Sunday, May 21, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return - Parts 01 & 02

My log has a message for you. Can you not hear it? I will speak for it then, "David Lynch is back in the saddle again and it is a thing. We have been missing Twin Peaks for a long a time and the way you will find it has something to do with your heritage."
If there were any doubt about why David Lynch framed Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) not so much as Twin Peaks Season 3, but more as its own show that is interconnected with the original, it finally became clear with the advent of the release of the first four episodes last evening on Showtime.
Even though several of the characters and story threads are returning and continuing from the original run of Twin Peaks (1990-91), much of The Return's style and tone is distinctively its own. This creates a new Twin Peaks experience with a vibe that is both familiar yet foreign, too.
In a TV environment shaped by the classic Twin Peaks, many in the press speculated whether the new Twin Peaks could possibly be as groundbreaking and original in our current day and age. And the answer is a resounding yes.
As Kyle MacLachlan warned viewers shortly before the world premiere, "We're going to dip into a world that's changed. This is not a nostalgic trip back down memory lane, by any means. These are new stories and a new direction. So that's part of the excitement, I think."
This originality might be a two-edged sword for some viewers who were hoping for a more clean-cut continuation of the original show, but it is a breath of fresh air for many viewers who have grown fatigued with the current, somewhat repetitive TV landscape.
For whatever criticisms one might be tempted to level at Twin Peaks: The Return (2017), David Lynch and Mark Frost did not go the easy route and simply rehash their original story. The Return will clearly stand on its own as a distinct work of art that will apparently remain connected to the original series, but will still feel free to explore new locations, characters, and themes with a style that overlaps with the classic show yet is not afraid to jump over the edge away from safe ground.
In many ways, at least so far in these early episodes, The Return shares a little more in common tonally with Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) than with the original series. The classic series had a particular setting and structure, but the prequel film began to open up new possibilities that the Lynch-Frost duo now seem to be using as a way to branch out across the United States of America in a story that now occupies a whole country rather than just the small town of Twin Peaks.
And like Fire Walk with Me, The Return is boldly unafraid to delve a long time in abstract sequences that only loosely seem connected to the main plot, at least at first glance. Courageously, the most Peaksian moment of these two segments does not occur until the very end of Part 2 when we finally return to the Roadhouse for the first time.
Of Parts 1 and 2, amid all the Black Lodge insanity dominating poor Agent Cooper's story line, this simple scene showing Shelly Johnson and James Hurley briefly acknowledge each other across the crowd at the Roadhouse is a welcome relief in a familiar environment. The Chromatics are great on stage playing music that feels like the modern equivalent of Julee Cruise's crooning songs from the classic series.
Even though we have not seen all the familiar faces return yet, and Agent Cooper's fate is still uncertain, David Lynch ends this two-parter on a hopeful note. So even though there are new, crazy things to try to get our minds wrapped around, a slew of new characters to get to know, and very different story and style to adapt to, this final scene at the Roadhouse reassures us that we as an audience are in good hands and we have arrived home.
And I am curious if anyone else noticed someone who looks suspiciously like Jacques Renault tending bar in the background? For those needing a reminder, Jacques Renault was killed off in the first season finale, so it was a little peculiar to see him back in his old familiar spot behind the bar again.
At first my mind raced with possibilities of this scene taking place in an alternate dimension or in an altered timeline of some kind, but then the end credits played and revealed actor Walter Olkewicz was in fact playing a character named "Jean-Michel Renault." So Twin Peaks Wikipedia editors, it looks like you will need to add a fourth Renault brother to your pages describing the Renault family.
We have another one of those crazy Canadian drug dealers added to the mix! Unless he was the only straight shooter of the bunch, which seems unlikely. And more importantly, Jean-Michel must be Jacques's long-lost twin brother, which would make him the first and only twin sibling ever featured on the show, which is interesting considering the word "Twin" is prominently in the show's title: Twin Peaks.
Although, Sheryl Lee did play a dual role as Laura Palmer and Maddy Ferguson, they were identical cousins and not actual twins. And of course the theme of duality and the literal appearance of doppelgangers was featured in the Twin Peaks Season 2 finale, and has been addressed again with Agent Cooper's unique situation.
But I still find it interesting that the first time we encounter an actual twin sibling in the history of Twin Peaks, it happens to be one of Jacques Renault, of all people. Go figure. I just hope Jean-Michel speaks in the same unique cadence and rhythm as his brothers Jacques, Jean, and Bernard. Jean-Michel has some pretty big pimping, bartending, and drug-dealing shoes to fill now that he is the last brother standing.
But there are many more questions to answer before this run is through. Why is a billionaire running a high-tech surveillance system on a glass box connecting worlds together? Did Sam and Tracey's union cause the dark entity to emerge? Is Bill Hastings another vessel for BOB to possess and use in killings? What is missing from Laura Palmer's case file? What about Hawk's heritage will be important in finding it? And what exactly is going on in Buckhorn, South Dakota that has BOB so interested?

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