two end up rubbing a stranger the wrong and suddenly the guy is opening fire on them and hopelessly outclassing the killing team. This is a testament to the chaotic coincidental nature that fuels Lynch’s mirror version of the American dream. Anyone can be the big villain if pushed hard enough. Everyone has these capabilities within themselves. Not everyone that’s a killer is some interdimensional evil spirit. Some guys are just stressed.

Everyone seems rather confident that “Dougie” won’t be in this coma for very long, and almost as if to confirm this diagnosis Philip Gerard snaps him out of his stupor almost immediately after this. What follows next is absolute fan service and it seems like everyone is having a hard time keeping up with the whirlwind of recent events except for Cooper. Once again, finally, he’s the one in charge.

It’s also extremely satisfying to see Gerard giving Cooper the Owl Cave ring to take out his evil doppleganger for once and for all in the epic two-part finale that looms closer. It’s also revealed that that metallic orb that left the real Dougie was a “seed.” It’s instrumental to Cooper completing his mission here. Cooper’s insistence for a second seed is also certainly interesting. I initially thought that perhaps he wanted this to “grow” Janey-E a new Dougie, but he might have plans to save it for some of the other women in his life.

It’s additionally fascinating to learn that Cooper seems to have retained everything that he’s been experiencing during his recent stretch of being brain dead. Watching Cooper getting to coast off the relationships and good luck that Dougie has experienced is also very satisfying. This fool has never been able to enjoy or even understand any of the extreme good fortune that he’s been experiencing. Cooper is able to appreciate an easy race to the finish line due to the support system that Dougie and his recent brain dead habits have left him with. Also, the Mitchum Brothers explaining Cooper’s miraculous return as “side effects” and then moving on is just far too perfect.

After getting accustomed to the lethargic clip of previous scenes with Dougie, it’s such a delight to see how damn fast Cooper works and the great efficiency and assertiveness that he operates with. It’s just pure bliss to finally be at this moment. Lynch knows how great it is to have Cooper back and it’s wonderful to see him finally laying into these tendencies that fans have wanted from the start. Fans might have convinced themselves that they didn’t need Cooper’s return, but this is just too much fun. Lynch clearly has missed the Special Agent just as much as we have. It’s also beautiful that Cooper doesn’t seem the least bit worried in his mission. It feels like he knows exactly what he needs to do, is ready to evaporate some doppleganger ass, and then return to his red-doored slice of paradise back home.

Everyone’s been right to commend MacLachlan for his work as Dougie and Evil Cooper, but seeing him seamlessly shift back into Cooper’s suit, tie, and mannerisms is a strong reminder of what a wonderful character and performance this is. Not to mention, “Laura Palmer’s Theme” kicking in as Cooper finally gets everything together, paired with his “I am the FBI” to Bushnell is absolutely the best moment of The Return so far. It’s taken a loooong time, but Cooper wastes no effort at all to speed everything back into order. Playing Evil Cooper’s anthem, the messed up David Lynch remix of “American Woman” is also a brilliant juxtaposition here. These two sides of the same coin are finally about to come together.

The other major set piece of “Part 16” revolves around ornery Diane, with the big mystery around her also finally revealing itself. She reveals that that infamous night that she shared with “Cooper” all those years ago was actually some of Evil Cooper’s earlier exploits. Laura Dern has been great all season, but she delivers the hell out of this tortured performance and makes Diane’s final moments count. It’s brutal as Diane discusses her realization that Cooper was “wrong” and what he did to her next. It’s all very Killer Bob-esque behavior and Evil Cooper’s raping of Diane makes his rumored raping of Audrey while she was in a coma seem all the more plausible. Evil Lodge entities will be Evil Lodge entities after all. Pass the garmonbozia.

A lot goes down here but the end results are that the real Diane has been gone for 21 years and the Diane that the FBI has been dealing with is a manufactured doppleganger a la Dougie. A tulpa, as they say. But this manufactured Diane’s been conflicted and in flux about the whole thing while periodically under Evil Cooper’s control. Also, Diane’s sudden surge of memories and her line, “I’m in the sheriff’s station,” may strongly indicate that Naido is actually the real Diane. It would be a horrible fate for the character, but after Cooper went nuts on her and took her to the Lodge, it’s easy to see that as her outcome. Plus, Diane and Naido are almost eerily anagrams.

All of these answers are shot at the audience fast and furious, with the overload of information only allowing the episode to check in with Twin Peaks once this week. Audrey and Charlie finally show up at the Roadhouse, almost as if it’s something that’s done purely to shut up all of the people that have been insisting that Audrey’s still in a coma or something to that effect. Audrey’s just deranged now, okay? James is cool and Audrey’s deranged.

Or is she?

Seeing the Roadhouse break into a nostalgic round of “Audrey’s Dance” as Audrey busts out into her signature number while dozens of bargoers sway on in support makes for a deeply surreal moment. Okay, maybe Audrey is still in a coma? The ending coasts on pure dream logic until what appears to be James’ fight from the previous episode interrupts everything and grim reality sets in. Let’s try to break these chaotic final seconds down. It would seem likely that Evil Cooper took Audrey to the convenience store/Black Lodge after raping her in the hospital, just like he did Diane? It’s no coincidence that we’re told Diane’s situation in the same episode where this business is going on with Audrey. They certainly feel linked together. So are the episode’s final minutes these whacked out visions of someone who’s still trapped in the Lodge and is getting glitched out versions of reality? That seems most inclined to be the truth (the reverse music from the band during the credits would be a strong indication that Audrey’s Lodge-bound), but it’s still very open to interpretation at this point.

In spite of an ending that intentionally plays with its audience and keeps them in the dark, for once there seems to be a surprisingly clear trajectory for what’s to come. Next week’s double-finale will see Cooper facing off with Evil Cooper and finally balancing the scales of good and evil. Also, does anyone else feel that Cooper is just going to stay with Janey-E and Sonny Jim after all of this is over? He seems to still have genuine affection for them and they’re even more adorable now that he’s cognizant. It’s nice that Cooper may be given a bizarre happily ever after that’s independent of all the Twin Peaks and FBI business after he wraps up the loose threads of the original series.

If this episode is any indication, next week should be even crazier. The last time Lynch was given a two-hour finale to close out Twin Peaks on, it resulted in one of the series’ most memorable episodes. Why should this time be any different? As Cooper heads towards Washington, he’s not worried, so why should we be?

5/5

‘Twin Peaks: The Return’ will conclude next week with a two-hour finale at 8pm on Showtime

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