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‘Twin Peaks’ Season 3 Premiere Review: David Lynch Remains a Master — But The Brutality Toward Women Feels Dated

The return of this iconic series proves plenty watchable, but there are a few elements that don't go down as easy as damn good coffee.

Twin Peaks Season 3

“Twin Peaks”

Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

[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.

Twin Peaks Pie

Missing in action.

Patrick Wymore/SHOWTIME

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?

Click here for spoilers, Lynch’s lady issues, and our favorite quotes

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Comments

John Godfrey

And this review is a perfect example of why I never look at the reviews here. You seriously point out how “women could be heroes too” we are two episodes in and this is your biggest disappointment. You have no business writing film/television reviews as long as you keep your biased nature in the spotlight.

    DiReW0lf

    Lol if you think David Lynch is going to cater to you or anyone else on this planet’s feelings, please don’t watch this show and certainly don’t write about it.

    Mark

    Mansplaining strikes again!

Brian

The author seems to miss the fact that the show disapproves of violence towards anyone; it’s presented as something that’s wrong and horrifying, not something that receives a seal of approval. Twin Peaks is not an appropriate target for this cliched gender-studies rage.

    MMD

    Are you guys okay? She didn’t write: “Lynch should stop making art!!Twin peaks sucks! Let’s castrate all men!!” She just pointed out bits of this first episode that should be talked about. I dare any one to tell me this scene with Daria wasn’t fucking sexist and gross, even for a talented man like Lynch. I didn’t see this scene as a way to criticize violence against women. I don’t see how anyone can say that at all for this specific scene.

    Anyway, yes cultural products are not the cause for the violence in the real world. They are more of a symptom and a result of it. I don’t see why the author should be lYNCHed (haha get it) on the public place for expressing and pointing out the obvious. It’s okay to talk about things and to criticizes them. Do you all need a safe space? Cuz you all seem pretty fucking intolerant of someone disagreeing with you.

Nameless

This is a really poor piece about TP3. You clearly lack the tools to discuss the series (and Lynch) on a further and more deep level so you choose to talk about, emh, violence against women. That is embarassing. I find embarassing for you and your cognitive process that that’s all you had to add to the conversation was that. Good luck…

    Mark

    You sound triggered

Katie

This is more like a high school paper for some gender studies class than a tv review.

balloon emoji

that’s adorable
you might live in a comfy little bubble where women are treated with love and respect but for the rest of us, issues like this remain a very uncomfortable reality and a constant presence in our daily lives

get real, ok

Jonathan L

“Sexual woman deserves to be murdered.” Get real… Lynch has always used sexual encounters, male or female, as a set up for murder and mischief. I’m sad that there’s this hivemind need to be offended by every female role on television. Just like every male character doesn’t have to be strong, neither does every female.

kyrie

yeah guys violence against women is sooo 1990

Eric

“Twin Peaks” began as the story of a dead girl, and while the world of the show is so much bigger, there’s no denying that Frost and Lynch built this franchise on the back of violence against women.”

David Lynch himself has never denied that, so I don’t see how that proves anything. And the first episode of season one is about Laura Palmer’s murder so … yeah?

I don’t feel that I should tell women how to feel about a show like this, but I sometimes feel like Indiewire cops out from actual criticism by saying it’s not feminist, diverse, queer, etc. enough. The writers don’t read between the lines and think of things from a directorial standpoint; they just say that it’s not as liberal as they would like.

Gustavo

Twin Peaks is, has always been ABOUT violence against women. It might as well be visual arts’ ultimate word on incest and rape. The writer of this piece is so eager to signal her SJW-virtue that she missed the most basic point of all – what the show is about.

AC Walker

Pretty sure the sexual young man was also torn to shreds…?

I admire the instinct to condemn violence against women and anything that glamorizes rape culture, but in both this and the original “Twin Peaks” I’m pretty sure the point being made is that violence against women is grotesque, terrible, and symptomatic of patriarchal issues (follow the whole Leland Palmer arc carefully. Follow Ben Horne. Follow ANY of the male characters in the show.) And Laura Palmer was still a heroine and someone deserving of our compassion despite the fact that she was definitely NOT a virgin.

You can’t condemn something without acknowledging it exists.

Lee

This was barely a review. Being outraged at who’s doing the dying is what seems outdated to me.

Jade

I think the role of woman as sex object/violence in Lynch’s films is an interesting conversation. Remember, the original idea behind Twin Peaks was Marilyn Monroe. A glamour sex object who is subsequently destroyed by powerful men. But yeah, a lot has changed since 1990.
What stood out to me in the glass box scene wasn’t a sexualized woman being murdered, but a man alone in a completely safe room watching a glass box all day where nothing happens. He invites a woman in and they watch the box together and still nothing happens. Once they have sex they invite something very real into the box, into their box/room, into their lives. Something very real and bloody. The murdered young lovers is a metaphor, but that’s what it’s always been. Young, carefree kids get naked and screw, and are slaughtered by the reality of life. Procreation – the mortal coil has suddenly becomes very real and their innocence is slaughtered.

S12K

I completely agree with this. You’ll get creamed for it a la gamergate, more than likely, but you’re spot on. Big early Lynch fan here, and the violence against women got way worse over time. This is perhaps a low point, unfortunately, and dates his artistic vision tremendously. Notice he’s aware of this: Gordon Cole says straight to Denise Bryson about Agent T.P. that he is ‘old school’. Lynch is a Polanski apologist. This does matter a great deal to a great number of viewers.

    Michael Paul Goldenberg

    I suppose Lynch is lucky that despite the egregious failure of this show to live “up” to the political standards of this pseudo-critic and few like-minded PC twits, Ms. Miller has not YET called for him to be flogged in the public square. After all, he’s a “Polanski apologist,” which has to rank close to being a Woody Allen apologist: somebody call a PC cop!

    Joel

    I find this assessment curious; Lynch’s later work tends to treat violence through a colder, more distanced lens; in Blue Velvet the abuse of Dorothy is framed voyeurisically. By contrast his later films show the agency and subjectivity of female victims of violence. There seems to be a line blurred here, in the original article as well, between depicting something and celebrating it. Lynch’s art – especially Twin Peaks – is important particularly *because* it forces us to confront the pain and terror of violence against women. Sweeping that under that rug doesn’t seem healthy to me. I think aspects of The Return’s depiction of women are dated but I’m not sure how representing an ongoing phenomenon, in a way that evokes visceral discomfort and anxiety, fits that description.

JV

I agree that the gendered violence was distracting. Total ’90s throwback that we should have moved past as a culture. Everytime a scene opened with a make woman or a woman in her underwear, I felt like I was watching Law and Order SVU all of the sudden. It distracted from the otherwise fascinating dream world of this show. I bet Lynch had no female writers / producers and didn’t even consider this obvious flaw. It’s also interesting how the critics on this page are attacking the author personally instead of offering counter-arguments. Makes them look like sexist bullies, not thoughtful critics.

Matt

Ridiculous “article.” The show is about a demonic force which feasts on Id urges and is basically a raging satyr. What show did you think you were watching? I’d say Fuller House is more hurtful than TP in this regard. Lynch is basically a victim’s advocate in this and other works… he has practically deified Laura. You are writing as if Lynch sides with Laura Dern’s uncle in Wild at Heart, who molests her, resulting in a young girl having to get an abortion. Is Lynch on his side, or the poor girl who is used by him? Who carries the sympathy?

The worst part is you are casting these sanctimonious comments at a show which has barely begun. You have no idea where it’s going or what its ultimate purpose is. I bet you think Moby Dick is an awful book because it’s about whaling. Good job. Maybe someday you’ll have real problems to worry about.

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