Twin Peaks: The Return

Twin Peaks: The Return ★★★★★

A little mouth opened up inside
Yeah, I was watching on the day she died
We keep licking while the skin turns black
Cut along the length, but you can't get the feeling back

-Nine Inch Nails, "She's Gone Away"

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"I named The Return the year’s best show less than halfway through its run, writing, 'We don’t so much watch Twin Peaks: The Return as give ourselves over to the look and sound of it, as we might give ourselves over to a painting, a sculpture, or a piece of music.' Not only do I stand by that assessment, I’m doubling down on it. While I’m intrigued by the granular cosmology of Lynch and Frost’s universe, it is not the aspect of the series that interests me most. Nor do I think that drawing connective lines between one scene and another will get us any closer to 'getting' the show on the level of traditional narrative. The overwhelming, inscrutable totality of this thing defeats attempts to tame it by decoding it. Lynch and Frost have gone beyond the basic dichotomies of satisfying/not satisfying, happy/sad, and comprehensible/mystifying, creating a work so original and confounding that it might have been transmitted from the Black Lodge, its backwards-talk presented without subtitles.

I also stand by another early take on the series, which suggested that Lynch started out as a painter and in some ways has remained a painter at heart, creating work that’s alternately surreal, expressionistic, and abstract, but always more concerned with the emotional and intellectual effects of light, darkness, composition, and tone (and such cinematic values as sound design, editing patterns, and the interplay of music and acting) than with telling an A-to-Z story that explains what everything meant. 'Imagine the totality of Twin Peaks: The Return as an enormous mosaic painting consisting of 18 individual panels,' I wrote. 'Each panel is hidden by a strip of black construction paper, and the artist removes them one at a time, giving you ten minutes to study one panel before revealing the next. That sounds like an infuriating way to look at a painting. But if somebody showed you a painting that way, and you committed to their way of showing it to you, the result would be an experience you would never forget. You might get confused, bored, or angry sometimes, or wonder if the exercise was unnecessarily silly or pretentious. You might even come away thinking the experience was not worth the time you invested. But for the rest of your life, there would be moments when you’d flash back to the time that that painter invited you into the studio and unveiled a work one square at a time, then stood back while you looked at it."

-Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture

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