Return to Twin Peaks

a Place both Wonderful and Strange part 2

PART II


FLASHBACK TO JUNE 10, 1991: The series ended on a monumental cliffhanger note with Cooper, after descending to the Black Lodge, emerging possessed by BOB, with new-found girlfriend Annie in imminent danger – the set-up for a third season that never materialized. Despite the show’s cancellation, Lynch immediately followed up with a Twin Peaks feature film, Fire Walk with Me, proving that the eccentric aesthetic of Lynch’s lumber town had not yet run its course. Though Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me was literally a step backwards – rather than go ahead and conclude the series with a feature-length finale, Lynch opted for a prequel – it did provide fans with the fates of Cooper and Laura, ending for them not “with three sharp notes, like deathly drumbeats,” but on the hopeful epilogue-cum-grace note of Luigi Cherubini’s angelic Requiem Mass in C Minor.

 

However Fire Walk with Me, as a theatrical release, was far more graphic than its television counterpart, and this – along with running-time constraints that cut the more comical characters and situations – quashed any quirky whimsy so integral to the series’ original appeal. Lynch, in his interview with Chris Rodley for the book Lynch on Lynch, admits that with the missing scenes “It wouldn’t have been quite so dark …,” but “a little bit of the goofiness had to be removed” for length and “it might be good sometime to do a longer version with these other things in.” If Lynch cannot go back to Peaks on a weekly basis, some reports suggest he may at least be allowed to accomplish this on Blu-ray with a restored Fire Walk with Me.

After Twin Peaks, a string of series attempted to capitalize on the lingering Peaks mystique – Northern Exposure (1990-1995), Picket Fences (1992-1996), American Gothic (1995-1996), and Happy Town (2010), to name a few. Northern Exposure’s episode “Russian Flu” even acknowledges its debt by featuring the Snoqualmie Falls, donuts, cherry pie, and Julee Cruise’s “Floating” (not to mention a brief cameo by the Log Lady). American Gothic lasted a single season, and Happy Town was cancelled with several episodes unaired, proof that impersonating Lynch is not as easy as some believe. Irrespective of those shows’ quality, they are evidence of a void created by the disappearance of the sleepy little logging town from television’s map, one that if it needs filling, can only be filled by the one-and-only, one-of-a-kind Lynch.

 

CUT TO: THE PRESENT: If a comeback, what the form? There was talk of a reboot, though Lynch could easily pick up where he last left off, a move that would necessitate some tricky recasting. There is no reason not to simply flash forward 25 years. Jennifer Geacone-Cruz, writing for Moviepilot, wonders if a “reboot is actually taking place 25 years into the future,” adding that “This makes sense as at the end of Episode 2 of Season 1, Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) has a dream of himself 25 years later. Twin Peaks is very much defined by its forays into dreams, predictions and the subconscious, so this would be a fitting way to make these connections and capitalize on the timing.” If this solution sounds like “Twin Peaks: The Next Generation,” it does have the advantage of creating new characters where necessary while retaining whatever classic ones can be enlisted. It must be said though that it seems doubtful the show could successfully go forward without participation from Kyle MacLachlan as Lynch’s ever-earnest alter ego, F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper, not to mention Sheryl Lee as immortal D.O.A. Laura Palmer.

 

A return to Twin Peaks would be a welcome return to form for Lynch, whose style in that series joined popular taste to avant-gardism by plastic-shrouding his trademark surrealism, Laura Palmer-like, in a deceptively conventional crime case. The formula for this he pioneered with Blue Velvet when he called it “the Hardy Boys go to Hell,” making it easy to think of Peaks as “Mayberry goes to Hell” or “the Bookhouse Boys go to Hell,” or to the Black Lodge if you prefer, that “place…chock full of dark forces and vicious secrets.” Perhaps it was Frost, an otherwise mainstream writer-director in his own right, who grounded Twin Peaks and summoned the electric Lynch, that “Jimmy Stewart from Mars,” back to earth, bottling his lightning when the demands of traditional storytelling dictated, only to uncork its shock and spark at judicious intervals.

 

Looking over Lynch’s outré output, it is Lost Highway (1997) that stands out as a turning point. While Lynch remains fascinating in the latter half of his career, his narrative threads unravel starting with this film. With Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart he was able to contain and contextualize his vision in ways that invited mass-market audiences along for the ride because they were, respectively, Hardy Boys and Wizard of Oz riffs, and significantly both those movies chronologically sandwich Twin Peaks (which was, in Lynch’s words, “Peyton Place meets Blue Velvet”). These pop-cultural tropes cleverly provided Lynch’s Edward Hopper-meets-Francis Bacon canvass a conventional frame for his unconventional vision. It is ironic that two films Lynch and neo-noir author Barry Gifford collaborated on, Wild at Heart (based on Gifford’s Sailor and Lula novel) and Lost Highway (whose title derives from Gifford’s Night People) land on diametrical sides of the narrative spectrum.

 

For those wondering about Lynch’s absence from the screen since 2006’s Inland Empire, the Los Angeles Times quoted the director in June 2012 as saying “I haven’t gotten the big idea … If I got an idea that I fell in love with, I’d go to work tomorrow. I just haven’t.” (Per the Log Lady, “Sometime ideas, like men, jump up and say ‘hello.’”) This explanation is hard to fathom considering that Lynch’s lifelong dream project, the science fiction detective story Ronnie Rocket, has lain dormant since his Eraserhead days. That was before Lynch had any cachet or clout, and in the age of independent filmmaking and cable, there should theoretically be no reason that he could not find the funding to finally launch Rocket. Then there are all his past unfilmed scripts (One Saliva Bubble and the mystery Up at the Lake, to name two), his long-standing ambition to adapt Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, and as revealed by his daughter Jennifer Lynch to Cameron Cloutier on his entertainment blog Obnoxious and Anonymous, and an unrealized film version of the Brothers Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel” (along with an undisclosed movie she described as “mind-boggling”). The head-scratcher is that Jennifer Lynch revealed this in June, the same month her father claimed he hadn’t “gotten the big idea” for a movie. Compounding the confusion, earlier in February The New York Times Magazine ran the profile “David Lynch Has a Great Idea for a Movie.” When confronted with the fact that an associate spilled news that he “was working on a new script and that it was typically dark,” Mystery Man Lynch cryptically told the Times, “I think people would probably recognize it.” Apart from his literary adaptations, none of the aforementioned project concepts are immediately recognizable in the public consciousness – unless of course he meant Twin Peaks.

 

In 2007, Lynch told the web talk show Les Tomcasts when asked about more Peaks, “You will have to imagine the rest on your own, which will be beautiful.” Then this January, when revival rumors surfaced, Jennifer Lynch posted on Facebook: “I AM PUTTING TO REST ALL STORIES OF TWIN PEAKS RETURN. THIS IS NOT HAPPENING.” Frost seconded the motion on Twitter: “Dear Internet: You are very good at spreading rumors. Truth is more valuable and much harder to come by. Sincerely yours, @mfrost11.” But Facebook and Twitter are, of course, the world wide web too, so what to make of David Lynch himself this past May, in the flesh at the Orange County Museum of Art’s annual Art of Dining gala, saying to Peaks actor Ray Wise (as reported on Internet radio’s Ron Purtee Show)?: “Well Ray, you know, the town is still there, and I suppose it’s possible we could revisit it. Of course you’re already dead, … but we could maybe work around that.” As reported on the fan site Welcome to Twin Peaks, that very month Lynch made the same quip to Wise virtually verbatim at the University of Southern California’s Twin Peaks Retrospective. Wise privately reiterated the newsflash in September to someone on the set of his upcoming film Guardian Angel, only to have Jennifer Lynch take to the Twitterverse to contradict him. This is the same USC event where a flesh-and-blood Frost stated on terra firma to a live audience, the January he tweeted the series was still dead, that “Twin Peaks is a continuing story, and that’s from both David and me.”

 

To quote Jerry Horne, “I am 100% sure that we’re not completely sure,” but one thing is for sure – if Lynch says “the town is still there,” it deserves a return visit, especially with its 25th anniversary only around the corner. Absent a new film in the can, Lynch fans will have to find ways to tide themselves over until a new Peaks arrives, or doesn’t. They may have to make do spending their evenings at his Mulholland Drive-inspired Parisian nightspot Club Silencio, though since he is only its interior architect, do not expect performances by Rebekah del Rio, or for that matter nightingale Dorothy Vallens chanteusing in the Slow Club or Julee Cruise at the Roadhouse. You could settle for letting Lynch himself serenade you, crooning with a “creepy blues sound” (as described by one New York Post reviewer) from his new album The Big Dream. Perhaps you are better off popping the cork on a Lynch-designed bottle of Dom Pérignon in the quiet comfort of your own home and toasting in anticipatory celebration of another round of Twin Peaks. And if it does not return, you can always drown your Garmonbozia with his damn fine David Lynch Signature Cup Coffee while watching the Twin Peaks Collection planned for Blu-ray and dreaming the rest on your own. Either way you slice this Double R Diner cherry pie, it can be beautiful (not to mention wonderful and strange).

Gilbert Colon