Twin Peaks: The Return ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

"Isn't it too dreamy?”

- Audrey’s Dance Analysis -

In the pilot episode of Twin Peaks, we are introduced to Audrey Horne. Audrey goes through a pretty simple character arc over the original series, she goes from being a self-loving, cold-hearted, scheming daddy’s girl to becoming an activist through civil disobedience.
Audrey is a character in love with herself who over-time realises there are more important things in life to fight for.

This idea of Audrey gaining her emancipation is first established after Audrey finds out that Ben Horne, (her father), had sex on numerous occasions with Laura Palmer during her time working as a prostitute at One-Eyed Jacks, a brothel that Audrey also later discovers Ben owns. Through this Audrey learns and becomes ashamed of her bloodline and rebels against them.

However, when you think about Audrey’s character, her ark and finding of her emancipation is likely not what first comes to mind, is it?

The moment audiences alike fell in love with Audrey Horne is universal, her dance in episode 2 of season 1. But why is this moment so undeniably powerful? It’s simple, in this scene we learn everything about Audrey’s character. The music playing on the jukebox (composed by Angelo Badalamenti) has a deep effect on Audrey. “God, I love this music,” she tells Donna, adding, “Isn’t it too dreamy?” She gets up and slowly dances (more like swaying), lost in the beautifully woozy melody, here this character we’ve only really seen cold-hearted, has an innocence and real beauty to her. The customers at the RR Diner look at Audrey with pessimism but she doesn’t care, it’s almost as if she gets thrilled by it. Not just the dance reveals truths about Audrey, but her theme does too. The soft, jazzy, swing says so much about the person Audrey is, it’s fitting this piece of music follows her around for the entire series. The rhythm is calm and seductive much like Audrey in the earlier seasons but it’s also got this calm gentle sense to the tune. Audrey is one of the two characters (the other being Laura Palmer) to have a theme in Twin Peaks. The creative team, mainly Lynch and Badalamenti knew this theme was essential for the audience to connect with Audrey’s character.

With Twin Peaks The Return, David Lynch brings Audrey Horne back to the spotlight and gives her character the conclusion that is not just fitting for the themes of The Return, but also for Audrey.

In Part 12 of The Return, we are finally introduced to Audrey again. She is a bored housewife unhappily married to a man named Charlie. Throughout episodes 12-15 we see Audrey argue with Charlie to take her to The Roadhouse where her lover Billy is waiting for her. Finally, in Part 16 Audrey arrives at The Roadhouse. The MC announces “Audrey’s Dance” will be the next act and in an act of pure surrealism, the audience moves into a perfect circle to watch Audrey perform her classic dance as her theme plays in the background. However, a Roadhouse patron starts a fight interrupting her dance and in fright, Audrey runs to Charlie and yells to “get me outta here” only to wake up to realise that she is in some sort of delusion.

Audrey’s dance in part 16 is the most terrifying realisation I’ve ever experienced in a film or series. Having to contemplate your reality and mindset in a setting you’ve been so familiar with and feel so welcome in is terrifying. Is everything Audrey has seen a dream? Is the entirety of the series Audrey’s dream? Do we live inside a dream?

Lynch here openly breaks the fourth wall

Many people have come to the conclusion that Audrey is actually just trapped in the black lodge and that is why we’ve seen these scenes. This theory mainly comes for two reasons the first being that when the MC announces “Audrey’s Dance” whooshing noises are heard therefore identifying that lodge spirits are at work and also that when she’s transported to the white void, the classic Twin Peaks electricity can be heard. Secondly, after we cut to black the credits play Audrey's classic theme in reverse as to symbolize that she is in the black lodge. Further, it’s an out-there theory but the MC does look and dress a whole lot like Jimmy Scott’s character in the season 2 finale in that sings Sycamore Trees in the black lodge, perhaps this character was meant to be played by Scott if it wasn’t for his death in 2014? I’m not sure, but it’s interesting to think about it nonetheless. However, whether he is or isn’t Jimmy Scott’s character I am going to assume that the MC is a lodge entity. However, I don’t necessarily believe that Audrey is in the black lodge.

Just because Audrey sees black lodge characters and hears noises doesn’t necessarily mean she is in the Black Lodge. Not only would it not make any sense for her to be there seeing as she would’ve had to give birth to Richard Horne but it would also undermine what Lynch is trying to say here. Agent Cooper has visited and seen black lodge characters in numerous dreams, as has Laura Palmer, why can’t Audrey? Lynch wouldn’t be doing this all for a cheap “ha, she’s here” reveal, if Audrey was in the black lodge, Lynch would’ve said as much. I think what Lynch is doing here is making a comparison to the theme he brought earlier in part 14 with Gordon Cole’s dream. Who is the dreamer? And with this scene, it becomes apparent who the dreamer is, we are. Just like Audrey. We delude our own minds in our own constructs. This is existentialism 101 people.

In Audrey’s dream, she is a bored housewife married to a short chubby unflattering looking man who she is only with really for what it seems to be, money and prestige and she is searching for an escape from this boring life, a strong new lover found at a hip club. Here Charlie and Billy represent the present (Charlie) and the past (Billy).

Audrey is obsessed with how people perceive her in The Return, she seems embarrassed whenever she is with Charlie (her present, real-life), she years to return to the past and relive those iconic moments that made people fall in love with her and she does. Audrey dances and people watch just as they did 25 years prior, they admire her beauty, her confidence, her stride but this time instead of fading to black she’s interrupted by an act of violence. Almost in an act of desperation Audrey runs up to Charlie and tells him to get her out of these delusions, here Audrey returns to what is her real life, she escapes her dream.

Now to answer the question of where she is, the honest answer is that I don’t have the slightest idea. I think likely choices are in a mental institute or the white lodge but it doesn’t matter. Audrey’s story shouldn’t be reduced to a “SHE’S BEEN HERE THE WHOLE TIME” kind of story, if Audrey’s location mattered, Lynch would’ve told us, as many people may not believe, Lynch isn’t actually trying to confuse you. Lynch is showing a woman’s struggle and yearning for the past, of course, the idea of lodge characters being at play during her dream is an absolute possibility, however, I think if any lodge entities are involved in this story it would be white lodge characters we haven’t met yet. We know she is dreaming and that is enough to understand the significance of this moment.

In finality, Audrey’s dance at the end of part 16 is a beautiful yet somewhat depressing send off to Audrey’s character that continues to amaze me every time I watch it.

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