Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Twin Peaks Season 3: Parts 1 and 2

The morning after Parts 1 & 2 aired a close friend messaged me apprehensively asking for my verdict. I told her I was thrilled, ecstatic even, for The Return was everything I hoped it would be whilst being completely unimaginable. She said she was relieved as she wouldn't have known how to console me had I been disappointed... Needless to say after all the hype, the mystery has been kept alive and this journey is definitely going to be both wonderful and strange.

A policeman's dream. Settling in for a long night.

Because we had to stay up until 2am to watch in the UK we made quite an evening of it. My sister decorated her house with Twin Peaks collectables gathered over the years along with dominoes, playing cards, a chess board and some wooden owl candle holders. For dinner we cooked Doctor Jacoby's Hawaiian burgers from Lindsey Bowden's Twin Peaks recipe book 'Damn Fine Cherry Pie'. I love this book and having tried a few of the recipes can testify that they are simple to follow with delicious results. The burgers were exceptional and we followed it up with some cherry pie (which I'm still not too keen on, just like Kyle Maclachlan!).

Damn fine cherry pie!
We named these two owls 'Not' and 'Seem'
Waiting until 2am was far more of an endurance test than I was expecting it to be. I felt like a child  trying to stay awake for midnight on new year's eve when it seems impossibly late but you know it will be worth it. To while away the time we played cards, made some owl origami, did a Twin Peaks quiz and drank more coffee. At midnight my sister proclaimed "Right, I think I'm going to have to eat donuts or I might as well give up". I was starting to pace and felt as though I was deliriously wandering the halls of the black lodge for an eternity... but finally it happened again.

Someone give me a job at One Eyed Jacks.
The origami owls are not what they seem... nor do they look much like owls.
I didn't think I would cry but as soon as Laura appeared on screen and the titles rolled of course I did. Laura spoke the first words of The Return, "Hello Agent Cooper" and as the camera slowly panned towards Laura's homecoming queen portrait it seemed we were being presented with a reminder that although the world of Twin Peaks is expanding, the catalyst of all of this is still Laura Palmer. I hope her story will continue to be significant.

The opening titles are so lush and memorising. The stunning aerial shots of the woods and famous waterfall demonstrate where technological advances and budget have been significantly increased for The Return. How wrong I was to predict that they would keep the old titles. As much as I miss the bird, these titles represent new beginnings and are utterly perfect.

The Giant (or is he? I was amused to see Carel Struycken's characrer billed as ????? in the closing credits) delivers typically cryptic messages to Agent Cooper who is trapped in the Black Lodge in a scene heavy with Eraserhead vibes. "Remember 430 and Richard and Linda" Some numbers, some names, none of it made sense to me but Cooper responds "I understand". Is this a joke at our expense? The thing about all of Lynch's work for me, is that I don't have a problem with not understanding. I just enjoy the experience and I hate to over analyse. Life is mysterious and unpredictable and being presented with new secrets is a wonderful thing.

Carel Struycken returns as The Giant or ??????
After seeing some old faces tinkering around Twin Peaks, it was a shock to jump to a stunning shot of the New York City skyline. New York's inclusion in the Twin Peaks universe is unexpected but provides a great excuse for me to visit one day (Twin Peaks tour of New York anyone?!). Inside a sky scraper a student looking to make some cash stares at a glass box having been given the arduous task from an unknown billionaire of watching it endlessly in case something appears. Much like us, as an audience, gazing at our own TVs in avid anticipation. The pace of this scene is slow, silent and all the more intriguing for it.

What follows is our long awaited introduction to Cooper's evil Doppelganger and boy is he bad. His beady black eyes are soulless and there isn't a speck of Cooper's optimistic demeanour to be found here. He is violent and vicious, taking out a backwoods log cabin guard in a few swift moves. Are we witnessing the combination of Cooper's FBI training with the evil of BOB equating to a man with an unprecedented brutality? He reminds me of Frank Booth in Blue Velvet - unpredictable and deathly dangerous.

Terrible tan and terrible hair. This is not our Special Agent.
Returning to New York and the mysterious glass box, the young man is joined by a hot date who sneaks in with him as the security guard is inexplicably nowhere to be found. Quicker than a right swipe, they get naked and get it on but as they do the glass box turns to black and a subhuman creature appears, smashing the glass between them to smithereens and slashing the couple into a bloody mess (this is exactly how I fear my Tinder dates could end). The creature looks alien and definitely something which Major Briggs' Project Blue Book may know a thing about.

We jump from New York to, of all places, South Dakota where a funny woman with a small dog named Armstrong calls the police in a fluster of panic having discovered a terrible smell emanating from her neighbour Ruth Davenport's apartment. In a scene very reminiscent of Mulholland Drive the horrifying corpse is revealed: Ruth's decaying head is there, her eye blown out, but her body is missing and has been replaced by the bloated corpse of an unknown John Doe. Finger prints lead to High School Principal Bill Hastings who claims total innocence (although he has dreamt about being in Ruth's apartment) but detectives find a bloody piece of flesh in the boot of his car... Has he been framed? Is he possessed? Or just an average homicidal maniac?

The next scene caused me to audibly gasp and breakdown with emotion upon realising who we were looking at, at once so familiar yet shockingly different. I thought we would see our beloved Log Lady in The Return and knowing that she sadly passed away from cancer in 2015 wasn't sure how, but there she was with little hair, a weakened body and oxygen tubes to assist her breathing. She looked weak and in pain so this must have been filmed in the last weeks of her life. It made the message the Log Lady delivers to Hawk even more poignant "something is missing" in relation to Cooper and the Laura Palmer case and Hawk must use his heritage to find it. "Goodnight Margaret" Hawk says. Catherine Coulson, a life long Lynch collaborator who always had so much time for the fans of Twin Peaks, will always be missed.

Goodnight Margaret
Back to South Dakota where Bill Hastings sits in a jail cell anguishing over his fate. After a visit from his wife who wishes him to rot in hell, the camera pans to another jail cell where a shadowy figure stares out and then disappears into the atmosphere. Inexplicable and unsettling - I loved it! Bill's wife soon becomes the next victim of Evil Coop who shoots her right in the eye... an injury similar to Ruth Davenport's. Is he the man behind the murder?

Next Las Vegas, Nevada and finally a little Badalamenti jazz shuffling plays to set the mood. The brilliant Patrick Fischler of Mulholland Drive tells a colleague to let a girl know "she's got the job". His colleague asks him "why do you let him make you do these things?" and he responds by saying "You better hope you never get involved with someone like him." Are they speaking of the billionaire funding the glass box portal in New York? Could it be evil doppelganger Cooper? Or someone yet to be revealed? Many different threads of plot, places, times and characters are being established.

Meanwhile (yes, that was on purpose) Hawk takes a stroll in the woods at night, searching for what's missing. I've always adored Hawk and it seems he's running the show at the Twin Peaks Sheriff Department these days although is still only a Deputy. The woods feel familiar and comforting despite the evil we know lurks there and upon finding the circle of sycamore trees, the red curtains of the Black Lodge come forward transporting us to the red room. What follows is pure Twin Peaks nostalgia - The One Armed Man asks Cooper if it is future or is it past? Laura Palmer shows up again and is both creepy and mystifying. She tells Coop he can "go out now", whispers a secret into his ear, delivers a classic Laura shriek of agony and then shoots off above.

Keeping to her word, Laura Palmer is seeing us again 25 years later (more or less)
Some of the visual effects have a distinctly old school student film feel about them which I find adds to the absurd unsettling mood of it all yet technological advancements have allowed for the Black Lodge to turn into a never ending sprawling universe. This combination of 'DIY' with seamless CGI is perfectly demonstrated in new breakout star The Evolution of The Arm. It seems since dancing Little Man From Another Place actor Michael J Anderson is not returning (he supposedly demanded more money to appear and then said some vile things about Lynch on Facebook) the joke's on him as his replacement is a sycomore tree with a fleshy, bubblegum like mass for a 'face'. It looks as though the head was moulded by the hands of Lynch himself, harking back to the baby in Eraserhead. Whilst The One Armed Man seems to be acting as a somewhat helpful tour guide of The Black Lodge to Cooper, The Evolution of The Arm holds some dubious wisdom - he tells Cooper that he can only leave The Black Lodge when his doppelganger returns to it. Not such good news.

"When you see me again it won't be me" Never has something uttered in The Black Lodge been so logical.
Evil Cooper knows he is meant to return to The Black Lodge but has no intention of doing so. Instead he is seeking something marked on a playing card that looks like a creepy fat owl (that's the best I can offer). In true vicious, animalistic BOB form he violently punches a lingerie clad girl who had been hired to kill him and then blows her brains out. "BOB was always a puncher" Miss Rose Thorne of The Double R Club reminded me, alluding to the fate of poor Maddie... Without a second thought towards his victim Evil Coop then makes a phone call to who he thinks is Phillip Jeffries (the missing agent played by David Bowie in Fire Walk With Me). But is it Jeffries? It doesn't sound like him and Evil Cooper isn't so sure himself, "You're going back in tomorrow, and I will be with BOB again" the mystery man on the phone tells him.

Owl cave symbol gone horribly wrong?
Evil Cooper also appears to kill a man by massaging his cheeks... did he make him swallow his own tongue and choke to death? I laughed at this scene and passed it off as general weirdness but my friend watching with me came up with that conclusion... Grim.

Death by pinched cheeks. A horrible way to go.
Back to the Good Cooper trapped in the Black Lodge, The Arm says "253, time and time again" and then repeats "BOB" three times. On exit Cooper meets Leland's doppelganger who solemnly asks him to "find Laura" before The Arm's evil doppelganger attacks him screeching "non-exis-tent". The Black Lodge is shaken up and Coop drops into a pool of darkness landing smack down in where else but the glass box in New York. Is this a man made portal to The Black Lodge? 

The first two parts soon come to an end in where else but Twin Peaks. Sarah Palmer is a shell of a woman, chain-smoking and drinking in the same house where her husband sexually abused her daughter and murdered her niece. Her TV screen is absurdly enormous and she watches lions graphically maul a buffalo... After what she endured 25 years ago I'm not that surprised by her miserable existence. Cutting to The Roadhouse, Julee Cruise has been replaced by The Chromatics performing 'Shadows' which I actually found perfectly fitting. There are familiar faces: Shelly Johnson is still a babe and speaks about her daughter Becky. She spots James Hurley in the crowd and explains that he has been in a motorcycle accident but he's "always been cool" - take that James haters! Balthazar Getty flirts with Shelly from the bar (he's a man I'd like to get to know) and weirdly the actor who played Jaques Renault is serving drinks... but Leland killed him??? The credits roll and reveal him to be yet another Renault brother called Jean-Michel. Hilarious.

Girls Big Night Out at The Roadhouse - wait, is that Vanessa from Gossip Girl?!
What a wild ride and I loved every moment of it. After so much anticipation it would have broken my heart if I didn't like it but I always trusted in Lynch and Frost and doubted this could possibly be the case. I wonder if Twin Peaks purists unfamiliar with Lynch's oeuvre won't be so keen on the direction events are taking? One thing I did miss was Angelo Badalamenti's original score to lighten the mood and jazz things up. Instead we had mainly eery silence with industrial hums and buzzes - a new mood which I can get behind. But I really enjoyed the insane song American Woman (by Muddy Magnolias) David Lynch remix.

In reflection, the viewing party we had was a perfect send off to the old Twin Peaks. There's no longer any cherry pie and coffee drinking frivolity and I'm OK with that. The old Twin Peaks is a show which we have quoted, discussed and watched to death. I'm thrilled to have more to indulge in and to go to places we never dreamed of before. It's going to be a hell of a Summer!