'Twin Peaks' Part 15 recap: Crossing the threshold and letting go

Photo: Showtime Screengrab

Warning: This recap for Part 15 of Twin Peaks contains spoilers.

As Twin Peaks bids farewell to one of its most beloved characters, her final words resonate throughout an episode which deals primarily with death, loss, crossing over and moving on. “You know about death, Hawk,” a dying Margaret Lanterman (Catherine E. Coulson) tells the Deputy Chief (Michael Horse) over the phone. “That it’s just a change, not an end.” Change is something which has remained elusive for many of the characters in Twin Peaks who are stuck repeating the same pattern of past mistakes. In Part 15, those characters are on the threshold of breaking free, but as The Log Lady says, “There’s some fear. Some fear in letting go.”

The late Catherine E. Coulson — who filmed her scenes shortly before her death in 2015 — carries her final performance with bravery and gravitas. Staring solemnly into the camera to deliver her last lines, the fear in her eyes is recognizable but so is a sense of courage and acceptance. It’s a fitting tribute to Coulson the actor — a close friend and collaborator of David Lynch since the early 70s — and to the character of Margaret Lanterman, to whom Part 15 was dedicated in the credits. She represented Twin Peaks‘ irresistible combination of quirk and sincerity quite like no other and as her log turns to gold, so do our memories of the gum-sticking, light-switch-flipping lady with the log who we call The Log Lady.

But Margaret is not the only person saying goodbye in Part 15; many others are coming to terms with their situation and accepting their fate despite the fear of letting go.

Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

TWIN PEAKS

On the brighter side of things, three other long-time Twin Peaks residents appear to be letting go of the past and moving on. It starts with Nadine (Wendy Robie) gleefully striding down the highway with her golden shovel in hand. She’s walked all the way to Big Ed’s Gas Farm to let her long-suffering husband (Everett McGill) know that he is a free man. Nadine accepts all the responsibility for their struggling, loveless marriage and tells him to go be with Norma (Peggy Lipton). Ed’s initial reaction is one of confusion and worry — which given Nadine’s mental history is understandable — but she assures him that she is aware of what she’s saying and has reached a place of happiness in her life, inspired by Dr. Amp’s talk show.

It’s somewhat uncomfortable that Nadine bears all the blame for their toxic relationship when Ed is equally as guilty in prolonging a dead marriage, but you do get a sense that Nadine is the one in control here. She is “shoveling herself out of the s**t, ” and given her previous interaction with the shovel-pedaling Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) maybe she has found her true self and the inner peace that comes with that discovery.

As for Ed, he marches over to the Double R to get his woman, only to be put on the back burner for a few minutes while Norma frees herself of her own burdens. She wants her business partner Walter (Grant Goodeve) to buy-out her five other franchises so that she can spend more time with her family. “I thought you told me you don’t have any family,” Walter says, which I thought was about to lead to a mention of Norma’s sister Annie Blackburn (I wonder how she’s doing?). But no, the family she is most likely referring to involves Ed, who she walks over to, resting a hand on his shoulder before sealing his marriage proposal with a kiss.

Photo: Courtesy of SHOWTIME

The reunion is a little abrupt seeing as just two episodes ago Norma appeared to be in a new relationship with this Walter chap and Ed seemed resigned to his Soup-2-Go. But there is some catharsis to be found in this age-old love affair finally reaching a happy conclusion. “My love is growing stronger as our affair, affair grows old,” Otis Redding sings in “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” which plays in full over this heartwarming scene. It’s a perfect line for a romance which has spanned the decades, high-school sweethearts who drifted apart despite never been too far away from one another. Ed and Norma are no longer young spring chickens; they are older and battle-tested but are finally willing to cross the threshold and embrace.

Across town, deep in the woods, another tumultuous romance is about to reach a dramatic conclusion. Skeevy stoner Steven (Caleb Landry Jones) and his mistress Gersten Hayward (Alicia Witt) are holed up in the crevice of a large oak tree. Steven is high and having suicidal thoughts, he holds a gun to his temple and threatens to blow his brains out while muttering nonsense about rhinoceroses and becoming “all turquoise” when he dies. A tearful Gersten tries to talk him out of it, but the paranoid pair are momentarily startled by a man walking his dog (played by Mark Frost!). Gersten runs and hides behind another tree but as she waits for the man to pass she hears a single gunshot ring throughout the woods.

Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

Steven’s death stands in stark contrast to Margaret’s, who let go with “some fear” but with an understanding and acceptance of change. While Margaret had certainly seen things most people couldn’t comprehend, her life was long and fulfilling; she helped others and touched many lives, as the moment of silence in the Sheriff’s Department demonstrates. Steven, on the other hand, was a young man, “a high school graduate,” who from all accounts hadn’t achieved much of anything. He was a jobless drug addict and an abusive, cheating husband. He left this mortal coil in a tweaked out state of fear and paranoia leaving only pain and suffering in his wake.

Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) is another character on the precipice of letting go, but her fear is holding her back. She has been trapped in a perpetual argument with her husband (or perhaps therapist) Charlie (Clark Middleton) for three episodes now. It’s still unclear what exactly is happening in this particular story-thread. Audrey wants to go to The Roadhouse to look for Billy, but it seems “impossible” for her to open the front door and physically leave the house. Every time Charlie tells Audrey to put her coat on and go, she fires back an insult, prolonging the fight and distracting herself from having to make a move. She yells at Charlie as if he’s tormenting her, which maybe he is, it’s difficult to tell who the protagonist and who the antagonist are in this story.

“Are you going to put your coat on or talk me to death right here on the threshold?” Charlie asks, which doubles as a nod to the audience here with just three hours of The Return remaining. But for whatever reason Audrey can’t cross that threshold, instead, she follows Charlie back into the house, shoving him down on the sofa before throttling him (an act that recalls the way Richard choked his grandma). Crossing that threshold represents a danger for Audrey, and while we may not fully comprehend right now what that danger is, there are scenes in this episode which provide us with a possible answer.

Photo: Showtime Screengrab

THE CONVENIENCE STORE

Mr. C (Kyle MacLachlan) is not afraid of crossing the threshold, although he, like many other characters in Twin Peaks, struggles with escaping the past. Driving down a dark road while overhead power lines crackle with electricity, Mr. C arrives at the dreaded Convenience Store, as seen in Part 8’s atomic nightmare, in search of Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie). He follows a Woodsman up a staircase, fading out of this reality and into a shadowy dreamscape of empty rooms and flowered wallpaper (that same wallpaper from Laura Palmer’s dream painting in Fire Walk With Me). In between the flashing and the plume of smoke we see an image of The Jumping Man* (Carlton Lee Russell —pictured above), another disturbing entity from FWWM, who wears a red suit and a white mask like something reminiscent of a plague doctor.

*Edit: Rewatching this scene it looks like Sarah Palmer’s (Grace Zabriskie) face has been superimposed over The Jumping Man’s. Freaky!

From there, Mr. C follows another Woodsman down a corridor and out into a motel parking lot – which looks like the same motel Leland Palmer (Ray Davies) met with Teresa Banks in FWWM. An eerie woman, who at a distance bears a slight resemblance to Mrs. Tremond (the mysterious grandmother who gave Laura the painting in FWWM), lets Mr. C into a locked room where Phillip resides. Except it’s not Phillip in any sort of human form — obviously restricted due to Bowie’s unfortunate passing in 2016 — instead, Phillip (voiced by Nathan Frizzell) communicates with Mr. C from what looks like a giant steaming teapot. The object is actually similar to the metal drum which was atop Cooper’s space box and which also popped up in The Fireman’s (Carel Struycken) lair. Mr. C wants to know about “Judy,” the woman who Phillip said “we’re not going to talk about” back in FWWM, which we flashback to again here. According to the Phillip teapot, Evil Coop has already met Judy, and he spews out a series of numbers from his spout which should help him find her again.

Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

This entire sequence was deeply unsettling and yet equally mesmerizing. The sound editing again, with the fizzing and thumping and ominous drones, really draws you into this otherworldly plane. Also, the imagery is haunting, with the Convenience Store fading in and out of existence, layered over shots of the woods — like these two worlds are beginning to blend into one. It brought to mind last week’s scene with Andy (Harry Goaz) on his mystic voyage to the other side, where he saw the image of the two Coopers and their faces morphing together.

Mr. C manifests from the Convenience Store into the phone booth outside, where he’s met by a gun toting Richard Horne (Eamon Farren), who followed him from The Farm (the bad guy hang out/arm-wrestling club). Richard claims to know who Mr. C is, recognizing him as the fancy suit wearing FBI agent from a picture his mother kept. “Who’s your mom?” Mr. C asks. “Audrey Horne.” And with that, we finally have confirmation of a long-held theory, and the probable reason why Audrey is so messed up, especially if Mr. C is the father, which seems likely. While other characters are coming to terms with letting go of the past, Mr. C is being confronted with his, whether that be in the form of the omnipresent Black Lodge or Phillip Jeffries or his long-lost son.

LAS VEGAS

When it comes to the idea of “letting go,”  it applies to one character more than any other. Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is still living life as Dougie Jones, unaware of the threat and danger circling around him in Las Vegas. In this episode, Mr. C’s hired assassins Chantal (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Hutch (Tim Roth) take out Mr. Todd (Patrick Fischler) and his assistant before tucking into take-out food and bemoaning the fact they don’t get to torture their targets these days. The hunt for Dougie-Coop is a race between these goons and the Vegas FBI branch, where Special Agent Randall Hedley (Jay R Ferguson) remains furious with Agent Wilson (Owen Rhys Davies) for bringing him the wrong Douglas Jones family. I would happily watch a Twin Peaks spin-off set in the FBI’s Vegas division.

Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

Meanwhile, in the Jones household, Janey-E (Naomi Watts) fixes Dougie another slice of chocolate cake. “It’s like all our dreams are coming true,” she tells her simpleton husband. Is Janey-E the dreamer Monica Bellucci talked about last week? Dougie eats his cake while prodding at a TV remote on the table and accidentally switching on the television. Sunset Boulevard plays, one of Lynch’s favorite movies, and it draws Dougie’s attention. The images and dialogue on screen begin to stir something in him, but it’s not until Cecil B. DeMille tells an associate to “Get Gordon Cole” on the phone that the real Cooper starts to fight from within. Dougie-Coop crawls over to an electrical outlet, almost like he’s trying to get back to where he came from, and he jams the end of his fork into the socket, shocking himself and causing a power outage.

While I wouldn’t class this as Cooper “waking up,” it is the most independence we’ve seen from a character who usually needs to be pushed into rooms and helped to the toilet. He, like many others, is on the threshold, ready for change and to let go of his current life, but it may take all 18 hours of this journey to get there. Although I’m a Dougie defender and have loved spending all this time with the character, even I didn’t think we’d still be in Dougie-ville come Part 15. But if this is a story about letting go, then we all need to let go of our expectations of what this show should be or what we want it to be and cross the threshold with trust, not fear.

THOUGHTS FROM ANOTHER PLACE

Photo: Showtime Screengrab

*James (James Marshall) and Freddie (Jake Wardle) find themselves behind bars at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department after getting into a bar fight with Renee’s (Jennifer Szhor) husband. James’ green-gloved friend helped out by punching the assailant in the face with his Hulk Hand, sending the attacker to intensive care. If only James had a Freddie back in the day, those Roadhouse fights with Bobby and Mike would have had a different ending.

*Before Mr. C gets in the truck with Richard, he sends a text message which reads “Las Vegas?” The same message that Diane received a few episodes back.

*The woman crawling through the Roadhouse crowd and screaming is actress and comedian Charlyne Yi. She told the two bikers who removed her from her seat that she was waiting for someone, and I like to think that someone is Wally Brando (Michael Cera), for a Paper Heart reunion.

*Gordon Cole is the name of a minor character in Sunset Boulevard.

*The numbers that float out of the Phillip teapot are “480551.” Make of that what you will.

Twin Peaks air Sundays on Showtime at 8 p.m.

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