How’s Annie? The Implications of The Secret History of Twin Peaks

anniemisstwinpeaks

Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers for Mark Frost’s novel, The Secret History of Twin Peaks.

On October 18th, 2016, Mark Frost released his much-anticipated novel The Secret History of Twin Peaks to tie in with the new season due to arrive in 2017. Fans hoped that this would answer many of their pressing questions, however, the book seemed to create more mysteries than it solved. The fates of Annie Blackburn, Benjamin Horne, and Agent Cooper are left up in the air, characters that seemed like comic relief in the show are revealed to be involved in wild conspiracies, and while the “Owl Ring” is given an origin, it is still not explained what, exactly, it does. Not only that, but the book is seemingly riddled with inconsistencies. Listed below are only a few:

  • Andrew Packard’s “death” date is inconsistent
  • Norma’s mother is named Ilsa Lindstrom, not Vivian Niles, and supposedly died 5 years before the show
  • Annie seems not to exist at all
  • Cooper expected to get shot by Josie
  • Audrey leaves a note before heading to the bank, telling her father that she knows he plans to continue with the Ghostwood Development Project, despite his behavior to the contrary in the last episodes of Season 2
  • In the book, Laura reportedly began seeing Jacoby at age 18; however, she died at age 17

(Read a more extensive list here.)

It’s rather difficult to believe that, after all these years to prepare, that Frost would make so many drastic and obvious errors. Some can be written off as retcon, such as Pete Martell shielding Audrey from the bank explosion, when in the show, he’s quite a ways away from her when the blast goes off. Had the series continued back in 1991, most likely Pete would have survived along with Audrey, but after Jack Nance’s death in 1996, a noble death was probably penned in memory of him. Other issues, like Audrey’s note, are much harder to reconcile.

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One of the biggest questions we are left with at the end of Twin Peaks and Fire Walk with Me is the fate of Annie Blackburn. Despite the importance established for her character in the show and film, the book does not mention the ill-fated damsel once, even in her sister Norma’s post card home. In fact, the information provided within the post card seems to conflict with Annie’s very existence.

First of all, Norma writes the post card to her parents, Mr and Mrs Lindstrom. This is problematic for many reasons, but let’s forget about Vivian Niles’ brief stint in Season 2 for the sake of staying on track, and suppose for a moment, Norma’s maiden name is Lindstrom. So why is Annie’s last name Blackburn? Mrs Lindstrom is said to have never remarried. Did Annie have a brief, unmentioned marriage to a Mr Blackburn, and keep her married name? Was Annie actually adopted, and kept her old family name? Did Annie simply change her name, out of personal choice? Furthermore, how could Norma not mention her little sister in her post card home from her honeymoon? As for Annie the possibility of Annie having not been born yet, Norma is at least 18 at this point, and it’s hard to believe that Annie is nearly 20 years younger than Norma.

Did the novel write Annie out of existence? Annie’s character was created for the show’s revival, after brief cancellation during the second season. The show runners managed to convince the network to bring back Twin Peaks for a few final episodes, which would wrap up the major story lines (more or less). Due to the dissolution of the Audrey/Cooper romance, Annie Blackburn’s character was speedily written in order to fill the role of Cooper’s love interest. It is possible, if unlikely, that Lynch and Frost decided to rewrite the series to omit characters not in their original plans.

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When asked about Annie by a fan at a book signing, Frost allegedly responded that he can’t talk about Annie, but that Lana Budding won Miss Twin Peaks in 1989 (the year Twin Peaks is set and Annie Blackburn is supposed to have won Miss Twin Peaks). What does this mean? Was Lana, as runner-up, granted the title after Annie fell into a coma? That wouldn’t exactly make her win Miss Twin Peaks. Frost chose this very specific way of answering this particular question. There must be a reason. Annie had to have been purposefully omitted, after having played such an important part of Season 2. But why was she omitted, and what is the explanation for her disappearance from the story?

All these apparent “errors” could have one answer: The book, and the new season, take place in an alternate universe.

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There are other hints that the new Twin Peaks will have something to do with alternate dimensions: An actor from nearly every other Lynch film is slated to appear in the new season — Laura Dern (Blue Velvet, Wild at HeartInland Empire), Naomi Watts (Mulholland DriveRabbits), Balthazar Getty (Lost Highway), plus Twin Peaks vet Charlotte Stewart (Betty Briggs), who also appeared in Eraserhead. This could easily fit with the Lynchian Universe Theory, which supposes that all of David Lynch’s major films are connected through interdimensional pathways, such as the Black Lodge, or the hotel from Inland Empire, or Club Silencio from Mulholland Drive.

We already know that alternate dimensions exist within Lynch’s films, and it has already been confirmed by Lynch himself that Twin Peaks and Lost Highway take place in the same universe. We’ve also seen that interdimensional travel is possible. So, what role could it play in Twin Peaks 2017? Could it be that, when the Good Dale emerges from the Lodge at last, he finds things… not quite as he left them? Could he end up in an alternate version of Twin Peaks, or even in another time altogether?

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Some fans propose that we are not so much seeing an alternate dimension, as an alternate timeline. This theory says that time travel, possibly by Cooper, has changed history, resulting in the “discrepancies” in The Secret History. Laura might still be alive, Annie might not have been born, and Ben Horne might never have reformed. As a matter of fact, Laura not being murdered would cause Leland to not die the way he did, and Ben Horne would never have been arrested, prompting his reformation (This would explain Audrey’s letter). Perhaps Cooper traveled back in time (maybe using the Black Lodge) and saved her life? And if Norma had different parents, they might not have had Annie.

If either the alternate universe or alternate timeline theories are correct, it would nicely clean up inconsistencies in the book, and explain why dead characters will appear 25 years later, aged 25 years older (ageing ghosts?). Whatever the truth is, we may learn the answers sooner than we think…

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Four Reasons Why Audrey is Probably Not Dead

Written by Eden H Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

A lot of debate seems to be going into whether or not Audrey Horne survived the fateful explosion at the bank. While some see it as a given that she must have died (and I agree, in real life, she’d be dead as a doornail), others find it difficult to believe that the character would have been written out of the show. Below are the main arguments for why Audrey probably did not die in the bank explosion.

Audrey chained to the bank vault door.

Audrey chained to the bank vault door.

1) She was a fan-favorite character

I’ll use perhaps my weakest evidence first: This argument states that, because Audrey was (and still is) a fan favorite character, it would have been a bad move to kill her off. This would upset fans and possibly cause the show to lose viewers, although, at the time, Twin Peaks was facing almost certain cancellation.

Back in the day, we probably would have found that Pete and Audrey both survived the explosion: The elderly bank clerk and Andrew Packard were more likely to have died, being relatively unimportant and not that popular (although the bank clerk character, I think, has potential). Now, with Jack Nance having sadly passed away, Audrey will most likely be the only survivor of the bank explosion of ’91.

2) It was done to cause sensation

As I said earlier, at this time, Twin Peaks was facing almost certain cancellation. They’d already been cancelled, in fact, but were brought back for a final three episodes; an opportunity which Lynch and Frost used to wrap up some story-lines, but more so to throw many characters’ fates up in the air in order to hopefully cause an uproar among fans, who would want to see what happened to their favorite characters. If the demand was high enough, maybe they would be brought back for the third season after all? Though the ploy, ultimately, didn’t work, it does imply that Lynch and Frost only had the intention of stirring up interest by making people believe that a fan favorite character might be dead, and the writers probably had no intention of going through with it.

3) Certain people have claimed she was slated to survive

Also in a Fangoria interview, Billy Zane mentioned that he would have likely returned for the third season as well. Apparently, Audrey was going to find out she was pregnant, which would have necessitated the return of John Justice Wheeler to Twin Peaks. This confirms that Audrey survived the bank explosion.

Source: Twin Peaks Episode Guide (Blogspot)

(Note: I have not yet found the actual Fangoria interview to verify this.)

AVC: It seems like there was set to be a lot more Audrey if things had gone differently. Reportedly, there was a discussion about Audrey getting spun off into her own series, and Billy Zane has said in the past that Audrey and his character [John Justice Wheeler] were supposed to get together on the show.

SF: Oh, my God. [Laughs.] Um… the Audrey spin-off that would’ve come about, it really ended up being the original idea for Mulholland Drive. That was either in between the first and second season or after the second season, but they were like, “What if we did a movie, and it’s Audrey in California?” And they talked about an opening scene of her driving along Mulholland Drive, and how she’s a little bit older. Whatever it was going to be, it never ended up happening for me. But I was young, and I thought it sounded weird, because no one ever really did that. I was, like, “Okay, but do people do that? Go from TV to a movie as the same character?” Then all those years later, David made the other one, and I didn’t have anything to do with it.

(Source: A. V. Club)

Audrey Horne and John Justice Wheeler.

Audrey Horne and John Justice Wheeler.

While anything short of confirmation from Lynch and Frost themselves still leaves room for debate, it has been said by Billy Zane (John Justice Wheeler) and Sherilyn Fenn that Audrey was supposed to survive the explosion. Also, at the time, Lynch had the idea in his head that, after the events of Twin Peaks, Audrey would go off to Hollywood to become an actress. Though this plot never came to fruition, it mutated, and became the film we now know as Mulholland Drive.

4) Twin Peaks uses soap opera logic.

One of the most common arguments I’ve come across is that Audrey, realistically, would not have survived the bank explosion. And I agree, but that is thinking realistically, which Twin Peaks has shown us many times that it does not do. If the Twin Peaks universe worked with realistic medical logic, many things would go out the window, including Nadine’s super-strength, Cooper getting up and running around a day after having been shot, Sarah Palmer would be seen coughing a lot more, and Leo wouldn’t have had time to regrow the muscle tissue to be able to just walk around like nothing had happened (even with physical therapy, it would have taken months for him to be able to hobble on a cane again). Furthermore, while we’re talking about Audrey and medical realism, she would also most likely have been physically dependent on heroin (or methadone) after having been drugged repeatedly at One-Eyed Jack’s. One does not simply recover from a nearly fatal drug overdose and, yet, the next day, other than looking maybe a little sleepy, Audrey is fine.

Pictured above: Audrey, not on methadone.

Pictured above: Audrey, not on methadone.

And finally, what may have happened if they’d done season 3 back then:

This is complete speculation, but here’s what I think they were planning on doing with Audrey: The bank explosion results in Audrey falling into a coma, trapped between life and death. Because she is on the verge of death, her spirit is drawn into the Black Lodge, where she interacts with Cooper, Annie, and maybe also Benjamin Horne. Meanwhile, the doctors discover that Audrey is pregnant, and send out a call for John Justice Wheeler to return.

Twin Peaks is known to be partly inspired by soap opera-style story-telling, and soap operas are notorious for having characters come back from absolute death all the time. With this in mind, I find Audrey’s death to be less than certain.