‘Twin Peaks’ Season 3, Episode 16: Super Cooper!

Introduction

“I am the FBI.”

With those four words, “Twin Peaks” at long last sent the hearts of millions of fans worldwide soaring, as our much-beloved Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan, clearly relishing the moment) was finally returned to us, in all his glory. It was an exceptionally well-earned moment, and if some might balk that it came so late in the series, well, that’s their problem.

Truth be told, I quite enjoyed the whole “Mr. C.” and “Dougie” journey, even if it was a way of somewhat prolonging the inevitable. After all, we expect Cooper to take care of business ASAP- if Lynch and Frost had simply brought him back in a matter of episodes, it would have been a pretty short season.

Yes, you could point out that Cooper didn’t exactly solve the Laura Palmer case in record time, but as Lynch and Frost have pointed out, time and again, it was never really about that. Indeed, they never planned to solve the case at all, originally, and only did so under pressure from ABC, the network that originally aired the show.

As such, “Twin Peaks” was always about the journey, not the destination and once they were forced to arrive at that destination, a lot of people stopped caring, which was exactly what Lynch and Frost feared. Of course, the point could be made that a lot of people would have stopped watching, period, if they DIDN’T solve the case as well, so I guess you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

That said, in a weird way, ABC did Lynch and Frost a favor, as it forced them to get even more creative, and I’m not sure the show would have had the cult following it did without those out-there choices, and especially that shocker of a cliffhanger that was the season two finale. For those of us who saw it, it was a devastating turn of events, but also, many would argue, the very reason the show has persevered over the years.

This wasn’t exactly helped by the prequel movie, “Fire Walk with Me,” which raised more questions than it answered, and continued to leave Coop stranded in the dreaded Black Lodge- or at least, the waiting room of it- as the events took place almost entirely before the events of the show. All we got was a nod to what was going on in a dream sequence with Annie (Heather Graham) and that was that.

I don’t know that any of us dared to dream that the show would ever be resurrected again, especially after the dismal reception of the movie, which I still feel is one of Lynch’s most underrated efforts. And yet, in an almost unfathomable chain of events, the show itself left open the door that it might “happen again,” via a seemingly throwaway line: “I’ll see you again in 25 years.”

Now, I sincerely doubt Lynch and Frost had the foresight to plant that on purpose- by all accounts, they hoped to be back in the fall, and had come up with the cliffhanger purposefully to get viewers back onboard to that end, and had at least some idea as to how they were going to rectify it. (Although Lynch DID rewrite a LOT of what Frost and the writers had come up with, perhaps sensing that the end was near, so who knows?)

But it didn’t, and we hardcore fans have been left hanging ever since, watching and re-watching over and over again, taking in every morsel that came our way as it did, via interviews with the cast and crew and the release of deleted scenes from both the show and the movie- over an hour’s worth in the case of the latter alone.

Then, against all odds, the current trend of resurrecting and/or rebooting old shows actually worked in our favor. Yes, it would have been nice if it had happened a few years sooner, timeline be damned, if only so that certain people that are no longer with us could still be involved, but it is what it is, and for the record, I thought that Lynch did a fine job of working around it, even if he sometimes did so in an amusingly laughable way, i.e. turning David Bowie into a giant teapot!

But the important thing is that the show is back at all, really. And honestly, who could have expected that, so long after essentially rewriting the “rules” of television way back then, the show would do it again? It was almost too much to hope for, you know? Oh, granted, not everyone has been thrilled by what we’ve gotten, but I ask you: would you rather have this- or nothing?

If anything, it was all worth it for the moments we got in this particular episode, from Coop’s triumphant return, to Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn) recreating her signature dance in all its glory in such a spectacular way, this was fan service at its very finest. Factor in several other great moments, which we’ll get to, and this was a first-rate episode all around, and undeniably the one fans have been waiting for from the jump- and we’ve still got two more to go, thank God.

For this review, I want to take a closer look at how Lynch has been using music and sound in general throughout the season- or film, if you prefer. But first, a recap of the excellent episode.

Episode 16

We begin on a dark, deserted road, “Lost Highway”-style, a motif the show has used this season time and again. In the case of Mr. C’s companion, Richard (Eamon Farren), it’s the last road trip he’ll ever go on, and though It’s with what is indeed revealed to be his father, this is no family vacation, to be sure.

The two arrive at their destination, an isolated rock off a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, to be somewhat joined by an unexpected guest, completely unbeknownst to them: Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly), of all people, who has spent pretty much the entire season stoned out of his gourd. Even if his foot is indeed not his own, it has led him here, at this moment, and that can’t be a coincidence, right?

Though the place matches two of the three sets of coordinates he was given, no fool he, Mr. C. sends Richard to investigate the exact location, armed only with a beeping device that will tell him when he reaches his destination, which proves to be directly on top of the aforementioned rock.

Unfortunately for Richard, it proves to be a trap of sorts, as, no sooner than he calls out that he’s where he should be, a bolt of electricity runs through him and he disappears in a burst of light. “Goodbye, my son,” says Mr. C., confirming what we suspected once and for all, but not seeming too broken up about it, either. Jerry, on the other hand, who can’t even work his binoculars right, is downright horrified.

Mr. C. sends yet another mysterious text at around 2:05 am, reading: “:-) ALL.” He then leaves, presumably off to commit more mayhem elsewhere, likely in Twin Peaks. Meanwhile, his henchmen of choice, Hutch (Tim Roth) and Chantal (Jennifer Jason Leigh) arrive at Dougie’s to stake out the place until he arrives.

Shortly thereafter, so do the FBI, led by Special Agent Headley (Jay R. Ferguson), but all concerned come up empty-handed, as Dougie is nowhere to be found. Headley tells Wilson (Owain Rhys Davies) to hang back with a fellow agent to stake out the scene just down the road, and he and the others leave to go and check out Dougie’s workplace, Lucky 7 Insurance.

Of course, Dougie is currently in the hospital, as a direct result of the self-inflicted electrocution he suffered in the previous episode. Janey-E (Naomi Watts) and Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon) wait faithfully at his bedside, dreading the worst, as Dougie is in a coma from which he may not awaken. Bushnell Mullins (Don Murray) is also there, and gets word from the office that the FBI have come by looking for Dougie and are headed their way.

The Mitchum Brothers, Rodney (Robert Knepper) and Bradley (Jim Belushi) also come by, with the girls, as ever in full costumed regalia, bearing lots of food and sympathy for all concerned. They also ask, and get, the house key to Janey-E’s home so that they can deliver even more food while the Jones family stays put.

They arrive at Dougie’s a little bit later on, as Chantal, sensing that something is awry, gets cranky from lack of tangible food. The fact that they are seemingly going to be here for a while doesn’t help matters. As the food is delivered and the truck leaves, with the Mitchums and the girls remaining behind in their own vehicle, yet another man shows up in a “Zawaski Accounting, Inc.”-labeled sedan. The ever-helpful credits dub him the “Polish Accountant” (Jonny Coyne, “Turn: Washington’s Spies”).

The man approaches Chantal and tells her to move her van, as she is blocking his driveway, but after taking a look, they say no. This proves to be a dreadful mistake, as the Polish Accountant, not taking no for an answer, then gets into his car and proceeds to try and ram them out of the way. Chantal, not taking too kindly to this, shoots at him, but more surprisingly, the accountant gets out and grabs a huge gun from the trunk and shoots back.

This prompts them to hightail it out of there, but all too late, as the man takes them both out, causing Chantal to wreck the van, thus ending their saga prematurely. Wilson promptly arrests the man, who surrenders without a fight, as the Mitchums look on, wondering what the hell kind of neighborhood this is that Dougie’s living in.

Back at the hospital, Bud hears a weird noise, quite similar to the one James heard in a previous episode, and the one Ben and Beverly heard at the Great Northern. Bud goes to investigate, and suddenly Dougie springs alive- but, of course, it isn’t Dougie at all- it’s Coop! Finally back to normal- or by his standards, anyway- Phillip “Mike” Gerard (Al Strobel) appears to him and informs him that “the other one didn’t go back in” and that he’s “still out.”

Coop seems to understand exactly what this means and Mike gives him the infamous green-and-gold ring. Cooper asks if Mike has the “seed” and he does- it’s the gold ball bearing that Dougie transformed into after he disappeared from the “real” world and reappeared and then melted away in the Black Lodge. Coop says he needs Mike to make “another one” and gives him a lock of his hair. One presumes he means he needs Mike to make another Dougie, as it were, so as to not leave poor Janey-E and Sonny Jim without a husband and father, respectively.

This would seem to confirm that Cooper knows exactly what is going on, and how to deal with it. The fact that the first thing he thinks of is the welfare of someone else he barely even knows proves that this is indeed our beloved Coop that we’ve long been waiting for. Mike disappears to take care of business, while Cooper greets Janey-E and Sonny Jim, who are ecstatic he’s up and about.

It doesn’t take long for them to pick up on the fact that he’s different this time- for one thing, he’s speaking in actual full-formed sentences, and in a commanding tone. He tells them he needs to go immediately and that he’ll explain in due time. To allay their fears, he has a doctor give him a clean bill of health, and he quickly talks to Bud, who informs him the FBI are looking for him. He tells Bud that’s good, and asks to borrow his gun, which a stunned Bud does.

“What about the FBI?” Says Bud.

“I am the FBI,” says Coop, and you can almost hear the fans cheer if you listen closely.

Coop talks to the Mitchum Brothers, and asks if they can have the plane gassed up and ready to go to go to Spokane, Washington ASAP. They say okay, and he says to meet him at the casino in twenty minutes. As he leaves with Janey-E and Sonny Jim, the FBI arrive, literally just missing them.

Meanwhile, Diane receives the text Mr. C. sent previously. Her phone reads 16:32, which is 4:32pm in military time, which confirms that the texts Mr. C. is sending are being re-routed to her from another source. She has an extreme reaction to the text, and says, out loud that she “remembers.” She mumbles Cooper’s name and enters a series of numbers- coordinates, most likely- and prays that it “works.”

We see that she has a gun in her purse, as she gets up and heads to Gordon Cole’s room, 1827, where he, Albert and Tammy have gathered, awaiting word from the Vegas office. Cole senses her there before she even knocks and welcomes her in. Diane says she’s finally ready to talk about what happened that night long ago, after Cooper initially disappeared. She says he showed up about three, maybe four years after that, long after she stopped hearing from him.

Diane said he asked her about the FBI and what was going on with them in regards to his disappearance, and she had the distinct feeling she was being grilled for information. Then, he kissed her and smiled, and she realized then that something was clearly off about him and was suddenly afraid for her life. Diane says his face “changed” and he was upon her, raping her. Sounds like BOB’s MO to me.

Mr. C. then took her to an “old gas station”- the mysterious convenience store, perhaps? She says she sent him the “coordinates” and then starts rambling incoherently- something about being by the “Sheriff’s station.” (One assumes the one in Twin Peaks.) She then says, frantically, “I’m not me” and reaches for her gun. Before she can even aim it, Albert and Tammy, in a move of total bad-assery, both reach for theirs and shoot her repeatedly.

As if this weren’t crazy enough, she floats up into the air and disappears. As I suspected in previous reviews, Diane is indeed not herself, but rather than being possessed, as I suggested, it would seem that she’s a “tulpa,” as Tammy points out, aka a type of doppelgänger. I’m assuming that the reason for the different designation is that tulpas are created- a la Dougie- and doppelgängers are more akin to an evil twin. “Wow,” says Tammy, summing it up for all of us.

Diane reappears in the Black Lodge, where she is confronted by Mike, who tells her: “Someone manufactured you.” The faux-Diane says she knows, and mutters her signature phrase: “F*ck you.” This must come as great news for those for whom Diane was not quite what they expected. I, like a lot of people, suspected it was because the evil Coop had raped her, which proved to be the case, but now we know that it wasn’t actually her that we’ve been seeing all this time, which I think Cole and company knew as well, hence their keeping close watch over her.

As Diane lights up a cigarette, her body seems to flutter and her face cracks open, as black smoke pours out of the void where her face once was. Another gold ball bearing appears, hovering, then drops into the chair she’s sitting in, as, like Dougie before her, she melts away into nothingness, leaving only the so-called “seed.” This, of course, begs the question: if this isn’t Diane, where is the real one? Is she dead- or trapped, perhaps, at the convenience store motel?

At the casino, Coop says his goodbyes to Janey-E and Sonny Jim, telling them he has to go, but he’ll be back, or rather, the “real” Dougie will, and this time, when he returns it’ll be for good. Janey-E seems to realize that this isn’t her husband, finally, and makes her peace with it, though Sonny Jim is more upset, not comprehending how this isn’t his father, understandably. He kisses and hugs them, and she thanks him as he leaves.

In the limo, Cooper tells the Mitchum Brothers who he really is, and promises to vouch for them if he helps him, to keep them out of trouble with the law. Regardless, he needs to get to Twin Peaks, pronto. They agree to help make that happen and head to the airfield.

Back at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks, the MC (J.R. Starr) introduces the latest act, one Edward Louis Severson III, who you might know better by the name of Eddie Vedder, the lead singer of Pearl Jam. Apparently, it’s his real name. I can see why he changed it! Sounds more like a lawyer than a rock star. Vedder sings a lovely acoustic ballad, as we see Audrey and Charlie (Clark Middleton) at long last arrive at the bar.

Charlie buys them drinks, them raises his glass to toast them, but Audrey instead toasts Billy with a snide look. As Vedder finishes up, the MC returns and introduces another act: Audrey herself! Announcing “Ladies and Gentlemen, Audrey’s Dance,” that familiar tune comes on and, as if in a trance, Audrey walks up into the spotlight as the floor clears and does her famed dance, the one that launched a thousand crushes, mine included.

As with Coop, this was fan service of the finest order, perfectly staged to be as epic as it was. As the crowd watches, transfixed, swaying along with the music, so does Audrey do her infamous trance dance, as we look on, in pretty much the same hypnotic state, if you were like me. Suddenly, breaking the spell, a man yells out “Monique!” He tosses a beer glass at another man, declaring “That’s my wife, assh*le!”

A fight breaks out, taking Audrey- and everyone else, viewers included- out of our collective trances. Audrey rushes back to Charlie and asks him to get her the hell out of there. As he goes to do so, suddenly, she seemingly wakes up, as if she were dreaming- or, you know, actually in a trance of some sort. We see Audrey in a white room, looking in a mirror.

I’m guessing it was most likely a hospital, which would go a long way towards proving my initial prediction that none of what we were seeing revolving around Audrey was real, and she was actually in a state of hypnosis, likely courtesy of her new psychiatrist, Charlie. As I suspected, he’s not her husband, after all, but her doctor, which explains a lot.

So, how much of what we’ve been seeing in general is real? I think most if it is, but the stuff with Audrey is not. As we know from the Mr. C./Richard stuff, the former likely raped Audrey while she was in a coma, causing her to get pregnant and give birth to Richard, who was never “quite right.” I’m not sure how long Audrey has been out of a coma, but likely the shock of realizing what had happened to her or coming to as it was happening, sent her into a catatonic state, and she’s been out of touch with reality ever since.

Understandably, as Coop represented all that was good and kind in the world to her at the time. So, given that mental illness runs in their family (see Johnny; as well as Ben’s Civil War shenanigans in Season 2), she simply had a break with reality of her own, much like her father before her. Only this one appears to have lasted much longer, obviously. Now that she seems to be back, what all will she remember? We shall see.

As electricity crackles in the air, we return to the Roadhouse stage, where a jazz band once again plays “Audrey’s Dance,” only this time, fittingly, backwards. I think this is meant to represent the topsy-turvy world Audrey has created for herself, one filled to the brim with drama involving a host of soap opera-esque characters that could be straight out of “Invitation to Love.” But I don’t think any of those scenes matter- or do they?

Either only the stuff directly involving Audrey is fake, or maybe a lot of it is. This would account for a lot of the time discrepancies that have arisen over the course of the series. I’m not saying all of what we’ve seen in Twin Peaks isn’t real, just certain events that seem disconnected from the rest. There’s a reason they seemed that way, and that’s because those things were, in fact, part of Audrey’s demented alternative-world scenario.

But I do think that, say, the stuff with the Sheriff’s station is real, as is the stuff with James and Ben and Richard. I think the “fake” stuff is likely limited to those random characters that popped in and out, often without explanation, talking about people we weren’t familiar with and scenarios we had no idea about. Then again, it might just be limited to the Audrey stuff, but if so, then why were those girls talking about Billy, if he doesn’t really exist?

Either that stuff is fake, or perhaps Audrey is somehow splicing in real events with her imagined ones, Hard to say, but it’s completely fascinating. Can’t wait to see how this all turns out next week!

Conclusion and Thoughts on Music & Sound

This was easily one of the best episodes of the new series so far. A lot of what we were all waiting for came to pass- namely, Coop’s return and subsequent springing into action- and we got some great unexpected developments, including the stuff with Diane and Audrey. Granted, a lot of it raised more questions than it answered, but that’s Lynch for you. I’ve no doubt at least some of it will be explained in the concluding two episodes, if not all. Got leave some mystery, right?

Unfortunately, Showtime has already announced that “Twin Peaks” will not be back, but we still don’t know if that was because Lynch and Frost did all they wanted to do with it, or if Showtime didn’t want to foot the bill for more. From what I understand, their investment paid off handsomely, as there was a huge spike in subscriptions for the show’s return, and though the ratings for the initial showings were low, you can probably chalk that up to a combination of “Game of Thrones” and people watching it later on.

In short, I suspect Showtime is fine with the ratings and the press the show has gotten, even if some of it was negative. Overall, though, critics and most fans seem to be loving it, so I doubt that their decision has anything to do with any of that. More likely it was Lynch and Frost saying this is where the story ends, for better or worse. The real question is: how will it end? Will we get a happy ending, or yet another cliffhanger? We’ll just have to wait and see next week!

One thing I did want to touch on was the music and sound on the show. Though some have commented on how little of composer Angelo Badalamenti’s famed score has been present on the show, I do think it was by design. As the show has spent more and more time in Twin Peaks, the town, the music has slowly but surely started to creep back in as well, reaching a highpoint of sorts in this episode, with the triumphant return of “Audrey’s Dance,” in all its splendor, and, of course, the reprise of the theme song, as Cooper returned to his senses in full.

That said, I’ve quite enjoyed the various bands that have played at the Roadhouse, though that may have been helped by the fact I was already a fan of some of them, in particular the Chromatics and Johnny Jewel, who writes a lot of the former band’s music, and has already developed a reputation for his film scores, including ones for “Lost River,” “Drive” and “Bronson.”

In addition, I’m a big Au Revoir Simone fan, even before I heard Lynch was. I’ve seen them live a few times, and I think they’re just great. I love the whole neo-noir vibe of Jewel’s stuff, which is heavily inspired by the synth-driven work of the likes of Giorgio Moroder and John Carpenter. If you like it, be sure and also check out Richard Vreeland, aka Disasterpeace, best-known for scoring the horror flick “It Follows” and various video-games. And if you dig ARS, be sure and check out bands like Stereolab, Camera Obscura and Blonde Redhead.

In addition, if you dig Angelo Badalamenti’s work, you’ll be pleased to know that he’s influenced an entire generation of performers, particularly his work with “Twin Peaks” singer Julee Cruise, which can be found in the such modern-day artists as Lana Del Rey, Neko Case, Zola Jesus and two more artists on the current incarnation of the show, Sharon Van Etten and Lissie.

For those who prefer more instrumental AB vibes, be sure and check out such directly “Peaks”-inspired bands as Mount Eerie, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Bohren & Der Club of Gore and the amusingly-named Dale Cooper Quartet & the Dictaphones. There’s even a rap act named after the show, as well as a techno artist, Rio Padice, who dedicated two EPs to the show. Further, there’s a great comp called “A Witch House & Okkvlt Guide to Twin Peaks” with a lot of other Twin Peaks-inspired material.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that director David Lynch has several albums of music as well, including various collaborations with none other than Chrysta Bell, aka Agent Tammy Preston. All are worth checking out, including Badalamenti’s various other film scores for Lynch, as well as others over the years.

Last but not least, I have to bring attention to the sound design of the show, which Lynch was directly involved in as well. Lynch has always taken an interest in such things, dating all the way back to his “industrial soundscape” for “Eraserhead,” his first feature film, the soundtrack of which is readily available and was a huge influence on the industrial rock movement, including another show vet, Nine Inch Nails, whose Trent Reznor also worked with Lynch on the soundtrack for “Lost Highway.”

That interest continues to this day, as sound plays a huge part of the new iteration of “Peaks,” and not just the music itself. Note the key role that humming type sound has played in various scenes, such as the aforementioned ones with Ben and Beverly, James and Cooper himself just before he woke up. In addition, you have the signature “electrical” sounds, which even crops up in the production company logo at the beginning and end of the show, and usually happens just before something major is about to go down.

The show is filled with inventive sound design, which is something few directors take as much care with and go the extra mile as much as Lynch does. It just goes to show how committed he is to his craft and how important every ingredient is in making his work stand out from the pack the way that it does. Lynch might not be above trolling people a bit with his extended scenes in which not much happens, but rest assured, he takes the business of filmmaking very seriously.

It’s just one more element in his work that catches one’s attention in a way that few others do, and part of why I love Lynch’s work as a director so much. It’s the little things that often matter the most, those little flourishes and creative touches that make up a director’s signature style, which not all directors have these days. Lynch is one of the rarefied few whose work one can readily identify within minutes of someone turning it on, a la Hitchcock and Spielberg- only cooler.

We could use more like him nowadays, but let’s face it- no one is really like him, period. Many have tried to emulate his style, with oft-mixed results, but there can only be one David Lynch, and “Twin Peaks” is certainly looking to be his true magnum opus. Regardless of whether it ends up coming back or not, I’m just grateful to Showtime and everyone else who helped make it happen in the first place. There will never be another show like it, truly.

So, any predictions on the finale? Any idea what twists may lie in store for us? Any moments I missed that you think might come back into play? Some have mentioned the weird scene with the insurance agent in the premiere meaning more than it might have seemed at the time, for instance. And, of course, there’s still whatever is going on with Sarah Palmer to contend with. Is she bad or good? Will she help Mr. C. or hinder him? Or Cooper himself, for that matter?

In addition, what was with that flashback in Episode 8? Who was that girl, and what was that thing that went into her mouth? How about the Woodsmen? What’s their deal? What is Phillip Jeffries up to? Or the person pretending to be him? Who is Judy and what’s her deal? What is up exactly, with that ring? Will we ever find out what happened to Agent Desmond? And, lest we forget, how’s Annie, for God’s sake?

There’s a lot to deal with next week, but thankfully, there’s two more episodes left to do it in, so maybe Lynch and Frost can bring this baby in for a smooth landing in the clutch. We shall see. Until next week, thanks for reading and be sure and leave your comments and predictions down below!