The TWIN PEAKS Character Series surveys eighty-two characters from the series Twin Peaks (1990-91) and the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) as well as The Missing Pieces (2014), a collection of deleted scenes from that film. A new character study will appear every weekday morning until the premiere of Showtime's new season of Twin Peaks on May 21, 2017. There will be spoilers for the original series and film.
Annie returns to her troubled town, where her trauma began, in order to heal but her romance with a wise, kind, gentle man puts her in greater danger than ever.
A nervous Annie Blackburn, fresh from the convent, returns to the RR Diner in Twin Peaks. The restaurant is owned by her sister Norma Jennings, who has offered Annie a job as a waitress now that she's no longer a nun. Annie meets Shelly Johnson, Norma's employee and close friend, and Norma asks how their mother was. "Well, we could talk about her or we could feel good for a change," Annie jokes. "I vote for the latter." Later that day, getting used to her uniform and feeling her way around the business, Annie pours a cup of coffee for Dale Cooper, "local law enforcement." They hit it off, albeit in a slightly awkward way (especially on Annie's part, though Cooper seems charmed by her shyly brusque manner). Cooper notices a scar on her wrist but says nothing.
Thursday, March 23, 1989
Annie, looking much more relaxed and comfortable in her own skin, joins Cooper (now in a black suit; he is apparently an FBI agent) and Sheriff Harry Truman as they gaze out the window at a bird on a car. "Chickadee, on a Dodge dart," she confirms. Despite the way she's already grown into her job with a day's work, she confesses that she still feels weird and then laughs about her disregard for "the social niceties" ("I'm not really supposed to say how I am, I'm supposed to say, I'm fine, thanks, how are you?"). Truman smiles warmly as Cooper and Annie flirt without seeming to realize that's what they're doing. Cooper even tells her a goofy joke, interrupted when Annie has to help out Shelly at the counter: "Two penguins were walking across an iceberg. One penguin turned to the other penguin and said you look like you're wearing a tuxedo. ... And the second penguin said...maybe I am?" After lots of laughter and smiles, Annie notes that a design Cooper is sketching on a paper napkin looks like a marking on the wall of Owl Cave. That afternoon, Annie studies a poster for the Miss Twin Peaks pageant, left behind on the counter. Shelly teases her about signing up, and also about her life in the convent - "what's it like being back in civilization?" Annie gets a bit defensive, and Shelly apologizes, but they bond for a moment over the difficulty of being around men ("you don't have to spend time in a convent to feel that," Shelly chuckles). Annie asks about Cooper, and gets defensive again (in a more lighthearted fashion) when Shelly returns to teasing mode and tells her she's got a major opportunity. Annie visits the Great Northern Hotel in the evening, timidly ordering a rum and tonic at the bar. Cooper shows up, dressed in a black, and they chat amiably about Annie's fresh, almost childlike perspective on life and love after years spent away from the world. Cooper notices her scar again and this time Annie sees him looking; she explains she's made mistakes and Cooper offers his help despite her claims that she can be stubborn and strange, and doesn't always make sense or do what's expected.
Friday, March 24, 1989
On a visit to the diner to pick up coffee and donuts, Cooper asks Annie to join him on a late afternoon nature study. She agrees, and Shelly, clearly finding their interaction adorable, gives Annie a knowing look when Cooper leaves. Late afternoon finds the budding couple floating in a rowboat as ducks swim past. Annie explains some of her past, without wanting to go too much into detail: she was withdrawn while Norma was outgoing, the cuts on her wrist date from before she left for the convent but after she dated a boy in her senior year of high school, and she's returned to Twin Peaks - the site of that initial trauma - to face her fears. Cooper understands; he has his own traumatic experiences with fear and love, and again he vows to help her. They kiss. Annie realizes she doesn't know him well yet, but says her instincts advise her to trust him. They dock they boat and stroll ashore, embracing by the gazebo. They visit the diner in the evening and take a seat with Cooper's visiting supervisor, Gordon Cole, who is head over heels for Shelly; they smooch over cherry pie, disregarding Shelly's angry boyfriend as Cooper and Annie watch, delighted.
Saturday, March 25, 1989
Cooper notices Annie crumpling a Twin Peaks poster on the counter and encourages her to sign up. They quote St. Augustine and Heisenberg and confess that they've been thinking about each other all day. Annie invites Cooper to go bowling when she gets off work, but he suggests dancing instead. They meet at the Road House as it's being prepared for the upcoming pageant and Cooper shows her how to dance. They kiss again, several times, interrupted by the town mayor who is having trouble with his microphone. Annie decides to enter Miss Twin Peaks after all and tells Cooper that she feels safe and unafraid with him.
Sunday, March 26, 1989
Norma, who will be judging the contest, excitedly prepares for Miss Twin Peaks. She says it will help heal the community this year and Annie speaks the unspoken: "You mean Laura Palmer?" (Laura is a teenager who was murdered a month ago.) Later that morning Annie practices with a choreographer at the Road House before visiting Cooper at the Great Northern to practice her speech. They end up making love instead. That evening, the pageant in full swing, Annie dances with a chorus line and then returns to the stage for a speech in which she quotes Chief Seattle and suggests that to appreciate and safeguard nature we must begin by taking care of ourselves. The judges and audience members are clearly moved and when Doc Will Hayward declares the winner at the end of the night, Annie takes center-stage. Crowned as Miss Twin Peaks, holding a bouquet, her moment of triumph dissolves into disaster when the lights go out and a strobe starts blinking. Amidst explosions and screams, Doc leads her offstage before disappearing into the mist. Annie moves through the darkness, trying to find Cooper, but she is seized from behind by a deranged madman dressed as a woman. He drags her away and they drive into the forest, where (changed into a black suit) he declares with frenzied glee, "I am Windom Earle ... I do like the fear I'm feeling." Bashing her head against the back window of his stolen truck a few times, he pulls her through the woods as she recites a psalm. Insisting that Cooper will save her and resisting Windom, only when he yanks her inside a circle of twelve sycamore trees does Annie straighten up, her eyes glazed over as she calmly follow Windom inside the red curtains that materialize in Glastonbury Grove.
...in Another Place"Who's Annie?" one of the many apparitions of Annie asks Cooper inside the Black Lodge. Indeed, who is Cooper seeing? One individual masked as another? The real Annie? A hallucination invoked by Windom Earle? For that matter, what is Annie seeing? She rises from the floor in a flowered dress (worn by Cooper's dead lover Caroline a moment earlier), blood dripping from her mouth, looking around as Cooper calls out to her...though she is lying next to another Cooper at the same time. She tells him "I saw the face of the man who killed me. It was my husband." And she wobbles behind and in between Windom and Cooper before fading into the red curtains.
Monday, March 27, 1989
The night after she entered those curtains, Annie and Cooper materialize in Glastonbury Grove. Truman rushes to their sides: both are unconscious, and Annie is covered in blood as she was in that first Lodge appearance. Rushed into Calhoun Memorial Hospital, Annie's eyes are open but she is unresponsive.
...in a vision, and/or in Laura's dream? (back on Friday, February 17, 1989)Annie lies in Laura Palmer's bed. She sits up slightly and calmly states her name, offering Laura a clue as to Cooper's whereabouts before laying down again.
back on Monday, March 27, 1989 (early morning hours of the next day)
Five weeks later, and yet simultaneously, Annie is in the hospital offering this same statement and command. She doesn't quite seem to be present in this moment. Her only witness is a nurse more curious about the green ring on Annie's finger, which she takes, checks in the mirror, and trots away with, as Annie lays wearily in the bed, unable to speak or move, looking lost and exhausted.
Characters Annie interacts with onscreen…
Nadine Hurley & Lucy Moran (dancing with her in chorus line)
Donna Hayward & Audrey Horne (hugging her when she wins)
(in a dream/across time)
Impressions of TWIN PEAKS through Annie
For other viewers, even those who wish the Cooper/Audrey connection found a way to continue, there is something oddly charming about Cooper's romance with Annie. Her character is just unusual enough to duck Nochimson's dismissal (some of her lines, and deliveries, are truly bizarre in ways that range from convincingly asocial to directorially misguided). The coupling is cute and if the storyline pushes Cooper toward a more standard love-interest role in some ways, in others it opens up the childlike aspects of his personality (with Audrey he was always very much the adult, sometimes threateningly so; with Annie he's often a fellow innocent). The two share a sense of wonder and delight in the world around them and there's a different sense of unease than we get with Cooper and Audrey, one more spiritual than social, even if Windom's stalking and kidnapping externalizes the threat. Cooper's fondness for the emotionally delicate ex-nun highlights both his and her fragility. From this perspective, their connection is particularly potent in the first few episodes, during their rather bumbling flirtations. God help me, I belong to this second camp, enjoying the Cooper/Annie romance and liking Annie herself even as I understand her detractors.
By arriving in Twin Peaks as someone who has a history there, but is also seeing it with fresh eyes, Annie fuses both halves of the early series: the town's deep-rooted mysteries, traumas, and habits, as well as Cooper's excited appreciation of its pleasures and investigation of its secrets. She helps restore a sense of identity and community to Twin Peaks after many episodes in which the location is treated like the convenient setting for any other series, less a character itself than a backdrop for various pratfalls and soapy shenanigans. Annie's addition to Twin Peaks, then, can be seen as the embodiment of late season two's "springtime" (a seasonal change which Annie's episodes actually correspond to, with both in-world chronology and airdates in '91). Opening the windows and doors to air out a stale room, she can't completely erase the stink or bring back what was there before, but it's a refreshing improvement nonetheless.
Annie’s journeyWhen Annie walks into the diner, she is initially part of Norma's - and even Shelly's - story, not Cooper's, although that quickly changes and anyone with their wits about them can see it coming. Even as this main plot charges forward (she meets Cooper halfway through the week, declaring her love and sleeping with him before the weekend is over), the writers still allow Annie everyday moments at work. These are some of her most enjoyable scenes. We watch as a testy, uncertain, but affectionate relationship develops between her and Shelly - each is slightly jealous of the other's connection to Norma. Shelly can be mocking, and Annie can be standoffish, but this potential tension eventually resolves itself as playful rivalry: arms around each other, the waitresses tease Norma by asking who she'll choose in the contest. And when Annie wins Miss Twin Peaks, Shelly seems genuinely enthusiastic. Unlike many stories where a man drives a wedge between two women, Annie's attraction to Cooper, if anything, draws her closer to the enthusiastic, joshing Shelly (whose comparative worldliness may assist her own confidence at a time when she's feeling otherwise insecure).
Annie's romance with Cooper is, of course, her primary arc, going hand-in-hand with the unraveling of her past, though we never move very far in that direction. The moments in their relationship are roughly divisible into two types: several scenes in which they happily flirt and innocently tiptoe around their mutual attraction, and several scenes in which Cooper takes on a protective, nurturing role, listening to Annie as she expresses her fears and desires. The first type of scene usually takes place at the diner, while the second type occurs elsewhere (in the hotel bar or the Road House, on a lake, in Cooper's room); without one suddenly giving way to the other, the latter approach does gradually crowd out the former. Annie's personal climax is achieved at Miss Twin Peaks when she discovers the confidence to deliver a strong speech, one which joins her own personal crisis to a larger purpose, re-connecting her to the community she abandoned and always retreated away from.
Following this triumphant moment, Annie becomes little more than a damsel in distress; entering the Lodge, she is even caught in a kind of spell which erases any last measure of personality from her expression. She is a tool for Windom, bait for Cooper, and a guiding spirit for Laura, but any active narrative ends before her tragedy begins. This adds a final bite to the question "How's Annie?" and begins a process of erasure that has only escalated in recent Twin Peaks material.
Actress: Heather GrahamGraham is one of the more famous cast members - certainly when I watched the show in 2008, she and Billy Zane were two of the few I recognized. In fact, I'm always a bit surprised when Twin Peaks viewers describe her as a character actress or "that woman who was in (such-and-such)"; to my mind she achieved stardom in the late nineties. That said, it is true that she often appeared in secondary roles rather than leads. Graham's career stretches back to the eighties, when she was still in her teens (playing Corey Haim's girlfriend in License to Drive, for example). In fact, she had a small part in possibly the first live-action film I ever saw in theaters as a four-year-old - in an introduction taking place decades before the rest of the film, she makes a cameo as Arnold Schwarzenegger's and Danny De Vito's mother in Twins. The following year she had a memorable supporting role in Gus Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy and eight years later she landed perhaps her most iconic character in another maverick auteur's breakthrough: Rollergirl in Boogie Nights. Her resume reads like a rundown of quintessentially nineties fads and phenomena (all that's missing is a Tarantino film): Twin Peaks and Boogie Nights of course, but also Swingers and sequels to Scream and Austin Powers, along with notable titles like Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Six Degrees of Separation, Nowhere, and Two Girls and a Guy. Graham was definitely a fixture in the nineties cinema scene, varying between indies (in the little-seen Don't Do It, she co-stars with Twin Peaks alums Sheryl Lee and James Marshall) and big-budget spectacles like Lost in Space. (Graham had signed for a Lost in Space franchise but the film flopped; that said, it does hold the distinction of knocking Titanic from its record fifteen-week run as #1 at the box office). Graham also developed a comedic persona, replacing Elizabeth Hurley as Austin Power's love interest in The Spy Who Shagged Me and cast as a youthful bombshell in the Hangover films when Lindsay Lohan (sixteen years her junior) turned the part down. While her film career took off, Graham initially avoided TV, but she later alternated between hit TV shows and films, appearing in Sex and the City (as herself), Arrested Development, Scrubs, and Californication (the latter two recurring roles). She was the lead on the short-lived Emily's Reasons Why Not. To date, Graham now has appeared in close to a hundred films and TV shows. (film pictured: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, 1999)
Episode 24 (German title: "Wounds and Scars")
*Episode 25 (German title: "On the Wings of Love" - best episode)
Episode 26 (German title: "Variations on Relations")
Episode 27 (German title: "The Path to the Black Lodge")
Episode 28 (German title: "Miss Twin Peaks")
Episode 29 (German title: "Beyond Life and Death")
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (feature film)
Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (collection of deleted scenes from the film)
Writers/DirectorsAnnie's introduction and climax (at the Miss Twin Peaks contest) are written by Barry Pullman. The rest of her episodes are authored by various combinations of Mark Frost, Harley Peyton, and Robert Engels (I'm guessing the penguin joke Cooper tells her is all Engels). Engels also collaborates with David Lynch to write her out-of-body experience in Fire Walk With Me. Annie is directed by James Foley, Duwayne Dunham, Jonathan Sanger, Stephen Gyllenhaal, Tim Hunter, and David Lynch (twice - in the finale and film).
StatisticsAnnie is onscreen for roughly thirty-six minutes. She is in twenty scenes in six episodes plus the feature film and deleted scenes collection, taking place over six days. She's featured the most in episode 28, when she wins Miss Twin Peaks. Her primary location is the RR Diner. She shares the most screentime with Cooper. She is one of the top ten characters in episodes 27 and 29, one of the top five characters in episodes 25 and 26, and second only to Cooper in episode 28. She has more top ten appearances than anyone else in the character series so far.
Episode 26: Annie hints at a troubled past in an idyllic setting; though the diner scene from episode 25 is more fun (and might be my pick on another day, in another mood), the lake scene best establishes the shadow haunting Annie and Cooper (especially since Windom Earle is watching them through binoculars this whole time).
“My name is Annie. I've been with Dale and Laura. The good Dale is in the Lodge and he can't leave. Write it in your diary."”
Episode 23: Norma speaks to Annie on the phone, inviting her to the diner - "Just get on the next bus, and I'll be waiting." Ominously, as Annie enters the show, we see a disguised Windom grinning in the foreground; he leaves a tip and an envelope for Shelly and walks out of the diner. From Norma's end of the conversation, it sounds like Annie is upset. When she hangs up, Shelly asks, "So your sister's coming?" She also laughs: "God, what do you have to do to get out of a convent?" Norma says it's not a prison and Shelly jokes about it sounding like one: no TV, no boyfriends. Norma's next observation has a different resonance in 2017 than it did in 1990: "You know, when she was little I always used to think that Annie was from another place and time."
Episode 26: Cooper discusses love with John Justice Wheeler (who, ironically, has taken up with the character originally intended for Cooper). Annie's name is never mentioned but obviously Cooper has her in mind when he says, "I feel like someone's taken a crowbar to my heart. ... I think maybe it's been locked away long enough."
Episode 27: Cooper tells Truman he's thinking about Annie, adding "I've been feeling this way all day. I proceed as usual, my mind clear and focused. And then suddenly out of nowhere I see her face and I hear her voice. Naturally, I try to re-orient myself, come back to the task at hand but the image remains. Sometimes I actually feel dizzy." Cooper compares his symptoms to malaria but says he's never felt better. Truman wistfully tells him he sounds lucky. Then, as Cooper gazes out the window his hand begins to tremble.
Episode 28: Cooper's very last report into his tape recorder refers to Annie: "Diane, at this particular juncture, I want to make specific mention of Annie Blackburn. She is a completely original human being, her responses as pure as a child's. I must be honest, I haven't felt this way about a woman since Caroline. It has taken meeting Annie for me to realize how gray my life has been since Caroline's death, how cold, solitary -" (interrupted by a knock, which turns out to be Annie) "- although occasionally, there is something to be said for solitude."
Episode 29: Cooper and Truman study a copy of the Owl Cave petroglyph on the sheriff's station blackboard. It's an esoteric map to Twin Peaks which guides them to Glastonbury Grove (nearby they find the truck Windom stole to take Annie there). Cooper tells Truman he must go on alone and Truman watches in awe as the red curtains materialize, and Cooper enters in pursuit of Annie. A day later, Cooper awakens in the Great Northern and immediately asks, "How's Annie?" He's told that she is fine, but is over in the hospital. Cooper goes to the bathroom to brush his teeth and once he's alone he squeezes the tube of toothpaste into the sink and smashes his head in the mirror. Staring at the reflection of BOB, he cackles mercilessly, over and over, "How's Annie? How's Annie? How's Annie?"
The Missing Pieces: Cooper re-enters the area of the Red Room(s) where he told Laura "Don't take the ring." This time, however, the ring is not on the table. Cooper notices and asks after it, to which the Man From Another Place replies, "Someone else has it now." "Annie?" Cooper wonders. "Annie!"
• In deleted dialogue from episode 26, Annie tells Cooper more about what drove her to the convent. "Everybody here thought I was nuts. And when I think about it, it was such a weird nineteenth century thing to do. To think I could remove myself, as if that could stop the noise in my head, when the problem was me, it was always in...me ... Silence. Prayer. It wasn't the religion. It could have been a Buddhist retreat. Walden Pond. A quiet room."
• The diner scene in episode 28 was originally extended to include Cooper walking in and complimenting Annie, predicting that she will win. Before kissing her, he says, "I know this violates multiple laws of physics, but at this moment, Annie, and I mean this quite literally...you are the only person in this room." During the dance rehearsal, Annie tells the others, "This is the weirdest thing I have ever seen."
• If you think the existing Cooper/Annie love scene is hard to take, with its extended forest metaphors, get a load of the script. The entire exchange is twice as long. "To be honest," Annie admits, "that's not really why I'm here. The speech." "The way I feel transcends metaphor," Cooper helpfully contributes. "Obliterates it." Annie inquires, "How do you feel? I mean, usually. I only ask because...well, actually, I want to know." In what the scene description aptly calls an "analytic detour," Cooper explains, "My habit is to construct and control my emotions with great precision. Everything ordered and in its place. What I am feeling now has steamrollered every barrier I've ever, if you'll excuse the expression, erected. [har, har] I don't know what I know or don't know. I only know ... (happily jumbled, he sighs) I want to make love with you, Annie. That's all I know." Believe it or not, the dialogue keeps going, and it takes them four more lines to get in bed, including Annie's declaration, as she unbuttons her blouse, "I am eager...and full of grace."
• Clearly someone sent a memo that Cooper's and Annie's love was to be hammered relentlessly in this penultimate episode because there's a third deleted passage where they declare their feelings yet again. Exiting the sheriff's station together, Cooper comments, "I'm just not used to feeling such discord between my professional and personal concerns." Kissing him goodbye, Annie says, "My heart will start beating again when next we meet. My knight in shining armor."
• The teleplay for episode 29 is radically different from the episode Lynch directed, especially in the Lodge sequence, although it's evident earlier on as well. Windom is far more verbose in his scene with Annie, although most of her lines are intact. However, when she approaches the Lodge rather than becoming mesmerized upon entering the circle of trees, she is visited by a vision of a Mother Superior. Annie approaches her, only for the nun to transform into Windom, who grabs her and pulls her inside the Lodge. For the most part, the Lodge is not the Red Room but that iconic setting does make one appearance, with a cartoonish sign dropping from the ceiling that reads "Pittsburgh, stupid!" Annie stands at the sink of a kitchen area inside the Red Room, although Cooper initially thinks she's Caroline. As her proceeding statements clarify, this is Caroline (she talks about Windom being the one who kidnapped her), even though she looks like Annie. This blends into the dialogue actually featured in the finale. The shot of Annie lying next to a bloody Cooper in Caroline's dress is coupled with a re-enactment of Windom reporting his wife's murder to the police. In a throne room/doctor's office, Windom shows Annie trapped behind glass inside a cabinet, where she watches the rest of the scene. In fact, out of the entire Black Lodge sequence of the script, the images of Annie may come closest to what Lynch actually ended up using even though he abstracted them more than the writers.
• After the series ended, Harley Peyton responded to a series of questions from hyper-fans on the alt.tv.twin-peaks Usenet board. One question was about the nature of Annie: was she an agent of the Lodges? Peyton's answer illuminates much more than just that simple question. "The speculation about Annie is interesting, but again, incorrect. Sad to say, Annie was -- at least when the character was initially conceived -- a damsel in distress. And not a great deal more than that. However, had the show continued, we might have deepened her connections/past/significance, etc. And she might well have become an Agent from the White Lodge -- it's a very good idea. But as it stood, and given that we never had that third season to continue, she was out of neither the Black nor the White Lodge."
• Annie is never mentioned in Mark Frost's The Secret History of Twin Peaks, although it frequently discusses Norma's family life (she has a completely different mother on the page, who dies long before 1989). The book covers the events of the series, including Cooper's entrance into and emergence of the Lodge. And yet still...no Annie. Maybe Cooper's "How" should be a "Where"?
SHOWTIME: No, Graham is not on the cast list for 2017. This, plus the book, is an ominous sign for many Annie fans. Additionally, at reading events, Frost has taken to referencing Lana, of all people, as the winner of the Miss Twin Peaks contest. What's going on here? A retcon? A cover-up? Whether or not Graham makes a secret appearance, Annie's legacy must play some role in the new series. Twenty years ago, when it seemed improbable that Twin Peaks would ever return, David Lynch shared his thoughts on Annie's final moment with Chris Rodley:
"Although I don't really like talking about things, I've got to say this one thing about that scene - where Annie suddenly appears in Laura's bed. This is before Laura has been murdered, and before Cooper has come to Twin Peaks. Annie appears, filled with blood, and wearing the exact same dress that she's wearing when she was in the Red Room with Cooper in the series - in the future. She says to Laura, 'The good Dale is in the Lodge. Write it in your diary.' And I know that Laura wrote that down, in a little side space in her diary.
Now, if Twin Peaks, the series, had continued, someone may've found that. It's like somebody in 1920 saying, 'Lee Harvey Oswald,' or something, and then later you sort of see it all. I had hopes of something coming out of that, and I liked the idea of the story going back and forth in time."
Tomorrow: Dick Tremayne