At its heart, “Twin Peaks” is the story of terrible hidden abuse at the center of a nuclear all-American family in a small town, and the devastating fracturing it puts the daughter through as she descends into escapist hedonism in a desperate race away from the truth. Unable to have healthy emotional reactions and form stable relationships, yet yearning for caring and love and frantic to perform good acts, Laura Palmer ultimately falls in with every loser, drop-out, criminal, user, void-filled nobody the town has to throw up, and is unable to come back from the brink.
There is enough heartbreak and tragedy in this story, which must play itself out in towns across America on a daily basis, even without the extra elements Lynch and Frost brought to the screen: the nightmare surrealism, the dreamy fogginess, the supernatural, the oddities and high strangeness, the demonic possessions and otherworldly entities in the Black Lodge. Thread through with the unmistakably distinct, airy and haunting Angelo Badalamenti and Julie Cruise soundtrack, “Twin Peaks” brought popular culture to a mystified standstill at the start of the 90s, before idiotic network pressure and impatience forced early resolution of key plot lines early in Season 2 in the name of audience closure. Oh but what a gutting soul-shredding closure!
David Lynch and Mark Frost abandoned the show to its own devices, and much of the interior of season two suffers from this, meandering through some terrible sub-plots of little interest to anyone, and serving no purpose other than further driving viewers away in disgust and disappointment (the silly “Ben Horne thinks he’s fighting the Civil War” arc, the “sex vixen marries the mayor” stupidity, and the “James rides away into trouble with the black widow” eye-roller, for example). As the second season drew towards its conclusion, the show managed to pull itself out of the horrible quagmire, before racing headlong into the Lynch-directed (and re-written) finale which shattered everything to bits while leaving viewers confused and gasping for answers.
Returning to the town of Twin Peaks in the unfairly maligned prequel “Fire Walk With Me” (1992), which drew heavily on Lynch’s daughter’s novel “The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer,” we dive into the terrible darkness courting Laura in her self-destructive descent.
Without “Twin Peaks” there could have been no “X-Files,” no “Lost,” no “Stranger Things.” No TV as we know it today.
“Twin Peaks” remains for me one of the most haunting and compelling shows ever to hit the TV screen.
Before you approach the third season, continuing the story after a long 25 year gap, I strongly recommend you make your way carefully through all 30 prior episodes.