But to get at the core of Peaks is no easy task. It remains sui generis in the history of American television: a procedural with the barest interest in whodunit; a mythology that peeled back one mystery to reveal a dozen more obfuscations; a melodrama that coexisted with oodles of obscure symbolism. Its bizarre lineage can be traced from The X-Files to Lost to Hannibal. None of this really nails the show down.
Peaks was the unholy love child of Mark Frost, a guy previously known for Hill Street Blues and recently for a bunch of books about golf, and David Lynch, cinema’s leading liminalist and suburban-rot expert. For a while, they kept each other in check: Frost kept the show grinding against the whetstone of pragmatism, holding together the first season’s ridiculously, consciously complicated insurance swindle plot. Meanwhile, Lynch embellished the overarching question of who killed poor Laura Palmer with career-best dream sequences and dreamy romantic swooning that at its best (James and Donna excepted) evoked a particularly heartbreaking doomed innocence.
But people wanted - understandably - to know who killed Laura. ABC eventually forced the show’s hand as a Hail Mary to boost suffering ratings. Perhaps if Lynch had been running things by himself (see: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me) such a peskily practical matter would’ve been a non-issue in the face of his unmitigated strangeness - the notion that a “question” would be “answered” just wouldn’t be possible. The show had posed a question, though, in the first scenes of the pilot, and answering that question was Frost and Lynch laying their last card on the table.
The revelation of Laura Palmer’s killer opens up a whole host of disturbing questions, ones that get to the show’s thematic heart. The Lynch-directed reveal episode ends on one of the most brutal, horrifying scenes of his career, blunt violence intercut with some of the best use of that “doomed innocence” the show excelled at.
Then the air went out of the balloon and for the rest of its overlong second season Peaks squealed around the room before drifting to as graceful a landing as you could hope for.
Lynch directed a prequel film that satisfied exactly no-one (imagine a Lost movie that focused on Jack’s dog starving to death in the days following the finale) although has inevitably undergone reassessment in the years since, as the sting of “no answers” and the film’s unrelenting odyssey of abuse have faded. And that was that.
i don’t think i can pitch this, so it’s just gonna fizzle in google doc hell
at some point it would’ve been like “hey this is what videogames pulled from twin peaks beyond Deadly Premonition" but that sounds dull, frankly. "20 Things Videogames Took From Twin Peaks - You Won’t Believe Number 6!!!"