Hello, Diane. The owls are not what they seem. And David Bowie’s a ket­tle.

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UK Broad­cast Sky At­lantic, fin­ished US Broad­cast Show­time, fin­ished Episodes Re­viewed 3.01-3.18

There’s a mo­ment in the penul­ti­mate episode of Twin Peaks: The Re­turn where FBI agent Al­bert Rosen­field (Miguel Fer­rer) turns to Gordon Cole (show co-cre­ator David Lynch) and says, “You’ve gone soft.” “Not where it counts, buddy,” is Cole’s rapid re­sponse. It’s a laugh, a dirty joke play­ing on Cole’s rep­u­ta­tion as a sil­ver-haired horn­dog, and about as close to a state­ment of in­tent as you’re ever likely to get from the fa­mously oblique au­teur.

This se­quel to Lynch and Mark Frost’s beloved Dadaist mur­der mys­tery picks up, as promised, 25 years later. Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLach­lan) is still trapped in the oth­er­worldly Black Lodge while his evil, long-haired dop­pel­ganger, “Mr C”, is leav­ing a trail of car­nage in the “real” world. Coop must re­turn and put him back in the Lodge. Of course, things are never that sim­ple...

With a cast of hun­dreds and a plot that takes in New York and South Dakota as well as the tit­u­lar town, this is Twin Peaks on a much grander scale. What’s also sur­pris­ing is that the show’s stylis­tic trade­mark, An­gelo Badala­menti’s beau­ti­ful score, gets only min­i­mal use, re­placed for the most part by some supremely eerie sound de­sign.

The re­sult is a show that feels like Twin Peaks seen through the dis­tort­ing lens of its pre­quel, Fire Walk With Me. The Re­turn is warmer and fun­nier than that movie, but it also feels darker, sad­der, older. Time has passed and while it’s been kind to some – Andy and Lucy are hap­pily set­tled down with not a Dick Tre­mayne in sight; Bobby Briggs has be­come a kind, re­spon­si­ble man – for oth­ers, Sarah Palmer es­pe­cially, life has cur­dled. “Is it fu­ture or is it past?” is a ques­tion that re­curs through­out the show, and many of the char­ac­ters here are trapped in­side their bad his­to­ries.

You’re also al­ways aware that there are faces miss­ing. David Bowie died be­fore he could reprise

The show throws into doubt the na­ture of our own re­al­ity

his vi­tal role as Phillip Jef­fries (he’s re­placed by an enor­mous ket­tle). A vis­i­bly frail Cather­ine E Coul­son could only film a few scenes be­fore she passed away, and we’ve since lost Miguel Fer­rer, War­ren Frost and Harry Dean Stan­ton. This show feels haunted as well as haunt­ing.

All of which prob­a­bly makes The Re­turn sound ter­ri­bly dour when the truth is, it’s de­light­ful. Michael Cera de­liv­er­ing a four-minute mono­logue to Robert Forster, while dressed as Mar­lon Brando, is un­ex­pect­edly hi­lar­i­ous. Like­wise, the saga of Dougie Jones is a broadly comic shaggy dog story. And, in the Woods­man, The Re­turn has a mem­o­rable new mon­ster. Ex­pect to see many bearded dudes in lum­ber­jack shirts slur­ring “Gotta light?” at Hal­loween par­ties this year.

Frost and Lynch also know pre­cisely when to de­ploy mo­ments of warm nos­tal­gia in a show that’s oth­er­wise de­fi­antly mod­ern and brac­ingly avant-garde. The pay­off to a ro­man­tic sub­plot from 25 years ago is punch-the-air joy­ful, while the heroic re­turn of a char­ac­ter feels both corny and mov­ing.

It will in­fu­ri­ate and alien­ate some, of course – Lynch hasn’t gone soft, re­mem­ber. The Re­turn is packed with sub­plots, nar­ra­tive blind al­leys and weird ad­juncts that some­times tie up, but more of­ten don’t. There is closure here, but the fi­nal episode throws many things into doubt, in­clud­ing the na­ture of our own re­al­ity. You could read it as crush­ingly de­press­ing, but Lynch, Frost and MacLach­lan – in the best per­for­mance of his ca­reer – find hope in the dark­ness. They leave Twin Peaks (the town and the show) in an am­bigu­ous state but the story goes on, for­ever, in our dreams and night­mares. Will Salmon

Let’s just ad­mit that Laura Dern’s wigs were the best things about the show.

“Hands off the leather, fella.”

Isn’t it time to up­date the Lodge’s decor?

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