Twin Peaks Actually Explained: A Four-Hour Video Essay Demystifies It All

I don’t know about you, but my YouTube algo­rithms can act like a nag­ging friend, sug­gest­ing a video for days until I final­ly give in. Such was the case with this video essay with the tan­ta­liz­ing title: “Twin Peaks ACTUALLY EXPLAINED (No, Real­ly)”.

First of all, before, dur­ing, and after 2017’s Twin Peaks The Return, the­o­ries were as inescapable as the cat memes on the Twin Peaks Face­book groups. After the mind­blow­ing Episode 8, they went into over­drive, includ­ing the bonkers idea that the final two episodes were meant to be watched *over­layed* on each oth­er. And I high­light­ed one in depth jour­ney through the entire three decades of the Lynch/Frost cul­tur­al event for this very site.

So when I final­ly clicked on the link I balked imme­di­ate­ly: Four and a half hours? Are you kid­ding me? (You might be say­ing the very thing to your­self now.) But just like the nar­ra­tor says, bear with me. Over the week, I watched the entire thing in 30 minute seg­ments, not because it was gru­el­ing, but because time is pre­cious and there is a lot to chew over. By the end I was rec­om­mend­ing the video to friends only to find some of them were already deep inside Twin Perfect’s analy­sis.

So here we are, with me high­ly encour­ag­ing you to invest the time (pro­vid­ing you have watched all three sea­sons of Twin Peaks and Fire Walk With Me), but also not want­i­ng to ruin some of Twin Perfect’s the­o­ries, which he lays out like a pros­e­cu­tor, walk­ing us through a gen­er­al the­o­ry of Lynch.

How­ev­er, I will make a few points:

  • Just last week we post­ed a video in which Lynch explains both the Uni­fied Field The­o­ry and Tran­scen­den­tal Med­i­ta­tion. There are at least two major sequences that Twin Per­fect sug­gests reflects the Uni­fied Field.
  • Lynch’s obses­sion with elec­tric­i­ty and fire are both essen­tial to the the­o­ry.
  • The One-Armed Man’s quote “I mean it as it is, as it sounds,” dou­bles as Lynch’s approach: Twin Per­fect does a mas­ter­ful job show­ing many, many exam­ples where Lynch is direct­ly explain­ing his use of metaphor and sym­bol to us. Some­times that is straight into the cam­era.
  • We now know why Sea­son Three fea­tured a three minute shot of a man sweep­ing up peanuts from a bar floor.
  • I’ve always felt that The Return was an explo­ration of the dan­gers of nos­tal­gia, and this essay con­firmed it for me. There was some­thing miss­ing at the cen­ter of the Third Sea­son, indeed.
  • Twin Per­fect reads all quotes from the direc­tor in a mock-Lynch voice. For some this will grate; for me it was A BEAUTIFUL THING (wig­gly fin­ger ges­ture).

Twin Per­fect put much more effort into this than most grad­u­ate stu­dents:

I have been work­ing on this video for two years, writ­ing and research­ing and edit­ing. I’ve been read­ing and watch­ing and lis­ten­ing to every cre­ator inter­view and AMA, every DVD extra and fea­turette, every TV spe­cial, every fan the­o­ry, blog, and pod­cast — any and all Twin Peaks-relat­ed posts I could find — try­ing to hone and pol­ish my script to be the best I thought it could pos­si­bly be. I focus-grouped my video with peo­ple, chal­leng­ing them to poke as many holes in my argu­ments as they could so that I could bet­ter illus­trate my ideas. I tried my best to cre­ate some­thing oth­ers would find of val­ue, some­thing that would add to the ongo­ing mys­tery and spark new dis­cus­sions about my favorite series.

Are there some prob­lems with the the­o­ry? Sure. But for every “I don’t know, man,” I said to myself, he imme­di­ate­ly fol­lowed it up with some­thing spot on. I think he deserves that MFA in Twin Peaks Stud­ies.

So brew up some strong cof­fee and cut your­self a slice of cher­ry pie, and get stuck in.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch the Twin Peaks Visu­al Sound­track Released Only in Japan: A New Way to Expe­ri­ence David Lynch’s Clas­sic Show

David Bowie’s Mys­ti­cal Appear­ances in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks

Play the Twin Peaks Video Game: Retro Fun for David Lynch Fans

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

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Comments (4)
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  • Maria says:

    Not going to lie, I’ve watched this whole video twice (just to see if I missed any­thing the first 4.5 hours).

    This is one of the most beau­ti­ful TP videos I have ever wit­nessed. Sure, it’s long, and sure, I’ve had peo­ple say it com­plete­ly takes away the mys­tery that *IS* Twin Peaks. Maybe I’m weird, but I absolute­ly love hearing/reading oth­er peo­ple’s take on it. Isn’t that some­thing that Lynch would want us to do? To dis­cuss and learn with oth­er fans?

    Thank you for your take, and allow­ing me to com­ment.

  • lynchfan1 says:

    his impres­sion of lynch is tru­ly unpleas­ant to lis­ten to.

  • Pict says:

    Fas­ci­nat­ing, com­pelling and rig­or­ous analy­sis Twin Per­fect.

    The pref­ac­ing dis­claimer is spot on, I would agree, watch­ing your video will pro­found­ly change the way in which TP is under­stood.

    Any­one seek­ing fur­ther insight into TP will enjoy this, it’s extreme­ly well researched — Thanks

  • Ted says:

    Then you haven’t heard mine!

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