Cosmic spoilers below.
The original Twin Peaks was martyred. The first season had been a cultural sensation and a ratings hit. These successes seemed to indicate that, after forty years of suckling on pap from the boob tube, the public was ready to come home to something more challenging. But then network executives compelled the show’s creators, Mark Frost and David Lynch, to reveal who killed Laura Palmer; the Nielsens slid; the time slot shifted; and ABC pulled the plug. Lynch was in the wilderness for few years, but leaned back into his film career, and enjoyed acclaim in a medium that was better suited to his avant-gardism. The series he’d co-created, however, died for the sin of corporate philistinism. Commerce got in the way of art; a venal industry robbed the people of the nourishment they craved. But there’d be no legend if the show had died in vain. Instead, the golden age of television grew like flowers out of Laura Palmer’s grave. Twin Peaks begat The X-Files which begat Breaking Bad. A quarter-century later, art can declare victory.
That’s the legend, at least.
“What year is this?” is the last thing that Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) says in Twin Peaks: The Return. The lights in the house that once belonged to the Palmer family are abruptly snuffed out; a woman who may or may not be the rescued Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) hears that name echo and screams; and the whole universe judders back into unreality. In effect, Frost and Lynch have rejected martyrdom.