I feel like Krusty the Klown having just watching the adventures of “Worker and Parasite”, Eastern Europe’s favourite cat and mouse team. Showtime‘s revival of Twin Peaks was highly anticipated, but it will be interesting to see what people think of the two first new episodes of the series since 1991. In short, depending on how it all turns out, Twin Peaks 2017 will either be the epitome of everything director David Lynch does well, or everything that Peak TV does badly. The tagline for the series is “It’s happening again,” and if by that they mean the weirdness, symbolism and non-sequiturs, then yes, it is happening again.
The series opens with the classic Angelo Badalamenti theme, and the first beloved character from the original series we see is Dr. Jacoby, who’s now living out in the woods in a trailer, but is still sporting the 3D-style tinted glasses. He receives a delivery of shovels, which immediately seems weird, but we never come back and it bore little to no consequence to the rest of the night’s events. We then fade out to the events in the Black Lodge at the end of season 2, where Laura Palmer tells Cooper they’ll meet again in 25 years, and when Bob possesses Cooper’s doppelgänger and escapes into the real world. The real Agent Dale Cooper, it seems, was left to rot (in a spiritual sense) in the Black Lodge this last quarter century.
Meanwhile, Bob has used his life as Dale Cooper to look like the 1970s porn producer version of Dale Cooper. We meet Bob/Cooper earlier on as he springs a couple of associates from red neck jail (or something), and then has them set about various tasks. The trick is that Bob/Cooper is apparently meant to return to the Black Lodge soon, which he has no intention of doing especially since he has new schemes in motion. Time though may not be the only thing working against Bob/Cooper as he tries to reach to Phillip Jeffries, an FBI agent played by David Bowie in Fire Walk With Me, but he gets someone else who knows that Bob/Cooper time is almost up, and that he’s also recently seen Garland Briggs. Interesting that Bowie and Don S. Davis both pre-deceased the new series.
Those kind of Easter eggs, or for that matter any reference to what’s going on in Twin Peaks, were few and far between for much of the first hour. Instead, we head to New York where a man watches an empty glass box. His only reprieve is when the lovely Tracy arrives at the end of the night with a cup of coffee, but sadly she’s not authorized to watch a big, empty glass box. Who owns the box, why they’re paying this kid to record it and watch it, and why no one else is allowed in there, is unanswered, but one thing we know for sure is that you don’t take your lady friend inside for illicit sex while the security guard is gone. You never know when a monster will appear out of nowhere and leave you both a bloody mess.
Speaking of bloody messes, the new murder investigation is not happening in Twin Peaks, but rather several hundred miles away in Buckhorn, South Dakota, where a school library is found murdered in her apartment. Or rather her severed head is found in her apartment along with the the headless corpse of a John Doe. The principal of the same school, played by Matthew Lillard, is arrested for the crime after his prints are found in the librarian’s apartment. It turns out the principal and the librarian were having an affair, and the murder accusation comes much to the pleasure of the principal’s wife, who’s been having an affair of her own with the family lawyer. Her schadenfreude is short-lived though because Bob/Cooper arrives and kills her.
Look, I have no doubt that this is all going to tie together in some way. There’s still 16 episodes to go in order to watch the snake eat its own tale and see how everything comes full circle, but not only does taking us to a whole new town for a whole new crime with all new characters defeat the purpose of a reunion series, but it seems that Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost misunderstood what engrossed people about Twin Peaks to begin with. It wasn’t the weirdo stuff like Bob and the Black Lodge, it was the small town suffering at the loss of what they thought was a lovely and vivacious young woman. The power of that original pilot wasn’t the investigation into who killed Laura Palmer, it was how Laura’s murder hit her friends and family like a ton of bricks.
As for Twin Peaks, Cooper hasn’t been seen there in nearly 25 years, and no one knows what happened to him. There are apparently now two Sheriff Trumans, but neither of them was seen in either episode one or two, so Deputy Hawk seems to be in charge. If there’s another member of the original Twin Peaks cast that’s active in these initial episodes (aside from Cooper) it’s Hawk, who’s given a mission by the Log Lady to learn the truth about what happened to Cooper. Catherine E. Coulson, who played Margaret “Log Lady” Lanterman, passed away in 2015 from cancer, so some special care must have been taken by Lynch and Co. to film those scenes well in advance of the rest of the series, and before she passed away. There’s just that little bit of extra sadness in the phone scenes between Margaret and Hawk.
As for the rest of town, Ben Horne still runs the Northwestern with his new assistant that looks remarkably like Ashley Judd, while brother Jerry has become a part of Washington State’s lucrative legalized pot trade. Andy and Lucy are still together, and the road house is still in business, presumably under new management but Walter Olkewicz is still behind the bar even though Jacques Renault was killed at the end of season one. Also at the road house were Shelly Johnson, James Hurley, and Bobby Briggs. Shelly is having drinks with friends and talking about not liking some guy her daughter is dating (Hm, shades of Riverdale there) when she sees James across the bar. He sees her too, which presumes that in the last 25 years there was something between them, but I couldn’t help but think that this was a role that Lara Flynn Boyle was supposed to play had she been lured back to the show.
But perhaps she wasn’t given something meaty to play like running around various red curtained rooms and talking to trees with fleshy heads who are “the evolution of the arm.” That’s what Kyle MacLachlan got to do mostly as original recipe Agent Cooper, still perfectly trim and proper as compared to his doppelgänger, but he can’t leave the Black Lodge until Bob/Cooper returns. He gets close with the help of Laura Palmer, Phillip Michael Gerard, Leland Palmer, and the Giant, but the episode ends with Cooper seemingly floating aimlessly through the universe, ending up briefly in the glass box in New York right before the creature that killed the two lovers appeared. So it’s cyclical, right? I get it! (I still don’t get it.)
Where the series goes from here is anyone’s guess, and the level of secrecy around Twin Peaks rivals some nuclear missile silos, or upcoming Marvel Studios projects. What I do know I want is more Twin Peaks in my Twin Peaks. I want Big Ed, and Norma, and Nadine, and Albert Rosenfield, and Doc Hayward, and Audrey Horne… Imagine if they brought back The X-Files and made you follow two agents named Miller and Spencer for the first couple of episodes. Again, Lynch and Frost have earned some trust, but if this thing didn’t have the Twin Peaks name I couldn’t think of a reason to come back to it. We’ll see what revelations episode 3 has in store…