Twin Peaks The Return S03E17-18 “The Past Dictates The Future”/”What is Your Name” REVIEW

Twin Peaks The Return S03E17-18 “The Past Dictates The Future”/”What is Your Name” REVIEW

0 comments 📅04 September 2017, 13:37

Airing in the UK at 1am Mondays and 9pm Tuesdays on Sky Atlantic
Mark Frost and David Lynch
David Lynch

Essential Plot Points:

  • The Feds finally figure out that Dougie Jones is Agent Cooper. And they know where he’s going.
  • Bad Coop finds the location he’s been looking for.

  • Major Briggs’ floating disembodied head is inside. When he exits, there’s a jewel in his hair and he is welcomed inside the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station.

  • Deputy Chad escapes, as the eyeless woman and the man with facial injuries lose it thanks to Bad Coop’s presence. But before Chad can shoot Andy, super-punch kid Freddie Sykes floors him with the cell door.

  • Good Coop phones sheriff Truman while he’s talking with Bad Coop.

  • Bad Coop realises. But before he can shoot the sheriff, Lucy shoots him in the back. The evil nuke guys show up to revive him.

  • Suddenly, the gang’s all here. Luckily the chorus girls made enough sandwiches.

  • A weird ball of energy with Bad Coop’s face attacks Coop. Freddie steps forward to fulfil his destiny and punches it into fiery oblivion, before smashing it completely as it re-attacks.

  • The Good Coop returns his ring and Bad Coop heads back to the Black Lodge.

  • Coop takes the key to room 315 of the Great Northern Hotel. Then the eyeless entity disappears and Diane appears in her place.
  • Coop, Diane and Cole are transported.

  • Coop uses the key and enters room 315 where he meets the one-armed man. Bowie’s tin machine offers up an infinity sign in answer to their questions and they head in.
  • Coop returns to the moment before Laura Palmer is killed. The scene with James Hurley is replayed, where Laura runs away into the woods. Coop intervenes before she can get to the train truck and be killed.
  • Bob is not best pleased and goes psycho on her picture.
  • Were at the finale! The Bad Coop is on fire in the red chair in the Black Lodge. The one-armed man makes a new Coop, as a replacement for Dougie Jones.

  • Coop and Laura continue through the forest. She disappears with her customary scream. We replay the opening scenes from this series, and Coop heads off to find Laura. He finds Diane instead.

  • They’re suddenly driving through the desert. They cross over using electricity and it’s dark on the other side. They head to a motel and get it on.

  • Coop awakes alone to find a Dear John letter written from Linda to Richard.
  • He drives into town and finds a restaurant called Judy’s, which is the name of the evil entity. Some guys are hassling the waitress so Coop intervenes. They make the mistake of pulling a gun on him.

  • Coop gets the address of a second waitress and heads there. Laura Palmer opens the door, but she’s called Carrie Page. She needs to get out of dodge anyway, there being a dead man in her living room, so she agrees to go with him.
  • He takes Laura home but Sarah Palmer doesn’t live there anymore. Laura has a flashback and screams.


Episode 16 (“No knock, no doorbell”) was a turning point for this series. Not only did it explain much of the weirdness that viewers were starting to fear would never fully be explained (while simultaneously killing off so many cast members it was finally possible to describe The Return as Shakespearian), it also put an end to the interminable Dougie Jones storyline that has seen Kyle MacLachlan trapped in a monosyllabic nightmare as the Good Coop.

You could argue that making this show too explainey feels like a betrayal of what’s gone before. If you’re going to make avant-garde TV, probably best not have someone chat away so fully about what’s happening, as it cheapens the mystery. Thankfully, having all the pieces fall into place doesn’t diminish the series trademark weirdness at all.

And, as that title suggests, the past does indeed dictate the future. Episode 17 seems to rewrite history to an extent that it changes the very existence of this series – no murder of Laura Palmer, means no bombshell to tear apart the town of Twin Peaks and expose its pitch-dark underbelly. It offers up a change that is so monumental, it almost feels like a finale of its own, especially with Julee Cruise’s dreamlike performance playing out over those credits.

What could the actual finale add to that? This being Lynch, it packs in more weirdness and less closure than viewers would like. The diner moment is an unnecessary but welcome burst of action, the relationship between Diane and Coop ends as bizarrely as their tryst begins, and the final moments are a disappointment of confusion, dull, prolonged dialogue and unintelligibility.

The lack of a conclusion to the story is incredibly unsatisfying given the journey we’ve been on – especially as it felt so close. But this is Lynch, and he was never going to tie a neat bow around these events. Even knowing that, it feels like Twin Peaks: The Return suddenly runs out of script at a frustrating juncture, rather than leaving things at a point that’ll keep the audience guessing. And that can’t help dim the joy of episode 17, which would arguably have been a better place to stop.

The Good:

The Bad:

  • The quirks that would have marked this show out as groundbreaking all those years ago now seem odd in the modern TV landscape. This is emphasised right at the start of episode 17, when Lynch’s Gordon Cole says, “Now listen to me” ahead of a long, unnecessary pause for his next line, as the camera pans between him and two other agents.
  • Episode 16 suggested we wouldn’t end this series in the disappointing way the original second season ended, with multiple cliffhangers never to be resolved. But Lynch just can’t help himself, offering up one huge mystery instead.

Best Quotes:

Cowboy 1 [following Coop’s intervention at the diner, but applicable to so much of this series]: “What the fuck just happened?”

Review by Matt Chapman

Read all of our Twin Peaks reviews and catchup on the first two seasons with our Twin Peaks Guide for Noobs.

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