Early on in this episode, Evil Cooper borrows a pretty pink clamshell phone from an accomplice named Chantal (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and texts a cryptic message to an unknown recipient: “Around the dinner table the conversation is lively.” Although this episode does not free us — or Good Coop — from the human purgatory that is Dougie Jones, some lively and informative conversations do end up tying together some of the show’s most esoteric threads in surprisingly linear ways.
After their prison visit, Gordon Cole & Co. board a flight home, only to make an aerial U-turn when they receive not one but two calls about more nefarious goings-on in South Dakota. The first informs them about the fingerprint match with Major Briggs on the decapitated body in Buckhorn, and the second that “Cooper flew the coop,” a pun that seems inevitable, in retrospect.
The great escape isn’t going quite as smoothly as Evil Cooper had planned, however. After being double-crossed and shot by Ray, and clawed at by the otherworldly talons of ghouls, he finds himself stumbling down a dirt road the next morning, looking bloody and bedraggled. Looks like someone’s got a case of the Mondays!
He makes his way to a house marked by a red bandanna, where his accomplices Hutch and Chantal have been waiting for him. After his long walk, he is very ready to start crossing off action items in his bullet journal: He sends that “dinner table” text, and then calls Duncan Todd. You may remember Duncan as the man we saw sitting in an office with a view, hiring hit man Ike the Spike at the behest of some ominous malefactor who was clearly Evil Cooper. He now demands to know if Duncan has done “it” — i.e., offing Dougie — and notes gravely that it’d better be completed by the next time he calls. Evil Cooper leaves Hutch and Chantal with instructions to kill Warden Murphy within the next two days, and then head to Las Vegas for another doubleheader.
Vegas, of course, is the home of Dougie and Janey-E Jones, so it sounds like we’ve got multiple hit people heading off to finish the same job. Since his arrival in the life of the ne’er-do-well insurance salesman, Dougie/Coop has already survived a stakeout by a sniper, a car bombing, and of course, the bold daylight shooting attempt by Ike the Spike. The remarkably high level of violence directed at Dougie has finally been noticed by the local police, who open an investigation not just into the attempted murder but also the “damn strange business” that seems to follow the man at the center of it all.
They’ve discovered, for example, there are no records of Dougie prior to 1997, and while their first thought is “Witness Protection Program” rather than “supernatural doppelgänger constructed by an evil being from another dimension,” they can tell that something is amiss. Although Dougie’s boss insists that he’s a “solid citizen” who’s been working for him for 12 years, he notes that Dougie had a car accident prior to getting hired and still has “lingering effects.” He also mentions that Dougie had dissociative moments even before Coop was transplanted into his life, though a little bit of spaciness is probably to be expected when you’ve been manufactured as a sacrificial simulacrum for a malevolent spirit.
One of the cops brings a fresh mug of coffee to Cooper — his one weakness! how did they know! — and sends the prints and DNA off to the lab, which I suspect will mean that Gordon Cole gets another call in the not-too-distant future about very strange fingerprint hit in the system. As Agent Cooper sits in the police station waiting, he stares at an American flag in the corner, like a man trying to remember a word he has forgotten. A woman walks by in red heels, and he follows the color of them until his gaze comes to rest on an electric outlet. There’s always been something about electricity in Twin Peaks, an energy running beneath the surface or through the veins of a place.
Back at the Great Northern Hotel, Ben Horne is still wandering around with Beverly, trying to find the origin of the “mesmerizing tone” that keeps ringing in his office. He and Beverly have a moment where they almost kiss, but he says that he can’t do it, prompting Beverly to call him “a good man.” This is surprisingly upstanding behavior from a man who previously had a long-running affair that may have produced a child, ran a brothel where he regularly “broke in” his employees (including teenaged Laura Palmer), and almost accidentally had sex with his own daughter. Uh, I guess people can change?
The crux of the episode is Major Briggs, whose death (and “death”) has been one of the central mysteries of the new season. When Gordon & Co. arrive at the Buckhorn morgue to examine his body, they get a rundown of the mayhem that took place earlier in the season: A beheaded librarian was supposedly murdered by her lover, a high-school principal named Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard), whose wife was then supposedly murdered by her lover, after which Hastings’s secretary died in a car explosion.
“What happens in season two?” jokes Albert. Hopefully, no more Dougie.
There are two pretty strange things about the body of Major Briggs, aside from the fact that it has no head: It hasn’t aged in the last 25 years, and it had Dougie Jones’s wedding ring in its stomach. When the talk turns to Hastings, things gets even more interesting. It seems that Hastings and his librarian paramour Ruth Davenport had been investigating alternate dimensions and writing about them online, with a final blog entry that concluded: “Today we finally entered what we call the Zone, and we met the Major.”
Oh, and while everyone examines the body, Diane stays behind and gets a text message — the same text message that Evil Cooper sent in the beginning. Oh shit, are they in cahoots?
Then the whole gang is off to interview Hastings, who had previously claimed that Ruth died “in a dream,” and neglected to mention that they were actually exploring an alternate dimension with a dead Air Force officer at the time. Thanks to their extensive research, the couple discovered that they could enter this dimension by going to a specific place at a specific time.
“I do a lot of reading,” Hastings tells Agent Preston tearfully.
They found Major Briggs, who was “hibernating” there but wanted to move because he feared that “other people” — perhaps the gray men of the Black Lodge — were going to find him. He asked Hastings and Ruth to dig through a secure military database to get “important numbers, coordinates” that would allow him to move to an unspecified new location. Could it be the White Lodge, which he had visited before, and is that why Evil Cooper is so desperate to find the coordinates now? When Hastings and Ruth came back with numbers, however, the “others” had arrived. They killed Ruth, Major Briggs’s head disappeared (likely to float by Cooper on his way out of the Red Room) and Hastings woke up in his home.
Back in Twin Peaks, the competent members of the Sheriff’s Department arrive at the home of Mrs. Briggs to ask her about about the fateful night before her husband “died,” when he went to meet with Agent Cooper. Mrs. Briggs doesn’t answer that question exactly, but gets a strange look on her face, and says that she’s been waiting for this moment for a long time.
Mrs. Briggs explains that after Agent Cooper left, her husband gave her a prophecy: that one day in the future, Bobby, Hawk, and Sheriff Truman would come to her and ask about Dale Cooper. When that day came, he asked her to give them a strange metal vial. That’s exactly what’s happening now, and so she does.
Bobby knows just how to open the odd the device — he saw his father do it before — and throws it down on the concrete outside until it snaps open, revealing two scraps of paper. The first scrap has a familiar symbol of two triangles, one beneath a red sun and one beneath a symbol of the Black Lodge. There are also directions: dates, times, and a location. This sounds an awful lot like the place-and-time system for entering another dimension that Hastings described, and the Twin Peaks constabulary is in luck: The next date is only two days away.
“He saw this all,” says Bobby, realizing that they are finally stepping into the moment that has been waiting for them for 25 years. With all these abstract, arcane bits of mythology finally starting to congeal into something more tangible, it feels like maybe we are too.
The second scrap of paper is covered in alphanumeric code, broken only by two legible words in the middle: COOPER COOPER. Two Coopers, in the middle of it all.