For several years fans of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s much loved show ‘Twin Peaks’ – generally considered to be one of the greatest cult TV series of all time – have been hungry for more. Prematurely canceled and with a planned spin-off movie series curtailed following the release of the commercially unsuccessful film, ‘Fire Walk With Me’, their pleas have gone unanswered with Lynch frequently reasserting both his love for – and reluctance to return to – the rich, quirky and unsettling world that he co-created.
The search then turned to existing material, and when the shooting script for ‘Fire Walk With Me’ became widely distributed, Twin Peaks fans became aware of what has often been dubbed the Holy Grail of their fandom – the film’s excised material, reputedly amounting to 2 hours or more of deleted and extended scenes, exposition and those longed-for cameos from TV series cast members who otherwise went unseen in ‘Fire Walk With Me’. Online petitions followed, and with each new Twin Peaks home video release, so did disappointment. Until now that is, with this week’s Blu-Ray release of ‘Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery’, comprising of the pilot film, both seasons of the TV show, ‘Fire Walk With Me’ itself and at long last, compiled and edited by Lynch himself, what has been appropriately dubbed ‘The Missing Pieces’. 23 years after they were shot, can these lost moments possibly live up to the hype?
The presentation of the material may leave some fans baffled – ‘The Missing Pieces’ are presented as a single, close to 90 minute feature-length experience rather than as individually selectable scenes. This is a method Lynch has successfully employed before, albeit to far less fanfare, for deleted scenes from his film ‘Wild At Heart’ on the pricey but worth seeking out ‘Lime Green Box Set’. This may also lead some to think that ‘The Missing Pieces’ is a film in it’s own right. This is not entirely the case – certainly it would be lost on any newcomer and definitely requires a close knowledge and remembrance of the ‘Fire Walk With Me’ story, so having recently viewed the original movie beforehand is essential. It is, for lack of a better description, ‘the other half’ of a movie that has been split vertically rather than horizontally. That is to say chronologically, events proceed in the same order as ‘Fire Walk With Me’, and these ‘Missing Pieces’ have a clear place within the same framework. You might wonder then, why not just release an extended version of ‘Fire Walk With Me’ with ‘The Missing Pieces’ slotted in to their appropriate places as per the original shooting script? I can only imagine that, given his artistic bent and documented hatred for such things as ‘Scene Selection’ menus, Lynch considers ‘Fire Walk With Me’ a finished work to be viewed as-is and not to be tampered with, and so we are offered ‘The Missing Pieces’ as a companion piece. That said, I have little doubt (and perhaps some hope) that fan-editors are working on their own versions of the complete story as I write.
One of the most questionable aspects of ‘The Missing Pieces’ is its availability only as part of a (admittedly reasonably priced) Blu-Ray set of the entire ‘Twin Peaks’ canon, rather than a separate DVD/Blu-Ray release or as part of a two-disc ‘Fire Walk With Me’ special edition – particularly considering that a ‘Definitive Gold Edition’ box-set of the series was released to DVD a mere few years ago. It’s a shame that whoever was behind this decision saw fit to shamelessly milk the fanbase once more – though admittedly, given that we now have all of the material that is known to be available, probably for the last time until the 3D holographic edition hits in 2020.
Thankfully, far from being full of superfluous scenes, throwaway trimmed dialog (although there are perhaps 3 or 4 such offenders early on) and inferior takes, the vast majority of ‘The Missing Pieces’ are illuminating, moving, and in the case of one staircase encounter – as absolutely chilling as any of the series or movie’s most disturbing moments. As mentioned earlier, many of the series regulars who were absent in the final version of ‘Fire Walk With Me’ make brief appearances, mostly tinged with the kind of humor and whimsy that was the series’ counterpoint to the pitch black drama of the Laura Palmer mystery – speaking of which one of my absolute favorite moments involves the Hayward family and a counter to one of the original film’s most tragic moments. Whatever you got out of ‘Fire Walk With Me’ and whichever scenes have stuck with you most, you’re likely to find something to supplement or make you look at it differently here. Far from being extraneous filler, I have no doubt that this material will go on to be considered as canonical and relevant to the understanding of ‘Twin Peaks’ and Laura Palmer as the series itself.
In finally releasing ‘The Missing Pieces’, Lynch has returned us to Twin Peaks in the only way that couldn’t disappoint. This isn’t half of the cast and a bunch of gawky newcomers 25 years later trying to ham-fistedly recreate the glory days. It’s not a half-hearted reunion that can’t possibly live up to the legacy. It is real Twin Peaks that you’ve never seen before – like discovering a great lost album from your favorite band’s heyday. If you’re a fan, don’t miss it.