Twin Peaks “The Return, Parts 1 & 2”
Director: David Lynch
Starring: Kyle MacLachlan,
Writer: Mark Frost & David Lynch
A review by Michael Walls-Kelly
It seems like an exercise in futility to try to recap or review a David Lynch production when it goes full-Lynch. And the revival of Twin Peaks absolutely goes full-Lynch. There’s an impressionistic nature to his work that makes it both cosmic and personal so that it’s hard to tell if you’re even taking in the information on screen in the same way another viewer might. Nevertheless, I’ll give it a shot.
The Return, Parts 1 & 2 doesn’t slowly bring us into the strange world beneath our own the way the original series pilot did over 25 years ago. Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost assume you’ve seen that series and assume you’ve seen Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, the much darker and stranger prequel film Lynch followed up the series with. Season three seems to be very much in the vein of Lost Highway, Mulholland Dr. or Inland Empire which may turn off viewers who find themselves annoyed by the unexplained weirdness of the original series.
Luckily, that ain’t me.
I’m going to run down the main plotlines and check-ins we’re given through this two-hour premiere, going in reverse order of importance. The premiere seems primarily concerned with new storylines and the fate of Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) but we are given a few brief glimpses at familiar faces. Doctor Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) is living in a trailer in the woods and receiving a large shipment of shovels, but he’s still sporting his two-toned glasses, which is nice. Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) and his brother Jerry (David Patrick Kelly) are still palling around with each other, sibling rivalry still intact. Ben is still the owner of the Great Northern Hotel but Jerry has moved into the lucrative world of marijuana cultivation, with a new look to match.
The most fun, and seemingly plot-relevant, check-in of The Return, Parts 1 & 2 is at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department. The familiar faces there include Lucy (Kimmy Robertson), Deputy Andy (Harry Goaz) and Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse). We find out that there seem to be two Sheriffs Truman now — one of them sick, the other fishing — and Lucy and Andy are married.
Hawk receives a phone call from The Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson) who gives him a cryptic message about Agent Cooper. It’s a sweetly touching scene. Coulson, who passed away in 2015, was always a sweet but commanding presence in the original series and it’s heartbreaking to see her here. When she and Hawk say goodnight to each other it brought a tear to my eyes. The warning she gives Hawk sends him searching through old case files and through the woods, and he comes across the spot where Cooper entered the Black Lodge in the finale of season two.
The biggest storylines in this opening involved completely new characters. We’re introduced to a young man in New York City sitting on a couch, watching a large glass box and waiting for something to happen. (I’d be surprised if the majority of the reviews for this episode don’t lead off with the relationship between this character and the regular TV viewer.) He makes the classic horror movie mistake of ignoring the rules, letting his guard down and getting horny. When his friend (Girlfriend? Crush? Hookup?) brings him coffee and the guard at the door isn’t there, he lets her come in and watch the glass box with him. They start to make out and the whole thing turns into a Netflix and Kill situation when some sort of static-y being flits to life inside the box, eventually breaking free and shredding their faces.
Meanwhile, in South Dakota, a horrifying crime has been committed. A woman is found in her apartment. Well, her head is found, placed atop the body of a John Doe. There are echoes of Laura Palmer’s murder in this storyline, especially when the main suspect is William Hastings (Matthew Lillard), a seemingly happy school principal. Lillard does some great work when he’s being interrogated, he looks desperate and confused and absolutely terrified. Which he has good reason to be. His involvement in the murder — whether he was possessed or set up or dreaming — has something to do with the inhabitants of the Black Lodge.
Speaking of: we come to Dale Cooper’s Doppelganger, possessed by BOB and having spent the last 25 years wreaking havoc on the world. This Cooper — we’ll call him Mr. C — has long hair, a tanned, weather-beaten face and wears a leather jacket. He also still has a penchant for being hedonistic and cruel and murdering women in horrifying ways. His story is vague but active. He’s looking for some kind of information and there’s a price out on his head. The residents of The Black Lodge (or The White Lodge) need him to return so that the real Dale Cooper can leave. That’s the last thing Mr. C wants.
That brings us to the original Dale Cooper. Our deepest fears were true: Cooper has spent the last 25 years stuck in The Black Lodge (or The Red Room, or The White Lodge… who knows) but it’s time for him to come back. He gets cryptic messages from The Giant (Carel Struycken), Phillip Michael Gerard (Al Strobel), Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) and “The Evolution of the Arm” (a pulsing, fleshy face-sack on top of an electric tree). He needs to return to the world, but in order to do that his Doppelganger has to return. Although, that may not be true, because The Evolution of the Arm’s Doppelganger sends him careening through time and space, even making a stop in the glass box prior to the makeout session and murders.
The Return, Parts 1 & 2 leaves us with a familiar and comforting scene. The Bang Bang Bar, busier and livelier than it was years earlier, holds some familiar faces. Shelly Johnson (Madchen Amick) sits among friends, chatting and drinking. James Hurley (James Marshall) walks into the bar and Shelly, and the show, leaves us this week with the best and funniest line of the episode: “James is still cool. James was always cool”.
Watch It! If you’ve seen the previous seasons. We’re getting 18 hours of new, uncompromised David Lynch. He’s almost doubling his creative output with this series alone. It’s a television event. So far it’s been great and 100 percent what I wanted out of a Twin Peaks revival. It’s intriguing, off-putting, creepy and absolutely gorgeous. I’ll be here for the next 16 hours and the only thing that could stop me is if I’m sent to The Black Lodge.