Although I hadn’t expected to see the new season of “Twin Peaks” so soon after it was released, I happened to get a gift voucher for Christmas last year and decided to treat myself to a DVD boxset of it. And, yes, I prepare these reviews ridiculously far in advance.
Needless to say, this review will contain some SPOILERS. Likewise, the DVD box contains a warning about FLASHING LIGHTS/ STROBING EFFECTS. Plus, you should watch this season of the show after seeing the first two seasons of “Twin Peaks”, otherwise it may not make that much sense.
So, let’s take a look at “Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series”:
“Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series” is an 18-episode horror/ dark comedy/ surrealist/ detective TV series that begins 25 years after the events of the second season of “Twin Peaks”.
The plot of this new season is somewhat difficult to describe but, in essence, it revolves around Dale Cooper. With the “evil” Dale Cooper still loose after 25 years, the “good” Dale Cooper is released from the black lodge in order to track him down. But, during the journey back to Earth, he suffers severe brain damage and is then mistaken for an insurance agent called Dougie.
Whilst all of this is going on, there are a number of other sub-plots also taking place. These revolve around a few familiar residents of Twin Peaks, in addition to several new characters in Las Vegas and the town of Buckhorn, South Dakota. There’s intrigue, murder, mystery, paranormal drama and lots more….
One of the very first things that I will say about this season of “Twin Peaks” is that it is really, really good… but it is an acquired taste. Even if you’ve seen the first two seasons of “Twin Peaks” (and you should before you watch this one), then this new season will still take a bit of getting used to. It’s totally worth sticking with, but don’t expect to really feel at home with this series until at least halfway through.
Yet, it is still very much “Twin Peaks”…
But, if you’re expecting cosy 1990s nostalgia, then you’re going to be disappointed. This is “Twin Peaks” as it would be if it was a modern TV series, with David Lynch having full creative control. It takes all of the themes and elements of the old seasons of the show and brings them up to date. For example, whilst the original series showed the seedy underbelly of idyllic 1980s/90s rural America, this series focuses on the grim, poverty-stricken, drug-ravaged rural America of 2017.
Likewise, the relatively understated horror elements of the original series have given way to a more intense and overt style of horror. This takes the form of grisly “Supernatural“-like scenes, utterly unnerving nightmare-like scenes of psychological horror and shockingly intense scenes of violence.
There’s also a fair amount of character-based horror too – whether it is the chillingly evil version of Dale Cooper, a bizarre serial killer from a parallel dimension or several thoroughly disturbing misogynistic characters who appear at various points throughout the series.
Yet, all of this horror is leavened slightly by both the welcome return of many familiar characters (eg: Gordon Cole, Andy & Lucy Brennan etc…), some amusingly eccentric moments, some witty dialogue, some gleefully rebellious moments (eg: with regard to things like “no smoking” rules etc…), a few moments of slapstick comedy, some utterly hilarious George Carlin/Bill Hicks-style rants from Dr. Jacoby and a few brilliantly ironic moments (eg: Bobby Briggs is now a police officer etc..).
There’s also lots of incredibly subtle dark humour too. Seriously, it’s worth going into this series with the knowledge that it is meant to be a dark comedy – otherwise, you’ll find it incredibly depressing to watch. A lot of the series’ dark humour consists of the kind of subtle ironies and contrasts that only become obvious later when you think about the episode(s) you’ve just watched.
In addition to this, there are a lot more surrealist/art film elements here too. These are really awesome, but it can take a few episodes to even begin to get used to the bizarre dream logic of this new series. The viewer is quite literally thrown in at the deep end from the first episode onwards, with the surrealist elements of the series reaching a peak in the grippingly compelling – yet utterly bizarre – eighth episode.
Another major change is to the pacing of the series. Like with sophisticated modern films such as “Blade Runner 2049”, the new season of “Twin Peaks” uses deliberately slow pacing – perhaps as a reaction to the pacing in a lot of modern movies/TV shows. Although this slow pace can take a little while to get used to, it is used expertly to build suspense, add realism and/or to give the audience time to think about what is happening.
The characters in this series are really interesting too. As you would expect, they’re a rather eccentric bunch. In addition to seeing how the passage of time has affected familiar characters, there are quite a few strange new characters here. These include a man from London who always wears a green glove, a pair of fast-food loving assassins, two Mafia bosses, Ike the Spike, a blind woman from another dimension, Audrey Horne’s poor husband etc… These characters are also counterpointed with more “serious” good and evil characters too.
Thematically, this series is as complex as you would expect. I’ve only seen it once, but it is the kind of TV series where you actually have to think. In addition to the obvious theme of doubles and doppelgangers, the series also includes themes of impaired cognition, dreams, history repeating itself, identity, authority, parallel worlds etc… Seriously, this is the kind of TV series that will probably be dissected by critics for years to come.
The series also includes some brilliant social satire too. There are too many examples to list, but a good one would be the way that this series handles the topic of guns in America. In short, guns are often actually scary in this series. A lot of the time, they’re in the hands of dangerously unstable individuals. Likewise, there’s one scene involving a gun accident (of the kind that is probably fairly common in the US). Plus, in one scene, a random character pulls out a powerful machine pistol after a small traffic altercation. And this is just one example of the subtle, but brilliant, social satire in this series.
One bizarre feature of this new season of “Twin Peaks” is that many of the episodes end with a musical interlude – which often consists of a random indie band performing at the roadhouse during the final 3-5 minutes of each episode. This music often has an eerie, hauntingly relaxing quality to it and it’s an utterly brilliant subversion of the trend of TV show episodes ending with dramatic cliffhangers.
I should probably also talk about the ending to the series too. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the details. But, it’s the kind of ending you would expect from a season of “Twin Peaks”. Still, I found that the ending of the seventeenth episode had a much greater emotional impact than the ending of the eighteenth episode did. But, I’ve seen theories on the internet that suggest that the season has two endings, with the ending of each of these two episodes being a conclusion of a different type.
All in all, this is a completely unique TV series. It’s complex, intelligent, gripping and creative. However, it is something of an acquired taste. If you’re expecting light entertainment or cosy nostalgia, then watch something else. But, if you want an intense, intelligent TV series that requires you to think about it and demands perseverance, then this might be the TV series for you (but, again, watch the first two seasons of “Twin Peaks” first).
If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get four and a half.