Warning: Spoilers for the original “Twin Peaks” seasons and “Fire Walk with Me” below.
“Twin Peaks” ended 26 years ago, but it wasn’t over.
The last aired episode of the surreal show from the minds of David Lynch (“Mulholland Drive”) and Mark Frost took the already weird small-town drama into an even weirder orbit. While ABC canceled the show after the 1991 season-two finale due to sagging ratings, it still had more story to tell, which it will get to do, picking up decades later in the Showtime “Twin Peaks” revival premiering Sunday night.
“Beyond Life and Death” plunges Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) into an alternate reality known as the Red Room. And to understand “Twin Peaks,” you need to know what’s in the Red Room. The FBI agent, having solved the Laura Palmer murder mystery that was making viewers impatient, follows a new villain, Windom Earle, who kidnapped Annie Blackburn at the Miss Twin Peaks Pageant.
After solving a number of clues in a manner that is too complicated and eccentric – and very “Twin Peaks” – to explain here, Cooper follows Windom’s tracks to a wooded area where he has taken Annie through a red curtain that appears behind a pool. It’s what The Log Lady (a sort of clairvoyant in the world of “Twin Peaks”) calls a “gateway.”
Cooper enters the circle of trees where there is the pool. A curtain appears and he walks through it. The curtain glows briefly and then vanishes. So does Cooper.
And then things get funky. Cooper has entered the Red Room (contained in the Black Lodge, but never mind that right now) that he had visions of in his dreams. (It would also become important in Lynch’s pequel film released after the show’s original run, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me,” which tells the story of Palmer’s death.) There’s a dancing little person (known as The Man from Another Place) who talks strangely, and a very tall man, and some eye-popping, eerie decor choices.
As with many things David Lynch has created, it’s hard to say exactly what the Red Room signifies. But it is essentially Lynch’s dream world, where he plays with the subconscious thoughts and ideas of “Twin Peaks,” and where characters seem to pass through life and death and, as the title suggests, to somewhere beyond those states. It’s a kind of perdition, and has all the answers to the puzzles of “Twin Peaks” – but we still haven’t figured them out. The Man from Another Place calls it, ominously, “the waiting room.”
The dead Laura Palmer shows up in the Red Room as Cooper talks to The Man from Another Place. She tells Cooper, “I will see you again in 25 years.” Which is funny because in our own world it has been almost exactly 25 years since the episode aired, and we’re about to find out what Palmer had in mind.
Palmer doesn’t say much more, but after a whole lot of confusion that involves doppelgängers, a tussle between Killer Bob (who killed Palmer) and Windom, and a stab wound for Cooper, the agent does finally recover Annie from the Red Room/Black Lodge. Annie is taken to the hospital, and Cooper wakes up in bed.
But Cooper, we’ll find out soon, is not the Cooper we know. He walks to the bathroom, making like he’s going to brush his teeth, then squeezes toothpaste into the sink, and bashes his head into the mirror. We see an image of Killer Bob, and Cooper cackles. “How’s Annie?”
It’s a kooky, chilling moment, and one of the finest on “Twin Peaks.” Has Bob taken over Cooper’s body? Is he going to wreak more havoc 25 years later in the sleepy Pacific Northwest town? Or will Cooper return to his more placid, coffee-loving, pie-eating, crime-solving self?
We’ll find out soon enough, but in the meantime bask in the glory that is the Red Room, and Lynch’s mind.