Love and Time Lost: A Possible Endgame for Twin Peaks The Return–Damon Shell examines Agent Dale Cooper/Dougie Jones’ ultimate fate in Showtime series.
By Damon Shell
With only 6 episodes left in Twin Peaks The Return, and dozens of loose ends left to be tied up, there is one major plot thread that has me rethinking the potential endgame that David Lynch and Mark Frost have in store for us.
Most fans have been patiently waiting for Dale Cooper to come back to his full faculties while Lynch seems to be purposely dragging it out. If we are to hope and believe that Dale will wake from his Dougie trip and return as the man who we all want to remember him as, I think we will wait in vain. I am beginning to think that this was never Lynch’s plan from the onset.
Week after week, for 12 episodes, two-thirds of the series, we have watched Dougie painfully fumble his way through life, as we wait for the fleeting moments when we can finally catch a glimpse of the old Dale.
But by doing so, we tend to overlook the realities of Dale’s new life. He is loved. His wife Janey-E and son Sonny Jim have, for years, stood by Dougie, through all of his frustrating bouts of incompetence, adultery and obvious gambling problems. And Dale, even though remembering bits of his old life, seems to genuinely love them too.
I, like most, used to believe that Dougie was just a manufactured vessel for Dale to inhabit while he gets back to his old self, a necessity in the plot that would eventually give way. But what if Dougie was manufactured to give Dale back a life lost?
It’s been 25 years since we saw the old Dale. He’s spent that time in limbo with knowledge of and involvement in unspeakable horrors. He is in his mid-50s and alone, all the while missing his prime adult years. Would Lynch throw away Dougie’s scenes of pure love and enjoyment with his family just to satisfy the viewers because they want old Dale? Throw away 25 years that the beloved character has lost?
I for one think he won’t. For all the nightmarish images Lynch has given us over the years, he is also the man that gave us The Straight Story and has always shown unflinchingly the devastation of loss with long drawn out scenes of characters weeping and broken.
By conventional thought, this far into the series, Dale should be further into his self-realization journey and be more of his old self. But what if this is all there is to Dale’s journey, a slow realization of all that he has lost and a conscious decision to move on with life and make up for lost time. I envision Dale slowly learning more about his past life, looking into Janey-e and Sonny Jim’s eyes, looking at the life created for him and feeling…thankful. Ultimately choosing to keep that life.
What if the new title The Return isn’t about returning fans to the past, to Twin Peaks and to our beloved characters, but is about returning something back to our beloved characters? Returning love and time lost to Agent Dale Cooper.
How beautiful it would be in the final scenes of the series to see Dale and his family sitting at the RR Diner being served coffee and pie by Norma and Shelly then heading off to their new home in Twin Peaks (bought using the $400,000 casino winnings, gifted by mysterious forces to him to restart his life). They walk past their white picket fence, embrace as they enter the front door while Julee Cruise’s “The Mysteries of Love” (used to similar effect in Lynch’s Blue Velvet) plays us to the final credits.
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