Welcome back to “The Waiting Room”. If this is your first time reading this feature, it’s my Monday night blog where now that the show is back I’ll be covering my thoughts, feelings and reactions to the latest “parts” not “episodes” of Twin Peaks: The Return. I’m going to go ahead and throw up the spoiler alert warning now—if you haven’t watched the first four parts stop reading now. I will be covering all four and boy is there a lot to cover. Here we go…
The final few minutes leading up to the premiere were some of the longest of my life. What will the opening credits be like? Who will be the first characters we see? Are we going to finally talk about Judy? What we got were new credits with the same theme song, which was a nice analogy for the rest of the evening. Some things will look and sound the same just as many won’t. If I were to try and oversimplify the first four parts, it would go something like this: This isn’t a nostalgia show. This is David Lynch making his art. It’s got familiar faces and themes but just as important will be the new faces and themes borrowed from his other works.
The story started with scenes from the Season 2 finale and moved into Cooper and The Giant, 25 years later in the lodge. Much like we left him, the good Dale is stuck in the lodge, and Doppel-Coop is free to run wild throughout the world. Coop interacted with Mike (The One-Armed Man) quite a bit who has seemingly become the go-to guy in the Black Lodge now that “The Arm” has been recast…as a tree with a brain. Much like “the baby” from Eraserhead, a beyond creepy creation of David Lynch is a main character in one of his works. Cooper’s visit from Laura in the Lodge might have been the most important scene of all four parts. “Laura Palmer is dead,” Cooper said. “I am dead, yet I live” Laura responded. Much like the initial red room scene, Laura whispered something to Cooper that obviously jarred him, yet we as an audience have no idea what she said. Laura was seemingly thrown out of the lodge (literally flying out of the scene) which promoted our one visit from Leland Palmer: a brief interaction with Cooper with Leland saying “Find Laura”. The emotional core of our story remains the same. This is Laura Palmer’s story starring Dale Cooper. There’s a lot more to come with these two.
Another major plot point of the evening was the Log Lady—shown visibly weak and unable to get out of her chair, reaching out to Hawk with a message from her log. Hawk was tasked with finding missing clues that only he can because of his heritage to help find the long-missing Agent Cooper. Hawk enlisted the help of Andy and Lucy to help him go through old case files, desperately trying to figure out what he was missing. Speaking of the former police team, there was a certain sense of bleakness and emptiness at the station. The old team is without Cooper obviously, and Frank Truman has replaced our beloved Harry S. Truman, who was described as being “sick”. The loss of those two is felt—the team has younger officers that don’t quite jive with how the police team of the past did things. They laugh at the mystic and you can tell that Twin Peaks is a little bit more like other towns without some of the pillars of the community. I felt the sadness too. We did get one strong link to the past at the police station when Bobby Briggs—now an officer of the law saw Hawk going through the old files and started right at a picture of his first love, the deceased Laura Palmer. It brought Bobby to tears and was the second time that Lynch showed us that even though so much was different, the core was the same.
One of my favorite parts of the evening was seeing Lynch turn back to his previous work and make nods—not in a self-indulgent way but rather incorporating ideas he’s passionate about. Matthew Lillard’s South Dakota noir subplot was pure Lost Highway with Blue Velvet’s setting (and left behind body parts). I’m a big fan of Lillard’s work and seeing him tell his wife in his jail cell that he “dreamed” he was at the crime scene that night made me think of Fred Madison’s dilemma from Lost Highway. As that scene ended, a jail cell next to him showed a supernatural-looking bum who disappeared after smiling at the news that Lillard’s marriage and life were falling apart which was very reminiscent of the bum behind Winkie’s in Mulholland Drive. My favorite example would be the opening scene of Part 3, where Cooper found himself in space before meeting Ronnette Pulaski and moving on his journey. I felt like I was watching the Lady in the Radiator scenes from Eraserhead—and loved every second of it. None of these examples felt like a creator simply treading old water – it felt fresh and like a master playing his best cards.
A few quick notes: The box in NYC. It has been long rumored that are “portals” that lead to the Lodge. Did someone become aware of one or attempt to create one? Who was backing this project? What exactly is Jacoby working on with all his shovels and interesting contraptions? I loved Lynch/Frost taking a shot at all the James haters with two simple lines. “He’s weird”, Shelly’s friend said. “No, James has always been cool” Shelly responded.
There’s obviously a lot more to cover. Next week in this column, I want to take a deeper look at Cooper/Doppel-Coop/Dougie and the FBI. There’s a lot to go over there, and it really deserves a lot of attention. Also next week the music of Twin Peaks, how I felt Ben and Jerry’s scene was the equivalent of the smashed TV that opened Fire Walk With Me and much more. We got four out of eighteen parts up front and there’s a lot to digest. As Mark Frost recently Tweeted: “The best coffee percolates slow”. Next week, let’s have a second cup. Thanks for reading, and I would love to hear your thoughts! Until then, I’ll see you in the trees…