When I was 25, Twin Peaks made it’s debut. My Father had died suddenly less than a year before, my relationship had crashed upon the rocks of alcoholism, and my job performance and future employment was iffy at best. I needed an escape – anything to get away from the failure my life had become (or felt like it had become). Twin Peaks was exactly what I needed. It gave me an hour a week to lose myself in a place that seemed for less stressful than where I was at. From the opening theme, to the quirky characters, intermixed with mysticism, mayhem, and horror, TP seemed to have been made for me.
I moved To San Francisco shortly after the series began, and before long found myself having TP viewing parties complete with coffee and donuts. I even managed to meet some people from Prodigy online who were as obsessed with the show as I was.
Twin Peaks was an event, unlike no other TV program I’d experienced then or now. Fans of the show would spend hours dissecting and discussing every minor detail, certain it held a clue to who killed Laura Palmer. Even when the mystery was solved, and the show’s quality began to wane, we were still fixated on the small town and its inhabitants. That final episode though, no one was prepared for that, or the cliffhanger it ended on. I was so pissed off with it, that when Twin Peaks” Fire Walk With Me was announced, I decided I wasn’t going to see it. I did eventually, and it still held as many questions as it had answered.
I mention all this because I want to convey exactly how much TP had become a part of my life. I’d always been a David Lynch fan, and this merely solidified my love for his work. I never thought I would ever see these characters again, and had made my peace with that. After all, with the exception of perhaps Doctor Who, few shows get another chance to wrap things up years, or decades later. So when the new season was announced I was incredibly excited. The two years between announcement and when it finally aired seemed to go as slow as the previous 24 years.
Sunday night however, all that waiting came to an end, and I watched the first four episodes of a show I never thought would be made again. Was it worth the wait? The short answer is yes. Was it all I could have hoped for? Well, to that, I say the jury is still out. What follows are my impressions of the first two episodes with as few spoilers as possible. David Lynch managed to keep any leaks from happening (going so far as to not even list the actors in the opening credits), so I will try to honor his desires. Let it be said though, that even if I gave a play by play description of what happened, everyone would still be in the dark about what it’s about.
The premiere opens with a brief flashback to the Black Lodge 25 years prior, where Laura Palmer utters the now infamous line, “See you in 25 years.” There’s a new opening sequence with the same theme song, which I appreciated as it’s still one of my all time favorite show openers. After that it’s back to the Black Lodge with the giant and Dale. Seeing them again, not to mention the one armed man, was like going to a class reunion. You smile but think, “Holy shit! They look old!” That’s the standard reaction I had seeing the old gang again. Some aged better than others, and some, Richard Beymer for example, were almost unrecognizable.
We’re then sent to New York City to meet a couple of new characters and a mysterious glass box. Less than 15 minutes in and we get our first coffee reference. We have the typical Lynch dialogue which sometimes seems like a Dick and Jane Primer, plus the extended pauses between words, sentences and characters. This early in, it’s evident this is not going to be the TP of my youth. This is something much different. It’s tougher, muscular, and pure Lynch. In fact as the show progresses it’s Lynch on steroids. There are things that will remind you of all of his movies at some point or other. In most cases I don’t mind that, but it gets very ham handed and almost too much. I’ve never thought of Lynch as being a self referential director, but that’s exactly how it appeared in the first two episodes. Bits of Eraserhead, Blue Velvet (the Cooper doppelganger reminds me of Frank Booth on downers), Inland Empire, and Mulholland Drive.
You can’t help but feel that he’s connecting everything he’s made into one universe. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen, but the homage’s are hard to ignore. We next see the Horne brothers in a brief, and rather funny scene. While Jerry is no longer in the hotel business, he still has his love for food, and a new business venture which makes perfect sense for his character. Sadly we don’t see them again in any of the first 4 episodes.
We then go to South Dakota for a murder. Or more accurately the remnants of a murder. It’s here we’re introduced to some more new characters including Matthew Lillard as a school principal who’s accused of said murder. It’s not a stretch to say that Lillard has the episode’s strongest performance. He’s also what could be the most interesting new character so far. We’re then transported back to the Black Lodge where we see Laura again and find out what happened to the dancing dwarf (hint: you’ll never guess in a million years).
The new season of TP is slow, deliberate, and methodical. It doesn’t give itself up easily, and rewards critical thinking. There are times it steps on its own feet in order to be “mysterious”, but thankfully those times are few and far between. It’s very evident that Lynch has lost none of his ability in the 11 years since his last feature. While there’s nothing really new in his repertoire, there doesn’t need to be any. He’s an old pro and knows what works. As with all his films, the sound design is every bit as important as what you see, and I hope you have a good sound system or good headphones as they will certainly enhance the experience.
Seeing old characters like Hawk, Lucy & Andy, not to mention the bittersweet appearance of the late, great Catherine Coulter as The Log Lady are presented without sentiment. We’re literally watching them as if no time had passed. Then of course there’s Dr. Jacoby and his shovels. What is he going to do with them?
Is the new season perfect? Of course not, what TV show is? But it is a worthy successor to what has become before. And in typical Lynch fashion it’s also its own thing as well. Don’t expect the relative linear storytelling of the first two seasons, you’ll be disappointed doing that. Also be prepared for some very dodgy CGI. While many won’t even notice, it was enough to take me out of the story.
TP divided people in 1990, and 27 years later it hasn’t stopped. The owls are not what they seem, and neither is the new series. Next week, I’ll cover episodes 3 and 4. That’s when things really start to take off.