Wednesday, September 13, 2017

There Are More Questions Than Answers: The Bits Of Twin Peaks: The Return That Still Don't Make Any Sense (Even After You've Thought About It, Really Hard, For A Bit)

Twin Peaks: The Return has been, by common consensus - at least the common consensus of this blogger and a few of his friends - the best TV drama of the year. If not the Century so far. It was bold, it was imaginative, it was challenging, it asked the viewers to do some of (or, a lot of) the work - possibly the greatest 'crime' that any TV show can commit in the 'attention span of seven-seconds-or-less' media of the Twenty First Century. It was also funny, sad, terrifying, touching, lyrical, obtuse, playful and a whole bucket-load of other adjectives from The Big Bumper Book of TV Reviewing Superlatives. Despite huge - and sustained - critical praise across its eighteen episodes, its ratings weren't all that special - although, for context, Showtime will have been delighted will the reaction to the series on several levels, as this thoughtful piece on the Vulture website explains. But, we're highly unlikely to see a second Re-Return.
    And, of course, there were some people who just didn't get it - this blogger has, more than once, seen suggestions (albeit, suggestions from 'some people you've never heard of on The Internet') of this being an 'Emperors New Clothes' type situation. All of which rather reminds this blogger of an advert for the Sunderland-based Vaux Beer Company which ran on the Tyne-Tees regional ITV channel back in the early-to-mid-1980s but was, probably, never seen further South than Middlesbrough. In the advert two Vaux executives (one in his fifties, the other one much younger) are discussing a forthcoming 'Market Research Event' in which a group of 'ordinary people' will be given the beer to taste and give their reactions to. There follows a sequence of the arrival, - in a coach - on these 'ordinary people', who are, in fact, a group of highly stereotypical men from London. Next, we see them sitting in the boardroom at a long table each with a glass of Vaux Beer in front of them. The first, an East End docker-style character, touches the glass and cries: 'Urgh! It's cold!' A second chap, a bowler-hatted, City Gent-type, looks aghast at the pint and asks: 'Err ... Perhaps just a half?' Next, we see a Mohican-haired punk rocker (obviously based on Vyvyan from The Young Ones) who bellows 'IT'S GORRA 'ORRIBLE FICK HEAD!' The Market Research over and done with, we see the coach leaving and passing a motorway sign pointing to The South as the strains of 'Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner' can be heard. Meanwhile, back at Vaux HQ the younger executive suggests that the test hadn't gone awfully well. 'Son,' his older colleague say, wisely. 'There are those that know and those that don't know. And then, there are those that don't know they don't know, you know?!'
Nevertheless, the greatest art always challenges its audience with questions and Twin Peaks: The Return did that in abundance. So, even in the almost certain knowledge that we will probably never know the answer to any of these questions, this blogger just has to ask the following.

1. What - exactly - did come out of The Box in New York and lacerate-to-death Young Sam and 'Naughty' Tracey so harshly (and why)? Who was the 'rich guy' who owned the facility? Where did his guards go? In short, what was all that about (and why)?
2. Who cut poor Major Briggs's head off and stuck his body next to the decapitated head of Ruth Davenport (and why)?
3. Just where the hell is Audrey Horne (and why)?
4. What has Sarah Palmer turned into (and why)?
5. Does anyone have a light (and why)?
6. What was the parasite that crawled into that girl in the 1950s (and why)?
7. Was it actually Coop - rather than 'Dougie' who was an artificial construct anyway - that returned to Janey-E and Sonny-Jim (and why)?
8. Is the late, great David Bowie happy - wherever in the Cosmos he is - knowing that his character Phillip Jeffries is now, seemingly, a giant steampunk teapot (and why)?
9. Are Doctor Jacoby's gold shit-digging shovels actually available (and, if not, why not, we could all probably find a use them)?
10. Besides being the owner of a diner in the middle of Nowheresville at which a girl who may, or may not, be Laura Palmer works, who the hell is Judy (and why)?
11. Come to that, who are Richard and Linda (and why)?
12. Who is the - much-mentioned but never seen - Billy (and why)?
13. Did BOB really die when the Cooper doppelganger got extremely deaded. Indeed, can BOB - whatever BOB was/is/will be - actually be killed (and why)?
14. What's the deal with Freddie's green-gloved super-fist? Who told him that it was his destiny to go to Twin Peaks and punch a hole in the floor that fire comes out of (and why)?
15. How many different versions of Diane are there (and why)?
15. Where's Wally (and why)?
16. Who, exactly are The Fireman, Senorita Dido, The Woodsmen, Chalfont and Tremond, MIKE and The Arm (and, come to that, why is The Arm, formerly, a backward-talking dwarf now an 'evolved' backward-talking tree with a brain on it)?
17. How's Annie (and why)?
18. What, actually, happened to The Blue Rose Task Force (and why)?
19. What happened to Becky Briggs, Gersten Hayward and Steven Burnett (and why)?
20. What is The Black Lodge? Come to that, what is The White Lodge (and why)?
21. What year is this (and why)?
22. What happened to this guy (and why)?
23. And, most importantly, did Candy Shaker make enough sandwiches to go round?
There are, of course, vast oodles of Interweb bandwidth devoted to speculation about the answers to some - if not all - of these questions. And, many more besides those. Like here, for instance. Or here. Or here. here, here, here, here, here, here and here. And, lots of other places too. Use 'Google', for your Interweb searching, dear blog reader, it's what it's there for.
We might have the answer to at least one of those questions, as it happens. This week, Sabrina Sutherland, the executive producer of Twin Peaks: The Return did a Reddit question and answer session and, at one point, was asked about David Bowie's involvement, if any, in the rebooted series. 'Bowie did give us permission to use his clips in this season,' was Sutherland's reply though she didn't give any more detail. Specifically about whether David, before he tragically left us in January 2016, knew that he was going to end up as a teapot.
One can, indeed, imagine David's reaction if he did find out. 'I'm a teapot? What, you mean, like Tim Brooke-Taylor in The Goodies? Only, cooler, obviously?' As a very wise man once said, 'Mister Jeffries, the shit it come out of my ass!'
Also highly recommended for your perusal, dear blog reader, is Cheryl Eddy of Gizmo.com's The Twenty Two Most Shocking Moments In Twin Peaks: The Return, which you can read here.
And, the Gruniad Morning Star's Twin Peaks: Was This The Long, Perfect Goodbye From David Lynch? Which is here. And Enertainment Weekly's lengthy recap on the final two episodes, here.
There's also the Sydney Morning Star's fine review of the finale. And, Paste magazines Ranking The Musical Performances of Twin Peaks The Return. And Karen Hill's excellent think-piece, On Twin Peaks, Time Was Fluid, But There Was Never Enough Of It: The Finale Of The Revival Series Underlines One Of The Series's Biggest Themes. Time Is Linear And Always Running Out at The Verge, here. And, this interview with David Lynch. And, Richard Brody's piece in The New Yorker. And, Judy Berman's in-depth Lynch analysis Tears Of A Crazy Clown which concludes: 'Sentimentality isn't necessarily an aesthetic or social good. It can be used to the same emotionally manipulative ends as sadism and it has inspired more bad art than its opposite. Many of the greatest living filmmakers - Catherine Breillat, Lars von Trier - have no use for it at all. But, the combination of warmth and sincerity that sentimentality brings to Lynch's best works balances out their uncanny, distancing darkness. It replaces unmitigated bleakness with ambiguity and deepens our engagement with ideas that only become more profound the longer they haunt us. The difference between the original Twin Peaks and The Return is that, the second time around, Dale Cooper is fighting for the soul of a town worth saving.' Listen, just do yourself a favour and spend a couple of hours searching The Interweb for everything you can find about Twin Peaks: The Return, dear blog reader. Including the negative stuff, for balance. On this one occasion, it'll be worth it, trust yer actual Keith Telly Topping. Has he ever let you down before. (No, don't answer that.)

2 comments:

Clay Eichelberger said...

I thought it was at least fairly heavily implied that the Cooper doppelganger ("Mr. C") was the owner/instigator of the glass box. When Tammy shows Gordon and Albert the earliest picture she could find on the hard drive, it showed Mr. C; I assumed that meant he was behind it all along, and trying to catch or contain....something....within it.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping said...

These were, broadly speaking, rhetorical questions, Clay mate, I wasn't actually expecting anybody to try and answer them!

xx