Twin Peaks season 3 decoder: Audrey’s Dance

Part 16’s final shot of Audrey Horne was one hell of a cliffhanger to leave us with.


Martyn Conterio


This article contains spoilers for Twin Peaks season 3 part 16. For maximum enjoyment, we recommend reading after you’ve watched the show.

It is without shadow of a doubt one of the most famous moments in Twin Peaks history. In the Double R diner, Audrey Horne (Sherilynn Fenn) is sat at the counter discussing the new J Edgar in town with Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle). The music playing on the jukebox (composed by Angelo Badalamenti) has a deep affect on her. “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. This scene, arriving early in season one, is the precise moment viewers fell in love with Audrey Horne.

The character’s peculiar cameo-style appearances in Twin Peaks season three have led to all kinds of theories. Is she in an asylum? Is Twin Peaks a figment of her imagination? Is she trapped in the Black Lodge? Is she the dreamer who dreams and lives inside the dream? Part 16’s final shot, which shows Audrey looking very confused in a white room, hair tied back and with no make-up, came as a shock twist, even if fans figured something wasn’t quite right in the state of Washington. “What? What? What? …” Audrey asks, staring at her freaked out reflection, a quintessential Lynchian moment of one reality shattering into another. The close-up shot is accompanied by the sound of a surging electric current (never a good sign in the world of Twin Peaks). Electricity suggests the Black Lodge spirits at work.

David Lynch and Mark Frost have consistently teased Audrey’s return. Frost’s 2016 book ‘The Secret History of Twin Peaks’ confirmed she had survived the bomb blast in the bank vault, but it’s looking clear now her life since that fateful day in 1989 (in the show’s timeline) hasn’t been a very nice one.

Having finally made it to the Roadhouse with Charlie (Clark Middleton), Audrey sips a Martini at the bar and toasts her beloved Billy (who we all suspect is the freak locked up in the sheriff’s jail, dribbling black fluid and tormenting crooked cop Chad). After this week’s musical act, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder leaves the stage, the Roadhouse master of ceremonies clears the floor and calls up Audrey to relive her classic moment from season one, this time it’s an extended freestyle variation, with the use of jump cuts hinting at the unreality of it all. Just when it seems Lynch is throwing us a nostalgic bone to chew on, he goes and pulls the rug from under our feet.

The first thing to say about the scene is the MC explicitly calls the act ‘Audrey’s Dance’. Using the title of Badalamenti’s composition brings a frisson of postmodernist self-referencing to the moment. As some wisenheimer teen in a 1990s slasher movie might say, it’s all totally meta. It’s also intriguing because it suggests Audrey not only remembers dancing in the Double R some 25 years ago, but that it’s a cherished memory. Then a fight breaks out, the act is wrecked and the nightmarish twist revealed. It’s one hell of a cliffhanger to lead into parts 17 and 18.

With Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) finally awake from his Dougie Jones body prison, en route to Twin Peaks, thanks to the Mitchum brothers’ private jet, the showdown coming with Bad Coop promises to be spectacular.

Published 29 Aug 2017

Tags: Angelo Badalamenti David Lynch Twin Peaks

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