I was not a fan of the show when it originally aired. I was too distracted by other things to give it the kind of attention it required to nest itself into my subconscious, and become a weekly need that had to be fulfilled. Instead, I discovered it available online at CBS.com about nine years ago. I was immediately hooked, and binge watched all the episodes within a week or so.
From the haunting theme song, to the deep passion for doughnuts, and the whimsical investigation style of Agent Cooper it was the best time I had had in a long time. It still might be. I recently re-watched all the episodes and Fire Walk with Me on Amazon Prime to prep for The Return, and crowed to anyone who would listen that the show coming back on air so close to my birthday made me feel like it was being made just for me. (Yes, logically, I understand I am not the center of the universe, but really in today’s landscape, what is logic, and who actually uses it anymore?)
I was super jazzed that Amazon/Showtime on Demand slapped up FOUR WHOLE episodes for me to watch the night of the premiere. Sometimes shows do that, of course the downside, in most cases, is that you have to wait FOUR WHOLE WEEKS to see another new episode. Of course, I watched them all.
In the middle of the first episode, when the new weird is trying to mesh with the old weird and find its feet, I was disgusted and bored by watching one of the female characters disrobe, while the male counterpart in the scene remained fully clothed. I see these kinds of situations too much where women are naked or scantily clad while men remain fully clothed, often in power suits, reducing the women to a distraction from what is undoubtedly a failing plot line. I’m over this. I’m over it as a viewer, as a woman, as a writer, and as a human being.
If a storyline only requires the female lead in a scene to get naked you have no storyline, and you are wasting my fucking time trying to get me to look at her body instead of realizing that you have nothing to offer me as an artist who is telling the story. Sex and intimate interaction is and can be an important part of a story, but no good sex or intimate interaction that I want to observe keeps one party in clothes while the other reveals themselves. To call this gratuitous is to too pale a condemnation. I would feel the same way if I was forced to look at men who disrobed all the time in front of fully clad power suited women, because it’s not storytelling, it’s exploitation.
I’ve read other reviews of the series where people commented on the scene I am referring to, and said, “It’s David Lynch, so you knew there would be naked women.” That is too dismissive of this kind of pandering for me to just let it go. Lynch told his story, the first two seasons on network television, where the best he could away with was a teddy in the One Eyed Jack scenes. Since it was a house of ill repute, there could be some reasonable expectation of scantily clad women, but there was a bar he had to meet if he wanted to be on the air. Apparently, Showtime removed the bar, and we get pointless full female nudity that lacks the effort to be more than titillating.
Still, this isn’t new, and David Lynch didn’t invent this disgusting stereotype, and I persevered hoping that plot would find me if I just pressed on into the woods, like Hawk looking for the Black Lodge.
Every hour I watched my hope diminished. The plot is exhaustingly slow, and watching Agent Cooper take three episodes to remember that he liked coffee, but still not how to drink it, made me want to scream and hit something. I found myself thinking several times that Lynch had lost his mind because Showtime gave him eighteen episodes and he had no idea what the fuck to do with them, and so we get Cooper drooling and repeating whatever someone says to him for THREE WHOLE FUCKING EPISODES.
Also, it was hard to see the actors/characters so physically aged (as twenty-five years will do, even to the best of us) and yet still so emotionally unchanged in all that time. I’m not the same person I was when this show aired, so it’s foolish to think that those characters would not have been changed in that time as well.
And there you have the Catch-22 of this whole reboot/reunion theme that currently has Hollywood by the short and curlies. We want what we had before, as people this is true for all of us. We as a society want the same highs we got from our first experiences, and consistently fail to understand why the second time around is never, and can never be the same, because we are in a constant state of change.
We evolve, hopefully; learn to see things with more dimension and scope. We change our viewpoints on things that seemed so solid we once built the cornerstones of our persons upon them, and declared “EVERMORE”, only to find we were grossly un or misinformed, and modified our stands to accommodate our new perceptions. And, too, things are rarely as good as we remember them being. That is a flaw in our design, the way we deal with unpleasant things. We minimize pain and disappointment to make life manageable. We make the bad, all right and the good fucking phenomenal. Nothing can measure up to how we remember it being, even though it probably never was, in the first place.
In four hours I found little mystery in The Return, little story line, and little hope that I would get more than another woman taking her clothes off to try and distract me in the upcoming slow moving episodes that have yet to air.
Am I going to watch? Well, probably at least a little more, because at the end of the day, under my hard crunchy realist exterior, I am at heart an optimist. I want to see Agent Cooper throw stones at jars when he calls out names of potential suspects. I want to hear him say, “That’s some damned fine coffee!” one more time, and I want to be as confounded and mystified by Twin Peaks today as I was yesteryear. I think those are things any fan of Twin Peaks would want, and no matter how far The Return goes off the rails, I still have the first two seasons of freakishly fiendishly wonderful story to fall back on, and that’s not nothing.
For Twin Peaks: The Return 2 Stars and a boat load of hope that it gets better before the end.