Okay, I’ll admit it—I’m a millennial raving about “Twin Peaks,” the revolutionary television series of the '90s, but there’s no shame in that. “Twin Peaks” is now in the midst of a successful return to television after 25 years of being off the air, something that was once thought of as unimaginable. This wouldn’t have been possible without the strong backbone of the “Twin Peaks” fandom, refueled by a combination of original hardcore fans and new fans discovering the show through the magic of Netflix. The supernatural, small-town murder mystery is back on Showtime with more of the unfathomable bizarreness that fans have come to expect from director David Lynch. In the series finale, dead-girl Laura Palmer hauntingly says in reverse dialogue, “I’ll see you again in 25 years,” while in the mysterious confines of the evil-spirit waiting room, The Black Lodge. Lynch follows through with this promise as “Twin Peaks: The Return” reunites the cast to continue the beloved story 25 years since the series left off, with Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost having complete creative control once again. “The Return” premiered its first four episodes of the 18-episode season on Showtime this past Sunday, May 21. The show is edgier, scarier and trippier than the original; it is ultimately the renaissance of David Lynch.
After watching Lynch’s beautifully puzzling cult-classic “Mulholland Drive,” along with the original “Twin Peaks” and the prequel film “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,” Lynch’s unparalleled creative vision has lingered with me. He has an uncanny ability to emulate the uncomfortable emotions experienced from the subconscious; a fever dream translated into film. Even though I have barely brushed the surface of Lynch’s work, I feel the need to consume more. The revival of “Twin Peaks” healthily nourishes this insatiable hunger, a hunger that the original fans have undoubtedly been craving for years.
“Twin Peaks” was once celebrated for introducing elements of experimental film to mainstream network television. In the “Twin Peaks” revival, Lynch takes advantage of the lack of censorship Showtime offers, unlike the constrictions faced with network television in the '90s. His nightmarish vision is cranked to full-throttle as Lynch fans rejoice.
Immediately, it is apparent that the revival is its own creative beast. In the world of “Twin Peaks,” things do change after 25 years. The revival does not try to mimic the original series, but instead expands the fictional universe in new creative directions. Each twist and turn, however, is just as abstract, alluring and mind-boggling as the original, if not more. As the world of “Twin Peaks” is further mapped out, an endless amount of intriguing questions come to surface with little promise of fulfilled answers, but this has come to be expected with Lynch’s work.
The revival begins with a delicious aural palette of quiet: the soft rustle of wind in the trees, technical hums of machinery, silence. This negative audio space is complemented by long-distance master shots that only give the audience a peek at the visually arresting imagery to come. The eery sound design of the revival is accredited to Lynch himself, explaining the simple yet fitting effect it has. Just as Julee Cruise’s song “Falling” became iconically tied to “Twin Peaks” as it was performed in the premiere and became the show’s opening theme, the revival features more of an expertly curated soundtrack. The show platforms small bands such as Chromatics, Au Revoir Simone and The Cactus Blossoms, that seem to audibly fit perfectly within the melancholy and dreamy “Twin Peaks” soundscape.
With almost the entire original cast reassembled, Lynch takes his time reintroducing us to all of the characters’ whereabouts. There is a new murder mystery that spans beyond the confines of Twin Peaks, introducing the audience to new landscapes, such as New York, Kentucky, Nevada and South Dakota to backdrop the new mystery. The murder is obscurely connected with the evil forces of the Black Lodge and the hidden worlds within it. With this new murder, the plot is darker and takes more creative risks, similar in tone to where “Fire Walk With Me” left off. The revival weaves in an array of guest stars, many of them from David Lynch’s inner circle from previous projects, such as Laura Dern and Naomi Watts. There is also significantly more screen time given to Lynch himself, reviving his role as hearing-impaired FBI agent Gordon Cole. Lynch’s Cole absently states at the end of episode four, “I hate to admit this, but I don’t understand this situation at all,” ironically assuring the audience that we are exactly as confused as we should be.
The new elements of the revival are beyond exciting, however I hope there will be a bit more of a homecoming in future episodes. Very little of the plot has taken place in Twin Peaks and there has been barely any exposure to the original high school gang that was once a focal point of the original. The show is much bleaker than before, at times even channeling full-on horror tropes, yet a part of me misses the charming cheesiness of the original. Maybe the campy quality of the '90s “Twin Peaks” simply doesn’t fit with the 2017 atmosphere, yet I still wish there was more of the quirky humor that the original carried abundantly. Despite this small qualm I have, the show delivers more originality than could ever be expected from a television revival, especially one as cherished as “Twin Peaks.” The show succeeds by giving Lynch free artistic liberty to broaden his outlandish auteurship, welcoming his eccentricities in full. As Lynch continues to tease what is to come and slowly churns out treats the fans will cherish, there will no doubt be more to discuss and ponder over a slice of cherry pie and some damn good coffee.