Setting any sort of expectations for Twin Peaks: The Return has proven to be a fool’s errand. You will take what David Lynch and co. give you, and you will be thankful for it. Sometimes you’ll get a “Oh look — Laura Dern is Diane!” reveal… and sometimes you’ll get a dude sweeping a floor for 3 minutes. Them’s the breaks.
The biggest bone of contention is probably Kyle MacLachlan’s Dale Cooper, everyone’s favorite Tibet-loving, dream-having FBI agent. The promise of finding out what happened to him after he seemingly emerged from the Black Lodge possessed by BOB at the end of the original series is what drove excitement for the revival in many ways. And for the first couple of episodes, we had our special agent back. Sure, he was sorta weird and loopy and wandering around the Black Lodge, where he’d been trapped for a few decades, but it was Coop! And then… Dougie happened.
Ok, it was funny for awhile. Coop emerged from the Black Lodge through an electrical socket and took his other OTHER doppelgänger’s place in the real world. Cognitively, Coop isn’t really all there — and no one in Dougie’s life seems all that concerned that their friend and loved one can only parrot random phrases and has to be physically led around by dangling a cup of coffee as the proverbial carrot in front of his face. In fact, his wife seems to prefer him this way (maybe it’s his sudden weight loss, or the fact that Coop’s still got it going on).
Watching Coop-as-Dougie bumble through another man’s life, with nothing but strange providence and occasional flashes of muscle memory saving him from disaster at every turn, has been both amusing and exhausting. But with 12 episodes in the can, we’re two thirds of the way through the 18-episode season — and there is no end to Dougie in sight.
So it was a relief that the most recent episode decided to focus on other parts of the story and spare us from Dougie. Sure, episode 12 checked in on him. For 30 seconds. With no dialogue. The blessedly short scene was a marvel of storytelling economy. Dougie’s son, Sonny Jim, leads his “father” out to the backyard to play catch. He throws the ball, and it hits Coop-as-Dougie, who doesn’t even attempt to catch it. That’s it. That’s the whole scene. And it tells us everything we need to know. Coop is still Dougie-ing around in the other man’s life and can’t catch a ball.
Until Coop regains the full use of his faculties, I think 30-second check-ins with Dougie is just about perfect. I doubt we’ll be that lucky, and who am I kidding — Twin Peaks is an experience and I’m here for the whole ride. I’ve sat through jackpots and arm-flailing sex and mouthfuls of pie to get to this point. I’m sure I can sit through whatever else Lynch throws at us. I just hope at the end of it we have a Coop who can throw instead of one who can’t catch.