Today sees the release of a long-awaited Holy Grail for Twin Peaks fans: a new Blu-Ray set that includes nearly 90 minutes of never-before-seen deleted scenes from the film adaptation, Fire Walk With Me, alongside a wide array of other special features.
Some of the deleted scenes are enjoyable on a pure surface level: Chet Desmond brawling with the smug, obstructive Sheriff Cable; Agent Cooper complimenting the oft-mentioned (but still unseen) Diane on her beautiful dress and hair; Bobby Briggs' parents enjoying a quite evening reading the Bible together.
But for diehard fans, the release of the long-lost Twin Peaks footage will mean far more than the smattering of deleted scenes you can find on any given home video release. David Lynch, who oversaw the new Twin Peaks release, put a lot of thought into the presentation of the new footage. "WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE ARE MISSING PIECES," reads the title card that introduces the new material. While Lynch didn't go as far as cutting the deleted footage back into the movie, it's clear from the presentation that we're meant to place it in the context of Twin Peaks' larger story.
After 25 years, what can Twin Peaks fans expect to learn from the missing pieces?
You'll get a little more time with your favorite characters from the TV show
At a bare minimum, fans will appreciate the wide range of scenes centered on beloved characters from the TV show who never appeared in Fire Walk With Me. Nadine Hurley and Norma Jennings have an awkward run-in at the Double R diner, setting up the love triangle that plays out over the series. (Norma later tells Ed their affair is "one great big giant smash-up.") Pete Martell and Josie Packard placate an angry customer at the sawmill. Lucy babbles over the police station intercom, sparking a goofy encounter with Andy. Most heartbreakingly, we get a pleasant dinner at the Palmer household, as Leland prepares for his upcoming meeting with the Norwegian clients.
In short, it fixes one of the main complaints Twin Peaks fans had about Fire Walk With Me: the lack of connective tissue to the TV show. By offering the chance to hang out in Twin Peaks a little longer, the new scenes help to flesh out Laura Palmer's world, and ties it closer to the TV series.
The Phillip Jeffries stuff gets filled out — but it's still pretty inexplicable
One of the most notoriously impenetrable scenes in Fire Walk With me comes with the brief introduction of Phillip Jeffries, a long-lost FBI agent played by David Bowie. In the original cut, Jeffries suddenly appears in the FBI office, refuses to talk about someone named Judy, describes a bizarre meeting about a convenience store, and insists that everyone lives "inside a dream." As quickly as he appears, he vanishes.
The new footage adds some bookends that provide context to Jeffries' story — but all they really do is establish where he came from and where he goes again. Jeffries is in a hotel in Buenos Aires, where a desk clerk tells him he has received a letter from "a young lady." (Judy?) Jeffries suddenly teleports to the FBI field office, where the original scene takes place. But after he disappears, the film cuts back to Buenos Aires; he reappears, leaving a massive burn mark on the wall behind him, as a nearby woman sobs.
What does it all mean? No idea — but the new footage will definitely give Twin Peaks fans something to mull over.
The ring would have been an even bigger deal
Fire Walk With Me is packed with bizarre, half-explained ideas, from Bob's creamed corn "garmonbozia" to Agent Phillip Jeffries' deranged mutterings about Judy. (More on that later.) But the most central — and consequently, the most frustrating — is the meaning of Teresa Banks' omnipresent green ring. In the original cut, Chet Desmond discovers the ring near Teresea Banks' trailer; when he touches it, he disappears. Later, Laura Palmer dreams of the Man From Another Place offering her the ring, as Agent Cooper urges her not take it. She then has a vision of Annie Blackburn in her bed, and ends up with the ring anyway. When she wakes up in the morning, it's gone again.
What gives? It wouldn't be David Lynch if everything was explained, but the deleted scenes shed a little more light on the pivotal role the ring was meant to play in Twin Peaks' larger story. Cooper notices, with irritation, that Teresa Banks' ring has disappeared. In the midst of his ramblings, Phillip Jeffries mentions it. Laura recognizes it on Teresa Banks' finger shortly before she's murdered. And judging from the new ending, it would have played a major role in the future of the series.
The TV series has a new ending…
The most exciting of the "missing pieces" comes at the very end: a collection of brief scenes that take place after the TV series' finale, which closed on an infamously nightmarish cliffhanger. After a title card that reads "SOME MONTHS LATER," the series cuts to a blood-drenched Annie Blackburn being wheeled through a hospital.
The series suddenly cuts to the Red Room, where Agent Cooper and the Man From Another Place have an elliptical conversation. "Where is the ring?" asks Cooper. "Someone else has it now," says the Man From Another Place. "Annie, Annie. Where am I, and how can I leave?" asks Cooper. "You are here. Now there is no place to go. BUT HOME!" cackles the Man From Another Place, before his song fades in and he begins dancing again.
Back at the hospital, Annie — in a catatonic state — mumbles the same words she said to Laura in her time-bending appearance earlier in the film: "My name is Annie. I've been with Laura and Dale. The Good Dale is in the Lodge and he can't leave. Write it in your diary." A nurse makes sure Annie is unresponsive before stealing the omnipresent ring from her finger and checking herself out in the mirror.
In the bathroom at the Great Northern, "Agent Cooper" — apparently possessed by Bob — lies down on the floor as Sheriff Truman breaks the door down. "I slipped and hit my head on the mirror," he explains as the blood drips down his face. "The glass broke when my head struck it. It struck me as funny, Harry, do you understand me? It struck me as funny." Doc Hayward orders him back to bed, and he complains that he hasn't brushed his teeth yet. From there, the credits roll over a spoonful of creamed corn, with occasional flashes of nasty-looking electricity.
What does all that mean? If Twin Peaks had been continued, in either a third season or a sequel movie, all the business surrounding the ring would have remained a big deal; perhaps recovering it from the nurse would have been the key to freeing Agent Cooper, whose disappearance resembles the events surrounding both Phillip Jeffries and Chet Desmond. Annie's catatonic statement also reinforces the supernatural, time-warping effects of the Black Lodge; with the non-linear storytelling established, the series could plausibly explore any number of time periods in Twin Peaks' history.
…and a possible hint for its future
Between Two Worlds — a brief, much-hyped feature in which David Lynch personally interviews the members of the Palmer family in character — is the only truly new piece of Twin Peaks storytelling in the box set. It offers a few intriguing insights, as well as a possible direction for the series' future, if Lynch were ever to continue it.
Sarah Palmer reveals that she still lives in the same house in Twin Peaks, and that she has never remarried. Leland fondly reminisces on the happy days he spent with his wife and daughter. He admits that he eventually turned to prostitutes, but refuses to accept responsibility for the murders of Teresa Banks, Laura Palmer, and Maddy Ferguson: "The things that were done, they were not done by me. I did not do those things." Those who still want David Lynch to return to the world of Twin Peaks will pin their hopes to a cryptic statement by Laura Palmer: "There's a lot of things that people don't know," she mutters. "There are still questions. Questions about the truth of it all."
It's a claim that Ray Wise later echoes, out of character, as the actors fondly reminisce on Twin Peaks. "I would also like to work one more time with David, somewhere along the line. And to work one more time with each of you, somewhere along the line. And then maybe the circle will be complete," he says. Lynch makes a minor concession in reply: "I would really like to work with each and every one of you again. For sure."