[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Twin Peaks: The Return” (2017), Season 3, Episode 11, “Part 11.”]
“Damn good” only begins to describe Part 11 of “Twin Peaks: The Return,” an episode in which a lot of pieces came together both for the series’ central mystery and within its hero’s restricted mind.
First, let’s address what’s in the box. For all the parodies and homages that reference David Fincher’s iconic scene in “Seven,” this one may take the cake– well, the pie. The long drive into the desert. The long row of telephone lines on the side of the road. A mysterious box. An unarmed man held at gunpoint. These are the same images that evoked trepidation in Fincher’s film, but Lynch created a playful tone for “Twin Peaks.”
From the remixed version of “Viva Las Vegas” that kicks off Cooper’s (Kyle MacLachlan) limo ride to Bradley Mitchum’s (Jim Belushi) wolf howls after finding his check, the scene was built on the same elements but carried an inverse outcome. What was in the box saves Cooper’s life instead of ending it, but his plan — if that’s what you can call it — works out just as flawlessly as John Doe’s in “Se7en.”
But once they left the desert, Cooper’s reality shifts. Yes, he survived the Mitchum brothers’ planned assassination, but as soon as the three men share the life-saving pie, Cooper’s neutral expression droops. He appears troubled, concerned; as if the act of eating pie with these besuited gentlemen didn’t fit his vision of reality – of right and wrong.
That’s because it is wrong. Cooper belongs with Gordon Cole (David Lynch) and Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer), sipping coffee and eating donuts in Detective Dave Macklay’s (Brent Briscoe) office. Coffee, donuts, and especially pie are for the good guys, and something in Cooper’s well-trained FBI-brain knows his dining companions aren’t working above board. He did what he had to do to survive — with the help of Phillip Gerard (Al Strobel) and The Red Room — but the melancholic notes from the piano seem to trigger his instinct: He doesn’t belong there.
Does this mean Cooper is waking up from his Dougie dream? We dare not predict as much after 11 hours spent without seeing the Old Cooper. “Twin Peaks: The Return” has become as much about rediscovering Cooper as it is a murder-mystery driven by Mr. C’s misdeeds. But he’s more motivated than ever, just as Hawk (Michael Horse) is preparing to visit The Black Lodge.
Continue reading for the symbolism of “Part 11” and an appreciation of Kyle MacLachlan.