‘Twin Peaks’ Finale Recap: The Story Ends – Forever? – with a Mystifying, Entrancing Finish

“What the f–k just happened?” asks one cowboy to another, when an FBI agent named Dale Cooper — or is it Richard? — …

What the f—k just happened?” asks one cowboy to another, when an FBI agent named Dale Cooper — or is it Richard? — disarms them, deep-fries their guns, and then at gunpoint, courteously asks the waitress write down an address. It’s a question that applies to most of the “Twin Peaks: The Return” finale, which ended with a sky-shattering, ground-shaking, still-haunting scream. Sheryl Lee, who plays Laura Palmer and the woman who in this episode identifies herself as Carrie Page, has the look of a Hitchcock blonde — and the sound of one, too. In a way it feels like all of “Twin Peaks,” from its 1990 premiere to its Sept. 3 finale, is a journey of getting inside the unhinged, female terror of that scream. David Lynch has taken us on a circuitous journey towards the bloodcurdling — which has taken us both to the corrupted soul of Americana and across astral dimensions.

Tonight’s two-part finale of “Twin Peaks: The Return” recentered the “Twin Peaks” story on its long-dead victim, Laura Palmer. Unlike most dead girls who become inciting incidents, Laura is the reanimated center of her own murder: Even though she is dead, she is also brought to life again and again by the camera, either as a spiritual being, in a flashback, or as a different person entirely. It’s one of the most beautiful and the most ultimately tragic elements of “Twin Peaks” — the show that gives such remarkable voice to its victim is also constantly reminding the audience of the unnameable horror of her final days.


One of the reasons “Twin Peaks” is so persistently seductive is because it finds a way to inhabit American emptiness in a way few others can approach. Emptiness is a part of this country’s cultural heritage; driving through America, in “Twin Peaks,” feels as isolated and hair-raising as it might on a long stretch of two-lane highway through remote Texas. The gas station in the final episode is shrouded with darkness that looks ready to close in at a moment’s notice. Lynch’s art, at least part of it, injects meaning behind moments that would otherwise be stunning for their artifice. It’s like a reverse camp, and it’s especially apparent for any emphasis on Lee, who so thoroughly embodies his “Twin Peaks” aesthetic. The final hour of “Twin Peaks: The Return felt like it was the final stroke cutting through a shroud of illusion about America that the show has explored since the first episode. Underneath the artifice — the suggestions made by this soap operatic melodrama — is that endless, echoing scream.
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