‘Twin Peaks: The Return’ Episodes 1-4: The Place Both Wonderful and Strange is Back and Better than Ever

*WARNING: This article contains minor spoilers for Twin Peaks and The Return.*

It would be incredibly redundant to quote Laura Palmer’s famous words, “I’ll see you again in twenty-five years,” when referring to this long awaited revival of Twin Peaks, but it sure feels fitting. The finale of the original series, which featured a brutal cliffhanger, aired in June of 1991 and fans haven’t seen any new Twin Peaks material since the feature film, Fire Walk with Me, came out in 1992. It would be an understatement to say that the wait for a resolution to season two has been excruciating.

With that said, the wait is finally over as Showtime has released the first four of 18 episodes in this new season labelled as Twin Peaks: The Return which are all co-written, directed and edited by David Lynch. Plot details have been scarce to say the least as fans went into this new season knowing absolutely nothing. While the first four episodes have given us an idea of where the season is going to go, there is still a level of uncertainty. However, this uncertainty is more than welcome as it draws more intrigue and a feeling of pure unpredictability while being a pure Lynchian madhouse as well as maintaining the same campy, hilarious and wonderful moments and characters that made the show so beloved to begin with.

Showtime gave David Lynch a lot of creative control, and it shows. The first couple of episodes are by far the most Lynchian as we slowly return to the world of Twin Peaks. Lynch has grown as a director since the second season concluded. His films have become more cryptic, ambiguous and haunting, even though he has returned to a lot of the same themes throughout his career including multiple personalities, the constantly blurred line between fiction and reality, and key American elements never being what they seem. The new season has Lynch returning to his common motifs while maintaining the style he has been honing since Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive, and it works greatly to the benefit of the series. As he does in Fire Walk with Me, Lynch uses uncertainty in order to create fear, but he also uses it to create intrigue, fascination and, therefore, a longing to find out what happens next. He also refuses to take the lazy man’s way out of the cliffhangers of season two. He takes his time and allows everything to slowly and naturally occur as opposed to sloppily rushing to a resolution. While it may seem plodding and more surreal than before for many viewers, it was smart of Showtime to give Lynch as much creative control as they did.

Despite mostly sticking to the style he has honed later on in his career, Lynch sprinkles in call-backs to his earlier works throughout the episodes as well. For instance, the opening scene of the first episode contains both the aesthetic and tone of his debut feature, Eraserhead, which brilliantly gives fans the head’s up that this is pure Lynch and not the restrained version that we saw in the earlier seasons of the show. He does return to the campier aspects of the original series in the latter two episodes. For fans of solely the original series, episodes three and four closely resemble the Twin Peaks we loved before. However, what’s more impressive is how Lynch is able to balance the insanely dark and surreal with the campy, funny and even the sad. There is never a moment where the tonal shifts feel jarring or inappropriately placed, further proving the tight handle that Lynch has on the material. While Lynch’s style has certainly evolved in the last 25 years, there are still elements of The Return that feel just like the original series and the films that preceded it.

Most of the cast has returned for the new series except for a few that unfortunately passed away and those who didn’t want to come back. So far, some of the characters have either been written out of the series completely (Michael Ontkean’s Harry Truman) or have been replaced (Michael J. Anderson’s Man From Another Place). However, those who have returned are still as wonderful and strange as they were before. It feels like revisiting old friends for the first time in years, even if we haven’t seen all of the original cast yet. There is even serious potential for major character growth throughout the series from Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) and James Hurley (James Marshall) appearing in the first few episodes. While it’s uncertain what will happen next, hopefully the series lives up to that potential. The new additions to the cast have all been fantastic so far as well. Michael Cera steals his scene, Naomi Watts is a lot of fun so far, and Matthew Lillard gives a surprisingly creepy and fantastic performance. Hopefully we get to see more of the new additions and more great work from old faces.

twin peaks brain tree
At the end of Season 2, Michael J. Anderson’s character says, “The next time you see me, I won’t be me.” Now he’s a brain tree. (Twin Peaks, Showtime)

It’s been way too long since David Lynch has made anything film or TV related and it’s been even longer since Twin Peaks has been off the air, so of course fan expectations have been through the roof. So far, if these first four episodes are any indication, The Return is going to be a stellar 18 hours of television. While it has been continuing the style and vibe of Lynch’s later works, he still pays homage to his earlier works and balances the sadistic and surreal with the campiness of the original series. Fans certainly won’t be disappointed, but for those new to the world of Twin Peaks, it’s best to start from the very beginning with the original series and the follow-up film, Fire Walk with Me. Both those and Mark Frost’s novel, The Secret History of Twin Peaks, are extremely important to the new season and its bottomless lore. Regardless, it’s great to see that David Lynch is back and still as brilliant as he was before.

(Featured Image: Twin Peaks, Showtime)

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