Spoilers for the first two episodes of Twin Peaks follow.
It is happening again.
In South Dakota a school principal (Matthew Lillard) is implicated in the brutal murder of the local librarian. He is adamant he didn’t commit the crime, but his fingerprints at the scene say otherwise.
In New York City, a young man has a simple, strange job: make sure an empty glass box kept in a loft space is constantly videoed from several angles.
In the sleepy timber town of Twin Peaks, a phone call from the Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson) sends Deputy Police Chief Hawk (Michael Horse) on a strange errand into the foreboding woods outside town.
And on the road, in the bars and diners and backwoods of America, an evil man with a familiar face pursues his own terrifying, violent agenda. His fearful underlings call him Coop.
Welcome back to Twin Peaks – a bigger, stranger, more expansive place than it used to be, encompassing not just the titular rural burg, but all of America. David Lynch is done with looking for the darkness behind the white picket fences of suburbia; now he’s pulling back the still-wet skin of the entire US to show us something ugly and fascinating.
At least, that’s how it seems two episodes in. Suffice to say, there’s no telling where this journey will ultimately take us. Even this early in the game, Lynch and his creative partner Mark Frost, are already subverting expectations. This is not the nostalgia tour we might have feared; while a few familiar faces have already cropped up, we’ve also been presented with new mysteries to try and parse, and they’re as oblique and troubling as you might expect.
Having said that, prior knowledge is mandatory. If you’re not down with Twin Peaks‘ indiosyncratic mythology, if the terms “Black Lodge” and “The Man From Another Place” are meaningless to you, if you don’t know who (or what) Bob is, boy are you in for a tough time.
Bob is, of course, a malevolent spirit who killed poor Laura Palmer back in the day while possessing her father (Ray Wise, who gets a moment in TP Redux, because death is no the end in Lynch Land) and has spent the last quarter-century tooling around America doing horrible things in the body of (or possibly as a facsimile of) FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). He’s made some cosmetic changes in that time, too:
Bob is due to return to the extra-dimensional way station that is The Black Lodge, where the spirit of Dale Cooper has been trapped all these 25 years, but he has a plan to dodge that bullet. Cooper, meanwhile, wants to get out of that red-curtained limbo and reclaim his place in the world. And as for how everything else ties together, or even whether it does? No idea.
But the vibe is back, and that’s what counts. What made Twin Peaks exciting back in the day was the ever-present feeling that we were on the edge of understanding some hidden system of the world, that its bizarre symbols and affectations were not random, but imbued with some terrible meaning that studious initiates could somehow translate, if they watched close enough and were tuned in to what Lynch and Frost were broadcasting. That sense is retained, and arguably even amplified, which is far more exciting than any amount of comforting cherry pie and damn fine coffee. We have returned to Twin Peaks at last, and it is a weirder place than ever. Thank god.
While not uttered in the same breath as such halcyon cinematic partnerships as Martin Scorsese and Robert de Niro, Paul Thomas Anderson and Philip Seymour Hoffman, or Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, the collaborative partnership between David Lynch and Kyle MacLachlan is still a marriage made in bizarro heaven.
As May 22 draws ever closer and the global premiere of the third season of Twin Peaks becomes a reality… okay, a pan-dimensional reality where a home-coming queen is wrapped in plastic, fish live in coffee percolators and the owls are not what they seem… It’s time to get prepared for the biggest television event of the year, in fact, the biggest television event in the last 25 years. It’s happening again folks and here are the ‘must see’ stepping stones inspired by our last visit to Twin Peaks and looking forward to the long-awaited return. Get watching…