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Twin Peaks: The Return Review

As David Lynch toys with his thematics and prose, Twin Peaks: The Return takes on a strange, unique form. Continuing on the events of Twin Peaks to some degree, the eighteen-episode series has a mind of its own. Shattering the traditional conventions of television with an ensemble cast of vaguely connected events, the highs and lows of Twin Peaks: The Return all circle around Lynch’s ability to feed a narrative through a series of inconsequential, yet wholly interesting events. That is the beauty and the brainlessness of the show, with a thankfully larger deal of highs than lows. Adapting a television show decades after its initial run is no small feat, any creative should fear such a challenge, but this director and his lengthy list of cast members seem up for the challenge. 

Vacating Twin Peaks from time to time to explore the cliff-hanger ending of the second season, Twin Peaks: The Return is a collection of odd complexities. It is not as engaged as it should be, but this is due to the move away from established characters, something that felt both necessary and saddening. While audiences will no doubt be overwhelmed with giddy emotion to see a majority of returning characters, the real focus is on the newer additions. Matthew Lillard, for his few episodes, steals the show. Lynch himself also turns in a superb performance as Director Gordon Cole, alongside Miguel Ferrer and, later, Laura Dern. This trio is just one of many narrative threads, and credit where it is undoubtedly due, Lynch manages them all exceptionally well. 

When they’re not hustling the streets of Las Vegas or detailing the personal dramas of townsfolk of the sleepy Twin Peaks, the cast will find themselves engaging with effective writing. Some pockets feel rather uncouth, cut from the same cloth as the rest of the show, but their impact is limited in isolation. Episodic, yet feeling oddly disconnected and disjointed, the only overarching thread is the Kyle MacLachlan dual role. Triple, if you count the great Dougie Jones, possibly the best part of the show considering the narrative brushes past him. He is merely a product of life, barely opening his mouth, his few words misinterpreted for enlightenment, rather than brain damage. This is one of the many great, underlying themes Twin Peaks: The Return has to work with. Doctor Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) has turned his attention to vehement rants on a self-run radio service, while Audrey (Sherilyn Flynn) is trapped in a loveless marriage. 

It does feel nice to catch up with these characters, even if some are not exactly of much use or interest to the real, overarching narrative of the Red Room. Moments of Lynchian tropes make themselves prominent and noticeable, the eighth episode a display in artistic vision that, while looking good and feeling interesting, does little to produce ideas or themes relevant to the overarching story. Enjoyable, but out of the blue in its placement, that bizarre Lynch fantasy land that has never appealed to me. 

Still, the rest of the show surrounding these odd moments is a superbly enjoyable product. Commendable it is to adapt a twenty-five-year gap around the ageing and deaths of some cast members. Lynch has a Herculean task to take on, and Twin Peaks: The Return is quite clearly a labour of love. That feeling of genuine care for the world he has built can be felt underlining each and every episode, and it is the consistency that Twin Peaks: The Return has that keeps it relevant, refreshing, and, crucially, filled with depth worth assessing and considering. A show with a great narrative thread, strong performances and that little hint of exceptionally odd charm only Lynch can provide.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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