After 25 years, David Lynch and Mark Frost returned with their esoteric series, Twin Peaks.
The two-hour premiere for the show’s third season was much more different than anyone could have expected; there weren’t many references made to the original series, it was lacking a coherent plot and was far stranger than the original ever was. Twin Peaks had returned, but this wasn’t the endearing, borderline corny world that Lynch and Frost created in 1992.
What was apparent from the very beginning of the episode was that Twin Peaks could quickly become an obsession for many into figuring out what it all means, not unlike Westworld, True Detective or Lost. Unlike when Twin Peaks premiered 25 years ago, fans wouldn’t just have to rely on co-workers’ theories around the water cooler or friends’ opinions. This time around, people could dig into various “clues” for hints and discuss them in real time with others on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and other websites.
Twin Peaks aired during the earliest days of internet discussion, mostly on message boards like Usenet and other early billboard systems. Now, because it’s so easily accessible, people will gather online weekly to break down every single moment of the show. The key to enjoying Twin Peaks in an age of digital distractions and anonymous conversations is to simply not do it.
Buy the ticket, take the ride, and don’t even try to understand what Lynch is trying to do.
The beauty of Twin Peaks is that a large part of it can’t be explained. It can’t be predicted because it isn’t a linear storytelling event. Lynch paints a picture, filling it up with striking visuals and strange sounds, allowing you to see into his mind. He doesn’t care about the formula television uses, but embarks on his own thing. If you happen to like it, that’s great. If you don’t, Lynch doesn’t care.
This is also why he’s not going to be the type of writer, director and executive producer who’s worried about leading the viewer astray. Unlike Westworld’s showrunners, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, who have talked at length about lurking subreddits and leaving specific clues as to what’s to come in the series, Lynch isn’t trying to tell a murder mystery. His attention is to the show, not the people who will be watching it.
Even the cast is unaware of what’s really happening in the show most of the time. Lynch told GQ that he didn’t see why the actors needed to read the entire script. Instead, if and when they had questions about their specific scenes, Lynch would give them what they needed — and nothing more.
“There isn’t really a need to have everybody read the whole script,” Lynch said. “So they get their scenes. And when we work together, they ask many questions, and they get answers.
“People get what they need.”
Because of that line of thinking, those who set out to try and solve Twin Peaks before Lynch declares it’s over will be left feeling annoyed and frustrated by the lack of logic involved in his decision making. If you don’t try to solve it, however, if you just sit back and allow the acid trip of a series to wash over you, Twin Peaks can be one of the most incredible television viewing experiences you’ll ever have.
Lynch has spoken before about how he finds fan theories charming, adding that the internet was just becoming a thing when the show was on the air. The creator told Entertainment Weekly that some people don’t enjoy not knowing where something is heading and their attempt to try and figure things out is the only way to watch a series like Twin Peaks.
“Some people don’t like not knowing things,” Lynch said. “They like a concrete thing, something that is what it is. Other people love room to dream. They don’t mind getting lost in a mystery. It makes them think and feel, and this is a beautiful thing.”
There is a difference, however, behind a casual theory and the obsessive level of interest fans have with trying to figure out what’s happening on a show. Other series reward audiences for trying to outsmart the writers, leaving little Easter eggs for those who pick up on a series of clues. Twin Peaks won’t.
Lynch’s nonchalance about fan theories and the inability for a show like Twin Peaks to be cracked has created a whirlwind of accidental trolling on the creator’s part. Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz points out that Twin Peaks won’t have the type of exit interviews audiences are used to seeing from shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and Westworld because Lynch isn’t going to indulge theories or obsession. He may find it charming, but he won’t initiate it.
“Quite by accident, Lynch, a filmmaker known for his cryptic, sometimes cranky deflections of ‘What does this mean?’–type questions, is about to embark on a trolling expedition through the most tediously literal-minded era of film and TV fandom — a period in which social-media users and media outlets (including this one) fall over themselves to parse the microscopic details of mythology-rich shows, and producers participate in ‘exit interviews’ and electronic press-kit sit-downs, live tweets and liveblogs, Facebook videos, and Reddit AMAs,” Setiz wrote.
The only way to enjoy Twin Peaks is to let Lynch grab you by the hand and let him take you on a wild, weird journey that will have you screaming in frustration by the end of it. Trying to make sense of the nonsensical, no matter how beautiful it may be, will only result in disappointment.
Let’s let TV have this one, internet pals.