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A Beginner’s Guide to Twin Peaks

A Beginner’s Guide to Twin Peaks

Elisa Teneggi
Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is much more than a TV series. Twin Peaks is the Gospel of modern TV shows. It is a journey through life, death, and dreams. It is a mesmerising conundrum of unbelievably beautiful shots and never-to-be-forgotten characters. And many, many other things. This is why we don’t want to explain Twin Peaks as much as we wish to celebrate it – and persuade latecomers to join the party of David Lynch devotees. Here are five top tips to get you started.



1. “The owls are not what they seem”

Loud and Clear Reviews Twin Peaks Laura Palmer beginner's guide David Lynch
Sheryl Lee in Twin Peaks (ABC/CBS)

Nor is anything that you see on screen. Old sport David Lynch hasn’t taken all that imaginative trouble to craft an easy-to-read world. Not only is his enchanted provincial village at the bottom of Snoqualmie Falls (Washington, US), home to deranged petty drug dealers and averagely well-off American families with too many skeletons in their closets. Twin Peaks is also a place of bewitching foggy forests and mysterious speaking trees, of dreams that don’t come true and terrifyingly real nightmares, of people gone crazy and clairvoyant logs. In Twin Peaks, nothing is what it seems, and you should bear that steadfastly in mind as you approach Season 1, Episode 1. Solving the Laura Palmer murder case might be everyone’s aim in the show. As well as it might not quite be.


2. “This must be where pies go when they die”

Loud and Clear Reviews Twin Peaks Kyle MacLachlan David Lynch Laura Palmer beginner's guide
Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Ontkean in Twin Peaks (ABC/CBS)

Twin Peaks villagers are big on food, and so is Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), the FBI special agent sent to investigate Laura Palmer’s murder. Local delicatessen heaven Double R Diner, owned by cooking goddess Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton), serves boiling, strong coffee and delicious glazed doughnuts round the clock, making Twin Peaks a watering show not just for eyes, but for mouths as well. Food is clearly a hallmark of American culture for Lynch, and his fascination with its relationship with Americans shows in Cooper’s obsession with Norma’s legendary cherry pie. So, if you are a wee of a fetishist yourself – that’s the perfect show for you to secretly indulge in the pleasures of the tongue.


3. “Through the darkness of future’s past, the magician longs to see. One chants out between two worlds… ‘Fire… walk with me.’ ”

Loud and Clear Reviews Twin Peaks Catherine Coulson Getty Kyle MacLachlan David Lynch Laura Palmer beginner's guide
Catherine E. Coulson in Twin Peaks (ABC Photo Archives/Gettyimages)

Since you’ll never be able to actually work out the meaning of this sentence, spoken by an equally enigmatic character (surprise!), you might as well concentrate on the amazing soundtrack. In Twin Peaks, general madness is directly proportional to the quality and dreaminess of the music one plays in the background, and nights are spent banging heads to the electro-gothic rhythms of the Bang Bang Bar. And if you don’t really feel like a party animal, Angelo Badalamenti’s original score will lull you to sleep after all the wear and tear of witnessing an average day in Twin Peaks.


4. “I’ll see you in twenty-five years”

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Mädchen Amick in Twin Peaks (ABC Photo Archives/Gettyimages)

For a couple of lines now, I have more or less been telling you that Twin Peaks does not have a plot. That its ultimate goal is not making you feel snug & comfy in your armchair as you foretaste a hard day’s night. And I’m not taking my word back. Still, Twin Peaks will provide you with some of the darn best cliffhangers in the history of storytelling, keeping your desire unsatisfied for – well, it might well be 25 years. That is the amount of time Lynch let elapse before releasing the third season of the show, Twin Peaks – The Return, in 2017. Twin Peaks is just as full of cliffhangers as life is. And you should expect the story of this (un)obtrusive philosophical masterpiece to go on to no end, till death do us apart. That means you don’t run the risk of becoming bored while having your third re-watch. So why are you still staring at your screens?

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5. “Get a life, punk”

Loud and Clear Reviews Twin Peaks Sheryl Fenn school  beginner's guide
Sherilyn Fenn in Twin Peaks (ABC/CBS)

This really should have been listed as a sleepover secret, because those are the words your mommies are going to scold you with while they find out you’ve failed your mid-term exams because you were busy trying to get in touch with the coffee pot-shaped Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie). I know this sounds crazy, but that’s just because you’re approaching this article as beginners. Take my word as a prophecy. Everything will be clear in the end. Or maybe not. That’s what Twin Peaks is all about, remember?


That being said, don’t watch too much of Twin Peaks. No, I mean it, it’s dangerous for your mental health. I’ve been doing that for years now, and I’ve grown deadly sure Agent Cooper exists somewhere in the world. He’s my personal hero. I know he’s right out there, waiting for Laura to send him a message from unfathomable recesses of space and time. And that, in the meanwhile, he kills time drowning his sorrows in warm and luxurious cherry pie.

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