Part 17 started out severely on the wrong foot, almost aggressively playing up everything that's made me uncomfortable so far about TR: the FBI crew sitting around overexplaining shit in bland exposition, making references to Gordon/DKL's virility ("Not where it counts buddy," with a cut to Bell grinning...uggggh), demystifying old mysteries with the kind of bland mythology you can find on any Lost ripoff (Judy), and absurdly retconning the original (when the fuck did Coop, Garland & Cole acquire this knowledge during the original series, let alone discuss it with each other?!).
And the Bob/Freddy fight was even worse than I could have predicted. Ironically, I've been defending the visual effects in the Part 16 thread over the past couple of days, as they're clearly extensions of DKL's work in paint, sketch, and Photoshop (not that that means they have to work for everyone, but they're clearly intentional artistic choices). The Bob orb superhero battle, though....well, it's obviously a workaround for the loss of Mr. Silva. I love the Evolution of the Arm, the Jeffries teakettle is cool although I dislike the vocal impersonation, and I think Bob had been handled well so far. But this particular solution was....not pretty. I guess I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't acknowledge that this, too, was presumably a conscious artistic choice. But, Jesus, what a cheesy, poorly-handled one. Freddy's backstory is charming and ok on its face, but I've been dreading him playing a major role in the Lodge reckoning. This was just about as cringe-inducing as I could have possibly imagined.
It's funny...going into this, given DKL's last few films, I would have assumed the DoppelCoop storyline would have been used as an opportunity to explore identity and duality. Instead, it seems like almost an afterthought -- something L/F felt obligated to make a big deal out of throughout the season because it was the major cliffhanger, but it functions mostly as a mythology-delivery-system, and DoppelCoop/Bob is dispatched of early in Part 17 with shockingly little fanfare, with a good chunk of runtime to go. I'm sad that the storyline didn't pay off in a better way, and that the wind-up was so frigging silly and cartoonish, but I am at least grateful that it ended when it did so that the show could go to a far more interesting place for its final 90 minutes or so.
(Caveat: I have no clue what actually happened in the final 90 minutes, and there is a strong possibility that once we start sorting it out, the Mr. C character/story WILL say more about Coop's identity/duality than we currently realize. Because the multiple Dianes, the trips in and out of the Red Room and potential "joining" of the Coops, Coop's "Mr. C"-esque demeanor in the sex scene, &c. do hint at some sort of overlap between Coopers which I don't think any of us can quite discern from a first viewing.)
I'm also sad that Coop didn't even learn that Harry is sick onscreen. Given the buildup about Harry's illness, I can't believe how little payoff there was to the Dale/Harry friendship. If they hadn't mentioned Harry, or had minimized his presence, I might be a little less disappointed by the lack of a reunion between the original series' leads. But what was the point of constantly reminding us of him just to have Coop make a glancing mention then move on? :-/
So the Dianagram theorists were definitely on to something, re: Naido and Linda. When Diane was covering up Dale's face in the sex scene, I was extremely uncomfortable, since she was obviously trying to avoid recalling her rape by Mr. C. It crossed my mind that the scene was needlessly exploitative, unless Diane is the dreamer and this has all been her story. There is something satisfying about the unseen listener-character from the original run being the dreamer. I don't think that's what ended up happening (although who the hell knows), but I do think Diane and Audrey are both somehow central to all of this (in a different way from Laura). Also interesting that the Audrey rape is left as vague as it was when it was first implied, and Dale isn't directly forced to confront raping either of these women. We know DoppelCoop had the real Dale's memories of Jeffries' appearance in FWWM; how much does Dale remember of what Mr. C did? How does it affect him?
Part 18 clinches Zabriskie as the season MVP. I didn't think any use of the homecoming photo could top "Pennsylvania 6-5000," but holy crap. Still really not sure what any of this says about Sarah's culpability in Laura's rape and murder, and the implications make me slightly uneasy, but on a pure visceral level, hers have been consistently among the strongest scenes on the show.
Unpacking the exploits of Richard, Linda, Carrie Page & Alice Tremond is an adventure for another day. I feel the same things I felt after my first viewing of IE: complete and utter bewilderment, frustration, and wonder. On subsequent viewings, IE became one of my favorite films. I can't wait to peel back the layers of this thing, but I'm far too exhausted right now.