Warning: Major spoilers up to Episode 7.
Last week, I wrote that “Part 6” of Twin Peaks seemed to be putting the forces of evil ahead on the scoreboard. A drug ring emerged in Twin Peaks, an innocent child died, and at the end of the previous episode Cooper’s doppelgänger in jail had spontaneously caused a power outage, suggesting it was he who was keeping the prison guards locked up, not the other way around.
In “Part 7,” the good side seems to be striking back. At the beginning of the episode, Deputy Hawk and Sheriff Truman pore over the missing pages from Laura Palmer’s diary that Hawk found hidden inside the bathroom stall door, and the implications of her words—a summary of a dream she had only days before her murder—are huge. “The Good Dale is in the Lodge, and can’t come out,” Laura reports Annie Blackburn telling her in the dream. Hawk lays out the implications of this message with his characteristic lucidity: if Annie’s message was true, then the Agent Cooper who emerged from the Black Lodge that night twenty-five years ago was, well, the opposite of the Good Cooper. The Bad Cooper’s secret it is out, it seems–but before Hawk and Truman can report their findings to the FBI, Bad Cooper makes his move.
The lead-up to Bad Cooper’s chillingly smooth escape from prison at the end of the episode begins in Philadelphia, where Deputy Director Cole and Albert attempt to persuade one of their long-lost colleagues to verify the identity of another one. Diane’s appearance at the end of “Part 6” was the surprise reveal of a character archetype who the narrative encyclopedia TV Tropes would refer to as “The Ghost” or more specifically “The Watson,” since in the original series she existed only as Cooper’s unseen listener, the FBI secretary to whom he addressed every one of his cassette-tape voice memos. In this episode, Diane comes to life through Laura Dern’s spot-on performance, and we learn that, perhaps not surprisingly, she was one of Cooper’s many admirers whose heart he had broken. Despite still resenting him after 25 years, Diane agrees to speak to him in prison, realizing it to be her only shot at closure. She needs this, just as Cole and Albert need to confirm their suspicions about this Cooper.
Meanwhile, the Real Cooper is so close to waking up we can feel it, and his heroic disarming of Ike “The Spike” Stadtler—the short-statured hitman who in the previous episode went on a killing spree with an icepick—is another highlight of the episode. It’s Lynch’s sublimely unsettling sound design that makes this foiled assassination work so well, with an ominous foghorn, drenched in ambient noise, sounding the alarm of evil approaching and bringing us onto Lynch’s level. Cooper in this state may be incapable of forming thoughts, but he has become deeply attuned to the ways of the Black Lodge, to the point that a tiny version of the talking tree appears to him and guides him, in its blood-curdling voice, towards preventing his own assassination.
Cooper is not alone in his intuitiveness: if our various protagonists have anything in common, spread out as they are across the United States, it’s that they all seem prepared to accept that not everything can be understood rationally. From Hawk and Truman’s consideration of Laura’s dream as a crucial piece of evidence in their investigation, to Cole’s hypersensitivity to his surroundings as epitomized by his hearing aid, every character who stands on the side of good seems radically open to the possibilities of the universe. Even Ben Horne—the slick businessman who embodied human greed and shrewdness in the original series—is almost ecstatic when he realizes that a mysterious crystalline hum is reverberating around his office without any apparent source.
Lynch is a filmmaker who believes deeply in the subconscious, and in the original series Agent Cooper was his proxy for delivering his thesis: that our connection to this deeper layer of experience is in fact what makes us human. For Lynch, everyday life is little more than a veil for the world of dreams, of fluid meaning, of questions rather than answers–the subconscious world that for him constitutes reality.
Twenty-five years later, Agent Cooper has disappeared, but one could argue that his legacy lives on in the form of this shifted perspective. From the little town of Twin Peaks all the way to FBI headquarters, everyone who came into contact with Cooper all those years ago seems to have become a little more attuned to their deeper selves in the years that followed. This shared point of view is at the core of what makes the new Twin Peaks feel so different from any other show on television. And it might make our protagonists better prepared for what’s to come.
Next week: “Part 7”