Well hello there, dearest Filthy Dreams readers and Twin Peaks fanatics! You are awake–100%! And you know what that means–time to head to the Roadhouse for our weepy penultimate Lost In The Bang Bang Bar for Twin Peaks: The Return Part 16. So get out your tissues. And I know I’m talking with a lot of assurance–Side effects!
“I remember. Oh Coop, I remember.”
In his lecture The Secret Life Of The Love Song, investigating the necessary duality of sadness and pain in love songs, which he calls “lifelines thrown into the galaxies by a drowning man,” Nick Cave invokes the term “saudade,” an untranslatable Portuguese word likely gathered from his years living in Brazil. “We all experience within us what the Portuguese call ‘saudade,’ an inexplicable longing, an unnamed and enigmatic yearning of the soul, and it is this feeling that lives in the realms of imagination and inspiration, and is the breeding ground for the sad song, for the love song,” he explains.
For David Lynch (and Nick Cave, for that matter), saudade isn’t a foreign concept. Lynch has been evoking saudade throughout his career. From Laura Palmer sobbing to Julee Cruise’s “Questions In A World Of Blue” in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me to Rita and Betty tearing up to Rebekah Del Rio’s “Llorando” inside Club Silencio in Mulholland Drive, Lynch has effectively captured saudade as experienced by his characters. But, never–at least in my mind–has he succeeded in making the audience feel saudade, to the extent of characters like Laura, Rita and Betty, until The Return, particularly in Part 16.
I’ll admit, dearest Filthy Dreams readers, that I cried all through Part 16. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a crier–not at sad movies or in real life. However, in Part 16, I found myself involuntarily sniffling through both the first and second viewings of the episode. I was Laura in the Roadhouse and Rita and Betty in Club Silencio. But, why? Was it the all-too-satisfying payoff of witnessing Cooper’s full awakening? It wasn’t that simple.
From a shot mirroring a memorable moment of Cooper from the original series to Audrey’s transcendently tragic “Audrey’s Dance” at the episode’s conclusion, Part 16 brought Lynch’s manipulation of saudade and consequently the viewers’ emotions into focus. Saudade is described by A.F.G. Bell as “a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future: not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness.” Lynch, certainly, desires to evoke the inaccessible, the dreamlike and the beautiful confusion between the past, present and future by revisiting these characters over 25 years later. As One-Armed Mike says in the series premiere, “Is it future or is it past?”
Before we take a trip into wallowing in saudade, the episode opens with yet another scenic drive down a long, darkened highway–the line that curves throughout the series–with Bad Coop and Richard Horne. And true to Bad Coop’s promise in the previous episode that they’ll talk in the car, the two sit in silence as Richard keeps taking side glances at Bad Coop. It’s so nice they could catch up!
Finally, the two arrive at the location of one of the coordinates Bad Coop was given by presumably Ray and the teapot Phillip Jeffries. “I’m looking for a place–do you understand place?” Bad Coop sternly says to Richard. “Place?” he responds. Don’t worry, Richard, nobody knows.
“You’re a very bright young man,” compliments Bad Coop as he encourages Richard to climb the rock located at the exact coordinates. When he reaches the spot, exclaiming “I’m there!”, Richard is electrocuted, disappearing into a fury of flames, sparks and shadows. “A bright young man”–get it? Bad Coop’s got jokes. I’ll miss Richard–I liked his bad seed act. Watching this entire scene from afar through the wrong end of binoculars, that stoner Jerry Horne, rather than being horrified at the deathly explosion he just witnessed, scolds, “Bad, bad binoculars.” Yep, that’s the problem, Jerry.
In addition to the violent and almost slapstick shoot-out deaths of those junk food-loving killers Chantal and Hutch when they’re staking out Dougie’s unremarkable suburban neighborhood in Vegas (Watching the events, the Mitchum Brothers observe in shock: “What the fuck kind of neighborhood is this? People are under a lot of stress, Bradley.”) and the revelation that Diane, vanquished back to the Black Lodge by Gordon, Albert and Tammy, was a tulpa (One-Armed Mike: “Someone manufactured you.” “I know. Fuck you.”), the majority of the episode is devoted to the return of Cooper. I mean, all of Cooper, not Dougie.
We see Cooper, lying in a hospital bed, in a coma after jamming a fork in an electrical socket in Part 15. Anything to reboot, right? Surrounding him like Dorothy’s family in The Wizard of Oz, Janey-E, Sonny Jim, Bushnell and occasionally the Mitchum brothers sit by his bedside. Throughout, several characters mention electricity, an, as we’ve seen, essential part of The Return’s visual and auditory landscape. Sonny Jim asks, “Mom, does a coma have something to do with electricity?” And later, Bradley Mitchum, after complimenting how good Cooper looks, considering, says, “It was, like what, electricity?”
Eventually after hearing a ringing tone, similar to the one in Ben Horne’s office at the Great Northern, One-Armed Mike appears, in time to witness Cooper’s return. He sits up and Mike confirms, “You are awake.” “One hundred percent,” Cooper affirms. Wheeeee! Finally! Mike informs Cooper that Bad Coop is still out there (“The other one…he didn’t go back in. He’s still out.”), handing Cooper the Owl Cave Ring. Cooper asks Mike to “make another one,” presumably a tulpa to replace Dougie for Janey-E and Sonny Jim.
Well, after Mike disappears, Coop hits the ground running, getting everything in order for the collision of Coopers. Gonna be a SHOWDOWN!
And after mimicking everyone’s dialogue for episode after episode, all the characters are understandably shocked by his assertiveness. “Dad sure is talking a lot,” observes Sonny Jim. “He sure is, Sonny Jim,” Janey-E responds. Does Janey-E prefer when he wasn’t so, ahem, chatty?
Giving Bushnell a letter for Gordon Cole, telling Janey-E to get the car and calling up the Mitchum Brothers to charter their plane to Spokane, Washington, Cooper sets all the wheels in motion. “Wonder what Dougie’s up to now,” says Bradley just as Julee Cruise’s “Falling”–the Twin Peaks theme song–kicks in.
If that weren’t enough to evoke an overwhelming sense of nostalgia–of saudade, Bushnell informs Cooper that the FBI is looking for him. “I am the F.B.I.” says Cooper, slightly cheesily. Standing in the center of the frame, the shot is almost exactly like an iconic moment from the original series–all that’s missing is his eponymous thumbs up. In NPR’s investigation of saudade–“Saudade: An Untranslatable, Undeniably Potent Word,” Jasmine Garsd writes, “It often carries an assurance that this thing you feel nostalgic for will never happen again.” And sadly, that feeling is familiar in Cooper’s return in Part 16. There’s a palpable sense that Cooper returned to only disappear again, a sadly momentary return.
This is further emphasized in a subsequent scene with Janey-E and Sonny Jim at the Mitchum Brother’s Silver Mustang Casino. Before leaving with the Mitchum’s for Washington, Cooper takes Janey-E and Sonny Jim aside, explaining, “I have to go away for awhile. But I want to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed spending time with both of you…You’ve made my heart so full.” Perhaps the true tragedy of this moment is that Cooper, for a period of time even though he was barely conscious, experienced fatherhood, which he missed being stuck in the Black Lodge for 25 years. “We’re a family–Dougie–I mean, I’ll be back,” he says. “You’re not Dougie?” Janey-E implores as Sonny Jim flips out: “You’re my dad. You’re my dad.” “I’m your dad and I love you. I love you both. I have to go. You’ll see me soon–I’ll walk through that red door and I’ll be home for good.” Realizing that this stud version of Dougie wasn’t, in fact, Dougie, Janey-E runs to Cooper, crying “Whoever you are, thank you.” And cue the waterworks.
Later we see Cooper, drinking black coffee, in the back of the Mitchum’s limo. “You don’t sell insurance. You’re an FBI agent who has been missing for 25 years and we need to get you to a town called Twin Peaks to a sheriff’s station,” says Rodney. “Dougie, we love you but we are not traditionally welcome at such places. Or by such aforementioned people–law enforcement types,” echoes Bradley with a Bloody Mary in hand. Aside: with how much Bloody Mary’s have played a role in The Return, I swear Lynch has been reading Filthy Dreams.
“I read you 100%–friends, that’s about to change. I’m a witness to the fact that you both have hearts of gold,” says Cooper. “They do! They really do!” yells Candie, laughing in a daze. I can’t wait until Candie reaches Twin Peaks.
Now, if Cooper wasn’t enough to tear at your heartstrings, Lynch takes us to the Roadhouse to witness the miracle that Audrey and Charlie actually left their home. Drinking martinis, Charlie attempts to toast, “Here’s to us.” “Here’s to Billy,” she snarls back.
Then, taking her by surprise, the Roadhouse MC announces, “Ladies and gentlemen, Audrey’s Dance!” The dance floor completely clears as the band plays Angelo Badalamenti’s song “Audrey’s Dance” from the original series as sultry and dreamy as ever. Answering the call, Audrey begins to sway back and forth on her stool as she did at the Double R Diner with Donna Hayward over 25 years earlier. Slowly she walks to the purple-hued dance floor and, eyes closed, performs her iconic, sleepy dance moves. It’s a sublime scene–a confrontation with the inescapability and inevitability of the passing of time, the impossibility of recapturing the past and a gesture toward a redemptive future.
In The Secret Life Of A Love Song, Nick Cave describes saudade as “the desire to be transported from darkness into light, to be touched by the hand of that which is not of this world.” Like many of Lynch’s performances in the Roadhouse like James’ comical yet strangely moving “Just You And I”, as well as the other musical interludes in his films, this scene is imbued with the transport of redemption. The past 25 years weren’t easy on any of the residents of Twin Peaks. All these saudade-riddled performances contain a certain, indescribable yearning for salvation as the characters, like the viewers, are dragged along by time and fate. Audrey, a seeming captive in her own home in earlier episodes, rekindles and re-performs freedom in the physicality of her singular dance.
Even though saudade is, according to writer Manuel De Melo, “a pleasure you suffer, an ailment you enjoy,” it looks as if Audrey, and by proxy us, as the viewers, will need to savor her twisting and twirling moment in the spotlight. After a fight in the Roadhouse, Audrey runs off the dance floor to Charlie, yelling, “Charlie, get me out of here!” A crackle of electricity rings out and suddenly, we see Audrey looking at a mirror in a white room. “What?” she gasps. We’ve all been there Audrey.