Note, this series comes along with a strong caveat:
If you haven't seen the series before, stop now. Go back and watch seasons one and two, then come back up to date. This isn't like an episode of CSI or Law and Order where you can rather pick up any given episode and have a go of it. This would be like jumping into Lost and the start of the third season. That said, let's get to it.
Opening in the closing scenes of Twin Peak's season 2 with Laura Palmer and Agent Dale Cooper in the between of the Black Lodge, Laura tells Cooper, "I'll see you again in 25 years". That turns to be one of the most prophetic lines in tv history – being only one year off (and they were shooting the episodes when it was exactly the right time). By now it's been 26 years since that episode aired, and here we are again, back in Twin Peaks. Watching the two hour opening episode entitled The Return, Part 1, I wondered what someone who's never seen any of the first two seasons must be thinking. Generally I would have hoped that their friends had told them that they really should be taking advantage of the various recent marathons of the first two seasons, that way they'd be at least in a small part prepared for what we're likely to have in store.
Series creator/director David Lynch's name has long been synonymous with a style and flare that's nearly unique. When a show has quirky characters or a plot that has various apparently disconnected threads that suddenly all come together it'll often me called "Lynchian." I was even guilty of it a few months ago when FX Networks' Legion premiered. V Renee over at No Film School was pretty accurate by stating it's hard to describe but you'll know it when you see it – but along with that vagueness there are a few elements that stand out:
It's like being dropped into the middle of someone else's dream.
It's like the real world, only people speak backwards and the sun rises at night and sets in the morning.
It's what avant garde would look like if it was personified as a sociopathic serial killer trying really, really hard to not to kill again (but failing pretty bad).
It's an inescapable small town in America.
It's eery detachment and a crushing blow.
Agent Cooper (played again by Kyle MacLachlan) has been trapped in that Dark Lodge space for the past 25 years, in his place has been the malevolent spirit of Bob in a doppleganger (the images of Cooper with the long hair and leather jacket is Evil Cooper). Now that prophesied time is at hand, and the denizens of the Black Lodge are awaiting Bob's return and Cooper's departure. Visions of a bare tree with a speaking blob of flesh speaking of what is to come, and all the classic Twin Peaks' back-speak that one could hope for. Sheryl Lee is back as Laura (as is most of the original cast who are still with us). Remember it was events related to sex that Laura died the first time around.
There's a room with a lot of observation gear and a glass case, and an attendant who has sat for years awaiting something to happen. He doesn't know what, only that some eccentric billionaire is paying him to watch the case. When at long last he entertains female company during his watch over the box, a specter/fog of sorts appears and tears them to shreds.
There's a discovery of a dismembered corpse discovered in an apartment, leading to the arrest of the high school principal Bill (played by Hackers and Halt and Catch Fire alum Matthew Lillard). It appears that Bill's wife has been having an affair with the chief of police and she discovered Bill's affair and has set him up.
If you're sensing a bit of a trend here, it's that sex either kills in Twin Peaks, or always comes with some cost (physical or spiritual), and I expect that theme will continue to lead our characters along.
There are a few scenes with Margaret Lanterman (aka the Log Lady), played by the wonderful Catherine E. Coulson who passed away shortly after filming her scenes last year. Her warning calls to Deputy Sheriff Hawk points him towards finding Agent Cooper.
The series is paced with intent, that's not to say it falls into the same tedious habits of other contemporary shows such as House of Cards or Homeland with the "slow burn." Things here are always happening, just sometimes they're happening in a room with no-one talking. There's almost never anything in a scene that doesn't have some meaning, and these episodes will be undoubtedly picked apart frame by frame with a passion akin to the Zapruder Film. Anything from the songs that play to the #7 on the delivered coffee cups.
There was a span of time in the first hour of this two hour block of episodes (tonight actually counts as both episodes 1 and 2, and you can already watch 3 and 4 online) where I wasn't sure of the threads were going to resolve into some direction of focus. By shortly into the 2nd hour, however, it was clear that yup, Lynch knows his pacing. From those points outlined above: the crushing blow, and that feeling that you're an observer in someone else's dream. Those definitely ring true, and we're definitely back in Lunch's dreams. And I remembered why so many people were obsessed with the show those 26 long years ago.