To a large extent I was content with the series and understood it to a degree. Nevertheless, it was only after reading the many reviews and fan explanations, that I truly understood the care involved in the development of this series.
Whilst reading these different conclusions it felt like I had been engrossed back into the dream that is Twin Peaks. Significantly, this is why the series was ground breaking due to the little details and different interpretations of that open ending which makes Twin Peaks essentially a dream we can never choose to leave.
As with most David Lynch works, there are a lot more questions unanswered than answered. Ultimately this has put many people off of his work in the past and also those hoping for a final conclusion to the series much frustration.
Summary of the Ending – Parts 17 and 18
This series ended on a very confusing footnote depending on how you view the ending. Below is the finale’s recap to digest, which is necessary to get into before any analysis is delivered.
However, if you possess a great memory or are fresh off watching the ending, please skip to the “Question and Answers” section.
Despite the prospects and build up of an Agent Dale Cooper (Coop) vs. Mr C (Evil Coop) epic battle, we instead got a comical character in Lucy shoot Mr C and end that story.
Then we got a character that had rarely been featured with very little backstory in Freddie actually defeat Bob, whilst wearing a green gardening glove. In fact, to add insult to injury, Coop just starred as we all did in this bizarre fight between a man and an evil literal ball.
In the aftermath of this defeat, Coop looks at Naido (the Asian woman with no eyes who had a habit of making strange monkey noises) and his face covers the entire screen with the events in the background still playing. Coop tells his friends, “There are some things that will change. The Past dictates the future,” and “We live inside a dream.” But most of all, “I hope I see you all again. Every one of you.” This message and the focus on Coop’s face makes this moment significant, where it appears it is a direct message to the viewer from Lynch and genuine words from Coop himself.
Next, Naido transforms into Diane and inexplicably kisses Coop for some reason despite there being no hint of sexual romance in the past. We then arrive at the furnace basements of the Great Northern, Coop uses the 315 key and states, “See you at the curtain call,” and proceeds. We then hear the words of Mike stating the old, “Through the darkness of futures past, the Magician longs to see. One chants between two worlds…Fire walk with me.”
Coop then has a conversation with the spirit of Phillip Jeffries, who states, “the past dictates the future” and shows us that the symbol of evil is in fact an infinity sign with a ball on its track. This proceeds to James and Laura’s last meeting in the past. Only this time Coop travelled back in time and has attempted to pull her away from that fateful night of her death. Laura vanishes the brief moment Coop looks away.
The events of the original Twin Peaks’ first episode are shown but this time Pete Martell does not find Laura’s body. Cut to Sarah Palmer smashing her photo of Laura, breaking the glass but not hurting the image and suddenly Laura is not there with Coop and we hear that iconic scream.
The next part, we see Evil Coop in the Black Lodge on fire and Dougie with his family. In a weird loop, Coop is back at the Black Lodge having that same conversation we witnessed earlier. Mike states, “Is it future or past?” The Arm states, “I sound like this,” which may indicate that it was responsible for taking Laura, as the sound is similar to her disappearance. The Arm asks is “this the story of the little girl down who lived down the lane,” which is exactly what Charlie said to Audrey.
Laura whispers a secret, she is pulled away and screams similar to the moment in the woods. Which could perhaps mean it is happening at the same time as that moment. Leland states, “find Laura.”
Coop leaves the Black Lodge, greeted by Diane and seems a tad different to his upbeat self. They kiss and stop at 430 miles, stating, “Once we cross, it could all be different,” before passing through to a new dimension. Diane sees a double of herself outside a seedy motel. They proceed into one of the weirdest sex scenes ever, with Diane refusing to look at Coop, while he stares emotionless and this ends with her blocking out his face with her hands.
She then left, leaving a note stating she was now Linda and she didn’t recognise Richard (Coop). This led to Coop acting very unlike himself, enacting violence in a diner named after Judy (otherwise known as the evil entity known as Jowday/Jiao De). We see the six on the telephone poll, which harkens back to Andy’s scene with the Fireman/The Giant. Laura Palmer is now Carrie Page (subtle hint to the missing page discussed in Laura Palmer’s diary after Hawk had found 3 pages or it could mean turning the page to a new story).
She has no memory and has a dead man in her house. Coop stares at a white horse on her mantelpiece. In previous episodes, Sarah Palmer saw the pale horse once on the night prior to where Laura was killed and before her niece Maddy Ferguson was killed by Leland. The Log Lady had stated, “woe to the ones who behold the pale horse,” and the Woodsman had stated, “The horse is the white of the eyes and the dark within.”
They then proceeded to Twin Peaks in a very quiet and uncomfortable drive to visit Sarah Palmer. The people at the house do not recognise Laura Palmer or her mother’s name and we hear the strange creamed-corn woman’s name from that scene with Donna in the original Twin Peaks and “Fire Walk with Me,” as both the person who sold the house (Mr’s Chalfont) and the woman who resides in it (Alice Tremond).
This cued to them leaving. Coop, says, “What year is this?” before Carrie seeming to remember starts screaming. Consequently the windows smash and the lights blow out. Fade to black. Laura whispers into Coop’s ear in the Lodge.
Those Questions and Answers
I don’t know about you but I already feel like I’m encased into that dream again after reading all of that. It is easy to digest that ending as nonsense and as anti-climatic. It is also fair to be annoyed and frustrated by that.
Nevertheless, by just writing out all that, I got a brainwave and a new explanation of what the ending means. Perhaps, this ending was intended to cause debate and discussion to notice these little intricacies.
Please see in clear terms, the unanswered questions and answers we were given at the end of the series.
1) What happened to Shelly Briggs and Red? Where does that leave Bobby?
2) What happened to Annie Blackburn (Coop’s love interest in the second season)?
3) What is going on with Audrey Horne?
4) What happened to Jerry Horne?
5) What happened to Becky Briggs after Steven (her husband) shot himself?
6) What really happened to Major Garland Briggs?
7) What happened at the end to Coop and to Laura Palmer?
8) What happened to Sarah Palmer? What is the explanation of the creepy face-moving scene?
9) What happened to Diane? Why did she leave Cooper and identify herself as Linda?
1) Dougie and his family got a happy ending.
2) Nadine finally let Ed and Norma get the happy ending they deserve.
3) Andy and Lucy have a son and everything seems to be going right there.
In looking at it in plain terms, it does seem the fans got the wrong end of the stick here. Although, the Ed and Norma storyline reaching a happy conclusion was endearing and sweet because of the long build up. Ultimately, the majority of us are left clueless and guessing at these other questions.
However, it is my interpretation that a definitive answer doesn’t determine how this series or finale should be reviewed. In fact, by leaving these questions unanswered, the identity and mystery of Twin Peaks continues and perhaps may never die, which is the ending we actually deserve.
Coop/Dougie was a metaphor for this series and how Twin Peaks belongs to us in this modern age. At the start he is a man out of time, seemingly unable to communicate with us as he used to. This could be directly related to how the original series existed in a timeline that was underpinned by good-natured values. In contrast, the new Twin Peaks exists in a world, where we are over exposed to everything and to ever-increasing cynical attitudes. Although, he/the series is still capable of giving us nostalgia moments, judging by your perception of the ending, he/the show became something else entirely. The ending of the show displayed a confused Cooper questioning his role and subsequently the show’s existence in the world. Ultimately, it is hinting there is no place for this Coop in the modern world or the original Twin Peaks.
When, I was first introduced to David Lynch with Mulholland Drive, I was dazzled and fascinated with the intrigue in the first half and then hopelessly confused in the second part. It was a thing that bothered me for a few days and then after reading more fan explanations than I can count, I finally got the conclusion I wanted and understood. Moreover, I couldn’t stop thinking about the little subtleties that had hinted this explanation and how well developed the whole film was. In fact, I was very happy and I wanted to watch this film again.
The ending of this series can be taken as whatever you want it to be. Unfortunately or fortunately, there is no conclusive or right answer. However, in the final screen we witness Laura whispering into Coop’s ear. This harks back to Season 1 where Laura whispered into Coop’s ear her murderer. Additionally, this was midway through the series and still fairly early into the mystery. Coop woke up and phoned Harry straight away to say, “I know who murdered Laura Palmer,” Harry queried and then Coop stated he would tell him in the morning. In the morning, he forgot. This final screen we witness appears to be a direct message to the viewer, in that knowing the ending isn’t conclusive to how we enjoy the journey or mystery. Rather, that the secret is there within the series for us to decipher.
A clever little twist involved is that the ultimate evil Judy/Jiao De is very similar to the Chinese word “jiaodai,” which means to explain. Therefore, to explain everything in clear writing is the ultimate evil. This can be construed as it lacks the emotional investment and mystery for the future. Additionally, like Mulholland Drive and various other Lynch works, the meaning is construed in imagery rather than in clear plot. To seek the true meaning and the one tailored to you, another viewing or clear focus is needed to decipher this in previous scenes.
I would relish another series of Twin Peaks based on this ending but it appears as of this time, that it is not happening. But in all honesty, the original crew are getting old and many of them have passed away, where the more we carry on the series the less like Twin Peaks it may become with more unfamiliar faces. It is important to remember, most of the series didn’t even take place in Twin Peaks.
The ending we got was the one that made the most sense in a weird logical way in the context of the episodes. Think about it. Would we be satisfied with him pairing with Diane, a no face character before this series whom he shared no prior romantic links? Would we be satisfied with the conclusion that Lucy and Freddie defeated the main evil entity of the entire series and that consequently Coop can now walk off into the sunset? Would we be satisfied with Coop roaming around with Sherriff Frank Truman or Gordon Cole solving mysteries in either Twin Peaks or elsewhere, without the support of Harry? Again, it is likely to be no.
Despite the thrill of watching Dougie become Coop again, prior to part 18, Coop is not the hero of the story in defeating Bob. Significantly, an out of place Englishman with a green glove is.
It is why special substance should be played to the aftermath of Bob’s defeat. That moment where Coop’s face covers the entire screen has two distinct meanings as he states, “There are some things that will change. The Past dictates the future,” and “We live inside a dream.” But most of all, “I hope I see you all again. Every one of you.”
Firstly, it is Lynch telling the audience the significance of Twin Peaks and how it affected his career by giving him a second chance in this “dream” of life. It could also be relating to how he was disappointed that the series was cancelled and how he had hoped for the series to be revived, “in seeing us all again.” Secondly, it is Coop and perhaps using the metaphor of him as the series, arguably signing off from this world. Additionally, “Twin Peaks,” is his dream and although he hopes to see us/his friends again, it is likely not possible. Therefore, the only way to maintain that “dream,” is through this open ending which I believe is potentially a never-ending battle off screen with Judy.
There is potential merit in this, as Gordon Cole had stated that Major Briggs had discovered Judy, as an “extreme negative force.” The series unravels in a way that Bob is no longer seen as the main evil in the show. Thus, in not being involved in Bob’s demise, Coop is in fact demonstrating heroism in fighting against the true puppet master.
Part 18 suggests Cooper again is thrust into becoming the main agent against evil, but in turn it at least appears as he is now “Richard,” he consequently loses his identity of who he is. The scene in Judy’s diner supports this as he no longer marvels at coffee and shows brutish violence in the face of danger. Moreover, that sex scene with Diane also showed his face as emotionless and bewildered, her clawing away suggests even she can’t recognise him. Throughout Part 18, his face is not full of the boy scout curiosity we witnessed in the first two series but is now marked by seriousness and concern. This is particularly evident in the scene with Laura Palmer or Carrie Paige, while they are driving on route to Twin Peaks.
So, would we be satisfied with the continuing stories of this Cooper? Could we be satisfied with what could happen next in that scene at the end or would it just disappoint us? To leave us confused and disappointed makes us want more.
As stated before, Twin Peaks in its entirety was the “dream.” I have argued it appears with the series ending, that this “dream” can no longer continue. Importantly, it is the journey rather than the ending of this “dream,” that we should look back upon with fondness of where it took us.
It is important to remember the original mystery of the murder of Laura Palmer was deciphered midway through Season 2, where we found out Leland possessed by Bob was Laura’s murderer. Twin Peaks has always been about the journey and like life we should revel on the journey we have taken, rather than how we meet our own conclusion. Therefore, the ending isn’t as important as to be perceived as ruining an entire series. In fact, depending on how you look at it, the open ending could be regarded as creating it’s own immortality, where we have time to find new ways to analyse different conclusions. It certainly seems like the last scene we see of Laura whispering in Coop’s ear, is disarming us to understand this point and encourages us to find this.
Crucially, the viewer should hark back to Season 1 and Season 2’s ending. These weren’t happy endings. The ending of Season 1 is finalised with Coop bleeding out on the floor of his room. In Season 2, the ending is very dark in that Coop’s body now belongs to Mr C and his subconscious is trapped in the Black Lodge. In that ending, Coop may have made a deal and heroically agreed to swap his soul for Annie’s. Although, it could also be perceived as Coop failing to stop Bob.
In this series we know from Philip Jeffries that “the past dictates the future” and that the sign of evil is an infinity symbol with a ball in it. Essentially this may indicate that this enemy is eternal and this fight may not be entirely winnable. As in life there will never be an end to evil unfortunately.
However, the ending we are given could be potentially perceived as a victory for Coop. This is because he at least tried to be heroic in trying to initially save Laura, who is the key to victory. Moreover, depending on your perception, it could be argued that his own battle against evil could be involved in potentially multiple different realities to succeed where he has failed. This theory could also gain further credence, by the fact that Diane saw another version of herself at the Motel, indicating, that this may not be the first time this has happened. The fact he is losing himself and his identity highlights the nobility of his gesture.
It may even be conceivable to even stretch the possibility that through this identity change that the real Coop is actually now Dougie. The Fireman/The Giant did state that “you are far away,” and that Coop essentially just gave his body up as a conduit to Richard. Although to a large extent I do not support this theory.
I hope to see Twin Peaks again just like Agent Cooper but am at peace with this conclusion, even if it is incredibly far reaching. It feels appropriate to me to sign off with the two most important characters of the entire programme involved in yet another cliffhanger. It is the tune Lynch has always played in the series and yet is still shocking to us, which does highlight his creative brilliance.
Although, “the dream” may have died in the likely event of no further episodes, I believe the “dream” will never die for fans. Like James and Donna’s song, “Just you,” the lyrics seem appropriate in that its relationship will last “forever” with the audience. This ending and this show were tailored for dreamers and is something that can be viewed again with different possibilities.
So, it is with pleasure that I thank David Lynch for another great series and for creating a programme that is immortal beyond it’s ending. Other iconic programmes tend to have definitive endings and subsequently, we lose interest in remembering them or in generating an interest to re-watch them.
In contrast, Twin Peaks’ finale provides us with enough material to continuously view different conclusions past its lifeline and encourages us to always look back with that same mystery and intrigue that pervaded us throughout. It is why it was and will always be ground breaking in its own unique strange little way.