David Lynch is always an inspiration and Twin Peaks is easily my all time favourite TV show, but what aired yesterday night on Showtime just blew my mind. I was literally sitting in front of my laptop with my mouth hanging open. It’s somewhat satisfying and soothing that a show like this can still exist in mainstream television: A true artist diving fully into his world, with full creative control over his project.

I don’t wanna write much more in case you haven’t seen the show yet. Just go watch and wonder…

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Twin Peaks Recap: Episode Eight – The most mind-melting, majestic outing yet

After this bewilderingly brave and groundbreaking hour of television, David Lynch has outdone himself. What an unforgettable journey.

This was the darkest, most bewildering episode in the show’s history – but let’s try our best to unpick the unfathomable. Hats off to the executives who let Frost and Lynch run with this harrowing vision. I’m grateful for whatever they produce, but this run has exceeded all my expectations and now, more than ever, has taken us to places we have previously only dreamed.

With their usual disregard for conventional storytelling and pacing, it is fitting that after last week’s episode, which tied up so many loose ends, we delve deeper into the show’s rich mythology. It starts in linear fashion, with Bad Coop and Ray making a break from prison, the stench of a double-cross heavy in the air. Bad Coop knows of Ray’s previous plot to kill him, and Ray’s got some serious front to hold out for cash in exchange for the information he’s memorised. A pitch-black stand-off spells trouble for Ray, but he’s seemingly one step ahead and slugs a couple of shots into Bad Coop’s chest. Surely this will be the seismic shock to the doppelganger that jolts our coma-induced protagonist out of his dream state and back somewhere close to the man we love and long for. One can only hope! Ray makes a well-advised dash for it after seeing those returning ashen spectres (doused in scorched engine oil?) hacking away at the leaden body, and puts in a quick call to our man in Buenos Aires – the maddeningly still off-screen, and long-time missing FBI agent, Phillip Jeffries.

Pretty straightforward so far, but what follows is so mind-meltingly brave and groundbreaking that’s it’s arguably the most avant garde piece of mainstream television since the show’s initial run.

If you thought that scene sweeping up in the Roadhouse last week was agonisingly drawn out, this episode probably isn’t for you. But there’s no doubt this artful montage of all Lynch’s favourite techniques bears more weight than the inconsequential brushstrokes of The Bang Bang Bar. That said, it’s pretty incredible that Nine Inch Nails rocking up and performing mid-episode is the least interesting thing to happen this week. The soundscapes Lynch has put together for this run have been mesmerising, and most definitely worthy of donning your headphones.

During an artfully protracted delve into the heart of a nuclear test explosion, we may well get the revealing origins of how Bob first appeared in this realm. Was that another glimpse at the convenience store in which these spirits purported to reside? And is what follows our first proper look at the White Lodge? We’ve unknowingly visited here before, in the opening shots of this series, and on Cooper’s escape from the Red Room over that restful blue ocean – but this is a more insightful encounter, that hardcore fans of the show’s Blue Rose elements have longed for. The megalithic outer shell gives way to Victorian music hall splendour, and our morally ambiguous Giant looks concerned at what unfolds.

It makes sense that Bob, who aggressively feeds on Garmonbozia – the fear and sorrow of human kind – should be spawned from a manmade act of humongous destruction. As a counter to this, the Giant casually floats upwards and spawns a golden globe from the electric tendrils billowing from his head and with the help of his Senorita, brings Laura into existence and sends her into the world. This is an amazing revelation and is either a counter to this evil or, perhaps more interestingly, a potential honey trap to lure Bob back to where he should be. It’s a problem that is an ongoing thorn in the side for the other Lodge-dwellers.

Ten years later and two teens looking to share a tender moment seem to unwittingly symbolise the end of the age of innocence as those ashen figures run amok, with their leader breaking into the local radio station to spread their foreboding message. Somebody give that chap a light! While your mind is pounding trying to make sense of it all, everyone else is having theirs ripped out with one insouciant grip.

The freakish toad-fly hybrid that crawls menacingly from the beach into the mouth of this unknown teenage sweetheart is pure Lynchian nightmare. Could this be a young Sarah Palmer? I’m not so sure but I, like many others, have learned that there’s little point trying to second guess where this show is taking us. Much better to sit back and enjoy the horror and majesty of this unforgettable journey.

by Dan Martin

Twin Peaks’ Season 3, Episode 8: White Light White Heat

There’s nothing to point to in the history of television that helps describe exactly what this episode attempts. Not even the jarring nightmare sequences from the original series were anything like this hour, which jumps around in time and space in ways that at times seem almost like free association.

An extended stretch of this week’s episode takes place in the wake of a 1945 atomic bomb test in White Sands, N.M., and thrusts the audience deep into the physical, emotional and metaphorical space of a mushroom cloud.

As the smoke billows and the frame fills with one unexplained abstraction after another, classic movie buffs might spot some visual echoes of the mesmerizing, disorienting “Star Gate” sequences from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Or fans of more modern cinema might think of Jonathan Glazer’s “Under the Skin,” which similarly uses dissonant sound design and “What the hell am I looking at?” imagery to present the world from the perspective of an alien.

Mostly though, this episode is just director David Lynch — one of cinema’s true adventurers — emptying out his subconscious, unabated.

At the start of the hour, before the journey into the past, I jotted down in my notes that the shot of stark headlights on a pitch-dark American roadway in the middle of nowhere was a classic Lynch image, at once familiar and terrifying. But that was a good 10 minutes before Lynch went full “Eraserhead,” transporting us to an otherworldly dimension wherein a humanoid figure belches out a viscous stream of ominous ovoid shapes.

I’ll try as best as I can to describe what I think literally happens in this week’s episode. There are, essentially, five segments:

1. After being set free from a Black Hills jail, the Bob-possessed evil Dale Cooper doppelgänger known as “Mr. C.” tries to get his confederate Ray to pass along some information that he needs. Instead, Ray shoots him, in a seemingly vacant wilderness. Almost as soon as Mr. C. falls to the ground, a gaggle of soot-covered shadow-men — like the ones we’ve seen haunting the police station in Buckhorn, S.D. — surround the evil Cooper and revive him by touching his body all over and smearing themselves with his blood. The shooter peels off in the car, screaming.

2. Nine Inch Nails reunites for a gig at the Twin Peaks roadhouse, where they play “She’s Gone Away” for about five minutes.

3. In the flashback to White Sands, we see the explosion, and during the multiple surreal scenes that follow, we see what appears to be the face of Bob escaping from that aforementioned humanoid creature (which may dwell within the atomic blast itself). We also see the shadow-men scurrying around a nearby gas station.

4. In another “Twin Peaks” netherworld, a woman listens to distorted passages of old-timey jazz on a loop until an alarming sound summons the Lodge’s Giant, who then ambles into a screening room to watch the White Sands test. When he gets to the part with the face of evil, he pauses the film and floats up to the ceiling, where a golden glow begins emanating from his head. The woman wanders in and watches that glow form into a ball, which contains the face of Laura Palmer. She kisses it and sends in through a tube, before it drifts to Earth.

5. In the longest and most densely packed sequence, set in 1956, one of the shadow-men from White Sands — listed in the credits as the “Woodsman” — terrorizes a small town in the New Mexico desert, first by scaring passing motorists, asking, “Got a light?” in a gruff, inhuman voice. He then makes his way to a local radio station, where he crushes the heads of a receptionist and a D.J. with his bare hands and then delivers a repetitive monologue into an open microphone that begins, “This is the water, and this is the well.” Meanwhile, a sweet-looking teenage couple finishes up a date with a pleasant walk home, during which they awkwardly confess their feelings for each other and share a chaste kiss. When the girl crawls into bed, a strange insect creature — which we previously saw hatch from an egg that looked like one of the ovoids vomited up by the mushroom cloud — crawls into her mouth. And the closing credits roll.

Maybe I’ve been too immersed in all things Lynch over the past several months, but I didn’t think that any of the above was as opaque as it seemed. If I had to interpret what it means, I’d say that we just witnessed something like the origin story for the modern saga of good versus evil that “Twin Peaks” has been telling since 1990.

I think we saw mankind setting loose forces beyond its control with the introduction of potentially civilization-destroying weapons in 1945. That test blast may have been what brought Bob into the world, and thus re-engaged our celestial overseers. But as is often the case with the way the universe works in “Twin Peaks,” nothing happened instantaneously. The darker elements took root gradually, while the warriors meant to combat them — like the spirit of Laura Palmer, or the various non-malevolent forms of Agent Dale Cooper — slipped into the world in ways both clumsy and imprecise.

This is one of the most provocative ideas from the original series that these new episodes have been carrying forward: this sense that even the most well-intentioned humans are incapable of interpreting and acting on the messages coming from the gods, who neither think nor communicate as we do. That’s why the dark side keeps winning out — except on rare occasions when someone as completely unselfconscious as “Dougie Jones” just blindly follows the directions from above, winning slot-machine jackpots and brilliantly analyzing insurance documents along the way.

It’s because of this disconnect between what the immortals are saying and how the humans are responding that it seems inadequate to reduce this hour to a simple explanation. Some things may make more literal sense before the series is over. (For example: Was the bug that crawled into the teenage girl’s mouth the Bob egg, or the Laura egg?) But for the most part, Lynch would probably rather we not engage with this episode with our conscious, puzzle-solving mind. It’s better to take it in as an experience: to be awed by the beauty of the pictures and stunned by the inventiveness and passion with which Lynch distorts and destroys them.

Considered that way — as something to see and hear, and to react to on a primal level — this hour was phenomenal. “Twin Peaks” is off next Sunday, which is a shame in a way, because this episode probably didn’t do a lot to keep people invested in the show’s various mystery plots for the next two weeks. But for those who are enjoying being fully immersed in Lynch’s head space, this week was a wonder. Just think: At any given time in the days ahead, we could flip past Showtime and this episode could be airing. That’s like a miracle.

By Noel Murray