Why I Love Twin Peaks The Return More Than The Original
Twin Peaks The Return is greater than the original show by a long, long way. It is more daring, more innovative, more terrifying and more beautiful. It is more in the style of the criminally underrated Fire Walk With Me and more recent David Lynch work like INLAND EMPIRE, which was until this show his masterpiece. I have previously written a good lot about why I love David Lynch, so let me just say that to me, his surreal, absurd journeys are the highest calling of cinema. They take you into a dream. In that dream you will see things that terrify you, and things that move you beyond measure. Twin Peaks The Return is the culmination of his entire career making these weird and wonderful stories. With only four episodes remaining, I felt it was time to put into words why exactly this show has meant so much to me, and many others who I am happy to call friends. So here it goes.
Twin Peaks is about life and death, about spiritual odysseys and about good and evil. The evil that lurks behind a friendly face is the most dangerous. The most important character in Twin Peaks is and was Agent Dale Cooper. A fresh faced, optimist, but one that has faced much evil in his life. His belief in Twin Peaks, "where a yellow light still means slow down and not speed up" as a beacon of everything good in the world is how we experience the story. Some people have been annoyed that Coop has of yet not appeared as his old self. I have already written about why Dougie is a great character, but I feel I didn't quite nail it so I will try to better express why I love Dougie here.
Dougie is Agent Dale Cooper, but a version of him who is newly born. I think this is something that has passed too many lazy observers. He is not mentally defective: he is existing as we all do when we're born. Working on pure instinct and being cared for by his loved ones. His good heart makes it possible for Coop to repair the life of Dougie, who was cheating on his wife and gambling away his money. Through bringing his pure soul into the lives of these people, he has made everything better. From his job to his family Dougie Coop has fixed what was once broken. Think of the Dougie storyline as the equivalent to the Laura Palmer murder mystery in the original. It is the center of the story being told and cannot be revealed too early. When he snaps back - and, no spoilers, he will - it will be when we are all ready to receive him. When Coop returns, the story will be nearly over as he is the last piece of the puzzle.
Coop has been on a journey of spirit and has been fighting to regain his old life. He was locked away for 25 years. It takes time to readjust to life. Crossing over from one dimension to another is surely not an easy thing to do. The audacious, daring decision to have the Dougie character last nearly the entire length of the show is something that was no doubt learned from the mistakes of the original run, where Laura Palmer's killer was revealed in the early moments of the second season. It basically killed the show. Like Lost - another great show that venerates mystery - the new Twin Peaks understands that you have to have the courage of your convictions. You have to play it all the way. Halfway is no good. I relate to Dougie Coop. I feel like I know him, in me. When we dream we become who we truly are. We are no longer constrained by physical reality. We are free to imagine and create new possibilities.
Dougie Coop exists as a pure soul, without words (well, some words, like coffee) and without the need to engage in meaningless vocal exchanges. He understands his environment in an instinctual way. Like the drawings that identified shady dealings in his job, or his sexual adventures with Janey E, he is more present in life than anyone else around him. He is connected to the foundations of life, deeply and truly. That he seems to be unaware is a deception, constructed by people who can't understand our higher purpose as living, breathing human beings. It is a lesson in patience too. And to not let preconceptions ruin your enjoyment of what is here and now. Don't worry about what might happen in the future, just enjoy the ride.
Some people have called the new Twin Peaks "self-indulgent". I genuinely don't know what show these people are watching. This is the worst kind of critic: one who thinks that because they don't find meaning in something that there is no meaning to find. Episode 8 and episode 14 are both examples of the stunning depth of the story being told by Mark Frost and David Lynch. The evil that has existed for time immemorial is examined in pictures and sounds, transmitting the ideas straight to your brain without exposition or explanation. You don't have to analyze it, you feel it. It's a panic attack. It's a sudden, basic understanding of the dangers that hide in the shadows. If you can't keep up with Lynch and Frost, there is no shame in that, but don't presume to condescend to others who do. Don't say "But what does it all mean?" FUCK OFF. It means more than you could ever know.
I feel those who don't understand the new Twin Peaks have not ever watched a David Lynch movie. Like, if you have seen his great trio of films, The Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive and INLAND EMPIRE, you are prepared for anything, no matter how batshit crazy. The viewer must discover for themselves that it is not the pictures on the screen that are at fault, but the individual who instead of opening their mind, closes it firmly to save face before the need to reveal they don't know what the fuck is happening. I was once in that position, as I have previously discussed and look, there is seriously no shame in it. Once you accept that you don't know what is happening, you can begin to understand it properly.
Unlike the original this is a show not confined to the town of Twin Peaks. It zooms around the map, from New York to Las Vegas and yes to the town itself. This expanding of the story beyond Twin Peaks is one of the strongest things about the show, in a similar way done by Fire Walk With Me. Its scope is through space and time, getting to the origin of things good and evil. This is something that the original started with the scenes in the Black Lodge, and followed up in more surreal detail in Fire Walk With Me, but it is in the new Twin Peaks that this otherworldly quality takes full control. If you thought the "real" story was that soap opera inspired comings and goings - something that still exists in the new Twin Peaks, though in a much less prominent place - then SURPRISE! You were way off.
Season 2, while having some terrific episodes - I mean that cliffhanger, Jesus - was a poor shadow of the tightness and focus of the first season. It was hampered severely by the reveal of Laura Palmer's murderer, way, way too early. It is something that produced some great standalone episodes but took the steam out of the whole affair and crippled the show's ability to hold an audience. The new Twin Peaks has completely solved that, with every little mystery being clasped safely to the breast of the show, only revealed when absolutely necessary. As mentioned previously, I feel this is a lesson not only from the failure of the original run but from Lost, which managed to keep its secrets for six whole seasons, with a start, a middle and an end.
The new Twin Peaks is the first time since Lost, and the original Twin Peaks before it, that I have felt an insatiable need to know what happens next. I need to know. Over the last week, myself and my brother watched episodes 13 and 14 together on a big screen TV. It was the best television experience of my life, no joke. The new Twin Peaks has nearly surpassed The Sopranos, Deadwood, Lost and The Wire as the greatest TV show of all time. If it finishes strong, and I have every reason to believe it will, it will cross over that line and go down in history as the most outrageously fecund, supremely creative show of all time. I mean, how in the blue hell was episode 8 shown on television?? It was the crowning achievement of David Lynch and Mark Frost's career. Or at least it will be until we see the last few episodes. I trust that we will see something truly special soon.
Twin Peaks prizes the mystery above all else. It raises it above the shit as something holy and pure. To be confused is a beautiful thing. To be enraptured and consumed by Art of this caliber is a calling in life. It is what we were born to do. When we die, and I guess we will probably die, I hope that we visit that Black and White Lodge and find our way back out again, in the body of a pure soul like Dougie Coop, cared for by those who love us dearly. To be reborn into the world without hang ups, prejudices or crippling emotional insecurity would be nice. Twin Peaks is the search for that life, to be human without fear. To get that life though, the show teaches us that we must be courageous and that we will meet great evil on our journey. It is the Hero's Journey. I don't think we'll ever see a show like Twin Peaks again, unless Lynch and Frost decide to give us a Season 4. I pray they will. Until then, let's appreciate what we have. What we have is pretty special. Thanks David Lynch, Mark Frost, Kyle MacLachlan and all the rest. You have given us a precious thing. Consider this repayment of a sort.