Twin Peeks: A Return Recap, Parts 1 & 2
My log has a message for you.
May 26, 2017 at 11:24 am
Disclaimer: Twin Peeks is a recap/review series about the new season of Twin Peaks — which means there are gonna be spoilers here for pretty much everything (yes, even the original seasons). If you’re not caught up yet, please do yourself a favor and at least consider it before reading this. If not, you’ll be pretty lost, and you need to get your bearings before Season 3. Trust me on this one.
Leave your coffee and slices of cherry pie at the door, everyone. David Lynch’s iconic Twin Peaks has returned with Lynch himself directing every episode — and he does not care about your expectations. While theories and questions stirred for months before this past Sunday’s two-hour premiere, none of them quite matched up with what we actually got. However when it comes to David Lynch, embracing the unexpected (read: bizarre as hell) is essential. With something like Twin Peaks, it’s best to dive in and go along for the ride.
When Twin Peaks premiered on ABC in 1990, audiences didn’t quite know what to do. It was radically different from anything else on at the time blending genres like soap opera, teen drama, murder-mystery, and even horror to create something that paved the way for TV as we know it today. Luckily, the mix of campy humor, surrealist imagery, and unforgettable characters was instantly popular. Through the mystery of Laura Palmer’s death, Lynch was able to bring his audacious and singular style to the masses in an accessible way. Revolutionizing TV is a tough act to follow, but even in a “golden age” of television shows, there’s something remarkable happening in the new episodes of Twin Peaks, even if it shirks the expectations some may have had about it beforehand. It is beautiful, disturbing, and so perfectly Lynch.
While many fans (yours truly included) may have harbored hopes for closure when the revival was announced, we should’ve known better. The original run of the series ended with a finale that set up scenarios that are probably being dropped altogether this season, aside from the only one that matters: Special Agent Dale Cooper being trapped in the Black Lodge. The first episode of the revival opens with The Giant relaying cryptic information to Cooper in the Lodge, but in black and white (like I said earlier, just go with it). If we’re getting anything like closure about the original finale this season, it’ll be about Cooper escaping the Lodge. It has been 25 years, after all.
While the loose ends from Season 2 are all but ignored, there are plenty of new stories Lynch could explore further (or not) in the next 16 episodes. The ones that struck me as the most pertinent include a giant glass box in a lonely New York City building, a final message from the Log, and Mr. C.
Let’s start with the box. A college student named Sam Colby (Ben Rosenfield), pays for college by participating in an experiment — he alone must watch a giant glass box, connected to multiple cameras and report anything he sees in it while storing away SD cards. When Sam decides to let Tracey Barberato (Madeline Zima) in for a bit, things go south very quickly. Mid-hookup, something appears in the box, breaks free, and kills the couple. Moments before, Cooper finds his way into the box but disappears. I’m not sure what this could mean, but we definitely haven’t seen the last of this place.
The next, and most emotional moment of the premiere for me, was what may be the final appearance of the Log Lady (the inimitable Catherine Coulson). Gaunt and frail, she calls Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse) to send a message from the Log. She says that something to help locate Special Agent Cooper is missing and that the only way to find it is through his heritage. The scene is slow, with Hawk’s calm delivery pairing well with Margaret’s gentle determination. As Hawk and Margaret say “goodnight,” it feels more like a “goodbye.” I was (and still am) quietly devastated by this scene. The first episode is dedicated to Catherine Coulson and Frank Silva’s (BOB) memory, and rightfully so. Their absence over the course of the revival will be felt deeply.
While Frank Silva may be gone, BOB is still very much around. He’s still murdering and causing mayhem through Cooper’s physical body, but the warmth that once radiated from everyone’s favorite Special Agent is gone. Black irises and a cold, calculating nature have replaced any sign of humanity. Mr. C is undoubtedly evil, but we do know he’s afraid of one thing: returning to the Black Lodge. He’s due back, but he’s unwilling and for Cooper to leave the Lodge, Mr. C has to return. However, it looks like Mr. C has been getting help from someone saying they’re Special Agent Phillip Jeffries, who is a character played by David Bowie that appears in the show’s notorious prequel film, Fire Walk With Me. Lynch has said that Fire is the key to understanding Season 3, and it’s already becoming apparent.
There is a lot to process from the premiere episodes aside from all of this: glimpses at old characters, a murder in South Dakota, the Man From Another Place’s transformation into what looks like a sentient tree with a fleshy topper, and The Bang Bang Bar’s return as a cool concert venue/bar (featuring The Chromatics!!). Also, the format of the show itself is striking, feeling, as Sonia Saraiya of Variety wrote, like it is somewhere between TV and film. It’s a fluidity that’s rare amongst today’s premium television shows, which often focus on more a strictly episodic format. Instead of meeting today’s expectations of what a premium TV show revival should feel like, Lynch is taking his time. This could be its own quiet revolution. Different from the one that Twin Peaks started decades ago, but a revolution all the same. Seeing what Lynch does with the next 16 episodes will be exhilarating.
It’s a dense and bewildering return, but I wouldn’t expect anything less. I’ll be following along with this weekly recap series, examining Lynch’s themes, following every twist, and just trying to let it all settle in over the next 16 episodes. When I first sat down and watched the original Twin Peaks, I wasn’t quite sure where it would take me. Several years later, as I write this series, I have no idea where this revival is going but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.