Twin Peaks finale review

(Each week, we’re going to kick off a discussion about Twin Peaks: The Return by answering one question: what was the best scene of the episode?)

The second season of Twin Peaks ended on a cliffhanger so severe it was borderline cruel, instantly establishing itself as one of the most unforgettable moments of television in the medium’s history. More than two decades later, creators David Lynch and Mark Frost were given the resources to continue their story with total creative freedom. So how did they choose to end this season – and possibly the series as a whole? Read our Twin Peaks finale review to find out.

We’ll get to the Laura Palmer/Carrie Page stuff in a few minutes, but first, let’s go back and talk about Part 17 for a little while. FBI Chief Gordon Cole reveals that he’s been keeping a secret from Albert for 25 years: Cole, Agent Cooper, and Major Briggs had a clandestine plan to locate an “extremely negative force” in the universe known as “Jowday,” aka “Judy.” Cole and his Blue Rose task force finally get the information they need about Dougie Jones (and a message from Cooper relayed by Bushnell Mullins), pointing them toward the Twin Peaks sheriff’s station.

DoppelCooper visits his final set of coordinates and gets sucked into the Lodge, only to then be spat out in the sheriff’s station parking lot. Andy and Lucy welcome him happily and introduce him to Frank Truman, who immediately recognizes something’s fishy. But when he receives a call from the real Cooper when he’s sitting face to face with DoppelCooper, Frank’s too slow on the draw; he would have been done for had it not been for the quick thinking (and quick trigger finger) of Lucy, in one of the best hero moments any character has had on this show. Then we come to the moment we’ve all been waiting for.

Everyone converges on the Twin Peaks sheriff’s station as DoppelCooper lays shot, and they all (including Hawk, Cooper, the Mitchum Brothers, James Hurley, and Hulk-hand Freddie) witness the woodsmen – those sooty homeless-looking spirits – appear and reconstruct Bob’s spirit into a floating orb that emerges from DoppelCooper’s stomach. Freddie recognizes that this moment is his destiny, and he gets into a brawl with Bob, finally shattering it with the superhuman strength in his hand. Cooper puts the ring on DoppelCooper’s body, sending him to the Lodge once and for all, leaving Rodney Mitchum to drop one of the best bewildered lines of the season: “One for the grandkids.”

Around the time Cooper’s face was superimposed in the background was when the episode became a bit harder to follow for me. “There are some things that will change,” he says. “The past dictates the future.” As soon as Cooper makes physical contact with Naido (the eyeless woman), it’s confirmed that she is a version of Diane (seemingly the original…but don’t ask me how that happened). Cooper and Diane passionately kiss, and the superimposition of his face vanishes temporarily; when they notice the time (2:53, natch), Cooper’s distorted voice says, “We live inside a dream.”

Look, I’m not going to pretend to have come up with a nice and easy answer for what these episodes mean only a few minutes after watching them, because this is a David Lynch property and there’s a certain amount of purposeful ambiguity and room for interpretation that will reward repeat viewings and deeper study. But that moment seems crucial to understanding the story Lynch and Frost are trying to tell, and I’m going to need to see it a couple more times to wrap my head around all of this. On first viewing, though, it seems as if a potentially viable reading is that everything that follows is a dream in Cooper’s head. And hey, it might not be a dream. I’m just spitballing here. This show isn’t exactly straightforward, you know?

Cooper tells everyone he hopes to see them again some day (season 4, anyone?), and the very next scene sees Coop, Diane, and Cole transported into the bowels of the Great Northern, where Coop’s old room key inexplicably unlocks a door and takes him to the Lodge, where Mike utters the “Fire Walk With Me” chant and takes him to Phillip Jeffries. The symbol from the ring morphs into a 3D number 8 that rotates in the air, perhaps teasing the alternate world he’s about to enter. “You can go in now, Cooper,” Jeffries says, and then bam – all of a sudden we flash back to scenes from Fire Walk With Me, in which Laura and James are in the woods together. Her words take on a different meaning after seeing how The Return has developed:

“Open your eyes, James. You don’t even know me. There are things about me…even Donna doesn’t know me. Your Laura disappeared. It’s just me now.”

When I first saw FWWM, I assumed Laura was speaking metaphorically. But having seen how prevalent the idea of doppelgangers has become in this fictional universe, I’m wondering if maybe her words should be taken a little more literally. Anyone else wondering if this might not be the real Laura? It’s just a theory for now, but I think it’s worth considering. In any case, this time around, Cooper is there watching the two of them in the woods, and after Laura spots him, he actually guides her away, preventing her murder in the process. Holy shit. But as he leads her through the woods, Laura disappears, screams bloody murder, and the episode ends. (Note: I’m not entirely sure how they filmed this. At first I thought it might be a deleted scene with a digital Cooper added in, but now I’m thinking it was probably modern-day Sheryl Lee young-ed up through makeup or CG.)

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