A Place Both Wonderful and Strange: The Perfect Shots of ‘Twin Peaks’

By  · Published on May 19th, 2017

80 meaningful moments to get you back in that Lynchian spirit.

Twin Peaks is bar none the most daring program ever shown on network TV, especially for its time. But it wasn’t just the show’s narrative that was so bold, it was also the way co-creator and director David Lynch established a decidedly cinematic aesthetic for his series, a television first. Until Twin Peaks, television was largely shot for economic and efficiency concerns, it was the fast food to the filet mignon of film, a quicker, cheaper, more common alternative. Today that’s not the case, some of the best, most daring, and cinematic work out there is happening on TV, and this isn’t a coincidence: Twin Peaks caused this, it birthed the “Golden Age” of television we’re currently enjoying, thanks to the giant strides it made in the realms of both narrative and filmic storytelling. And even though Lynch wasn’t at the helm for every chapter – in fact just the pilot and six of 29 episodes – the look of Twin Peaks remained constant throughout its run. This is owed, in part, to having just two cinematographers for the entire series: Ronald Victor Garcia, who only shot the pilot and the prequel follow-up film Fire Walk With Me, and Frank Byers, who shot all 29 episodes.

A little bit noir, a little bit soap opera, and dashed with visual tropes from crime, sci-fi, comedy and horror, Twin Peaks is an amalgam of genres the likes of which has been often imitated but never replicated. It is its own genre, in fact, an uncategorizable feat of filmmaking that just happens to take place on television, and the new season promises to be all this to the Nth degree, and perhaps the first literal example of the “one giant movie” most prestige TV shows claim to be.

So in honor of the aesthetic uniqueness of Twin Peaks in advance of its return this weekend (the new series is shot entirely by Peter Deming, who shot Mulholland Drive [!!!]) we proudly present 80 perfect shots from Twin Peaks, including some from Fire Walk With Me.

A reminder here that a “perfect shot” isn’t just an eye-catching, breathtaking frame of cinematography, it’s about imagery that informs, elucidates, and in fact propels the narrative and those within it; a perfect shot isn’t just beautiful, it’s integral, it’s iconic in the definitive sense in that it’s a visual representation, in this case of a narrative’s themes, tropes, and intentions.

Twin Peaks season three begins this Sunday, May 21st, with two episodes back-to-back on Showtime, followed immediately by the release of episodes three and four on the network’s digital platforms.

And this should go without saying, but just in case…SPOILERS BELOW!!!


Pilot | dir. David Lynch

The face that launched a thousand mysteries…

Notice the figure reflected in the mirror over Sarah’s shoulder…

Episode 1 | dir. Duwayne Dunham

“There was a fish IN the percolator!”

Episode 2 | dir. David Lynch

“My father killed me…”

Episode 3 | dir. Tina Rathborne

You’ll never see more cast members in the same photo than right here, at Laura’s funeral.

Episode 4 | dir. Tim Hunter

Episode 5 | dir. Lesli Linka Glatter

A steel “X” over the secret love of Norma and Ed.

Episode 6 | dir. Caleb Deschanel

RIP Waldo

Episode 7 | dir. Mark Frost

Season one ended with a bang…three of them.

Episode 8 | dir. David Lynch

This, to me, is the scariest image of the entire series.

Episode 9 | dir. David Lynch

“Just yoooou….And Iiiii….”

Episode 10 | dir. Lesli Linka Glatter

Yes. Yes he has.

Episode 11 | dir. Todd Holland

Episode 12 | dir. Graeme Clifford

Episode 13 | dir. Lesli Linka Glatter

Episode 14 | dir. David Lynch

The reveal heard around the world…

Episode 15 | dir. Caleb Deschanel

History repeating.

Episode 16 | dir. Tim Hunter

The truth is known.

This, to me, is the series’ most powerful scene. Ray Wise is AMAZING.

Episode 17 | dir. Tina Rathborne

A total Wizard of Oz moment. Lynch’s work is littered with them.

Episode 18 | dir. Duwayne Dunham

Episode 20 | dir. Todd Holland

Leo’s back and ready to party…

Episode 21 | dir. Uli Edel

Sweet Caroline…

…and introducing Windom Earle.

Episode 22 | dir. Diane Keaton

Episode 23 | dir. Lesli Linka Glatter

The weird, wooden fate of Josie Packard.

Episode 24 | dir. James Foley

Episode 25 | dir. Duwayne Dunham

It’s all coming together…

Episode 26 | dir. Jonathan Sanger

But we know this guy. It’s Ted Raimi.

Episode 27 | dir. Stephen Gyllenhaal

Like an evil eye peering through dimensions…

Episode 28 | dir. Tim Hunter

Someone’s been playing in The Black Lodge…

The end begins.

Episode 29 | dir. David Lynch

Yeah you will!

The end of Earle.


Best. Twist. EVER.

Fire Walk With Me | dir. David Lynch

One ring to rule them all…

And so it ends…and begins.

See you Sunday night in Twin Peaks…



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