TV Recap: Twin Peaks: The Return, Part 16
The Eye of the Duck is a metaphor David Lynch has long used to describe the singular moment or element that brings a film to life. A duck has so many different parts and textures all working together to form one beautiful animal. Each serves its function perfectly, but the whole is designed to show off the eye, placed in just the right spot within the curve of the head. “When you’re working on a film, a lot of times you can get the bill and the legs and the body and everything,” he once said, “but this eye of the duck is a certain scene, this jewel, that if it’s there, it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s just fantastic.”
The third season of Twin Peaks has been swimming in waters both strange and familiar, but its parts have been firmly in place from the very beginning. The wind blowing in the trees and Angelo Badalamenti's music have welcomed us back to so many beloved spaces and faces. There’s been even more of Kyle MacLachlan than we expected, though none of his multiple roles have given us the empathy and enthusiasm that Special Agent Dale Cooper once embodied. He has turned in an award-worthy performance week after week, but Lynch and Frost have only let him give us the endearing cluelessness of Dale-as-Dougie and the malevolent greed of Mr. C.
That doppelganger is driving down a dark highway with Richard Horne riding shotgun as we catch up with him this week. He’s been given three sets of coordinates, and two of them match. Mr. C announces that they’ve arrived at that location, and orders Richard to scramble up on a rock that marks the spot. He does so, and is promptly fried by invisible electricity until he fizzles into the remnants of a sad Fourth of July sparkler. “Goodbye, my son,” a nonplussed Mr. C mutters before sending a text that says simply “: - ) ALL”. What he doesn’t realize is that Jerry Horne, who has presumably been running stoned through the wilderness during the events of the last few episodes, has witnessed this occurrence from a nearby hilltop.
That text arrives on Diane’s phone, and triggers a deeply upsetting realization. “I remember,” she shudders. “Oh, Coop.” She texts some numbers in reply, checks the cigarettes and revolver in her purse, and begins a long march to Gordon Cole’s room as the slowed southern-rock stomp that introduced Mr. C in Part 1 swells. While Cole, Albert, and Tammy listen, she recounts the long-delayed story of the last time she saw Cooper. With great anguish, she reveals that the doppelganger raped her before taking her to a place that we, the audience, recognize as the Convenience Store. Breaking down, she sobs that she isn’t her, and that she’s in the Sheriff’s Station. She reaches for the gun, but Albert and Tammy draw first, and the vanquished “Tulpa” of Diane is banished to the Red Room, turned back into a golden orb just as Dougie Jones was.
Outside the Jones home in Las Vegas, Hutch and Chantal are waiting to carry out the second half of their double-header hit. No one is home, however, and they witness an unexpected parade of visitors, as the F.B.I. comes looking for Dougie and the Mitchum Brothers arrive to fill the house with get-well gifts. A neighbor demands that the assassins move their van, and Chantal’s temper leads to a gunfight that leaves both of her and Hutch dead and the agents arresting the instigator. The Mitchums look on in confusion at the violence around them, Rodney summing up the situation by sighing, “People are under a lot of stress, Bradley.”
The reason no one is home is that the Jones family is with their fallen patriarch in the hospital after the shock he received the previous night. Janey-E frets that comas can last for years, but Bushnell Mullins arrives and assures her Dougie will pull through. While Janey-E takes Sonny Jim to the restroom, the tone from the Great Northern lures Mullins out of the room, leaving Dale alone to spring to consciousness, ready to receive a vision of Mike. Dale asks Mike to use the golden Dougie “seed” to make “another one”, tells Janey-E they have to go, and leaves Mullins a message for Gordon Cole. “What about the F.B.I.?” an overwhelmed Mullins asks. The original Twin Peaks theme swells as Dale Cooper flashes the grin we’ve all been missing and assures him, “I am the F.B.I.”
Dale drives his ersatz family to the Silver Mustang and tells them that he loves them very much, but he has to leave them for a while. Janey-E seems to understand this isn’t really Dougie, but is unspeakably grateful for everything he’s done. “You’ve made my heart so full,” Dale assures both of them. “Soon, I’ll walk through that red door and be home for good.” He joins the Mitchums in their limo, en route to their private jet, gassed up and ready to take him to Twin Peaks.
Audrey and Charlie finally arrive at the Roadhouse, and settle in at the bar for a half-hearted toast. But as a wistful and regret-filled performance from Eddie Vedder concludes, the MC announces that it’s time for Audrey’s Dance. The floor clears for the first time, and the classic “too dreamy” music fills the air as Audrey takes the spotlight solo. She closes her eyes and sways like she used to, and an iconic Twin Peaks moment is recaptured, everything just as we all remember it. But a sudden bar fight between jealous men breaks the serenity, and Audrey wakes up in a stark white space, staring into an unforgiving mirror and gasping the question on all our lips: “What?”
The first fifteen hours of Twin Peaks brought us slowly back to a place and a feeling we’ve been missing. It’s been a long journey through a web of old questions, a pocketful of new answers, plenty of unforetold complications, and even the occasional fulfillment granted to decades-old aches. Lynch and Frost have given us a long rumination on the effect of time upon the world and the characters that mean so much to so many of us, and it’s all felt very right, if more than a little mystifying. That Eye of the Duck has been missing, though, until Part 16 at last brought it back to us.
This was an hour of awakenings. Sherilyn Fenn recaptured Audrey’s allure for just a moment, before getting to play the sudden shock of realizing time has moved on. The always hypnotic Laura Dern delivered one of the series’s most gripping moments as the faux-Diane reached her breaking point. And the light of Dale Cooper at last returned to Kyle MacLachlan’s eyes as our Special Agent picked up his snappy-talking, coffee-sipping, endlessly affectionate ways without skipping a beat. We earned it. He’s back. And he has two hours to save the world.