Twin Peaks: The Return

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Director: David Lynch

Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, David Lynch, Laura Dern, Naomi Watts

The greatest TV series of all time

It’s 11pm and I have just finished watching the last episode of Twin Peaks: The Return. Normally I’d give something else a watch before tottering off to bed but the images and ideas presented in the two-hour finale are relentlessly whirring around my head. David Lynch has done it again. 25 years ago he re-invented television with the original series which mixed offbeat comedy with pure horror and surrealism. Audiences were enthralled by the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer, only to find that the startling cliffhanger left in 1991 wouldn’t be resolved until 2017.

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David Lynch has had an exceptional career. Debuting with surrealist masterpiece, Eraserhead and providing us with horrific treats in Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart and Lost Highway. In 2002 he created what I believe to be the greatest film of all time, Mulholland Drive and seemingly disappeared off the Earth in 2006 after the impenetrable INLAND EMPIRE. However, we can now forgive Lynch for the frustrating ten-year hiatus because he has generously provided us with 18 hours of unadulterated perfection. The Return could very well be his magnum opus.

There has never been anything like this on TV and there will probably be nothing like this ever again, unless Lynch decides to delve back into the small screen again, of course. The series was shrouded in secrecy so people didn’t really have a clue what was going to happen when the two-hour opening aired. Unsurprisingly all expectations were cut dead within the first fifteen minutes. The whole season is nothing like the original run, in fact less than half the time is spent in the beloved town of Twin Peaks.

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This season is more interested in doppelgängers in Las Vegas, murders in South Dakota and frightening absurdities in the red room. Mysteries are constantly being raised and very few clear answers are ever provided. The series also runs at a very deliberate pace. Lynch really isn’t interested in wrapping things up quickly, in one scene we watch a man sweeping the floor for three minutes, yet somehow none of it is boring in the slightest. Instead we feel lost in an intoxicating dreamlike atmosphere where anything can happen. Many will find the lack of nostalgia and glacial pacing frustrating, but this is truly a ground-breaking work of art.

It also has to be noted that Kyle MacLachlan’s performance is the one of the greatest in TV history. It has to be said that he has never particularly shone in his acting career, aside from Dale Cooper (obviously) but here he does something extraordinary. Playing three different characters, MacLachlan shows an astonishing acting range and never fails to compel whenever he’s on screen. There are also memorable performances from Naomi Watts, Laura Dern and David Lynch himself, all in challenging and remarkably interesting roles.

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What’s really extraordinary about this 1000 minute masterpiece is that is manages to encompass every human emotion, often at the same time. At one moment side-splittingly funny, then pants-wettingly terrifying the next. There are also moments of desperate sadness, tension and surprise. What ever the feeling though, there is always a strong sense of mystery in the air. Don’t expect many easy answers though.

Many people were disappointed by the ending which offered absolutely no closure in the slightest. Much like the original series, the season ends on a extraordinarily haunting note. In fact, it could quite possibly be the most haunting ending of any film or TV show I have ever seen. Rather than providing answers, we’re left with even more questions than we had at the start but that’s where its brilliance lies. If Lynch gave us a cosy ending where all the pieces tied neatly together then we wouldn’t be talking about the series for years to come. There is so much to analyse and digest, fans will be picking this series apart until the end of days.

Unlike anything else on TV, Twin Peaks is always unpredictable. You can never guess what is going to happen next and although it isn’t easy to understand, it isn’t really supposed to be. This is an experience where you can leave your brain at the door and just go along for the sensational ride. Forget Breaking Bad. Forget Game of Thrones. Forget what ever you thought the best series on TV ever was. The greatest thing to ever grace the small screen is categorically and unquestionably, Twin Peaks: The Return.

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Twin Peaks Just Gave Us The Weirdest And Most Astonishing Hour Of TV Ever!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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:

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Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

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Director: David Lynch

Stars: Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, Dana Ashbrook, David Lynch, David Bowie

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, David Lynch is simply one of the greatest directors on the planet. He’s the only director I can think of who treats all of his films (well, most) as pieces of art. They’re all unique experiences and take you on such captivating and hypnotic journeys which you’ll never forget. I think the reason why some people don’t like Lynch is because they don’t watch his films properly. I think for the best effect, you’ve got to switch the lights off, don’t speak throughout its running time and don’t even go to the room. Also, don’t ask questions when something weird happens just embrace it and go along with it. If you follow these instructions with an open mind, then you are sure to fall under the spell of Lynch.

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These instructions are no different for his underrated 1992 masterpiece, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. Fire Walk with Me is an absurd and often disturbing story which follows the final tragic week of Laura Palmer, the famous homecoming queen who got brutally bumped off in the fabulous Twin Peaks TV series. However, whilst the TV series gets endless praise (and deservedly so, especially that unforgettable season finale which feels like spending 45 magical minutes in the Club Silencio!) Fire Walk With Me is met with nothing but criticism. When the film fist came out it was notoriously bashed by critics and audiences alike. Of course one problem at this time was that few people had actually seen the final episodes of season 2 because the network started messing around with the time slots, thus no one really understood what was going on. The film is also a lot different in tone to the TV series as represented by the opening shot of a TV being blown up. It’s a much darker tone and atmosphere and I think it works incredibly well because of it, but audiences weren’t ready to leave behind the TV series, which had slowly became a failure, thanks to the stupid television network.

The film opens strangely. It introduces two new detective characters, investigating a suspiciously similar murder to Laura’s in a suspiciously similar town to Twin Peaks. However, this town isn’t the charming town that Twin Peaks is. It’s a much grimier, darker and depressed land where every place has adverse names. The locals are also weirder and angrier, which is understandable if they live in a caravan site called, “Fat Trout Trailer Park”. It’s a suitably strange opening that seems to have little to do with the film that follows. Nevertheless it is very interesting and evokes a strange atmosphere, just like Twin Peaks did. The film also reaches its surrealist high point which I won’t spoil. All I’ll say is that it features the wonderful Dale Cooper, David Bowie, a security camera and the black lodge to a seriously unsettling effect. The film is full of strange moments, but this is one of the most frightening.

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After this though, the film really starts. It’s one year later and we see the iconic Twin Peaks sign alongside Angelo Badalamenti’s incredible score… It feels like we’re back home. However, Fire Walk With Me presents Twin Peaks as a much more sinister town. We don’t get comic relief from supporting characters, we just become immersed in Laura Palmer’s world. Despite being dead in the series, Laura was always the most interesting character and here we really get to delve into her wonderful character. There’s a very sad atmosphere throughout the film, because we know how it’s all going to end. Laura’s life is really quite a mad one. She’s basically a cocaine-addicted prostitute, yet she’s only a girl who’s crying out for help. No one really knows her, not even her best friend Donna who is the opposite of the seductive Laura.

Fire Walk With Me is full of masterful sequences. Of course there are those wonderful dream scenes which David does so well, but there are also some intense moments too. One of my favourite moments is when Leland is toying with Laura at the dinner table. The atmosphere is so suffocating in that scene, it’s so powerful. Laura’s final moments are also very dark and powerful stuff. The splashes of heavy surrealism and symbolism also make the film even deeper, richer and sensuous. Who exactly is BOB? Is he real, or is he a metaphor for the evil inside us? What is the black lodge? Who is The Man From Another Place? All of these elements (and many more) serve to make Fire Walk With Me a memorable and unsettling experience.

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Fire Walk With Me is a grossly misunderstood and underrated masterpiece from David Lynch. it has a strong nightmarish atmosphere and is full of amazing immersing moments such as the hypnotic stroboscopic bar scene. It’s a wonderful companion piece to the series. Fire Walk With Me is a strange and unforgettable journey which really gets under your skin and stays there. I thought the ending was pretty much perfect. Tragically sad and powerful, yet strangely hopeful. It really is a stupendous film and one which I think is even better than the TV series. It dares to shed light on its most interesting character, Laura Palmer, who was never really explored in-depth in the series, although her presence was still strong. It’s a hallucinatory experience and features even more surrealism than the TV series, yet it has a very coherent plot for a David Lynch movie, although some parts still bewilder such as, the David Bowie cameo and the monkey who speaks. However, whilst these moments infuriate some, I find them magically mesmerising, dream-like and atmospheric

I don’t really know why this film is hated and ignored. I love it and I think that people should come into the film with an open mind and knowing that it’s different from the series. It’s one of my favourite horror films and also one of David Lynch’s best.

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