*Spoiler warning: Do not read on if you haven't seen Twin Peaks season three, parts one and two*
Last night, David Lynch’s surrealist cult saga Twin Peaks returned to our screens after 26 years away. As expected, it was a bit strange, with some things sort of making sense and others definitely not. A lot of us who stayed up until 2am to watch, seasoned Lynchian and newbie alike, were left frowning into our cherry pie.
That said, some nuggets of truth could be deciphered amid the strange goings-on, with some long-neglected problems finally addressed. For the most part though, Twin Peaks season 3 chapters one and two (live-streamed to more than 20 different countries) raised more questions than they answered. Here are five that left us scratching our heads.
1. Has Cooper finally escaped the Black Lodge?
In the opening scene of Twin Peaks season 3 it’s revealed that the real (good) Special Agent Dale Cooper has been trapped in the Black Lodge (an interdimensional place of pure evil) since the gripping events of season two’s finale. His malevolent doppelgänger has taken his place in the real world for the last 25 years. This might be the murderous dark entity BOB (responsible for the death of Laura Palmer and others) or it might not. Evil Cooper wears a brown leather jacket and long hair which could be Lynch teasing this fact (BOB’s long, greasy mane is the stuff of legend.) Anyway, evil Cooper’s been romping around the country getting up to all kinds of nasty stuff in good Cooper’s absence.
Meanwhile, on a top floor of a New York skyscraper, a young man has been paid to sit and watch a large, glass box and alert his mysterious employer if something happens. Seems like a pretty cushy job to us. But at the end of part two, something sinister inevitably happens. (Good) Cooper, stuck in the Black Lodge, encounters a truly bizarre new character – an electric talking-tree, who suddenly causes a giant surge which makes the floor of the Lodge give way. Coop drops through the newly-opened void and into the transparent cube in NYC. His body dissolves into a surreal dreamscape of flashing lights and jagged spirals, and that’s the last we see of him.
So what does this mean? Has Cooper finally escaped the Black Lodge? Can the good and evil Cooper’s now survive in the same world? What is the glass box for? We have SO many questions. Let’s hope Lynch expands in later episodes.
2. Who’s behind the experiments in New York?
The box dude, called Sam, only mentions “some anonymous billionaire” in reference to his shadow-y boss. He must be pretty powerful to have access to such a prestigious space in the Big Apple, so who is he? What’s his deal? Why is he so interested in the Black Lodge?
3. Where is Sheriff Harry S. Truman?
One of the best-loved characters of the original series was Twin Peaks‘ righteous police chief Harry S. Truman. Deeply respected and well-liked in the community, he represented a pillar of honesty in an otherwise dishonest world. He was also Cooper’s partner and best pal. We loved him. So why is he nowhere to be seen in the revival’s first two chapters?
There is a logical answer to this. Actor Michael Ontkean, who played Truman, is retired. Now 71, he had hoped to return for the revival, but for undisclosed reasons wasn’t brought back. This could explain Harry’s absence during the premiere. However, the Sheriff’s character doesn’t appear to have been dropped altogether.
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“I’m here to see Sherriff Truman,” asks one visitor to the police station.
“Which one?” answers receptionist Lucy. “One’s sick and one is fishing.”
Interesting. Has Truman been recast? Could these be other relatives or perhaps Harry’s offspring? This seems like something that’ll probably be explained in a later episode.
4. What on earth is that tree-thing all about?
In all my time of watching Lynch, I have never come across a figure quite as strange or fantastical as this new character (except maybe the baby from Eraserhead). Seemingly magnetic, the spindly tree communicates through a pulsating blob located at the top of one of its branches. It sways intermittently and, when angry, causes the Black Lodge to shake, as if gripped in a violent storm. For advanced Lynchians, the tree represents “the evolution of the arm” or The Man From The Other Place – another inhabitant of the Black Lodge who gave Cooper clues to apprehending Laura Palmer’s killer. All we know is that we like it. Give us more, Lynch.
5. Where has James been?
One of the long-standing questions carried over from the originals revolved around strong, silent biker James Hurley. At the end of season two he seemingly fled the country after he was framed for murder. Well, now he’s back in town.
In the final scene of season three part two James pops up in The Roadhouse bar, before the actual Chromatics launch into a rendition of their dreamy new track ‘Shadow’. Another familiar face, waitress Shelly from the Double R Diner reveals he’s “quieter” now after a “motorcycle accident”. This needs to be unpacked a little. Where has James been in the last 25 years? Did he make it to Mexico like he planned? And how did he escape that murder charge? There’s still so much more information to come. At least we hope there is…
‘Twin Peaks’ season three’s two hour-long premiere will be repeated on Tuesday May 23 at 9pm on Sky Atlantic. Episodes 1-4 are available on demand.