Twin Peaks Has Evolved, But It’s Still As Surreal, Ominous And Wonderful As Ever

Twin Peaks Has Evolved, But It’s Still As Surreal, Ominous And Wonderful As Ever

Did you watch all four hours of Twin Peaks: The Return that became available yesterday? Is your brain still rattling around in your skull like mine is? It was violent, it was completely bizarre, and there was a lot of coffee drinking. And most importantly, it was totally worth the 26-year wait.

Image: Screengrab via Showtime

Anyone tuning in expecting the show to pick up exactly where it left off in 1991 was probably disappointed, or at least confused. But obviously David Lynch — one of the most creative, singular minds ever to venture into showbiz — wasn’t going to take that route. This is a completely new Twin Peaks, a show both aware of its cultural impact and its importance to fans, but also something that has completely evolved to embrace all the things that have changed in its world since it last aired.

That includes, most importantly, Agent Dale Cooper. Kyle MacLachlan’s character was always a force for pure good on the original series, but his experiences within the Black Lodge at its conclusion were obviously going to be a major part of Twin Peaks: The Return. Here, we learn that Cooper went missing soon after he returned from that strange place, though we soon see there are multiple Dales roaming about. First, there is the black-suited FBI man we all remember, who is still trapped in the Lodge with its backward-speaking inhabitants (including Laura Palmer herself, and a strange talking tree-creature that represents the One-Armed Man’s severed arm). Eventually, he emerges, and while he proves amazingly good at slot machines, he isn’t himself just yet. Then, there is the dark Dale Cooper, who seems to have wandered out of a realm of Lynchian sleazeballs that contains not just Twin Peaks, but also strong vapours of Wild at Heart and Lost Highway. Is he really a bad guy, or is he actually a deep undercover FBI agent? We don’t find out in the first four episodes, but the former seems definitely possible. My favourite, though, was “Dougie”, the third Cooper lookalike who lives a sad-sack life outside of Vegas with his cranky wife, played by Naomi Watts — whose casting here is a very strong hat-tip to Mulholland Drive, another Lynch film whose influence is felt very strongly in this new Twin Peaks.

The other big takeaway is that we are no longer confined to the Pacific Northwest. Dougie’s in Vegas, Danzig Dale’s roaming the Southwest, and in New York City, a mysterious billionaire keeps a very strange box that seems to contain a portal of sorts to the Black Lodge. There’s also a significant storyline set in small-town South Dakota, where a gruesome murder has the local law enforcement in a frenzy.

And, of course, amid all the strange new characters (and strange new versions of familiar ones) and places, Twin Peaks does actually give us a glimpse of what life is like in the town for which it’s named, 25 years on. Presumably the show will bring most of the action back there as the episodes progress, but in the first four instalments, we see the new sheriff, played by Robert Forster, who’s explained to be Harry S. Truman’s brother. We see the Log Lady (an obviously very ill Catherine Coulson, who died soon after filming her scenes), still imparting cryptic messages. There’s also Shelley (who mentions a daughter) hanging at a slightly hipper version of the Roadhouse, a silver-haired Bobby (once so anti-authoritarian, he’s now a local cop), Lucy and Andy (no wiser than when we left them), and the Horne brothers — Jerry’s no longer in the hotel biz, having made an appropriate career change into the edibles market, but Ben is still holding down the Great Northern. We also see Lynch’s own character, Gordon Cole, still searching for his friend and FBI cohort Coop after all these years.

All told, it was a lot to take in, and I will be re-watching all of these episodes before more appear online — probably more than once. If we’ve learned anything from Lynch, it’s that asking too many questions will only frustrate you, and that if you expect some fast-paced answers, you should probably be watching a different TV show. But if the whispered mention of “Blue Rose” gives you chills, and a skipping record player takes you back to the night BOB revealed himself and killed Laura’s lookalike cousin… this Twin Peaks is poised to be a puzzle box full of existential dread, WTF moments, and mysteries that we don’t really want fully solved. There’s nothing like it, and its very existence offers a reminder that there’s nobody like David Lynch.

Goddamn, it’s good to have Twin Peaks back.

The series is currently available to stream on Stan.