Thoughts on Twin Peaks Season 3

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After twenty-five years, Twin Peaks made it back on the air. After having originally aired it’s first two seasons on CBS, the show has moved to that stations cable affiliate, Showtime. What this meant for the show is that Twin Peaks would be closer to David Lynch’s personal vision than it would resemble the TV show people loved. The break in fandoms happened after the release of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, and I think that film helped prepare people to be ready for what was in store. You can still never be ready for a Lynch project, and I still am trying to wrap my head around what I’ve witnessed. Here are some of my thoughts, in brief, about the new season. This article assumes the reader is caught up on season three, or in other words, there are spoilers below.

David Lynch doesn’t tell stories in a conventional fashion, and such was the case with season 3 of Twin Peaks, of which he directed all 18 episodes. Thankfully, series writer Mark Frost was also on board to help establish the show has a somewhat coherent narrative structure, although there are many loose ends left at the season finale, which also seems to be the series finale at this point.

coopBefore we reached the season/series finale, we had a lot of great moments to share with these characters. It was good to see Dale Cooper finally make his way back into the real world after being trapped in the waiting room of the black lodge for the past twenty-five years. Even though he had lost his mind and spent the majority of the series as a walking catatonic, it was a fun time watching him take baby steps in re-establishing his identity. Each episode had us hoping for him to “come back” to himself, and the payoff was worth the wait. It was also compelling seeing MIKE’s machinations to help make sure Cooper was safe and using Cooper to help benefit all of those around him. Even with his mind gone, Cooper is the force of pure goodness from the original series.

It’s also fair to say that it was trolling on Lynch’s part to have this story line of Cooper being Dougie Jones lasting over 15 episodes of it’s 18 episode run time. For me, however Twin Peaks is a TV show, not a religious experience, and I enjoyed it for what it was without lamenting it for not being “what I wanted”. As I was not a writer on the show, and had no input into it, I also had no expectations of what to see while watching it. Quite a few people voicing their opinions on-line lack that ability.

That said, there are some plot lines that somewhat establish Twin Peaks to be a meta show with it’s characters brushing their fingertips against the fourth wall, and quite possibly tearing it down entirely in the finale, and this I do take issue with, if it is in fact canon (which I don’t think it is). I will present my argument why this isn’t the case.

People have discovered the character who owns the Palmer house played as herself in the finale when she opens the door to “Carrie Page” (Lara Palmer), and “Richard” (Dale Cooper). Notice, these identities they established in this alternate universe were “Carrie” and “Richard”. Neither Cooper or Lara were referred to as “Kyle”, or “Sheryl”.  The real life lady who owns the house was just a joke or wink at the fandom in my opinion, and not something that’s actually part of the story. I think the fact that when she opened the door to Lara Palmer and Dale Cooper and wasn’t jumping up and down, trembling with excitement and calling the actors by their real names gives this away as well. In fact, her character has no knowledge of Twin Peaks whatsoever, except in universe as she names Black Lodge residents as previous owners of the house.

Proceeding this split in timelines/realities, Lynch masterfully blended past and present by having Cooper travel back in time to a pivotal scene in Fire Walk With Me, and saving Lara from being murdered entirely. Coop’s character trajectory has been phenomenal over the course of this series, as he has gone from investigating her murder to actually preventing it.

twin-peaks-motherOf course, this gave Lynch the opportunity to end the show in the same way he has been ending things for twenty years now, with the characters entering a mirror universe as different versions of themselves. The difference being that somehow Dale knows who he is and we can assume that Judy is responsible for shifting the universes around. The first diner he stops in is named “Judy’s”, and is where Lara/Carrie now works.It’s safe to assume from Gordon’s description of Judy as a “entity of negative energy”, that it is the creature we see created in episode 8 which spawned Bob, and caused the Fireman to put Lara Palmer into the world.

twin-peaks11In essence, this is H.P. Lovecraft territory, with two powerful beings competing against each other over long periods of time using humanity as pawns. Although the Fireman seems to be “good”, do we really know that to actually be the case? From what we’ve seen, I think he’s trying to do the right thing, and is seen as an ally to Cooper throughout the show. However, given the place it leaves Cooper, it could be a blue and orange morality he operates under.

No matter if you feel Judy is responsible for the new timeline Dale crosses over into, I think it’s agreeable to say that somehow Cooper messed up on his quest, much like he did at the end of season 2. The stoic hero once again has let us down. He’s revealed to be, for all his qualities, woefully unable to combat these forces that he has been tasked with protecting humanity from. He’s not the first from the Blue Rose Task Force to pay for meddling with these forces, and likely will not be the last. However, as he’s so endearing to the audience, it makes it all the more disheartening to watch. We wanted a happy ending for Cooper, and instead we’ve seen him abandoned in a world where everyone he once knew thinks they are somebody else.

The optimism of the character dictates he will continue to strive to fight against these things, but we will likely never see how this affects anything. The Twin Peaks story continues in our minds, and we have to draw our own conclusions as to what it all means, and where it all will go. And this is what makes Twin Peaks fascinating. Despite all the frustrating moments it throws at us, and it’s refusal to play nice with it’s own fan base, it does not insult their/our intelligence. Lynch assumes we don’t need to be spoon fed things, at the risk of alienating people who would otherwise be fans.

Twin Peaks season three has been less of a show and more of an experience, and easily one of the best things of this past Summer.

 

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