Hoo, boy. Where to begin?
So, there are not two Dale Coopers. There are three. And none of them are feeling 100%.
Actual Cooper falls through space into a strange, mauve-lit place and meets an eyeless woman who cannot speak coherently. There’s a lot of distortion to the camerawork and the whole thing is totally creepy-pants, but we at least have the feeling Coop’s on his way back to Normal Town. She shows him that they are in a strange compartment floating in space, pulls a lever, electrocutes herself and falls. The ghostly disembodied head of Major Briggs (the late Don. S. Davis) floats past, uttering the words “blue rose.” (I told you there was stuff you weren’t going to get if you hadn’t seen Fire Walk With Me. When he goes back inside, the woman is there again, now with a normal face. (She’s Phoebe Augustine, who played Ronette Pulaski in the first season.) She urges him to leave (“My mother’s coming!”) and Cooper kind of vaporizes and seems to float through an electrical outlet.
Meanwhile, Evil Cooper is driving through South Dakota and looking a little sketchy. The cigarette lighter in his car seems to be zapping and making strange noises. He crashes the car, and when he looks up, he sees red curtains.
Meanwhile, in a house in a bleak suburb of Las Vegas, a sex worker is, um, working on what appears to be another iteration of Cooper—this one’s a clueless sad-sack type with a beer gut, and apparently his name is Dougie (and apparently someone’s been hired to kill him as well). As you might expect, while the woman’s in the shower, Dougie starts to feel a bit… not himself? Eventually, he throws up on the carpet (dude, what is that?) and then Actual Cooper floats through the electrical outlet and replaces him. Like you do. Actual Cooper, in case you were expecting him to jump up and be Cooper, is extremely altered, looking and acting like someone who’s had a pretty serious stroke and who clearly doesn’t know who he is. The prostitute is surprised that “Dougie” has cut his hair, acquired a black suit and lost 30 pounds and the power of speech while she was in the shower, but hey, whatever. She drives him to a casino to get help. Meanwhile, next door, a woman is mixing booze and pills and screaming “One one nine!” while a small child watches out the window. Not sure if those guys are coming back.
Evil Cooper is also having some gastric issues, ending in a singularly disgusting projectile emission of what can only be called garmonbozia and unconsciousness. “Dougie” finds himself in the Black Lodge, where the One-Armed Man tells him he was “manufactured for a purpose” and is no longer needed. Dougie, who is wearing what appears to be the owl cave ring (I told you!) implodes into black smoke and is then condensed into a tiny golden ball. Anyway, we’ve been told that Real Cooper can’t return to the world until Evil Cooper returns to the Black Lodge, which is probably why he’s shuffling around with no idea who or where he is.
Police find Evil Cooper unconscious. He smells so bad it puts one of the cops in the hospital.
Back in Twin Peaks, Dr. Jacoby is spraying those shovels with gold paint. Just FYI. At the sheriff’s station, Hawk, Lucy and Andy (the latter two of whom have not become smarter in any way during the hiatus) have laid out all the evidence from the Laura Palmer case because of Margaret’s directive to find something to do with Cooper that’s “missing.” All they discover is that at some point, Lucy had eaten one of the chocolate bunnies (as in “Diane, I am holding in my hand a small box of chocolate bunnies!”), but it doesn’t appear to be the missing thing. Or is it? No. Probably not. Hmmm.
At the FBI office in Philadelphia, a group of agents discusses the mysterious case of the mutilated young man and woman in New York. (Remember the monster in the glass box?) When the meeting breaks up, one agent stays behind to tell Gordon Cole (David Lynch, still rocking the hilarious hearing aids) and Albert Rosenfeld (the late and much-lamented Miguel Ferrer) about the incident with the monster in the glass box in New York. Then they get a call that police in South Dakota have found Special Agent Dale Cooper. Ah, finally. The third episode ends on a Bang Bang Bar performance by The Cactus Blossoms, who are seriously channeling the Everly Brothers. (I love Lynch’s sense of music. So much.)
OK: At this point I’m wondering what a viewer of this show would be taking from it had they never seen the first two seasons. This is a strange situation, picking up a 27-year-old story, and to complicate matters, it’s David Lynch, a director who is a bit—um, quirky?—and who can feel impenetrably bizarre to some. (Any Twin Peaks virgins who are taking the plunge on Season Three without the context of the original? Ring in, because I’m seriously curious.) This episode has a feeling of plot lines beginning to braid together, but it is absolutely Lynch’s signature cocktail of surreal horror, screwball comedy, mystery and nostalgia.
This is Damn Fine Television, but I concede it might not be everyone’s cup of deep, dark, black-as-midnight-on-a-moonless-night coffee.
The fourth episode picks up seamlessly where the third leaves off, and focuses on Actual Cooper, or “Dougie,” who is blowing up every slot machine in the casino, to the great alarm of the owner. Actual Cooper runs into an associate and learns enough about where he lives to get to the house, where his wife (Naomi Watts), who is also unable to discern that this man is not in fact her husband—or that he doesn’t know how do things like get dressed, or pee—is definitely psyched that he won a giant jackpot at the casino. Alone in his room, he has a vision of the One-Armed Man, who holds up the little ball that used to be the real Dougie and says, “One of you must die.”
Then he goes down for breakfast and utters his first spontaneous word of recognition: “Coffee!” And fans rejoice… until he takes a sip and immediately spits it out all over the kitchen floor. OK: It’s not really Cooper yet.
In Twin Peaks, the other Sherriff Truman (Robert Forster) presides over the evidence room after an honestly kind of strained scene in which we learn Lucy is terrified of cell phones. There are two big revelations here. Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) is now a police deputy investigating (ha ha) drug trafficking, and there’s a moment when he comes into the conference room and sees the infamous Prom Queen photo of Laura Palmer and breaks down. I guess the last 25 years have worn him down a little. The second thing is the surprise appearance of Lucy and Andy’s son, Wally (Michael Cera), who turns in one of the most stunningly bizarre performances in an episode full of bizarre performances. He’s dressed like Marlon Brando in The Wild One, talks like Brando for good measure, spouts a rather incredible monologue and disappears. I mean, I guess you had to figure Andy and Lucy would have had an… atypical kid.
Cole and Rosenfeld go to the police station where Evil Cooper is being held. Thankfully, unlike the rest of this universe, the intrepid G-men immediately note that something’s wrong. Evil Cooper, in a low, toneless voice, tells Cole he’s been working undercover with Philip Jeffries (we miss you, David Bowie) and needs to be debriefed. Outside, the two agents agree that something isn’t adding up, and Rosenfeld confesses that he’d once given classified information to Jeffries, who’d said it was on Cooper’s behalf, and that the information might have resulted in a man’s death. They pronounce the whole affair a “blue rose” (I TOLD YOU) and agree that there’s someone they need to talk to. “Do you know where she lives?” Cole asks. “I know where she drinks,” Rosenfeld replies. Cut to the Bang Bang, where Au Revoir Simone is playing (the bar seems to have turned into The Bronze from Buffy the Vampire Slayer while we were away; I miss Julee Cruise).
This pair of episodes deepens the mystery, adds a lot of new nuances, and seriously throws down on the weird front. The trope of doubles and distorted reflections is alive and well even when we leave the town of Twin Peaks. It’s so much fun to see old characters come back. The “Dougie” storyline is getting old, especially with the show’s laconic pacing; I really wanted that sip of coffee to jolt Cooper back to life like a freaking defibrillator. I would also like to know what the hell was going on with David Duchovny, who reprises his role as Denise Bryson in a scene so stultifying it had to be full of inside jokes I wasn’t getting. Duchovny’s performance was exhausted and the dialogue was irritatingly random other than a delightful outburst from Lynch about how when Denise had been transitioning from “Dennis,” Lynch had told snickering colleagues to “change their hearts or die.” Well, and a long pause during which Denise luxuriates in the sound of the words “Federal Bureau of Investigation.” That was funny. But whether or not it’s about the bunnies?
I can’t wait to see who’s drinking at the Bang Bang.
Amy Glynn is a poet, essayist and fiction writer who really likes that you can multi-task by reviewing television and glasses of Cabernet simultaneously. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.