The Return of Twin Peaks

It’s been a long wait. Twenty-six years have passed since I sobbed as ‘the good Dale’ was trapped in the Black Lodge and his terrible doppelganger entered ordinary reality embodying the demonic Bob, intent on wreaking havoc.

I loved Twin Peaks, I mean, I really loved it almost to the point of obsession.  I had long admired David Lynch before it came along but Twin Peaks cemented me as a devoted fan. I wrote my Masters’ dissertation on Lynch’s work and traveled to Paris in 2007 to see his marvelous art exhibition and installation at the Foundation Cartier. The exhibition was the most immersive experience I have had in a gallery. I had to be asked to leave by the polite staff at the end of the day. I spent seven hours there.

This makes me sound like a geek, and hands up, yes, I confess, when it comes to Lynch I am an unashamed geek, a proud Peakie.

And so the arrival of Season 3 is a life event for me. It’s a piece of art I’ve longed for and so when its return was announced back in 2015 I was beside myself. At last, the good Dale can return to the world and his role as exemplary FBI special agent.

Last night I sat down to watch the first two episodes of  Season 3, excited, full of anticipation and also fearful that it might not be good. Lynch has produced confounding and inscrutable work of late, particularly Inland Empire which I found baffling and too difficult to wrestle with.

I was rapt for two hours, I barely moved, barely breathed. It was good. But it was also different. And of course it was always going to be different. Half a century has passed since we first met Dale Cooper, Sheriff Truman and the rest of those wacky and wonderful inhabitants of a world that is part real, part dream, part something else entirely.

The first two hours were deeply troubling and unsettling. Twin Peaks 3 is horrific in the unique mode of Lynch – no one does cinematic dread like him. It is violent, nasty and ugly in places. I have always felt uncomfortable about the way Lynch depicts violence against women and I am still uncomfortable with it. A barely dressed Darya is beaten and sadistically tormented before being murdered. It is hard to watch. Not for the first time with Lynch I found my heart beating too fast and feeling terrified. There were other moments of extraordinary violence and I expect there will be more to come.

And yet it is also strangely beautiful, wonderfully absurd, poignant and funny, sometimes all at once. The stilted dialogue, so much a feature of the previous two series is present, highlighting Lynch’s love of melodrama. Long, lingering shots and slow scenes unfold using strange camera angles, lighting and set design that all unnerve and intrigue.

It’s poignant and moving to see actors returning to roles they played in the first two seasons and inhabiting them with such ease. Michael Horse as Hawk is as dignified as he ever was and imposing with his white hair and aged face. Madchen Amick as Shelley, who appears towards the end of episode 2, is a mature beauty now and I can’t wait to see more of her.

And then there’s Kyle MacLachlan, playing two characters and convincing completely as both the trapped good Dale in the lodge and the feral and foul Dale out in the world, murdering and torturing as he goes.

Sadly there are characters we won’t see again because the actors have died. Seeing Catherine Coulson, clearly very ill and close to death delivering her messages as the Log Lady choked me up.

It’s good to be back in the weird and wonderful world of Twin Peaks and in the hands of Mark Frost and David Lynch throughout. They now get to finish their story the way they want to tell it and the world-wide fan-base is thankful to them for that.

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