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NewsTwin Peaks: The Return Is More Relevant than Ever

Twin Peaks: The Return Is More Relevant than Ever

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Can’t Go Home

The Return echoed Mike’s question with its infamous final scene. After a confusing interaction with the owner of what appeared to be Laura Palmer’s childhood home, Cooper and Laura, back in what seems to be the present, stood in confusion. “What year is this?” a desperate Cooper asked, before the sound of Laura’s mother Sarah (Grace Zabriskie) echoed through the street and Laura let loose with another of her signature screams.

For those who came to The Return hoping for familiarity and nostalgia, the final scene only cemented their frustration. It provided no answers, no explanations, and foreclosed the chance of ever returning again. Laura’s death was prevented, but she had been essentially erased from reality. Cooper ended the show not as a hero, but as a failure, even more lost than he had been in the original series. 

Without question, this ending infuriated some people. But for myself and others, those final moments were the perfect close to a masterful 18-hour story. There could be no return, no going home, after this story. There could only be the present, and the meaning we make in the here and the now.

As the screen went black and Laura’s scream seared our ears, we were left with confusion and dread, which is not what many fans wanted from a Twin Peaks revival series. They wanted comfort and reassurance; the promise that no matter how bad things may have been in 2017, Deputy Hawk was still on the case and Lucy was still confused by phones. They wanted to know that good old Cooper could make his way out of the Black Lodge, that Ed and Norma could finally get together. They wanted escapism from the present and a trip back to the past, where even as our bodies age, some things remain the same. That’s why so many revival series eventually default to bringing back fan favorites, even when they initially tried to do something different, as we’ll see next year when the Enterprise crew joins up with Captain Picard. 

But in the same way that Cooper made things worse when he returned to the fateful night of Laura’s death, The Return insisted that there can be no comfort in the past. Lynch and Frost digitally inserted a 50-something year-old MacLauchlan into footage from Fire Walk With Me to portray him rescuing Laura, literally changing the past instead of revisiting it. On a plot level, Cooper returned not to Twin Peaks as it was, but Twin Peaks as he thought of it, remaking it into something that he wanted, but removing the agency Laura showed in Fire Walk With Me and ultimately undoing the series itself.

With its refusal of nostalgia and frustrating ending, The Return did provide something of an answer to Mike’s question. By foreclosing the possibility of the past and providing no interpretive answers to make sense of Cooper and Laura’s future, Lynch and Frost left us with the present. We had only the feelings of dread and confusion as the series ended, only the feelings of joy and frustration as we watched Dougie Jones dodder around Vegas, only the feelings of immense relief and sadness as Norma and Ed embraced. 

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