The Twin Peaks revival airs Sundays, 9pm on Showtime.
**Warning: This piece is full of spoilers. If you haven’t watched the original series of Twin Peaks or its movie Fire Walk with Me, you will likely be very confused. Reader discretion is advised.**
When Twin Peaks ended on June 10, 1991, people were left confused and frustrated. Instead of wrapping up the show’s many mysteries, David Lynch and his partner Mark Frost actually introduced more mysteries. We are left with a bank explosion with unknown survivors, Sarah Palmer becoming a spirit vessel and delivering news about the Black Lodge to Major Briggs, Nadine coming out of her amnesia to find herself in a relationship with a youngster while her husband Big Ed is with Norma, and Special Agent Dale Cooper’s evil doppelgänger emerging from the Black Lodge to take his place.
So when a Twin Peaks theatrical film directed by series co-creator David Lynch released the following summer in 1992, people expected to finally get the closure that they sought but didn’t receive with the series finale. Much to their dismay, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me was a prequel film, and not a sequel. Instead of letting us know the fate of Dale Cooper, we flash back to see the story of Laura Palmer and her tragic downfall, though not until after we see a similar case that happened in Deer Meadow a year prior.
Now 26 years later (Sorry Laura, you were off by a year), David Lynch and Mark Frost are bringing the show back on the Showtime network with 18 new episodes all of which are written by the duo and directed by Lynch. This will, in essence, be the purest form of Twin Peaks yet. Whether or not the new show brings us answers or closure remains to be seen, but as far as I am concerned, it doesn’t need to. For me, the old series and the exceptionally grim film aren’t so much about the mysteries themselves, but rather about becoming trapped in an unavoidable situation.
Laura Palmer was beloved by everybody in the town of Twin Peaks. She was a cheerleader, prom queen, the works. What most of the town either didn’t know or didn’t want to acknowledge was that she was also trapped in various cycles of abuse. Let’s start with her relationship with Bobby Briggs—captain of the football team. From the outside, it was a perfect scenario: captain of the football team dating the head cheerleader. Underneath the façade, however, the two found themselves trapped in a relationship of desperation. Both Laura and Bobby were cheating on each other, preserving the relationship only to keep up appearances and to support their cocaine addictions.
Laura’s situation grew ever more desperate as she joined a prostitution ring. Her drug use soared, and she was regularly exploited by creepy dudes. Creepy dudes such as her father, Leland Palmer. Leland would frequent prostitutes when he would travel out of town for business. He gained a certain affection for a prostitute in Deer Meadow by the name of Teresa Banks—the young woman we see floating down a river wrapped in plastic at the beginning of Fire Walk with Me. He liked her because she looked, “Just like my Laura.” If that wasn’t creepy enough, he later tries to arrange a meeting with Teresa and some of her prostitute friends, but finds that Laura is there. As she tries to blackmail him, Bob takes over and he kills her. He is now trapped by the spirit of Bob. This darkness eventually leads to him becoming increasingly more abusive to his daughter—both emotionally and physically. It even resorts to him sneaking into her bedroom and raping her. She doesn’t tell anyone, though. Doing so would expose her nightlife and addiction problems, and would break up her family unit. All illusions would be shattered and the darkness would grow.
In her death, the darkness did grow. Every aspect of daily life in Twin Peaks changed. Beyond that, Dale Cooper changed. He received visions of Laura and the Black Lodge before he even went to Twin Peaks. He saw her ascension from the Black Lodge to the White Lodge. He became trapped in Twin Peaks before even setting foot in the state of Washington.
The series ends with the darkness spreading further. Cooper enters the Black Lodge in order to rescue Annie Blackburn. Once in the lodge, he finds himself in a red-curtained nightmare. He alternates between the two rooms and the narrow hallway, but never finds a way out. He’s trapped in the realm of Bob and the doppelgängers. An especially terrifying doppelgänger is Laura’s who rushes toward Cooper screaming. After several more terrifying images, Cooper confronts Bob, who refuses to take Cooper’s soul. He does, however, keep the Good Dale Cooper trapped in the Black Lodge while the doppelgänger takes his place in Twin Peaks.
That’s where we’ve been trapped for the past 25 years. We won’t know if the Good Dale Cooper ever made it out of the Black Lodge or if his doppelgänger was ever discovered to be a possessed replica until the new series wraps. Even then, David Lynch and Mark Frost might choose to leave those questions unanswered. And you know what? I think I’m fine with that.