Posts Tagged ‘Al Strobel’

At this very moment, every single brain in the Twin Peaks fan community is melting.

And, hey, why shouldn’t they be? For a minute there, it really did look like everything was going to come together, especially with roughly, I dunno, 15 minutes to go in part seventeen of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks 2017/Twin Peaks : The Return/Twin Peaks season three — Kyle MacLachlan’s good cop/bad cop routine (the best ever seen, might I add) was over with and “Evil Coop” dispatched permanently; Freddie (played with heroic aplomb by Jake Wardle) had indeed met his destiny and used his rubber-gloved “super hand” to scatter BOB to the four winds; Kimmy Robertson’s Lucy got the chance to be more of a truly unexpected heroine; John Pirruccello’s Deputy Chad was thwarted in his lame jail-break attempt by his former co-worker, Andy (Harry Goaz); Lynch’s Gordon Cole, Miguel Ferrer’s Albert Rosenfield, and Chrysta Bell’s Tammy Preston got where they were needed — that being the office of Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) just in the nick of time; Jay Aaseng’s disfigured drunk-and-disorderly kept imitating everything he heard; Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) was preoccupied with getting his brother out of trouble yet again; Don Murray’s Bushnell Mullins delivered his message to Cole word for word; the eyes-wide-sorry-sewed-shut woman from “The Zone” played by Nae Yuuki turned out to be the “real” Diane Evans  and morphed into Laura Dern before our eyes; and Robert Knepper, Jim Belushi, Michael Horse, Dana Ashbrook, Amy Shiels and her “colleagues” — well, they pretty much just stood around and watched in disbelief, but at least there were plenty of sandwiches to be enjoyed by one and all as television history played out before their eyes. And as a large image of Cooper’s face remained superimposed in the background.

Not so fast, though —

Agent Cooper, ever the stand-up guy, informed everyone that the past shapes the future and then set about to prove it by going there — Diane seemed to have an inkling about what was to come as words about “the curtain call” were exchanged between the two of them, and then we learned that the convenience store needn’t actually exist anymore in order for Coop and Phillip Gerard (Al Strobel) to ascend the staircase above it, and that Philip Jeffries — who, according to Cole, “really doesn’t exist anymore” himself — and his numerical clues (speaking of which, every single one from earlier parts is resolved/comes into play) are guardians of a gateway of sorts, one that would take Coop to 1989, and specifically smack-dab into the middle of Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me.

William Hartnell famously said, in the truly classic early Doctor Who adventure “The Aztecs,” that “you can’t change history — not one line,” but it’s clear what Cooper is here to do : save Laura Palmer (no such consideration is given to Phoebe Augustine’s Ronette Pulaski, unfortunately). Hell, Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) even told him to do it. This sequence, it has to be said, is truly genius shit as we finally learn what Laura (Sheryl Lee) was reacting to in her scene with James Hurley (James Marshall) in the woods — and seeing all this vintage material from a decidedly different POV is amazing. The (uncredited, as far as I can tell) stand-in actress for the younger Laura in scenes where new material was required isn’t exactly convincing, but the overall gist of what Lynch and Frost are doing here, goddamn — I mean, it’s breathtaking. And for a minute there, as scenes from the original TV pilot with Joan Chen, Piper Laurie, and the late, great Jack Nance that occur prior to the discovery of Laura’s body play out, you really can be forgiven for thinking that Cooper was successful. Julee Cruise closes out part seventeen with a musical number at The Roadhouse, and it seems like we are well and truly headed home.

But, ya know — then things got wonky. As in, “even by Twin Peaks standards” wonky.

In regards to part eighteen, the only thing I got right occurs at the very outset : a “new” Dougie is “manufactured” from “the seed” and a lock of his hair, and sent “home” to Vegas to be “reunited” with Naomi Watts’ Janey-E and Pierce Gagnon’s Sonny Jim by Carel Struycken’s “Fireman” and — uhhmmm — the face of the departed Don S. Davis. Beyond that, hey, I’m not too proud to admit that I was as taken for a loop as anyone else by everything.

“Find Richard and Linda” is a call-back to part one, only it turns out, after locating the proper “coordinates” and driving through them under some seriously active power lines, followed by a night of some — interesting — sex in which Laura Dern covers Kyle MacLachlan’s face with her hands the whole time, that Coop and Diane are Richard and Linda. And that Richard/Cooper is in a different motel than the one the two of them checked into the previous evening and is driving a different car — not to mention generally acting halfway like the Coop we know, and halfway like his now-wiped-from-existence evil doppleganger. We learned earlier that the mysterious “Judy” is a force of pure evil even older and more powerful than BOB, and so a stop at Judy’s Diner in Odessa, Texas seems like the move Coop oughtta make. He gets into it with some local rednecks, but the waitress that he somehow knows he should be looking for isn’t there, so he gets her home address, goes to her dilapidated spread, and meets this Carrie Paige — only it’s Sheryl Lee. It’s Laura Palmer. Not that she knows it.

Coop informs her that he’s here to take her home, to Twin Peaks, to be reunited with her mother (Grace Zabriskie), but it all sounds pretty hare-brained to her — still, given that she’s just killed her old man and all, she’s down for the whole concept of getting the fuck outta Dodge. Their road trip is mostly uneventful apart from a short sequence where it seems someone might be tailing them (and who knows, maybe they were), but when they finally reach the Palmer household nothing’s ringing a bell with Laura at all — and somebody else altogether lives there. Somebody who’s a lot more forthcoming about answering questions from some stranger at the front door in the middle of the night than I would be. The bewildered homeowner informs Coop that she and her husband have lived there for some time, and that her name last name is Tremond. Before that, the house was owned by the Chalfonts.

Annnnnnnddd we’re firmly back into Fire Walk With Me territory, as those are names, not that Cooper knows it mind you, of people associated with The Black Lodge. Laura/Carrie hears Sarah Palmer call, almost inaudibly, “Laura” from within the house and a sudden and immediate sense of reognition seems to overcome her since she screams, a shrieking wail from the core of her being, while Coop asks himself what year it is, the presumption being that he did manage to save her, but that now they’re both stuck (damn, this always happens to poor Dale) in 1989.

Only thing is, that doesn’t add up, because in 1989 the Palmers were living in that house. And Laura wouldn’t be the grown woman she is “today.” My theory, then, to the extent that it’s formed, is that when Coop and Diane “crossed over” underneath those power lines, they truly did cross over — as in, this is another dimension and/or reality altogether. One we haven’t seen at all, perhaps because Cooper’s meddling with time is what created it in the first place. As the end credits  roll, we’re left with the image from part one of Laura whispering something into Cooper’s ear in the “Red Room” — and we still don’t know what she said.

And you know what? I’m not even going to venture a guess — because theories and, even worse, assumptions are proving to be a real son of a bitch as far as this show goes.

Which brings us to the biggest and best revelation of all, after an evening that contained several (even if they were, admittedly, completely overshadowed by mountains of new questions) — at least I’m hoping that it does. We all assumed (there’s that word again) that this Twin Peaks revival was a “one-and-done” deal. That one way or another, Lynch and Frost were ending the story. But we have precisely zero idea what’s going on with Cooper and Carrie/Laura. Ditto for whatever the deal is with Audrey Horne. “Judy” is still very much “at large.”  Sarah Palmer is still out there eating throats for dinner. And Carrie had a plastic white horse on the mantle in her Odessa shithole. Heck, let’s  throw in the previously-mentioned fact that the stand-in for a young Laura Palmer didn’t exactly “match up” all that well as another “loose end” while we’re at it, too, because there are no “accidents” in Lynch films — everything is designed to be noticed by the careful viewer, and it all means something. I know that, yes, it’s an assumption — and that I just said that I was through with those — but you wanna know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking that we’re not done with Twin Peaks. I’m thinking that we’re not done with it by a long shot.

And, crucially, I don’t think that David Lynch and Mark Frost are, either.

Pre-emptive separation anxiety — it’s a real thing.

I admit it : I’m not ready for David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks 2017/Twin Peaks : The Return/Twin Peaks season three to be over, and I’m sure the same is true for many of you (and there are a lot of “you”s if my WordPress readership statistics are to be believed — let me say thanks for that right now). This is only going to happen once, and that “once” ends just seven short days from now. Oh, sure, we’ll be discussing, debating, theorizing, even philosophizing about what it all meant for the next 25 years (at least), but the “event” (a term that really does apply in this case) itself is almost finished.

At least part sixteen gave us a chance to say some good-byes in advance, thus preparing us for the “big good-bye” next Sunday, and so : good-bye to Eamon Farren’s Richard Horne, set up for death by his own father (told you!!!!), “Evil Coop” (played with Emmy-worthy sneer n’ cringe by Kyle MacLachlan), while a fucked-up Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) watches from a safe distance through the wrong end of his binoculars. Good-bye to Laura Dern’s Diane Evans, revealed, in a truly shocking (at least to me) sequence to be a “tulpa,” and one that tried to knock off Lynch’s Gordon Cole, Chrysta Bell’s Tammy Preston, and Miguel Ferrer’s Albert Rosenfield on her way out before undergoing — uhhhhmmm — “de-manufacturing” at the hands of The One-Armed Man (Al Strobel). Good-bye to Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tim Roth, who met the fate of all who attempt to harm Dougie Jones and his family, courtesy of a psychotic next-door neighbor, played by Johnny Coyne, who’s credited only (but entirely accurately) as a “Polish Accountant.” And a very big, sloppy, wet-kiss, heartfelt good-bye to Dougie himself, who starts out this evening’s installment comatose after his light-socket-and-fork number and ends it —-

Well, hello, Special Agent Dale Cooper! Yes, the real Special Agent Dale Cooper! “100%!” “I AM the FBI!” All that good stuff. Goddamn, but this sequence was amazing to watch, as Coop emerges, Angelo Badalamenti’s original version of the show’s theme swelling in the background, borrows a snub-nose revolver from Bushnell Mullins (Don Murray), and arranges for a private plane owned by Jim Belushi and Robert Knepper’s Mitchum Brothers to take him to —- Twin Peaks.  Oh, and the Mitchums, Candie (Amy Shiels), and her fellow side-kicks? Apparently they’re all coming along for the ride. That promises to be interesting!

Unfortunately, but wisely, Janey-E (Naomi Watts) and Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon) won’t be. Dougie/Coop’s farewell to his wife is another Lynchian nod to Old Hollywood, and while I have no doubt that his promise to return to “his” family is sincere, the fact that he asked for an extra “seed” from the One-Armed Man (who, by the way, passed the “Owl Cave Ring” onto him) and gave him a lock of his hair tells me that the Coop we know won’t be coming back to Vegas, but that another manufactured doppleganger will be. Cooper seems to have memories of Dougie’s life, though, so who knows? Maybe I’m wrong and he’ll get his happily-ever-after with a wife and son that at least part of him “knows.” At this point, as always, I have far more questions than answers.

Speaking of which — so, like, what the fuck happened at the Road House tonight? Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) and ostensible “husband” Charlie (Clark Middleton) finally made it — and just in time to see emcee J.R. Starr introduce none other than Eddie Vedder himself to the stage (great song, by the way) — but as soon as the Pearl Jam frontman wraps up and the house band plays “Audrey’s Dance” (complete with her original Badalamenti theme — we’ve got a theme going here tonight), you figure something’s gotta be up. And something is up. Specifically, this :

That’s one hell of a cliffhanger, ain’t it, though? Has everything she’s been seeing, doing — or, more accurately, not doing — these past few weeks been entirely in her head? Is she institutionalized? Is the man we know as “Charlie” possibly her doctor or something?  Again, only questions, no answers. I kinda figured the Renaud family couldn’t afford to pay Eddie Vedder to play their dive bar, though. They already blew their live music budget on “the” Nine Inch Nails — assuming they were ever really there themselves — oh dear God I’m lost.

And that’s where I want to be for a good long while yet, but like it or not, we’ve got one two-hour chunk left, and that’s it. There’s a symmetry of sorts to this — the original series ended with two episodes sandwiched together as a “TV Movie Of The Week,” shoved into a scheduling “suicide slot” on a Monday night in June back when summers were strictly “rerun season,” and the new series ends with the final two parts airing back-to-back on a holiday weekend, so that seems a bit poetic — but even if the circumstances are right, the stars are aligned, and what have you, I’m still not ready to let go. If you want a few hints as to what may be in store but want to avoid actual “spoilers,” the show’s cast listing on IMDB now has final stats for how many parts everyone appears in available, and some of the folks who will be coming back are very surprising indeed — and the same is true for some of the folks who won’t be. Beyond that, I’ll say no more, because I don’t want to know any more myself. What I do know is that I’m probably not ready to be done writing about Twin Peaks after the finale airs next Sunday. What form that additional writing will take I have yet to determine, but maybe that’ll be one more answer that we finally get next week, too.

 

Once upon a time, there was a school of thought in various quarters of the largely self-appointed “intelligentsia” that posited that David Lynch was something of a fraud. It was never more than a minority opinion, of course — certainly nowhere near as large as the chorus of voices that said much the same about Lichtenstein, Warhol, John Cage, or even James Joyce — and it’s one that pretty much disappeared in the wake of the near-universal praise heaped upon The Straight Story and Mulholland Drive, but it was something that dogged his tail for a good couple of decades prior to reaching his currently-enjoyed plateau of (more or less) unanimous acclaim.  The argument, such as it was, essentially boiled down to this : the guy simply slaps a bunch of weird imagery up on the screen and none of it actually means anything, but it’s done in a clever enough way to make the gullible believe that there’s some elusive “hidden meaning” behind it all that’s forever just beyond their grasp.

I never bought into it, but I did notice a fair number of fraudulent Lynch fans glomming onto his work when he first became a “hot property” in the late ’80s/early ’90s, and they bailed on him quickly — and completely — the minute it became fashionable to move (hell, run) in the opposite direction. Think about it : Wild At Heart won the Palme D’Or at Cannes in 1990, and a mere two years later Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me was roundly booed at its premiere there. But which film is more talked about — and lauded — now? And why the sudden change “back in the day”?

Well, the soft underbelly of Lynch pseudo-fandom began bailing on the director fairly early during season two of Twin Peaks, pissed off that the Laura Palmer murder mystery supposedly dragged on for too long — but when it finally was solved (at the network’s insistence), that seemed to piss this suddenly hyper-critical rump of viewers off even more, and when the show had the temerity to shift gears in another direction afterwards with the unfairly-maligned Windom Earle storyline, that seemed to be the final nail in the coffin. It was the very definition of a “can’t-win” situation for both Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost, and as ratings tanked, ABC’s schedulers began to fuck with the program mercilessly, first relegating it to a Saturday night “death slot” and then airing it irregularly at various times when they simply had nothing else to plug into their lineup. In the end, the final two episodes were broadcast as a two-hour “movie of the week” on a Monday night in June (back when the summer months were a veritable graveyard for network television programming) nearly two months after the show had last been seen or heard from. At that point, it’s safe to assume that a fair number of people had already assumed that Twin Peaks was over with and weren’t looking for it in the pages of TV Guide (remember those?) anymore. And so a series that had arrived with one of the loudest “bangs” in history exited the stage some 18 months later with a whimper so quiet that almost no one even heard it.

For the Twin Peaks 2017 revival — or, if you prefer, Twin Peaks : The Return — Lynch and Frost have wisely decided to run the pretenders off as quickly as possible. Trust me when I say that if the first two parts  weren’t enough to send the hopeless nostalgia-hounds and pathetic bandwagon-jumpers packing, the opening twenty-ish minutes of part three will almost certainly finish the job, because the surreal odyssey that marks the return of Special Agent Dale Cooper to the “real” world is absolutely unlike anything else that’s ever appeared on a TV screen, to the extent that it makes even the hallucinatory final episode of the series’ first go-round look like child’s play.

Coop in space? Believe it. The brief return of Major Garland Briggs (the deceased Don S. Davis) cryptically stating “Blue Rose” before disappearing back into the ether? Believe it. The most visually arresting — and confounding — thing Lynch has done since Eraserhead? Believe that, too.

And yet for all the wonderfully rich “high weirdness” on display, things are actually playing out in a fairly straightforward manner : we finally see how inhabitants of the Black Lodge travel by means of electrical currents (something previously hinted at in Fire Walk With Me), we get a fairly quick explanation of the “253 — time after time” bit of cryptic numerology laid on us last week, and when a third iteration of Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan’s sporting a paunch and hairpiece this time) named “Dougie Jones” is thrown into the mix, his origins (and purpose) are deciphered in short order by one-armed man Phillip Gerard (Al Strobel).

Okay, yeah, I absolutely can’t explain Dougie’s rapid-fire demise — or what the hell is up with the woman with sewed-shut eyelids who sacrifices herself to grease the wheels of Cooper’s return trip home — or the sudden appearance of a second woman who takes her place — or the big number “15” on the even bigger electrical outlet that Dale travels through — or why it’s taped over with a “3” when next we see it — but hey, we’ll get to all that in due course, I’m sure.

The extended sequence that takes place in the “world between worlds” that Cooper finds himself waylaid at/in is absolutely gorgeous — complete with purple-tinged skies, flickering stop-motion movement, and a more successful appropriation of A Trip To The Moon-style imagery than largely talentless future conspiracy theory nutcase Billy Corgan (you wanna talk about artistic frauds —) could have possibly dreamed up back when he was ripping off that same aesthetic for his wretched “masterwork” Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness — but it’s much more than a mere example of Lynch flexing his admittedly powerful visual muscle : nope, everything we see and experience here plays right into the next step of the “real world” storyline that’s slowly and inexorably taking center stage in the proceedings. Following his re-emergence, Cooper assumes Dougie’s life more by default than choice — complete with Naomi Watts for a wife and a young son named “Sonny Jim” — but not before winning one slots jackpot after another thanks to some timely Black Lodge/Red Room intervention, cruising around Vegas in a hooker’s Jeep, narrowly avoiding an assassination attempt, and not avoiding a run-in with an annoyingly gregarious Ethan Suplee. Oh, and did I mention that he’s basically catatonic the whole time?

I’m sure it sounds hopelessly cliched to say “it’ll make more sense once you’ve seen it,” but nevertheless, it’s absolutely true. Maybe not a ton more, mind you, but enough — and besides, Twin Peaks fans are well accustomed to the notion of having unanswered questions rattling around in our brains, sometimes for decades.

For all that, though, it appears as if many of our long-standing queries really are on the cusp of finally being answered, particularly the ones left over from Fire Walk With Me. Besides “Blue Rose” and electrical-grid physical transference, part three of The Return also re-introduces us to the green Owl Cave ring and the creamed corn motif (mixed with poison and expelled in the most violent and disgusting way possible by both Dougie and the “Doppleganger Dale” we met in parts one and two), so who knows? Maybe we really are getting closer to figuring out — I dunno, something.

The tail end of part three, and the bulk of part four, showcase the genius sense of timing that Lynch and Frost employed so effectively early on in Twin Peaks‘ initial run — having taken us pretty far “out there,” we’re now reeled back in to that which we knew before, albeit with a completely different, and expanded, perspective. The FBI offices are our first stop, where Cooper’s old boss, Gordon Cole (played, as ever, by Lynch himself) and frequent sidekick, Albert Rosenfeld (the late Miguel Ferrer) appear not to have changed a whit over the last two-and-a-half decades, although they are now joined by lovely “third wheel” agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) as they head for South Dakota to interview newly-incarcerated Cooper/BOB, an assignment personally signed off on by the Bureau’s new chief of staff — Denise Bryson (David Duchovny)!

So, yeah, it’s “Old Home Week” at the J. Edgar Hoover office building, but don’t worry, some new faces turn up, as well — most notably none other than Richard Chamberlain in the role of Denise’s second-in-command — and the same is true once we find ourselves back in Twin Peaks proper, where we finally meet Sheriff Frank Truman (played with typically stunning “deadpan panache” by the inimitable Robert Forster), learn that Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) is now employed as a deputy tasked with tracking down the very same drug dealers that he used to be/run with, and Michael Cera even turns up in a beyond-memorable cameo as Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) and Andy (Harry Goaz)’s son, Wally, talking and dressing like Brando and living like Kerouac. In short, if you felt like the “old-school” quirky charm of this series was missing in parts one and two (apart from Michael Horse’s Deputy Hawk, of course), rest easy — it’s present and accounted for now, and sliding back into it feels as warm and comfortable as a favorite pair of slippers.

Perhaps what’s most exciting — and intriguing — about Twin Peaks 2017, though, is that Lynch and Frost are using the familiar and “safe” as a counter-balance to, and enhancement of, the new, the unfamiliar, and the potentially dangerous. For every character who seems to be more or less exactly as we remembered them, there’s an Agent Cooper or a Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) who are clearly anything but. For every fan favorite locale (like the Sheriff’s station or the Bang Bang Bar — speaking of which, is everyone loving the “live band” musical sequences at the end of each segment as much as I am?), there’s a mysterious and foreboding far-off setting, including outer fucking space. The tried and true, then, may indeed be the soul of this new series, but it’s most assuredly not its backbone, and I don’t know about you, but I’d say that’s a refreshingly gutsy move.

At this point it’s more than fair to say that, much like our intrepid “showrunners,” I’m far more concerned about looking forward than I am backward, as well. Part five of Twin Peaks : The Return can’t come soon enough, and while events seem to be leading us back home, I think we’re about to discover that it’s a place we never knew as well as we thought we did.

How, exactly, does one begin to process all this?

The only way one can, I suppose — one scene, one instance, one moment at a time.

After all, it’s been 25 years and,  despite Laura Palmer’s promise, until it was first cryptically hinted at via twitter, then officially announced what already feels like countless months ago, I think it’s fairly safe to say that none of us thought this would happen. And yet, happening it is — “again,” as its promotional materials point out. David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks has, indeed, returned to television. And it’s been a “pinch yourself to make sure it’s real” night all the way.

Damn, but they did a good job of keeping all the details under wraps, didn’t they? In a world where the president of the United States feels compelled to spill classified info to the Russians in order to prove his dick still works (and that Mr. Putin’s money was well spent), it may be hard to believe that anyone can keep a secret anymore, but up until that red carpet (or should that be Red Room?) Hollywood screening the other night, nobody beyond the principals involved had any idea what was in store for us. No leaked scripts or rough-cuts or dailies. No wayward comments during interviews that hinted at just a little too much. Nothing. We went into this one as blind as we all did — scratch that, as those of us who were around did — when the original Twin Peaks first aired on ABC way back in 1990.

The fair question to ask, then, after all this time — is this even the same show?

Well, yes and no. In much the same way that the maligned-at-the-time-but-celebrated-now “prequel” film, Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me marked a distinct tonal change from its small-screen progenitor, Twin Peaks circa 2017 both looks and feels entirely different than each of its forebears, and that’s as it should be : technology has moved on (this one’s shot in HD by the great Peter Deming), actors have aged, the budget’s bigger (Lynch having temporarily abandoned the project — God, remember that? — when it wasn’t), and being on Showtime means you can show tits, ass, blood, and viscera — all of which are reasonably well-represented in the two “part” (don’t call ’em episodes!) premiere “event” that just finished airing.

And yet those are all superficial changes. What strikes me as the greatest departure of all is the overall shift toward a slower, more measured, and decidedly more somber brand of storytelling than us old-time fans may be  accustomed to. The pacing of these first two parts is more akin to Lynch’s still-criminally-underappreciated Lost Highway than it is to “old-school” Twin Peaks, each rather lengthy scene dripping with both import and inherent tension in a way that simply can’t be faked. As we progress from Red Room/Black Lodge to the town of Twin Peaks “proper” to New York City to Buckhorn, South Dakota — and back, in turn, to each again, at least once — the daily minutiae of the various fictitious “lives” on display is given more-than-ample breathing space, and seemingly “unimportant” events, such as setting up an array of video cameras or waiting for someone to come to the door, play out very nearly in real time. This is, I admit, something that takes some getting used to — particularly as far as the scenes with the dude in New York who’s hired to observe a seemingly empty glass box go — but it ensures that when things do happen, they pack an enormous wallop. I’d tell you to ask that kid in the Big Apple I just mentioned, but alas, he’s in no shape to answer questions right now.

Death is, in fact, a constant specter hanging over the proceedings here — the inimitable Catherine E. Coulson, better known as “The Log Lady,” gives a heart-wrenching performance shot shortly before her demise that bravely incorporates aspects of her own illness; David Bowie’s Phillip Jeffries and Don S. Davis’ Major Garland Briggs both play significant roles by way of mere mention in the same scene; the late Miguel Ferrer will be along before too long — and, of course, there’s Laura Palmer. There’s always Laura Palmer. Is she alive? Is she dead? Is she both and neither at the same time? Actress Sherly Lee is shown as having aged naturally, and when she finally plants a kiss on Agent Cooper’s lips it consummates what for many of us was the real, if entirely unspoken, love story at the heart of Twin Peaks as we knew it — but then she undergoes a transformation that further reinforces the idea that this isn’t, nor will it be, the Twin Peaks we thought we knew at all.

Except, of course, when it is. Paradoxically, the “unreal” world of the Red Room is where we find the most familiar faces — The Giant (Carel Struycken) kicks off the nostalgia parade followed in short order by Laura, Philip Gerard, the one-armed man (Al Strobel) — hell, even Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) turns up eventually. Change, evolution, and metamorphosis seems to be the through-line connecting all that goes on/has gone on beyond the scarlet-colored veil — exemplified most noticeably by “The Arm” (which sure ain’t an arm anymore) — so be forewarned :  if you thought that time stood still for anybody trapped in this parallel (un?)reality, think again.

And that seems doubly true for Kyle MacLachlan’s Special Agent Dale Cooper, who’s apparently spent the better part of the past quarter-century sitting in the same chair. Or at least one of him has — his “BOB”-possessed doppleganger, last seen bleeding from the forehead and saying “How’s Annie?” over and over again front of a broken mirror, is busy raising all kinds of hell on our side of the dimensional divide, and his story provides the nearest thing to a straightforward and completely accessible plotline so far. That doesn’t mean we know where things are headed for him yet — not by any stretch — but his motivations are clearly spelled out in a way that little else here is, and MacLachlan just plain acts his ass off in this starkly uncharacteristic role. He even goes toe-to-toe with the great Jennifer Jason Leigh (his head and hands, mind you, being at entirely different level vis-a-vis her form) and dominates the screen to the point where you do a hey “hey, wait, isn’t that—?”-style double-take after she first makes her appearance. Put simply, he’s real good at being real bad.

My theory — and keep in mind, it’s only a theory — is that the emergence of “BOB” into our world via Doppleganger Dale is going to prove to have been the catalyst for a sort of “overall darkening” that’s taken place. Ya see,  2017 Twin Peaks, at least to date, seems to exhibit almost none of the charming quirkiness that endeared so many to the show last time around, the noble-but-brief efforts of Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson), Deputy Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz), and Horne brothers (blink and you’ll miss Ashley Judd as their new secretary) Ben (Richard Beymer) and Jerry (David Patrcik Kelly) notwithstanding — and in its place we have a town where the mill stands in ruin, Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) orders heavy equipment for a paranoia-fueled secret project deep in the woods, neither of the Sheriffs Truman (could a surprise appearance from Michael Ontkean at some point down the road be this series’ best-kept secret of all?) bother to show up for work, and Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) has graduated from “Invitation To Love” to graphic, “law of the jungle” nature documentaries. The ever-noble Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) seems, as ever, to be the only one who just might have at least an intuitive understanding of what’s going on, but to this viewer, at least, it seems pretty clear that somewhere along the way, something went seriously wrong.

And yet, just when all seems ireevocably lost, we’re treated to a final scene at the “Bang Bang Bar” roadhouse, where Jacques Renault (Walter Olkewicz) still tends bar, Shelly Johnson (Madchen Amick) still drinks and gossips with her girlfriends, James Hurley (James Marshall) still stops in for a beer, and the nearest thing to a young version of Julee Cruise sings on stage. It’s all wrapped in a wistful, nostalgic glow that Lynch delivers with something akin to what I can only, and no doubt inadequately, describe as beauty tinged with sadness, and for those who were feeling out of their depth and/or comfort zones in the first hour-and-forty-five, it’ll most likely reel ’em back in — snap! — just like that.

As a study in contrasts, then — both with its previous version and, most interesintgly, with itself — the first two parts of Twin Peaks 2017 border on the downright breathtaking. Whether we’re looking at a grisly (to put it mildly) quasi-ritualistic murder scene in South Dakota, watching the black-and-white flooring of the Red Room shift, rise, and fall, seeing “Bad Dale” drive a muscle car in the middle of the night, or even just staring into that (usually) empty glass box again, it’s impossible to turn away. Joe Bob Briggs once said that  the cardinal rule for what makes a great drive-in movie is knowing that “anyone can die at any time” — Lynch and Frost one-up that here, though, by giving us a show where anything can happen at any time.

It’s happening again, indeed — and for the very first time.