Twin Peaks: Everything You Need To Know Before Season 3

You've waited 26 years, but your patience is finally about to rewarded. Twin Peaks makes its triumphant return on May 21, 2017, on Showtime. So what can we expect from this season? Well, given series creator David Lynch's vagueness, who the hell knows? What we do know is that it will certainly be something "wonderful and strange."

But hey, what's the point in discussing Twin Peaks without fan theories and predictions, right? That sleepy Washington burg is ground zero for the supernatural, the bizarre, and the comically random. It's small town America at both its most wholesome and most depraved. You'll be in need of a map so you don't wander off to a point of no return.

So whether you're a diehard Twin Peaks fan needing a refresher, or a newbie wondering what all the fuss is about in the first place, here are 15 important things you need to know before revisiting a place last seen in the early '90s, from which cast members are coming back, the cryptic clues left in teasers, and the unresolved plot threads from the season 2 finale. So pour yourself a "damn fine cup of coffee" and start taking notes--preferably into your handheld recorder to send to Diane to report your findings.

SPOILER ALERT: We're covering major plot points from the first 2 seasons of Twin Peaks. We strongly advise watching them before reading. You've been warned. 

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15 Which Cast Members Are Coming Back

Twin Peaks biggest draw will be the show's principal cast and characters, so here's who's returning: Kyle MacLachlan (Agent Dale Cooper), Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer), Ray Wise (Leland Palmer), Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne), Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs), Mädchen Amick (Shelly Johnson), Grace Zabriskie (Sarah Palmer), David Lynch (Gordon Cole), Michael Horse (Deputy Hawk), Harry Goaz (Deputy Andy Brennan), Kimmy Robertson (Lucy Moran), Peggy Lipton (Norma Jennings), Gary Hershberger (Mike Nelson), Everett McGill ("Big" Ed Hurley), Wendy Robie (Nadine Hurley), Richard Beymer (Benjamin Horne), David Patrick Kelly (Jerry Horne), James Marshall (James Hurley), and Russ Tamblyn (Dr. Jacoby).

Miguel Ferrer (Albert Rosenfield), Warren Frost (Doc Hayward) and Catherine E. Coulson (The Log Lady) are three particularly notable returnees, given that each has passed away since filming their scenes last year. Other returning members include Walter Olkewicz (Jacques Renault), Phoebe Augustine (Ronette Pulaski), David Duchovny (Agent Denise Bryson), Charlotte Stewart (Betty Briggs), Al Strobel (One-Armed Man), Carel Struycken (The Giant), Marvin “Marv” Rosand (Cook at the Double R Diner), Julee Cruise (The Roadhouse singer), Alicia Witt (Gersten Hayward), Bellina Martin Logan (Louie "Birdsong" Budway), and Andrea Hays (Heidi).

The cast also includes Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me alums Harry Dean Stanton (Carl Rodd) and Carlton Lee Russell (Jumping Man).

14 Who's Not Coming Back

While most cast members are returning, there are several glaring omissions including the following: Lara Flynn Boyle (Donna Hayward), Michael Ontkean (Sheriff Harry S. Truman), Joan Chen (Josie Packard), Piper Laurie (Catherine Martell), David Bowie (Agent Phillip Jeffries), Chris Mulkey (Hank Jennings), Heather Graham (Annie Blackburne), Michael Anderson (Man From Another Place), Jack Nance (Pete Martell), Don Davis (Major Garland Briggs), Frank Silva (BOB), Eric Da Re (Leo Johnson), and Billy Zane (John Justice Wheeler).

The loss of Boyle is palpable, but the Hayward family will be represented by Alicia Witt, who played her younger sister, and her father Doc Hayward (Warren Frost). Anderson's absence is another bummer, with the actor bowing out over pay disputes. And Ontkean's absence is particularly jarring: Sheriff Truman was a key part of the show's appeal given his chemistry opposite MacLachlan.

Silva, Nance, Davis, and Bowie have all passed away during the 26 years Twin Peaks has been off the air. Given Silva's iconic, terrifying performance, one has to wonder how BOB will be represented in season 3--or if he will be at all.

13 Who's New?

Amanda Seyfried in Gone

Twin Peaks' third season doesn't just include returning characters, but a ton of new performers as well. The big-name cast additions that you may have heard about are Amanda Seyfried, Michael Cera, Naomi Watts, Laura Dern, Ernie Hudson, Ashley Judd, Tim Roth, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The significance of these notable stars' respective roles is still unknown as of yet, but few are expected to pop in for more than an episode or two.

They're not the only ones getting in on the fun, of course. Robert Forster, Monica Belluci, Chrysta Bell, Trent Reznor, Eddie Vedder, Jim Belushi, Brent Briscoe, Richard Chamberlain, Jeremy Davies, Candy Clark, Meg Foster, Ernie Hudson, Brett Gellman, Balthazar Getty, Robert Knepper, David Koechner, Matthew Lillard, Josh McDermott, Jane Levy, Sarah Paxton, Sky Ferreira, John Savage, and Tom Sizemore. For the full cast list--and it's a long one--check out the revival's IMDB page.

Given Lynch's refusal to release any plot details, we don't know which characters the new cast members are playing, save the following: Forster will play the new Sheriff, who may, in fact, be Truman's brother. Lynch mainstay Laura Dern is rumored to play Diane, Cooper's offscreen confident and recipient of copious microcassette tapes, though we'll just have to wait and see to know for sure.

12 The Legacy of Laura Palmer

Twin Peaks Laura Palmer Season 3

If you're unfamiliar with Twin Peaks (in which case, start bingeing...NOW), you may have a few questions; principally, who was Laura Palmer? Her character was in many ways all things to all people. Depending on who knew her, she was a star pupil, the homecoming queen, and someone who gave back to her community through her charity work. But she had a dark side too: a cocaine habit, a propensity for abusive relationships, and a career as a prostitute.

Her conflicted and contradictory life is what her made her shocking murder so hard to solve: what drove the character to such dark ends, and who wanted her dead? The "Who killed Laura Palmer" storyline drove the first season, only to be solved midway through season 2, revealing that she was killed by her father Leland, who was possessed by the evil spirit BOB. If Lynch had his way, we may have never known who killed Laura, and the pressure to reveal the murderer made the second half of season 2 a slog. Palmer will remain a focal point in the new season, with actress Sheryl Lee (Laura) and Ray Wise (Leland) reprising their roles, presumably for more revelations in the Black Lodge.

11 11."It is Happening Again" 25 Years Later

"It is happening again." That's the tagline included in early promo clips and posters for the upcoming third season of Twin Peaks. One can just assume that's a simple mission statement: the show is coming back on the air! But hardcore fans know better. That line was originally uttered by the Giant in Twin Peaks season 2, right before BOB/Leland killed Laura Palmer's cousin Maddie Ferguson.

In other words, BOB looks to be back in business, and that means more folks could soon fall victim to his murderous wrath. Another thing worth mentioning to the uninitiated is why Twin Peaks took so long to return to television. The reason is largely predicated on a dream sequence from the season 2 finale. The clip features Cooper, Laura Palmer and The Man From Another Place, where Laura intones “I'll see you again in 25 years.

Now that it's 25 years later (technically 26, but it's the sentiment that counts), we're finally going to find out what's so special about that timestamp. Well, hopefully; you never really know with David Lynch.

10 The Fate of Agent Dale Cooper

Dale Cooper Bob Season 2 Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks ended with perhaps the biggest unresolved cliffhanger in TV history: Agent Dale Cooper escaped seemingly unharmed from the Black Lodge, only to reveal that he was actually still trapped there, with his Bob-possessed doppelgänger free to kill again in the outside world.

That disturbing conclusion to the 1991 season/series finale has had fans theorizing on what happened next ever since: is the real Cooper trapped in the lodge for good? And what horrible deeds has his evil twin wrought?

Cooper's fate will indeed be one of the main focuses of season 3, as revealed by Showtime President David Nevins: “What I think is satisfying about the new version is that it’s a deeper exploration of that stuff. What is the red room? How does the red room work? Where is Agent Cooper? Can he make it back?” We think it's fair to say that we're going to get both Coopers, as star Kyle MacLachlan recently revealed he enjoyed playing his character's "dark side" in the new season.

9 Audrey Horne Survived The Bank Explosion

While Cooper's fate was the biggest cliffhanger in Twin Peaks season 2, Audrey Horne's was a close second, with the character appearing to die in a bank explosion. "I've got good news," folks: the sultry fan favorite is alive and well.

Series co-creator Mark Frost revealed the character survived the explosion in his book The Secret History of Twin Peakswith Horne being shielded from the blast by Peter Martell. She was then taken to the hospital in critical condition, lapsing into a coma. But obviously, since Fenn is returning, it seems safe to assume that she's on the mend.

This begs the question: will Horne and Cooper finally consummate the unrequited romance that had been teased in the original series? Given the particular scenario that Fenn claimed put the kibosh on their romance is no longer applicable, it just might come to pass.

8 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me Will Be Referenced 

Sheryl Lee and Moira Kelley in Fire Walk WIth Me

Many Twin Peaks fans have been wondering if Lynch's polarizing 1992 film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me would be referenced in season 3. For those who disliked the movie, you're out of luck; and for those who did, time to break out the garmonbozia.

Lynch had this say about the film's impact on the new season at this year's Television Critics Association winter press tour: “The story of Laura Palmer’s last seven days are very important for this.” Given that that was the entire premise for the film, Fire Walk With Me should be considered much-watch material before the season 3 première.

Further giving credence to this is the appearance of the Fat Trout trailer park and park owner Carl Rodd in Showtime's recent teaser trailers. The park was the residence of Teresa Banks, a murdered teenager mentioned in the series, but only shown in the film. It was also the place where Agent Chester Desmond (Chris Isaak) disappeared (no word on whether or not he'll be resurfacing).

7 Angelo Badalamenti is Composing The Score 

Twin Peaks Showtime

Sure, Twin Peaks is iconic for its quirky characters and surreal visuals, but the show's soundtrack is an equally crucial element. The haunting, ethereal, electronic driven score is the work of composer Angelo Badalamenti. His return to score the new season is yet another important piece of connective tissue to the original series.

This begs the question: will the series opening title sequence feature the iconic theme "Falling" in its original form, or a reinterpretation? The same questions could be asked about classic pieces like the ominous and beautiful "Laura Palmer's Theme", or the jazz-tinged "The Dance of The Dream Man". Hearing these tracks again will be pure magic, but we're equally excited about what new compositions Badalamenti will bring to the table (and which songs his muse Julee Cruise will be singing in the show).

6 David Lynch Directed Every Episode

David Lynch - Twin Peaks

While Twin Peaks is synonymous with David Lynch's aesthetic, he only directed a handful of episodes on the original series (six out of 30). While other filmmakers -- including Lesli Linka Glatter, Tim Hunter and Diane Keaton...yes, that Diane Keaton -- did fine work, Lynch's outings were easily the most memorable. His eps include the pilot, "Zen, Or The Skill to Catch a Killer" (which introduced the Black Lodge), "Lonely Souls" (one of the most terrifying episodes ever to air on TV), and the bonkers season 2 finale.

Lynch is assuming full creative control on the new series, however, directing all 18 episodes. This is great news for Lynch fans, especially after the director had threatened to cancel the project due to budget constraints (now resolved). The result, according to Showtime President David Nevins is "the pure heroin version of David Lynch." Prepare to get your fix of the most unified version of Twin Peaks yet.

5 It's "A Feature Film in 18 Parts"

Twin Peaks has always defied convention, and this extends to Lynch and Frost's unique style of screenwriting. The duo's teleplay for the new 18 episodes was first compiled in a whopping 400-page document. Frost described the bulky tome as follows: “It was like the Manhattan phone book.”

So instead of separate teleplays for each episode, the mammoth script was shot, in Lynch's words, as "a feature film in 18 parts," leaving the task for the show's hopefully well-compensated editors to find the appropriate breaks to divvy up the footage into individual episodes.

Indeed, it was the script's length that initially led to conflicts between Lynch and Showtime: the network was angling for 8 episodes, but Lynch realized that he needed more time and money to articulate his vision. Luckily for us, a deal was struck that pleased both parties, and we're getting the whole surreal enchilada. And, unlike its original ABC incarnation, this one comes without any disruptive commercials.

4 Analyzing The Recent Teaser Trailers

Twin Peaks Andy Brennan

Showtime, Lynch, and Frost have been almost maddeningly vague in giving anything away about the new season, which is anathema in today's spoilery, give-everything-away-in-the-trailer environment. That makes it downright commendable in our opinion, and in keeping with Lynch's enigmatic nature.

But we do have a taste of what's to come thanks to Showtime's recent teasers, so let's break them down, shall we? The first clip is a brief montage of locations familiar to fans including the Double R Diner, Twin Peaks Sheriff Station, Laura Palmer's house, the Fat Trout Trailer Park (Fire Walk With Me reference!), and most notably the Black Lodge.

The second trailer shows several quick shots of the returning cast, including a concerned deputy Andy Brennan, Sarah Palmer shopping for booze, a despondent looking Big Ed Hurley, Fat Trout Trailer Park Owner Carl Rodd, Deputy Tommy “Hawk” Hill (who says the lone snippet of dialogue "Right"), before ending on a shot of  Agent Cooper. The last shot is key, with Cooper looking spooked: is this good Coop or bad Coop? And who is the blonde women obscured to his right? Is it Laura Dern, or (somehow) Palmer perhaps?

3 Showtime's Recap Offers Clues

Twin Peaks Laura Palmer

In addition to the aforementioned teasers, Showtime has also released a recap of the prior 2 seasons of Twin Peaks to give viewers the essential puzzle pieces that appear to be the thrust of season 3. Consider it a CliffsNotes version for those too lazy or too busy to cram in every episode (and the film) before the première date.

Some notable moments include the discovery of Laura Palmer's body, Agent Cooper's first arrival in Twin Peaks, a shot of Lynch as Gordon Cole, BOB's killing pattern, the Black Lodge, the One-Armed Man, Laura being brutalized by Bob/Leland (from Fire Walk With Me), and that unnerving sequence where Cooper is revealed to be possessed by Bob.

The clip also serves as a nice homage to non-returning cast members, including Michael Ontkean, Lara Flynn Boyle, and Jack Nance, all of whom will be sorely missed.

2 It Won't Take Place Entirely in Twin Peaks

Where the original series took place almost entirely within the city limits of Twin Peaks, expect Lynch and Frost's universe to expand in season 3. While a large chunk of the filming took place in the original location of Snoqualmie, Washington, the series was also shot in other locations in the overcast state, including Seattle, North Bend, and Everett.

Oddly enough, a sizable portion of the show was filmed in sunny California, including Los Angeles and Palm Springs. Other locations include Las Vegas, the Mojave Desert, and Paris, France. This expanded scope seems to be reflected in the storyline, as series co-creator Mark Frost told Variety: “It’s going to be very different this time around.”

In other words, check your expectations at the door--with Lynch at the helm, it's best to embrace the unpredictable than count on a rehash of what's come before.

1 Why Twin Peaks' Return Is So Significant

The Man from Another Place Twin Peaks

So let's say you've never watched an episode of Twin Peaks. You might be wondering what all the fuss is about.

Be that as it may, if you're a fan of premium dramas like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, True Detective, Mad Men, The Killing, Hannibal and Lost, you owe Twin Peaks a big dose of gratitude.

There were great TV shows before Twin Peaks debuted in 1990, sure, but they all looked like TV shows. They had a formula that separated them from the world of cinema: standalone episodes, smaller budgets, and smaller stories.

Twin Peaks changed all that: each episode featured cinematography worthy of a feature film. It helped popularize serialized storytelling and introduced dream imagery and surrealism to mainstream audiences. A new promo entitled "wonderful and strange" showcases the series pioneering status: "Before men were mad, before thrones played games, before bad was broken, before the dead walked, before they got lost, there was wonderful and strange."  That's why Twin Peaks' return is so insanely exciting. Can Lynch reinvent the TV wheel again? We're about to find out.


That wraps up our list of things to know before Twin Peaks premieres later this month! What other things do you think will heavily factor into season 3? Tell us in the comments!

Twin Peaks premieres May 21 at 9 pm on Showtime.

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