Since Laura Palmer visited Dale Cooper in that legendary inaugural dream sequence - promising to return in 25 years - her serendipitous mystique has proved incorrect. Rather, it's been 26 years. The charlatan. Twin Peaks is generally regarded as a cult classic, infallibly weird and mysterious, but in review it's almost conventional.

There's that eminent weirdness - so palpable not only in plotting and characterisation but in the formal technique of the filmmaking - which has infiltrated the mainstream, particularly Bryan Fuller's work on Hannibal and American Gods. There's the narrative blueprint - the murder of a quixotic, beautiful teenage girl untangles the seedy underbelly of quintessential Americana - which performs as either the indirect template for essentially every thriller drama produced these days, or is just shamelessly copy-and-pasted. You have the episode cliffhangers, the disproportionately quirky cast of characters, the torrents of abrupt violence, slapstick comedy, legitimately boxers-shitting jump-scares, truly affecting depictions of grief, and love, and friendship, and disillusionment, and contentment, and frustration, and jubilation.

As you've probably inferred from my laborious parallel-drawing, Twin Peaks has been retrofitted as conventional by its own titanic influence, but such influence is made only realisable by how well written, acted, edited, paced, and filmed, it is. It's not just one of the most seminal TV shows in history, but in the success of its concept and execution, I'd argue abidingly that it's one of the very greatest. While the second season drew unwanted soap opera narrative inspiration from its fictitious 'Invitation To Love' trash soap opera, it endures as a largely consistent masterwork, bookended by my favourite pilot and finale episodes of all-time. I love it: as an indicator of Lynch at his best: as a singularly enjoyable and fascinating TV spectacle: as a canonical obsession: and for its rousing conviction in the power of good coffee. And of course, Angelo Badalamenti's music, which supported me through university revision periods far more ably than my useless friends ever did. The inept bastards.

As a Twin Peaks nerd it's only fair for me to write immediate recaps of the new season; hastily assembled; devoid of structure, insight and substance; bulging with clunkily posited and wholly uncorroborated conspiracy theories. So, in advance, you're welcome.


Recap Episodes 1 & 2

The starkly monochrome opening immediately answers one of the biggest questions from a comprehensive list - whether the spirit of Dale Cooper is still trapped in the other-dimensional Black Lodge - and is about the only mystery that is coherently solved through the duration. The austere palette also establishes the tone of the episodes so far. While the original balanced its omnipresent dread and sporadic violence with smatterings of comic relief and memeable iconography (damn fine coffee, etc), The Return is relentlessly sombre and disturbingly vicious. There's frequent and callous murders, an exhausting sense of time's triviality as identified through the wearied returning cast, and an amplified mortal futility sustained from its predecessor. One scene, involving what will assumedly become a series-long McGuffin in a glass box which appears to function as an interdimensional portal, is brilliantly terrifying.

Narratively it's perplexingly kaleidoscopic, though converges on Cooper's attempt to escape the Black Lodge and return Bob (who's possessing Cooper's material body remember) to the hellscape from whence he came. Most scenes involving the recurring cast appear, for now, incidental vignettes; while the most developed plot-thread proffers another brutal whodunit murder. Characters, bearing the framing of future significance, are provided scant glimpses and throwaway lines never mind anything approaching proper introductions or backstories. (Far) more to come, I guess.

Twin Peaks

Meanwhile, back to that box. The young couple who are savagely mauled to death by the otherworldly spectre spend an extended duration of time gazing at it in anticipation, while cameras whirr in the background with the same fixed intent. It's Lynch's commentary on television; or rather our expectations of television; or rather our expectations of Twin Peaks. This is Lynch's most tangible symbolism; something reinforced later when we visit Sarah Palmer - still wearing the face of diligent distress which first secured itself upon her since her daughter's death 25 years ago - as she gapes hypnotised at a hyper-violent wildlife documentary, the predators tearing apart their prey reflected in the mirrors behind her. If this is the series' critical motif, or a parenthetical remark, will surely reveal itself in the next few episodes; but it's alarming and valuable given the near-gratuitous cruelty which environs these representations.

The final scene demonstrates one of the most uncommented facets of Lynch's filmmaking; his audio-visual majesty. On our return to The Roadhouse we're exposed to James Hurley, still a sad and kind biker, as he smiles elegiacally at Shelley Johnson. It's simple, mid-distance shots framed impeccably, adorend with fond nostalgia, but soundtracked by a live performance from no other than CHROMATICS?!? Their immutably melancholic 'Shadow' lends itself seamlessly to Lynch's cinematographic obliqueness and Angelo Badalamenti's persistently evocative score. It's an ineffably moving final scene, a poignant respite from the nihilistic torment.

Twin Peaks 2017

This isn't your gran's David Lynch. From the surely superfluous shovel delivery scene to the prolonged sequence where police attempt to access Ruth Davenport's apartment, it's difficult - if not impossible - to discern which individual idea is figurative, deliberate, a red herring, or entirely apocryphal. Shots linger for too long and dialogue is too unnecessarily, histrionically cruel, and everything reads as so purposefully illegible. Then you consider the heightened approximation of the ethereal and uncanny; the manic editing and surreal imagery of Cooper spiralling into some malformed plane in-between our reality and the Black Lodge, the chilling sound design that millepedally creeps over and through you, and Lynch's dependably vivid utility with artificial light to invoke a world concurrently identical to and disparate from our own. This is the experimentally flaunting auteur at his most esoteric, liminal, and unfathomable, on a par with his appallingly underappreciated Inland Empire and his madcap series of short films Rabbits. If TV has incrementally onboarded the alluring weirdness and twisted horror of the 90s Twin Peaks, Lynch has triumphantly reclaimed his throne by sternly upping the weird and horror ante.

It all comes back to that glass box; what the hell is it? After two hours we don't know, and it's not improbable that we'll never know. But like the ill-fated couple we'll keep watching, hoping breathlessly that what we experience is enlightenment and clarity rather than demonic evisceration. The opening two-parter is infuriatingly protracted, baffling, beguilingly convoluted, it doesn't make a damn atom of narrative or logistical sense. But perhaps its most polarising trait, is that it avoids the campy-if-dark police procedural format which established itself. It's mutated into Lynch's purest vision of the Twin Peaks universe. This is unfettered, mind-fucking, surrealist horror. I utterly adore it.