See You at the Curtain Call: On David Lynch’s Dream Logic and the Extraordinary Twin Peaks Finale
("The Return," Parts XVII and XVIII)Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME TV Features Twin Peaks
Disclaimer: This writer has concluded that “recapping” David Lynch is a diminishing-returns situation. But here goes nothin’.
Awwww. You thought after 27 years, after 16 of 18 new episodes where we waited, and waited, and waited, for some kind of huge narrative revelation that explained it all, that you were going to get it? From David Lynch?
You have not been paying attention.
At the end of “Part XVI,” Special Agent Dale Cooper was awake and alive and headed for Twin Peaks to rendezvous with Gordon Cole. That good and evil would converge, duke it out, something. That we’d get closure on all the little threads of story we’ve been following.
Well, in a few cases, that kind of happened. The Lodge has Doppel-Dougie sent back to Vegas, where he knocks at the red door on Lancelot Court and happily chirps “Home” as Janey-E and Sonny Jim embrace him. And there certainly is a convergence on Sheriff Truman’s office, as Bad Coop arrives just ahead of Good Coop, and is of course mistaken for Actual Coop by the well-meaning doofuses of Twin Peaks law enforcement until another phone call hits the switchboard, Evil Coop pulls his gun on Equally Good Other Truman, only to be taken down by Lucy, who squeals “Andy! I understand cell phones now!” The folks in the jail cells, including the speechless, eyeless woman in the jammies, are brought up as the Woodsmen start macking on evil Coop’s body. Actual Cooper arrives, along with Gordon, Albert, Tammy, the Mitchum brothers, and the three showgirls, who are glad they made so many sandwiches. The menacing Killer BOB bubble erupts from the abdomen of Evil Cooper and, in excruciating pacing, is smashed by the killer fist of the British Guy with the Super-Strength Garden Glove and a Destiny. Evil Coop shivers into nothingness. The eyeless woman’s head explodes in smoke, revealing… Diane? I wasn’t expecting that, were you? But of course she’s Diane. The Lodge is making more trades than a baseball franchise, man. Cooper asks the gobsmacked Truman for the old key to Great Northern Room 315. For a minute we see Cooper’s trademark beatific grin. “I hope I see all of you again,” he says.
You know he won’t, right?
The first hour ends with Cooper time-jumping in an attempt to save Laura Palmer. He almost reaches her, and it seems like maybe she doesn’t get murdered that night because her body disappears from the shore where Pete Martell is fishing in the pilot episode. But she runs away screaming that blood-curdling scream.
He and Diane, together at last, hit the road. The road looks distressingly familiar. We’re pretty sure it’s the same stretch of highway where we were treated to possibly the most disgusting projectile-barf scene in TV history a few weeks ago, where Evil Coop crashed his car before the shimmering red curtains of the Black Lodge. The power lines crackle with a terrible energy. “Are you ready?” he asks Diane. “Once we cross, everything might be different.”
Might be different? Oh, Dale.
The thing is, once you’ve done time in the Lodge, it seems like you develop a certain blasé—no, that’s the wrong word—a certain resignation to the fact that evil cannot be avoided or run from and you cannot really protect yourself or others from it; you have to be willing to walk through it. So in they go.
It’s hard to tell how different Coop and Diane are or aren’t, but there is something really creepers about that sex scene. In the morning, Diane is gone, leaving behind a note from “Linda” to “Richard” saying she doesn’t feel That Thing for him anymore. Coop was told to remember Richard and Linda way back in the beginning. Which he remembers. We still don’t have clarity, do we? On who they are? Anyway. He drives to Odessa, TX, and walks into a diner, looking for a waitress. The waitress on staff gets her ass fondled by rednecks in cowboy hats and Cooper shouts “Leave her alone!” in a voice that’s just a shade closer to the stentorian bark of Evil Cooper than it used to be. The Cowboy Hats foolishly attempt to engage Coop, who disables all three of them in a couple of moves, puts their guns in the deep fat fryer and advises the line cook to step away in case the oil’s hot enough to set off the bullets. Then he gets an address, walks out, and knocks on a door and finds Laura Palmer. She isn’t Laura Palmer, she’s Carrie Page. But she does need to get out of town, maybe something to do with the rigor mortis-y body in her living room? And off they go. When they reach Twin Peaks she recognizes nothing. Not the streets, not the diner, not her house. Dale is unconvinced. They knock at the door and a strange woman answers. She’s never heard of Sarah Palmer. They bought the house from a Mrs. Chalfont. The woman’s name is Alice Tremond. She’s sorry she can’t help. (You guys remember Tremond and Chalfont are the same person, right, the creepy old lady Laura served in the Meals on Wheels program?)
Out in the street, a confused Cooper and an equally confused Carrie Page stare at the house. “Wait,” says Cooper. “What year is this?”
And Laura Palmer screams bloody murder as we cut to black.
OK. David Lynch operates on a kind of dream logic, which means time and space get wonky and objects have both an intensely personal and an eerily universal symbolic value. This show has never been about satisfying endings—please ring in if you know of any actual real-life situations that have one, because I’d sure like to hear about it—but hopefully you got that memo loud and clear the minute the three pink-satin-clad showgirls walk into the sheriff’s office with snacks. Twin Peaks: The Return, despite its many surface departures from the original Twin Peaks, is actually, if you think about it, a perfectly seamless continuation of the deeper themes Lynch was originally exploring. Compulsion. Obsession. Existential dread. Nostalgia. The ever-thwarted desire for things to work out and the ineffability of good and evil, which can be entirely human, or perhaps something trans-human and totally un-killable. For me, the most harrowing moment wasn’t the Return to Sparkwood and 21, or the shrieking Laura in a drug-addled date with death—it was the moment in the final segment of “Part XVII” where Can-Do, Super-Positive Cooper’s face faltered for just a minute as though he’d seen into an abyss of infinite sorrow and realized no one was going to save anyone, and that image of his face was superimposed over the rest of the scene as it unfolded. That’s going to stay with me for a really long time.
Yeah, so there are a lot of questions that don’t get answered. David Bowie is a steaming teakettle and Linda isn’t in love with Richard any more. And Laura Palmer is apparently fucked no matter what dimension she’s in.
Dale Cooper, we miss you already.
Amy Glynn is a poet, essayist and fiction writer who really likes that you can multi-task by reviewing television and glasses of Cabernet simultaneously. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.