So for years, we have complained about the ending of the series and also the movie. We had no closure. In FWWM, we weren’t truly able to visit the town of Twin Peaks like we had for two seasons when the series was on. To fans, we felt like we lost part of ourselves for we saw ourselves in those strange and complex characters. We wondered about FWWM and many of us–myself included–saw FWWM as not as a happy ending, but a sad and depressing movies about the LAST days of Laura Palmer’s life. In this commentary, I will explain how FWWM is not a sad ending to an amazing story, but rather a happy and fulfilling ending.
After years of watching FWWM over and over again, and trying to understand the purpose behind most of the movie and what really happened to Laura Palmer, I’ve come to a realization. But before this understanding, I had questions and I wondered as many of you probably did. What did the movie mean to the lives in Twin Peaks and also with Laura and Cooper? What was with Philip Jefferies and Chet Desmond? The Blue Rose? Those extra supernatural characters in the meeting that Jeffereies refers to? And most importantly: What did that final scene with Cooper, the angel, and Laura together in the lodge truly mean?
For a time, we’d experienced part of Laura’s life (all of her life if you read the diary) and then she was gone, killed right before our eyes. There was no more imagination about her death? There was nothing left in our minds for we truly saw her die. The young woman that made Twin Peaks what it was to us was now dead and we actually saw it happen. We couldn’t turn away. We had thought about this for months, “What happened in the train car?” As we watched the series, we imagined her death and what BOB did to her. It was created through words and imagination. And then we saw the death of Maddy, making the death of Laura even more real. This is what happened to Maddy–what really happened with Laura then?
And then FWWM created those lasting final images of her death, the screams, the agony, the release of Ronette and the killing of the beloved Laura Palmer as BOB/Leland screamed, “Don’t make me do this!” just as blunt blows came down upon Laura. It was sad and depressing and yet so surreal. She was Twin Peaks to us and she was gone–truly gone. And her guardian angel left her.
The final scenes of FWWM shows our favorite characters together in the lodge, Cooper standing there and Laura seeing her angel. She begins to smile and laugh, and even goes into a laughing cry. But those deadly images still remained. Here we are, we had followed Twin Peaks from beginning to end, experienced the discovery of BOB and the capture of Cooper. It was a horrible ending and FWWM didn’t resolve those questions we had. Twin Peaks was a truly sad ending, we thought and felt.
But is Twin Peaks and FWWM a sad ending? Twin Peaks is about a town of people whose lives criss-cross back and forth and they all knew Laura. Through Laura, we were introduced to Twin Peaks. If it had not been for Laura Palmer, then there would have never been a Twin Peaks: no Cooper, no BOB, no MIKE, no James, no Donna, no love for the characters and no love for the series. But Laura Palmer made it happen and as a result, Twin Peaks in essence is Laura Palmer.
Since Laura is Twin Peaks: when we watched Laura die, we also watched Twin Peaks die. It was a sad and depressing show, but I venture to say that FWWM is truly a happy and fulfilling ending to the series, even though it does not feel like it.
Let’s begin with Cooper. In the dream that Cooper has at the beginning of the series, it is 25 years later and Cooper is in the lodge with the Midget and his cousin which “looks almost exactly like Laura Palmer.” The cousin at the end gets up and whispers the killer’s name in Cooper’s ear. This sequence not only helps Cooper understand what to prepare himself for to discover the killer, but also foreshadows the future for Cooper and ourselves. This dream tells us that Cooper will either be in the lodge in 25 years or somehow be involved with it once again. It should be no surprise to us that Cooper was trapped in the lodge at the end of the series for his dream foreshadows that he will come into contact directly with the midget and the lodge, and even Laura or her cousin.
Now what was the reason for Gordon Cole to send Cooper to Twin Peaks to investigate Laura’s death? Why Cooper, why not someone else? I would venture to say that the supernatural workings of the lodge were in operation around Cooper for years and were probably the reason why Cooper was stabbed in Philadelphia (BOB mentions this to Cooper in the lodge and if you read the autobiography there is a section about it). I would say that both the evil and the good were at work with Cooper and as a result, they had Cole bring Cooper to the small town. One more piece of evidence comes from Laura’s dream/vision about entering the picture that Mrs. Tremont had given her and Laura tries to protect her by telling her not to take the ring? Why? Because if she does, then she will die. Once again, evidence to show that one day Cooper and Laura will meet and all because of supernatural forces from the lodge.
The central theme in FWWM is the last days of Laura’s life in which we see a hurting, wounded girl who has spent six years of pain and suffering at the hands of BOB, physically, mentally, and sexually. In the diary, we read that Laura is the way she is because of BOB who introduced her to the physical and sexual abuse of a child. Laura was depressed and hurt by BOB as she tried to understand what was going on. She wanted protection, security and out of the pain that she felt through BOB. There was only two escapes: the destruction of BOB or DEATH and Laura knew this.
Depressed and wounded, just wanting to remove BOB from herself, Laura entered the last days of her life suicidal. That is why she acted the way she did: harming herself through drugs, prostitution, hurting others around her: James, Donna, Bobby. This is all she knew because BOB taught her this: taught her sex and mental corruption. In order to feel better about herself, she was forced to hurt others around her (Dr. Jacoby tells this to Bobby during the series when he and his parents go to the doctor for help: Laura made Bobby cry the first time they had sex). Laura had all the symptoms of depression and being suicidal with low self-esteem. The Laura that everyone loved was in pain. Bobby tells this to the crowd at her funeral, hollering that they all knew she was in trouble, and did nothing to do about it. He says that they all killed Laura!
And during that week, she also realized and felt her own guardian angel leaving her. She had no more help and just as the Log Lady has warned the night that Laura went to the Roadhouse: “When this type of fire starts, it is very hard to put out. The tender bows of innocent burns first, the wind rises, and then all goodness is in jeopardy.” Laura had passed her point of goodness and the angel had to leave her. In order to receive the angel again, she would have to repent, just like Ronette did in the train car.
Laura Palmer entered her last day of life in a type of trance, finally realizing that BOB was Leland. She was horrified to find out that what she thought was true. In her final day, she had to be depressed and suicidal and went to Leo and Jacques in this manner, but not before hurting James one final time. She was a different Laura–one that James did not know nor understand.
With a suicidal mindset, somehow Laura realized that the ring that she had seen in her dream was the key to her safety–away from BOB. Cooper told her not to take it in her dream. One Armed Man held the ring out to her. She had realized Teresa had also worn it. Through reason and a sense that we do not understand completely, Laura knew what the ring meant and to her, it was the escape through death. When the ring appeared in the train car, somehow Laura’s hands came untied, she was able to put on the ring and she was finally safe because BOB could not possess her. She was safe, even though everything around her had left: her angel, James, her father, everyone. There was nothing but death that this ring brought upon her.
If the movie had ended, just like this then, truly FWWM would be the most depressing movie ever created. If the last scene that we saw was Laura on the beach dead, and remembering the chilling scream that her beautiful body sent forth through that terrifying train car, then FWWM would be a sad ending.
But luckily, the show does not end like this. Even though we still remember what happened minutes before, there is a new scene, one in which Cooper, Laura and her angel are together. Finally, after so many years of torment, Laura was secure and safe and had her angel back. Cooper was there with her, being with her, guiding her, maybe even her lover (remember the passionate kiss that Laura/Midget’s cousin gave Cooper in the lodge?). Maybe here, Laura finally found the safety that she had been searching for for so many years.
Even though for the viewer, Cooper trapped in the lodge, is a sad ending, for Laura, this is a truly happy ending. And since Twin Peaks centers around Laura and they go together like the Midget and One-Armed Man (allright, would you rather me say, “bread and butter?”) it is automatic and an even more satisfying ending for the viewer.
Everything that we loved and everyone that is central to Twin Peaks is okay: Cooper and Laura. Maybe the outside world is still in turmoil, just like the earth after someone dies, but people are safe. Laura is safe, finally. FWWM is a happy ending because it shows Laura who never had that safety having that one thing.
Maybe we will never know what happened to Audrey, Pete, or Andrew. Maybe we will never know what happened to Ben or Donna or even James. Maybe we will never find out if Norma and Ed get back together. Maybe we will never learn anything else about Twin Peaks, including its mysteries.
But we can rest assure that Laura, the center of Twin Peaks, is safe with Cooper. And that maybe, just maybe they love each other: something that Laura may have never truly felt, and Cooper had only felt once in his life. This is the happy ending of Twin Peaks. In essence, nothing else matters but the life and death or our beloved and favorite character: Laura. For this is where the story began on that first Sunday night on ABC, and this is where the story ends: with Laura.