‘Twin Peaks’ Season 3 Premiere – Episodes 1 & 2: Fire Walk With Me (Again)

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Introduction: My Life With Twin Peaks

I was just a kid when “Twin Peaks” first hit the TV screens of an unsuspecting public. Back then, about the only TV I watched was MTV and cartoons. Mostly, I watched movies, listened to music and read books. There were only four major networks at the time: ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX. It was very unusual for a director of David Lynch’s stature to tackle a TV show, not like it is today, where such things are commonplace.

By then, Lynch had already garnered two Oscar nods for Best Director, one for “The Elephant Man,” which I’d watched in school, as the teacher thought it would be good for us to know to treat people well even if they were “different”- a noble cause, but one which met with some controversy when many of the kids had nightmares as a result. The other nod was for “Blue Velvet,” which I hadn’t seen yet, but soon would, as it proved to be a direct prototype for what would become “Peaks.”

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All of this is to say, I don’t think any of us really knew what we were getting into when we sat down as a family to watch the much-hyped show together. My mother and sister hated it. My sister said it was “the most depressing thing” she’d ever seen and my mom thought it was just plain “weird.” I was captivated and enthralled, and thrilled when it got picked up to series.

I became fanatical about the show, taping every episode on VHS and keeping a scrapbook of newspaper clippings and magazine articles about it, the stars and Lynch himself. In addition, I took extensive notes on it, writing down clues, character profiles and theories as to who did it- it being “Who killed Laura Palmer?”, of course. I was way off-base about the solution, but given the whole story, who would have figured it out, really?

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I still have those tapes and notes, and I remember being so mad when my mom missed the first fifteen minutes or so of an episode of what she called my “stories,” likening it to a soap opera. As fans know, it was so much more. I was even madder when a thunderstorm took out an entire episode later on- an episode I wouldn’t see for years, until the series came out on home video and I snapped it up.

I also bought anything related to the show, including all the tie-in books and the Cooper-inspired audiobook of his “tapes” to Diane. To the best of my knowledge, it was the first show to spawn tie-in novels that weren’t mere adaptations of a TV-movie or what have you, something that would become de rigueur later on, with such shows as “Lost” and the wacky soap “Passions,” two shows heavily influenced by “Peaks.”

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Perhaps needless to say, the revelation of Laura’s killer- in his non-corporeal form, at least- blew my mind, but not as much as “The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer,” which I read before I was even into my double digits. Thanks, Jennifer Lynch, for corrupting my young little mind! TBH, though, I think certain things blew right by me, and I didn’t quite realize the weight of everything until I was a little older. That said, I think I turned out alright, so don’t hate on my mom for dropping the ball on that one, lol.

At the time, I didn’t know anyone else who had watched the show, but as the years went on, I would share my well-worn tapes with everyone, trying my best to get them into it and spread the love. Some didn’t but many more did. Eventually, a cult of sorts sprung up from the show’s fanbase, which was solidified thought the advent of the internet, via message boards and websites. At last, I could communicate with my people!

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The word spread as the show hit DVD, then Netflix and Blu-Ray, garnering more and more fans over the years. Finally, a widespread audience were learning to appreciate what I and a small-but-loyal group of fans already knew: not only was the show ahead of its time, but modern day shows were still catching up.

It’s unthinkable that we’d have shows like “Lost,” “Veronica Mars,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “The Killing,” pretty much every Bryan Fuller show (especially “Hannibal” and “Wonderfalls”) and even “The Sopranos” without it. It wasn’t just ahead-of-the-curve, it created the curve.

There’s an old story about how only a small, select group of people bought the rock band The Velvet Underground‘s records when they were actually a functioning group, but every one of them started a band. You could say the same thing about “Peaks,” but substitute that every one of the people who saw it created a show.

Not all of them were good, but every one of them started a wave of off-kilter shows that paved the way for the wild and wacky likes of “American Horror Story” and “American Gods.” In short, we owe lot to “Twin Peaks,” especially those of us reaping the benefits of TV’s latest golden age.

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All of that said, I don’t think I ever quite believed the show would come back. After all, it was unceremoniously cancelled by ABC after the main murder mystery was solved and the show never quite found its footing in its wake. As fans know, creators Lynch and Mark Frost never really wanted to solve the mystery in the first place- it was about the journey, not the destination, as it were.

Be that as it may, as everyone who got to that finale knows, the ending was devastating. Indeed, I suspect that if it weren’t for that downer of an ending, the show wouldn’t have been as beloved as it was. Lynch did get to make a film based on the show, but it was mostly a prequel, and intended as the first of a series of others. When it bombed, “Twin Peaks” was officially no more.

Laura Palmer's Cousin

But then, a funny thing happened. In light of the renewed fan interest, Lynch and Frost took note. Could they actually revive the show after all this time? Fortunately, a wonderful loophole that couldn’t have been planned- or could it?- presented itself. In the finale of the show, Laura Palmer said: “I’ll see you again in 25 years.” That very anniversary was coming up and you better believe fans were aware of it.

One wonderful day, both Lynch and Frost Tweeted simultaneously, hinting that the show might return. Sure enough, it began to happen again, but hit a snag when Lynch couldn’t get the budget he wanted for the ambitious vision he and Frost had cooked up. Fans balked and the pressure on Showtime was such that they gave in, granting Lynch the budget he wanted. Something good came out of it: Lynch opted to direct the entire thing, and the season was expanded to a whopping 18 episodes total.

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Which brings us to the premiere. Keep in mind that there will be spoilers for the entire series to date, as well as wild speculation about what it all means, and where it’s all headed. So, if you haven’t seen the series to date, get on that ASAP. Also, I was able to screen the first four episodes, so if you’ve only seen the first two you might want to skip the second review and come back to it later. I split them into two for easier perusal and so the articles weren’t quite as long.

About all I knew going in was that all the action might not take place in the town of Twin Peaks itself, that not all of the cast was returning, with some opting not to, and others having sadly passed away in the meantime. I also had an idea from what little I was hearing that it might be more in the style of the movie, rather than the series, which I assume some people won’t be crazy about, as some hate the movie. I am not one of them, so I was fine with that.

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I should also mention that I likely am not going to be reading a lot in the way of crazy theories, as I’d like to go back to the state of mind I was in when I watched the original show. After all is said and done, I might go back and do so, but for now, I will be avoiding other people’s reviews and interpretations like the plague.

The reason for this is simple: Entertainment Weekly columnist Jeff “Doc” Jensen’s “Lost” columns. I loved that show and the fan interaction so much, and there were few things I looked forward to more than reading “Doc” Jensen’s columns, trying to make sense of it all, along with the rest of us. Alas, he did his job all too well, as the end result couldn’t help but be a disappointment.

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The show went for the emotional resolution over the whole “explaining what the hell was going on” version, and I ended up being really upset about the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong: one of the things I love about Lynch is that he rarely explains much of anything, period. He just lets the chips fall where they may and lets people interpret things their own way. As Bill Pullman’s character says in “Lost Highway”: “I like to remember things my own way. Not necessarily the way they happened.” Exactly.

To that end, I will be doing just that. You don’t have to agree with my version. Just know that I know the old show virtually inside out, and will be applying that knowledge to it accordingly. I may not always be right, but I will be informed. Just not of what other people are saying about it. I hope to regain the same sense of mystery and delight I had with the old show in doing so. Let’s get started. Or as the Man From Another Place might say: “Let’s Rock!”

Episodes 1 & 2: An Overview

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The first thing we’ll deal with is the old-school characters, minus Cooper himself, who deserves his own section. When we return to Twin Peaks, the town, we soon discover little by little what everyone is up to. In Parts One and Two, we see that Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) is living in a trailer in the woods, and has just inexplicably bought several shovels for some reason.

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Sheriff Truman (Michael Ontkean, who opted not to return to the show) is nowhere to be found, but an allusion is made to his having what turns out to be a brother. Lucy (Kimmy Robertson, still delightful) is still manning the front desk, and she and Deputy Andy (Harry Goaz) are married and had a child, born on April 3rd, Marlon Brando’s birthday, shortly before which, we are told, Agent Cooper vanished.

Michael Horse in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

Tommy “Hawk” Hill (Michael Horse) is now the Deputy Chief, and receives a call from Margaret, aka “The Log Lady” (Catherine E. Coulson, who sadly passed away in 2015, after shooting her role here), informing him that he needs to revisit Cooper’s files, as he missed something important, and that it is somehow related to his “heritage.”

His first instinct is to go out to Glastonbury Grove and inspect one of the places that was crucial to Cooper’s case at the time. Though it is a spooky journey, and he seems to spot the infamous red drapes swaying in the dark near the circle of sycamore trees, nothing much happens, at least for now.

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We also see a lonely Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie), drinking alone in her old house, watching violent nature documentaries on a ginormous TV. Up at the Great Northern Hotel, there’s Ben Horne (Richard Beymer), still running things, with the help of new recruit secretary Beverly (Ashley Judd). He gets a visit from the still food-obsessed brother Jerry (David Patrick Kelly), who has gone into the legal weed business, which makes perfect sense, given his non-stop munchies.

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Finally, we catch sight at “The Bang-Bang Bar” of Shelly (Mädchen Amick), who alludes to being a mother, and whose daughter is dating a guy Steven, who seems “off” somehow. She sees James Hurley (James Marshall), who comes in with a young man, who might be his son.

One of the girls with Shelly spots James eying Renee (Jessica Szohr, “Gossip Girl”) and thinks he’s creepy, but Shelly vouches for him, saying he’s been a bit slow since a recent motorcycle accident. Shelley makes eyes at Red (Balthazar Getty, “Lost Highway”) and he does it right back. That’s about it for the old cast, save Cooper, in the first two episodes.

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Meanwhile, we meet a host of new characters, though many of them don’t last too long. I can imagine some fans of the show weren’t too thrilled with all this far flung other stuff, especially as it ate up a lot of the initial two shows running time, but I trust Lynch, and we see pretty early on that it all mostly ties together, with the connecting factor being Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan)- sort of.

As fans know, when we last left Cooper, he had been possessed by killer “BOB” (Frank Silva, who also sadly passed away), with the “good” Cooper still trapped in the Black Lodge, a sort of between-worlds place known for its maze-like structure and a “waiting room,” featuring a few chairs, a sculpture, a Saturn-like object on a table, a few lamps and not much else- save those ever-present red drapes.

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Apparently, what got out was Cooper’s doppelganger, which, as the name implies, looks just like him, but isn’t- not really. It could be a representation of Cooper’s “dark side,” or maybe just BOB, plain and simple, occupying a body that just happens to look like Cooper’s. Whatever the case, that version of Cooper is what has been on the loose in the outside world, and from what it looks like, he’s been up to no good for all this time, while the “real” Cooper languishes in the Lodge.

Kyle MacLachlan in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

However, “evil” Cooper- we’ll call him “Mr. C.” for short, from here on out- is living on borrowed time, and that time will soon be up. Not wanting to return to the Black Lodge, he has set some plan in motion to avoid it somehow, though we don’t get a sense of what that is just yet. “Helping” him are Ray (George Griffith, the “Cabin Fever” remake), Jack (Steve Baker, “Delusional”), and the sexy Darya (the cooly-named Nicole LaLiberte, of “Girls Against Boys” infamy).

Kyle MacLachlan in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

After Jack provides him with a new car, “Mr. C.” promptly kills him in a suitably weird fashion, by grasping his face, then he proceeds to kill Darya as well, when he finds out she and Ray were plotting to kill him. Before doing so, he asks her if she knew who hired them to kill him- she doesn’t- and he shows her an Ace of Spades and asks her if she’s seen it before. I think the marking on the card is meant to represent the marking on the infamous green ring, as seen in “Fire Walk With Me,” and that “Mr. C.” is looking for said ring for some unknown reason.

Ray evades capture as he is in jail at the time, in South Dakota. Or does he? At one point, we see someone who could be Ray- or rocker Rob Zombie as a bum, lol- but seemingly turned black, as if electrocuted, evaporate into nothing. Did “Mr. C.” get to him after all? Hard to say, but I think it’s a safe bet.

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However, we know that “Mr. C.” was onto him, that he researched the jail Ray was being held in- maybe (see the Episode 3 & 4 section)- and that beings of his kind seem to have the power to move through electrical outlets and the like, so it’s possible. We also hear that “Mr. C.” is in contact with the also long-lost Phillip Jeffries (formerly played by the late David Bowie)- also a maybe- and that PJ somehow knows that “Mr. C.” talked to Major Briggs (the late Don S. Davis) before he disappeared from Twin Peaks.

Jennifer Jason Leigh in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

PJ- or the man who says he is PJ- says that “Mr. C.” will be returning to the Black Lodge soon, and that he is saying goodbye to him, as he and “BOB” will be reunited soon. He also mentions that he “missed” him in New York and knows he is currently in South Dakota in Buckhorn. “Mr. C.” is not amused. He goes next door and orders a “clean-up” from Chantal (Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”), and says he needs her and her husband Hutch to meet him somewhere in a few days. They hook up after Chantal admits she was jealous of Darya.

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Meanwhile, in New York, we meet Sam (Ben Rosenfield, “Boardwalk Empire”), who has been given a strange job, watching over a glass box with a circular opening that juts out into another glass box outdoors filled with water that seems to serve as a sort of supernatural catching mitt. Cameras are set up to catch the box from every angle, and his job is to watch out for anything appearing inside the box, and to switch out the digital memory cards from the cameras as they fill up and put new ones in, filing away the old ones.

Guards are set up on every floor of the building, carefully keeping everyone out of the room besides Sam, as girlfriend Tracey (long, tall drink of coffee Madeline Zima, of “Californication” fame) discovers when she visits. One night, she arrives and no one is guarding the desk at the entrance to the room, and Sam goes out to meet her, agreeing to sneak her in, once he establishes the coast is clear.

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Things are looking good for Sam, as he and Tracey hook up, but then a darkness appears in the box and they stop, looking at it in wonder. Then a creature appears- might this be the elusive Phillip Jeffries?- bursts through the glass and attacks them, gruesomely killing them both. Guess that old horror movie logic of not making out when you should be doing something else applies in Lynch-land as well. Whoops!

Patrick Fischler in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

The operation seems to be being funded by mysterious billionaire Mr. Duncan Todd (Patrick Fischler, “Mulholland Drive”), working out of Vegas, who gives assistant Roger (Joe Adler, “Grey’s Anatomy”) two stacks of cash and tells him to tell “her” she has the job. Might that be the person next in line to watch the box?

Whatever the case, Roger asks Mr. Todd why does he let “him” make him do these things? Mr. Todd doesn’t answer but says be glad Roger doesn’t have someone like “him” in his life. “Mr. C.” maybe? Or possibly Phillip Jeffries, or whoever is pretending to be him? Probably the former, as I suspect the latter isn’t entirely corporeal, and may well be the creature we saw materialize in the box- though we know from the talk with “Mr. C.” that he can talk, so…

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Finally, also in Buckhorn, South Dakota, a woman calls in a nasty smell in the room next to hers, and her next door neighbor Ruth Davenport (Emily Stofle, “Inland Empire”) is found decapitated, but in the place where her body should be, there is the naked body of a middle-aged man, still unidentified at this point. There is also some shady business going on with Hank Fillmore (Max Perlich, “Blow”), the maintenance man, that is too conspicuous to not come up later.

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The detective on the case is Dave Mackley (Brent Briscoe, “Mulholland Drive”), who is shocked when fingerprints on the scene match to friend and local high school principal William Hastings (Matthew Lillard, “Scream”), who denies having been there. Later, however, we discover that he was likely having an affair with the woman, as his wife, Phyllis (Cornelia Guest, “I Know Who Killed Me”) confronts him about it in jail.

But it seems that Phyllis is having an affair of her own, possibly more than one, including one with William’s lawyer, George (Neil Dickson, “Inland Empire”), who she tips off knows about them when he arrives to represent his client before she leaves from visiting her husband. When she gets home, she is surprised to find none other than “Mr. C.” waiting for her, saying that she served her role well, and telling her that he has George’s gun, then promptly shooting her with it.

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Clearly, a frame job is in the works. But all we know is that “Mr. C.” was trying to get some information from Hastings’ secretary involving some coordinates, but has been unsuccessful thus far. Ray was involved in this as well, but if that was him in the cell next to William, then he’s either dead and gone or “Mr. C.”- or possibly someone/something else, such as Phillip Jeffries, or whoever was claiming to be him- got to him first and vanished him, literally, possibly before “Mr. C.” could get the info he wanted (but not “needed,” according to him).

Beyond that, we also got some Black Lodge shenanigans with the “real” Agent Cooper, who interacts with the Giant (Carel Struyken)- for some reason in black & white, perhaps to indicate a different time than the rest of the proceedings- who tells him to listen to the sound of a record player, and to remember the number 430. He also says that “it” is in “our house now” and what’s he’s talking about can’t be “said aloud now.” He tells Cooper to remember Richard and Linda- “two birds, one stone”- and says he is “far away” before Cooper disappears.

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Later on, Mike, aka Phillip Gerard (Al Strobel) and Coop talk in the Black Lodge Red Room, and the former asks him “Is it future or is it past?” Coop doesn’t answer but then Laura Palmer arrives… or is it? As she noted in a previous episode of the show: “Sometimes I feel like I know her, but then my arms bend back.” Coop asks her who she is then, and she says she is Laura. He says Laura is dead, and she says so is she, yet she “lives.”

Laura then removes her face, exposing a bright white light within, and puts it back on, which is just as creepy as it sounds. Coop asks when he can go and Laura gets up, kisses him and whispers something in his ear, which as in his first dream on the original run of the show, we can’t hear just yet.

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Also, when she walks, it sounds similar to the record player the Giant played for Coop earlier in the episode. Then she screams and is sucked up into the air and out of the room. The drapes billow and we see a white horse, just like Sarah Palmer was wont to do, especially when drugged by Leland.

Mike reappears, repeats his initial message, then beckons Coop out of the room. They enter another room, with a leafless tree, with a bulbous growth on the top, which looks a bit like the face of the creature we see in the glass box. Static electricity crackles above the tree. Mike tells him it is the “evolution of the arm,” which I assume to mean the “Man from Another Place,” who stated that he was “the arm” in “Fire Walk With Me.” I believe that actor Michael J. Anderson, who played that part, was among those actors who declined to participate, so this may be Lynch’s way of side-stepping that. He will be missed, though.

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The growth asks Coop if he remembers his doppelganger. He does- how could he not? The growth says that the doppelganger must return before he can leave. It mentions the number 253 and says “Time and time again” and “BOB” over and over again. He tells Coop to go now, but Coop tries and his exit is blocked somehow. He returns to the tree room, but the tree is gone, as is Mike. He goes to another room, finds Leland (Ray Wise, creepy as ever) there, who tells him to “find Laura.”

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Coop finds an exit and goes through and the floor starts to shift. Mike says to the tree that something is wrong. The tree says Coop’s doppelganger is interfering somehow. Coop opens some drapes and sees a highway, which “Mr. C.” is driving down. The arm tree freaks out and yells “Non-exist-ent!” And the floor shifts again and Coop falls through the crack that appears and begins to fall through what appears to be space and time.

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He ends up within the glass box, submerged in water, and floats into the interior side of the box, but does so while Sam and Tracey are out of the room, looking for the guard, so they never see him. By the time they return, he’s gone and is falling through space again, which is where we leave him for now. Check out Part Two of my extensive review here for my take on Episodes 3 & 4!

Not enough Lynch for you? Check out my two part list of the best of the famed director’s work here and here!