The only thing worse than a contrarian is a contrarian-contrarian, but here I go! At this point I think it takes more effort to NOT enjoy Twin Peaks: The Return than loving it as much as I have with all of my heart. But everyone is different! This weekend one of my most brilliant friends attempted to make me admit that I long for the "old, cozy" Twin Peaks instead of this one and I couldn't do it. That is because however you remember the first two seasons being, Twin Peaks was only that way like 35% of the time. The rest was wheel-spinning, network meddling, and subplots that made even the esoteric dead-ends of The Return feel indispensible. In contrast, once you understand what David Lynch is attempting with this 18-part career summation, the more consistent you'll find it. Twin Peaks: The Return is Twin Peaks: The Return 100% of the time. No, this is not the same show we remember from the '90s, but here's the exciting twist: We get to have BOTH things. The original Twin Peaks project, and now this one, which is so strange and singular I regret it even shares the same title.
"Part 16" was wonderful and felt borderline intense! We're talking at least four major character deaths and at least three huge reveals. Plus Agent Dale Cooper WOKE UP. He is woke, everyone. Let's talk about it!
We began on the outskirts of Twin Peaks, WA, where two very bad men emerged from a pickup truck and stared at a boulder.
Richard Horne (Eamon Farren) had accompanied Evil Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) to the coordinates provided by Teapot Agent Jeffries last week, and Evil Cooper looked borderline terrified of approaching the exact spot.
Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) emerged from the woods to spy on the pair from the wrong-end of a pair of binoculars, which is a classic Jerry Horne move. Still, he was able to get a front row seat for THIS:
Evil Cooper reasoned that, as someone exactly 25 years Richard's senior (hint hint!), Richard should be the one to approach the coordinates on top of the boulder. And would you look at that? He found himself immediately and painfully incinerated by unseen forces! Teapot Agent Jeffries had again attempted to murder Evil Cooper, which proved once and for all that he was not a fan of Evil Cooper. Also, Evil Cooper said "Goodbye, son" to the smoking granite where Richard Horne once stood, proving once and for all that Richard Horne had indeed been the product of Evil Cooper's sexual assault on a comatose Audrey Horne. In other words, this episode was off to quite a start.
We then returned to Las Vegas where Dougie lay in a coma following his adventures stuffing a fork in a wall outlet. Charmingly enough, both his boss AND the Mitchum Brothers showed up to spend time with him. Dougie might have wandered through life with a slack-jaw and questionable cognitive skills, but he sure did make friends. (Related: Miss u Jade!)
While Dougie got some quality sleep in the hospital, Tim Roth and Jennifer Jason Leigh were staked outside his home waiting to murder him. They generally passed the time by eating Cheetos and discussing whether or not Jennifer Jason Leigh was "on the rag," but their stakeout grew stranger when the FBI arrived to speak to Dougie, and after that the Mitchum Brothers showed up to distribute more gifts. But the strange confluence of characters reached its apex when an angry local informed the hitmen that they were blocking his driveway, and they did not respond with the proper courtesy.
Yep, the hitmen got whacked by a stranger with road rage!
This was just an immensely satisfying sequence for a lot of reasons. The world of Twin Peaks is full of darkness and chaos, but I love the idea that sometimes being a jerk is detrimental to your health. Enjoy oblivion, guys!
At this point the REAL Agent Dale Cooper burst forth from his coma and ripped all the wires and respirators from his perfectly healthy bod. He was AWAKE and he was ready to get results!
After a brief check-in with the One-Armed Man, who reminded us that the fake doppelgangers contain golden "seeds," Cooper requested two more seeds (still TBD whom he intends to spirit-clone) and made his way out of the hospital. He needed to get back to the Pacific Northwest STAT.
After Evil Cooper had watched his son explode, he sent an innocuous-seeming text to Diane (Laura Dern) who began to tremble and melt down when she received it. It was now time for her to reveal to Gordon (David Lynch) what exactly had happened during her fateful run-in with Evil Cooper back in the day. And you will not be shocked to learn this, but he had sexually assaulted her. Laura Dern imparted this knowledge with another of her trademark brilliant monologues, and perhaps it was the lack of surprise that made this admission more affecting. But her story took a turn when she recounted how Evil Cooper had taken her to a "gas station" afterward, like the one we'd seen in his nightmare travels. And at this point she fully melted down and grabbed her handgun only to find herself on the business end of these two:
And just like that, Diane was fatally shot before disappearing entirely!
The big reveal being that this WASN'T the real Diane. This woman had instead been a doppelganger created by Evil Cooper to do his bidding:
It's not clear if this means the real Diane continues to exist somewhere, but it was a poignant end to Laura Dern's surprising, bleak, tour de force performance. Gonna miss her foul mouth and chainsmoking!
In another emotional scene, Dale thanked Janey-E (Naomi Watts) and Sonny Jim for being wonderful to him and promised he'd return someday. I love the idea that he shared Dougie's consciousness and memories despite not having full agency. And Janey-E appeared so sad and distraught to be losing this person that even she acknowledged had been a stranger to her. Dale thanked almost everyone he'd met for their kindnesses, which felt very Classic Dale to me. Ultimately HE was the coziest thing about Twin Peaks, and that particular form of coziness was now back in effect.
From here, Dale enlisted the Mitchum Brothers to accompany him to Twin Peaks, where he was set to converge at the Sheriff's Station (the coordinates to which Diane had sent Evil Cooper prior to her death). In other words, a fascinating combination of characters were about to meet up in the very heart of this show and I can't WAIT to see how this royal rumble goes down.
We then returned to the Roadhouse, where we should have known something was up when a singer named "Edward Louis Severson III" was introduced. In my opinion he sounded SUSPICIOUSLY like the lead singer of Pearl Jam, but don't quote me on that. And that's when another familiar face rolled in.
Audrey had finally made it to the Roadhouse! What a victory for her. Yes, she still had to spend time with the husband she despised, but at least she was one step closer to finding Billy, whomsoever that may be. And then, to her surprise, the emcee announced it was time for Audrey to do her iconic dance!
In a show full of random, bracingly beautiful moments, this was incredible. Set to her iconic instrumental theme song, Audrey danced for the assembled hipsters, a look of serenity on her face. But because this is Twin Peaks, it wouldn't last long! A man then ran in and attacked another man, and we flash-cut to an all-white room where Audrey seemed to be trapped!
And yes, we'd been speculating for weeks that Audrey wasn't quite walking amongst the living, so this merely confirmed her plight. Was she still trapped in her coma, or was this another dimension entirely? Either way, it's borderline wonderful to find out she's not just a bad-tempered sourpuss trapped in a sham marriage. There's something more to the story and it'll be thrilling to find out just what.
"Part 16" was essentially the penultimate episode (next week brings the 2-part ending), and therefore it really cleared the table for a satisfying conclusion. Between the deaths of prominent characters and these reveals about Audrey and Evil Cooper (and Diane!) it felt like an intense, necessary, and gratifying episode. Twin Peaks doesn't necessarily owe us a traditional ending or closure of any kind, but it's hard to deny the power of pay-off. Either it'll stick the landing or it'll dissolve into a transdimensional wormhole, but either way we're lucky to have it.
Twin Peaks airs Sundays at 9/8c on Showtime.
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