This past Sunday was the halfway point of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks revival, which has been strange with odd times ahead of us promised. As we embark on the show’s second half, we wondered what our staff thinks about everything they’ve seen so far. They’ve obliged us with their answers.
Kate Scott Daly – Music Photographer
What is the water, and what is the well?
David Lynch’s very name is synonymous with the bizarre, macabre, and unbelievable. Twin Peaks: The Return reached the halfway mark this weekend, and, between an atom bomb, glass cubes desecrated by living monsters, and finally meeting the mysterious Dianne, viewers are left with a very Lynchian taste in their mouths. It’s a wonderful flavor.
The long-awaited and hyped sequel was kept completely secret. No one, including critics, knew what to expect. The two episode premier was viewed by everyone, critics and Showtime subscribers alike, for the first time on Sunday, May 21st. Since then, the internet has exploded with fan theories, heaps of praise (and some piles of disappointment), and a singular voice that says “What the hell did I just watch?!”
After 25 years of being trapped inside the Red Room, Agent Dale Cooper is released from the backwards world and plummets back to earth through a wall outlet. He inhabits the very recently deceased (or unpossessed) body of Dougie Jones, an insurance salesman who owes the mafia a huge amount of money. No one knows who Cooper really is, apart from the inhabitants of the Red Room, who still communicate with him from time to time. Cooper slowly starts to remember fragments of his past but still can’t speak, apart from repeating the last few words someone else says.
Meanwhile, in Twin Peaks, deputy Hawk gets a message from the Log Lady, warning him that evidence related to Cooper disappearance is missing. This prompts Hawk, Andy, and Lucy to reinvestigate the case. Sheriff Frank Truman (Harry’s brother) and Bobby Briggs (now a Deputy Sheriff) aid in the investigation and have potentially stumbled across the key to finding the Black Lodge. The clues Bobby’s father, Major Briggs, left behind following his disappearance may be the key to finding Cooper.
Twin Peaks isn’t necessarily about answers, but rather the path each character takes. In the original show, the world is warped and dysfunctional (in different ways than our own), but Cooper handles the unbelievable truth behind Laura Palmer’s death as a natural, earthly fact backed up by odd yet real evidence. In the sequel, Deputy Director Gordon Cole (played by David Lynch himself) has to pick up where Cooper left off: investigating the fantastic in reality. Neither Cooper nor Cole have yet found the answers to every question, and, knowing Lynch, they won’t. It wouldn’t feel like Twin Peaks if viewers finished the show with total closure.
The first 9 episodes fluctuate between narrative-driven moments and art house sequences of psychedelic fever dreams. “Part 8” is one of the most abstract bits of television I have ever seen, but it gave us a glimpse into the birth of Bob, the demonic beast who killed Laura Palmer. At this point, viewers have either jumped ship or are all in. We’re at the halfway point, now let’s get to the top of the summit.
Julian Ramirez – Events Calendar Editor
It’s happening again.
I metered every one of my expectations right up until the Twin Peaks revival became a certified, honest to goodness, real thing. I went in expecting nothing: no answers, no sense. It would be the only way I could possibly enjoy the show (which I would only believe was actually returning the moment it aired).
I made it very clear to myself that the revival would surely be a different animal than the original Twin Peaks, which was grounded by normal airwave restrictions, a rotating writers room, and different directors helming episodes. This would be the purest form of Mark Frost and David Lynch, the latter of which has evolved a great deal from his early 90s output. Essentially I went into the series not expecting a Twin Peaks sequel, but rather a continuation of David Lynch’s oeuvre. Looking at it in that way, Twin Peaks: The Return is a patient and incredibly rewarding experience.
Immediately the show sets up viewers to be comfortable with the idea not actually being in Twin Peaks. The overwhelming majority of the show exists outside of the town, a (nearly) complete reversal of the original series. We are treated to visages of New York, Las Vegas, South Dakota, and other dimensions (Red Rooms, Black Lodges, White Lodges, The Zone, or whatever your theory would suggest). This bigger scope coupled with a narrative that is taking its time to go anywhere makes for a meditative experience that I can and have seen turn people off. The pacing resembles the final episode of the second season, full slow and deliberately confusing movements that are shattered with moments of unparalleled horror.
The Return has not abandoned the quirkiness and charm of the original; rather it has regulated it to uncomfortable cringe. Andy and Lucy are even simpler and more innocent than before, their son Wally a crazy amalgamation of every character Marlon Brando portrayed. While there is some part of me that wishes these characters were treated with more tempered hands, everything else surrounding them is elevated with otherworldly brilliance.
Specifically, Part 8 is the most beautifully terrifying episode of television in recent memory (although certain episodes of Hannibal rank high). Much like the Lynch directed episodes of the second season, Episode 8 goes beyond what has been presented and reveals something truly great. It’s an hour full of alternate dimensions, intense surrealism, an atom bomb explosion birthing: vomit tumors/eggs, monochrome woodsman from a convenience store, and frog mosquitos. Part 8 is a cacophonous experience that will hopefully influence a new generation of creators the same way the original series did.
This first half of The Return has accomplished more than my pre-metered expectations could have wanted. Questions that I didn’t know existed have been answered, new theories have been ushered into our realm, and a return to David Lynch artistry that takes every aspect of filmmaking into account. Twin Peaks is as much about trying to figure out its wild and every shifting mystery as much as it is letting every oddity wash over you with during the tumultuous journey. It’s whatever you want it to be.
This is the water. And this is the well. Drink full and descend.
Chris Zois – Music Writer
Full disclosure: I was never a major fan of Twin Peaks. I know this is a sacrilegious thing to type, but I never came around to the obsessiveness the early 90’s cult classic show produced. I enjoyed that first run of episodes that obsessed over the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer, but it never clung to me like the way it did to some my fellow Millennial generation compatriots did, some of which were born right as the show was winding down.
I am a fan though of David Lynch and will forever give his cerebral, challenging and surreal brand of storytelling the benefit of the doubt. So it’s with utter delight that I discovered Lynch didn’t try to cash in on the recent wave of nostalgia that is hitting the country with Twin Peaks: The Return but instead used his patented experimental filmmaking to evoke moods and themes.
No longer bound by the constraints of broadcast television, Lynch is telling the story of Agent Dale Cooper’s (Kyle MacLachlan) journey back to Twin Peaks, not through a traditional linear narrative, but hallucinogenic storytelling, that’ll make you go, “the fuck did I watch?” No more is that more present than Part 8, a horrifyingly beautiful hour of television that invoked sweat palpitating fear out of the viewer (i.e., myself). It was an amalgamation of the series so far, with Lynch using his expressionistic sensibilities to tell a story.
But for the Peaks faithful that may have been turned off watching a David Lynch art installation, there is still plenty of the original show and quirky characters that made it a stand out in the first place. It’s a refreshing break from some the more surreal parts of the show.
Art is all about self-expression, and it can’t accomplish that if it stays in once place. Too many shows or movies these days are playing it safe, which can bring down their prospective mediums With Twin Peaks: The Return, it is a much-needed shot in the arm to show art can advance to something new, frightening and exciting. Plus, we got to see Nine Inch Nails play The Roadhouse, which is a win for us all.