How do you write about Twin Peaks? Or - Gawd help us - review it? There's just no basis for comparison, not even to itself. Description of its events sound nonsensical when you write them down. Often because they are. Or, at least, appear to be. I don't know. Things may or may not resolve at some point. Some will, some won't. A lot of it will never make sense or be explained.
Yet, when watching everything just... fits. I'll admit that after two hours revelling, spinning, in the new Twin Peaks I really have no idea what the heck is going on.
Yet... I feel I know exactly what's going on. Even with the stuff that I know I don't. Confused? Yep. Me too.
This new (and, it has to be said, incredibly unlikely) third season of David Lynch's television classic picks up 25 years after we first left the sleepy town of Twin Peaks. But, then again, maybe it doesn't.
"Is it future," our hero, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, is asked near the start of the first episode, "or is it past?" The option of it being the present, the now, conspicuous by its absence.
It's telling, perhaps, that he offers no answer. To add a little context to the conversation, Cooper is asked this question by a spirit named MIKE who was once a serial killer but reformed and now inhabits the one-armed body of a shoe salesman in the red-curtained, zig-zagged floored, Black Lodge netherworld.
It appears Cooper's been stuck there all this time. One of television's most famous murder victims, Laura Palmer, is also there. She appears suddenly to converse with him in the netherworld's clipped, backwards talk and to make good on her long uttered promise to see Cooper again in 25 years. Oh, and in case you're wondering yes, she is still dead.
Meanwhile Cooper's doppelganger is out in the real world. Unlike the slightly-off, quirky charisma of the strait-laced Cooper, his doppelganger is an ice cold, long-haired killer who is up to... something. I don't know what. But it requires a lot of killing to accomplish.
The main thread to hang on to from the first two episodes (they were released together, weekly episodes are now forthcoming on SoHo and Neon) is revealed when a wiry tree, crackling with electricity and ornamented with a human brain, tells good Cooper he can never leave the netherworld until evil Cooper returns. Simple, right?
It is, until the tree's doppelganger, who I'll call evil tree, unexpectedly pops up accompanied by much nightmare and pushes the spirit of good Cooper out into the real world where he reappears in a big glass box that's situated in a billionaire's building in New York City and kept under surveillance by cameras, a security guard, and an unnamed college student and his curious girlfriend, Tracy.
It is... apart from by the time Cooper shows up in the big glass box, the unnamed college student and his curious girlfriend, Tracy, have both been gruesomely murdered by something frightening and demonic that appeared in the box long before Cooper showed up even though they are alive and well when Cooper shows up.
There is a possibility that there's some time-looping going on here and good Cooper is the frightening and demonic thing that appeared in the box and did the murdering but at this early stage it's impossible to say.
There's more going on - a high school principal is framed by his wife for a gruesome double homicide that he most likely committed, a prophetic log sends the deputy sheriff off into the ominous woods at night, and there's the return of some older, yet still star-crossed, ex-lovers - but it already sounds mad and confusing enough without going into all that.
But damn is it fine TV. I may not have known exactly what was going on but I loved every unknowable minute. It's unmistakably Twin Peaks, yet everything is different. Even the stuff that's the same. The quirky humour I remember from the original is gone completely. In these opening episodes at least, Lynch is conjuring up dark, dark stuff.
Thanks to the purposefully stilted, stylised performances, Lynch's slow gliding camera, his gift for visuals that sear into your brain and a whole lot of WTF, Twin Peaks is heavy with a creepy, unnerving and odd menace. Everything is akimbo and slightly off-kilter. It's a nightmarish blend of unholy image and confusion, with a soundtrack that rumbles and screeches and contorts in your ears.
It's unlike anything else. It's unmistakably brilliant. Welcome back.