NOT ALL FANS ARE BEING BLOWN AWAY BY SEASON 3
Twin Peaks’ most recent episode “Gotta Light?” was both a literal and figurative bombshell for the series and fans alike. Critics immediately lavished praise on the episode as a watershed moment in primetime television that has potentially not only re-written rules for the show but also for the medium itself. Whereas, Peaksies all over the world have been crawling over its every abstract nuance looking for a semblance of sense and purpose to tie the events of what was, essentially, a mini-movie into the greater weave that The Return has been spinning at a furious rate.
However, not all Twin Peaks fans have been so keen to embrace the show’s decidedly weirder and deeper mythological take on the series’ proceedings. For some fans, Season 3 has left them scratching their heads and the surreal imagery and largely dialogue-free events of Episode 8 could well have caused some to draw blood. Are these afflicted fans merely fair-weather viewers unable to enjoy Frost and Lynch’s reinvention of the (relatively) more comprehensible first two seasons? Or, has Twin Peaks gone too far in exceeding expectations?
The Missing Pieces of Twin Peaks
While it’s doubtful that anyone is missing some of season 2’s more tedious soap operatics such as James Hurley taking a road trip only to find himself in a rejected Knott’s Landings’ script, Season 3 has been somewhat more self-conscious when it comes to small town intrigue and quirks.
Was it the height of silliness for Nadine to awake from a coma thinking she was 17 again and has to go back to high school to work through it? Absolutely, but it was also quite a lot of fun and it had a carefree feel to it that is seemingly absent in Season 3. Indeed, the original seasons had always felt like a playful riff on the primetime drama structure of the likes of Dallas and Dynasty that would occasionally subvert expectations with surreal and supernatural elements.
This formula generally kept the show compelling for those who don’t have the will or the time to make copious notes in dog-eared copies of Laura Palmer’s Secret Diary and in that regard, Season 3 is offering very little for that section of the audience.
In fact, perhaps what is causing the most chagrin amongst those who still favour the original series over The Return is the lack of time we’ve so far spent in the titular town since Season 3 premiered two months ago. Events in Nevada, South Dakota, and The Red Room have probably had more individual screentime than our fleeting visits to the Double R and the Great Northern, while tonally this season has often had in common with David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and The Lost Highway than its actual televisual origins.
Fire Walk Without Me
If there is one David Lynch film that is, predictably, providing a constant touchstone for The Return then it is the Twin Peaks’ prequel, Fire Walk With Me. The film was infamously divisive amongst both critics and fans on its release in 1992 and while both have warmed to it over the last 25 years, some fans either haven’t concerned themselves with it since or simply still don’t get along with the radical shift in tone the feature film provided.
To say that a strong familiarity with the Twin Peaks prequel is recommended for Season 3 would be an understatement. So much so, that it wouldn’t have been unreasonable for this season’s premiere to open with a disclaimer stating such.
Some hardcore Peaksies have gone even further and suggested that Mark Frost’s novel, The Secret History of Twin Peaks, is just as essential to ably follow along with and piece together the sometimes disjointed events and references in Season 3. However, the same issue once again crops up with these two pieces of work in that they are both far darker and deeper affairs than the original seasons and fans who prefer their Twin Peaks on the lighter side will still find these lacking.
“Look at the Donut…”
Admittedly, the new season hasn’t entirely been quirk-free. Cooper’s shenanigans in the place of Dougie Jones have certainly been on the kooky side and has perhaps added some charm to proceedings for some, though it is coming at the expense of arguably the most beloved character of the show being withheld from us in his entirety.
Likewise, when we have visited the town of Twin Peaks some of the familiar idiosyncrasies have re-appeared such as Wally’s Marlon Brando styled soliloquy and Dr. Jacoby taking an age to paint some shovel’s gold only to shamelessly hawk them on his conspiracy podcast. These moments, though, have been fewer and further between than we are used to.
Furthermore, some adored characters are getting little more than cameo appearances in the first half of the season and the succession of new characters haven’t been as immediate in their charms as the original generation (with the notable exception of Laura Dern’s Diane but it’s debatable if she should be counted as a new character or not).
Perhaps, though, it’s too early to tell alienated fans to “fix their hearts or die” who are struggling to make sense of season 3 so far. David Lynch himself has said that The Return is essentially “One film, broken into 18 parts” and has also offered the sage and apt advice for fans to “Look at the donut, not the hole” meaning there is still a ten episode sized hole in Season 3 that may contain a wealth of answers. And Kyle MacLachan has assured fans that “everything will make sense in the end” in a recent interview, suggesting that The Return may soon start to reveal its secrets in good time.
Even the most logical theories of Twin Peaks experts and enthusiasts that seem to require almost a Ph. D level of knowledge of the show to concoct have been crushed by the time the next episode rolls around. It’s fair to say that regardless of your level of expertise in Twin Peaks, Season 3 has kept us all guessing and that’s all part of the fun.
How have you found Twin Peaks: The Return so far? Do you think that you’ve figured it all out already? Are you just enjoying the ride? Or have your frustrations risen increasingly with every episode and find yourself longing for simpler times? Let us know in the comments below.
And be sure to check back to BackToTwinPeaks.com for further updates on the happenings of Season 3 and the return next week of our Episode Summaries that we hope are helping you piece together Mark Frost’s and David Lynch’s vision little by little.