Spoilers for “Twin Peaks” below, but care has been taken not to reveal too much about twists of the plot that would be detrimental to the fun of watching the revival.
In the battle of the revived cult hits, “Twin Peaks” established Sunday night that it will not be “Star Wars,” with a clean and fan-servicey narrative that worked like an overly fine-tuned watch, nor “Arrested Development,” with a karaoke-seeming version of its old characters. The revived “Twin Peaks” is already like nothing else, and that surprisingly includes its former self as well.
“Twin Peaks” returned Sunday with two new episodes on Showtime, and two additional episodes on the network’s website. Even if you watched all of these, you might have only a faint clue as to what is going on. This season is already a rollercoaster, but has every indication that it is going to be the most thrilling cult revival yet.
Over 25 years ago, the show’s second season ended, as TV critic Andy Greenwald recently explained on his podcast, “The Watch,” with “this truly insane cliffhanger, where the hero becomes the devil.” The beloved Agent Dale Cooper was trapped in a mythical otherworld as his evil dopplegänger emerged into the main world. The series originally finished with a terrifying scene of this dopplegänger smashing his head against a bathroom mirror.
Fans have waited a long time to find out what happened to the real Cooper and whether the dopplegänger destroyed his once quirky and chivalrous life.
Thankfully, the new episodes resolve this mystery. At least, sort of.
Here’s the black-and-white opening scene of Cooper sitting in the mythical otherworld with a character who was originally called the Giant, but is now called, “???????” in the credits.
He’s alive! Sort of.
The premiere episode starts with about half an hour of intentional-seeming terrible dialogue and long, literally droning scenes in mysterious new places. The show introduces two new characters in a way that highly resembles the awkward plotline of a porno, but within a concrete room inside a New York City skyscraper that also had many cameras pointing at a glass box. None of this is explained for quite some time — and even when it was, it was still a giant “???????”
Director David Lynch seemed to purposefully be playing with the hype and expectations of the revival in the premiere, as this is not quite how the rest of the new episodes proceed. (Although plodding, highly strange scenes still abound).
Eventually, the Cooper dopplegänger emerges, sporting a haircut similar to the original devil-esque character of “Twin Peaks”: Bob.
It would be a detriment to the series to reveal too much about this character here, but it’s quickly clear that this dopplegänger is just as evil as you’d expect.
Series co-creator Mark Frost released a novel in 2016, called The Secret History of Twin Peaks, in which he sort of hinted that this Cooper dopplegänger disappeared off the grid instead of destroying Cooper’s reputation.
Thankfully, at least that bit of information was confirmed. The real Cooper’s old friends, Lucy and Andy, claim Cooper has been missing for a long time and hasn’t ever seen their now-grown son. The two employees of the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department make no indication they’re mad at him or that he’s done anything wrong, although they express disappointment that he disappeared on them.
Beyond that, it would be a disservice to reveal more about these confounding, but amazing first few episodes.
But for a visual preview, here’s a still image of the real Cooper without explanation: