Here it is, the penultimate episode. Well, technically, there are two episodes left but since they’ll be airing next week as a back-to-back finale, let’s call this our set-up for the big climax. It’s all coming to an end, but boy did this week pay off!
The most important part of an episode loaded with crucial developments was the return of Dale Cooper, original flavour! After sending himself into a coma via a fork in the socket, Dale’s brain seemed to have been given the jolt it needed. So we say goodbye to Dougie, who managed to become the most successful semi-comatose man in the Las Vegas area. I must admit that I’d gotten used to good old Dougie and his surprisingly effective simplicity, but seeing Dale rise from his hospital bed with that determination in his eye and that go-get-em zeal in his voice was as electrical as his adventures with the plug. Twenty five years in the lodge and the weight of the world’s cruelty has done nothing to quell Dale’s goodness, which proves to be hugely encouraging to all, especially everyone he’s helped while in Dougie mode. Now, his true mission must continue, and as he drives his family to the casino and that beautiful theme music plays, it’s as if David Lynch is nodding his head and saying ‘Yes, he’s back.’ Even his goodbye to Janey-E and Sonny-Jim, not his real family but still enough of his to fill his hearts with love, is classic Dale: So optimistic and driven and just enough to break your heart. Janey-E sees some of the truth now but he’s still enough. I’m a little sad the Joneses aren’t travelling to Twin Peaks together, as I imagine Janey-E would be one hell of a partner in his mission, but their final kiss is a moment of true sincerity, and dammit I hope he gets that happy ending with her.
Things don’t work out quite so well for Dale’s long-time secretary Diane. After a text from Evil Dale sends her into turmoil, she tells the agents about the night he came to visit her - ‘no knock, no doorbell’, as per the episode’s title - and the horrific rape he inflicted upon her. After several episodes of seeing hard-ass Diane, with her severe bob and habit of punctuating every sentence with a ‘fuck you’, it’s especially crushing to hear her tell this story and crumble under the force of her memories. It’s stellar work from Laura Dern, truly one of Lynch’s most robust collaborators. Her story continues, through tears and shakes, of the ‘old gas station’ he took her to - one we’re very familiar with - and then she reveals that she’s not herself, quite literally, before pulling a gun on the agents. They’re too quick for her, and their shots send her disappearing from Cole’s Room to the Red Room. We all knew of the two Dales, but the revelation of two Dianes is certainly one we didn’t see coming. With a final ‘fuck you’, her head disappears in a puff of black smoke and soon there is nothing left of Diane but her seed. So where’s the real Diane? ‘Diane’ herself said ‘I’m in the sheriff’s station’, and there is an eyeless woman in one of those cells right now.
Diane wasn’t the only character to die this week, although death remains a hard state to pin down in this world. Hutch and Chantal, Evil Dale’s hitmen of choice, met their fates in one of the episode’s comedic highlights, as their stakeout of the Jones household ends in a typically suburban altercation about driveway privileges, albeit with way more machine guns. As their van slumps to a halt, riddled with as many bullet holes as the deceased drivers, the Mitchum Brothers, suddenly the BFFs of the Jones family, watch from the side in dumfounded amazement. As one of them says with merely a shrug, ‘People are under a lot of stress these days’.
Another one no longer of this world is Richard Horne, who met his end in a flash of lightning as he was sent from this earth while his dad watched with barely a reaction. This was a strange scene to process, partly because Richard Horne was always the absolute worst and deserved nothing but pain, but after so many episodes of build-up, where we were forced to see every horrific and callous thing he did to people, his own family included, his end feels somewhat anti-climactic. Like his cohort in crime Chad being dismissed to the sheriff department’s jail cell with little fanfare, Richard’s life ends with a flash, scream, and Evil Dale’s quip of ‘Goodbye, son.’ Then again, perhaps it’s more true to life that bad men don’t deserve a good ending.
Another favourite returned - Audrey! Yes, she’s been back for a while, but always in the frustrating confines of her home and the never-ending argument with her husband Charlie over whether or not they’re going to get to the Roadhouse. She finally got there, and after a performance by Eddie Vedder, the floor clears for ‘Audrey’s Dance’, and the swaying girl of the diner is back. It’s a little awkward, as if she hasn’t done this for a long time, but soon she is consumed by the rhythm and it’s like she never went away. It’s all a little too neat, and soon a fight breaks out and Audrey begs Charlie to get her out of there. There’s a cut and now it’s a different Audrey, bare faced and in a white robe, staring at herself in the mirror in confusion. Is this a hospital? Is she waking up from the coma caused by the bank explosion? Is she somewhere altogether more sinister, perhaps not herself, like Diane?
This throws a lot of things into question regarding the Roadhouse. If it’s simply a fever dream of Audrey’s, that would explain their ability to get amazing guest performers every week, but what does that say about James Hurley’s time there, or his story? What about this plot with Tina and Billy that has Audrey so obsessed? Or Charlie, who was sent to intensive care with one punch last week? Every week, we’ve seen tidbits of people’s lives through the Roadhouse, usually told through short dialogue scenes of familial strife or relations with bad men. Last week, one woman started screaming in the middle of the dance floor. The Roadhouse seems to have its own complex ecosystem, both a part of and separate from the rest of Twin Peaks. Good times turn into bad, and even Audrey can find solace, if only for a minute.
As the episode wrapped up, the house band played Audrey’s theme, only backwards.
Not long now.