The Secret History of Twin Peaks was one of the wildest, most out there media tie-in novels I have ever read. Compiling notes, conspiracy theories, and mythology relating (on some level or another) to the show, it sought to tell the story of Twin Peaks between the mysterious travels of Lewis & Clark in the region all the way up to the death of Laura Palmer. Some of the book is redacted, some of it is written as if it’s newly discovered notes from 100+ years ago, and a sizable portion of the book links Twin Peaks to UFO sightings (something that’s not exactly at the forefront of the show’s focus). Hell, Dick Nixon shows up. It’s amazing. And it’s bewildering. Like the best of the show which inspired it, The Secret History offers half-answers while posing brand new questions.
The Final Dossier, by comparison, is more interested in the answers.
This new novel, published after the finale of Twin Peaks: The Return’s revival season (oh I hope we get more episodes eventually), takes a look at what happened between seasons 2 and 3. The book is written in the voice of season 3’s Tammy Preston as a direct report to Gordon Cole. As some fans noted (and occasionally complained), the revival season didn’t give us a whole lot in the way of details about what our favorite Peaks residents have been up to in the two decade gap between seasons. The Final Dossier addresses all of that, from bastard Leo Johnson’s predicament at the end of season 2 to hey, where did Donna go? It also dives into some of the less explored elements of the new season, like the penthouse apartment with the box doorway to another world (?).
Perhaps most interesting to fans are the moments that take place after the season 3 finale – an ending that left many viewers, myself included, scratching their heads a bit. I won’t go into spoilers about the finale for those who haven't seen it or the book’s assessment of that finale, but you will get some answers here. (One hint: David Bowie is the key to understanding everything.)
Maybe we get too many answers? The Final Dossier reads as though it is trying to make sense of the Twin Peaks universe. And, to be fair, even as I love the mystery of the show, I do want to know some of the answers eventually. But too much of the book feels like it’s holding my hand, explaining what the hell was up with that one part of that one episode. Like, did we really need a deeper look at the infamous Episode 8 of the new season? I liked it more as this bizarre standalone horror story where I could make my own connections. But now I know more and that’s… I’m not sure how I feel about it, to be honest. Some of the wonder is diluted.
I enjoyed The Final Dossier however I took nothing from it but knowledge and understanding. That’s fine, I guess, but it didn’t deepen the mystery for me any. I'll say this, though: it may be worth reading for the Log Lady's chapter alone, which features beautiful, inspiring prose in the voice of one of television's most lovable weirdos.
You can buy Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier and The Secret History of Twin Peaks on hardcover. I must advise against the ebook versions, as I doubt they duplicate some of the beautiful touches that you get on the printed page. Twin Peaks: The Return is now available on Blu-ray.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of fiction and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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