Twin Peaks The Return – The final verdict

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Kyle MacLachlan in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

Kyle MacLachlan in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

As Twin Peaks The Return reaches it’s electrifying climax, Getintothis’ Del Pike poses the question, was it worth the wait? 

**Contains Spoilers – Only read if you have watched the whole series**

And there it is, all over. Eighteen episodes with barely an instance of wrong footing all the way. Twin Peaks The Return has been and gone.

David Lynch’s modern masterpiece, much less a sequel to the original two seasons, but a completely new entity, and one which Lynch himself considers more an eighteen-hour film in parts than a TV show. Hard to argue.

The two-part series finale has left this fan stunned and bewildered, even in a town like Twin Peaks, surely no-one could have predicted that ending. With Agent Cooper (Richard?) and Laura Palmer (Carrie??) left standing outside that most dysfunctional of family homes in what appears to be a parallel universe, or part of Audrey’s dream, or the only reality outside of Audrey’s dream, or, or or… we are not even sure if we have travelled in time as Coop utters the final line, “What year is this?”

The series has taken us away from the relative comfort of Twin Peaks, the place, and embraced Americana on a much wider stage, but in the penultimate episode 17, all is drawn back to where it began with a major stand-off between Good Coop, Bad Coop, Evil Bob and English Freddie, Hell even mousey Lucy gets caught in the gunplay. All in the confines of Sheriff Truman’s office.

David Lynch gives his long-standing audience everything they ever wanted in this episode with a return to the feel of the original show and Fire Walk With Me, via a series of fiendishly edited flashbacks, an hour virtually manned by the original cast and a plot twist that we could never have even dreamed of in which Laura Palmer is saved… almost.

We’ve paid for this privilege though with a painful three-month wait for Dougie Jones to turn back into Cooper, but apart from the quirky recovery in ep16, we still don’t really get to see the coffee loving, pie munching, Eagle Scout of old. Instead we get a more serious version of Coop, with more than a shadow of Bad Coop in his eyes and a little of Dougie’s vacant stare into the bargain.

Dougie Mk3 returning to Janey E and Sonny Jim, uttering a solitary “Home” was priceless, and strangely warm.

The diner scene in the final episode sees Coop almost unrecognisable as his former self, nonchalantly shooting a thug in the foot, unconcerned of the fearful oldies in the corner as he waves his gun around. In an unexpected motel love scene between himself and Diane, Coop goes through the motions in a sequence that is unbearable. Something has definitely changed in the electrical charge that has propelled him to God knows where. Is Coop attempting to undo the evil work of Bad Coop, who we hear raped Diane back in the day? So much so that Diane covers his vacant stare with her hands.

I loved the way Diane changes to a walking talking Black Lodge with red curtain hair and black and white fingernails. These are the touches that make the show unique, over and over.

Its strange to see Kyle MacLachlan and Laura Dern together for so much of the final episodes, embarking on a new adventure, like a grown-up Jeffrey and Sandy, the teenage characters they played in Lynch’s 1986 classic, Blue Velvet. Bad Coop is not a million miles from Frank Booth, the monstrous velvet chomping villain played by Dennis Hopper in that same film, all black leather and lethal, sexual perversity.

The final episode for the most part feels more like a pilot episode with nearly all major characters absent, players kept to a minimum and a whole new world introduced. Subtle details however, that may have been overlooked or forgotten from early episodes, are brought into play. Coop’s instructions from The Fireman; “Remember 430. Richard and Linda. Two birds, one stone”, go right back to the start of episode one, but are key to the action in the final hour. The names discussed over the doorstep of the Palmer house, Tremond and Chalfont relate to the old lady last seen in Fire Walk With Me. What this means is still unclear and is not aimed at the casual viewer.

Getintothis Loves Twin Peaks

Despite all the new elements that have made Twin Peaks: The Return so addictive, the most satisfying moments for die-hards must come from the sight of Pete Martell off on his fishing trip, undisturbed by the absence of Laura’s washed up corpse, or long-lost characters like Josie Packard, applying her make-up once more. The actual return of Laura Palmer however is the killer blow here, once again played with unrivalled paranoia by Sheryl Lee. The stare of fear and bewilderment we see in the final moments, prior to her unearthly scream is what made Fire Walk With Me so powerful.

It’s good to see episode 17 ending with In Memory of Jack Nance, the actor who played Pete and also the iconic Henry Spencer in Lynch’s cult debut, Eraserhead (1977). In a suitable Twin Peaks style, Nance died soon after an altercation outside a donut store in 1996.

It was also a perfect move to include Julee Cruise as a Roadhouse guest at the end of episode 16. Twin Peaks hasn’t been the same without her incredible voice.

The disappointments are few. It would have been kind to find out the true nature of Audrey’s dilemma, and some time spent with the Coop of old would have been welcome, but seriously, we’ve just been dealt the most enjoyable and powerful piece of TV drama since the original series, entirely directed by David Lynch, something we couldn’t have predicted in a million years. Like eighteen Christmases all in a row.

Is the ending disappointing? I don’t think so. Could any ending have really tied up all those loose ends? Compared to the bombast of the Game of Thrones season finale the previous week, this is much more subdued and rightly so. The Return of the title turns out to be an evenly paced and lengthy drive through the dark with the two most important series’ figures, a classic Lynch motif, along another lost highway to a resolution that makes no real sense at all. Of course, this is the perfect end.

The question now remains, is this really the final piece? Would another series tarnish the majesty of what we now have or can we truly resist another visit to this most wonderful of places? As it has always been, only David Lynch has the answer.

 

Postscript – Due to the quarter century gap, some of cast members didn’t quite make it to transmission but did manage to appear in the show before retreating to their own lodge in the sky.

Catherine E. Coulson – Margaret Lanterman (The Log Lady) / Miguel Ferrer – Albert Rosenfeld / Don S. Davis – Major Garland Briggs / Frank Silva – Bob / Warren Frost – Doc Hayward / David Bowie – Agent Philip Jeffries / Jack Nance – Pete Martell.

 

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