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More than 25 years after Laura Palmer washed up on the shore, wrapped in plastic, is officially back — and the first two hours of were trippy, strange, and filled with enough Lynchian weirdness to make Fire Walk With Me look like a Disney Channel Original Movie.
Sure, the premiere raised more questions than it answered, but below, we dive into the basics of the new Twin Peaks with what we know so far.
From here on out, this post will contain SPOILERS for episodes 1 and 2 of the Twin Peaks revival. (Episodes 3 and 4 are available to stream now through Showtime, but we’re going to focus on the premiere.) If you haven’t watched the first two episodes, turn back now.
Where’s Agent Cooper?
Like Luke Skywalker at the beginning of The Force Awakens, Special Agent Dale Cooper is missing. When we last saw him, he was trapped in the Black Lodge, while his BOB-influenced doppelgänger was busy wreaking havoc and smashing his head into a mirror in the Great Northern. More than two decades later, the real Coop is still stuck there… but it’s time for him to come back to the real world.
It’s too early to start making predictions — after all, this is Twin Peaks, the show that killed off a major character by turning her into a drawer knob — but if the first few episodes are any indication, the rest of the series will focus on Cooper’s quest to escape the Black Lodge and take on his doppelgänger.
We also check in with a few familiar faces in the Black Lodge, including Laura Palmer herself, who, in one of the most striking sequences in the entire premiere, once again leans in to whisper a secret into Cooper’s ear. We also briefly see Leland Palmer, his hair no longer white, as well as the One-Armed Man, the Giant, and the evolution of the Arm, a.k.a. the Man from Another Place, a.k.a. the dancing man played in the original by Michael J. Anderson.
Here, the Man from Another Place has transformed into a pulsing sentient tree, who looks a little like the lovechild of Groot and the disembodied brain IT from A Wrinkle in Time. He also has a doppelgänger tree, who is evil and hisses things like, “NONEXISTENT.” So there’s that.
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What’s going on with Coop’s doppelgänger?
While our beloved special agent has been trapped in the Black Lodge, his doppelgänger has been living it up in the real world. He’s got a tan, a snakeskin-patterned shirt, and a Tommy Wiseau haircut that makes him look more than a little like BOB. He’s got a gang of nasty criminals to help do his bidding (even though two of them have accepted $500,000 to try to kill him), and he’s somehow involved in the South Dakota murder (see below).
MacLachlan plays Evil Cooper with a low voice and a dead-eyed stare, but it’s still horrifying to watch the doppelgänger commit such atrocities, especially when the man whose face he’s wearing has devoted his entire life to truth and justice, taking joy in things like fresh coffee and watching ducks on a lake.
Notably, the Evil Cooper reveals that his 25 years is almost up, and soon, he’ll have to return to the Black Lodge. But in a mysterious phone call with someone he believes to be Phillip Jeffries — the missing FBI agent played by David Bowie in Fire Walk With Me — he reveals that he’s got a plan to avoid going back. Whatever it is, it can’t be good.
What’s happening in Twin Peaks?
Much of the new series takes place elsewhere, but the first two episodes did spend plenty of time in everyone’s favorite sleepy logging town. In many ways, things haven’t really changed in good ole’ Twin Peaks: Shelly Johnson and James Hurley are still hanging out at the Bang Bang Bar (where there’s still a Renault brother tending bar), Benjamin and Jerry Horne are still bickering at the Great Northern, and Andy and Lucy are still working at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department.
The only hint that something’s amiss comes when Margaret Lanterman, a.k.a. the Log Lady, calls Hawk to relay a cryptic message about Agent Cooper.
How is South Dakota connected to all this?
The first two episodes venture out of the Pacific Northwest, visiting characters in South Dakota, Las Vegas, and New York City (more on that later). The Buckhorn, South Dakota, storyline is perhaps the most straightforward, beginning with the discovery of a woman’s severed head — which is found next to a seemingly unrelated body. The local police quickly arrest a school principal named William Hastings, whose prints were found all over the woman’s apartment, and he soon confesses to having an affair with the woman, a librarian named Ruth Davenport.
Things get even more complicated when Hastings’ wife Phyllis comes face to face with Evil Cooper, recognizing him before he shoots her in cold blood. Whatever’s going on in Buckhorn, Coop and BOB have something to do with it. It’s easy to draw a clear parallel between the South Dakota scenes and the original Twin Peaks premiere: The discovery of a dead woman’s body sets off a murder investigation that is far more complicated — and stranger — than it seems.
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What about that crazy glass box?
And then there’s the box.
Here’s what we know: Somewhere in a Manhattan high-rise, an unknown billionaire has set up round-the-clock surveillance on a mysterious glass box. Ben Rosenfield plays a man who’s been hired to watch the box. Nothing ever happens — until something does. While the man steps outside to meet his girlfriend Tracey, Cooper (the real Cooper, the one who’s been trapped in the Black Lodge) appears inside, floating and shrinking before disappearing again.
Later, while the young, doomed couple is making out, something dark and terrible appears inside the box — something that breaks the glass and then mutilates them. What was it? Who’s the billionaire who owns the facility? How did Cooper get there? How is this connected to the town of Twin Peaks?
To paraphrase Cooper himself, we have no idea where the next few episodes will lead us, but we have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.
For a full deep dive into the Twin Peaks premiere, read