Warning: This recap for ‘Part 3 and Part 4’ of Twin Peaks contains spoilers.
“I hate to admit this, but I don’t understand this situation at all.”
Not the words of a million befuddled Twin Peaks fans but the words of FBI Deputy Director Gordon Cole (David Lynch). Sharing his concerns with Agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer, who sadly passed earlier this year), the scene doubles as a permission slip for viewers at home — Lynch himself letting us know that it’s okay not to understand what is happening right now. If you’re as clueless as Cooper returning to earth after a 25-year stint in a surreal paranormal dimension, then don’t worry, we’re all in the same shoes (well, after we get someone to put them on for us).
Honestly, you have good reason to call for help after Part 3 — the most relentlessly Lynchian of the series so far. The opening 15-minute sequence is the strangest yet most extraordinary thing I’ve seen on TV, probably since the original Red Room scene in Season 1. Scenes like that have been swirling around my head all week and have turned watching other TV shows into a chore — even series I love like Better Call Saul and The Leftovers feel blasé in comparison. These first four hours of Twin Peaks have burrowed so deep into the crevices of my mind, I feel like I’m possessed by a Black Lodge inhabitant in search of his next garmonbozia fix.
But like an eyeless Asian lady in a purple hellscape, I’m here to guide you through the story so far. So grab your golden shovels and let’s dig into Part 3 and 4.
THE PURPLE ROOM
The last time we saw Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), he was freefalling through time and space after being kicked into “non-exist-ent” by The Arm’s doppelganger. His plummet lands him in what I can only describe as a hellish, purple-hued, industrial space box. Here, an Asian woman, credited as Naido (Inland Empire‘s Nae Yuuki), sits in front of a fireplace; her eyes sewn shut and her ability to communicate restricted to muffled whispers and frantic flailing of the arms.
It’s a mesmerizing sequence with visuals as striking as they are unsettling. The jittery, staccato editing and shonky special effects are disorientating; it makes the scene feel simultaneously real and unreal. It’s as if a stop-motion animator’s creations have come to life and are attempting to fight their way off the page (the sounds even resemble someone flipping through sheets of paper). The rumbling bass drone and the repeated banging on metal add to the foreboding atmosphere. God bless you if you listened to this through headphones, you’re going to need a Gordon Cole-style hearing aid for the rest of your life.
Cooper spots an electrical socket panel on the wall, with the number 15 above it. Naido is demonstrably panicked the closer Cooper gets to the panel, so she leads him out of the Purple Room and up a ladder, and we’re now on top of a floating metal box in outer space. Imagine an episode of Doctor Who directed by David Lynch!
Naido pulls a lever, releasing a surge of electricity that blasts her from the box and sends her hurtling through the stratosphere. I guess we finally know the answer to the question Donna Hayward asked Laura Palmer in Fire Walk With Me. “Do you think that if you were falling in space… that you would slow down after a while, or go faster and faster?” “Faster and faster,” Laura answers, “and for a long time, you wouldn’t feel anything. And then you’d burst into fire. Forever.”
Lynch once again borrows from his own 1977 cult hit Eraserhead, a film that also begins with intergalactic lever yanking in a metallic nightmare world. It’s not the first Eraserhead reference this season, and it’s not the only one this episode; the disembodied head of Major Briggs (the late Don S. Davis) floating across the stars is notably similar to the image of Henry Spencer at the start of the body horror classic. Later, there is a picture of a black and white mushroom cloud hanging in Gordon’s office, another familiar Eraserhead motif.
Cooper heads back down into the room, the makeup of which has now altered. The purple glow has disappeared, the wall panel now reads 3 instead of 15, a blue rose sits in a flower vase, and there’s a woman who looks like Ronette Pulaski (Laura’s friend who was also kidnapped by BOB). It is indeed Phoebe Augustine playing the part, but she’s listed as American Woman in the credits (a remix of the song “American Woman” was playing when Evil Coop first appeared last week). I wonder if this was just Lynch wanting to fit the actress in somewhere but not having a story for Ronette.
The American Woman looks at her watch; the time strikes 2:53 p.m. (the same numbers The Arm told Cooper in the Red Room), a light comes on, and the electrical socket powers up. “When you get there, you will already be there,” says the Ronette-faced woman, before the banging on the door starts again. “You’d better hurry,” she warns, “my mother’s coming.” I don’t know who this “mother” is, but I’m scared for Coop, and I now jump every time someone knocks at my door. Cooper is sucked through the socket, leaving nothing behind but the shoes on his feet. I guess that means he’s going to need some new shoes (spits)?
TOO MANY COOPS
At the same time as Cooper’s electric excursion, Evil Coop becomes discombobulated as he drives down a desert highway, causing him to crash his car. As the clock on the dashboard hits 2:53 p.m., the cigarette lighter crackles, trying to suck him back into the Black Lodge. Evil Coop desperately resists, holding his hands over his mouth to stop himself from throwing up his garmonbozia — a creamed corn that represents pain and sorrow, the essential lifeblood of a Lodge inhabitant.
We then cut to the suburbs of Las Vegas, to the Rancho Rosa Estates (also the name of the production company behind the series), where a THIRD COOPER named Dougie Jones is having a dalliance with a prostitute, Jade (Nafessa Williams), in one of the unoccupied houses. Like Evil Coop, Dougie is struck with a sudden sickness, and while Jade is showering, he pukes up his garmonbozia and is zapped into the Red Room.
Evil Coop sees a vision of Dougie in his garish custard-colored jacket sitting in the Red Room, and with that, he lets loose an Exorcist-style spewing of creamed corn, blood, and motor oil — it was a horrible looking jacket. In the Red Room, the One-Armed Man (Al Strobel) informs Dougie he was “manufactured” for a purpose, and now that’s been fulfilled. Dougie’s hand shrinks and a ring falls off his finger, the Owl Ring which Teresa Banks and Laura Palmer wore in FWWM. Then his head pops, and morphs into some sort of space rock before turning into a small gold ball.
The real Cooper then emerges through a wall socket in the form of black smoke, taking the place of Dougie Jones.
In the words of Jade, “WHAT THE F**K WAS THAT?!”
Cooper is now back in the real world, presumably, but it’s not the Cooper we know and love. He’s suffering from a severe case of interdimensional jetlag; his brain frazzled from 25 years trapped inside the Black Lodge. The new Cooper, who everyone thinks is Dougie, is essentially an alien visiting earth for the first time. He’s reverted to childhood, seeing everything around him as new and unusual. He can barely follow the simplest of commands, and he parrots back whatever anyone says to him. Cooper was always a character full of childlike wonder and curiosity, and Dougie-Coop is him in his rawest form.
It’s distressing to see our good Agent in this state, but it also provides some absurd, comical moments. Jade drops Dougie off at the Silver Mustang Casino, where she gives him $5 and tells him to call for help. Instead, Dougie becomes Mr. Jackpots, following holographic Red Room images around the slots floor, playing the machines and winning multiple jackpots while yelling “HELL-OOO-OOOO!” The casino boss (a flustered Bret Gelman) hands over a giant sack of money and sends Dougie on a limo ride back home to Lancelot Drive — an address Dougie learns through an old friend at the casino, “the one with the red door.”
Dougie is greeted by his furious wife, Janey-E Jones (played by Lynch veteran Naomi Watts), who slaps him for missing Sonny Jim’s (Pierce Gagnon) birthday. Her anger subsides when she sees his casino winnings. Watts works perfectly in this wacky setting, playing the role of the exasperated wife with a relatable sincerity, and in a nod to Mulholland Drive, she’s once again taking care of a character suffering from memory loss. Although, given that Janey-E has yet to call a doctor it makes you wonder how cognizant original Dougie was in the first place.
My favorite moment of the Mr. Jackpots section is the breakfast scene where young Sonny Jim helps Dougie with his pancakes. Sonny’s amusement is infectious, and it’s through these innocent interactions we begin to see signs of the real Cooper shining through. The boyish grin and trademark thumbs-up, the animated look on his face after his first mouthful of syrup, all culminating in his breathless exclamation of “Coffeeee!” When he spits out the hot caffeinated brew, it acts not only as a callback to the iconic spit-take from the original series but a subversion of that scene, framing Cooper’s relationship with coffee in a new context.
Kyle MacLachlan is delivering a tour de force performance. He’s playing three very different characters, two of them with limited dialogue and yet he’s able to convey so much in just a look or a movement, flipping effortlessly between menacing and sympathetic. MacLachlan is displaying a range he’s not usually afforded the opportunity to show off, and this season of Twin Peaks could prove to be his defining career role(s). Give him all the Emmys.
MEANWHILE, IN TWIN PEAKS
Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) has jerry-rigged a contraption that allows him to spray-paint his recently purchased shovels a lovely shade of gold. It’s a scene that perhaps drags on a little too long, but there’s something almost therapeutic about watching the Doc paint. As for what he’s planning to do with these five shovels? Your guess is as good as mine.
The rest of our time in Twin Peaks is spent at the Sherrif’s department. Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse) continues to decipher the Log Lady’s message, trying to find the “something” that is missing. The way he will find it has to do with his heritage. In another callback to a classic line from the pilot, Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) wonders if it’s about the chocolate bunny she ate from evidence. But it’s not about the bunny. Or is it? No. It’s not about the bunny. I have a solid theory about what is missing, which I’ll get to in the theories section at the end of the recap.
Robert Forster plays Sheriff Frank Truman, Harry’s older brother; Michael Ontkean is unfortunately not returning for the new series. Forster was the first person Lynch had in mind for the role of Harry in the original, and it’s easy to see why. Forster’s Frank fits right in, channeling Harry as he politely indulges the eccentricities of those around him — including Wally Brando, Lucy and Andy’s (Harry Goaz) grown son.
In the most divisive scene of the season so far, Michael Cera arrives on a motorbike, dressed like Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones, doing his best, lispy Brando impression. “My shadow is always with me,” he muses. “Sometimes ahead. Sometimes behind. Sometimes to the left. Sometimes to the right. Except on cloudy days. Or at night.” The scene goes on like this for about five minutes, as Lucy and Andy beam with pride and Sherrif Truman calmly nods in acknowledgment. Is it indulgent? Yes. But it’s also hilarious in its nonsensical absurdity.
The most heart-wrenching scene is the return of Bobby Briggs, who is now a Sherrif’s Deputy. I guess the rebellious punk took Albert’s advice and got a life! He breaks down upon seeing Laura’s high school prom photo. With his gray hair and uncontrollable crying, you could mistake him for Leland Palmer, but I doubt Bobby is possessed (at least I hope not). Angelo Badalamenti’s soundtrack has been noticeably absent so far, intentionally one would imagine, so the reprisal of Laura’s Theme here is cathartic and packs the scene with an emotional gut punch. I presume the further we delve back into the town of Twin Peaks, and the more Cooper regains clarity, the more of Badalamenti’s soundtrack we’ll hear.
In Philadelphia, FBI Agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) — the character from Mark Frost’s book The Secret History of Twin Peaks — briefs Gordon and Albert on the deaths of our Glass Box lovers. “What the hell?!” Gordon shouts upon seeing an image of the blurry white-alien figure. I wonder if this creature is the “mother” that the American Woman warned Cooper about? Gordon is interrupted by a phone call informing him that Cooper has reappeared and is being held in a federal prison in South Dakota.
David Duchovny reprises his role as Denise Bryson, now FBI Chief of Staff, who wishes Gordon luck on his latest mission. It’s a scene mainly played for nostalgia and allows Lynch to be both self-congratulatory and self-critical. “When you became Denise, I told all your colleagues, those clown comics, to fix their hearts or die.” It’s a fantastic line but also a pat on the back for including a sympathetic trans character on his show decades before the world caught up. But Denise gets to poke at Gordon (and by proxy Lynch) for his obsession with pretty young females. “Beautiful agent, barely 30,” she quips, referring to Gordon’s intentions with Tammy.
The FBI’s trip to South Dakota brings about the creepiest scene of these two hours. Cole, Albert, and Tammy visit Evil Coop in prison. He was taken in after being found passed out in his car with a block of cocaine, a machine gun, and a dog’s leg in the trunk. All the ingredients of a great Friday night. It’s immediately apparent this isn’t the real Cooper, despite his best attempts to mimic our favorite Agent. In stark contrast to the smile and thumbs-up Dougie gives Sonny Jim, the one Evil Coop gives Gordon is downright sinister.
Evil Coop’s dialogue has been pitched down ever so slightly, increasing the creepiness factor. If you listen carefully to his first line of dialogue, you’ll notice he almost slips into reverse-speak. “It’s yrev, very good to see you again old friend,” he tells Gordon. Puking up all that garmonbozia has clearly caused Evil Coop to lose some of his senses. He tells Gordon that he’s been working undercover with Agent Phillip Jeffries for the past 25 years and needs to be debriefed.
Gordon and Albert don’t buy it for a second. “I don’t think he greeted me properly, if you take my meaning,” Gordon says to Albert in that beautiful blue-tinted scene outside the prison. Albert confesses that years ago he authorized Phillip to give Cooper some information about their “man in Columbia,” and a week later that man was killed. Albert describes the situation as “Blue Rose,” the same words spoken by the floating head of Major Briggs in Part 3. Blue Rose is another FWWM reference, an FBI code name for cases involving supernatural elements, perhaps related to Project Blue Book.
Our two puzzled agents say that before they do anything else, they need one certain person to take a look at Cooper. Albert says he knows where she drinks. I think we should all join her!
THEORIES FROM ANOTHER PLACE
In this section, I’m going to try and make sense of some of the stories, as well as offer theories on what may or may not be happening.
The Tale of Three Coops
Okay, so here’s the main story in the most basic terms:
The time has come for Good Cooper to leave the Lodge and for his evil doppelganger to return. Evil Coop doesn’t want to go back and has a plan, as he told Darya last week. Good Coop opened the Red Room curtains in Part 2 and saw Evil Coop driving down the highway; I suspect this was the moment when Good Coop was supposed to swap places with his doppelganger. However, The Arm’s doppelganger distracted Good Coop, sending him to the Purple Room, which preoccupied him long enough for Evil Coop to stave off his return and send Dougie Jones in his place. Now Good Coop and Evil Coop are both out in the real world, and one must die.
Who Is Dougie?
The One-Armed Man says he was “manufactured for a purpose,” and now that purpose has been fulfilled. The implication being that Evil Coop created Dougie — perhaps using the powers of the Owl Ring to maintain his Coop-form — as a decoy who would be sucked back into the Lodge instead of him. Evil Coop’s plan seemingly worked. But when did Evil Coop create Dougie?
Dougie has a wife and a young son, a job as a real estate agent, and an apparent gambling problem. He has flings with prostitutes, and someone is out to kill him. It definitely seems like Dougie has lived a life for some time, whether he was aware he was manufactured or not.
Who were the hitmen?
Hitmen don’t have great success in David Lynch’s world. I’ve read theories suggesting that Evil Coop hired these goons to kill Cooper upon his return to earth, but I’m not sure I buy that. It makes more sense to me that Dougie got in deep with some loan sharks due to his gambling addiction and owes someone a lot of money. When Janey-E opens the sack of cash, she breathes a desperate sigh of relief before saying, “There’s enough here to pay them back,” suggesting Dougie was tied up with some bad dudes.
Is Dougie’s reality real?
Another popular theory doing the rounds is that Dougie’s entire world is a construct. There are certainly signs that lend credence to the theory. Cooper continues to see things that remind him of his time in the Black Lodge: Sycamore St., owls (both real and ceramic), the Silver Mustang Casino (the silver horse is a recurring image in the series). Not to mention the Red Room visions, the junkie in the house across the street yelling “1-1-9!” and Dougie’s wife and son’s false-sounding names. Who calls their kid Sonny Jim Jones?
If this world is fake or manufactured, it might explain why nobody has bothered to take Dougie to the hospital. However, I think this world is real, and the coincidences are merely meant to act as signifiers to wake Cooper up from his fugue state.
Is the headless body Major Briggs?
A theory that I do think is likely to be correct is regarding the decapitated corpse uncovered in Ruth Davenport’s apartment last week. There were two big clues to the body’s identity in Part 3 and 4. The first was Major Briggs’s head floating through space, and the second was the fingerprints analysis being blocked by the military. Briggs, a military employee, was known to be working on the mysterious Project Blue Book investigation.
Bobby later reveals that Cooper was the last person to see his father alive, but claims that the Major died in a fire at his station the next day. That smells like a cover-up. Did Evil Coop kill Briggs? The body certainly didn’t look like it had been rotting for 25 years, but perhaps it was kept on ice? The story of Cooper going to visit Briggs after he escapes from the Lodge is also told in Frost’s TSHOTP book.
Who is the woman Gordon and Albert need to see?
There are lots of names popping up in regards to the mystery woman who needs to take a look at Evil Coop. One option is Sarah Palmer, due to her ability to see BOB. Others believe it could be Audrey Horne, who had a close connection with Cooper in the original series. Perhaps the most popular, and likely, possibility is Diane, Cooper’s tape recorder muse, who has never actually appeared on-screen. Laura Dern is in the new series and has yet to appear. Given her on-screen chemistry with MacLachlan in Blue Velvet, she could make the perfect Diane.
Is Laura’s diary what is missing?
This is the theory I’m going all in on. Hawk is looking for something to do with Agent Cooper. In FWWM, which Lynch himself said is relevant to the new series, Annie appears to Laura in a dream and tells her, “The good Dale is in the Lodge, and he can’t leave. Write it in your diary.” We know that Laura had two diaries, one which was taken into evidence after her murder, and a secret diary, which she gave to recluse Harold Smith for safe keeping after finding pages had been ripped out. After Harold’s suicide, it’s discovered he left a page of the diary for Donna, a section describing Laura’s dream, and Cooper has Donna read aloud the passage, which helps him identify the killer.
In the book Lynch on Lynch, when asked about the notions of time in FWWM, Lynch brings up Laura’s dream, claiming, “I know that Laura wrote [what Annie said] down, in a little side space in her diary.” He went on to say that “if Twin Peaks, the series, had continued, someone may have found that. I had hopes of something coming out of that, and I liked the idea of the story going back and forth in time.”
I believe if Hawk finds this missing page with the message about Dale being in the Lodge, he will understand the connection it has to his heritage (he once told Cooper about his people’s beliefs regarding the White and Black Lodge).
Let us know your own thoughts and theories on the new series in the comments below.
Twin Peaks airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime.
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