It’s been less than a week since the first two episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return aired on Showtime. Subsequently, the third and fourth episodes went up on demand and streaming, so there’s now four hours of new shenanigans for David Lynch fans to pour over obsessively. And boy, has the internet delivered in kind…
Several weeks back, we posted a Friday Five offering five nagging questions left open-ended by the original Twin Peaks run on ABC when it ended in 1991. For anyone keeping score, that list has been… oh, maybe 30% answered to some degree? Mind you, a) we don’t expect all of it to be answered at all (this is Twin Peaks we’re talking about), and b) we do still have 14 more episodes to go!
With 26 years of buildup, waiting for more from this universe – and plenty of anticipation of “how weird is too weird for Twin Peaks?!” debates** – it was inevitable that some instant meme-worthy hits would emerge from all the beautiful, terrible, wonderful and strange events of this first quartet of episodes. With creator and mastermind David Lynch directing every installment this time, expect LOTS more of these to grace your Twitter feed and Tumblr dash; so far, though, these five seem to be getting the most love (or simply the most declarations of “WTF?!”):
(** The correct answer is “never too weird.”)
[[ SPOILERS beyond this point! Turn back if you must! ]]
(all clear? good…👍🏽)
1. The Evolution of the Arm
One of the most iconic characters in Twin Peaks’ nightmare realm of The Black Lodge was The Man From Another Place, the small-statured, backward-speaking dance machine played by Michael J. Anderson. Though he’s still alive (while several of the original cast are not), Anderson did not return for the new series; in true Lynchian fashion, he’s been replaced with a what appears to be an electrically-charged tree. With a gooey thing resembling a brain on top. Which speaks. Because, of course! The One-Armed Man (Al Strobel) explains to Agent Cooper that this is “The Evolution of The Arm.” (TMFAP also referred to himself once as The Arm; there’s also a jade ring related to the Black Lodge that when real people wear it, it makes their left arm go numb and seriously, don’t think about this too hard, just go with it.) Point is, how could you NOT obsess over this bizarre and inspired thing that only Lynch could dream up? It reminded a lot of fans of that freaky alien baby in Eraserhead so long ago. Not to mention, Tumblr LOVES it.
Also, this. DYING.
2. The Glass Box
As many fans expected the new series might, the action of Twin Peaks has expanded beyond the titular small Washington town into various locations, including New York. Lynch shoots the skyline from above like no one else has seemingly ever shot NYC before. Somewhere in Manhattan is a glass box that seems to be some rich mystery person’s giant experiment to lure otherworldly entities like a portal, resulting in two major happenings so far: One, the spirit of our beloved Agent Cooper escapes the Black Lodge and gets pulled into this box briefly only to be sucked out again into an even worse netherworld. Which goes entirely missed by the young kid hired to observe the box along with the girl he’s been flirting with; earlier in the show, we see them get shredded to pieces by a horrifying creature that emerges from the box in shadow. And it looks like this:
Yeah, NOPE. (Unsurprisingly, the box has been a meme-able fave, most often
mashed up with Se7en and Anchorman but oh, there will be more…)
3. WALLY. BRANDO.
There have definitely been moments that feel more like the zanier, familiar humor of Twin Peaks‘ original run than the surreal, disturbing trend of Lynch’s more recent film work. (Die-hard fans of both, mind you, will easily admit that they expected this new run to be more like the latter.) Episode 4 harkens back to the original series in a big way, as we finally meet the child of lovably dim-witted power couple Deputy Andy and Lucy (who was pregnant when the original run ended). It’s not terribly surprising that he’s played by Michael Cera, which many fans deduced already when the actor was announced as part of the cast. Perhaps more surprising is the out-of-nowhere fact that he’s a ramblin’ biker who is so obsessed with Marlon Brando (on whose birthday he was born) that he both dresses like him and does a terrible impression. All of the time. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone whose feelings are in the middle on this one – they either find it hilarious or infuriating – but one thing’s for sure, “Wally Brando!” is being shouted across many a tweet chain.
4. Evil Cooper’s EVIL HAIR
If there is one thing a serious Twin Peaks fan would have straight-up banked on seeing in the revival, it’s some incarnation of Dale Cooper’s doppleganger – the no-good version of our hero who left the Black Lodge in place of the real Dale in 1991, seemingly hosting the malevolent BOB as a hitchhiker – from the final episode of Season Two. We knew this mad, evil bastard was coming. We just didn’t know what form he’d arrive in… so imagine our surprise?/thrill?/horror? when, to the distorted strains of a slowed-down rock ‘n’ roll track, Lynch delivered a greaseball Dale Cooper with an awful mullet, bad tan, snakeskin shirt and terrible attitude. AWESOME. This scuzzbucket body snatcher has been roaming the U.S. for 25 years up to who knows what (at least, we know dead people are involved), and MacLachlan’s performance is fierce. Yet for all the crimes he’s committed, we defy you to get an accurate count of tweets since Sunday extolling the virtues/drawbacks of that truly unfortunate haircut.
How to summarize this quickly? You can’t, but here goes nothing: The good Dale Cooper, after being ejected from the Black Lodge, passes through that really weird netherworld and through an electrical socket (?!) back into our world, but he’s a little worse for the wear. Okay, a lot worse. He barely seems to have the mental capacity of a two-year-old, which is distressing for fans of this once-brilliant lawman… but that isn’t to say there isn’t fun to be had in this instance. For example: after being dropped off to “call for help” at a casino, doddering Cooper asks for change and ends up playing the slots rather than calling for an ambulance to get his noggin checked out. For yet more unexplained reasons, Cooper sees an icon of the Black Lodge’s red curtains over random slot machines that just happen to be about to pay out. Cue multiple jackpots in rapid succession, which Coop inevitably reacts to with the token “HELL-OO-OO-OOOO!” that he just heard a fellow guest shout… and I’m not kidding, at least four people have shouted this at me in the past five days. How the hell Coop is going to regain his past self is impossible to say at this point, and Lynch sure ain’t about guaranteeing a happy ending. But for the time being, everyone seems to be taking comfort in this fleeting moment of glory. Let us have this, dammit!
BONUS: Fare the well, Margaret…
This is not quite a meme per se, nor is it something that anyone has joked about about. But we’d all be lying if we didn’t admit the final screen appearance of Catherine Coulson as The Log Lady really hit a raw nerve, lead to many sad gasps and maybe even a few consoling hugs. Coulson was gravely ill with complications from cancer in 2015 when Lynch began filming the new Twin Peaks series; fortunately, he was able to shoot some footage of Coulson in-character, calling the Twin Peaks sheriff’s station to inform Deputy Hawk that her log had a message about Cooper and that he would be the only one who could solve the mystery. Coulson’s physical fragility in these scenes is plain, and yet her life force as the oddball psychic who became a lynchpin of Twin Peaks lore shines as bright as ever; it’s a gift to have her involved in the show at all. And so, an entire fandom spent the past week choked up about dear Margaret Lanterman. Rest in peace…😭