(This post contains spoilers for Twin Peaks: The Return.)
For a little while there, when the Dougie stuff was really starting to try our patience and when new mysteries were being introduced with just a few episodes left (looking at you, British guy with the super-strength glove!), it seemed like Twin Peaks might not stick the landing. Twin Peaks is not a show where you should expect plots to be resolved in any traditional fashion, but it just seemed like any resolution at all was impossibly far away. There were too many threads dangling and not enough time to get to any of them.
But now, with the two-part finale almost here, Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is 100 percent awake and he and his evil doppelgänger are both heading to the center of the Twin Peaks universe, the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Department. There are still a lot of balls in the air, but the most important one -- that Agent Dale Cooper returns to Twin Peaks -- is about to come down. David Lynch, for all his esotericism, isn't going to leave us hanging this time, at least not with the stuff that matters. He and Mark Frost brought the show back to give it a proper farewell. This is as much for them as it is for us, and they're not going to let themselves down.
After gratifying moments like Big Ed (Everett McGill) and Norma (Peggy Lipton) finally getting together and the Log Lady's (Catherine Coulsen) passing, I think we can rest assured that we'll get an emotionally satisfying ending. While the final two episodes may not end up answering all our questions, especially about the mythology, they'll be exactly what they're supposed to be.
I think we have enough information at this point to comfortably assess what questions still remain and how likely they are to be answered, ranked primarily on how unsatisfying it would be if they were left unanswered. Here we go.
1. Will Cooper send his doppelgänger back to the Black Lodge? This is the central plot of the season, and it will be resolved in some capacity. It's not like Twin Peaks hasn't been telling a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. It may not make literal sense, and it may be heartbreaking, but Cooper's story will be resolved.
2. What's going on with Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn)? Audrey finally showed up late in the game, and has spent all of her time arguing with her husband Charlie (Clark Middleton) about going to find her missing paramour Billy. They finally made it to the roadhouse in Part 16, and she unexpectedly did her iconic dance from the original series, only to suddenly be transported to some kind of white room with a mirror when she was interrupted. Audrey's whole story has been completely mystifying and disconnected from everything else so far, and seems like it may be some kind of dream or vision. Is she trapped in an alternate dimension? Has she been in a coma for 25 years? Those questions, as well as the (surely awful) story of how her and Evil Cooper's son Richard (Eamon Farren) was born, will have to be answered. They're just too important not to be.
3. What about Laura (Sheryl Lee)? As the Log Lady told us in Part 10, Laura is the one. She's been elusive this season, but she and Cooper are the twin hearts of the show. Before the Log Lady died, she told Hawk (Michael Horse) to watch out for "the one." Laura will be seen again. If Laura's tortured soul finally finds peace, I will be a blubbering mess.
4. And Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie)? Laura's mother has her own unresolved issue -- namely, that there's some kind of horrifying smoke demon that rips people's throats out inside of her. She may be another tulpa like Diane or Evil Cooper, manufactured for a purpose.
5. How will Major Briggs play into it? The late Major Garland Briggs has been crucially important to the story, and his part is not finished. Whatever happens in the forest outside Twin Peaks will probably involve him. I have no idea how, but I do know that whatever happened between him and Cooper on the day he died has not been explained. For Bobby's (Dana Ashbrook) sake, we need closure.
6. What will become of the Blue Rose Task Force? Gordon Cole (David Lynch), Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) and Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) are the ones who can articulate the supernatural stuff for us, so that will be their job. It will be exciting to see them reunite with Cooper and help him defeat his doppelgänger. And I feel like at least one of them is going to die. Probably Cole.
7. Tulpas? Speaking of Blue Rose, Tammy was mesmerized in Part 16 when she realized Diane (Laura Dern) was a tulpa -- that is, a being created by a person's thoughts or spiritual powers. The concept comes from Tibetan mysticism, which is something Agent Cooper has been interested in since the original series. Dougie was also a tulpa, and Evil Cooper might be a tulpa, too, which would make Dougie a tulpa's tulpa. Laura Palmer might be a tulpa created by the Fireman (Carel Struycken), as we saw in Part 8 when he created a golden ball with her face in it with his mind and sent it to Earth. Asking for a comprehensive explanation of tulpas may be too much, but we may get some kind of working understanding of how they operate in this world.
8. What's happening with Becky (Amanda Seyfried) and Steven Burnett (Caleb Landry Jones)? Shelley (Madchen Amick) and her good-for-nothing husband's story is still hanging. When we last saw Steven, he and Gersten Hayward (Alicia Witt) were in the woods, high on drugs. He had done something to "her" -- presumably Becky -- and he was suicidal. A man walking his dog in the woods (played by Mark Frost!) saw them, and they panicked. Gersten ran around to the other side of the big tree, and we heard Steven fire a shot. The dogwalker went back to the Fat Trout Trailer Park and told Carl (Harry Dean Stanton) that Steven was out there, so presumably he's going to check it out. So did Steven kill Becky and then himself? At the bare minimum, we'll find that out.
9. What is the deal with the Japanese lady with no eyes who communicates in chirps? We first met Naido (Nae Yuuki) in Part 3 when Cooper was returning to Earth and we thought she died when she got electrocuted by a giant space-bell-elevator-thing, but then Andy (Harry Goaz) rescued her after his encounter with the Fireman. She's been chilling in a holding cell at the sheriff's station ever since. She'll play an important part in the showdown between the Coopers.
10. Judy? Linda? In Fire Walk With Me, Agent Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie) appeared in the FBI's Philadelphia office after a long time being missing and said, among other things, "we are not going to talk about Judy." But then when he appeared in teapot form in Part 15, he talked about Judy. Evil Cooper asked who she is, and Jeffries said he'd met her already. Maybe we'll find out who she is in the finale and get an answer to one of the longest-lived Twin Peaks mysteries? There's also Linda, who the Fireman told Cooper to remember in the first scene of the revival. "Remember Richard and Linda," he told him. Richard was presumably the now-deceased Richard Horne, but we still don't really know who Linda is. A Linda was mentioned when some dude we never saw again was giving Carl a ride into town -- she's his wife, a disabled veteran and resident of the Fat Trout Trailer Park -- but we don't know for sure that this is the same Linda.
11. The frogbug! Remember in Part 8 when the bug with the legs of a frog crawled into that sleeping girl's mouth in 1956? What was that about? Fun fact: David Lynch has mentioned "frog moths" before -- he saw them in Yugoslavia in the '60s. He talked about it in a video about how to cook quinoa. David Lynch is one of America's great artists.
12. What are the Experiment and the evil symbol? "The Experiment" is the thing that vomited BOB into the world after the nuclear test and killed the two young people in New York. It's still out there somewhere. The evil symbol is the black spot with, like, bunny ears. In Part 2, Evil Cooper had an ace of spades card with the symbol drawn onto it, and he said that's what he wants. In Part 11, Hawk (Michael Horse) showed Sheriff Truman (Robert Forster) a map that had the symbol on it. Truman asked about it, but Hawk warned him that he doesn't want to know. The symbol sort of looks like the Experiment. They seem important.
13. Is the Ben Horne (Richard Beymer)/Ashley Judd subplot going anywhere? So far, these two have spent the majority of their time in Ben's office doing some kind of weird will they/won't they. How does it connect to the bigger picture? What's the sound they've been hearing?
The final eight questions are pretty self explanatory, so let's give them the lightning round treatment!
14. What is Freddie (Jake Wardle) with the glove's destiny?
15. Is the bloody-faced guy in the jail Billy, Audrey's missing lover?
16. How did Janey-E's (Naomi Watts) ring end up in Major Briggs' stomach?
17. Will we see the drugged-out mother screaming "one-one-nine" again?
18. What about Red (Balthazar Getty), Shelley's drug-dealing magician boyfriend?
19. What are the golden seeds that animate the tulpas?
20. Do we really need any of the mystical stuff explained, or is that best left to interpretation?
21. Is James Hurley (James Marshall) cool?
Some of these questions will not be answered. Most of them will be answered in unexpected ways. Things will happen that we could have never predicted. Whatever does happen, even if some of it is unsatisfactory, it will not negate the incredible artistic feat that David Lynch and Mark Frost have already accomplished.
Twin Peaks: The Return's two-part finale airs Sunday, Sept. 3 at 8/7c on Showtime.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, Showtime's parent company.)