What year is it?

tp12017.52: Twin Peaks – The Return

Well, what was all that about, then? Up to the penultimate episode I thought I had a fairly decent grip on things but then Lynch, that crafty old goat, comes along with a final curveball with a confounding episode 18 that pulls the rug from under viewers and leaves a cliffhanger that just hangs there for… well, forever?

Who knows? Maybe we’ll get another season in four or five years, or maybe it’ll never happen. Even if it did, I doubt that we’d get any closure or things would ever tie together. That’s not what Twin Peaks was ever about- every mystery solved just unwrapped another mystery. Back when we learned who killed Laura Palmer we didn’t really learn who killed her- or what killed her, the answer not really being an answer, just something else to analyse and decode. In some ways, Twin Peaks isn’t at all strange or odd- it just mirrors our own reality, our lives and world that makes little sense either. The fun is just being there, and enjoying the crazy madness of it all.

Which rather sums up my feelings about this Twin Peaks revival, an event as crazily impossible as a Blade Runner sequel-  2017 is some year for  ‘pinch me, this cannot be possibly happening’ moments.  The Return is a brilliant, bizarre show that faithfully  echoed the appeal of the original and just took it even further out there. Indeed, it occurs to me now that this is quite similar to how 2049 did just the same thing. Both projects took a cherished original and reworked and expanded upon it, where the creative forces had freedoms that outweighed any backroom pressures. Watching this new Twin Peaks you could tell Lynch was just doing his thing with this great toy set of cast and crew, in just the same way as watching 2049 I had the sense that it was Villeneuve’s film, that he had total freedom to make his movie his way.

There are so many incredible moments through the 18 episodes of The Return, clues/codes/red herrings, so many cameos and dead-ends. Was there ever any connection to that New York sequence early on, what was that scary creature that killed that naked couple (whoever they were), what was the significance of the Atom bomb test in episode 8? Indeed, was Episode 8 of some particular significance, as the talking boiler that represented FBI agent Phillip Jeffries (who Cooper tells us  “doesn’t even exist anymore, at least not in a normal sense”)  exudes a steam cloud that transforms into the number 8 and an infinity symbol when turned on its side.  Maybe it means something. Maybe it means nothing.

Quite astonishing really. In just the same way as 2049 has been rattling itself around in my head for the past few weeks over three viewings at the cinema, so Twin Peaks: The Return has been rattling around in my head these past few months. It’s been quite brilliant, confounding and exhilarating,  possibly the best show on tv all year. Its positively nuts, crazy, maddening, funny, bewildering, scary- only in 2017 could television get away with this. With this and 2049, it’s as if the stars are just aligned somehow. “What year is it?” Cooper asks, the series very last line. I feel like shouting back: ‘2017. You better believe it!’

Or on the other hand-

Maybe The Prisoner has something to do with it. That show is the spiritual father of Twin Peaks and celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. How fitting that The Return premieres 50 years after Patrick McGoohan’s show first confounded unwitting audiences.  1967 = 2017. Maybe that means something.

4 thoughts on “What year is it?

  1. Matthew McKinnon

    Yes, it was excellent. And those were a good pair of continuations/expansions, for sure. A shame Alien: Covenant was so rubbish, we could have had a perfect hat trick.

    In trying to fathom the ending, I found this in the Guardian comments, which I thought was quite illuminating…

    https://www.waggish.org/2017/twin-peaks-finale

    I definitely thought by the end that the monster in ep.1 was ‘Judy’ (though I initially thought it might be Philip Jeffries, as his role wasn’t made clear until much later).
    And the atomic bomb was the means (a rift in time and space) through which Judy sent Bob into the world (as well as the speckled egg that hatched into the monster that young girl who may be Sarah Palmer swallowed): the vomiting creature looked the same as the thing in the glass box.

    1. Hey, that was a really interesting account. I’m looking forward to re-watching the show on blu-ray early next year and it will be fun trying out some of those observations and theories. Just have to decide whether to first rewatch the original series which I have had sitting on my shelf for far too long. Will the original be more interesting knowing what happens 25 years later? Will it open up new interpretations in light of what we’ve all now just seen?

  2. I think your answer to “what year is it?” may turn out to be the most appropriate of all. We’ve only recently reached a point in TV where they’d make something like this, but between its low ratings and the fact there’s too much telly being made, I’m not sure anyone else will ever make anything like it again. Same with 2049 and its box office. 2017 may yet turn out to be some kind of perfect storm period that allowed those things. Of course, it’s also allowed Transformers 5 and its ilk, but you can’t have everything.

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