Remembering back to my Senior year in college… Twin Peaks was a fad that my girlfriend, at the time, and I were into. Of course, a lot of people watched it the first season. I picked it up when the infamous second season began. Recently, I obtained the new release of season two on DVD. Seeing it with new eyes, I hardly remember the way I saw it then. Piecing the whole story together now, I go back online to see what people have said about it. Time and time again, I hear the idea of the ‘cliff hanger’ ending of the second season.
Spoiler alert. Spoiler alert.
After finishing the series, I have to conclude that there is no cliff hanger at all. I believe the series is fairly well sewn up. All major characters are accounted for with fairly definitive endings. Some live happily ever after (Shelley and Bobby, Lucy and Andy). Some meet a terrible demise (Audrey, Catherine and her brother). Others simply reach the end of a collision course (Ed, Nadine, Mike Nelson, and Norma; and Donna, Dr. Hayward, Ben Horn, and Eileen Hayward).
The only major question is whether James will ever return to Donna. But the romantic longing and tragic sorrow that this situation evokes is more powerful left unresolved. Plus, there is a sort of poetry to the idea that James, the one truly good guy in all of Twin Peaks, leaves it never to return.
What about Agent Cooper? Wasn’t he a good guy? Well, let’s look at the evidence. Cooper had an affair with his ex-partner’s wife, not at all a good thing. Yes, Windom Earle, his ex-partner, turns out to be diabolically evil, but still, he slept with his wife. Cooper also makes repeated mention that Earle taught him everything he knows about being an agent. Does it make Cooper good that he learned everything he knows from an evil mastermind?
Well, we presume, since he’s an FBI agent, that he’s at least supposed to be doing good, but why then are his FBI superiors and the DEA investigating him through the bulk of the second season?
Yes, he’s eventually cleared through the help of transvestite agent Denise/Dennis and brought back into the FBI by the bumbling Gordon Cole, the Regional Bureau Chief who obviously has a soft spot for good ol’ Coop.
But, still, why does Cooper allow himself to get so wrapped up in Audrey Horn, even though consumating the relationship would obviously be statutory rape?
And then, at the end, instead of trying to stop Earle from getting to the Black Lodge he makes it a point to get there before Earle. He also makes Sheriff Truman wait for him, telling him he has to handle it on his own. If he really wanted to find Annie and Windom Earle, he would’ve had helicopters and dogs and thirty guys combing the woods. Perhaps he wanted to tap into the power of the Black Lodge himself?
I’m not saying Cooper is evil, but highly succeptible to bad vibes.
Still, you say, that ending.. that was a cliff hanger. We are left hanging… with questions. I mean,
what happens to Cooper and Annie? Surely that is a classic cliff hanger. Look again. Your questions are only questions because your mind is in horror at the truth.
My interpretation of the series end – Agent Cooper was taken over by Bob when he confronts Windom Earle in the Black Lodge. Bob is a demon spirit that originally inhabited Leland Palmer off and on all during Laura Palmer’s childhood/teen years. He’s the one that killed Laura Palmer using Leland’s body as a vessel.
At one point, Bob inhabitants an owl, which is only a holding cell until Bob could find his next vessel. Bob never inhabits Windom Earle since Bob is only interested in inhabiting innocent people with just enough bad to draw him in so that he can carry out his evil lust. In fact, he takes Earle’s soul in the black lodge because Earle seeks power for power’s sake and has no use for him otherwise. This is just after Earle offers to take Cooper’s soul in exchange for Annie’s life. But, Bob points out, he cannot take Cooper’s soul. Bob already has dibs, apparently.
So, at the end of the series, it is clear that Bob is now after Annie, another tainted innocent, through Cooper. (Annie is tained from having tried to commit suicide prior to us meeting her in the series).
The series ends with Cooper/Bob left to find Annie. It is a dramatic scene with Cooper/Bob smashing his head against a mirror after squeezing unnecessary amounts of toothpaste all over the brush and sink. With blood dripping down his face, he is cackling in mock irony “What about Annie? What about Annie”.
It is very much like one of those wicked Twilight Zone episodes. We are not really left to wonder what would happen once Cooper/Bob found Annie. It’s not a cliff hanger at all; just one for the imagination to plug in the missing last piece. A dark and gruesome piece at that.
What I think is that people hope it’s a cliff hanger because they really want to believe there will be more Twin Peaks episodes. They also want to believe Cooper is a good guy and that Bob couldn’t have won. But Bob does win. In the end, Bob moves on to kill again and Cooper, having failed to find the power of the Black Lodge (which probably is a myth to get people to look for it and then be possessed by its evil spirits), is, in the endgame, a helpless pawn in a chess match he could never win.