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Arts in Review

Twin Peaks: 25 years later and still weird



Season three of Twin Peaks was strange. Surprise. If you haven’t seen the show, seasons one and two aired in 1991 and 1992. The big question introduced in the first few minutes of screen time was: who killed Laura Palmer? In the small Washington State logging town, Twin Peaks, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper is assigned to the investigation. His methods are bizarre; interpreting dreams about backward speaking dwarves in mysterious red curtained, black and white, zig-zag floored rooms, he takes charge of the murder case with the local sheriffs on his team. He speaks of his desire to help the people of Tibet, and his lamenting of the fact that the Dalai Lama’s authority there has been seized by the Chinese. As an FBI agent, he follows strange synchronicities, and even uses a possibly fictional Tibetan divination technique that he learned subconsciously in a dream.

Twin Peaks is a town full of secrets, more-than-quirky personalities, smooth, finger-snapping jazz, and strange polarities between nature and industry. Agent Cooper, in his alone time, tells it all to his tape recorder, speaking to someone named “Diane,” and noting that he’s just got to find out what kind of trees these are!

In 2017, filmmakers David Lynch and Mark Frost’s reunion fulfilled Laura Palmer’s iconic backward spoken prophetic line “I’ll see you again in 25 years. Meanwhile.…”

The new season begins without the intimate small-town atmosphere of the original show. Is that rugged looking leather-jacketed fella Agent Cooper? That’s his face. Why is there a guy hired to secretly watch a big glass box in a skyscraper in New York City? What’s happening with all the old residents of the familiar little logging town? Sometimes the slow, jazzy pace of the show is exciting, but it’s a relief when season three finally gets back to some of the old characters.

Juvenile delinquent Bobby Briggs is looking promising in terms of his father’s dream about his future success — it’s less clear whether any real glimpse “through the darkness of future past” is gleaned regarding Garland Briggs’ deep-government messages from outer space about owls and Agent Cooper. I guess that somehow relates to the doppelgänger thing going on with bad Coop and stupid Coop in the new season.

The evolution of characters is the most entertaining thing about season three. Amazingly, most of the actors from 25 years ago are back. Gnarly psychotherapist Lawrence Jacobi is now retired from helping troubled minds, but still sports his red/cyan 3D glasses. Only now, he is “Dr. Amp,” and broadcasts a show that resembles the conspiracy radio show InfoWars, whose host has done an interview with David Lynch since Lynch’s last film Inland Empire.

The plot gets a little haywire in this season. Or it gets cosmic. I don’t know. There’s an eight-minute-long segment of space stuff elegantly exploding and spiralling. Maybe I have to do more transcendental meditation like David Lynch to get it. Usually, the mysteries of Twin Peaks are more entertaining than their answers. Even when we do get answers, they introduce more questions. Season three is still wonderfully interconnected with the many subplots that ended in cliffhangers in 1992. When Laura Palmer’s death was linked to her killer halfway through season two, it didn’t feel like there were any less questions remaining. That is still how I feel after all three seasons.

The world of Twin Peaks is compelling. The esoteric black and white lodges might relate to Frost’s confessed interest in theosophy. Is there some kind of coherency in the cosmology of Twin Peaks? I think there might be. I also think the mysteries might just be rabbit holes with no end but mad tea parties. Maybe the creators don’t even know what it’s all about. There are die-hard fans who could probably explain more of it than I can. Still, I personally think Twin Peaks is prodigious. I feel like it is more of a phenomenon than a television show, or a story. If you’re weird enough to have read this whole review, I recommend all three seasons of Twin Peaks.

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