‘Twin Peaks: The Return’ – Parts 17 and 18 (Finale) Review

Milo Garner concludes his review series of Lynch’s Twin Peaks revival.


Finally, after nearly sixteen hours of television, Twin Peaks comes to an end in its final two parts. Part 17 is in many ways as clear an ending as one might expect from David Lynch – which is to say, not clear at all, but there is a closure offered. A variety of contrived events lead most of our primary characters to the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department, with Bob Coop being shot in the back – though it isn’t the first time he’s taken a bullet in this series. The real Cooper (yes, real! It’s still difficult to believe) later arrives at the scene, and witnesses – as Bob emerges from Bob Coop’s corpse – a sort of orb that might better suit a sci-fi channel TV movie (sorry not sorry). Freddie, the man with the gardening glove, finds his destiny come upon him, and engages in a bizarre punching contest with this evil orb, eventually destroying it. Could that be it? The primeval doom haunting the denizens of Twin Peaks – and far beyond – dealt with by a tertiary character’s magic hand? Of course not.

Following this Coop is approached by Naido, whose face peels back and shows her to be none other than Diane. A giant superimposition of Cooper’s face overlays the screen for the rest of the scene – as he says ‘we live inside a dream.’ The effect is bizarre, but it works – this episode does have the tinge of a dream ever-deepening. The narrative seems to agree, leading the gang to the Great Northern, wherein Coop follows the sound that has haunted Ben for most of the series. He meets Mike, chanting the ‘fire walk with me’ lines, before being led again to Jeffries in the monochrome convenience store. He is told to find Judy, and the mysterious symbol of the Owl Cave becomes an 8 (or is it ∞?). Then, cutting together new footage with scenes from Fire Walk With Me, Lynch inserts Cooper into the past: the night of Laura’s murder. Laura recognizes Cooper from a dream, and she is led by him away – she is ‘going home’. Her body disappears from its position in the very first episode of Twin Peaks, Back to the Future style. Everything seems to have changed – Coop has undone it all. If this was the very final episode one might be forgiven for assuming genuine, unbelievable, closure. But there are a few more scenes to come – Sarah Palmer smashes the homecoming picture of Laura, so essential to the Twin Peaks aesthetic; Laura disappears in the woods; we hear that scream once again. Then the episode plays out, with Julee Cruise predictably, but perfectly, reprising her role as a Roadhouse musician. Even with the mysterious ending, it’s difficult to imagine a full part more to come.

If Part 17 was the ending for traditional Twin Peaks, 18 is the ending to the more Lynchian Twin Peaks that rears its surreal head every few episodes. We see again Cooper leading Laura through the woods, and again her disappearance. Then Coop is back in the Red Room, and Laura whispers in his ear before she is lifted through the ceiling. Coop leaves and finds Diane, hair as red as the room he came from, awaiting him. They drive through a portal far way and reach a motel, then have sex to the sound of ‘My Prayer’ by The Platters, last heard in Part 8’s 50s section. When he awakens everything has changed – a note is left addressed to Richard from Linda. We can assume that in whatever world he has woken up to, he is no longer Agent Dale Cooper, but Richard. Here we go again. The motel he leaves and the car he enters are different to those of the night before, and he drives to a coffee shop called Eat at Judy’s, hinting at Jeffries’ comment in Part 17. He asks if another waitress works there – she does, but it’s her day off. He finds out where she lives and discovers her to be Laura, or rather, her doppelganger. This woman is actually Carrie, but at Coop’s insistence she allows him to ferry her to Laura’s home in Twin Peaks. On the journey Lynch focuses on an image that has always fascinated him, the dark American highway partially lit by headlights passing at speed. There is an inherent fear to the vast emptiness of these long American roads, and Lynch won’t let us forget it. It reminds us of Lost Highway specifically. That comparison can be taken further: not only was that a film that focused heavily on doppelgangers, but it also included a narrative that changed its characters and locations mid-way through, much like Coop’s situation in this episode. Eventually arriving at Twin Peaks, Coop arrives at Sarah’s house to find it occupied by someone else. Upon asking who the new occupant bought it from Coop discovers no trace of Sarah Palmer whatsoever. In his bemusement he ponders what year it is, Carrie hears the voice of Sarah shout ‘Laura’, and Carrie screams that scream. And so it ends.

If there was a fear Lynch was posing too many questions in the last few episodes of Twin Peaks to ever be answered, this is the response to that fear, an episode that essentially turns the entire series on its head. There have been many attempts to interpret Part 18, including the suggestion that it and Part 17 might better be played overlayed on top of each other, but many of its mysteries will doubtlessly go unsolved. But is this a bad ending to Twin Peaks? No – in fact, it might well be the perfect ending for Twin Peaks. It surrenders any suggestion of rounding the story off, as implied in Part 17, and remains compelling throughout, allowing a sense of surprise and unknowing even this late in the game. As the series finally finishes, very possibly for good, the superlative quality of what has come before makes it hard to feel disappointed. Across 18 Parts Lynch has not only revived Twin Peaks, but improved it, crafting some of the most interesting and original television of recent times.

Twin Peaks: The Revival has concluded. It aired Mondays at 2am in simulcast with the U.S. on Sky Atlantic, and again at 9pm on Tuesdays.

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