David Lynch’s surprise appearance at Showtime’s afternoon at the Television Critics Association press tour was very much like the experience of watching a Lynch movie — or an episode of Twin Peaks, whose revival Lynch was allegedly here to discuss.
The working schedule for the day featured only a handful of actors from the revival, which will premiere on May 21, but right before the panel began, Showtime’s head of publicity announced that Lynch was not only here, but would take our questions for twenty minutes — albeit with the warning that he wouldn’t reveal much about the new episodes.
This was an understatement. Examples of some of Lynch’s answers, which were either flowery or terse, but almost always managed to duck the task of actually answering the question:
On how his working relationship with Peaks co-creator Mark Frost has changed over the years: “In the beginning, many years ago, we were, Mark and I, as if lost in the wilderness. And as it always is in the beginning, and then we seemed to find some mountain, and we begin to climb, and when we rounded the mountain, we entered a deep forest. And going through the forest for a time, the trees began to thin. And when we came out of the woods, we discovered a small town called Twin Peaks, and we got to know many of the people in Twin Peaks, and the people who visited Twin Peaks, and we discovered a mystery, and within this mystery were many other mysteries. And we discovered a world, and within this world, there were other worlds. And that’s how it started. And that’s what brought us here today. The story continues.”
On what audiences should expect stylistically from the new episodes, given that Lynch (who directed all 18 hours) is a very different filmmaker from the one who did the original series: “This word ‘expect’ is a magical word. People expect things, and their expectations are met hopefully when they see the thing.”
On whether he finds accurate Showtime boss David Nevins’ quote that these new episodes would be a “pure heroin version of David Lynch”: “I hear heroin is a very popular drug these days.”
On the comically long list of actors who will allegedly be appearing in the new episodes: “You try to get the right person for the part.”
On how aware he is of expectations for the remake, or if he’s too in the middle of making it to notice: “I’m too in the middle, and I don’t go out much.”
On why he wanted to bring his frequent muse Laura Dern into the new episodes: “I love Laura Dern.”
Occasionally, a reporter would attempt to ask a follow-up question, but Lynch deftly parried or simply ignored it and answered whatever question he wanted to. It was a work of performance art so committed, and yet so sincere, that the TCA seemed on the verge of breaking their usual no-applause rule by the end of it. After Lynch left and several of his actors took the stage, someone asked if Lynch is more communicative with them than he was with us, prompting Kyle MacLachlan to deadpan, “You guys got a lot. He must really like you.”
Yet in that Lynch-ian way, there were actual answers hidden underneath the layers of peculiarity.
He agreed with Nevins’ assertion that the revival is intended as a one-time event, rather than an ongoing revival, but acknowledged, “Well, before I said I wasn’t going to revisit it, and I did. So you never say no, but right now, there’s no plans for anything more.”
He was relatively frank about the creative failings of the second ABC season, saying, “What killed Twin Peaks originally, ‘Who killed Laura Palmer?’ was a question that we did not ever want to answer. That Laura Palmer mystery was, like I said, the goose that laid these little golden eggs. And then at a certain point we were told we needed to wrap that up, and it never got going after that.”
And, most tellingly, when a reporter asked whether the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me would be treated as canon for the revival, or something that could be ignored, he paused for a long time, then replied, “I could say it’s the story of Laura Palmer’s last seven days. Very much important for this.”
And moments later, he stood and said, simply and sweetly, “Thank you very much, and I hope you enjoy Twin Peaks.”