This post will contain SPOILERS throughout.
I had initially intended to cover parts 17 and 18 together as I did the first two way, way back in May when this incredible journey began. However, that first installment of this series didn’t nearly crack into enough detail about the contents of those two hours and now, having watched the end of the season, it is clear that one post cannot contain the events of the last two. So this post will just cover the events of Part 17.
Beginning in Buckhorn, and FBI agents Gordon Cole (David Lynch), Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) and Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) get over their climactic engagement with Diane over a nice glass of red wine. When Albert suggests Cole has gone soft in his old age, Cole responds, “Not where it counts, buddy.” This could be read as a wholly unwanted sexual euphemism, but the more apt suggestion is that Lynch’s mind is crackling with ideas. That certainly seems the case as Twin Peaks refuses to simply dim the lights and fade away.
Now, close to the end, Cole divulges some very handed information to the other agents. In an exposition dump, Cole explains that twenty-five years previously Major Garland Briggs told Cooper and himself about an extreme negative force once referred to as “Jow-dae”, now known as “Judy”. The three of them put together a plan to lead them to Judy. This, it seems, happened before Cooper followed Windom Earle into the Black Lodge. Phillip Jeffries was also on the trail of “Judy”. Cooper warned Cole that if he were to disappear, he wanted Cole to do everything in his power to find him. We might assume at this point in the story that Cooper’s request corresponds to his time trapped in the Black Lodge, but that may not be the case…
Cole also advises that Cooper told him he was “trying to kill two birds with one stone”. This was the first clue given to Cooper by The Fireman way back in Part 1.
Cole explains that Ray Monroe was a paid informant and that he is aware, thanks to Ray, that Evil Cooper is therefore in search of co-ordinates. This is an extremely convenient tumble of information, fortuitously placed to link everything together. A phone call from Vegas doubles down on the coincidences. Cole and co. receive Cooper’s message from Bushnell Mullins (Don Murray). The number 253 returns again in Cooper’s message, adding up to 10 “the number of completion”. Through this brief conversation Cole understands that Cooper and Dougie have been one and the same all along. A Blue Rose case most definitely.
Events converge at the Twin Peaks Sheriff Department. Evil Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) drives to the site of the remaining set of co-ordinates, a place in the woods marked by a sycamore tree and another occurrence of scorched Earth. He is transported to the Sheriff’s Department. In between these scenes is a sequence in the Fireman’s theatre which I cannot honestly explain to you. Evil Cooper’s arrival disturbs Naido (Nae Yuuki) in the cells, where Chad (John Pirrucello) escapes using keys hidden in his shoes (a Leo Johnson callback if ever I saw one). Deputy Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz) escorts Evil Cooper in to see Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster). Andy remembers his vision in the Fireman’s room and realises that Evil Cooper is not who he appears to be. At that moment the real Cooper calls as he is arriving in town with the Mitchum brothers.
Freddie (Jake Wardle) uses his magic gardening glove to subdue Chad and then Andy gathers everyone in the conference room. All of the key players converge in the same place. Evil Cooper is shot by Lucy Brennan (Kimmy Robertson) and lo, the dirty bearded men arrive to resurrect him as they did in Part 8. BOB emerges from Evil Cooper’s body and Freddie realises that this is the moment to fulfill his destiny. BOB and Freddie fight. The fight is hectic and cacophanous. Lynch combines multiple sound cues to exemplify the unusual nature of the battle. Light flickers and chaotic camera work enhances the ferocity. It’s a near thing, but Freddie deals a crashing blow that shatters BOB, seemingly destroying him for good. This idea is problematic if BOB is a symbol for evil incarnate, and one wonders how permanent this action is. Cooper places the Owl Cave Ring on the body of Evil Cooper and Evil Cooper disappears. The ring is returned to the lodge. Everyone is safe. Major Briggs makes another posthumous connection possible and Sheriff Truman hands Cooper his hotel room key back.
Lynch superimposes Cooper’s face over a long stretch of the action taking place in Sheriff Truman’s office. It has the effect of reminding the viewer of the dream that Gordon Cole had, in which Monica Bellucci asked who the dreamer who dreams is. Could all of this be inside the mind of Cooper? Events ahead would tell us no, but still the insinuation is reiterated here that all of our reality is in the custody, control or mind of somebody else. Lynch’s cinema, his methods of communication, are not often literal. The technique here is, I feel, a prime example of this. Cooper is superimposed because it feels right. It feels like it communicates something, and this is how I’ve interpreted it. Increasing this sense of a message conveyed is the moment when the overlay of Cooper speaks, echoing Phillip Jeffries before he disappeared, “We live inside a dream.”
“Now there are some things that will change,” Cooper says. “The past dictates the future.” In saying this Cooper becomes a kind of soothsayer, his psychic abilities are at their keenest since his return from the cage of Dougie Jones. Cooper turns his attention to Naido and they touch palms. The spell is broken and Naido transforms into the real Diane (Laura Dern). In retrospect the near anagram is something of a “why didn’t I see it earlier?” moment. Possibly this was unraveled earlier elsewhere. I’ve been largely avoiding others’ speculation in order to keep my own clear of influence. PS – kinda love Diane’s Black Lodge fingernails and hair.
“I hope I see all of you again, every one of you,” Cooper says, and it feels like a final goodbye. A darkness pushes in on the scene like a troubled interruption; a dark force making a play to challenge this happy ending.
Cooper, Cole and Diane walk beneath the Great Northern Hotel to the door which has been causing the ambient hum noticed sporadically throughout the season. This isn’t Cooper’s room, but the room key fits the lock. This is the first in a series of major transitions across parts 17 and 18.
“See you at the curtain call,” Cooper says. Passing through the door leads Cooper to the Convenience Store, where Phillip Gerrard (Al Strobel) recites the Fire Walk With Me poem and guides him to a meeting with Phillip Jeffries. Cooper tells Jeffries the date February 23rd, 1989. It seems Jeffries has the ability to move Cooper through time. He kookily describes his experience of being in or within a giant kettle, “It’s slippery in here.” From his spout, Jeffries makes the dark symbol that must indicate “Judy” and it transforms into a number 8 or, more likely, the infinity symbol. A small orb is present within the symbol. It spins and rolls within it. “You can go in now,” Jeffries says. Gerrard says, “Electricity” and Cooper is transported back in time.
Footage from Fire Walk With Me plays in black and white. It is the night Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) died. We witness her last meeting with James (James Marshall) again and Cooper appears watching it. The scene feels very different, not just because it is monochrome, but because Angelo Badalamenti’s music is removed. It feels naked. Sparse. Laura sees Cooper over James’ shoulder, which explains what she saw that scared her so rather neatly. She runs off into the woods, just as she did before, but Cooper intercepts her, changing the timeline so that she never reaches her meet with Leo, Jacques and Ronette. Cooper is trying to avert her death, the event that set all of this in motion.
New footage blends with Fire Walk With Me surprisingly well, especially that featuring Sheryl Lee, here playing a 17-year-old girl at the age of 50 (Lynch keeps her in the background or in darkness but still, it’s an effective play). Flash to the next morning and Laura’s body, wrapped in plastic, disappears. The timeline is changed and the picture is flushed with colour. Back in the woods, Cooper tells Laura that they are going home and takes her hand. One feels he is guiding her to the Black Lodge; that in some way through their shared experiences and psychic connection both Cooper and Laura have evolved beyond what can be experienced on our plain of reality. This in itself would make a fine and fitting wrap-up for the show, but it is here that David Lynch and Mark Frost make perhaps their biggest gambit in the show’s entire history; sticking a spanner in the works and opening up an even greater mystery.
Cutting to the Palmer house and what seems like present day. Sarah Palmer’s mess is all over the living room table as we’ve previously seen. Disquieting wailing comes from elsewhere in the house. It is chilling. The last time we saw Mrs Palmer (Grace Zabriski) it become apparent that something malicious lives within her. The awful sounds conjure the idea that Sarah wrestles with this entity and is tormented by it. Waiting for something to happen in this scene is one of the most oddly horrifying experiences in all of Lynch’s work. Suddenly Sarah appears and smashes the framed photo of Laura Palmer that’s become such an icon of the show. The world of Twin Peaks is being destroyed. In the past, Laura disappears as Cooper hears the sound that the Fireman foretold in the very first scene of the show’s return. Cooper stares into the woods as Laura screams and then there is deathly silence. Lynch cross fades to Julee Cruise singing “The World Spins” at the Roadhouse and the credits roll.
Things will never be the same again…