“No knock, no doorbell.” – Diane Evans
Here’s what I said about Part 16 a year ago in my Third Day Theories article:
“Amazing episode. If Part 8 was pure heroin Lynch, then Part 16 (double-8?) was pure heroin Twin Peaks. In the fan community, there is near universal agreement. It scored a 9.8 post-episode survey result on Reddit – completely blowing the previous high score of 9.2 for Part 14.”
I stand by those words 100 percent. This episode had so many great payoffs. Of course, the big one being that “the sleeper has awakened”, to quote one of Lynch’s other works. The “bad guys” really get thinned out in this episode, with the deaths of Richard, Chantal and Hutch, and tulpa Diane. And Audrey finally stops dwelling on the threshold.
I love this line from the TV Guide recap of Part 16:
“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.”
Boy did they call it. That said, there really wasn’t a lot going on in this episode. There were only really five main stories going on, and we’ll walk through them now.
The End of Richard Horne
Part 16 starts out with Bad Cooper in his element: driving in the dark, headlights illuminating the winding road before him, transitioning from the paved road of civilization onto the dirt road of the wilderness. This is the third such Lost Highway moment in Season 3. The first introduced us to the character of Bad Cooper, as he drove the Beulla’s to pick up Ray and Darya. The second kicked off the infamous Part 8, and led to the first “death” of Bad Cooper, when Ray gets the drop on him after their release from prison. This time however it is Richard who ends up dead, and there’s no Woodsmen coming out of the shadows to revive him.
This scene kicked off what I like to call the “Coordinates Conundrum”, with Bad Cooper’s declaration to Richard that he had received three sets of coordinates, two matching and one differing. We saw two of these exchanges, with Ray giving him a set at the Farm in Part 13 and Jeffries giving him a set at the Dutchman’s in Part 15. The third would seem to be the ones on Ruth Davenport’s arm, relayed by Diane as his mole on the Blue Rose Task Force. However she wouldn’t transmit those until after she received Bad Cooper’s text, which Bad Cooper sent after Richard was vaporized (and at that moment, it was still showing “Not Delivered”, presumably due to no cell coverage). Thus the conundrum.
In Part 15, we got confirmation that Richard was Audrey’s son, and now, here, we get confirmation that Bad Cooper is the father. Not a very loving father, mind you, as he sends his son off to test for a trap. Maybe because he’s “25 years [his] senior”, but more likely because he suspected foul play. Remarkably, Richard’s grand-uncle, Jerry Horne, arrives on the hillside across the way and watches the proceedings through his binoculars. The suspense builds nicely as the device that Bad Cooper gave Richard beeps faster and faster, until Richard declares “I’m there!” and is summarily electrocuted. It’s a very painful death for Richard, and that little “pop” that is given off as the last glowing ember drops to the ground is immensely satisfying.
“I’m looking for a place. Do you understand ‘a place’?”
“You’re a very bright young man.”
“Good-bye, my son.”
The End of Chantal and Hutch
Meanwhile, Chantal and Hutch are on stakeout at the Jones house. It’s like a “fucking circus parade” as the Las Vegas FBI crew shows up, the Mitchum brothers show up, and lastly, fatally, the Polish Accountant. We get some good Pulp Fiction-esque dialogue between Chantal and Hutch while they watch the proceedings, and tension is high as they near the end of their snack chip supply. The conflict with the Polish Accountant escalates in a flash and they are both killed in a surprisingly one-sided shootout, as this deus ex machina lays waste to their van, unloading two uzi clips into them while they try to get away. As I’ve noted before, this should confirm that Chantal and Hutch were never tulpas, since they did not go all wonky-woosh when they died, like Diane would a few scenes later. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
“Wilson, you son of a bitch.”
“You on the rag?” “What if I fucking was?!” “Whoa. Okay.”
“I move car.”
“People are under a lot of stress, Bradley.”
The Return of Agent Cooper
We start at the hospital with Janey-E, Sonny Jim, and Bushnell keeping watch over the comatose body of Dougie Jones. The Mitchum brothers show up with the girls and, of course, finger sandwiches (after all, you don’t want to eat hospital food at a time like this). Everyone disperses, the last being Bushnell as he follows the sound of a familiar ringing tone out the door. Cooper awakens and has a chat with Philip Gerard back in the Red Room. They exchange the Owl Cave ring and a hair sample through their link, laying the foundation for what will come in the finale.
Cooper shows that he has been aware all this time, as he instructs Bushnell to get his clothes from a specific cabinet and asks to borrow the concealed snub-nose he keeps on him. For the first time this season, the memorable notes of Angelo Badalamentis “Falling” begin to play as Bradley Mitchum wonders “what Dougie’s up to now?” Cooper is back, and he brought Twin Peaks along with him.
“You are awake?” “One hundred percent.” “Finally.”
“I need you to make another one.”
“Dad sure is talking a lot.”
“Bushnell, pass me some of those sandwiches. I’m starving.”
“I am the FBI.”
“Dad can drive, really good.”
“Dougie we love you, but we are not traditionally welcome at such places.”
“I am witness to the fact that you both have hearts of gold.” “They do. They really do.”
The End of Tulpa Diane
The sweeping refrain of “Falling” abruptly ends when we transition to Diane, sitting at the bar, and she looks down at her buzzing phone to read the “:-) ALL” message. She is visibly jolted when she reads this. The message has unlocked something within her mind. She remembers “Coop”, her Coop, and seemingly texts the coordinates from Ruth Davenport’s arm as a reply to Bad Cooper with “hope” that it will help Good Cooper somehow. But then she must follow her programming.
As Diane walks to the Blue Rose Task Force’s room, we are once again brought back around to the beginning of Season 3 with the music cue of that stretched out “American Woman” remix that we heard when first introduced to Bad Cooper back in Part 1. Now, both the visual and audio cues of that moment have been reused in Part 16. In perhaps another play on the episode title, Gordon senses her approach and says “come in, Diane” before she even knocks.
Diane tells the tale of that night, when Cooper arrived on her doorstep. A 5-minute long monologue, but much more engaging than sweeping the floor at the Roadhouse. She checks her cell phone several times during her story. Is she hoping her orders get cancelled at the last minute, or reinforcing her programming? Hard to say. She confirms that she was raped by Bad Cooper and taken to the Convenience Store, presumably to create herself as a tulpa. It all dissolves into a rambling mess as she declares “I’m not me” over and over before reaching into her purse for her gun. Albert and Tammy gun her down (or maybe it was just Albert?) and she disappears in an “eerie whooshing” (as the closed captions put it).
Tulpa Diane ends up in the Red Room, in the same chair that tulpa Dougie was sitting in back in Part 3, and Gerard is there to tell her that she was also “manufactured”. Another full circle moment in an episode that was full of them.
“I hope this works.”
“I’m not me.”
“They’re real. That was a real tulpa.”
“I know. Fuck you.”
The Mystery of Audrey Horne
Now, with 9 minutes to go, we cut to the Roadhouse. We knew musician Eddie Vedder was on the lineup for Season 3, and many predicted correctly that this would be his episode. Though, like “The” Nine Inch Nails, he was introduced in a slightly unusual manner, using his real name (Edward Louis Severson), not his stage name. Otherwise, things seem to be proceeding along normally and we start coming to grips with the idea that Part 16 may indeed be over. And then, lo and behold, Charlie and Audrey walk in.
Just seeing them out of the house that they had lingered in for the last 3 excruciating scenes between them was relief enough. Yay, Audrey is the “real world” after all. She’s not in the Red Room, or role-playing in a psychiatric hospital, or acting on stage in a really bad play. They work their way through the crowd to the bar and Charlie orders martinis for them. The song ends and Audrey exchanges barbs with Charlie once again over the enigmatic Billy. OK, maybe things aren’t going to turn out to be too terribly different this time. And then, lo and behold, the MC on stage announces “Audrey’s Dance”.
What the heck is that supposed to mean? Even Audrey looks confused. Then the familiar bing-bong-a-bing-bong plays, and oh man, it’s on. Scratch the “real world” back off the list, Audrey’s in some sort of a dream after all. As she struts onto the stage and begins to move in that “dreamy” way, we are as swept away as she is. More so than that “I am the FBI” moment, this was the one that had the hair standing up on my arm. And then, a fight breaks out amongst the Roadhouse randoms, Audrey runs to Charlie and begs him to get her out of there, and boom. Mind blown, for the I-lost-count-eenth time in this episode.
“Here’s to us, Audrey.” “Here’s to Billy.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, Audrey’s dance.”
“Get me out of here!”
And so it ends, with yet another Roadhouse performance, but this time with a twist. The Roadhouse house band takes us out as the credits roll, with a *backwards* rendition of “Audrey’s Dance”, a la the Red Room.
In many ways, Part 16 was the end of Season 3. What came next could arguably be called something else (in fact, we’re going to address that in an upcoming Black Lodge/White Lodge debate, suggested by yours truly). Parts 17 and 18 would play more like a self-contained film, one that relates to Season 3 much in the same manner that Fire Walk With Me relates to Seasons 1 and 2 (which is to say that it does and it doesn’t). Part 16 ends, as did Season 2, with a main character looking at themselves in a mirror, leaving us with yet another a Twin Peaks-style cliffhanger ending.
In Part 16, we got a surprising amount of answers and closure, and yet there was still time for a few new mysteries to be introduced as well. We were brought full circle through visuals and sounds, especially as the music finally asserts itself and provides ties to both the beginning of Season 3 (“American Woman”) and to the original series (“Falling” and “Audrey’s Dance”). We seem to be headed towards the final showdown, with both Good and Bad Coopers transitioning into the next phase of their respective odysseys.
This was peak Twin Peaks. The rollercoaster ride was almost over, and we had just zipped through the double loop with a 360 twist, and began the climb up that final hill. Little did we know there were no tracks on the other side and our car was about to fall into the “transdimensional wormhole” that TV Guide predicted. Not that that’s always a bad thing in Twin Peaks. More subverted expectations, what else should we have expected?