With doppelgängers and evil spirits lurking at every twist and turn, Lynch and Frost make the bridge between dreams and reality a staunchly impenetrable oneSHOWTIME NETWORKS

Time is one of the most frightening things that we have to live with. Time ravages all things, it does not stop, and we will all fall prey to it eventually. When the teaser photos were initially revealed of the Twin Peaks cast twenty years on in the lead-up to The Return, it was somewhat satisfying to see familiar faces with less hair and more crow’s-feet; one could hypothesise how time would affect characters whose fate had been left in limbo a quarter of a century earlier. What David Lynch and Mark Frost did with the new series was to turn time into the most sublime object of horror imaginable. They did not spell everything out, but what we were given was television as we have never seen it before.

As written in the review of the first two episodes, audiences were really dropped in at the deep end, though the narrative did become more traditional and coherent soon after that, a fact which would come to light easily if one were to binge watch. The time between episodes was often agonising, each one coyly unspooling a little more of the thread to lead us through the labyrinthine plot. It will be interesting to see how The Return changes as a show when not being rationed to an hour a week, the effects of time altering the relationship between the media and the viewer.

“In many ways they act like the PIs in a noir, gradually finding more pieces of the puzzle.”

Time has not been kind to the denizens of Twin Peaks we are already familiar with: The Log Lady is on life support, Ed is increasingly unhappy with his delusional wife Nadine, Shelley’s daughter is in a relationship with a junkie who looks like Macaulay Culkin, and Andy and Lucy have changed from being entertaining comic relief to buffoonish caricatures of their past, competent selves.

The characters given the most screentime are probably the formerly-minor FBI agents Gordon, Albert, and Tammy, which would seem an odd choice at first, but in many ways they act like the PIs in a noir, gradually finding more pieces of the puzzle. The lack of attention paid to the characters who made the first two series so good can be frustrating, especially when it takes Audrey five episodes to leave the house, but the decision to focus on a new cast of characters allows Lynch not to be tethered to the tropes of previous seasons, and to create the alarming landscape he has laid out for us in The Return.

The black-and-white chaos of Episode 8 rendered it a profoundly Lynchian masterpieceSHOWTIME NETWORKS

This landscape is also created through events outside the control of Frost and Lynch. David Bowie, who played the now-pivotal role of FBI agent Phillip Jeffries in the unfairly derided 1992 follow-up film, Fire Walk With Me, was intended to reappear in the new series, although his death in the real world further contributed to the mythos of the show itself. The knowledge that Jeffries is a necessary actor in being done with the evil spirit, Judy, escapes the confines of the show, building towards the sense of tragedy that holds itself over the last couple episodes of The Return.

Frost and Lynch had quite the undertaking in writing a new series so long after the original, but they deftly interwove new elements exclusively of the Twin Peaks mythos and of the real world, creating for the viewers a tale that was undoubtedly of Twin Peaks, but updated to make it worth the wait.

Though The Return’s darker nature would seem to mirror Lynch’s later works such as Inland Empire and Mulholland Drive in tone, rather than the quirkiness of the original series, it has been long enough since Lynch last made a film that this feels like a new stage of his career. In fact, the horrific violence in The Return is fairly reminiscent of the Bob scenes in the original run, merely ramped up for a desensitised audience. Make no mistake: The Return is one of the most astonishing TV series of all time, but it is hardly an easy watch, not least because of how much of what happens on screen is so deeply unpleasant.

“Make no mistake: The Return is one of the most astonishing TV series of all time, but it is hardly an easy watch.”

The antagonist in The Return is Judy, not Bob, and she sometimes works alone to strip innocent lovers of their flesh, sometimes inhabits Sarah Palmer to maul a predatory trucker, and often possesses the nasty piece of work Richard Horne, played by Eamon Farren, surely the best new actor added to the series. The violence generally serves a purpose, but it does not stop you reaching for the cushion whenever Horne enters the camera’s field of view.

Lastly, it should go without saying that viewers are being taken on a ride for something far from traditional narrative structures. It is non-linear, requires leaps of faith, and one must understand that not everything will be neatly tied up or explained. The epitome of this is the season’s already iconic eight episode, in which Lynch launches us on a bizarre audio-visual rollercoaster through a nuclear explosion, and things continuously spiral out of control further from there.

It is this ethereal unpredictability that no doubt further helps in creating the unsettling vision of fear that Frost and Lynch so expertly cultivate. To make things more confusing, many characters seem to have multiple versions of themselves, or actors are merely playing more than one character (depending on which theories one subscribes to). You will most certainly be put through the wringer, and the show asks for viewers to do more than merely act as passive onlookers to the action; it is a show that demands active engagement now more than ever.


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Mountain View

Review: Something's brewing in Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks: The Return was a multi-textured series that could be adored, appreciated, interpreted, but never truly solved, but is that such a tragedy? Ignorance can be bliss, for at least then we need not see the fortunes of some of the finest characters to ever grace our television screens disappear further and further down the drain. When being interrogated by Windom Earle in season 2, Major Garland Briggs states that his greatest fear is “the possibility that love is not enough”, and that is exactly what the ending would seem to confirm, what we waited twenty-five years for: a turn, a scream, lights flash, silence.

Time can only widen the wounds that The Return created – it is a show that really has to be seen to be believed, then the memory of it be allowed to linger, and let time do its work

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