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.
A Field Guide to Recognizing Your Favorite Twin Peaks Actors Now, 26 Years Later
Though Kyle MacLachlan has since starred in other cult series, even when he was Charlotte’s impotent husband on Sex and the City and a murderer on Desperate Housewives, he’ll always be known as Special Agent Dale Cooper, a man never too far away from a slice of cherry pie or cup of strong, black joe. (No word yet on whether Diane will be returning, too.)
Death be damned, Laura Palmer is coming back with a bang by starring in all 18 episodes of the new series—that is, unless Sheryl Lee, whose first post-Peaks role was Salome opposite Al Pacino, and who has since showed up in Winter’s Bone and Woody Allen’s Café Society, is simply reprising her role as Laura’s suspiciously identical cousin, Maddy.
Dana Ashbrook has kept up acting with a steady roster of smaller films, including 2012’s The Agression Scale with Ray Wise, aka Leland Palmer, and more than a few appearances on Dawson’s Creek, presumably making him more than up to the job in reprising his role as the annoying ultimate bad boy Bobby Briggs—even now that his hair’s gone gray.
Though she’s now a long way from a schoolgirl, the ever flirtatious Audrey Horne may have a chance at getting together with Coop after all, especially since actress Sherilyn Fenn has been keeping up her acting chops on shows like Gilmore Girls and Shameless (not to mention appearing on the cover of Playboy in the ’90s).
At 70, Peggy Lipton scarcely seems to have aged since she last played Norma Jennings, the owner of the Double R Diner, though she has since raised another actress, her daughter Rashida Jones.
Richard Beymer‘s eyes seem only bluer than ever since the now 79-year-old actor last turned up as Benjamin Horne, Audrey’s father and the owner of the Great Northern Hotel (not to mention an appearance in West Side Story, which helped to earn him a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year that he shared with Warren Beatty). Not that viewers have been able to appreciate them: Twin Peaks is only Beymer’s fourth on-screen appearance so far in the 2000s.
From blue streaks to twin top knots, Kimmy Robertson seems to have as much appreciation for an out-there hairdo as Lucy Moran, her curly-haired secretary in the sheriff’s office. Robertson has since lent her high-pitched voice to shows like Batman and The Simpsons, plus appeared onscreen on an episode of Drake & Josh—all good practice for appearing on all 18 episodes this season.
Like Leland Palmer, Laura’s potentially murderous father, actor Ray Wise has since gone gray, a new look he’s shown off in shows like Mad Men, Fresh Off the Boat, Gilmore Girls, 24, and How I Met Your Mother. That’s range.
Another face who’ll be showing up in the full series, Mädchen Amick has lately turned up on Riverdale, plus a host of cult shows like Mad Men, Gossip Girl, ER, Gilmore Girls, and Dawson’s Creek. Fortunately for her character, the waitress Shelley Johnson, though, her abusive husband Leo won’t be back.
Since playing Deputy Hawk, one of the most reasoned voices in the sheriff’s office, Michael Horse has gone on to not only appear in shows like Malcolm in the Middle, but pick up a full-on artistic career as a jeweler and painter.
Though Michael Ontkean has maintained his curly head of locks since starring as Sheriff Harry S. Truman, the actor, who last showed up in The Descendants in 2011, has decided to leave Coop hanging and won’t be returning to Twin Peaks.
Lara Flynn Boyle won’t be returning to this season but she’ll always live on as Donna Hayward, Laura’s best friend of sorts who was never short on spectacular sweaters.
Russ Tamblyn‘s daughter Amber has since gone on to become an actor and even director herself, but Tamblyn has kept up an acting career of his own since playing the ever eccentrically-outfitted psychiatrist Dr. Lawrence Jacoby, recently picking up roles in films like Django Unchained.
Like the actor who plays fellow bad boy Bobby Briggs, James Marshall, aka James Hurley, Big Ed’s nephew who can’t get enough of riding his bike, has also gone gray, but still showed up on-screen with a few films and an appearance on CSI.
Like her on-screen daughter, Laura, the grief-stricken Sarah Palmer will be returning for all 18 episodes, although actor Grace Zabriskie has turned up in shows like Charmed and Big Love.
Fittingly, like her beau Sheriff Harry S. Truman, sawmill owner Josie Packard won’t be returning to the series—like fellow mill worker Piper Laurie, aka Catherine Martell, David Lynch apparently never asked her back. But actor Joan Chen has been looking young as ever lately in shows like Netflix’s Marco Polo.
Laura Dern, Naomi Watts, Patricia Arquette, and Hailey Gates Open Up About Working with Legendary Director David Lynch: