A masterpiece (almost)
Well Diane, I just finished watching Twin Peaks for the first time. It was at once the greatest show I’ve ever seen, and wasn’t. While in many ways it was perfect – it’s heart-meltingly atmospheric music, it’s compelling, endearing characters, it’s twisted dream sequences and oddball humour – it’s second season fell victim to unfortunate circumstance. Because of it’s declining ratings towards the end of the first season ABC demanded Lynch revealed who Laura Palmer’s killer was only mid way through the season. As that whole plot line dissipated, the show changed from surrealist neo-noir to soap opera with random supernatural elements. That said, its most central plot line I believe is still extremely valuable to the show and especially when it comes to the fore in the season’s final two episodes. The final episode is a spectacularly haunting piece which, directed by David Lynch himself, reportedly went completely off script on set due to Lynch’s disapproval of it. [You can read it here, but admittedly it is pretty shit]. Whilst its still fresh in my mind, here are a couple of things worth talking about.
Analysis of the final episode *SPOILERS*
Going out in wonderfully confusing Lynchian fashion, the final episode might not have fulfilled audience’s expectations of narrative closure. However, despite the spontaneity of its filming it really pieces all (at least most) of the clues together. What I describe here takes mostly from yewyewyew’s response which you can find here, and this post from The A.V. Club. It is also promised that the less acclaimed film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me supports these claims. Even if your understanding is clear as sunshine, it might be worth a read to refresh your mind in anticipation of the upcoming third season/revival.
At Ghostwood you can see ghosts – the ghosts of Laura, Maddy, Leland, all of them. The mysterious red room is revealed to be the Waiting Room – from there you can either go to the White Lodge or the Black Lodge. The White Lodge, as we know, is reached by love (which is why Garland goes there in his belief that love is “enough”) and the Black Lodge by fear, which is how Windem Earle uses Annie to get there. When Cooper gets there he meets “friends”, those who have died and gone to the Black or White Lodges (Leyland, Laura, Maddy) and those supernatural beings he has encountered during his time in Twin Peaks (the giant, the little man, Bob, the old hotel attendant). Then, he is tested. Hawk says at some point that to enter the White or Black Lodges your courage must be tested – if it is imperfect, it destroys you, Bob being the embodiment of that destruction. Whilst in the Waiting Room Cooper relives the horrible memory of letting Caroline die. As we know, this has haunted Cooper the entire series and is why he doesn’t let himself get involved with Audrey (mostly) and his main fear in his relationship with Annie. Ultimately Coopers courage is imperfect because this is the fear that is too much for him – he fears too much that he will not be able to protect Annie. This provides a reason for why he is such a great person – throughout the whole series he is “too perfect”, as Audrey says. Therefore, when Cooper comes back to tangible reality, Bob has possessed him. The show ends with this horrifying revelation and such a cliffhanger.
What will happen to Cooper? My guess is that he will have the strength to fight off Bob, somehow. When Leyland is Bob it takes them all months to figure it out despite the obvious clues – his hair turning grey, the dancing dwarf. Now Cooper is Bob he makes an effort to let Harry and Hawk know instantly – smashing his head on the glass. His cry for Annie seemingly a malevolent taunt, one has to question why he’s crying for her in the first place – what we witness is the real Cooper in a fight for control over himself with Bob.
25 years later? We’ll see what happens then. No matter what the quality of the third season of Twin Peaks will be I’m sure that fans of the original series will enjoy it – after all, we sat through the drawl of the Nadine subplot, Audrey’s ludicrous love affair and the terrible whining and bickering of Josie and Catherine and got the slightest enjoyment out of that, didn’t we?
Northwest Passage and the condensing of the second season *Light SPOILERS*
So most of season two just wasn’t the same. What someone needs to do, in my opinion – and I know I should do it myself making this claim but I couldn’t commit to it right now – is condense Twin Peaks into a shorter series or massive film (or two – or three) that cuts out all the crap – Josie, Catherine, Nadine, Audrey, James and that stupid blonde widow subplot. So far, someone has managed to make a fan edit of Twin Peaks which eliminates all but the Laura Palmer plot and the last episode. It’s called Northwest Passage and you can find more information about it here. However, I feel the White/Black Lodge plot, Cooper’s relationship with Annie and maybe even the entire Windem Earle plot are essential to Twin Peaks as a complete show. There’s also other bits I’d keep in – namely Lucy’s love triangle, for comic relief. My understanding is too that, having not seen it, Northwest Passage is good quality, coherent and entertaining but loses a lot of the Lynchian fun along the way. But we’ll have to make do with it for now.
Here’s to one of the greatest TV shows ever made.
[image source: Joshua Budich “The Owls Are Not What They Seem”, https://cultcollectiveblog.wordpress.com/tag/mat-weller/]