Twin Peaks: Where Was Audrey (Really) in Season 3?

The Showtime revival of Twin Peaks, David Lynch and Mark Frost’s ground-breaking drama, wrapped up proceedings with a two-part season finale on Sunday and, in distinctly Lynchian fashion, there was much confusion. After 25 years off the air and many a fan campaign to see the further exploits of Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), the Oscar-nominated director finally brought viewers back into the world they loved so much.

Of course, it wasn't the same. This was a stranger world, and one that was utterly unconcerned with providing a neat resolution to those pesky questions. There were moments that satisfied in more conventional means – the redemption of Bobby Briggs, the happy ending for Big Ed and Norma, Andy and Lucy having their moment of heroism – but for the most part, this was a show where proceedings just couldn’t be wrapped up in a neat bow.

The vast majority of this season wasn’t even spent with Dale Cooper; it was divided between his evil doppelganger and the tulpa (Black Lodge manufactured double) named Dougie Jones, which reduced Cooper to a semi-catatonic mannequin capable of only the most basic of actions. Audiences could hope for strong, clear answers, and even the most experienced David Lynch fans could quietly plead for something tangible to call a happy ending, but it was clear from the beginning that such things would be futile. As the season finale showed, sometimes, no matter how hard you fight or how desperately you want it, you can’t always get what you want. Sometimes, the girl can’t be saved.

Twin Peaks Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer
Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer in the series finale of Twin Peaks

One element missing from the two-part finale was fan favourite Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn). More than any character aside from Cooper, Audrey exemplified the enticing appeal of Twin Peaks during its original run. With her retro styling and mischievous smile, she was the femme fatale of the mystery, but one with a heart too golden to truly be the seductress. While she rebelled against her father and his business plans, she still fought hard to uncover the mystery of Laura Palmer’s death, playing the amateur detective and getting in deeper than she ever could have anticipated. When the series originally climaxed with Audrey chained to the bank when it blew up, fans feared the worst, so news of Sherilyn Fenn’s return to the show upon the announcement of its revival provided some much-needed solace. Perhaps now, a quarter of a century later, she could finally be with Dale Cooper, the man for whom she held such a sweet crush.

Inevitably, it wasn’t to be so simple. If you came to Twin Peaks looking for an easy route, you would quickly find yourself lost.

Dale Cooper and Audrey Horne Twin Peaks

It took a dozen episodes for Audrey to finally appear, and her scenes proved mystifying to some. We first see her - older, but still distinctly Audrey in her fashion choices - berating a man revealed to be her husband, Charlie. She wants him to accompany her to the road house bar to look for Billy, her lover who has gone missing, but Charlie is tired and has a lot of paperwork to do. It’s a very long, somewhat frustrating scene that reveals nothing of Audrey, her fate or what’s happening to her. It doesn’t even seem like the same Audrey; here, she is acid-tongued, bitter and scared. She demeans the man she’s supposedly married to by rubbing in her cuckolding of him. Various names are mentioned – Billy, Tina, Charlie – none of whom are people we are familiar with, but who seem to have their own complex soap opera of events going on. Eventually, Audrey convinced Charlie to call Tina and ask for news on where Billy has gone. The call is, once again, drawn out and we only hear one side of it. We never hear what Tina tells Charlie because he refuses to tell Audrey.

The scene is baffling, and made all the more so by the rest of Audrey’s appearances on the show. In her second appearance, the argument over going to the road house continues – we have no idea how much time has passed – but once Charlie is suddenly receptive to accompanying Audrey on her hunt, she freezes. Suddenly she has excuses for not wanting to leave, and the debate continues. Now, she seems more scared than bitter. This is an Audrey utterly disconnected from her old world. She never mentions her parents or her son, the shudder-inducing brat Richard Horne, whose father is the evil doppelganger of Dale Cooper. Her relationship with Charlie seems more akin to that of a therapy patient than a wife. He talks to her slowly and condescendingly, with hints of gaslighting her in his approach to her problem. It’s clearly an unhealthy relationship, something that’s only emphasized when Audrey jumps on him in a fit of rage and tries to strangle him.

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