An explanation of the end of Twin Peaks that provides closure

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An explanation of the end of Twin Peaks that provides closure

Postby tmurry » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:29 pm

Short version, unpacked below: The story in the World of Twin Peaks has its end mid part 17 when the lights go out in the sheriff's station (with a farewell coda at the boiler room door). Coop’s face superimposed on the screen indicates a dissociative episode, one foot on the denouement of the TP story and one in the temptation of solving the only unresolved issue: Laura. The remainder of the show is a “last temptation of Cooper” fantasy/nightmare where the lesson metaphorically learned through his 25 years in the lodge is played out in the real world and demonstrates the horrific consequences of wasting your life in an obsession with solving other’s problems without facing your own. After Coop’s nightmare climax winks out, leaving us in the real world as pre-season Coop returns to the lodge. As farewell, we get the lingering lesson of the whisper, “you can never save me,” which brings us around to the fact that this has been learned before Coop leaves the Lodge – we end at the beginning, and this 1.5 episodes really belong before the first (holla, Infinite Jest fans) and is placed here as a remembered lesson, a real world version of 25 years in the lodge.

So, biases on the table – I needed an explanation that accomplished 3 things:

1. Provides closure – it has to work as a series finale without all the “there has to be a fourth season now”

2. Allows for Coop to not have to have, after the last 25 years, not learned his lesson – no cycle of “never learn” purgatory allowed

3. Saving Laura is bad because it robs her of agency and redemption and Coop’s desire to do it is damaging and reflects his deepest flaw

I bring a couple of preconceptions to the table that are, for certain, not universal.

1 Coop lost his confrontation with his shadow self (s2e22) because of his tainted savior complex. This is due to the nature of white knight-ism itself (reducing women to grail objects), his repeating pattern of his relationships being structured this way (he tried to break this pattern with Annie, but Windom Earle placed her back in this context, setting him up for a fall), and a general fascination with the dark/morbid aspects of humanity/sexuality (grinning inappropriately at Fleshworld, desiring to see dead bodies at a young age, job enabled obsession with victims of sexual violence after it is too late). But also, the problem to be solved is that of a system that he has internalized, a kind of “bad” pattern of the way males and females relate, and he has not really taken a look at himself (or the FBI for that matter). Going back to save Laura is the direct but wrong way to deal with his deepest desires and the problem with the world and not only would rob her of her own salvation but has the same cosmic wrongness that is demonstrated by the zombie Kahl Drogo sequence in GoT (has anyone compared that yet?). This is bad Coop – ends justify the means, playing with dark forces, trucking in life and death. Mr C, another words.

2 In the World of Twin Peaks, things work like TV (the OS like nighttime soaps the Return like prestige drama) but with the symbolic aspects manifested as a psychological space of archetypes spilling in to the ground reality. Thus, conflicts are played out metaphorically, but one can imagine the real world analogue to any of these. Coop’s confrontation in the (s2 last episode) Lodge becomes him losing himself to his darker impulses given the situation (Annie possibly being killed like Caroline), killing Earle in rage, and this changing him, his demons taking over. The current season does a lot to define the TP world against our world, both in implicating a dreamer (not just Lynch and Frost, but the audience which includes “real world” Coop/Richard, see below), placing Audrey/Sherlyn Fenn there (this only makes sense but is too much to broach here), including a real world city limits sign to contrast with the TP sign, and casting the owner of the house as the owner of the house.

3 The ring represents responsibility for your actions. Choosing to put the ring on is an act of radical self-determination, taking responsibility who you are and what you have done, enabling a choice whether to succumb to your demons, and dangerously stepping into the unknown world where the will meets the real (as opposed to the self-imagined or the civilized-symbolic). Having the ring put on you is forcing responsibility and exposing someone to judgement. I’d love to see a Green Lantern that took this view of the “ring of will,” the unworthy burning themselves out. Cooper telling Laura “don’t take the ring” is a mistake of someone who has yet to learn the lesson (see savior complex above). She and maybe some element of the world is saved by her sacrifice which is enacted by owning her actions.

4 I haven’t seen mentioned that, with everybody noting the Wizard of Oz nature of the “last scene in the world of TP,” the superimposed face is an element of going from Kansas to Oz. Dorothy’s face doubles and the double hangs superimposed over the cyclone. This is that in reverse, going from the “dream” to the real world.

5 Remember when Laura not only screamed at Cooper in FWWM (in black and white, Oz dudes) but then every line she says after that works as if addressed to him? “Your Laura is gone, there’s only me now” “you want to take me home now.” That was awesome

6 Naido is only revealed to be Diane in the dissociative space while Coop’s real analogue views the dream, starting (seeing Naido is the first “split off” moment). Until then she is the injured, unaware, incoherent feminine who makes monkey noises, firmly in the symbolic space, rescue bait for old Cooper, the agency-less victim. Coop maps her to Diane but also to the red room (face, Diane’s nail and hair choices). The red room is a feminine space – vaginal red curtains, Venuses (note the replacement of the Venus DeMilo with no arms with the Venus of Arles with the arms ripped off, a change of nature, Naido to Judy), and the fact that the trial of the masculine entails facing the feminine. Naido is a figment of the male imagination and being turned into the 3d Diane is the moment Coop shows he has learned.

7 Judy is tough to talk about, but we are gonna. The FBI men have clearly been on a search for something wrong with women (OK, the feminine) they can fix. Being less charitable, the function of the FBI in Twin Peaks the Return is to investigate what went wrong with women since WWII… what with the acting like men, gaining subjectivity, being less nurturing, and all. Charitably, something is wrong in every generation with the masculine and the feminine and the wish to try to find a solution. Judy as the goddess of negative feminine energy makes sense, but Coop seems to be looking for something more like “the daughter” (Naido identifies Judy as mother just as Sarah is Laura’s mother), the woman in trouble to be saved from her Judy-bred impulses. This is kind of hard to articulate but this goes to my “TP is about Boomers” theory where there is a post war problem with the feminine associated with inattentiveness (Judy and Naido have no eyes), a replacement of the maternal succor with aggression, and a putting a part of its nature asleep. Naido is the vulnerable, underdeveloped, defanged product of this.

8 Coop’s 25 year period is a metaphor for the problems of America but, more importantly, is a metaphorical story of a man at war with himself. Cooper’s fireman nature (strong, silent, problem solving, scrupulous, doing what needs to be done, productive of joy – in the lodge) has been suppressed in favor of his Bob nature (a taker, end justifies the means, all goal - doing what he wants, leaving destruction – Mr C) but it is Dougie (the original) that is the “real” Cooper in that this is the identity that has been manufactured to cover the deeper faces, the one he shows the world. When the “mid-life crisis” hits, the good starts to reassert, there is a fight, the return of the good fixed the world, and the identity is recreated as a better person. Note this is the metaphor I’m not claiming this is what “actually happened,” whatever the hell that means.

9 I think Mr C was on a mission to do what the Blue Rose task force set out to do - find Judy – he just didn’t care who died in the process and was an adversary of anything that would get in the way. He had the same goal as OG Coop did. He needed the coordinates because he wanted Naido who, as above, is a sort of contrapositive of Judy. The giant flips between the location of the TP embodiment of Judy (Sarah) and that of Naido. The white lodge was another trap.

10 Diane has, this season, lined up to represent the relationship Coop really needs. He realizes Mr C has raped her, and the seeing her in Naido is a demonstration in mastery, by making her her in his mind, not a victim. All the stuff at the end is the failure of this mastery previously in the lodge which maybe “flits through" Coop's mind while the face is up (though the face disappears during the true healing/win moment of the kiss, real recognition, and affirmation of memory).

So away we go. It works like this: In the “world of TP” Coop has gotten right with his identity (Mr C and Bob gone) and relation to the world (Dougie) has been restored. Mr C has been brought down by an avatar of weaponized innocence (Lucy) and Coop has faced Bob who has been brought down by an avatar of, well, gumption (determination, enthusiasm, taking a leap of faith). Then he sees Naido, an avatar of the helpless traumatized woman, the thing his trial is based on.

This brings about the superimposed face – this is a diffracted reality: “Coop” as a real world manifestation as part of the audience (see below) witnessing the end of the show he and all of us are dreaming. From a TP plot perspective, they have rescued Diane from Mr C’s victimization (rape) and contact with the good Coop brings her back to herself. He demonstrates that he has learned his lesson by making her a human in his mind. He sees in her the red room - in Naido/Diane is the nature of his trial, the ugly thing in the room that has a distorted, covered Diane and Judy as part of it emblematic of the taint he has to banish. He has triumphed, they are both whole.

The dreamer turns away just long enough to miss the real reconciliation and affirmation that they remember what happened. Everyting is finalized, everyone has arrived, Coop says hope to see you again, and the lights of the world of the show go out – the end.

Lynch and his two lead actors of his career go to the Great Northern boiler room door, Kyle says he must go alone, and goes through. This is Lynch, finished with his film career, saying goodbye as Lynch’s representative in the world of the show must go it alone. The face is gone, the dream is over, see you at the curtain call. One could stop here as the show world is over. Note that the idea of going to get Laura or going to get Judy has never even been broached (it seems like it, but it hasn’t - there is no indication that that's why he is going through the door).

We go back to the past (and I mean Dale in the lodge past), to the fantasy that will haunt everything retroactively. Dale is allowed to experience his rescue Laura but loses her to the ratcheting sound of the compulsive attempt (the B&W slipping into color, the white lodge being lost). He should not be doing this and he needs to become the guy who doesn’t. This is happening again and again while Dale is in the lodge – he is tested, and fails. This failure causes the loss of Laura (to a similar “woosh”) in the red room. Dale has to ignore Leland (the clear eyed one that killed his daughter, not the dopple white eyed one that never killed anybody) and leave Laura’s redemptive act intact. We witness one such failure in the fantasy space followed by the same in the room itself (shown extended in episode 1, again Dark Tower and IJ). But there is a version we haven’t seen, the “real world” one that the others have been analogies of.

OK, we’ve reached a part that has multiple layers going on at once. The rest of the episode shows a “real” version of Coop living the fact that he will never be the savior, a demonstration of how his obsession drove away the real love of his life, a representation of the time in the lodge as really just 25 years wasted on a tainted dream, a presentation of what the complete un-metaphorically split Coop would have been like those 25 years, and a symbolic depiction of (and middle finger to) fandom. You could read it as a coda which goes back to dramatize the lodge or a moment of Cooper in Twin Peaks (when the face is up) having the “lesson” flashed through his mind.

It begins. After a third repeat of the red room stuff with Leland, etc., the room appears to let him out into the world, our world. He gets to live the life he would have lived, beginning with a symbolic marriage to Diane - they say are you sure you want to do this, kiss, and cross the threshold, risk be damned. The “honeymoon” sex really represents their entire marriage/relationship… he commands, she obeys, their closeness slips into alienation, she loses who he is, as the Mr C part of him is dominant. There is no rape per se, he violates her spirit. There is no tulpa, just a person she becomes as a result of the general trauma of being with him. This is what being married to old Dougie was like for Diane’s “sister,” except she was the fantasy version that could tough it out with resilience, spunk, and good spirit. After 25 years, she leaves (the hotel is the same one 25 years later, but that’s just shorthand for he’s stuck, never "home" the whole time). They are literally different people, now.

Coop is going to finish this. He shows off how he’s Coop, Mr C, and Dougie at once in the Judy’s diner scene. Finding Laura is the one thing that gives his life meaning (fandom alert). He finds her, still trapped in the life/cycle her resolve and death freed her from, takes her “home” where the RR is closed (or is it the real diner -Norma's place never closes) and the Laura’s house is owned by the real house owner. He lets out a wail of wasted time “what year is it?” as she suddenly wakes up to the vast degree of her (and everyone like her)’s pain. He has done nothing but create more suffering. The lights go out, simulation over, and he returns to the red room.

The cycle starts again. Laura whispers “Jackass, you cannot save me/women in trouble because the problem is in you” and he makes the face of horrifying recognition. Start the season over, this is just the setup.

Hope this helps.
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Re: An explanation of the end of Twin Peaks that provides closure

Postby Firewalkwithme91 » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:55 pm

I like it. The white-knighting of Cooper is basically my reading too. Cooper wants to save all these people in trouble but he ends up failing. It happened with Laura, Maddy, Leland, Caroline and Annie. He needs to take a closer look at himself and how he views women.
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Re: An explanation of the end of Twin Peaks that provides closure

Postby Novalis » Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:01 am

I can see how this explanation works in that it links up with some of the thematic concerns of TPTR, particularly the emphasis on the 'loss of the maternal': the way DoM/119 woman ignores her son, the way Sarah Palmer has been made into the hag in the gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel, the way the hit-and-run infant death is set up with the boy running ahead of his mother, the way the younger generations in Twin Peaks are steeped in drug and gun culture, the way American Woman is frightened of the approach of her mother, the feminine phenotype of the experiment in the box, etc., etc.

While acknowledging this 'tainted maternal' theme to be there in spadefuls, I don't like it. It places an undue amount of pressure on the figure of the mother to bear responsibility for literally everything wrong with the world. It's all mom's fault.

Where I see things unravelling and getting interesting is that the war which, historically, required women to fill mens' shoes while they were fighting fascism was a war that had been built up, waged, and unleashed by men; the Atomic Bomb and the subsequent arms race was also the work of men. And, for those going down the tSHoTP road, Jack Parsons was a womanising male occultist instrumentalising and idealising women in the form of a Scarlet Woman (Diane) as a mate for the many-headed Beast (Cooper) to give birth to a magickal apocalypse. Whichever lens you view the same sequence through, the loss and corruption of the (idealised) maternal is wholly integrated into a much more comprehensive loss of a social context for childhood and childhood innocence. Children and the young are the social group that seem to come out of Twin Peaks worst off -- orphaned, adrift, abandoned, fed money but little in the way of moral guidance, when not actually abused by their families or mown down by boy racers, themselves adrift.

It's strange that this somewhat conservative view on the breaking down of community and social ties that once, allegedly, allowed childhood innocence to exist is accompanied by a very long and sustained reflection on what it is like to be a newborn and be utterly dependant on social co-operation: Cooper's emergence as Dougie into the care of Jade, Mullins, Janey-E. The greater part of S3 shows Dougie Cooper managing to find his way in the world, if haphazardly, through the goodwill of people. So whatever 'the maternal impulse' that is allegedly lost and corrupted might be, the fact of social co-operation, care and solidarity among people is shown to still exist even -- perhaps especially -- in dark times, in a contemporary world that has supposedly lost it.

I think the exceptionally powerful darkness and obscurity of the final episode is still beclouding all this for us: re-watches of earlier episodes, particularly the Dougie-centric ones, reveal a very heartwarming and humanistic core to this season. Whatever darkness is there, it's not all mom's fault. Mom is doing more than anyone to mend this fractured world.
As a matter of fact, 'Chalfont' was the name of the people that rented this space before. Two Chalfonts. Weird, huh?
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Re: An explanation of the end of Twin Peaks that provides closure

Postby mine » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:01 am

Novalis wrote:While acknowledging this 'tainted maternal' theme to be there in spadefuls, I don't like it. It places an undue amount of pressure on the figure of the mother to bear responsibility for literally everything wrong with the world. It's all mom's fault.

That wasn't absent even from the previous incarnations of TP.
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Re: An explanation of the end of Twin Peaks that provides closure

Postby dud » Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:52 am

"you can never save me" is the first satisfying idea of what Laura whispered to Cooper that I've read so far, good job!

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