I didn't realize my chest was tight and uncomfortable in the absence of Special Agent Dale Cooper, until he resurfaced, chipper and morally sound, in episode sixteen of Twin Peaks: The Return. For fifteen episodes, Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) has been trapped in the body of Dougie Jones. We've been trapped there with him, it turns out, and now that he's returned, it's as if David Lynch has removed our blinders: The scope of the show finally makes sense.
Though this is episode sixteen, it's really the penultimate episode; next week, the final two episodes will air in a tandem finale. As such, this feels like a penultimate episode. The various narratives, which have been building since the pilot, finally start to fold in on themselves, and the loop is closed. Cooper is back, the "other" Cooper is going about his well-laid plans, and Diane (Laura Dern) isn't actually Diane. Oh, and Cooper may have had a son with Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn). For certain, it's a lot of information to reveal in one episode, but the revelations feel inevitable and cathartic.
The episode begins with Evil Cooper — the doppelganger bent on finding those coordinates. He has Richard Horne (Eamon Farren) with him now.
"I'm looking for a place," Cooper says. Methinks he means the Black Lodge. He tells Richard what we already know: He has three sets of coordinates. Two of these sets match — they're heading towards the matching sets. Cooper hands Richard a device that will beep when he's near the place and make a continuous noise when he's on top of it. The continuous noise is a harbinger of death, though. It zaps Richard from existence, at which point Cooper drops this bomb: Richard is his son.
You can't just tell us that, Cooper. Obviously, Cooper and Audrey Horne have a history. But a son? Cooper has a son?!
Post son-bomb, we're back in Las Vegas, where Chantal (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Hutch (Tim Roth) are staking out Dougie's home. Chantal's obsession with junk food delights me — it's not often that low-level characters get such a fun personality trait. She stresses about their declining supply of Chee-tos more than she does about their high-stress jobs.
Dougie isn't at home, though. He's at the hospital, being tended to by a bevy of friends and family. In his short time as a vegetable, Dougie has made quite a few friends. Namely, the Mitchum brothers (Jim Belushi and Robert Knepper), who want to protect him at all costs.
Cooper returns at this point, and it's a testament to Kyle MacLachlan's skill that we know immediately who is inhabiting Cooper's body when Dougie awakens. As soon as he sits up, we know this is Cooper. The way he cocks his head, the way he says, "Pass me some of those sandwiches," the way he's both polite and curt to the nurse on his way out. But he's given this information from a visitor from the Black Lodge: The "other one" didn't get out. Evil Coop is still around.
"Do you have the seed?" Cooper asks. He does, but Cooper needs another. Cooper also obtains the ring that Ray wore before he died. It's a gold band with a green stone. There will be another gold seed before the end of the episode.
Since she entered the scene, Diane has alluded to the night that Cooper visited her, the last night she saw him before he disappeared. In this episode, she finally divulges what occurs, although it's been pretty clear since the beginning. Before she shares, though, she sends a text to an unknown number. It's the evil Doppelganger on the other line; Diane might not be the real Diane.
Sure enough, Diane recounts the night Cooper raped her. "He raped me," she says plainly. From the sound of it, though, it was the Evil Cooper who did the deed. After admitting what had been done to her Diane admits that she is not herself.
"I'm not me," she repeats, pulling out a gun. Nope, that's not the Diane we know and love. She's a "tulpa," an evil doppelganger just like evil Cooper. This is a possessed Diane, and Tammy (Chrysta Bell) takes aim and shoots her. Diane disappears into thin air; she wasn't really Diane. For most of this show, Diane has been a pillar of reality in a world of pretty bizarre stuff. We could cling to her as some semblance of normalcy. She smoked cigarettes and loved tiny airplane bottles of alcohol. This Diane turn is a brilliant piece of misdirection from Lynch — we can trust the FBI, it turns out, but we can't trust Diane. And now we can also trust Cooper.
In the Black Lodge, Diane explodes, leaving behind a single gold seed.
Meanwhile, Dougie is saying his goodbye; he's heading back to Twin Peaks, which means soon enough, Cooper will return. (The double meaning of Twin Peaks: The Return is not lost on me; this whole 18-episode series is about Agent Cooper's epic encore.) In one of the most tender moments of the show, Cooper tells Janey-E how much she's meant to him. Both Janey-E and Sonny Jim seem aware that Cooper isn't coming back. They also know that he's not the real Dougie Jones.
"You're my dad," Sonny Jim insists. At the same time, Dougie says, "I'm your dad." They both seem aware that this isn't true. After one big smooch with Janey-E — "Whoever you are, thank you." — Dougie is off to Twin Peaks to reunite with Gordon Cole (David Lynch).
The episode ends, as all of them do, at the Roadhouse. Audrey is there with Charlie (Clark Middleton). They're both sipping martinis and toasting to "Billy," whom we still haven't met. Then, Audrey performs an eerie solo dance that verges on otherwordly. As her dance comes to a close, a man smashes a beer bottle someone else, hollering, "That's my wife!"
Audrey, shaken, begs Charlie to get her out of these. At which point, Audrey is slurped into a white otherworldly space. Just as Cooper — father of her child, apparently — heads to Twin Peaks, Audrey takes her leave of it.
Not everything can work out at once.
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