Hard to believe it was just last night the revival of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s genre-bending mystery premiered. By now, I’ve streamed episodes 3 & 4, given myself some time to ruminate and feel ready to contribute.
A few words before we being: This review contains spoilers. I wrote it to offer something to the global conversation, not to influence your decision to watch it. Also, I’d highly recommend reading Mark Frost’s novel The Secret History of Twin Peaks first, which informed my opinion and reception of the episodes. So, if you haven’t read it yet, bare it in mind, because I’ll be referencing crucial parts of the book. If you have read it, I’d like to invite you to browse my review here.
what worked for me
Surprise, surprise the esoteric elements fascinated me. “Wow. That was like porn for mystics,” I said shortly after it ended, “or anyone interested in metaphysics.” Specifically, the Black Lodge’s relationship with time and space as a possible nexus. You couldn’t be a Quantum physicist or an occultist and not be mystified last night. Twin Peaks has always explored metaphysics and mysticism, but the premier event broke new ground.
Remember when I said I’d be citing Frost’s novel? Those of you who’ve read it might recall the entity encountered by Richard Nixon and company behind glass, later in the dossier. Compare that scene to the pivotal “box” reveal, where an entity decimated Madeline Zima’s Tracy character and her unfortunate love interest. It’s been suggested online that the spirit in question was the whimsical “Arm” formerly played by Michael J. Anderson. Whether or not that’s the case (my boyfriend suggested it was Laura, after she was ripped or conjured from the Black Lodge), it’s worth mentioning Lynch and Frost’s choice for the Arm’s new form. Unorthodox, sure, but given the dwarf’s association with electricity, I couldn’t have asked for more. Recall the famous line from Jimmy Scott’s “Sycamore Trees” more than twenty-five years ago, “I’ll see you in the trees,” in collusion with the dwarf’s declaration, “When you see me again, it won’t be me,” during the previous installment’s final episode.
Much can be said for the premier’s relationship with nostalgia. The format for the new series is proving to be more character driven. The end credits billed Kyle Maclachlan’s Dale Cooper as the starring character. Every other character, both new and old, has revolved around him when appropriate. For myself, there was just the right amount of nostalgic warmth and humor,and I didn’t feel like it was shoe horned in.
Stylistically, I resonated with Lynch’s slow panning shots and full use of the background and foreground. Like every episode he directed during the original series, I knew I was viewing a true work of art, and not a network commercial.
what didn’t work for me
Hope this doesn’t sound contradictory. There were just a few moments where I felt like the special effects were jerky, too digital or sub-par. I have always loved the phantasmic white horse seen by Sarah Palmer in the 90’s, but last night I felt the effects surrounding it were hectic. Perhaps that’s just me. It was enough to pull me out of my prior state for a moment. Curious to see how I feel when I rewatch it.
Twin Peaks is gaining speed. David Lynch and Mark Frost will have eighteen hours to work with a universe of rich characters, expanding on their mythology and cosmology. We saw what creative red tape did to the second season of the previous series, and now we have a stage set with unprecedented freedom. The Twin Peaks revival broke the mold, as far as I’m concerned, despite some technical shortcomings that may be a necessary sign of the times… just as surely as whatever spirit broke New York City’s glass paneled box.
I’d say 4.5 stars for a stellar premier.