Twin Peaks: The Return Part 16 recap: An old friend returns at last

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Aug 28, 2017, 9:30 AM EDT

This week on Twin Peaks we got an unexpected shootout, a strange character reveal, and the long-awaited return of an old friend. Let's rock!


The short version: "No knock, no doorbell."


Well, it only took 15 or so hours, but we finally got what we'd been waiting for this week. After his unfortunate encounter with an electrical outlet last week, "Dougie Jones" emerged from his hospital bed as a fully conscious and apparently perfectly healthy Special Agent Dale Cooper. It was absolutely thrilling to see Kyle MacLachlan just fall right back into his signature character. The vocal cadence, the self-assuredness, the ramrod posture. It was like he never left. "I am the FBI," he said, and I definitely believed him.

While the full nature of the Dougie Jones effect has not yet been explained, it does seem clear at this point that Cooper was definitely somewhere inside Dougie's simple mannerisms and phrases the whole time, observing and remembering and planning. We know this in part because he's very aware of how loving Janey-E and Sonny Jim had been to him and how kind the Mitchum Brothers were. We also know this because he immediately initiates a plan through a cross-dimensional talk with MIKE. Cooper now has the ring, which seems to possess a kind of binding power (remember, Jeffries wanted Ray to place it on DoppelDale after killing him) and could be used to send his evil self back to the Lodge. MIKE is now also evidently making another "seed" to create yet another Cooper doppelganger. Though it hasn't ever been fully confirmed, it seems likely that DoppelDale or someone associated with him created Dougie Jones sometime in the '90s as a decoy, and now Cooper's going to do something similar. As for exactly how he'll use it, we just have to wait and see.

Speaking of doppelgangers (or "tulpas," as the show has now taken to calling them after an explanation of an early Blue Rose case), it turns out Diane was one, apparently the whole time we've seen her in the series. We don't know what happened to the "real" Diane, but it seems likely that DoppelDale murdered her and swapped her for a tulpa on the last night they met, when he apparently raped her after she realized something was off about this particular version of Cooper. Laura Dern has been one of the show's great delights thus far, and she played her final scene perfectly. It's among the most unnerving things The Return has given us, and it's done mostly with dialogue and Dern's performance. To make it even more interesting, when Diane entered the Red Room she seemed very unsurprised that she was a tulpa, much as Sarah Palmer seemed unfazed by her previously unseen supernatural abilities. Who else is hiding these strange things on Twin Peaks?

Meanwhile, DoppelDale beat the odds yet again. Various entities have been trying to send him back to the Black Lodge since the series began, and every time he's outsmarted them. This time he did it by using Richard as a decoy to confirm that the set of coordinates he got from Ray was actually a trap. The real coordinates, which Diane spilled to him, likely lead him to a collision course with the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Department, who have their own location to investigate soon. Oh, and DoppelDale referred to Richard as "my son." We don't know if he meant that literally, but it seems like there's no real reason for him to say it if he didn't. 

Which brings us to Audrey Horne, who finally got something interesting to do this week. At first I was just happy to see her finally return to the show, but the last couple of weeks prior to this episode gave us an Audrey Horne who seemed to have lost her fire, arguing in circles with her husband rather than doing everything. This week she finally made it to the Road House and things got Weird. She was called upon to do her signature swaying dance, and as the situation deteriorated she begged for Charlie to get her out of it; from there, we suddenly cut to Audrey in a white room, confused as she stared into a mirror. So, what's up with that?

We know almost nothing about Audrey's life between the end of the first series and her appearance in The Return, but here's what we do know: She's married to (or at least believes she's married to) Charlie, while having an affair with Billy (who we still haven't met). She has a son named Richard, and she was in a coma after the bank explosion at the end of Season 2. Now it would seem Richard is DoppelDale's son, which would make sense given that DoppelDale was seen leaving her hospital room shortly after the end of Season 2, so it's quite possible he raped Audrey or impregnated her through other, supernatural means. It would also appear now that Charlie is either not real or not who Audrey believes him to be. We don't know exactly where she is at this point, but the idea that DoppelDale's violation of her drove her mad and sent her into a life of almost constant delusion is very plausible. Whatever put her in this state, it seems that she may have awakened from it at the end of the episode. We'll find out very soon if that's really the case.

Much of this episode felt like set-up for the two-hour finale that's coming on Sunday, but even with that pacing in mind there were so many standout moments that just writing this recap was a little overwhelming. It's another very solid entry in The Return.


Apart from some of the biggest moments feeling more like set-up for next week than actual plot development, this was a great episode.


- So, Diane was a Tulpa. Dougie was a Tulpa. Who else might be a Tulpa? Sarah? Audrey? This particular development has hit a level that's just priming us for a big twist.

- The Fireman said in the series premiere that Cooper needed to remember "Richard and Linda." Richard's gone now, but Linda remains somewhere in Fat Trout Trailer Park.

- Remember, that sound in the Great Northern still hasn't been explained, and we also know that Freddie and his piledriver hand works there.

- Also remember: The Experiment, the strange creature that escaped during the premiere and killed two people. The same creature also apparently belched out BOB into the world decades ago. Where is it? What does it want, and what can it do? It seems unlikely that we won't find out.

- Other than that, the stage is set. Cooper and DoppelDale are both heading for Twin Peaks, the sheriff's department has an expedition planned, and Gordon and Albert are putting the pieces together. A convergence is coming. Brace yourselves, and bring plenty of cherry pie.

And that's it for this week! Join us Sunday for the season (series?) finale!