SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier. Do not read further if you haven’t listened to the clip: Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier Audiobook (Excerpt/Spoiler).
Still with me? Great. So here we are, a week out from the release of Mark Frost’s second Twin Peaks book, Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier. The publisher promises the book will tell us “what happened to key characters in the twenty-five years in between the events of the second series and the third, offering details and insights fans will be clamoring for .” Of course, we’ve heard that promise before, related to the first of Frost’s two books, The Secret History of Twin Peaks. Back when it was titled The Secret Lives of Twin Peaks, its initial press release claimed that the novel would reveal “what has happened to the people of that iconic fictional town since we last saw them 25 years ago .” Sound familiar? Not that The Secret History wasn’t great, expanding on the mythology and scope of Twin Peaks, establishing a deeper foundation for the then upcoming Season 3.
Likewise, the marketing for Season 3 was focused on the original cast and played a heavy nostalgia angle, due to David Lynch’s unprecedented level of secrecy. This caught many Twin Peaks fans off guard when the season started and left them feeling a bit like they had been burned a second time. Again, not that Season 3 wasn’t great. Well, maybe except for that ending. I mean the first one, not the other one, or the other two, depending on how you look at it. I actually like the other ending(s) mostly. Anyhow, I digress.
So given all of that, a lot of the true Twin Peaks fans are feeling quite reasonably cautious and skeptical about this final book. Then yesterday, on Oct 24, WelcometoTwinPeaks.com dropped a sneak preview audio clip from The Final Dossier on YouTube. And it’s good. So good.
First of all, it’s hard to think of a more perfect clip. Right off the bat we hear a name we didn’t hear even in passing in the entirety of Season 3: Leo Abel Johnson. Oh yeah, and now we know his middle name. Further in, we get the other big name drop: Windom Freakin’ Earle. No, that’s not his middle name, still a mystery on that one.
To be fair, you can understand why something like this couldn’t have been in the first book. One of the more fun little mysteries of Season 3 was wondering what became of Shelly and Bobby. We all saw that wedding ring on her necklace early on and wondered what it meant. Knowing Leo’s fate would have wiped one of the options off the plate, and some of us (yes, me being one of them) were hoping just a little bit that the Leo we saw trying to save Shelly from Windom’s schemes might have led to a surprising reformation and redemption for the character. Oh well, maybe not.
The icing of the audio clip cake however is that, in continuing the dossier format, this particular document is an autopsy report written by none other than Special Agent Albert Rosenfield. The character’s voice shines through in the reading, even though it is (most likely) once again read by Special Agent Tamara Preston, voiced by Annie Wersching. (So far, Annie is the only voice actor credited on the audiobook, and of course it was probably recorded too late to get Miguel Ferrer anyway.)
Beyond the thrill of all these name drops, this two and a half minute long clip gives us a little bit to theorize over as well. That’s my bag baby, so let’s break it down.
The autopsy was held on the morning of April 1, 1989, implying Leo was found dead most likely the day before, on March 30. Cooper and Annie reemerged from the Black Lodge on the night of March 26 . Major Briggs’ meeting with Cooper, who turned out not to be Cooper, was on March 28 (as documented in The Secret History). Coop flew the coop after that last sighting.
Leo’s killer has “nifty marksmanship skills” and set their feet in the doorway “Bureau style”. This leads Albert to conclude that it was Earle who killed Leo. As of the time of the autopsy at least, Windom is at large and “who knows where the hell he shuffled off to.” From what we saw go down in the Black Lodge, it seems unlikely that Windom Earle ever left its confines. Perhaps the rest of The Final Dossier will inform us otherwise, we’ll see. That said, given the clustering of shots around the heart, and the “one to grow on” in the center, it sounds a lot more like Cooper’s marksmanship, as demonstrated during the original series. In Season 3, we saw Bad Cooper toting around a metallic briefcase that looks very much like Earle’s, which he presumably left at the cabin that last night.
Frost picks up on all of the damage that was done to Leo in Season 2, including cigarette burns, electric burns, bruises, spider bites, and Hank’s bullet left lodged near his spine. I was thrown a bit by the damage to his sinus cavity that Albert reports, but now realize that would be from his nose candy habit, probably only rivaled by Laura’s. Frost does not skimp on details. Frost also has a bit of fun with the writing in Season 2, declaring Earle a “dipshit” who watched too many cheesy Vincent Price movies, thus leading him to think that tarantula bites would be fatal to a human.
Interestingly, the fate of Leo Johnson in The Final Dossier may match his fate in the original Season 2 finale script , which of course Mark Frost had a hand in writing. In that script, Hawk and Major Briggs were supposed to find Leo in the cabin. When they burst in, he says “hi”, forgetting about the string in his mouth. Cut to outside the cabin and we hear a scream, followed by gunshots. One of the many planned cliffhanger moments to end the season on.
Short as this clip was, it was pretty packed with content. If the rest of the book is this dense, then perhaps its skimpy 2 hour and 57 minutes will give us quite a bit to chew on after all (The Secret History clocked in at 9:33). Just as I was wrapping up this article, the Apple store released a free sample of the first 47 pages of the iBook version of The Final Dossier. I’ve of course plunged through it already and continue to squeal with delight at every page. Just a glance at the table of contents for the dossier will put a grin on your face that you’ll have to pry off with a crowbar. I won’t delve into that any further, as we’ll do a collection of segments here on 25 Years Later, reviewing and analyzing the book once it is officially released, same as we have done for The Secret History (see https://25yearslatersite.com/category/the-secret-history-of-twin-peaks/).
So once again there is hope in Twin Peaks. The cool dad is back and he’s giving out candy. I’ve felt that Mark handed over the filmed series to David and allowed him to put his ending on it in that medium, so that he could put his own ending on it in his preferred medium of the written word. While I didn’t like the European pilot ending they gave us to Season 3 in the first half of Part 17 (which had Mark’s hand in it, to be sure), I did like the David Lynch movie ending to the series as a whole, presented in the rest of the 2-part finale. But I’m admittedly looking forward to reading Mark’s ending to the series much more, especially after this tantalizing sneak preview.
Notes / References:
- Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier (Pan MacMillan): https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/mark-frost/twin-peaks-the-final-dossier
- FLATIRON BOOKS TO PUBLISH THE SECRET LIVES OF TWIN PEAKS BY SHOW CO-CREATOR MARK FROST – Oct 16, 2014 (Flatiron Books, New York): http://macmillan.supadu.com/images/ckfinder/704/pdfs/Macmillan/TwinPeaks10-16-14.pdf
- Twin Peaks Timeline (LynchNet): http://www.lynchpeaks.com/timeline
- [All] An audio excerpt from the Final Dossier reveals character death (Reddit, r/twinpeaks): https://www.reddit.com/r/twinpeaks/comments/78l8cu/all_an_audio_excerpt_from_the_final_dossier/