This year Twin Peaks returns to television after 25 years. If you have not seen the show, but are intrigued by the new season, I think a binge-watch is in order. I would not recommend tuning into season three without doing so. You would most likely be super confused and you would miss out on what is one of the most unique experiences in television history.
Here are nine reasons for you to delve into the mysterious Twin Peaks universe.
1. David Lynch
David Lynch is artistic, eccentric, and has an unparalleled voice in film today. The worlds he creates are wonderfully strange, even when set in ordinary towns or familiar places. He is a modern-day Hitchcock, not in the sense of storytelling or aesthetic, but in the power to excite audiences with a distinctive style that is given its own name: Lynchian. When you describe something that way, you are referring to a specific look or feeling and it’s not something every director achieves.
Hitchcock took great care in making sure his audiences had a truly thrilling experience and Lynch is determined to provide the same. The production was highly secretive. Lynch and producer, Mark Frost, urged fans and fan sites to refrain from leaking images and spoilers to “keep the mystery alive.” And, surprisingly, the public respected their wishes. We know very little about the new season aside from a cast list of new and returning actors. That is near impossible to achieve in this day and age.
In October 2014, Lynch announced the return in a cryptic, Lynchian tweet. “Dear Twitter Friends: That gum you like is going to come back in style!” Five months later, the negotiations with Showtime fell apart. Lynch was unwilling to sacrifice his vision and Showtime was not prepared to give him what he needed. In a series of tweets, Lynch explained that Showtime did not pull the plug on Twin Peaks, but he would not be involved. “I love the world of Twin Peaks and wish things could have worked out differently,” he concluded. This sparked a massive campaign to #SaveTwinPeaks. The notion of returning to Twin Peaks without the master at the helm was completely unfathomable. It was not only fans that were outraged, but people directly involved with the show. The actors recorded a video relaying the sentiment that there is no Twin Peaks without David Lynch. Sheryl Lee — Laura Palmer herself — said “Twin Peaks without David Lynch is like a girl without a secret.”
Shortly after it began, the movement succeeded and Lynch signed on to direct all 18 episodes. Lynch tweeted another line from the show, “It is happening again.” It goes to show how vital Lynch is to the series and that anything less would be unacceptable.
2. Who killed Laura Palmer?
There’s nothing quite like the thrill of a big television mystery solved. The question of who killed Laura Palmer was asked throughout most of the show. That question is what brought Special Agent Dale Cooper to the town of Twin Peaks, and began the story. The puzzling — and sometimes supernatural — clues propelled the events in fascinating ways. It is a slow burn of a plot that ends in an explosion of a reveal, and the episode where the killer is unveiled is an intense hour of TV. It is one of six episodes directed by David Lynch in the original run of the series and is, in my opinion, one of the best episodes of television.
I did not watch the show when it first aired. I was introduced to it by my college roommate. Luckily, I had never been spoiled on who had killed Laura Palmer and was able to experience it as intended. Hopefully, if you are new to the series you will have this opportunity, as well. Even if it has been spoiled, it is a brilliantly crafted piece of work that is definitely worth watching.
3. The art
Like any masterful piece of art, Lynch’s work can be read countless different ways. Not everyone will find the same meaning within the many layers. Even one person can feel different ways about it at different times in their life, much like a great book. Twin Peaks gives the viewer so much material to sift through that one can philosophize it endlessly. You can meticulously excavate the details or you can simply revel in the artistry. You can debate interpretations with other Peakers or you can gush over the genius. There is really something for everyone who wants to appreciate a work of art.
4. The music
Angelo Badalamenti always composes scores for David Lynch’s projects. They must think on the same wavelength because his scores are as surreal as the stories and images created by Lynch. His haunting melodies can either terrify you or pull at your heartstrings. The visual aspects of the show are deeply affected by the music and vice versa. They complement and enhance one another.
Several scenes take place at a nightclub, where the same singer performs. On a stage very reminiscent of Blue Velvet, Julee Cruise sings in her dreamy and celestial voice. The effect is eerie and very fitting with the atmosphere of the show. Her scenes are rarely just ambiance — they become a meaningful part of the narrative. This is shown significantly in the episode where Laura Palmer’s killer is revealed.
5. The women of Twin Peaks
Never underestimate the women of Twin Peaks. The female characters run the gamut of personalities from corrupt to honest, from wild to mild-mannered and (like the owls) they are not what they seem. Beneath their personas are complex individuals. Femme fatales are disguised by modest facades and angelic faces sometimes have a darkness behind them. Although the show often portrays the brutalities against women, it also shows them as strong and formidable beings. But, none of them are without flaws. There are characters that have strength but also have vulnerability at the same time. There is a depth to all them (even Lucy). From duplicitous tycoon, Catherine, to cross-dressing DEA agent, Denis/Denise, there’s always a woman to relate to, or root for, or entertain you.
6. Special Agent Dale Cooper
Cooper is one of my favorite television characters of all time. He is smart, quirky, and he loves him some black coffee — “black as midnight on a moonless night,” to be specific. He is a practical federal agent that is open to otherworldly explanations. He never talks down to the seemingly simple folks that inhabit the town, but embraces their uniqueness and they help him with his investigation in ways he never expected.
7. Fire Walk With Me
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is a prequel film that you should absolutely watch after viewing seasons one and two. The killer is revealed in the film and you definitely do not want to spoil yourself. It chronicles Laura Palmer’s last week before her murder. The Twin Peaks series builds up the intrigue of Laura’s life and this film centers on it. It is a crucial part of immersing yourself in the world of Twin Peaks. And David Bowie is in it.
8. The fear factor
Twin Peaks and Fire Walk With Me have some of the scariest images I’ve ever seen. They have stuck with me and haunted me for years. It is amazing this aired on network TV in the early 90s. It reminds me of how each week I was shocked that Hannibal was still on the air. Both shows were cerebral, artistic, and horrific. Shows like this are usually not the mainstream public’s cup of tea. Regardless, Twin Peaks still managed to scare the crap out of me. The reason horror films do so well is that we like to be scared. It’s an adrenaline rush. If you like that kind of thing, Twin Peaks will not disappoint.
9. Coffee, donuts, and pie!
Who doesn’t love at least one of those things — if not all? The appearances and references to these items are delightful. Whether it’s a “fish in the percolator” or Sheriff Harry S. Truman shoving an entire donut in his mouth, it is always a welcome addition to the eccentricity of Twin Peaks. Agent Cooper’s adoration for coffee, donuts, and pie is really fun to watch.
Lynch shows us the seedy underbelly of a sleepy small town in America. The image of cherry pie helps with the illusion and makes the sinister deeds seem even more sinister once they are uncovered. The imagery of these food and drink items is not merely for show, it adds yet another layer to the complex Twin Peaks universe.
Hopefully, I was able to pique your interest in Twin Peaks (see what I did there?) The revival series' two-hour premiere begins Sunday, May 21 at 9/8c on Showtime. Showtime will be marathoning season one on January 14 and season two on February 20. Although, all episodes are also now streaming through Showtime.
If you enjoy the series, it will behoove you to find Fire Walk With Me and also the additional footage that was cut into a feature length film by David Lynch, called Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces. So let Diane know that you’ll be busy, grab a cup of damn fine coffee, and enter the wondrous world of Twin Peaks.