There are many meanings to that post-colon phrase "the return" in Twin Peaks: The Return. First of all, the show has returned. That's the obvious one. Second of all, Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) has returned from his Tulpa-induced state. And then there's the return of Laura Palmer (Cheryl Lee), the homecoming queen who started it all.
The two-part finale of Twin Peaks: The Return begins with Gordon Cole (David Lynch) and a lot of 'splaining — the FBI director performs the very necessary task of laying out everything we've been trying to understand this whole time.
His explanation: Major Garland Briggs, about 25 years ago, discovered an extreme negative entity called Jau Dei. That entity now goes by Judy. Cole and his colleagues at the bureau (including Phillip Jeffries and Dale Cooper) established operation Blue Rose to investigate Judy and its many forms.
Then, Briggs disappeared. Then, Cooper disappeared. That's the crux of this entire reboot: Where the hell is Special Agent Dale Cooper? Before Cooper disappeared, he told Cole to do whatever it took to find him.
"I'm trying to kill two birds with one stone," Cole recalls Cooper telling him.
Shortly after Cole recounts this, the agents receive a call. It's from Mullins of Lucky 7 Insurances, Dougie's boss. He has a message from Dougie-cum-Cooper.
"I am headed for Sheriff Truman's." Then, Cole does the math that we've already done. (Cole, catch up already!) Dougie = Cooper. Cooper = Dougie.
Here's an important reminder: Naido (Nae Yuuki) is still in this story. In her jail cell, she's chirping as if something important is going to happen.
A quick diversion into non-essential plotland leads to the Great Northern, where Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) receives a call. His brother, Jerry (David Patrick Kelly) has been found. It's another return — while seemingly irrelevant, Jerry's retrieval underlines the overall narrative of returns. He's back!
Good Agent Cooper is back, but sleazy Agent Cooper is still active. He uses the coordinates and what seems to be a "portal" to zip on over to Twin Peaks, Washington. When he arrives in Twin Peaks, Naido makes even more noise, like a tuning fork trained to the tulpa frequency.
Andy (Harry Goaz) is the first to greet Evil Cooper. (I whisper to myself, "Please don't kill him. Please don't kill him. Andy is all that is good in this world and also I don't think Lucy could handle that.")
"Everybody's gonna be so happy to see you!" Andy tells Cooper. Cooper is placid, evil.
Meanwhile Chad (John Pirrucello) is enacting a plan. He retrieves a key from his boot and proceeds to let himself out of jail. He gets a gun from his locker. Fun! When Andy comes downstairs to investigate the situation, Chad has his gun brandished.
"You are such a pussy, Andy!" he hollers at a petrified Andy. (Andy was made for simpler things, like choosing chair colors with his wife, Lucy, an activity I will happily watch for hours.) The green glove saves the situation, though — we all knew it would, right? The glove is the deus ex machina this series needs. Freddy (Jake Wardle) was literally instructed by the Fireman (Carel Struycken) to purchase it. Freddy punches the jail cell door, which then swings and knocks Chad unconscious.
(Reminder: Naido is still hollering.)
Cooper sits down with Sheriff Truman (Robert Forster), which doesn't bode well for anyone. Luckily, Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) receives a call just then: It's Cooper. Real Cooper. He's at the Twin Peaks city limits, and approaching rapidly. Lucy patches him through to Truman.
Is there a sentence as satisfying as, "Truman! It's Coop." Now, that's the Cooper we know.
This all culminates in the most satisfying moments of Sunday's two-hour finale — evil Cooper reaches for his gun, then Truman reaches for his gun, then Cooper himself falls to the ground unconscious. Lucy shot Cooper. Yes, Lucy! The same woman who doesn't trust cellular phones! Shaken, she tells Truman that she gets cellphones now. That's what led her to the real Cooper.
The body of Cooper becomes a feasting ground for tulpas — it becomes bloodied and torn as the black spirits ravage it. A black ball not unlike an asteroid emerges from its stomach. On the ball is the face of Killer Mike, the face that started it all. This is when Freddy really gets to make use of his hand. He punches the floating roving ball several times, ultimately defeating it.
You did it, Freddy!
After the ruckus of the spirit-murder, Cooper asks for the keys to room 315 at the Great Northern.
"There are some things that will change," Cooper announces to the crowd that's gathered. (All the important players are here: Gordon, Tammy, Albert, Freddy, etc.) "The past dictates the future."
As he says this, his face appears over the screen, watching the scene with sad eyes. It's the same arrangement as Laura Palmer's face in the opening of the show's credits.
Remember Naido? She's important. She approaches Cooper, still crying. After some bizarre Lynchian gymnastics (her face disappears, becomes the Black Lodge) Naido becomes a scarlet-haired Diane. It seems she was the original Diane all along. Diane and Cooper enjoy a rom com-style greeting.
"We live inside a dream," the image of Cooper says. At that, Cooper goes into room 315 of the Great Northern and begins his quest to get Laura Palmer home.
The rest of the episode is spent with Laura via Phillip Jeffries, or a version of him. Cooper goes to Jeffries, where he will Fire Walk. Fire! Walk! With! Me! It! Makes! Sense!
"This is where you'll find Judy," Jeffries says. The kettle/person takes Cooper back to February 23, 1989, the beginning of it all. Laura is rebelling. She's riding on a motorcycle with James Hurley (James Marshall), and resenting her dull teenage life.
Then, Cooper approaches.
"Do I know you?" she asks, adding, "I've seen you in a dream." Then, the triumphant Twin Peaks music swells. The film goes from black and white to technicolor.
"Where are we going?" she asks. (I begged the same of my television screen.)
"We're going home." At that, Laura screams, high and shrill. We see Laura's body on the lake. It slowly disappears.
Then, in Sarah Palmer's (Grace Zabriskie) home, we hear the same scream as Sarah punches the iconic photo of Laura Palmer. Laura just came home.
It's time to puzzle this out. The final episode does less explaining than the penultimate one. If episode 17 spun a tidy web of the narrative, episode 18 spins it backwards; now, there are loose ends again. They say every ending should also function as beginning.
As such, the finale-finale begins with someone we really didn't ever want to see again: Evil Cooper. He's on fire in the Black Lodge. He quickly dissipates, leaving a gold seed in his stead. The seed grows into regular old Cooper, who seems relieved. It seems he's able to make sense of it all now.
From here, Cooper heads home to Janey-E (Naomi Watts). It's not fully Cooper, though — this body is Dougie Jones, in the flesh. Janey-E celebrates the return of her husband.
In the Black Lodge, Leland Palmer appears. He has one request, the same as always: Find Laura. A woman, tall and blonde, leans over and whispers into Cooper's ear. Then, she screams. (Remember this scream. It will return.) Cooper then leaves the Black Lodge, wandering to the woods that surround it. There, he finds Diane.
"Is it really you?" he asks. No, it's not a tulpa. This is tried-and-true Diane. Cooper gathers Diane and they exit the Black Lodge — and end up in South Dakota, on the road where Evil Cooper once vomited all over his car. (Fond memories from this season, right?)
Cooper and Diane seem aware that soon, everything will change.
"You sure you wanna do this?" Cooper asks Diane. She says yes, and they head to a motel. (Cue the sexy music.) Cooper and Diane make love for what feels like two hours — I mean, come on, at least change positions or something — and in the morning, Cooper finds a note. The note is from Linda, and it's for Richard. So, yes, everything has changed.
Cooper then heads to a diner called "Judy's." Very telling. There, he meets a waitress (Francesca Eastwood, Clint Eastwood's daughter). He protects her from a trio of aggressive cowboys. After doing so, he asks after the other waitress who works at the diner. This waitress turns out to be Laura Palmer, or a version of her. She's actually Carrie Page. (The credits list Cheryl Lee as both Laura Palmer and Carrie Page.)
Carrie isn't doing so well. She has a dead man in her living room, and she tells Cooper that she "tried to keep a clean house." It didn't work, apparently.
Cooper takes Carrie "home" — to Twin Peaks, that is. They go to Laura Palmer's home, which is no longer the Palmer stead. The woman who lives there is Alice Tremond, and she has no idea who Sarah Palmer is. Or Laura Palmer.
Carrie Page seems confused, but she trusts Cooper. Our favorite FBI agent looks confused, meanwhile. Where did he go wrong? He's taking Laura home! This is Laura!
Just as he wonders this, Carrie screams. It's the same scream we heard in episode 17 and earlier in this very episode. She hollers, and the lights in the Palmer home (or former Palmer home) go out. So, Laura did finally make it home.
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