Twin Peaks – S03 - E03 and E04 - Reviewed

This is without a doubt one of the most challenging pieces of media that I have ever had to review, as it truly defies description, even for a long-time fan of Twin Peaks and David Lynch’s body of work in general. 

Written not as eighteen episodes, but as a single, film-style script of monumental length, Twin Peaks Season 3 (aka Twin Peaks: The Return) by its very design does not fit easily into the typical television-viewing mode. I don’t think you could even call it a serialized TV show, as that implies a string of episodes that add up to a larger arc; this doesn’t even feel like it is made of episodes, so much as it is just one giant movie that we are only being shown in parts. I mean this, of course, not as any sort of criticism, but as the highest compliment. This is, in a very real sense, the ultimate David Lynch movie: a magnum opus that is about as long as the whole of his theatrical filmography combined, but is every bit as much of a film as the rest of them. It certainly is every bit as cinematic: the artistry and visuals on display here are superb in their strangeness, and they cry out to be seen on the largest screen possible. I have little doubt that someday this will be screened as a single film by some ambitious theater with a very daring, coffee-fueled audience. But this format makes individual episodes quite tricky to review, as doing so is rather like trying to review a small chunk of Mulholland Dr or Inland Empire in isolation. It is just as strange and as dense as either of those too, with Inland Empire probably being the closest in terms of the sheer dense oddness of it all. These episodes are puzzle pieces of a whole we can’t really see yet, but each piece is fascinating and wonderfully strange on its own, and I think that after four of them we can maybe even start to see the beginnings of the bigger picture forming.

Episodes 3 and 4 will air on Showtime next Sunday, back to back as one larger double-episode just as parts 1 and 2 did, but both are available a week early on both Showtime’s own on-demand app and on their Amazon Prime add-on. And I can safely say that this is where things start to get really weird. The two-part season premiere was already plenty strange and esoteric, but it nonetheless built a pretty solid foundation for the show to sit on: the South Dakota and New York mysteries, The Black Lodge, the Doppleganger, and the familiar faces of the townspeople of Twin Peaks. Now that those elements are established and the beginnings of the plot are set in motion, Lynch is ready to pull the rug out from under us, just as he quite literally did to Cooper. There are still a couple of grounding elements – namely, investigations (though into what even the characters are not sure) being carried out by some familiar faces, including but not limited to Deputy-Chief Hawk and his Twin Peaks Police crew (naturally I can’t mention who else might make an appearance, and I’m sure you don’t want me to). But there are also some very surreal things afoot, particularly the long-suffering Agent Cooper’s increasingly strange and dreamlike predicament.

Andy and Lucy: proving goofy comic relief for 25 years.

This Cooper storyline in particular is decidedly slippery, making it difficult for the viewer to get their bearings in a rather uncomfortable way. At times hauntingly surreal, and at times much closer to reality (except, of course, still really weird), Lynch really puts both Cooper and us through the ringer over the course of this double-episode. I must admit that I sometimes felt that this storyline went on too long, and was too uneven, and as a result I found the episode rather offputting at times, but I suppose that is exactly the point. Still, there were certainly parts when I felt that it didn’t work as well as the two-part season premiere. The same is true for some of the character scenes: we see a bunch of familiar faces pop up in this episode as well as some new ones, and some of these (re-)introductory scenes work better than others. However, for all of the episode’s uneven moments, there are excellent moments to make up for them. Whether it is some of the brilliant surrealist sequences, touches of the deadpan-yet- over-the-top humor that characterized the original series, or some truly great new scenes with old characters, enough really works to make them solid episodes in the end.

And of course, one must always keep in mind that these are not meant to be self-contained episodes, but instead parts of a greater whole that we are only just beginning to see. Things that feel awkward or don’t work so well now might be very effective once they get some context. I have a sneaking suspicion that the end of this double-episode is where we start to see said context take shape: while for much of these two hours I felt rather like we were drifting un-anchored in David Lynch’s imagination, the later scenes in part four had me thinking that I could maybe see how the puzzle pieces fit together; how this may all eventually converge back in the town of Twin Peaks. Of course, this is David Lynch we’re talking about, so not only could I be wrong, but things could get a lot weirder before events start to connect. But at the very least, to quote the Log Lady in episode 2, the stars appear to be turning, and a time appears to be presenting itself.


- Christopher S. Jordan

The log says to share this review - listen to the log.