This post will contain SPOILERS throughout.
As might well have been expected, there was a lot of activity this week as the show draws closer to the end (next week the final two parts will air together bringing season three to a close), but virtually (maybe even none of it) took place in the town of Twin Peaks this week. Though we began awfully close.
For the lion’s share of the season Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) has been lost, sporadically discovered by Lynch’s roving camera as he struggles with phone reception or even his own feet. He’s spent much of the last five days in the woods, but recently he emerged. In Part 16 he stumbles upon a strange event happening on the outskirts of town.
Evil Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Richard Horne (Eamon Farren) arrive at the foot of a hill after winding along dirt roads (making the opening of Part 16 very similar in feel to the opening of Part 8). Dean Hurley’s atmospheric cue “Night Electricity Theme” plays cool counterpoint. Jerry observes them in a cock-eyed manner through a pair of binoculars. Evil Cooper tells Richard that he has been given three sets of co-ordinates (the season bares this out); two sets match, the third doesn’t. They are close to the spot with a matching pair. He sends Richard up to the spot, which appears to be a rock at the top of the rise. On arriving, Richard is electrocuted. He disappears in a cloud of sparks. It appears that these co-ordinates were a trap. We can assume that Richard died.
Interestingly, Evil Cooper bids him adieu saying, “Goodbye my son”. Richard confirmed in Part 15 that his mother was Audrey Horne, but his father has never been identified. Nor, for that matter, was it implicitly made clear why Audrey was in a coma (though many have assumed it was as a result of the bank explosion at the end of season two). Evil Cooper’s words may merely be a turn of phrase, but their use here is an extreme provocation for viewers. Part 16 also confirms suspicions elsewhere that he has acted as a rapist during his time in our world. It seems entirely likely that he really is Richard’s father. This might also account for Richard’s vile nature; a hereditary infection, if you will. If Audrey slept with Evil Cooper unknowing, or if he raped her, this could quite conceivably have caused her coma. It’s not unprecedented in modern supernatural fiction, either. In HBO’s short-lived series Carnivale, sex with a powerful supernatural figure had a habit of causing women to lapse into madness or catatonia.
Much of the remainder of Part 16 splits between Buckhorn, South Dakota and Las Vegas. Hutch (Tim Roth) and Chantal (Jennifer Jason Leigh) observe the Jones residence in Vegas; evidently Dougie is last on their hit list following Mr Todd’s failings. But they aren’t the only ones interested in the property. The local FBI field office have finally found the right man, but nobody’s home. The agents leave again, failing to note the lurking van; two agents head for Lucky 7 Insurance, the other two to prepare for a stake out.
Dougie’s adventure with electricity has left him in a coma, and the Jones family are at the hospital along with Dougie’s boss Bushnell Mullins (Don Murray). The Mitchum brothers arrive to pay their respects and leave a large quantity of food. They take a key from Janey-E (Naomi Watts) so that they can stock the Jones’ home with provisions. Chantal and Hutch observe them doing this and the FBI roll up for their stake out. Lancelot Park is growing crowded. A Polish accountant complains that Chantal and Hutch are parked in his driveway and the argument between the two factions spills out into gun play. Chantal and Hutch aren’t prepared for this to escalate as it does. They are ultimately both killed by the accountant who riddles both them and their van with bullet holes from a machine gun. The Mitchums watch this from behind the Jones’ garden wall. The FBI arrest the accountant. Though these events don’t appear at all contrived by the otherworldly forces from the Black Lodge who have been guiding Dougie, they constitute another remarkable turn of good fortune for the comatose insurance man.
Back at the hospital – midway through this installment – and Lynch and Frost finally give the audience what they’ve wanted for the past three months. Bushnell Mullins is lured away from Dougie’s bedside by the same ambient sound that Benjamin and Beverly were distracted by at the Great Northern. The One Armed Man (Al Strobel) appears in a chair beside Dougie and he jerks awake. Only he is no longer Dougie… He is FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper(!). After weeks and weeks of Dougie’s bumbling childlike antics, Cooper is all business, but he acts serenely and without panic; in complete control of his faculties and with full confidence of the things required of him and others. He has full recollection of his time as Dougie. He is also aware that his doppelgänger is out there thanks to the warnings from The One Armed Man. His presence in the show surges it into life as we are now prepared for a final showdown.
MacLachlan has been a revelation this season in multiple roles. His work as both Evil Cooper and Dougie has been a masterclass in restraint. Both performances have had a controlled physicality to them. Without moving all that much he has been able to convey emotions from opposite ends of the spectrum with impressive economy. Here, we find him impressing further as Cooper; keenly defining the agent of old as a dynamic and articulate individual who is single-handedly capable of upping the pace and momentum of the entire show. Holding him at bay for so long has been a kind of endurance test on the audience from Mark Frost and David Lynch. If Part 16 is buoyed on an artificial wind of enjoyment, it is one blown by the show’s creators for having made us wait this long for the thing we really wanted. The return of the real Dale Cooper has been truly earned.
He acts with dignity and fairness at every step here. He graciously borrows a gun from Bushnell Mullins (Cooper rarely misses anything), makes use of the Mitchum brothers’ devoted loyalty to him in order to arrange passage to Twin Peaks, and he also makes time to give his family a compassionate farewell (in a surprisingly moving scene). Cooper hasn’t forgotten about Janey-E and Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon) and it seems as though he has every intention of either returning to a life of domesticity with them, or reunited them with the ‘real’ Douglas Jones.
Soon after waking he plucks hair from the back of his head and gives this little lock to The One Armed Man asking him to manufacture another. This could be part of a larger plan to fool Evil Coop or it could simply be a gesture of goodwill toward the Joneses; that he will provide for them a Dougie who can act in his stead. Here’s hoping that, if this is the case, the new Dougie picks up some of the good habits of the real Dale Cooper.
Part 16 leaves Dale set on a collision course with Evil Cooper which is set to happen at Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station. This leaves us with the business in Buckhorn, South Dakota and the surprise cliffhanger that ends this particular installment.
Diane (Laura Dern) receives a text from Evil Cooper which he sends after the incident with Richard Horne. The text has a smiley face and then says “ALL” (Evil Coop is an all-caps communicator; no surprises there). She reacts strongly to this. One suspects she had hoped that he would fall into the trap set by the fake co-ordinates and be killed. She sends him the correct coordinates (these are 48551420117163956) and then heads upstairs to confront the other FBI agents. Lynch shows us that she has a gun in her purse and underpins her journey with the same troubling drum-heavy piece of Badalamenti scoring that was used when we first encountered Evil Cooper back in Part 1.
Cole (David Lynch) anticipates her arrival and invites her in. She sits and tells Cole, Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) and Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) the truth about her meeting with Evil Cooper all those years ago. She explains that she met Cooper 4 or 5 years after he disappeared. He grilled her for information on the FBI and then they kissed. The kiss made her sense that something was wrong and that is when Evil Cooper raped her. Following this he took her to a place she likens to “an old gas station” (the Convenience Store). Diane then appears troubled, repeats that she is not herself and takes out the gun to shoot at the agents. Albert and Tammy fire first and Diane is killed. As she dies, she hurtles through the air toward the agents and disappears. Tammy is shocked; Diane was a tulpa too, just like Dougie Jones was.
This fake Diane finds herself in the Black Lodge where, in a similar fashion to Dougie’s appearance in Part 3, she is reduced to a seed by in front of The One Armed Man (delightfully, she tells him to fuck himself like she has every other character). Some people have been upset by Diane’s attitude over the season. I suppose you get an idea of an unseen character in your mind and it settles there. When the reality differs to your assumption its easy to feel short-changed or betrayed. While I’ve not felt this way about Diane, the events here in Part 16 open up new questions about the character. Was the tulpa’s behaviour representative of the real Diane? She certainly had Gordon and Albert convinced of her legitimacy (if not her loyalty). And if this isn’t the real Diane, where is she? This could conceivably become a new narrative drive for any future season should the show ever return again.
Lastly, Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn). And Part 16 bows out on something of a shocker. Many fans had already guessed that not all was as it appeared between her and her ‘husband’ Charlie (Clark Middleton) but I suspect few anticipated the reveal would be made in this way. Audrey and Charlie finally arrive at the Roadhouse after three scenes that made it seem as though we’d never get there. Eddie Vedder sings a song about a woman called Diane under the stage name Eddie Louis Severensen III. Once the patrons become aware that Audrey is there, however, the dance floor is cleared so that she can do her dance from season one. It’s the most overt callback of season three, even more so than James’ rendition of “Just You” a few weeks ago. If anything feels like token nostalgia, this is it. But it’s an enjoyable indulgence. Her dance is interrupted by an outbreak of violence between two men, seemingly over a woman, and reality snaps. Audrey appears to awake somewhere else in front of a small mirror in a completely white space. Before we can make judgements on what just happened, Part 16 abruptly ends.
What to make of this? Is Audrey the dreamer who dreams? Would Lynch and Frost dare to deny everything that has happened in Twin Peaks as all part of a dream? This latter seems unlikely given the vastness of the show. And while we’re talking about realities in a show that takes place in multiple dimensions, whose to say which – if either – of the ones Audrey has experienced are our own? She doesn’t awake in hospital. Is this another layer of her coma? A dream within a dream?
All narrative film and television is a dream, cooked up in a whirlwind of theatrics and technology. Even a documentary shows us the truth at a remove. We are not there; it is only the illusion of experience. Lynch’s fictions are dreams like nobody else’s, yet he shares them with us. Next week this dream will end. Season three has become my favourite season of a show I’ve loved for many years. I can’t wait to see how it ends, but I wish it wouldn’t.