Twin Peaks is back! Aghh!
That was going to be my full review as that was the only thought I could cobble together after waiting a quarter century to find out what happened to Special Agent Dale Cooper. I’ve composed myself since and am ready to break it down.
Returning to Showtime for eighteen new episodes, all directed and written by show creator David Lynch, the main concern everybody had was the fear of it not living up the insane hype it has garnered. Going into the first new episode, there was nothing but the unknown to face as much of production was kept in secrecy.
Not knowing what to expect, season three has begun in earnest with a measured and well balanced opener that shows no rust on Lynch’s abilities after his exile from the mainstream. Coming into the new series Lynch described it as one eighteen hour movie broken into episodic parts.
While that may sound a potentially disjointed exercise, Lynch makes these first episodes truly cinematic without losing any narrative strength.
One of the strongest aspects of the original series was the quirky cast. This could have been a pitfall as many other returning shows will burn a lot of footage just place setting and reintroducing said characters. While there is a measure of getting the band back together it is largely organic and tangential to the heavier lifting of reintroducing the atmosphere of Twin Peaks; which can be argued is the more critical of elements to nail down. Albeit, the scenes with Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) as well as the ones with Ben and Jerry Horne (Richard Beymer, David Patrick Kelly) seemed to exist on their own islands.
I was absolutely tickled to see that Lynch is wasting no time in going full-tilt bonkers. He does not need to wade in the shallows for network heads any longer. He is aware this may be his mainstream swan song and he is leaving nothing on the table.
For the most part, this works. However, one has to wonder if this borders on the gratuitous. Lynch was a student of Hitchcock in that his greatest suspenseful moments were merely intimated or seen out of the corner of the camera’s eye. The lurking danger unseen out beyond the horizon is always more impactful than the monster shown in broad daylight.
In episode one of season three Lynch manages to straddle the fence. One minute he’s teasing a return to the Black Lodge and creepy rooms in New York with glass boxes and the next he’s showing a rotting decapitated woman with a gunshot wound to the eye and what appears to be an (alien?) graphically slicing and dicing two would-be witnesses. If this is done to further the narrative and convey the truly unsettling nature of what is to come, then Bravo! If it is done simply because they are now on Showtime and they can, well then, meh. Not to say those graphic scenes weren’t compelling, a nude Chrysta Bell will have that effect.
And how about evil Dale Cooper!?
Anyone who caught the end of the original series had a hunch he’d be appearing in some form but to see a fully realized evil doppelganger of the beloved protagonist replete with long greasy hair, dirty face, dirtier leather jacket and one hell of a bad attitude is something to behold. Kyle Maclachlan has always been a competent actor but portraying a totally singular persona while still tethered to your proto- character and being able to pull it off is impressive. Maclachlan’s violent, and clearly heartless portrayal is chilling and carries with it an immediate heightening of danger.
And how about Matthew Lillard? Who’da thunk that wacky faced living cartoon would appear as a sweater wearing South Dakotan suburbanite? Well, a suburbanite who’s been arrested for a grisly homicide, re: the headless rotting lady. Seemingly uncertain of his actions at the time of the murder, there is a faint echoing of the same headspace Leland Palmer was in while under the possession of Bob when he originally committed his string of murders. If this is the case- and we have an evil Dale Cooper to contend with- we better get Sheriff Truman on the horn PDQ!
Alas, Michael Ontkean will not be returning to reprise his role as the dogged lawman. They played with this omission as a man enters the sheriff station looking for Truman only to be confounded by the lovable secretary, Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson), who asks “which one? It may make a difference.”
Otkean and others, like Laura Flynn Boyle, will not be returning to Twin Peaks at all (sad face). Others returned only for their reprisal to serve as their unexpected farewells with the Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) and Albert Rosenfeldt (Miguel Ferrer) passing away shortly after filming their scenes (super sad face). It is rumored that David Bowie was slated for a return to Twin Peaks as mysterious FBI agent Phillip Jefferies before his passing in early 2016 (double super sad face).
Someone who has returned whom I had no idea would- The Giant! That tall slow-speaking benevolent psychopomp that feeds Cooper clues from time to time opens the entire series with a beautiful black and white scene within the Black Lodge welcoming us all back. What a great way to instill all appropriate warm and fuzzies within the first frame.
This first episode was a phenomenal return and really raises the bar as to what is to come. While not a lot of narrative direction has been established with this first episode it successfully reestablishes the tone and tenor of the series so that the coming narrative has a sturdy bedrock to work upon.
And that room with the glass box?! Holy shnikies!