Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

"It is happening again." So much could be It. ("Twin Peaks" returns)

There's an aspect of the phenomenon of Twin Peaks that I like to point out, and it's probably as true now, the day the revival debuts, as it was in 1990:

A lot of people who didn't "get" Twin Peaks got angry at not getting it.

It really bothered many people that, from the pilot on, the show was often off-putting and difficult. And they focused on that, finding creative decisions which they found inexplicable. "Wait, there's a barroom brawl and the band keeps playing? This ethereal music just goes on as all these people fight?!" (Actual criticism, paraphrased, from a piece the Washington Post ran.) "How can this town have a population a quarter of the size of Spokane and feel so small?" (Which happened because creators David Lynch and Mark Frost wanted the town to have about 5,000 residents, but ABC insisted on a larger town, so the show runners literally just added a number to the population in the pilot script.) And this was before the show started giving us dream sequences with dancing little people who speak intentionally awkwardly.

Me, I feel very lucky that I "got" Twin Peaks immediately. It debuted when I was a Northern Virginia high school sophomore, good at being moody and curious about the Pacific Northwest; I didn't live there, but I visited family there a lot. I had yet to see Lynch's Blue Velvet, but I had seen, and been fond of, The Elephant Man and Dune; yes, I accepted the baroque weirdness, and the willingness to be baroque and weird, of that gigantic flop. I was excited for Twin Peaks. I didn't know what to expect.

None of us did. And this Season 3, improbably happening 9,477 days after the end of Season 2, about to happen, the story we will get in this new season is so locked down that once again, we know almost nothing of what to expect. Some people will react badly to that. And thanks to the Internet, the reactions, good and bad, will be much quicker than they were in 1990-91.

This has been explained much better by Matt Zoller Seitz, who wrote "Twin Peaks is not the show we've convinced ourselves it was." He talks about why that's a good thing, and touches on the original show's unflinching, earnest look at grief. Grief is very tough to watch. I've learned that. I've grown up, had grief of my own, seen the grief of others. And grief was a part of the invented life of this small town, in the town's DNA. The entertainment of Twin Peaks is unapologetically tied to what's also tough in Twin Peaks. This, to some, will feel like Lynch and Frost messing with us. Occasionally, it might be. Lynch, especially, is willing to mess with us, to be difficult. His infamous prequel film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (made without co-creator Frost's input), is difficult and messes with us...but, under all that, lets Sheryl Lee perform ferociously as the still-alive, still-vital Laura Palmer. The film gives us the tragic figure the TV show, beginning in the aftermath of her murder, could only hint at.

What will Twin Peaks Season 3 show us, make us feel, hint at? I don't know. I'll see how I feel about the journey. Because it will be a journey. Not a journey for everyone. But I hope it is a journey I will be glad I made.

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