When David Lynch's Twin Peaks first premiered in 1990, it intoxicated audiences with one mystery - who killed Laura Palmer? While this question was the show's anchor, Twin Peaks was much more as it mixed together humor, soap opera dramatics and grim storytelling all finely laced in surrealism. This quirky town had its own mythology including the Black Lodge where strange, human-like creatures speak backwards in front of blood red curtains. The show's wonderfully strange atmosphere influenced a number of series after its two season run like Wayward Pines and the recent CW hit Riverdale.
Over two decades later, Twin Peaks has returned to television to continue the story of Special Agent Dale Cooper. So how can a show that acted as an early game changer still find new ways to shock its audience with clever storytelling? Despite only being four episodes in, here are three ways Twin Peaks is still pushing boundaries:
1.) Lynch's Surrealism Somehow Becomes More Surreal
Fans returned to the familiar Black Lodge to reunite with the Giant and the One-Armed Man, but Lynch then took his audience a little further down the rabbit hole. While Cooper is struggling to make his way back home, he discovers what lies beyond the lounge. We see him standing in space with an eyeless woman and the disembodied head of Garland Briggs floats by. Cooper also finds himself in a dimly lit den while someone knocks furiously on the door and a woman urges Cooper to hurry before her mother arrives.
The images are unsettling and create a disconnect between reality and the lounge. The mix of uneasiness and curiosity present in these moments help captivate today's audience and put them into the shoes of Cooper who is also experiencing the extent of this world for the first time. Lynch also drops these images into the first four episodes meaning that this is the starting place. The lounge can only become more bizarre from here.
2.) Breathtaking Shots
The cinematography is flawless. Every shot is crystal clear and the colors are carefully chosen. The original Twin Peak included a red tint throughout giving the show a vintage aesthetic, but the revival switches up the appearance in every scene. The world of the Black Lodge can at times imitate old Lynch films like Eraser Head and other scenes slip into one solid color to invoke a particular emotion.
While Alfred Rosenfield and Gordon Cole (two characters sometimes used for comic relief) have a serious heart-to-heart the entire screen falls into a soft blue. The two mention a blue rose (a code used in Fire Walk With Me) and the color reflects the rose's importance while also driving home a somber mood.
Many modern shows are proving that they can be just as well shot as movies, but the unique experimentation in Twin Peaks elevates the playing field. These images certainly feel more like scenes from a high brow indie film than a television drama.
3.) Maintains Old Atmosphere While Reaching New Heights
Not all revivals are equal in content quality. Some struggle with whether they should cater to fan service, rehash old stories with new characters or become something entirely different. So far Twin Peaks has succeeded in staying true to its original atmosphere with the courage to breach new territory.
The character of Bobby Briggs is a good example who is now part of the Twin Peaks police department. While it's comforting to know Bobby, a reformed "bad boy", is in a noble profession he still echoes old behavior and seems to be haunted by past incidents in the series. He becomes slightly choked up at the mention of his father's death and openly cries when he notices a picture of Laura at the station. The over dramatics in this scene reflect Donna's public weeping after realizing Laura was dead in pilot.
This revival maintains the same mix of quirky characters, surrealism and edge, but enhances each of these features to create a fresh series that will intoxicate audiences the same way it did in 1990. Somehow the show is now darker, more surreal and the characters more eccentric. Even if some characters or plots seem like they haven't experienced any change, remember that in the world of Twin Peaks the owls are not what they seem.
Twin Peaks is currently airing on Sundays through Showtime. Whether you're a long time fan or want a new binge-worthy show, go check it out!