There are too many to list, but I’ll try and recall at least a few: Agent Dale Cooper’s navigation of a mystical black-and-white fortress, the beginning of a particularly trying hero’s journey. The trials and tribulations of “Mr. Jackpots,” the perennial casino winner bankrupting its beleaguered bosses in one crazy night. The first reveal of an older Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook, one of the most revelatory performances of the year), gazing at a portrait of his long-dead girlfriend Laura Palmer. The execution of Chantal (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Hutch (Tim Roth) by an angry Polish man. Evil Cooper’s arm-wrestling match with a Teutonic gangster. A visceral rant, delivered from a stopped car, by an unnamed female driver trying to get her family home. The endless depths of the show’s magical eighth episode, detailing the birth of the villainous Bob and the behaviors of the sooty “woodsmen” who accompany him. And the slow, sensuous dream dance of Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn), seemingly trapped in the prison of her own mind, to close the sixteenth episode.
If Showtime’s Twin Peaks had an overarching plot, it was about the return of Dale Cooper, split into two bodies: one a half-mute simulacrum called Dougie, incapable of much more than parroting back whatever was said to him, and the other Bob himself, inhabiting Cooper’s body and seeding mayhem across America. Their inevitable confrontation was drawn-out, but in the show’s penultimate episode, it finally came to pass, with Evil Cooper laid out by the well-meaning police secretary Lucy, and Good Cooper finally shaken out of his reverie, there to watch the destruction of his tormentor.
This was the “satisfying” part—I put that word in quotes not because the episode wasn’t a joy to watch, but because for Twin Peaks, a satisfying plot resolution still features some of the most confusing imagery I’ve ever witnessed on television. Bob (the late Frank Silva, whose image was used with great and sparing power by Lynch in this revival) emerged from Cooper’s body as a spinning globe of hate; he was eventually destroyed by Freddie (Jake Wardle), a comparatively minor character with superhuman punching power, delivering a literal right hook to the jaw of evil incarnate.
But what to make of the finale—Episode 18—itself? It was, for the most part, a haunted trek through the series’s deepest, darkest psychological scar, the murder and abuse of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), the show’s iconic victim and the protagonist of Lynch’s wrenchingly sad film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Many times throughout Twin Peaks: The Return, characters have been treated to a vision of a vortex in the sky, a swirling portal to another world where supernatural beings of emotion try to guide them through their fated paths. Whether this portal is allegory or pure, soaring fantasy, Lynch has always specialized in giving unique flesh to our sorrows, our pains, and our desires to be better or to wallow in pity. The show’s “Black Lodge,” or this series’s black-and-white fortress (rendered as a sort of cinema of the mind’s eye), are beautiful, but confounding realms of darkness and light, seemingly serving as proving grounds for Cooper’s heroic odyssey back into the real world.