‘Twin Peaks’ returns better, crazier than ever

Andrew Shermoen

“We live in a dream” is one of the most recurring quotes of David Lynch’s momentous return to TV in “Twin Peaks: The Return.” After 18 hours of surreal existential dread, I might just believe that. The spoilers ahead are not a part of that dream.

Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) entered The Black Lodge 25 years ago and was forced to remain while his evil-minded doppelganger roamed free, Cooper has finally found his way out. With only half a mind and the idea that his name is Dougie Jones, several of his allies are uncovering clues as to the nature of his disappearance and the existence of The Black and The White Lodge. The citizens of Twin Peaks are at relative ease before new evil starts brewing.

“Twin Peaks” feels impossible to review. It is truly unlike anything ever seen before on the small screen. Whether it’s an entire episode depicting the invention of evil after the detonation of the first atomic bomb or a monster made of TV static ripping apart innocent teenagers, “Twin Peaks” is both beautifully surreal and intensely terrifying.

Each of the locations within “Twin Peaks” make for fantastic story arcs. As the plot slowly advances, the intricate ways in which each location is connected to Dale Cooper becomes evident. 

All of the show’s elements are played off incredibly well because of two key elements: MacLachlan’s remarkable talent, and David Lynch and Mark Frost’s incredible writing.

MacLachlan’s Cooper has always been a riveting character to watch, but he’s doing something completely different this time around. Until the last few episodes, he is completely silent as Cooper, yet MacLachlan’s facial expressions convey so much drama, tension and stifled fear as his character encounters the truly terrifying imagery that permeates throughout the series.

All of this fails to mention the two other performances MacLachlan gave this season as the character of Mr. C, Cooper’s evil doppelgänger from The Black Lodge, and “Dougie Jones.” Both of these performances are so far removed from the regular Cooper character that MacLachlan provides the audience with three unique, tour-de-force performances over 18 episodes. 

The other stars of the show are Frost and Lynch. Their penchant for the weird and unconventional makes for some of the most fascinating and horrifying television I’ve ever watched. To be truly scared by a television show is no easy feat for screenwriters, and for those scares to be grounded in surreal, terrifying images is a lot harder than relying on jump scares.

I should give the caveat that this show is not for everyone. It is filled with odd, confusing moments and Lynch has never been one to tie up his stories with a neat little bow. “Twin Peaks” season two ended with dozens of plot holes and while season three fixed some of those holes, it leaves a dozen more in its wake.

The show’s two hour finale spent its first half tying season long-plot threads together nicely into a well-constructed narrative. Its second half, though, was a mysterious, confusing adventure between the two most important characters over the entire show: Laura and Dale. The season ends with shrill static noise and Laura’s blood-curdling scream as Cooper questions if he’s even in the right time period. It is very much a “Twin Peaks” kind of ending.

The greatest tragedy of the show may have been prevented, but what if everything Cooper did changed the world irrevocably. Laura couldn’t be saved, and maybe he can’t be either. Those who are lost always will be, and evil will never cease. Mothers will condemn the daughters they lost too early, and father’s will willfully lead their children to destruction like the biblical Abraham and Isaac.

Maybe the screams never end, whether they’re beautiful or nightmarish. Whatever it all means, the greatest question still needs to be answered: “We are like the dreamer who dreams and lives inside the dream, but who is the dreamer?” Is it Cooper, Laura, BOB, Dougie Jones? Or is it us?

At the end of the journey I felt absolutely confused, but I’m also exceedingly impressed. Lynch’s return to television is magnificently beautiful, truly terrifying and exceedingly brilliant. 

The third season of “Twin Peaks” is funny, scary, filled with fantastic performances and unique characters. It is a must watch show, but comes with the caveat that you may lose your mind.

5 out of 5 stars