Twin Peaks: The Return

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Let’s talk about Twin Peaks: Season 2, Episode 7 [SPOILERS!]

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I’ve decided to go off-piste and review a TV episode because it’s that good.

I watched the Twin Peaks series in its entirety for the first time a couple of years ago, and was in a very lucky position as I didn’t know who the killer was! It’s rare not to get something spoiled for an old film or TV series when you’re looking around on the interweb, especially if it’s for such a popular show like Twin Peaks. People think, ‘oh well it came out 50 years ago, everyone knows the twist!’ when actually, there are still young people (ala me) interested in older pop culture and don’t want things spoiled!

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Obviously being such a massive David Lynch fan, I was loving the series. I was especially loving the episodes which David himself directed because they were full of such classic Lynchian moments. The dancing dwarf, the red curtains, the strange music, the giant, the log lady etc. I also genuinely had no idea who the killer would be. No one in Twin Peaks seem to fit the bill of a serial-killing rapist. The reveal itself, however has to be the most shocking moment in television history. Not just because who it is, but how it’s revealed with such a horrifying and bemusing way.

I’m currently re-watching the whole series again in the wake of a third series being commissioned (although that looks dead in the water now that David has said he won’t be directing anymore) and last night saw the episode where the killer is revealed again. It lost none of its shocking ferocity as when I saw it for the first time. I’d very much like to delve into the episode so please be aware that there will be heavy spoilers from here in.

From the moment the episode starts you can tell that David’s behind the camera, just by the odd choices of camera angles and movements. In fact, the episode opens with Gordon Cole leaving Dale and the gang. I’m wondering if this is a postmodern element, as David Lynch himself pretty much abandoned the show after this episode. It reminds me of the opening of Fire Walk With Me where David Lynch basically opens the film shouting ‘ACTION!’ as a director.

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Things get Lynchy pretty much from the start with a load of people bouncing balls in the Great Northern for no apparent reason, and then the one armed man having a fit as Ben Horne walks in. Pretty much everything in this episode is more bizarre than usual! I love the scene where Maddie announces to uncle Leland and aunt Sarah that she’s leaving, along with a strange version of ‘What a Wonderful World’ playing in the background. Things seem quite optimistic here on the surface, but you just know that underneath it all there’s something sinister lurking.

Much of the episode concerns all the other Peak crew doing weirder things. A vegetable-like Leo randomly calls out for new shoes, Audrey rats out her Dad after he oddly confesses to having loved Laura and Nadine demonstrates more of her superhuman strength and hilarious delusions. I must also mention the other shocking revelation in this episode that the peculiar Mr. Tojamura is in fact Piper Laurie!

Things turn really sinister when we see Sarah Palmer crawling down the stairs. The music turns dark and ominous, whilst the log lady beckons Dale over to The Roadhouse. Lo and behold, Julee Cruise is performing again with her fantastically haunting voice! David Lynch even penned the lyrics to the two songs she sings and Angelo Badalamenti composed them beautifully. It’s the classic David Lynch motif of a woman singing on stage in front of a red curtain. It symbolises that something will be revealed. There’s also the lingering image of a white horse standing in the Palmer’s sitting room. This symbolises death.

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The horror really begins when a bright spotlight shines on Dale’s bemused face as he sees the giant appear on stage repeating the eerie words, “It is happening again.” We then see exactly what is happening, as it cuts to Leland grinning in the mirror and the horrifying BOB grinning back at him. The first time I saw this, I gasped. Leland killed Laura? But he was so hysterical throughout the whole two seasons! He was always dancing, singing and crying feverishly in every scene (often all at the same time) it just can’t be him. The fact that he killed and raped his own daughter is all the more disturbing.

The scariest moment in this episode though (and arguably the entire series) is when Maddy enters and screams as Leland runs towards her. He grabs her and swings her around the living room like some sort of animal playing with its prey. It’s all done in a weird slow motion though and changes between BOB in the spotlight, screaming like a beast and Leland. As with most projects by David Lynch, it’s very difficult to put into words and something you need to really experience for yourself.

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The murder itself is pretty violent as Maddy smashes her head on a picture frame after Leland beats her to death in a similar way to Frank Booth four years earlier in Blue Velvet. He then grotesquely shoves a letter up her fingernail as previously found in Laura, Ronnette and Teresa. It then cuts back to The Roadhouse with Julee now singing a much slower and sadder song as Dale looks on in melancholy. Everyone in The Roadhouse seems to recognise that a tragedy has occurred and it feels just like a dream.

There ends one of the greatest television episodes in the universe. It’s pure Lynch magic. What’s remarkable is that this isn’t even the best episode in the series. That accolade would go the nightmarish madness of the very final episode, which would easily be the very best television episode in the universe. I don’t normally rate TV episodes, but if I did then this would certainly be a:

10/10