Twin Peaks: The Return
Text Samantha Van Hoozer
Almost exactly 25 years after the original Twin Peaks concluded its two-season run following cancellation, Twin Peaks: The Return takes fans back into the bizarre and idyllic world of David Lynch’s 1990’s cult series. The story of The Return picks up 25 years after the massive cliffhanger that left original fans heartbroken. It features an unprecedented number of returning cast members, with almost every fan favorite character making an appearance in three or more episodes. Even actors like Everett McGill (Big Ed Hurly) who had not been in front of a camera for almost 20 years, agreed to take part in the revival because of their respect and appreciation for the series and David Lynch. As Kyle MacLachlan (Dale Cooper) says, “Whenever David calls, we answer the call.”
Twin Peaks: The Return
The Return re-unites fans with the world and characters they have longed to see again, but not in a way that anyone expected. There is no nostalgia to be found here. Special Agent Dale Cooper has been trapped by his evil doppelganger in the parallel dimension known as “The Black Lodge” for 25 years, and no one in the outside world of Twin Peaks or the FBI knew what had befallen him. Now, after Laura Palmer’s prophetic words in the Season 2 finale, “I’ll see you again in 25 years,” Cooper has finally escaped, but he is not the man we once knew. He replaces a third doppelganger named Dougie Jones in the outside world, most likely created by Cooper’s evil doppelganger, referred to as “Mr. C”. Either from his 25 years trapped in The Black Lodge with no regular human contact, or the trauma of his transition back to reality, Cooper stumbles around in a daze, having to re-learn what it is to be human.
Dale Cooper has always served as the character that reflects the audience, and like Cooper, we the viewers, are children stumbling around attempting to re-orient ourselves in the strange and wonderful environment of Twin Peaks. The world has changed, and the story of “The Return” was structured to fit this new world. With The Return David Lynch has been given complete creative freedom, and all we can do is sit back and enjoy the ride.
In Lynch’s work, everything is about the journey, and the return to Twin Peaks is nothing if not an exercise in patience. Those expecting Dale Cooper to regain full consciousness after the first few episodes of the revival were sorely disappointed, as it became increasingly apparent that he would not return until the very end of the series. Although having a character as beloved as Dale Cooper kept from the audience in such a manor feels like a sucker punch to the gut, it wouldn’t be Twin Peaks without some form of emotional turmoil. In the world of Twin Peaks, every action has an immediate consequence, and the revival had to display those characteristics. When Dale Cooper was trapped in The Black Lodge and his doppelganger escaped, those repercussions needed to be felt.
Waiting for Dale Cooper to return in all his quirky, charming, coffee and cherry pie loving glory has been excruciatingly frustrating, but it has also given us the opportunity to see just how talented Kyle MacLachlan really is. In The Return MacLachlan plays three characters, the good Dale Cooper, the bad Cooper (Mr. C), and Dougie Jones. Each character requires an astronomically different physical and emotional presentation, showcasing MachLachlan’s ability to adapt to any role necessary. His capacity to play so many different characters in one series absolutely deserves admiration, but the most moving part of his performance is the way that he shows the real Dale Cooper breaking through his Dougie Jones persona. Certain words and memories trigger Cooper to remember who he is for the briefest of moments, and MacLachlan displays this transformation with just the slightest alteration of his facial expressions, tone of voice and gestures. With just one look, MacLachlan allows the audience to glimpse the character they miss desperately, and the experience is heart wrenching. Although Twin Peaks: The Return was not eligible for the 2017 Emmys, it will be an absolute tragedy if MacLachlan does not win for his incredible work at The Emmys in 2018.
MacLachlan’s performance is one reason why Twin Peaks: The Return is the best revival in television history, but many elements combine to push Twin Peaks to the top of the heap in the age of peak TV. Angelo Badalamenti once again provides the soundtrack for Twin Peaks and just like his work on the original series, his music is the essence of the show. From “The Twin Peaks Theme,” to the haunting melody of “Laura Palmer’s Theme,” and a new track featured in Part 11 titled “Heartbreaking,” every note sets the tone and draws the viewer into the surreal world of Twin Peaks. David Lynch’s cinematography is like nothing else on TV, and the Big Bang creation myth style of Part 8 will absolutely blow your mind.
The original Twin Peaks carved the path for future supernatural crime dramas, serving as the main influence for the wildly popular and successful series The X Files, which became revolutionary in its own way. Without Twin Peaks so many of the shows we know and love would not have been able to succeed. It introduced viewers to an entirely new format and style of television that was foreign to those watching at the time, but is the standard for shows in the genre today. Just as it was revolutionary in 1990 and 1991, Twin Peaks: The Return continues to push boundaries and break new ground for modern television, demonstrating just what is possible when the brilliantly twisted creative mind of someone like David Lynch is allowed to be unleashed on a medium that provides so many opportunities and avenues for exploration. No matter your viewing preferences, Twin Peaks: The Return is a work of moving art that should not be missed.
Photo credit “Twin Peaks: The Return” - Source: Showtime http://www.sho.com/twin-peaks – CC by 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode
Check out the 2017 September RTT: