Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)
Directed by: David Lynch
Written by: David Lynch, Mark Frost
Starring: Dana Ashbrook, David Lynch, Harry Goaz, Kimmy Robertson, Kyle MacLachlan, Madchen Amik, Michael Horse, Miguel Ferrer, Naomi Watts, Ray Wise, Russ Tamblyn, Sheryl Lee
As (arguably) the greatest ever television show is revived after 25 years, the hype has been snowballing ever since it was announced back in 2014. A quarter of a century is quite the wait, and considering the inconsistent second series, would it live up to the promise? A lot has changed in television since then, and a lot of those changes are doubtlessly due to the impact the show had to begin with. Sex, violence and bad language are all part and parcel of modern TV, and were pretty much a mainstay of David Lynch’s films. However these had to be toned down for Twin Peaks, and although there were strong references throughout which were pushing the envelope back in the day. From the outset, the new Twin Peaks is likely the version we would have got, were Lynch given the freedom to make back in the day. Now, given that he pretty much has free reign, if you thought the previous seasons were surreal, you haven’t seen anything yet. And thanks to the modern marvel that is on demand, the first four parts of Twin Peaks’ return are already available to watch. So we dived straight in.
Picking up where things left off – Cooper and Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) return
Parts 1 & 2 are stuck together as one big, feature length episode, which includes flashbacks to the end of season 2, and a reminder what happened to Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan, at a career best with some intense and brutal scenes). To divulge in to the why’s and wherefores of what has happened to Coop’, would be to spoil the magic of this exceptional return, and do you a disservice. All you need to know is that it is now time for Agent Cooper to leave the Black Lodge and return to the world. The show isn’t just isolated to the Black Lodge and the titular town however, as a lot of the opening few episodes take place beyond the Douglas firs, in South Dakota and Las Vegas, as the puzzle pieces of Agent Coopers’ disappearance gradually start slotting in to place. Over the course of the four episodes, we’re introduced to new characters, as well as being reacquainted with old ones. As the episodes progress, it feels like the balance shifts more from Lynchian nightmare, to the Twin Peaks we all know and love, and it couldn’t be balanced any better. It’s much darker, but through that darkness, there’s the quirky, light-hearted side you would come expect from a visit to the beautiful mountain town.
HOLY JUMPIN’ GEORGE, GORDON COLE (David Lynch) IS BACK!
The most David Lynch thing about the previous series’, was the characters. Oddballs and weirdos were the norm, whereas those that you would consider normal were suspicious and weird. The unusual is banal and vice versa. This time around its got Lynch’s finger prints all over it, as is evident from the excellent direction and editing. In nearly every scene, you can tie it to his previous works, be it an Eraserhead-esque fever dream/nightmarescape, or the multi-layered, existential craziness of Mulholland Drive or Lost Highway. There’s a Lynch for all seasons here, right down to snake skin shirts and the exceptional score/soundtrack. The sound design in this new series is much more unsettling, with the soap opera-like piano melodies, all but replaced with ominous tones, and experimental music, save for returning characters and familiar locations. We’re also treated to a musical number by different bands at the end of each episode, and although it seems at odds with what’s going on, it’s somehow fitting, and caps each episode off wonderfully.
Unlike most productions that tend to cast shiny, beautiful people, Lynch loves to go against the grain. Not everyone has a washboard stomach, a perfect figure or even all their teeth. Despite all the surreal imagery, characters and goings on, no one does ‘normal’ quite like it. Most of the characters seen so far could easily be someone you walk past in the street and not even raise an eyebrow to. In addition, there’s lots of little parts of dialogue, which again is something noticeable throughout Lynch’s work, which although may seem like a throwaway comment, or even a cocky remark, they give you such an insight in to the character. No matter how significant their role is, there’s always a depth to it, whether it’s looked in to or not, and it’s those bits of dialogue that make the show so much more welcoming and human, regardless of how surreal things get. Don’t expect to have many questions answered in these few episodes, although the more things happen, the clearer things start to become, and the mystery of Cooper’s stay at the Black Lodge slowly unravels. And slow it is. The first part alone has many stately, lingering shots, slow moving scenes and surreal happenings. Twin Peaks’ return is brutal, scary, beautiful and some of the best damn TV you’ll ever watch.