BINGE-R #47: Twin Peaks: The Return
TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN
Streaming Service: Stan
Availability: All 18 episodes now streaming
First things first: there’s no need to rush your viewing of the Twin Peaks revival. There are four episodes currently available, with the fifth not due until early next month, and it’s better to take them in slowly, to savour David Lynch’s psychic dissembling, than to gorge now. I came to this realisation halfway through the second ‘part’ ( Lynch’s preferred nomenclature), when a squiggly brain-like entity stuck atop dead tree branches began issuing warnings to stranded FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) about his “doppelganger”. Rushing Twin Peaks, which has been designed for 18 weekly instalments, actually reveals less instead of more.
For those who haven’t been obsessively preparing, or who never finished the wayward second season of Lynch and Mark Frost’s ground-breaking drama, Cooper resides in The Black Lodge, an otherworldly realm of red curtains, while his criminal double with the deranged killer Bob inside – MacLachlan attired as a Vegas pimp – moves through the underworld with murderous intent. Both there and in the small Pacific Northwest town where the original seasons took place, portents of return proliferate. Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), whose death launched the show, cryptically confers with Cooper, while the Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson) phones in a warning to the local police: “My log has a message for you – something is missing and you have to find it.”
The initial episodes are threads, some linked to the past, that only tenuously tie together, and that’s okay. For all the mystery elements, Lynch is drawn to the urges and images that emanate from his fertile subconscious; Twin Peaks is not a puzzle you’re meant to piece together, and he’s not above some self-referential nods to that. In the first episode an elaborate facility in New York City holds an empty glassed box that is continuously recorded and observed. “I’m supposed to watch the box and see if anything appears inside,” declares the All-American attendant, standing in for expectant viewers everywhere. What it does need is a centre of gravity to hold the strands together, as the town previously did.
Lynch directed all 18 episodes, and his imprint remains obvious despite a decade away from feature film and television work. There are ominous hums, awkward rhythms to mundane conversations, sudden bursts of transgressive violence, special effects drawn from experimental filmmaking, and point of view shots matched to a glance sideways that often reveal a freaked out if still tableau. The second hour is aggressively discordant, but at the same time there are enough familiar elements – and returning cast members, some with newly tightened faces – to see you through. Bridging a gap of 25 years, and the many shows that have pushed boundaries since, means Twin Peaks can’t quite escape nostalgia, but it can spin it in a new way. As Laura Palmer puts it, “I am dead, yet I live.”
>> Bonus Binge: Stan also has the original two seasons of Twin Peaks, the 1992 prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, and three essential David Lynch movies in Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, and Mulholland Drive, while Netflix holds his flawed but fascinating 1984 science-fiction epic Dune.
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