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Twin Peaks: The Return (Pt. I & II Review)

Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), in the Black Lodge.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- David Lynch has a surrealist style so particular and different from his peers that his name has become an adjective to describe other works of art. His first and only contribution to television changed the medium more than any other show at that point.

The cult-esque obsession over episodes? Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost birthed that.

Compelling storylines that felt more akin to film acts gradually turned television from being the deposable throwaway “idiot box” to current-day viewers calling it “the golden-age of television” now (even going as far as to claim that television is better than film now). All the critically acclaimed shows out now and of the past twenty five years tip their hat to Twin Peaks.

Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) has been in a form of purgatory titled The Red Room for 25 years and fans have been waiting for just as long. Lynch has been relative quiet since 2006’s Inland Empire, but his style hasn’t become dormant. The first two parts (I’m assuming we are calling it parts since it was filmed like a 17-hour project that is being cut up for television) are really out there, even for Lynch. It’s the most odd spectacle I’ve ever seen on television.

It’s also utterly excellent.

Lynch’s story is too ambitious to be confined to the Douglas fir tree bed of Twin Peaks, Washington this time. We start by having Cooper talking to the Giant (aka ??????) about strange sounds in the Black Lodge. The Great Northern Lodge is still being run by Ben Horne with his pot-fueled brother in tow.

(*SPOILERS AHEAD)

In Buckhorn, South Dakota, a school principal is accused of killing a librarian. The Log Lady calls Hawk at the Twin Peaks Police Department to tell him something is missing about finding Cooper and it deals with Hawk’s heritage.

(Absolutely heartbreaking seeing Catherine Coulson revive her Log Lady character after her death in 2015. “I am too weak to come with you” was a rough line to hear from her.)

A young man sits blank-faced at a glass box in New York City. Camera pointed at it from every angle. Some unnamed billionaire has hired him to watch it to see if anything shows up. A girl named Tracey visits him with coffee, but isn’t allowed in. The next night, the security guard is strangely not present so Tracey and the man sit and watch the cube.

They start to have sex until a black fog fills the cube and a faceless, evil entity starts moving inside of it. It breaks out and seemingly rips the couple apart. Traditional horror isn’t the forte for Lynch, but this scene is up there with the diner scene in Mulholland Drive for his most terrifying scenes. (Editor Andrew Griffin offers his thoughts on this scene here).

Dark Cooper is still out in the world, now with a Gene Simmons haircut and a spray tan to boot. He seems to be involved in a ring of crimes that involve new characters Jack and Darya, which are killed almost as soon as they are introduced. Good Cooper gets permission to leave the Black Lodge to bring Dark Cooper back into it. The fact that the Man from Another Place has materialized into a tree / nervous system entity with a fleshy sack for a face is pretty hilarious. 

Late career Lynch is known to craft a film with various vignettes that may or may not connect with each other. Television watchers that want to take everything literally and at face value will have a rough time with this new season. These first two parts move like fragments of a complete symphony that may not show their true intentions until it’s all over.

Surrealism art provoke moods and atmosphere without necessarily needing to make a definite point. Trying to ponder over what something “means” is counterproductive to the overall enjoyment.

The first two parts are notable for not having any of previous Angelo Badalamenti besides the “Falling” theme song at the opening. Scenes are instead set to unnerving ambient drone letting everything swirl around you to unease the audience. For those that want exactly what the original series was will be disappointed, hopefully just at the beginning.

Nostalgia goggles need to be removed with this season. There’s no “hey audience! Remember these characters?” moments or corny pauses for applause. We are literally picking up 25 years later as if we or the characters at play never left.

Hawk is still at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz) and Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) are now married and still the most dorky and cutest odd-ball couple television ever brought together (they even have a son!).

ABC executives aren’t riding Lynch’s back at every turn anymore. He is at the helm as director for all 18 hours and co-wrote all of it with Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost. This feels nothing like the ABC series run and almost nothing like the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, which receives criticism for not being like the series either.

Lynch is given room to breathe and give every character the space to articulate every word. He is letting his world simmer in a big brew made of all the aspects of Lynch we’ve come to expect — plus new tricks to trick even the most hardcore fans.

The band Chromatics close the first two parts with a haunting performance of “Shadow.” Shelly Johnson (Madchen Amick) is drinking with a few friends. She catches James Hurley’s eye. “James has always been cool,” she states. We get shots of the audience swaying away to the music, just like Audrey Horne used to. Unaware of the horror their town has set in place.

Just as we are still left in the cold of what Lynch has in store for us.

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About the Author

Kevin Tudor

Born and raised in the mean streets of Yukon, Oklahoma, Kevin is currently majoring in...

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