‘Twin Peaks’ Season 3, Episodes 8 & 9: The Big BOB Theory

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You’ve got to hand it to director David Lynch and co-conspirator Mark Frost. It’s not easy to return to a show some 25+ years later and not only defy expectations, but somehow manage to be even more groundbreaking than you were the first go-round. And yet, against all odds, that’s exactly what is happening with the third season of “Twin Peaks”– the TV landscape that they helped refashion, they’ve now returned to completely upend yet again.

Look no further than Episode 8, which Lynch and Frost perfectly lobbed onto the airwaves, right before subsequently taking an endless two-week break, as if to say: I’m just gonna leave this here, ok? For those for whom the beginning half of Episode 3 wasn’t radical or insane enough, you had this episode, which may well be the single nuttiest thing I’ve ever seen on television- and that’s actually saying something by today’s standards.

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As one Twitter user put it, after the episode aired: good luck to TV re-cappers covering THAT episode! Of course, in perfect Lynchian fashion, the episode has long been foreshadowed, particularly within that scene in Episode 7, showing Lynch whistling a merry tune as FBI director Gordon Cole, in front of- you guessed it- a photo of an atomic bomb going off. (Interestingly, Catherine Martell, played by Piper Laurie in the original series, also referenced Nagasaki in her Asian guise.)

Amusingly, even that seemingly innocuous scene set off a rally of arguing, as fans debated whether he was whistling an ode to Fellini’s “Amarcord” or a tribute to the German industrial rock band Rammstein, whose music was prominently featured in his movie “Lost Highway.” Whichever it was, that was almost beside the point, as the real heads-up was staring viewers right in the face, via that poster of the bomb.

Contrary to what a lot of people thought of Episode 8- and for many, it was the last straw, unfortunately- it was actually relatively straight-forward, if you really think about it, subject matter-wise. Or it was to me, anyway. Though, as with most of Lynch’s work, it left itself open to various interpretations. Here’s mine.

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Episode Eight

We opened pretty much where we left off, with Ray (George Griffith) and Mr. C. (Kyle MacLachlan) on the road, after the latter successfully navigated their respective releases in the previous episode. After handily defusing several tracking devices set up by the Warden with a cell phone, Mr. C. tosses said phone and instructs Ray to pull off the highway onto a side road.

Mr. C. thinks that Ray wants to go to a place he calls “The Farm,” but doesn’t confirm or deny this. Eventually, Ray asks to pull over to relieve himself, upon which point Mr. C. pulls a gun on him and fires- only to find he’s been double-crossed by the Warden and Ray, as the gun doesn’t go off. Instead, Ray pulls a gun of his own and shoots Mr. C. twice, seemingly killing him.

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Of course, this is a malevolent spirit we’re talking about, so Mr. C. doesn’t go down easy, a fact which even Ray seems to acknowledge when he calls what one assumes is Phillip Jeffries- or perhaps someone claiming to be him, at least- and says that he “thinks” he killed Mr. C., but isn’t sure. Either way, he says that Mr. C. knows where Ray will likely head, so if he isn’t dead, that’s where he’ll be, on down the line.

Back at the site of Mr. C.’s shooting, we see a bunch of filthy, raggedy men, dressed like bums, with blackened faces. Given that Lynch credits one of them later in the episode as a “Woodsman,” let’s just go with that: it’s a group of “Woodsmen.” They attend to Mr. C., seemingly ripping him to shreds, rather than helping him, and removing BOB from inside him.

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I think that previous scene, in which we saw Mr. C. in jail, looking into the mirror after his car wreck and confirming that BOB was still inside of him was also a bit of foreshadowing, implying that, though BOB was indeed within him, he could also be taken away from him. And yet, as we see in the following episode, that doesn’t mean that Cooper’s evil doppelgänger can’t exist without BOB, either- they are separate entities, after all, which we saw in the Season 2 finale.

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We also find out that Ray got the info that Mr. C. wanted, and that it involves some coordinates- that will also figure heavily into the next episode, as we shall see. However, as much as Mr. C. wanted that info, as he implied, he didn’t necessarily NEED it, as evidenced by his attempting to shoot Ray dead. After Ray unsuccessfully tries to blackmail Mr. C. for it, he reconnects with Phillip, showing that it was likely Phillip that hired Ray and the late Darya to double-cross Mr. C. and at least try and kill him.

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After all this, we get a special appearance from “The” Nine Inch Nails at the Roadhouse, which is likely what was meant by singer Trent Reznor’s cropping up in the previously-released cast listing, so people can rest easier knowing we probably won’t have to see him play an oddball character of some sort- I think. More likely, this was Lynch continuing to pay it forward to Reznor for helping to compile the excellent “Lost Highway” soundtrack for him, which also resulted in Lynch directing the video for NIN’s “Came Back Haunted” a few years back.

It’s at this point that things go way off the rails, in the most excellent way imaginable. For those who thought that that scene of the guy sweeping for several minutes straight was bad, this following sequence must have been absolute murder. For the rest of us, however, it was like Lynch’s version of a similar sequence in the late, great Stanley Kubrick’s seminal sci-fi epic “2001: A Space Odyssey” rendered for the small screen.

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Only instead of the “Big Bang,” here we got nothing less than the birth of BOB- among other things. It’s July 16th, 1945, and the first atomic bomb is being set off in White Sands, New Mexico- a bomb that will later cause an unprecedented amount of death at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as alluded to in the musical selection, Penderecki’s “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima,” a chilling, spine-tingling symphonic work. (Lynch has used the composer’s work in several of his films before, notably in “Inland Empire.”)

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The implication here- and once again, this is my own interpretation of the events, which may not be correct- is that the testing of the nuclear weapon caused a rift to open in between dimensions, which allowed a new form of evil to enter our world, courtesy of the “mother”-like figure that emerges, spewing forth all manner of nasty matter, including BOB himself, and perhaps the Woodsmen as well, who we see converging around a convenience store. This “mother” figure would also appear to be the creature we last glimpsed within the glass box in New York that Agent Cooper also appeared in, and perhaps the one eluded to by the character played by Phoebe Augustine (aka Ronnette Pulaski) in Episode 3.

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All of this is driven home by the fact that we see the same matter flying through space that Agent Cooper witnessed when he made the jump from the Black Lodge to the building we return to within this episode, which seems to be a futuristic castle nestled on top of a huge mountain made of rock located in the middle of an ocean made up of seemingly purple-tinted waters. This is where the Giant resides- or is he the Giant from previous seasons? In the credits, he is actually listed as ??????, so it may be a different character, but as they put it on the show, I think they are “one and the same.”

Inside the castle, we also see a woman, referred to in the credits as Senorita Dido (Joy Nash) is sitting on a couch listening to music- remember, there is always “music in the air” in these parts- when an alarm goes off, seemingly emanating from a large bell-like structure. Some have suggested that these “bells” glimpsed within this episode are an allusion to the so-called “Nazi Bells,” so make of that what you will.

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The Giant- or whoever- comes in, looks outside, then stops the alarm. He goes into a theater-like area- which appears to be the same one used as Club Silencio in “Mulholland Drive,” for whatever that’s worth- and watches what we have just seen on a large movie screen, taking special note of the appearance of BOB.

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He floats into the air, emits a golden spray of matter, some of which formulates into a golden sphere, which floats down to Dido, who kisses it and sends it floating back into the air and into a series of tubes, which seem to emit it into the general area of the Pacific Northwest. We glimpse the face of Laura Palmer within the sphere as well.

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My theory is that, as the saying goes: every action has a reaction. When the Giant sees the birth of evil that is BOB, he counteracts by sending a force of good into the world, via Laura Palmer, to combat it. Perhaps he was also involved in sending Agent Cooper to do so as well, though we don’t quite see that as of yet, though we did see the two talking in the premiere episode, so it seems likely that Cooper was part of the plan as well, just not this particular one.

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Flash-forward to 1956. It’s August 5th and we’re in the New Mexico desert, where we see an egg hatch in the sands, giving birth to a creature that appears to be the back half of a frog and the front half of a flying cockroach, which isn’t a disturbing visual image at all- NOT. It slinks away into the desert to later cause more mischief.

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A young couple walks by what appears to be the aforementioned convenience store that the Woodsmen were gathered in front of previously. You might also recall a store of this type being referred to on the original run of the show, where it was said to be where BOB and Mike resided, albeit one assumes a different one. Agent Phillip Jeffries also references one in “Fire Walk with Me,” and we see a Woodsman there as well within the baffling sequence. Going by all of this, it would seem to be a place that these evil figures are drawn to, and not just in Twin Peaks.

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The young girl sees a penny and picks it up, but it most assuredly does not bring her good luck- I think, though what happens is the subject of much speculation, as well. We see several of the Woodsmen figures emerge in the desert, with one of them (Robert Broski, instantly iconic) taking the lead and walking to a highway, where he asks a horrified couple: “Gotta light?” He seems to be covered with engine oil, which, you’ll also recall, was the substance which allowed mortals passage into the Black Lodge in the previous season.

The man walks to a local radio station, where he continues his quest for a light for his cigarette. One has to wonder: if he successfully attained a light to his cigarette, would much have been avoided? Whatever the case, he does not get his light, and he proceeds to kill both the receptionist and the DJ by grabbing their heads and splitting them open, in what would be really graphic fashion, if the sequence wasn’t in black and white. It’s still plenty disturbing, though.

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The man takes over the airwaves and stops the music, intoning over and over again the following: “This is the water. And this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eye and dark within.” Alrighty then. I have no idea what all of this means, but it seems to have a decided effect on all of the listeners, who pass out cold upon hearing it. Perhaps the white horse is a reference to the same one Mrs. Palmer saw in her living room on the night her niece Maddy was murdered?

We see the young girl from before, who has also passed out. The bug creature flies into her widow and she opens her mouth to receive it, which is pretty gross. Some have suggested that this is a young Mrs. Palmer and this is Laura, but that timeline seems off to me. Besides, the Woodsmen and the Giant seem to be on opposite sides, so why would one help the other? I think instead, that the bug is evil, not a force of good, and the Woodsman’s chant was to help facilitate its arrival as… something else, later on, which remains to be seen.

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Remember, Laura was born in 1971 on July 22nd and was 18 upon her murder, so this would have been way before that. Not saying it couldn’t be connected in some way, but I don’t think this is the “seeds” of Laura being implanted here. What it is, is anyone’s guess, however. I just don’t think it’s anything good, personally, but feel free to speculate away in the comments section. Regardless, with this image, the episode ends.

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Episode Nine

As we cross firmly into the halfway mark of the 18-episode season, we get our first episode that, for me, at least, legitimately felt like an old-school episode of the show. In addition to a sizable portion of it being set in the town proper, it has that same vibe as the show in spades, down to the bizarre sense of humor, oddball timing and esoteric clue development.

We also get the return of yet another vet of the series in Mrs. Briggs (longtime Lynch associate Charlotte Stewart, also of his debut feature “Eraserhead”), as well as cameos from Johnny (Erik Rondell) and Sylvia Horne (Jan D’Arcy), plus plenty of juicy Major Briggs info. I admit it’s somewhat ironic, though I don’t doubt it’s completely unintentional, that Lynch would follow up what was easily the most polarizing episode of the series to date with the most accessible and recognizably “Twin Peaks” episode of the third season by far. It’s almost as if to say: here you go, your patience has been dutifully rewarded.

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We open with a still-recovering Mr. C., who makes his way to a nearby location, where he confers with Gary “Hutch” Hutchens (Tim Roth), who sets him up with a vehicle, a phone and other goodies in a bag, while his wife, Chantal (Jennifer Jason Leigh) gets a first aid kit to clean him up. At one point, “Hutch” has the two make out, seemingly for his own enjoyment, because of course he does. We also see Mr. C. text an unknown subject the following: “Around the dinner table the conversation is lively.”

Mr. C. instructs “Hutch” to kill off the double-crossing Warden Murphy within the next couple of days- how and where he does so is up to him, but get it done. After that, he’ll contact “Hutch” with instructions to take out a couple more people in Vegas. He tells them to clear out of this location and to destroy the phone once he’s done with it, which “Hutch” does with a shotgun.

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Finally, before he leaves, he calls Duncan Todd (Patrick Fischler) and asks him if “it’s done yet.” Duncan says no, and Mr. C. says it better be by the next time he calls. This would confirm that it was Mr. C. that Duncan was working for, as I suspected. Duncan calls for Roger, presumably to set more things in motion.

On the plane, Gordon Cole gets a call from Colonel Davis informing him about the developments in Buckhorn. Cole immediately re-routes the plane to land there, despite the protests of Diane (Laura Dern), who just wants to go home. He tells her it’s connected to Blue Rose, which shuts her up for the time being, though she’s clearly not happy. Diane gets a call, but the number is blocked, so she ignores it- for now.

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Warden Murphy calls Cole and informs him that Coop flew the Coop- or rather, who he thinks is Coop, but who we know to be Mr. C. In Buckhorn, the cops interview Bushnell Mullins (Don Murray), the boss of the “real” Cooper, aka Dougie, who can’t think of anyone who would want to harm Dougie. He makes sense of something we all wondered about- it seems that Dougie, as in the “real” one, was in a car wreck some time ago, and since then, he has these “spells” in which he comes off as a little “slow.” I’ll say!

Mullins gives Dougie the rest of the day off, but promises that they’ll get to the bottom of this, and Janey (Naomi Watts) promises to take him to the doctor for a check-up, in light of his odd behavior as of late. It’s about time. Meanwhile, the cops are surprised to find that there’s no record whatsoever of Dougie prior to 1997. One of them suggests that perhaps he’s in the Witness Protection program, which would explain why people keep trying to kill them.

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Another cop comes in and confirms that the print on the gun used to try and kill Dougie belongs to known felon Ike “The Spike” and even better, Ike had been spotted at a local motel. The cops send Dougie home for the time being- though not before Detective Fusco (David Koechner) has the bright idea to lift Dougie’s prints from a coffee mug to see what they can find out about who he “really” is- and go off to collect Ike, who almost gets away, but is nabbed by the cops as he attempts to leave the motel.

Back in Twin Peaks, Lucy and Andy argue over the purchase of a new chair at the police station, before we catch a glimpse of Johnny Horne running around like a madman at his house, eventually running himself into a wall and collapsing onto the floor in a bloody heap, much to his mother’s horror.

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Note that Leland Palmer did a similar thing when BOB was trying to release himself from his body. Might Johnny have also been possessed by a denizen of the Black Lodge? This is actually an old-school theory that predates the new incarnation, BTW, with some suggesting it could also be the spirit of an Indian that possessed Johnny, given his antics on previous seasons, what with his war whoops and hunting for wooden buffalo. Or could he be possessed by the Man from Another Place, aka “The Arm,” himself, given the latter’s predilection for whooping? Who can say?

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The Sheriff, Hawk and Bobby pay a visit to Mrs. Briggs, who claims to have been expecting them, saying that her late husband predicted this day would come the last time she saw him, some 25 years ago. She goes to a chair in the living room and opens up a secret compartment within it and retrieves a pen-like object and gives it to them. She tells Bobby that his father never lost faith in him and predicted that he would one day turn out alright.

While Diane has a smoke in the waiting room, despite the objections by the local detective, Dave Macklay (Brent Briscoe), Cole and company go back to the morgue, where the coroner, Constance Talbot (Jane Adams) fills them in on what they know about the corpse of Major Briggs, who, as pointed out before, hasn’t seemed to have aged in 25 years, looking instead like a man in his 40’s.

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We see that the text sent by Mr. C. was to Diane, who reacts in horror to it, though she doesn’t mention it to anyone. Macklay tells Cole about the Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard) case, telling them that his lawyer has since been arrested for seemingly killing Bill’s wife, though we know it was actually Mr. C. Shortly thereafter, Hastings’ secretary died in a mysterious car explosion. “What happens in Season 2?” asks Albert, to the delight of everyone. Okay, maybe just to us Miguel Ferrer fans. Glad he got to play this character one last time, because he is so much fun.

Macklay informs them that Hastings and the late Ruth Davenport, the librarian he is accused of murdering, were working on an online blog together about exploring other dimensions. Albert notes the last entry in the blog: “Today we finally enter what we call the “Zone,” and we let ‘Them’ enter.” Talbot also shows them the ring found in Briggs’ stomach, inscribed to Dougie from Janey. Cole understandably wants to see Hastings.

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We get a brief, hilarious scene in the woods with a still-high-off-his-ass Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly), in which his foot seems to sing to him: “I am not your foot,” much to his dismay and our delight. Horne eventually falls over trying to make sense of this development. Might this be another scenario like the one which led Mike to cut off his own arm, or is this Lynch simply trolling us? Whatever the case, it was hilarious, so I’ll let it slide either way.

The Sheriff throws Chad (John Pirruccello) out of the conference room, much to his dismay, in another humorous scene, before going back outside when Bobby realizes what the object his mother gave them really was. He throws it on the sidewalk and picks it back up, as it hums like a tuning fork. He tosses it down again, and this time it breaks open, and they find a scrolled message inside.

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It says “253 yards east of Jack Rabbit’s Palace, grab some soil and put it in your pocket before leaving.” There are also two dates: 10/1 and 10/2, two days from now, and a time: 2:53pm. Note also that this has been a recurring number on the show this season. It’s the time at which Cooper escaped the Black Lodge, and at which Mr. C. has his wreck. Also note the two triangle shapes on the scroll, the red dot and red semi-circle over what appears to be the Taurus-like symbol seen both in Owl Cave and on the infamous green ring, as well as on that playing card Mr. C. showed Darya.

Bobby says that Jack Rabbit’s Palace was something he called the place where he and his father used to go when he was a child, where they would go and make up stories together. He marvels at the fact that his father saw all this coming and prepared for it the way he did, as do the Sheriff and Hawk. Finally, we see a piece of paper we’ve seen before on the show: a list of coordinates, among which are the words Cooper listed twice: two Coopers, as Hawk points out.

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Once again, this incarnation of the show is proving to be intimately connected to the events of the original series. As we know from both the previous seasons, and the book “The Secret Life of Twin Peaks,” Major Briggs was tasked with monitoring deep space in Ghostwood forest, in a military installation.

Once upon a time, he saw these same kinds of numbers, and informed Cooper of what he’d found, noting that, rather than coming from deep space, they actually came from within the woods themselves. Another message within the coordinates was “The owls are not what they seem,” though we don’t see that here.

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I suspect that these coordinates are among those that Mr. C. was searching for as well, and are likely to places all over the world in which portals to alternate dimensions can be found, not unlike the “thinnys” found in Stephen King and Peter Straub’s excellent “The Talisman” books and in King’s “Dark Tower” series. If one goes to these locations at a specific time, then one can enter said alternate dimensions- even if one is human. (See also Windom Earle from the original series.)

Back in Buckhorn, after Cole shares a smoke with a still clearly rattled Diane, the group go back inside, where Tammy (Chrysta Bell) interviews Bill Hastings. He confirms that alternate realities are a real thing and that he and Ruth Davenport were investigating them, with a little help from his secretary. He says that Ruth and he went to a specific location at a specific time and entered one of these alternate dimensions, where they discovered Major Briggs, whose identity he confirms in a photograph.

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The Major claimed to be hiding from someone, or as he put it, “hibernating,” which could explain why his dead body hadn’t aged a day since his death. Briggs tasked Bill and Ruth with finding some coordinates from a secure military database, which Ruth did. However, Bill never actually saw the coordinates himself, as Ruth was murdered before he could. He says a group of people burst in and killed her, likely Ray and company, as Ray said he had the “numbers” to Mr. C., which he had been tasked with getting from her.

Hastings says that before that, they had met with Briggs and given him the coordinates, then he floated up into the air and his head disappeared, which sounds similar to what happened with the Giant in the castle in the previous episode. Could Major Briggs have been possessed by the Giant at the time of his death? Either way, his head is indeed missing IRL, as is Ruth’s body for that matter.

Matthew Lillard in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

In addition, the night Ruth was killed, Bill was holding her as she died, but the next thing he knew he passed out and woke up at home in his own bed, with no idea how he got there. He swears he didn’t kill Ruth and that neither did Briggs, but that there were a lot of people there that could have. Perhaps some of the Woodsmen were involved? Albert laughs all of this off: “Fruitcake, anyone?”

Back in Twin Peaks, Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) and his receptionist, Beverly (Ashley Judd) have a bit of a moment, but Horne backs off her advances, saying he isn’t that kind of man- anymore, at least. We also discover that the two have yet to figure out what the cause of that odd noise was in Beverly’s workplace. Interestingly, Ben likens it to the ringing of a bell. Perhaps an allusion to the bell-like structures at the Giant’s castle?

Au Revoir Simone in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

We end with a scene at the Roadhouse, where both DJ Hudson Mohawke and Au Revoir Simone, in their second appearance, perform. We see two girls meet up, Ella (singer Sky Ferriera) and Chloe (Karolina Wydra, “True Blood”). Ella lost her job as a waitress, possibly at the R&R Diner, but has already gotten another one across the street from the Roadhouse. She is also suffering from a nasty rash of unknown origin.

The two also mention people they refer to as Penguin and Zebra, the latter of the two who is inferred to be “out again,” likely from prison or jail, from the sound of it. Both the girls seem like they are on drugs, but that’s pure speculation on my part. To the best of my knowledge, we have not run into anyone nicknamed Penguin or Zebra before on the show, but I’ll certainly keep an ear out for them moving forward.

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That was about it for the two episodes, but it was certainly a lot to take in, especially episode eight. After the intensity of that episode, I think we all needed a breather, as hard as it was to go a few weeks without the show. Now that we’re firmly in halfway mark territory, a lot has transpired, and I can see how it might all come together much more so than before.

Despite all the complaints about the show moving slowly and how none of this seemingly has anything to do with the original series, I think it’s obvious that it indeed does have everything to do with the first two seasons, as well as the movie. There have been plenty of allusions to the prior material for those paying attention, and a lot of illumination of things which previously went unexplained.

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Yes, I’ll allow that Lynch and Frost often raise as many questions as they answer, but that’s a necessary evil to keep a show going, so I don’t get why that’s a complaint. I would think people would want a little mystery to remain, as the show progresses, otherwise, what’s the point? It’s long known that Lynch and Frost never even wanted to solve the Laura Palmer murder mystery and only did so because ABC pressured them into it.

Now, all these years later, Showtime has given the two carte blanche to do whatever they wanted and they have clearly taken full advantage of that, and then some. That said, I do suspect that if the show were to go on for another season, it would likely be more akin to what the naysayers have complained it “should” be. But first, Lynch and Frost had to get all their ducks in a row, and 25 years is a lot of ducks to have to sort through, as I think most people would agree.

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For me, though, it’s a downright remarkable thing that the show has managed to be just as revolutionary as it was all those years ago, even after all the shows it has influenced in the meantime. Even now, there’s nothing quite like it on TV. That’s saying something. You might not like what it is now, but I think we’re all better for it having existed at all.

Besides, it’s sort of shallow to boycott a show for not being what one expected. What exactly were you expecting after 25 years, really? A lot has changed since then, obviously. The actors have all aged, and some of them are no longer with us, with others choosing not to participate at all. It would have been impossible to simply recreate what came before to the degree some people obviously wanted it to.

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I think some of the blame lies with how the media promoted the show, though you can’t entirely blame them, as, astonishingly enough, in this day and age of constant spoilers and leaks about plot twists, the show actually managed to keep everything under wraps successfully right up to the show’s premiere- and they’ve kept doing so every step of the way since. To Showtime’s credit, they did say this was going to be the “pure heroin version” of David Lynch, and boy, they weren’t kidding.

So, if you don’t care for it, you don’t have to watch. There’s always the original series. For the rest of us, this is TV at its most challenging and exciting, even if Lynch isn’t above trolling us all a little bit. Would you really have it any other way?

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Let me know what you thought of the last few episodes down below, and by all means tell me your wild theories as well. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to review episodes 10 and 11 on July 24th. Until then, thanks for reading!