Finding your way back home is harder than you’d think…
Part three opens with Dale Cooper plummeting through space at great velocity before being dumped on a parapet overlooking a vast, seemingly endless, ocean. The next twenty odd minutes are, perhaps, the most surreal avant-garde presentation on a major network. Ever.
Cooper finds himself faced with a woman with no eyes who is desperately trying to communicate something to him but is unable to do so. The footage is choppy with its frames out of whack, giving the scene even more of a dream-like atmosphere. While an unknown presence bangs on the door to enter the room they are, she leads Cooper to the roof of the corridor, which is revealed to be a small box floating in the depth of space. Much like a Tardis, it is quite bigger on the inside apparently. An electrical switch is thrown, the no-eyed woman gets tossed into the void of space for her troubles and a confused Cooper goes back down the ladder into the box. With the electricity apparently turned off, he can now reenter our world through a plug socket.
Okay, so here’s what I think that was all about.
Firstly, Twin Peaks: The Return is less about a return to the television property Twin Peaks and more of a celebration of David Lynch. Three episodes in and there are striking homages to his past works such as Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, and with this opening sequence, Eraserhead. Considering that Cooper was caught between life and death in the Black Lodge for the past 25 years, his soul is understandably adrift. Now free from the Black Lodge’s purgatory, his spirit winds up at something of terminal station which could be billions of light years from earth (I’m assuming time and space are irrelevant in such locales, but anyway…).
Going from the Black Lodge, then to the endless shores after falling through space, then to the strange box with yet another psychopomp is akin to the soul’s migration through the various Bardos of Tibetan religion; intermediate stages the soul must pass through after death and into rebirth. It’s no coincidence that both Lynch and his creation, Dale Cooper, confess an affinity for the philosophy.
Also important, the no-eyed woman is played by the actress who originally portrayed Ronette Pulaski; a victim of Bob’s from the original series. In this series, Bob-possessed-Cooper has been shooting people’s eyes out; re: South Dakota. No one can witness the true form of Bob perhaps. With Ronette being the only one to see Bob murder Laura Palmer in that train car so long ago she is the silenced victim unable to give voice to the horrors she’s seen but desperate to aid Good Cooper in finding the new version of Bob and stopping him before someone else has to bear the psychic scars she and other victims have. She goes as far as warning Good Cooper, “When you get there, you’ll already be there.”
This opening sequence is incredibly impenetrable and challenging to viewers to the point of frustrating; and that’s the point. Just how do you think Cooper feels having to shuffle through this weirdness without a single cup of black coffee for his troubles? Like Cooper, we have no chance of understanding all of the untold mysteries of life and the beyond. Instead, we and Agent Cooper must commit to the journey and take it for what it is as an act of faith in the Creator aka David Lynch.
Someone who does seem to have at least an idea of what this all means is Evil Cooper, the doppelganger here on earth. He is racing to tie up loose ends before he must go back to the Black Lodge upon the real Cooper’s return. To avoid this, he appears to have created a third Cooper, a decoy or buffer body that the real Cooper will inhabit rather than the Evil Cooper. Whew… still with me?
Enter Dougie Jones! How weird was it to see Kyle Maclaclan all pudgy with a bad toupee in bed with a naked prostitute? Dougie doesn’t last long as Cooper returns in Dougie’s place. Dougie then finds himself transported as a confused guest in the Black Lodge. All things considered, he takes it all pretty well. Then his hand shrinks, the demonic ring falls off, his goes up in a puff of cinder and then he’s reduced to a small gold bead; ya know, typical Friday.
Evil Cooper was able to avoid astral resubstantiation but not without some adverse side effects. Overcome with sickness, he wrecks his sweet ride and hurls, for like, days. His vomit is that of garmonbozia. Garmonbozia is a substance referenced in the prequel movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, and essentially, is the culled literal “pain and suffering” that the evil Black Lodge entities induce from their victims. Presumably, it is what sustains them. So Evil Cooper is basically vomiting up lifetimes worth of the deepest, darkest, most depraved and vile substances imaginable. Yummy.
In Dougie’s place, Cooper reappears. Now, mind you, this Cooper looks like Cooper. Dougie does not, at all. How in the hell does his prostitute friend come back out of the bathroom and assume that he “all of a sudden” changed his wardrobe, lost twenty pounds, got a new haircut, and lost the vast majority of his cognitive abilities and is still the same person? That is harder to believe than the astral soul box in space.
Regardless, what follows is a very entertaining series of scenes with a blank slate Cooper reentering the world with the mind of a newborn. Everything is novel and confounding to him. So it stands to reason he gets dropped off in the middle of a Las Vegas casino in what appears on the surface to be the hardest comedown of all time from all of the LSD ever made.
Still touched by the Black Lodge, Cooper can tell which slot machines are big winners and soon cleans the place out for no other reason than he seems to like the sound of clinking coins and alarm bells; all while exclaiming, “Helll-llooo-oooo” We’ll let Cooper get his land legs back because meanwhile in Philadelphia…
Gordon Cole and Albert Rosenfield are back!!!
Still toiling as G-Men, they’re joined by new agent, Tamara Preston. The trio are debriefed about the grisly murders seen in episode one back in New York City in the room with the glass box, tying the event into a larger context. Even they don’t know what was going on there but can tell some bad mojo must be afoot. They then get an unexpected call that Agent Cooper has been found. The trio book the first flight to the Black Hills of South Dakota.
But wait… our Cooper is in Las Vegas. Evil Cooper was last seen in South Dakota.
Transmissions from the Lodge:
- Cooper enters the real world via an electrical outlet. At one point it reads “15” and then “3”. We later see that his Great Northern hotel keychain has his old room number still on it, “315”. This highlights that Cooper’s astral voyage may be an amalgam of both cosmic forces as well as everything that Cooper has to hold onto to get him back to his reality.
- “The Mother” that the woman in the astral box references is as good a guess to you as it is to me.
- Don Davis’s character Major Garland Briggs… in space! Well, his disembodied head at least.
- Agent Tamara Preston is also the annotator of the canonical book, Twin Peaks: The Secret History that was released prior to the season.
- Dougie’s numb arm is a call back to the last episode of the original series and is a signal that the barrier between worlds has been breached.
- Any guesses as to the meaning behind the meth-head pill-popping alcoholic mother screaming “119” over and over?
- We got very little actual Twin Peaks in this episode outside of a very entertaining, if not drawn out scene, with Chief Deputy Hawk, Lucy, and Andy. I’m beginning to think Andy and Lucy have seriously legitimate brain damage at this point.
Hands down, the opening scene when Cooper first meets the no-eyed woman.
Quote of the episode
Dougie Jones; after being transported to the Black Lodge and seeing his hand shrink: “That’s weird…”