After the 27 year hiatus, many of us returned home again on Sunday night as Twin Peaks returned to our television sets. The two hour series premier featured a lot of content and played upon various emotions that left us all withering for more. There sure as hell was a lot to take in, especially if you stayed awake until 4am in the UK like I did. It was however, all worth it in the end. David Lynch and Mark Frost presented us with a spectacle, unlike anything currently on television. They essentially took the reins and schooled every other television show in history. This is how you do horror. This is how you do mystery. This is how you toy with the emotions of your audience when you pick up exactly where you left off 27 years ago.
After starting with the familiar scene from the last episode in 1991, we are thrown again into the red room with Laura Palmer and Dale Cooper. Only this time when we see Coop, there are no prosthetics or make-up in place to make him look older. He is older, almost exactly as predicted from the earlier seasons. We then transfer to a black and white filter as Agent Cooper is addressed by the giant, once again played by the iconic Carel Struycken. The weirdness is most definitely happening again.
Following this scene we are placed in an empty hallway in Twin Peaks high school, as the camera makes its way toward the trophy cabinet and focuses on that picture of the poster girl. The girl that started it all: Laura Palmer. The green font appears on our screens once again and those notes ring out exactly the way they did all these years ago. The same theme conducted by the brilliant Angelo Badalamenti is layered over a new title sequence filmed in glorious HD. Shots of those Douglas Fir trees and the waterfall next to the Great northern Hotel resonate with the audience. However a main importance of the new title sequence is the inclusion of the Red Room. The red drapes and zig-zag floor cements the role of the Black Lodge into the world of Twin Peaks, foreshadowing that the next 18 hours of content will indeed be both wonderful and strange.
So what has changed? The most immediate difference we see as a returning viewer is the image. Almost entirely gone are those warm 50’s style tones and soap-esque lighting. Instead, we are introduced to a bizarre case of modernity. It looks so new! We are subjected to the crisp world of high quality digital camera work. After watching Lynch’s last project ‘Inland Empire’, which was shot entirely in standard definition, I was sceptical of the fact that Lynch would not use HD and maybe film the new season similarly to ‘Inland Empire’. Once again he surprises me and most likely many others.
The concept of image does take a key central role in this new season. We see what we have seen previously in terms of characters and scenery, yet something always feels different. Old and familiar characters begin to appear, mostly wearing similar outfits, yet they look much older. This is of course inevitability, there is no masking the process of aging, yet David Lynch and Mark Frost use this to their complete advantage. The appearance of the familiar characters plays with the viewer’s emotions ranging from nostalgia to sadness. Everyone looks the same but different would be a sweeping way to summarise and this pretty much what can be said for the entire feel of this new season. More than a direct sequel to the original two seasons, it definitely feels more closely related to ‘Fire Walk With Me’, the feature length prequel. In essence, it feels more Lynchian.
As well as the re-introduction to old characters, there are a whole load of fresh faces as this is not solely based within the fictional logging town of Twin Peaks. Arrays of stars appear, most of who have worked with David Lynch previously in his other works. If you’re a Lynch fan, you will most likely be shouting at the screen ‘Oh it’s that guy’ and trying to picture where you have seen the person before. Again, this furthers the dynamic of familiarity that this season has managed to foreground. A personal favourite of mine is a brilliant performance from Matthew Lillard who is caught up in a messy situation involving a murder.
The location of the first two episodes switches from Twin Peaks, New York, Las Vegas and South Dakota. We cannot help but try to interlink the locations into one storyline, but as of yet, the storyline is typically non-linear and realistically would be a waste of time to try and interlink it until we have the full picture in front of us. The way the story is told in this season is totally unlike anything else on TV. It is incomparable. Therefore, I don’t see the point in analysing the potential theories at this point, because they will most likely be so very wrong.
Another aspect of the show that adds to the unease is the pacing. A lot of these scenes are slow and atmospheric. It is much more of a feeling than it is a typical linear show. There are a lot of camera tracking shots or long uneasy silences between dialogues. Again, this is typical of David Lynch. The building of tension once again plays with our emotions and strays from the conventions of what viewers would consider ‘normal’.
Compensating the long unsettling silences and uneasy pacing is spectacular sound design curated by David Lynch himself. It differs from what we are used to once again. There is a complete lack of jazz music which is notable from the conventions of the original two seasons. Instead, there are low rumbles similar to those in Eraserhead, low industrial rumblings again adding to the build of tension.
In essence, Twin Peaks is back, but not as we all know it. It is different. It does not aim to appease fans and rightly so. It aims to break boundaries. It could be considered as David Lynch’s Magnum Opus and gives a nod to his past works as they echo throughout the styles and themes of the show. Where it will go from here remains a mystery, perhaps the ultimate drama mystery that audiences have ever seen and are likely to ever see. It is very much what David Lynch wants and therefore it is exactly what true fans of Twin Peaks have been longing for.