Speaking of Mr. C. and Gordon Cole, their worlds came connected ever-so-briefly in Part 11. As Cole gazed up into the sky at the very spot William Hastings (Matthew Lillard) told them to visit, the deputy director saw “dirty bearded men in a room”; also known as “the woodsman” who showed up in Part 8 after the nuclear explosion and ended up murdering poor Hastings in the present.
While Cole was still reaching out into the space that birthed Mr. C., the body of Ruth Davenport appeared in a field nearby. Davenport’s head was found above Major Briggs’ body in the premiere episode, and it was later revealed she and Hastings were traveling to an alternate dimension where they met the Major.
In addition to the bounty of new clues, including numbers scrawled on Davenport’s arm, even more suspicion has been cast on Diane (Laura Dern). She eyed the arm carefully, mouthing the numbers back to herself, and then needed a smoke a little too badly to make viewers believe she felt fine about what’s going down. Her role in the mystery is bound to be divisive: Fans loved Diane, sight unseen, and involving her in the wrong side needs solid motivation if long-term viewers are expected to accept why Cooper’s most trusted confidant went to the dark side.
But that’s a discussion for another day. The symbolism of Part 11, as well as its deft blending of genres — which, yes, is always part of “Twin Peaks,” but not always handled this well — made it a special entry in the new season. We’ve already touched on the pie, but what about the cars? Hastings died sitting silently in the back seat of an unmarked police cruiser. A sick kid came creepily crawling out of the front seat when Deputy Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) went to confront an angry driver who wouldn’t stop honking. And right after Hawk and Sheriff Truman (Robert Forster) had a long talk about the symbolism of fire, electricity, poisoned corn, and their combination, a random cop popped into the meeting room to ask the sheriff if he wanted to come look at his new car.
Intrusive might be the best way to summarize these links. Even the limo used to pick up Cooper illustrated, despite the welcoming arms of everyone around him, how unwelcome they are to him. He doesn’t want anything to do with the Mitchum brothers, and while he holds no ill will toward Dougie’s family, he doesn’t belong there either. Cars can take you places, but Cooper is still trying to find the right place to go.
Before we sign off, spare a few seconds to appreciate MacLachlan’s truly incredible work. No one should ever question the actor’s range, and his ability to portray pure evil and absolute innocence from one scene to the next (as Cooper and Mr. C) is commendable. But what he’s doing as Cooper alone is layered, specific work. Limited in almost every way, MacLachlan has established a unique physicality that elicits big laughs — when he’s chasing down his assistant for a cup of coffee — and deeply pensive moments — like when he looks toward the piano — while only altering his expression slightly.
That a character like this can still command the screen, whether you’re tired of his arrested development or not, is credit to MacLachlan as much as our pre-established attachment to Cooper. Each look draws out a new, telling detail of Cooper’s internal drive. Lynch demands patience in watching “Twin Peaks,” and MacLachlan rewards viewers for having it.
It’s a performance deserving of pie, in as many servings as he wants.
“Twin Peaks: The Return” airs new episodes Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime. Beginning August 6, episodes will begin an hour earlier, at 8 p.m. ET.