How Twin Peaks' Finale Wrapped Up Agent Dale Cooper's Story

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Head-scratching spoilers are below for the two final episodes of Twin Peaks' big finale on Showtime, so don't read on if you haven't yet watched.

When Twin Peaks' revival was initially announced, there's just about zero chance that fans could have predicted we'd go 16 episodes before getting a coffee-tinged taste of the real Dale Cooper in his present-day form. But Kyle MacLachlan's beloved FBI agent finally made his first big breakthrough into the real world in "Part 16," and it was a damn fine return. The finale -- actually just the 17th and 18th installments put together -- brought his story to an end in a way that only David Lynch and Mark Frost could conceive: a maddeningly confusing, yet still possibly hopeful, one. Depending on your point of view, of course.

"Part 17" largely took place within the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Department, as Evil Cooper made his big arrival, and despite things initially looking like they might go his way, the real Dale Cooper alerted his presence to Sheriff Truman, and the cell phone-understanding Lucy was the laudable hero in this situation. After she put a bullet into Evil Cooper, those old-timey creepsters showed up and rubbed blood all over his until that weird-ass BOB orb appeared, which thankfully occurred after Real Cooper showed up. The green-handed Freddie, who'd already saved Andy (and possibly that annoying mimic-lover) from a possible gunshot wound from former deputy Chad, ended up punching the BOB blob into a shattered oblivion. All good, right? Of course not. (How many shows could inspire a paragraph like that, seriously?)

After the always-whimpering and eyeless Naido revealed herself to be the "real" Diane -- since the one we'd previously been introduced to was a double -- Cooper retrieved the Lodge key from Truman and took a trip with Gordon and Diane, warning them not to follow him into his old hotel room as he made an attempt to change both the past and the future. With some Red Room-adjacent help from Phillip Jefferies-as-smoke-oozing-kettle-thing, viewers got to re-experience that Fire Walk with Me scene between James Hurley and Laura Palmer, which Real Cooper (of the present day) is seen watching from the trees.

Everything got super-bonkers here, as Cooper made his presence known and altered the past by apparently stopping Laura from meeting her deadly fate, although not necessarily diverting her into a super-safe fate or anything. We see her wrapped-up body disappear from the waterfront where it was found back in 1989. But when Cooper is attempting to lead Sheryl Lee-in-a-wig out of the forest -- something that Red Room-bound Leland Palmer would have seriously appreciated -- she is suddenly pulled out of that existence with electronic crackles and an ear-piercing scream.

The finale really upped the oddness factor, as well as the "car traveling down a dark road" factor, as the past and present and other-world collided in intriguing ways. Cooper was on his way to Odessa, Texas in what appeared to be an alternate reality sparked by the aforementioned electronic crackles, and he once again reunited with Diane to check into a motel for a last sexual huzzah. It seemed as if Twin Peaks was going to give us a reprisal of the very first Blue Rose case (especially after we all saw Diane's double hanging around), but they only had sex, and Cooper woke up to a note to "Richard" from a "Linda," who apologized for having to leave. It's definitely worth noting that "Richard and Linda" were mentioned to Cooper by the Fireman/Giant back in the premiere, and that Richard Horne was Audrey's evil dipshit son, although I'm not quite sure yet how that added up with everything else.

We then arrived in Odessa, where a greatly detached Cooper manhandled two cowboy-bros harassing a waitress at the diner named Judy's. (Tying things back to Gordon's confession to Albert in "Part 17" that Major Briggs told him and Cooper about the extremely negative entity "Jowday" which then had its name changed to "Judy" over time.) Cooper soon came face to face with present-day Laura Palmer, who actually did survive in this timeline, and is currently experiencing life as a diner waitress named Carrie Page, someone who clearly has little need to hide dead bodies. The two of them then traveled to the Palmer household in Twin Peaks, where they discovered that this was not the home of Sarah Palmer, and clearly hadn't been for a while, and possibly hadn't ever been.

Clearly disturbed, Cooper accepts this information, but soon lets his over-arching confusion become known by asking that all-important question in this time-flopping universe: "What year is this?" And it's then that Laura/Carrie has another memory jolt from her former/alternate life, and she belts out a scream that sounds exactly like the one we heard when she disappeared from the forest. The light-filled house before them went completely dark, and the scene suddenly cut to black. And then, over a slow-moving shot of Red Room Laura whispering into Red Room Cooper's ear, the credits rolled. Meaning Twin Peaks is over, and I (along with plenty of other viewers) am likely still miles away from finding out what the hell most of it actually means.

So we're now left with a number of questions comparable to the ones we had before the season started. Was that actually Real Cooper that came out of the Black Lodge following Evil Cooper's immolation, and who awkwardly put handguns inside a fryer with a vague warning to others about the bullets heating up therein? (He did accept and drink from a cup of coffee, but was that real proof?) Why was Diane so enthused about looking up at the ceiling while she and cooper had sex? Were Laura and Cooper actually being followed? What year was it when Cooper and Laura/Carrie met? Would taking Laura back to her old house have done something special beyond just cementing her acceptance of her troublesome teen years, even after she'd seemingly copped to it when sleep-talking on the drive? Also, who was Laura asking about when Cooper showed up, saying "Did you find him?"

If you'll notice, those are just the questions tied to what we perceived to be Real Dale Cooper, and don't even incorporate the plethora of other topics that went unexplained in Twin Peaks' return. What in the alt-reality fuck was happening with Sherilyn Fenn's Audrey during her brief scenes, which were seemingly revealed to be in her mind? How would Gordon and Cooper have tracked down "Judy" back in the day? Who were all those people in The Roadhouse over the weeks, and who the hell were they all talking about? Why was James Hurley...well, that kind of wraps up that question in a nutshell. With all the former characters that got brought up, sometimes through death and sometimes through re-used footage (as it went with Joan Chen's Susie Packard), why didn't we get any word of Donna? Was the jailed Johnny Horne's emotional trauma somehow related to Dougie's ordeal, since all he was to be able to do was repeat things? I could literally go on and on and on.

But hey, at least the Jones family got to have a happy ending, with a new version of Dougie Jones arriving after being conjured up thanks to a gold bead and a lock of hair. Make us proud, Sonny Jim.

dougie twin peaks finale

With no more episodes of Twin Peaks coming to Showtime at any point in the near future, barring an extremely surprising announcement from David Lynch or the network, we're left to wait for the upcoming release of the book Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier (opens in new tab) to get any new info about everything that went down. Until then, check out all the other new and returning series hitting the small screen soon with our fall TV schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.