Twin Peaks: Evil Cooper Is on the Move! and Other Observations from "Part VII"

("The Return," Part VII)

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<i>Twin Peaks</i>: Evil Cooper Is on the Move! and Other Observations from "Part VII"

So, last week’s episode was a combination of brutal pacing and highly satisfying, long-awaited reveals. Lynch and Frost are really unabashedly challenging viewers here—and I love it, but it’s nailbiting at times. “Part VII” picks up seamlessly where “Part VI” leaves off (Lynch shot the entire season as an 18-hour movie that happens to be doled out in hour-long segments). And if Dougie doesn’t snap out of it to quite the degree I hoped, there’s certainly lots going on. For this show, that was a heck of a lot of plot, and yet there was still time for almost three solid minutes of watching someone sweep the floor of the Bang-Bang Bar. Because Lynch. Let’s see:

Gordon Cole (Lynch) and Albert (Miguel Ferrer) talk Diane (the inimitable and adorably foulmouthed Laura Dern) to check out Evil Cooper in the South Dakota Stony Lonesome. Whoever you imagined was taking Coop’s, um, dictation back there in Season One, you might not have been expecting someone quite so fire-breathing… or maybe you were! What’s obvious here is that Diane does and seriously does not want to see the guy again. Also, she has an instant aversion to Agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell), just as Albert has. Dern’s acerbic and wonderfully mannered turn as Diane has been a highlight of the show so far, and carries quite a bit of the emotional weight of this episode. Diane’s visit with Coop is, as we might have guessed, deeply unnerving. They have an oblique discussion of the last time they saw each other—show of hands, how many of us think her last meeting was with Good Cooper?

And worse, Evil Coop seems to have dirt on the warden that could persuade the guy to let him go. Yikes. Back to that in a sec.

So: Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) doesn’t know where he is. Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) helps to investigate a strange humming noise at the Great Northern, which—gee, I dunno—might have something to do with the key to Room 315 that has arrived in the mail. Other Sherriff Truman and Deputy Hawk (Michaels Forrester and Horse, respectively) discuss the diary pages Hawk found in the bathroom, and Hawk notes that there’s still a page missing. P.S.: I told you stuff from Fire Walk With Me would be popping up like mushrooms. I told you! Anyway, they speculate that Leland Palmer might have put them in there during questioning in the Jacques Renault murder case. Truman puts in a call to Harry but it sounds like the medical situation for the in-absentia Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) is dire enough that Other Truman doesn’t want to get him worked up with the Cooper situation.

For those of you playing any fan-theory drinking games, congrats to anyone who speculated that the headless cadaver would turn out to be that of Major Garland Briggs (the late Don Davis). We have a match! Interestingly, the headless body is that of a man in his 40s, the age Briggs was when he disappeared 25 years ago.

We’re spending more time in Twin Peaks at this point, which is nice, but we do make a 20 minute detour to Vegas to check in with Dougie Jones, who is still acting like a severe stroke victim while no one around him seems to notice (Naomi Watts is slaying it as his exasperated wife, Janey-E). The ice pick-wielding assassin who terrorized “Part VI” comes after Dougie and we see another vital flicker of old G-Man Coop return, as Dougie neutralizes the armed assassin with ruthless precision. (Possibly with help from the disembodied brain that was once the Man from Another Place.) It’s been a slow buildup to the return of Good Cooper but this episode gave us the most hope we’ve had that it’s coming.

It better be, because the warden gives in to Evil Coop’s demands and lets him out of the slammer with a car and his accomplice Ray (George Griffith), and it seems foreordained that a showdown in Twin Peaks is imminent.

And by imminent I mean it’ll happen before the end of “Part XVIII.” Look, if you’re in this for instant gratification, you’ve got some thinking to do about your priorities.

Overall, “Part VII” is a very nostalgic installment, and in all the best senses of the word. The allusions to Twin Peaks the First all felt apt and right and satisfying, from Truman’s Skype call with Doc Hayward to the Great Northern interiors to the teasing (come on!!!!) mention of Audrey Horne to the quick time-stopped scenes inside the Bang-Bang and the RR diner. This is classic, quintessential Lynch, right down to the unapologetically sentimental music (why apologize, it’s perfect), the entwined comedy and violence, intense visual symbolism, and pacing that makes you squirm.

I believe the 18-hour movie has entered the second act.

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.