After the cliffhanger of Twin Peaks season one, and the long hiatus between seasons, I was glued to the TV at the premiere of season two… and was surprised to be greeted with an extremely slow episode in which a giant spoke to an unconscious Agent Cooper for 30 minutes, with no new answers or action forthcoming. It is mainly because of that experience that I suspected that the premiere of the new episodes of Twin Peaks would not exactly satisfy the breathless excitement and hype that had been building up, what with celebrity profiles and magazine covers and all. Lynch and company are NOT backing down from the ending of the series, are not backing down from all that stuff in Fire Walk With Me, and is continuing his journey into the inscrutable tone of Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire. Which is pretty much fine with me.
No, the good Cooper is still in the black lodge, and the bad Cooper is still roaming the streets, 27 years later. In the first four episodes, all that are available so far, we spend a lot of time in the black lodge, and there is a talking tree, a glass box poised to capture something supernatural, a vast ocean in a box floating in space, an eyeless woman, and freefalling through space, accomplished (seemingly) by having Kyle MacLachlan lie on a floor with an image of stars on it and shaking the camera a lot. You have to love it.
One thing that’s kind of moving is that you can see, through their decades of working together, complete trust between actor and director with MacLachlan and Lynch, with MacLachlan throwing himself with conviction into anything Lynch asks of him. I am really into the bad Cooper and love the pitiless, evil way MacLachlan plays him. It’s also moving when the series regulars show up, and the series is bringing them back in slowly, letting them just appear for a bit before actually giving them anything to do. My heart gave a little lurch when we first saw the Log Lady, her head almost bald from chemotherapy (the actress died soon after her scenes were shot), and I’ve gasped when we see references to earlier, like the ring from Fire Walk With Me. But for most of returning cast, they’re just older, and it’s touching to see them back in these roles, with all that time having gone by. Michael Ontkean as Sheriff Truman is sorely missed.
As for the plot, there is a new murder in South Dakota, committed by a man who doesn’t remember it, but had a dream about it. Other than that, the first four hours focus on Agent Cooper getting back out of the black lodge, and his wandering around dazed, while his evil doppelganger is still out there. It’s all very slow, not very funny and very, very esoteric, as though Lynch were trying to clear the room of casual viewers before things get really good… although we have no real guarantee that things will ever get good. Although we do know that they will be fascinating and worth watching.
As for me, devoted Twin Peaks addict from the time of the broadcast of the pilot… I am pretty much riveted. Yes, things could move a bit faster, yes, I could see less of MacLachlan lying on a star-patterned floor, but I am finding it increasingly engrossing and very eager to see where all of this is leading. The larger scope of it all is very exciting, and if Lynch can pull it all together in the way one hopes, it could be shattering. I do very much appreciate that we’re getting something entirely different. It could have been disastrous if they tried to simply recreate the feel of season one, with every note of quirkiness and offbeat humor now canned. Whatever you may think, the series isn’t apologizing and isn’t backing down from any of its weirder, more off-the-wall tangents, and I am completely on board to see where this is going.