Twin Peaks: The Return – Episode 17 Breakdown, Thoughts, and Analysis

Part 17
Written by Mark Frost & David Lynch
Directed by David Lynch

Video clips will come in about a week as those are uploaded to YouTube. I am waiting a week to revisit Part 18 for some reasons, so look for that next weekend.

Part 17

Gordon Cole toasts the FBI with his agents Albert Rosenfeld and Tami Preston. He continues his speech by confiding a secret he has kept from Albert for 25 years. A being of extreme negative energy was discovered many decades ago. In ancient times it was called Jowday but is now referred to as Judy. Many agents disappeared in the search for Jowday. Off screen during season two, Gordon made a plan with Cooper and Major Briggs to find and stop Judy. This was part of Cooper’s purpose for entering the Red Room and coming in contact with the Lodge spirits.

The Las Vegas FBI calls and informs Gordon they have found where Dougie Jones was, but he left already. Bushnell Mullins shares the note that tells Gordon it is 2:53, which adds up to 10, “the number of completion.” The letter tells Gordon to meet Cooper at the Twin Peaks sheriff’s department.

Meanwhile, in Twin Peaks, ex-Deputy Chad checks to see if everyone is asleep in the cells. The bloody man wakes up, and they exchange curses. Doppelganger Cooper travels down the road heading towards them, and Naido seems to sense this. She begins chittering and wakes everyone up.

At the Great Northern, Ben Horne receives a call from the Jackson Hole, Wyoming Police. Jerry was found wandering naked, talking about a pair of binoculars that killed someone. It appears Richard Horne will just be considered a missing person, as Jerry never identified the man he saw being killed.

Doop enters the woods, using the second set of coordinates from Diane and finds the entrance to the White Lodge. Once inside, The Fireman and Major Briggs stand watch over a caged Doop. On the movie screen last glimpsed in Part 8, we see an image of the White Lodge entrance. This changes to the Palmer House but The Fireman swats that away and the picture becomes the Twin Peaks PD. Doop is sent there instead.I suspect Sarah Palmer is possessed by Judy and they want to keep him away from there.

Doop encounters Andy in the parking lot who mistakes him for the real Cooper. Doop plays along with a slightly twisted grin. In the cells, Naido begins to freak out, James and Freddie stand up from their cots and wonder aloud what she is trying to say. Chad retrieves cell and locker keys hidden in the heel of his boot. Upstairs, Andy shows Doop to Lucy who is also happy to see her old friend Agent Cooper. Frank Truman asks Doop to come sit in his office. Andy suddenly recalls his vision of placing Lucy in a spot in the station.

Naido continues chittering while Chad retrieves a revolver from his locker. Andy sets up a chair for Doop at Truman’s desk. The sheriff and Doop contemplate each other for a moment. Andy rushes to get Hawk but tells Lucy “Very important!”. The bloody man in the cell begins to scratch at his wounds. Andy comes downstairs, and Chad draws the gun on him. Freddie punches his cell door and knocks Chad unconscious. Andy says he needs to get everyone upstairs.

Lucy answers the phone and finds the real Cooper on the other line. She transfers to Truman who becomes confused but starts to put things together. He likely remembers Briggs’ Two Coopers message. Doop draws his gun but is shot by Lucy who was positioned there off camera by Andy. Andy arrives with James, Naido, and Freddie. Lucy exclaims that she understand cell phones now. Hawk arrives and is entirely surprised.

The burnt men appear and begin healing Doop. Cooper and the Mitchums arrive just as the Bob egg emerges from Doop. Bob strikes Cooper down, and Freddie steps forward using his pile driver fist to strike at the evil spirit, eventually pounding him through the floor in a burst of flames. Bob emerges still angry and beats Freddie to a bloody pulp. Freddie responds with his strongest punch, shattering Bob and the pieces float away. Cooper places the Owl Ring on Doop and sends him back to the Red Room.

Cooper asks Truman for the Great Northern key, saying Briggs told him he would have it. The FBI arrives outside the police station. Cooper sees Naido and then we have his face superimposed over the screen for the remainder of this scene. Bobby Briggs shows up. Coopers looks at friends old and new and states, “Now there are some things that will change,” and nods at Hawk who nods back. Cooper follows by saying, “The past dictates the future.”

This exchange reminds me what the Log Lady told Hawk a couple episodes ago about death:

“You know about death, that it’s just a change, not an end. Hawk. It’s time. There’s some fear, some fear in letting go. Remember what I told you. I can’t say more over the phone. But you know what I mean, from our talks, when we were able to speak face to face.”

Naido rushes at Cooper, touches his hand, and steps back. Her face becomes black smoke, splits open, and phases into Diane. We see this happening in both the station and the Red Room, locations becoming muddied by dream logic.

Diane has red hair with black and white fingernails. She confirms aloud that this is Cooper, the one and only. The clock is stuck at 2:53 pm, in a loop. The superimposed Cooper face states “We live inside a dream.” Cooper in the station looks at these people who have been a part of this story, now gathered at the station and says, “I hope I see all of you again.” Everything becomes a dark void, out of which emerges Cooper, Diane, and Gordon. They are in the basement of the Great Northern, the ringing noise drawing them towards a door. Cooper tells them he is going in alone and will see them at the curtain call.

Mike, the One-Armed Man, is there, recites the poem.

Through the darkness of futures past

The magician longs to see

One chants out between two worlds

“Fire walk with me!”

Cooper is the magician who feels the ache of longing. He is longing to close the book on the Laura Palmer case, the most important case of his life. But his journey is far from over. The One Armed Man says this with a sense of finality, understanding that Cooper is about to cross a threshold he can’t return from. This is the last day in the life of Dale Cooper.

Electricity crackles. They travel through the Black Lodge, ascending the staircase. The Jumping Man, seen in FWWM and when Doop visited, descends. Cooper and OAM emerge at the motel and find Jeffries. Cooper announces himself, and Jeffries responds with a need to be specific. Cooper gives the date of Laura Palmer’s death, and Jeffries says he will find it. OAM shakes his head, knowing the mistake Cooper is making. Jeffries says to say hello to Gordon if he sees him, that he’ll remember the unofficial version. He tells him this is where he will find Judy. From Jeffries’ smoke emerges the Owl Rune which reshapes until there is a number 8 floating in the air. Jeffries says he can go in and to remember. OAM shouts Electricity. The screen stutters, and we hear the sound of the fan in the Palmer house.

We see, this time in black and white, the final scene between Laura and James the night she died. Like before, she runs off into the woods, however, this time Cooper is waiting. She recognizes him from her dream, and he extends a hand. We see the next morning that her body wrapped in plastic vanishes, meaning she was never killed. The black and white becomes color. He tells her they are going home. We see the next morning, Pete Martell goes out to fish, not stopping because there is no body there for him to call the sheriff about.

In the Palmer House, we hear monstrous wails that speed up until we recognize them as Sarah Palmer. She comes on screen and begins destroying a framed photo of Laura. There is a time skip, and she can’t seem to fully destroy it. Cooper guides Laura through the woods, but then she vanishes, and he hears her screams and a whooshing sound. The record skipping clicks.

We fade to Julee Cruise singing “The World Spins.” But the story isn’t over yet.

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