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TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN, When your favorite TV show leaves you with no resolution…

Posted on September 4th, 2017
Posted on September 4th, 2017

by Coop Cooper

I was dreading watching the series finale of “Twin Peaks: The Return” on Sunday night. Not because I didn’t want to see what would happen, but because I was deathly afraid of what MIGHT happen. I had decided this was the worst-case scenario for how things could end: Very few of the plot threads would wrap up and yet again the main characters would be stuck in some sort of dream nightmarish alternate reality. And then the show would end, forever… and it would appear that is exactly what happened.

It was a two-hour finale in which events that had been set up in the previous sixteen episodes, and in the thirty episodes all the way back in the original 1990-1991 series, were starting to pay off and lead up to what could have been a two-hour movie to resolve every last bit of the strange and mysterious show. Instead, the main story threads wrapped up in a bizarre supernatural showdown that ended very quickly in the first quarter of the two-hour finale. Then those threads were left dangling while the main character, Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), went on a spiritual mission to save the soul of the long-dead Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), whose death was the starting point for the original “Twin Peaks” series. But weird stuff happens and something goes wrong. The story descends into a nightmare sequence and Cooper and Laura are lost in some sort of depressing oblivion where time follows no rules, trapped with the evil they were trying so hard to escape. Then it ends.

To say it is ‘disconcerting’ is an understatement. Fans had been waiting over twenty-five years to get a resolution to the series and while this new series gave them a little of what they wanted over the course of eighteen new episodes, it left them with even more questions after it ends. And the WAY it ends is so stilted, confusing and dream-like, some viewers have said the last hour almost had a hallucinogen-type effect on them, triggering a lingering feeling of psychosis. Whatever the case, it was deeply disturbing and while it was probably intended that way by creators David Lynch and Mark Frost, you can’t blame viewers for feeling cheated. I’ve heard similar complaints from the finales of series like “The Sopranos” and the “Battlestar Galactica” reboot series. They may not be satisfying but they loiter in your mind for a lot longer than the ones that give you everything you want, and that’s probably the point.

“Twin Peaks” creator David Lynch is infamous for creating ‘challenging’ films that give no easy answers and require the audience to interpret their own conclusions from what he presents them. The original “Twin Peaks” series was largely a straightforward, nighttime soap opera that frequently lapsed into bizarreness while developing a supernatural mythology underneath the melodrama. When the 1990-1991 series weakened and ended abruptly, Lynch was able to assemble the cast one more time to make the feature film “Fire Walk with Me”, a prequel to the series which chronicled the last days of Laura Palmer’s life and was expected to answer questions and wrap up the storyline. Instead it only raised new ones and was subsequently booed at the Cannes Film Festival. But it has endured. It has been picked apart and studied by fans for years and that was probably Lynch’s intention all along. It almost seems like the opposite of the criticisms I’ve heard about this year’s season of “Game of Thrones” in which all the plot threads are finally coming together and the audience is finally getting what they wanted to see after all these years. Perhaps with that satisfaction comes a sense of predictability. If David Lynch has taught us anything, satisfying resolutions are finite but mysteries endure. I may be the first critic to point out parallels between “Twin Peaks: The Return” (especially in the final hour) and the obscure horror film “Phantasm IV: Oblivion” but it could just be a case of a fan searching in the dark looking for meanings that don’t exist.

I’ve decided that hoping for yet another future installment of the series, along with a potential for a resolution, is futile. Instead it is better to either leave it and move on or pick it apart to discover what made it so fascinating and disturbing. Why did the final hour make everyone so uncomfortable and what did we actually learn from it? That’s the best we can hope for, seeing that it was a minor miracle that this revival of “Twin Peaks” exists at all.

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