Undeniable cult classic ‘Twin Peaks’ left many questions unresolved
There’s no doubt that television changed forever when David Lynch and Mark Frost developed “Twin Peaks” and unleashed it on an unsuspecting public in the spring of 1990.
FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan, right) and the dancing dwarf known as The Man From Another Place (Michael J. Anderson) in the Black Lodge in a scene from the cult classic “Twin Peaks.” — Submitted photo
Part soap opera, part crime-drama, part occult thriller and part brilliant comedy, “Twin Peaks” was all of these things and more.
There’s an early episode of “The Simpsons” where tube-addict Homer is watching “Twin Peaks” — a scene where the giant is dancing with a unicorn — laughs and claps, and then says something like “Brilliant! I have no idea what’s happening.”
Last week I finished watching the entire series (a mere 30 episodes) for only the third time. And I’m glad I stuck through the mediocre middle of Season 2 once again, to get to the weirdest conclusion to any series, bar-none.
The first time I watched “Twin Peaks” was to win a bet.
It was in the spring of 1997, when I watched the entire six VHS tape boxed set in a single sitting, while visiting friends in Ottawa. That’s right, I spent a full day and a half, engrossed in the series after not having owned a TV for five years. I was trying to break a record set by my friends who owned the boxed set, and had managed to complete the series in a few days.
I should note, this wasn’t really the first time I watched the series all the way through, because that box set did not include the two-hour pilot episode — there was some sort of copyright issue. The pilot sets up the story so much better than starting one episode later.
So really, the first time I watched the series, pilot included, was about three or four years later — over a week or so this time — while recovering from having my wisdom teeth out. If that wasn’t surreal enough, the other noteworthy thing about this experience was I watched it with my mom, who was visiting me in Toronto at the time. A long-time soap opera fan, she was hooked from the start.
When she was about to return home, we had yet to watch the series finale. She asked if it had a happy ending. I shivered and said something like, “I think it’s better you don’t see how it ends.”
She took my advice.
While so many shows owe their existence to the cult classic, the finale is more like an art house film than an episode of TV. I mean there is a 20-plus minute collage of Cooper wandering aimlessly through a land of red curtains and black-and-white tiled floors — which forms a hypnotic squiggle pattern — while running into the giant, Windham Earle, Annie and several incarnations of Laura Palmer and the dancing dwarf.
If you’ve never watched this series before, and plan to, stop now or be prepared to have me ruin the whole story for you. The show has been off the air for more than 20 years, so spoilers be damned.
While “Twin Peaks” ends with the most bizarre and gut-wrenching cliffhanger ever to be broadcast — ever to be left dangling, despite many hoaxes that claim Lynch plans to bring the series back someday — the blood-curdling fact Cooper is now possessed by Bob is only one of the things left unresolved.
Add the explosion at the bank vault of the Twin Peaks Savings and Loan, where you are led to believe the lovable Pete Martell, civilly disobedient Audrey Horne and despicable rogue Andrew Packard are all immolated in the blast.
What about Leo Johnson, holding on to a rope with his teeth? If he lets go, death. And Col. Briggs was also summoned to The Black Lodge by Cooper, yet is not seen on camera again.
Finally, Ed and Norma are finally happily together — and free of the whiney James — when Nadine regains her memory in time to ruin their happiness as well as Mike’s, who has finally fallen for Nadine as hard as she had fallen for him during her bout with amnesia.
The show’s final episode also starts a storyline that goes nowhere — where the normally calm Dr. Hayward punches out, and maybe kills, Benjamin Horne. The story line seems to end just as quickly, as Doc Hayward is at Cooper’s bedside with Sherriff Truman in the final scene. I’ve never noticed that before, or at least it didn’t stick with me.
It’s clear when ABC cancelled the series, Lynch and company were caught a little off guard and hoped to keep the story going.
Despite the ending, I still recommend those who have never watched the show to continue to the end. While the conclusion is left up in the air, as endings go it’s still not as bad as the way some other shows concluded — “How I Met Your Mother,” I’m looking at you.
Dave Bartlett muses about watching habits, TV shows — new and old —and anything related to whatever he may be watching at the moment. You can get in touch with him at email@example.com.