Twin Peaks: The Return


I just finished watching the season finale of Twin Peaks and I am all adrift in emotions.  I’m not sure how I feel.  There are so many emotions washing over me, from confusion to anger to regret to amazement.  Nobody can mess with you like David Lynch.

The original series finale ended with an unexplained cliffhanger, Cooper staring into the mirror only to have Killer Bib staring back, so I should have guessed that the third season would be no less as anger inducing.  Of course, right now as I type this, there is untold amount of angry hyperbole going on on Twitter and other social media outlets.  People earned their right to be frustrated, especially those who watched the 18-hours of Twin Peaks only to end with more questions.  Was it worth it?

I have been watching Twin Peaks all day today.  Showtime was showing the season three marathon and I have been watching since 7 AM this morning (with about two hours of a break to head to the comic shop).  Watching these episodes for a second time gave me a real new appreciation for the art that was Twin Peaks season three.

Did we need one?  Absolutely.  Did Mark Frost and David Lynch mess with us.  Constantly.

The first several episodes were slow and prodding.  We had a ton of characters we did not know and those who we did know were different than we thought.  Most frustrating of all, Special Agent Dale Cooper was able to escape the Black Lodge, but, instead of being himself, he was trapped int he body of a man named Dougie Jones.  Some fans hated Dougie.  I did too, at first, but I grew to appreciate Dougie.  It did take a while though.  Now, however, I truly loved the Dougie character because without him, we never would have gotten the perfect Cooper return that we got in episode 16.  When Cooper was back 100%, you could feel the chills.  Without the excessive Dougie story, we do not have near that emotional response.

By about episode six, I had even stretched my patience to the point of breaking.  I was not going to stop watching it, but it had stumbled from my must see, like Preacher has.  Episode six did not feel like Twin Peaks to me.  On re-watch this morning, though, it felt considerably different to me.  Then, episode seven had a uptick for me, and the tone felt once again like Twin Peaks.  I was renewed.

Then came episode eight.  The most mind blowing episode of television maybe ever created.  We got the origin of Bob and an extended stretch in the past where we see the Woodsmen for the first time, some weird frog bug creature, and some of the most disturbing yet transcendent imagery you have ever seen.  Episode eight was a master class in art and creativity.

The plot started to pick up as well.  Dougie was becoming more than just a lump of nothingness.  People who were finding themselves in Dougie’s world were finding themselves better off than before.  Janey-E started realizing what she had with her husband.  Naomi Watts was simply brilliant as the wife of the tulpa.

The introduction of the idea of a Tulpa was fascinating as well.  According to a Tulpa “is an entity created in the mind, acting independently of, and parallel to your own consciousness. They are able to think, and have their own free will, emotions, and memories. In short, a tulpa is like a sentient person living in your head, separate from you.”  This helped make sense of some of the really unknown aspects of two Coopers running around.

Kyle MacLachlan is Emmy worthy in his roles as Dougie Jones, Mr. C (evil Cooper, Bob, the Doppelganger..whatever else you may want to call him) and then eventually Dale Cooper.  MacLachlan shows his tremendous range with his distinct characters.  The arm wrestling scene of Mr. C is one of the best moments of the season.  The return of Agent Cooper to 100% might BE the best moment of the season.  Dougie had his share of moments as well.  MacLachlan led the way with these people.

Among the new characters, the Mitchum Brotehrs, Bradley and Rodney, became fan favorites.  Played by Robert Knepper and Jim Belushi, the Mitchums went from evil casino owners to criminals with hearts of gold when they befriended Dougie.  Belushi was very funny with his one liners throughout the series, and truly became great in the last few episodes.

Audrey Horne (played by Sherilyn Fenn) was one of the most beloved characters from the original and her arc in this new series really frustrated fans.  First, she did not show up until the end of episode 12, which drove many people crazy.  The story implied that Audrey was the mother of big time bad boy Richard (and also implied that Bad Cooper was the daddy).  Then, when they brought Audrey in, she was shrouded in mystery in some weird scenes with her “husband” though she claimed to be in love with someone named Billy, a character whom we have never met (or at least, we don’t know if we have met him).  Then, after heading to the Roadhouse and doing her dance in front of the whole crowd, Audrey seemingly woke up in some white room.  Mental institution?  Had she been in a coma?  Alien abduction?  The White Lodge?  No one knew, but surely this would be a major plot answered in the two hour finale, right?

Um… wrong. Audrey did not appear in the finale at all.  This is probably the biggest slight the internet crowd will scream about.  The ending of Audrey waking up in this weird location and looking at the mirror reeks of the ending with Cooper at the end of season two 27 years ago.  She had no resolution to her character at all.  We have no idea where she is or what has happened to her.  We do know for certain that Richard was her son with Mr. C, believed to be a product of rape.  This explained why Richard was such a horrible character who ran down a kid with his truck and beat up his grandmother for money.  We did get a satisfying end to him, as he was electrocuted into nothingness by the false Lodge entryway, sent to his death by his own father.

The show used its characters amazingly well, even those that had since passed away.  Both Miguel Ferrer, Warren Frost and Catherine Coulson died after taping had concluded, so their inclusion was very bittersweet, but even those actors whom died before the series shot were represented well.  We had David Bowie, Frank Silva, and Don S. Davis appeared despite their final passing.  We also saw a flashback including the wonderful Jack Nance and the still living, but retired Piper Laurie.

We got some happy endings.  Big Ed and Norma finally got together when Nadine gave Ed his freedom from their long time loveless marriage.  Loveless is not the right term, because there is clearly a lot of feelings between them, but we all know that Big Ed and Norma have been the tortured couple for decades.  It looked as if Nadine was ready to move along with crazy internet blogger Dr. Jacoby and his golden shovels.  We also got a happy end for Janey-E and her son Sonny Jim, who were surprised with a brand new Tulpa courtesy of Dale Cooper and Mike, the one armed man.  Yes, Cooper replaced himself with another Tulpa so the little family could be happy together.  That was one of the nicest and happiest moments in the finale.

Lets talk about the finale.  The first hour was amazing!  Stunning!  Extremely exciting.  Bob got his comeuppance thanks to Freddie and his Hulk glove.  We had all the heroes coming together at the Twin Peaks Sheriff Station to confront Mr. C.  Mr. C sitting in Frank Truman’s office as Frank was on the phone with Dale Cooper was as tense as it was going to possible be.  I did not see Lucy being the hero, stopping Mr. C from shooting Sheriff Truman (no not that one).

Speaking of Sheriff Truman, the absence of Harry Truman, Michale Ontkean, was felt consistently through the series.  Now, take nothing away from Robert Forster, who played Frank Truman, but the Harry Truman-Dale Cooper bromance was one of the biggest selling points of Twin Peaks, and the show did feel his absence.  Also noticeably gone was Donna Hayward, Lara Flynn Boyle.

The first hour of the finale had everything.  It had reveals (such as the real Diane showing up), exciting action (hello Freddie), unexpected heroes (I already mentioned Lucy), funny quips (Jim Belushi) and a great Kyle MacLachlan performance as Bob gets taken care of.  Then, Agent Cooper seemingly goes back in time to scenes from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (literally, scenes from that movie were used) in an attempt to save Laura from her fate of being wrapped in plastic.  At first, it looked like Cooper had done just that, but the episode ended with him losing teenage Laura to the Twin Peaks forest, echoed by Laura’s scream.

That first hour was everything anyone could have wanted, sans Audrey, of course.  It was ballsy to potentially take the most iconic scene of your original story and change it up with time travel.

However, as we all know time travel causes more trouble than it is worth, and then we get the final episode of the series.  It wound up asking more questions than it answered.  Cooper and Diane have sex for some reason and she leaves a strange note the next day and disappears.  They had already traveled somewhere, through the electrical magic of the world.  Back in time?  Forward in time?  Different universe?  It is impossible to tell.  Cooper, after Diane leaves, winds up in Odessa, Texas finding an older version of Laura Palmer alive and well, although not calling herself Laura Palmer.  She seemingly did not remember anything about being Laura (and the totally unexplained dead body in her house did not seem to bother Cooper).  He took her back to the Palmer house (after multiple minutes of nighttime driving scenes), but now apparently, the house does not belong to the Palmers.  There is a different family that owned it.  What year is it? asked Cooper before our maybe-Laura leaves us with one more classic scream.

Show fades to black.

I am afraid that Twin Peaks has once again chosen to leave the story unanswered instead of wrapping it up in a bow.  They completely ignored Audrey, and taking Cooper and maybe-Laura into a time line somewhere does not leave someone with good feelings.  No one can accuse David Lynch of fan service, that is for sure.

The second hour definitely felt like a step down from the dramatic and fast paced first hour and I am sure that was intentional.  The second hour without shame moves the story to a different level.  I may not be sure how I feel about it, but I do respect the creation of said story.  There certainly is material for a season four, but it is not certain that there will be a season 4.

Kyle MacLachlan, Naomi Watts, and Laura Dern should, at the very least, receive Emmy nominations for their roles in this, if not wins.  They were, all three, sensational.  Episode eight should win every technical Emmy award available for a transcendent episode of television.

After spending all day in Twin Peaks, I understand the joys and the sorrows, the anger and the happiness, the surprise and the frustration that comes along with challenging television.  I have always enjoyed a show that does not feel like it needs to explain every little detail to people, a show that expects its audience to be smart enough to fill in the blanks.  However, Twin Peaks may take that idea too far.  Just like they take everything.

Thank you David Lynch for giving us something that we will never forget… and may never forgive.

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