Now that we are moving out in the transformed time stream created in the wake of the initial airing of Twin Peaks: The Return, a nuclear blast of mind-melting ideas, time- tripping loops, and imagery that ranged from mundane to majestic, many marvelous things are happening—fabulous art works, hilarious memes, synced up remixes, and hundreds of deep think pieces. Everyone who watched it has theories on what happened, who the “dreamer” is, what was up with mothfrog, where Audrey is (or isn’t), and hundreds of other mysteries great and small.
And whatever their theories are, whatever your theories are, they are all right.
One of the things that has defined Lynch as the rarest and most unique of Hollywood directors was that in a landscape filled to bursting with ego-maniacs, he was and is one of the most id-driven globally known artists in the world. Maybe it’s the transcendental meditation he practices (and lovingly preaches). Maybe it’s his near constant love of creation—from films to music to painting to sculptures to garden sheds. He has written on his love of “catching” ideas, and works hard to create an environment where they can more readily flow into him—and out from him.
In the seismic aftershocks of the airing of this masterpiece, there has been a tremendous outpouring of love, frustration, yearning, pestering, in-fighting, meme battling, laughter, nostalgia, podcasts, and even a few terrific tattoos.
Now, Twin Peaks: The Return belongs to us all.
With its deliberate pacing, slowly forging plot strands, time loops, tulpas and the many hours spent in the company of holy fool Dougie Jones, it was a show that bent time. Many who strained at the slow pace of the show in the early episodes would now beg for another hour of it. Twin Peaks asked quite a bit from its audience, and rewarded those who could get on its wavelength in any one of a million ways. If you are reading this, you are most likely part of that vast and varied tribe. And to you I say “HhheeelllloooOOOO!”
As of this writing, we are less than two weeks out from the detonation of the mind bomb that was the finale. After reading some terrific and thoughtful reviews by television writers I have long admired, I went searching for other communities that were basking in the reflected light of this astonishing achievement, and found plenty of marvelous rabbit holes to duck down into. You may be reading this from one of those wide and varied warrens.
For many, watching the show as it aired from week to week was surrendering to a collective hallucination, a shared dream that each took into themselves in their own ways, due to their personal and particular alchemy in that moment, in whatever setting, with our own histories, interests and influences. And this was going on all over the world. And yet, I know many folks that felt lucky to have even just one or two “IRL” pals that were watching it was well. Though who can say just what is “in real life” when each life will tend to respond to the show in their own way, following their own set of clues, arriving at their own theories—or, maybe, even daring a few conclusions.
And you are all absolutely, unequivocably right.
For myself, I have my theories, but they are just a stream of my own consciousness, that might (if I am lucky), widen out into a deeper swimming hole in which others may care to splash around in too.
All that said, watch an episode again, on a day when the weather is a little different, or after you got an upsetting phone call (or a piece of wonderful news, or pie), and you may have an entirely new take on one of the many aspects of the braided plot. A seemingly carelessly placed object in the frame might suddenly take your fancy and make you remember that thing your grandmother used to say, which unlocks the episode, the show, or your life in a whole new way.
This is the gift of this show. Something most media doesn’t dare to give you—mystery.
And mystery gives you choice—which is the last thing most media dares to do, since it is primarily there to sell you something.
From here out, you may snag some artwork (there’s some incredible imagery out there), some plastic dolls (wrapped in plastic) of your favorite characters, that Bad Coop hair pin, a Twin Peaks lunch box, or a Lodge ring. For myself, I am holding out for a Woodsman-themed Zippo lighter. But these totems are just to keep us in that Twin Peaks state of mind. Every cult needs its tokens and vestments. Enjoy that “Jade Gives Two Rides” t-shirt. Decorate your home like the Red Lodge. Throw that Twin Peaks inspired dinner party! (Garmonbozia for everyone!) You’ve earned it, pilgrims!
And keep those theories coming—it is all part of the fun.
Years ago, when the first Twin Peaks aired, I worked as a dial-a psychic, and I had a lot of fun with it. My joke was that there were only two questions—“When am I getting paid, and when am I getting laid” (men usually asked them in that order, women in the reverse). It was an interesting job, and while I had a gift for gab and often landed on some helpful insights, it was there that one of the other folks in our psychic hive noted that any reading that any of us or our co-workers gave to any of our clients was more telling of the readers than it was the people receiving whatever “wisdom” we were laying down. I took that very much to heart. If I overheard a reader giving calming words to their client on the other end of the line about their alcoholism or their terrible marriage, I took the advice they were giving as if it were what they were needing to hear themselves at that time. It was the most telling thing I learned at that crazy gig, and it has stood me well in all of the years since. I think it applies perfectly to how anybody—how everybody—is talking about and relating to Twin Peaks.
So yes, I will happily hear your theories about how Diane and Cooper are enacting a Jack Parsons inspired bit of sex magick to draw Judy to them, but I might not wish to date you afterwards (even though I bet we have some of the same books on our bookshelves, though perhaps for different reasons).
I will seek out the elusive “sync,” to watch episode 17 overlaid on episode 18 (before Showtime gets them yanked off youtube for copyright infringement). I will marvel at it, and entertain all of the faiths and schisms that have followed on its heels, including clever smart-asses (bless them!) who quickly layered all 18 episodes one atop the other. I follow the “I Want This to Be a Fabulous In-Joke” sect of the Great Sync Synod. Schisms are perhaps unavoidable, considering the source, but we can all be in faith that there are any number of ways Lynch, Frost, and their editing team are fucking with us. And bless them for their efforts, as conscious (or unconscious) as they might be.
I will ride your takes on the various time loops as if I were a slot car in the basement of the house I grew up in, the one with the crab apple tree that bloomed every May, that house on the corner of Ferguson Avenue–with the Schwinn bikes in the garage…. Oh sorry, I went off on a little Ben Horne tangent there. But I am sure you understand.
Along with many of you (though, of course, not all), I will bask in perhaps one of the most astonishing things to have come from this eighteen hours of existential, esoteric, and challenging media—a newly found love for Jim Belushi.
I will roll with your ideas about who the “dreamer” is—girlfriend-in-a-coma Audrey, deathbed Harry Truman, still-stuck-in-the-Lodge Cooper, the Fireman, or the Log Lady’s log…all are fuel for the flame of our love for the show (well, maybe not the Log Lady’s log, it is too precious). And I will lovingly, without judgment or malice or righteousness, whisper my own theory in your tender ear or amped- to-the-max hearing aide—that the dreamer is David Lynch, because Monica Belluci was looking right at him when she said so, and when he looked over his shoulder to see what she was indicating, he saw himself back in the previous days of when he and Frost were making this lovely and bonkers shared hallucination up.
I also believe this since it said so in every single episode—with a nice title card that reads, “Written by Mark Frost and David Lynch.” Then again, I am bound to be biased, because I’m a writer, and as writers, we are gods and goddesses of our own imagined worlds.
Just as everyone is. (Your mileage and World-building boundaries may vary).
So drink deep, and ascend, and keep those memes, artworks, musical interludes, poetry, fanfic, slash, syncs, remixes and theories coming. Twin Peaks is the well, and we are the water.
I will not soon forget your kindness and decency.