I’m not kidding. After David Lynch and Mark Frost pulled that “blue rose”-caliber stunt on Friday by posting simultaneous tweets promising that the “gum we like” was going to come back in style, my gut told me that it was happening this time — Twin Peaks was coming back.
Finally, we found out that not only were we right, but we had been right for the better part of three years. In a set of no-doubt-embargoed interviews, Frost revealed that he and Lynch had been conspiring to bring back the landmark series for awhile:
“David and I stayed in touch and remained closed friends throughout all these years. It was about three years ago this summer we were having lunch at [famed Hollywood eatery] Musso & Frank, where we often used to go. And we were just kicking stuff around and we started getting some ideas in our heads about Twin Peaks. Suddenly, it felt like a place we wanted to visit again. And that was the kickoff.”
Let’s hope the wait was worth it. I think it will be. I called my girlfriend. We were both screaming. She has a Twin Peaks tattoo. I don’t have any tattoos, but I feel like I grew up with this show, and discovering its fanbase has been one of the singular pleasures of my adult life.
Twin Peaks was the first show I binge-watched the way we binge-watch shows today. I watched the full 30-episode run by first renting the pilot from a Blockbuster Video-kinda store in Chicago, and then I followed it up by watching the rest on VHS (!). Thinking back to the show’s original run, I think I caught a few episodes. I know this is a heretical admission, but I watched Fire Walk With Me before I watched the whole series. Whoops!
It didn’t matter. I loved it all, having been a Lynch fan since I was a kid. I first fell for Lynch’s dreamy filmmaking when I saw Dune on cable TV. Dune is rated PG-13, but when I first saw the grotesque, withered face of a Guild navigator — a perfect trigger for a trypophobe like me — it disgusted and fascinated me. It felt crazy, daring and insane to be watching that movie. Given its much-maligned reputation over the years, I guess it still is, but I always maintain that Lynch’s Dune is the work of an artist.
I’ve watched Twin Peaks all the way through a few times by now — the first season more than the second, of course — but even the second season would be considered top-flight television in any other context and under any other circumstances. Lynch and Frost bowed to pressure from the network to reveal Laura Palmer’s killer, and that derailed the show. If you’re asking me, they should never have revealed her killer until the end of it all. Laura Palmer’s murder was simply the means by which we entered the demented hamlet of Twin Peaks, just as it was the gateway through which Agent Cooper discovered the mysteries of Project Blue Book and the horrors of the Black Lodge. Incidentally, at a Twin Peaks event in L.A., actor Dana Ashbrook (Bobby) voiced the same opinion — the case was never meant to be solved. Hell, looking back over the course of TV history, it’s doubly frustrating to swallow ABC’s meddling in the light of other shows that used large central mysteries to hook viewers for a longer run. Twin Peaks was meant to be an arthouse Fugitive, but alas — it wasn’t meant to be. (I mean, what would Gilligan’s Island have been if the castaways had escaped the island midway through its second season? Great, now I’m imagining the Harlem Globetrotters playing against a team of robots at the Miss Twin Peaks pageant.)
Again, Twin Peaks wasn’t meant to be. Until now. Unlike the early 90s, when a show had to command an audience in the tens of millions to be considered a success, Twin Peaks now has the luxury of the modern TV landscape, where success can be measured in terms of downloads, tweets and cultural buzz. I applaud Showtime for backing this horse. They’ve got some solid programming, but this is their first giant leap into the pop-cultural conversation, I’d say. This is their Arrested Development — a much-beloved show that was killed before its time and which can now make a comeback on its own terms. The difference, of course, is that Twin Peaks has left a much larger and deeper footprint in the cultural landscape.Twin Peaks basically invented the modern television experience, I’d submit. In the day of obsessive recapping and dissecting of every tiny detail of labyrinthine shows like LOST or Mad Men, Twin Peaks makes its return as the grandaddy, as the sire, as the progenitor of all those shows. Twin Peaks had an obsessive Internet following before there was an Internet.
But hey, why should you believe me when Matt Zoller Seitz puts it so much more eloquently?
“The arty, boundary-breaking drama as we now know it wouldn't exist without Twin Peaks, (…) Everything from The Sopranos to American Horror Story owes it a debt.”
OK, now that I’ve got my gushing out of the way, let’s talk turkey — or percolator-warmed fish. Let’s try to make some predictions about what the new season of Twin Peaks might look like, both in terms of content and execution. Now, if any of you have read my previous work, you’ll know that I’m prone to some loony predictions. I mean, I had the audacity to imagine a third season of Twin Peaks that crossed over with the world from Mulholland Drive. I’m a crazy person, clearly.
But despite my history of wild, unsupported statements, I’m going to try and make some predictions about the new season of Twin Peaks based on what we know —both about the new series and about Lynch in general.
So here goes:
The new season will mark a proper return to film for David Lynch.
Don’t get me wrong; I love Inland Empire, but I also concede that it’s for Lynch maniacs and completionists only. The last fully satisfying Lynch experience we had onscreen, I’d say, was Mulholland Drive, and it’s worth noting the big difference between those two projects. For Inland Empire, Lynch was allowed to run wild. By contrast Mulholland Drive gave Lynch what he needs — boundaries. Listen, I’ll watch anything Lynch does, but when left to his own devices, he very happily follows his artistic impulses in some pretty wild directions. Crazy Clown Time, a music album he released in 2011, included a music video for its title track. It was also one of Lynch’s few onscreen efforts in the years after Inland Empire. Here it is (NSFW):
It’s hypnotic, isn’t it? As an artist, Lynch invites us to peer into his subconscious with fearlessness, but as much as I admire that part of him, I also appreciate that it doesn’t always make for the best storytelling. For me, Lynch is at his best when he’s working within — and exploding/subverting — the constraints and expectations of genre or pulp fiction. Blue Velvet is, on paper, a pretty standard-issue potboiler, but when told through Lynch’s particularly wackadoo sensibility, it’s a dark-hearted meditation on the nature of evil and obsession. I’ve always felt like Twin Peaks wasBlue Velvet: The Series, and similar to how Blue Velvet uses a pulp framework to lure us into a more abstract experience, Twin Peaks goofs on the conventions of police procedurals to rope us into its world.
We know Lynch will direct all nine episodes of the new series. Keep in mind that these’ll be basic-cable episodes, which means they’ll likely run closer to an hour and with no commercials. That’s nine hours of new Lynch directing we’ll get, all of it from scripts by him and Frost, and all of it most likely shot on film, given his recent statements about rediscovering the beauty of celluloid.
Lynch and Frost are cooking up something big in terms of the overall story.
Of the upcoming storyline, Mark Frost told Deadline the following:
“There will be a very strong central storyline.”
This could mean anything, but I get the feeling they might be keen to retroactively repair some of the damage done by ABC in the show’s initial run. They’ll most likely have carte blance to do what they want at Showtime, so it seems likely that they’ll deal with the series’ heartbreaking ending in some way.
Oh, and I know I promised not to make any crazy predictions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a bit of retconning happen in the new series, specifically regarding the Laura Palmer case. Maybe they’ll find a way to reopen it.
It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the first time the Twin Peaks creative team has looked this far into the future. Speaking at an event in L.A., Fire Walk With Me screenwriter Robert Engels revealed that one potential storyline for season three involved a 10-year jump into the future. I don’t know if Engels will be involved with the new season — probably not — but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of those ideas make their way into the new series.
I also seem to remember Engels suggesting that Laura Dern was to play Diane. I could get on board with that idea.
Killer BOB will have to be replaced.
Of all the deaths that have depleted the ranks of Twin Peaks over the years, none is more complicated than that of Frank Silva, a set dresser who got drafted to play Killer BOB, Twin Peaks’ local incarnation of evil. It’s hard to imagine how Twin Peaks will happen without its chief villain, but that leads me to my next prediction:
Lynch and Frost will expand and deepen the mythology of Project Blue Book, and the Black Lodge will continue to change shape and form.
CC2K editor-emeritus Lance Carmichael and I convened an emergency summit yesterday in light of the announcement, and he noted how in Fire Walk With Me, Lynch introduced us to new rooms and chambers in the Black Lodge:
“Well it’s funny; Fire Walk With Me definitely added different dimensions to the Black Lodge — the old woman and the boy and the monkey eating oatmeal. So there’s already precedent for Lynch sort of pivoting that world and changing it a bit whilst keeping it the Black Lodge. It feels like that’s how the Black Lodge should be. It’s the universe’s headquarters for totally irrational, surreal weirdness. Why would it stay static?”
In the same spirit, it seems likely that the showrunners would tap a new performer to take up the standard of BOB. Ray Wise seems the likeliest candidate, given his character’s intimate connection to BOB, and also because Wise has been one of the show’s biggest champions over the years, attending dozens of fan conventions and generally carrying the torch for the series.
That said, I also wouldn’t be surprised if Kyle MacLachlan took over as BOB, given the nature of the series long-past series finale, which was happily converted into a season finale on Monday. The new episodes will have to deal with Coop’s possession by BOB in some way, whether we drop in on an FBI now being run by a BOB-possessed Coop, or whether it begins with Coop’s long overdue escape from the Black Lodge.
We’ll see some crossover between characters from FWWM and the main Twin Peaks storyline.
This makes me squeal the loudest. The opening scenes to Fire Walk With Me — aka the anti-Twin Peaks scenes, with their rude local law and bad coffee — are some of my favorites in the whole Peaks-verse. Me, I’d love to see Chet Desmond return, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Coop encounters him in the depths of the Black Lodge.
I've also got a funny feeling that the new series will open with Kiefer Sutherland’s Sam Stanley.
Other Lynch regulars will appear in the new episodes.
Lynch likes his repertory company. He seems to imprint on certain actors who he taps to appear in his projects over and over. Fire Walk With Me featured a couple of those rep players — Wild at Heart’s Harry Dean Stanton and Dune’s Jurgen Prochnow in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it part. Here’s hoping that Lynch will draft a few more of his regulars for duty in the new season.
Here are a few suggestions:
Naomi Watts. Lynch put Watts on the map with Mulholland Drive, in which she delivered a performance that was equal parts Nancy Drew-cute and Harmony Korine-harrowing. She’s a fearless performer who’d be a great fit for the Peaks universe, perhaps as a new resident of the town — or maybe as Diane herself.
Justin Theroux. I loved Theroux in Mulholland Drive, and if anyone could make a great FBI agent, it’s him.
Bill Pullman. Lost Highway remains one of my all-time favorite movies. It’s a cinematic sibling to Mulholland Drive in the same way Blue Velvet is for Twin Peaks. I always felt like Pullman was an unusual choice for a Lynch protagonist, but I’d love to see him in Twin Peaks.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. What do you think, team? What should the new season of Twin Peaks include? More of the Black Lodge? A new villain? More Sheryl Lee?