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It happened again — but will it happen again, again?
That’s the question Twin Peaks fans are facing now in the aftermath of the final two episodes of The Return, the 18-part Showtime revival from co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost. The series ended on an impossibly brutal note, with main characters Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), or at least versions of these characters, locked in an alternate version of Twin Peaks that has no apparent memory of either person. It’s a stunning cliffhanger, somehow even more twisted than the way Twin Peaks ended decades ago, which also concluded with Cooper’s fate hanging in the balance. At least in that case, Cooper was able to break free from the Black Lodge, if only for the vast majority of Twin Peaks: The Return. Now, we’re faced with the very likely possibility that we will never see another episode of this series ever again, and the harsh truth that Cooper and Laura will be stuck in their strange new world for the rest of time.
With some distance from the finale, The Hollywood Reporter‘s two Twin Peaks writers, Josh Wigler and Chris E. Hayner, joined together for one final cup of damn good coffee, meditating on the potential for this singular series’ future. Will we ever return to Twin Peaks, and just as importantly, should we ever return to this unusual realm? Read on for Wigler and Hayner’s thoughts on the matter.
Josh Wigler: Twin Peaks has reached an end, or at least the end in its current incarnation. Whatever you want to say about how Twin Peaks: The Return ultimately concluded, and how it all shook out, there’s no denying the simple fact that it happened. The question is: Should it happen again, again? Lynch and Frost ended The Return on their terms, and their terms were a very difficult thing for fans to weather, even those who enjoyed the ending. No resolution for Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn), or the mysterious Billy, just to name a few of the many lingering questions. The biggest cliffhanger of all: Cooper and Laura, or Richard and Carrie if you prefer, stuck in a Twin Peaks that has no memory of either of them. What’s your take, Chris? Do you think we need to go back to Twin Peaks for these answers? Is a fourth season something we need, following that finale?
Chris E. Hayner: It’s a question I’ve been wrestling with, actually. The finale is open for all kinds of interpretation and left viewers hanging. In that way, I was disappointed in how it all came to a close. We waited 25 years to see what happened, only to be faced with another very strange cliffhanger. For that reason, I honestly think a fourth season is needed. There are so many questions we need answered, so many characters to explore more, and I’m still dying to know who the anonymous New York City billionaire is. That said, I more than need another season. I actually want it. Twin Peaks: The Return was an incredible ride to go on over 18 episodes and was so true to the original series in ways I don’t think anyone could have expected. What about you, Josh? While there’s certainly more story that could be told, would it be something you’d be excited to actually watch?
Wigler: I think you hit the nail on the head for me, and actually, isn’t it close to what Mr. C says earlier in the series? “I don’t need … I want.” That’s how I’m feeling right now about a fourth season of Twin Peaks. In the immediate aftermath of the finale, I was so utterly crushed by the ending, that I actually felt like the last 18 hours spent in Lynch Land were an utter waste of time. What was the point of all that heartache, all of those mesmerizing mysteries, if it was all coming to a boil in a final hour that truly nobody could have even come close to predicting? And then maybe 11 hours later, as I was preparing for my interview with Kyle MacLachlan, struggling to come up with questions for the erstwhile Cooper(s), the voice of Gordon Cole (Lynch) started ringing in my ears: “They will turnip eventually.” I could not stop laughing for five minutes straight. It brought me back to the same lesson I learned from the final season of Lost, easily my favorite show of all time (that’s not named Survivor): It really is about the journey, not the destination.
The more I ruminate on where Twin Peaks landed, the more at peace I am with Lynch’s direction for the show, if not outright comfortable. And I would love to see more. I would love more turnip jokes. I would love more spectacular MacLachlan performances. I would love to return to a sea of surreal soundscapes, to rock out at the Roadhouse for another riveting performance (I’ve watched the Eddie Vedder scene at least 10 times since it first aired), I would love to know what year this is. I would love to know what happened to Audrey. I would love to know more about the New York City billionaire. But with all of that being said — I absolutely don’t expect any real resolution on any of those points, certainly not if Twin Peaks is truly well and finished, but even if the series somehow miraculously returns for a fourth season. So I turn that question to you: If Twin Peaks returns, do you expect we would ever reach any true final resolution, or would the show, like Cooper, be destined to remain trapped in a series of endless mysteries, one unlocked door leading to a new locked door, and so on and so on ad infinitum? And if that’s the case, would it be worth returning to Twin Peaks?
Hayner: As much as I want answers to all of my questions, I don’t really ever expect to get them. I don’t know know how many answers I expected to get out of this season, but it’s safe to say there were only a couple. That said, the answers aren’t really what makes Twin Peaks special. It’s the experience to tune in once a week to see Lynch and Frost serve up little pieces of their soul for us to figure out and interpret. Like you, I was wildly disappointed in the final hour of The Return — though the penultimate episode was one of the absolute best. With a little distance though, it’s hard to imagine it ending any other way. While I still don’t love the ending, there was never really another option. And it was worth returning to Twin Peaks this time. So why not do it again? There would be more questions than answers again, that is a given. But the journey could once again be such an exhilarating ride.
The only fear is losing some of the characters and characterizations that make Twin Peaks so special — like the citizens of the small town themselves. How heartbreaking would it be to have Norma (Peggy Lipton) and Big Ed (Everett McGill) be entirely different people after finally getting together officially? Or erasing the fact that Shelly (Madchen Amick) and Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) were married and had a child? Those are the things that would have me wary about a new season, but where do you stand? Is this new timeline or whatever it is something you want to explore more, learning more about Richard and Carrie and the people than inhabit this version of the world?
Wigler: I’m definitely up for it. As “Richard,” MacLachlan delivered yet another version of Cooper. How many more Coopers does he have up his sleeve? So much has been made about Lynch being at the height of his powers in The Return, but from my view, enough can’t be said about how MacLachlan has reached his own peak, as it were. I would love to see him find even more heights with this character and this performance. And the idea of following Dale and Laura deeper into the woods, as it were, is definitely appealing to me. But we would never get anywhere closer to the other side of the forest. If you think about it, so much of the original Peaks run is preserved by the end of The Return. Cooper is still trapped in a foreign realm. Laura remains tormented, stuck in a fate worse than death, even. We had no idea what happened to Audrey Horne following the season two finale, and more than 25 years later, we still don’t really know what’s happened to Audrey. So, the cycle continues, and I think that’s the point.
There was a great theory put forth on Reddit about “Judy,” the name of the extreme negative force Cooper and Cole were fighting against, actually meaning “explanation.” Explanation serving as Lynch’s great enemy makes a whole lot of sense given the way his stories unfold, and with that in mind, entering another season of Peaks would mean another series of stories without a definitive explanation — a notion that I’m very OK with, but one that I’m sure would not sit well with many. But OK, you and I both agree that the sheer journey of it all would be a worthwhile reason to return to this universe, just to see our favorite toys out of the box again, even without a true resolution to the game. With that said… do you expect we’ll ever actually see a fourth season? Is all of this speculation for naught? Do you think we’ve seen the last of Twin Peaks, or do you think we’re going to set foot in the Lodge once more at some point down the line?
Hayner: I honestly do not think we will see more Twin Peaks anytime soon, which is truly a disappointment. Based on everything that has been said, it seems like this is a one and done. Given that the ratings weren’t huge, it’s hard to imagine another network willing to take it on at this point. Then again, perhaps while this is the last we’ll see of Twin Peaks on TV, it’s not the end of the world. Frost’s Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier book is coming out, which may help with diving a bit deeper into the world. And let’s not forget the last time Twin Peaks ended. Lynch decided he wasn’t done with that world and made a movie. Who’s to say he won’t follow The Return with yet another movie, this time a sequel rather than a prequel as Fire Walk With Me was. Would a film followup to The Return be something you’d be interested in?
Wigler: I’m up for anything Lynch wants to do, and my expectations are well and fully adjusted after watching The Return end in real time. I wouldn’t fire walk into another round of Peaks expecting anything resembling the traditional sense of closure. But I don’t think Twin Peaks needs any traditional sense of closure, the more and more I think about it. The Return was an 18-course meal, each course distinct and filled with unforgettable bites in its own way. I thought the final course would be one thing, a delectable plate with which to fondly remember the feast. Instead, for his final course, Lynch locked us all in a dungeon, trapped in a room with yet another full-course meal as our only form of company, the meal itself trapped behind its own set of bars, and the only way to truly remove ourselves from eternal imprisonment would be to somehow get behind those bars and eat the new full spread. A daunting task, if not an outright impossible one, but thoroughly daring and exciting the more and more I chew on it.
The devastation of the Twin Peaks ending is that it wasn’t a clean headshot, the way Mr. C loved to dispatch his victims. It was a gut shot, the slow-bleeding kind of wound, and we were kicked out of the car on the side of the road, left to live in that pain. It’s a visceral and infuriating way to end the series, but I will never forget the way this ending made me feel in the moment, and that’s more than I can say for most shows in the era of Peak TV. So, sure, bring on the movie. Bring on the fourth season. Bring on The Final Dossier. Or bring on nothing at all, and leave us on the side of the road. However it shakes out next — if there even is a next — I’ll never forget that final ride with Cooper and Laura, with Richard and Carrie. That’s enough for me, for now.
What do you think, Twin Peaks fans? Are you hoping for more, or are you happy with the way The Return ended? Let us know in the comments below.
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