If the last, infamously far-out, episode of Twin Peaks: The Return left you craving some plot development, last night’s installment had you covered and then some. In an hourlong storm of plot threads, just about every notable character got some attention. It’s been an elliptical season, but the characters’ central task is coming into focus. They need to suss out the doppelgänger’s plot to undermine the real Agent Cooper, whose return from la-la land (in Las Vegas, not Los Angeles) may depend upon it.
Let’s catch up with the various characters, one by one.
Mr. C, a.k.a. the doppelgänger, a.k.a. “the Boss.” He’s no Springsteen, but he does know how to sweep the ladies off their feet. He’s the evil Cooper, back from the dead and looking much the worse for wear. He strides out of the woods and connects with a pair of accomplices, signaling his survival to his Thinkpad-tapping minion in Vegas. He wants someone there dead — presumably the real Cooper, a.k.a. Dougie Jones — and he also orders the assassination of the warden who freed him.
The feds. Gordon, Albert, and Tammy — still with Diane in tow — are flying back to Washington from their visit to see Mr. C. En route, they get word that Major Briggs’s body has been discovered in Buckhorn. (“I don’t appreciate your language one bit!” says Gordon to the Colonel, at misapprehending his meaning.) They also learn of Mr. C’s escape from prison.
Arriving at the Buckhorn morgue, they’re brought up to speed on the whole situation involving…
William Hastings. Remember the Buckhorn high school principal who was having an affair with the late Ruth the librarian? He’s still in custody, and constantly crying. The cops have learned that William and Ruth ran a “strange little blog about some alternate dimension.” That sounds like the Black Lodge, and sure enough, a recent post described their encounter with none other than Major Briggs.
In the climactic scene of this episode, Hastings is interrogated by Tammy. He correctly identifies a photograph of Major Briggs, and describes his trip with Ruth into what presumably was a section of the Black Lodge. They met the Major, who was “hibernating” or hiding from “certain people.” To escape, the Major needed a set of coordinates, which William and Ruth found in a secure military database.
When they gave the coordinates to the Major, he “floated up,” said “Cooper” twice, and then his head disappeared. “It was beautiful,” says Hastings, “and then Ruth was dead.” (With her body went the coordinates, which she’d written on her hand.) Hastings says that they were then swarmed by “these others,” who pushed him down and demanded his wife’s name. Could these be the ghostly hordes that revived Mr. C last week?
Major Briggs. Still dead, but still more relevant than most of the living characters this season. Sheriff Frank Truman, Hawk, and Bobby visit Briggs’s widow (and Bobby’s mother) Betty — played by a returning Charlotte Stewart. Betty tells the cops that just before he died, her husband told her this day would come. (That means he knew his ne’er-do-well son would get a respectable job as a police officer, leading to another touching Bobby moment.)
Major Briggs left a capsule for the cops, and fortunately Bobby knows how to open it. Banging it against the driveway, Bobby opens the capsule and Truman discovers two small notes. The first directs them to go 253 yards east of Jack Rabbit’s Palace — which sounds like another sex club, but Bobby explains was actually a secret name he and his dad had for a spot where they’d go to play when Bobby was young — on Oct. 1 and 2, just a couple of days from the present date.
They make plans to go, and take note of the second slip of paper, containing a set of alphanumeric codes and the repeated word COOPER. “Two Coopers,” observes Hawk. They’re starting to catch on…and there’s also a third COOPER, cut off.
Special Agent Dale Cooper, a.k.a. Dougie Jones. Dougie and Janey-E are at a Vegas police station, having been brought in after the failed attempt on Cooper’s life by Ike “the Spike.” Dougie’s boss Bushnell Mullins is there too, testifying to the quality of Dougie’s work — and explaining that before he took the job at Lucky 7 Insurance, Dougie had some kind of car accident that’s left him with “some lingering effects.”
Finding no records on Dougie prior to 1997 — and stymied by the aggressively protective Janey-E — the cops grab a used coffee mug to take prints and DNA. There’s more news from the lab: thanks to the copious biological evidence left on Ike’s gun, the cops know who tried to kill Dougie. (Is there more than one notorious hit man of short stature in the Las Vegas area?) They nab Ike at a motel.
Andy and Lucy. Buying an upholstered chair, on the internet. Cutely, Lucy buys the color Andy prefers after the two argue about the best hue.
Deputy Chad. Eating lunch in the conference room. You can’t do that, Chad! Hawk only reluctantly helps Chad open the door to clear his multiple lunch dishes. Everyone hates you, Chad.
Ben Horne. Still hearing that humming noise, still resisting an affair with his employee Beverly. “You’re a good man, Ben,” she says. Does she know about his history of Confederate cosplay?
Johnny Horne. Here’s another one you had to check the credits for: the episode featured a brief appearance by Johnny Horne. The son of Ben and Sylvia, Johnny has a mental disability and was tutored by Laura Palmer. We first met him, bereft, in the original Twin Peaks pilot. Now, played by new actor Eric Rondell, he’s running around a house in a track suit and accidentally smashes his head against a vintage photo of the Twin Peaks waterfall.
Jerry Horne. Still very high. Terrified of his own foot.
Diane. Receives a text message sent by Mr. C: AROUND THE DINNER TABLE, THE CONVERSATION IS LIVELY. Ruh-roh.
Ella. Of course Sky Ferreira is here, like a moth to a lightbulb for any weird and music-heavy drama. She plays a character named Ella, who shows up at the Roadhouse during a set by DJ/producer Hudson Mohawke, who’s debuting a new song called “Human.” (You’d think that by this point the Bang Bang Bar would need one of those chain-link shields, like the Blues Brothers had.) Itching at a strange rash under her arm and flashing a sweet set of meth teeth, Ella chats with a friend about her jobs serving burgers.
Au Revoir Simone start to play — this season’s first returning musical guests — but Ella’s completely oblivious. There’s no accounting for taste.