4. Cooper Hears Music (“Part 11”)
One could easily argue “Part 11” is Cooper’s most revealing episode to date — and exemplifies MacLachlan’s best work. For one, the last half-hour is entirely Cooper’s story. The funniest scene since “Mr. Jackpots” kicks things off (see below), but it’s the ending that really hits home. After Cooper survives another death threat, this time from the Mitchum brothers (James Belushi and Robert Knepper), they take him out for celebratory pie — the dessert that just saved his life.
But in between a toast to Dougie and serving the pie, a piano change draws Cooper’s attention. Suddenly he’s transfixed, his head quickly pivoting and his eyes remaining on the pianist until the pie arrives. Even a surprise greeting from a grateful elderly patron — the woman who followed his advice and won thousands at the casino — can’t take Mr. Jackpots’ mind off the melody.
MacLachlan looks past her while she thanks him, unwavering in his focus. He’s still listening to Angelo Badalamenti’s “Homecoming,” and he’s still remembering a time and place long past. He’s looking through her as an event that already transpired. He wants to go back to that place; he wants a homecoming. As she leaves and he bites into the cherry pie, it’s as though Cooper is saying goodbye to Dougie’s past and moving ever more consciously toward his future: When MacLachlan says the iconic line, “damn good [pie],” his slight shift in inflection provides a faint hint of nostalgia and the slightest of hope.
Cooper will return. He won’t be trapped as Mr. Jackpots forever.
5. Cooper Chases Coffee (“Part 11”)
OK, this is perhaps the most movement MacLachlan does outside of taking down The Spike, but look at how restrained he is! Viewers get so much out of this brief comedic bit: For a moment, he looks annoyed. On the way in, he just looks eager. By the end, he’s back to the status quo, as if coffee is the only thing in his life that keeps him alive. And that’s the beauty of it: An immeasurable number of texts, tweets, and posts undoubtedly used this .gif and a message equivalent to, “This is me every morning.” MacLachlan captures the universal need for your morning Joe without abandoning Cooper’s stilted state. In short, it’s funny because it’s true.
6. Mr. C Wins an Arm-Wrestling Match (“Part 13”)
This entire scene is based around specificity of movement, so, this entire scene epitomizes Kyle MacLachlan’s intricate understanding of his characters’ physicality. Not only does he account for the visual intrigue of his choices, but his movements are built from Mr. C and Cooper’s spirits.
Nothing changes about Mr. C during his arm-wrestling match. He’s the same imposing force he’s always been. But as MacLachlan challenges his opponent to best him, again and again — “Let’s go back to starting positions” is still the most badass line ever uttered during an arm-wrestling match — his absolute control over Mr. C’s movements becomes all the clearer.
Just look at the way he shifts in his chair to approach the table. Then watch as his face, head, and neck as they remain motionless while his arm operates like a pulley on a string. Even when MacLachlan is called on to speak (gasp!) and move (wow!), he keeps Cooper and Mr. C as precise as possible: Real Cooper is a little looser; pliable in mind and body, but Evil Cooper is rigid because he knows exactly what he wants and what he needs to do to get it.
7. Cooper Hears the Name “Gordon Cole” (“Part 15”)
Listen, there’s no telling what exactly got Cooper to do what he did near the end of “Part 15,” but it was hearing Gordon Cole’s name that forever altered his pleasant evening of eating cake and pushing buttons. As “Sunset Boulevard” popped on the TV, Cooper took note. His neutral perspective shifted into a state of bemusement, but no more so than usual. It’s when Cecil B. DeMille says the fateful words, “Get Gordon Cole,” that MacLachlan’s expression changes entirely, Cooper gets down on the ground, and crawls toward an electrical socket making too much noise.
As proposed in Sunday night’s review, this could be the end of Cooper’s impersonation of Dougie. Right after he electrocutes himself and collapses, a dying Margaret explains how death “is just a change, not an end.” The version of Cooper oft-referred to as Dougie could die via the same household device that transported him there in the first place, and “Twin Peaks” will be on to the next iteration of its hero. If so, his time in the Jones’ household was given a fitting end: a few jerky movements, some subtle adjustments in expression, and a bevy of emotional weight laid down. MacLachlan has done this with Cooper, Dougie, and Mr. C throughout “Twin Peaks” Season 3, and each part has been deepened by the star’s contribution to it.
MacLachlan hasn’t created one new character in “The Return”; he’s built three brand new individuals from the ground up. And he barely had to move a muscle.