‘Twin Peaks’ is over, perhaps for good. Whatever you may have expected or wanted the grand finale of ‘Twin Peaks’ to be, the actual conclusion David Lynch delivered is not that. Whether you find it satisfying anyway will depend on how big an apologist and a masochist you are.
Did you really think the Audrey Horne freakout that ended the last episode would be answered or at least addressed? Ha! Sherilyn Fenn doesn’t appear at all in the two-part finale and her character is never so much as mentioned by anyone else in the show, leaving the entire Audrey storyline a giant unresolved plot hole. One of many, I might add.
Surely you didn’t expect the finale to make any sort of coherent sense, did you? No one who’s ever been a David Lynch fan or stuck with ‘Twin Peaks’ this long could possibly be that naïve. This show was always destined to end with a mind-screw. Nonetheless, the particular type of mind-screw that Lynch tossed together is deeply, infuriatingly disappointing.
I’ll do my best to recap the events of the last two episodes, but please keep in mind that much of what happens is just a bunch of incomprehensible nonsense, especially in the last hour.
In South Dakota, Gordon, Albert and Tammy recover from dispatching the Diane doppelganger. While sharing a drink, Gordon tells Albert that he’s held a secret from him for 25 years. He explains that Maj. Briggs discovered a dark entity called “Jowday,” and the secret purpose of the Blue Rose task force (which included agents Cooper, Jeffries and Desmond) was to find it. This Jowday is the “Judy” that Jeffries talked about.
Yes, we finally get an answer to the mystery of Judy, and it comes down to a dumb pun. Thanks a lot, David Lynch.
I think it’s fair to assume that Jowday is the so-called “mother” creature that shat bubbles containing the Woodsmen and BOB down to the Earth. Please don’t go looking for more elaboration on it than that, because this is the last we’ll hear of it again.
Just then, Gordon receives a phone call from the Las Vegas FBI, telling him that Dougie Jones is missing from his hospital room. Bushnell overhears the call and reads Gordon the message that Cooper left for him, which says that he’s headed to see Sheriff Truman. Gordon immediately recognizes the message as coming from the real Dale Cooper.
At the Great Northern, Ben Horne takes a call from the police at Jackson Hole, notifying him that his brother Jerry was located, stark naked and raving about blowing someone up with his binoculars. Adios, Ben and Jerry. This is your exit from the show.
The evil Mr. C follows his final set of coordinates to the Jack Rabbit’s Palace spot in the woods outside Twin Peaks. A vortex opens above his head and he vanishes.
Inside the Lodge, a giant floating Maj. Briggs head watches as the Giant flips through images of Twin Peaks on his viewing screen. A small cage appears to contain Mr. C. (I think? The picture quality of the cable broadcast was very poor and indistinct.) The Giant sends it through his tube apparatus toward a street view, whereupon Mr. C materializes right outside the Twin Peaks sheriff’s department. Why would the Giant want to send Mr. C there? I have no idea. Because it’s convenient to move the plot along, probably.
In the parking lot of the sheriff’s department, Andy sees what he believes is Agent Cooper and excitedly brings him inside to meet Frank. Both Andy and Lucy are very happy to see Cooper again, but after Mr. C goes into Frank’s office for a chat, Andy remembers a vision he had while inside the Lodge.
Down in the holding cells, the eyeless girl (she’s credited as “Naido”) can sense Mr. C’s presence and freaks out. After the drunk who repeats everything he hears passes out, Chet removes a key to his cell that was hidden in the heel of his boot and sneaks into the locker room to retrieve a gun. He returns to the cells and encounters Andy. Feeling cocky and spiteful, Chet marches toward him with the gun drawn. Green-gloved Freddy sees this happening and punches his cell door open, slamming it into Chet and knocking him out. Andy handcuffs Chet again, then unlocks everyone else (except the drunk) to bring them upstairs.
While Frank tries to make small talk with Mr. C, Lucy takes a call from the real Agent Cooper and transfers it right to Frank. Although Frank tries to hide it, Mr. C knows the jig is up and pulls a gun. Before he can fire, however, Lucy steps into the room and shoots him in the back first. Mr. C falls to the floor, apparently dead, and Lucy declares that she finally understands how cell phones work.
Andy brings everyone upstairs, and Hawk (who was on the other side of the building or something) arrives late. They watch as the room lights flicker and Woodsmen ghosts appear over Mr. C’s body.
The real Cooper then arrives at the sheriff’s department and runs inside, with the Mitchums trailing behind. Everyone stands around awkwardly and watches as the Woodsmen pull a big black orb from Mr. C’s stomach. The face of BOB is visible in it.
Honestly, I’m cringing as a I describe this, because the visual effects in the scene are embarrassingly cheesy. Anyway, the BOB ball flies around and attacks Cooper. Recognizing that this is his destiny, Freddy steps forward and faces off against BOB. The ball attacks him and he smashes it a few times, pounding it into the floor, where a hole opens up and hellfire flames burst out. The ball nevertheless comes out again until Freddy finally shatters into a thousand pieces and everyone cheers.
Yeah, BOB, supposedly the ultimate embodiment of evil, returns as a CGI volleyball that gets defeated by a random kid only introduced a couple episodes ago. This is a great idea, David Lynch. Surely, nobody could find fault with this plan.
Cooper puts the Lodge ring on Mr. C’s body, which promptly vanishes. He then asks Frank for the key to the Great Northern hotel room. When Cooper gets a look at Naido, the eyeless girl, he freezes for a moment. The rest of the scene then progresses in a weird montage where Cooper’s frozen face is superimposed over the screen while at the same time he talks to everyone else to explain some things. Bobby arrives, followed by Gordon, Albert and Tammy. “There are some things that will change,” Cooper says.
Naido touches Cooper’s hand. Her face disappears, and she transforms into Diane, now wearing a bad red wig instead of a bad blonde wig. Her painted fingernails alternate between black and white. Cooper kisses her, passionately. He then repeats the Phillip Jeffries line that, “We live inside a dream.”
Following so far? Yup, I thought I was up to this point too.
Where Coherency Ends
Cooper, Diane and Gordon walk through the darkness and arrive at the boiler room in the Great Northern, where the mysterious ringing sound emanates from behind a locked door. The old room key opens that door. Cooper insists that he has to go in alone and says goodbye to Diane and Gordon.
Inside is the One-Armed Man. Speaking in regular (non-backwards) voice, he recites the “Through the darkness of future past” poem, then leads Cooper to the motel to meet the Phillip Jeffries kettle. Jeffries asks him where he wants to go, and Cooper says February 24th, 1989 (the date of Laura Palmer’s murder). Jeffries tells him, “This is where you’ll find Judy.” Steam from his spout forms into the Lodge symbol and the number 8 (perhaps referring to infamous Episode 8 this season – otherwise your guess is as good as mine).
Cooper suddenly finds himself standing outside the Palmer house, witnessing the final night of Laura’s life via a very long clip from ‘Fire Walk With Me’. He follows Laura and James on their fateful motorcycle ride. Through creative editing, Laura sees him in the woods and screams. Leo, Ronette and Jacques also reappear in these clips. Laura ditches James at the corner of Sparkwood and 21.
As Laura walks through the woods to her doom, she’s stopped by Cooper this time. Some CGI de-aging and a lot of shadows are employed to make young Laura interact with Cooper. She says that she’s seen him inside a dream. He extends his hand and she takes it. Cooper tells her that they’re going home.
The timeline then gets jumbled up. We cut forward to the next morning. Laura’s body, wrapped in plastic, disappears from the beach. The scene segues to clips from the 1990 pilot episode with Josie, Pete and Catherine. Pete walks right past the rock where he would find the corpse and sees nothing. This time, he continues on and goes fishing.
We’re then in the present day, maybe? Strange noises are heard inside the Palmer house, which looks like the seedy dump we’ve seen Sarah Palmer living in. Enraged, Sarah smashes a photo of Laura.
Cooper leads Laura through the woods. Suddenly, she vanishes. Cooper hears her scream, but looks around and finds no sign of her. Also heard is the chirping noise of the frog-bug thing from Episode 8.
Believe it or not, despite feeling like it’s already been 12 hours long, this is only the end of the first half of the finale. The first episode ends with Julee Cruise performing “The World Spins” over the credits.
I’m just going to continue plowing through this, and let you interpret the subsequent events however you will.
Mr. C is on fire in the Red Room. He turns into a steel ball, which the One-Armed Man presses against the sprig of Cooper’s hair to make another doppelganger. It’s a new Dougie – the original, oblivious Dougie. He asks where he is, and then the One-Armed Man transports him to Las Vegas to return home to his family, fulfilling Cooper’s promise to Janey-E and Sonny Jim. OK, that’s a good piece of closure to that storyline, I guess.
Scenes from the Season 3 premiere with Cooper in the Red Room are replayed, including him meeting the stupid tree and interacting with Leland and Laura. This time, however, instead of falling through a hole in the floor, he manages to exit the Red Room and appear in the woods. Red-haired Diane is waiting for him. She asks if it’s really him, and he responds with the same question. The red curtains and entrance to the Red Room disappear behind them.
In a 1950s car (which may be significant), Cooper drives Diane to a spot he says is exactly 430 miles away. (It looks a lot like the road where Mr. C crashed his car.) Cooper stops and gets out, walks around for a minute and confirms that they’re in the right place. He gets back in the car and kisses Diane. He says, “Once we cross, it could all be different.”
When he pulls the car forward, day transforms into night. They continue driving without speaking. They drive, and they drive, and they drive, and they drive. Finally, they stop at a motel and Diane waits in the car while Cooper goes into the office. Diane sees herself standing outside the building and does not seem surprised by this. Cooper returns with a key to Room 7.
Once inside, they make out and have sex. The same Platters song that played at the radio station in Episode 8 blares on the soundtrack, but Cooper seems strangely cold and unemotional during their lovemaking. The soundtrack turns into a weird mashup of romantic and also ominous music playing simultaneously. Diane covers Cooper’s face with her hands so as not to look at him, or to let him see her crying.
In the morning, Diane is gone. Cooper calls out for her, but instead just finds a note, addressed to “Richard” from “Linda.” It says, “I don’t recognize you anymore.”
Cooper leaves the motel and gets in a car, but it’s a completely different motel and a completely different car than he arrived in. He drives to Odessa, Texas and stops at a coffee shop called Judy’s. Behaving a lot like Mr. C, he sits in a booth and asks the waitress (Francesca Eastwood) if another waitress also works there. She replies that one does, but she’s been out for the last three days.
When the waitress is groped by a trio of obnoxious cowboys sitting in another booth, Cooper interrupts. One pulls his gun, but Cooper quickly disarms him, hits him in the balls, and shoots another one in the foot. He instructs the third cowboy to sit on the floor with the other two, then walks behind the counter and tosses their guns into a deep fryer. He orders the waitress to write down the other waitress’ address for him, then leaves.
Cooper drives to a house with telephone pole #6 outside. Laura Palmer, now in her late 40s, answers the door. She speaks with a Texas accent and says that her name is Carrie Page. She insists that she doesn’t know anyone named Laura, but when Cooper mentions her mother Sarah, a memory seems to stir in her. He says that he wants to take her to her mother’s house. Carrie says that she needs to leave town quickly anyway, and riding with an FBI agent might be a good idea, so she agrees to pack up a few things and go with him. Cooper enters the house and sees a dead man with a bullet hole in his head slumped in a chair. Carrie never acknowledges this, nor does she answer a ringing phone. Cooper spots a figurine of a white horse on the mantle.
During another very protracted driving scene, Cooper believes they’re being followed. Carrie is nervous, but when Cooper takes a turn, the car behind doesn’t turn with them.
Eventually, they cross the bridge into Twin Peaks (the same one that half-dead Ronette Pulaski stumbled across), pass the RR Diner, and arrive at the Palmer house. Carrie insists that she doesn’t recognize it. Cooper knocks on the door. A blonde woman answers. She says that her name is Alice Tremond, and she doesn’t know anyone named Palmer. When Cooper presses her, she claims that she bought the house from a family called Chalfont. (These names are familiar from ‘Fire Walk With Me’.)
Cooper seems confused. As they leave, he asks Laura/Carrie what year it is. Before he can get an answer to that, Laura hears her mother’s scream (audio from the 1990 pilot). The lights go out.
The season, and likely the series, ends back in the Red Room with the familiar image of Laura whispering into Cooper’s ear.
Although a number of critics are already lining up to declare the finale of ‘Twin Peaks’ to be David Lynch at his brilliant best, I firmly believe that, over time and once all the details have had time to settle in for a while, perhaps a few years from now, sooner or later everyone will come around to admitting that this is some major bullshit. The emperor has stripped off all his clothes and is wagging his dongle around for everyone to marvel at.
I say that as someone who is in no way new to Lynch. I’ve watched ‘Twin Peaks’ since the original broadcast in 1990 and have seen all of his feature films multiple times. I’m thoroughly familiar with even his obsure short films. Please spare me the accusations of not “getting” Lynch. This is the work of the David Lynch who plopped out ‘Inland Empire’, not the one who gave us ‘Blue Velvet’ or the original ‘Peaks’.
Some fans are already considering Episode 17 the true end of the narrative and are choosing to ignore Episode 18 as some sort of unnecessary addendum. I don’t think that helps much. Either way, the story leaves way too many characters and plot threads unresolved.
I went into the finale not expecting total closure or narrative coherence. I know Lynch better than that. However, when he’s on his game, his stories make emotional sense even when they don’t make logical sense. That isn’t the case here. The last episode, which tries to recontextualize the entire narrative as a dream or delusion (by whichever character you choose to believe) is a cheap plot twist (blatantly recycled from ‘Mulholland Drive’) and an insult to anyone who has followed these characters and this story for 27 years.
As those who have read my recaps this season know, I went into the ‘Twin Peaks’ revival with a heavy amount of skepticism, much of which I continued to feel even as other fans argued that the show was an amazing return to form for Lynch and several critical thinkpieces declared the new season the greatest thing on television. While I feel some personal vindication that the ending totally fell to shit, mostly I’m just disappointed. I really wanted this to be great.
I don’t regret watching the new season, nor do I wish David Lynch had never made it. The show indeed had moments of brilliance, some even among the best Lynch has ever directed. It provided answers to some questions that have lingered for more than two decades, and gave closure to certain characters (just not all of them). Sadly, it was wildly uneven, and even as he seemed to be gaining momentum at the end, Lynch bungled the ending for the sake of a lame gimmick plot twist. What a letdown.