Ladies and gentlemen, Agent Cooper is back.
But the path that gets us there begins with yet another lost highway and dark purpose. Bad Coop brings young Richard Horne to a mysterious location, one that matches up with two of the three sets of coordinates given to him. What does Bad Coop want with this location? Is it his way out? A way to close the gate forever? We’re not sure, but as they investigate, further plot convergences emerge as Jerry Horne pops out of the forest to see the event with his own eyes. We watch the “elder” Bad Coop send young Richard to check it out first. The scene grows tense as he beep, beep, beeps … and then ZAP. He is consumed by atomic “fire,” electricity crackling, and turned to dust.
“Good-bye, my son.” With that, we unceremoniously learn Bad Coop is indeed Richard’s father. But also with that, we realize just how little he cares. It is the true evil of not giving one possible shit about the one person you are supposed to care about more than anything. Bad Coop is just happy he made it out of the trap, if that’s what it was designed to be. Feeling celebratory, Bad Coop texts a devilishly happy emoticon to Diane that simply reads, “: - ) ALL.”
The text causes a deep visceral reaction within Diane, which allows her to start realizing the nature of their cahoots. Diane seems gripped in reaction, almost as if in a trance. She checks her purse for her gun, and with one big Nine Inch Nails needle drop, a sense of malevolence grows. Yes, she goes up the stairs to shoot Gordon, Albert, and Tammy. You feel every ounce of it coming.
As she sits down, she begins to recount the terrible story of her night with Cooper. It is precisely as we expected: Bad Coop raped her the moment he saw fear in her eyes. When a further detail emerges about the gas station, we feel the change ripple through her. She looks up in pain, tearfully admitting, “… I’m not me.” She quickly reaches for the gun, but Albert and Tammy are one step ahead, firing quickly. The bullets hit her and her body dissolves, all before returning to the Black Lodge, where she issues one more “fuck you” and becomes a seed. Just like that, we learn that she was another tulpa.
First of all, Laura Dern gives the most incredible performance in this scene, a stark portrait of a woman trying to hold herself together at the seams. But the question remains: Why tulpas? What is their meaning? Why is Lynch using them? The simple truth is that trauma is something that fractures us. Afterward, there is no going back to who we were before, when we were whole. We erupt into painful expressions as we try to cope with the pain, often creating more of it in the process, falling into our cynical holds and putting the armor up around us. We become divided people — two different people, in a sense. The greatest parts of our soul all get locked away in some hidden place, whether it be a Lodge, a gas station, or simply the human heart.
And now, we must also say good-bye to everyone’s favorite tulpa, Dougie Jones.
Well, he wasn’t really a tulpa anymore. He was a fracture of a fracture, someone who was a point between the Good and Bad Coop, but we’ll get to that in a second. For the path that leads to Dougie’s end is fraught with entertainment: First, the finger sandwich hijinks with the Mitchum brothers (who are officially my favorite new characters on the show, hearts of gold and all), and then the craziest shootout between Tim Roth, Jennifer Jason Leigh (always on her Cheeto game), and the man from Zawaski Accounting (whom I believe we’ve never seen before). That scene has so many great details, from Roth feeling bad that he owes a dead man money, to the FBI’s mouth-agape response, to the Mitchum brothers commentary. (“The fuck kinda neighborhood is this?” / “People are under a lot of stress, Bradley.”) But in the end, it’s all just more looping distractions and comeuppance from the thing we always feared would never come to pass.
With one spiritual hum, he awakes with a start: Agent Cooper.
Just as we’ve always known him. True, kind, and full of purpose. He immediately speaks with Mike in the Black Lodge and gets his mission. (“He didn’t go back in. He’s still out. Take this.” / “Do you have the seed?” And so on.) Coop is right back to the way he was, barking orders in that kindly and inclusive way, all while asking for sandwiches. The feeling of relief is incalculable. It was here I realized there may be no more reassuring character in the history of TV. Especially upon hearing him drive around to that theme, perhaps realizing in a way that it is not the theme of Twin Peaks, but the theme of Agent Cooper himself. Soft, symphonic, ethereal, and utterly hypnotizing. I just felt so happy, in control, and at peace.
As Cooper stands there and tells Janey-E and Sonny Jim just how much he enjoyed their time together, you suddenly realize that (1) he means it completely, and (2) yes, Agent Cooper was there the entire time. Under the surface, trapped beneath the effects of his journey, he remembered everything. When you look back at this entire Dougie Jones saga, you realize Coop was always there, grabbing the gun, playing baseball, drinking coffee, and following the light of the Lodge. The expression of it was different, but the soulfulness and thankfulness under his shell remained, and so he tells them earnestly, “You’ve made my heart so full.” In that good-bye, we see Janey-E understanding now what she perhaps only understood instinctively. She tells him, “Whoever you are … thank you.” And with that, Agent Cooper leaves, promising them a happy ending and Dougie’s return. It genuinely made my heart soar.
It all ends like it always does, back in the Roadhouse. This week, our guest is one Edward Louis Severson, better known as Eddie Vedder. He sings us his beautiful song “Out of Sand,” one that is laced with Twin Peaks iconography, whether it’s the offer from the hand of a disembodied man, or simply larger metaphorical notions of identity. (“I am who I am / who I was / I will never be again.”) His words echoes the heart of trauma and the dissolution of self, as if they were all being said for someone to hear.
Cue Audrey Horne walking into the Roadhouse. She skulks about, looking for Billy, all before glancing up and listening to the lyrics being sung by Eddie, letting the words about fractured identity echo in her head. As she raises her glass to Billy, the dance floor clears, and then it happens: “Ladies and gentlemen, Audrey’s dance …” With that one music cue, the Audrey Horne we know finally emerges and does her famous acid jazz dance. I smile, not out of mere nostalgia, but because David Lynch knew to wait to make it important. And perhaps because I sensed that it was all going somewhere important. Indeed, just as Audrey finally seems to disappear into herself, there’s one sudden interruption of “That’s my wife, asshole!” And she runs forward to Charlie, screaming, “Get me out of here!!”
ZAP … an all-white room … the crackle of electricity … Audrey stares at herself in a mirror, screaming, “What? What? What!?” Cut to black.
Holy shit. The questions pile in: Is this the real Audrey? Is she still in a coma? Is the real Audrey in the White Lodge? Is the version of Audrey we’ve seen in Twin Peaks just another tulpa? Has Bad Coop been creating Bad Doubles in the gas station for years? We don’t know. We just know that it’s all starting to eke out. That’s really the key incidence of all David Lynch’s work: It’s always the sudden, dark, unsettling realization coming from inside us, the one that tells us something is deeply, impossibly, and utterly wrong.