By: Mike Danner
“It all cannot be said aloud now.”
A phrase uttered by Carel Struyken, echoing his performance as the giant in The Black Lodge in Twin Peaks, a show so beloved by its fans that the season premier on Showtime led to the single biggest bump in Showtime subscriptions in one day, ever. And this is for a show that has not aired a new episode in almost 26 years.
While the numbers may be modest so far compared with shows in the same timeslot on HBO and Starz, it is undeniable that Twin Peaks: The Return is a refreshing bit of nostalgia mixed into the turbulent social and political environment of Summer 2017.
Aside from, yet tied to, the socio-political situation in which we find ourselves, Summer 2017 is a fascinating time in television. We’ve come a long way since February 1, 2013, the day that House of Cards–the political drama based on the British miniseries–was dropped on Netflix.
Since that day just over 4 years ago, a new age of television has erupted. There is a new model, and storytelling has changed because of it. Shows now exist with binge-mentality in mind. Entire seasons of shows are developed, written, produced, and edited, only to be then released all at once at the same moment on the same day.It started with House of Cards on Netflix, and then came Hemlock Grove and Orange is the New Black, then Marco Polo, Bloodline, Sense8, Narcos, Stranger Things, The Crown, The Get Down, 13 Reasons Why, and that’s just to name a handful, and that’s just on Netflix. In addition to the army of Netflix Original stalwarts, Amazon and Hulu have plenty of original content that is giving Netflix plenty of competition.
However, with all of these shows that you can potentially watch entire new seasons of without taking a bathroom break, there is still a place for television that is meant to be watched over the course of a summer, one episode at a time on a weekly basis. The slow drip standing in contrast to the espresso shot.
While the model that Netflix introduced in 2013 has its place, and has arguably become the new norm, there is still, and will likely always be a place, for shows released in the classic, slow drip way. This brings us back to Twin Peaks: The Return and that quote from Carel Struyken.
It all cannot be said aloud now.
For a show like Twin Peaks–with its cinematic vibrance, its strange and familiar charm, and the alluring mysteries buried at the center of it all–to binge all 18 episodes at once on a Sunday in May would not have nearly the same effect as it will to watch them methodically paced out and arranged, one episode at a time over the course of what will likely be a summer of change. Each new episode of Twin Peaks a tonic of escapism in this truly surreal world in which we are living. And in these early days of Summer 2017, it all cannot be said aloud now.One thing we have seen in these first 4 episodes (which were released all at once on Showtime’s streaming services on May 21, with the remaining 14 episodes to be released each Sunday over the next 13 weeks with the 2-part finale airing on September 3) is that Twin Peaks is best when it takes its time.
Characters exist in their environment, without any explanation given or required. Take, for instance, the introduction of Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (with the inimitable Russ Tamblyn stepping into his old red and blue lensed glasses). Dr. Jacoby steps out of his house and onto his front porch, removes his work goggles only to reveal his aforementioned spectacles (a routine that is as old as at least Airplane, but still works every time).
Then, in a wide shot that plays out at length, we watch as Dr. Jacoby receives a package, which turns out to be a bunch of shovels. What are these shovels for? We have no idea.
We’ll know a bit more after Episode 3 in another long shot that shows Dr. Jacoby strategically spray painting his new shovels gold. It’s a moment that is surreal and confusing and very Twin Peaks. I can picture the script:
Dr. Jacoby spray paints the shovels for 3 minutes.Moments like these remind us of the little details that made us love Twin Peaks in the first place.
And remember that aside from those two scenes, the first in Episode 1 and the second in Episode 3, we don’t see Dr. Jacoby or those shovels at all during the remainder of the first 4 episodes. Instead, we’re required to wait a week, and wonder to ourselves, “What was the deal with Dr. Jacoby spray painting all those shovels gold?”
Isn’t that a fun thing to ponder? What is he planning on doing with those things? Is he selling them and claiming to people that they’re really made out of gold? Or does he supply them to Ben and Jerry when they need publicity photos of the two of them breaking ground on new land plots? Or…
Lots of questions.
As it so happens, the truth behind Jacoby and his golden shovels is revealed in the revival’s fifth episode, and while we won’t spoil it here, suffice it to say that it was… interesting. But if Twin Peaks: The Return was released originally on Netflix or Hulu, we would have had the answer to that question before our next slice of pizza. And doesn’t that take part of the fun out of it? It’s nice to be able to mull over those little details. And not just the “what’s the deal with the gold shovels?” question, but so many more. These first 4 episodes have answered some questions–like “what happened to Agent Cooper?”. We do get quite a bit of information about Agent Cooper’s whereabouts, but we are still left with many questions.
And it will be fun to toss around those questions week-to-week, as we experience Twin Peaks in our minds as we progress through Summer 2017. The world will be a different place on September 3 than on May 21, and at the rate of the news cycles these days, these are bound to be some turbulent months. Thankfully we have shows that are released week-to-week, and thankfully, we have Twin Peaks.
It all cannot be said aloud now.
Mike Danner is an actor, writer, and filmmaker in Los Angeles. Along with making films that have played in festivals across the country, he has written dozens of movie reviews, and he has appeared in several national commercials. His favorite movie is Jaws.