And the Dark Within: Twin Peaks and the Möbius Time Loop



T/W: potential for acid flashbacks

How did you want Twin Peaks: The Return to end? What were you waiting for?

I’ll admit I was waiting for a specific piece of Lynchian magic, and in the show’s penultimate hour, I was struck with simultaneous realizations: I wasn’t going to see the trick; I had already seen the trick.

It’s perhaps no secret that Twin Peaks: The Return–referred to as “s3” from here–conjures and communes with the dead. Catherine E. Coulson (Margaret Lanterman aka The Log Lady), Miguel Ferrer (FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield), and Warren Frost (Dr. Will Hayward), not to mention Frank Silva (BOB), Don S. Davis (Major Garland Briggs), and Jack Nance (Pete Martell), are no longer with us. Yet they all appear on the screen and in the credits.

Seeing Catherine E. Coulson and Miguel Ferrer in s3’s first few hours, their scenes obviously filmed before their deaths, I realized I wanted Bowie (Phillip Jeffries). Of course, Bowie would eventually appear, like Silva, Davis, and Nance, via flashback–footage from the original series and/or film. But I wanted to see Bowie one last time as he is now. Not really now, of course, but I wanted it to feel as though time was distorting, warping for one last transmission from, one last glimpse of the Thin White Duke. With Bowie’s character, Phillip Jeffries, figuring prominently into s3’s narrative, it seemed possible. Although episode 15 reveals that Phillip Jeffries is now…a furnace? Or a giant teapot?, Agent Cooper’s visit to Jeffries in episode 17 had me hoping Bowie would emerge from the steam emanating from the teapot.

No such luck.

But in having that hope teased out, I still convened with Bowie now. Life and death are opposite sides of the same möbius strip, but the möbius strip doesn’t have sides; it never ends. Everything ends; nothing ends. I didn’t get to see the trick; I already saw the trick.


Every single thing we ever know ends. Many of those endings are sad. In the face of all those endings, we don’t end. Until we do. We carry on. Until we don’t.

For those reasons, we’re uniquely unqualified to write endings for our narratives. We’re forever destined to fumble those endings.

Especially in the world of serial narratives, where we come to view the characters as friends and the settings as homes, we will always be disappointed by the endings. But even in the more closed-off narrative arcs of novels and films, I’m not sure I’ve ever walked away impressed by the ending. It’s always the journey that I find so intoxicating, not the journey’s end.

s3 turns the narrative arc of the Twin Peaks universe into a narrative loop. You can be disappointed in the ending of s3, but only if you understand it as an ending. It is not.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s