Welcome (back) to Twin Peaks

26 years of anticipation, less than a month to go, and we know….not a lot.

Standard greeting in the FBI

For many their epiphany came that first time that they watched Star Wars, for others it was Raiders of the Lost Ark. You may have experienced a moment of your mind being blown out the back of your head by The Matrix, Fight Club or Fellowship of the Ring. Although I love all of those things too, my moment came at age 12 pottering about the house before bed when I managed to catch snippets of Twin Peaks on BBC 2. Here was a show that was Omni-present in pop culture at the time; ‘Who Killed Laura Palmer?’ was a buzz phrase in the playground. The girls in my class read the raunchy parts of The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer tie in book to us confused boys and the atmospheric music was on the radio and in TV adverts cashing in on its popularity. Something about it gradually drew me in. The music, the fashions, the main character of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper and the fact that when a white haired man looked in the mirror he saw a creepy denim clad trucker type looking back at him. I didn’t start watching regularly until about episode fourteen but I was hooked in long after my parents had grown tired of the mystery and tuned out. Later I went back and watched what I missed, bought the soundtrack and read the books. I anticipated the release of Fire Walk With Me with a greater excitement than I had for things like Batman Returns in 1992, although I really didn’t understand the misunderstood and critically reviled film until much later. Perhaps more importantly — I feel that Twin Peaks taught me about right and wrong, about being a good person and a bad, and that the grey area in between was fraught with its own darkness. I sought out all of David Lynch’s other work and he soon became my favourite director and Mulholland Drive eventually became my favourite film of all time.

So while you may have been waiting sixteen years between the end of Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace, please believe me when I say the end of Twin Peaks season two and May 21st this year and the twenty six year gap in between — has not been the easiest. I’ve re-watched the entire saga countless times now, attended the festival, met fellow fans and always greeted the ending of episode twenty nine in a bittersweet fashion. Forever thinking we would never know what happened to Dale Cooper and his good soul trapped in the Black Lodge with his doppelganger running amok in the world. I have rarely felt happier than in late 2014 when it was announced that Twin Peaks would be coming back and David Lynch would direct all the episodes for cable TV channel Showtime.

Now here we are just under a month away from the show coming back and apparently concluding the story through eighteen episodes of the ‘pure heroin version of David Lynch’ over the summer. However what is surprising this close to the premiere is how little we actually know. There have been stills officially released and teasers, but most of the teasers have had very little new footage. There has been nothing approaching a regular trailer at all at this point (April 29) and there may well not be. Lynch likes mystery and he likes secrets; if you ever saw the official trailer for Lost Highway then maybe this secrecy isn’t all that surprising. Although I am dying to see more footage, I’m kind liking this secrecy to be honest. It’s something the world needs more of in these days of trailers and promos showing you everything in the lead up to release. What do we actually know though?

*WARNING — The following contains possible spoilers, wild speculation, theories, hogwash and red herring.

Older, wiser, haunted?

It’s going to weird: No duh, a show featuring backwards talking denizens of a waiting room which might just be a gateway to hell is never going to be a straight shooter. Now that Lynch has been given the freedom and leeway that cable TV allows, I expect this might well be closer in tone to Fire Walk With Me than the original shows run. Although Lynch has hinted that he didn’t necessarily push the censors as far as possible for the return of Twin Peaks, there were rumours a while back that the show opened with a horrifying murder as well as spies on the set hinting that buckets of fake blood were used for a new crime scene. The book The Secret History of Twin Peaks, if the content is any indication to go by, seems to indicate that the show will be heavily leaning on the mythology of the Black and White Lodges as well as the cursed ring that Chris Isaak found in the movie and its possible connection to outer space. All this before we even mention the possible time travel factor theory. There has been much discussion online of how Mark Frost’s book contains several inaccuracies concerning the characters back stories against what we saw on TV twenty six years ago and Frost has hinted that this is by design. Remember that a beaten Annie Blackburn appears in Laura Palmer’s bed in the movie and warns her of Dale Cooper’s eventual fate, how did this affect the timeline? Much of Lynch’s more recent work has featured time and identity being out of whack, and I expect that this may well be explored in the new Twin Peaks. Kyle Maclachlan has also hinted that the story is ultimately a look at growing older except through a distorted Lynchian filter.

The cast is huge: David Lynch always draws the talent, everyone is eager to work with him and why wouldn’t you want to? Apart from much of the original cast coming back (even the bit part players) with the apparent exception of Michael Ontkean, Lara Flynn Boyle, Heather Graham and Michael J Anderson, the cast includes some fairly high profile new comers. So a sampling of the names involved includes — Tom Sizemore, Naomi Watts, James Belushi, Laura Dern, Michael Cera, Amanda Seyfried, Robert Forster, Monica Bellucci, Richard Chamberlain, Jeremy Davies, Sky Ferreira, Meg Foster, Balthazar Getty, Amy Shiels, Ashley Judd, Robert Knepper, Jennifer Jason Leigh, David Koechner, Matthew Lillard, Eddie Vedder, Berenice Marlohe and Trent Reznor. How will they get around the absence of prominent characters like Sheriff Truman (Ontkean), The man from another place (Anderson) and of course Killer Bob played by the late Frank Silva? It remains to be seen, but I think the cast is a good indication of how sprawling the story may be. Speculation is rife that Forster plays Sheriff Truman’s brother Frank and either Watts or Dern may be playing ‘Diane’ — Coopers so far unseen secretary that he records tapes for in the original. A popular theory also concerns Ray Wise returning as Leland Palmer who died previously, people possessed by a Black Lodge denizen seeing Leland in the mirror would be an interesting way to get around the absence of the late Silva and arguably just as terrifying.

All five of these characters are back btw

It may not all take place in Twin Peaks itself: The massive cast certainly seems to indicate this, as does the fact that it not only shot on location in original location Snoqualmie, Washington but also in California. Las Vegas and Paris. Could this all be evil Coops adventures of evil with the ‘Blue Rose’ FBI team on his trail?

The soundtrack will be amazing: I’m kind of bemused that the soundtrack hasn’t been released yet, but there again with the secrecy surrounding the project it’s hardly surprising. Lynch cares just as much about sound as he does picture and has said that the new show is best enjoyed on a top notch home cinema sound system rather than your laptop. The cast also includes a returning Julee Cruise as well as the previously mentioned Eddie Vedder and Trent Reznor, which could mean more atmospheric Road House scenes with an added edge. There have been hints by other artists including The Veils, The Chromatics and Chrysta Bell that they are involved along with a returning Angelo Badalamenti performing the score. A low quality version of a track by Vedder called ‘Out of Sand’ has been available online for a while and is apparently from the show. I expect that some fancy collector’s vinyl version of the soundtrack will be available before 2017 is over.

For reals — probably my favourite final scene of any film ever.

It may well be nothing like we expect: A while back I had a moment where I was convinced that the new series would open with a shot of another body wrapped in plastic floating down a river. At this point with a complete lack of information and knowing the freedom Lynch has here — I wouldn’t be surprised if the first episode is completely set within the Black Lodge with Laura Palmer’s ghost screaming in our face for fifty minutes. I can’t shake the feeling that this new iteration of the classic show is really going to split people down the middle. It will please the hardcore Lynch fans and come episode eight or so completely alienate the twenty somethings who recently discovered the original show on streaming. Bear in mind that the show will be on the whole summer until September 3rd and could well have gone the way of season two ratings wise well before then. It is still likely this will be a work of art first and a TV show second and forces everyone to up their game the way the original did.

This is mostly speculation but if it has a nice balance of new and old then I’ll be pleased. Seeing old faces and old friends with added resonance as I have grown older is something to welcome at this point in my life — a nice reset and refresh by going back in time. Either way I can’t wait to discuss, critique and theorise with everyone else come May 21st.

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