[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the finale of Twin Peaks.]
When the third season of Twin Peaks was first announced everyone wanted to see their treasured Twin Peaks character on screen again. After all, it had been 25 long years since we last visited the Washington town with a population of 51,201. Being David Lynch, however, for every heartwarming, and often incredibly moving, reappearance of a fan favourite, the director has delighted in throwing his customary oddball spanners in the works.
At least, however, as Twin Peaks approached its final double episode, all of our questions would be answered though. Wouldn’t they? Will the now damn fine Agent Cooper and the evil DoppelCooper do battle in the town of Twin Peaks? Where exactly is Audrey Horne? Will we see Laura Palmer again? Will the cheeky British lad be able to use his superpowered “Hulk smash” glove to fulfill his destiny? What on earth is living inside Sarah Palmer? And where exactly is Julee Cruise? Want all the answers? Well don’t hold your breath.
It’s been a slow build that has, in turn, exhilarated and dumbfounded. The beloved cast drip fed as new storylines weaved themselves into the familiar. While the convoluted shenanigans unfolded across the States many of the inhabitants of Twin Peaks have gone about their “soapie” business. Of the town’s most familiar inhabitants, Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) was the first character to appear. No longer a psychiatrist after losing his license following the investigation into Laura Palmer’s death, he his now on online self-help guru Dr. Amp helping viewers to shovel themselves "out of the shit and into the truth," with each shovel running $29.99 plus shipping. The shovels are sprayed gold and one is proudly displayed in the window of Nadine Hurley's store, Run Silent, Run Drapes.
Inspired by Dr. Amps words Hurley (Wendy Robie) marches to her ex-husband Big Ed (Everett True) and frees herself of her “shit” setting him free to finally get together with Double R Diner proprietor Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton) and one of television’s longest running “Will they? Won’t they” relationships was given the kiss it deserved. To the tune of Otis Redding. Meanwhile Double R Diner waitress Shelly Johnson (Mädchen Amick) has been dealing with her wayward daughter Becky (Amanda Seyfried) and her junkie husband while Shelly’s former husband Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbook), now a cop, has been dealing with memories of his dead father Major Garland Briggs and the reappearance into his consciousness of his high school sweetheart.
His memories proving to be an important part of the jigsaw for the Twin Peaks police as they begin to piece together after the discover the missing pages of Laura Palmer’s diary. Another invaluable piece proves to be the show’s must heartbreaking moment as Margaret Lanterman a.k.a. The Log Lady phones Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Hawk) with messages from her log. Actress Catherine E. Coulson was dying in real life and her brief appearances acted as the director’s touching farewell to a dear friend.
The return of Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) was hotly anticipated but remains a mystery. The teen temptress of the first two series has barely appeared. Only seen hysterically bickering with her husband Charlie, or is he her doctor? The pair constantly quarrelling in a strange room about going to The Roadhouse. When they finally arrive the MC announces it is time for Audrey’s dance. In a delightfully Meta moment, hypnotized by the jazzy meanderings of Badalamenti, she saunters onto the dance floor and sways from side-to-side. Her fellow dancefloor fillers part to give her space but a fight breaks out and the moment is lost. Audrey asks Charlie if they can leave. Suddenly she is jolted into her reality and left looking confused into a mirror in a stark white room. Has she gone insane? Is she in an institution? It is left wide open. Did the trauma after she was raped by Evil Coop to produce the hellspawn that is Richard Cooper (Eamon Farren), prove too much. Much is insinuated but nothing is confirmed.
The big story is the reappearance of Agent Dale Cooper. While his evil doppelganger, possessed by the evil spirit Bob, has been running rampant for 25 years, Cooper has been trapped in the Black Lodge.
For those who have not been paying attention since the first episode. Agent Cooper escaped from the Black Lodge after being harassed by an electricity charged tree with a talking brain who used to be a severed arm. As Agent Cooper finds himself in a strange room with Naido, a woman with no eyes, who will later be saved by Deputy Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz) and locked up in the Twin Peaks jail, who attacks him in staccato slashes. The soundtrack is full of otherworldly sonics and incessant deafening clanging as someone, or something tries to enter. Possibly “Mother” who may also be Sarah Palmer in monstrous form. They escape and discover that the room is floating in space. That’s outer space. From there it’s not long before Cooper is sucked into a vortex before re-appearing back on terra firma, via a wall power socket. He takes the identity of Las Vegas Insurance man Dougie Jones, a lookalike created by Evil Cooper to be sacrificed when he is forced to leave earth and return to the Black Lodge. Mr. Jones, the now childlike and catatonic Coop somehow stumbles through life, winning big at the Casino, “Mr Jackpots!”, much to the chagrin of its owners and becoming the MVP at his place of work. Living with Dougie’s seemingly oblivious wife Janey-E (Naomi Watts) and son Sonny Jim, Cooper re-discovers the joys of coffee, while various hitmen, including Tim Roth and Jennifer Jason Leigh, try to pop his clogs. After 13 episodes, and a chance glimpse at Sunset Boulevard on the television, the utterance of the name Gordon Cole is enough to make Coop stick a fork in a power socket, shocking himself back into reality.
Meanwhile DoppelCoop has been busy formulating a plan. Apart from "manufacturing" another version of Cooper, the dark side of the Coop was involved in all sorts of dastardly dealings including killing Major Garland Briggs and other assorted murderous acts and at least two cases of sexual assault. We said he was evil. He is also constantly searching for mysterious co-ordinates while avoiding being transported back to the Lodge. Not part of his plan, he was arrested but escaped prison only to be shot but is resurrected by the soot covered Woodsmen, the mysterious beings connected with the Black Lodge, who were present during the nuclear test that first produced the evil spirit Bob.
While the twin Coopers wind their way to their inevitable confrontation, FBI Deputy Director Gordon Cole (David Lynch), FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer), FBI Agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) and Diane (a foul-mouthed Laura Dern) are constantly on their tale. We also finally re-meet rogue FBI agent Philip Jeffreys, the character originally played by David Bowie in Fire Walk With Me. Jeffreys is now portrayed by a giant talking kettle!
All lost highways lead to the Twin Peaks Police Station. When Evil Cooper finally arrives and sits in the office of Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) the tension is palpable. As evil personified sits opposite the law enforcer, the phone rings, it’s the newly invigorated Agent Cooper. Guns are drawn and shots are fired. Evil Cooper lies bloodied on the floor as Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) stands nervously holding a smoking gun. As the woodsmen appear and start smothering the doppelganger’s blood over his lifeless body the evil spirit Bob appears from his wound in a floating ball of fury which attacks Cooper. The green gloved Brit, who had escaped his cell with Naido after being arrested for a fight at The Bang Bang Bar, steps in and punches Bob into oblivion. But that’s not all. It is also revealed that Naido is actually the real Diane. The tulpa (or duplicate) of who, had been traveling with Cole in search of the real Cooper. Confused?
Cooper returns to his old room, #315, at The Great Northern Hotel, visits the one-armed man and the talking kettle and travels back in time to the final moments of Laura Palmer’s life. Finding himself spying on the horrific events as they happen, he follows Laura as she spitefully leaves James Hurley (James Marshall) on his motorbike and staggers through the Douglas Firs to the disused rail carriage where she will meet her grisly demise. Outside Cooper intervenes and saves Laura before she can step into the carriage and seems to alter history. As the iconic moments of the first episode are replayed, there is no body wrapped in plastic washed up on the shore. The homecoming queen is not dead but has Cooper really changed the course of time?
In a feel-good move, Cooper creates another tulpa to replace himself in the lives of Janey-E and Sonny Jim before driving off with Diane. We are left with Cooper and Diane driving. There is a lot of driving in the final episode. They reach a point in the road near arching power lines and drive through a portal to an alternate reality. After a torrid night at a motel, Diane departs leaving a note “to Richard” and signed “from Linda” referring to names that the Fireman, the name given to the all-seeing giant, mentions to Cooper at the beginning of the third season. Lynch again playing with timelines and alternate realities.
Cooper heads out alone to Odessa, Texas. He stops at a diner called Judy’s where, after showing off his man-to-man FBI combat training to protect a waitress in distress, he obtains the address of an off-duty waitress he wants to meet. After knocking on her door, he persuades her to take a trip with him to Twin Peaks. Her name is Carrie Page and she is the spitting image of Laura Palmer. No surprise as she is played by Sheryl Lee. The pair arrive at the Palmer’s house but are greeted at the door by an unfamiliar face (played by the actual owner of the house). No one has heard of the Palmers or recognises Carrie/Laura. Did she ever exist? Is Carrie Laura reborn in a parallel dimension? Or is this finally reality? Slowly Cooper turns to Carrie and asks, “what year is this?” Carrie/Laura looks at the house and hears a noise from within. Did someone or something just say, “Laura”? She lets out a blood-curdling scream as the house flashes into life before descending into darkness. This is the end.
The ending is sudden and at once brilliant, confounding and bewildering. It’s obvious that Lynch is looking at a much bigger picture here. A picture that many cannot see. Every instance in every episode works towards the final moments of episode 18. Somehow the return of Twin Peaks proves that Lynch is moving in circles beyond the rational thoughts of mere mortals and, as such, demands a lot from its viewers. Rather than going for an obvious crowd-pleaser, which Lynch would never do, Twin Peaks is a philosophical meditation on time and those sticking around to the final, willfully obtuse, moment will be rewarded in spades. Sprayed gold by Dr. Jacoby of course.
Twin Peaks is now streaming on STAN.