I have loved the new series of Twin Peaks. Like a lot of David Lynch's work The Return infuriated and frustrated but boy when it came together it really came together.
Every week I looked forward to the next episode to snatch a little more information and develop more of an understanding of the mythos and world that had been created. I hadn't become aware of how complacent a lot of TV shows or even my viewing habits had become; I often multitask and do other things whilst watching most TV shows and some movies but not so with Twin Peaks. The nature of the show demanded your attention, a mere second could reveal so much that you had to watch things carefully, including the credits to work out who the large cast of characters were.
The first 7 episodes had me frustrated as I wanted to know where Annie was and what had happened to Agent Dale Cooper. But I liked the flow and mystery of the show and so continued to watch, hoping that Lynch and Frost would finally provide me with the closure I needed to THAT 25 year old cliffhanger.
Things got weird at episode 8; the most avant garde piece of television film making I've seen for a long time. It started off as a normal, well as 'normal' as Twin Peaks gets but then after a protracted night drive sequence and a raw performance from Nine Inch Nails the whole feel of the episode changes and we are presented with a flashback, presented in black and white, of the Giant. The episode gets even stranger with an atomic bomb test exploding in New Mexico and what I believe to be the birth or origins of Bob into this world. We see Laura as 'The One' with a glowing orb of her face, the one we are all familiar with of her homecoming photo... But this is the 1950s so is Laura Palmer prophesied to be the force for good nearly 40 years before her existence? Who knows?
After the craziness of episode 8 the series took a 2 week hiatus, as if knowing people would need the time to collect themselves and process what they had just seen. I know many shows have mid-season breaks for a while to ramp up the excitement but I've not really seen a show decide to take a week off to let it's viewers digest that specific episode.
From then on the seemingly disparate elements seemed to come together thick and fast.
Agent Cooper had spent the episodes is a fugue state as Dougie Jones, a doppelganger created by Evil Coop (another doppelganger who is possessed by Bob). These Dougie Jones segments were charming but seemed to drag early on. Like most I was hungry to see the Agent Dale Cooper we all know and love but as time went on and the Jones world was revealed to be a part of the larger Twin Peaks tapestry I fell in love with the affable lug, just like his wife Janey E, played wonderfully by Naomi Watts. It is the most unconventional love story but Dougie/ Agent Cooper and Janey E have a cute story arc where she falls in live with her former wastrel of a husband.
Episode 15 was a standout episode as 2 characters who have been in love for a long time but been unable to be together for various reasons finally got together. I fist pumped and whooped for joy at this scene, which was beautiful scored with Otis Reddings 'I've Been Loving You Too Long'. This episode also features the final appearance of the Log Lady who gives a clue to Hawk and says her goodbyes in the most heartrending scene.
Episode 16 gave the fans what they have waited for and I'll not spoil it here but will say that it was worth the wait. Several despicable people got their comeuppance whilst a pivotal moment was marked by whoops of joy in my household. There were still mysteries abound surrounding Audrey and Diane but with the two part finale coming up it was all building up to be spectacular.
The final two episodes answered many questions but in typical Lynch fashion left many more open to interpretation or just plain unanswered. Episode 17 gave us the background on Judy but more importantly it gave us the meeting of Evil Coop and Agent Dale Cooper. It went a little comic booky here but delivered with things kicking off at the Sheriff's Station. Freddie finally came into his own and we found out who Naido was. Cooper got to meet his FBI colleagues and reunited with the Sheriff's Department staff in a heart warming moment.
We then got a lengthy reintroduction of Fire Walk With Me with many scenes from the film shown from different angles but this time with Cooper in them, Cooper in the woods hiding whilst Laura and James shared an intense moment. The fact that Cooper went to Laura and tried to save her by walking through the woods with her only for her to vanish was shocking and made me uncomfortable... it seemed like Cooper was so close but had been outdone by Judy again!
Then it went a little surreal as Cooper tried to go to the past to alter the timeline and save Laura Palmer, who was in the alternate timeline/ dimension was Carrie Page, a middle aged maybe-Laura Palmer who worked as a waitress at Judy's Cafe. Cooper took her back to her house in Twin Peaks and when he knocked on the door there was no Sarah Palmer but rather the mysterious lady who bought the house from a Mrs Chalfont. Agent Dale Cooper was confused and asks,"What year is this?" and then we hear Laura Palmer/ Carrie Page scream... and the screen fades to black.
What does this all mean? Well I don't quite know but it could be that there are no happy endings and the battle between good and evil will continue infinitely. Evil will triumph but as long as there are good men like Cooper fighting the good fight there is always hope. Lynch and Frost have created a masterful ending which is open to interpretation and already I have seen hundreds of posts online with theories, claims and counter-claims about what the ending represents but is there an answer? Lynch works best when creating a mood and like author Haruki Murakami, the work defies logic but seems to have a narrative that would be easy to decipher, if only you had the Rosetta Stone.
Overall Twin Peaks: The Return was one of the finest series I have ever seen. The levels of violence against women was uncomfortable at times but when looking at the whole piece of work, necessary to bring to the fore the issues that we have in the real world of misogyny and abuse. After all Twin Peaks was the story of a young girl being sexually abused by her father by the will of an evil spirit and largely ignored by her aloof mother. It is a challenging watch but often the finest works are, there are no easy answers and for a work of this magnitude there shouldn't be. Lynch and Frost make us uncomfortable and question the status quo and for that they should be applauded.
The way the writing pair have woven a story after 25 years with some of the cast and crew either passing away or not being available to film is remarkable, the fact that it all flowed and made sense is astonishing. Nothing in Twin Peaks is weird or surreal for just its sake, there is a deep lore here and it underlies everything.
The Return was amazing and answered most of the questions I had from the first two series but it wasn't always an easy watch early on. For those with patience and a spare 18 hours available Twin Peaks is an essential watch, it challenges what TV in this day and age can do and requires you to pay attention and watch closely, something I know I have become complacent at through binge watching.
A special mention must be made of the performances of the large ensemble cast. Kyle MacLachlan did some excellent work in his three roles, playing the menacing Mr C with cold-hearted detachment, but also giving us the lovable Dougie Jones, a character you grow to love as he makes the world better by his subtle features and occasionally repeated words. As Agent Cooper he embodies the goodness that made the character so beloved and admired.
Grace Zabriskie, who plays Sarah Palmer, gave a stunning tour de force performance of a parent who had suffered so much and is in anguish at losing her loved ones.
The Log Lady, Margaret Lanterman, played by a dying Catherine Coulson, was phenomenal. Knowing she was dying in real life of cancer, her turn as the Log Lady dying on the show is heart-breaking. Her final call to Deputy Hawk on the night she knows that she is going to die (episode 15) is heart-rending, you can feel the connection between these two actors who have worked on something as profound as Twin Peaks. The new melancholy score by Angelo Badalamenti underscored this. When Hawk tells the rest of the Sheriff's department Lynch lingers on the scene to give it gravitas but also as a memorial to arguably the most iconic Twin Peaks character.
I was pleased to see Philip Jeffries return but not as we expected, due to David Bowie's death the role was played by a giant bell/ kettle. Why? Because Lynch.
If you haven't had a chance to see this masterpeice you owe it to yourself, you really won't be disappointed.