‘Twin Peaks’ Part 9 Recap: Getting In The Zone

Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime
Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Warning: This recap for ‘Part 9’ of Twin Peaks contains spoilers.

Now that we’ve had two weeks to scoop our brains from off the floor — following the explosive kaleidoscopic nightmare which was Part 8 — it’s time to reenter the strange and wonderful world of Twin Peaks. We’re now officially at the halfway point of the series, and the pieces are slowly but surely coming together. Nothing here was as bold and imaginative as Part 8 visually speaking, but almost equally astounding was Part 9’s ability to bring the fractured narrative into a connected whole.

This episode had answers. “Answers?” Yes, Dougie, answers. Everyone was searching for information and, for the most part, finding it. Evil Coop, the FBI, local law enforcement in Las Vegas, Buckhorn, and of course, Twin Peaks, where our old favorites dug deeper into the mysteries gnawing at our craniums. Bill Hastings was searching for answers; he even started a blog to document his findings, The Search For The Zone, which eager fans quickly discovered is a genuine website and likely full of easter eggs and clues and further answers to the happenings of Twin Peaks. Let’s get stuck in!

A bloodied Evil Coop (Kyle MacLachlan) staggers down a country road looking like he’s taking the walk of shame after a particularly boozy Halloween party. Although, for a man that was shot dead and then disemboweled by char-grilled apparitions, he’s doing pretty well all things considered. In a neat bit of mirror imagery, which is a continuous theme in Twin Peaks, Evil Coop’s bullet wound is on the opposite side of the stomach to where Agent Cooper was shot in the original series. Except that when Agent Cooper took a bullet, he wasn’t visited by demonic woodsmen but instead an old, bumbling, milk delivering waiter, affectionately referred to by Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) as Señor Droolcup.

Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime
Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

It’s a Hateful Eight reunion at The Farm, as Evil Coop meets up with his criminal underlings, Chantal (Jennifer Jason Leigh), last saw straddling him in the premiere, and Hutch, played by a dodgy-accented Tim Roth. The Farm is kind of like a checkpoint in a computer game — a safe place where Evil Coop can clean up and collect supplies (two cell phones, a bag of guns, and a packet of Cheetos — all the essentials). He sends a coded text message to an unknown number which reads: “Around the dinner table the conversation is lively.” He then instructs Hutch to “kill that phone” which he does by blasting it with a shotgun — tell us how you REALLY feel about modern technology, Mr. Lynch! It’s not just mobile devices which Evil Coop wants dead, he also orders the pair to take out Warden Murphy, and once they’ve accomplished that, he has a “doubleheader” for them in Vegas.

It’s been unclear up until this point who was ordering all the hits on Good Coop. Now we know for sure it was Evil Coop, we even see him call the permanently petrified Mr. Todd (Patrick Fischler) to ask, “Did you do it?” The theory that Evil Coop manufactured Dougie Jones to take his place and then attempted to assassinate the returning Cooper seems as solid as the gold Dougie’s head turned into.

Speaking of Dougie Jones, we also receive some insight into his background pre-Coop switcharoo. Dougie’s boss, Bushnell Mullins (Don Murray), tells the Fusco brother detectives that Dougie has worked for him for 12 years and that he had a car accident shortly before joining him, from which he still suffers lingering effects. It provides some clarity on why everyone so willingly cooperates with his barely functioning childlike behavior, rather than shoving him into a car and driving him to the nearest hospital. More interesting, however, is that the police can’t find any info on Dougie before 1997 — no passport, driver’s license, tax records, not even a birth certificate. It gives us a timestamp on when he was probably manufactured.

Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime
Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

As Detective D. Fusco (Anchorman’s David Koechner) takes Dougie’s coffee mug to run for prints, our brain-dead agent sits silently with Janey-E (Naomi Watts) in the waiting room, a place Cooper is all too familiar occupying. He is transfixed on an American flag in the corner of the room; he stares at it intently while “America The Beautiful” plays in the background. What is this but a representation of home? The place where Cooper is trying to return. “Do you want to go home, Dougie?” a friend inquired in Part 4 during his Mr. Jackpots casino spree. “Home,” he replied, with a sad longing in his voice. America. That is his home. The place he’s been missing from for 25 years, with its “purple mountain majesties,” “shining sea,” and “beautiful for spacious skies.” What do those images conjure up? Twin Peaks! It’s practically a synopsis of the title sequence.

America. There’s no place like home!

I use the Dorothy quote on purpose because Dougie-Coop’s story is littered with Wizard of Oz references. Just like the Tinman, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion, Cooper is missing something, and he needs that something to return not only home but to his old self. The Tinman required a heart; Cooper found that in his affection and love for Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon). The Scarecrow needed a brain; Cooper proved he still has the mental capacity by figuring out the case files. The Lion wanted courage; Cooper demonstrated bravery by taking down Ike the Spike (Christophe Zajac-Denek). Now all he needs is his missing shoes. You might laugh, but I’m serious. Cooper’s shoes fell off when he was sucked through the wall socket. What happens in this episode? Cooper’s focus shifts from the flag to a passing woman, and specifically, her RED SHOES.

A reference doesn’t get more blatant than that. And need I remind you that The One Armed Man (Al Strobel) was a shoe salesman and Major Briggs’ (Don Davis) first name is Garland. I rest my case.

Cooper’s tracking of the woman’s shoes draws his eyes to a plug socket, inevitably triggering a blocked memory of his interdimensional travel. We seem very close to Cooper waking up from his Dougie coma, either by his own volition or when the Las Vegas cops trace his prints and realize he is not Mr. Douglas Jones but missing FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper.

Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime
Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

The Vegas cops also trace the palm print from the hitman’s gun to Ike the Spike and arrest him at his motel before he can skip town.

After a receiving a phone call from Colonel Davis on his private jet, Gordon Cole (David Lynch) and his team make a stop at Buckhorn, South Dakota to investigate the Major Briggs incident. A liquored up Diane (Laura Dern) is begrudgingly along for the ride. Gordon is also informed that Evil Coop escaped from prison, or as he puts it, “Cooper flew the coop!”

The scenes in Buckhorn are even more enlightening than those in Vegas. Gordon, Albert, and Agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) are on the hunt for info. Lieutenant Knox (Adele Rene) and Detective Mackley (Brent Briscoe) show them to Briggs’ body while Diane waits outside smoking a cigarette.

(Best exchange of the episode: “You can’t smoke here.” “It’s a f**king morgue!”)

Mackley catches everyone up on the death of Ruth Davenport, the headless Briggs, accused high school principal Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard), his dead wife, and even deader secretary (blown up in a car explosion). “What happens in Season 2,” Albert snarks, in the second best exchange of the episode. God bless Miguel Ferrer, and I love that Albert finds a kindred spirit in forensic expert Constance (Jane Adams) over a shared love for morbid corpse-side banter.

Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime
Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

We find out that Bill and Ruth ran a blog about alternate dimensions called The Search For The Zone (unreleased Kenny Loggins b-side?). In the blog, they wrote about entering “the Zone” and meeting “The Major.” Tammy interrogates an emotionally distraught Bill (another top tier performance from Lillard) who identifies a photo of Briggs as The Major he met. According to Bill, The Major asked for coordinates, and once Bill and Ruth provided him with the numbers, he floated up, said “Cooper, Cooper,” and then his head disappeared. “It was beautiful,” Bill says, before again denying that he murdered Ruth. The poor sap just wanted to go scuba diving.

What Bill and Ruth call “the Zone” is quite clearly the Black Lodge (or perhaps the Red Room). The entire scene Bill describes sounds like what Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) told Cooper about the Lodges in the original series:

My people believe that the White Lodge is a place where the spirits that rule man and nature reside. There is also a legend of a place called the Black Lodge. The shadow-self of the White Lodge. The legend says that every spirit must pass through there on the way to perfection. There, you will meet your own shadow self. My people call it ‘The Dweller on the Threshold’ […] But it is said, if you confront the Black Lodge with imperfect courage, it will utterly annihilate your soul.”

Was Briggs passing through the Black Lodge on his way to perfection? Did the coordinates allow him to ascend to the White Lodge? Bill said it was “beautiful,” which implies Briggs was traveling somewhere better. Did Bill and Ruth enter with “imperfect courage” and therefore it annihilated their souls? Also, we know that Evil Coop is looking for these coordinates, which ties him to Briggs. But why does Evil Coop want to get to the White Lodge? To corrupt it? To destroy it? To harness its power for destruction?

Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime
Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

The entire Buckhorn visit in Part 9 is an info-overload, and you can see how the separate story strands are connecting. Let’s not forget that we also get an immediate answer to who Evil Coop sent the mysterious text, and it’s none other than Diane! What is all that about? Is Diane in cahoots with Evil Coop? Remember the phone call he made in prison? “The cow jumped over the moon,” he told the person on the other line. Given the equally ambiguous message, could the person he called back then have been Diane too?

There is momentum to the Briggs story in Twin Peaks too. The silver fox trio — which is what I’m calling Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster), Deputy Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) and Hawk — visit the Major’s wife (and Bobby’s mother) Betty (Charlotte Stewart) to ask about Cooper’s meeting with Briggs. It seems that yet another of the Major’s premonitions has come true, as Betty tells the men her husband said this moment would come, that she’d be visited by Sherrif Truman, Hawk, and their son, Bobby. It recalls the fantastic scene in the original series when Briggs tells Bobby about a dream he had in which his son was an older man, happy and successful.

Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime
Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Betty retrieves a small, metallic cylinder concealed in a chair panel. Inside the cylinder, which Bobby luckily knows how to open, is a note full of symbols, numbers, and messages. “253 Yards East of Jack Rabbit’s Palace,” one side of the note reads. “Before leaving Jack Rabbit’s put some soil from that area in your pocket,” the other side follows. Bobby says Jack Rabbit’s is a place his father used to take him as a kid, near his old workstation, a “make-believe world” which Bobby named “Jack Rabbit’s Palace.” There are also dates, Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, and a time, 2:53. “Two days from now, and the day after,” Frank says. The main symbol is a familiar variation of the one from Owl Cave and the Owl Ring. There is also a drawing similar to the one Evil Coop showed Darya on the playing card. Is this another map to the White Lodge? To the Black Lodge? I expect at least 50 Reddit threads analyzing these notes before the end of the day.

Another note inside the cylinder looks like a section of the deep-space communication that Briggs logged back in the original series. He took an interest in it because amongst all the gibberish, there, clear as day, was the name COOPER, repeated. The section inside the cylinder shows: COOPER/COOPER. “Two Coopers,” Hawk ponders. You nailed it Hawk!

I said this in my Guide to the Story So Far recap last week, but it’s truly heartwarming how Lynch and Frost have found a way to incorporate characters of long-deceased actors in such a major (no pun intended) way. It shows a tremendous respect and honor to both the characters and the performers.

Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime
Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Elsewhere in Twin Peaks, Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) is still tripping balls out in the woods and fighting with his own feet. Jerry’s brother Ben (Richard Beymer) meanwhile has turned a new leaf, resisting the advances of his secretary Beverly (Ashley Judd). While Ben’s mentally disabled son Johnny charges head first into a wall and seemingly kills himself from the impact. Lucy and Andy (Kimmy Robertson and Harry Goaz) bicker over household furniture in what was easily my least favorite scene of the new series so far — it felt slow and stilted, and not in the usual captivating Twin Peaks way, not to mention it wasn’t funny.

The most intriguing scene takes place at The Roadhouse, a booth table chat between two new characters, Chloe (Karolina Wydra) and Ella (Sky Ferreira). Firstly, I’m excited that Ferreira has an acting role in this and isn’t only performing at The Roadhouse. Don’t get me wrong, a Sky Ferreira Roadhouse performance would be super cool too (her first album, Night Time, My Time, is named after a Laura Palmer quote), but the synth-pop singer has serious acting chops. Not that I understood what was happening here. Ella was fired from her job flipping burgers, but now has a new job, still burger-flipping, and she appears to have a drug problem and an insane rash under her left armpit. The conversation is also full of nonsequiturs, starting with Chloe’s “That zebra is out tonight,” and ending with Ella’s, “Have you seen that penguin?” Both black and white animals? Does that mean anything? Reddit, can you hear me?!

A typically baffling scene to end what was an otherwise illuminating episode forthcoming with information and answers. For a series which has bounced around locations, time, and otherworldly dimensions, with scenes sometimes feeling so singular and disconnected from anything else going on that it was unfathomable how it would all tie together, Lynch and Frost are cementing their legacies as savvy storytellers with a clear direction in mind.

Twin Peaks airs Sundays on Showtime at 9 pm.

Let us know your thoughts and theories in the comments below.

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