TV: Twin Peaks S03 - E01 and E02 - Reviewed

“It is happening again,” the tagline for the new season of Twin Peaks, which had its two-episode premiere on Sunday night, carries with it so much weight that it is hard to put it into words. About a week ago I realized that Twin Peaks was finally coming back after a twenty-seven year wait, and I wondered if I had been carried away to the Black Lodge where Bob was playing some cruel joke on me. I’m happy to report that I did not fall victim to Bob, and that the phenomenon that is Twin Peaks is, in fact, happening again.

I came to Twin Peaks later than most people, discovering it when the gold box DVD set was released several years back. The big news then was that the pilot episode, which was owned by a separate company, would be included in the set along with the international version, which essentially acted as a two-hour standalone movie. It was then that I really started to explore the work and world of David Lynch, the result of which led to a further appreciation of just how remarkable Twin Peaks was as a show. If the first two episodes of the new season are any indication, Lynch has not slowed one bit; his vision and storytelling remain in tact, perfectly complimented by Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost, who has reportedly written every episode with Lynch.

I should mention now that this new version, or “return” to Twin Peaks, is a bit different, from what I was expecting, which is in no way a bad thing. It feels like the old show, particularly when familiar characters begin popping up, but it also feels new and fresh. It helps that neither episode takes place entirely in the town of Twin Peaks. We go from New York to South Dakota to even Las Vegas, while Twin Peaks itself almost acts as a teaser both to remind us of the show we’re watching and to hint at what’s to come.

I found that the jumping from place to place mostly worked, though the end of the first episode spends a bit too much time in South Dakota before we begin to understand what exactly is going on. Episode two balances the introduction of new characters and places while re-introducing the old ones a bit better, and ends on a note that can only be described as both wonderful and strange. We also see more of Kyle MacLachlan in the second hour, who gives a fascinating performance that highlights both the good and evil that exists within Special Agent Dale Cooper.

MacLachlan carries the added pressure of having the show rest almost entirely on his shoulders. Yes, Lynch and Frost share the burden (or the honor, depending on how one looks at it), but one of the key factors in the success of Twin Peaks has always been MacLachlan’s performance, and the actor is perfectly suited to the challenge for the new series. In fact, every actor who returns in the premiere slides back into their roles with such ease that it almost feels like no time has passed since we last saw them.

In fact, the only actors who feel out of place (with a few exceptions) are the new ones, most of whom show up in the South Dakota scenes. That might not be a fair criticism, considering there’s usually an element of otherworldliness to Lynch’s work, which comes out in the performances of his actors, but I did (at times) find some of then newbies to be distracting. How they’ll factor into the overall storyline is anyone’s guess, but I think it’s safe to say that Lynch and Frost have earned the benefit of the doubt. Both men are gifted and unique storytellers and I’m anxious to see where they’ll go from here. This is not the Twin Peaks we remember, but it’s still, somehow, Twin Peaks. I for one am grateful that it is happening again.

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-Matt Giles