Sunday, August 27, 2017

REVIEW: 'Twin Peaks' - Dougie Finds New Purpose While Diane Shares a Story in 'The Return: Part 16'

Showtime's Twin Peaks - Episode 3.16 "The Return: Part 16"

No knock, no doorbell.

"Part 16" is the episode fans of Twin Peaks have been waiting to see all season. It's the episode that marks the return of Special Agent Dale Cooper to this world. It's been a long and tedious process. The audience has had to accept that Dougie Jones would have more screen time in the overall season than Agent Cooper. There was even the belief that perhaps Agent Cooper never would return at all. On the outside, Dougie Jones was just an amnesiac who simply repeats what was last spoken to him. But underneath the surface, he has the full capabilities of someone who knew what he was doing. It's seemed miraculous that he's been able to survive this entire season. And yet, there was always a convenient way out of any precarious situation for him. It came either from his own abilities or the overall mysticism in this world. That trend still continues in this episode with the way the show decides to handle Chantal and Hutch. But it's also key to recognize the importance of the overall Dougie Jones story. It's created this whole life for Agent Cooper. He has spent the last 25 years away from this world. It is now incredibly comforting to know that he's still going to have a rich and rewarding life after all of this is over. He has made friends with new people and fallen in love. He's been given the opportunities that were viciously taken away from him when he entered the Black Lodge. If he successfully kills his evil doppelganger, then it would feel like he ultimately didn't miss much because of this absence. He's still capable of having a meaningful life in this world with people whom he loves and cares about.

At first, it seems like the show is going to be utilizing another stalling technique with this grand reveal. When Dougie stuck the fork into the electrical socket, it made a bright white light. It seemed magical. But now, he's revealed to be in a coma. It plays almost as a punchline of sorts. After all of this hard work and the belief that Agent Cooper is about to return, he's instead sidelined in a coma. It's a moment the show believes for a little bit. Bushnell and the Mitchum Brothers are there to take care of Janey-E and Sonny Jim during this troubling time. It's only after Bushnell hears the familiar noise that Ben and Beverly have heard at the Great Northern that Agent Cooper wakes up with his full capacities once more. That's not the plot device I figured would be central to this grand mystery. It gives that whole storyline at the Great Northern more importance now. Those two have heard the noise. James has heard it. And now, Agent Cooper and Bushnell have heard. It has significance. But it's mostly just a thrilling sequence because Agent Cooper is back. He knows what he must do. He immediately springs into action. He's not unaware of what he has been doing as Dougie Jones. He understands everything now. It's such a rousing moment that is then accompanied by the score from the original series. It's so special and rewarding. Him turning around to say "I am the FBI" to Bushnell is just fantastic.

This reveal changes everything for Agent Cooper and the people who have been in his life as of late. He's not waiting around for Gordon Cole to make his way to Las Vegas and team up for the inevitable takedown of Evil Cooper. He's instead flying off to Twin Peaks himself. He has the resources to do so because he trusts the Mitchum Brothers. They have a reputation around the city of being shady individuals. And yet, Agent Cooper has seen how good they are capable of being. They've treated his family well. Him actually being in the FBI won't change their relationship at all. But it's important to note that Agent Cooper tells the truth to the Mitchum Brothers and Bushnell but not to Janey-E and Sonny Jim. That's the most emotional goodbye. They are the ones who've actually interacted with him on a very personal and emotional level. He's a member of the family. He's the provider who has given them this incredible life. He is now a completely different person. Janey-E sees that. She has no idea who this stranger is in her husband's body. But she knows that she loves him. Agent Cooper feels the same way. He is Sonny Jim's father and Janey-E's husband. He's going to enjoy a lifetime of happiness with them. The emotion swells as Janey-E kisses Agent Cooper goodbye. She has no idea what's actually going on but she has such immense trust and love in him. She knows that he'll keep his promises.

This episode would be great if it only featured the sequences where Agent Cooper finally wakes up and knows that he needs to head to Twin Peaks. But this is an entire episode of big, climatic moments. Some of them are expected. But others are completely surprising while still feeling emotionally earned. The world was in for a ton of trouble with Evil Cooper and Richard teaming up. That's a dangerous combination. Both have been incredibly lethal. But in reality, Richard is just as expendable to Evil Cooper as all of his other henchmen. He doesn't ultimately care what happens to him. This episode seemingly confirms that Richard is the son of Evil Cooper and Audrey. That means Evil Cooper really did rape Audrey when she was in the hospital following the bank explosion. That's absolutely horrifying. Richard is a piece of Evil Cooper. That explains why he has always been so troubled. That darkness comprises half of his identity. But he dies not knowing that at all. He simply recognized Agent Cooper from a photo his mother had. He wasn't looking for a paternal figure. He just needed a direction to go in. That's literally the case in the sequence that opens the episode. Evil Cooper has coordinates that he needs to find. He was three to look into and two match up. He sends Richard in to investigate and it turns out to be a trap. Richard dies a horrifying and painful death. It's a fate that is fitting for the character because of the evil deeds he has done. But it's still gruesome to match. It's completely unexpected and Evil Cooper barely has any reaction to it. He's glad he's still alive. He's foiled his opponents once more. Now, he's moving forward to the next stage of his plan.

Evil Cooper's final coordinates to find are the ones that Diane has remembered from the body of Ruth Davenport. She delivers the message. And yet, this sequence is one of the most tense moments on television this year. It's absolutely gripping to watch. It all starts by an innocent text message. And yet, Diane's heart drops when she sees it on her phone. She sees it as the greenlight for something horrible that she doesn't want to do. She manages to send the coordinates back to Evil Cooper. But then, Diane is almost in a battle between her body and her mind. She's uncertain in her step. Her body is literally shaking. The music is pounding in a strong, intrusive way. The drama is pushing her forward for her big climatic moment and it's absolutely terrifying to her and the audience. The stage is set with the reveal that she has a gun in her purse as well. That weapon is going to go off. Every time she reaches into that purse there's the fear that she's about to kill someone. But instead, she finally tells the story of the last time she saw Cooper to Gordon, Albert and Tammy. It's an agonizing story that literally takes every fiber of her being in order to share. It's a struggle to get the words out. She saw Cooper again four years after he disappeared. Everything was fine and normal at first. He was curious about the world of the FBI once more. Then, he kissed her and everything changed in an instance. He raped her. He took her to the gas station that serves as a portal between worlds. It was a disorienting experience for her. She doesn't know quite what happened. But she isn't herself. That's when she pulls out the gun and fires. She doesn't kill anyone. In fact, both Tammy and Albert fatally shoot her. It's a surprising moment that suddenly shifts to something else entirely. It turns out that this Diane was actually a doppelganger that Evil Cooper created. She has the memories and fears of the old version. But she is taken to the Black Lodge and quickly destroyed right in front of the One-Armed Man. It's a surprising moment that proves that everyone has been deceived this entire time. Plus, Diane gets to deliver one last "Fuck you!"

And lastly, Audrey and Charlie finally make it to the roadhouse! That has been such a strange and mysterious story over the last third of this season. It has seemingly been operating out of space and time completely. It hasn't been functioning within the same rules as the rest of the stories. That continues in this episode as well. There still isn't some grand explanation for what exactly is going on with Audrey. This episode is full of many climatic moments. But some stories still need to be left for the remaining two episodes of the season. This is one of them. And yet, this story still had a number of great moments to it. Audrey and Charlie are just sitting at the bar not knowing what to do. They've made it here to search for Billy. Instead, they find something even more strange and peculiar. It almost plays as a dream sequence. The MC at the roadhouse says the next song is "Audrey's Dance." And then, the familiar tune from the original show starts playing. Audrey almost becomes entranced because of it. She has no idea what's going on. Everyone else has left the dance floor and is watching her. But she feels the urge to dance. It's so special and weird. It's empowering and thrilling to see her like this. She's finally able to let loose after a season of uncertainty. But then, those concerns of reality come crushing back for her. An incident occurs at the roadhouse. She turns to Charle for help. And then, it's as if she wakes up in a strange, white room. She's looking in a mirror. She's the exact same woman but has no idea what has just happened. It's a thrilling and mysterious note to end the episode on. The audience is right there alongside Audrey in having no idea what's going on. It's disorienting but a very enticing way to close things out for the week.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Return: Part 16" was written by David Lynch & Mark Frost and directed by David Lynch.
  • Chantal and Hutch were one of the many plot threads that needed to be dealt with before the inevitable confrontation between the Coopers in Twin Peaks. And now, they are staking out Dougie Jones' house. They watch as the FBI and the Mitchum Brothers show up. None are the wiser to their presence. But they are noticeable to the man whose driveway they are parked on. That leads to a shootout confrontation. This isn't the end anyone could have pictured. It's just so random. But it's quite entertaining and bloody to watch as well.
  • The FBI field office in Las Vegas hasn't seemed all that capable at doing their jobs. In fact, Agent Headley is constantly yelling at Agent Wilson for being incompetent at his job. Of course, he's quick to explode as well. And yet, Wilson is able to arrest the accountant who kills Hutch and Chantel while Headley is finally on the trail of the right Dougie Jones.
  • Agent Cooper has a full conversation with the One-Armed Man as soon as he wakes up from his coma. The One-Armed Man has been trying to get him to wake up. And now, it has happened. Agent Cooper is giving him orders and the One-Armed Man is listening. It also comes with the tease that Agent Cooper may be making a doppelganger of his own in order to trick the Evil Cooper headed towards Twin Peaks.
  • Things became quite precarious when Jerry Horne randomly shows up in the same location as Evil Cooper and Richard. He has no idea what's going on down below. He's just happy to see other people. He's been out in the woods this entire time! But then, he sees Richard get electrocuted by a white light. It's horrifying to watch. And yet, Jerry is still alive.
  • The action doesn't cut to whatever is going on in Twin Peaks at all. So there's no update on any of the people currently in the jail cell or the officers who've been investigating this case. And yet, that's bound to change very soon as everyone is about to finally converge in Twin Peaks. It holds another mystery as well with the mysterious Judy whom Evil Cooper is now looking for.
  • Eddie Vedder is this week's musical guest at the roadhouse. He's performing under the name of Edward Louis Serverson III which happens to be Vedder's full real name. That's a nice bit of meta storytelling. Plus, it's the perfect musical performance to set the stage for Audrey and Charlie's grand entrance into the roadhouse.
  • However, that means Eddie Vedder wasn't actually performing at the roadhouse. He was just performing in Audrey's head. That sets off the question of just how much of this story is taking place in Audrey's mind? Is it just the scenes she appears in? Or is it actually all of the big musical performances at the roadhouse and the random sets of strangers conversing at the ends of several episodes? That's a possibility because it's the only other place where someone has mentioned Billy.