Finding out that Twin Peaks was returning was like having the most beautiful dream and the most terrible nightmare all at once. When David Lynch and Mark Frost’s endlessly strange, hugely influential TV show was cancelled in 1991, it left a lot of questions unanswered. Today, fans everywhere are still wondering which loose ends will be tied up when season three gets underway on 22 May. The secrecy surrounding the project makes it extremely difficult to decode, so to help separate the facts from idle speculation, here’s a rundown of everything we know so far…
When the full cast list for season three was released in April 2016, there were plenty of familiar names on the docket: Special Agent Dale Cooper, Shelly, Norma, Bobby, James, Ed, Nadine, Andy, Hawk, Lucy, Sarah Palmer, Ben and Jerry Horne, as well as everyone’s favourite, Gordon Cole. Even David Duchovny is back as DEA agent Denise Bryson.
There are some notable omissions though: Piper Laurie won’t be returning as Catherine Martell, and neither will Lara Flynn Boyle as Donna Hayward (the same goes for Moira Kelly, who played her in Fire Walk with Me), Catherine E Coulson as the Log Lady, and, of course, David Bowie as Philip Jeffries.
Mark Frost is back as producer and co-writer on all 18 episodes. It’s easy to track the original series’ decline when you look at which episodes were written by either Frost or Lynch, who were heavily involved for its first half but took a backseat after they were pressured into revealing Laura Palmer’s killer. “It started with us and we felt it was only right if it continued with the two of us”, Frost told TV Line in 2014, “So we pledged right then and there that we were going to write it ourselves.”
Along with Frost, other Twin Peaks crew members have returned. Duwayne Durham is back in the editing chair with Lynch, after editing the original series and directing three episodes. Director of photography Peter Deming previously worked with Lynch on Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive.
This isn’t a remake or a journey back into the ’90s. The new season is set 25 years after the first series, so the characters have aged as much as the actors. Peggy Lipton (who plays Norma) observed, “Some things have changed, but a lot hasn’t, a lot is still steady the way it was.” This is evident in set images showing both Shelly and Norma wearing their Double R Diner uniforms. This new season is “not just an exercise in nostalgia”, Frost told The Sydney Morning Herald last year, “it’s an exercise in engaging with one of the most powerful themes in all of art, which is the ruthless passage of time.”
Twin Peaks’ cancellation wasn’t just frustrating for fans because they enjoyed the show, but because they were robbed of a resolution to one of the most shocking cliff-hangers in television history. The last image we were left with was of a cackling Dale Cooper, bloodied from a self-inflicted wound. Even when Lynch revisited the world of Twin Peaks for his 1992 film Fire Walk with Me, he chose to make a prequel, with only oblique references to what happened next.
It’s unclear whether a satisfactory resolution will be forthcoming in season three, but the mysterious teasers released by Showtime earlier this year did at least reference the infamous “How’s Annie?” scene, and gave us a first look at an older Cooper. “As we left, evil has established a beachhead in Twin Peaks through Agent Cooper,” Kyle MacLachlan has said of his character. Whatever has happened in the 25 years since, it looks as though we’re about to find out.
The long-awaited Twin Peaks revival is intended as a one-off series that will reach a conclusion. “It’s designed to be a close-ended, one-time event,” Showtime President David Nevins told the audience at a recent event held at the Television Critics Association. Or, as Lynch put it, it will be “a feature film in 18 parts.”
The series will be a mix of the strange asides familiar to fans of the show, as well as a central narrative that will pay off by its end. “I think what we’ve learned is you’ve gotta have a very strong central path through the woods,” co-creator Mark Frost said in 2014. “It’s fine to have tributaries and streams, and little byways, but ultimately that path through the woods has to be very dark, clear and dangerous.”
When asked whether he would come back for a fourth season, Lynch told the TCA, “Well, before I said I was never going to revisit it. And I did. So I never say never. But as of now there are no plans.” However, Sherilynn Fenn recently recounted a conversation on the podcast Twin Peaks Unwrapped that told a different story. Lynch apparently told her “If they love it, I would do more.”
A glance at the cast list also reveals a few newcomers – some more surprising than others. Among the many unknown actors there are quite a few big names, mostly notably Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Monica Bellucci, Michael Cera and Amanda Seyfried. In addition, Lynch alumni Laura Dern (Wild at Heart, Inland Empire), Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive, Rabbits), Balthazar Getty (Lost Highway), Patrick Fischler and Robert Forster (Mulholland Drive) are all set to appear at some point.
One of the most striking things about the cast list is how many musicians are featured on it – not on the soundtrack but as actors. Lynch’s filmmaking has frequently included live music, from Julee Cruise’s appearances in Twin Peaks to Rebekah Del Rio’s performance in Mulholland Drive. Season three will feature Eddie Vedder, Sky Ferreira, Sharon Van Etten and Trent Reznor, who previously contributed to the Lost Highway soundtrack.
That’s what David Nevins said at the Television Critics Association. Twin Peaks’ return was initially going to be a nine-episode run. In a momentary dispute in 2015, Lynch dropped out of the production, leading to a series of videos of the cast appealing for his return. When the director did decide to come back, it was announced that the number of episodes would be doubling. Not only will Lynch direct all 18 episodes, but Nevins promises we will see the “uncut, unadulterated version”.
Among various fleshed-out backstories, Mark Frost’s epistolary book ‘The Secret History of Twin Peaks’ also contains a few juicy revelations. Chief among them is a newspaper clipping from the Twin Peaks Post, which reveals that in the aftermath of the bank explosion at the end of season two, “Miss Horne was found unconscious but alive in the rubble of the basement.” Audrey was in critical condition, and was in a coma at the time of the article.
Knowing Twin Peaks’ penchant for identical twin cousins and other soap opera tropes, it’s possible Audrey could emerge from her coma 25 years later. Frost’s book also effectively confirms Pete’s death, stating that he “may have been intentionally shielded by one of the victims of the blast, Pete Martell, who was found lying on top of her.” Being the sole survivor of the event makes sense for Audrey, seeing as the actors who played the other characters in the bank (Jack Nance, Dan O’Herlihy and Ed Wright) have all since passed away.
Miguel Ferrer died on 19 January, 2017, aged 61. The actor portrayed FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield in Twin Peaks, and was set to return for season three. As it turns out, he had already wrapped filming before he fell ill, so this will be his last ever performance. Warren Frost, who played Doc Hayward, also died this year. This too will be his final role after retiring from acting nearly 20 years ago.
The last time we saw Hank Jennings, he was imprisoned and refused bail by his ex-wife Norma. This lead to Norma delivering the classic line, “I’d rather be his whore than your wife,” in an especially cathartic moment. Another revelation in Frost’s ‘The Secret History of Twin Peaks’ is that after being abandoned by Norma, Hank confessed to his many crimes and attempted to repent. Three years into his sentence, he was stabbed by a distant cousin of the Renaults as revenge for his betrayal of their family.
After the retired actor who portrayed Sheriff Harry Truman, Michael Ontkean, decided not to return to the show, reports suggest that Robert Forster will replace him as either the same character or a new Sheriff in town. Yet one particular detail in ‘The Secret History of Twin Peaks’ may provide a clue. The book diverts off-topic at one point to explain that Harry’s older brother Frank was the town’s Sheriff before Harry. Given the seemingly pointless addition of the character in the book, and his absence during the time covered by the original series, it seems likely that Forster will be portraying the brother returning to his old job.
In ‘The Secret History of Twin Peaks’, an FBI agent in the present day is tasked by Gordon Cole to go through an unknown archivist’s documentation of the town’s history. In its final pages, the archivist is revealed to be none other than Major Garland Briggs – Bobby’s father and cryptic government official. It turns out Briggs was commissioned to watch over the town, a historically weird place that was once the scene of a UFO sighting.
At the end of his journal, Briggs urgently contacts Cooper, who is recovering from the events of the series finale. After meeting with him, he notes that there was something wrong with the FBI agent, before deciding to head to the government’s forest-based listening post alone. The final message is ‘MAYDAY’, and all subsequent files on him are withheld as ‘many levels above top secret’. Don Davis, the actor who played Major Briggs, died in 2008. Presuming his character is also deceased, the mystery of his death may be another plot thread followed in the new season.
Despite only making a handful of appearances, the plot of the original series and Fire Walk with Me often revolved around Killer Bob, the demonic spirit that inhabited Leland Palmer and tortured Laura until her death. It’s a little surprising, then, that the show is moving on without him, even though Frank Silva, the set decorator-turned-actor who played Bob, died back in 1995.
Even surprisingly, Twin Peaks will continue without Michael J Anderson, who played ‘the man from another place’. Although the image of him dancing and talking backwards is the most iconic of the show, a now-deleted Facebook post by the actor posited that negotiations were unsuccessful. Still, a character who says lines like, “When you see me again, it won’t be me” could remerge in a variety of ways.
Despite the absence of their two most memorable hosts, it looks like the surreal aspect of the show will not go unseen. According to David Nevins, season three will provide a “deeper exploration” of the Red Room, answering questions such as ‘What is the Red Room?’ ‘How does it work? and ‘Where is Agent Cooper?’
There is one resident of the Black Lodge who we know will be appearing again. Carel Struycken, who played ‘The Giant’, let it slip that he’ll be in season three. In an interview with Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad, Struycken revealed, “I have less screen time than I had 25 years ago, but I’m important for the development of the story.”
At the TCA event, Lynch surprised everyone by confirming that “the story of Laura Palmer’s last seven days is very, very important [to season three].” Originally subtitled ‘The Last Seven Days of Laura Palmer’, Fire Walk with Me adds some intriguing new elements to the Twin Peaks story. First of all, the spiritual forces are more than we initially thought – with the inclusion of The Jumping Man and others alongside Bob. In addition, the film brought the non-linearity of the show’s timeline to the fore, building on Laura’s teasing “I’ll see you again in 25 years” line. You can read more about the possible connections between Fire Walk with Me and season three here.
Season two not only revealed that it was Leland who murdered Laura, but then killed him off shortly afterwards. We got to see both Laura and Leland in the final episode’s terrifying Red Room sequence, and then again in Fire Walk with Me. Yet both actors are on the cast list for season three. Presumably we’ll see their characters in flashback, or perhaps in the Black Lodge. Ray Wise, who plays Leland Palmer, recounted a conversation he had with Lynch regarding the new series. “I said, ‘If you do choose to revisit it, don’t forget me.’ And he said, ‘Well Ray, you know, you’re dead. But perhaps we can work around that’.”
The setting is obviously important to the show. Its many secrets are baked right into its premise. However, characters have been known to stray beyond the town’s limits, although only on rare occasions and generally off-camera. The new season will not live by that rule, according to David Nevins. “It takes place all over the country”, he told EW, “Twin Peaks is an important locus, but it’s not the only locus.”
Angela Badalamenti’s score for Twin Peaks is one of the best things about the show. The beautiful music is burned into the brains of fans of the show, and it really couldn’t do without it. His return was announced in a recent teaser, with the composer playing ‘Laura Palmer’s Theme’ over a shot of the woods.
“There isn’t really a need to have everybody read the whole script”, Lynch told GQ, “People get what they need.” That was the philosophy on the set of Twin Peaks, where actors were handed their scenes with little to no idea what was happening elsewhere. Given the nature of internet fandom, it’s perfectly understandable that Lynch has taken extra precautions in keep the show’s secrets just that.
“People want to know right up until they know, and then they don’t care,” Lynch pointed out in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “It’s really beautiful when you go into another world not knowing what you’re going to find.” With the marketing barely exceeding a few cast photos and a video of Lynch eating a doughnut, we still have no idea where season three will lead us, but we have a strong feeling it will be somewhere wonderful and strange.
Twin Peaks Season 3 premieres on 22 May with a two-hour special episode.
Published 8 Apr 2017
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