Sunday 20 August 2017

Coffee, pie and murder - the ultimate Twin Peaks guide for beginners

Clarisse Loughrey sums up the cult series

Searching for answers: Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer
Searching for answers: Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer
Kyle MacLachlan as Agent Dale Cooper

We are just days away from cult TV series Twin Peaks' highly-anticipated return to our screens.

For ardent fans, it's been a date circled in red on calendars with the fervent urgency of a thousand birthdays come crashing together; for those new to the show, however, the entire idea can seem a little daunting.

Boasting two seasons and its own prequel film Fire Walk With Me, only those prepared to dedicate a weekend tethered to the couch are likely to be able to catch up now, but that doesn't necessarily mean the uninitiated should be forced to skip out on the new season.

First off, creator David Lynch's own special brand of surrealism likely means even hardcore obsessives won't perfectly understand what's happening in the new episodes, so the experience is unlikely to be too different either way.

Beyond that, we've collated together a guide (with major spoilers) to help you catch up with what's already taken place, alongside some of the familiar faces we're set to meet once more, 25 years on.

Who Killed Laura Palmer?

Season one

“She’s dead. Wrapped in plastic.” It’s the mystery that enraptured TV audiences of the early 90s: who stood behind the murder of the homecoming queen, the shining star of a quaint Washington state town?

It turns out, Twin Peaks was a town only serene on the outside; there are secrets everywhere, and even Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) is discovered to be living a secret double life tinged by drugs and prostitution.

FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is sent to investigate; though everyone comes under suspicion, Cooper is aided by a series of strange dreams, coffee and pie. Which is where the show’s famous ‘Red Room’ sequences and use of phonetic reversal come in, as two supernatural individuals — The Man from Another Place (a dwarf dressed in a red suit) and The Giant — offer cryptic clues.

The killer, too, is revealed to be of a supernatural origin: Bob, a demonic spirit who takes possession of Laura’s own father Leland (Ray Wise) as a young boy. Bob spurs Leland to kill Laura, kidnapping both her and another girl, Ronette Pulaski (Phoebe Augustine).

Leland is also discovered to be responsible for the earlier murder of Teresa Banks (Pamela Gidley) in a neighbouring town, alongside the death of Laura’s doppelgänger cousin Madeleine Ferguson (Lee). But back to Bob — an inhabitant of a place called the Black Lodge, described as the extra-dimensional source of great evil, and a kind of opposite to the place of purity, the White Lodge.

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The plot thickens

Season two

Season Two did expand the show’s narrative scope to introduce the villainy of Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh), Cooper’s former partner and the man responsible for the death of his first true love (and wife) Caroline, however, what’s more important here is the show’s final episode.

It sees Cooper follow Earle into the Black Lodge after he kidnaps new love interest Annie (Heather Graham); here, he becomes trapped in a strange maze of two apparent Red Rooms linked by a hallway, each offering new nightmarish visions that bring together Bob, Laura Palmer, The Man from Another Place, and The Giant. He even faces a sinister doppelgänger of himself.

However, what may prove particularly crucial for Season Three is what happens once Cooper leaves the Black Lodge and returns to the normal world; everything is seemingly back to normal, until Cooper enters the bathroom, looks in the mirror, and sees Bob in the reflection.

Smashing his face into the mirror and laughing manically, this is exactly the place where Twin Peaks left us.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

It's easy to assume that the Cooper we see at the end of Twink Peaks is possessed by BOB's spirit, as Leland was.  However, LYnch has said the prequel film Fire Walk with Me is key to understanding the new series, and it's here that a different interpretation is offered.

The film tracks Laura Palmer's last week alive, illuminating events only spoken of in the original series, and creating a nightmarish vision of her torture by BOB and eventual murder at the hands of her father.

However, we also see her dream of the Black Lodge, where she's visited (somehow) by both Cooper and Annie, with the latter telling Laura to write in her diary that "the good Dale" is trapped in the Lodge and can't leave.  Which seems to hint that the Cooper we see smashing his face into the mirror isn't Cooper at all, but the evil doppelganger he comes across in the Black Lodge.

The new episodes take place 25 years down the line, echoing one of the strange utterances of Laura to Cooper in the Red Room in Twink Peaks: "I'll see you again in 25 years."  What that means will surely be uncovered soon.

Twin Peaks premieres at 2am on May 22, Sky Atlantic and will be shown again at 9pm on May 23.  You can catch up on Seasons One and Two on Sky Box Sets.

Irish Independent

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