Why David Lynch Still Can't Stand Twin Peaks Season 2

Season 1 of David Lynch and Mark Frost's surreal mystery-horror series "Twin Peaks" remains unparalleled for many reasons — the tangible characterization of Twin Peaks as a town, the image of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) dead and wrapped in plastic, and the steady presence of Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) that brought us joy. However, season 2 of "Twin Peaks" went a very different direction after the heart-thumping reveal of Laura's murderer. We're talking goofy subplots, the frankly terrifying "Just You and I" sing-along, and the whole Windom Earle arc — basically all the parts season 2 could have done without.

But hey, you are not alone in your iffy stance about "Twin Peaks" season 2. David Lynch has been the show's greatest critic, especially the way season 2 was handled after his absence from directing a whole chunk of episodes in the middle. Lynch sums up our thoughts about season 2, which runs along the lines of it-was-so-bad-I-had-to-press-pause: (via TVLine):

"The pilot is the only thing I am particularly, extremely proud of. There were great moments along the way. The second season sucked."

That is as blunt as Lynch can get, as the auteur filmmaker is known for his no-nonsense demeanor, cemented in popular culture via the "Eraserhead is my most spiritual film" meme. No, we won't elaborate on that.

Just you and I...are tired of the corny subplots

Don't get me wrong — season 2 of "Twin Peaks" has several standout moments, including the lead-up to Leland Palmer's (Ray Wise) trauma-triggered outbursts that perfectly capture his grief over Laura's death and The Giant showing up at The Roadhouse as a part of Cooper's vision, saying "It's happening again." "Twin Peaks" is filled with these surreal, esoteric moments, especially with the presence of Bob lurking in the shadows (and inside people), while every sequence inside the Black Lodge is pure Lynchian brilliance.

Lynch departed season 2 after overseeing the first two episodes, and the show took an absurd turn, and the results can only be described as an absolute train-wreck. It pains me to admit this, as a hardcore "Twin Peaks" fan, but it really was painful to witness the dark, otherworldly vibe of the show disintegrate into cringy, campy storylines that had nothing to do with the core appeal of the series. Lynch mostly blames the show's original network, ABC, for this, as they pressured Lynch into revealing Laura's murderer too early on, which eventually led to creative differences, and Lynch's temporary hiatus from much of season 2.

While some of the storylines in season 2 were somewhat tolerable — I mean, Windom Earle did have a stake in the narrative as an antagonist, no matter how silly that came off — some subplots were just too farcical for a show like "Twin Peaks." Perhaps the worst was James leaving Twin Peaks and getting enwrapped in an affair with Evelyn Marsh, supplemented by Benjamin Horne's absurd Civil War arc, where he believed he was General Lee, unsettling everyone with his make-believe at the Great Northern. To transition from the harrowing trauma of a teenage girl whose murder haunted the town of Twin Peaks to seeing James sit on his motorcycle and "just go," is a tad too much for even the most passionate "Twin Peaks" fans.

A Lynchian miracle

Lynch spoke about his disappointment with the second season on several occasions, saying that he was "not happy" with how it turned out, and how "ridiculous" it got in the middle (via The New York Times):

"It got very stupid and goofy in the second season; it got ridiculous. I stopped watching that show because it got so bad."

However, "Twin Peaks" found its way back when Lynch returned to direct the season 2 finale, "Beyond Life and Death." The reinvigoration of the classic, season 1 vibe was immediate, with Lynch plunging deep into the ominous entities that govern the Black Lodge, Cooper's direct involvement in the otherworldly dimension, and the spine-chilling "Where's Annie?" scene towards the end. The narrative was finally back on track: this time, the humor actually worked in favor of the scenes, the slow-burn was infused with anxiety-inducing anticipation, and a chamber of horrors was unleashed in ways that replicated the triumph of season 1, which still holds up for hardcore Lynch fans who deem it as near-perfect (me, it's me).

Of course, Lynch fans were blessed with "Twin Peaks: The Return" decades later (a beautiful, haunting gift of fate), wherein Lynch and Frost had complete creative control, allowing them to flesh out the mind-bending vignettes of their original idea, which eclipses the lull of reality in unimaginable ways. "The Return" remains a rather mystical entry, perhaps the most spiritually-attuned Lynchian offering, wherein we are once again welcomed back into the folds of Twin Peaks, the entities that govern the worlds in-between, various Dale Cooper doppelgangers, and a whole lot of nostalgia. 

Everything worked out in a strange and wonderful way in the end, both in our world, and the worlds that lie beyond.