Posted on 10/14/12 09:29 PM
Facing Her Doom Alongside Her
We didn't want a prequel. You must understand that I saw this movie in the theatre after having watched the TV show in its initial run. I was the movie's intended audience. I wept angry tears at the end of the TV show and wanted nothing more than to know What Happened Next. We were left with the fate of beloved characters up in the air, not knowing if some of our favourites were alive or dead--or worse. The show got cancelled, and we were furious about it. We were angry and sad and confused, and when we heard there was going to be a movie, there was this sense of intense relief. We would know, at last, what happened after. What happened after the bills fluttered to the ground. What happened after the mirror broke. You ask any fan, and they'll tell you what moment they want to have the follow-up to. And then, we heard that it was going to be a prequel. This is probably why it didn't do terribly well in the theatre; there's this belief that the only story of Twin Peaks is who killed Laura Palmer, and we already knew that. We were literally just being shown what we'd already been told. How was that a good idea?
Teresa Banks (Pamela Gidley) is dead. Gordon Cole (David Lynch) sends Special Agent Chester Diamond (Chris Isaak) and Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland) to Deer Meadows, Washington, to look for her killer. Deer Meadows is in almost every way the opposite of Twin Peaks, and while he is investigating there, Agent Diamond disappears. Back in Philadelphia, Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) reports to Gordon Cole that he has had a dream, which somehow involves Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie). Then, a year later, he is talking to Albert Rosenfeld (Miguel Ferrer) about Teresa's death and his certainty that her killer will strike again, and finally, we see that familiar sign on the outskirts of that little northeastern Washington town. Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) is going about her day-to-day life. Only Laura isn't exactly any old high school student. Albert says that half the high school girls in America do drugs and are sexually active, but Laura is being pursued by the supernatural entity known as BOB (Frank Silva). He has been molesting her since she was twelve . . . and she has just started to learn who carries BOB's spirit.
The elephant in the room for this movie is continuity. There's a fan theory that the first part is Cooper's dream; his canon autobiography (which I own) details the investigation into Teresa's death, and what we see contradicts that. Some of the details of Laura's last days are contradictory to both her published diary (which I own) and information we are given over the course of the series. And, of course, Donna Hayward is now played by Moira Kelly, not Lara Flynn Boyle. The appearance of Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham) is intended to both give the fans a hint of an explanation of What Happened Next and to suggest that time is flexible to the Black Lodge. Any confusion can be argued to be an effect of the Black Lodge, if you're so inclined. Or, on a meta level, that David Lynch doesn't necessarily plan everything out as much as we'd hope. This is probably also why the movie has such a bad reputation, despite being so much better than even I remembered from when I saw it in the theatre all those years ago.
Honestly, I'm kind of glad that we do get to explore Laura's life a bit. As I said, I own the diary, but the diary is just from Laura's perspective and is missing things, both because pages are ripped out and because even before, Laura didn't write everything down. One of the things we get from watching the movie is an exploration of the emotional lives of various of the other characters. Yeah, okay, James (James Marshall) is still just dumb. All things considered, he can't not be. But there's a beautiful, poignant moment when Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) once more realizes that Laura isn't his. She says she's going home, but that doesn't mean she won't go out again and sleep with half the town--but right now, Bobby has cocaine, and that's enough to make Laura affectionate. What's more, we see Laura interacting with Donna--even if it is the wrong Donna--and realize that Donna's behaviour after Laura's death comes from the fact that Donna was in love with Laura. We see Laura interact with Shelly (Mädchen Amick), and we realize that Shelly is about the only person in town who simply doesn't like Laura. She showed up in our lives dead; this is her alive.
Continuity problems aside, this isn't the best movie David Lynch could have given us to follow up Twin Peaks. For one thing, I got a little bit tired of all the closeups of people's mouths and so forth. It was a bit more Eraserhead than I was fond of, given that I'm not a huge fan of Eraserhead. We never do find out how Laura and Ronette (Phoebe Augustine) and so forth knew Teresa Banks, given that an approximation of where Twin Peaks is to where she lived is about an eight-hour drive. Of course, Teresa was a drifter and Leo Johnson (Eric DaRe) was a trucker, so that's probably it, but in that case, why is she all the way over by Portland? However, it had been a very long time since I've seen this movie--possibly even twenty years!--and I was pleasantly surprised to come back to it. I still do want to know what happened, especially given that we only get a hint at the fate of a single character, but there could have been worse entries into the Twin Peaks canon.