[Editor’s note: The first page of this review will be spoiler-free for the first two episodes of “Twin Peaks,” Season 3. The second page will not be. Proceed accordingly.]
“Twin Peaks” is a show that’s hard to explain in any direct fashion; often it lends itself more easily to metaphor. Let’s try this one: Imagine the pieces of a puzzle, scattered across a tabletop. You pick up each piece, and you understand what’s on it: a tree, a flower, a cloud. You start to assemble it — and you like puzzles, so you’re having a good time. But then you come across a piece with a microchip on it. Another piece with a quote from the Bhagavad Gita. A piece that doesn’t have any parts that interlock with others.
Piece by piece, they’re all so interesting — so if you’re the type of person who can appreciate minutiae without worrying about the big picture, you’ll be fine. If you demand completion, if you’re going to be driven crazy by the fact that you can’t complete the puzzle, then this show will be your nightmare.
That being said, we’re talking about a show co-written and directed by David Lynch. So really, that always was going to be the case. However, the return of “Twin Peaks” proves fascinating in our current era of revivals, because it eschews all the conventions used by other series. Yes, because it’s “Twin Peaks,” we’re not surprised that the show does something different from the norm. But the fact remains that creators David Lynch and Mark Frost have simultaneously chosen to dunk the audience into the dense mythology of the first two seasons, while introducing a variety of fresh elements that make Season 3 (at very specific times) extremely accessible to new audiences.
There are new characters (including, in the first two hours, some notably famous faces who are new to the series), new storylines, and new cities — although not much actually happens in the town of Twin Peaks, so brace yourself for that. Honestly, we’re not sure that a single slice of pie was consumed in the first two hours.
Without delving into spoilers, it’s worth celebrating that Kyle MacLachlan’s talents as an actor, even in the oddest circumstances, remain impressive. The nuances he brings to his work while playing the most complicated and bizarre of characters prove that he’s one of our most under-appreciated performers.
Especially given, as mentioned above, those odd circumstances. The acting across the cast is especially impressive given the production conditions: As it’s been publicly revealed, all actors were only given their own lines, and no knowledge of the full story. Those are insane circumstances for any actor — though Lynch is so beloved by his cast that he can get away with it. And fortunately, the actors proved up to the challenge, delivering on the show’s idiosyncratic rhythms in a way that makes Season 3 feel very much of a piece with the show that came over 20 years before.
Beyond the cast, the show was beautifully shot by Peter Deming, and Angelo Badalamenti’s score is as iconic as ever. The pieces of this puzzle inspire rapture. But when you try to assemble them, what kind of picture do you create?