Twin Peaks is returning. After years of teasing, and vague hints like “that gum you like is going to come back in style” being tweeted at the same time that Kyle Maclachlan’s Agent Dale Cooper first entered Twin Peaks long ago, show creators David Lynch and Mark Frost confirmed that the acclaimed series will return for a 9-episode limited run on Showtime in 2016.
The announcement was met with a cacophony of excitement. This is the news diehard fans have been anticipating for years, and it comes on the heels of a Blu-ray release that finally sates desires for the long-awaited but never released deleted scenes rumored about for over a decade.
But like any news of this nature, the bulletin was also met with a healthy dose of snark. Most people would love a return to Twin Peaks at its best. It’s one of the most influential shows of all time, one that hasn’t aged into oblivion. But can it measure up?
There are tons of reasons to be cautious. The show became a big old mess in its second season before being cancelled. David Lynch has a terrible track record when it comes to the TV Powers That Be embracing his vision (see: Mulholland Drive). Hollywood is thoroughly entrenched in a remake culture that misses more often than it hits the mark. Finally, servicing fervent fan bases has proven to be a tedious exercise in the familiar this year, between the fan-funded Veronica Mars and Wish You Were Here.
We won’t know until the new extension airs, but on the side of fandom, there are many reasons why this could work out beautifully. Here are seven.
1. It was destined to.
This isn’t the show that got a beautifully closed finale that would make a revisitation feel like one of those shows that got a killer series end, only to get picked up by another station and be a shell of its former self.
In the final episode, Cooper finally enters the Black Lodge, the chevron-floored, red velvet-draped room of his dreams, and must try to save Annie from the villainous Windom Earle. He sees Laura Palmer, and she tells him: “I’ll see you again in 25 years.” When he leaves the lodge, he is possessed by Bob, and the episode ends.
The new series will kick off 25 years later, when Laura is destined to see Cooper again, following the themes and promises of the initial series, while ending a purgatory for all the characters facing danger and death in the finale.
2. It’s heading to cable.
Network pressure is the culprit that led Frost and Lynch to reveal Laura Palmer’s killer early, which led to the downward spiral that killed the show. The same problem would descend upon his next stab, Mulholland Drive, which started as a series ABC passed on before Lynch rejigged it into a film.
But Lynch has always been a director better suited to cable, especially cable working on limited runs. Without the pressure of big audiences and nervous studios looking at ratings week to week, Twin Peaks will have the freedom to follow its storyline.
3. It’s all Frost and Lynch.
In the original run, Lynch only wrote the first three episodes of the show and directed six, the last two being the episode where the killer is revealed, and the series finale. Frost, meanwhile, directed only one episode and wrote almost none of the post-reveal episodes until the pair began to wrap up the series.
In the new season, all nine will be written and produced by both of them, and every single one will be directed by Lynch himself. When they were involved, the show thrived, and like many shows that see their showrunner take a step back, Twin Peaks faltered when neither were directly involved.
Whether the return fits in with the original show or not, it’s a rare thing to have the show creators be wholly and directed responsible for all episodes set to air.
4. Twin Peaks’ finale overcame a terrible mid-second season.
The pair has already proven that when they re-take the reins, the show improves in leaps and bounds. The second season was a mess post-reveal: Windom Earle went super-wacky, bodies popped up in chess pieces, James Hurley rode off to become embroiled in another family no one cared about, and every storyline went in every nonsensical direction.
Yet after losing its way so thoroughly for half a season, Twin Peaks soared in its finale, become one of the best that ever aired. It was fan service in that it brought things back to the core characters and themes that made the show a hit, but also an utterly baffling and potentially devastating shock to the fans watching. Most of the beloved characters were facing death, were dead, or were possessed by the very thing they were fighting against. Lynch was able to revisit the Lodge, reintroduce the world to Jimmy Scott, whose “Sycamore Trees” was downright mesmerizing, and remind viewers that the show was as strong or weak as the people behind it.
5. Lynch’s style can never be just fan service.
Let’s face it: Most fan service is revisiting the very same themes in almost identical ways, doing anything to avoid making waves that might upset or unsettle its fandom. This is, quite simply, not something Lynch could, has, or would do. His worlds aren’t straight-forward narratives. They’re not simple formulas to be repeated.
They are visual dances Lynch uses to make sense of his thoughts. He has become an iconic filmmaker because of his uncompromising vision. He didn’t save the series finale by being nice to his viewers. He saved it by shaking them to their very core, which is exactly what Lynch does. Even if he chooses to keep some elements to make fans happy, it will still be filtered through his surreally beautiful point of view. (To date, it is the only show or film I have watched that has rendered me catatonic and speechless for a long time after watching.)
6. Twin Peaks now has brethren.
Twin Peaks has always been special. It arrived on televisions and offered something no one was expecting, and it has been more influential than anyone could have dreamed. And it’s an influence that hasn’t waned. Murder mysteries and strange worlds are all the rage on television these days, from The Killing to American Horror Story to all of the crime procedurals on network television.
Audiences are interested in these themes, and it’s nice to get an exploration of them from a master. To this day, Twin Peaks still stands out.
7. If cashing in means giving Lynch the opportunity to share his vision again, so be it.
We rail against people cashing in because it usually means compromising their vision, distracting them from the work we truly love, etcetera, etcetera. But Lynch hasn’t directed a film since Inland Empire eight years ago. He’s backed away from the world that made him an icon, sick of having to water things down, even if he’s able to make beauty out of fragments in Mulholland, or ignore his vision entirely for the perfection of The Straight Story.
All that “cashing in” means here is that Lynch found something his fans are desperate for, a story he left open and wants to return to, on a network willing to let him do it. Lynch has found his way back, at least for now, and that’s something to celebrate.
Related Topics: Twin Peaks