Twin Peaks and My Mother


(Martin, Mary and Me.)

“You have made my heart so full.”

My mother Mary had a strange journey with Twin Peaks. It started in 2005, when I first discovered the series along with my brother during the second season of the amazing and mysterious and heavily Twin Peaks-influenced Lost. Back then we only had the first two seasons, through a bare bones release, and later the criminally underrated prequel/sequel Fire Walk With Me. I needed someone other than my brother Martin and one of the best friends our family has ever had, Mel, to share it with. Mary got to the reveal of BOB in season two and she had to stop watching. It was too disturbing, too bleak and too full of fear. I never thought she would ever revisit the world of Twin Peaks. As unlikely as it seemed though, it was doubly so for the prospect of David Lynch and Mark Frost actually themselves returning to the world and actually FINISHING the bloody thing! We must learn not to be doubtful. There is always the possibility of something magical happening if we just hope.

Mary is a person who appreciates Joseph Campbell’s The Hero Journey with all of her heart. It was in this spirit that she took the experience of watching Twin Peaks. Mary also did a lot of work in Jungian archetypes and symbolic meaning, so while she was surprised that she loved Twin Peaks as much as she did, I was not. She was at just the right point in her life to appreciate the work of David Lynch and Mark Frost. While Mary had not seen anything by David Lynch, outside of a brief experience of the original series of Twin Peaks, she was hardly an innocent in the ways of mysterious storytelling. Mary is a huge fan of Lost, as am I, and she felt the influence of Twin Peaks on that exquisite show everywhere during our viewing, especially in The Return.

Lost has a lot in common with Twin Peaks, from its veneration of the mystery to a story that deals in the development of the person and the soul that inhabits the person. While Twin Peaks The Return got criticized for not having enough closure in its final moments, Lost caused a lot of angry, and unjustified guff around it having too much closure. What Lost accomplished in six years however is something that should be appreciated by all fans of Twin Peaks. Namely, that it proved that you could keep your mysteries for six whole years and only reveal them when absolutely necessary. Lost showed that Twin Peaks could return and not make the same mistake again of revealing the central question of the show before the end of the show. As much as Damon Lindelof – a truly gifted writer and showrunner – gives credit to Twin Peaks for inspiring Lost from start to finish, David Lynch and Mark Frost should likewise give some of that love back. Without the proof of Lost that an audience would stick with a mystery for six whole years, I fear that we would never have seen The Return, especially not with the character of Dougie Coop and making the audience wait for what they wanted most.

Mary fell in love with Special Agent Dale Cooper, but equally loved Dougie Coop, for the same reasons that I loved him: his pure heart, his innocence and his journey back to life from 25 years in another dimension of reality. Mary recognized herself in Dougie Coop, I feel, as I did. When you meet the big challenges in life, it sometimes feels like you will never be whole again. When I was ill some years back, I felt like my life would never be whole again. Dougie Coop’s journey back to reality is the most affecting and emotionally profound of the entire length of The Return, and in my opinion Twin Peaks as a whole because of how it speaks to this fear in all of us who have struggled with mental or physical health. I recognize myself in Dougie Coop from when I battled with a terrible fear of the world. By slowing things down and appreciating the simple pleasures in life – having a hot, black coffee with some chocolate cake, taking care of the ones I love and generally just being an open-hearted, sincere person – I found my way back again. It truly is an odyssey, of self-discovery, of looking evil in the eyes and not flinching. That journey back to life was Mary and my favourite moments of Twin Peaks. If Dougie Coop can do it, so can we.

Mary’s favourite video game of all time is Journey by thatgamecompany and she found many parallels with The Return and that gorgeous and life-changing work. When things are the hardest, you are often the closest to breaking through and turning your life around. Approach life with optimism and thinking the best of people, and as Dougie Coop shows us, to listen more than to speak. That climb up the mountain. “I am dead, yet I live.” We must continue on. Twin Peaks has a lot to say about rebirth, which is one reason why it connected so much with Mary. Finding Laura Palmer’s soul and bringing her home was something that really resonated with Mary, even while she somewhat struggled with the meaning of the conclusion of The Return.

The ending of The Return was challenging for Mary, as it was for many people, as it was for me. When we started unpacking it however, something that at first sight seemed to be bleak and dark, actually had a lot of positive things to say about life and the journey from birth to death and beyond. I will try to explain why we felt at peace with the thing, but first if you haven’t read my friend Ivan Bukta’s piece The Scream of Empowerment DO SO! First, look at the many references to electricity in The Return, particularly the last two episodes. Consider how electricity is the means by which life forms travel through one dimension to another. When Carrie Page/Laura Palmer screams the lights in her home/not her home go out. The portal is closed. Judy is contained in another reality. The confusion comes from Coop, which put some people off, but the scream is the realization of who she is, and most importantly that she is the one. This is what Judy wanted to avoid, to confuse her mind and make her believe she was just some nobody working in a diner. Coop needed to wake her up again, and he succeeded at this, just like he had to wake up.

Second, if this is not what happened and if the ending is a reflection of the persistence of evil, the main feeling to take from the ending is that Coop tried and he did save Laura Palmer from a horrible death. Even if evil does persist in spite of our best efforts, the effort is what matters most. Evil is something which we will always have to deal with, because we are only human. To attempt to destroy it forever is naive, but through the effort we become closer to who we want to be than we would have been otherwise. In this alternate reality, Laura Palmer is alive and just like the ending of Fire Walk With Me, we must trust in the basic decency of Coop and Laura and believe that they are going to be fine in this new world.

As challenging as Mary found the finale though, she found Part 8 far more so. She told me how she had had terrible dreams after watching the astonishing and terrifying episode. It was not due to its symbolism and surreal nature that she found it challenging – she dealt very well with all hidden meanings throughout. It was the expression of such a negative force that unsettled her, which I can identify with, especially if you have no experience with David Lynch. Regardless of how disturbing Mary found it though, what she did not do was claim that it was meaningless or self-indulgent. She understood its purpose and was happy on the whole that she had experienced it.

I have never been prouder of Mary than when we watched Twin Peaks together. Just like we had done with Lost, we went on this journey together and became closer, sharing all of the beautiful and terrifying things that Twin Peaks has to offer.

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