Well, I’ve just watched the first two episodes of the new season of Twin Peaks and, while I’m still processing exactly what went on, here are some initial thoughts.
Some spoilers for the first two episodes of the new season of Twin Peaks follow:
This is not the Twin Peaks you grew up with
Showtime described this new version of Twin Peaks as the ‘pure heroin’ version of David Lynch, and they weren’t kidding. It’s closer in tone to Lynch’s later films like Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway and obviously Fire Walk With Me. At times, it’s like watching a brand new Lynch film, with little interludes from the original cast inbetween. It’s dark, violent and foreboding and we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface. I can’t wait to find out what the remaining 16 episodes have in store for us.
Despite Angelo Badalamenti being credited with the score, there’s very little of the light jazzy music that accompanied almost every scene in the original. Instead, Lynch has taken the role of sound designer, and put some harsh, discordant audio over the most disturbing scenes. It’s effectively creepy but takes some readjustment. Also, there’s a blonde female singer singing in the bar at the end, but it’s not Julee Cruise – instead, it’s Ruth Radelet with her band Chromatics. This does rather hint at the reason loads of musicians are named in the new cast – will we see Sharon Van Etten playing out one episode with Serpents in the next few months?
Hello, Old Friends
Not all of the original cast make an appearance in the first two episodes but long-term fans won’t be disappointed. Kyle McLachlan is still trapped in the Black Lodge (looking remarkably well preserved for a man who’s just sat in a red room for 26 years), and his doppleganger is causing havoc murdering people. Evil Cooper now has long hair (a nod to Bob) and a rather weather-beaten complexion, while Good Dale pretty much looks the same as he did last time we saw him. That Damn Fine Coffee has some good anti-ageing qualities, obviously.
Of the rest of the cast, we see Ben Horne and his brother Jerry bantering away in one scene, Lucy and Andy who are now married (Kimmy Robertson also looks pretty much the same), Deputy Sheriff Hawk seems to be in charge (there are now two Sheriff Truemans, one of whom is ill, the other who has gone fishing – as Michael Ontkean has officially retired, I’d imagine they’ve brought in Robert Forster as his brother), has a distinguished mane of long grey hair and is looking for Agent Cooper (recalling the line that Cooper uttered in the original: “Hawk, if I’m ever lost, I hope they send you to find me”). Doctor Jacoby also appears very briefly towards the start, and in the last scene we see Shelly (Madchen Amick, who’s had a pretty successful career in TV since Twin Peaks, so her appearance isn’t so much of a jolt from the past) and James Hurley (who doesn’t really speak, but I bet he’s still the Absolute Worst).
And, upsettingly, there are two brief appearances by Catherine Coulson aka The Log Lady, obviously filmed very close to her death in 2015, looking very frail and in pain. It’s lovely that she found the strength to film her scenes, but seeing how ill she looks made me feel quite sad.
Meet the new cast, not the same as the old cast
There’s an awful lot of new characters to get your head around in the first two episodes. Matthew Lillard plays Bill, a school principal accused of murder who, by the look of it, is probably tied up in whatever Evil Cooper’s doing (this section of the show feels weirdly like Fargo). There’s a very strange sub-plot set in New York where a man has to stare at a glass box (this is eventually revealed to be a portal from the Black Lodge), and Ashley Judd appears briefly as Ben Horne’s new secretary. Some people may be disappointed at the lack of time spent in Twin Peaks itself, but I found the new plots totally gripping and can’t wait to see how they tie in to the overall mythology.
David Lynch has still ‘got it’
I was a bit wary that, with Lynch not directing a feature since 2006, that he may be a bit rusty. This was a spectacularly stupid assumption to make. From the opening few frames, this is all recognisably, (un)comfortably Lynchian. Some of the cinematography is breathtaking – there’s been so many slow-moving aerial shots of New York’s skyline that you doubt it could be done any differently, but Lynch’s panoramas are eerie, beautiful and weirdly creepy. There are his trademark long shots and languid style, and he’s still an absolute master of creating a sense of almost claustrophobic foreboding. If he really is going to retire after this round of Twin Peaks, then it’s quite the swansong to go out on.
The Black Lodge
Fans will be pleased that the Black Lodge plays a big part in at least the first two episodes. The chevrons and red curtains produced goosebumps in me when watching, and just seeing Sheryl Lee and McLachlan recreate that iconic dream scene was worth it. It was also a chance to briefly see Ray Wise as Leland, and Al Strobel as the One Armed Man. Carel Struychken also returns, although he was intriguingly credited as ????? ????? rather than The Giant. Oh, and there was also a talking tree instead of The Man From Another Place (probably due to Michael J Anderson’s spectacular falling out with Lynch which happened during filming of this new season). The ending of episode 2 seems to indicate we won’t be back in the Black Lodge for a while, but as ever with Lynch, who knows?
The first four episodes of Twin Peaks are available to watch on the Now TV app. Episodes 1 and 2 will be reshown on Sky Atlantic on Tuesday 23rd May at 9pm.