Let’s be honest, we all hate – or perhaps love to hate – cliffhangers. They’re the worst. You get fully immersed in an episode, right in the thick of the action, and then bang, the credits roll and you’re left with a decision. Turn off and get on with your life or sink back into the sofa and put on the next episode. If it’s a series-ending cliffhanger, then you don’t even have that choice. You’re forced to sit it out until the next season.
Now imagine this wait didn’t span the usual 12 months, but a whopping 26 years. That’s what Twin Peaks fans have dealt with ever since David Lynch’s surrealist tour-de-force bowed out in 1991.
Partly by design and partly due to circumstance — the now-celebrated show was cancelled early due to poor ratings — many plot lines were left unfinished. But with the premiere of season three just five days away (!) we’re finally going to get some answers. Here are the mysteries we want solved in Twin Peaks’ new episodes. Spoilers, obviously.
“How’s Annie?” / What happened to Cooper?
With the final, chilling shot of season two, it was revealed that main protagonist Special Agent Dale Cooper had been possessed by BOB, a demonic entity who invades the bodies of Twin Peaks’ residents in order to wreak havoc on the population. He’s responsible for causing Leland Palmer to murder his daughter Laura. The moment Coop’s fate is revealed is widely held as one of the most shocking moments in TV history. Here’s some background:
In the last episode of season two, Annie Blackburn, Cooper’s girlfriend, is abducted by Windom Earle, a former FBI partner of Cooper’s. He’s obsessed with getting revenge for Coop’s past affair with his dead wife Caroline and drags Annie to Glastonbury Grove, a circle of Sycamore trees which acts as the entrance to the Black Lodge, a realm of pure evil which exists on an alternate plane of reality. He then crosses over, hostage in tow, with Cooper close behind.
In a terrifying finale, BOB, who resides in the Lodge unless he has a human surrogate, possesses Coop’s body and traps his essence in the Lodge. BOB then escapes into the real world posing as his victim. At first, it wasn’t clear there was anything wrong. The dream sequence in the Lodge ended and our coffee-loving inspector woke up in bed with a doctor tending to him. Later, Cooper is in the bathroom brushing his teeth when he suddenly slams his head into the mirror, revealing his reflection to be BOB. He grins and laughs, repeatedly asking, “How’s Annie?”
And that was that, the picture faded to black and we’ve been in the dark ever since. Surely now, after all these years, we’ll get some answers.
How does The Black Lodge work?
The Red Room is a red-draped hall with zany chromatic flooring where most of the Black Lodge action takes place. For all intents and purposes, they are one and the same. It’s not explained whether there are any other areas of The Black Lodge, and this is the only bit we are shown, mostly in the form of dreams. Lots of different spirits and people lurk there, each stranger than the next. There are several other quirks to the Black Lodge that remain unexplained. First concerns how time works there. In prequel movie Fire Walk With Me, Cooper appears in a dream to Laura Palmer while in the Lodge. This happens long before she is murdered by her dad Leland (possessed by BOB). These time patterns don’t match up, because that’s long before the FBI detective ever goes there.
Secondly, who is the strange, suited dwarf we often see there? He’s listed as’ The Man From The Other Place’ in the cast list, but where did he come from? And why does he and everyone except Coop talk and move backwards? Hopefully some of this stuff will be fleshed out in the coming weeks.
Why is the town called Twin Peaks when there’s only one peak?
The first thing any motorist sees upon entering Twin Peaks is its famous sign. ‘Welcome to Twin Peaks’ it proclaims and features a painting of two mountain-tops. Mount Si, which you can see looming proudly in the background, is in Snoqualmie, Washington, and is where the original series was filmed. It doesn’t have a twin. The whole franchise is founded on a lie. Was this inaccuracy laziness or just by accident? Maybe in the coming weeks Lynch will straighten this out. Maybe not.
How will the new season connect to the old story?
The problem with jump-starting a long dormant franchise is this: how do you link up two stories separated by such a large time period? Normally you’d pick a new cast (eg. Dr Who, Star Trek) or focus on different characters. Not Lynch. The teasers have mostly shown craggy old favourites like Dale Cooper and Sarah Palmer in the modern day. It’s an interesting premise, but it’s going to be hard to successfully sew up all the narrative threads without leaving viewers confused. The alternative is to completely ignore most of the events of the originals and let our imaginations fill in the gaps. It wouldn’t be the first time Lynch has pull this trick. Fire Walk With Me ignored calls to tie up the series’ loose ends and failed to give any kind of closure, leaving many fans furious.
Is Audrey Horne dead?
Twin Peaks’ resident femme fatale got herself into one sticky situation too many by the second season’s tense finale. The daughter of wealthy businessman Ben Horne and former classmate of Laura Palmer’s first mistake was going undercover at brothel/casino One Eyed Jacks to investigate the murder of Laura Palmer (who’d been working there). She then got embroiled in a series of scandals in the town which culminated in her chaining herself to a bank vault to protest at the corporation’s involvement in the Ghostwood project, which had attempted to cut down large swathes of the forest to make way for a country club. Unluckily, she was seemingly killed in an accidental bomb explosion. We never saw her body though. Fortunately, Fenn’s returning for season three so presumably we’ll discover her fate.
Is the whole thing a remake of The Wicker Man?
Rich Rosen’s theory from 1990 argues Lynch was merely retreading 1973 cult-horror classic The Wicker Man. His evidence lies in plot similarities. Cooper is a naive law-enforcement officer parachuted in to investigate a murder in a rural community. There he encounters unhelpful locals all supposedly working together to bring about his downfall. It’s an interesting idea, as Lynch is well-versed in horror-lore, so it’ll be interesting to see if the similarities continue in the new season.
What happened to Donna?
At the end of season two, Laura Palmer’s best friend Donna Hayward received some pretty bleak news regarding her potential parentage. We never definitively learned who her father was, but local tycoon Ben Horne is a safe bet. It was revealed he once had an affair with Donna’s mother around the time she was conceived. Interestingly, neither actor who portrayed Donna 2014 – Lara Flynn Boyle in the series and Moira Kelly in Fire Walk With Me – are returning for the new season. Does this mean she won’t figure at all?
Is it all to do with ancient native american spirits?
One of the more plausible Twin Peaks fan theories on the Internet argues that all the town’s bad spiritual happenings are caused by ghosts. It claims The Great Northern Hotel, owned by Ben Horne, was built on an ancient Indian burial ground, the disturbed spirits manifest themselves in the form of killer BOB and attack the community in revenge. It’s a nice idea, but the evidence is sketchy: totem poles in the hotel and the owner’s son wearing a native American headdress. Perhaps Lynch will develop this idea further in season three.
Where is James?
Another of Twin Peaks’ more frustrating characters – strong, silent-type James Hurley was last seen riding off into the distance on a jet-black Harley Davidson. A former boyfriend of Laura Palmer (and Donna’s current squeeze), he was forced to flee the country after he was framed for murder. In fact, he was only an accessory to the crime. He’d been caught getting busy with a married woman by her husband who’d ended up getting shot by said wife in the following struggle. It’s a bit of a mess, but one that’ll hopefully be cleared up in season three.
Is BOB just Leland’s Palmer nickname for his penis?
No. No it’s not. But ridiculous fan theories are fun so let’s give this one a look anyway.
The idea is that BOB was just a name for Leland Palmer’s dark side — the part of him that ruthlessly murdered his daughter and niece. Twin Peaks nut George Ferguson went one further, suggesting, ” it could have been a name for his penis… because Bobby calls his ‘pocket rocket’ and Ben calls his ‘little Elvis’. I know that’s not exactly what they said on the show, but I think they were just trying to get those names by the censors)”. You okay, George?
Did Ed Hurley and Norma Jennings get married?
Ed and Norma had been seeing each other in secret right from the beginning. With diner owner Norma’s husband in prison and gas station proprietor Ed fed up with his marriage, the romance blossomed. It got even easier when Ed’s wife Nadine banged her head and reverted back to her high school psyche. No need to sneak around anymore! However, when Norma’s hubby Hank was knifed to death in the prison weight room and Nadine recovered, they broke things off – and that’s how the series left things. But who knows? Ed’s had a long time to think it over and decide where his heart truly lies. Hint: with Norma.
Are Gilmore Girls and Twin Peaks set in the same universe?
Here’s the ‘evidence’: 1. Stars Hollow, the fictional town in Gilmore Girls, is a mirror image of Twin Peaks, ie. a small town filled with odd characters absorbed in intricate plot lines which often relate to local folklore. 2. Coffee. Both shows are obsessed with the stuff. 3. The openings are disturbingly interchangeable (see below). 4. There’s some seriously Lynchyian stuff in Gilmore Girls; Kirk’s black-and-white camerawork on his submission to the Stars Hollow film festival is very reminiscent of Lynch’s debut film Eraserhead. Similarly his weird routine at Miss Patty’s dance competition would look right at home in one of the Twin Peaks dream sequences.
Need more proof? You can read the full theory here.
Who is the father of Lucy’s child?
One of the more whimsical subplots of Twin Peaks was the ongoing dispute over Police Station receptionist Lucy Moran’s pregnancy. Who was the dad? Was it nice-but-dim Deputy Andy or smarmy clothing salesman Dick Tremayne? She’d dated both over the course of the show but ended it with each of them. Eventually, Lucy picked Andy as the de facto father without actually knowing for sure. The baby would be 20-something by now and most likely asking questions.
What happened to Leo Johnson?
The last time we saw dear old Leo, he was tied up in Windom Earle’s log cabin. A cage of tarantulas hung above his head, ready to fall if he were to let go of a string between his teeth. Not a nice way for anyone to go, but he probably got what he deserved. Or did he?
Is that the end of Windom Earle?
Rogue FBI agent Earle apparently hatched his last dastardly plan when he lured nemesis Coop into the sinister Black Lodge. Vengeance might have been sweet were it not for BOB. He promptly set Windom’s head on fire, just for laughs. That’s what you get for dealing with the dark side.
Is Diane real?
Sorry guys, we’ve got no leads on this one. You’d assume Coop’s not doing it for laughs when he makes his daily dictations to send back to secretary Diane at FBI HQ. We never actually see her in the flesh though, which is mysterious. Coop’s got a quirky side, so it’s altogether possible Diane’s just a cutesy pet name for his trusty recorder.
Does Sarah Palmer finally catch a break?
On the wrong end of perhaps the roughest deal in television history, here’s hoping Sarah Palmer’s fortunes improve in the new series. First her daughter Laura is brutally murdered, then her niece, before it’s revealed the killer of both was, in fact, her husband Leland (although possessed by BOB). Then he dies too! Poor woman. No wonder she went a bit crazy towards the end of the show.
The owls. What’s with the owls?
They’re not what they seem, obvs.
‘Twin Peaks’ returns Monday 22 May at 2am on Sky Atlantic.