Twin Peaks is somehow back, 26 years later, and I have a review of the two-hour premiere coming up just as soon as I massage your jaw…
“Hello, Agent Cooper. You can go out now.” -Laura Palmer
Early in the premiere, we are introduced to a young man, who sits in a large loft space in New York, spending night after night on a cozy couch, staring at a glass box on the off-chance that something miraculously appears in it.
This is Sam, and though he appears not long for this story — as he and his friend Tracey are attacked by the blurry/smokey/human? creature that emerges from the box while the two of them are hooking up — he is for a few moments a stand-in for every Twin Peaks fan who has spent the past quarter-century staring at the boxes opposite their own sofas, thinking of what a miracle it would be if new episodes of this show could somehow burst forth from it. Sam doesn’t know that’s why he’s there, much less the terrible fate that awaits him, but he is any of us who has ever told a friend, “The owls are not what they seem” and been crestfallen when they didn’t get the reference, any of us who enjoys a slice of cherry pie along with some damn fine coffee, any of us who can quote chapter and verse about Senor Droolcup, Mr. Tojamura, and the pine weasel.
Somehow, we are here. Somehow, David Lynch, Mark Frost, and a whole bunch of their surviving actors — including a few like the late Catherine Coulson, who survived just long enough to film a few scenes here at the start — have come back together after all this time to fill our boxes with this thing we’ve waited for across all those years, never really expecting to get it, not even entirely sure that we wanted it.
But was what came out of the box tonight a delight akin to Leland Palmer singing “Mairzy Doats” to Ben and Jerry Horne, or was it our version of the blurry monster, there to make us wish we’d never looked at the thing in the first place?
Well, it was definitely not a regretful monstrosity, even though it was slow and strange in ways that felt like Lynch was deliberately baiting his audience to see how much they would tolerate — and how much they actually remembered about the old show — after so much time away. Only some of the original characters returned, and most of them only briefly, with a large chunk of the story so far taking place in South Dakota with a new group of people, and structurally at points it felt like Lynch went into the editing room looking to find out how much he could randomize the order of scenes and still have the story vaguely make sense. And parts of it dragged like the worst offender of the “it’s really an XX-hour movie” nonsense plaguing current TV drama, magnified by a factor of Lynch.
And yet I loved every plodding, baffling minute of it.