What is your name?
DoppelCooper’s body is on fire in the Black Lodge. He’s gone for good. At least I assume so!
With the gold pebble and Cooper’s hair, The One-Armed Man uses his e-lec-tricity to make a new Dougie tulpa. That innocent baby is back with us, and I couldn’t be happier! “Where am I!?” Gosh, he’s so cute and so excited to be alive again. He’s sent home to be with his family, just as Cooper promised. Janey-E and Sonny Jim embrace him back in their lives. “Home.” That’s one happy ending. But what about Laura’s?
Cooper lost her in the woods in 1989 on the night she was supposed to die at BOB’s hands. Or was she taken from him?
We revisit Cooper in the Black Lodge. And we’re plagued with the same question from The One-Armed Man: Is it future or is it past? They wander through the Black Lodge and visit The Arm. But it has a new question for Cooper:
Is it the story of the little girl who lived down the lane? Is it?”
You may recognize those words because Audrey said them. Was she speaking about Laura all this time? Why would she say words spoken by The Arm in the Lodge if she wasn’t also in the Lodge!? EH!?
Speaking of Laura, she whispers in Cooper’s ear before doing her banshee shriek and floating away like in Part 2. Cooper continues his journey and finds Leland, who has the same message: Find Laura. The soft ringing noise leads Cooper farther into the Lodge. The curtains rustle and open for him. He emerges in the woods of Twin Peaks, where Diane is waiting for him. She did indeed see him at the curtain call. (Unless there is still another curtain call??? Anything is possible, y’all.)
Cooper and Diane take a drive.
FIRST: Let’s quickly flash back to the first scene of The Return where the Fireman was sitting opposite Cooper in the White Lodge. He told him: Listen to the sounds… [weird clicking noise that happened when Laura disappeared in part 17] It is in our house now. It all cannot be said aloud now. Remember 430. Richard and Linda. Two birds with one stone.
And here we are. Cooper and Diane taking a 430-mile drive to a specific location. He gets out of the car and can feel and hear the electricity crackling all around him. Diane is visibly nervous.
This is the place, all right. Kiss me. Once we cross, it could all be different.”
They share a nice, passionate smooch and head into the e-lec-tricity. And suddenly, they’re driving down a long, dark road at night in utter silence. They arrive at a motel and while Cooper is getting a room, Diane sees herself standing a few yards ahead. She and her other self stare at each other until Cooper returns. Perhaps this is her old self that she’s leaving behind in this new world. I think at this point Cooper is still himself but I wonder if Diane is losing part of herself.
This next scene is very… strange, especially when you add the “My Prayer” song on top of it. It’s the same song playing during the ‘Gotta light?’ scenes in part 8, so it already had a disturbing association. Before this, it didn’t seem as though Cooper and Diane had a sexual relationship but perhaps it was a long time coming. She mentioned they’d only kissed once before BOB raped her. She also mentioned that she remembered everything that happened to her. So, perhaps this was Cooper’s way of letting her reclaim some of her sexual agency after whatever BOB did to her using Cooper’s body. She is in complete control of this experience, even covering his face at times. Seeing his face might still be traumatic for her. Or maybe she’s losing her “Diane” self and covering his face because she has no idea who this man really is. Either way, I’m sure Lynch wanted to make us extremely uncomfortable during this part and he succeeded.
The next morning, Cooper wakes up alone with a note left from Diane: “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.”
Remember Richard and Linda. BOOM. So, we were foiled by Richard Horne and the random trailer park resident Linda all this time! Lynch, you rascal. Anyway, the car Cooper arrived in with Diane is not the same car he takes when he leaves. The one he takes is one of those all black FBI-type vehicles and he seems to already have the keys. Weird. Anyway, Diane may have lost herself and became Linda, but I don’t believe that Cooper has become Richard.
Cooper drives through Odessa, Texas until he spots a diner: Eat at Judy’s. He stops there for a coffee and asks the waitress if another girl works there. Another girl does but she hasn’t been to work in three days. While he waits, some asshole cowboys harass the waitress and try to feel her up. Cooper defends her and the cowboys try to show off their manliness by threatening Cooper. But he’s about 100000% done with this world/dimension/town, so he shoots one guy in the foot, knees another in the balls, and the other puts his gun down. He puts all the guns in the deep fryer and gets the other waitress’s address before leaving. Shoutout to the old couple who were completely unbothered by the gunfire and kept eating their pancakes.
I saw some people saying this seemed out of character for Cooper. That he seemed like a blank asshole and maybe he was becoming Richard. Or that he’d lost the “good” part of Cooper when Dougie was created. But I’d suggest you revisit the pilot. Cooper was very harsh and straight-to-business in the very first episode. He took no nonsense from anyone. It wasn’t until he got to know the Twin Peaks folks that he softened up a bit and showed off his goofy side. Plus, this Cooper has been through some shit. He’s trying to save Laura Palmer’s life, and he won’t let anyone stand in his way. That’s not to say this is the “right” Cooper. Something is definitely off. But I wouldn’t say this isn’t our Cooper.
Cooper goes to the address and notices a familiar electrical pole outside. We saw it many times near the trailer park. When a woman answers the door, we know her as Laura Palmer. However…
Laura who? I’m not her.
What’s your name?
So, the name Laura Palmer means nothing to you?
Look, I don’t know what you want, but I’m not her.
Your father’s name was Leland. Your mother’s name is Sarah.
What’s goin’ on?
It’s difficult to explain. As strange as it sounds, I think you’re a girl named Laura Palmer. I want to take you to your mother’s home. Your home at one time. It’s very important.”
This woman trusts Cooper and agrees to go with him. She’s got a very good reason to “get out of dodge.” Could it be the unexplained dead guy with a bullet to the head? (My friend and I laughed our asses off when the camera just casually panned to him.) His stomach is protruding weirdly. Kind of like when a BOB orb is about to escape? And there’s some gross blobby stuff on the front of his shirt. Could be garmonbozia? (Maybe I’m reaching?) I would also like to note there’s a white horse on her mantle. The pale mare perhaps? Is this life a smokescreen, a cover? Just like the drugs Leland/BOB would poison Sarah with when he snuck into Laura’s room at night?
Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer travel to Twin Peaks. Lynch really takes his time with this. He lets us really live in the car with them. We’ve been on this journey with Cooper and Laura for 25+ years. It’s all been culminating to this. For Cooper, definitely. And for Laura, too, even though she might not realize it. So, we might as well take our time getting there. We may as well stop for gas to get us the rest of the way. (Plus, it’s a fabulous way to build up some frustrating anticipation and tension of what will happen when they finally reach their destination. Especially after part 17 was so action packed.)
It’s a long way… In those days, I was too young to know any better.”
Is she remembering the closer they get to her home? It’s hard to say. But this is a Laura who still hasn’t left the paranoia behind. A Laura who is still involved in dangerous shit. Likely drugs. Clearly murder. Who knows what else. She might still be alive but is her life in this world/dimension any better? Did Cooper save her from one nightmare only to throw her into another, yet more mundane one? Cooper is driven by the desire to get her home. If he can do that, maybe he can go back again and save her from the horrors. Maybe he won’t let her go this time. He’s trying his damnedest to make it right. Again. And again.
They reach Twin Peaks and everything appears to be the same. The Double R Diner is still there. But the streets are pretty empty. Laura doesn’t recognize anything though. Cooper parks in front of Laura’s house but it’s still not clicking for her. The two get out of the car, and he takes her hand, leading her up the stairs to the front door. They both seem nervous — and Laura seems a bit spacey and out of it.
Sarah Palmer doesn’t answer the door, another woman does. (The real owner of the house!!!) She doesn’t know anyone by the name Sarah Palmer. While speaking with Cooper, she keeps speaking to a man inside. She says Mrs. Chalfont sold her the house. And that her name is Alice Tremond. We should all recognize those names! Mrs. Tremond is the old woman with the grandson and the Chalfonts owned one of the trailers in the Fat Trout Trailer Park. So, there’s SOMETHING AFOOT.
It is in our house now.
Alice Tremond has no other information, so Cooper and Laura descend the stairs in defeat. But Cooper pauses when he has a strange feeling. He stares up at the house. Laura turns to do the same. Cooper almost falls forward in confusion.
What year is this?”
This seems to trigger something in Laura. Her eyes widen as she looks at her home. In the distance, we can hear Sarah Palmer calling: Laura!
Laura lets out a long shriek and all the lights in the Palmer house flash with an electricity crackle. The lights go out and everything goes black.
We’re left with the image of Laura whispering into Cooper’s ear in the Black Lodge.
So, what the hell happened? My personal theory is that Judy (inside Sarah Palmer) figured out what Cooper was trying to do when he went back in time. So, before Cooper could save Laura, Judy intervened. I assume she figured it out when she was smashing the photo and it kept mending itself. So, she took Laura from Cooper and tossed her into some other dimension, hoping to hide her from him. Perhaps she’s been trapped there all this time. Perhaps that’s what Laura meant when she told Cooper: I am dead yet I live. She’s dead in that universe while living in some pocket dimension that Judy put her in.
And the Fireman wants to destroy the evil entity Judy that birthed BOB into our world and save Laura at the same time: Two birds with one stone. So, he set Cooper on this mission from the very beginning.
I think the question that remains: Did Cooper succeed? I don’t think we know. I don’t think we will know unless there is more. I think this is left up to immense interpretation.
Some possibilities: The new Tremonds were harboring the Judy entity. It was in the house. They’ve always been Black Lodge agents trying to lure Laura into the darkness. That’s why they gave her the framed photo in FWWM, after all. But I think Laura “woke up” at the end, regaining her memories. By doing so, Judy was fully alerted to her presence once more. It’s possible she stole Laura from Cooper again, sending him on another quest to find her. That could be Cooper’s infinite destiny. His life is an endless loop of trying to save Laura and failing. But that’s a rather depressing interpretation, isn’t it?
Another interpretation is that when Laura regained herself, she actually destroyed Judy. The lights crackled and went out, which means Cooper really did save Laura. He found Judy finally, destroyed the evil entity, and saved Laura. But that scream of hers really bothers me… I don’t think such a happy ending is possible for our Laura. At least not yet. But I hope that someday Cooper might succeed in destroying Judy and saving Laura. Maybe then he can finally rest, put that flannel back on, and go fishing (with Major Briggs’ disembodied head).
While we can’t be certain of everything, I think we can be certain that Judy was in the Palmer house (using Sarah as her vessel, as BOB used Leland and Cooper), Laura regained her memories, and Cooper found Judy. The rest… who knows.
I’m really eager to rewatch everything. I’m sure there are so many clues in the Return that will be so much more meaningful now that we have all the pieces to the puzzle.Well, all the pieces that Lynch wanted us to have. I hope that we get more, not because I need things wrapped in a neat little bow (if Ed/Norma is the only neat, happy bow we get, I’m THRILLED), but because I just want more of this world.
I’m satisfied with the ending given but would be glad and grateful to dive deeper into this delightful insanity. It consumes me and I love it. The characters, the questions, the visuals, the sounds, the experience. There’s a huge void in my weekends — and heart — that Twin Peaks has left. But that’s what rewatches are for. I can hope that in four years or so, as Lynch estimates a potential fourth season could emerge, I’ll be watching new Twin Peaks.