Posts Tagged ‘James Marshall’

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.

There’s so much we could talk about when it comes to part fifteen of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks 2017/Twin Peaks : The Return/Twin Peaks season three —

We could, for instance, talk about what I call “The Ballad Of Norma And Big Ed.” Nadine (played with an extra spring in her step by the great Wendy Robie) has finally given her long-suffering husband (Everett McGill) his freedom, and he heads right for the Double R and the woman he loves, the woman he’s always loved (Peggy Lipton) — only to have his heart broken one last time when cheeseball Walter (Grant Goodeve) puts in an appearance. Norma sends the slick operator and his franchise operation packing, though, and two minutes later she’s agreed to be Mrs. Big Ed Hurley. I’d like to talk about this. I’d like to talk about it a lot, in fact.

We could also talk about the trip “Evil Coop” (Kyle MacLachlan) makes to the world/realm/dimension above the convenience store, and about how he finally meets Phillip Jeffries (not David Bowie, obviously, but a disembodied voice who apparently has taken up residence inside one of those vaguely bell-shaped devices that we’ve seen so much of inside what we’ll call “The Zone”), and about how Phillip can blow numbers in smoke. We could talk about what those numbers mean — or might mean — and speculate on who or what this “Judy” he’s always going on about is.

We could talk about “Evil Coop” clocking Richard Horne (Eamon Farren), who I still maintain is his son, before they hit the road together bound, I’m assuming, for Las Vegas, where Duncan Todd (Patrick Fischler) has just met his end at the hands of Jennifer Jason Leigh — who likes ketchup with her fries, apparently. Lots of it. And we could talk about how the way Tim Roth dotes on her is actually rather adorable.

We could talk about the harrowing extended finale that perpetual loser Steven (Caleb Landry Jones) finds/comes to, meth skank in tow, out in the woods is actually one of the more disturbing scenes in the entire series, and about how Lynch’s goddamn fucking genius sound design literally makes the entire thing work and elevates the demise of a “throwaway” character into one of the most gut-wrenching things that’s ever been shown on television. Yup, we could talk a whole lot about that.

Once we ran through all that, we could talk about how overhearing the name “Gordon Cole” in a movie has seemingly brought a glimmer of awareness to Dougie Jones (MacLachlan), and how the crackling of electricity from an outlet threatens to bring about more. We could talk about his (literal) “tuning fork” and what the holy hell is happening to him as the lights flicker and his wife, Janey-E (Naomi Watts) understandably freaks out. We could talk for hours, in fact, about what this all means going forward.

We could theorize, as well, on just what’s going on between Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) and her husband, Charlie (Clark Middleton). Are they stuck in some sort of decaying time loop, endlessly repeating the same thing over and over again, while never really going anywhere — or doing anything — at all? Or is it just the most screwed up co-dependent-bordering-on-mutually-abusive relationship of all time? We could also talk about whether or not she’s really going to kill him.

Once we’d exhausted all these big subjects, we could move on to the smaller things, like James Hurley (James Marshall) getting into a fist- fight that gives his buddy, Freddie (Jake Wardle) a chance to show off his super-powered gloved hand, or the young girl freaking out hard on the floor of The Roadhouse while The Veils play, or the fact that the coolest emcee in the world, J.R. Starr, is a big ZZ Top fan. We could also talk about how great it is to see Harry Dean Stanton one more time, even if it’s in the far distance, and about how he’s proving to be, in many ways, the ultimate “glue guy” in this series. These things are all worth talking about, as well — and I guess, for a moment at any rate, we’ve done precisely that.

But more than any of the above — hell, more than all of it combined — I want to talk about Margaret Lanterman, better known as “The Log Lady,” and the extraordinary artist who brought her to life and made her an icon — the late, great Catherine E. Coulson. She died before this show made it onto our screens, and I have no doubt that all of her various phone calls to Deputy Hark (Michael Horse) were filmed in one afternoon, so fragile was her health, but if you thought you’d seen bravery from her in earlier parts (and we certainly have), tonight proved that she’d saved her most powerful performance — heck, one of the most powerful performances anyone has ever given — for her last. She talks about dying, and about how it’s not an end, but a change. She talks about her fear. She talks about the unknown. She talks about what may lie ahead. She talks about everything that matters — everything that could ever matter — and says so much with so few lines. Above all, though, what she does — in a more public way than any thany any actor has before — is say goodbye. And it’s not even acting at this point. This is Coulson, speaking from her heart, about what she’s going through. Her log is turning to gold, and so are her words. But me? Shit, I don’t mind admitting that I was turning to jelly as I watched this.

Not everyone knows that Coulson was one of Lynch’s oldest and closest friends. The two went all the way back to his Philadelphia days, and she was even his assistant director on Eraserhead. He credits her with sparking his interest in TM, which has become, in a very real sense, the center of his life and his being. And she created the character of the Log Lady more or less from whole cloth, with only minimal suggestion from her decades-long friend and artistic collaborator. Lynch dedicated part one of this series to Coulson’s memory, and tonight, after Hawk said one last, stiff-upper-lipped “goodbye” to her on the phone, and the lights went out in her cabin for the final time, and Michael Horse, Kimmy Robertson, Harry Goaz, Robert Forster, and Dana Ashbrook bowed their heads in a silent display of respect, he dedicated this part to Margaret Lanterman. I realize that I’m referencing the wrong show altogether here, but goddamnit — so say we all.

 

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.

 

 

 

Quick question : who is the most tragic figure in David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks 2017/Twin Peaks : The Return/Twin Peaks season three?

Is it Kyle MacLachlan’s Special Agent Dale Cooper, bifurcated into two distinct beings? I’m thinking no — in part thirteen, “Evil Coop” finally dispenses with the troublesome Ray (played — for presumably the last time — by George Griffiths) once and for all, after winning an arm-wrestling match, placing the infamous “Owl Cave Ring” on Ray’s finger, pumping him for the co-ordinates he’s been needing (along with some info on the ever-enigmatic Phillip Jeffries), and, unbeknownst to him, forging an unspoken bond with the psychotic Richard Horne (Eamon Farren), who I still maintain is his son. And while all that’s going on, back in Vegas, the brothers Mitchum (Jim Belushi and Robert Knepper) are happier than hell with Cooper’s Dougie Jones persona, coming into his insurance agency’s office in an honest-to-God conga line along with their showgirl sidekicks (once again Amy Shiels’ Candie being the only one who actually speaks) and bestowing expensive liquor, cufflinks, and even new cars on both Dougie himself as well as his boss, Bushnell Mullins (Don Murray) as ostentatious tokens of appreciation for an enormous insurance claim being decided in their favor. Heck, Sonny-Jim (Pierce Gagnon) even gets the swing set of every kid’s dreams and Janey-E (Naomi Watts) — well, shit, she’s just happier than ever, and why shouldn’t she be?

Of course, this isn’t good news for everybody — and by “everybody” I mean Tom Sizemore’s Anthony Sinclair and Patrick Fischler’s Duncan Todd. Still, Dougie’s simple-minded fascination with Sinclair’s dandruff — yes, you read that right — triggers a 180-degree transformation in the ethically conflicted con artist, and soon he’s spilling his guts and probably saving his job in one fell swoop just when he was about to commit himself to a truly irreversible decision, and with the comedically incompetent Detectives Fusco (Larry Clarke, Eric Edelstein, and David Koechner) on the case of deciphering Dougie’s true identity and predictably writing off key clues as simple “mistakes,” our empty vessel’s newfound and truly mindless suburban marital bliss seems very secure indeed. No real tragedy to be found here, then.

Could our tragic figure then be Sherilyn Fenn’s Audrey Horne? There’s clearly a lot more going on in the battle of wills between her and her husband (Clark Middleton) than we suspected last week — in fact, this is some MK-ULTA, Chuck Traynor/Linda Lovelace-level manipulative bullshit that’s playing out before our eyes. Audrey doesn’t even seem completely sure of where she is, what she’s doing there, where she wants to go, or how to get there from here — wherever “here” even is. So, yeah, depending on how things shake out in future installments, she might be the character trapped in the most tragic situation of all — but I really don’t think so. She’s always been a survivor, and a devious one when needs be. She’ll work her way out of this mess one way or another.

Who, then? James Hurley (James Marshall)? There was talk way back in part two about him being in a motorcycle accident some years ago, and he does seem a shadow of his former self, but no less an authority than Shelly Johnson/Briggs (Madchen Amick) informed us, if you’ll recall, that “James is still cool,” and he proves it tonight by taking the stage at the Roadhouse (after being introduced by beyond-awesome emcee J.R. Starr) — the same stage recently occupied by the likes of Chromatics and “the” Nine Inch Nails — and making a transfixed female member of the audience cry with his  heartfelt rendering of what’s apparently still the only song in his repertoire, “Just You And I.” Even the two creepiest-looking backup singers you’ve ever seen in your life can’t diminish James’ musical magnetism, so nope, he’s not exactly leading a tragic existence, either.

A brief check-in with Tim Roth and Jennifer Jason Leigh shows that they’re headed through Utah, and that’s certainly tragic, no doubt, but they’ll get through to the other side of the state and make their escape at some point. And, as I predicted in my last review, Russ Tamblyn’s Dr. Amp/Jacoby and Wendy Robie’s Nadine Hurley appear to be on the verge of cosummating their previously-confined-to-the-airwaves romance in the shadow of her silent drape-runners, so these two lonely souls may have just found true love at last. Let’s rule out all four of these “suspects,” then, and move on.

Becky Burnett (Amanda Seyfried) has it rough, there’s no denying that , given that she’s trapped in an abusive relationship with a drugged-out, two-timing loser, but at least her mom still loves her, loans her cash, and feeds her homemade cherry pie — and does she really have it any worse than her father, Deputy Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook), who’s reduced to eating alone at the Double R and pining after the wife and daughter he’s lost?  Hmmm —two strong contenders here, to be sure.

Except that in the end, Bobby doesn’t have to eat alone — he’s invited over to the table shared by Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton) and (finally!!!) “Big” Ed Hurley — and I think Ed might just be our guy, because this happy trio is soon interrupted by Norma’s new beau, a cheesy financier named Walter (Grant Goodeve) who’s so blatantly phony and insincere that he makes old-school game-show hosts like Wink Martindale and Chuck Woolery seem honest and authentic by comparison. “Big” Ed still clearly carries a torch for Norma, and despite his assurances to Bobby that “nothing’s going on here,” he’s not fooling anyone. McGill gives a truly gut-wrenching (and largely silent) performance here in part thirteen, one that anyone who’s ever been sweet on somebody they can’t have (shit, I guess that includes anyone who was ever in their twenties) can immediately relate to. He’s obviously  envious of Mr. Plastic, but  at the same time you can feel that he wants Norma to be happy above all else — he just knows it sure won’t be with this sleazy operator, who’s convinced her to franchise out her diner (now we know why she’s doing her books all the time), but then has the unmitigated nerve to tell her how she should be running the place. “Big” Ed obviously loves Norma to death — always has, always will — and the final scene of him eating his take-out soup alone in his gas station as the credits roll is enough to rip your beating heart right out of your chest. This is emotional desolation at its most profound — and most profoundly difficult to watch.

Yup, that’s it then, case closed — the most tragic character on the Twin Peaks revival is “Big” Ed Hurley.

But then I remember Grace Zabriskie’s Sarah Palmer, self-medicating away her pain with fifty bucks’ worth of booze and three or four packs of cigarettes every night, her daughter and husband both dead at the hands of forces beyond her understanding that now appear to be coming for her as well, watching blood-soaked nature documentaries and 1950s boxing matches on her giant television every night, basking in the cathode ray (or whatever the hell they’re made out of these days) glow in an otherwise silent home — a woman for whom the end of the world is no longer an abstraction, but something that already happened a quarter-century ago and didn’t even have the decency to take her with it. Imagine an apocalypse so heartless and cruel that it leaves you behind with no road map for how to put your life back together while everyone else goes on with theirs all around you, as if nothing even happened, and you’ll have some inkling as to what Sarah’s going through. Compared to that, shit — even “Big” Ed has it easy.

 

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.