Twin Peaks: The Return Finale Review


By: Eric Flapjack Ashley (@flapjackashley)

Well, it’s over. A 25-year cliffhanger would finally be paid off after 18 episodes of a revival series that was, at times, brilliant and maddening all at the same time. This Twin Peaks recap will consist of some review of the events of last night, but mostly my thoughts and observations for the two-hour finale (the last two episodes aired back to back) because there is a lot to go over – which is strange since so little was answered. So let’s dig into part 17, entitled:

The Past Dictates the Future

I’m not sure what it is, but David Lynch always seems to start off the most anticipated episodes in the slowest way possible. The second season premiere extinguished a lot of the anticipation when the first 20 minutes ended up being about a slow moving and talking waiter while Agent Cooper laid on his room floor, bleeding from being shot. After the Audrey Horne cliffhanger of last hour, this one starts with three characters sitting around in a long dialogue scene. Granted, it had a lot of information in it, but half of it was stuff we as a viewer already knew. Not exactly the intense opening we expected.

But that would change soon as Doppleganger Cooper (Mr. C) is plopped down in front of the Twin Peaks Police Department and is immediately misrecognized as Agent Cooper by Andy. Andy ushers him right in when Mr. C has a sit down with Truman and business picks up when the real Agent Cooper calls on the phone. Andy collects the people in the holding cells – except the drooling guy who begins to rip pieces of flesh off of his face. The showdown is seemingly set when the real Cooper bursts onto the scene after Lucy saves Truman from an ambush by Mr. C. BOB emerges from Mr. C’s body and Freddie and his power glove end up punching him into oblivion.

Agent Cooper’s monologue of what was happening is strangely showing with a picture of his face superimposed over the screen. He talks about things being a dream, and the past dictating the future. The woman with no eyes transforms into the real Diane – congrats to those who predicted this – and she and Cooper kiss.

From this point on, the episode takes a very dream-like tone. Cooper time travels into the ending of the movie Fire Walk with Me and witnesses Laura’s last conversation with James – and in Back to the Future Part II style, he intercedes into the past. Laura sees him and screams as she talks to James, answering a two decade old question as to what Laura had seen in the woods that spooked her. Cooper intercepts Laura as she is on her way to meet up with the gang that would eventually lead to her death, and Laura follows him to safety instead – or so it seems. Laura is never killed and Pete never finds the body as he is off to go fishing the next morning.

Things, though, are not all okay at the Palmer house in present time. Whatever entity that is inhabiting Sarah Palmer is having a fit, and she destroys Laura’s Homecoming Queen picture, stabbing it repeatedly with a broken alcohol bottle. Laura herself also disappears from Cooper’s lead, and screaming ensues.

I was disappointed BOB was defeated somewhat easily by some random character who was introduced less than a month ago, and that there wasn’t more time to have a more emotional reunion between Agent Cooper and the cast at the police station.

But overall, this hour was pretty brilliant. I loved the dramatic impact of Laura following Cooper, having recognized him from her dreams. They also did a pretty good job of matching actress Sheryl Lee’s look in new footage to match how she looked in 1991 through makeup and camera work. It’s unclear if, 26 years ago, this is what David Lynch had planned to do with intertwining Agent Cooper into what Laura saw, but it makes perfect sense the way it plays out. It’s also nice to see Lynch find a way to work original characters such as Leo Johnson and Pete and Catherine Martell into the show and into the cast credits one last time.

Perhaps the most scary scene happens in this hour as well when the obviously possessed Sarah Palmer and her demonic moaning and groaning echoed through the Palmer house, ending with her stabbing the picture to death. The soundtrack plays sounds like a record skipping at its end, similar to what was heard when Leland/BOB killed Maddie in season 2. Does this mean Laura was indeed saved, and whatever forces of evil is having a fit because it lost?

Fans will obviously recognize Julee Cruise during the credits as her music provides the theme for the show and was a regular fixture on the original series, so it’s a pleasure to see her here. She is signing “The World Spins,” which is the song that closed out the same episode in which the killer was revealed that I referenced above.

This would have been a perfect way to end the show – even with not every question answered. But there is still one hour left, and with many storylines still needing addressed (mainly, Audrey Horne’s), we move ahead with the final Twin Peaks episode called:

What Is Your Name?

Agent Cooper emerges from the Black Lodge and meets up with Diane, and they drive to a motel. The bizarre only begins here with a very long and awkward sex scene that takes up almost three valuable full minutes of screen time. When Cooper wakes up the next morning, Diane has left him a note, referring to him as Richard and herself as Linda, and he leaves a motel that is not the same one they checked into.

In the end, Cooper follows the instruction of Leland Palmer in the Block Lodge that told him to go “Find Laura.” He arrives at a house and Laura Palmer indeed answers the door. But this is not Laura Palmer, and when Cooper as her “What is Your Name?” she replies with Carrie Page. Carrie knows nothing about the town of Twin Peaks or anything in it – but something seems to possibly ring a bell when Cooper mentions the name of Sarah Palmer. Carrie agrees to travel back up to Twin Peaks when he identifies himself as being with the FBI. Carrie seems to have gotten herself into some Laura Palmer-like trouble as Cooper notices a dead man with his brains splattered on the wall sitting on her couch. He’s never identified or even acknowledged by more than just a glance by Carrie as she and Cooper leave.

After a long drive, they arrive back at the Palmer house, but Sarah is not home. Instead, it is a woman who is named Tremond, and they bought the house from a family named Chalfont. Tremond is the name of the woman Donna Hayward delivered Meals on Wheels to in the original series. We later found out Tremond was also known by name of Chalfont.

The final scene of the series leaves us with Cooper standing in the road, looking back at the house, completely defeated and confused as he asked Carrie what year it is (?). Carrie, meanwhile, begins hearing something that sets her off and she screams – and the lights suddenly go out in the house, and on the show. Under the credits is a slow motion shot of Laura whispering into Cooper’s ear. Show over.

Many will say the show should have ended with episode 17, and I may be in that camp. Episode 18 was maddeningly paced and it addressed zero of the leftover questions that remained. Audrey Horne is never seen nor mentioned during these last two episodes, despite having the year’s most awesome cliffhanger ending last week…although one could draw some lines when the Arm asked Cooper in the Black Lodge “if it was the story about the little girl who lived down the lane?”, which is the exact same thing Audrey asked her husband some episodes ago.

When Diane called them Richard and Linda in her Dear John note, it recalls when the Giant told Cooper to remember a Richard and a Linda. Does this mean those are their new names in this altered universe where Laura Palmer was not killed? When Diane is having sex with Cooper, she presses her hands over his face almost as if she is not trying to see him, or prevent memories that she will not want to remember.

Agent Cooper, on the way to collect Laura Palmer, stops at a diner named Eat at Judy’s, and displays some rather un-Cooper-like behavior. He shoots some guy in the foot and acts like a bully…and even with him being threatened by the rednecks, it still seems a tad out of character for Cooper to act. He then insists a waitress give him the personal address of her co-worker, who turns out to be Carrie/Laura.

When Cooper and Carrie/Laura arrive in Twin Peaks, something is subtly different – the RR Diner is lacking the “RR 2 Go!” banner it had featured all season. Then the whole different people living in the Palmer house. Does this mean all of this was a dream? Are they in an alternate universe that Cooper unleashed when he intercepted Laura from going off to her doom? Who was the dead guy in Carrie’s house? The last hour plays like a dream – complete with overlong scenes of driving in which I kept looking at the clock, calculating how much time to address some questions that were left like a countdown that would end without a payoff.

The fact that this show is almost as detached as Audrey Horne’s storyline was from the rest of the series is a real mystery. Janey-E managed to get a happy ending, and so did Ed and Norma last week. But everyone else, including Audrey and the forever unseen Harry S. Truman, did not. BOB was defeated, but at what cost? What was going on with Sarah Palmer?

Of course, if one thinks about it enough, the series could be played off as a dream. Or with Cooper’s altered past affecting the future, he now exists in a world where Laura Palmer was never killed and the events of the entire series never happened. Or he and Carrie/Laura are lost in a time warp – he does ask what year it is, after all – and history is doomed to repeat itself.

And we never did find out how Annie was.

It turns out that “The Return” of Twin Peaks: The Return is a return to a place where things are never what they seem – just like the owls.

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