Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) [AND 1 (1990), AND 2 (1991), AND FWWM (1992), AND The Secret History of Twin Peaks, AND HOLY MOLY THIS IS FANTASTIC!]

I know, I know. You are wondering where we’ve been and why we haven’t posted some new reviews. Truth is, we have them all queued up, and we just need to polish them up and add the photos to some of them. The real reason? Hopefully, seventeen weeks of David Lynch’s eighteen-hour reboot of Twin Peaks is enough of a reason for your favorite blog’s lack of updates. It certainly was for us.

We have literally waited decades for this. Twin Peaks is easily one of our favorite universes to play in. We own several of the various DVD sets (they get us every time with new special features, lost material, or a new format that is usually just reasonable enough for us to drop another hundred bucks. Every time we want a ticket in, and they know they got us). We probably watch the two seasons of the series and the movie the entire way through once a year. When David Lynch announced that there would be a new season of Twin Peaks in October of 2014 coinciding with the release of two new books, we were ecstatic along with the rest of our brothers and sisters in our rabid fanbase. Would there be new storylines? Would some of the old storylines be tidied up? Would our favorite cast members return, some of them hopefully before their inevitable death in the near future? What would this look like? Feel like? Who would be producing and airing it? Would it feel more like Season 1? Season 2? Fire Walk With Me? Mulholland Drive? So many questions – but the inevitable conclusion we immediately had was, unlike many other series that go way off the rails when they are reboot (so many), there was no doubt that this was going to be something absolutely amazing as long as it was still in Lynch and Frost’s hands.

We began with our yearly rewatch of Season 1, Season 2, and Fire Walk With Me. Jumping back in, we are flooded with nostalgia. We are reminded of our early days watching it on VHS in friends’ basements, on college televisions balanced on 2x4s and milk crates, and complete runthroughs when the first DVD set came out. Of course, there was the second DVD set that actually included the original pilot and first episode that was missing from the first release because of a strange copyright battle. We also remember the first time we saw the weird British mini-pilot featuring a strange sidecut of Coop cornering Bob in the basement of the hospital in a strange candle-circled entrance to…the black lodge? What was that, even?

The first season was always our favorite. The storylines were taken so seriously, and the major nostalgia and beautiful moments in the Great Northern, Double R, One Eyed Jacks, the Roadhouse, the Palmer residence… Everything here is second only to Fire Walk with Me. We swoon at Audrey’s dance, at Bob’s unveiling, at the incredible, disorienting, and stark moments in the black lodge. Everything is a wonderful culmination of drama, humor, and horror. The second season is somewhat of a wreck, but in many ways, it’s necessary and beautiful. Our characters are back, but they’re back along with a strange addition of guest stars. I am not entirely sure if this was a decision by Lynch, but it was a decision that put this piece in line with any number of successful television programs of the time. Season 2 has its amazing beautiful moments as well, not the least of which include the shocking final episode…which inevitably led us to the third season.

Between the two seasons and today, there were a series of books (not the new one, but equally deserving of their own paragraph) that added to the Twin Peaks universe – a universe that literally mixes almost any genre you can think of. Is it a mystery? A science fiction story? A romance? A comedy? A drama? A western (yes, a western)? Fantasy? Try us with any of the possible genres, and we can justify it. There was a travel guide to Twin Peaks, which broke the fourth wall and presented a little pocket guide that wove between the show, the area, the mythology of the show, and real-life events. It was a cool little addition to the collection. There was the Audiobook of the Diane Tapes, a 45-minute performance of Kyle MacLachlain as Dale Cooper, recorded on site in the audiotapes Coop sent to Diane. The cool part about this performance is that they were recorded both on-set and separately to uncover a great deal more about Coop’s investigation in this immersive experience for the audience. There was the Autobiography of Special Agent Dale Cooper, which is presented like the audiobook in tapes to Diane and some other source documents. This book shows how Coop ended up as an FBI agent. It ends as he joins the force’s installment in Washington. Both Coop pieces were truly adept interpretations of his character and entries into the Twin Peaks universe by Scott Frost, brother of Mark Frost. He worked on the program with Mark and David, so it is no surprise that these two pieces are the most effective and adept spinoffs from the era. The last book is The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. To us, this book seemed way off not only from Laura’s character but of young teenage women in general no matter their moral and sexual proclivities. It seemed like the penthouse letters-form of the character’s diaries. Whether or not that was the point remains to be seen, but it seemed way off the mark from the character we had come to know and in our opinion not a very good companion to the series.

Now, it is important to note Fire Walk With Me separately from the shows. In this film, which we are extremely excited to get as a Criterion release, we see a prequel for the entire mystery that features some excellent performances from the original cast in addition to David Bowie, Chris Isaak, and Kiefer Sutherland. Lynch stretches his wings in this film without any of the pretense and limitations of the television program. His characters are real, navigating through their world without any concerns of the puritanical tastes and narrative expectations of the regular television-viewing American public. What ends up happening here, however, is that the film takes a very specific Lynchian turn that is much more reminiscent of the work that he is known for, and as a result, we are given what is essentially a postmodern puzzle that feels and acts much differently than the show. The result is the true vision of the backstory of Twin Peaks in all of its complicated and deliberately confounding and absurd glory. It is important to also talk about the new book, The Secret History of Twin Peaks  in this paragraph, namely because it is essential that one experiences the book and Fire Walk With Me in order to fully understand a lot of what goes on in the third season. Mark Frost built an incredible mixed-media masterpiece in this beautifully constructed production by Flatiron Books. It is seriously one of the most beautiful books I have purchased and read in the last ten years. It examines American History and its place in the Twin Peaks Mythos, bringing in Lewis and Clark, various presidents and wars, the role of the military in the development of our nation and westward expansion, and of course, the role of Major Briggs in the investigation of strange events happening in the US from a silent outpost in the backwoods of Washington. Yes, there are aliens, and yes, there are references to the instability of spacetime. It is beautiful, and we totally preordered The Final Dossier that will be released and delivered to our doorstep this month.

So, that brings us to the show. Season Three.

Here is an episode-by-episode rundown of our thoughts. As a quick note, there is a lot of information and some of it is definitely spoiler-y, so if you haven’t watched the show and want to save your surprise I would definitely revisit this page after having watched it. That said, you can also scroll down and look out for the overall summary at the bottom of this post (and come back once you’re caught up!).

If you don’t want to read any spoilers, click HERE to skip to the end of the post!

EPISODE 1

The series opens with location after location, new character after new character. Dr. Amp / Dr. Jacoby is painting some shovels. Cooper is trapped in the black lodge while he speaks with The Fireman about some new unknown characters, Richard and Linda. Jerry and Ben are at the Great Northern examining some new business opportunities. A weird box is being monitored by a random new character and his girlfriend in a New York skyscraper, and leads to a bad end. The body of a local librarian is found, and the local principal is the prime suspect lacking a reasonable alibi. Finally, the log lady makes an appearance with a warning to Hawk. A second Cooper is on the loose.

This was a pretty disjointed episode, and it ended with the feeling that there were a lot of threads already dangling at the beginning of a series where we know little about what is going to happen. In hindsight, this was actually our least favorite episode in the series. But we started feeling optimistic, as it is somewhat unusual for Lynch to take this Tarantino-sequel setup with the characters and the locations. Like a Russian novel, he is more likely to give us a bunch of characters here and there to be used as set pieces and discarded. While not much satisfying happens in its first hour, the momentum is electric.

EPISODE 2

The momentum, locations, and excitement of the new series really picked up for us in episode 2. The principal’s wife visits him in prison and meets an unsavory end. A businessman in Vegas, Duncan Todd, is somehow involved in some business dealings with the events of the story. Cooper’s doppelgänger knows that he is somehow going to be relegated to the black lodge permanently if he is brought back there, and it’s clear in this episode that he is going to not only take out whoever sets out to bring him back but also needs the help of some other people to keep him wandering the earth. He has a phone conversation – presumably Phillip Jeffries (which builds excitement for Bowie’s return to the series) who gives him some information that includes information on BOB and Major Briggs. Hawk investigates the entrance to the Black Lodge. Coop has a confrontation with ‘the arm’, an evolved version of Mike’s arm and also a different form of the man from another place, who also has an evil arm doppelgänger, and Laura Palmer whose face opens and screams. The floor goes all wonky, Coop falls through, and pops up in the box in the skyscraper.

This episode was confounding, exciting, and engaging. In this one, we finally felt like we were entering the story and ready to continue with some linear pieces. The complete deconstruction of what was once some solid conceptual characters and set pieces was exciting and bizarre – not just an indicator of the difference in this series as compared to everything that has come before it, but what we learn later is symbolically relevant to the entirety of the series. The disorienting elements present in this piece sets a tone for the remainder of the series – expect for the reality of this universe to be torn apart beneath your feet.

MUSIC – Chromatics “Shadow” – excellent, modern synth-indie sound. Gorgeous.

EPISODE 3

Coopers, Coopers, Coopers. A strange series of events leads Cooper to leave the plane of existence he is on, chased away by a variety of weird threats and protections. We see Evil Coop apprehended by the police after a car accident. Good Coop is transformed into Dougie Jones, who has his own problems once he is shot back into reality. He is being chased by a variety of bad guys he owes money to, while at the same time he comes to be known as “Mr. Jackpots” because of his ability to see a window to the red room above winning slot machines. At the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s department, Andy, Lucy, and Hawk are looking into things while Gordon Cole is brought in to South Dakota once he hears word that Coop has been found.

Our reaction to this one is a little strange. We felt like the pacing was off as if the characters were trying to be revived through actors that didn’t really seem to know what their jobs were. The exception being McLaughlin and his performance of the Coops, which made up for everything that was weird in terms of timing. Dougie Jones is a weird character and felt like there was a lot to ask of him as he wandered through this world without knowing what the hell was going on. That said, we wanted to keep watching, finally. We are seeing some familiar faces, and we love seeing them.

MUSIC – The Cactus Blossoms “Mississippi” – a great little tune at home in any lazy late-night honky-tonk dive bar. Sullen, delicious country.

EPISODE 4

Dougie is confronted by the casino for all of his winnings, and we are learning that Coop’s embodiment of Dougie is affecting his cognition to an almost ridiculous level. He goes home to meet his wife and his son, and everyone is surprised that he has won all of the money – money needed to pull him out of his debts. Mike appears and tells him one of the Coops need to die. Bobby is a cop now, and he is pulled in for a discussion about his dad. Andy and Lucy’s son pops up, Wally Brando, for a bizarre and artificial performance. Gordon travels with Albert and a new agent Tammy to meet the evil Cooper.

Wow, Brando and Tammy, huh? We never see Brando again, and there was an online discussion that explores the idea that Andy and Lucy never actually had a son and that this man is someone that Sheriff Truman hires to placate them so they can continue to live in their fantasy world. That string never pays off except for Michael Cera delivers such a bizarrely poor performance that it can only be considered brilliant in the hands of Lynch. He knows whats going on, so we have to trust the silly, poorly timed, bizarre thing happening on screen. Tammy on the other hand, we can tell, will have a lasting impact on everything that is happening. She is Cole’s protege, and it becomes apparent that she will be important as the series moves on. An okay episode, but still lacking some payoffs as more and more is introduced without context.

MUSIC – Au Revoir Simone “Lark” – This is the first of two beautiful performances by the synth-only trio. Both are electric, golden, savoury.

EPISODE 5

The people who set out to kill Dougie activate a box in Buenos Aires. Dougie’s wedding band is in the stomach of the corpse found with the librarian’s head. Evil Cooper is looking in the mirror and a strange morphing shows that Bob is still inside him. Dougie has a little piece inside of him that activates after seeing a statue of a cowboy/sheriff, and he can tell if someone is lying with little symbols and lights that show up in his vision – something that comes in handy at an insurance company. In Twin Peaks, Shelly’s daughter is in trouble with a boy addicted to drugs. Jacoby is making internet conspiracy theory videos under the name Dr. Amp. At the Pentagon, we learn that the body from the librarian’s apartment is Briggs, but that makes no sense in terms of the timeline of the show. Evil Coop makes a phone call that messes up the prison and freaks everyone out.

This was a satisfying episode for us. While there are many new things happening, we are already starting to see many familiar faces, and the new mysteries that are coming are captivating and raw. The momentum is finally picking up.

MUSIC – Trouble “Snake Eyes” – Hot noise blues that punches you in the damn mouth. Featuring Riley Lynch, David’s son.

EPISODE 6

Dougie’s wife Janey-e gets involved in settling his debts, while Dougie manages to indicate to his boss using a bunch of symbols that one of his coworkers is participating in insurance fraud. From Vegas, Duncan Todd orders this guy Spike (because of his favorite instrument) to kill Dougie and Lorraine. He kills Lorraine, but ruins his spike. We meet Diane at a bar when Albert finds her, but she looks off because of a strange, Halloween costume-like white wig. We witness a drug deal gone bad with Richard Horne, who kills a little boy as he speeds away. There is a strange spiritual scene that ensues. Using a screwdriver, Hawk finds some of Laura Palmer’s diary pages inside the door to a toilet stall at the Twin Peaks police station.

Amazing stuff here, and oh my gosh we finally get to see who Diane is. Brilliant performances abound in this episode, except for the fact that Jenn absolutely abhorred the gratuitous violence and emotion evoked by the scene where the little boy is struck and killed. It seemed to not need to be in the show, and we already know what kind of person Richard Horne is. In fact, in hindsight after watching the whole program, there are many other opportunities for us to realize and recognize this – how many felonies does a guy need to commit for us to want him to get what’s coming to him? Anyway, it seems like this scene was more about Harry Dean Stanton’s character Carl Rodd and the character Miriam Sullivan’s connection to Horne. Regardless, Jenn practically refused to watch more, while I gave her a verbal lashing about how it isn’t any more gratuitous either violence-wise or emotionally than any number of Grey’s Anatomy episodes. She never forgives me when I use that argument.

MUSIC – Sharon Van Etten “Tarifa” – Gorgeous guitar and vocals bring us down a sullen river of sadness and longing similar to Neko Case and Patti Smith. Etten is a Roadhouse staple.

EPISODE 7

The diary pages explain a dream where Annie tells Laura that Cooper is trapped in the Black Lodge. Diane interviews evil Cooper and reports that it isn’t him. Evil Cooper blackmails the warden to let him out or will get killed because of some indiscretions (he does later on, anyway). The police interview Dougie at work, and when he and Janey are leaving, Spike attacks them. Dougie outsmarts him when ordered by the arm to rip his hand off.

A cool episode with great storylines that all seem to be in line with what’s happening. No new characters, and already we are starting to see some conclusions to the many, many plot lines in the show. Satisfied, we push on.

EPISODE 8

This episode, just before the halfway mark in the series, opens up a whole new dimension in filmmaking for television. In many ways, it opens up a whole new dimension in film. Episode 8 was a truly remarkable piece of work that seemed to be the one episode that Lynch put most of his creative efforts into – the opening of the white lodge and the genesis of BOB and LAURA as binary opposites in a new terrifying world. The music, the power and energy, the postmodern choices, the bending of time and space, the color and any number of absolutely thrilling choices make this one of the greatest things that have ever happened on the small screen. Sound is particularly important in this episode, as the musical guests do not show up at the end, rather Nine Inch Nails shows up in the middle and highlights a score that runs between silence, light noise, whooshing, explosions, and Threnodic symphony. Oh, and how about freakin’ Nine Inch Nails.

Garrett absolutely loved this episode and watched it several times over the week of its release, while Jenn did not. It is an extremely visually and aurally complicated piece of work, dancing between the symbolic and the absurd. It is heavily tied to the Secret History of Twin Peaks and culminates in an incredible opening of so many avenues in the show (the convenience store, the supernatural characters) and as many avenues in the history of humanity (the detonation of the first atomic bomb, which will never be undone). It ends with a vision of a simpler time. In many ways, it is not. Everything in Lynch’s world is horrifying and disturbing under the surface guise of a kind, forgiving, and predictable reality. Not only a spectacular episode of Twin Peaks but a spectacular moment in filmmaking as a whole.

MUSIC – (The) Nine Inch Nails “She’s Gone Away” – a spectacular new track from Nine Inch Nails. And what more can be said when Reznor collaborates with Lynch?

EPISODE 9

Evil Coop orders the warden killed, and we learn that he also has some connections to Diane through a text. He is also checking in with Duncan Todd. Meanwhile, the police are investigating who Dougie is after his heroism, and only get dead ends. Spike is arrested. Bobby, Frank, and Hawk visit Bobby’s mother, who informs them she has a secret she’s kept for a long time. They are given a little puzzle box cylinder thing that has some cryptic information on it that includes Coop’s name twice.

Cool. We’re moving forward. Great episode, not the least of which includes a moment with Bobby and Baldamenti;’s score. This is where we begin to see some real magic in terms of Lynch playing with the sensibilities of his audience. He knows what we’re waiting for – we want our Baldamenti. We want our Cherry Pie. He is going to give it to us when he is damn well ready, but not without stringing us along his twisted path and understanding that his responsibility to his story is just as important as our responsibility to his style of storytelling.

MUSIC – Au Revoir Simone “A Violent Yet Flammable World” – Another great song by this talented, dreamy group

Hudson Mohawke “Human” – an indie electronic import from Glasgow graced this episode as well!

EPISODE 10

Richard Horne confronts the woman who was the only knowing witness to the hit and run of the little boy. He tries to kill her after he learns she tipped the police off in a letter. That letter is intercepted by a crooked police officer, Chad. The Mitchum Brothers, members of the casino’s security force, recognize Dougie in a news story about Spike’s attack. Janey gets excited by her husband and they…consummate their…new…marriage. Richard attacks his grandmother and steals everything he can at the house, and then she, in turn, calls Ben and demands money he owes her. It turns out the Mitchum are interested in Dougie because he cost them $300 million when he uncovered and denied an insurance claim for arson after Duncan Todd became involved in framing him. A lot of people want Dougie dead. Albert/Tammy/Gordon are on to Diane and bad Cooper’s relationship and learn about bad Coop’s connection to the box in New York. The Log Lady tells Hawk that Laura is the one.

Great episode; we are totally engaged and everything is finally coming together.

MUSIC – Rebekah Del Rio, Moby “No Stars” – Beautiful Ballad from another Lynch regular, No Stars is the return for the Mulholland Drive soloist… Joined by Moby of all people.

EPISODE 11

Miriam, the witness to Richard’s hit and run, has survived. Shelly’s daughter flips out when she learns her man Steven is cheating on her, and she has a family meeting at the RR with Shelly and Bobby. There is a commotion outside when a little boy shoots a gun through the restaurant by accident after finding it under the seat in the minivan he is in. The FBI travels to a location where they find the librarian’s headless body, and there are coordinates written on her arm. Albert saves Gordon from falling up into a vortex that opens above them, and while they are distracted, one of the shadowy woodsmen kill the principal in the car in a gruesome surprise attack before disappearing. Back in Twin Peaks, Hawk and Frank make a connection between the diary pages, the codes found in the vial, and an ancient changing Native American map. The Mitchums go to get Dougie and bring him to the middle of the desert to kill him, but one of the Mitchums recount a dream where it turns out he is an ally. Before deciding to kill him, they check if the dream is the same as reality, and it is. He has a check for them, and from then on they are at Dougie’s feet and treat him to some Cherry Pie and Coffee… Which still doesn’t snap him out of it.

Cherry Pie?! Coffee?!? OK! Yes. At this episode, Jenn basically says “this is my favorite episode” every episode from here on out. I agree with her. These get better and better and more and more connected to the books and the original series, while at the same time telling our new story so well that we’re on board for all of it.

EPISODE 12

This episode was relatively exposition-heavy. Some elements of the plot featured some dangling plot lines being snatched up, but then that was contrasted with what was probably the biggest series of new character names of any episode of the new series so far. We decided that this was likely unnecessary, but it is difficult to not care when the manner in which offstage characters are being so stressfully introduced… But in this episode we finally got Audrey (and more character names), an exciting “Let’s Rock,” and an absolutely beautiful moment between Gordon Cole and Albert Rosenfeld. It is clear that Lynch was playing with time, names, and the space between words in this episode – a nod to how little we know about what is going on in a character’s interiority when we watch from the audience in the third person. While the episode did little to further plot in the overall story arc aside from a few small moments (aside from definitively and energetically pulling us back to Twin Peaks), it was a gorgeous study in silence.

EPISODE 13

Dougie’s coworker wants to kill him for ruining his life, but it turns into a strange double back when he feels bad for even thinking of it. He confesses to their boss. There is a weird scene with Evil Cooper entering a gang after winning an arm wrestling competition, and he is really only there to get some information from Ray who has coordinates he needs. He kills Ray and disposes of him the red room while Richard Horne watches on CCTV with the rest of the gang. Back in Twin Peaks, Ed and Bobby eat together, and Ed is heartbroken as he watches Norma having a business meeting with a man she is clearly interested in. Nadine has a scene with Dr. Amp / Jacoby, who she had been watching on the internet all season, and Sarah Palmer isn’t quite Sarah Palmer – she is in a strange alcoholic / supernatural time loop. Fantastic and engaging, and now we have even more to root for in the Nadine and Ed storyline that remains from the original series. We hope everyone gets back together finally, but reality seems different, especially when we consider the implications of how time and universe is behaving in Twin Peaks.

MUSIC –

EPISODE 14

Diane tells us that she is Janey’s half-sister, and the FBI order a search for Dougie and Janey’s family. Chad’s meddling and destruction of evidence is uncovered and he is arrested and thrown in jail across from this weird guy who could be anything from drunk to a zombie repeating whatever he hears. Using the information gleaned from the map and Briggs, Bobby, Hawk, Andy, and Frank head into the woods where multiple versions of them finding where they are supposed to go are overlayed with one another. Andy is pulled into the white lodge where he is shown a bunch of relevant visions, likely in a visual language he understands. When he returns, the woman from space that Coop interacted with earlier in the show is naked on the ground, and Andy takes charge and gets her back to a jail cell to keep her safe, and now she is Chad and the zombie guy’s neighbor. James talks with a fellow Great Northern security guard Freddy about work and moving to the US who immigrated here as his calling. He has a special, powerful glove that can smash anything. Sarah leaves the house and goes to a bar, and a guy at the bar starts getting a little too handsy and suggestive. She attacks him. The episode ends with a story about a missing guy we hear about here and there, Billy, bleeding everywhere in a kitchen and freaking out before disappearing again.

Who is Billy?! But really, we are so there for this episode. An excellent episode, where oral history and time are clearly overlapping. If Lynch hit us over the head with this concept of multiple timelines and multiple histories any harder, we’d end up a victim of the woodsmen ourselves. A great episode. Andy taking charge was a treat, and James finally gets a scene as he deserves… well, of course, other than the obvious what came from James eventually… with a guitar… and some backup singers…

MUSIC – Lissie “Wild West” – A big fat indie ballad with some amazing moments. The only thing we couldn’t stand was that the overdub didn’t work with the performance on screen. A great song, though.

EPISODE 15

Phillip Jeffires returns, but like everyone else, in a starkly different form. This was one of the sadder moments for us as we were sincerely hoping that Bowie would make a return in the series as an actor or musical guest. Unfortunately, he was already too sick to participate. Rumor had it that he gave the production and the voice actor his blessing, but still, it was bittersweet not seeing him in his amazing and disorienting role from Fire Walk With Me. Jeffries gives evil Coop coordinates and tells him that is where he will find Judy, but he is skeptical. Richard attacks Evil Coop, and Coop has a plan in store for him. Cooper hears Cole’s name in Sunset Boulevard on TV and zaps himself with the electrical socket (so much electricity in this show!). Normal gives up the franchise, and Ed and she finally get together and it is magnificent. In the woods, one of the minor characters presumably kills himself in front of Mark Frost walking his dog. The log lady gives Hawk a final message and dies a tragic and beautiful death. Audrey is back and is arguing with Charlie about leaving to find Billy at the Roadhouse, but it still feels weird and artificial. Freddie and James get into a barfight, and the magic glove comes into play when they end the fight violently but effectively. Chantal kills Duncan Todd and another guy working in the office in Vegas. Finally, crawling across the floor, Carlyne Yi screams in a strange and disorienting moment.

From this episode through to the end, Jenn began earnestly reporting “this episode was my favorite episode. Period.” And with good reason. From here on out, with perhaps the exception of the final episode, every episode pulled together many of the loose strands we had been curious about. Dangling plot lines leading all the way back to the beginning, as well as in Fire Walk With Me, Season 2, and even the books, all seem to converge in the remaining episodes so beautifully and satisfyingly. It was a treat to see Norma and Ed have such a beautiful ending, here.

MUSIC – The Veils “Axolotl” – a dark, brooding, strong indie piece.

EPISODE 16

Evil Coop brings Richard to the coordinates. Here we learn what is up and why Evil coop doesn’t trust any of it. We learn (and granted it became a little obvious earlier with deductive reasoning) that Richard is Evil Coop and Audrey’s son. Richard is blown to bits by this bright electricity out of nowhere, and while we knew something like this would happen, it was still disappointing to keep watching evil Coop win so often. Meanwhile, Dougie is in the hospital in a coma, and scoping out his house separately are the FBI, the Mitchums, and the assassins Chantal and Hutch. There is a random act of intense violence when Chantal and Hutch are killed by a wacko random American dude with a gun and some rage. This beautifully Tarantino scene includes the Mitchums delivering one of the best lines in the series, “people are under a lot of stress.” The real Coop wakes up in an amazing moment, tears out the machines and the wires, gives some of his hair to Mike and asks him to make another Dougie, gets the owl ring from Dougie’s boss and tells him to contact the authorities, and in yet another amazing line delivers “I am the FBI.” Then heads to Spokane, oh man! Then, Diane is cornered by Albert, Tammy, and Cole and drilled for info where she has a strange monologue – an excellent performance – and describes being raped by Coop, but then says she isn’t herself, and pulls a gun out but is killed by Albert. Yet another great line when Albert tells Cole “you’re getting soft in your old age,” to which Cole replies, “not where it counts.” Diane ends up in the black lodge and shrivels into a seed, revealing that she is a tulpa like the other seeds and other doubles throughout. Audrey finally gets to the roadhouse where she dances, and with some amazing choreography and that of the rest of the roadhouse, it is beautiful. Then a fight breaks out and she gets scared, demands to be brought home, and wakes in a bright white room totally confused.

We both agreed that the payoffs – all of them – in this episode easily made it one of the best and certainly worth the journey to get here. Amazing performances, amazing moments, nostalgia and new discovery, beauty, danger, violence, humor. This episode is truly the kind of thing that makes Twin Peaks Twin Peaks. Amazing from beginning to end.

MUSIC – Edward Louis Severson III “Out of Sand” – a direct reference to time, love, and dimension, this song by a very Pearl Jammy guy with a guitar going by a completely different name was awesome, especially considering I can’t remember a time in recent memory where he gave us something new. Along with the Nine Inch Nails track, a gift for our nostalgia.

EPISODE 17/18

Now, for the two-part finale. Between the two of us, we had mixed feelings. Garrett loved both of these episodes, and saw the ending as Episode 17 and an Epilogue as Episode 18 – almost like, this story thread ended on 17 and an explanatory venture into where reality is now was what was happening in 18. Jenn agreed to an extent, but only as far as to say that the show should have ended on 17 and felt that the disorienting nature of 18 was unnecessary.

In Episode 17, everyone descends on Twin Peaks for what can only be described as the most obvious showdown and culminating conflict of the series. Cooper gets there by transport with the Mitchums. Evil Coop gets there after finding his way into the white lodge and the fireman spits him out at the Twin Peaks police station instead of the Palmer House which was all queued up (while Major Briggs’ head looks on). Albert, Cole, and Tammy show up separately to track down ‘Judy’. And of course, the rest of the cast is already at the police station as police officers or in jail. There is a huge fight where Evil Cooper is killed several times and BOB emerges. Coop gets the owl ring on him and he goes to the black lodge where he is perpetually on fire. Naido transforms into red-haired Diane who accompanies Coop to the Great Northern, then to a special transport to the weird staircase that leads to the motel where Jeffries’ machine is. Then Coop is transported and prevents Laura’s murder over, and over, and over again, but like Orpheus, loses her at the last moment of freedom and redemption every time. Sarah Palmer is having a breakdown and smashing Laura’s picture at the end of the episode.

MUSIC – Julee Cruise “The World Spins” – she’s back, and she appropriately rounds the series off with another haunting vocal powerhouse.

A new Dougie tulpa reunites with Janey-e and Sonny Jim. Then, Coop travels through the black lodge, fully aware of his navigation through it, and emerges driving through the desert with Diane. They stop at the point of no return near some electrical wires, noting there was no way to turn back from here. They pass through, are compelled to stay at a strange motel, compelled to have sex, compelled to sleep. When Coop awakens, it is a different motel. Diane is gone and there is a note to Richard from Linda (a strange callback to an early episode). Coop is compelled to visit a diner looking for a Carrie, and stops some men from bothering the waitress by shooting them and deep-frying their guns. The waitress is not Carrie, but gives Coop the address in return for saving the day. Coop goes to the house to find…Carrie. Carrie looks like Laura (is played by Sheryl Lee), but knows nothing. Has Coop succeeded in changing history for Laura? There is a dead body in her living room. Something is really wrong with her life. He drives all night with her and brings her to the Palmer house. They approach, but a different family lives there (in really great breaking the fourth wall fashion, it is the actual real-life family that lives there that answer the door). Coop brings Carrie to the street. In a magical, truly spectacular moment, Coop stumbles, confused and disoriented. He asks Carrie, “what year is it?” Carrie, confused, looks back to the house. The Fire Walk With Me/Season 1 slow motion Sarah scream shouts ‘Laura’, something from another dimension finally reaches Carrie, she screams, and the electricity pops to end the series.

A spectacular finale to the show that was a perfect representation of the multi-dimensional, multi-timeline, multi-faceted world of Twin Peaks. It wasn’t just spiritual, it wasn’t just technological, it wasn’t just paranormal, but seemingly all of these things all at once.

OKAY, WE ARE TOTALLY DONE WITH ANY POSSIBLE SPOILERS NOW!

What we gained from the third season of what is simply one of the greatest television programs of all time is another window into some of our favorite characters placed in new circumstances. These circumstances reflect the gritty, terrible mirror of the David Lynch of today using the freedom of Showtime to tell the story he wants to tell using all available freedoms of technology, funding, lack of verbal and sexual censorship by a non-cable network at prime time, and a freedom of expression that wasn’t tied to box office receipts or a public boycott. The platform and execution invite you to come and enjoy the show – as terribly bizarre, convoluted, and confusing as it is. Most of the people viewing it, as far as I can tell, are likely a lot like us. Longtime fans who have also seen and enjoyed Fire Walk With Me, Mulholland Drive, and Lost Highway, and can appreciate that he brought this new postmodern style to the show he truly wanted to make to begin with. The result is that we get the tongue-in-cheek and kitsch aspects of the program, but when they take the dark, horrific turns that Lynch is known for, the turns are stark, brutal, shocking, and somehow fantastic and hyperreal at the same time.

We loved it, though. We literally got to see our favorite characters in a much more Lynch-appropriate world, and we got to experience this as a literal eighteen-hour-long film. This show is likely not for those not willing to think as you watch, analyze the characters and their situations, and spend hours discussing it after each episode. We don’t think you’re an idiot if you don’t fall into this category, however, it is important to note that it would be pretty easy to understand how someone expecting a passive-audience experience would find the show confusing and tell everyone they hate it. In season three, the training wheels are off, and Lynch leaves a lot to think about with character, setting, plot, symbolic furnishings, postmodern choices, sound (oh, baby, sound), music, gestures, dialogue, visual design, and so much more, and he literally gives us none of it. Who knew a Cherry Pie could be such a blessing to come across, and such a let down when the director manipulates you into thinking you know what matters and what doesn’t.

Overall, absolutely pleased. Looked forward to it every week. Felt every emotion, just as we were supposed to. If you do it right, Twin Peaks and all of its universes, platforms, books, films, and episodes are well worth the effort. As a result, we can attest season three certainly was.

Now, one final note. This show was really complicated and even with all of the media (and prior knowledge) we came in with, we still rewatched some episodes and also looked to some friends for some weekly help. The videos we found to be the most interesting were Gamespot Universe’s rundowns from Greg and Ryan (hey guys) that came a few days after the episode aired. In them, they do a recap, a light analysis that made the deep connections to the books, Seasons 1 and 2, and Fire Walk With Me, as well as the interactions they were having with us fans on Twitter and their YouTube Channel. The result is a great crowd-contextualization. Check out the complete playlist here:

Additionally, the REDDIT TWIN PEAKS group, FB TWIN PEAKS XPOSTING (the x changes),  FB Twin Peaks, FB Twin Peaks DiaLOG, FB Twin Peaks Worldwide, and Welcome to Twin Peaks are absolute essential resources for great discussions, funny memes, and an excellent like-minded community of us obsessives. Check them out if you jump on the train.

That’s about it. Thanks for taking the time to read this, our longest post on BeforeWeDieFilms yet… Let’s Rock.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_Peaks_(2017_TV_series)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_Peaks

Stranger Things (2016)

Note – spoilers abound in the links, but not the review.

Netflix has been on a roll with its incredible programming offerings, and none have created such an exciting and engaging stir than Stranger Things. An engaging universe that opens and closes a mystery cycle in a mere eight episodes, the Duffer brothers have written and directed a bingeworthy series that we destroyed in a record weekend.

Sending up all of the Stephen Spielberg and other grand spectacular film wonders of the 1980s, Stranger Things was an entertainment experience that was simply not wasted in any aspect of its production, from casting to budget. A gorgeous ensemble show that was a great deal of fun to watch, this piece creates something new from the old. This nostalgia overload combined with an entirely new storyline and universe concept has truly made something special. Without giving too much away, this show has captured elements from E.T., Close Encounters, The Thing, Twin Peaks, Stand By Me, Goonies, and a hundred other references, and blended it with a mysterious storyline that is half Mark Z. Danielewski and half Stephen King. we are very much looking forward to season two. Sexy design and hundreds of original props sweeten the deal, and the performance of the cast who are relatively unknown is not only impressive but entirely convincing.

It has spawned a great deal of excellent content beyond the show, and we’re very much looking forward to season two.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stranger_Things_(TV_series)

Anomalisa & 11.22.63 (2016)

Some culture that we’ve consumed not from our list recently has been Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa and the J.J.Abrams / Stephen King production of his novel 11.22.63.

Anomalisa

What a fantastic film. Written and directed by one of our favorite writers in Hollywood today, Anomalisa is a stop-motion animation film about a man whose existentialist difficulties with life have caught up with him on a business trip and subsequently have him teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Difficulties with his marriage, a relationship he really hasn’t gotten over that ended a decade ago, dissatisfaction with his calling, money, sex life, relationships, and loneliness have all culminated into one night. What is most striking about this story is not only the words the characters speak – something that is absolutely beautiful and unforgettable in John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine, Adaptation, and Synechdoche – but also the format and execution that he decided on for this film. With only three actors and no physical manifestations of any humans in the piece, the film does so much more than tell the story. What is most fascinating about this film is that on the surface it is the simplest film he has ever made, and yet it is dearly the most complex in terms of what it all means. It follows his normal themes of existentialism, a humunculus-driven examination of the curiosity of this life and how meaningless and meaninglessly complicated it is in the scope of actually experiencing real things while we are here… But he does it using the artificial itself, and there is even an artificial stand-in for what is real and what is needed in the form of an antique sex toy that is foreign in culture and language, disassembled, and leaking a fluid that the audience is left to deduce from where and what it is.

Regardless, the film was exactly what I expected from a Kaufman film. It is funny, disorienting, and full of human intricacy and questions about life and the nature of living. An absolute masterpiece.

11.22.63

I read this book as the first Stephen King joint since I was fifteen, and I was blown away. King is a master storyteller, and he is also a genius. He is a great writer, but you can tell he is constantly holding back to appease to the widest audience possible, except that there are little places in his books where the corners of the sticker tear away in a single sentence and his wings unfurl into something magnificent. When I read 11.22.63 as an adult almost twenty years and an undergraduate and graduate degree in literature later, I was seriously in awe at what he is able to manage on the page. I mean really. He is able to draw the most beautiful compromise between content, character, and context, and deliver something accessible and beautiful to his audience.

The problem with King is the problem with directors and other writers. His movies are garbage – not his fault, but the fault of the artists who try to fit too much in, do too much with their interpretation of the text that it loses its mood and tone, or simply don’t have the budget or the actors to do much better than a network television special. Why was Kubrick’s Shining so good? Honestly, because he didn’t try to make the book and he had the talent and the budget and he wrote it and ….hell, he is Kubrick.

This show, however, is insanely good. It leaves a lot out, and I mean a lot, but that is the beauty of what has been executed here. Enter Bad Robot and JJ Abrams. That said, it is well written, and focuses on characterization and making them three dimensional rather than the horror or the spooky aspects of time travel. If you explain it, you ruin it, right? It is also notable what the writers leave out – absolutely no need to cover everything. Next, fantastic performances and direction in every episode. Simply put, the manner in which the piece is executed shows an attention to detail and stunning dedication to authenticity and believability. The entire ensemble with Franco at the helm is something to be very proud of…That said, the piece isn’t filmed on location in New England and avoids the story about the town it takes place in, so that was a bit of a disappointment. Finally, the budget. They spent the money to make all of this a show to remember, and frankly, I can’t remember a piece taking King’s work as a series and executing it so well with the exception of Shawshank, Misery, Stand By Me, and Apt Pupil…Maybe Green Mile…But these are the drama pieces that he wrote with great characterization that focused on the work as a marker of mood and tone, and not just a plot while the characters walk themselves into a meat grinder.

Hulu, Bad Robot, and everyone involved should be proud of this one. Looking forward to the rest of the story in the next few weeks.

Downton Abbey, Mozart In The Jungle, SPECTRE, The Martian, and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe

From time to time we will have a general update – tagged with “general post” when we are watching something that is not on the list but will include some worthwhile commentary on some things that we have been consuming otherwise….

Some things we have been watching…

Downton Abbey, The Final Season

Well, what more can be said – one of the greatest things to ever happen to public television is coming to an end this year. This is the only thing in the past twenty years I think that we have made a point to watch as it is broadcast when it airs. A beautiful dramedy, well written, with spectacular performances of a brilliant ensemble cast, it will be hard for PBS to one up this program once it concludes this year. Making a special late dinner and watching Downton along with The Great British Bake Off has been a highlight of the past six years. We’ll miss it… That is, until we start watching the DVDs over again from the beginning.

I guess I will also miss live tweeting the broadcast with a bunch of fellow dorks, as well.

Mozart in the Jungle, Season 2

What a fantastic dramedy! We started watching this right when it came on the queue for streaming Amazon Prime, and along with Transparent and The Man In The High Castle, this is a program that is entirely worth watching as part of a Prime subscription. Amazon definitely knows how to invest in their programming in terms of star power, great writers, brilliant storytelling, excellent directors and actors, and the investment it takes to make a quality production. Very impressed with everything they release.

SPECTRE

We are absolute Bond junkies, and it is is a little bit of a surprise that there are no Bond films on the 1001 as far as I can tell (but it is a long list I have passed my eyes over maybe too many times to find one… we’ll see). SPECTRE is another installment in Craig’s tenure, and he is one of my favorites. He is no nonsesnse, and takes his role seriously. The plot, action, and execution of SPECTRE didn’t disappoint until the final three minutes where I got a little confused as to why they included it… But one can complain about such a tiny thing with something they hold so dear. Great fun at the theater.

The Martian

I read this book and really enjoyed it for its intense and fun execution of a harrowing Robinson Crusoe in space story. My dorky nerves were tickled by all the math and humorous geeky pop culture references. The movie did not disappoint – as a matter of fact, my only complaint about the book was that it was missing an epilogue that the film actually had! Another great night at the theater.

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe

Wow. A shockingly dark and twisted tale that doesn’t entirely translate to the screen from the book, this tells the story of a woman who is keeping a town together through her various enterprises. When a long lost cousin arrives, it appears that she falls in love and hilarity ensues….That is, until her felon ex-husband returns from prison. She never loved him, but her cousin-boyfriend seems to fall in love with him, and he seems to want to do nothing but destroy his ex wife. A complicated triangle that is really folk-y and Keillor-y in the book, but doesn’t translate to the screen very well regardless of Edward Albee’s involvement. A great book, but feel free to miss the film.

The Hateful Eight

I (Garrett) went to see a late 70mm showing, and was absolutely blown away at how immersive the narrative was. I feel like my post from Facebook summed up the experience nicely: 

Just got home from seeing The Hateful Eight in 70mm on the really big screen. Incredible. Tarantino delivers one of the most scathing indictments of our collective white American racial history, but he manages to artfully and symbolically evoke blame with everything from slavery to lynching to Lincoln and a myriad others by literally leaving blood on everyone’s hands. An absolutely shocking, beautiful, disgusting, and funny film that does an incredible job raising some serious questions that have been around since the beginning of our nation. What’s more, as a filmmaker he continues to get better, while honing into perfection in being bloody, serious, and hysterical in the same beat.

And this is the film whose script was leaked during the Sony hack? Please…. The only way I was going to experience this film was going to be in the dark, with some popcorn, a group of strangers, and a smile on my face. Cinema is not dead, in fact, it is still very much a necessary experience that is unique in this existence.