Twin Peaks: The Return, Part Four

Thematically important.
“I don’t understand how this keeps happening over and over again.”

So, what do we call the Coopers? It’s a question whose answers lead more to ontological puzzles than onomastic answers. We have, after all, quite a few Coopers to deal with:

1. The original Dale Cooper, whose body exited the Black Lodge 25 years ago, inhabited fully by Bob. (Leland was only partially inhabited by Bob; he still had moments in which he was himself. But I think Bob took Cooper over completely.) In The Return, he’s the Cooper with the bad tan and worse hair.

2. The original Dale Cooper, whose soul remained in the Black Lodge. That’s the confused soul we saw wandering through the levels of reality in Part Three. And that soul is now inhabiting the body of…

3. Dougie Jones. Dougie Jones seems to be a placeholder created by Something (see below). He had a soul, but it deflated and disappeared in Part Three, leaving only a ring in the Red Room. Now his body—less paunchy and with better hair—is inhabited by the original Dale Cooper’s soul.

In other words, a CooperBody with a BobSoul, and a DoppleCooperBody with a Dale Cooper soul. It’s all about doppelgangers again. Perhaps it always was. Twenty-five years ago, when Leland-as-Bob killed Maddie, the Giant told Cooper “It is happening again”:


Or, in this episode, how Andy told Lucy (regarding the cellphone mishap) that “I don’t understand how this keeps happening over and over again.” And, in fact, it is. At the most obvious level, we’ve got doppelgangers again.

But there’s also implicit duplication: Bill Shaker’s girlfriend in the casino looked a bit like Heather Graham; it’s no coincidence that she is the one person in the hallucinatory casino scene that realized something was wrong with Coop.

We also have a new Sheriff Truman. The old Sheriff Harry S Truman retired (as did the actor); the new one is played by Robert Forster, and he seems to have slightly less patience for the madness of Lucy and her family.

Like Michael Cera’s Wally Brando, who mimics the actual Brando in what might be the most divisive scene portrayed on television since the presidential debates. I liked it, because I like that most of Lynch’s “jokes” are predicated on the comedy of delay. And Michael Cera looked damn funny in that hat.

Just like Cooper looked damn funny wearing a tie on his head and playing with Dougie Jones’s son, who seemed to get a kick out of watching his dad be extraordinarily wacky.

On a more serious note, in addition to doppelgangers and implicit duplication, there’s repetition. In this episode, Deputy Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) burst into tears, which I’m pretty sure happened at some point in the original series. In doing so, he recalled a conversation with his mother about his father, Major Briggs.

It’s a reminder of the nature of reminders: some of these moments may be meta in-jokes (Michael Cena), but some of these moments are the sort of repetition that evokes the trauma these characters went through years ago. Or, as I wrote in my review of “Drive with a Dead Girl,” this sort of thematic repetition is “a sign that memories can have the vividness of present reality.”

Moreover, that Bobby brings up Major Briggs is, I think, no coincidence. If Coop was the heart of the original series, Major Briggs was the enlightened mind capable of understanding the grace and fearlessness of the unseen White Lodge and all it represents. Twin Peaks portrays the literal nature of evil: Bob isn’t just a motivation or metaphor, although Albert wondered if he was (“Maybe that’s all Bob is—the evil that men do”). Evil is real, it has a home, and it has agents.

But what about good? Major Briggs saw a place of goodness, but not an agent of goodness. The Return, however, seems to indicate that there is some motivating force operating against evil. Something had to create Dougie Jones, the placeholder Cooper. That’s reassuring: there is something Good out there to combat the Evil. Perhaps soon, that Something will reunite Cooper with his people.

Like Albert, deadpan as always. And David Duchovny’s Denise (love her!). And David Lynch’s Gordon Cole. They know something is wrong, the get a sense that EvilCoop is not what he appears to be. It’s “Blue Rose,” they say (repeating a trope from Fire Walk With Me).

The friendly Giant might phrase it differently: “It is happening again.”

Damn Fine Coffee:

• In my review of the second episode, I discussed how much I liked the way that Twin Peaks: The Return had allowed time—and life—to pass. It’s a bittersweet effect, though, especially to see Catherine Coulson (the Log Lady), who passed away back in 2015, having filmed her scenes well in advance of any other work on this reboot, and Miguel Ferrer as Albert, who passed away in January 2017. And we shouldn’t forget Don S. Davis, who played Major Briggs and passed away in 2008. All of these actors bring so much to the world of Twin Peaks.

• Cooper’s terrible jackets are terrible. Why did Naomi Watts let him dress like that?

• Cooper was in a daze until he took a drink of coffee. His challenge was overcoming the psychic hangover of 25 years spent in the Black Lodge, but that’s about how I feel each morning before my cup of joe.


Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

2 comments:

Mark Greig said...

I honestly have no idea what to make of the Wally Brando scene. The talking brain tree made more sense to me.

I've seen a lot of speculation that the "she" Gordon and Albert talked about is Audrey, but I think it will be the often mentioned but never seen Diane.

Josie Kafka said...

The randomness of that scene made me wonder if Lynch is going to give all the random actors who signed up for cameos way too much time in the spotlight. I can't wait to see what he does with Eddie Vedder.