We still have time for one more book review before the end of the year. And what a strange year 2017 has been. Careers in DC and Hollywood have been wiped out (by bad behavior that, let’s face it, really should have been dealt with a long time ago), the political world has been a straight up circus, there’s an object in space that scientists thought might possibly be a sign of extra-terrestrial life, and did you see how the last Oscars ceremony ended?
So what the heck, let’s embrace the weirdness and pick for our last book review of the year something from the strangest show of the year: Twin Peaks. The Final Dossier by Mark Frost may not resolve all my feelings of “WHAT THE ABSOLUTE HELL, LYNCH?” that the ending of Season 3 left me with, but it gives the reader a lot more info. It also answers quite a few questions about how the characters ended up where they were when the season started, with a tiny taste of what happened next.
Minor spoilers for Twin Peaks: The Return to follow. I can’t imagine anyone who hasn’t watched the third season would want to read this anyway; it’s strictly for Twin Peaks completionists.
I have to think that Mark Frost knew how frustrated viewers would be after Twin Peaks: The Return ended, because most of this book is written in a conversational, story-telling tone that’s easy to understand and very easy to read. I tore through this one in two days – one-and-a-half, max – and I don’t think I ever once ran into a section where I hoped Special Agent Tamara Preston (the person compiling the dossier) would just get to the point and move on. Every chapter consists of a folder in the dossier that’s devoted to a different character, and there was always some extra detail thrown in that made me wish she could maybe include just a few more paragraphs in each person’s folder.
Not surprisingly, Mark Frost knows every character’s backstory forward and backward, and he nails the writing style for both Agent Preston and any other character who contributes a section. The autopsy report written by Agent Albert Rosenthal in particular is pitch-perfect.
Whatever “evil genius” – I’m looking at you, Windom Earle – decided to hoist a bag of tarantulas over his head as a dire threat to Leo’s health obviously wasted far too much time watching cheesy Vince Price movies and not nearly enough studying arachnids. Tarantulas aren’t ever fatally venomous, dipshit; they just look scary.
As you’ve probably guessed from the above quote, yes, we do finally find out what happened to Leo Johnson, as well as some backstory that explains how Shelley hooked up with someone like Leo in the first place. In fact the entire book can be summed up as a series of answers to viewers’ questions. Why did the double refer to Ben Horne’s grandson as “son”? Who did the Log Lady leave her Log to? How did James Hurley end up as a security guard at the Great Northern? What happened after Ben Horne’s visit to Donna Hayward’s house at the end of Season Two? (The story of Donna’s family is particularly interesting. Anyone else catch the last name of the person that the husband of Shelly Briggs’s daughter was sleeping with?) And what the heck happened to Annie Blackburn after her trip to the Black Lodge? (“How’s Annie?” Not good, apparently.)
If you’re confused about what Agent Cooper’s double was up to in the twenty-five years while Cooper was stuck in the Black lodge, well, you’ll probably still be confused, but you’ll at least have a little more information to go on. The mythology surrounding the creation of “doubles” in this series is pretty damn convoluted, and even the characters who study the phenomenon aren’t all that clear about what the heck is going on.
“I mean, honestly, are they cranking out these duplicate creatures in an alternate-reality Kinko’s with some kind of Lovecraftian 3-D printer? Pardon my French for a second, Chief, but what the fuck?”
The book explains things that I originally thought were errors, such as why Norma introduced the awful woman who visited her in Season Two as her mother when the book The Secret History of Twin Peaks said her mother died years ago. We get a tantalizing bit of information about Audrey Horne (not nearly enough, in my opinion) and a few amusing throwaway facts, like how Jerry Horne ran a thriving marijuana business after legalization, involving the creation of some of his own hybrid strains that would explain why poor Jerry spent the entire Season Three lost in the woods and stoned out of his mind.
…since legalization has personally developed more than a dozen distinct Frankenstein strains and hybrids of alarming potency. (Among his most popular, to illustrate the point: “Whose Hands are These?”; “Collateral Damage”; and “The Center Will Not Hold.”)
As much as I enjoyed this book, it baffles me that so much of this information wasn’t disseminated in the actual TV series. The book even includes some pretty shocking information that expands on the final episode of Season Three, the effects of which will reverberate throughout the entire series. Surely some of this could have been delivered with just a little exposition, unless David Lynch and Mark Frost always imagined his series as a kind of collage, an amalgamation of the TV show, the Fire Walk With Me Movie, the books and magazines, and all the speculation by fans.
Does it answer every question the fans may have? Heck no, not even close. But this book is going to be included in my favorites for the year of 2017, since it was exactly, exactly, what I wanted.