This is it. The final hour of the series that we have waited over 25 years to conclude. BOB has been vanquished. Agent Cooper is back and ready to rumble. Even Laura Palmer is back because as Billy Joel sang, ‘only the good die young’. Would the end of our epic journey best the slightly underwhelming part 17? Was David Lynch able to pull off the most harrowing and difficult of all television feats and deliver a satisfying series finale? LET’S ROCK.
HOMEWARD BOUND: The episode begins with the jarring visual of Bad Cooper sitting in a chair in the Lodge, engulfed in flames. He disintegrates into one of those ‘soul beads’ that we have seen a few times before. Bad Cooper’s soul bead looks a little different than previous beads, though. Is that a twig attached to it? I swear that I saw an ominous twig on the chair next to the bead. Also, only David Lynch could make a twig seem ominous. Mike picks up the bead, which floats in the air for a while and then turns into…Dougie Jones! The original Dougie Jones, just cleaned up with a haircut and wearing Cooper’s suit. Dougie is transported to his home in Las Vegas, where he returns to the loving arms of his family. OH LOOK, A HAPPY ENDING. At least until he starts gambling and riding Jade again…
UNDER THE SYCAMORE TREES: After Laura vanishes from her hike through the woods with Cooper, we are back in the Lodge where we see a repeat of previous events: Mike asking ‘Is it future or is it past?’, Laura whispering to Cooper and then flying off into the curtains, Leland Palmer telling Cooper to ‘find Laura’. This time when Dale and Mike talk to The Arm, there is a change from before and The Arm asks ‘Is this the story of the little girl who lived down the lane?’ The very same question that Audrey asked Charlie during their parlor talk/her hallucinatory freakout. Surely this is a clue as to what happened to Audrey, although I can’t begin to guess at what it all means.
Dale Cooper exits the Lodge through the curtains and comes out in Ghostwood Forest, the same place he entered the Lodge 25 years ago. This is how it was SUPPOSED to happen from the beginning. No Dougie, no ‘evolution of The Arm’, no Bad Cooper. As an added bonus, Laura Palmer is possibly still alive in this reality as well, thanks to Cooper leading her away from the meeting with Jacques and Leo in the woods. Ok, so she did disappear screaming into the woods and we don’t know what that was all about but at least she’s not a corpse on a rocky beach anymore. Diane is waiting in the woods as Cooper returns to the real world. How did she know to be there? He assures her that it’s really him and kisses her, then they head off on a road trip to…somewhere. They drive exactly 430 miles through desert plains until they reach their destination — the middle of the road near a bunch of power lines. Cooper tells Diane to kiss him because ‘once we cross, it could all be different.’ They kiss, they drive, they cross. Day suddenly becomes night and they drive to a rundown motel in the middle of nowhere. When Cooper goes inside to the front desk, Diane waits in the car and sees herself standing outside the motel. Ummmm…ok? Diane and Cooper enter the motel room and proceed to have slightly passionate yet mannered sexual intercourse to the Platters’ song from back in episode 8. Cooper sits down and Diane rides him and I can’t tell you how odd it felt to be watching a Cooper/Diane sex scene in the final hour of Twin Peaks. My thoughts at the time: 1 – Why are they having sex? 2 – Dale doesn’t seem to be very into it. 3 – Why is she obscuring his face with her hands? (admittedly, many women have tried to hide my face with their hands during sex, but I had always assumed it was so that they could pretend they were having sex with anyone else but me) 4 – Yep, I think she just had an orgasm. 5 – Laura Palmer probably would really like to be here for this, it’s right up her alley. 6 – I can’t believe I just watched Dale Cooper bang his secretary.
The next morning, Dale awakens alone and finds a note on the bedside table. It’s a goodbye letter from ‘Linda’ addressed to ‘Richard’ (finally we get our Richard & Linda reference from way back in the premiere!). Linda writes that she doesn’t recognize Richard anymore and what they had is over, that she’s leaving and he shouldn’t try to find her. A confused Cooper/Richard leaves the motel, the exterior of which has transformed overnight from a rundown shame-hole into a half-decent two-story hotel. He drives away and now we have to stop and figure out just what the hell is going on.
These Diane/Cooper scenes can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. I don’t believe there’s a 100 percent ‘correct’ interpretation, so I’m just going to take a blind stab at it: Bad Cooper raped Diane and replaced her with a tulpa back in the other timeline. In the new timeline, the one without Bad Cooper and Dead Laura, Dale makes love to Diane to somehow reverse the effects of the rape in the other universe. After doing so, Cooper and Diane experience some sort of temporal displacement and ‘become’ Richard and Linda, for better or worse. This was portended by The Fireman and Cooper was aware this was going to happen, so he doesn’t freak out like Diane does. He manages to remember that he really is an FBI agent and he is on a mission to find Laura Palmer. I believe that Cooper’s reversal of the negative events of the alternate timeline brought about the ‘Richard and Linda’ personas. Almost as if the universe was aware of what Dale was trying to do and was now trying to confuse Cooper and stop him from further tampering with the timeline. Does that make sense? Anyway, now we are off to Texas.
A WHIMPER AND A BANG: Dale Cooper drives through the town of Odessa, Texas, on his quest to find Laura Palmer. How does he know she will be in this particular town? YOU GOT ME ON THAT. At this point in the series, the final 30 minutes of the whole damn enchilada, it’s best to just roll with it and cool it with the questions (this is what I keep telling myself while watching the episode). He pulls into the Eat at Judy’s coffee shop and inquires about a waitress who works there. While he waits for information on this waitress (one guess as to who the mysterious woman in question is…), three redneck cowboy-types harass one of the servers. Cooper, ever the do-gooder, comes to her aid and yells out to the cowboys to leave the girl alone. Predictably, they turn their aggression towards him and are poised to attack when Cooper quickly disposes of them by kicking one in the crotch and shooting another in the foot (the third cowboy just stands and watches, too scared to move). Cooper deep fries their guns (first deep-fried Oreos, now THIS) and flashes his badge to the stunned waitress so she will give him the home address of the girl he is looking for. EXIT EAT AT JUDY’S COFFEE SHOP. Left behind in the scene: Three confused, angry cowboys, a fry cook and a waitress, and two befuddled elderly people eating pancakes.
Dale Cooper stops his car in front of the address of the mystery woman. We see the infamous telephone pole with the number 6 on it (this is the third different place we have seen this telephone pole, right?). When Dale knocks on the apartment door, Laura Palmer answers! Except it’s not really Laura Palmer, it’s Carrie Page. She has no idea who Laura Palmer is or why Cooper thinks she is this girl. However, she seems to recognize the name ‘Sarah’ and agrees to travel with Dale to Washington State to go to Sarah’s house. SIDE NOTE: Carrie Page is as dumb as a box of rocks. First she asks if Washington State is far away (ummm yeah, Carrie, Washington is a bit of a drive from Texas). Then she asks if it’s up north. HOW DOES SHE HAVE NO IDEA WHERE WASHINGTON STATE IS? YEAH WASHINGTON STATE IS IN MEXICO, STUPID.
While Carrie gathers her coat and a few belongings (she is probably searching her closet for a surfboard), Cooper enters the apartment and sees a long-haired dude sitting on a chair with the back of his head blown out all over the wall behind him. Ok, so now we know why Carrie is so eager to leave town with a stranger — she’s just committed a rather gruesome homicide. It’s odd how she doesn’t even warn an FBI agent that he’s walking in on a bloody crime scene but HEY, I said I wasn’t going to question the strange logic of the finale.
What we get next are many scenes of night driving. I actually enjoyed these slow, meditative scenes, although I can see how they drove some viewers crazy. Seconds are ticking away at the end of what is probably the last episode of Twin Peaks ever, and we are spending a copious amount of screen time watching two people sitting in a car, barely speaking. Carrie does give a poignant, strangely moving little speech about trying to keep a clean house but being too young to know any better. Cooper attempts to get Carrie to listen to the Spotify playlist he made for the trip titled ‘Mystery Drive With The Middle-Aged Murderess’, but she says she doesn’t really care for music (ok this didn’t happen, but wouldn’t it have been fantastic if it did?).
Finally, they arrive in Twin Peaks. Dale asks Carrie if anything looks familiar to her, but she doesn’t recognize any of the local sites. One thing that I noticed was that the RR Diner had reverted from the ‘RR To Go’ back to the old RR from years ago…hmmmm. Anyway, they pull up and park in front of the Palmer house, then walk hand-in-hand up to the porch and knock on the door. A woman answers, the new owner of the house. Her name is Alice Tremond (the same last name as the elderly woman who lived next to Harold Smith). She says she has never heard of Sarah Palmer, and that she and her husband bought the house from a Mrs. Chalfont (the elderly woman’s alias when she lived at the Fat Trout Trailer Park in Deer Meadow). Wowie zowie, what is going on here? This gives no useful help to Cooper, though, and he is baffled as he walks back to the car with Carrie. Standing in the street, he suddenly stops, turns, and walks around as if he is tracing his own steps and asks ‘What year is this?’ Way off in the distance, we hear Sarah Palmer yell out Laura’s name. Carrie/Laura suddenly remembers everything and lets out one of the most bloodcurdling, horrifying screams in the history of television as electrical static engulfs the Palmer house and the screen goes black. THAT’S IT, FRIENDS. The end of Twin Peaks.
I personally loved the final episode, especially the moments at the Palmer house at the end. It was a near-perfect five minutes and the entire scene was dripping with dread, hope, and anticipation. I was left as confused and heartbroken as I was at the end of season 2, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Kudos, Mr. Lynch. Now I can spend the rest of my life dreaming about Richard, Linda, Carrie, the Tremonds, and their alternate universe counterparts.
Was ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’ David Lynch’s masterwork? No, I don’t believe so. I would bestow that honor upon Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire, or Fire Walk With Me (take your pick). The Return had many brilliant moments, but in my opinion was also wildly uneven. It was easily the best television show that has graced our screens in a long time, but I feel as there was just a bit of squandered potential in the whole endeavor. Maybe it could have been a little scarier, a little more centered and less sprawling, a little less concerned with peripheral characters (Did we really need that scene with Beverly’s wheelchair-bound husband? Did we even really need those scenes with Beverly?). BUT HEY, I don’t write for the show and overall, I thought it was excellent. I even loved how they didn’t explain Audrey’s situation at all, only marginally tying it to the main plot and leaving the original series’ heroine in a sort of hellish limbo for all eternity. That kind of storytelling takes a huge set of balls. We may never see a television show this audacious and bold and of a singular vision ever again, and that is truly something to behold.
It’s been a true pleasure to watch and review these episodes over the past summer. Since I’m a completist, I will be periodically posting reviews of the first two seasons of the show, as well as the Fire Walk With Me film. Until we meet in the trees again, hang loose, Haoles!