Notes from the Bookhouse: The Fans Speak

As part-time curator of the Bookhouse library (when Lucy’s busy with police business) I often get to overhear some great conversations between patrons, those intrepid Bookhouse Boys and Babes who frequent this fine establishment. Sometimes — if the books are shelved and properly alphabetized, per Lucy’s instructions — I even get to partake!

Such was the case earlier this week when four big fans — Courtenay Stallings from the Blue Rose Magazine, Karl Eckler and Jubel Brosseau from Counter Esperanto podcast, and Christian Hartleben, longtime Twin Peaks fan and historian — stopped in for a chat!

So gather ’round the dinner table and listen in to what they had to say; the conversation was most definitely lively!

Lindsay: All right! Thanks again to all of you for agreeing to this. I think the best way to start is to jump in and get started. First up, right off the bat: Did you enjoy The Return? Why or why not?

Courtenay: I loved The Return. I went in with zero expectations and an open mind. Lynch warned us it would be more like Fire Walk With Me than the original series. And it was. It was divisive and mind blowing. I’m still grappling with what I witnessed, but it’s given me so much to explore in The Blue Rose Magazine with my editors John Thorne and Scott Ryan.

Jubel: I absolutely enjoyed The Return. As listeners of Counter Esperanto (my podcast with Karl) would know, we saw the original Twin Peaks as the supreme expression of the Weird in the televisual medium. It changed the face of television by taking the dominant themes and modes of nighttime television of the 80s (plus film noir and horror), and added real Mystery to the formula. The Return has done it again, but has expanded the universe of the series, the context in which it takes place, and the sense of Mystery at the heart of it all. Going in with few/no expectations was a big part of the enjoyment, for a lot of people, it seems. The show’s detractors tend to have more attachments of what a Return to Twin Peaks must entail.

Karl: Hell Yeah I enjoyed The Return! Probably because I got exactly what I was expecting: 18 hours of Smooth, well-aged Lynch/Frost goodness. Other than that…. I had ZERO expectations.

Christian: I had a blast. The Return was constantly challenging, and generated such responses from the fans. I was glad to help by moderating Facebook groups, and give others room to theorize as it unfolded. I’m more content to form my impressions slowly.

Lindsay That’s so awesome to hear!!!

Jubel: Christian brings up a good point about theorizing: it wasn’t a major part of my personal enjoyment to try to figure out the “puzzle,” but a little of that is inevitable I suppose.

Karl: As Christian notes, and Dr. Jacoby points out some two decades ago, “My own personal investigation, I suspect, will be ongoing for the rest of my life.”

Courtenay: That is such a good point, Jubel. I’m still processing the show and will for a long time. I plan to rewatch it with a fresh perspective in the coming months.

Christian: The best of Lynch’s puzzles hover between two or more solutions, none of which is strong enough to crowd out the others. When there is no exclusive solution, there may be a meta-solution, i.e. a few solutions arranged to balance each other out. These balanced solutions force the mind to race between them, like the blades of a ceiling fan. They are each necessarily incomplete

Karl: Fascinating idea, Christian! Personally I always viewed “solutions” to Lynchian works as the literary version of the Masks of personality we humans wear, a different mask for every differing situation, day, and weather. But something, maybe a roiling formless something, behind the masks that the art wears.

Jubel: I like the idea of balanced solutions, Christian. Not a standard explanation for events, but having the tension between multiple possibilities be the “point” of the work.

Lindsay: Reactions seem to have been a bit mixed from a lot of fans. To what do you think we can can attribute that?

Courtenay:I can appreciate some of the criticism of the show from fans. There were so many story lines that did not pan out and characters who were introduced but not really explored. In a way, the show can be read as a meta take on the original series. One can never really go back to what TP originally was.

Jubel: The need for time to process is probably a factor, in addition to attachment to one’s expectations. We must remember that Fire Walk With Me was largely dismissed for years after it came out. The dangling storylines left at the end didn’t phase me much. Readers of Weird horror are used to abrupt shifts and existential chasms that suddenly open up and swallow the protagonists. The Audrey arc was the one that gave me pause, however, because we had spent so much uncomfortable time with Charlie/Billy/Tina/Roadhouse Randos. Now I realize that we were likely witnessing her own personal purgatory, and Lynch conveyed that frustration brilliantly.

Christian: Audrey’s unresolved arc is one of the biggest opportunities for Season Four, should we be so fortunate.

Lindsay: So that leads a little bit to my next question: Which character arc or moment (character or plot) surprised you the most?

Jubel: I was most surprised by the Audrey material, simply because it was so brazenly nihilistic. A runner up would of course be Dougie, which was probably the biggest controversial move of the season.

Courtenay: That’s a great question, Lindsay. For me, the character of Diane surprised me the most. She had much more of a role in The Return than what I would have imagined. She also seemed to play such an important part in the Richard/Linda crossover into other dimensions.

Jubel: The moment where it is revealed that Diane and Janey E were related made me gasp audibly. It was completely unexpected, and yet made perfect sense considering everything that came before. It also flies in the face of the idea that Lynch/Frost had somehow “lost their touch,” or were trolling us with random material.

Christian: There was no anticipating Dougie. Was Diane was the new Laura?

Lindsay: Dougie was certainly frustrating for many…Diane was also amazing! Not a surprise that Laura Dern was playing her but a surprise, as you said Courtenay, because of how central her role ended up being in that last 90 mins

Karl: I was fairly surprised by how Diane was imagined as well. And that was very much something I tried to to not speculate on.

Jubel: Diane was interesting, because as it is revealed late in the game, we may still have never seen the “real” Diane. Perhaps the Diane that meets Cooper at Glastonbury Grove. Major Briggs as well. Making absent figures present through some kind of narrative negative space was one of the great masterstrokes of The Return.

Karl: I was really surprised by Laura’s role. It was like… she was even more absent in The Return than TOS, but The Return is ALL about her.

Courtenay: That is a great way of describing Laura’s role in The Return, Karl. She’s so present but hardly in it.

Karl: And yet it is a type of absence completely different from her absence back in ’89.

Lindsay: Every Part started with Laura’s image. We couldn’t help but see her as vitally important.

Courtenay: I was also surprised by how much I quickly came to love the new characters. Chad (played by John Pirruccello) became my favorite conference-table-lunch-eating villain.

Jubel: Chad was so brilliantly played by a man who by all accounts has a very kind, gentle soul.

Lindsay: Since Courtenay brought it up: who was your fave new character??

Christian: My favorites were the Mitchum Brothers and Candie, Mandie and Sandie: the Las Vegas family who cheated audience expectations.

Jubel: I was really taken by the Vegas crew. I am having difficulty choosing between Janey E (who starts out fairly strident, but is revealed as a very strong character indeed), and the Mitchum Bros collectively. I’ll go with Janey E, because, Naomi Watts, man.

Karl: To watch? Mr. C / D.C.To be mystified by? Red

Jubel: that’s a good call, although he was technically introduced in the last minutes of Season 2

Karl: D.C. went through some changes in 25 years then… he came out of the lodge utterly insane, but what walked out of the dark (to the tune of American Woman) was very, very, different.

Lindsay: That’s a great point about the Vegas crew, @Christian…they totally did defy expectation and easy categorization. Fascinating characters. Oooooh yeah…what was UP with Red?!

Jubel: Yeah, Red is troubling/puzzling. One of the more mysterious dangling threads.

Christian: We were not done with him. His connection to the terrible Sparkle trade, his hold over Shelly. Red was not-so-indirectly responsible for Steven’s fate.

Jubel: It’s interesting to think that the Dougie arc is the only thing that fully plays out with a beginning, middle, end. We have to be within the environs of Twin Peaks (and to a lesser extent South Dakota) for the narrative to fracture.

Lindsay: And interesting @Jubel that everyone (myself included!) believed it was the Vegas storyline that was such a mess time wise at first…how wrong and naive we were…

Courtenay: I had a whole theory about Red that never played out (of course!). I thought it was Red (a Black Lodge entity) who was posing as Phillip Jeffries in order to defeat evil Mr. C to get back with Bob. I was SO intrigued by his character. The moment he leaves Shelly at the RR, all kind of hell breaks loose. And that sick girl rising up out of the car seat still chills me.

Jubel: Red, Sparkle, Becky, Shelly, Gersten…mystery on top of mystery. The sick girl in the car is definitely my favorite non-sequitur.

Lindsay: YES! As Jubel called her, the Horror in the Front Seat (a modern day Lovecraft short story, eh?) Sparkle is also one of those mysteries that I’m happy wasn’t fully explored because it gives rise to so many theories. Anthropomorphic animals could absolutely fit into one of those. So could the breakdown between realities…it’s all theoretically possible.

Karl: I really love the tenuous, implied connections between characters. The plots unstated but left to cling to us like stale cigarette smoke and roadhouse beer reek.

Lindsay: Yes Karl! They lingered in our minds no matter how little time we spent with them…Charlie and Red and Steven and Sam & Tracey. They blended in so seamlessly into the story, as if they’d always been there but we’d just never seen them before.

Christian: We might have been more content with fewer characters, more thoroughly explored; but would we have been more engaged? I do not think so. We learned to live with the uncertainties: Will we ever see this character again? Did Gersten teach literature to Steven as a high school senior? Did they study the Rhinoceros by Ionesco?

Jubel: I have not read that, but now I must. That’s a good call: I watched their scene in the woods a couple times with the captions on and it still seemed like gibberish. But I figure there’s more to it, definitely.

Karl: “Great scott Christian!” It’s about a small french town where everyone is turning into Rhinos, except for one guy that everyone criticises for being obsessed about Rhinoceroses. Yeah, it doesn’t fit precisely, but instead “works” in the same way that a work of art works with others hung in the same room. If it does… work that is. The connection to the play only had to work for Steven, and his mind was turning to mush

Christian: The connection to the play only had to work for Steven, and his mind was turning to mush

Karl: Christian, ‘xactly.

Christian: If Gersten had been his teacher, that play could have been deeply tied to the start of their romance

Jubel: Interestingly, Zoo animals are referenced a few times, especially in the Roadhouse. Penguins, Zebras (both black and white animals) and Rhinoceros.

Christian: A penguin could symbolize a nun in a habit. A zebra could mean a convict released from jail.

Karl: And penguins and zebras are black and white creatures… the Rhinoceros is the two blended. Gray.

Christian: Coded language, from the woman you don’t want serving you burgers

Karl: a type of… “Counter Esperanto” even?

Christian: I see what you did there… It struck me that Steven was clinging to his last public successes, “I’m a high school graduate”

Lindsay: Yes, I agree, Christian. My co-host on Bickering Peaks suggested that Steven was symbolizing some of the problems facing lower/lower middle class men in a post-recession economy…his last success would have been one of but a few sources of pride he has in a world that doesn’t have a place for him. A more nuanced villain than we might have expected from first glance, perhaps.

Karl: yes, much more nuanced… I thought of him as, well, as the titular “Steven” from the Ke$ha song. At least until that last act of his up against the ghostwood tree.

Courtenay: I like the Ionesco connection @Christian Hartleben. I’ve been thinking a lot about Kafka lately in relation to Lynch’s work. It’s no mistake Gordon Cole has a photo of a young Kafka on his office wall. The idea of exploring notions of identity, existence, everyday horror and trauma in a surrealistic world. I’ve been thinking of Kafka in terms of Cooper, but I like the idea of Steven’s grappling with his situation, too, @Lindsay Stamhuis.

Lindsay: So in that vein, my next question relates to standout themes. It seems that everyone found something that spoke to them personally. (Maybe that is part of the beauty of Lynch) What did you think were the themes that stood out, for you personally or not?

Courtenay: For me, the standout theme was trauma. The ending of The Return forced “Carrie Page” to remember her trauma when confronted with the Palmer home. There was no erasing what had been done to her. And, depending on how you interpret it, even Cooper couldn’t erase that past or save Laura from it. In many ways, that last scene forced us as viewers to confront and bear witness to Laura’s trauma.

Lindsay: I love that, Courtenay. It also implicates us as viewers in this, in some way. If you take that reading.

Jubel: Let’s see, standout themes…Two themes: as Courtenay says, the underlying theme is still trauma, but the narrative is refocused to show that nothing can erase it. Behind this is a second theme, as Albert paraphrases the subtitle of “Ronnie Rocket:” The Absurd Mystery of The Strange Forces of Existence.” This is why I believe “Freddie and the Green Glove” becomes such an important element. It is very deliberately absurd. So is BOB, for that matter, although less comically so.

Karl: I think you’ve got something there. In a way, I think ever since, well, at least since Fire Walk With Me, Lynch has been working with the idea of trauma. The Return is Lynch/Frost’s most powerful and nuanced examination of it. Laura’s, the world’s, the current political situation and even their own trauma that came from the creation of Twin Peaks, and the dolorous blow that was being forced to reveal the killer and end the mystery.

Christian: Along with trauma, the futility of nostalgia was a recurring theme. The most nostalgic moment may have been Audrey’s dance; that nostalgia was renounced when reality broke

Lindsay: Can you go home again? Even if you can, in some cases…should you even want to?

Jubel: Absolutely. And aging: the average age of the cast is uncommonly high. Of course Harry Dean Stanton set the curve pretty high.

Christian: Was nostalgia rewarding for any character?

Jubel: Arguably Ed and Norma.

Karl: Bud Hopkins maybe?

Jubel: One thing that I like about such a circular (or moebius strip) plot construction, is that any point along the path could be considered an “ending.” Those who want a happy ending can choose to end it with Ed and Norma.

Lindsay: Yes, I love that idea so much, Jubel. It’s quite open in that way. There was something for everyone to take away if they so chose.

Christian: Sarah Palmer lived the embodiment of an opposite of nostalgia

Karl: Or the result of too much nostalgia….and in a way the idea of a Yog-SOthoth or Cthulhu or… Judy, is a warning against nostalgia. It is always by looking backwards, through antiquarianism, archeology, history or varied kinds of “remembering” that we come face to face with these entities

Jubel: good point regarding antiquarianism. The “piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

Lindsay: That’s a startling idea, Jubel. Feels timely in this day and age…Sarah was such a fascinating character too, arguably one of the most fascinating…side-question: do you think she’s Judy? Or evil? Or just tormented by her experiences?

Karl: Yes.

Christian: Sarah was the mother of our story… The betrayed mother, the ultimate failure as a mother. Her experiences, her losses hollowed her out.

Lindsay: So, Karl, is this a warning against living in the past maybe? And Christian, did her hollowness invite evil or create it?

Karl: It is… I think, a reminder that the past, and our view of it, is a sword that cuts both ways. “Through the darkness of future past, the magician longs to see, one chance out between two worlds, fire walk with me.” Without knowledge we are powerless. But what if it is the knowledge that we seek that is what destroys us?

Christian: For her failures to perceive Leland’s evil and to protect her daughter, Sarah’s own amplified self-image invited the evil. Judy found her ambience appealing, and moved in. Sarah was a never ending source of garmonbozia.

Jubel: I like that take. Perhaps it was a situation where Leland being inhabited by BOB, presumably a lesser entity in a finite situation, opened Sarah up to discovery by the greater entity. I like those ideas, @Karl P. Eckler and @Christian Hartleben. Makes me wonder if it’s the type of remembering that is important. Maybe nostalgia (an idealized memory) brings the monster vs. confronting the past in all its reality/trauma/darkness, helps defeat it.

Christian: Confronting the past integrates us in the present. Nostalgia scatters us back into our own pasts… or illusory versions of that past.

Karl: Courtenay and Christian: yes. yes. Yes. YES. YESSSSS!

Lindsay: I’ve also read some takes that suggest it was the Palmer house that was the source of this evil. No matter who was living there, they’d become part of it. Either way…something very dark happened or was happening to Sarah.

Karl: I think that’s exactly right. But not about the house. I don’t think this is the typical “Haunted House on an Indian Graveyard” story.

Jubel: It could very well be that the house is situated where the veil is thin, and current may flow. The ceiling fan, like the #6 pole, the 430 mile mark, Jackrabbit’s palace…

Karl: Sure, but that’s the entirety of Twin Peaks–the town and county

Jubel: We would do well to remember that Leland met BOB when he was a boy. That always came first.

Karl: Up at Pearl Lakes

Christian: Possessed by BOB, Leland employed the ceiling fan to silence his incestuous activity. He brought the evil to the house.

Lindsay: Yes—I think I’d be more inclined to believe that the town itself was the root of this evil, and maybe the house (as the site of so much trauma) concentrated it in some way. I agree with you, @Karl, that this isn’t a typical haunted house story…far from it.

Karl: but I think it would be impossible to say that the greatest haunted house movie ever made did not influence Peaks…and The Shining (Kubrick Version) had a very great deal to do with the US/New World as essentially one big, haunted Indian burial ground.

Lindsay: Oh absolutely!!!

Jubel: Yes! And Frost is absolutely invested in/aware of that as a theme, even going so far as to include a chapter on Chief Joseph in The Secret History of Twin Peaks

Courtenay: Yes! And so many shoutouts to Kubrick in The Return like Cooper traveling to nonexistent a la 2001 and the scene with Richard, Sylvia and Johnny that is reminiscent of the rape scene in A Clockwork Orange.

Karl: Yes! That entire home invasion scene I was looking around for a marble “rocking penis” statue

Jubel: Trauma is very old, and takes many forms.

Christian: We should add the basement of the Great Northern to areas where the veil is thin.

Lindsay: Maybe the Roadhouse too.

Christian: In the original series, yes, Lindsay.

Jubel: The “Trinity Test” scene in Part 8 feels like Dr. Strangelove by way of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Lindsay: Man, I was hoping one of you would talk about “returning” as a theme…I had a question lined up and everything…But maybe in a way nostalgia and remembering is a kind of a return…? I’ll ask it anyway!!! Which Return was most satisfying for you? And which one didn’t materialize the way you might have anticipated given the direction of the story?

Christian: Major Briggs’ return was most satisfying for me, as I did not expect to hear much about him. Instead he was pivotal and celebrated for his extensive plan, in collaboration with the Fireman, to defeat BOB and the Doppelgänger

Karl: None of the returns materialized the way I thought or hoped really with the exception of Ed and Norma. So I guess I choose that one

Jubel: Agent Cooper’s return in Part 16 was very satisfying, but actually on a longer arc, I would say Jerry Horne amused me to no end. Always loved Jerry but his struggle in the wilderness was very satisfying comic relief.

Courtenay: For me the “return” that was most satisfying AND the one that didn’t materialize the way I thought are wrapped up in one another. I knew Laura Palmer was going to be a huge presence, and I LOVED seeing her face in every opening credits as well as the references to her throughout the show — particularly the Log Lady’s “Laura is the one” quote. However, I did not see Carrie Page coming, and it had me flummoxed. But now I love what the introduction of that character has conjured.

Karl: But seeing every character from TOS was a return… and every one was satisfying…. “even the tragedy of life is beautiful” –Alan Moore

Jubel: Seeing Lee and MacLachlan play Carrie and “Richard/Coop” together was a treat. Especially the conversation at her door. They just really make the viewer ACHE for some kind of recognition to occur.

Christian: Gordon Cole Returned substantially unchanged. He materialized as expected

Jubel: Very much so. The big surprise was how prominent he was and integral to the plot.

Karl: I didn’t see Cole as the fountainhead of electronic information that he was in The Return… but it makes total sense once it was there.

Jubel: Speaking of which, I would be remiss to not give Deputy Hawk some long due respect. For a huge swath of the season, he was the closest thing we had to a true protagonist, and I loved that.

Karl: “Yes margaret”

Christian: Hawk faced riddles, as did we.

Lindsay: Me? Slightly disappointed there was no Dick Tremayne, but I’ll live… 😉 Major Briggs was a phenomenal (if slightly macabre) tribute to Don Davis. It was handled brilliantly. And yes, Lee as Carrie and MacLachlan’s (many) roles were wonderful to see. I’m also glad to see Hawk get his due. Thanks for bringing that up, Jubel.

Karl: On the subject of riddles… may I pose a question to the group?

Lindsay: Riddle away, Karl!

Karl: Has anyone else seen this theory, and if so… what do you think of it?

Lindsay: I remember that from the early weeks! Seemed very interesting at the time…

Christian: Having just now perused the lyrics, I don’t find Sunnyvista to be a compelling connection. I would want a bigger payoff…. There are going to be coincidentally similar texts

Jubel: Yeah, that is an interesting coincidence. There’s also a Talking Heads song that resonates with The Return but I can’t remember the title…

Lindsay: If nothing else, it could be that the names were inspired by the song. The time too. I’d almost prefer it if it were a massive coincidence. A happy accident. Jubel, are you thinking of “Once in a Lifetime”?

Jubel: Ah, the Talking Heads song is “Found a Job:”

Judy’s in the bedroom, inventing situations.
Bob is on the street today, scouting up locations.
They’ve enlisted all their family.
They’ve enlisted all their friends.
It helped saved their relationship,
And made it work again
Their show gets real high ratings, they think they have a hit.
There might even be a spin off, but they’re not sure ’bout that.
If they ever watch T.V. again, it’d be too soon for them.
Bob never yells about the picture now, he’s having too much fun.

Lindsay: That’s quite chilling. Wow.

Karl: Yep, Jubel, I think you have that one on lock.

Christian: Afraid I’m the skeptic, failing to see the strong connections I would like.

Jubel: It’s mostly pattern recognition. I’m quite confident that this song has no relationship to Twin Peaks whatsoever.

Christian: That’s the spirit!

Jubel: Except in the general sense that “collective unconscious” refers to…which is not some singular pool of knowledge that we tap from; that is putting the cart before the horse. It’s the other way around.

Lindsay: The theorizing feels like it’s only just getting started, but already so many amazing ones have come out…and they all seem to fit on their own if you look at them the right way. So, we talked a bit about theorizing in general throughout the run…now that the season is over, do you have a favourite theory? A pet theory? Or one that you just can’t get behind maybe?

Jubel: I like the idea that we are all the dreamer, the characters in the show, and all of us watching.

Karl: Me too, but I’m biased

Jubel: Speaking of pattern recognition, the idea that was going around that Parts 17 and 18 were intended to be watched simultaneously doesn’t sit right, and it seems that Sabrina Sutherland has debunked it, thankfully.

Karl: I always found those comparisons interesting, but ultimately fallacious.

Christian: The sync theory was impractical in the extreme, and an aesthetically repellent way to treat Lynch’s visual and aural compositions. My favorite theory is that Cooper severed himself from his personal timeline when he saved Laura from going to Jacques’s cabin. In the original timeline, Laura had a personal triumph in the train car, taking full possession of her story, understanding the abuse, and declaring an end to BOB and Leland in her life by wearing the ring. Cooper may now realize that he is traveling the multiverse, implicated in the fates of all of the Lauras he did or did not save. This is a supreme form of alienation.

Jubel: I like the take you describe, because it stresses the idea that the classic “hero” archetype that Cooper ostensibly represents is deeply flawed. It also adds more psychological layers to an already rich character. The first big clickbait theory after the finale had to do with someone on Reddit “cracking Twin Peaks already:” That Laura hearing Sarah at the end, screaming, and the darkness was Laura waking up on the morning her body would have been found. A “happy ending” they called it, but how the hell is that a happy ending?

Courtenay: I find that theory of Cooper on this Sisyphean quest really intriguing. It’s both heartbreaking and heroic.

Karl: intriguing yes… but heroic? Jubel and I have a theory about that.

Courtenay: With regard to this theory, I think he’s heroic in his intentions but his ultimate actions cause him to fail in his quest

Karl: Definitely heroic. Superheroic even. In the way that the Superhero always exists and acts to restore the older, better order to a world tossed into chaos by the villain

Jubel: it is interesting to think that Cooper failed the first time, as he does here, only now his failure has implications throughout the multiverse!

Christian: Multiverse culpability and guilt… Cooper’s actions were noble but simple-minded. Perhaps this hero acts for his own sake, to define his parameters of heroism? If he could have held onto Laura, if they could have walked out of the forest into February 24, 1989, Cooper could have applied legal remedies. He would have demonstrated the value of his value-system; but The Fireman failed to give him a time traveling manual so he blundered into consequences he did not foresee.

Lindsay: I’m in agreement with you Courtenay…feels like some kind of failure in the end, anyway. Whether Cooper’s or the Fireman’s.

Jubel: It seems that what the Fireman did was give Cooper a mnemonic device: “Remember Richard and Linda, Two Birds with One Stone” were not clues, but ways to hopefully remember who he is when he finds himself occupying someone else’s identity on a time line. The problem may be that the Fireman and his ilk have difficulty comprehending how our minds and memories work (since they see time holistically, and we see it linearly), so such a simple device has limited value.

Courtenay: One of the questions I had immediately after watching The Return was “What about Laura’s agency?” I always loved the idea that Laura saved herself from Bob’s possession through her choosing death over possession. After parts 17 and 18, I had to grapple with what these new developments meant in terms of Laura’s story. Cooper’s quest seems noble in intent, but did he rob her of defeating evil herself? I’d like to think not — at least I’d like to think Fire Walk With Me is not undone. Especially that final beautiful scene.

Jubel: I think that Cooper didn’t really change anything. The homeostasis of space-time nullified the change, as represented by the phonograph sound, Laura disappearing in the woods, and the scream.

Karl: Now consider Dale’s quest in light of what Lynch/Frost consider their greatest mistake. The error of judgement or character that resulted in the “chaos” of mid-Season 2. The flaw at the heart of Twin Peaks pre-Return was always that the killer was revealed. The mystery uncovered. What would you do if you were a god, a superhero with the power to “fix” this flaw, to restore the old order? To restore the mystery by altering the past? Would you? Lynch/Frost were given exactly that power. On a silver platter. But instead, they chose to complicate their own hopes and dreams… Cooper fails to save Laura. At least, if he did change things, he didn’t change them in quite the way he had hoped. Just as Lynch/Frost decided that they could not erase 25 years of history… that instead they had to confront that trauma along with the rest of us…

Jubel: and instead of altering the past in order to bring back the mystery, they expanded what they had, in order to increase the mystery and add more context.

Christian: For me the biggest mistake of Season Two was the failure to rewrite the subplots which intended to surround the Cooper and Audrey romance which had fallen through. Instead, all those stories based on age gaps between lovers were expanded to fill the time.

Jubel: Good point. They failed to realize that they can still make Audrey an important person in Cooper’s life without the sexual element. In fact, that tension makes for good drama.

Christian: The writers had set their hearts on this theme of age inappropriate lovers. James and Evelyn, Doug Milford and Lana, Nadine and Mike, and then later Cooper and Annie, and Audrey and John Justice Wheeler.

Karl: There was a lot of that, but I always thought it was because of the Soap opera trope

Jubel: Very true. I think Karl’s right, that it’s part of the trope, but boy did they kick that dead horse.

Christian: Blue Pine Mountain makes you do crazy things.

Karl: Yes Jubel, thanks for making sense of my insanity. There was some of that in The Return, but it was much more muted. Possibly because there was no “teen” characters.

Jubel: True. Yes, Ben is attracted to a much younger woman, but it doesn’t go anywhere, and she’s in her 40s, not her 20s.

Karl: Also, (heavily implied) was Cole and TP…er, Agent Tamara Preston

Christian: The strong implication: Cole had a past with the ladies, and might have been expected to continue his behaviors with Agent Preston. We are left to wonder but given no strong evidence.

Karl: I’m unsure how old Agent Preston was coded as though. The Actress is currently… 39

Jubel: The scene with Denise seemed to be devoted to that side of things, calling out Cole (and some have pointed out that Lynch may be kind of mocking his own reputation as having…much younger female muses) as a bit of a “dirty old man.” Then that theme isn’t taken up again at all.

Christian: Gordon had the company of the Frenchwoman in his suite

Jubel: Oh yeah, forgot about that! The Return‘s “Lil” some say. I don’t think she is, however. I think it was all about the awkward comedy.

Karl: And Monica Bellucci in his dreams

Lindsay: That’s an interesting idea: there are a lot of inappropriate relationships peppered throughout The Return…and Twin Peaks in general. Going way back. Hadn’t thought of it before…though I had always considered the Audrey/Cooper dissolution as a misstep for the reasons stated above. The age gaps in other relationships proved that the writers weren’t afraid of going there and in The Return, with Tammy and Cole, it was brought up front and center. Very interesting. Now, There wasn’t a lot of cherry pie and coffee and Badalamenti jazz this season but let’s engage our inner Judys for a moment and get nostalgic: what callbacks were present that you liked the most?

Christian: My favorite callbacks were locations: spending time in the Sheriff’s Station, in Ghostwood Forest, at the Palmer House, and the Double R.

Jubel: I think that all of those quirky traits are present, but in an even more symbolic way than they were in the original series (talking about cherry pie, coffee, et al). My favorite call-back, indeed one of my favorite sequences of scenes, is everything having to do with the “Pie that saved Dougie Jones.” Just gold, and sealed Jim Belushi as a prime ‘Peaksean character

Karl: All those great drone shots of Snoqualmie Falls and North Bend. Fog in the Douglas Firs

Courtenay: Seeing James play “Just You” in the Roadhouse; Audrey’s Dance; Cooper with the thumbs up and drinking coffee.

Karl: I DO love me some “Just You”

Lindsay: Any predictions for The Final Dossier?

Christian: We can expect The Final Dossier to be strongly canonical with the Secret History. Will the Dossier reconcile both books with The Return? That would show Mark Frost’s planning as most similar to the actions of Major Garland Briggs.

Courtenay: I do want to know how Annie Blackburn is. I always loved her character and thought we might see something pan out for her in The Return because she is mentioned with regard to Laura’s diary pages. Mark Frost hinted on Twitter a while back that we might learn more about Annie. He told us to be patient. Ross Dudle and I have been lamenting the lack of Annie in The Return for some time. Oh how I ache for more Annie Blackburn.

Jubel: I think that Christian is correct in saying that The Final Dossier will have more to do with he Secret History than The Return, but we may also get more interesting tidbits about the interim between seasons than the Secret History gave us. More about the classic characters, and more mythology to chew on. Good call on the Annie thing, Courtenay. I didn’t really care if she was going to be mentioned much in the series, but it would be good to have SOMETHING to go on in The Final Dossier.

Karl: Seriously, I think that her character is just intriguing in how she appears, as if by magic, and leaves the same way. I’ll say it again… she’s a modern day Morgain Le Fay, grown to a great mistress of magic in a remote Nunnery.

Christian: It is a long shot, but it’s just possible that Frost gave us a clue about Annie in the Secret History. Her parents’ address is given on the postcard, 508 Parker Road. Ten pages previous, Parker Road was also mentioned in a newspaper article about a fatal go-kart crash. It strikes me as uncharacteristic for Frost to repeat a street name needlessly, and with the two mentions so close together.

Karl: Hmmm that’s really interesting. I really need to re-read the Secret History this October in lieu of my usual “A Night in the Lonesome October”

Lindsay: This was just such a tremendous treat for me. Thank you all for participating.

You can (and should!) follow our expert roundtable panel on Twitter! 
Courtenay: @CourtenayCal
Counter Esperanto (Jubel and Karl): @c_esperanto
Christian: @prophit19701

Written by Lindsay Stamhuis

Lindsay Stamhuis is a writer and English teacher. In addition to editing and writing about TV and Film, she is the co-host of The Bicks Pod, a podcast currently deep-diving into the collected works of William Shakespeare. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her partner Aidan, their three cats, and a potted pothos that refuses to grow more than one vine.

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