Twin Peaks Revisited: 2.22
TV revivals are a big thing. In 2016, The X Files returned to our screens after a 14-year absence and here at The Digital Fix, we revisited key episodes across its ten seasons and two movies. But there is one revival that is surely bigger than that; Twin Peaks will be returning for an unprecedented third season, directed by David Lynch and set twenty-five years after season two’s shocking ending. It is a revival that has everyone excited and anxious in equal measure. With a phenomenal cast, including nearly every original actor there is hope that Twin Peaks’ new season can recapture the magic of the first year and a half. So, like The X Files, we’ve decided to revisit each episode in the build up to the show’s return. We’ll treat each revisit fresh and try to keep major conjecture to future episodes separate. So whether you’re seeking to revisit an old classic or ready to find out what all the fuss is about, let’s return to the world of Twin Peaks…
Cooper follows Earle and the kidnapped Annie into the Black Lodge and comes face to face with old faces, an evil doppelganger and Bob himself. Nadine's memory returns while Audrey stages a protest as Pete and Andrew open a safety deposit box, leading to an explosion at the bank. And the series ends with Cooper's chilling possession by Bob...
This is it, the final episode of Twin Peaks episode for over a quarter of a century. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me the prequel movie released the following year will look back at the murder of Bob / Leyland's previous victim Theresa Banks and the last seven days of Laura Palmer, but in terms of the progression of the story, this is where it ends in the most tragic, horrifying manner possible as the show's purest character finds himself possessed by Bob.
It's a bold move from David Lynch (back to direct the finale) and series co-creator Mark Frost who contributed to the script for the finale along with veterans Harley Peyton and Robert Engels. While there was hope that the focus on the Black Lodge and the supernatural elements of Twin Peaks would renew interest for a third season, the reality was that falling ratings in the wake of the reveal of Laura Palmer's murderer meant that another year was largely a pipe dream. And so ending the series with the lead protagonist utterly consumed by that evil was a daring, shocking move. On previous viewings (including my first inappropriate watch at age 10), it seemed a cruel twist for the audience but I came to appreciate it. Either Cooper leaves ot Cooper is destroyed and the latter seems fitting with the tragic undertones of the show. But now I watched it with the knowledge that there would be more. And that makes it a transformative experience in its own right. For the first time since 1991, there is hope for FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper.
The episode largely wraps up a number of outstanding plot lines, though not in the happy manner audiences might have liked. After being hit over the head with a sandbag during the ruckus of the previous episode's finale, Nadine returns to her old self. It's a heartbreaking scene for everyone involved. Ed and Norma's hopes for a new life seem dashed as Nadine reverts to her old self; the moment she starts talking about her drapes, that surprisingly sweet character we saw in her teenage self is lost. I had come to quite like this new version, a young woman in an older body with all her hopes and dreams before her. She saved Ed from Hank, found a young toy boy in Mike who came to love her and even took the spotlight with her wrestling championship wins. But this Nadine the show leaves us with is a broken shell; you feel for her as much as you do for Ed and Norma; has she lost her life including her husband Ed? I'm quite eager to see how this plays out between Norma, Ed and Nadine in the revival. Though I do have one observation from the scene; where is Norma's panicked reaction to a killer kidnapping her sister Annie?
And unless she has been recast (due to Lara Flynn Boyle's personal issues) this is also the end for Donna, the innocent best friend of Laura Palmer who seems to have lost everything by the end. Laura is dead, James has left her and now she has found herself confronted with the truth that Ben Horne is her real father. That final confrontation in her house leads to Will Hayward finally snapping, pushing Ben into the fireplace and potentially killing him as he smacks his head and falls to the floor unconscious. Donna was prepared to leave Twin Peaks after these secrets started to come out and perhaps she does. As for Ben, his fate isn't clear; Will is not under arrest in the final moments of the episode which take place hours later, but until the revival comes, all we can do is speculate.
And Ben isn't the only one to potentially die in the surprisingly high body count of the finale. His daughter Audrey decides to continue her environmental campaign, chaining herself to the bars of the vault door in Twin Peaks bank as protest for their investment in the Ghostwood Estate. Lynch injects some real surrealism to this scene as the doddering old bank manager Dell finds himself out of his depth, walking excruciatingly slowly as he fetches her a glass of water in the same manner as the Giant-possessed old waiter from the Great Northern Hotel. It's a welcome piece of humour in between the darker events at play.
But then the arrival of Andrew Packard and Pete Martell with the key from the puzzle box brings everything to a bleak end as they locate the safety deposit box in the vault with one final message from Thomas Eckhardt 'Got you, love Thomas' before a bomb blasts through the bank in spectacular fashion. The poor bank manager's glasses and money flying into the trees is a bleak, surreal moment and it leaves the fate of all these characters hanging. I assume Audrey survives, given Sherilyn Fenn's prominence in the publicity for the revival, but alas the same is unlikely for the bank manager, Andrew or (most sadly) Pete. Ed Wright (Dell), Dan O'Herlihy (Andrew) and Jack Nance (Pete) all died long before the revival took fruition so we can assume they didn't make it. I can only hope Pete would have heroically carried Audrey out of the rubble had a season three materialised at the time.
There is also time to see Bobby propose to Shelley, Andy console Lucy after (finally) getting back together as a couple while Sarah is still prone to supernatural influences, as Jacoby brings her to Briggs and his wife at the RR diner with an ominous message about Cooper. As such there is less time spent in the actually Black Lodge than I remember, but it does allow some closure on the wider storylines, which given the cancellation at the time were probably needed.
The build up to that place is superb; Windom Earle drags Annie to the circle in the woods where we first saw Bob return a couple of episodes earlier. Heather Graham does a great job of making Annie a strong-willed character even given her predicament though sadly she is reduced to a silent victim once she makes her way into the Black Lodge. We also get the answers to why several characters have experienced a burned oil smell in the woods; the Log Lady brings a jar of that oil her husband discovered before he died and a returning Ronnette Pulaski, tying everything back to the beginning, recognises it as the smell that belonged to Bob. As Truman and Cooper makes their way into the woods in search of Annie and Earle, Lynch directs an incredibly atmospheric scene; the owls in the trees, torchlight in the darkness, Angelo Badalamenti evocative score and the ring of salt in the sycamore tree grove feel straight out of a horror movie. As Cooper steps through the red curtains and vanishes there truly is a sense that he is passing from one world to another.
The Black Lodge is an amazing set. Cooper arrives in the first 'waiting room' where he is greeted by Michael J. Anderson's dwarf, the Man From Another Place. The original song 'Sycamore Trees', written by Lynch, scored by Badalamenti and sung by Jimmy Scott is incredibly haunting. The dream from season one finally becomes manifest and it is quite frustrating when the episode tears itself away back to the real world for the second act of the finale.
Fortunately, when all those other plot points are tied up (as best they can be), Lynch devotes almost the entire final act to the Black Lodge, in what might possibly be the finest fifteen minutes of Twin Peaks (except perhaps of course Maddy's harrowing murder). It's a true (retrospective) set up for the revival a quarter of a century later. Laura Palmer in the guise of the dwarf's cousin from his dream, tells him she will see him again in 25 years. Cooper is greeted by the old man with the coffee and the Giant, bringing every vision together and then it all turns to darkness. Being the Black Lodge, there was no doubt that Cooper would come face to face with evil incarnate and in a dream like state he wanders the red curtained rooms and corridors in search of Annie, coming face to face with lost souls.
Maddy appears first to warn him about her cousin and when he finally encounters Laura, she is a white-eyed banshee, screaming with torment. Her first appearance is rather terrifying, suggesting that perhaps she is doomed to torment. Ray Wise makes a welcome return, his grinning mischievous self with white eyes, another doomed victim of Bob and the Black Lodge. The clues to Cooper's eventual fate are evident here; doppelgangers good and bad that stalk the curtains. Cooper encounters an aggressive version of the Man From Another Place in one room and things deteriorate when Cooper finds himself bleeding from the gut, bringing him back to the events of Caroline's murder at the hands of Windom Earle.
Annie seemed doomed to Caroline's fate the moment she met Cooper and The Black Lodge shows her in Caroline's bloody dress, her face flitting between Graham's Annie and Brenda E. Mathers' Caroline. Lynch perfectly captures the idea of Cooper existing within a lucid dream state and it really feels as if the audience is being pulled into the nightmare too. The world changes around Cooper and there is little sense that he can control it.
The conclusion of the Black Lodge story is not one that follows a standard narrative, in keeping with the surrealist nature of this place. Cooper finally comes face to face with Earle who delivers the fantastic line "If you give me your soul, I'll let Annie live." before stabbing him through the gut. But Earle's power play is his undoing; Bob appears, angry at his demands and destroys him. Kenneth Welsh's villain meets a suitably shocking hand, flames bursting from his head as he screams. Annie it appears has been freed but for Cooper he faces the true test, chased through the Black Lodge by his maniacal doppleganger, a pursuit that sees him ultimately fail. While Cooper and Annie seem to escape, the nightmare is just beginning.
That final scene is just horrible to watch; there is the sense that something is wrong the moment that Cooper awakes, surrounded by a concerned Truman and Doc Hayward. Annie might be alive but Cooper has lost. As he squeezes the toothpaste into the sink and smashes his head into the mirror, the grinning visage of Bob stares back at him. Kyle MacLachlan might have created a pure, heroic character in Cooper, but his performance as his evil, twisted self is mesmerising. His "How's Annie?" as he grins towards the camera is a shocking end to a brilliant series. It must have left audience's jaws dropping during its original broadcast, and even now, knowing there is more to the story to come, it still stands up as one of the most harrowing TV cliffhangers of all time.
The final episode of Twin Peaks is largely a masterpiece; the second season certainly floundered in the wake of the reveal of Laura Palmer's murder, but the presence of Windom Earle and the build up to the Black Lodge certainly brought a renewed energy to the show at its end. Twin Peaks ended as brilliantly as it began and it certainly wasn't a happy ending.
I will finish off my 'Twin Peaks Revisited' with a look back at the prequel TV movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me' before I review the new season on Sky Atlantic from late May. I can't wait to see what David Lynch and Mark Frost have in store for us over those eighteen episodes. I suspect we might be in for something very special indeed.
Cooper: “How's Annie?.” - surely the most chilling final line of any TV show finale?
Future episode observations – spoilers afoot…
The good Cooper still seems trapped in the Black Lodge. We'll find out what happened to him and his evil doppelganger in the upcoming revival...