Twin Peaks Finale: We Hoped For Closure We’d Never Have

The highly anticipated Twin Peaks: The Return has come to a close. It was a wild ride, to say the least.

In this place it seems like such a shame.
Though it all looks different now,
I know it’s still the same
Everywhere I look you’re all I see.
Just a fading fucking reminder of who I used to be.

As I sit here this morning drinking my coffee, The Nine Inch Nails’ “Something I Can Never Have” started running through my brain. And it’s not because of their special “Part 8” cameo.

My relationship with Twin Peaks is an odd one compared to most. I wasn’t aware of the show when it first aired and my first introduction to it was Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me theme on the first Pure Moods CD in 1994. It wasn’t until early 2015, [Editor’s Note: affiliate link] when CBS released the blu-ray set of the entire series, that I watched and wrote newbie recaps. I was very often confused but quickly enamored with the quirky cast and bizarre plot. Like most other fans, I was excited but skeptical about this revival. Part 17 and Part 18 aired back-to-back on Showtime last night leaving a wake of WTF in its path.

The original cast, so heavily featured in the new series’ marketing, were present throughout the new series but not the focus. Instead, Lynch and Frost opened up the story to an enormous cast of 217 and a slew of new mysteries, ensuring we’d never really get to know anyone new nor truly catch up with our favorite characters. I can’t speak for everyone of course but that was one of my biggest dissatisfactions with The Return. I love Lynch’s bizarre mind but I love the Twin Peaks residents too and it just so happens our ideas on them don’t usually meet. As a critic you shouldn’t judge a piece of fiction based around what you wanted from it (what you want from a piece of art and what you get are rarely exactly the same and with a Lynch product the odds are even worse) but I suspect that is exactly what will be weighing heavily on fans’ minds the day, weeks, months, and years after this finale.

Part 17 was what we’d been waiting for (perhaps too long?) all season. Agent Cooper was on his way to Twin Peaks to face his doppelgänger and with Gordon Cole and Co. also on the way, we were close to getting the gang back together. And get back together they did. But the reunion was short-lived, with the folks at the sheriff station barely getting to say “hello” to the returned Cooper before he went off on a very important journey – preventing Laura Palmer’s death.

When discussing the next step for the series at a BBQ over the weekend, I mentioned I thought this was going to be it for the show, no Season 4. And then my friend said, “But how can they wrap all this up in two episodes?” Well, retconning the entire series would do it! After some superb use of Fire Walk With Me footage, as well as creepy facial effects, Cooper leads Laura away from her fate only to lose her along the way. The next morning, Pete Martell walks past his property to go fishing without discovering her corpse. This would change everything, as Cooper noted, and if the series had ended there I don’t think there’d be nearly as many angry fans today.

But it didn’t end there.

We witnessed Cooper and Diane, knowing things had been altered, taking one last chance to be with each other. When he wakes up things have changed but not at all in the way he, or we, were expecting. He and Diane are now people named Richard and Linda and a journey leads him to an adult Laura who is named Carrie Page. There’s still something nagging there though and he takes Laura/Carrie to Twin Peaks, away from a corpse in her living room, hoping to jog her memory. But everything is different there too, including the residents of Laura’s childhood home. And though there’s much more to tell, that’s where Lynch leaves us.

Goddammit, Lynch. There’s so much to be dissected from the entire series, not to mention the last two installments, but I’m not prepared to do the deep dive without a full re-watch under my belt. That said, I’m one of the fans who’s a bit disappointed in the last episode. But I’m also disappointed in fans who try to brush off others’ disappointments. As I said before, critics shouldn’t judge a series based on what we wanted out of it but it’s perfectly reasonably to be let down as a fan when some things don’t come to pass. And telling folks this is exactly what we should have expected from this creator doesn’t lessen our feelings of frustration that Audrey was left in limbo, or that the recipient of the “frog moth” was never revealed, or the tragedy that was the complete waste of Ashley Judd’s talents.

You know who else didn’t get any screen time?

It’s just as reasonable to be crestfallen over the finale as it is to plot complicated theories about what everything might mean, even if it means nothing or something far from what the creator intended. It’s unfair to tell viewers they have to take away from the show exactly what Lynch intended (if anyone actually knows what that is aside from him). Just try not to be “that fan.” Once a creative work is released it takes on a life of its own and the fans, who have spent countless hours obsessing over it, have rightly taken up a sort of ownership. 

The culmination of the series probably boils down to is: What do you need to take away from a creative product you spent so much time watching in order to be satisfied by it? I was often frustrated by Twin Peaks: The Return but I enjoyed myself throughout the journey, there were fantastic performances and visuals, so I can’t be too mad. I just want something I can never have. Unless it’s in my dreams.

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  • RhythmicLemur

    Lack of closure left me very dissatisfied with the original series, and sounds like there’s none of that here either. There was a time I liked Twin Peaks a lot, but in the end, it just got too mired in maddening obscurantism for me.

  • When The Hangover 3 came out, there were a lot of people that inferred from the darker, more mean-spirited tone that the writer/director/producer were sick of pandering to the audience. Watching over my wife’s shoulder the other night, I got the same feeling here. A lot of what went on this season, right up to and including the finale, felt like satire…at the audience’s expense.

    • Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an element of that. He certainly has a… point of view when folks try and ask him specific questions about stuff surrounding the show.

  • So it was dropping Audrey’s story that bugs me more than anything else. Honestly, I could have been okay with pretty much everything that happened IF they had given Audrey a compelling arc. It really feels like salt in the wound after she had gotten played so many mediocre cards from the writing during S2. That and the way sexual violence against women was sooo focused on this season,
    including apparently to Audrey herself during her coma… It’s just
    frustrating. It didn’t have to be a happily ever after for her, just a compelling story arc worthy of the character. As is, it feels like a copout and pretty lazy.

  • Troy Lenze

    As a fan of the show, I’m fine with some unanswered questions. However, I feel like The Return didn’t really answer any questions. It just made more. We probably got BOB’s origin story. So that’s good. DoppleCoop was resolved. Yay. For some strange reason, the only old storyline he wanted to resolve was Norma and Ed’s relationship. Sure. Dougie’s wife is reunited with a Dougie. A self-contained plotline resolved! And I guess Laura Palmer was saved. Woo.

    But then the show just wanders all over the place. Audrey, Shelly and her daughter, Agent Tammy, Ashley Judd, Jerry Horne with the foot that isn’t his, Sarah Palmer’s head cavity, Dr. Amp and all the shit people need to shovel, etc. All of that was introduced and then just left hanging. It’s like he wanted to get all of his ideas out there but only had time to resolve five things, and I feel like he chose some of the less satisfying things to resolved. It all ends up looking like an unfocused mess. Maybe it’s meant to be viewed from a distance, but up close it’s just a bunch of swirls.

    • Deplorable Voltaire

      We also got an explanation of the blue rose.