What Are We Going to Do Without 'Twin Peaks'?
The cult fave's triumphant return is about to come to a close, and we're beside ourselves.
I loved Twin Peaks: the Return, which ends this Sunday. I loved it—more than any movie, TV show, album, book, or video game I've consumed this year, and maybe this decade—and the fact that it's going to end makes me feel fucking awful.
I loved the night that Twin Peaks: the Return first aired. I trailed off on the show's infamously uneven second season years ago and only saw Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me recently, but a voracious pop cultural appetite paired with living on the internet meant that I basically knew what happened anyway. (I'll finish it one day, possibly soon: one of the things Twin Peaks: the Return inspired me to undertake is watching the whole damn show again—including The Return—almost as soon as it ends.)
When it finally came time to watch it on a newly purchased Showtime subscription (which I will most likely discard after Sunday night, barring a sudden urge to become a huge Ray Donovan fan), my fiancé had already fallen asleep but gave me permission to watch the first two episodes before her. I had no idea what to expect, which was exactly how to approach the show's surreal and disorienting double-header kickoff. The next day, I watched it again, and dove into the third and fourth episodes immediately.
I loved the music of Twin Peaks: the Return. A regular conceit the show returned (har har) to was featuring a performance from a real-life musical act at the show's fictional Roadhouse venue near the end of most episodes; to close out the show's first two episodes, Cali-based shadowy vibe master Johnny Jewel's Chromatics project delivered a pitch-perfect rendition of "Shadow," from their possibly-never-released forthcoming album Dear Tommy. I've always ran hot and cold on Jewel's and, by extension, Chromatics' night-drive aesthetic, but in this context it totally clicked for me, oozing romanticism and nostalgia without pushing the needle into the red for either trait.
Twin Peaks: the Return often brilliantly recontextualized artists I both loved and hadn't thought about in a certain light. In this space, noise artist and Lynchian kindred spirit Alex Zhang Hungtai hypnotically honked on a sax alongside David Lynch's own son; dance producer Hudson Mohawke soundtracked Sky Ferreira scratching at an ungainly rash with gnarled-metal soundscapes; Eddie Vedder could come across as pained and mournful even while wearing a silly-looking hat. Sometimes, the recontextualizing wasn't needed—is there any purer pleasure (other than watching Twin Peaks: the Return, that is) than watching Sharon Van Etten lean into her cathartic "Tarifa" as the credits roll? Every musical performance was a surprise, and a welcome one at that (yes, even James Hurley's).
I loved how Twin Peaks: the Return possessed—wielded violently, even—the capacity to surprise. I'm not one to grouse about spoiler culture, and I realize that I'm opening myself up to criticism by saying this, but fuck it: it's just so rare that anything is truly surprising these days when it comes to television. With Twin Peaks: the Return, you never knew what you were getting into every week—whether it was Sarah Palmer's bloodthirsty teeth, three minutes of a guy sweeping the floor, a weird joke about trout fishing, or a psychedelic blowout concerning the first atomic bomb test.
I loved "Part 8." Didn't you? The awe-inspiring ambition of it all? The enormity of the mushroom cloud that possibly (or not, who knows) birthed the very strain of evil that runs throughout Twin Peaks lore? The steely and sexy Roadhouse performance from "The Nine Inch Nails"? The guy who said "GOTTA LIGHT?" before—you know what, words fail this hour of television. If you haven't seen it yet, why haven't you?
I loved how mad "Part 8"—and, by extension, the entirety of Twin Peaks: the Return—made some of my dearest friends. "What do you like about this show, exactly?" one of my closest friends yelled at me, a few glasses of wine deep, as we swatted mosquitoes in the backyard of a bar on a Sunday night in which I was wondering if I'd be home in time to watch Twin Peaks: the Return. She and her boyfriend were incensed—mildly furious, even!—at the what-does-it-all-mean of it all: the assumed directionlessness of Dougie Jones, the random shit, the continued presence of random shit, and of course, "Part 8." Both of them then conceded, for the first of what would be several times throughout the airing of Twin Peaks: the Return, that they were going to keep watching it anyway. How could you not?
I loved that unreliability that came with every episode of Twin Peaks: the Return—a constant of irregularity that occurred regularly. Surprises have defined my 2017 as well as others', not all of them welcome. It's been a year in which I've found myself, at points, craving for stability on levels both large and small. It's easy during these times to return to things that are comfortable and reliable (I've watched more Friends in the last month than is typically recommended by physicians), but the strange and unforgiving wildnerness of Twin Peaks: the Return was a necessary shock to my system, like Dougie shoving a utensil into an electrical socket. It became a part of my life, and soon it's going to be gone, and even though I'm thankful that in the age of endless reboots and continuations there seems to be a wish of finality on Lynch's part—I'm going to feel terrible when it's over.
Follow Larry Fitzmaurice on Twitter.