Gleaning the clues from David Lynch’s hilariously cryptic ‘Twin Peaks’ panel

David Lynch attends the "Twin Peaks" panel at the 2017 Winter Television Critics Assn. press tour on Jan. 9.
(Richard Shotwell / Invision / Associated Press)

“Twin Peaks” fans who’ve been waiting more than 25 years to find out what happened to Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) will have to wait just a bit longer because answers were in short supply Monday at the Television Critics Assn.

Filmmaker David Lynch made a surprise appearance at the media gathering in Pasadena to discuss the much-anticipated continuation of the cult series, which will have a two-hour premiere May 21 on Showtime. The series will consist of 18 episodes, all directed by Lynch and written by Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost.

He was followed by a panel featuring returning cast members MacLachlan, Kimmy Robertson (Lucy) and Madchen Amick (Shelly), as well as two Lynch veterans, Laura Dern and Robert Forster. who are technically new to the “Twin Peaks” universe.


Under strict orders not to discuss plot or character details, the actors spent most of the panel nervously deflecting questions and describing the “magical,” “joyful,” “beautiful gift” of working with Lynch.

For all their actorly hyperbole, there was no doubt his visit spiced up the proceedings at TCA, even if his answers were generally as inscrutable as “Mullholland Drive.” The director, dressed in his signature blazer and tie-less button-down, was in quintessentially Lynchian form, responding to hopelessly specific questions from a room full of TV reporters with what sounded like Buddhist scripture.

For example, the panel opened with a question from a reporter wondering how Lynch and Frost divided labor. The director had this to say:

“In the beginning, many years ago, we were, Mark and I, as if lost in the wilderness, as it always is in the beginning. And then we seemed to find some mountain, and we began to climb and when we rounded the mountain, we entered a deep forest, and going through the forest for a time, the trees began to thin and when we came out of the woods, we discovered this small town called Twin Peaks.”

Or, when asked about whether he wrote the series as one huge script or approached it as 18 individual episodes, Lynch replied: “It was as you said, a story.”

Did he always plan to use Dern in the new series? “I love Laura Dern.”

You get the picture. This pattern repeated, with increasingly hilarious awkwardness, throughout much of the overly long question-and-not-really-an-answer session, which didn’t have had any log ladies or dancing dwarfs but felt like a Lynch production through and through.


And as in “Blue Velvet” or “Lost Highway,” there were a few potential clues for those paying close attention.

Probably the biggest hint about the new series was that “Fire Walk With Me,” the 1992 film prequel, would be relevant. “The story of Laura Palmer’s last seven days [are] very much important for this.”

This probably goes without saying, but we can probably expect something less than straightforward, based on Lynch’s comments on the original series, which he said was doomed by one fatal error.

“Who killed Laura Palmer was a question that we did not ever really want to answer, and that Laura Palmer mystery was, like I said, the goose that laid these little golden eggs,” he explained. “And then at a certain point, we were told we needed to wrap that up, and it never really got going again after that.”

Another journalist asked if the new series would be an unadulterated, “pure heroin” version of “Twin Peaks.” After an initially deadpan response that got a big laugh in the room (“I hear heroin is a very popular drug these days”), Lynch elaborated ever so slightly, saying that he loved the pilot of “Twin Peaks.”

“That, for me, set the tone, and made the world and the characters for me,” he said. “That started the thing, and I felt really good about that mood and that story, those characters. Just fell in love, deep, deep love.”

So there you have it: The revival will probably retain the mood of the pilot and will somehow deal with Laura Palmer’s final days.

As for possible future seasons of “Twin Peaks,” Lynch said he had no plans for anything more — at least not right now.

“Before, I said I wasn’t going to revisit it, and I did,” he admitted. “I never say no.”