“Do you want to watch a movie?” my father asks, bringing in what was at the time the cutting-edge medium for home entertainment: a LaserDisc.
“Sure. What is it?”
“It’s a movie called Eraserhead, directed by David Lynch.”
He then pops the LaserDisc into the player and proceeds to show me a surrealist horror fever-dream about a man with poofy hair who has to take care of his unwanted monster-baby. A warning/parable for early fatherhood, the film also features a pimply-faced lady who dances and squishes gigantic sperm in the process, a severely-scarred man who controls the cogs of the world, fried chicken that gushes blood when punctured, and that baby. Oh, God, that baby.
I WAS 11 YEARS OLD.
This was before the band the Eraserheads, and long before I became a film fan. When we speak of turning points in life this was definitely one of mine. I had never seen anything like Eraserhead before, and to this day Eraserhead is one of the first films I show my film class, simply because I want them getting properly fucked up when they enter my classroom.
A year later ABS-CBN premieres a show called Twin Peaks, which, coincidentally was also directed by David Lynch. I decide to watch it, because they announce that they’re giving 10,000 Pesos away to whoever can guess the answer to the main mystery behind the show: WHO KILLED LAURA PALMER? The first episode I watch features the main investigator, Agent Dale Cooper, throwing rocks at bottles as possible suspects’ names are read aloud to him. Later that night he has a dream about a dwarf in a red room who speaks strangely and whose cousin is Laura Palmer. The dwarf then proceeds to dance as Laura approaches Dale Cooper and whispers the identity of her killer. I couldn’t sleep that night, replaying in my head the clues the dwarf had given, and just really trying to process what I’d just seen.
From then on Twin Peaks became part of my regular Friday night viewing, a habit that consisted of juggling back and forth between channels 2 and 9 and shows like X-Men, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, The Simpsons, Murphy Brown and Northern Exposure. I was so obsessed with the show that it became my mission to convince all my classmates in Montessori to watch the series, and I even made a little comic book parody about it called Twin Geeks. I bought everything there was to buy about Twin Peaks: books like The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer and Twin Peaks: An Access Guide to The Town. You should note that during those days the Internet wasn’t even a thing yet, so I had always felt like the lone crusader who, at 12, had witnessed the gospel and made it his mission to share it with the world.
Which begs the question: why Twin Peaks? There are many answers to that question, and I’ve found that certain answers have only become prominent in later stages of my life. At first it was the lynchness of it all: weird scenarios, disturbing ideas, offbeat characters and this looming atmosphere that you couldn’t scratch off. Later on I found myself more attached to the characters: Dale Cooper as the most charming eagle scout detective in the history of fiction, his logic-based sidekick Harry S. Truman, the gorgeous and inimitable Audrey Horne. Even Laura Palmer, who is never present in the series (except in the aforementioned dreams), ultimately becomes a tragic hero of the highest order. There was also the spirituality of it all: the idea that evil does exist, and it’s our job to stop it. The fear that, to quote Major Garland Briggs, “what if love isn’t enough?”
(THIS PARAGRAPH HAS SPOILERS) And then there was the humanity. As big a David Lynch fan as I am, it’s only in Twin Peaks that the auteur finds a perfect balance between what is surreal and what is real. When Maddy Ferguson is murdered and everyone just feels it happen there is a beautiful scene in the roadhouse that perfectly encapsulates grief and sympathy. When Major Briggs tells his son Bobby about his vision of being with his angst-ridden son in a pure, peaceful, white place one completely feels the brief joy we see in Bobby. When Leland Palmer realizes that he killed his own daughter and Cooper comforts him in his dying moments, we see one of the most touching conversations to ever grace the small screen. (END SPOILER)
Twin Peaks would always find its way back to my life, in one form or another. I actually did join that ABS-CBN 10,000 Peso contest and felt disappointed when I wasn’t the winner announced on Showbiz Lingo. I would re-watch the series with every single meaningful person I had a relationship with. I had the entire run on VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray (+ Fire Walk With Me on Laserdisc). Then, around three years ago the series returned to my life in a big way. My alma mater USC held screenings of the show’s episodes, and Q+A’s with the cast afterwards. That’s when my 12-year-old self returned. I met all these cast members I’d adored since my tween years, asked them questions, had mini-conversations with them. I even had a 15-second interview with David Lynch that garnered attention (and sometimes ridicule) from a few prominent film sites.
Shortly after that, it was announced that after 25 years, Twin Peaks would return. These were my initial thoughts…
…and those feelings have only been magnified since. Shortly after making it a worldwide phenomenon, audiences turned their backs on Twin Peaks, resulting in the show’s cancellation. The resulting finale felt like a huge fuck you to from David Lynch to the show’s network, ABC. (SPOILER ALERT) Many favorite characters were randomly killed off, half of the episode happens in the weird AF red room, and the series ends with the demon Bob (the show’s main villain) possessing Agent Dale Cooper. (/END SPOILER) It was horrible. It was amazing. It, for me, was and still is the bravest hour of television ever produced. After two years of hoping for some kind of closure, I just gave up. I wish someone had told me I waited 23 years short.
In the finale, Laura Palmer actually tells Cooper that she’ll see him again in 25 years. And she’s right on time. In a few hours I will be watching not only the continuation of a series I’d waited 25 years for, but the new season of my favorite television show of all time, directed by my favorite director, who hasn’t made anything long-form in 11 years. That’s a lot of pressure to be feeling right now, as an audience member. And will it work out? I DON’T KNOW. So I guess I’ll just have to channel Special Agent Dale Cooper, who once said “I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.”