Well, Twin Peaks fans, I don’t think we’re in Twin Peaks anymore. The first episode of what is technically the third season of the cult 90's show on Showtime leaves more questions than answers (what else did you expect?) and sees the strange world of the original newly expanded. The kick-off for season three takes us through four different, but interconnected, storylines, only one of which takes places Twin Peaks, while the other three take place in South Dakota, New York, and the famous Red Room at the Black Lodge in its strange limbo world. The small-town hijinks and camp of the original don’t feature so heavily in this reboot, though—don’t get me wrong—this one has its camp moments, too. But with its multiple storylines, disposable characters, and moody, self-serious black humor, it feels spiritually much more akin to David Lynch’s films like Mulholland Drive, also originally meant to be a TV series.
It’s as if the most confusing plot elements of the original Twin Peaks have been dialed up to 100 and let loose on the rest of America. So basically, it’s a wild ride for fans of the show and completely nonsensical to anyone else. (Nb: What, if any, did the network notes look like on this? “Maybe make Red Room… less completely absurd and foreboding of unspeakable doom? BTW: What is Red Room? Necessary?” The more likely version: “Uh. OK!”)
Still, it’s part of a clear recipe in prestige TV, from Fargo to I Love Dick, of taking original material and swelling its world to fit the ever-expanding storylines and scope essential to an episodic series. More is more; results may vary. Or as the Log Lady said, “Where there was once one, there are now two. Or were there always two?”
After a prelude taken from the original series—Laura Palmer’s now-prescient promise to Special Agent Dale Cooper, “I’ll see you again in 25 years”—the season opens in the Red Room, which feels appropriate. Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan, who has aged well) has seemingly been trapped here for the last quarter century. Various personalities from the original appear and tell him cryptic pieces of advice, basically all alluding to the fact that Bob–the demonic entity that originally possessed Leland Palmer and made him kill his daughter Laura—is in the real world using Cooper’s body. The Giant tells him to “listen to the sounds,” and, “It all cannot be said aloud now.” Mmkay.
Maybe the most surprising development is that New York City plays a role, as we enter another storyline set in an amber-lit Gotham. In a nondescript brick building in Manhattan, a young man sits watching a glass box in a concrete bunker of a space . The glass box is connected to a small portal looking out on the city, as well as some very formidable-looking equipment. Cameras and screens surround the box. The man watches while sitting on a singular couch surrounded by boxes. Something is going to happen here, if you couldn’t tell from the eerie, ever-growing hum.
Outside the door, a smiling woman named Tracy arrives bearing lattes as a security guard stares her down. But she’s not allowed inside. The room is top secret. She persists, as she clearly has a crush on the guy, and offers to drop by again tomorrow.
Back in Twin Peaks, Dr. Jacoby gets a big delivery of shovels to his trailer; Benjamin Horne has hired Beverly (new-to-show Ashley Judd) as his new assistant at the hotel and gets a visit from his druggie brother Jerry, who asks if he’s sleeping with his recent hire yet; and at the sheriff’s office, someone looking for Sheriff Truman gets soundly confused by kooky secretary Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson). Same old, same old.
Elsewhere, driving on a dark winding forest road is the Dale Cooper inhabited by Bob (let’s call him Host Cooper). He’s leathery and tan, with long hair and a leather jacket, and he’s clearly on a mission. He rolls up to a wooden cabin where he promptly beats up a stooge standing guard and leaves hauling off two younger drifters, Ray and Daria.
Back in New York City, Tracy arrives at the strange building again with lattes, but the security guard is gone, so her suitor lets her in for a while. While she’s amazed by the glass box setup, he admits that he doesn’t know what it does–he just took the job as a gig. He’s supposed to “see something,” and apparently people have before, but he hasn’t yet and can’t talk about it. It doesn’t take long until they start hooking up on the couch, as the glass box grows more and more prominent, the hum louder and louder until…
The box goes black. A person, or humanoid, lurks inside it—but before we can tell what it is, the thing breaks through the glass, fills the room like a fog, and tears up the couple’s faces—or that’s what it looks like. It's old-school, schlockily vague visual effects that fit perfectly in the world that is Twin Peaks.
In a new location, Buckhorn, North Dakota, there’s a lot more weird small-town quirkiness than in Twin Peaks itself. The whole thing feels a little close to the Fargo reboot, as two cops discover through a series of comic interludes and bizarre townies that a woman named Ruth Davenport has been murdered in her apartment in a gruesome fashion. We get appearances by Jane Adams and Brent Briscoe (a Mulholland Drive alum) in the police force, and they find out that the prints in the apartment belong to Bill Hastings, the high school principal, a perfectly-cast Matthew Lillard.
Meanwhile, in Twin Peaks, Log Lady is making weird midnight phone calls to the police station (Log Lady!) in order to reach Deputy Hawk. “My log has a message for you. Something is missing and you have to find it. It has to do with Special Agent Dale Cooper.” Log Lady knows what’s up; she’s also, hint hint, posed next to a red lampshade.
After his arrest at his picture-perfect home in front of his khaki-clad wife, Hastings starts to crack under questioning at the station. Turns out Ruth Davenport was a librarian he knew, though he claims not well. It’s obvious he’s lying about something. His alibi for the last few days has some suspicious gaps. He looks increasingly nervous and aware of being watched, and asks what’s going on. He looks genuinely shocked when he’s told Ruth was murdered, while back at his house, police find a piece of human flesh in his trunk. Does Bob have a new, new host? Before we get any more answers, we’re back at the Red Room with the Giant. Onto part two.
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