Samuel Brace on Twin Peaks season 3…
Twin Peaks season 3 (The Return) had been something fans of the show, and of David Lynch, were dreaming of for years, and its revival has provided television viewers with some truly incredible moments, and some seriously beautiful filmmaking. But there is something about the resurrected series that just isn’t working. There is something about it that is leaving me a little indifferent to its existence.
David Lynch is a master, one of the few left in the world of cinema. His content has enraptured us for decades, inspiring a thought process regarding his work matched by very few in the business. There is nothing quite like a Lynch movie or episode of Lynch TV. The likes of Mulholland Drive (my personal favourite Lynch film), Blue Velvet, and The Lost Highway have so much to offer for those willing to have their minds twisted and tormented to discover the secrets buried within them. It’s a remarkable experience letting a film by Lynch wash over you, and it certainly isn’t for everyone.
When Twin Peaks season 3 finally began its run on Showtime, one was very quickly aware that Lynch wasn’t messing around. He had been away for quite some time; his last feature film was Inland Empire in 2006. It was obvious that this iconic director wasn’t going to be pulling any punches. Lynch had a lot of creative energy surging inside him and Twin Peaks was where he was going to let it all out. The result was a Twin Peaks that was more Lynchian than ever before, and in places, perhaps more Lynchian than ANYTHING he has produced to this point. It’s been quite something to witness. Twin Peaks has become a vehicle for every creative impulse he has seemingly ever wanted to bring to screen. The results have been stunning, providing audiences with some of the most bizarre, odd, and breathtaking imagery in the history of the medium.
Part of the fun, with regards to the return of Twin Peaks, is seeing just what he and co-creator Mark Frost will come up with next. But is that enough? You see, Twin Peaks season 3 is directed entirely by Lynch — an astonishing feat given its 18 episodes — and as such it was treated during filming as one long movie, then cut up into episodes where appropriate. This provides a truly unique feel to the show, with episode endings that just kind of happen, and not with the usual punchy full stop that TV viewers have come to expect. Watching Twin Peaks season 3 is therefore more like watching a film in short bursts, and coming back to it once every week. It’s bizarre, and I suppose perfect for what Lynch and the show are trying to achieve. There is nothing else like it.
But this has also left this particular viewer almost unenthused about the whole ordeal. I mean, who wants to take a break for a week, every week, from watching their favourite movie? Don’t get me wrong, I am keen to see how this all comes together, just how it will all end for Cooper, Hawk, Sheriff Truman, Gordon, Tammy, and the rest. I want to see the finished tapestry, the macabre mystery in its entirety. But I would be lying if I said I was waiting with bated breath each week for the next instalment. This is not something I thought I would ever say. The wait for Twin Peaks each week doesn’t compare to the experience of waiting for The Leftovers or Better Call Saul, and it isn’t even on the same spectrum as Game of Thrones.
This is likely due to the narrative nature of those other shows, and their more traditional (if you could ever call The Leftovers traditional) plot orientated makeup. Twin Peaks just isn’t focused or worried about the same things. To Peaks and Lynch the story is secondary to the atmosphere, to the feeling provided. This is something I am normally perfectly fine with. In fact, I’ve championed such styles of content, writing a piece on the virtues of mystery and ambiguous story telling. But Twin Peaks is an entirely new kettle of fish, and I am wondering if it doesn’t quite work as a series. Perhaps season 3 of the show would have worked better as multiple films. Cinema is clearly inspiring and driving Lynch and his work here. But, of course, such an endeavour would have been impossible; no one is commissioning a Twin Peaks trilogy in 2017. It’s actually remarkable that it’s even made it to TV form, and credit should absolutely be given to Showtime for allowing Lynch to do whatever the hell he wants, something that he is clearly doing.
There is no doubt that what is being achieved with this season of Twin Peaks is remarkable, that Lynch has succeeding in creating some of the weirdest content you are ever likely to see, and that fans of his work have been truly reimbursed for their patience since his last major outing. There is more to dissect and analyse here than one could ever desire. But the truth is that next week’s instalment isn’t something that I am eagerly anticipating. I will probably put off watching it right away. In fact, the last couple of weeks I have chosen to instead watch another episode of Dexter, a series that I am currently revisiting, and am enjoying immensely (likely only until it falls apart after season 4). But this shouldn’t be the case; Twin Peaks should come first, at least second behind Game of Thrones on my list of TV priorities. But it doesn’t, it just kind of exists, waiting for me to get lost inside its mysteries, consumed for an hour by something close to a dream. It’s just a shame that it’s a dream I am never desperate to get back to, no matter how beautiful it can be.