Twin Peaks launched in 1990 with the central mystery of “Who killed Laura Palmer?” – a whodunit that became an immediate obsession for TV fans the world over…
Though that murder was solved midway through Season Two (“Too soon!” – Pretty much everyone, still), a number of other mysteries began taking shape after. What was then the series finale – directed by co-creator David Lynch with the kind of weirdness that is the hallmark of his feature films more than anything on the show to date – featured many cliffhangers to which fans thought they’d never get answers. Here are five ongoing mysteries we’d love to see some resolution for when Twin Peaks returns to TV in May:
Warning: SPOILERS follow for Season Two of Twin Peaks! If you haven’t seen it and insist on reading, go for it – but we highly recommend watching it first. Netflix has the whole original run, and so does Showtime on demand!
Is Benjamin Horne… okay? And who is his heir now?
One of the peskier mysteries left open ended by the Season Two finale was town tycoon Ben Horne’s fate. After having just intimated that he is the biological father of Donna Hayward, the late Laura Palmer’s best friend, kind old town doctor Doc Hayward – who raised Donna as his own – pushed him into the mantlepiece in a rage. When last we saw Ben, he had a nasty head wound and was twitching. Presumably he survived to the present, as actor Richard Beymer is confirmed to return (You never know with this show, but we’ll assume!); still, is he the same old scheming Ben or did his noggin come out of that blunt-force trauma with permanent damage?
Even more potentially interesting, for the entire town: We don’t know for sure if Donna Hayward will appear, though actress Lara Flynn Boyle will not. Donna was already recast once (Moira Kelly played her in the film Fire Walk With Me), so there’s no reason she can’t be recast again. (That massive cast list that was released 11 months ago features several actresses who could be contenders.) If Donna is in play and is Ben’s daughter, is she gunning for control of the Horne family fortune – which includes Horne’s Department Store, the Great Northern Hotel and now, the land that the Packard Saw Mill once stood on – or is the heir apparent still Audrey Horne? (The great Sherilyn Fenn is definitely back, and if you’ve read co-creator Mark Frost’s excellent The Secret History of Twin Peaks, we already know how Audrey survived that bank explosion in the same finale.)
Is Annie Blackburn actually okay?
A major plot point of the end of Season Two was the romance between Annie Blackburn, virtuous but troubled sister of Double R Diner owner Norma Jennings, and Agent Cooper. This made Annie a target when Coop’s nuttier-than-a-Snickers-bar ex-partner Windom Earle came to town seeking revenge; last we saw her, she’d been “rescued” from the otherworldly Black Lodge with Coop (more on that in a second), but appeared badly injured. Still, when Coop asked “How’s Annie?” (“HOW’S ANNIE, HOW’S ANNIE?!”) the next morning, Sheriff Truman assured him she’d be fine.
Here’s the thing, though: Heather Graham is not in the new revival of the show. Annie turned up briefly in Fire Walk With Me as a vision in Laura Palmer’s dream. (She also dreamed of Agent Cooper, indicating that the Black Lodge may occupy a space where time isn’t linear.) While her romance with Cooper wasn’t popular with fans, Annie’s reappearance raises questions. How important is she to the overall mystery, and if she survived then, did some tragedy occur to her later? (more on THAT in a second, too…)
What in the hell happened when Josie Packard died?
Now, this one doesn’t directly play into the finale; it happened earlier in the season. But for a show steeped in weirdness like Twin Peaks, this was just flat-out bizarre: After being exposed as a con artist to everyone, including her lover Sheriff Truman, beautiful widow Josie Packard seemingly has a heart-attack and dies with no explanation. Moments later, Agent Cooper sees demonic spirit BOB – at this point in the show, BOB has no host to inhabit so he can go on killing – taunting “What happened to Josie?!” before the camera pans over to the bedside table. There’s no delicate way of putting this: Josie’s tormented soul, it seems, departed her body only to get stuck in a nearby drawer handle. A drawer handle. Yeaaaahh…
To be fair, Josie’s fate doesn’t seem to have a ton of lingering connection to the remaining mysteries on the show, and yet this freaky scene sticks in the mind of many fans only because it seemed so random. The appearance of BOB seems to indicate that it’s more important than we realize, and yet, Josie’s woodgrain prison is unlike most of the weirdness associated with the Black Lodge shenanigans. Would be interesting to at least see a callback in the revival. Maybe someone dies and gets and stuck in a coat rack…
What did Major Briggs know that we don’t… yet?
In one of the coolest reveals of the original run, we discover during a late-night visit to Cooper at his hotel room that Major Garland Briggs, USAF – father of Bobby Briggs, the boyfriend of Laura Palmer and general teenage jerkface – has been monitoring intergalactic radio waves as part of his highly-classified military assignment in Twin Peaks. He comes to Coop with this deeply weird and unsettling anomaly in his usual transmissions, unsure of what it might mean. The two eventually become good friends, up to and including when the Major disappears briefly before the Season Two finale.
Where Briggs’ story gets really interesting is actually the years between 1990 and now, documented to great effect in Mark Frost’s The Secret Life of Twin Peaks. Spoilers for that book too, WARNING!: The book takes the form of a dossier that includes wild tales involving not only new information about the people of Twin Peaks but also spirits, Native American tribes, alien abductions, and a ton of historical figures including Lewis & Clark, L. Ron Hubbard (?!), and Richard Nixon. Most importantly, it is revealed at the end of the book that Garland Briggs is the mysterious Archivist who compiled the dossier, found at an as-yet-unrevealed crime scene. Actor Don Davis (also known for playing Agent Scully’s father on The X-Files) has since passed away. Would it be a smart guess that the show will write out Major Briggs as having been targeted for his classified discoveries, leaving behind the dossier for someone else to carry on his work? Hmm…
Is Dale Cooper still possessed by BOB after 25 years?
And now, we arrive at the great mystery still to be answered. Hardly anyone who is a fan of the show would argue that this is what’s been gnawing at us the most: The final moment of Season Two, where it’s revealed that our stalwart hero Dale Cooper came back from his trip to the Black Lodge with serial-killing demon BOB as his hitchhiker. As Mark Frost revealed in a documentary years later, this wasn’t supposed to be a source of trauma for fans for decades; ABC handed down the cancellation order after it was too late to reshoot the ending, which was intended to lead into Season Three and chronicle Cooper’s struggle to fight the darkness within him.
It’s pretty chilling to think of what may have gone down in the years since. The last entry from Major Briggs in his dossier in Frost’s book indicates that he did, at least once, meet Cooper post-finale and was immediately alarmed that this was not the man he knew. Other than that we know nothing, but that Kyle MacLachlan returns to his most legendary role looking amazingly like he looked in older-Cooper makeup in the first dream sequence of the original series. “I’ll see you again in 25 years,” Laura Palmer’s specter told him in the Black Lodge during that finale. That one odd, seemingly throwaway line managed to pay off so hugely is insanely cool, no matter where this goes. (Not going to think about whether Coop murdered people, nope, not going there… yet… …. Dammit, he killed Annie didn’t he? ARGH! Is it May 21 yet?!?!)
What say you, Twin Peaks fans? Agree that these are the most nagging unanswered questions, or is there something else you’re anxious to see the revival of the show address after all these years? Tell us on social with the hashtag #TwinPeaksUnsolved!
BONUS: Watch this video of Twin Peaks’ returning cast talking about the revival!: