15 Sep 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return Review


Warning: this post includes spoilers for Twin Peaks: The Return.

After an intense summer of being whisked away to red rooms and empty deserts, we finally got to see the season finale of Twin Peaks: The Return as it ended with an intense two-hour nightmare that messed with our heads more than we could even comprehend. The two-part finale saw Dale Cooper finally reach the town of Twin Peaks and reunite with his old friends at the sheriff's station, as well as freeing his long-time love Diane and finally defeating BOB. Then he went back in time and stopped Laura Palmer from being murdered before being trapped in a reality where he was a man named Richard and took a woman named Carrie back to her home that also wasn't her home.

If that paragraph made any sense to you then congratulations, you're a Twin Peaks fan. I especially appreciated these last two episodes as both seemed to be incredibly cryptic and open ended while also providing enough answers for fans to make their own conclusions. As always with Twin Peaks the most straightforward interpretation, while not necessarily invalid, isn't the best explanation for what was going on. It's like ordering a drink and only having a few sips.


So what exactly was even going on in that last hour? Was Cooper dreaming all along? Did Judy trap he and Laura in a false alternate reality? I won't get into these theories fully as there are already a lot of convincing arguments over on social media outlets like Reddit, Twitter and Tumblr. Instead, I want to take a look at the entire season as a whole and highlight what I liked about it.

The season got off to a terrific start by picking up with Cooper still being trapped inside the Black Lodge at the mercy of The Arm and MIKE while we are also re-introduced to the characters we all fell in love with in the original series. The difference in time is noticeable not only due to the aging of the actors, but also by the tone being a lot darker than the show was known for. In fact, the expression of The Return felt a lot closer to Fire Walk with Me more than anything else, and incorporated a lot of elements and plot threads from that film into the revival.

As the season progressed, it became more clear that this wasn't just a Twin Peaks revival, but also a portfolio of Lynch's entire works. Many of the scenes involving Cooper's doppleganger felt eerily similar to Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive, whereas anything related to the woodsmen, the lodges or that insanely twisted Part 8 closer resembled Eraserhead and Inland Empire. Then there were the characters themselves, some of whom felt like copies of characters from other Lynch films. Red especially reminded me of Frank Booth the sadomasochistic, gas inhaling drug dealer and pimp from Blue Velvet. And the ending itself was like a culmination of every Lynch work into one, a perfect way to round everything off.


While much of the praise goes towards David Lynch, I think many of us are also severely under-appreciating Mark Frost's role in shaping this season. Being the co-creator of Twin Peaks, Frost is often not touched upon as much as Lynch is during discussions of the show, possibly due to his less-prolific reputation. Nevertheless, he has written several related books including the well-received novel, The Secret History of Twin Peaks, which provided background on the town and its characters, while also providing closure on a few unresolved cliffhangers from Season 2. He will also be releasing one last book on the subject, The Final Dossier, which is expected to fill in the 25-year gap and provide more clues to mysteries raised in The Return.

Twin Peaks has been such a beloved show over the years that there was an immense amount of pressure on everyone involved to get it right. Some say that with The Return being so tonally different resulted in them being uninterested in this new season. I won't argue that 15 episodes of Dougie Jones and any lack of resolution with beloved characters such as Audrey, Jerry Horne and the Haywards is a good thing, however I think that ultimately the drastic change helped the season progress and set itself apart. Lynch and Frost didn't want to return to this goofy soap-opera aesthetic, they instead intended to create a horror experience unlike any other.

And they succeeded. There's nothing else on television quite like Twin Peaks, much like there wasn't 25 years ago either.

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