‘Twin Peaks: The Return’ Episode Three: The Good, The Bad, and The Dougie

Plus: The Feds are on the case.
By  · Published on May 28th, 2017

Plus: The Feds are on the case.

In typical (which is to say, atypical) Twin Peaks fashion, the third episode of the series’ return expanded the storyline in intriguing and confounding ways, all without answering really anything.

We start this week with an extended trip through the outskirts (???) of The Black Lodge, through which the good Cooper is attempting to extricate himself. Last we saw him he had manifested in the unknown billionaire’s glass box shortly before the faceless monster showed up to eviscerate the attendant and his girlfriend, and when we find him now he’s falling through space onto the balcony of a stone building overlooking a vast, shadowy, and featureless body of water.

Through a window he enters the building and finds an eyeless woman – of Asian descent…Judy? – sitting in front of a hearth, her dress the same red velvet as The Black Lodge curtains. Coop tries to extract their location from her, but she speaks in breathy, unintelligible exhalations. It seems she wants comfort, possibly from whatever immediately starts banging on a door. She begs Coop to keep quiet. In the wall a breaker box or some other sort of power source starts to hum. She begs him to ignore this. He doesn’t. She grows more imperative, her words now sounding like slicing blades – similar to the sound the box monster made killing the attendant and his lover – and she begs him to follow her. He does.

She leads him to another room where a ladder takes them through a hatch in the ceiling, revealing the entire building is in a significantly smaller metal cube floating in a cosmic expanse. Keep in mind we’re only like five minutes into the episode, and already this is the weirdest Twin Peaks has ever been. But man, oh man, we’re only getting started.

On top of the metal cube is a large object like a bell with a lever on its side. Eyeless pulls the lever and electricity crackles – remember the Woodsman in the room above the convenience store in Fire Walk With Me? – launching the lady into the abyss. Coop watches until she floats out of view, and then a giant disembodied head drifts by: that of Major Garland Briggs. Hell to the yes. You’ll recall at the end of episode 2 last week we learn from whoever bad Coop called that bad Coop and Major Briggs had spoken, and here’s the Major relaying a message to good Coop. That message? “Blue rose,” which we know is Deputy Director Gordon Cole’s code for a case with supernatural elements. Laura Palmer’s murder was a blue rose case, as was Teresa Banks’ before her.

With nowhere else to go, Coop re-enters the metal cube and finds the space silent again, but a new woman is sitting before the hearth. We notice a blue rose in a vase on a table near the breaker box. Coop approaches the woman from behind and she turns to face him. And though this character is billed in the credits as “American Girl,” we – and possibly Coop – recognize her as Ronette Pulaski (Phoebe Augustine), the girl who was in the train car with Laura the night BOB killed her. American Girl checks her watch. It reads 2:53, which was one of two numbers spoken of with great significance in the first episodes, the other being 430. A lamp on the table with the blue rose clicks on. The breaker box starts to hum.

Worth noting that there’s a number assigned to the breaker box, but it changes. When we first see the box, the number is 15. This second time we see it, the number is three. And both are the same font and style as the number 6 that was seen on the telephone pole in the Fat Trout Trailer Park in Fire Walk With Me. What this means I don’t know, I just know it means something.

Flash to South Dakota where bad Coop is driving along a desert highway. The clock on his dash reads the same time – 2:53. He starts to feel the pull of The Black Lodge, an electrical kind of interference seemingly coming from his car’s cigarette lighter. Or I guess these days it’s a power adapter. Pardon my age.

Back with good Coop, he tries to approach the breaker but an energy field blocks him. Ronette/American Girl tells him, “When you get there you will already be there,” which is obviously a doppelganger reference. The banging resumes and American Girl gives some clue to what or who is causing it by telling Coop he needs to hurry, her “mother” is coming. Good Coop pushes through the field and is sucked into the breaker box, all but his shoes, which remain in the room with American Girl.

At the same time, bad Coop loses control of his car and rolls it off the shoulder. He’s okay, but the lighter isn’t finished with him. He frantically covers his mouth with both hands – as though trying to keep something in – just as out his windshield the landscape begins to morph into red curtains.

Twenty minutes of the episode have passed at this point. Twenty minutes. I was standing by now I was so intrigued. But just wait.

Flash again, and this time we’re with Coop and a naked hooker, but it takes us a second to realize this isn’t good Coop or bad Coop, it’s another Coop altogether, one with even worse hair – yes, it’s possible – and a considerable gut. The hooker calls him “Dougie” – which has to be a reference to Dougie Milford, publisher of the Twin Peaks Gazette and brother of Mayor Milford in the original series; in Mark Frost’s novel The Secret History of Twin Peaks, it’s revealed Dougie’s basically the head honcho behind Project Blue Book’s involvement in Twin Peaks – and asks what’s wrong with his arm. It’s tingling, he says. We note it’s his left arm, the same limb that went numb on Teresa Banks shortly before she was killed. As if this connection wasn’t enough, when Dougie Coop stands to dress, we see the dreaded Owl Cave ring on his left hand, the same on which Teresa wore it. Laura too wore the ring at the end of Fire Walk With Me; it’s a binding totem from denizens of The Black Lodge that marks their victims. The hooker gone to shower, Dougie Coop starts to get dressed but a strong pain in that large gut cripples him.

Bad Coop is still in his car holding his mouth and staving off the red curtains.

Dougie Coop crawls through whatever space he’s in, an empty house, looks like, and the red curtains appear before him as well. He vomits then dematerializes with a sound like a shotgun blast.

Bad Coop sees Dougie manifest in the curtains and then he too vomits. Like Dougie’s the vomit looks like creamed corn, which in the old series is the visual representation of “garmonbozia,” or what spirits of The Black Lodge call the pain and sorrow of the people they possess. Bad Coop gets so sick he passes out, and just like that we’re in the waiting room of The Black Lodge, curtains, chevron and all.

But it’s Dougie Coop who’s here, not bad Coop, and like good Coop, he has no shoes (New shoes? No shoes.) He’s sitting in a chair with Mike the one-armed man standing over him. “Someone manufactured you,” Mike tells Dougie, “For a purpose but I think now that’s been fulfilled.” Who by, or what for specifically, or how long he’s been “manufactured” are, of course, questions without answers for now, but I’d wager bad Coop had something to do with it.

Regardless, Dougie Coop’s left hand shrinks until the Owl Cave rings drops off it, then his head becomes black smoke out of which a gold orb – ping-pong-ball sized – floats out. Then all of him condenses into a dark, fleshy, faceless skull like the head of “the evolution of the arm” and the box monster. Mike shields his eyes. Smoke, light, chaos, then all that remains is the ring and the gold orb, now pearl-sized. Mike returns the ring to its black marble pedestal, last seen in Fire Walk With Me.

Back in the empty house, good Coop comes through a light socket. No shit. He lays on the floor just by the pile of puke in a shot that instantly reminded me of Wild at Heart. The hooker, Jade, reappears and comments on “Dougie’s” new appearance. To call Coop “out of it” doesn’t near describe him, it’s like he’s learning to be a person again, he’s dazed, almost automaton-like, and silent. Jade looks for his car keys in his pocket – they drove separately – but all she finds is the key to his room at The Great Northern. So she gives him a ride in a Jeep that reveals, as does the license plate on Dougie’s car, that they’re in Nevada, Las Vegas to be specific. As they leave another car pulls up. One mean-looking character radios another; they’re looking for Dougie and not for any good reason.

Good Coop and Jade pass Sycamore Street – as in the kind of tree that encircles Glastonbury Grove in Twin Peaks, the portal into The Black Lodge – and this jogs something for Coop. At last he speaks, or rather parrots in a childlike manner something Jade said earlier: “Jade give two rides.” Then he pulls The Great Northern key from his pocket for study but a speed bump causes him to drop it on the floorboard. Bending over to retrieve it, he eludes the detection of the other mean-looking character, causing this latter man to radio his cohort that Dougie must still be in the empty house.

Across the street from said house, a small boy watches from his window as the first mean-looking character stealthily approaches Dougie’s car. The boy’s mother, a spaced-out pill popper, is in the background shouting out yet another three-digit number: 119. Meanwhile across the street, a bomb gets planted under Dougie’s car.

In South Dakota a pair of highway patrolmen come across bad Coop out cold in his wrecked car. They try to help him but the stench of his vomit is too sickening, so they radio for help.

And then finally, we find ourselves actually in Twin Peaks, at the Sheriff’s Station where Hawk, Lucy and Andy are going through the Cooper file trying to find what The Log Lady said was missing. Hawk reiterates that his heritage will be key to discovery. Lucy points out, needlessly, that his heritage is Native American, then has a minor freak out when she realizes one thing that’s definitely missing: a chocolate bunny from the small box Cooper held in his hand way back in the original series pilot. It’s an unexpected nod, and like its first appearance, it means nothing and goes nowhere, except on for a while.

A side note here: this scene, so far, is most representative to me of the tonal distinction between new Twin Peaks and old Twin Peaks. Back in the day, Lucy and Andy were comic relief patter, but here where the lines aren’t rapid fire but rather few and far between and the ambiance is stilted to the point it almost feels out of time in a physical way, their comedy is part of such a sparse and emotionally-distant context that it feels not just awkward but creepily-so. Which is to say perfectly Twin Peaks in a brand-new way.

Before leaving town we check in again with Dr. Jacoby at his trailer in the woods where preparations for his mysterious project continue with the gold spray-painting of five shovels, as though they’re to be used for a ceremonial groundbreaking.

Vegas again, where Jade is dropping off good Coop at the Silver Mustang Casino. She tells him he “can go now,” which he remembers as something Laura Palmer said last episode when releasing him from The Black Lodge. Jade gives him five bucks to call for help then splits. He gets change from a cashier – played by Meg Foster of They Live fame – and ends up like most of us would, in the slots.

Another side note: I’ve seen some people speculating that the cashier is wearing the Owl Cave ring when she hands Coop his change. She isn’t, the ring has a green stone but not the symbol etched in it, and besides she wears it on the middle finger of her left hand, not the ringfinger as have all previous bearers. But still, a coincidence? Hardly. There’s no such thing in Twin Peaks.

In no time flat and thanks to a floating icon of The Black Lodge, Coop hits jackpot on like half-a-dozen slot machines, racking up tens of thousands of dollars in winnings. He even shares the love with a crotchety old woman who flipped him the bird.

Then suddenly we’re in Philadelphia, the fifth US location to be shown this far. Philly, as fans know, is where Cooper was stationed before coming to Twin Peaks. And sure enough, the first faces we see are familiar ones, beloved even: Deputy Director Gordon Cole (David Lynch), and Special Agent Albert Rosenfield (the late, great Miguel Ferrer). They’re sitting with a team of agents going over some evidence of a murder that involves pictures of girls in bikinis, one of a boy in a sailor suit, an Uzi, and a jar of beans. Cole dismisses everyone but Albert and Special Agent Tammy Preston (singer/songwriter Chrysta Bell), who’s been investigating the carnage in New York City. She shows pictures of Sam and Tracy – the glass box attendant and his lady friend – and it looks like their heads have been melted open and the brains scooped out. Preston says the cops don’t even know who owns the building, let alone what happened to the young lovers. She also has pictures of the glass box and a single frame of the box monster, but no prints, no fibers, and no DNA. Before any conclusions can be drawn or inferences made, a secretary interrupts to tell Cole that Agent Cooper is on the phone. For the first time in a quarter-century. Naturally, they stop everything and take the call.

But it isn’t Cooper on the line, it’s the authorities in South Dakota saying they’ve found Cooper, meaning bad Coop. Cole, Albert, and Preston make plans to leave as soon as possible.

And this is where the curtains close on the episode, metaphorically-speaking. In Twin Peaks’ terms, the curtains are just starting to open, and there’s honestly no telling what or who might come through.

Three down. 15 to go. What a glorious time to be alive.

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