Hello, readers. It’s me, Jonathan. I’ve been writing my thoughts on Showtime’s “Twin Peaks” return since it first aired back in May. I’ve been a defender through the absurdity, I’ve been a supporter through its slow times, and I’ve been there to feel joy, love, and adoration during some of the most incredible moments that could’ve been offered.
Tonight was the two-part season finale with Showtime airing Episodes 17 and 18 back-to-back. While I wish I could tell you that everything was wrapped up in a neat little bow, we all know David Lynch and Mark Frost wouldn’t give us that kind of satisfaction. However, I didn’t for one second believe that they would go this far into the opposite spectrum.
Ladies and gentlemen, while the 17th episode had some moments of pure magic, the 18th was nothing short of a goddamn mess. To say that I’m disappointed is an understatement. I’m heartbroken, furious, and in disbelief that the series would end this way.
Let’s start with the good, shall we?
After the awakening of Special Agent Dale Cooper, you damn well better believe that we want to see a lot of him in this episode. And while that happened, it certainly took a little while; and some incredibly strange but also some incredibly flippant events needed to occur.
Gordon, Tammy, and Albert get word about Cooper having left Las Vegas and embarking towards Twin Peaks, which they decide to do as well. Is there some more to that story? Middling details that I won’t spoil for you.
We get a brief scene where Benjamin Horne is on the phone and is told that he needs to pick up his brother, who has appeared naked and screaming about how his binoculars killed someone. That, my readers, is how we end the story of Ben and Jerry.
From there, Evil Mr. C, through a strange and unsettling teleportation event that included the White Lodge and the brass instrument that inserted the orb of Laura Palmer (see Episode 8 for reference) into the world, materializes in front of the Twin Peaks Sheriff Station. He is brought in by Andy, who is elated to see “Agent Cooper” again. However, the real Cooper is on the way and alerts Sheriff Truman, who is in the midst of talking with Mr. C. In the end, Lucy saves Truman’s life by shooting Mr. C before he can shoot Frank.
Meanwhile, a scuffle in the prison cell causes Andy to release everyone and bring them to the Sheriff’s office, just as Cooper comes in to see the Woodsmen tending to Mr. C, a lá the 8th episode. The strange “Bob orb” emerges from Mr. C’s stomach and gets into a fight with Freddy, the British kid with the super-powered fist of “fuck you.” Ultimately, the orb is shattered, Cooper puts the ring on Mr. C’s hand, and the body disappears. Cooper is trying to explain things just as Gordon, Tammy, and Albert come in. At this point, everyone is there. You’ve got Andy, Lucy, Hawk, James, Sheriff Truman, Freddy, Gordon, Albert, Tammy, and Naido, who just so happens to actually be the real Diane. SURPRISE!
Suddenly, the room grows dark; and Cooper, Diane, and Gordon are transported to the boiler room where James works. Cooper uses the Great Northern key that was in his pocket when he appeared in Las Vegas – he got it from Sheriff Truman before disappearing – to open a locked door, which he ventured into alone. In there, Cooper meets the one-armed man, who says the now famous line, “Through the darkness of futures past. The magician longs to see. One chants out between two worlds. Fire walk with me.” Together, they walk through the same hallway Mr. C did on his way to find Phillip Jeffries in Episode 15. After they ascend the same stairs, the strange long-nosed person from Fire Walk With Me descends them.
After talking with Jeffries, Cooper appears in the past (in black and white) to where James and Laura are on a road in the middle of the woods. Cooper watches their discussion, and we see that he is the reason that Laura screamed when peering into the darkness, because she saw him. Moving a bit forward, after she leaps off James’ motorcycle and runs into the woods, she meets Cooper, who takes her by the hand and guides her through the forest. We then cut to scenes from the first episode of “Twin Peaks” (the original seasons) and see that Laura’s body, wrapped in plastic, vanishes from the beach. Did Cooper somehow save her? Are the events of “Twin Peaks” now null and void? What’s going on?
We cut back to the forest, which has now gone from black and white to color, only to find that at one point Cooper loses Laura’s grip, turns around to find her gone, and hears her terrified screams echoing against the tree trunks. The forest turns into the Roadhouse, and Julee Cruise sings “The World Spins” as the credits roll.
While there were a lot of magnificent moments to be found in this episode, the lack of interaction between Cooper and the Twin Peaks characters made it feel like we were robbed. Yes, the mysteries that David Lynch and Mark Frost weave together are wonderful, but so are the interactions between the characters. We didn’t get that opportunity, and it hurt to have Cooper so close to them only to be snatched away so quickly.
Furthermore, what makes it even more painful is that Miguel Ferrer passed away before this season aired. If a fourth season is approved, Cooper and Albert will never be able to interact. They will never be able to have their fascinating relationship brought to life on the screen again.
There was such a build-up to Cooper coming back to the town of Twin Peaks, but then everything felt forced together in the 17th episode, which made little sense as there was still another hour to play with.
I don’t want to make it seem like I hated the 17th episode. I actually loved the majority of it! It felt like Cooper saved Twin Peaks, a feat that I’ve been eagerly anticipating for a long, long time. Plus, seeing him in his element was exhilarating, no doubt about it. But it can’t be denied that it felt rushed, as though the 18th episode was there to provide us with more wonder. If only that were the case…
The 18th episode opens with a couple of threads getting closed. We see Mr. C on fire in a chair in the Black Lodge. It seems he is doomed to suffer an eternity of burning agony for his horrible sins.
Meanwhile, a seed is molded with Cooper’s hair and creates a new Dougie, one that is sent to Janey-E and Sonny Jim in a rather heartwarming moment. Their family is complete, which feels right since it was taken away from them so cruelly. Dougie never asked to be manufactured, and to be used as a tool for Mr. C to avoid the Black Lodge felt inhuman, which was obviously the point. This closure felt deserved and I cherish it.
From there, we have a repeat of the scene where Dale is walking Laura through the woods and loses her grip, resulting in her piercing and truly terrifying screams. Then Cooper goes through scenes in the Black Lodge that we have seen before, only now they are subtly different. We see the one-armed man ask him again, “Is it the future, or is it the past?,” and Laura, who appeared after that previously, is nowhere to be seen. He faces the “arm” – that weird tree with a fleshy bulb head thing – who this time asks if this is a story about a little girl who lives down the lane. And when Laura does appear and whispers in Cooper’s ear, he isn’t smiling. Rather, he seems deeply unsettled and quite afraid.
When Cooper manages to get out of the Black Lodge, he is at that wooded glen with the strange hole in the earth. Diane is there waiting for him, and they have to reassure each other that they are who they seem to be. From there, they somehow are driving in a desert, which is reminiscent of the scene in the 2nd episode when Cooper peers through the red curtains and sees Mr. C’s car drive underneath him.
After driving 430 miles, they come to a stop; and Diane asks if Cooper is sure if he wants to do this, although “this” isn’t clearly defined in any way. Asking for a kiss, Cooper states that from there on forward, it could all be different. And different it is!
They stop at a motel, get a room, and proceed to make love in the dark with only the light from behind the thin curtains creating a hazy neon glow in the room. But what should be a passionate moment between two people that clearly have feelings for each other ends up being cold, distant, and soulless. Cooper doesn’t move as Diane writhes on top of him, his face betraying no emotion, his silence glaringly apparent. Diane has to cover his face with her hands so that she can gently cry.
In the morning, Cooper wakes up and Diane is gone, a note on the lamp explaining her absence. But the note is addressed to “Richard” and is signed “Linda,” something that puzzles Cooper. After getting dressed, Cooper gets into a different car than the one we saw him driving originally; and as he pulls out of the motel parking lot, we note it’s different from the one he checked into the previous night. As he drives, we see that he’s in Odessa, Texas.
He pulls into a diner called Eat at Judy’s, a reference to a topic that Gordon brought up in the beginning of the 17th episode where he claimed that “Judy” was a reference to an ancient evil. Perhaps this is why Cooper makes the turn in?
What happens next is a scene that feels wildly out of place for “Twin Peaks” and this is coming from someone who raised an eyebrow at the arm-wrestling scene a few episodes back. The diner is strangely empty and not just in terms of clientele. The vast majority of tables and chairs are stacked against the back wall. There are only two other parties dining besides Cooper, one an old couple that doesn’t do much and the other a group of cowboy looking douchebags. I use this phrase not because they are wearing cowboy hats and boots with button-up shirts tucked into their blue jeans but rather because of their actions, which I’ll come to in a second.
Dale gets some coffee and asks the server if there happens to be a different waitress there. She explains that there is but that she hasn’t been there for a few days. She then tries to tend to the douchebag cowboys, one of whom begins to paw at her rear. Told you it’d become apparent why I used that descriptor.
Cooper tells them to stop and basically a scene from “Walker: Texas Ranger” goes down. When threatened with a gun, he strips it away, kicks one in the balls, shoots another in the foot, and makes the third disarm himself and get on the ground. Cooper puts the extra guns in the french fry deep fryer, gets the address of the other waitress, and leaves. One of the cowboys philosophically asks, “What the fuck just happened?” What the fuck indeed, you sexual assaulting piece of shit. What the fuck indeed.
From the diner, Cooper heads to the address of the waitress who – and get ready for this – happens to be Laura Palmer! Only she’s not Laura; she’s Carrie Page. Wanna know something else interesting? Carrie Page doesn’t know jack shit about Twin Peaks or Laura Palmer. It’s only when Cooper mentions that her mother’s name is Sarah Palmer that she seems to be slightly affected. She decides to go with him to Twin Peaks (he asked her to join him) and packs some stuff while he waits in her foyer, casually observing a corpse with a bullet hole in his forehead on her divan. No big dea… WAIT, FUCKING WHAT?! Seriously, there is no purpose for this body to be there. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t have a thing to do with what was discussed between the two up to this point. Hell, why would she let a self-declared FBI agent into her home when there’s a rotting fucking corpse chilling on her couch looking like he needs a beer after a long day at the plant?!?!
Okay, let’s forget that ever happened (they do) because it’s time for a road trip! The pair drive from Odessa to Twin Peaks in what feels like 20 minutes of episode time. Also, how great is it that Cooper was in Twin Peaks for the previous episode, only to vanish from there just to drive back? Yeah, that’s something that we all wanted to see…
I wish I could say the road trip was eventful but it really wasn’t. Nothing happened. It was just a way to pad some time.
When they get to Twin Peaks, they head straight for Sarah’s house, which is surprisingly clean, well-lit, and tended to. In fact, it seems rather strange that the house is in such a pristine condition, considering that Sarah was okay living in what essentially amounted to filth.
They come to the front door, and the person that answers isn’t Sarah but rather is Mrs. Tremond, a character name from Fire Walk With Me. After stating multiple times that the house is hers and she’s never heard of a Sarah Palmer, she states that she and her husband bought the house from a Mrs. Chalfont (another Fire Walk With me character).
Leaving the house, Dale and Carrie stand by the car when suddenly he asks what the year is. At that point, Carrie looks at the house and faintly hears Laura’s name being called out. She screams violently, and the lights of the house — and the world — shut off, leaving us all to face total and utter darkness. The episode ends, as does the season.
Okay, really? Are you serious? There are SO many issues I have with this finale.
Remember when I said that the sex scene between Cooper and Diane felt soulless? That’s how this entire episode felt to me. While previous episodes might have gotten really, really strange, they always felt like they were part of the “Twin Peaks” universe. There was an emotional connection, a thematic current that flowed throughout and worked. Sure, there may have been riptides, undertows, rapids, and parts where we would be required to do some paddling, but it was all the same river. The 18th episode is not a part of that river. It’s a beast in and of itself. It didn’t feel like “Twin Peaks.” Did it feel like David Lynch created it? Absolutely. No doubt about it. But it felt more along the atmosphere of Mulholland Drive than “Twin Peaks.” It had no charm nor did it have warmth. It was dispassionate, which is perhaps the greatest sin it could have committed.
The best theory I’ve seen come forth is that the 17th episode was the real finale while the 18th was Lynch creating a pilot for a fourth season. I hope that this is the case because the ending we got left so much unanswered that it boggles the mind.
Now look, I realize that “Twin Peaks” isn’t meant to provide answers on a silver platter. Trust me, I get that. But when storylines are simply disregarded and ignored, then I have an issue. What happened with Audrey? Who was Billy? Is there more to the glass box? What happened to Andy’s meeting with that trucker guy? Are we simply not gonna be interested in the location of Major Briggs’ head at any point?
These, amongst others, don’t necessarily need a period to finish their arc. But bringing them up and then discarding them for an overly long road trip sequence kinda stings. We’ve waited a quarter of a century for this story to continue, and it feels like it was all a ploy to lock down a fourth season.
I truly hope that Showtime gives Lynch and Frost another season, I really do. My anger comes from disappointment, my rage from heartache. I love this show so much and this ending felt like a slap in the face. Perhaps time will change my view – I hope it does – but right now I feel like mourning.
At the end of the day, I do want to thank Lynch, Frost, Showtime, and every single cast and crewmember of “Twin Peaks” for putting together what has been, without a doubt, the bravest, most fascinating piece of television in history. Nothing has come close, and I have a feeling it will be a long time before anything even brushes against these heavenly heights. I know that I will revisit this with open arms and an open mind. Perhaps it will take a visit through all that “Twin Peaks” has offered over the years, from the show to books to Fire Walk With me and more, to give me a perspective that has me feeling better about things.
I’m ready to take that journey any day of the week.