By Ryan Keating-Lambert
SPOILERS, read at your own risk.
A triumphant return to the goofy and dark universe of coffee and pie, without the coffee and pie. Lynch’s long-awaited third season of Twin Peaks is extremely dark, and so masterful.
‘Hello, Agent Cooper.’ The third season picks up exactly where the second left off, with Dale Cooper (Kyle McLachlan) in the Black Lodge waiting out his time. Dale Cooper’s doppelganger, whom we see getting intimate with that mirror in the season 2 finale appears to be driving around and making a name for himself in the criminal underworld. A tough cookie compared to the original Cooper, who’s encountering things that are both equally weird and wonderful as what we remember from the Black Lodge in the first two seasons. The Arm… the Arm!
Something that might disappoint hardcore fans is the fact that Lynch has made it so dark. There are some scenes (that gruesome murder of a librarian) that seem like they’re straight out of Mulholland Drive or Lost Highway rather than the lighter hearted Twin Peaks or Blue Velvet. There also seems to be a strong influence from the controversial series prequel film Fire Walk With Me.
He’s also expanded the show’s geography. Rather than spending the third season solely in the town, Lynch takes us on a wild ride through a series of bizarre events happening throughout the U.S. which presumably will interconnect with the town and the mysterious Black Lodge. All of these events ad side stories are rather goth and grim, as well as somewhat confusing, but none as much as that standout New York City scene with the glass box.
Supervised by baby-faced Sam (Benjamin Rosenfeld). An ominous empty glass box is surrounded by cameras and appears to be harmless, but deep down we know there’s something going on there with that low frequency whirring that only a Lynch film can utilise to scare the absolute sh-t out of you. And then, that figure appears, and Sam and his lady friend Tracy (Madeline Zima) are torn to shreds. A truly nightmarish scene and one that, like those in the original series, I’ll remember forever. Lynch’s veteran cinematographer Peter Deming has done wonders with the shows visuals here.
But, what does that box mean exactly? It obviously has some kind of connection to the Black Lodge because Cooper briefly appears there. Is it also a metaphor for Lynch’s approach to television? The thing in the idiot box has been let out. In order for Twin Peaks to succeed in the now incredibly diverse and competitive television world, Lynch has to really push the boundaries, and clearly he has from this wonderful first outing.
Maybe it’s a symbol for the uncontrollable wave of hype and the monster that is social media, which remarkably, Lynch managed to avoid during majority of filming. Unlike everything else, which is packed to the brim with spoilers from the first set photos to the final trailer.
Then there’s the possibility that maybe the box means absolutely nothing… and you know what? That’s OK. The beauty of the work of David Lynch is his ability to simply project his endless stream of fascinating subconscious onto us all. Thank god Showtime has given him and co-writer Mark Frost free creative reign here.
Frost managed to glue together the loose pieces of Lynch’s absurdities with a dramatic soap opera formula in the original series, and we see only a bit of that here. Not to say that we don’t see some of the original characters. There’s the crew at the police station whom are still their same quirky doughnut-obsessed selves, and towards the end we see some of the original Bang Bang Bar regulars, with an ecstatic live performance from the band Chromatics, second only to Julee Cruise in this wonderfully ethereal music universe.
Like all modern reboots, remakes, sequels, prequels, and so on… there’s also a strong sense of nostalgia going on here. The Black Lodge scene with Cooper and Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) is an emotional ride as we witness Palmer as some kind of angelic otherworldly figure, before she’s quickly torn violently away into another reality. They’ve both aged, but really grown into themselves. Welcome back.
And then, we went from nostalgia to heartbreaking sadness when seeing the adorable log lady (Catherine E. Coulson), a favourite character for many and an integral part of the first two seasons. Coulson died of cancer during filming and you can really see the pain in her performance.
As seen in announcements last year though, there are still a HUGE number of new characters to get excited about in coming episodes. Some of them played by some extremely talented actors. Both Jennifer Jason-Leigh and Matthew Lillard popped up out of nowhere in this episode. Who’s next? AND WHAT IS THAT BOX?
Stay tuned for reviews of episodes 3 and 4 next week.