Twin Peaks: The Return – Episode 1 Review and Analysis (SPOILERS)

Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers for Twin Peaks: The Return episode 1.

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Introduction:

In an era where every show is trying to emulate Twin Peaks in one way or another, it is only fitting for the master to return and show them how it’s done. The direction of Twin Peaks: The Return  is David Lynch at his purest, with definite story guidance from Mark Frost, and the dialogue being an excellent blend of the two. But don’t go into The Return looking for cherry pie puns and tap dancers at the Great Northern. The new series takes a much darker and surrealist tone, comparable to Fire Walk With Me, and is very hard to follow for even the most seasoned Peaks Freak.

The scenes:

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As if we could forget. The opening of episode 1 is comprised of clips from the pilot and Season 2 finale, reminding us of Laura’s promise to Agent Cooper, which is finally coming to fruition.

The addition of old footage from seasons 1 and 2 made me more impatient than ever, funnily enough, all the years I’ve waited for new Twin Peaks and I can’t wait 25 more seconds to get to the new footage. In retrospect it was a nice addition, and led nicely into the new intro, which starts with Laura Palmer’s infamous photo, which reminds us how this all began. The new introduction is arguably better than the original. It sums up the two tones of the show perfectly — the beautiful cascading waterfall, and the dark red curtains of the waiting room waving to imitate flames. The shots of the town of Twin Peaks itself are omitted, and, while that is sad, it only makes sense. The new series so far has spent very little time in the eponymous town, and more time tracking the effects of the Black Lodge elsewhere in the world.

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The iconic red curtains resemble flames in the atmospheric new opening sequence.

It is nice to note that the first two words of the new series are “Agent Cooper,” spoken by Carel Struycken as The Giant. The original series ended with the burning question of what happened to Agent Cooper, and the new series gets straight to telling us the answer. We are given some of the classic backwards speak, which I found to be a real treat, and some more cryptic clues. The Giant plays some strange, distorted noises for Agent Cooper, then tells him “It is in our house now,” which Cooper seems to not only understand, but be concerned about. The use of the word “house” could be very simple, meaning the dwelling place of the Lodge spirits, but I couldn’t help but be reminded of the astrological concept of planetary houses, especially considering the Saturn Lamp seen in the waiting room.

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No more waiting. The first words spoken in the new footage are “Agent Cooper.”

The Doctor Jacoby scene is an oddball. I’m not sure why he’s the first returning Twin Peaks resident we see, or what the significance of his scenes are. Hopefully they are building up to something. Although, I should note that The Secret History of Twin Peaks says that Jacoby retired to Hawaii, so, why is he back in Twin Peaks? (Not that that would be the most glaring inconsistency from The Secret History…)

No sooner do we get our long-awaited glimpse of Twin Peaks than we are yanked off to New York to meet new character Sam. This is the first time I started getting Eraserhead vibes. The scene of Sam going about his work somehow reminded me of Henry Spencer placing the worm in his cabinet. It’s not an obvious connection, and probably just a coincidence, but we will return to Eraserhead soon.

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The man in the box. Twin Peaks: The Return has plenty of new mysteries for us.

Tracy and Sam’s interaction is some classic Lynch direction, I must say. The characters speak with that stilted, outdated-sounding speech pattern that he has used in previous films. I call it Bad Acting On Purpose, and a good example of it is Betty’s introduction in Mulholland Drive. It’s often used to exaggerate youth and a kind of naivete, and to juxtapose some horrific scenes to come.

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The Great Northern Hotel is as much a part of Twin Peaks nostalgia as any character.

I have to admit, I cheered when I saw the Great Northern Hotel. Richard Beymer and David Patrick Kelly are on point in their performances, as if they never stopped playing those characters. I really believed that it was still Ben and Jerry Horne, and the progressions of their characters seemed natural. I think it’s also worth noting that, immediately after leaving New York, Ben Horne mentions a wealthy client, Mrs. Houseman, from New York. (“She and her New York friends keep our spa running.”) Could Mrs. Houseman be the wealthy billionaire we hear mentioned later? It also seems like Ben may have retained some of his newfound goodness from Season 2’s breakdown story arc. There goes my theory that the knock on the head made him go bad again…

I thought it was nice that they chose to say Sheriff Harry Truman is sick. I think it’s respectful of the actor, and leaves the door open for him to return if he ever wishes.

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Hell will freeze over and I’ll be damned / ‘Fore I take orders from any ol’ man. Cooper has the fury of his own momentum.

After some banter between Lucy and an insurance salesman, we get THE SCENE. I call it THE SCENE because it confirms something I have been saying for years now. Everyone wondered who would be filling in for Frank Silva as BOB, and, to me, the answer was always as clear as it is heart-rending. Former Agent Dale Cooper is “the new” BOB. As soon as I saw his face emerge from the darkness, I cried out. It had such an impact to finally see the horror I knew was coming. It’s Dale Cooper, of course, but BOB is written all over him: The long, stringy hair, the tanned, dirty skin… This whole scene is filled with a dirty, menacing feeling. You just know something horrible is about to happen. The long, winding shot of a street illuminated only by headlights is one that Lynch obviously loves, as we’ve now seen it in Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire, and Twin Peaks. And, incidentally, the full version of the song playing in this scene (“American Woman” by the Muddy Magnolias) mentions New York in the lyrics. Coincidence? I think not.

Next, we’re back in New York and we get some back story on what Sam is doing there. Now, I have a few questions/theories regarding this glass box experiment. I’m curious to find out if this glass box project has anything to do with Major Briggs’ Listening Post Alpha. The mysterious billionaire could be another Milford, or someone he knew during his adventures as one of the men in black, and possibly connected with the Mrs. Houseman we heard mentioned earlier. I think the creature (referred to as the “experiment model”) appeared because Sam and Tracey began having sex, and it was drawn to the intense emotion, since we know Dugpas feed on pain and suffering, and it is said love and fear are the keys to the Lodges (sex is an act of love). It also seems like whoever is running the experiment is trying to actually capture a Dugpa, physically. I wonder what they want to do with it. Either way, they failed rather miserably. Also, is this an artificially created portal to the Lodges, or does this one naturally occur here, and the boxes were built around the opening?

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The experiment model. We have many questions about this thing.

I’m having a big debate with my friend about what the experiment model actually looks like. We both see a distinctly female body, with breasts and a vagina, but we both see different things in the head. My friend sees a head, similar to the one we see on the baby in Eraserhead. I see the head of a grey alien (although, at first I thought it was a hooded figure). Either way, this is easily the most terrifying moment in the episode.

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A little on the lengthy side. Things take a while to get going in Buckinghorn, South Dakota.

Next comes the introduction of the South Dakota plot line, which, for me, is taking a lot of patience to get through, and not just because of the amount of time it takes just to get to the point in the beginning. It seems a bit redundant at first, as it seems to be echoing the events of Twin Peaks — a married man, well-respected and well-liked in his community, is possessed by murderous demon. He has an affair, and kills his mistress, but does not remember killing her. Of course this is all going somewhere, but, for me, I’ve had trouble waiting through this story line, as it seemed to be telling me a lot of things I already know. I think a lot of elements of this sequence will come back and prove significant later. A lot of people think the body in Ruth Davenport’s apartment is Major Briggs’ body, and I have no idea why. Major Briggs was a portly man, but that body is much fatter than he was, and has very dark hair. Also, later elements that we have little reason to disbelieve tell us that Major Briggs’ body would not be around still. It’s also worth noting that Brent Briscoe and Robert Forster both appear as detectives in Mulholland Drive, and here, they also appear as police men. Also, Constance Talbot, introduced in this scene, is quickly becoming a fan favorite, it would seem. I like her, she is very convincing and real in the role.

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“Good night, Hawk.” One of our last glimpses of Margaret Lanterman.

I don’t know where to begin with the Log Lady scenes. They break my heart. I can’t watch them without crying. I don’t even want to get into how sad it makes me, so we’ll leave it there. I like seeing interaction between Margaret and Hawk, because they make sense as a team. Knowing Hawk’s Native heritage, he would have grown up with stories about nature spirits, and so he is probably the most likely to take her and her log seriously. My prediction on what is missing? The pieces of Laura’s diary. Remember that Annie appeared to Laura before her death, and asked her to write in her diary about “the good Dale” being trapped in the Black Lodge. It could be that Laura in fact did write that message down, but it was one of the destroyed pages, and so the message was not received. While Laura might not have to do with Hawk’s heritage, the Black Lodge, the place the message would tell him to go, certainly does. Otherwise, it may simply be that Dale Cooper is what’s missing.

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The wolf at the door. Could Bill Hastings be the new Leland Palmer?

Notice the door knocker on Bill Hastings’s front door, in the shape of a wolf. I think that’s a hint (as if we needed one) that he’s possessed by a Dugpa. It also connects with the inexplicable dog leg found in the trunk of his car. I still have no idea what the chunk of flesh is.

 

Author’s picks:

Episode’s best quotes:

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” – Ben Horne

“Good night, Hawk.” – Margaret Lanterman

Episode’s MVP:

Margaret Lanterman, The Log Lady, for delivering the message.

Conclusion:

The first episode does a good job of getting back on its feet and telling us what we can expect from the rest of the series. This is not fan service, this is not a repeat, this is not all the imitations of Twin Peaks you’ve seen come up over the years. This is the real deal, and it’s a bumpy ride. It’s not easy TV, and it’s not accessible. It’s something we’ve been given, and we must work to truly get the most out of it. We have to be patient, we have to be attentive, and we have to be ready to get our hearts ripped out.

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That’s all for now, until next episode.

Thanks for reading! The review of episodes 2, 3, and 4 will be out soon, so keep an eye out for those! In the meantime, let me know what you thought of the first episode. Did it meet your expectations? Exceed them? Or were you hoping for a more traditional Twin Peaks sequel? Comment below!

 

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5 Final Predictions for Twin Peaks: The Return

 

Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers for The Secret History of Twin Peaks.

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As we prepare to delve back into the strange and wonderful world of Twin Peaks, we all have our anticipations, our hopes, and our assumptions. If you are looking for some last-minute theories to get you revved up for the premiere this Sunday, look no further. Here are my final predictions for Twin Peaks: The Return.

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5. Big Ed stayed with Nadine

In the recent trailer released from Showtime, Big Ed is seen, presumably at the desk of his Gas Farm, looking pretty sullen. Many fans hoped that 2017 would see Big Ed Hurley finally united with his long-time sweetheart, Norma Jennings. But from the looks of this clip, either things have gone wrong with Norma, or he has stayed in his unhappy marriage to Nadine. Alternately, he may have lost both women. When Nadine comes out of her teenage fantasy, she finally realizes that she has truly lost Ed to Norma. She may have been too heartbroken to go back to Ed, and Norma may have been too tired of Ed’s inability to leave Nadine to stay with him.

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4. There are two Dale Coopers

“My name is Annie, and I’ve been with Laura and Dale. The good Dale is in the Lodge, and he can’t leave. Write it in your diary.”

-Annie Blackburn, Fire Walk With Me

At the end of Twin Peaks Season 2, viewers discovered the worst had happened when Agent Cooper, acting a little oddly after escaping from the Black Lodge, looked into the mirror and saw BOB in the reflection. This left us with an agonizing and iconic cliffhanger, and it would be a shame to not deliver on the 26-year-old promise of seeing an “Evil Dale Cooper.” This cliffhanger was referenced again in Fire Walk With Me when Annie Blackburn, who had also been in the Black Lodge with Cooper, appears to Laura Palmer and tells her that “The good Dale is in the Lodge and he can’t leave.” While it is a confusing situation at best, it would seem to imply that Cooper has become spiritually bisected, leaving his “good” self in the Black Lodge, while his body, possessed by killer BOB, returned to Twin Peaks.

There are many possible approaches that could be taken to this situation, as some fans theorize that the body we see possessed by BOB is actually that of Cooper’s Doppelganger, and not the original Cooper we know and love. Perhaps the Good Dale has finally escaped the Black Lodge, 25 years later, and is hunting down his Doppelganger, or perhaps he still needs to be rescued. If the body is his, and not the Doppelganger’s, then it is possible he will not be able to leave the Black Lodge until his body is returned to him. Perhaps, until that time comes, he will be exploring the various dimensions of the Lodges…

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3. Return to the Roadhouse

When the official cast list for Twin Peaks: The Return was released last year, it was obvious that the new series had enough musicians to fill their 18 episodes, and then some. These musicians include previous Lynch collaborators Julee Cruise, Chrysta Bell, and Trent Reznor, as well as some surprising newcomers like Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder. While it’s not clear if these musicians are simply listed as collaborators on the soundtrack, or will be making an appearance in the show, it would be a lovely treat and in keeping with the original series to include some haunting musical performances on the stage of the Roadhouse.

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2. I’m not saying it’s aliens…

I don’t think we will ever see a spaceship in Twin Peaks. I do think further discussion of Project Blue Book, and blatant addressing of the subject of aliens, is unavoidable in order to progress certain plot elements. But Twin Peaks will never be a sci-fi story. I don’t think Mark Frost or David Lynch want to do that by any means. I don’t think we will ever hear it definitively said that the owls are alien spies, or that the Dugpas are from another planet, as some have speculated. In true enigmatic form, I think it will be left up for interpretation, and implied that the Dugpas are not spirits, or Native American gods, or extraterrestrials, but something beyond our comprehension, and far more terrifying.

Blue Rose

1. The Blue Rose is code for Listening Post Alpha

More than anything else, when the photos for the Entertainment Weekly photo shoot came out earlier this year, I think I was most stunned by the appearance of a blue rose, right there on the table between Audrey and Shelly. One of the enduring mysteries of Twin Peaks is that of the Blue Rose. It only appeared in FWWM, but it made a huge impression on fans. Agent Cooper refers to Teresa Banks’ murder as “one of Gordon Cole’s Blue Rose cases,” and Agent Desmond says that he can’t talk about the Blue Rose with Agent Stanley. With no further information, fans analyzed the symbol as best they could, and came up with some interesting theories. The most popular and most believable of these theories is that the Blue Rose is code for Project Blue Book, due to 1) color association, 2) apparent ties to the government, and 3) the fact that blue roses do not exist in nature, suggesting an “otherworldly” element to them. After reading The Secret History of Twin Peaks, I am convinced more than ever that this theory is very near the mark.

While the Blue Rose itself is never mentioned in The Secret History, we are given more background on Project Blue Book’s connection with the rest of the Twin Peaks mythology. It turns out that newspaper mogul Douglas Milford was, in his younger days, an agent working on Project Blue Book under then-President Richard Nixon. He was, in a manner of speaking, one of the “men in black,” appearing to investigate UFO cases, and other bizarre phenomena for the government. After Nixon’s death, Milford was spurred to create his own successor to Project Blue Book in Twin Peaks itself, known as Listening Post Alpha (LPA). He also recruited Major Garland Briggs to help him, and this is most likely the job that prompted him to so commonly quip, “That’s classified.” Milford then dies, suspected to have been murdered by his wife, possible assassin Lana Budding. He leaves Briggs a letter, philosophizing about the nature of the strange phenomena surrounding Twin Peaks, and concluding by telling Briggs to wait until his “next control arrives.”

Briggs, now in charge of LPA, believes that Agent Cooper has been sent by Gordon Cole to be his aid in these endeavors. This raises an eyebrow. Also contained in the dossier that comprises The Secret History is a list containing the names of FBI agents Cooper, Cole, Desmond, Stanley, Rosenfield, and Jeffries. The nature of this list is never revealed, but it is clearly important. Briggs and Milford must have been working with Cole on some level, otherwise there’s no reason for him to believe that Cole would “send” anyone to Briggs.

Remember how Cooper referred to the Blue Rose cases as being Cole’s? And which agents has Cole assigned to his Blue Rose cases? Agents Cooper, Desmond, Stanley, Rosenfield, and, in all probability, Jeffries. So it isn’t that big of a leap to suspect that the Blue Rose cases are linked to LPA, if not specifically code for LPA and its interests. Adding to this connection is the discovery by one sharp-eyed fan of a blue flower prop in Major Briggs’ house. While it appears to be a tulip, and not a rose, the similarities are distinctly there.

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I could of course be wrong about all of this. After all, the owls are not what they seem, and Lynch and Frost have kept us guessing from the very beginning, and the mystery they created together has lasted 27 long years. Only time will tell what truths are to be unveiled, and what mysteries are to be left uncertain forevermore.

What do you think will happen in the new series? What’s your favorite mystery from the show or the movie? How will you be celebrating the return of Twin Peaks? Post a comment below!