I’m always acutely aware of sound after watching a David Lynch production. I’ve just sat through the first three episodes of the third season, about to begin the fourth. Showtime was kind enough to make the first four episodes available online. It’s 12:50 AM and I’m in somewhat of a daze after sitting for three hours, feeling both mesmerized and frustrated.
This new Twin Peaks is a very familiar Lynch but with much more power in his hands. His hands are on every aspect of the show. He fought hard for it, and I’m not certain it’s worked entirely to his favor.
The special effects push me out of the illusion but they maintain the show’s atmosphere. That’s the nicest way I can say that the special effects are the show’s weakest aspects. I’d prefer to see the more tangible Lynch, the world’s he once built with his hands, like a stop-motion animated creature versus a computer generated one.
The Black Lodge scenes feel like Eraserhead 2017, only Lynch should have invested just a bit more of that increased budget Showtime granted him to polish the 3-D models akin to the first stages of animation development—-for example, the obscured gray person appearing in the glass box before the couple is torn to bloody shreds. The atmosphere is there. It still feels uneasy. But the illusion is broken, almost laughable, because it doesn’t feel as tangible as that Eraserhead baby which we still aren’t convinced wasn’t a deformed animal or a premature infant bought off the black market.
Another key special effect that confused me was the dead body in the bed. It reminded me of the scene in Mulholland Drive but it lacked that horror. And Mulholland Drive is 16 years old. Or what about the photo of the crime scene for that shredded couple? Or when Dougie’s head pops off and turns into a gold marble? The head floating reminds me of Internet Flash animations from the late Nineties or early 2000s; however, the sound effect, the “pop” sort of queues a laughter from the audience. Was that intentional? Oftentimes, Lynch enjoys showing the strange and unusual as comedic. And that sort of bites him in the ass here since the effects aren’t as polished. I’m not sure if he intends for me to be smiling or staring, mouth agape, transfixed with terror. When Laura Palmer ascended, screaming, it wasn’t as terrifying as I wanted it to feel.
Visual effects aside, what does more consistently inspire terror is the sound. Lynch has always controlled his sound. He creates an indescribable uneasiness. And the musical score is minimal, almost nonexistent, and when it does appear it’s either unchanged from Angelo’s original score or it’s a musical outro from a guest starring band. I’m not the biggest fan of Angelo’s scoring mostly because it doesn’t show enough restraint for my tastes. However, it is unforgettable and unlike any other so it is effective, and I couldn’t imagine a better match for Lynch’s visuals apart from an ominous wind or a faint industrial roar interlaced with stark silence and intermittent white noise.
Lynch’s pacing is also another deliberate aspect that works to this show’s advantages just as much as it works against what television dramas so often work to achieve. It’s the slowest burn of all, past the point of comfort, past the natural inclination to cut. When Bobby cries we’re forced to watch all the ugliness of it. That’s typical Lynch, and I enjoy seeing peoples’ initial reactions to his works without a forewarning.
The one thing I almost wanted less of that can’t be changed or unseen at this point is the Black Lodge. Lynch doesn’t care much for the “less is more” sentiment, and he’s clearly enjoying himself, but I grew bored with the red curtains. Cooper falling through space and meeting the blind Asian woman and pulling a lever and all that madness – that was great. It was new and innovative for the world of Twin Peaks in a way that left me pondering the idea of this dark world behaving as a nexus to all of Lynch’s other works. And he didn’t care with easing us into it, either. Part Two ended with madness and Part Three picked right up where it left off.
What made these first four parts for me was watching Cooper stumble through the real world. It was the punchline of a nearly three hour joke: here’s what twenty-five years in the Black Lodge does to you. And his casino winnings had me laughing aloud. It was the light at the end of a very long tunnel, and the show’s pace is seeming to pick up substantially by Part Four. I’m glad Lynch has returned, and he’s delivered us his magnum opus.
– The new characters are a ton of fun. Matthew Lillard killed it. He’s been a personal favorite since SLC Punk! and I hope we get to see more of him.
– My review of Parts 5 & 6 is coming this week, and we’ll be doing reviews on the John Plays the Piano podcast where we get into the nitty gritty and speculate about where we think the show is headed.