After the powerhouse that was last week’s episode, “Twin Peaks” decided to up the ante and bring forth an episode that was an emotional journey of joy, sorrow, fear, and horror. It was a celebration of patience that also brought forth multiple answers while bringing us ever closer to giving us that which we’ve been asking for since the beginning: the return of the real FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper.
A vast amount happened in this episode, so let’s try to break it down as best as possible.
Since so much happened in the town of Twin Peaks, I want to focus on everything else that happened before venturing into that Pacific Northwestern town.
Let’s start with one of the most important moments of the episode, which started innocently enough. Jane brings Dougie a piece of chocolate cake and once again comments on how it feels like their dreams are coming true. For every bite that Dougie eats of the cake, he interacts with something on the kitchen table. First he shifts one of the spice shakers to the side. Then he pushes a button on the TV remote, which does nothing. He does it a second time, once again resulting in nothing. The third time, as is so often said, is the charm and the TV turns on to the 1950 Billy Wilder film Sunset Boulevard. Dougie watches intently while eating when suddenly the minor character Gordon Cole is named. This sends Dougie into a state of shock where he pauses the TV to stare at it. He then hears the crackling of the power outlet and crawls on the ground towards it. For some reason, he inserts his metal fork into the outlet, which causes a huge electrical current to surge through him and Jane to scream in horror.
Just as we think Dougie is finally going to turn into Cooper, our fear is now for his life and not his mind. Dammit, David Lynch and Mark Frost! Dammit!
Also in Las Vegas, two events of note should be mentioned:
1) At the FBI office, the site director is told that Dougie and Jane have arrived with their children. Turns out it’s the wrong family.
2) Duncan Todd, the mysterious businessman who is seemingly always pissed at his assistant Roger, is horrifically murdered by Chantal, who also kills Roger. It’s a moment of sheer brutality and shocking gore. Her callousness is all the more terrifying considering the monstrosity of what we, the audience, just witnessed. Even more disturbing is that she then calls Hutch and ask for him to order some food, which they eat while discussing how upset they are that they haven’t been able to torture anyone as of late.
Now, perhaps the second most important event of the episode was when we got to spend some serious time with Evil Cooper and tag along on his dark, mysterious journey.
It all started when we joined him on a late night car ride where he pulls over to a burnt out convenience store, the same one that we saw in Episode 8. Outside of the store is a Woodsman, who leads Evil Cooper up a staircase on the side of the building. As they ascend, they begin to flicker out of existence, leaving our reality and entering another one. It is there that Evil Cooper comes face-to-face with another Woodsman, whom he asks for the location of Phillip Jeffries. He is led through a dark hallway that has a creepy forest faded over top of it, as though they are traveling through both the hallway and the forest before the latter fades away and Evil Cooper is at a staircase, the same one that Gordon saw in the ninth episode.
Climbing those stairs, Evil Cooper comes to a door that he goes through only to find himself in the parking lot of a motel where a couple of Woodsmen are standing. They lead him to the only door with the outside light on but it’s locked. A woman wearing a nightgown comes to Evil Cooper and using that strange backwards/forwards speech tells him that she’ll unlock the door. When she does, it opens to reveal pitch black, which Evil Cooper ventures into without hesitation.
Inside is a dark, grungy room with flickering lights. Suddenly, a wall moves away and a strange tea kettle-esque object is revealed, steam flowing from its spout into an iridescent bubble. Without explaining how or acting like it’s an anomaly of nature, we learn that the structure is Jeffries, voiced by Nathan Frizzell. Evil Cooper asks why Ray was sent to kill him, which the object confirms but offers no explanation as to why. It cuts to the Fire Walk With Me scene where Jeffries showed up at FBI HQ and said he met “Judy.” Evil Cooper asks about this person and “Jeffries” materializes a phone number in the steam, which Evil Cooper quickly writes down. Jeffries tells him that he’s already met Judy, which seems to puzzle Evil Cooper. In the motel room, the phone rings but Evil Cooper ignores it, electing to instead bark more questions at Jeffries, who ignores them all. The wall reappears, so Cooper picks up the phone and finds himself teleported outside the convenience store where he parked his car.
It is there that Richard Horne appears, pointing a gun at Evil Cooper. He says that he knows Cooper is an FBI agent, revealing that his mother is Audrey Horne and he knows who Cooper is from photographs she has. Evil Cooper manages to get the gun away and pummels Richard a little before telling him to get in the truck, saying he’ll explain on the way. Before getting into the car, Evil Cooper sends a text to Diane (most likely) asking about Las Vegas. After the truck pulls away, the convenience store fills with electricity and billows clouds of smoke and steam before disappearing completely without any trace, leaving only dark woods behind.
To say that there is much to glean from this is an understatement. Evil Cooper is quite literally traveling through multiple planes of reality, encountering characters who should not be but are. Furthermore, it is clear that these characters have the ability to communicate across dimensions, which is how Ray got the call from Jeffries.
This also raises questions as to the Woodsmen and their purpose. Clearly they’re beyond dangerous but are they guardians of this dimension that Jeffries resides in? Or are they peons that do his bidding? The mysteries only grow in this regard.
Al lright, let’s now head back into Twin Peaks, where I fully admit that two scenes brought me to tears, one full of happiness and one of bittersweet sorrow. Let’s start with the happy, shall we?
The episode opened with Nadine purposefully walking down the road while carrying one of Dr. Jacobi’s shovels. She is smiling, a woman on a mission and one that she knows will bring her happiness. As it turns out, she has walked all the way to Ed at his Big Ed’s Gas Farm to tell him that she has been a “selfish bitch” to him for so many years. She tells him that she wants to see him happy, that she knows he’s been in love with Norma for all these years, and that she manipulated him into staying with her. She drops the bombshell that she wants to release him and let him find happiness with Norma. Ed is in disbelief and he asks her several times if she understands what she’s saying, which she makes clear that she does. The normally stoic Ed nearly breaks down, tears filling his eyes.
He drives to the Double R Diner to tell Norma the good news, but just as he’s about to reveal everything, Walter, Norma’s business partner, shows up. Ed, distraught, sits at the bar and orders a cup of coffee as well as, under his breath, a cyanide pill. While he’s sitting there, seemingly heartbroken, Norma tells Walter that she wants to exercise her right to have him buy her out of the Norma’s Double R franchise, much to his shock and disappointment. However, she states it’s for her family and that she’s happy with having the one diner.
When he leaves, Big Ed, who sits with his eyes closed, feels Norma’s hand on his shoulder. Turning to her, he asks her to marry him, which she agrees to after kissing him. Shelly is watching from a few feet away, tears of joy in her eyes as these two finally, after nearly three decades (and even longer), can finally find happiness together.
To say that I shed happy tears is an understatement. In my piece about “Twin Peaks” from a few weeks ago, I specifically commented about how growing older doesn’t mean that we have to lose love or attraction. This scene only made my piece feel all the more vital and important. The joy I felt seeing Norma and Ed in each other’s arms cannot be described, all while Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” played in the background. For years and years, these characters have been a part of my life and knowing that they couldn’t be together was a constant source of heartbreak. But now that heart can mend because love never dies and it can take hold of us at any age, at any time in our lives. This is the magic of “Twin Peaks.”
However, as I mentioned earlier, there was also a moment where unabashed tears of sorrow flowed. These came when Margaret, the Log Lady, called Hawk to tell him that she was dying.
“There’s some fear, some fear is letting go. Remember what I told you. I can’t say more over the phone but you know what I mean, from our talks when we were able to speak face-to-face. Watch for that one, the one I told you about, the one under the moon on Blue Pine Mountain. Hawk, my log is turning gold. The wind is moaning. I’m dying. Good night, Hawk.”
He tells her good night before she hangs up. Looking at the phone, he whispers good bye.
In the conference room, Lucy, Andy, and Bobby enter to Sheriff Truman’s curiosity. Hawk then enters to tell them of the passing of Margaret. They collectively grieve, Sheriff Truman removing his hat and Lucy standing with tears rolling down her face. Nothing needs to be said because they all know what she meant to the community. They know what her loss means.
For us, this is the passing of one of the most iconic characters of the series. Charming in her own way and undeniably crucially important, this scene was a chance for all of us to hear her say good bye, to give her the honor of going out having said all that she needed to have said. It hurts all the more because Catherine Coulson, the actress who played Margaret, passed away before the revival aired. Seeing the Log Lady say good bye was essentially watching Catherine say farewell to all of us fans and it broke my heart. I grieved along with those characters because I too felt like I lost someone close to me.
The episode was dedicated to Margaret Lanterman.
The only other largely noteworthy moment came when we are in the woods of Twin Peaks, where Steven and who I am guessing is Gersten Hayward (since she’s played by Alicia Witt, who played Gersten in the original series) are hiding among the trees. Steven is clearly having withdrawal and is holding a gun while Gersten is begging him to calm down, to not do anything rash. He tells her that he loved fucking her, in what is strangely romantic despite its crudeness. Perhaps it’s because of his vulnerability and clear fear in this moment but I can’t help but feel sorry for his pathetic display as he talks of committing suicide.
Someone walking his dog stumbles upon the two, which leads Gersten to leap up and run into the woods. As she kneels behind a tree, a gunshot rings out, suggesting that Steven took his own life. The dog walker goes to the trailer park and speaks to Carl, revealing that he knows Steven from the trailer.
At the Roadhouse, James and Freddy wander until James tries to say hello to Renee, the woman who wept openly when hearing him perform. Her husband takes great offense and, along with his friend, begins assaulting James, beating him viciously. Freddy punches each one once with his gloved hand, causing severe damage to them both.
Both James and Freddy are taken to the Twin Peaks police station and put in holding cells, where the strange woman is still being kept. Her chirps are still being echoed by the beat up man and Chad is still begging them to shut up.
We also see Audrey and Charles once again, this time at the doorway of their home. Charles is in his jacket and Audrey keeps finding ways to demean him even though he is ready to go to the Roadhouse, even though he’s apparently very sleepy. When Audrey refuses to put on her jacket so they can leave, he takes off his and sits on a couch in the other room, where she then charges and throttles him, screaming about how she hates him. There’s not much else to this except that now I’m firmly on Charles’ side because something is clearly not right with Audrey.
The episode ends back at the Roadhouse, where a young woman is sitting in a booth only to be physically removed and set on the floor by two biker-looking men. As The Veils play their song “Axolotl,” she crawls on the ground into the audience with tears running down her cheeks. She begins screaming as the footage cuts to black, only to fade in that strange otherworldly motel while the credits roll.
Jesus, I’m emotionally exhausted after that episode. From the opening joy of Big Ed and Norma finally getting to openly show their love to the world to the sorrowful loss of Margaret, the Log Lady, to the terrifying journey of Evil Cooper to the complete misdirection of Dougie and what we thought was the reveal of the real Agent Cooper, this episode was nothing short of a journey. I’ve never found myself so emotionally invested in what I was seeing but god knows that the end result was one of the most powerful hours of television that I’ve ever witnessed.
It is episodes like this that reaffirm the importance and necessity of “Twin Peaks,” no matter what generation or era it takes place in. Often described as “timeless,” this is the kind of episode that proves it, showing that these stories, these characters, and these situations are so universal that they can affect us at any point in our life.
The foundation of “Twin Peaks” has never been the investigation of Laura Palmer’s murder or the disappearance of Dale Cooper. The foundation of this series has always been about the beauty and magic of everyday normal people. It’s about recognizing that there is so much good in this world that needs to be appreciated and fought for. It’s about enjoying and finding comfort in the simple things in life. It’s about cherishing the connections we have with each other, no matter how strange they might seem.
Unless the final three episodes have some incredible tricks up their sleeves (which I’m willing to bet they do), Episode 15 may very well go on to be recognized as the best episode in the history of this series.