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Twin Peaks Is Back And It’s Crazier Than Ever

You can love Twin Peaks and love David Lynch, but deep down, everyone has a greater loyalty to one than the other. If you’re in the Twin Peaks camp, you might be slightly overwhelmed by the two-part premiere of Season 3, as characters and locations from the original seasons get limited screen time. But if you’re a Lynch devotee, this is an incredible feast of the director’s signature sensibilities. A decade has passed since Lynch last completed a feature film (the divisive Inland Empire), and he seems determined to make up for lost time by unleashing a bonanza of classic Lynch sights, sounds, and conceits. These two hours contain more wild ideas than most successful shows cram into their entire run.

Closer in spirit to Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me than a typical episode of the TV series, this premiere delivers an abundance of spooky surrealism and virtually none of the jazzy warmth that helped Twin Peaks spill over—ever so briefly—into the mainstream. In fact, this often feels like the premiere of an entirely different series. While several familiar faces are present, even more of what we get here is brand new. Based on the first two hours, it seems Lynch has pulled an amazing fast one on Hollywood, using the Twin Peaks brand to get generous financing for the kind of surreal, uncompromising work that would never otherwise get made.

In the premiere’s biggest detour from the original series, we pay a visit to New York, where a mysterious glass box is being observed by a young man (Ben Rosenfield) with a series of lights and cameras. When a curious, persistent young woman (Madeline Zima) twice brings him a latte, he decides to let her inside this top secret space. Before long, their interaction turns intimate, an apparition breaks out of the glass box, and the young couple is ripped to shreds.

In another significant detour, Lynch and co-creator/co-writer Mark Frost take us to Buckhorn, South Dakota, where a body is discovered with its head detached. The fingerprints of high school principal Bill Hastings (Scream’s Matthew Lillard) are found all over the room, but in a typically Lynchian paradox, he insists that he only ever visited this room in a dream.

Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan)—or someone who looks just like him—ultimately gets involved in this murder mystery, but not in the way you might expect. This isn’t the wholesome coffee obsessive you know and love. As you may recall, Season 2 concluded with the real Cooper trapped in the Red Room, replaced in the outside world by an evil doppelganger inhabited by the dreaded Bob. That appears to be the same Cooper we encounter here, one drawn to infidelity, murder, and the kind of amoral deadbeats that populated Lynch’s Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart.

Classic Cooper is still present, but he’s relegated to the aforementioned Red Room, where he witnesses some of the most mind-bending moments in Twin Peaks history. During an unforgettable encounter with the late Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee)—she concedes that she’s dead, “yet I live”—he gets the rare opportunity to see what she looks like with her face off.

He also endures the relentless nagging of a talking tree that introduces itself as “the arm.” (Remember the one-armed man?) The tree also insists that evil Cooper will have to return before the original Cooper can finally return to the real world. That doesn’t stop Cooper from breaking through the ground—and landing in that mysterious glass box in New York.

Along the way, we also get appearances from many classic characters, including The Log Lady (Catherine Coulson), Lucy (Kimmy Robertson), Andy (Harry Goaz), Hawk (Michael Horse), Shelly (Mädchen Amick), and James (James Marshall), but they keep their distance from the central drama in this wonderfully deranged (and very promising) season premiere.

Where the series goes from here is truly un-guessable, but Lynch and Frost have introduced enough mysteries and plot threads to keep this going for another 200 episodes, so they should have no trouble filling the next 16.

Twin Peaks episodes three and four will air next Sunday on TMN,  but you can stream the first four episodes right now on CraveTV and TMN GO. Also check out our series primer on who’s dead, who’s alive, and who just wants pie.