Even before the premiere of “Twin Peaks: The Return” this year, the very curious and often puzzling world of the series had been expanded and explored in accompanying material that scratched the itch of even the most rabid fans. Sandwiched between the first and second seasons of the show’s initial run from 1990-1991 came the spin-off novel “The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer.” The diary spelled out the abuse Laura was suffering from and, according to Lynch, gave astute readers an early clue to her killer’s identity.
After “The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer” was a success, more books followed, including 1991’s “The Autobiography of F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes” and last year’s “The Secret History of Twin Peaks,” written by co-creator Mark Frost. And of course, Lynch himself used his first return to Twin Peaks to fill in more background details and introduce us to more characters, like the doomed Teresa Banks and Phillip Jeffries, in “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.”
With Lynch’s love for filling in even the most minute details about the show, it should come as no surprise to discover that “The Search for the Zone,” the website run by Matthew Billiard’s blubbering Bill Hastings, is very real. During Part 9 of “The Return,” Hastings revealed to Agent Tammi Preston that he had been researching paranormal activity with Ruth, his secret lover and the woman he is accused of murdering, and that the two had made contact with “The Major” immediately before her death. Of course, this is especially intriguing since “The Major” uttered two words before his head floated off of his body: “Cooper, Cooper.”
But even more exciting than the prospect of a reunion between Gordon, Albert, Diane and Cooper is Hasting’s faux website. Clicking on a link to Hasting’s older postings will bring up a brief 404 error page before the screen goes black and the first twangy notes of “Falling” begin to play. Hazy images loop across the screen but they’re too blurry to make out; likewise, in the background static cuts in and out but someone is talking — it might be Major Briggs — but what is being said can’t be understood.
Coordinates on the bottom of the homepage may technically correspond to a location in South Dakota, but clicking on them will redirect to another teaser page of blinking, blurry footage that could possibly be the mysterious box from Part One, the room where The Giant floated and released the golden orbs, or something we haven’t yet been introduced to. There are also links to several WAV files of “electrical interference” (which sound similar to what we heard when Cooper fell through space and landed into Dougie), as well as links to scientific articles and a local newspaper, which details haunted places in North Dakota’s Black Hills.
As the series progresses, perhaps there will be more to unlock on “The Search for the Zone,” and the cryptic sounds and images will finally begin to make sense — or as much sense as can be made from a David Lynch creation.