It’s official! Showtime are the coolest network on television. They gave David Lynch a load of dollars and said, ‘go ahead and make whatever you want’ and he did. We’re eight episodes in to Twin Peaks now and it has promised to be just as ground-breaking as the original series back in 1991. We’ve had: talking electrical blob trees, charred tramps with floating heads, stab-happy dwarf hitmen and a haunted box amongst other demented things. There has been a narrative drive but the pace is so unapologetically glacial and ambitious that it has almost been impossible to follow. The show has been incredibly experimental and an absolute delight for Lynch fans so far.
However, with the latest episode David Lynch has broken the test tube. Just when you thought that this season couldn’t possibly get any weirder, Lynch brings us something which has never been done on film or TV before. It’s essentially a 50 minute acid trip designed to utterly assault your senses and it succeeds in the most mesmerising way. The episode starts off normal enough (normal for this show anyway) with evil Coop and his crony talking in the car on a Lost Highway-inspired night drive. Things go wrong though and evil Coop gets shot which results in the weird stuff happening. Lights flash in typical Lynchian fashion and ghostly tramps covered in black tar appear and tear apart Coop’s body for what feels like an eternity.
We’re then left to contemplate this horrifying image whilst Nine Inch Nails play a full song at the Double R Club. It’s an interval which would feel distractingly out of place in any other show, but we’ve become so accustomed to the unpredictability of Twin Peaks now that the scene somehow works entirely and feels somewhat ordinary compared to what happens next. Bad Coop jolts up and all hell breaks loose.
Suddenly we flash back to New Mexico in the 50’s and move painstakingly slowly into an atomic bomb. Once the camera enters the cloud we’re treated to what can only be described as pure cinema. It’s something which cannot be described with words akin to the final moments of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and segments of Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void. Bizarre images and a frightening score combine to create a hypnotic and alarming experience which feels like you’re taking a dreamlike journey into hell. It’s a scene which has to be seen to be believed and is reminiscent of the earliest short films by Lynch which used paintings and drawings as animation.
Once we’re done with having a seizure, we move onto a slower and more soothing Eraserhead-type scene which sees the giant and a strange woman wondering slowly around a ball room of some sorts. It’s visually arresting and the black and white monochrome is startlingly beautiful. The giant floats into the air and a golden ball with Laura Palmer’s face rises out of his chest and melts into a projector screen which displays the world. It makes little sense, but I think we’re witnessing the birth of BOB in the atomic bomb and the birth of Laura’s soul in the red room. Perhaps Laura was created to lure BOB into the red room?
Moving forward a few years a pair of young sweethearts take a stroll home, an ugly bug hatches out of an egg and the blackened tramps are back terrorising people. In the previous episode, Jerry Horne stood outside looking terrified and shouted ‘I think I’m high!’ which is probably what most viewers felt like during this episode. You can theorise about what it all means, but it’s much better to just go along with the ride and feel what you’re watching. It’s pure art and it’s astonishing. People thought that we had reached the peak golden age of TV but David Lynch has proved just how powerful television can be and how it can be used as a medium for art. Drama conventions were torn apart in 1991 and Mr. Lynch has reinvented TV again in 2017. Damn fine.