A World I Recognize
If art’s purpose is to hold up a mirror to the truth of human experience, Lynch’s mirror reflects more than most. Twin Peaks testifies of a cosmic struggle “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).
In this sense, I am grateful for Twin Peaks. It feels like home because I’ve grown up in the Pacific Northwest, but also because Lynch’s wonderland of wayward teens, inadequate cops, corrupt politicians, and magical owls seems as relevant to me as Tolkien’s Middle-earth.
Lasting friendships were born in the crowded TV lounge of my Seattle Pacific University dormitory, where, episode by episode, we laughed and screamed like kids in an amusement-park haunted house. We made pilgrimages to the show’s famous diner for Cooper’s combination: coffee and cherry pie. We obsessed over “Whodunit?” but we were even more invested in discussing our beliefs about angels, demons, heaven, and hell. Some even shared stories of surviving family violence, sexual abuse, and spiritual persecution.
I find Lynch’s work to be a credibly discomforting testimony of horror, loss, and grief. His rare scenes of joy and reconciliation are similarly persuasive—the contrast makes them radiant. But Twin Peaks ultimately aims to arouse our suspicions that we participate in a cosmic conflict. The tragedy of Dale Cooper bravely asserts that no gun-slinging lawman can completely close our cases, and no TV hero has what it takes to solve our mysteries. It suggests spiritual connections between the atomic bomb, domestic violence, drug abuse, and girls lured into prostitution. By The Return’s conclusion, we have heard in Laura Palmer’s glass-shattering scream the cry of a world that cannot save itself. As we strive for justice with our divided minds and hearts, all Creation groans.
Jeffrey Overstreet has been writing about movies for Christianity Today since 2001. He teaches courses on creative writing and film at Seattle Pacific University, and he is the author of four novels including Auralia's Colors and a "memoir of dangerous moviegoing" called Through a Screen Darkly. He earned his MFA in creative writing at Seattle Pacific University.