The beauty of mystery and the uncanny in “Twin Peaks” has always been its strongest asset. Lynch and company never strive to produce a show that’s obvious, self-evident or plain. As a result, “Twin Peaks” is a deeply polarizing show: You can choose to reject the lack of structure, or embrace the sidewinding, glacial pace. Unsurprisingly, the program rewards the second approach more than the first. For those who stuck around, the series finale offered more questions than answers, concluding the series without being heavy-handed.
Released together, “Part 17” and “Part 18” complete the trek of the series that was cut short. At an accidental rendezvous, Special Agent Dale Cooper’s doppelganger (Kyle McLachlan, “Portlandia”) is shot by none other than Lucy Brennan (Kimmy Robertson, “Beauty and the Beast”). This occurrence is a high water mark for the plausible, yet still absurd addition of comedy to moments of intense gravity. The manifestation of BOB’s energy is broken by Freddie Sykes (Jake Wardle, “something”), and then doppelganger Cooper is quickly sent back to the Black Lodge by real Cooper. The series ends here, right? Wrong.
While the key narrative threads have been tied together, the majority of the finale is devoted to Cooper’s re-undertaking of the case of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee, “Wild at Heart”). It feels alien to re-encounter this major element because so much of “The Return” was spent outside of Twin Peaks. Still, Cooper as the hero restored acts as if he had never left, preventing her murder after Philip Jeffries (a cameo by the late David Bowie) transports him to the night of the event. The morning that follows, however, Laura still disappears.
The events which follow Cooper’s apparent rescue of Laura seem extraneous and unrelated.
For audiences that were looking for closure, the series may as well end there for them. Cooper returns to the Black Lodge again, and is escorted out by Diane. They leave, drive down a long desert highway before “crossing over,” and arrive at a motel to have sex. Diane (Laura Dern, “Big Little Lies”) revealed in “Part 16” that the multiple iterations of one person (although not doppelgangers) are called tulpas, coming from the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Tulpas are beings that are born into existence by strong spiritual or mental powers — somewhat like an imaginary friend. Dougie Jones (still Kyle McLachlan) is an example of a tulpa, created by Cooper’s doppelganger.
In the morning, Cooper wakes up alone, and reads a letter on the bed stand addressed to Richard from Linda. He proceeds to find a Laura Palmer lookalike, Carrie Page (Sheryl Lee), and attempts to reunite her with her mother. When they arrive at Laura’s old address, a stranger answers, denying any connection to the Palmer family. Carrie and Cooper turn away and prepare to leave, but not before Cooper senses a disturbance. Carrie screams the iconic Laura Palmer scream, and the power goes out. Credits roll.
For those expecting a clean ending, the unfolding of events may be confusing. Who are Richard and Linda? Why is Laura Palmer back, again? Where did Diane and Cooper cross over to? None of these questions are the right ones to ask. “Twin Peaks” has never operated at a literal level, so the audience is pointed to the greater concepts of the series. Strong will and determination can take human form; good and evil are constantly at war; spirits and magic hide in plain sight. “Twin Peaks: The Return” may not have been the series audiences anticipated, but it is the series that delivered an appropriate, creatively rich conclusion.