Twin Peaks: "Episode 29"
A-

Twin Peaks: "Episode 29"



And now, to borrow a phrase from the Log Lady's introduction to this episode, an ending. I think the wording's important there. It's definitely an ending rather than the ending for a number of reasons. For one, this was intended as a season finale instead of a series finale. Hence all the cliffhangers. Also, it wasn't even a season finale, properly speaking, by the time it was finished. Poke around online and you'll find the original script by Mark Frost, Harley Peyton, and Robert Engels. A lot of that made it into the episode. But much of it, particularly the original conception of Coop's trip into the Black Lodge, didn't thanks to on-the-set improvising from Lynch. (In: The confrontation at the Haywards, Nadine's return to "normal." Out: Windom Earle singing "Anything Goes.") The episode became a dead end that's frightening, frustrating, and mysterious. And one that suggests the proper ending is out there, just never to be filmed or seen.

At least some things get tied up, or at least tied together. Suddenly the name "Ghostwood" makes sense. It's a place for ghosts, see? Which means the whole Ghostwood development scheme connects to the overarching mythology of the show. But even with this connection the episode divides pretty neatly into two halves: There's the big sequence inside the Black Lodge and then there's the other stuff.

First, the other stuff. Lucy loves Andy. Andy loves Lucy. That's how it ought to be and that's where we can leave them. Super Nadine's back to Normal Nadine and, as in the other episode where he directed with Super Nadine, Lynch teases out an element of sadness to the silly sub-plot. Nobody in that scene gets what they want. Mike loses the unexpected love of his life. Ed and Norma lose another chance to be together. Nadine wants her drape-runners and they're nowhere to be found.

That's a callback to the pilot, as is the reappearance of Heidi, the cute, giggling, perpetually late German waitress we haven't seen since. She enters a diner scene filled domestic bliss. The Briggs look so happy together they apparently inspire Bobby to propose. Interrupting the happiness: A cape-clad Dr. Jacoby who's brought Mrs. Palmer along for a message from inside the Black Lodge.

But we'll get to that. The two remaining strands (not counting poor, stranded Leo) come together at the local S&L;, where Pete and Andrew team-up to retrieve an unexpectedly explosive passage in a vault to which Audrey has chained herself as an act of civil disobedience.

These could be throwaway scenes with anyone else behind the camera. But as much as others try to replicate the Lynch touch, only Lynch really gets it right. It's there in the odd, unsettling angle he uses to shoot the Hurley's living room and the long shots and long takes used in the bank scene. Twin Peaks has never been normal television but in the beginning it was a little more stealth with its oddness. It stopped being stealth a while back.

Nothing, however, has been quite as odd or unsettling as this episode's Black Lodge sequences. I'm not even going to try to sum them up except to say that as much of their effectiveness depends on small details–the blanked out eyes of the doppelgangers and Laura's awful, backwards wink–as over-the-top bits like Windom Earle's sudden burst into flames and Laura's punishingly amped up scream.

Lynch was laying the groundwork here for Lost Highway, Mullholland Dr., and Inland Empire, films that present a seemingly concrete world then repeat it in a skewed way. Here it's startling and kind of upsetting to see Laura again and disturbing to see Cooper as the plaything of supernatural forces both apparently benign (The Giant, The Man From Another Place) and malevolent (all those doppelgangers, especially Laura's who, for my money at least, is far scarier than Bob in these scenes). And then there's Leland, as confused and delighted by his own potential for evil in death as he was in life.

There's a lot to unpack here and I'm not sure I'm up to the task. I'm not convinced it even makes sense or is supposed to, but I appreciate the daring and I think the sequence works brilliantly as an impressionistic depiction of the struggle between good and evil that's consistent with the vision Frost and Lynch established with the first episode.

I would like to talk about the end of the end, which returns to the original script while making a small but important change. Here's what it looks like on the page:

COOPER

Thank you.

Cooper walks slowly to the bathroom and closes the door.

CUT TO:

43. INT. COOPER'S BATHROOM - NIGHT

Cooper looks at the sink, at his personal effects, he picks up the toothbrush, squeezes some

toothpaste on it and lifts it to his mouth. He holds it in front of his mouth, looks into the

mirror and smiles brightly. Looking into the mirror, staring back at him, is the face of Bob.

CUT TO BLACK:


Here we get Evil Coop pretending to be Good Coop. Whereas in the filmed version we get Evil Coop pretending to be Good Coop, only not very well. Inhabited by Bob, he's a dark spirit walking around in the real world and not navigating it particularly smoothly. He squeezes out all the toothpaste he can and then smashes his head against the mirror, alerting Harry and Doc Hayward (who seems to have returned to normal duties after apparently killing Ben Horne) that something's terribly wrong with the man maniacally repeating, "How's Annie?" behind the bathroom door. What will happen next? Well, it won't be Evil Coop posing as the real thing. The head injury alone would put the kibosh on that.

So what does happen next? As a viewer, that was my great frustration back in 1991. I went into this episode expecting closure assuming that, since everyone knew the cancellation was imminent, they would find a way to wrap things up. I was pretty naïve about how far in advance seasons had to be planned so a show setting up a never-to-be-filmed third season seemed perverse. It felt like a "fuck you" to the network that caught fans in the crossfire. Now I can appreciate the bizarre craft behind this episode. Then it just left a bitter taste.

But where would they have gone from there? Lynch has remained tightlipped about the series' eventual destination. And, instead of a continuation we got a prequel in the form of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Well, it's mostly a prequel anyway. But we'll get to that in two weeks.

That glaring proof to the contrary aside, I'm not sure there's anywhere to take the story from here. In the final episode, Lynch and Frost take their characters into the Peaks equivalent of the 2001 monolith. We've heard about the Black Lodge for some time, now we plunge inside it. It's not full of stars but much darker stuff.

It's a bummer of a revelation on which to end the episode, much less the series, so maybe we should return our focus to some earlier scenes of Andy and Lucy and the Briggs and Bobby and Shelly, all of them moony and in love. There is a world outside the Black Lodge and maybe Major Briggs' deep-seated belief that love is enough, at least for those who can stay out of the woods.

One final note: How amazing is Jimmy Scott? Sorry, The Legendary Jimmy Scott.

Grade: A-

Okay, next week we'll have some Lynch miscellany in the form of On The Air and Industrial Symphony No. 1. In two weeks it's Fire Walk With Me. Then it's time to leave this corner of the Northwest for good. Or is it for good? (Yeah, it probably is.)
Filed Under: TV, Twin Peaks

More TV Club