After years of bunk rumors and cryptic comments taken as gospel, “Twin Peaks” actually announced it would be reappearing with new episodes on Showtime in 2016, with all 9 episodes being written by series creators David Lynch & Mark Frost.
“Twin Peaks” has proven to have more staying power than just about any TV show of its ilk, bolstered by a cult following that was extremely rabid at the time of its initial airing and has only grown over the decades, snowballing through generations, sucking people into its mysterious woods, leaving them hopeless and confused at the plot’s chronological end point. “Twin Peaks” was a show hand-tailored for internet obsession that existed before the rise of the web, you see. And now, finally, that the show will exist again at a point in time where the internet actually does exist, there’s a lot of good reason for all this excited anticipation, so let’s stir the coffee that was brewed in a percolator with a fish in it, eh?
After a nearly instant rise to mega-popularity, “Twin Peaks” fully blossomed into an early 90’s cultural obsession, burning white hot and vividly on TV sets, t-shirts, magazine covers, coffee mugs, playing cards, supplementary books, and episodes of Donahue. But just as quickly as it rose, it rapidly tanked in front of its audience’s attentive eyes after network executives forced Lynch and Frost to solve the central mystery of who killed Laura Palmer.
Although it’s difficult to summon the naivety required, we must all try to imagine that at some point an ABC network executive actually told Lynch and Frost something like this: “All of these dedicated fans keep writing letters demanding to know who killed Laura Palmer! This is a real problem! The fans are getting upset, we need to let them know who did it as soon as possible.” Seriously, take a moment, and let the most direct, documented example of TV exec fuckery on record sink into your brain. They thought that a million fish on one hook was a problem. Let’s be thankful the new series will be on premium cable. At the very least, Showtime has programming goals slightly higher than creating hypno-content designed to help sell cars, soap, and antidepressants.
So, it’s really a bit of a small miracle that the cult of “Twin Peaks” stayed loyal and grew, because boy oh boy, it got really bad after Laura’s murder was solved. Episode 17 to 28 will try the good will of any law abiding citizen as the show flounders into self-parody, self aware writing, and bizarre-for-bizarre’s-sake symbolism. The only entertaining way I can still watch 17 through 28 is to play a game where I try and precisely pinpoint the moment that each actor completely checks out and starts phoning it in.
Only in the last two episodes (and the feature length prequel that appeared shortly after) did Lynch take back the reigns and drive the show back into the genius-pastures. The only way he could do that, it seems, was to damn the series’ beloved hero, Special Agent Dale Cooper, into a 25 year long netherworld prison sentence somewhere inside The Black Lodge (if you’ve never seen the series, I don’t even know why you’re reading this far – this might as well be instructions on assembling an easy chair written in Martian). This is all to say: the plot ended on a very, very, very dark note. I’ve introduced the series to about a dozen friends, always making sure I was there with them when they watched the final episode to counsel them and help ward off their impending depression in response to the dark fate we’re left to assume awaits Agent Cooper.
In the end, the only real thread of hope fans had to cling to was a cryptic message delivered by Laura Palmer to Agent Cooper during the final episode: “I’ll see you again in 25 years.” Would you look at that? 25 years from that point is right about now! Cut to Monday October 6th, when the internet kindly exploded in response to the news. I don’t care if it clogged up your Facebook timeline, this is our weird-ass Superbowl, now beat it you square!
Then, of course, there are questions about some of the terrific artists that are still alive who might not participate for other reasons. Who could forget Lara Flynn Boyle’s Donna character uneasily replaced with Moira Kelly in the Fire Walk With Me film? Or Piper Laure’s outright refusal to appear in the same film? Who among us would admit, in our more realistic moments, that Kyle MacLachlan seemed visibly annoyed at playing Cooper during the few scenes that he was even in the feature length movie?
And, when it comes down to it, the only thing a “Twin Peaks” revival truly needs is Lynch (check), Frost (check), and Kyle MacLachlan as Special Agent Dale Cooper (uhhhhh, we think he’s in?). Besides all of the surreal cake frosting that made the show so unique (the unsolvable riddles, the incredibly moody soundtrack, to name two flavors of surreal frosting), what made “Twin Peaks” truly great was the character of Special Agent Dale Cooper. Cooper is charismatic, honorable, eccentric, funny, spiritual, compassionate, hyper-aware and intelligent in ways that don’t seem cookie-cutter, and he’s also a character that completely owns all of his deep quirks and imperfections (common place now, yes, but not so at the time). MacLachlan as Cooper in the early 90’s was a complete revelation. This was a hero-type we had not seen before, but Cooper had all the hallmark qualities of the hero archetype to cause our subconscious to deeply resonate and bond with his heroics. The “Twin Peaks” journey is Cooper’s journey, and in a matter of months, we will finally get to complete that journey. Wow bob wow. Thumbs up!
American mythologist Joseph Campbell insisted that every hero’s journey consists of four distinct acts: 1) Separation 2) Decent 3) Initiation and 4) Return. In 2016, finally, we’ll witness the hero’s return. I’ll admit it, my hopes are very high. Until then, keep the coffee brewing and the secret diary locked up securely, it’s going to feel like a very long wait.