Last night, I finished watching the latest season of Twin Peaks. For nearly four months, the world settled uncomfortably into David Lynch’s world to see how the show’s beloved characters adjusted and changed since the death of Laura Palmer 25 years earlier. Lynch, the cast, and Showtime were extremely hush hush about what the return of Twin Peaks would look and feel like. Expectations for the cult classic were high as no one knew quite what to expect.
I had previously written about the new season for this blog series at the halfway point. Specifically, I discussed the use of music in the series as a narrative device. Angelo Badalamenti’s score in the original series was so prevalent that it can be interpreted as a character in of itself. For the new series, Badalamenti’s score took a backseat to make way for an increased presence of contemporary pop and rock music in the form of bands performing at the Roadhouse.
Music was still an integral part of the storytelling and moodscape, but it took on a new role that was vaguely familiar but completely different. And that best describes the experience of watching this latest series of Twin Peaks. The characters, scenery, and situations we all cherished from the original series were still there, but time managed to distort our perception of these things. Everything seemed so incredibly familiar. However, our relationships to these things has changed.
Before the new series preimiered, I was admittedly skeptical. I am very vocal about my dislike for nostalgia and for good reason. While it is totally fine to enjoy artifacts and documents of the past for their own merit as a representation of that period, it is another thing when culture is stagnated to accommodate old ideas that are long past their prime.
People are absolutely addicted to nostalgia because of the comfort it brings. The familiar is nice for that reason. However, when you have endless reboots, sequels, and rehashes of well-established or dated intellectual properties that mimic their predecessor as much as possible, the cultural landscape of artistic media becomes stagnated. It makes it harder for new ideas to get the attention they deserve. Instead of these new ideas depicting and representing the present as it is, they fade away or never even materialize. It is a very regressive state that represses our ability to challenge the limits of our imagination and the need to push society forward culturally and artistically.
When I started the latest season of Twin Peaks, what I didn’t want to see, after 25 years, was more quirky dialogue, melodramatic acting, and constant references to damn good pie. I wanted something that reflected the maturity and growth that comes with time. And, fortunately, I got that.
It is funny for me to admit that this last season of Twin Peaks left me with even more questions than before I started watching. I have never had the experience of watching something and getting less closure as the show continued. And that is an entirely thrilling concept. Lynch, since the original Twin Peaks series in the early 1990s, has shaped his film legacy by releasing films that are challenging, open to endless interpretation, and leave you with endless unanswerable questions. For many, I imagine that causes quite a bit of frustration. For me, I find it fascinating and a bit funny because I laugh it off that Lynch is playing a joke on everyone to see how far he can get away with. And when I think that way about a major release that generated a lot of buzz, it gives me a lot of hope for the future of art. This new Twin Peaks season didn’t give the audience what they wanted or expected and it still managed to be one of the hottest shows of the year. That is what we need more of to combat the ever-increasing presence of copycat nostalgia cash-ins.
As I mentioned earlier, our relationship to this world had changed. I find it incredibly brave to take those ideas and situations from 25 years earlier and change their meaning. I attempted to watch the first two seasons of Twin Peaks back in 2011. I had four episodes left when I just quit. I felt satisfied that I didn’t need to continue. Laura Palmer’s killer was revealed and knowing that the show was cancelled abruptly after season two finished leaving no opportunity to pick things back up for a third season, I didn’t feel invested to finish watching. The concept of the Black Lodge and Special Agent Dale Cooper’s possession by Bob didn’t mean anything to me other than unfinished and unrealized ideas.
I didn’t even feel the need to watch the 1992 film prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. When the series was cancelled, Lynch felt that he could continue and expand the story through a series of films. The film was considerably darker than the television series and performed poorly at the box office. This meant that Lynch couldn’t continue exploring the world of Twin Peaks.
A few years ago, rumors started surfacing that Lynch was trying to get a new season made. At the time, I felt that it was a useless gesture; a nostalgia trip from a guy who hadn’t made a movie since 2006’s Inland Empire. I wasn’t excited about a new series when I wanted to Lynch to make a new film.
As time went on, the series return finally saw the greenlight. Even then, I wasn’t quite on board. It wasn’t until January of this year that I finally took an interest. So many friends were buzzing about the show’s return. And I knew I would watch it too even though I was in denial. So, I watched the first two seasons (finally finishing it this time), watched the film prequel, and even read The Secret History of Twin Peaks by series co-creator Mark Frost to get a deeper understanding of some of the themes.
When the series returned in May, I was ready. Or, at least I thought I was. I had no idea what to expect at this point and nothing was made much clearer with each new episode. However, I loved what I saw. For one, I was thrilled by this new season was a departure from its earlier form taking on themes and style of a thoroughly modern Lynch. Secondly, Lynch didn’t give the audience what they wanted and instead downplayed key characters an altogether minimizing once prominent roles. And, finally, I was no closer to understanding the scope of what Twin Peaks had to offer than before. In other words, this was how you handle the stigma of nostalgia the right way.
Angelo Badalamenti did such an amazing job scoring the new series. It was subtle early in the return, but gained steam as we neared the finish. Old scores and themes associated with certain characters and ideas were withheld appropriately. I remember when rewatching the original series, the music was everywhere and often themes during in episode. That wasn’t the case in this new series. As mentioned before, Badalamenti’s music as a character changed over the years making way for new ways to express itself as a narrative device.
The new series had a lot of throwbacks to the 1992 film. Whole scenes in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me had their meaning changed when viewing this new series; throwing nostalgia out the window and that our old ideas or ways of thinking are not as precious as we thought.
Since many scenes and characters from the film were referenced or connected to the new series, I decided to revisit the film’s soundtrack. The score for the original series is stellar on its own and contains many of the iconic scores we know and love. However, I feel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is Angelo Badalamenti’s strongest contribution to the music of this world.
“The Pink Room” is a heavy, dark bluesy track from the film soundtrack. The title of the track references a room at the infamous Roadhouse. There, Laura Palmer meets her drug connections and has sex with strange friend. She is joined with her friend Ronette Pulaski. This scene is important because it serves as a key connection between Laura Palmer’s descent and the events following her death. The scene itself is also unnerving as we see Palmer gyrate and grind with the men who would be involved with her rape and murder. Light flash and drugs are plenty as the score enhances the seedy and depraved mood of the scene in an already dark film.
The finale of the return of Twin Peaks left a lot of questions unanswered and opened the doors for further exploration of the increasingly obscured world of Lynch’s vision. I don’t know if another season will be made. Part of me doubts it and a bigger part of me actually doesn’t want it. I don’t want answers. I was left with questions at the end of season two and with even more questions at the end of this latest season. For me, it has become clear that the world of Twin Peaks is not something we are meant to understand. Instead, all we can do is sit back and observe and let the characters, story, and especially the music take us on a journey.