I don’t believe in escapism.
This is something I have grown to understand, and accept with age.
That my own personal enthusiasm for culture, and in this case, film and narrative, come from a place where the real intersects with our dreams. The wishes we impose on the public. A way in which we can explore our relationship with daily realities, much less contradict them. And in that way, effective filmmaking, is a lot closer in presentation to a prism by which we perceive and digest the real world. So when I continue to hear others beat the drum that they read books, watch movies, and go to shows to escape reality, I cannot help but wince.
Because reality will always win.
And this isn’t because the rift between realities and our greatest dreams are at any true odds with one another. But rather that after a good session of dreams, we have the capability of being renewed, inspired, possibly even enhanced by them. Reality may win, but this is wholly due to how we allow the mind to breathe through our most difficult of times.
Which brings us to the final two hours of Twin Peaks The Return, which not only lives up to its authors’ intent of closing a book that originally began twenty-seven years ago, but seeks to endlessly dispel notions of safety, comfort, fan appeasement, common logic, and expectation. And despite this, and having survived such a situation before, it remains something to be cherished and mulled for years to come.
When we last left our friends, all points seemed to be razor fixed on what seemed to be a shared destiny between a great majority of them. Mr. C, was seen heading toward Peaks along a darkened highway. Cooper, along with the Mitchum Bros & Candee, Mandee, and Sandee, are on a flight to Spokane. Word following their harrowing altercation with “Diane”, ends with them at last being notified of the recent history of “Douglas Jones”, as well as his current run north. All while Naido, the blind woman, remains in a cell beneath the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station with a shifty Chad, the Mocking Man, James & Freddie. Come the start of this hour, destiny intervenes, allowing Mr C. to enter the Sheriff’s station with poor Andy, believing that he is indeed our Cooper. And what follows could only be described as one of the most overwhelmingly suspenseful sequences in the entire history of the series.
But what comes in the wake of this inevitable confrontation, is where our greatest deliverance begins.
After what seems to almost resemble a climactic convergence, and Naido has indeed been revealed to have always been the true Diane, hidden away while her tulpa duplicate walked the Earth with the Blue Rose Society, we are granted an overlapped, real time close up of Cooper’s baffled stare. As if to suggest that what we have been seeing all along, was but one dream of several. Almost as in flashback. What happens in these moments, may be crucial toward deciphering everything that follows. Which is where I admit to all of this being too fresh to completely digest. But what follows throughout this stunning emotional reunion of old friends, and meeting between generations, is a suggestion that Cooper has something big in mind.
“Now, there are some things that will change.”
“The past dictates the future”
Speaking, as if to say goodbye, Cooper has also placed the ring on the finger of his fallen, darker self, sending him back to the Black Lodge. All things seemingly in their place.
Having retrieved the old Great Northern Hotel room key from Sheriff Truman, another plan seems to very well be under way. The superimposed image of Cooper’s face, a reminder that perhaps none of what has happened had to. Emboldened by these events, the moves he makes beyond this moment, perhaps serve as but another possibility. Potential outcomes, being the ultimate blood that flows through the veins of the entirety of the Twin Peaks phenomenon, at last have become the objective focus for what follows.
However, none of what follows will play toward more casual, ardent, and traditional fans of popular culture. And this was the precise same feeling that overcame fifteen year old me the evening of June 10th, 1991. An hour remained, and by the dramatic shift in tone, and distension of quiet, it came clear to me that this was at last Lynch, unbridled by network, fan, or even co-writer expectations. We were in uncharted territory, tethered merely by the hope that everything would turn out something resembling fine.
Only it didn’t.
Viewers, are already expressing their lack of belief that Lynch and company would take their favorite characters , character threads, and sense of goodwill into such a dark, melancholy, nightmarish place, yet these are some of the same viewers that either didn’t experience that night I did twenty-six summers ago, or truly believed that so many threads could truly be tied in eighteen hours. The first hints that this was an improbability, came about throughout much of the Las Vegas sequences. The very thing that caused some to billow about the slow nature of said moments, failed to consider that all of this has been deliberate from green light. That this was the Lynch we were going to experience should have been emblazoned on every scene following. The very nature of Lynch’s entire involvement with Twin Peaks, has been that of misdirection, and misalignment. His interest, isn’t solely that these beloved characters earn their happy endings, which echoes a bit of our scene a few hours ago with Ed and Norma. Moments like these remain idyllic, but falter in the face of the daily struggles we must endure to even earn such moments of transcendent peace. A depressing thought? Sure. But not a thought without merit.
Back to Cooper. Who we have learned, has been gathering revelations from the start, and seems primed to do the unthinkable;
He wishes to undo history by way of saving Laura Palmer.
“We live inside a dream”
Like Orpheus attempting to take Eurydice through and out of the underworld, the forthcoming hour presents to us both a man revived, and yet disconnected from the reality that so many have grown to accept. That the power of undoing the fabric of time and space, may be no domain for any mere person, let alone a well-meaning, hopelessly good man like Cooper. He wishes no pain on those he cares for. Yet, like many of Americans in this fractured era, he lacks the hindsight that we persist. That we move forward despite the heartbreak. That none of what came in the loss of Laura, was wholly bad, let alone unhealthy for the universe. He gambled on a sort of invasive surgery into the lives of those he held dear, and has now possibly broken it beyond repair. And by undoing the world we knew, he may very well have opened it to something far, far worse.
Hour Eighteen of Twin Peaks (2017), is that voyage beyond the voyage. A journey into the outer worlds of not only what we had already experienced, but deeper into the wants of even its most inspiring protagonists. Even they have bouts with selfishness when confronted with the ability to do great good for the world. Universal balance, meaning that the threads that interconnect and help define our lives, often do so without us knowing that the best possible path is already under way. He tried to escape. He tried to undo the pain. He tried to save her. And in doing so, redemption might be further away now.
It’s a truly shattering notion to end a series on. Let alone a series that has gone on to inspire a feature film, several books, and a fandom that remains ardent despite the often frayed relationship some may continue to have with it. With a denouement which ends with a horrific scream, a startling blackout, and a slow-motion visual callback during the credits, this is a wholly intentional reminder that none of what we have today is to be taken lightly. That life persists, and that this means potential for change going ever forward.
We don’t have to escape.
But we can confront the future in whatever way seems fit for more of us.