[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from “Twin Peaks: The Return” episodes as they’re released weekly.]
Even if you recently re-watched the first two seasons of “Twin Peaks” through the magic of streaming, that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily recognize everyone who’s come back for the Showtime revival.
Part of the problem is that there are a lot of people to keep track of. Though it’s a small town, it’s still a freakin’ town with a heathy population that thrives on that sweet mountain air. Even considering that some people end up dead, like Laura Palmer, that doesn’t necessarily preclude their return.
“Twin Peaks” has also inflated its cast to a whopping 217 members – or, at least, that’s how many names were released officially. This includes returning cast members and new faces lumped together. That’s because “The Return” doesn’t just return to the town of Twin Peaks, but it also ranges more widely to New York, South Dakota, Las Vegas and other cities. Evil is afoot, and it’s widespread.
Since David Lynch hasn’t figured out how to turn back time (at least not in our world), some of the original cast members may not be as recognizable because of aging and health. It’s a sad truth that adds a bittersweet, but rich note to the series.
In the interest of making some sense of the series, let’s take a look at who returned and how they might be important to help (or hurt) Agent Cooper:
Parts 1 & 2
Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan): Cooper entered the Black Lodge 25 years ago, and judging from what we saw of his experiences in the Red Room from the premiere, we can’t imagine that a quarter of a century of that nonsense is good for your sanity. Nevertheless, Kyle MacLachlan’s good genes made sure that Cooper is at least well preserved and still wearing that same suit. It remains to be seen how he reacts to the world that has passed him by once he gets out.
??????? (Carel Struycken): Also known by fans of the series as The Giant, the fellow appears to Cooper in visions, often making cryptic predictions or pronouncements, such as “The owls are not what they seem.” This time around, he mentions “Richard and Linda” and “two with one stone.” For some reason, these scenes are also in black and white.
Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn): The psychiatrist – recognizable from his red and blue specs – had been seeing Laura Palmer. He’s back from Hawaii, after apparently leaving Twin Peaks to work on his memoirs. It seems he’s been living and working out of a mobile home. He’s working on some sort of mysterious project for which he received a shipment of multiple shovels.
Ben and Jerry Horne (Richard Beymer, David Patrick Kelly): Benjamin Horne had always been more involved with his hotel the Great Northern Hotel and other ladies in the town, than he was with his daughter Audrey. He’s still running the hotel with the help of a new assistant. His brother Jerry, who had always been the playboy of the family, now appears to be a huge stoner who still has no respect for the ladies.
Lucy Brennan (Kimmy Robertson): The longtime receptionist at the Twin Peaks sheriff department still gets somewhat confused about things, but she knows how to work the old-school phone still.
Doppelgänger (Kyle MacLachlan): When Cooper got stuck in the Black Lodge, his Doppelgänger was there and yukking it up with BOB before escaping and masquerading at Cooper. We can now tell the two apart though because in the intervening 25 years, the double helpfully got tanner and grew his hair to look like some wannabe Johnny Cash. This guy appears to be on a mission and recruiting various unsavory types. He supposedly needs to go back to the Black Lodge though in order for Cooper to get out. Yeah, that’s not gonna happen by choice.
Log Lady, aka Margaret Lanterman (Catherine Coulson): Twin Peaks’ resident sage seems more housebound nowadays, but her woodsy intel is just as good as ever. In calls to Deputy Chief Hawk (see below), she helps reopen Laura Palmer’s case in order to help find Agent Cooper. Check out IndieWire’s full examination of her role in possibly saving Cooper here.
Deputy Chief Tommy “Hawk” Hill (Michael Horse): This upstanding lawman has always been a good tracker and has saved Cooper’s life before. On the advice of the Log Lady, he’s investigating Laura Palmer’s case to see what they may have missed before in order to help Cooper.
Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee): Yes, she’s still dead, but able to appear to Cooper in the Black Lodge and said he could leave now. She also did a funky thing with removing her face, showing a glowing void behind it before kissing him, whispering in his ear and then leaving in an overly dramatic fashion.
The One-Armed Man (Al Strobel): MIKE used to be like BOB, inhabiting people and doing bad things until he repented and cut off his arm to rid himself of the “Fire Walk With Me” tattoo and its evil influence. Although he was last seen inhabiting the body of a shoe salesman, he appeared to Cooper in the Black Lodge 25 years later to ask, “Is it future or is it past?” He also introduced him to this other being, seen below.
The Arm, aka The Man From Another Place: We all can be forgiven for not recognizing the Man From Another Place, whom we first met as the dancing fellow in the Black Lodge. We learned that he was actually the arm that was cut off of MIKE, but in its new incarnation, the arm has evolved into … we don’t know exactly what. But it kind of looks like an electronic tree with a fleshy mass on top of it that pulses and talks.
Sarah Palmer (Grace Zebriskie): It doesn’t look like the mother of Laura Palmer and wife of Leland Palmer ever got over the deaths of her family members. We see her living alone at home, watching a really disturbing nature documentary.
Shelly Johnson: This waitress at the Double R Diner had an affair with Laura Palmer’s boyfriend Bobby Briggs back in the day because her husband Leo was pretty awful and violent. She’s now apparently a mother of a girl named Becky, who is seeing a guy named Steven, who’s not right for her.
James Hurley (James Marshall): James was a teenager who rode a motorcycle ands secretly dating Laura Palmer behind Bobby Briggs’ back. James initially a suspect in her murder. Later, after having relationships with various women, including Laura’s best friend Donna, he moved to San Francisco and had plans to go to Mexico. He’s back in Twin Peaks now after having a motorcycle accident at some point.
Bartender Jean-Michel Renault (Walter Olkewicz): This familiar face is technically not a returning character, but a returning actor who happens to function in the same capacity as in the original series. Jacques Renault (Olkewicz) was a bartender at the Roadhouse and worked as a croupier and dealer at One-Eyed Jack’s casino and brothel, but was smothered to death by Leland Palmer in the original series. How Jean-Michel is related to Jacques remains unclear.
Leland Palmer (Ray Wise): Laura Palmer’s dad, who had been possessed by BOB and raped his own daughter, had committed suicide in the original series. He appears in the Black Lodge to tell Cooper to find Laura.
Coming soon: Parts 3 & 4
“Twin Peaks” premieres new episodes on Sunday at 9 p.m. on Showtime.