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05 Sep 2017

David Lynch's Masterpiece: A Review of and Tribute to Showtime's 'Twin Peaks: The Return'

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Kyle MacLachlan in Twin Peaks: The Return. Kyle MacLachlan in Twin Peaks: The Return.

As I write this, David Lynch is apparently in France, awaiting the reactions to his final episodes of Twin Peaks.

After a 26-year pause, the story of Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer continued this summer with 18 otherworldly episodes—and the series concluded in a way that was just as perplexing as that moment when Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) stared at his Evil Bob reflection in the mirror all those years ago.

Peaks fans, let’s face it: Whether or not this is the final bow for Peaks, the story will never be tied up in a neat little package, even if it does come back again. Lynch loves his puzzles—see Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway as proof—and Twin Peaks has proven to be the ultimate Lynch puzzler.

You can approach the series in so many different ways—all of them making perfect sense—or you can look the whole thing as a failure of narrative, and a script writing copout. I choose the former; in fact, I think Twin Peaks: The Return is an absolute masterpiece.

The show wrapped up with two hour-long episodes aired in succession. Dale Cooper—truly awake for the first time this season after many hours in a happy stupor—returns to Twin Peaks for a final confrontation with Bob. I won’t spoil too much, especially if you’ve yet to dive into Peaks, but the confrontation provides the closest thing to closure that Peaks fans will get.

The final hour displays the heroic intentions of Cooper, still trying to rescue Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) from an eternal, hellish existence, and that’s all I will say. Things don’t resolve in a typical, narrative faction. That’s simply not the Lynch way.

Does the final episode leave much to interpretation? Yes, but I believe most of the questions that fans have been asking can be answered in the 18-episode series, along with the now-invaluable and formerly maligned 1992 film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. (Hey, that movie sort of makes sense now!)

Does the final episode leave things open for a continuation of Peaks? Sure it does, and I hope there are more. I will always hope for more Peaks; I’m a junkie when it comes to this show.

This new cliffhanger, as opposed to the one Lynch put in play at the end of Season 2 back in 1991, is much different. Lynch was sort of toying with ABC executives back in the day, almost making it impossible for them to cancel the show—yet they did. Lynch had every intention of continuing the story, but ABC cancelled the show, and the first Peaks film was a flop—so the story went into limbo.

This time, the cliffhanger is more of a statement—that the Peaks universe is a never-ending dream/nightmare, just like the universe around all of us. Many stories don’t get a tidy resolution, and it just might be the case that Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer are eternally fucked in one universe, while having a decent time in another.

If this is the end for Twin Peaks, it’s a solid, fitting one. Thank you, David Lynch, for giving the summer a sinister, funny, puzzle of a series—the best work you have ever done.

Please make more. Or stop. It’s entirely up to you.

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