The Twin Peaks finale left fans reeling, myself included. I had to sit in complete silence for about a half an hour to try to digest what I’d just seen. I even needed several days before I could rewatch Parts 17 and 18. Many fans are angry. Others of us are just trying to make sense of what we saw and how we feel about it. I’m going to avoid theorizing here and stick to a straight(ish) recap because, frankly, I haven’t decided what I think yet.
There are as many interpretations as their are people watching, and the beauty of Twin Peaks is that no one person (unless you are David Lynch or Mark Frost) understands everything. Many think they do, but that’s hubris of the highest order. In that respect, they have something in common with our dear Agent Cooper, whose attempts to rewrite history, however well-meaning, did not end particularly well.
We begin in Buckhorn, immediately after Diane’s tulpa vanished from the room. Gordon was unable to draw and shoot at Diane, and when Albert remarks that he’s gone soft in his old age, Gordon responds, “Not where it counts, buddy.” A nice dick joke to begin this wild ride, but considering how the whole thing ends, I think this comment may have a bit more significance. As it turned out, Parts 17 and 18 seem to be Lynch giving us some tough love.
Gordon tells Albert that he’s been keeping a secret from him for many years regarding the Blue Rose. At some point before Cooper’s disappearance, Major Briggs shared with Cooper and Gordon information about Judy. The name “Judy” is derived from the name for the ancient entity Jowday, an extreme negative force in the world. Briggs, Gordon, and Cooper had a plan that would lead them to Judy but were unable to execute it because Major Briggs “died” and Cooper went missing. Previously, Jeffries (who Gordon says “doesn’t really exist anymore”) told Gordon he was onto Judy but then he also disappeared. The last thing that Cooper said to Gordon was that if he disappeared to do everything he could to find him and that he was trying to kill two birds with one stone.
We also learn that Ray Monroe was a paid FBI informant and that he’d sent a message indicating that the Cooper they met in prison was looking for coordinates from Major Briggs. But Gordon doesn’t know if any of the plan is working because he should have heard from Cooper by now. I suspected throughout the series that Gordon knew a hell of a lot more than he was letting on and this confirms it. He is sorry that he kept the secret from Albert, even though he had to keep it, and Albert understands.
They receive a phone call from the Vegas FBI and Stan from Mad Men tells Gordon that they finally found the correct Douglas Jones but he’s now missing from his hospital bed. Bushnell gets on the phone and delivers Cooper’s message for Gordon: “I am headed to Sheriff Truman’s. It is 2:53 in Las Vegas and that adds up to 10, the number of completion.” As soon as the Blue Rose Squad learns that Dougie is Cooper, their machines start going crazy receiving all kind of info about what’s been going on in DougieCoop’s world. They pack up and head to their final destination: Twin Peaks.
At the Great Northern, Ben gets a call from the police in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Somehow Jerry ended up there, completely naked, and rambling about how his binoculars killed someone. This whole time I had assumed that Jerry’s wanderings were at least somewhat close to Twin Peaks but no. He ended up two states away in Wyoming, on foot. We never learn how exactly he got there but at this point “he’s just high” doesn’t really hold as an argument. I don’t see how he could make it that far without some portal action or other kind of otherworldly assistance. However Jerry got there, Brother Ben is going to arrange to have him picked up (with some clothes). Hopefully he won’t be too upset that Mother’s Hat is gone.
The Blue Rose Squad may be en route to Twin Peaks but DoppelCoop is already there. He’s investigating the third set of coordinates and they have led him to the portal near Jack Rabbit’s Palace. As he approaches the pool of gold, a vortex appears and he is transported to a cage in the Fireman’s house (for lack of better terminology). Major Briggs’s disembodied head and the Fireman are also there and the movie screen shows an image of the portal where DoppelCoop came from. The screen then changes to an image of the Palmer House and then the floating Fireman swipes left and the image goes to black before revealing a final image—a location near the Sheriff’s Station parking lot.
The cage holding DoppelCoop moves toward the gold mechanism (the same one used to send the Laura orb to Earth in Part 8). DoppelCoop’s form changes and then he is deposited in Twin Peaks. As soon as he arrives, Naido can sense his presence and becomes very agitated. Meanwhile, Deputy Chad is working on his escape. He’s got keys hidden in the heel of his boot and manages to let himself out and grab a gun from his locker.
Andy is in the parking lot with a picnic basket when he sees DoppelCoop walking toward him. Even after everything he’s learned during their investigation and the vision given to him by the Fireman, here he seems like regular old oblivious Andy. He’s seen the two Coopers in his vision yet he doesn’t seem to question that this version is the Agent Cooper he knows.
He excitedly takes him inside and he greets Lucy and meets the new Sheriff Truman. DoppelCoop goes with Frank to his office and while standing in front of Lucy’s desk, Andy remembers the part of his vision where he was guiding Lucy towards something and she is wearing the same clothes now that she was wearing in the vision.
DoppelCoop sits across from Frank’s desk and Andy enters and asks “Agent Cooper” if he wants coffee, and when DoppelCoop says no I was almost certain it would trigger something in Andy that this isn’t the real Coop, but instead he just accepts it and goes to get Hawk.
Meanwhile, Naido is absolutely losing it downstairs now that DoppelCoop is in the building. Andy runs by Lucy and says “very important” twice and then goes down to the cells to look for Hawk. When he gets there he finds that Chad is escaped and has a gun pointed at him, mocking him. But before Chad can do any damage, Green Glove Freddie punches his cell door open, knocking Chad out cold.
Lucy’s phone rings and she gets a shock because this time it’s the real Agent Cooper, in the car with the Mitchums and the Pink Ladies on his way into town.
Lucy transfers the call to Frank and when he gets on the line and realizes that the man in front of him is not the real Cooper, he tries to play it cool. But DoppelCoop knows and they both draw their guns, but before DoppelCoop can get a decent shot off Lucy comes out of nowhere and shoots him. Downstairs, Andy can hear the gunshots and he gathers the remaining prisoners—Naido, James, and Freddie—and brings them upstairs.
Over the phone, Frank tells Cooper, “I think this one’s dead,” and Coop tells him not to touch the body. Andy arrives in Frank’s office with Naido, James, and Freddie and Lucy tells him that she finally understands cell phones. When Hawk comes in, Frank tells him that the man on the floor is not the real Cooper.
As they did the last time DoppelCoop was shot, the Woodsmen arrive and perform their ritual over the body. Agent Cooper arrives just before the Woodsmen extract the BOB egg from DoppelCoop’s stomach. BOB floats above Agent Cooper and the Mitchums arrive as BOB starts to attack.
Cooper calls across the room, “Are you Freddie?” and Freddie realizes that his time is now. This is what the Fireman sent him to do. BOB attacks Freddie but his punches are powerful enough to knock him back and send the BOB egg through the floor. Flames burst from the hole and the BOB egg emerges, smoldering, and attacks Freddie again. BOB tells Freddie, “I’ll catch you with my death bag,” but a last punch shatters the BOB egg and the pieces float up and through the ceiling.
It would seem that Freddie’s supernatural punch has destroyed BOB once and for all, which I have to admit was a bit of a ridiculous ending to BOB’s story. Rodney has another classic line—”One for the grandkids”—and Cooper puts the ring on DoppelCoop’s finger. After 17 hours, DoppelCoop is finally taken back into the Lodge.
Agent Cooper asks Frank if he’s got his Great Northern room key, Major Briggs had told Cooper that “Sheriff Truman” would have it, and so he does. Then Agent Cooper notices Naido and things take a turn. An image of his face, frozen as it was when he first saw her, is superimposed over the scene and remains there for quite some time—our first indication that this happy ending is not what it seems.
Bobby shows up on the scene after the fact, asking WTF just happened, and Agent Cooper tells Bobby that his father knew everything that was going to happen there that day. Then the Blue Rose Squad shows up and the gang’s finally all here. Agent Cooper, who seems mostly normal at this point, says, “There are some things that will change. The past dictates the future.” Then the Pink Ladies show up with sandwiches for all and everything seems normal-ish and heading toward a resolution.
But then Naido approaches Cooper and they touch hands and we discover that she is actually Diane. Naido’s face cracks and and disappears i a puff of black smoke to reveal the Red Room, where a bloody egg-looking thing reveals the face of Diane—this time with a bright red bob instead of a white one. Back in the sheriff’s station, Naido has become Diane and she and Cooper kiss.
Cooper asks Diane if she remembers everything, and she says she does, and then they turn to look at the clock which is flicking back and forth in time between 2:52 and 2:53. It is at this moment that the disembodied Cooper says, “We live inside a dream.”
Cooper tells everyone he hopes to see them all again—his final goodbye to Twin Peaks as we know it and the people he knows there. There’s some ominous whoosing, and Coop and Gordon call out to each other, and the sheriff’s station scene disappears, leaving only Coop’s face for a moment. Cooper, Diane and Gordon emerge walking toward the ringing tone in the Great Northern basement furnace room. When they reach the door, the Cooper face finally fades out.
As it turns out, Coop’s old Room 315 key opens this mysterious door in the basement. Coop tells Gordon and Diane not to follow him when he goes through the door. He hugs Diane and shakes Gordon’s hand and tells them, “See you at the curtain call.”
The Great Northern door spits him out in a dark space where he meets up with Phillip Gerard, who recites the iconic poem in normal (forward) speech: “Through the darkness of future past the magician longs to see. One chants out between two worlds, fire walk with me. Electricity flashes and the two appear at the convenience store, on their way to see Phillip Jeffries at the Dutchman’s. As Cooper and Gerard pass through the doorway at the top of the stairs, the Jumping Man appears going down the stairs.
In Jeffries’ room, Cooper asks him for a date—February 23, 1989, the day Laura died—and Phillip is able to retrieve it. Jeffries tells Cooper to say hi to Gordon and that Gordon will remember the “unofficial version.” Jeffries also tells Coop, “This is where you’ll find Judy,” and then more cryptically, “There may be someone… Did you ask me this?” The Owl Cave symbol emerges from the smoke and then transforms into an 8—the infinity symbol—and a circle appears inside the 8 and turns itself around. The circle moves around the base of the 8 to the other side, pointing Cooper to exactly where he needs to be. Jeffries tells him, “You can go in now. Cooper… remember.”
Cooper is transported out of the room and there’s a shot of the Palmer ceiling fan before footage from Fire Walk With Me plays in black and white. We watch the events that unfolded before Laura was killed, when she snuck out of her house to meet James for the last time before taking off into the woods. James and Laura come to a stop and Cooper glitches into the woods near them, watching them. Laura looks into the woods, in the direction where Cooper is standing, and she screams.
Laura jumps off at Sparkwood and 21 and runs off into the woods. There’s a shot of her sitting and crying then of Jacques, Leo, and Ronette waiting for her. “Laura’s Theme” plays as Coop intercepts her in the woods. Laura says, “Who are you? Do I know you? Wait. I’ve seen you in a dream. In a dream.” Cooper reaches out his hand and Laura takes it and then there’s shot of Laura’s body wrapped in plastic glitching out. It cuts back to Laura and Cooper (changing from B&W to color). Laura asks, “Where are we going?” and Cooper tells her, “We’re going home.”
The beginning of the original series pilot plays. Josie fixes her lipstick in the mirror, Catherine reads the paper, Pete readies himself to go fishing, but this time there’s no body for Pete to find and he gets his peaceful morning of fishing in.
We cut to the Palmer house, which appears like it has in The Return timeline. Sarah is moaning and wailing from another room, and it’s a distorted version of the audio from the series when she learned Laura died. Sound is distorted and there’s electrical humming and whooshing—the telltale signs of Lodge energy. Sarah grabs Laura’s picture and starts smashing it with a vodka bottle. There are scratching scratching sounds and time seems distorted as the picture frame glass breaks, but Laura’s picture underneath remains undamaged.
Cut to Cooper leading young Laura through the woods toward the portal with the gold pool near Jack Rabbit’s Palace. Then we hear a scratching sound and Laura disappears from his grasp. There’s intense wind whooshing and Laura screaming—as when she got sucked out of the Lodge—and then silence.
The episode ends with Julee Cruise performing “The World Spins.”
PART 18: What is your name?
DoppelCoop is finally back in the Lodge. He sits in a chair in the Red Room with those pale, creepy doppelganger eyes and he goes up in flames. Elsewhere in the Red Room Phillip Gerard fulfills his promise to Cooper. He creates a new Dougie tulpa and New Dougie returns to Janey-E and Sonny Jim in Vegas. At least someone gets a happy ending.
We return to Cooper and Laura in the woods, and just as before there is a soft clicking/scratching noise and Laura disappears with the wind and screaming. Immediately Cooper is back in Red Room with Phillip, who says, “Is it future or is it past?” just as he did when Cooper was in the Red Room in Part 2.
Cooper follows Phillip to the Evolution of The Arm, who says “I am the arm and I sound like this [noise].” This is the same dialogue as in Part 2 but then it changes. The EOTA says, “Is it the story of the little girl who lived down the lane? Is it?” The last time we heard about “the story of the little girl who lived down the lane” it was from Audrey in Part 13. There is zero resolution of Audrey’s story in the finale and this is the only thing tied directly to her.
Cooper is back in his chair and we see Laura whispering to him before being sucked from the room. Cooper also sees Leland, who says “Find Laura.” It’s all (mostly) a repeat of the Red Room scenes in Part 2. This time, Cooper is able to control where the curtains part and let him out and he exits into Glastonbury Grove where Diane is waiting for him.
Coop and Diane drive to a spot 430 miles away, and we finally learn the significance of the “430” that the Fireman told Cooper in Part 1. Diane asks Coop, “You sure you want to do this? You don’t know what it’s going to be like” and Cooper answers, “I know that.” Cooper asks Diane for a kiss, saying, “Once we cross it could all be different.”
The two drive through portal at the 430 spot and come out on a road at night. They check in to a dingy looking motel, and while Cooper is checking in, Diane sees another version of herself staring back at her from near the front office. By the time Cooper comes out, the other Diane is gone.
Diane and Cooper have sex with the light off and there is something very ritualistic about it. Coop doesn’t seem like Coop anymore and the whole thing is extra creepy because The Platters’ song “My Prayer” from Part 8 plays with ominous background music. Diane ends up covering his face during the act, which seems totally joyless for both of them, and she ends up crying.
In the morning Coop wakes up to find Diane gone. She’s left a note: “Dear Richard, When you read this I’ll be gone. Please don’t try to find me. I don’t recognize you anymore. Whatever it was we had together is over. Linda.” And so finally we get an explanation for “Richard and Linda.” We’d all assumed we’d already met “Richard” in Richard Horne, but the real Richard is Cooper, and Diane is Linda.
Despite the Fireman’s message to him, Cooper doesn’t seem to understand the significance of Richard and Linda. When he leaves the room, the entire scene is different. He is in a different location completely. The motel is different and his car is different. It turns out he is in Odessa, Texas.
Coop drives by a diner sign that reads “Eat at Judy’s” and goes in for a cup of coffee. He asks the waitress, Kristi, where the other waitress that works there is and Kristin says she’s been out for three days. When the three men at nearby booth start harassing waitress, Cooper intervenes and ends up disarming all three and putting their guns in the deep fryer. This “Richard” version of Cooper is different and seems like a mix of Special Agent Dale Cooper and Mr. C.
He asks Kristi to write down the other waitress’s address down for him. When he gets to the house, the utility pole that Andy saw in his vision is outside. When the door opens it’s Laura, but she’s not Laura; she’s a woman named Carrie Page. She is dead but yet she lives.
When Carrie opens the door to Coop, who has announced himself as FBI, she says, “Did you find him?” She tells him she’s not Laura but Carrie Page but Cooper either doesn’t believe her or is attempting to bring back her repressed memories. Cooper tells her that her father’s name was Leland and her mother’s name is Sarah. The name Sarah seems to have an effect on her and Coop says, “I want to take you to your mother’s home.” Carrie agrees to go with him because she’s in some sort of trouble and needs to get out of town anyway. She lets him in and goes to pack a bag and Cooper sees a dead guy in a chair in her living room, shot to death, and a gun nearby. There’s a white horse figurine on the mantel that gets Cooper’s attention, reminiscent of the white horse we’ve seen throughout the original series and The Return.
Cooper and Carrie are driving at night, and for a while it appears they may be being followed. Carrie is concerned but the car eventually passes. There is an exceptionally long driving sequence which is mostly silent. Carrie’s only dialogue is: “Odessa. I tried to keep a clean house. Keep everything organized… It’s a long way… In those days, I was too young to know any better.”
They make a pit stop at a Valero gas station and then it’s back on the road to Twin Peaks. When they arrive in town, it is not the Twin Peakings we’ve seen throughout The Return. The Double R is different (there’s no “RR To Go” sign painted on the side). Cooper asks Carrie if she recognizes anything, but if she does she’s keeping quiet about it.
They pull up to their final destination—the Palmer house— but Carrie she says she doesn’t recognize it. Cooper takes her by the hand and leads her to the door. The woman who answers is not Sarah Palmer; she is Alice Tremond (played by Mary Reber, the woman who owns the house in real life). When Cooper questions her about her ownership of the house, Alice, speaking to an unseen person (presumably her husband), says they bought the house from the Chalfonts. She doesn’t know who Sarah Palmer is or who owned house before the Chalfonts did. The names Chalfont and Tremond have canonically been associated with the old woman and her grandson, who are Lodge spirits of some kind.
Cooper and Carrie leave and go back down to the street. When Cooper looks around for clues, he gets a bit confused and agitated (not unlike Jeffries in FWWM). Cooper asks, “What year is this?” Then Carrie looks at the house and hears Sarah calling “Laura, Laura.” She screams that familiar Laura Palmer scream and the lights in the Palmer house go out. It fades to black as Laura’s scream echoes and fades.
The final credits roll over the image of Laura whispering to Cooper and him looking shocked, sad, and defeated. For the first time, there’s no electric crackling sound over the Frost/Lynch logo that ends every episode.
I know by now that, when it comes to Twin Peaks (and David Lynch in general), you should not go in with expectations. And I tried not to. I really did. But when the finale ended, I felt a bit empty—not that I had been cheated of a happy ending but that I now have more questions than answers. I was unsettled by it at first but I’ve come to realize that it’s better this way. Now we have enough new and unanswered questions to talk about for the next 25 years.
I, personally, don’t really want a Season 4 or a movie. I would absolutely watch it and be excited about it but in my heart I feel that this should be the end—not because I’m particularly fond of the way it ended but because it’s the way it should end and the way Lynch/Frost wanted it to end. Not everything is easy to digest. There are things in life and art that don’t always make sense. Not all mysteries need to be solved. This has always been part of the Twin Peaks experience.
But still, there is some fear in letting go.