What's becoming more and more evident as the new Peaks progresses is that the series is, in large part, a repository for Lynch's subconscious, past and present. A place for new visions, certainly, but also one where former flights of fancy can be restated and recontextualized. Returning to Barker, there's a quote from his introduction to an early short story collection ("Books of Blood") that's apropos of Lynch's current method: "We are all our own graveyards I believe; we squat amongst the tombs of the people we were."
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Hell-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o! (Keith Uhlich / MUBI)
Dale Cooper is not what he seems...
Lynch Unleashed, Laura Miller / Slate
Showtime’s [revival] of Twin Peaks is David Lynch unleashed. Mark Frost, who tethered the art-house director’s gnomic vision to the narrative imperatives of network television in the 1990s, has a much lighter touch on the reins this time around. The flowering of premium cable over the past decade-and-a-half has proven there’s an audience for television that breaks the traditional molds that once ruled the medium. But what about a showrunner who melts the new molds down and refashions them into Möbius strip? [...]
This isn’t the fusion of art-house sensibility with mainstream entertainment that many viewers expect from Twin Peaks; it’s basically an 18-hour David Lynch film whose viewers have a big head start on the backstory. For those who can get comfortable with all the director’s imponderables, the series’ spell soon becomes immersive. This may not be the Twin Peaks we grew up with, exactly, the show that changed television forever by proving how far the medium could reach. Instead, it’s the Twin Peaks we’ve grown into, the one we’re finally ready for, wherever it plans to take us.
Twin Peaks’ Fourth Episode Is an Absurdist Joy (Jen Chaney / Vulture)
The original Twin Peaks evoked teen movie stars of the ‘50s, most notably through the James Deanish James Hurley and the Elizabeth Tayloresque Audrey Horne. Wally Brando is the 2017 Twin Peaks homage to that trope, and a wry acknowledgment of how disastrous it would be to do everything exactly the same way it was done on Twin Peaks over two decades ago. Like the rest of the episode, it’s also a reminder that Twin Peaks still has the ability to give us what we’ve always wanted most from it, then and now: the element of totally bonkers, out-of-nowhere surprise.
‘Twin Peaks’ Trades Twists for Dream Logic (Alison Herman / The Ringer)
“Four hours in, The Return feels true to director David Lynch’s stubbornly enigmatic persona, unclear and unhurried in its efforts to reveal itself. The pace is leisurely, luxuriating in the lack of commercial breaks Lynch famously loathed; the proliferation of new characters is disorienting. The premiere felt like a warning and a promise: The man behind Twin Peaks is making up for lost time and going full Lynch. Accordingly, The Return feels like a David Lynch feature that just happens to use some of the building blocks of his old TV show. [...]
The familiar elements of The Return serve as a catalyst for the series’ amped-up sense of the uncanny. An amnesiac Cooper, unwittingly dropped into Dougie’s life right down to his awful jacket, looks on silently as bits of his past experiences bubble up like flotsam after a shipwreck. Instead of Twin Peaks–epicenter and damn-fine coffee dispensary the Double R Diner, the exurban housing development where Cooper reappears has the initials “RR.” Instead of the grove of sycamores that mark the Twin Peaks entrance to the Black Lodge, Coop drives past Sycamore Road. Instead of the owls of Owl Cave, a solitary bird flies past the house Dougie shared with his wife, played by Lynch stalwart Naomi Watts. When “Laura Palmer’s Theme” suddenly intrudes on a soundtrack that’s been conspicuously missing Angelo Badalamenti’s original score, the abruptness of the song’s return is even more disconcerting than the haunting dirge itself. Things just recur, at different times and places, without apparent rhyme or reason. Like a dream. [...] The Return isn’t a true follow-up to Twin Peaks. It’s something bigger, stranger, and far more interesting.”
The Return of Eraserhead (Jeff Jensen / Entertainment Weekly)
A few things got lost in Cooper’s transmutation from pure spirit to flesh and bone: his memory, much of his personality, and his shoes. It was if Cooper 2.0 had been reduced to Cooper 1.0’s best essential traits: his simplicity, his decency, his curiosity, his selflessness. And yet, he’s also a hero without a self. He’s an Eraserhead. His enchanted man-child evoked the protagonists of Being There, Rain Man, and Regarding Henry. There was some Boo Radley in his story, too, plus a touch of Forrest Gump. But the movie these episodes made me want to re-investigate most, after Lynch’s Eraserhead, was John Carpenter’s 1984 sci-fi romance Starman. Honestly, I had to fight through my want for classic Cooper to connect with this current take on Cooper and enjoy him, but I did. MacLachlan is just terrific.
Keeping Up With the Joneses (Sean T. Collins / Rolling Stone)
The Wally Brando scene teaches us something else about Twin Peaks 3.0. With four hours of the The Return under our belts, it’s getting a bit easier to understand its overall approach. Is it leaning hard on all of the original’s most esoteric and terrifying material? Yes. Is it still the kind of FBI/cop show that serves as the missing link between Hill Street Blues and The X-Files? Also yes. Is it going to make time for ridiculous comedy detours just like it did 25 years ago? Again, yes. Will it serve up the love and loss of soap opera and melodrama, with the emotional volume cranked so high that it could read as parody? Once more, yes. It’s just going to do all those things slowly, parceling them out a little bit at a time over the course of multiple hours, instead of whipsawing back and forth in every single outing. The comedy of part four, for example, provides a counterbalance for the black psychedelia of part three; you need to see both, however, to strike the balance.
In other words, as suspect as this kind of description has become in TV-watching circles, the new Twin Peaks really is an 18-hour movie. If you’ve ever seen Lynch’s epic-length Inland Empire, which is three full hours of his most experimental narrative work since Eraserhead, it’s not hard to imagine the director chomping at the bit for the chance to explore obsessions over an even larger canvas. For television this gutsy and this good, he can take all the time he needs.
Sculpting in Time (Vadim Rizov / Filmmaker Magazine)
Having to answer to no one, Lynch drags TV away from dialogue and into gallery-land: each room and space has been exquisitely color-graded, each signature ominous room tone/bass rumble personally sound-designed by Lynch himself. Confounding doesn’t necessarily mean patience-testing or boring, a conflation made even in many sympathetic reviews: it’s a different kind of pleasure — scanning the frame, appreciating the tonalities, listening closely — than TV viewers have been trained to accept or process. [...]
Lynch has always been inclined to durational filmmaking, in the sense of holding many of his shots at great, uninterrupted length (the overhead introduction of the delivery truck arriving at Dr. Jacoby’s place is a relative of the super-slow crane down introducing Richard Farnsworth’s house in The Straight Story). These four episodes get at a different kind of durational filmmaking: what Lynch seems to have figured out is that he can use 18 hours to explore whole sustained moods that, in his films, are normally/necessarily jammed up against each other, with their signature whiplash between rude if sometimes unsettling comedy and pure horror. Now he has the time and space to go all-in on these different modes, a far different use of TV running time than the twining and untwining of multiple narrative threads or accretion of writerly character detail.
Naomi Watts Reunited With David Lynch After 15 Years, And It Was An Acting Powerhouse (Zack Sharf | IndieWire)
It’d be a shame to overlook just how incredible Watts is in her “Twin Peaks” debut. In about four minutes, the actress runs the gamut of emotions and provides the revival with one of its best introductions to a new character so far. [...]
Part of what makes Watts’ introduction to the series so amazing is how Lynch utilizes her. He puts her right in the middle of the most comedically absurd episode of “Twin Peaks” ever, but has her go full-blown dramatic instead. Her first scene directly follows the surreal humor of Cooper’s outing at the casino, and it affords Lynch and Watts the opportunity to really amplify the dramatic tension of her introduction. We meet Janey-E as she slaps Cooper, who she believes is her husband Dougie, and demands answers for where he’s been and why he missed their son’s birthday party. It’s “Twin Peaks” in soap opera mode, but Watts guides the tone into more frantic drama as her scene progresses.
The New 'Twin Peaks' Is Funny as Hell (Jess Zimmerman | Vice)
Take the bit in Dougie's kitchen, where Dougie's kid Sonny Jim patiently teaches an ill-dressed Cooper how to eat pancakes. [...] I think this scene, in conversation with a similar scene in the original, is going to be the key to understanding the humor of nu-Peaks, and thus its sensibility.
In both, Cooper takes a sip of coffee, then spits it out. In 2017 he's sitting in a Vegas subdivision, wearing Dougie's hideous green jacket and with a tie draped over his head, whirring out "Hi!" as coffee continues to spill from his rictus mouth over the rhythm lines of "Take Five." In 1990, he's standing in front of a blackboard with a map of Tibet on the back in the woods of Twin Peaks; after spitting out his mouthful, he grins widely at the concerned onlookers and exclaims "Damn good coffee! And hot!" Meditate on those two scenes and they'll tell you everything you need to know.
I don't think this series is going to be a laugh riot. There's already been too much puking, too many gruesome dead bodies, and too many endless scenes in mysterious glitchy galactic living rooms for that. But all of those are the reason we need some chuckles once in a while. This set of episodes lets us know where we might find them, and what they'll look like: anarchic, sad, dreamlike and a little nightmarish, laughing and sometimes howling into the void.
Is Twin Peaks the Funniest Show on TV? (Scott Meslow | GQ)
I loved the first two episodes of the Twin Peaks revival, but I’m even happier with these, because they’re not just thought-provoking and suspenseful and artful and nostalgic and weird—they’re funny. And the original Twin Peaks run shows that Lynch understood, long before most TV creators understood, that the best TV dramas also tend to be the best TV comedies. Think of Christopher and Paulie bickering over the unkillable Russian in the pitch black-comedy of The Sopranos’ "Pine Barrens," or Mad Men's bug-eyed Pete Campbell sputtering, "Not great, Bob!" Even the best sitcoms tend to fall into patterns, but comedy thrives on the unexpected—so when a drama breaks convention and goes for laugh, the payoff can be even more rewarding.
Twin Peaks has always lived in that same expansive, genre-bending tradition, where a wrenching story about a horrifying murder and the collective grief after it can always manage to squeeze a little slapstick into the margins. And there’s an extra hidden benefit to making a drama that’s this funny: It expands the entire emotional palette of your show by association. It’s not for nothing that this goofy-ass Twin Peaks episode also features the most chilling scene of the new series, as Gordon Cole and Albert Rosenfield confront the doppelgänger wearing Cooper’s mask. This scene would be scary on its own—but its power grows exponentially in the stark contrast between the laugh-inducingly childlike Dougie-Coop and this unsettling, dead-eyed pretender. It’s a special hour of television that can simultaneously be the funniest episode I’ve seen in ages and the scariest episode I’ve seen in ages—but this week, Twin Peaks managed to be both.