Twin Peaks: 3.01, 3.02
In the beginning of the 1990s, David Lynch and Mark Frost created a TV cultural phenomenon in Twin Peaks. Who killed Laura Palmer quickly became one of the infamous TV mysteries of all time. With its mix of murder mystery, horror, comedy and surrealism, it was unlike anything audiences had seen before and remained a cultural zeitgeist long after its cancellation at the end of season two. Twenty five years Twin Peaks is the one revival over all others that people are most excited about and now it is finally here. A quarter of a decade after that dramatic season two cliffhanger that saw the show's lead hero, Special FBI Agent Dale Cooper possessed by evil spirit Bob, fans are finally getting a continuation of the story.
Except, given that Lynch helped revolutionize the TV murder mystery genre once before, his return to Twin Peaks is something very different. After sitting through 107 minutes encompassing parts one and two, I can honestly say this was not the revival I was expecting - not that I knew what to expect. With a tone closer to the darkness of the prequel TV movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me this is not a whistlestop tour of the town twenty five years later. The majority of these characters are brand new to the show and indeed not based in Twin Peaks at all. Most of the time is spent in North Dakota and New York, with the good Cooper still contained in the Black Lodge. Bar a handful of characters, most of the returnees are absent from the two-part opener and even then, some of those don't turn up into the nostalgic final scene in the Road House.
The two parts feel like a TV movie in itself, a quasi reintroduction to the show before things really get going. The first part barely has a narrative at all, flitting between different settings while the good Cooper sits in the Black Lodge with the Giant and Mike. Is it the past or the future? There is the sense that despite the visible aging of the characters, the place remains a timeless entity as Cooper sits - and waits - as he counts down towards the end of his twenty five years there. Outside, there is barely anything of the infamous town itself; we see a much older Jacoby living as a hermit in the middle of the woods, Ben Horne still the businessman as he sits behind his desk at the Great Northern Hotel and his brother Jerry, now a visible hippy but still talking about the joys of food. But these are just cameos. We see a little more of the ever adorable Lucy, still her kooky self as she meets a visitor to the Sheriff's station. It's noticeable that she mentions two Sheriff Trumans, one sick, one fishing. Sadly I fear Harry is the sick one, Michael Ontkean retired and not part of the return.
The New York setting is an interesting one and adds the first element of supernatural mystery outside the Black Lodge. A young student Sam (Ben Rosenfield) spends his nights paid to guard a mysterious glass box that sits on the side of a mysterious billionaire's apartment, recording every moment while a guard keeps him contained inside. Madeline Zima's potential girlfriend Tracey comes offering coffees and her second nightly visit finds the guard missing and Sam letting her into the secret room. David Lynch mixes banality and intrigue to equal measure and the moment they let their impulses go and have sex, you know something is going to appear in that box. And it does, a terrifying spectral creature that bursts through and tears the two lovers apart. It's a savage, brutal death scene but shot in a way that doesn't feel overtly gratuitous. It's a clever twist too, both Rosenfield and Zima featuring prominently in the publicity shots for the new season and dying before the end of part one, but then nothing is what it seems in Twin Peaks.
There's more of a narrative, so to speak, in the murder of a woman in her apartment. Lynch delivers his usual oddball direction in a drawn out scene that sees a scatterbrained neighbour call the cops after a horrible smell emanates from the next apartment. When the body is revealed, it is suitably shocking - the woman with a hole through her eye - made more shocking when the detective and coroner discover that her head has been placed on the body or a large, hairy man. The investigation leads to the arrest of a seemingly nice local headmaster played by Matthew Lillard, whose fingerprints were found at the scene.
Again, Lynch throws a curveball, ending the first part with the discovery of human skin in the headmaster's car, despite his assertions that he had never been to the apartment. My first thought was that it was another Bob-like possession but it is soon suggested that it is his wife that is the killer, particularly when she runs into the evil Cooper at her home. But her subsequent murder at his hands ends this storyline in a sudden manner, taking part two in a slightly different direction. It makes the first part a somewhat slow and frustrating experience, with no sense of narrative to to hold it together.
Fortunately things improve in the second half, thanks to the storylines of the two Coopers. The evil Cooper is completely unlike the character we all loved. In his leather jacket, sun-weathered face and long hair, he looks more like a Colombian drug lord that the former FBI agent. Kyle MacLachlan plays the evil doppleganger well, a ruthless killer that consorts with criminals and murders with impunity. Anyone who dares to double cross him is eliminated and the scene in the motel room when he threatens and then murders criminal lover Darya is tense stuff. I wondered if Lynch was going to go into full Maddy-murder territory here but Lynch holds back, making her death as cold and ruthless as the man himself.
And we soon learn that his time is up, that the evil Bob-possessed Cooper is scheduled to return to the Black Lodge. Except he has no intention of going back. After talking to someone he assumes is David Bowie's Agent Jeffries from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, we find that his plans are far from over, much to the disadvantage of the good Cooper.
There is plenty of good Black Lodge stuff to enjoy, particularly the replay of the Laura Palmer / Dale Cooper dream sequence with an older MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee. It's a beautifully played moment which is upset by her spirit's rather nasty removal from the Black Lodge and his attempts to escape are fraught and reminiscent of the season two finale. The talking heart in the tree was frankly bizarre, a twisted spirit of what I assume was either Mike's arm or the Venus Di Milo statue and the ending of part two left his fate in the air, first appearing in the desert close to his doppelganger and then in the glass box in New York moments before the the final tragic scene with Sam and Tracey.
I also have to mention the two phone calls between Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) - still as cool as ever with his white hair and Catherine E. Coulson's Log Lady Margaret. It is all too clear that she was close to death when she filmed these scenes and there was something very bittersweet watching them as she passed him cryptic messages from her log about Dale Cooper. I'm guessing this is the last we will see of her; Hawk promised to visit her for coffee after his trip to the woods but I suspected she will never see him again. Talking of that scene with the torchlight in the woods at night at the reveal of the entrance to the Black Lodge - that was pure Twin Peaks.
The final scene was a reunion of sorts as we returned to the Roadhouse and saw James and Shelley many years later. The Chromatics song was pure Julee Cruise and an incredibly evocative way to end the second part. Along with the lovely scene with Hawk, Lucy and Andy, we got our first real glimpse of the town twenty five years on (I have to wonder if Lucy and Andy's child has a higher IQ than his parents and Shelley, despite having a child with Bobby I assume, was clearly making eyes at another man at the bar).
Parts one and two were pure David Lynch and I'm not sure what to make of that yet. Certainly it felt like a slow process getting to the end of part two; there was no central narrative thread like Laura Palmer's murder to hold things together. But as we followed the tale of two Coopers I found myself slowly slipping back into the very different world of Twin Peaks once again. I get the feeling it will feel a little more like the old show come part three...but then again, I could be in store for something completely different...