Twin Peaks 2.22

22 Beyond Life and Death

“You and I have an appointment at the end of the world.”

It’s sad to see how many lives are devastated this episode. After suffering head trauma, Nadine regains “sanity” and the lives she immediately impacts end up falling apart. Mike, Ed and Norma all must face the relationships they’ve formed dissolving in the wake of Nadine’s reawakening to reality. Ben ends up telling Donna the truth, that he’s her father, which threatens to tear apart their family.

On the happier side of things, this episode returns to the wry sense of comedy. There’s a delightful bit of slow-building comedy that mimics the opening scene of this season. Audrey chains herself to the bank vault in protest of its funding of the Ghostwood project. She request one of the old clerks gets her a glass of water and he ends up taking quite a bit of time.

I like seeing how certain things come back. The smell of oil Ronette talked about ends up being the same oil Margaret has from her husband who died years ago. Heidi, an extremely minor character, shows up at the diner again. And the red curtains appear once more along with its unusual inhabitant in what we discover is The Black Lodge.

First of all, what a visually impressive place. The striking, tall red curtains in place of walls, the zigzag patterns of the floor, the placement of the furniture all speak to the magnificence of the set design. Furthermore, the way in which it is shot as Cooper alternates back and forth between two rooms quickly makes the place spatially disorienting, especially as the content of the rooms change drastically each time he enters them.

Cooper meets with the midget and Laura Palmer again, they speak to him of meeting again in 25 years, a meeting Cooper has already experienced. Apparently, time works differently here. Cooper also discovers that the giant and the old butler are the same person. Perhaps like how Bob possesses people, the giant possessed the butler.

As Cooper explores more of this realm, the sequence slowly builds in intensity. It goes from a conversation to Cooper running back and forth between the rooms. He has a conversation with a spirit that changes from Annie to Caroline to Laura and then finally Windom. Now face to face with his foe, Windom makes Cooper a deal: trade his soul for Annie’s life. Cooper agrees with the deal, but Bob takes over Windom saying that Windom has no control over this realm and cannot offer such a deal.

Windom is ultimately undone by powers he is arrogant enough to think he can control. Cooper and Annie are left outside the lodge. But then when Cooper awakens, he goes to the bathroom and looks in the mirror where we see that Bob has taken control of him and makes Cooper bash his head against the mirror while repeating the mantra “Is Annie okay?” And that’s the end of the show.

I always expected Twin Peaks to end with some unsolved mysteries but there are some incredible cliffhangers. Doc Hayward attacks Ben and we aren’t sure if Ben is alive. An explosion at the bank leaves the fate of several characters up in the air. Will Josie’s spirit ever be found? Also, what are the titular Twin Peaks? The lodges? Two mountains? A metaphor for the duality of good and evil? A boob joke? Who can say?

© 2014 James Blake Ewing

  • I was furious when I finished Twin Peaks. I slogged through the second season, which I remember being damn near a chore to do. Only to get to this ending which makes no sense and answers no questions–in fact, raises more and just… ends. I haaaated it.

    • James Blake Ewing

      I could see that. It does feel like the kind of cliffhanger that could really rub people the wrong way and the fact that the show ends here doesn’t help. I do desperately wish there was more of this show. And, like you said, it does bring up more questions in this last episode.

  • Despite all the cliffhangers, I’m a big fan of the finale. The black lodge scenes are so chilling, and I’d remembered them being a lot longer than they were. In the middle of it, Lynch cuts to that slow-walking bank teller, which is just brilliant. I wouldn’t say that I was satisfied with the ending, but it leaves quite an impression and the feeling of despair that everything has gone to hell.

    • James Blake Ewing

      Yes, all the Black Lodge stuff is astounding and it might be my favorite sequence in the entire show. And the ending is emotionally effective, if nothing else.

  • This is, I think, the best episode of the series, frustrating as it can be. The bit with the old man is brilliant and makes me laugh every time. Lynch’s work in the Black Lodge ranks with the best experimental work he’s ever done.

    For those angry with the series for ending this way, it’s worth remembering that all the dangling plot elements were written at a time when there was still a slim – VERY slim – chance that the show could be renewed for a third season. As with the Season 1 cliffhanger, the gang tried to create enough drama and suspense to nudge a greenlight but of course the show had abysmal ratings and had been entirely rejected by critics at this point. Aside from a narrow if very devoted fanbase, nobody remained in its corner (and even many of them would finally abandon ship with the prequel film).

    That said, despite the fact that much of it wasn’t designed as an ending, the finale works as a grim but powerful conclusion to the saga for me. From the beginning, Lynch clues us to the fact that Twin Peaks is a dark place and I appreciate the fact that he follows through & goes all the way with this. That last scene just…man.

    Out of curiosity have you read the script for this episode (it’s floating around online somewhere)? All the Black Lodge stuff is completely different. Lynch – who isn’t credited as screenwriter – basically threw out the other writers’ material last minute and made up what we see onscreen. And it works so perfectly.

    • James Blake Ewing

      The Black Lodge sequence is definitely one of my favorite sequences in the show and I do think this episode would be in my top 5 episodes list.

      Yes, it’s quite a cliffhanger, but they did something similar to season one and I can see them thinking that they’d probably get one more season, but of course that didn’t happen. I guess the combination of that and the explosion at the bank as well as the attack on Ben means that the fate of quite a few characters is left up in the air and I can certainly see why some people would find that infuriating.