I can’t believe it, but it’s real. Twin Peaks is really, actually, totally back.
This is one of the weirdest moments in my art life, witnessing the full resurrection of a long-dead favorite narrative. It’s something I honestly never expected to happen, and was never sure I actually would welcome. I’m so thankful to be wrong.
I was never a fan of revivals. They’re almost always pale imitations of the thing people loved, fueled solely on nostalgia and goodwill. The X-Files blew its chance to have a proper ending the first time around; why did we expect them to make it work over a decade later? I greet news of a Roseanne redo like the plague. It was a pretty good show, which is exactly why I don’t want its metaphorical horse resurrected, only to be beaten to death in 2017.
But one mythical what-if always hung in the air when these conversations happened. Twin Peaks was a radical departure from TV at the time, a deeply weird nightmare of Americana, more art house cinema than prime time procedural. It was a genuine hit that slid into cult status when ratings plummeted and the show was canceled – right after a massive cliffhanger at the end of season two.
It must have been heartbreaking for fans at the time. I dove into Twin Peaks around 2005, armed with two important pieces of knowledge. First: everything about the show was right up my alley, especially as a David Lynch fan. Second: it ended abruptly, without warning, on an incredible down note. Of course, everyone assured me that the ride was worth it, gut-punch at the end or not.
They were right. I hold Twin Peaks as one of my favorite television series, which is an extremely limited list. I don’t really watch anything that I don’t specifically select; I haven’t had cable for years. I rarely watch anything twice, but I’ve seen the entire original series three times at this point.
To say that I came to the revival biased is an understatement. But the thing is, probably more than most fans of the series, I was incredibly wary of the idea of continuation itself. Sure, it should have had a proper ending almost thirty years ago, but it didn’t. I’d accepted how things turned out and consoled myself with the shrieking weird energy of the show’s final episode, one of the most bizarre hours of television at the time and for many, many years after.
But then I knew that David Lynch was going to personally create it.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that Lynch would never revisit an old artistic thread unless it held some value for fresh ideas, new possibilities. He’s warped, shifted, grown, and changed between each project in a way that would make most directors’ entire careers blush. His only successful foray into television had been one of my favorite pieces of the medium, ever. His unsuccessful try, Mulholland Drive, ended up as one of my favorite films of all time. There were at least a few reasons to keep hope alive.
When news started rolling in that most of the original cast had signed back up, I softened a bit. When reports surfaced that Lynch might have been separated from the reboot project, his cast released a heartwarming video explaining what Twin Peaks without David Lynch is like. Lynch was back, then the episode list grew from nine to eighteen. Suddenly, we all found out that he was going to personally direct every episode. It was its own meta drama played out over the months, distracting me from the fact that the show was really being made.
All of a sudden, I was watching the two-hour premier. It started out slow, built to screaming terror, then lapped around the darkened surreal landscape Lynch pioneered through his films in the intervening years. Finally, it appeared to settle into its own rhythm, picking up somewhere beyond where Lynch left off with his last film, Inland Empire, in 2006. It felt like the beginning of a new chapter for the auteur, karmic redemption for the years of box office indifference and diminishing budgets he endured.
It’s something I’m going to need to watch more to process, but suffice it to say, this new series blends the storytelling of its forebear with the unmistakable, unspeakable cinematic language of its original creator. It feels as unflinching as anything he’s put to film, unafraid to drop us down into a sensory abyss. But like all of his best work, the show knows when to let us up for air.
I’m going to avoid all spoilers by simply saying that this song plays a major part in the ending. After nearly two hours of creeping dread and swirling confusion, we’re treated to an angelic moment, an updated take on the Julee Cruise dreampop that spiked the original series every few episodes. The song is called Shadow and it’s by Chromatics.
I was into this band for a hot minute about a decade ago, but aside from the odd single and that song on Drive, hadn’t paid much attention. After one episode of a television show, I’m cruising through their catalog. I don’t know how far I’ll go, but this song is good enough to drive me there. Singer Ruth Radelet channels the angelic wisp of Julee Cruise into a more low-key delivery, reminding me almost as much of Nico’s narcotic affect. It fits the atmosphere perfectly, elevating a song that’s mostly chill synth buildup, heightened with some expert percussion. There’s nothing special here on paper, but it really works a trick.
I imagine the effect might not be the same if you haven’t seen the show. So watch it first, if you plan to anyway. I’ll be here.