Director: David Lynch
Stars: Kyle Maclachlan, Sheryl Lee, Catherine Coulson
Episodes 1 & 2
Before I start delving into the two-part premiere of Twin Peaks: The Return, I’d like to give you some context to my Lynch obsession. To me David Lynch is the greatest filmmaker that has ever lived and I mean no hyperbole by that statement. His films aren’t for everyone but there’s no denying that there’s nothing like them around, he’s simply incomparable to his peers. Watching his films is like viewing a painting or listening to a piece of music, there’s something inside of you which either likes it and accepts it or doesn’t, and it’s fine if you don’t like it. It’s a perfectly normal reaction to watch a woman in a radiator singing at you with massive hamster cheeks and think ‘what the heck is this load of rubbish!?’ and turn it off. However, to me it’s an indescribably haunting and hypnotic experience which makes my heart race.
I am definitely more of a David Lynch fan than a Twin Peaks fan. For me, the episodes directed by the man himself are by far the strongest and most ground-breaking, particularly the final cliff-hanger episode which stands as one of the most fantastically immersive things Lynch has ever done. I also much prefer the dark, horrifying vision of Fire Walk With Me which departed from the jovial tone of the TV series, signified by the opening shot of a television being destroyed. However, there are still hardcore Twin Peaks fans who consider the film an abomination due to how drastically different the story and tone is. These same people are going to be incredibly frustrated by the opening of season 3.
David Lynch seemingly (and tragically) disappeared from the edge of the Earth after the release of his impenetrable feature film, INLAND EMPIRE in 2006. So you can imagine my excitement when it was announced that Twin Peaks was going to come back with 18 episodes, all directed by David Lynch. That’s almost 18 hours of pure magic after over ten years of nothing Lynchian on our screens. The announcement was made back in 2014 so we’ve been patiently waiting for what feels like an age for Twin Peaks to come back on our screens and the other night it finally appeared!
No one knew what to expect when the two-hour premiere was about to start. The production has been kept absolutely top-secret and the teasers released by Showtime barely show more than three seconds of new footage at a time. However, I can guarantee that no one in the world would predict how the opener turned out as it did. In typical Lynch fashion our expectations were completely and utterly subverted within the first ten minutes. Those expecting a cosy rehash of the original series must be incredibly disappointed because this is not the old Twin Peaks we know and love, however it is unapologetically the David Lynch we know and love.
I was immediately reminded of Eraserhead in the opening five minutes which sees the kindly giant chatting with Dale Cooper in stark monochrome adjacent to a puffing gramophone. They’re in the iconic red room which they’ve been sitting in for twenty five long years. Everything about the scene has the director’s fingerprints all over it and it’s beautiful to see. The giant spouts total nonsense to an aged Cooper to which he responds, “I understand” a hysterical in-joke for Lynch fans. Things don’t become much clearer in the next 100 minutes.
Shockingly, the premiere spends barely any time in Twin Peaks and is more interested in startling events surrounding New York, South Dakota and Las Vegas. Old characters are met fleetingly and with more weirdness than usual. The structure and atmosphere of the show resembles Mulholland Drive more than the original Twin Peaks as there are so many strange strands and subplots which all somehow relate to each other in intriguing and inexplicable ways. It’s interesting to think that most of the feature film, Mulholland Drive is actually a pilot episode; so this new season may give us a glimpse of what the shelved Mulholland Drive TV series could have looked like.
Like most David Lynch films, the best way to experience it is to just go with the flow and ask questions later because nothing makes sense. It feels like we’re watching an explosion of Lynch’s unconscious mind on film, only I do believe that there is a solvable plot in there unlike the anarchic madness of INLAND EMPIRE. There are some extraordinary scenes of pure cinema which cannot be explained with words. The New York segment, for example, is utterly hypnotic and finishes with one of the scariest moments I have ever seen on screen thanks to nightmarish imagery and a terrifying sound design. I literally flew out of my seat, something I haven’t done since the tramp sequence in Mulholland Drive. There are also moments of surreal terror in the red room which go beyond anything we’ve ever seen in the world of Twin Peaks.
It’s the most astonishing two hours of telly I’ve ever experienced. It’s a true work of art and the directing is unparalleled. No other director can conjure up such an immersive dreamlike atmosphere quite like this. Detractors will moan about how they don’t understand it but it isn’t supposed to be totally understood. It isn’t a Christopher Nolan sci-fi flick, it’s a surrealistic painting designed to terrify and thrill. After watching The Return and being thrown back into normal life I stuck on an episode of Game Of Thrones (which I’ve just started watching) and was struck by just how ordinary it was.
The original Twin Peaks was ground-breaking stuff and The Return looks as if it’s going to be no different. This is unlike anything that has ever been on TV before and is already way ahead of its time. Thank the heavens that Showtime have given David Lynch free reign to truly create what is bound to be a masterpiece. David is back with a vengeance and reminding us what we’ve been missing whilst he’s been on hiatus for years. It’s incredibly exciting to think that a whopping 16 more instalments are left. Who knows where they’re going to take us, but it’s going to be one hell of an unforgettable ride.