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TWIN PEAKS 2017 PILOT: Is David Lynch trying to merge the “Twin Peaks” universe with “Mulholland Dr.” and “Lost Highway”?

Posted on May 22nd, 2017
Posted on May 22nd, 2017

by Coop Cooper

In April of 1990, I stumbled upon one of the strangest, most fascinating shows I had ever seen. “Twin Peaks” begins in Washington state near the Canadian border with the murder of a high school teenager named Laura Palmer and the arrival of an FBI agent assigned to investigate the case. The story quickly spirals off into a quirky, supernatural mystery with a bizarre cast of characters in a soap opera-style format. The original “Twin Peaks” series was a cultural phenomenon lasting only two seasons (30 episodes) but inspired countless other films and shows, most notably “The X-Files” and “Lost”. Before “Peaks” ended, the spectre of murder victim Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) made an ominous statement to Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle McLachlan) in the final episode that she would see him again in twenty-five years. It actually took twenty-six but “Peaks” is finally back with a new one-season-only series on Showtime.

The last season of “Twin Peaks” left a few unresolved cliffhangers… The fates of multiple regular characters were hanging in the balance, including Agent Cooper who was trapped in a limbo dimension known as ‘The Black Lodge’. Meanwhile, a demon known as ‘Bob’ (Frank Silva) had taken over Cooper’s body in the real world. After twenty-five years, it was unknown how these events would tie into the new series. Not to mention, several of the actors who played key characters have since passed away, including Frank ‘Bob’ Silva. A feature film “Fire Walk With Me” (1992) was expected to give some answers, but instead acted as a surreal prequel focusing primarily on the last days of Laura Palmer’s life. Since we’ve waited so long for answers, how did writer/director David Lynch choose to continue the story? *Spoilers ahead!*

It begins in the grand-weirdness of David Lynch’s signature style. We get a glimpse of Agent Cooper in the Black Lodge being given some mysterious information by ‘The Giant’ (Carel Struycken). Then we see Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) at a trailer out in the woods receiving a shipment of shovels. Then we get a very familiar title sequence, then another odd sequence in New York City where a young man tends to a giant glass box in a room monitored with cameras. Then we are sent to Twin Peaks where we are re-introduced to a few individual characters who make up the cast of the original series. Afterwards, we meet Agent Cooper back in the real world, and he doesn’t seem quite himself; almost like he is possessed. Then we go back to the glass box in New York where things get REALLY weird and scary. As you can see, it’s hard to figure out what’s going on, but that’s often how Lynch operates. Each scene takes patience, analysis and connects to information/symbolism revealed later on.

With this first episode, Lynch doesn’t ease us back into the seemingly innocent world of Twin Peaks. The soap opera format is gone. He thrusts us immediately into the dark side and doesn’t give us any clues as to what is going on at first. We don’t experience any normalcy like we did in the original series which introduced audiences to a normal town with normal people and then slowly peels back the layers of it to reveal the darkness beneath it. The pilot of this series starts off avant garde and ends avant garde. Much like “Fire Walk With Me”, I seriously doubt anyone who is not familiar with “Twin Peaks” would be able to digest what is happening in this two-hour pilot episode. Even fans might have trouble getting back into it with all of the disjointed weirdness and no reality to hold onto. However, beginning it this way allows the scary atmosphere to sink in right away. There is some very frightening imagery here.

As a fan and long-time student of Lynch, I couldn’t help shake the feeling that he is secretly merging some of his most personal and artistic films such as “Lost Highway” and “Mulholland Dr.” with the world of “Twin Peaks”. Some of the same characters (or at least the same actors) appear in this pilot and some scenes from those movies seem extremely similar to scenes in this pilot. Perhaps they are all in the same fictional universe? There are also a lot of one-shot cameos by very recognizable actors who have never been introduced in the past series. Many of the actors from the original series will at least have cameos as well, if not full roles. Will this be his magnum opus to bring some of his most significant works together for one final amalgamation before he retires?

This series is strictly for “Twin Peaks” fans. Anyone else starting with these new episodes will be absolutely lost and confused. For fans, it will be a more heady and surreal experience than the original, but the fact that it exists is nothing less than a minor miracle. I can’t wait to see where it takes us next.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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