So here we are. The end of Twin Peaks: The Return. It’s been a hell of ride, and some of the most striking, original, subversive TV ever made. It’s clear David Lynch and Mark Frost were never here to tickle people’s nostalgia, from Cooper’s episodes-long fugue state to the baffling Audrey storyline. But that’s never been their style, and it’s amazing they managed to make something as unique as their original series was back in the ‘90s. But now the hard bit. Let’s try and parse what the hell just happened in these amazing, mystifying two hours.
1. What did Major Briggs discover?
Gordon Cole (David Lynch) tells Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) and Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) about a discovery Major Briggs made before he disappeared. He describes it as an entity whose name “in olden times” was Jowday, but “over time” that became Judy. Cole seems to be talking about the creature that appeared in the glass box in New York and gave birth to Bob after the nuclear test. This being, whatever it is, seems to be the root of all evil in the Twin Peaks universe—described in (opens in new tab) as “the mother of abominations”—although the series ends before we get any more details about it. But hey, at least we know who Judy is now.
2. How did Lucy know about Cooper’s doppelgänger?
When the Fireman (Carel Struycken) met Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz) back at Jackrabbit’s Palace, he seemed to implant a vision in his mind of Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) in the Sheriff’s Station looking distressed about something. This was likely a premonition, which led to Lucy shooting Evil Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) before he could kill Frank Truman (Robert Forster). The Fireman seems to have been orchestrating the events leading up to this encounter, including arranging for Freddie Sykes (Jake Wardle) to be in the Sheriff’s Station with his magical glove at that particular moment. Speaking of which…
3. Did Freddie just ‘kill’ Bob?
As we saw before in (opens in new tab), the Woodsmen come to revive Evil Cooper after Lucy shoots him. And as they perform their strange ritual, a manifestation of Bob emerges from his stomach. Freddie, saying this is his destiny, punches the strange orb so hard that Bob shatters into pieces and disappears. Of all the people I thought would put an end to Bob’s decades-long reign of terror, I never thought it would be a young cockney with a magic glove. With Bob gone, the good Cooper puts the Owl Cave ring on his doppelgänger’s finger and sends him back to the Black Lodge once and for all. It’s not the showdown I expected, but at least we didn’t have to watch two Kyle MacLachlans having an unconvincing CG fight in the Sheriff’s Station.
4. So Naido was Diane?
When Bob is defeated, the eyeless woman credited as Naido is replaced by what is presumably the real Diane Evans (Laura Dern). Unlike her chain-smoking tulpa, she has red hair and seems a lot nicer. She and Cooper share a passionate kiss, implying they may have had a relationship before his disappearance. Or maybe she’s just happy to see him. Either way, it’s a beautiful moment.
5. Where did Cooper go?
Cooper, Diane, and Cole enter the basement in the Great Northern Hotel, following the strange ringing sound that Ben Horne and his assistant Beverley were trying to trace the source of. Cooper uses his old hotel room key to enter the room where the sound is coming from and tells Cole and Diane not to follow him. He enters and meets Mike (Al Strobel), who recites the ‘fire walk with me’ poem then leads him to Phillip Jeffries in that strange, otherworldly motel.
6. What did Jeffries show Cooper?
Cooper and Jeffries (Nathan Frizzell) discuss the date February 23, 1989—the day before Laura Palmer was murdered by Bob via her father, Leland. Jeffries shows Cooper the Owl Cave symbol, which mutates into the number 8, transporting Cooper to…
7. Did Cooper travel back in time?
Cooper is whisked back to 1989 where he watches James (James Marshall) and Laura (Sheryl Lee) argue—which is in fact a scene from the movie Fire Walk With Me. This is the fateful night Laura would travel to Jacques Renault’s cabin with Leo Johnson and Ronette Pulaski, which would ultimately lead to her death at the hands of Leland. But Cooper confronts her and leads her to safety.
8. So Laura Palmer never died?
We cut to the very first scene from the pilot where Pete Martell (Jack Nance) discovers Laura’s plastic-wrapped body. But, suddenly, the body fades from existence. We see Pete fishing merrily away, as he would have done on that foggy morning had Laura’s body not appeared. It seems Cooper has somehow created an alternate timeline where Laura Palmer was never murdered.
9. Why did Mike create another Cooper?
In (opens in new tab), just after waking up, Cooper asked Mike to make another tulpa. And at the beginning of this episode we see him doing as he was asked, sending a fresh ‘Dougie’ back to Janey-E (Naomi Watts) and Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon). The old Dougie was a gambling addict who slept with prostitutes, presumably because he was created using Evil Cooper’s DNA, so this one should be a much better father and husband. The Jones family got the happy ending they deserved.
10. Where did Cooper and Diane go?
Cooper emerges from the Black Lodge portal at Glastonbury Grove and meets Diane. They drive for exactly 430 miles and, after crossing some electrically-charged, unseen threshold, suddenly find themselves driving down an unfamiliar road at night. They stop in at a motel and have sex. The next morning Diane is gone and Cooper finds a note addressed to ‘Richard’ from ‘Linda’ saying not to look for her. You may remember the Fireman telling Cooper to ‘remember’ Richard and Linda in the very first scene of The Return. It could be that Cooper has travelled to another reality where his name is Richard and Diane is Linda. He leaves the motel and realises it’s a completely different building to the one he entered, and his car is different too. And this is when the final episode of Twin Peaks season 3 gets really, really weird.
11. Who is Carrie Page?
After stopping at a diner called Judy’s to get the address of a waitress who works there, Cooper meets a woman (played, curiously, by Sheryl Lee) who says her name is Carrie Page. She doesn’t recognise the name Laura Palmer, but seems to show a glimmer of recognition when Coop mentions her mother, Sarah. Cooper convinces her to travel with him to Twin Peaks to visit Laura’s mother. Page agrees—the dead body in her living room means she wants to get out of town anyway—and the pair make the long drive to Washington together.
12. What happened at the Palmer house?
Honestly, I don’t know. People will be debating, deconstructing, and studying this scene for years to come. Cooper discovers that the Palmers no longer live in their old house, which suggests this may be yet another timeline. Interestingly, the woman who lives in the house (played by Mary Reber, who owns the house in real life) is named Alice Tremond. Tremond, of course, being the name of the old lady and the mask-wearing kid from Fire Walk With Me, who are Lodge spirits. And, adding to the confusion, we hear that the owners before her were called the Chalfonts—another name used by those spirits.
13. Who was calling out Laura’s name?
Cooper and Carrie go back to the car, and Coop seems confused. He asks her what year it is, but before she can answer her attention turns to the house and she hears a voice calling out “Laura!”—which is actually Sarah Palmer calling for her on the morning her body was discovered in the pilot. She screams and then we cut to black. Roll credits.
So is Cooper actually a guy called Richard creating and travelling through realities to right some kind of cosmic wrong? Perhaps centred around a girl called Laura Palmer? Her face in the Fireman’s golden orb suggests she has some kind of spiritual importance.
Or did Cooper just mess up history by preventing Laura’s murder? Honestly, I doubt even David Lynch or Mark Frost know. Like most of Lynch’s work, the end is probably there to be abstractly interpreted, not coldly analysed. And I’m happy with that, even though some people feel cheated by the final scenes. We may never know what it all means, but piecing the puzzle together is part of the fun.
14. So… that’s it?
Yep, that’s it. After eighteen wonderful, occasionally frustrating hours, The Return has come to an end. And, as expected, there are countless lingering questions. What the hell is happening to Audrey? What exactly is possessing Sarah Palmer? What was the purpose of the glass box experiment? What did Laura whisper to Cooper in the Lodge?
What does the symbol on Hawk’s map and Evil Coop’s playing card actually represent? Why was that woman in Nevada screaming ‘119’? Did Evil Cooper kill Major Briggs? Where’s the last missing page from Laura’s secret diary? But questions like these are precisely what makes Twin Peaks such a fascinating mystery, and it would be out of character if Lynch and Frost decided to answer everything.