Posts Tagged ‘Carel Struycken’

Yeah, it’s a holiday, but you’d never know it if you follow any number of Twin Peaks-related fan sites, or even any “entertainment” sites in general. The long-dormant wheels within any number of Lynch-nerd minds are spinning and churning, ganglionic gears grinding in a way not seen since Mulholland Drive first hit theaters. We want to know what we just watched, and since David Lynch isn’t exactly telling us, we’re doing the work for ourselves. In other words, the fun is just beginning.

So — that finale. Yup, it was a doozy. And many a wiser and more astute critic than I appears to have met their match when it comes to trying to decode what Lynch and Mark Frost were “getting at” not just with it, but with the entirety of Twin Peaks 2017/Twin Peaks : The Return/Twin Peaks season three. Hell, they’re even second-guessing what Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me was “really” all about. It’s too early to say that anything like a “consensus” reading of any/all of it has developed, but to the extent that a “popular” theory seems to be forming, it goes something like this —

Part eighteen? It’s a dream. Or, perhaps, everything from the point in part seventeen where Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) says “we live inside a dream” onwards is a dream. The “saga” of Twin Peaks is wrapped up, Julee Cruise sang us out, and then we got a perplexing epilogue.

It’s a nice theory. I can definitely understand its appeal. On some level, I may even wish it were “true.” But I think it’s exactly wrong. So let me tell you what I think makes a hell of a lot more sense —

It all comes back to the words spoken by The Fireman (Carel Struycken) in part one : “Find Richard and Linda.” Part eighteen showed us that Richard was Coop/Kyle MacLachlan and that Linda was Diane/Laura Dern. Find yourself is what our giant friend was telling Cooper. Which means —

“We live inside a dream” is indeed a significant line. And so is the fact that Cooper’s omniscient, observing face is superimposed in the background of the entire climactic scene in the office of Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster). He’s watching this whole thing unfold from inside the Black Lodge. He’s seeing his dream play out and starting to wake up from it. He’s coming back to himself. And that means — well, that means something that a lot of people aren’t going to like, and may even be resistant to.

It means that that everything we’ve seen between The Fireman’s instructions to Coop in part one and the “wake-up call” that begins in part seventeen and concludes with our guy Dale and his gal Diane “crossing over” in part eighteen was a dream. So, pretty much the whole show. When Cooper re-emerges into Glastonbury Grove and he and Diane both assure each other that they really are who they are, it’s a further realization that this re-emergence is occurring, and when he says they’ll be different after they “cross over,” that’s the big clue, at least to my mind, right there.

Think about it : they both act very differently after “crossing over,” don’t they? When Diane observes a second version of herself in the motel parking lot, that’s the “Diane” part exiting the scene and “Linda” fully taking over. It hits Coop/Richard later, when he reads the “Dear John” letter in the morning, but the bizarre coldness of their sex scene (where Diane spends most of her time trying to cover his face) in contrast to their enthusiastic make-out session in part seventeen is another good, solid hint that these folks are different people altogether. And now they’re in a different world, to boot.

The motel’s different. The car’s different. The badge Coop brandishes isn’t a typical FBI photo-identification, it’s some cheap rent-a-cop-looking thing. And then, of course, Sheryl Lee turns out not to be Laura Palmer but Carrie Paige. This is a new reality. And it’s not that great a place, form what I can tell.

Traces of the old remain, though. The white horse. Carrie/Laura’s recognition of her mother’s voice. Something’s happened, reality has been over-written, but the process is not entirely complete. We know who’s doing it — Chalfont, Tremond, Judy’s Diner, come on, it’s the Black Lodge that’s in the driver’s seat here — but this is all the waking world. A waking world where Dale Cooper saved Laura Palmer but lost to the Lodge. Where his fucking with the time-line may in fact have given them the foothold they needed to “take over,” since even if his rescuing of her took place at the tail end of his dream, their power to enter conscious reality via the dream-state is already well-established. Where his good intentions really did pave a road to hell.

Come on, admit it — this all makes sense. Lynch did an approximation (albeit a more obvious — a term I use loosely, I assure you —one) of the same thing with Mulholland Drive. All of which probably means that my earlier contention that Twin Peaks isn’t over would be wrong. It would also mean that those who view part seventeen as being the “real” ending and part eighteen as the “dream” have the running order exactly reversed.  And lastly, it means that if you view things in the manner I’ve just “prescribed,” you can  be somewhat (God, I hesitate to use this term,but) satisfied that this has all been seen through to a kind of “completion,” and that this entire season/revival was even more absolutely effing brilliant than it appeared to be.

I’m going to close with a very important caveat, though : I said that this reading “all makes sense.” And for my money, it does. But I didn’t say that it was necessarily right.

 

 

 

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.

Anybody else still reeling? ‘Cuz, I mean, part fourteen of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks 2017/Twin Peaks : The Return/Twin Peaks season three was one “holy shit!” moment after another —

In fact, about the only thing that wasn’t surprising to find out tonight that Lynch’s Gordon Cole has Monica Bellucci dreams — but they’re considerably “cleaner” than yours or mine would most likely be, and Ms. Bellucci even offers cryptic hints as to the very nature of dreaming itself within them. Let us, then, turn our attention away from this and toward our catalogue of shocking instances —

Holy shit! It’s one of my favorite scenes from Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me — the one with David Bowie’s Phillip Jeffries — and this time it comes complete with something vaguely approximating explanations! Great to see Bowie again, and he needn’t worry about appearing only in flashback — that’s all Kyle MacLachlan gets this week, too.

Holy shit! Diane (a role that Laura Dern is now just straight-up inhabiting) just told Cole, Albert Rosenfeld (Miguel Ferrer) and Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) that Janey-E is her sister! I didn’t see this  coming at all — in fact, I’m not even sure I buy it, to be honest. We all know she’s in cahoots with “Evil Coop” — could she just be trying to steer all of them to Las Vegas in order to meet, one would assume, their potential doom? Gotta think more about this one. Let’s check in on things in the town of Twin Peaks proper —

Holy shit! John Pirruccello’s Deputy Chad is busted! Have fun going from working in a jail to living in it, asshole! A really nice moment showing Cole and Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) speaking on the phone for the first time in 25 years is followed by the long-anticipated trek to “Jack Rabbit’s Palace” by Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) and Deputies Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz), Hawk (Michael Horse), and Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook). The pleasant reminiscences Bobby is experiencing don’t last long, though, because —

Holy shit! It’s Nae Yuuki, the woman from “The Zone” in part three with her eyes sewed shut — here? On our world? And holy shit! It’s another vortex! And holy shit! Andy’s been taken into it! And holy shit! He meets Carel Strucyken, whose “real” name isn’t “The Giant,” but “The Fireman’! And holy shit he shows Andy the two Coopers! And the Woodsmen! And the being from the atomic explosion that created Bob! And — hey, wait a minute : does Andy actually know more than we do now? That would be a first.

They bring the prone, strange-sound-emitting woman to jail in order to keep her safe — Andy informs us that “she’s very important and people are trying to kill her” — and there she gets to make the acquaintance of both Deputy Chad and a gruesomely injured local drunk (Jay Aaseng) who has the annoying habit of repeating everything he hears while blood drips from his mouth. I wouldn’t blame her for wanting to high-tail it off this sorry plane of existence already.

Holy shit! James Hurley (James Marshall) works as a “rent-a-cop” minimum wage security guard! Come to think of it, this one’s not too surprising either — but the story that his youthful co-worker, Freddy (Jake Wardle) tells him certainly is. One day poor Freddy got sucked up into a vortex and met a guy called “The Fireman,” who told him to go buy a single rubber glove at a particular hardware store near his then-home in London. The glove would give him super-strength in the hand he wore it on. Then he was to fly to a town in Washington state called Twin Peaks, and there he would meet his destiny. So, hey, now he’s just waiting for that to happen, I guess — and odds are that something big’s gonna go down, because when Freddy got to Heathrow to buy his plane ticket, he found that one was already waiting for him. James finds his friend’s tale both incredible and believable in equal measure, but now it’s time to have a look at the furnace — and something awe-inspiringly creepy is just around the corner with this whole routine maintenance check, believe you me.

Next up it’s back to Grace Zabriskie’s Sarah Palmer, who’s varying up her routine by drinking at a dive bar rather than at home. A redneck MAGA dickhead approaches her and when she declines his company, he immediately lays into some trip about her being a “cunt” and a “bull dyke” and a — well, you know the routine. She tried to warn him off. She really did. But then it’s holy shit Sarah Palmer holy shit Sarah Palmer holy shit Sarah Palmer holy shit Sarah Palmer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“False faces” apparently run in the Palmer family — remember, Laura pulled a similar “trick” earlier this season — and one torn-out throat later, Alex Jones and Mike Cernovich have one less YouTube subscriber.  Of all the “holy shit!” moments in part fourteen, this one was, for my money, the — errrrrmmmm — “holy shittiest!” of the bunch. Like I said, still reeling.

Before things end, though, we get one more conversation at the Road House referencing this missing “Billy” character (the one Audrey Horne seems so fixated on, as well), and then J.R. Starr gets a “holy shit!” moment all for himself when he introduces Lissie to the stage and makes is abundantly clear that he’s a big fan.

Holy shit this was some good stuff.

 

 

 

Oh, fuck me — I wouldn’t want to be the first person to “go live” with their review of part eight of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks 2017/Twin Peaks : The Return/Twin Peaks season three. I couldn’t handle the responsibility.

Here’s what we know for sure — about eight hours ago as I write this, Peter Deming, who oughtta know because he shot the thing, tweeted this :

Fans promptly went into frenzied speculative overdrive, because that’s what fans do : was this the night the “real” Agent Cooper would return? Would Michael Ontkean be putting in his long-rumored cameo? Would we finally learn what “Blue Rose” meant for certain? Was somebody gonna — gasp! — die?

What it’s safe to say no one expected was an epi — sorry, a part — so visually, thematically, indeed constitutionally flabbergasting and surreal that it makes part three look like child’s play in hindsight. Like most, if not all, of you reading this, I just got done watching the most flat-out amazing hour of television I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’m not really quite sure how the hell to describe it. Still, if you wanna make a go of it as a critic — even if only of the armchair/internet variety — you’d better not be the type of person who’s at a loss for words too often, so let’s just dive in and see where it goes.

Everything starts innocently enough (at least by Twin Peaks standards) with special agent Dale Cooper’s evil doppleganger (Kyle MacLachlan’s only got the one role tonight) making his prison “break” in a car driven by his sleazebag accomplice, Ray Monroe (George Griffith). Nobody films desolate open roads like Lynch, and this opening scene has a very Lost Highway feel to it, until Evil Coop decides he’s going to get one up on Ray only to find that Ray has double-crossed him first (it’s a bit of a long story) and has him dead(?) to rights. Shots ring out in the night and then the Black Lodge comes to claim its own when a legion of those apparition-type creatures we’ve been seeing hanging out in the Buckhorn, South Dakota police station set upon BOB/Coop’s prone form and proceed to rip it to shreds — or to at least extract a whole shit-ton of blood out of it. Ray watches in stunned disbelief for a matter of minutes before finally high-tailing it out of there, which proves to be a smart move because not-Coop gets up again and doesn’t seem real happy.

Cut to the Roadhouse and our musical guests for the evening, Trent Reznor and “the” Nine Inch Nails, as introduced, if I’m not mistaken (although I could be) by Jimmy Scott, the same guy who sang “Under The Sycamore Trees” in the final episode of Twin Peaks‘ first go-round. This is fun, a good chance to catch a breath, so do that — trust me when I say you’ll need it.

Cut to — I’m not kidding — the New Mexico desert in 1945, site of the first H-Bomb test. And be prepared to go inside — deep inside. Some years back I read the notorious essay “Meditations On The Atom And Time” by Dennis Stillings in the pages of Adam Parfrey’s equally-notorious Apocalypse Culture anthology,  and while Mr. Stillings made a number of astute and otherwise-unspoken observations about the dawning of the so-called “Atomic Age,” among the most profound was his stated belief that “The Bomb” represented the destructive and awesome (in the truest sense of the word) hand of God come down to usher in a conceptual shift too profound for most of our tiny minds to comprehend. David Lynch, though, no more has a tiny mind that Donald Trump has tiny hands (at least if you ask him), and not only do I think he read Stillings’ text, I think he absorbed and understood all of its staggering contents. Which puts him at least three or four steps ahead of me.

The first nuclear explosion as channeled through Lynch’s subconscious and camera is a terrifyingly revelatory experience, far more than “quasi-” religious in nature. It is the God of the Old Testament, whose secret name of Tetragrammaton is spelled out in the Kabbalah.  It is the alpha and the omega, the Trinity (site), the hand and voice of the fire (walk with me), the burning universal absolute that has been the animus of all great artists who are/were “dialed in” to forces beyond perhaps even their own admittedly vast comprehension from William Blake to Austin Osman Spare to Jack Kirby to Lynch himself. It is the Great God Pan. It is the terrible three-headed Jah-Bul-On. It is also BOB’s daddy.

Or, at least, that’s (part of) what I got from it. We’re up to 1956 now, after a long interlude featuring The Giant (Carel Struycken), a female companion, and an abandoned theater in a “house on the hill” unlike any you’ve ever seen, and the face of Frank Silva keeps popping up in the most unusual places. As does the face of Sheryl Lee. Was Laura Palmer’s death inscribed into the book of fate that night another book — that of Revelation — came true? The visual clues seem to suggest that, but if I watch this 60 more times (and I just might!) I’ll probably have 60 more opinions on the matter. What I do know is that the world of ’56, like that of ’45, is a black-and-white one. And the vagrant apparitions we keep seeing in the here and now are all over the desert, after having first strode out of a ramshackle convenience store back when “The Bomb” birthed them. One has even learned to speak. And smoke. “Gotta light?”

He likes that question a lot — so much so, in fact, that’s is all he says, until he gets to a radio station, brutally (and graphically) kills the secretary and the DJ working there, and plants himself behind the microphone, at which point his vocabulary becomes distinctly less limited. “This is the water, this is the well —” he begins, before launching into a brief soliloquy that becomes a repeated mantra of the sort that would make David Tibet proud, a poetic paean of verbalized psychopathology, a meme back when memetic theory still fucking meant something. And something dangerous at that.

Everyone who’s tuned into the station (we see a mechanic and a diner waitress, presumably there are others) drops dead — everyone except a teenage girl, one of a pair of young lovers we meet briefly as they walk home. That’s because out in the B&W desert of ’56 an egg that came through from ’45 hatched. And out of it came a distinctly advanced, evolved, and grotesquely large bug, one whose movements are almost — dare I say it — human. And when out erstwhile New Mexican Juliet falls asleep, it crawls into her mouth. And yes, it’s every bit as disgusting as it sounds, maybe even moreso.

And that’s where it ends. We’ve got two weeks to process this one, since there’s no new episo — goddamn it, when am I gonna get that right, part — next week owing to the extended-for-some holiday weekend. But it’s going to take longer than that to wrap my head around this thing. Probably, like, forever long. On the surface, one could easily posit an argument that the main storyline wasn’t advanced all that much here in part eight, but if you’re into surface-level readings you’re probably not watching Twin Peaks in the first place. What Lynch and Frost have wrought with this particular segment is a thing both lush and terrible, beautiful and horrifying, mind-beding and stomach-churning, a gaze into the abyss and the abyss gazing back. It’s far and away the most important installment of the series to date —  shit, I’m prepared to say the most important thing to ever air on American television screens — but please don’t ask me why yet. I’m still too busy trembling. We were, all of us, touched by the hand of God tonight — and it fucking burns. Fire, walk with me.

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.