When Agent Cooper looked into a mirror and saw Killer Bob, when he smashed his head into the glass and, blood pouring down his face and started to giggle, “How’s Annie?” over and over, it was possibly the most traumatic moment television has ever given me. Because Twin Peaks, which I had devoured from the first, which I had followed through the doldrums of mid-second season, was cancelled, and these were its final minutes, final seconds. Because the wrong Dale Cooper had come back, because everything was as wrong as it was possible to be, and what would come next would never ever happen.
Don’t say never. After this, you cannot say never. As long as someone is alive, the unbelievable can happen, and this year it did. Twin Peaks came back, for that third, incredible season, like Alan Garner and Boneland, completing the trilogy begun with The Weirdstone of Breisinga-Mein, from the most unexpected yet astonishing of angles.
I have watched Twin Peaks – The Return week-in, week-out, first thing on Monday morning. Throughout the summer, it has been the only contemporary television I have watched. I have sat there glued to each moment, watching carefully how David Lynch and Mark Frost have chosen to take this undreamt of opportunity.
Unlike other Twin Peaks fans, I have come to it deliberately cleared of expectations. As long as it answered that question that horrified me so back in 1991, what happened next?, I would wait and see. And it answered it, not in the detail I would have demanded in 1991, but simply enough: the Good Cooper has been trapped all this time in the Black Lodge, the Bad Cooper disappeared and has been doing evil, out of sight, all this time. Ok, good, that’s the answer, what do we have?
I admit to having only partially understood each episode, each week, if I have understood it at all. Characters have come and gone, and I have failed to remember the relationships, or where they have first appeared. But I have watched each segment of the eighteen hour film, and I am currently wondering just how I will make my way back to ‘normal’ television shows: it’s September, the Fall Season is almost upon us, and I am not even enthusiastic from The Big Bang Theory yet.
But I have a week and a half off work, and if thunder and lightning storms and the costs and restrictions of reliance on pubic transport put me off getting away, I can get away into a proper re-watch, a bingewatch, end to end.
Now I can’t do eighteen hours, but there’s nothing to stop me doing it over two days, nine episodes today, nine tomorrow. And I’m just coming down off episode 9, and it hangs together better when you know what it’s leading up to, and characters are no longer coming out of the woodwork, I can see them first being introduced, and I have a better handle on relationships, and on which of the multifarious strands ultimately feed into the spine of the narrative – and there definitely is one, believe you me – and which are there to remind you that Twin Peaks, that small-town America generally, is a place where things happen, and people do things that they don’t necessarily want seen in public, and not all threads lead to the web.
So I’m halfway today, and it’s the downhill slope tomorrow, and the first item on this year’s self-present list is the DVD Boxset. Or maybe my birthday, if I’m too greedy to wait…