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TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN Finale Wraps Things Up… and Then Unwraps Them

Twenty-six years ago, a 16-year-old me threw a shoe at my television following the broadcast of the brilliant but seriously frustrating final episode of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s now classic series Twin Peaks. Lynch, who directed the episode, ended the show with a series of cliffhangers, as well as a dizzying journey into the surreal world of the Black Lodge. Most prominent of these cliffhangers was the fate of Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), who was trapped in the Black Lodge, while his evil doppelgänger took his place in the real world, together with the evil spirit BOB. Would this storyline ever be resolved, and would the real Agent Cooper ever be returned to us?

Well, 26 years and 17 episodes later, he was. Cooper’s evil doppelgänger lay defeated, while the real Dale Cooper stood triumphant. In episode 17 of Showtime’s Twin Peaks: The Return, all the forces set in motion at the beginning of the revival series set out towards their logical conclusion in Twin Peaks, Washington. You could call episode 17 as satisfactory an ending as the Cooper/BOB story could hope to have.

Having said that, seemingly dozens of other plot threads begun by The Return are left completely unanswered. In episode 16, it seems Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) awakens from some kind of long delusion, possibly the coma she was said to be in after the original series finale. Audrey is, in fact, not seen or mentioned at all in this finale. We have as much an idea of what her ultimate fate is now as we did the first time around.

This is one of many questions left unanswered. Is Shelly (Madchen Amick) and Bobby (Dana Ashbrook)’s daughter Becky (Amanda Seyfried) dead or alive? Speaking of which, what was the deal with Red, the local drug kingpin played by Balthazar Getty, whom Shelly is seemingly dating after divorcing Bobby? Neither Shelly nor her daughter appears in the finale, so we’re only left to wonder.

And what is the dark entity that seemingly lives inside Sarah Palmer? Is it “Judy?” No clue.  If this is all a possible lead in to a potential fourth season, I’m in. If not, Lynch and Frost might have just pulled a royal fast one on their most loyal audience.

Episode 17 is strong, and is the real resolution to the journey begun in episode one of the revival. The characters of Gordon Cole (David Lynch), Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrera), and Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) head towards Twin Peaks, just as Dale Cooper and his evil doppelgänger do. The final showdown between good and evil happen in the Sheriff’s station, and it involves a super strong green glove and the final destruction of BOB. The woman called “Naido” in the credits turns out to be (as I correctly guessed) the real Diane, and she is happily reunited with Agent Cooper.

Cooper, using the key to the Great Northern that Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) had in his possession, goes to the location called ‘The Dutchman’s” where he then travels back in time to February 23, 1989–the night Laura Palmer died. Only this time, Cooper attempts to intervene and save Laura from her murder at the hands of BOB. We see the opening shots of the pilot episode of the classic series, playing out as if Laura’s body never washed ashore at the Packard mill. The episode ends with Julee Cruise singing “The World Spins” at the Road House–the same song she sang in the infamous “killer reveal” episode of the original series. It’s fitting and perfect.

The following and final episode, however, takes things in an even stranger direction. Are we in a world now where Laura Palmer never died? If so, why does her likeness take form as a woman from Odessa, Texas named Carrie Page (played again by Sheryl Lee)? The final shots of the episode, where Cooper takes Carrie/Laura to her childhood home, only to find that Sarah Palmer does not live there, end with Laura screaming, as if a horrible memory has awakened insider of her. Cooper asks, “What year is it?”, closing the new Twin Peaks on just as hopeless a note as the original one ended with, and with even more mysteries unanswered.

Unanswered mysteries are, of course, part of the appeal of Twin Peaks, but the final episode feels unusually cruel from Lynch and Frost, who know the fan base have been craving resolution for a quarter century. I never think of David Lynch as mean-spirited, but the whole finale feels that way on so many levels. Frost said in interviews leading up to the premiere that he wanted to gjve long suffering fans a sense of resolution; I can’t imagine he really thinks this episode did that.

I’m grateful for Twin Peaks: The Return, and all of the wonderful, odd moments it gave us over the past three months. I’ll always cherish it for letting me revisit with old friends again, and for letting me make new ones (I’m looking at you, Candie). But a nearly perfect experience will always be somewhat tainted by the deliberate refusal to answer so many questions about scenarios introduced within the show’s framework.

What did you think of the final episode – probably ever – of Twin Peaks? Be sure to let us know your thoughts down below in the comments.

Images: Showtime

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