TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return
Twin Peaks: The Return
“Chapters 1 and 2”
SPOILERS FOR EVERYTHING TWIN PEAKS!!
After 25 years, David Lynch’s weird masterpiece Twin Peaks is back. As a relative newcomer to Agent Dale Cooper’s investigation into the murder of Laura Palmer (I only watched the series about two years ago, and just watched Fire Walk With Me a few days ago), I wasn’t aware of the weird cultural phenomenon that was Peaks when it was first airing. But what does strike me is how mainstream America latched onto the series, which has not only one of the strangest narratives of all time, but also looked like nothing else on television either. Almost every episode of the series was a mini art house film, with odd angles, cuts, and performances. But despite all of this, Twin Peaks became a major phenomenon without the aid of Twitter, Facebook, or any kind of viral marketing campaign. And now, 25 years later, we’re finally getting some resolutions to the cliffhanger ending that audiences were left with 25 (or fewer) years ago.
Well. Kind of. You didn’t expect David Lynch to be completely clear cut in his story, did you? Like the show it’s picking up from, Twin Peaks: The Return is a long, strange, and trying two hour premiere. Looking for Audrey Horne? Sorry, not this episode. What about Shelly? Well, fast forward to the last 10 minutes. Dale Cooper? Oh yeah, he’s there, but not in a way you expect at all. Hell, Leland and Laura Palmer even make an appearance in the instantly iconic Black Lodge.
The first two episodes of Twin Peaks are Lynch at almost peak weird. The first hour features very little of what we’ve seen in prior Twin Peaks episodes, so those looking for answers or references right away will be very disappointed. In fact, this new series seems to have more in common with Firewalk With Me’s all over the place narrative than with the original series’ focus on a mystery and the weirdo characters that live in this Northwestern town. But if you stick around, things do start to get clearer (well, in Lynch’s definition) by the second hour.
Here’s what I’ve been able to figure out. Dale Cooper has been trapped in the Black Lodge for 25 years. During this time, his Doppelganger (which in fact is the demonic entity Bob) has been running amok, committing crimes with a group of local thugs (he’s also got a sweet mullet that Kyle McLachlan somehow pulls off). At the same time, The Log Lady has been telling Deputy Chief Hawk that her log is telling him that “something is missing”, and has connections to Dale Cooper’s mysterious disappearance.
But that’s what’s easy to figure out. Less easy to decipher is the unnamed kid working for a mysterious company in New York City that has a giant glass box that they’re paying him to watch, who then is murdered when a mysterious figure manifests inside of it while he’s about to have sex with a girl (just go with it). There’s also another subplot in the first hour that follows a murder that is linked to Matthew Lillard’s high school principal Bill Hastings, which may be the work of either Bob, or DoppleDale, or some other demonic entity. There are some minor clues (maybe) in the second episode that play into what we see in the first hour, but right now we’re left with more questions than answers.
Typically this kind of thing would drive me insane, but with David Lynch you kind of need to accept that not everything is either A) going to make sense, or B) going to be answered. However, as much as there are some really weird, long sequences that seemingly are there to pad out the two hours; we do get some answers behind what has happened to Agent Cooper over the past 25 years. While we only get a peak into what Cooper’s existence has been like (has it felt like he’s been sitting in the Black Lodge for 25 years? Does time move faster there, or slower? Time definitely passes, since both Cooper and Laura Palmer have aged), it’s at least nice that David Lynch and Mark Frost didn’t draw that aspect out. For as much as there are parts of these two episodes that test your patience, there are answers waiting for you at the end of these two parts.
A lot of people are going to be annoyed by this premiere. Entertainment has changed in incredible ways since Twin Peaks went off the air. People now are able to binge watch the entirety of the original Twin Peaks in a week if they feel like it, so it’s no surprise that the slower pace of these two episodes might annoy the hell out of them. But at the same time, David Lynch knows what he’s doing, or at least believes in what he’s doing. And for as weird as these opening episodes are, there’s something undeniably compelling about them. You keep watching to see what Lynch and Frost have next up their sleeves. It could the thing that brings everything together, or something that throws another monkey wrench into the theory you were building that you knew was right.
It’s clear from these two episodes that Twin Peaks: The Return is David Lynch, unfettered by the rules of a major TV network, audience expectations, and even Twin Peaks itself. Where will we go in the next few episodes? Will we get any answers or resolutions for our characters? The answers may fulfill, annoy, or enrage us, or not be there at all. Either way, Twin Peaks is back baby. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.