Twin Peaks: the Return: the Rewatch – The Stars Turn and a Time Presents Itself
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
The first two episodes of Twin Peaks were broadcast back-to-back, with the option to watch three and four online. As a result, episode 2 hasn’t had the chance to be considered as its own beast yet. It’s a shame, because it’s a more streamlined, tense show than the premiere. Whereas the main two set pieces of episode 1 involved watching a glass box and a very inefficient arrest, episode 2 is built around the horrible, protracted killing of Darya and a vintage Red Room sequence.
Of the former, the chilling ease with which Mr. C switches back and forth from tenderness to brutality is the first indication of just how good Kyle MacLachlan is going to be in this series. Of the latter, it’s a nice reminder for those who didn’t spend 2016 catching up with the old series of just how fresh and innovative the Red Room sequences still look. A lot of TV critics, in the run-up to The Return, openly wondered whether this old show would still stand out in an age of often heavily Peaks-inspired prestige drama, and it’s a delight to report they were all utterly perplexed by the opening double episode. Yet the ‘weird’ elements here are the same ones Lynch has been using all along; the mysterious statue, the red curtains, the reversed speech, the white horse…
…and, OK, one notable new element, which is that Michael J Anderson is now an electricity-generating tree with a plasticine head on top. The Evolution of the Arm is a symbol of how far The Return is going to go into Lynch’s private universe of signs and symbols, recalling art pieces like the ‘clay head’ photos he made around the same time as the original Twin Peaks (one of which ended up on the cover of Julee Cruise’s album The Voice of Love).
It’s clearly an image he associates with the time he was making Twin Peaks, which is not to say that it’s an image any of the rest of us might associate with the series. Likewise, Grace Zabriskie watching violent wildlife footage is straight out of Lynch’s heyday – Wild At Heart, where Harry Dean Stanton watches it before being killed by Grace Zabriskie! – but isn’t Twin Peaks, and the segment with Mulholland Drive’s Patrick Fischler as a strange, tormented man in a Nevada hotel feels like it could have come straight out of the TV series that movie was originally planned as.
But in amongst all the strangeness, horror and back references, there’s a surprising amount of plot going on here. By the end of the episode we know that Darya and Red were trying to kill Mr. C on behalf of someone claiming to be Phillip Jeffries, the mysterious FBI agent played by David Bowie in Fire Walk With Me. We know what Mr. C wants – not needs – and The Arm spells out precisely how this is going to happen. We know that the glass box is some sort of portal into the Lodges that Cooper nearly escapes out of.
And then there’s that closing scene at the Roadhouse, which sets up a remarkable amount of what’s to come. We get an early glimpse of Freddie, that pivotal character of the later episodes. We hear Shelly talking about her daughter Becky and her husband Stevie. And – although everyone was too busy trying to figure out who Balthasar Getty was playing to notice at the time – we see yet another Renault brother serving drinks behind the bar. Why do they keep coming back? Anyone might think this place was caught in a time loop.