*ATTENTION* It is advised that you view the entirety of this season before reading the following review, some spoilers will feature as I delve into plot details. You have been warned.
Back in 2014 it was confirmed via Twitter by David Lynch that Twin Peaks would be returning to our screens, a story left on THAT cliffhanger back in 1991 would be continued and the internet rejoiced. We knew this was going to be something special, little did we know just how special it would turn out to be.
To summarise briefly under the assumption that in reading this you are aware of what transpired in prior seasons, Dale Cooper has been trapped in The Black Lodge for some 25 years whilst his doppelgänger, imbued with an evil spirit who goes by the name of BOB, has taken his place in our reality and gone AWOL after the events of the season 2 finale. A series of events lead to Dale coming back to our reality at the cost of his own mind, taking the persona of a lawyer called Dougie Jones who for some reason resembles Cooper. Back in Twin Peaks, Deputy Hawk receives a phone call from The Log Lady that’s sets him on Cooper’s path whilst Gordon & Albert at the FBI pursue their own investigation.
The first thing that struck me with this season of Twin Peaks was just how much influence Lynch has held over the development this time round as opposed to his comparatively meagre input into the prior season. It becomes quite clear in the first handful of episodes, particularly the highly regarded 8th episode, of Lynch’s creative input in full control. This season if anything was a true showcase of Lynch being allowed to create without boundaries, without someone to hold him back through fear of people not understanding or wanting him to dumb down his vision and I would myself regard parts of The Return, particularly that aforementioned 8th episode as some of his best work to date. David Lynch has arguably worked at his best without outside interference, to be allowed to create his art without having to answer for it. When you juxtapose this season against season 2, with Lynch’s minimal input for a large section of the season, the show meandered, it became almost soap-opera-like, banal in its relative normality. Season 3 in comparison is Lynch unleashed and it is glorious.
We were this season given new facets to the Twin Peaks story to wrap our heads around, the otherworldly mother figure, Jowday (The Judy that David Bowie’s Philip Jeffries wasn’t going to talk about in FWWM) that apparently gave birth to BOB, a terrifying apparition that on our first encounter with, literally tore people’s faces off. We also got to see quite lengthy glimpses, particularly in the aforementioned 8th episode, of the various lodge inhabitants or at the very least, denizens of that plane of existence. We saw our first real glimpse of what we can assume to be The White Lodge, inhabited by The Fireman & Seniorita Dido, The Fireman of course resembling The Giant from the original series though not billed as such who appears to be The White Lodge’s equivalent of Jowday, birthing what appears to be Laura Palmer and sending her essence to Earth, Laura possibly being a cosmic counterbalance to BOB of sorts following the cataclysmic atomic detonation that seemly opened the respective gateway’s between worlds. The other perplexing new characters are The Woodsmen, dark skinned apparitions in disheveled clothing that also appeared around the time of the atomic detonation and seem to have some kind of connection to The Black Lodge, heralds if you will who appear to be a reimagining of a character briefly glimpsed in FWWM played by Jurgan Prochnow in Laura’s dream sequence. The Return also brings the use of tulpas into Twin Peaks mythology with the characters of Dougie Jones and the person who everyone believed to be Dianne actually both being tulpas or constructs.
For the most part and it will certainly help if you are familiar with Lynch’s writing style, The Return is, as with a lot of Lynch’s past work, heavily left open to viewer interpretation, there is minimal hand-holding in The Return and the hardcore Lynch faithful wouldn’t have it any other way, though, a number of story strands are left unexplained or up in the air. What happened to Audrey? It isn’t addressed in the finale so we have no idea of her situation. Also, Sarah Palmer rather dramatically removed her face toward the end of the season to reveal a dark void and a rather sinister smile before ripping out a truckers throat in a bar, we do briefly see Sarah Palmer in the finale although her prior conduct was never readdressed. The season was also left on another massive cliffhanger with Coop & Laura/Carrie outside the Palmer/Tremond residence in Twin Peaks as Laura screamed and everything cut to black. It’s already known in Peaks lore that the Tremonds are connected to the Lodges, are the Black Lodge denizens attempting to track Laura? Have they found her? Whether these things have been left in the air deliberately with the intent of another season to answer them remains to be seen, they are rather perplexing questions to leave up in the air with the possibility of never being answered though.
The Return sees many actors from the original series making an appearance. Kyle MacLachlan is phenomenal this season, predominantly split between the roles of Cooper/Dougie & Cooper’s doppelgänger, Dopple-Coop is all brooding and bass-ass with the constant threat of violence hanging over any scene he is in, Dougie couldn’t be anymore different. A hugely sympathetic and humorous turn, Dougie Jones, a lawyer who resembles Cooper and who’s persona Cooper employs for the majority of the season. A monosyllabic savant guided by the other place to Cooper’s salvation, Dougie has been a constant high point of the season. Lynch’s Gordon Cole has also been a season highlight alongside his note perfect partnership with the late great Miguel Ferrer as Albert Rosenfeld, the two bounce of other perfectly, Gordon’s abject oddness being the perfect foil to Alberts quiet, surrendering incredulity, the sense Albert has had to deal with this kinda shit for years and now he just succumbs to it. Some great guest turns have been thrown out this season also from the likes of Laura Dern as the bristling & acerbic Dianne, finally a psychical presence and not just a name spoken into a dictaphone. Some noteworthy turns are also given by original series OG’s Harry Goaz, David Patrick Kelly, Russ Tamblyn and Dana Ashbrooke alongside new faces such as Jim Belushi, Naomi Watts, Matthew Lillard and Sara Paxton.
As with the prior two seasons, music plays a big part in Twin Peaks so it was with some degree of relief to learn that composer Angelo Badalamenti returns to score this season alongside a ridiculously rich and diverse lineup of musical talent ranging from contemporary acts like Chromatics, Sharon Van Etten and Lissie alongside the more recognisable faces of Eddie Vedder and Nine Inch Nails as artists appearing onstage at The Roadhouse’s ‘Bang, Bang Bar’ music nights. For the most part the musical guests have been great and very well curated, I for one will be picking up a copy of this seasons soundtrack when the record comes out for sure.
Newcomers to Twin Peaks will be thoroughly bewildered by The Return and will have probably given up a few episodes in, for the faithful however, this has been a stunning return to form for the show as The Return took us in surprising & mind-bending directions. With every twist & turn it retained the charm of the first 2 seasons whilst presenting a much darker story that didn’t feel as cosy in its oddness as the Twin Peaks of old. The Return carried a much more sinister atmosphere throughout this entire season and it has been an absolute joy to behold, every barking, mind-boggling, brain-f**king second of it. If Twin Peaks is destined to return yet again for a 4th season, it remains to be seen, both Lynch and Showtime have remained stoically tight lipped on the subject. The fact that we even got The Return remains a miracle in of itself, I wasn’t really expecting an all story strands resolved conclusion to the story to be forthcoming, if ever. Although I’m sure many people will, I don’t believe It’s really our place to criticise what Lynch has created here because as with most things the man has created, it is art, pure and simple, it’s there to be interpreted, not to spoonfeed you answers and give you exactly what you want, what we did get however, I am more than happy with.