Everyone’s written about episode 8 of the Twin Peaks revival. So what the heck, I’ll throw in my two bits.
As I previously expressed, I was concerned at the outset of the series that it would be both worthy of the original, and up to David Lynch’s lofty mindset. I considered a series of three escalating mile-markers:
(1) Is it passable? Does it meet the bare minimum? Does it reach the standards of contemporary TV drama set down by, say, the last couple seasons of Fargo, or other of the better TV dramas out there? Lynch was to direct the entire series, all 18 episodes — something he did not come close to doing with the original. After not directing film since Inland Empire (2006). Directing is a lot of work, especially considering the scale of Twin Peaks. And after all, Lynch is no spring chicken. That enormous cast list, all those moving parts. A lot to juggle.
So my biggest concern was that the show would be any good at all. Not a total embarrassment. Though a little skeptical at first, that threshold was attained early on.
(2) Now that it’s passable, is it good? Is it excellent, even? Does it reach that tier set by the best of Breaking Bad or Fargo season 1? Can we hope that it ascends to the level of Mad Men or Better Call Saul? As I said in my prior post, “Lynch’s mojo is solidly in place, and bright, novel storytelling abounds.”
After the first 4 hours and into episodes 5, 6 and 7, we knew it was good. Real good. So warp-factor 2 achieved!
(3) Episode 8 brought things to a new level: the highest stratosphere of entertainment and art ever presented on television. This 3rd level is a level, we know, beyond the first two, but also in the realm of the unknown. As in, we have no f-ing idea what it’s going to be. Safe to say no one saw Part 8 coming. That complete unpredictability is thrilling to behold. Having no idea what’s coming next, but that it’s gonna be good, something ‘wonderful and strange’ — is the ultimate promise of Twin Peaks, a promise more than fulfilled.
Reaching this third tier is more than I could have ever hoped for.
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The most cogent analysis and succinct recaps have been told by Noel Murray of the Times. I highly recommend you read his episode 8 recap;:
There’s nothing to point to in the history of television that helps describe exactly what this episode attempts.
Considered that way — as something to see and hear, and to react to on a primal level — this hour was phenomenal.
Esquire‘s Corey Atad wrote in his recap titled “Last Night’s Terrifying Twin Peaks Will Be Remembered as One of the Best Episodes of Television Ever” — also highly recommended as further explanation of ep. 8:
David Lynch has unearthed something—unlocked it. He’s devoted his entire career to exploring the roots of evil in men, in both the real world and the unreal. His films are often terrifying. Twin Peaks has been terrifying. Still, I’ve never witnessed anything quite like what Lynch gave us in “Part 8” of The Return.
From its long drive through the night, to its cascade of blotches and sparkles and flames, to its flickering store lights, to its silent expressionism, to its 1950s utopian hellscape of crushed skulls, cigarette-toting vagrants, and bug-frogs, “Part 8” brought to television screens a work of art that escapes narrative confines. Where other shows—and films, too—have used the weird and surreal as window dressing for straightforward storytelling, The Return brings the true avant-garde to bear on a story where clarity is beside the point, and perhaps impossible.
By “clarity,” think “obviousness”.
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Lynch has surpassed all expectations that I may have had. He hit Twin Peaks full-stride, and is delivering some of his best stuff ever. I think he’s had a lot of unfinished business stewing in him all these years, because I can’t believe all this material is spontaneous.
The Times post touches on something else: Lynch is turning out to be a great humanitarian. Twin Peaks is more than entertainment; it serves a higher purpose in benefit to mankind. Picasso — and many other artists — did this too. Episode 8 brings to mind Guernica.