IT’S BEEN two days since I watched the series finale of Twin Peaks: The Return, and I’m still not sure I fully understand anything that transpired over the course of the series’ hugely entertaining, 18-episode run. Then again, I’ve been watching David Lynch‘s first feature film, Eraserhead, for almost 40 years now, and I’m still trying to figure that one out.
But that’s the special blessing that comes with giving an impressionist artist like Lynch access to one’s mind and heart. He’ll take you to strange places and show you a diversity of things that are clearly connected, but he won’t necessarily tell you how. I’m not sure even Lynch knows how everything connects. He seems more interested in what you and I think about it. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, the director recalled with delight all the fan speculation that surrounded the original Twin Peaks series nearly three decades ago, during the early days of internet chatter. “It was just people talking about the show,” Lynch said. “People talking, thinking, sharing ideas, being like detectives, seeing what they make of certain things, trying to figure things out and to share ideas. It was a beautiful thing.”
That’s an important statement, I think, and not just because there aren’t many filmmakers around today who would describe internet chatter about their work as a beautiful thing. The fact that Lynch has raised this topic now—at a time when internet chatter is the virtual air we breathe—suggests that this may have been his goal for The Return all along. He’s given us water cooler conversation like nothing we’ve ever seen—far beyond the usual “Wasn’t that an amazing scene?!” and deep into the realm of full audience participation.
That’s right. We, as viewers, have been part of The Return from the very first episode. It was an imperative built right into the series’ DNA. Who among us has not raced to Twitter or to a Facebook group every Sunday night for the past three months just to share some insight or find out what everybody else was thinking? We all did it! We connected dots; we obsessed over frozen frames; we formed communities in social media. And through it all, we experienced a growing sense that we were part of something special.
Because we were. And still are.
Wherever they are in space and time, Laura Palmer, Special Agent Dale Cooper, and the rest of the Twin Peaks gang will live on in our hearts forever. We’ll be talking about this series for years to come; speculating on theories, trying to figure out how everything fits together. And thanks to David Lynch, we’ll be doing it together.
And that, as the director would say, is indeed a beautiful thing.