Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me had always been a case of what could have been. Serving as a prequel to the cult classic series, Fire Walk With Me followed the story of Laura Palmer just before her death along with the murder of Teresa Banks. Centering on such topics as incest and abuse filtered through the eyes of director David Lynch, the film was never going to be a crowd pleaser. It was deemed nonsensical by casual viewers and confusing by even the most hardcore fans.
Part of this was attributed to the limited runtime Lynch was given for the film. While shooting well over five hours of material, it was eventually cut down to just over two. Whole plots and characters, many featuring fan favorite Twin Peaks characters, were left on the cutting room floor.
This cut material became something of a holy grail to Twin Peaks fans. With no continuation of the series in sight, these deleted scenes were seen by many as their last chance to visit the world of Twin Peaks. Perhaps some of the scenes would also shed some light on some of the more confusing bits of Fire Walk With Me and help the whole thing make more sense.
Petitions circulated for years and fans looked for any scraps of these scenes they could find, whether it was on set photos or clippings in magazines. Coming into Twin Peaks fandom around 2010, the search and hope for these deleted scenes to surface was still very much a priority.
In 2014, the good news broke with the above trailer that the scenes, now called The Missing Pieces, would be included in the upcoming Blu-ray set. The search was finally over. Fans rejoiced and gobbled up the new material like a whole cherry pie. Twin Peaks could finally be put to rest… Right?
Not long after word came that a new season of Twin Peaks would be coming out on Showtime. Fans once again rejoiced, but that also quietly made The Missing Pieces less special.
The whole appeal of the deleted scenes was that they were one last trip to Twin Peaks. With a new season coming, fans would get to go back there for an extended visit. The Missing Pieces were now just a time capsule, a nice view back into 1992 and the characters all looking exactly as fans had remembered them.
But are The Missing Pieces more important than that? Could they actually have a bearing on the third season? Should they be considered canonical right alongside the movie and the original TV series?
For many of the scenes, it doesn’t really matter. I highly doubt the third season will take time to reference Norma and Ed’s extended scene in the car, Bobby hurling baby laxatives everywhere, or Sarah telling Laura to stop smoking. These scenes are connective tissue that, while fun to watch and give some extra flavor to the film, were cut for a reason. They slowed down the story and, in many cases, didn’t add anything to it.
With the knowledge that this won’t be the last time we’ll see many of these characters, the scenes become less important. We’ll probably see Cooper talk to Diane again. We’ll probably see Norma running the RR Diner again.
Even the scenes with characters we’ll never see again, like Pete or Major Briggs, are nice but ultimately don’t add anything.
Some scenes do shed some light on some of the films more baffling moments but again don’t add much to the overall lore. It’s nice to finally understand what the hell Laura meant by, “I am the muffin” but it isn’t crucial.
Other scenes are more complicated because they do add to the Twin Peaks mythology. Anything with Phillip Jeffries sheds light on who the hell “Judy” is. All the scenes set after the series finale provide clues about where the third season could go and move the story forward, if only by inches. Annie being taken to the hospital, the Ring being stolen, Cooper in the Black Lodge, and Cooper/BOB talking to Truman after he smashes his head on the mirror could all be followed up on in season three.
But I don’t think they should be. Look, I love those fleeting images as much as the next fan. The world of possibilities with that nurse stealing the ring alone excites me as a Twin Peaks fan. You can’t however expect the new season to be beholden to deleted scenes that only a handful of fans have seen.
I know some people reading this may be up in arms at that statement. All TRUE Twin Peaks fans have seen the deleted scenes by now! I’m sure they have, but casual Twin Peaks fans haven’t. Think about it, the deleted scenes aren’t legally available for streaming. Netflix won’t autoplay them after you watch the final episode of the series. There’s no word of them airing on Showtime before the new series, unlike Fire Walk With Me.
You can’t expect everyone to go out and buy the Blu-ray set. It’s just not practical. So these Missing Pieces really should be relegated to what they always were, deleted scenes. They’re fun for fans but should have no bearing on the series going forward.
If you do try and count the deleted scenes as official, how would you even do that? Do you just reedit the film to include them? For most of the scenes that might be okay, but other parts of the film don’t work with the scenes as they are in The Missing Pieces. The most obvious of which is the Phillip Jeffries scene at the FBI. In The Missing Pieces, it’s a fairly standard scene (for Twin Peaks anyway) but in the film it’s chaotic, with fuzzy imagery and cutting between it and the scene in the Convenience Store.
If you separate those two scenes, they lose their intended meaning in the film. There’s an excellent essay out there by Twin Peaks super fan John Thorne, which argues that the whole beginning section of Fire Walk With Me (with Desmond and the FBI office) was all a dream. The imagery in the FBI scene is a big part of that. Whether you subscribe to that theory or not, there is meaning to be deciphered in the scene as it is in the film and that meaning is lost if you count The Missing Pieces as canon.
If you really want to, you can look at them as a sort of “B Canon” to the series and film. They can count if you so desire, but don’t expect David Lynch or Mark Frost to feel the same way. It pretty much puts them in the same area as all the official novels, with the exception of The Secret History of Twin Peaks (although its canon status remains to be seen). Fun for fans but not required.
The Missing Pieces only work without a season three. They were the final goodbye to the characters we knew and loved. The only “unseen” Twin Peaks we had left.
Now we get to reconnect with most of them again and go on a whole new journey. Sure it makes the twenty plus years of waiting for the deleted scenes seem a little pointless, but with them available we can now move on from the original saga of Twin Peaks with no lingering needs and embrace the new series with open arms.
Even if they do bend back sometimes.
Shamus Kelley is sitting at a formica table. Green is its color. Follow him on Twitter!