By Caitlin Malcuit
In one of his dictograph monologues, Cooper recites to his off-screen secretary, “The trail narrows, Diane. I'm close, but the last few steps are always the darkest and most difficult.” He records this when the mystery of Laura Palmer’s death comes to a head, but the reveal of her killer ultimately causes the trail to widen. It veers off into multiple paths even all these years later, complex and overwhelming like the choking overgrowth of the Washington state forest bed. Welcome to Act II of “Twin Peaks: The Return.”
At the sheriff’s department, Hawk shows Frank Truman the pages yanked from the bathroom stall—they are indeed the missing pages from Laura Palmer’s secret diary that chronicled her long-suffering teenage years at the mercy of BOB. One page in particular details a dream she had of Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham—not resurfacing this season), foreseeing Cooper’s entrapment in the Black Lodge. Hawk can’t figure out how or why the pages got to the police station, but knows only a handful of people saw Cooper when he came out of the woods in the last series’ finale, including Harry Truman and Doc Hayward.
Frank tries to bring his brother up to speed over the phone, but he’s far too sick to sit through the call (Michael Ontkean, like Graham, opted not to return). Next on the list is Doc Hayward; Frank dials him up on Skype after twisting a pine knot, raising his desktop monitor through his desk. Hayward, played by Mark Frost’s late father Warren, remembers the night Cooper came back well, saying that he acted mighty strange the next morning, especially after he snuck out of intensive care in full dress. The Doc recalls seeing a strange face form on Cooper’s own visage.
In South Dakota, Lt. Knox (Adele Rene) is surprised to find that the hit on Major Briggs’ prints actually led to a body. Just when it seems clear that the body is Briggs, the coroner mentions that the corpse is only in its late 40s (Briggs would really be in his late 70s).
The FBI crew also jet back to South Dakota after Gordon and Albert plead with Diane (Laura Dern) to take a look at the guy in federal custody. Ten minutes, tops, are all she’ll give Cooper, she says, and with great anxiety, she raises the partition. Diane stands to face “Cooper,” who claims it’s good to see her again. She leans in, asking when the last time they saw each other was. “At your house,” he answers, but does he really remember that night? Diane says it’s one she’ll never forget. We’ve never known the extent of her and Cooper’s relationship beyond his tapes, romantic or otherwise. But Diane is the closest audience surrogate we have while Dale is in catatonia. She bellows, “Who are you?” at the weathered, soulless face of Bad Dale. She knows, like we do, that there’s a problem. Diane tells Gordon that man was not the Cooper she knows—it’s not time passing, change, or the way he looks—it’s something “here,” she cries, motioning to her heart.
Bad Cooper has a way of getting to people, and that’s certainly the case when he wants to chat with Warden Murphy (James Morrison). “Cooper” has dirt on him involving the dog leg, a mistress, and a man named Joe McCluskey, so the warden caves quickly in supplying a cheap rental car and the release of Ray Monroe rather than let face his own demons.
Speaking of cheap cars, Dougie Jones’ now-charred vehicle draws the attention of local law enforcement. Janey-E strolls in to pick up her husband, and guides Cooper through the questioning. The car was missing, yes, but it was found. It blew up and there are multiple fatalities, and that’s all Janey-E needs to know or care about because she’s out stressed enough as it is, goddamn it! She and her husband have to go home to their son, and he’s waiting for supper. As the pair leave Lucky 7 Insurance, the assassin who ice-picked Lorraine last week charges at Cooper with a gun. Cooper’s agent instincts kick in as he dispatches Ike “The Spike” in short order, judo-chopping his would-be killer’s throat as Janey-E pulls him off.
As Cooper comes closer to returning, Twin Peaks walks us through the town’s parallel inscrutables. Deputy Andy meets with the true owner of the truck that Richard drove during the accident; Jean-Michel Renault of the Bang! Bang! Bar keeps his family’s brothel business running; Ben Horne’s probably going to end up having an affair with his assistant Beverly (Ashley Judd). Like Ben’s brother Jerry, we may be lost in the woods and not know where we are (“I think I’m high!"), but the trail will narrow again.
More “Twin Peaks” Coverage:
- ‘Twin Peaks’ Part 6 Recap: Call It, Friendo
- ‘Twin Peaks’ Part 5 Recap: Shovel Yourself Out of the Shit
- 'Twin Peaks' Parts 3 and 4 Recap: Doughnut Disturb
- The Time Presents Itself: 'Twin Peaks' Premiere Is A Beautiful/Terrible Nightmare
- Episode 195: ‘Twin Peaks’ and Other Tales
- There's Always Music in the Air: Revisiting the 'Twin Peaks' Soundtrack