Let’s talk about waiting.
It was a long, long wait for Twin Peaks fans, following the cancellation of the series and the polemic reactions to its prequel feature Fire Walk With Me. Twenty-five years for those who witnessed and adored these things at the time of their initial release.
The Return was long teased, even after it was announced and we were gifted precious glimpses of what Mark Frost and David Lynch had in store for us. The weight of these expectations were surely on their shoulders as they broke down the story for this belated third season.
Lynch went on record early that he considered it an 18-hour film, and that it would be paced accordingly. Still, on first watch, our very first scene back in the town of Twin Peaks was something of a strange, anti-climactic one…
Following the otherworldly opener, we arrive in colour, graced with those verdant hills, peppered with Douglas Firs. Home, sweet, home.
Lynch fades through peacefully to a new location on the outskirts of town, in among the trees. A beaten up old trailer beside a dirt patch. An array of workbenches and other apparatus are set up here. Life is still and quiet.
A red pick-up approaches with a delivery secured in the bed of the truck. It reverses onto the, ahem, property. Lynch has cinematographer Peter Deming keep the camera distant. We peek between trees.
The occupier of this residency comes out, and even die-hard fans might not recognise Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) at first. He wears dirty dungarees and – as with all the cast – he’s aged quite a bit. It’s only when he removes his sunglasses that we see his trademark spectacles with their red and blue tinted lenses.
The delivery man, Joe, unloads his cargo – two very large cardboard boxes – onto a palette beside Jacoby’s outdoor workstation while the two make small talk. Still, Lynch keeps his distance. We see that Jacoby is receiving some shovels. The dialogue between the two men is fairly muted, as it would be if we were standing at a remove. Joe offers his assistance but receives a polite, “Thanks but no thanks”. And Lynch slowly fades back to black and the scene ends…
The scene is remarkable for a few reasons. For a start – though we weren’t to know it when it aired – this is one of the very few scenes in Part 1 to take place in Twin Peaks at all.Much of Part 1 daringly expands the universe of the show out across the United States. That we start here is, I feel, a sign of Frost and Lynch’s sense of humour.
They’ve waited for so long. We’ve waited for so long. And what do we get? Significant exposition of what happened in the wake of season two’s cliffhanger finale!? Action at the Sheriff’s station!? News of Audrey’s fate!? No. An old man quietly receiving some shovels.
This sets out the stall for much of what is to follow.
- Don’t expect easy answers
- Don’t expect everything all at once
- Slow yourself down
The scene establishes a pace for what is to follow, and its both disarmingly quiet and surprisingly slow. Lynch has used this kind of deliberate pacing many times before in his career, and even during those initial runs of Twin Peaks, but this scene tells us that its to be more pronounced this time, more far-reaching. A seismic shift in presentation. The Return is different.
And it also lays out one of the funniest new mysteries among the many Lynch and Frost have in store for us.
I remember getting ahead of myself, assuming Jacoby knew something important that would help Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan); that perhaps he was going to dig at a spot marked ‘X’ and find some invaluable clue, a body, or some other back-entrance into the Black Lodge.
The truth – portioned out further in Parts 3 and 5 – is a kind of good natured and exceedingly meta gag.
Not everything we’re given in Twin Peaks: The Return is going to be important to the central story of Two Coopers – something we’d do well to learn early.
Next time: A glass box