Twin Peaks: Reflecting on The Return

“In the end, it was breathtaking: horrific, funny, bold, and masterful — even at its most frustrating.” – Ben Huberman of Longreads 


It’s been a little bit over a month since the final two episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return were released upon the world, and to this day, I’m still left thinking extensively about the 18 part series. Taking place 25 years after the events of the second season, which aired way back in 1991, the revival series certainly was a continuation of the original series events, but alas, not every cliffhanger was left resolved. This should come as no surprise to David Lynch fans (the man isn’t interested in closure), but dammit did I ever believe that closure was what we were going to get!

Nonetheless, The Return is a series that evoked a sense of wonderment within me. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, or probably will ever see again. But did I enjoy the series overall? This was a question that bugged me shortly after the series concluded. There were parts that I 100% loved with every fiber in my body, and then, there were other parts that I hated. Over time, however, after extensive reflection and analyzation, I was able to reevaluate and appreciate the series for all its ups and downs. Put simply, I enjoyed the hell out of this series. Its ambiguity and dark themes made me question every twist and turn, every musical choice, every background aesthetic, until my head would begin to spin. It’s a series that demands your attention, one in which multiple viewings will prove to be required if anyone wishes to truly discover all of what the show has to offer.

Having recently created a blog, I was curious to see what other fans thought of the series, in an attempt to better understand whether or not my positive opinion on the show was felt by others (because let’s face it, the show is super divisive). Below are a series of quotes I pulled from various blogs that discussed Twin Peaks: The Return:


“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 cozy 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.” – mrmidd from Mr. Mids Awesome Blogs


I love what blogger mrmidd is saying here, especially in regards to the tone of The Return being very different from what we’ve seen before in earlier seasons of Twin Peaks. While earlier seasons had plenty of dark, bat shit crazy moments, the show still felt grounded in “reality”, always being sure to reel the tone back into mainstream territory when things got a little too abstract. While the original two seasons have their moments of crazy mixed with normalcy, The Return prides itself in being 100% “brain-fuckingly” abstract. By getting access to a network that has little to no restrictions on the levels of violence or adult content that can be incorporated into a series, creators David Lynch and Mark Frost were able to continue the story of Twin Peaks all while never having to adhere to a prime time network (the original series used to run on ABC). In other words, complete artistic control. And this complete control took the series in an entirely different direction! Some people hated this choice, for The Return is arguably a different beast when compared to the original series, and because of this, certain hallmarks which made the original series very appealing were somewhat sidestepped in favor of brand new material and concepts.


“Before it aired, I imagined this season would provide us with 18 more hours with one of my all-time favorite fictional characters in Dale Cooper–it is, after all, called The Return. To think we got less than three would seem like a guaranteed recipe for disappointment. But much in the same way that the original Twin Peaks–a bizarre, supernatural, soap opera-inspired mystery show about a high school girl’s murder–delivered something I never could have thought to ask for, The Return filled a void that I did not know existed. Just as with the conclusion of the original series (and Fire Walk With Me), there will be days, weeks, months, and likely years of speculating, interpreting, and theorizing in the wake of The Return. And in that way, we are the ones who have truly returned to Twin Peaks.” – Chris Pereira


And that’s one of the biggest reasons why I love The Return. It’s brand new. Nothing within the show feels as if it’s been done before in the previous seasons. There are nostalgic callbacks, but these are done so rarely, and when they are done, there’s a bit of cynicism behind them. Because of this new direction and darker tone, I couldn’t tell where this show was going at any given time. Whatever predictions I had in between episodes were shattered upon watching the next piece of the puzzle. Certain threads that seemed important and dire one week were ditched to the curb the next week in favor of some brand new plot thread or character. Right before the two part finale hit (which was a fucking trip of emotions), I was still left guessing at what Lynch and Frost could possibly throw our way, and honestly, it overshot my expectations once again. To have a show that can still provide this level of guessing, surprise and shock in a day and age where everything seems formulaic and lazy is an amazing thing to behold. The fact that  I’m still thinking about The Return to this day (questioning every twist and turn, picking up new bits of information that I missed on my first viewing, wondering if I’m missing a piece of the puzzle) makes my day. And yes, I still have my fair share of issues with The Return, but these annoyances and grievances aren’t enough to hinder the positives that came with the experience. The Return is everything I didn’t know I wanted from a Twin Peaks revival. While I was perfectly fine and ready to watch a nostalgic repeat of the old series which brought back familiar faces, places, and catchphrases, what I got instead was a completely new experience that was fresh and original while still continuing the story that got me hooked in the first place.

Twin Peaks: The Return is that rare revival series that rejects the nostalgic “copy and paste” formula for something remixed and new. Sure, it subverts audience expectations and it can be a little too weird for its own good at times, but if given the chance, The Return’s complexity and ambiguity will grow on you, and before you know it, you’ll be thinking about it long after it’s over.


Twin Peaks: The Return has ended up being radically different from anything I imagined. And yet, despite subverting my every expectation, it’s turned out to be one of the best seasons of television I’ve ever seen, providing surprises at what feels like every turn.” –   Chris Pereira


Now, as for that finale…

I won’t get into the specifics within this blog because we’ll be here all day, but if you’re curious, this what I believe happened in the two part series finale, and the series as a whole:


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