Ever Get The Feeling You’re Being Cheated? – Reactions to the Twin Peaks Finale

That heading is of course not from Twin Peaks, but rather is Johnny Rotten’s famous reaction to realizing his whole career up to that point was a money-making scam, and he was about to be sold down the river.

The end of Twin Peaks has left many fans feeling the same way. It has also marked the start of a intense grieving process for many. The final two hours have left some feeling that David and Mark welcomed them into a wonderful life full of colour and warmth, only to abruptly cut the cord and leave them adrift in that endless purple sea of existence.

We have seen a lot over the past three months that felt unreal. The doppelgängers journey was like a lesson in filmmaking. David touched upon every genre there is and marked his territory there. From Tarantino killer couples, unremarkable teen as action hero, the beautiful film noir of part 8, tearful happy endings and grimy drug deaths, he covered it all in what is surely his magnum opus.

And while the doppelgängers odyssey was a dark and violent one, we see it all through Cooper’s eyes. No, Cooper is not ‘the dreamer’. There is no dreamer. All there is is Dale Cooper’s doomed soul, trapped inside the Black Lodge and watching his multiple destinies unfold.

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Everything in the final parts is viewed through Dale’s eternal optimism.

The happy gathering of friends in his old home, the Sheriff’s station, all chapters winding together to a final denouement where he, as always, is the hero. A simple gunshot despatches the doppelgänger (although that didn’t work for Ray), an action hero cartoon fist smashes BOB into hell, although BOB is a symbol of ancient evil and cannot be defeated. But to Coop’s flawed judgement, anything is possible if you have good on your side.

Once back in the Lodge, he relives a previous scene once more, with minor changes. This time there is no BOB or doppelgänger Arm to make things go wrong. He is more optimistic than ever.

Cooper strides confidently towards Glastonbury Grove, a quick wiggle of the hand opening the curtains. He went into the Lodge in love with Annie, and also still Caroline, who are gone, but comes out to Diane, who is still available. Happy endings at the end of the rainbow. He is certain that he knew what to do. He takes The Fireman’s words about Richard and Linda as instruction, when they are actually a warning to leave things alone. As always, his unerring belief in his own abilities is about to trip him up yet again.

There are endless mistakes and endless realities, but once the Black Lodge touches you, you are doomed. Cooper was always there. Annie said so in FWWM before Cooper even heard of Twin Peaks. This is how he knew who Laura was, and how he dreamed of her. He and Carrie could have driven anywhere through eternal nights, but still it would have found them. They are always inside.

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I see everything else, all the revisited characters, all the vignettes in the roadhouse, as backdrop to Dale and Laura’s story. The background keeps changing, but those two are the constant, travelling through their entwined destinies over and over again.

Cooper found a possible end to his own nightmare, and it could have stopped there, but he had to go back and try to save Laura. No matter what he did to try to fix all the wrongs in their lives, their stories were already written. Their Fates are linked and they will always find each other. Even a happy ever after with Diane would have eventually led him back to Laura.

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It affects everyone. Julee Cruise is still in the Roadhouse singing of how the world continues to spin and life goes on, the RR hasn’t changed, Norma and Ed are still not together. Linda sees either Diane, or another version of herself, at the motel. She and Richard may meet here often, but this time she brings Diane’s memories with her, and finds herself making love to the man who raped her. All her existences mingle in that moment, and love and trauma happen at once.

The end scene is the crossroads of all these lives. Carrie Page doesn’t know Laura. Carrie Page isn’t Laura. Carrie Page is weak and downtrodden, and not too bright. She is a version of who Laura may have been without education or challenges or the purifying tests of spiritual strength.

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It shouldn’t be 1989. It should be 2014. Cooper feels his way in the street with his right hand, just has Gerrard has the whole season when he was seeking out communication with Dougie. What he feels is a tear in the fabric of time and reality. He realises that none of this is real.

As the house changes and we hear Sarah’s screams, Carrie connects to the part of her that is Laura, the part of her that was in the Black Lodge in part 1. Realities overlap, and they realise that all they have done is bring Laura back to witness her own horrors and her own inevitable end. It always was the story of the little girl who lived down the lane.

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Laura’s scream closes the circle and they are back in the Black Lodge, where they always were and where they always will be. She whispers to Cooper as they are drawn back through it all, back to the beginning.

These are the themes I have always loved, ever since FWWM. The mirroring, the repetition, the constant circling back. It is all happening at once, and sometimes the lines cross over.

For many fans, this may feel like a cheat or a cop-out. All these unfinished stories left dangling in the air. They feel tricked. Did Lynch and Frost really just destroy the history and timeline of their own creation? Did we spend 27 years invested in and truly loving these stories and themes that were never even real? I don’t believe so.

Our Laura still died in that filthy train car, still made the brave and selfless decision to take the ring and keep herself whole. But at another time, she didn’t take the ring, and it was Ronette who was killed and trapped in limbo. And in another reality, Cooper saved her, Sarah left Leland and sold up and they moved away. None of it happened, yet all of it happened.

Months ago, I posted about wishing I’d moved to Washington and become an actress so I could have a part in the show. Someone replied, ‘Viewer is also a role.’ And they were completely right. David and Mark have handed us an entire universe full of possibilities and left it up to us to end the story wherever we want to. They haven’t left loose ends to torture us. They have left them for us to write ourselves, as part of a continuous gift.

Endless stories, endless possibilities. Just like in life. Our choices and actions make a difference because they touch the lives around us. But at the same time, they make no difference at all in the big picture, because our destinies are already written. It gives us the freedom to dream.

Perhaps this, in the end, is what will save us all from drowning in that tumultuous purple sea.

Cooper was never able to take Laura home to her mother, but I choose to believe they made it to the White Lodge. The final scene of Fire Walk With Me has always been the end for me, and still is. Laura’s angel came to take her home, and maybe Cooper’s was right behind.

5 Replies to “Ever Get The Feeling You’re Being Cheated? – Reactions to the Twin Peaks Finale”

  1. This is a great essay. I choose to believe that the moments of ep 17 (and most of 18) were not Cooper’s dream from the Lodge but were, in fact, real– I have to believe that, because they’re moments of optimism and hope, which I need to believe in.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Laura’s angel came to take her home”

    Yesterday, I was puzzling over why the Fireman showed Laura flanked by angels to Andy. Maybe it was to indicate that Laura is, ultimately, saved.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. brilliant piece and i subscribe to it. the infinity symbol jeffries creates, made more explicit by the three dimensional nature and little ball which rolls around in it are big clues in my opinion. Jeffries says something like “there it is” at this point and his last words to Cooper are “Remember”, but Coop has problems remembering (at least about richard and Linda), as Jeffries mentions “its slippery in here”. Also, the first time Laura whispers to Cooper, in the first episode of the return, Cooper asks a question that precedes the whisper directly, “when can I go?”. I believe Laura tells him he can never go, his actions have created an endless skip of the gramophone record.

    Liked by 1 person

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