It’s hard to believe that we’re at 200 posts already. It literally feels like yesterday that I was posting in Facebook groups announcing this project, asking if anyone was interested in joining me. The team is up to myself and 18 others now and we’re publishing 2 or 3 articles daily. The community has embraced us and we could not be more grateful. Now is a good time to formally welcome the 7 latest members of the team. They’re working on our weekly “Black Lodge / White Lodge” debates, helping John with the incredibly difficult task of putting together the weekly podcast review and also pitching article ideas. Please welcome Mat Cult, Ali, Matt A, Simon, Sean, Yvette and Isaac! They’re already members of the family and their hard work deserves recognition. For this post we wanted to do something interactive with the community and we received a lot of great questions. So many great questions in fact that we had to split them up. In this anniversary post you’ll see the first half and then there will be a second post later this week with the rest. So I’ll shut up now and we can get to the fun part. Thank you as always for helping us do what we love – Andrew
Question from Ben Durant (Twin Peaks Unwrapped podcast): What are 25 Years Later’s plans after The Return ends?
Answered by Lindsay: This is a big question we’ve been talking about a lot as The Return heads into its finale few weeks. Obviously, there will be months of analysis from our ever-expanding team of diehard fans as we fully digest and begin to comprehend the 18-hour season. Mark Frost’s book will give us plenty of new material to chew on when it is released come Halloween. Beyond that is anyone’s guess. But we’ll be here, and we have a few fun ideas percolating, so stay tuned for that! Our goal—as always—will be to continue the work and honor the legacy of Twin Peaks, the people involved in its production, and the fans who give it new life in so many creative ways!
Question from Linda D: Who owns that black box and why? What does evil Coop have to do with it.
Answered by Sean: I’m interpreting “black box” as the glass box from Part One in New York City. My original thought was that Audrey was the Anonymous Billionaire, and I wrote a whole theory on where I thought the series was going, but that’s out the window now. We know Mr. C is associated, he’s appeared to the FBI in surveillance photos at the location. At this stage of the reveal, he is top of his own food chain, we do not know him to be serving any master, which suggests he is the boss and owner of the glass box. I believe it has to do with the transition of Coop from the Red Room to the real world, part of preventing him from replacing Mr. C. We don’t know exactly the construction or function of this space, but it has some correlation to the other portals (Glastonbury Grove, Rancho Rosa, Mauve Room…) we’ve seen. Considering Mr. C’s intentions, it’s likely a trap that failed (possibly due to The Experiment’s meddling) or a diversionary rerouting mechanism that would put him off course from returning to his body. Considering how much time is left in the series, I don’t think we’re going to get any more information on the glass box or New York. The only version of this that I could imagine would be if they demythologized the whole transition of Coop and Mr. C from Red Room and Black Lodge to our world, but this doesn’t seem to be the show’s style. It’s more likely to remain vague.
Also answered by Matt A: I think the glass box is a device built with the intention of trapping entities from other dimensions, and perhaps one particular entity. We know that Mr. C is looking for information regarding the image on the playing card, which may be ‘mother’, the figure we saw briefly in the glass box, who killed Sam and Tracy, but also in episode 8 in the nuclear blast scenes – assuming it is the same entity and not just similar looking entities. The box seems like an evolution of technologies developed under project Blue Book, mentioned in The Secret History. If we assume Mr. C is the mysterious billionaire or associated with them, he is attempting to gain power via these methods by trapping a powerful entity, or trying to avoid being pulled back into the lodge by it.
Question from John Pirrucello – Deputy Chad himself! What is it about Twin Peaks that has caused it to endure for 27 years? What do the fans of the show seem to have in common?
Answered by Laura Stewart: Twin Peaks has been with me pretty much my entire life, all my living memory at least as I was 10/11 years old when I first started watching with my Dad (I don’t think he had any idea how brutal it would be in places, but I don’t think it had any effect on my psyche!)
For me as a strange child I loved it as it was cool and quirky, I fancied the pants off bad boy Bobby and really wanted to be Shelly. Being called Laura myself I was super chuffed that everyone was talking about ‘Who Killed Laura Palmer’? Then as I grew up my own teen years were pretty wild at times, Laura’s life as shown in Fire Walk With Me felt like a mirror of my own for much of my youth.
But I think the real reason why it’s endured for so long is that the story is just brilliant. On the surface it’s a simple tale, but Mark Frost has created so much lore, mythology and there is so much detail that can be delved into and researched because it ties into so much real life stuff, especially in the case of the Secret History of Twin Peaks. The show has always been soap operaesque and I haven’t found another that gives you such an emotional rollercoaster ride – one minute you can be laughing your heart out, the next its breaking. I find myself gasping with shock, terror or revelation at least once every episode. I find other television shows dull in comparison, nothing else quite hits the spot.
Twin Peaks does not give you all the answers on a plate, in your face, like most shows. It allows you to think deeply, investigate, delve deep into legend, theorize and speculate. I have learned so much from researching all the different threads, the history, science, philosophy, psychology of it all – it’s taught me way more than school ever did.
Of course, it goes without saying that it is visually spectacular too. The first time we saw the Red Room was a truly ‘what the hell?’ moment, but it struck a chord in so many minds. It was just so unexpected, and with Series 3 we have said that over and over again. Part 8 being without a doubt the most stunningly beautiful, astonishing, mesmerizing and disturbing hours of television ever seen.
Then we have the characters –all of them with such a brilliant back story, each intriguing in their own right. There is literally someone in Twin Peaks for everyone to relate to. Lynch has never been shy of hiring actors of all ages, all sizes, color, gender, sexuality and ability and that’s really quite extraordinary. We love these people, for all their quirks and often bad behavior, they bring a true sense of humanity and humor to the world of Twin Peaks.
The fans of the show are a special breed – there are casual fans of course, but there is pretty momentous number of hardcore fans who love nothing more than talking to each other about theories, write about them daily and make absolutely brilliant fan art and creations. I think we would all make brilliant detectives (if only real-life crime was as surreal and interesting) we have a brilliant eye for detail – we don’t miss a trick! Twin Peaks often feels like a test of who can solve the puzzle? Yet we never really want to, not completely, where’s the fun in that?
We love our community, we have made lifelong friends of all ages, from all over the world and from so many different backgrounds, but we all have that one thing in common that bonds us like glue. The love for Twin Peaks and everything related to it. And we have been really lucky that the cast of the show are also so engaged and into it along with us, they wanted it to come back as much as we did, and new cast members have been absolutely fantastic at interacting with us on social media. I don’t think it can be underestimated how important this is to us, we are all just typical human beings, we don’t think of ourselves as super geeky fans though it may look like that to the outside world, so to be able to chat and have a laugh with the actors is really humbling.
I think I can vouch for the majority in that we are in this for the long haul, whatever happens next, it is Twin Peaks for Life.
Question from Time for Cakes and Ale podcast: To what extent does the final structure of The Return reflect the availability of the cast?
Answered by Lindsay: That’s a tough question to answer, but using Catherine Coulson’s appearances as a benchmark I think it’s safe to say that every effort was made to accommodate the cast members at every turn, even when gravely ill. This accounts for all of Margaret’s scenes being physically non-demanding and simple in terms of set up and direction. On the flip side, it also seems as though many of the actors filmed all their scenes in a short period of time—for instance, Norma (Peggy Lipton) barely moving from the booth from scene to scene, day to day, suggests many of Lipton’s scenes were shot in a few days on the RR set. Is this because Ms. Lipton was unavailable or for the convenience the shoot? Either way, the structure of these scenes certainly gives us clues as to how they might have been filmed and what concessions were made at the time. (In addition, my gut feeling is that if a character has not appeared on screen, it’s because Lynch & Frost didn’t believe there was anywhere to go with their story, not because they were unavailable…with some notable exceptions.)
Question from Linda D: Was the fat lady in the car with the sock girl a member of the black lodge? She seemed to be in a hurry to get to a dinner? Where others were waiting. Was she about to miss a time frame to get somewhere?
Answered by Isaac: They are both ‘liminal’ beings- neither ‘Lodge’ entities nor ‘normal’ individuals (a la the Tremonds/Chalfonts). The external forces ‘in the air’ that are leading the various narrative threads to both a place and time, are putting literal, compelling pressure upon these ‘entities’, causing their almost primal instinct to run towards the time/place to trigger.
Also answered by Simon: I’m less inclined to think the driver is connected to the Lodge. She reminds me of the lady in the car approached by the Gotta light guy, and both strike me as people who are hysterical, for one reason or another. There’s a chance that the girl with her has been affected by a Lodge spirit though (or some Lodge-infused drugs), just given the manner she seems to lurch from the shadows. Whatever’s going on puts the lady in a panic; she’s probably concerned by the girl but not wanting to involve the police, tripping over her own story as she tries to explain why they need to be somewhere else. She doesn’t want to be there. Bobby’s reaction suggests it’s weird, but not THAT weird. He’s not recoiling from the toxic effect of garmonbozia vomit, after all, an effect we know all too well from that OTHER vomit-in-a-car scene.
Question from Diane Podcast: In what ways is the new series better than what came before? In what ways is it worse? No ducking out by saying things like “Well you really can’t compare them….”
Answered by Eileen: I think that the greatest strength of The Return is the fact that it is unconstrained by network demands. Too many show suffer from that affliction, as did Twin Peaks the first go round. It also helps that the writing/vision has cohesion (did I really just say that?) considering that the same two people wrote the entire script. So, in that respect, The Return really has a lot going for it that the original didn’t, with its forced murderer reveal and season two’s many meandering plotlines. (As a side note, I wouldn’t change a moment of it given the opportunity, despite all the ‘improvements’ it could have used. I love it exactly as it is.) The Return also has the freedom to play on how television has changed – but these are all things that people have said before. To get a bit more personal, what I love so much about the Return, over the Original Run, is that it is perfectly poised to act as commentary on the world, and also on the state of television today, while simultaneously defying all nostalgia attributed to television revivals. It’s better than the Original Run in that it is allowed – rather, it demands – to be something different. If it were simply a rehash, more of the same old, without a new flair, it wouldn’t be worthy of the source material, but rather an insult to it. It also earns the ‘Better’ title, because it has the time/space in the narrative to spend talking about things that matter in the present day – socio-political issues that the original never came close to covering, and in a remarkable way, at the same time delicate and in your face. The Return forces its viewers to take in the uncomfortable, to acknowledge things that we don’t think to, but should. If we ignore those things, we are worse citizens of the world (and America) for it. This above all is the best thing, in my personal estimation to come from The Return. The Original Run attempted it, to be sure, but it was a different time, and with different constraints, and never fully was able to comment on anything other than the willful ignorance of a small town against the horrors that went unchecked beneath their notice.
On the other side of the argument, where The Return is worse, I find that I can only answer for myself. I hesitate to make use of the phrase “compromised integrity” simply because it isn’t true in this case, but it is what I fear from every revival work, from every sequel or companion story. Despite this, I always felt as though the impact of The Return would do twofold things – lessen that of the Season Two Finale, one of the single greatest achievements in television history, and also fail to have the same impact it its finale though not it’s overall existence. Anyone who has read my article “Anatomy of a Finale: A Tribute to “Beyond Life and Death” will already know that before Season Three aired, I knew this would be true. There is no way (at least not immediately after its completion) for The Return to have the same 25 year cliffhanger, here-and-gone-again, fleeting as a rainbow impact as the Original Run. Now, some may say that’s a far premature assessment to have made before any parts of Season Three were aired, and it perhaps still too premature, with 5 (or 4 by the time this is published, I suppose) let to go. I maintain that no matter how mind-blowingly, confoundingly amazing the finale two hours of The Return will undoubtedly be, it will never be able to achieve what the Original Run did. And in that sense, The Return will always remain, perhaps, not worse but forever second best, and I don’t think anyone would begrudge it that. In fact, this might be one of the things that makes it as good as it is, because it isn’t attempting to be better – it is its own thing, and that is what certainly helps its case.
I could be paltry and add that our ever-altering cast of characters is underdeveloped by comparison to the Original Run, and as a result of the focus on plot, but the medium is so different and somehow the plot managed to take precedence this season. So, I won’t. It would be a petty gripe, and not entirely accurate. It’s ‘worse’ without my favorite characters, and also better because the story’s integrity requires that it favor other things over them. I desire to see more of them in spite of myself – such things are better relegated to fanfic than actual television. All things in moderation and moderation in all things.
To an objective viewer – the general audience proxy – this season could be categorized as worse because it is particularly unforgiving to those unfamiliar with the source material or any of Lynch’s other works. That is certainly a mark against it in “The Real World” were people like my mother live (“How can such a horrible show have such good music???”) and cannot fathom how I garner enjoyment from The Return unfailingly every Sunday. Whoever though we’d be calling the first two seasons of Twin Peaks accessible television?
Question from @alanfrancis74: What about Cooper’s brother Emmet mentioned in “My Life, My Tapes”? If I recall he went north to Canada to be a lumberjack – could he have become a woodsmen?
Answered by Eileen: Personally, I believe that Emmett was visited by the secret fraternal twin of his (and Dale’s) Uncle Al (The one who taught Dale how to count cards) who is none other than…Señor Droolcup. So Uncle Waiter came to Emmett and told him that if he didn’t flee to Canada, he’d die in Vietnam (except it went a bit like this: How ya doin there? Better come up to Canada. Better come up. We’ve got warm milk.) Emmett hightails it to Canada where he changes his last name to Brown. Then, after spending some time alone in the woods, having similar experiences to Jerry Horne (minus the drugs) and the future experiences of his brother, he returns to this dimension as a wizened, eccentric man, claiming to be a scientist, moves to California after forging a new family history and invents a time machine with the help of his dog, Einstein, and his young friend Marty McFly…
So in short, I don’t know, but I doubt it’s more likely than the wild tale I just conjured up.
Question from Linda D: How did the beautiful Audrey wind up with the ugly frog as husband. There has to be a serious story behind this disaster. No one should insult her, look what she is married to.
Answered by Yvette: Well, I don’t believe Audrey is married to Charlie. There is too much unclear about Audrey’s situation and it doesn’t feel like it is happening in the real world. I’m still firmly of the opinion that she never awoke from her coma and she is connecting to what is happening in Twin Peaks (and elsewhere) through dreams. Charlie threatened to end her story, which to me reinforces the fact that there is something going on that is not happening in the actual world of Twin Peaks.
Also answered by Ali: Let me answer your question with another question: if Audrey had come out of the coma having suffered and recovered from third-degree burns, would we look at Charlie in a different light? I think so, and I think it’s intentional on Frost & Lynch’s part. Audrey is a beloved character, and a large part of that—for better or worse—is because she is conventionally beautiful. To take this character, who was and continues to be lusted after by fans, and marry her to an unconventional man like Charlie is a choice that Lynch & Frost made and I think it’s an interesting one that forces us to really look at our preconceived notions of beauty. Right now, we don’t have the whole story, and the “what’s up with Audrey and Charlie” theories are running wild, but what we have seen is that she is clearly not well. Part 13 especially hammered that home. There’s been a lot of talk that Charlie is perhaps not her husband but her therapist, but all theories aside, if he is her husband I think Lynch and Frost are asking us: why is that so hard to believe? Charlie has a physical condition and Audrey has a psychological one, so I think we are being asked to examine why Charlie’s aesthetic is more off-putting than Audrey’s issues, which lay beneath the skin. I, for one, think it’s an important question and one that’s not asked enough.
Question by Linda D: How many other people may be “manufactured” or illusory other than the original Dougie? Janey-E and the kid, maybe the whole insurance company, the casino, all of Las Vegas. No one acts normal, not even close to normal there, reminds me of the Truman Show. Fake families, fake friends, fake home, etc.
Answered by Mat Cult: This is a good one. A lot of The Return definitely feels unreal. Things are happening out of sequence. The Lucky Seven insurance apparently works 24/7. Dougie-Cooper drifts through life accidentally avoiding sniper fire. It’s all a bit too dreamy, but let’s not forget that Twin Peaks has never presented a naturalistic world. Consider the amazing electro-boogie student at the high school, the table of 200 donuts for a sheriff station with a staff of six or Ben Horne’s lengthy Civil War therapy sessions. These are strange, overblown moments, but they definitely take place in the real world (of Twin Peaks). So I feel like we should proceed with caution before calling out all weirdness as evidence of illusion. Reality in Twin Peaks is amped up, intensified, saturated. The colors have always been more vibrant, the behaviors more eccentric, the events more exaggerated than our own world.
But we do know that fake people are in play in the Twin Peaks universe. The evidence overtly suggests that Dougie Jones was manufactured, presumably by Mr. C, in 1997. He had established a life, with a job and a family, but it was all founded on a falsehood – he was never a real person. And so his existence, which Cooper inadvertently slid into through an electrical socket, feels like a strange parody of modern life. But I don’t think that means the whole thing is a ‘Truman Show’-style illusion. I’m not saying I know for sure, just that explanation just doesn’t feel right to me.
It’s also worth recognizing that Las Vegas is, even in real life, an exaggerated, surreal, neon bauble of a place. It’s pretty easy to start wondering what’s real and what’s not just walking down the strip. It’s a city that trades on its fantasy and theatricality. You run that through the filter of Twin Peaks and what you get will immediately be intensely abnormal. I get that the Jones family’s house seems oddly “show home”-ish. I know that Candie is profoundly, breathlessly, wonderfully weird. I realize that the ‘Midas effect’ of everyone around Dougie-Cooper suddenly hitting life’s jackpot seems too good to be true – but this has always been the way with Twin Peaks, right from the start. This is a weird, wild world where FBI agents come face to face with llamas, where fish find their way into percolators and where a woman’s soul can become trapped in a wooden drawer handle. You add that level of weird to a town like Vegas and you’ve got a heady cocktail, but it’s not necessarily a “mocktail”.
That said, the fact that Dougie Jones was manufactured means that, in turn, Sonny Jim is the son of… Well, what exactly is he the son of? A doppelgänger? A shell? A fake person? And what does that make Sonny Jim? To quote Kris Kristofferson: “He’s a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction”. I say he’s partly truth, because one of his parents, Janey-E, seems completely real to me. I realize that opinions in the fan community differ wildly on this. But when I see her, I see all of us. Janey-E is trying to make her way in the world, doing the best she can for herself and her family. She shares our frustration at being part of “the 99 percent” and “living in a dark, dark age”. She wants the best from her man and the best for her son. I think she’s too relatable to be fake.
But we know for sure Dougie Jones was a fugazi. And logic tells us that Sonny Jim must therefore be at least semi-fake. That’s about all we know for sure. So now let’s climb aboard the conjecture train. Sitting comfortably? Then off we go!
Audrey Horne. Oh, Audrey. The dreamy teen femme fatale I crushed on so hard in my adolescence, when the original series aired. Lynch and Frost made us wait 12 long hours before we caught a glimpse of her and then what did we get? We got a frankly baffling situation. Having had only two scenes with her and Charlie, it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions, but I’m thinking what we’re seeing is not really real. Whether it’s a roleplay therapy, a dissociative fugue state, a coma dream or something else is not yet clear. But what we’re seeing is almost certainly some sort of unreality. The setting is too contrived, the dialogue too unusual, even for Twin Peaks. Personally, I’ve been blown away by Sherilyn Fenn’s performance so far and I’m thrilled she was given such a perfectly Lynchian role for her return. So, while we all know Audrey Horne is not “fake” per-se, I don’t think we’re seeing the real Audrey in these scenes.
There’s also mounting proof that all is not as it seems in the town of Twin Peaks. Some have made fairly convincing arguments that the time-hops and glitches we’re seeing in the town could be evidence for parallel realities. And if that’s the case – if the entire town has split in two just as our beloved Cooper did 25 years ago – then how can we be sure what is real and what is fake? Will the next five hours give us any solid answers, or will there just be more questions, more possibilities? There’s a big part of me hoping it will be left wide open, because speculating and theorizing is just so much fun. I’m starting to feel like we shouldn’t even care what’s real. To quote Cypher in The Matrix: “I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss.”
That’s going to wrap up the first part of our Q and A! In the second part, myself, John, Cheryl, Sezin, Sophia and Brien will be answering questions. Thanks again for your continued support!