[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Twin Peaks: The Return” Episode 15, “Part 15.”]
Throughout “The Return,” David Lynch and Mark Frost have paid tribute to cast and crew who have passed away since the original seasons aired — including a dedication to David Bowie in last week’s episode — but “Part 15” felt like an episode-long tribute to Catherine E. Coulson. The woman known fondly as the Log Lady and formally as Margaret Lanterman said her final goodbye near the end of Episode 15, speaking to Hawk (Michael Horse) over the phone, just as she has all season, and reminding him to “watch for that one […] the one under the moon on Blue Pine Mountain.”
It was difficult and largely unnecessary to absorb plot points when her final words meant so much more than the narrative. Coulson passed away in 2015 and she filmed scenes for “The Return” shortly before her death, making this season’s posthumous appearance particularly affecting whenever Margaret called in. This conversation, though, was something special.
“My log is turning gold,” Margaret says. Before that, she admits “There’s some fear in letting go,” but her first words to Hawk were telling. “I’m dying,” she says. “You know about death; that it’s just a change, not an end.”
Applying that belief to the series holds an array of possibilities, especially given how much the audience has come to learn about otherworldly extensions of human beings. Be it tulpas or inter-dimensional travel, “Twin Peaks” loves investigating the duality of mind, body, and spirit in ways that extend the understanding of life beyond simple endings. Look no further than Phillip Jeffries’ return, who came back in “Part 15” as a giant talking teapot (for all intents and purposes). Rather than being recast, the part was reimagined. Rather than accept Jeffries’ end, the vessel changed.
But imagining Coulson saying her goodbye — watching her act out that scene — makes it a human moment more than anything else. The scene doesn’t invite you to leave the world of “Twin Peaks” so much as it asks you to understand this trippy, unpredictable, and inexplicable universe is one and the same with reality; viewers can mourn the loss of Coulson, acknowledging the meta interpretation of Lynch penning a goodbye to his friend, without straying too far from the events of the series: Hawk and Margaret’s final phone call.
That her scene came shortly after an enamored Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) electrocuted himself — in what may very well be a fatal shock — actually added poignancy to Margaret’s goodbye. Cooper’s death doesn’t compare to the real-life loss Lynch must have felt when Coulson passed, but how he constructed so much of his story around Margaret made her goodbye all the more moving. Even if you reject the idea that “Twin Peaks” is a TV show, this hour felt like a full-out dedication to those lost. It tied together thematic elements running throughout the series, but love and death bookended this hour in a powerful way.
The Love Stories
“Part 15” felt damn near episodic next to the rest of “The Return.” A big, cheesy, long-awaited love story played out in the episode’s opening moments. Nadine (Wendy Robie), inspired by Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn), finally put an end to her marriage with Ed (Everett McGill).
“The gist of it is, Ed, you are free. Go. Enjoy,” she says. Ed doesn’t take her too seriously. After all these years of marriage, he knows better than to accept Nadine’s extremisms at face value. Once it sinks in, though, Ed’s reaction is stunning. Viewers can see the weight lifted off of him and the gratitude he feels for his freedom in McGill’s slightly parted mouth and heavy breathing. He’s restrained, as he’s always been, but the change is evident immediately.
Continue reading for the powerful duality of love and death in “Part 15” and a final grade.