Saturday, September 9, 2017

SPOILER ALERT: The Ends of Twin Peaks: The Return and Game of Thrones, Season 7

I mean it: spoiler alert. You should watch both of these fine series before reading further.

Well, for one thing, obviously, the 2 series are very different: "Game of Thrones" means to please a broad public, and succeeds, while "Twin Peaks: The Return" may be made to please just David Lynch, and if it also pleases someone else, so much the better. I'm guessing about Lynch's intentions vis a vis his audience; but there's no denying that "Twin Peaks: The Return" is difficult to understand. And the final part of the final episode is a real head-scratcher. I won't say that the ending is the most difficult head-scratcher in the series. I mean, I'm not going to pretend that I can actually explain the Black Lodge to you. Or the various dopplegaengers. Or the part with atomic bombs and strange humanoid creatures in episode 8 which just went on and on and on.

Maybe it's a mistake even to want to explain a show like this. Most of us are able to enjoy music without a lot of explanation about what it means. Maybe a lot of Lynch's work should be approached in the same way, without needing to be explained. Speaking of music, before I, despite what I just said, try to explain the end of the last episode, let me just point out how magnificent the music is in Twin Peaks: The Return, both the theme music and the acts which perform at the roadhouse. And of the latter, let me just say that I found Rebekah Del Rio's performance of "No Stars" at the end of episode 10 to be one of the most wonderful things I've ever heard. Ever. Up there with a really good performance of the 2nd movement of Beethoven 14th piano sonata or Pachelbel's canon. That one song alone much more than made up, for me, for how much episode 8 aggravated me. And the theme music was part of what made one of the nicest moments in the history of show biz: the moment in episode 16 when the real Agent Cooper, having just recently woke up, smiles and says, "I am the FBI." Admit it, that moment gave you chills. (In a good way.)

Now to try to explain the ending of episode 18, the last episode, the final moment of "Twin Peaks" ever, unless Lynch makes some more "Twin Peaks," and I have no idea whether he will or not: Cooper takes Laura Palmer to the house she lived in until she was murdered in 1990, the people who live there now have never heard of her family, Cooper asks what year it is, Laura screams, the end.

It seems to me that mistreatment of women by men is an important theme in "Twin Peaks." The plot of the original series in the early 90's is set in motion by Laura's murder and Cooper's investigation of it. Episode 15 of the 2017 series ends with a small woman wearing thick glasses being thrown out of a booth in the roadhouse by two very large men. She crawls on the floor for a while and then screams, a scream not unlike Laura's scream at the end of the whole series. In episode 18, the last episode, when 3 men in Judy's harass a waitress, Cooper shoots one of them in the foot, badly injures another and seems quite ready to shoot the 3rd one if necessary. Then, at Laura's apartment (Okay: she's not named Laura now, she's named Carrie. I can't explain that.), Cooper sees a man sitting in a chair. The man is dead, he's been shot in the head, and Cooper doesn't even say a word about the dead man. The mistreatment of women has become so established as a theme of the show that it's as if Cooper simply assumes that Laura/Carrie shot the man, and that she had a perfectly good reason for doing so.

And there are many other instances in the series of men treating women badly. And when Cooper goes back in time to the night Laura was murdered to rescue her, Laura is with James, one of the relatively few decent men in the show who are kind to women. Laura loves James, she says so, she screams it, but she also seems quite frustrated with him. Maybe that's because he can't protect her. And maybe Laura/Carrie screams at the end of the whole series because she is beginning to suspect that Cooper, another decent man, might not to be much good as a protector, seeing as how he's driven her all the way across the country to this strange place and doesn't even know what year it is. And there are many other instances in the series of women being drawn to bad men, while being loved by men who are good, but, unfortunately, ineffectual. Maybe there's a message here to good men: get up off your asses and fight for things that are right, like women being treated nicely.

Plus, Cooper has taken her back to the place where she was murdered. Maybe it reminds Laura/Carrie that she's Laura and that she was killed here, so maybe that's why the big scream. The subtitle of the 2017 is "The Return." Agent Cooper's entire purpose since he woke up has been to save Laura, but maybe he completely, monumentally failed, because all he did was return Laura/Carrie to the scene of a horror she was fleeing.

I don't know whether I've explained anything.

With "Game of Thrones," I don't have to explain anything. You just need to watch the whole series to get the story and characters, and if you're confused about something, 47 billion people have watched it, so just ask one of us. I just wanted to say that the very end of Season 7, where the dragon which the Night King has killed and resurrected as one of his undead army, spews blue fire which destroys the wall -- that scene, with its combination of story and acting and special effects and music, is one of the most amazing, rousing things I've ever seen on any TV or movie screen, and needs no explaining. Much like the way that the Knights of the Veil arrived and joined the Battle of the Bastards in last year's season 6. Just wow.

So which series do I like better, the artsy "Twin Peaks: The Return" or the pop "Game of Thrones"? That question is impossible to answer because the 2 shows are so entirely different. I like them both.

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