Twin Peaks, the best series of all time returns! You don’t know the original? Time to change that! Let me show you a world full of secrets: Twin Peaks for Beginners.
On 25 May, the 3rd season of the legendary cult series Twin Peaks starts on Sky Deutschland – more than 25 years after the first broadcast of the last episode so far. Why Twin Peaks is as DAMN FINE as the coffee at the Double R Diner and a big juicy slice of cherrypie?
To get you all the more hyped we strongly advise you to (re)watch the original series and to water your mouth a bit for this finest of telecinematic cherry pies, let us give you our 101 on the town of mystery, conspiracies, loveable people and sheer awesomeness: “Twin Peaks for Beginners.”
Somewhere high in the mountains of the northwestern USA, near the border with Canada, lies the place where two worlds intersect – the everyday, seemingly ideal world of a picturesque small town and the eerie and mystical world of magic, ghosts and demons hidden behind it.
One morning, Pete Martell makes a gruesome discovery on the lakeshore in Twin Peaks: the body of high school beauty Laura Palmer wrapped in plastic sheeting! The murder tears a deep wound in the apparent idyll of the small town – no one can explain how something so terrible could happen here.
The mystery of who killed Laura Palmer is at the beginning of all other secrets, puzzles and mysteries in Twin Peaks. It is the trunk from which all further plot threads branch out like twigs. And according to the will of the series creators David Lynch (cult director of surreal films such as Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive) and Mark Frost, the question of the true murderer should never be resolved. Under massive pressure from ABC, they did in the middle of the second season.
But by then they had already created a labyrinth of further mysteries with Twin Peaks, which branched out further and further and took the viewers into ever more mystical regions.
Based on this murder scenario, one might now expect Twin Peaks to be a classic crime series. But this conclusion is fundamentally wrong, because the series is a true genre hybrid and constantly oscillates between thriller, comedy, horror, soap opera and real drama and still manages to create a completely coherent atmosphere. Twin Peaks, like life, is a constant rollercoaster ride through all moods and emotions. The sudden changes in tone from one scene to another, or sometimes even within a scene, are so artfully staged that your jaw drops in amazement and admiration.
The great art of Twin Peaks is to create a kind of dreamlike parallel world, which on the one hand seems very familiar and close to us as viewers, but in which completely surreal and crazy things constantly happen. People suddenly start dancing for no reason, a one-eyed woman develops enormous physical strength after a failed suicide, Laura’s mother is plagued by eerie visions and a major in the US Army receives strange messages from outer space: the owls are not what they seem!
In the course of the investigation into Laura Palmer’s murder, it quickly becomes apparent that behind her façade of the well-behaved, beautiful and universally loved homecoming queen, she was hiding an abyss of self-destructive excess…
Cocaine addiction, sexual escapades, manipulative power plays with multiple men – it soon becomes clear to investigating FBI agent Dale Cooper and local sheriff Harry S. Truman that Laura was not who everyone thought she was.
The same could be said of almost every character in the series. Almost every one of the residents of Twin Peaks has something to hide: from clandestine affairs to drug smuggling, prostitution and blackmail to truly murderous intrigues. And some characters also have an obvious connection to the world of the supernatural: Laura’s mother has visions of a diabolically grinning, grey-haired man, the Log Lady communicates with the log she carries on her arm at all times, and Agent Cooper is also at least as much mystic as astute logician.
His unusual investigative methods include a Tibetan stone-throwing oracle and the ability to communicate in dreams and visions with beings from another world who give him riddled clues to solving the case.
Almost all the characters in the series have eccentric quirks and show human weaknesses. And that is exactly what makes most of them thoroughly endearing: the one-eyed Nadine, who is obsessed with her invention of a noiseless curtain rail, the psychologist Dr. Jacobi, who loves everything that somehow has to do with Hawaii, the naive receptionist of the local police with a bleeping voice and many more…
You even like some of the villainous characters, such as the scheming and cleverly manipulative Catherine Martell. At the very least, you look forward to every scene with her and enjoy the way she plots and schemes. She is an example of a character who is a reflection on the clichés established by then in American series, in her case: the manipulative man-eating beast. (Think Dallas, the Denver Clan and countless American as well as German soap operas…)
Twin Peaks takes such clichés and the viewers’ expectations attached to them and plays with them, distorts them or parodies them. In the case of more than one character, this also takes the form of a juxtaposition with a kind of mirror figure.
A central motif that Twin Peaks already carries in its title is that of the twins. For the Twins here are not only the two mountains after which the place is named. Soon after Laura’s murder, Maddy Ferguson, her cousin, shows up in the village. She has dark, curly hair, not straight blonde, but otherwise she is Laura’s spitting image, her sinister doppelganger (both played by Sheryl Lee).
But this is by no means the only form of duplication or mirroring of a character: Lucy and her almost identical-looking sister, the old mayor and his brother, Donna Hayward and Audrey Horne, Dick Tremayne and his adopted son, whom he always dresses the same as himself…
And then there are Mike and Bob, erstwhile partners in evil: two demonic beings who take possession of people and drive them to the most terrible acts. Mike has long since renounced evil and cut off his evil arm, which now wreaks havoc in Cooper’s dreams as a dancing dwarf. But Bob… BOB is still out there in the woods, feeding on fear and suffering and death….
Enough! More will not be revealed!!! You’ll have to make the perilous journey to the Black Lodge yourself….
There is a television before and after Twin Peaks, so incisive was the series, as it set new standards for what television could do in every way. Twin Peaks proved that it was entirely possible to create something artistically ambitious in the format of a television series and thus inspire many viewers. In this way, the series is the inspiration for many current quality series of the last 10 years – without Twin Peaks, the much-vaunted golden era of television series in which we live would be unimaginable.
The day after each new episode of Twin Peaks, people in the office would talk about it with their colleagues, trying to interpret together what this or that twist could now mean again. A real cult developed around Twin Peaks and fans got together to celebrate each episode over coffee, cherry pie and donuts.
Twin Peaks also became the (still unrivalled) model for all the mystery series that followed: gruesome ritual murders, occult powers, mysterious parallel worlds, messages from outer space – in Twin Peaks everything was already there that would later make up successful series like The X-Files, True Detective or Stranger Things and inspire their fans.
The foray of an internationally renowned director like David Lynch into the world of television also inspired other filmmakers to take up television series as an art form, such as Lars von Trier in the 90s with Ghosts, Frank Darabont with The Walking Dead and Bruno Dumont with Kindkind. Other great directors contributed at least single episodes to TV series, like David Fincher with House of Cards and Martin Scorsese with Boardwalk Empire.
But the influence of Twin Peaks is even more far-reaching: morally highly ambivalent or completely eccentric characters, complex season-spanning story arcs, unusual camera perspectives and a visual language that one was more used to from cinema than from television, sudden changes of mood and shocking twists – all this hardly existed on television before Twin Peaks, if at all. More recent series, beloved by critics and audiences alike, such as Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and Westworld, owe a debt to Twin Peaks for setting a television monument that created the cultural ground for this thriving series landscape.
And now, in 2017 Twin Peaks returns and fans like me are already chewing off the fingers of both hands with excitement and unbridled anticipation. Because the ending of the series so far, the final episode of the second season, leaves endless questions unanswered. It presents the viewer with such a huge bouquet of nasty cliffhangers that I would easily call it the most shocking series episode I know. It even eclipses some notorious shock episodes of Game of Thrones.
But the craziest and at the same time most brilliant thing about the return of Twin Peaks is that the ghost of Laura Palmer had already prophesied it: We will see us again in 25 years. Now, due to production reasons, it has become 26, but I’m sure it was worth the wait.
On 25 May, I’ll have coffee and cherry pie on the table and my eyes will eagerly soak up every frame of the first episode of the new season of Twin Peaks, when it’s once again: THE OWLS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM!
Hope you enjoyed this little “Twin Peaks for Beginners” Guide. Here at Abenteuer Freundschaft, besides movie lists and series best ofs, there are also other indoor activities to discover! If you’re out of ideas, take a closer look at the activities with friends, for families and with your partner!!!
Image source Cover: Twin Peaks (1990-91) © Paramount Home Entertainment
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