Review: ‘American Vandal Season 2’ (No Spoilers)

Disclaimer: No spoilers, but story elements will be discussed. If you don’t want anything that might influence you before watching, you may want to turn back now.

I’d like to open by being completely honest with you. I did not want to watch American Vandal at all. I was raised a film snob and I will die a film snob and that was something well-established in my circle. I still resent that I wasted space in my brain to hold information from Season 1. That said, I have acknowledged that Season 1 is not terrible. It’s great for an audience that just doesn’t include me. There are some genuinely funny moments, impressive acting from unknowns that add much-needed realism, and excellent production values. It’s even a good premise: Take the most ridiculous crime you can think of, and make a dead-serious investigative documentary on it. That’s great. I only watched it because my boyfriend and my sister wanted to and I live with them ergo I watched it too. I acknowledge it wasn’t terrible. I just felt there were better things I would rather have spent my time watching.

(Side note: I tried to hide it from my boyfriend when Season 2 came out so I wouldn’t have to watch it.)

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Season 2 is honestly a marked improvement. Again, it’s not one of the best shows you can spend your time on this year, but it’s an enjoyable diversion. The jokes are better integrated with the script, adding to the intended realism of the series. The characters are more relatable, and while still petty and irritating, as humans tend to be, you never really end up hating anyone, ultimately. It’s interesting to note that last season’s accused was a stereotypical low IQ stoner dude-bro, who isn’t what he seems, and this season’s accused is a stereotypical pretentious white privilege intellectual, who isn’t what he seems. In both cases, the dissection of their characters is the real heart of the story.

Let’s get the criticisms out of the way first: My two main complaints this season both involve the twists. And don’t worry, it’s no spoilers, I’m not giving any specifics. However, if you got used to the formula from the first season, Season 2 is very much the same. It follows the same pattern, the same conflicts, the same implications, the same cycle, which makes it easy to figure out where many of the story arcs are going to go. My issue with the final twist, is actually that it’s not obvious enough. I feel that there should have been more foreshadowing, more suggestions of the final solution than we got — which is none, really. It more or less comes out of nowhere. While technically you could have guessed the culprit from early on, there are certain elements you could not have guessed that would make your early deduction flawed. These elements are suddenly introduced, without any precedent. It doesn’t ruin your enjoyment of the show, and it’s not a major criticism. Just an observation.

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The thing I liked best about this season is the characters. I thought they were well nuanced, and behaved more like real people, than the more stereotypical behavior seen in the characters in Season 1. This series is all about subverting peoples’ expectations and straightaway the script makes it clear that these characters aren’t what you expect; it’s just that you’ve been viewing them from a certain lens. This idea is expanded on across the course of the season, evolving and finally becoming clear in the finale, where it unites the various ideas and philosophies presented to us and makes an ultimate statement on human nature and how we interact with our own life.

As with the first season, Season 2 does a good job of building a theme. In Season 1 the overall theme was “People aren’t what they seem so don’t judge too quickly,” and it was prevalent throughout the season. The theme is virtually the same this season, but its tone is very different. It infers that social standing is just an illusion, and that behind a beautiful facade is a real, broken person in need of connection. Because of this theme, social media is a much more important aspect of the mystery this season, bringing out some commentary on the nature of our dualistic, internet-oriented lives.

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In general, I liked Season 2 much better than the first season. I liked the actors, the jokes, and the characters better. This is not to say that it is inherently superior to Season 1, as both have their charms and their pros and cons. It’s just to say that Season 1 can be hard to digest if you’re not very much into it, and Season 2 holds perhaps a more widespread appeal. And while the series has been interesting and unique so far, I think it can only last so long on this premise, and is already starting to become predictable insofar as patterns go.

To be fair, though, whereas Season 1 is like a cudgel, necessary to break audience expectations and set its own standards and precedent, Season 2 is more like a scalpel, expertly dissecting the subjects it chooses for the audience to consider and, perhaps, learn from. If Season 1 didn’t win you over, I suggest you give Season 2 a chance, and its presentation and execution is only improving.

 

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‘How to Talk to Girls at Parties’ Review (No Spoilers)

On a very off chance, two or three years ago, I happened to come across a photo online that was taken of Nicole Kidman on the set of a new film. The name of the film? How to Talk to Girls at Parties. I was taken aback. Wait, what? Like that little story by Neil Gaiman that nobody’s really heard of? Curious, I looked into it, and proceeded to keep tabs on it. After a couple years passed, I figured, something must have happened, they never finished it, or they finished it but couldn’t get it distributed, or something. I was disappointed.

But earlier this year, a trailer for the film popped up, reigniting my excitement. Not only was this a take on a story from my favorite Gaiman collection (Fragile Things), but they’d merged it with the 1977 punk scene, a subject close to my heart. The trailer didn’t completely sell me on it, I was very skeptical. How do you stretch out an 18-page story and make a feature length film out of it? Did they just make up a bunch of nonsense to fill in the run time?

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How to Talk to Girls at Parties is a charming movie that, while it massively embellishes on a very short story, stays true to the spirit of Gaiman’s works: Fairy tales for grown-ups, that can still capture wonder and imagination no matter what your age or walk of life. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s a lot of fun, and fits in very well with Gaiman’s world. I would even put it above Stardust (2007), which I thought was too exaggerated, too Hollywood, and didn’t do the source material’s endearing whimsical nature justice. How to Talk to Girls is an indie film through and through, and the creative enthusiasm of the team behind it shows. This isn’t a movie made to make money, to feed to the masses in convenient servings of banality; it is something either you like or you don’t, and it is unapologetic about its personality.

The plot goes as such: Enn, a teenage punk in 1977 Croydon, goes to the wrong party, and ends up meeting some very strange girls, including Zan, an outsider. She, like Enn, is frustrated with the status quo and restrictions of her society, and wishes to break outside of it. He takes her to explore the world of punk rock, in which she promptly flourishes. However, the true nature behind Zan, her people, and her purpose, slowly comes to light, until Enn realizes he and his friends must take action or risk losing her forever.

The film could certainly be accused of being built around the Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype, but I would argue that Zan shows too much agency, and that the story is truly about her journey to self-realization, while Enn is more there as an aid and witness to her development, and learns about himself along the way. At first blush, Enn does appear to be the protagonist, and he does have his own arc, of course, but Zan is the real hero of the story, who grows beyond her limitations into something greater. It’s a nice change of pace from so many films of this kind, that are about an awkward boy gaining confidence through his supportive girlfriend to achieve his dreams. This movie does service to all of its characters, Zan and Enn in particular, of course. They both have times to shine, arcs to fulfill, and greater things to become.

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That isn’t to say the film doesn’t have its low points. It is very obviously the victim of poor editing, as Nicole Kidman’s Bodicea character is under-developed, with scenes fleshing her out further seemingly missing, causing some of the dialogue between her and protagonist Enn make little sense. The special effects are also spotty, details of Zan’s collective are somewhat confusing, and some concepts are undercooked. There is a vaguely environmental theme that crops up from time to time, but it is inconsistent and never fully realized.

One thing I’m not sure if I should criticize or not is Vic’s arc. Vic attends the party with Enn at the beginning, and has an experience he doesn’t quite understand. Throughout the film, we see moments of discomfort from him, which, eventually, he is required to face up to. However, exactly what that is that he is facing is unclear. I could extrapolate plenty of answers, and just because something requires you to think and come to your own conclusions doesn’t make it bad, but I feel like the movie might have benefited from clarifying this particular plot point.

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Overall, How to Talk to Girls at Parties is not a perfect film, but it does its source material justice and is an enjoyable ride, and in this age of multi-million dollar blockbuster trash heaps, supporting indie films is important. While the special effects are low-budget, it remains visually striking, from the set design, to the costumes, and the group performances with the punks and Zan’s people. While the very basic concept behind the story is one of the oldest tropes — forbidden love between two teenagers — it manages to give it a fresh twist and subvert your expectations.

The movie is available for free with an Amazon Prime subscription, and you can stream it on YouTube and Google Play.

 

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The Post-Punk Band Nobody Ever Told You About

When I first heard about this band, I was angry. Angry that this band had existed all this time and no one had ever told me about them. This is how I found them: I pulled up a list of post punk bands from Wikipedia and just made my way down the list. If I didn’t know the band, I’d look them up on YouTube. Luckily, these English fellows were near the top so it didn’t take long for me to discover them.

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And Also the Trees are a stunning blend of sound, comparable to The Cure, Joy Division, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, yet retaining a mood all their own. They sound like the ghosts of the past come back to haunt you through your stereo, infecting your brain with a sickness divine.

Formed in 1979 (the same year Joy Division’s sophomore album Unknown Pleasures was released) in Worcestershire, the band was comprised of two pairs of brothers; Simon Huw Jones (vocals), Justin Jones (guitar), Nick Havas (drums), and Graham Havas (bass). They started very much from nothing, having no prior musical experience, requiring them to teach themselves to play their instruments. After a few rough recordings, they caught the attention of Robert Smith of The Cure, who brought them on tour. The Cure’s drummer, Lol Tolhurst, later produced their self-titled album.

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The band became popular in Europe, but never broke into the USA. It’s a shame, because I feel they should be held in the same esteem as other legendary post-punk artists. The band is still active to this day, though the Havas brothers have dropped out. Their latest release as of this writing is 2016’s Born into the Waves.

Their song “So This is Silence” has strong similarities to The Cure’s Pornography album, with it’s oppressively dark ethos of loneliness and despair, as if something horrible has happened and all the singer can do is wail in agony into the abyss. “Maps in Her Wrists and Arms” conjures the image of a frail dope fiend, like Mary Tyrone wandering through her house in a haze at night. “Slow Pulse Boy” tells the tale of a PTSD-ridden soldier remembering the tragedy of the lives lost in war.

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And Also the Trees have a deeply evocative and haunting sound. Within their songs you can find phantasmal murderers lurking out of the fog to stalk the London streets, the ghost of a long-lost lover now only remembered in images, and scenes of horror and violence driving one into shrieking madness.

Out of their discography, I would most recommend the album Virus Meadow, which remains my favorite of theirs.  Every track is a solid example of the band at their best, starting off with the ominous “Slow Pulse Boy” and closing out with the eerie, haunting imagery of “The Headless Clay Woman.” This album should have been one of the great post-punk albums, up there with Disintegration and Closer. It holds you in a mystical state of both terror and wonder, waiting for the next note, the next revelation.

If you fancy yourself an avid, deep-cut music aficionado, this is a band you need to discover. It’s an experience quite unlike any other, that transports you into a world of its own.

‘Disenchantment’ Review (No Spoilers)

“Entertainment is just a tool that pacifies the masses and leads to the decay and ultimate collapse of the civilization. Let’s clap along!” -Luci (Eric Andre)

Look, here’s the hard and honest truth no one wants to accept.

Disenchantment. Is. Not. As. Bad. As. People. Say. It. Is.

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Sure, if you go in with expectations that it will be a Simpsons or Futurama clone that puts gags first and story after, then you’ll probably be disappointed. But that’s on you, and not the show. The show is fairly decent as its own thing. It is 100% plot driven, with jokes worked in there. The characters are interesting and compelling enough that you want to see what happens with their stories.

The story centers around the hard-drinking Princess Tiabeanie (“Bean” for short), an outcast Elf named Elfo, and a demon named Luci who has been sent to manipulate her. While the characters may at first seem one dimensional, they are further explored, and reveal new mysteries about themselves, as the series progresses. What appeared to be a simple fantasy tale with a Simpsons-y twist turns out to be far from what it seems. There are some dark moments, and some satisfying character development.

I’ll admit, I, myself, was extremely skeptical. I thought it was going to be utterly forgettable. The Simpsons took a sharp dip in quality after its “Golden Age,” and I found Futurama to be spotty in quality. (I think your enjoyment of Futurama is directly proportionate to how much you like Bender, and I found him annoying at best.) Maybe because I had low expectations and thought I’d tire after the first episode, I was greatly impressed and couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Keep in mind, though, it’s not a laugh fest, and it’s honestly not meant to be. The story comes first at all times, and the jokes are just there to add some spice. The writers work on building up the mysteries, conflicts, and plot twists, which keep you wondering at all times. You feel like you’re always on the verge of discovering something in this show, and I promise you, it does reward you for paying attention and remembering plot details, as certain elements return, further developed, later on in the series.

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These ten episodes do a good job of world building, making you hope for a season two, in order to further explore the possibilities lying within each new place. There are many different creatures and races introduced that are only briefly touched upon, who could hopefully be expanded upon in the future.

Mark Mothersbaugh provides the music, which gives the series a unique feel. It captures the excitement and zaniness of Disenchantment with gusto, giving the feel of a medieval festival full of drunken knights, peasants, and jesters. Mothersbaugh has always delivered quality soundtracks for his projects, and this is no exception.

The title Disenchantment really says it all, as the epic presents you with all the tropes and stereotypes of a classic fantasy and slowly strips away the conventions, twisting them into something worth your attention. It demystifies itself and manages to ground its fantastical characters enough to make them not too outrageous.

All the voice actors do well, but Eric Andre is a standout. His performance as Luci manages to be simultaneously maniacal and endearing. Overall, though, all the actors deserve a shout-out for the amount of characters they voiced, with just 18 voice actors portraying all the characters in the series. Of course former Groening collaborators at present, such as Billy West, Tress MacNeille, John DiMaggio, and Maurice LaMarche, and all do a top notch job as always.

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Overall, Disenchantment is fun, and its something uniquely its own. It’s not The Simpsons, and it’s not Futurama, and you shouldn’t expect it to be. It builds its own intriguing world, and presents you with new characters to follow in their quest to self-discovery. Every character has a purpose and potential to grow, and even if you’re not sold on them at the beginning, by the end, you will care about what’s at stake for all of them. Even if you have low expectations, and even if you end up not liking it, I very much recommend giving it a chance.

The Simpsons: Lisa is the Villain in ‘Bart Sells His Soul’

The Golden Age of The Simpsons still holds up to this day, despite various modern controversies and some outdated stereotypes. The concepts and lessons contained within remain both compelling and hilarious. Lisa is one of my absolute favorite characters within the prodigious cast of the show. However, there is one episode I re-watched recently that made me re-think my opinions of the character.

In the Season 7 episode ‘Bart Sells His Soul,’ Bart and Milhouse get into a theological discussion (rather advanced for a pair of 10-year-olds) about the nature of the soul. Milhouse whole-heartedly believes in the concept of the soul as presented by organized religion, while Bart maintains that the soul is fake, made up by religion to manipulate the masses and make a profit off of tax-free donations. And he’s entitled to that opinion.

You know who’s not okay with that? Lisa.

While Lisa is generally portrayed as a liberal free-thinker, supporting the rights of the oppressed, her actions in this episode greatly contrast those character traits. Once she finds out that Bart sold his soul to Milhouse (it was actually just words written on a piece of paper), she is clearly disturbed by the fact that Bart doesn’t take the concept of the soul seriously. She presses her own agenda upon him repeatedly, and mocks him in front of their family for his beliefs.

Because she disagrees with Bart’s opinion, she ostracizes him, and uses a series of arbitrary coincidences to convince Bart that he has lost his soul. She even buys his soul when she finds it in the Android’s Dungeon comic book store, and then proceeds to withhold it from him. It is only after he goes through Hell, is missing all night, and comes home in a clearly broken state, that she concedes and returns his soul to him.

She takes advantage of his emotionally vulnerable state, and convinces him that all the trouble he endured was actually good, and was necessary for him to deserve his soul. She is basically using psychological torture to imprint Bart with her own beliefs, as many cults do in real life.This is very disturbing behavior for one of the most progressive characters in The Simpsons. Granted, the early days of the series have their problematic moments, and, whether or not you agree with these criticisms, it’s undeniable that society has come a long way in how we view women and minorities, putting these issues more under the microscope than ever. However, atheists and those with atheistic ideas (those who don’t believe in angels, heaven, or the soul, but may still believe in a higher power) are still one of the most distrusted groups in the United States. If this episode was made today, I’m sorry to say, I think Bart’s opinions would still be treated with scorn.

 

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Theory: The Deeper Connection Between Bloodborne and Lovecraft

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers for Bloodborne.

There’s no question that the Hidetaka Miyazaki game Bloodborne is heavily influenced by the works of H. P. Lovecraft, particularly the concept of the Great Ones and other incomprehensible beings. There are three main cycles in Lovecraft’s work, with some overlaps here and there: The Cthulhu Mythos, the Dream Cycles, and his miscellaneous works. For this theory we’ll just be focusing on the first two.

There are two factions of “Gods” (for lack of a better word) in Lovecraft’s mythos: The Great Old Ones, such as Cthulhu and Tsathoggua, and the Outer Gods, such as Nyarlathotep and Azathoth. (There are also their minions, but those irrelevant here.) The Great Old Ones are mostly Earth deities, worshiped by ancient man. They are rooted in nature and the workings of the Earth itself. Then, there are the Outer Gods, which are more concerned with the Dream Lands and space. They exist outside of our natural realms, living instead in the far reaches of the cosmos and other dimensions.

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In Bloodborne, the main goal of the humans is to transform into higher beings, akin to the Great Ones, through consumption of the blood of the left behind Great One, Ebrietas and experiments with the Kos parasites. However, these humans attempting ascension seem awfully confused. They believe that the Kos parasites will grant them the insight needed to ascend, and begin working with water-based experiments. Kos seems analogous to the Great Old Ones of the Earth. However, there seem to be bigger fish to fry, like the Moon presence, which seems more like an Outer God. It’s not a one-to-one comparison, but I believe Bloodborne drew from this concept of there being two factions of Gods, and created a conflict between them. Someone* suggested that the Amygdala seemed to be the antagonists of the Moon Presence.

*Author’s note: My sincerest apologies, I can’t recall whose theory this is. If anyone reading this knows, please bring it to my attention in the comments below so I can properly attribute their work to them.

Furthermore to prove that the citizens of Yharnam are greatly unaware of the truth, they mistook the concept of Insight to mean “Eyes on the inside.” This makes no sense, honestly. It sounds like the result of a game of telephone, wherein the original concept was to gain insight into the nature of these greater beings, so as to reach their level of existence, but over the years, or decades, or possibly even eras, this word “insight” was mistranslated by those that followed the original discoverers of the eldritch truth, and thought that they were supposed to literally have eyes inside their brains. They therefore began experimenting on animals, and later humans, mutilating them to sprout multiple eyes.

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My theory on what all this means for the story of Bloodborne: Humans attempting ascension are concerned with the “Great Old Ones” like Kos, but they fail in their goals because this is not the true way. The twist at the end is that, while the humans were concerned with the Great Old Ones, the Moon Presence, an Outer God, was pulling the strings the whole time, and it is the true means of ascension. The ending is a revelation that everything the humans thought was important was a red herring. It was never the way to becoming a higher being. Something that other humans could never have fathomed was there was the true means they sought. It enslaved Gehrman so that it could find a Hunter to do its bidding, and destroy the Great Old Ones for reasons that are probably unfathomable to us mortals. Who knows how long this has been going on. Perhaps every Hunter has been given a different task, each one a step towards the Moon Presence’s ultimate goal. Eileen and Djura seem to have been successful in whatever task they were given, and were returned to the waking world by Gehrman’s execution.

Notice how it’s only once you meet the Moon Presence that you ascend to being a higher being. That was the only way the whole time. The blood of the Great Old Ones, Gods of the Earth, were only ever going to turn people into beasts, because the beasts are creatures of the Earth and Nature. The only way to become a higher being, is to commune with the cosmic entities.

 

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Back From the Abyss

Well, well, well, here we are again. It appears my foray into the exclusively Lynchian has come to a close, and thus I am seeking to move on to more varied pastures.  Twin Peaks: The Return came to a close and I found myself without anything more to say on the subject. Just no flow of thought. On the other hand, my mind was buzzing with ideas when it came to things such as video games, music, film, and other television shows.

Bloodborne, Death Stranding, The Legend of Zelda, the DCEU, underground music, and pop culture in general has become my intrigue. I have so much to say, it has become unreasonable to limit myself, or to force myself to continue within a framework that does not fascinate me anymore.

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“When you come in here and you hear me typing, or whether you don’t hear me typing, or whatever the fuck you hear me doing; when I’m in here, it means that I am working. That means, don’t come in.”

-Jack Torrance, The Shining

Meanwhile, struggles with social anxiety and depression made it strenuous to stick to my goal of one article per month. While I will continue to try and publish as often as I can, by necessity, this blog will be more free form.

So, thus ends my brief update. I look forward to a prosperous and rewarding future here, and sharing my ideas with all of you. Cheers.

Review – South Park Season 19, Episode 01: “Stunning and Brave”

After the disappointment that was Season 18, South Park returns to its roots and takes on PC culture in one of the most self-aware episodes yet.

Warning: Herein are spoilers for South Park Season 19, episode 01.

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Here is the basic gist of the episode: When Principal Victoria is fired from South Park Elementary (for making a joke about date rape and Bill Cosby), P.C. Principal is hired to take her place. He is a douchebag fraternity bro who pretty much bullies everyone — children and adults — into being politically correct. Nobody is happy about it, but Cartman, the eternal bigot, is the most terrified. He changes his attitude immediately, much to the chagrin, surprisingly, of his friends. Kyle becomes P.C. Principal’s main target, since Kyle was heard saying that he doesn’t consider Caitlin Jenner a hero. Kyle, Stan, Kenny and Butters beg Cartman to go back to his old ways and take on P.C. Principal, goading him by saying he should act more like his hero, Tom Brady. Cartman gives in, and attempts to frame the principal for child molestation. The principal becomes enraged when Cartman uses the term “spokesman” instead of “spokesperson,” and beats Cartman within an inch of his life, sending him to the hospital. Cartman once again vows never to return to his old ways, but is forced to break that vow in order to save Kyle, who is suffering worse and worse at the hands of the P.C. fraternity. Cartman tries to fight the fraternity off by sending in racial stereotypes, but all this does is cause more chaos. Kyle calls a halt to the madness, and tells everyone he agrees that Caitlin Jenner is “stunning and brave,” as everyone has been saying. This sates everyone around him, and the episode ends with the P.C. fraternity starting their own P.C. police force to oversee the city. Cartman has allegedly taught the P.C. bros that sometimes stereotypes and offensive humor can be used to discuss important issues, but Kyle is still dissatisfied, and points out that it seems that the only one who really won is Cartman. “And who does that remind you of, Kyle?” Cartman asks, referencing the boys’ earlier plea that he act more like Tom Brady.

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“Right, and what does Tom Brady do after breaking the rules?!” -Stan

“Deny and subvert.” -Cartman

Politcal Correctness (shortened as “P.C.”) has been an largely discussed subject lately, particularly by comedians, such as Jerry Seinfeld and Sarah Silverman. It’s only natural that it should be covered by South Park, the show infamous for breaking P.C. code in order to discuss important social issues. In essence, in this episode, Kyle is representative of South Park the show, who has issues with the politically correct state of the world. It’s important to note: Kyle is not a racist, a homophobe, a sexist, or any such thing. He’s actually a very sympathetic character. This drives home the point that Parker and Stone are NOT talking about actual bigots, but average and honest people who have the right to speak their mind, which doesn’t really harm anyone.

“I didn’t like Bruce Jenner when he was and athlete and on the Kardashians, and I don’t suddenly like him now.”

-Kyle

At the end of the episode, it is Cartman using offensive imagery to battle the ultra-P.C. frat boys, but all this does is make things worse. This is to show that two wrongs don’t make a right, and you can’t win by being a bigot, or by playing word police. Kyle is the one who has to make a sacrifice in order to calm things down. He knows he has to choose his battles in this situation, and has decided that this one isn’t worth fighting. He doesn’t want either side to win, so he ends the fight the only way he can think of.

Cartman uses racist stereotypes to fight the P.C. frat boys

Cartman uses racist stereotypes to fight the P.C. frat boys

South Park acknowledges that there is a difference between being a dick and just speaking your mind. Not everyone has to agree on every issue, and disagreement isn’t fair grounds for social conflict. Kyle is stuck in an all-too-real situation where the rest of the world has come to a certain consensus, and if you do not conform to it, you are ostracized. Let’s be very clear on one point: Free speech should be untouchable. At no point should anyone be able to force you to say anything against your will. In the end, for better or worse, it IS Kyle’s choice to do what he does. No one forces him to change his statements, although they tried vehemently throughout the episode: He makes the choice because he believed, in this case, it was the right thing to do.

The dark side of anyone being able to say anything they want is that you will hear from a great number of racists, sexists and homophobes, and their opinions will be treated as valid. This is a different case than Kyle’s: Certain people are out just to be malicious and spread hate and fear. This problem won’t be solved with word policing; it can only be solved with edification. These people must be taught that such beliefs are absurd, and the best way to do that, is through the kind of satire that South Park delivers.

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On the question of where this is going: It does seem that South Park is trying out another continuing story-line that will last all through season 19, much as they did in season 18. However, now they may have had the time to work out the kinks, and figure out where exactly they want to go with this story. The final exchange in this episode between Kyle and Cartman, I feel is a hint: If I had to guess, Cartman has a plan. He’s not done breaking the rules. Something is going on beneath his calm, kind exterior. It looks like this arc will continue, which means that there is plenty more time for the children to take on P.C. culture, and eventually win a victory for freedom of speech and expression.

This season, I’m going to try to review every South Park episode, each week. What were your thoughts on this week’s episode? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Comment below. Until next time, lie, cheat, steal, and hug your cats!

South Park: Even When You Die, La Resistance Lives On

I may not be the only person who felt a tiny pang of panic when I watched South Park‘s Season 18 finale this year. To me, the thing was littered with hints and suggestions that, of all things–

South Park might end.

Season 18’s finale, entitled “#HappyHolograms” was many things, including premature, haphazard, confusing, and, some might say, pandering. Most fans didn’t know what to make of it. I couldn’t tell if it was a massive suck-up fest to the YouTube celebrities, or a veiled and elaborate “Fuck You” to them. One thing seemed clear to me as I watched it, however: It was, if nothing else, an admission of South Park‘s own mortality.

Simulation Ended.

Simulation Ended.

And it had to come sooner or later. I have seen a few favorite shows collapse beneath the weight of their own fame and longevity: The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live seem to only be on out of habit nowadays, for, although their fame has never been greater, the edge has simply been dulled. Rather than embracing the anarchic quality that, to me, is inherent in all good art, these shows now serve and pander to the Pop Culture. What was once Dada is now Pop Art. John Lydon is now Steve Jobs. Kalle Lasn is Stephanie Meyer. Bills Hicks is Carlos Mencia. In other words, instead of being whistle blower against the bullshit of the Pop Culture Machine, they became proponents of it, and all its units.

Having seen it happen to The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live, I should have been on the look-out for the same to happen with South Park. I realized I wasn’t when I saw the latest episode, and it hit me harder than I would have expected. Viewing this episode was a depressing experience. Starting with the fact that it utilized a plot line I had stopped caring about seven episodes ago, the episode continued to put me off by not only an overall lack of many real jokes, but by ostensibly promoting the very things they attest to mock. I wasn’t asking them to condemn YouTubers or anything like that, but damn it, South Park, after almost two decades of enlightening us on how to cut through the bullshit Pop Culture throws at us every day, why have you done such an abrupt about-face to push the bullshit on us? As if you’re saying, “Hey, you know the statements we made over the last 17 years? Yeah, forget it, we don’t really care about it anymore.”

“#HappyHolograms” was seemingly a 21-minute tribute to the continuous de-evolution of Pop Culture, paired with the apparent message of “People would rather watch other people playing video games on YouTube than the intelligent and controversial humor we’ve been fighting for the right to put out for 18 years, but we don’t care, in fact we think that’s a good thing!” (Kyle’s hashtag notwithstanding.) It might as well have ended with everybody holding hands and singing “Que Cera, Cera” together while standing in a pile of pig shit.

The cast of South Park.

The cast of South Park.

South Park Season 18 was the first season to utilize a continuing storyline, with events no longer confined to a single episode, but rather stretching across the entire, ten-episode season. However, there was little pay-off. Many fans complained about the overall lack of jokes and absence of many favorite characters, including the four main characters. These staples were cast aside to make room for confusing tangents involving other, more obscure characters, or celebrity parodies. In sum, the latest season was a chaotic, slap-dash, half-baked attempt at a yet unrealized concept. Perhaps the idea will develop by the time next season comes around, and they’ll give the method another try. But when this season began, and the continuing storyline was first noticed by fans, there was the question: What are they building up to? I still can’t say, but I think I know.

I’m here to tell you that South Park will end, but I’m also here to tell you why it doesn’t matter.

Because, enough about what I hated about season 18. That’s NOT what I’m writing this article for: I’m writing this article because South Park changed my life, and, if you are an artist, or if you’re even just an American, it has changed your life, too, even if you didn’t know it.

Before Adult Swim, before Tosh.0, before Cop Drama uttered the word “shit” on network television, South Park made many blows on behalf of artist’s rights, and often with few supporters to back them up.

I'm looking at YOU, Simpsons! - The Simpsons' reaction to South Park's battle to air a controversial episode featuring the Muslim prophet Muhammed.

I’m looking at YOU, Simpsons! – The Simpsons’ reaction to South Park’s battle to air a controversial episode featuring the Muslim prophet Muhammed.

South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut was, and still is, the greatest statement on artistic freedom versus censorship to be committed to (crudely animated) film. The movie manages to be a commentary on itself, discussing a situation as it is creating it. It may be easy to forget now, but the film was a groundbreaking work in many ways, stirring much controversy, but largely receiving support and critical accolades. It was a commitment and a testament: “This is what we believe, and we are standing by it, whether you’re with us or not.” You have to be ready for battle when you’re putting out content like this: Songs built around phrases like “Uncle Fucker,” a child smoking and calling God a bastard, bloody onscreen violence, and obvious blows against proponents of censorship. (I still am not able to believe that, to this day, I still hear about the “obscene” and “disgusting” proliferation of fart jokes in South Park, but absolutely not a word on the fact that they have a cut-out of Saddam Hussein in a homosexual relationship with Satan, Prince of Darkness. Seriously.)

The kids of South Park leading La Resistance against censorship.

The kids of South Park leading La Resistance against censorship.

Times have changed
Our kids are getting worse
They won’t obey their parents
They just want to fart and curse

Should we blame the government?
Or blame society?
Or should we blame the images on TV?

-“Blame Canada” (Shaiman/Parker)

South Park made enormous headway for future television shows, particularly in the world of animation. The fact is that creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone stood up and fought for the right to artistic freedom from censorship, which benefited more people than had rallied to their side during the battle, and they did it simply because they had a right to it. I’m well-aware that every episode of South Park has not been a brilliant rallying cry for the forces of anarchy and freedom, but in a way it has, as each episode has been a perfect depiction of Parker and Stone doing whatever the fuck they want. Even that damn “Lice-capades” episode falls into that category.

Pictured: Matt Stone and Trey Parker doing whatever the fuck they want.

Pictured: Matt Stone and Trey Parker doing whatever the fuck they want.

I guess my point is this: South Park is starting to look weak nowadays. And it breaks my heart because I love the show and I can really say it has made my life better. It changed the world for artists, and for everyone. But no one is meant to carry the torch forever: Everything ends eventually, and, whether this season is a death knell or just a bump in the road, South Park will end, too, one day. So what do we do now that it’s ending?

It’s simple: Though you die, La Resistance lives on. Here’s how:

You must remember this.

South Park taught us that we have a right to artistic freedom from censorship.

South Park taught us that just because everyone tells you something is cool, it doesn’t mean that it’s true.

South Park taught us that just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you know best.

South Park taught us that every human being and every organization is capable of making complete asses of themselves (some more than others).

South Park taught us to tolerate and love others, while not being so tolerant that we make ourselves blind to potential bullshit.

South Park taught us that whether you’re a disabled child, a Catholic, a Goth Kid, a Trekkie, a Feminist, a Jew, a Racial Minority, a Homosexual, an Elderly Person, an Atheist, a Transgender, a Policeman, a Christian, or anything else I haven’t thought of, you are a human being, deserving of sympathy and capable of mistakes, but also responsible for your actions, your actions, so don’t be asinine, cruel, or corrupt, and stand up for what you believe in.

In the end, it’s not what happens to the things we love that matters, because ultimately, everything dies: What’s important is what you do with the things you learned.

Twin Peaks: Picking Up the Missing Pieces

The Cast of Twin Peaks

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Showtime has signed Twin Peaks co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost to resurrect their groundbreaking series for 2016, leaving Twin Peaks’ amazingly loyal fanbase in a state of revelry. So, now that we’ve finally gotten what we wanted, the question on everybody’s mind is just how it will be done.

There has been much speculation going on, as Mark Frost has been reluctant to say much of anything in interviews (which is understandable–don’t count your eggs until they’re hatched), leaving us fans to hypothesize, make educated guesses, or just plain make up what we might see in the long-awaited season three of Twin Peaks. So let’s go character-by-character and look at some of these ideas, shall we?

(Incidentally, need I say it? Major spoilers for those who haven’t seen Twin Peaks or Fire Walk With Me.)

Special Agent Dale Cooper This is the one everybody wants to know about. Whether you give us the conclusion to any other story, so long as you give us a satisfactory answer to WHAT HAPPENED TO DALE COOPER, we will be happy. It seems like actor Kyle MacLachlan has signed on to reprise the character, so chances are good that we will finally get what we’ve been waiting for. But as for what that could entail, well, theories abound.
One hypothesis is that BOB, thrilled to have taken possession of a government agent, used his host to commit crimes on a political level which, I assume, means he is now the President of the United States in the Twin Peaks universe. Another idea is that Cooper, with nothing else to do while trapped in the Lodge for 25 Earth years, decides that his only hope of escaping lies within the mysteries of meditation. He essentially meditates himself to enlightenment and uses his new psychic abilities to utilize the Lodge to do good, basically becoming an agent of the White Lodge. What crossed my mind is that BOB wouldn’t get very far pretending to be Cooper, because too many Twin Peaks residents (particularly Sheriff Truman and Audrey Horne) would smell that something was fishy besides the coffee and uncover the truth, which would probably land Cooper in a mental ward, at least until the whole unpleasantness was sorted out (more on that later).
If, on the other hand, you believe that BOB really could fool the whole town, or even the government, there is potential for quite an interesting rampage, which could just give the Good Dale more emotional impetus to stop BOB and right the wrongs committed using his own body.
(Also, yes, there is another thing to note while we’re here: The Dale Cooper that we see at the end of Twin Peaks is technically the Evil Dale, since Good Dale is trapped in the Lodge, according to Annie Blackburn. What that really means, however, is anyone’s guess. [Is it the same body? So that means BOB actually possessed an Evil being? Does that make him doubly Evil?])

Sheriff Harry S. Truman As far as fan speculation goes, it’s not looking so good for Sheriff Truman. Most people expect that he will have retired from the police force and has turned into a drunken recluse, haunted by the guilt of what happened the night Good Dale disappeared, as well as the death of his beloved Josie Packard. It would be interesting to see this, and to see him turn himself around again once the action starts to pick up, and possibly mentor the next generation of Bookhouse Boys. One does have to allow for the possibility though, that Harry just plum picked himself up and went on with life, and now has a wife and two or three kids.
No word on Michael Ontkean and whether or not he’s interested in returning. If he doesn’t, we’ll of course be very sad: His friendship with Cooper was one of the cornerstones of Twin Peaks, and as far as characters go, Harry has more motivation than most to save Cooper and stop BOB. It’ll be a missed opportunity if we don’t get to see his character take on some kind of role in the new season, but, if Ontkean doesn’t sign on, there are ways to get around it.

Audrey Horne Something that intrigued me was one fan’s insistent assumption that Audrey had to have kids by now. And that is of course possible. One thought that did cross my mind after watching the final episode of Twin Peaks was that Audrey would wake up in the hospital and find out she was pregnant, because, unless John Justice Wheeler had some condoms kicking around in that plane of his, he and Ms Horne had unprotected sex. Something much more interesting to me, though, would be that Audrey followed through with her dream of becoming an FBI agent, and is now the savvy, intuitive detective, trying desperately to find out what really happened to the Good Dale.
And YES, he romance with Cooper absolutely needs to be revisited, now that the story is free from outside meddling, and Audrey no longer has the stigma of being a high school student. Along with Sheriff Truman, Audrey was one of Cooper’s strongest relationships in the show, and helped to keep the fans interested. Her tacked-on romance with John Wheeler? Let’s hope that we never have to hear about it again.
And finally, there is a repeatedly revisited idea which tells of Audrey inheriting her father’s business, which is highly probable. Opinions vary on whether or not she would be corrupted like her father was, or maintain her integrity and use her new power to help make the town a better place. There is also the possibility of Audrey being off doing one thing, (such as being in the FBI,) while she has someone else hired to run the Horne industry.

“Big” Ed Hurley Where is Everett McGill? Seems like we haven’t gotten an answer on that one yet. David Lynch was looking for him, even asking his Twitter followers to help find him. No word on whether or not the search has proved fruitful. This was actually one of the early signs that life was stirring in Twin Peaks once more: Lynch must be looking for him for some reason. Fans give this varying degrees of importance, one of the more extreme ideas being that the story actually centers around “Big” Ed Hurley, or that the character somehow plays an integral part in the story. It might actually be interesting to play on the search for Everett McGill within the series by including a search for Big Ed as a story element.
In the original two seasons, Ed was mostly important as a Bookhouse Boy, and Norma Jennings’s love interest, despite legally being the husband of Nadine “Where Are My Drape Runners” Hurley. He was also James’s uncle, since James’s mother, Big Ed’s sister, was notoriously absent. The storyline about James’s mother being a drunken writer who slept around was introduced, then dropped like a hot potato. There might have been potential in this storyline back during the original run, but by now too much time has gone by and other mysteries have taken precedence. Unless Lynch can pull something miraculous out of his sleeve (and I wouldn’t put it past him), it would be hard to make fans interested in James’s mother again.
Where is Everett McGill? Hopefully we’ll get an answer to that mystery by the time season 3 rolls around.

Josie Packard (and her sister Judy) Possibly one of the least-mentioned characters when the subject of a Twin Peaks revival comes up, Josie’s storylines ranged from confusing to incredibly confusing. If you could keep track of her dealings with the Packards, Hornes and Thomas Eckhardt, then you had to sort out really why the fuck she shot Cooper (a mystery we’d all been dying to hear the answer for and could barely even react when we were finally given the answer), and THEN deduce why she is trapped in the “drawer pull knob.” This long, confusing arc led plenty of fans to shy away from the character, which, to me, seemed to hold much unrealized potential. While far from my favorite (really, what the fuck was with those story arcs?), the character of Josie abounds with hints and false starts that suggested she had plenty to do in Twin Peaks, while none of it was ever realized.
For starters, the character of Josie was originally Giovanna, an Italian, and was slated to be played by Isabella Rosselini (of Blue Velvet fame) back when she and David Lynch were dating. The relationship went south, and she dropped out of the project. Giovanna was rewritten as Josie, a Chinese woman, but this bit of back story explains why Josie always seemed to have a larger importance than we were ever shown. Josie also wound up with a pretty harsh deal of an open end: Getting trapped in a drawer pull knob after BOB kills her with fear (I guess?). It is suggested that her ghost now inhabits the wood in the Great Northern Hotel (Pete mentions he can see her face), and a cut scene in the final episode would have shown Josie wandering the Black Lodge. As if that’s not enough to give the character potential for a revival, there’s Judy. But we’re not going to talk about Judy.
Or, let’s talk about her a little. The famously confusing line, uttered by David Bowie (playing long-lost FBI agent Philip Jeffries), “Well now, I’m not gonna talk about Judy. In fact, we’re not gonna talk about Judy at all. We’re gonna keep her out of it..” No one but Lynch and Frost know for sure, but studying of early drafts of Twin peaks: Fire Walk With Me give us the idea that Judy is Josie’s sister, and she is in Buenos Aires waiting for Jeffries, along with Josie (or at least part of her), and, Frost suggested, Windom Earle. Judy seems to have tipped Jeffries off to the location of another Glastonbury Grove-type portal to the Black Lodge, located in Buenos Aires, and she also seems to have received a visit from her sister Josie, who’s (partly?) trapped in the Lodge (time works strangely in the Lodge: These events are prior to Laura’s murder, but Josie seems to already be dead). Judy’s name recurs even in the heavily altered script, suggesting that Lynch always had it in his head that Judy was important. There’s enough speculation about Judy to fill three articles, but for now let’s leave it at this: While Judy was mostly edited out of the final script for FWWM due mainly to time constraints, there would be room to explore the character in season 3.

Catherine Martell Not much speculation on Catherine, who would now be a widow (while Pete’s original fate would have been debatable, actor Jack Nance passed away, leaving Pete’s fate rather unquestionable). Somewhere I heard it suggested that she and Audrey are actually working together, although Catherine would have to be quite a changed woman to be willing to work amicably with was business rival like Ben Horne’s daughter. The bank explosion that killed her husband and brother most likely spared Audrey, which, if anything, might lead to sore feelings on Catherine’s part.
Piper Laurie was one of the veterans Twin Peaks picked up, along with Russ Tamblyn and Richard Beymer, so Twin Peaks wasn’t her defining role (she’s probably best remembered for playing Carrie’s mom in Carrie). It’s debatable whether Laurie would be interested in reprising the role, but I wouldn’t bank on it.

Norma Jennings One of the many things we were hoping for and were denied at the end of Twin Peaks was a happy ending for mixed-up lovers Ed and Norma. Norma, without whom we would not have the damn fine cherry pie, was mostly relegated to being a background player, and even when attempts were made to give her character interesting things to do in the forefront, it just didn’t work out. She was most interesting for her romantic problems, namely being in love with Big Ed, while married to criminal Hank Jennings. Her most important role, really, was as owner of the Double R Diner, which was a key setting in the show. When Twin Peaks is revisited, the Double R Diner will have to come up (Is it still there? Does Norma still own it? If not, who does? Shelly?). I still want a happy ending for Norma and Ed, but it wouldn’t play a large role in the 9-episode season.

Leo Johnson One thing Lynch inexplicably cut out of the script for the final episode was the conclusion of Leo Johnson’s story arc, which left him stuck in Windom Earle’s booby trap (featuring hilariously fake “giant” black widows). The original draft of the script doesn’t make things look any better for Leo, as he would have eventually triggered the trap. This is for better or worse: Leo’s harsh experience being enslaved by Windom Earle might have finally taught him something about being a decent person. When he frees Major Briggs, he tells Briggs to find Shelly, whose life may be in danger. Judging by this, Leo, who we all originally thought killed Laura Palmer, may have been on his way to redeeming himself. Where would he be now? Probably still a trucker, or maybe he works at the mill now (providing it was rebuilt, of course). There is of course the possibility that Leo was supposed to have died from the “black widow” bites, which would free Shelly legally to marry Bobby, but close his arc off for sure (unless of course he also got trapped in the Black Lodge).

Shelly Johnson and Bobby Briggs Most likely, one way or another, Shelly and Bobby would be married. Shelly might own the Double R Diner, or be part of the next generation of Twin Peaks’ stay-at-home moms. As for Bobby, he probably redeemed himself for years of juvenile delinquency by becoming the Sheriff and/or a Bookhouse Boy. One thing I am a little curious about, though, is whatever happened to Bobby killing a guy? It seemed like it was never given adequate attention. Maybe that comes back to haunt him at some point. Bobby would also most likely be interested in his late father’s work, as he never got to know about it. There’s potential for a storyline in which Bobby discovers some classified documents once belonging to his father, which reveals pertinent information about the Lodges.

Major Briggs When Twin Peaks‘ second season was nearing its close, writers were scrambling to keep the network interested, writing up ideas for a third season. One of these told how Major Briggs led a raid on the Black Lodge and rescued the Good Dale. However, in the 25 years since then, actor Don Davis passed away, leaving this story up in the air. A good way to keep the basic idea would be to have Bobby, now the Sheriff/Bookhouse Boy, lead the raid in his father’s stead. Major Briggs was definitely a key character in the series, and his role would have to be filled by someone.

Special Agent Chester Desmond and Agent Sam Stanley Not much to say in this regard, except we’re still wondering what in the hell happened to them, but it’s unlikely either of the roles will be revitalized. The most we can hope for is a brief reference to them being trapped in the Black Lodge. Or long dead. Or both.

Dr. Lawrence Jacoby One of the last times we saw Dr Jacoby, he was counseling Nadine, who was still under the delusion that she was in high school. Once the truth was revealed, he was probably stuck with the job of counseling all five of the parties involved (Nadine, Norma, Ed, Hank, and even Mike). Over the 25 years since that happened, it’s really doubtful that the residents of Twin Peaks have stopped having mental problems, and, in my mind, a return by Russ Tamblyn is not unlikely. Another possibility? He retired to Hawaii.

Sarah Palmer One of the most interesting and underrated characters, to me, is Sarah Palmer. Being the survivor of her husband, daughter and niece, Sarah was dealt a pretty bad hand of cards. Last we saw, she was delivering a psychic message to Major Briggs from Windom Earle, telling him that Earle and Cooper were in the Black Lodge. I could see Sarah, 25 years later, now a recluse, and thought of as a witch by Twin Peaks’ younger residents. Her ability to psychically communicate with the Lodge makes her an invaluable player, and Grace Zabriskie has reprised her role as Sarah Palmer in the “Between Two Worlds” BluRay extra, as well as appearing in David Lynch’s most recent feature film, Inland Empire in 2007, where she played, arguably, a woman bringing a message from otherworldly beings to the protagonist.

Annie Blackburn One of the least interesting possibilities to me is that of Annie Blackburn’s return. The most interesting thing about this character was the fact that it told us that Norma’s maiden name was Blackburn. Beyond that, the character always fell rather flat to me. Personal dislike aside, the possibility occurred to me that Annie was scarred by the Black Lodge in more ways than one. In FWWM, Annie appears in a psychic vision to Laura, telling her that “The Good Dale is trapped” in the Black Lodge. The recently revealed deleted scene meant to be at the end of the movie shows Annie repeating her message, this time while lying in a hospital bed. She is also wearing the ring bearing the “Owl Cave” sigil, which most likely marked her for murder by BOB (since BOB killed both women known to have worn the ring, and Agent Desmond disappeared after picking it up). However, the nurse steals the ring from Annie and puts it on herself, inadvertently sealing her own demise. Also, if the Evil Cooper is on the loose, then that spells bad things for Annie, who would probably be the first victim if Evil Cooper/BOB were to go on a killing spree in town. Another possibility, which chills me in more ways than one: Annie turns out to be pregnant by Dale, and is tricked by the Evil Cooper. The two get married, she has the baby, and the whole Leland/Sarah/Laura story replays itself.

Hank Jennings Last we see Hank, Norma has left him in a jail cell to rot. And rightly so. While redemption plays a noticeable role in Twin Peaks, Hank Jennings showed no signs of turning over a new leaf. He most likely went back to prison, and hopefully never got out this time.

Benjamin Horne and Doc Hayward Because of the final scene, the fate of both Doc Hayward and Benjamin Horne are inextricably linked. There is much speculation as to whether the blow to the head killed Ben, or whether he would have woken up, and if he woke up, might he be back to his former, wicked self? While this does seem to be a rapid backpedaling from a redemption that took a long time to initiate, it is probable, or at least it was 25 years ago. Now, the story might be different. Richard Beymer is still alive a presumably able to return to the role should Ben Horne still be alive. He may still be running Horne industries, using it for good or for evil, or might have retired to allow Audrey to run it. Perhaps in his retirement he found Buddhism and is working his way toward enlightenment, as was suggested by one of the last few episodes of season 2. Alternatively, he may still be running Horne industries, allowing Audrey to go off and have other adventures.
The last storyline Ben is featured in is where Donna Hayward’s true parentage is discovered, making her the half-sister of Audrey. After recovering from his concussion, if Ben was still on his journey to become a better person, he probably continued to try to make amends to Eileen Hayward, and build a relationship with Donna, much to Doc Hayward’s chagrin. On the other hand, if Ben recovered and was back to his nasty former self, this could spell ruin for Doc: Ben might have sued him for battery, or even attempted murder. Being wealthy and powerful, Ben could have destroyed Doc’s life and career. One theory was that Eileen ends up leaving Doc for Ben, but that is unlikely, considering they would have to address what happens to Ben’s wife, Sylvia.

Deputy Tommy “Hawk” Hill One of my personal favorites in the police department, Hawk provided interesting input using Native American lore, which the story of Twin Peaks is tied to. His knowledge of this lore makes him a valuable member of the cast, as he even knows how one must navigate through the Lodge, and could help with the previously mentioned raid on the Black Lodge.

Philip Michael Gerard a.k.a. the One-Armed Man, or MIKE One of the most enigmatic characters in the series, MIKE the One-Armed Man has never had his motives or goals fully explained. While he at first seems to be helpful and honestly trying to help Cooper stop BOB, his true nature is called into question when one witnesses his actions in FWWM, where he insists on giving Laura the dreaded ring bearing the “Owl Cave” insignia. He may be using Cooper as a front to get his revenge on BOB for stealing his garmonbozia. His character was basically forgotten in the series after Maddy is killed. Al Strobel who portrayed him is now retired, but if he was to return to the role, even as a cameo, it would provide an intriguing opportunity to further explore MIKE’s motivations.

Laura Palmer/Maddy Fergusson While Sheryl Lee portrayed Laura Palmer once again in the featurette “Between Two Worlds,” it is difficult to say how she could fit into season 3, except as a mysteriously aged ghost. A nice excuse to have her return to the cast would be to have her play another relative of Laura’s, but beyond that, it would be a mystery, especially since Sheryl Lee is probably one of the most-wanted and most-likely to return.

Gordon Cole Who wouldn’t want to see David Lynch revive this character? He would still probably be the regional director over Cooper, although the return of the character might seem too much like a gag used to pander to the fans. If he is used, however, he would definitely have more than enough to deal with in the past 25 years, what with three missing agents and one possessed agent on his hands. Cole might even get into the field more, providing Lynch wanted to do it.

Nadine Hurley The big question with this character would be whether or not she and Big Ed stayed together, or if they divorced so that he could be with Norma. Nadine never really provided much to the storyline of Twin Peaks, so her involvement in season 3 is completely optional, and I don’t see much for her to do, since there never really was much for her to do in the first place.

Margaret Lanterman a.k.a. the Log Lady (and her Log) Season 3 has to have the Log Lady. It would be a massive error to leave her out. Luckily, it’s unlikely that she won’t be involved, as the character is one of the most memorable aspects of the show and Catherine Coulson has been a long-time friend of David Lynch, going back to his film school days (She’s to thank for that Eraserhead hair, by the way). The Log Lady would probably fulfill the same purpose she did in the first two seasons, providing obscure but pertinent clues. We might even get to learn more about her husband, whose spirit seems to go back and forth between the Log and the Black Lodge, or exist simultaneously in both places, like Josie’s apparently does. It will also be a relief to see her again, after witnessing that final, ominous Log Lady intro Lynch wrote up for the last episode. She is probably more well-suited to deal with the Dugpas of the Lodge than most, as her Log seems to keep her connected to the other world, through whisperings of knowledge. The Log Lady, like Sarah Palmer, is a medium, and in a situation like this, you can never have too many of those to go around.

Windom Earle So what became of Windom Earle after BOB took his soul? Is he now a servant of BOB, gathering garmonbozia on his behalf? Does he fill the same role that MIKE once did, as BOB’s partner? Or is he now just a lost soul, wandering the Lodge hopelessly? Has he met up with Cooper? Did they resolve their conflict and work together to find a way out? Did Windom Earle himself find a way out, before Cooper? And, if so, after his experiences, has he changed? Or is he still as evil as ever?

Lana Budding Milford Truly the most pointless character in the series, there is absolutely no reason for the character to return, even if she and her husband got busy, or she left him for Dick, and she is now a homemaker. That’s literally the most interesting thing she could have done, and so, she’s at the absolute bottom of the list of people we need to bring back. Robyn Lively is most likely available for a return, as she was there for the Psych reunion.

Harold Smith I’m sad that this character is dead, because it would have been interesting to see him return. It might be possible for him to be a denizen of the Lodge now, but since his primary role was guy-who-had-Laura’s-secret-diary, I doubt there would be much call for him to return.

John Justice Wheeler This character appeared in the dark, confusing time in Twin Peaks history that was the end of the second season. I would really rather that he not be mentioned again, and hopefully Billy Zane will declare himself too busy to reprise the role should he be asked. There are definitely loose ends to tie up, such as the mysterious murder of his friend somewhere in South America (I could not find a reference for this part on the internet. That’s how uninteresting it is.), which may or may not be involved with the Black Lodge (another portal, maybe). The possibility of Audrey having gotten pregnant from him is also there, although so is the high likelihood of miscarriage due to the whole bank explosion thing.

Deputy Andy Brennan and Lucy Morann Most likely, Lucy and Andy got married and raised their baby together. That baby is now 25-years-old and ready to be a main player in season 3, should Lynch and Frost will it. Boy or girl, s/he could have gotten involved with the police department, becoming a deputy.

Special Agent Philip Jeffries He’s still probably not gonna talk about Judy, but it would definitely be interesting to see David Bowie revitalize that bizarre role.

Dennis/Denise Bryson This one seems to be a fan favorite minor character. Tons of fans are hoping that David Duchovny of X-Files fame will once again put on a dress and tights as Dennis/Denise Bryson. I would like to see him again, and the activities the FBI could be involved with in season 3 are abundant, so there’s no lack of things for him to do: Search for Good Dale, apprehend Evil Dale, search for Windom Earle or one of the three other missing agents. Or he could just be in town for some fun. At least give us a cameo, Davids.

Donna Hayward and Jame Hurley Here’s one of the biggest debates among fans: Donna and James. While there seems to be a consensus that they should return, most fans have turned against Lara Flynn Boyle, leaving Moira Kelly as the favored actress to play the role. As for James, he might be a lot more interesting now as an aged biker dude with some time on the road behind him. I would like to see James finally return to the Roadhouse, and surprise Donna. Beyond that, there are plenty of variations being tossed around by fans. By some, James is viewed as a character whose incredible importance was never realized due to cancellation, as they claim that he represented the pure-hearted love in Twin Peaks. When he left, the door was left wide open for more evil to seep in. Or so the theory goes. One of the main problems people had with James was that he didn’t do much other than whine, and I concur. But I can see James returning as a bona fide badass, ready to help out with the raid on the Black Lodge. Of course, he could also have returned to Twin Peaks sometime during the 25-year interval, married Donna, and had kids. Which would be much less interesting in my mind, although it would help provide a fresh cast of kids from season 3.
So what about Donna? Well, the character and actresses bring up some strong and mixed feelings for fans. I personally would rather see her moved out of the focal point and, if necessary, her role can be filled by one of her younger sisters. Otherwise, James returns, sweeps her off her feet, and they both become more interesting characters. Other than that? What has happened to her in the last 25 years? Well, maybe she married Mike, had kids, got jaded, and now she’s a bitter single mother. That could be interesting. In the original series, James and Donna were there to represent the purity and innocence that lived in Twin Peaks, to juxtapose with the horror and despair flooding out of the Lodge. Even if their roles change in season 3, there would have to at least be a nod to that original concept. Maybe the reunion of James and Donna signifies the beginning of true healing for the community of Twin Peaks, and things begin to return to purity and kindness. James Marshall seems interested in returning to Twin Peaks, and even offered his thoughts on what’s been happening with James Hurley in the years since the show’s cancellation. No word on either Moira Kelly or Lara Flynn Boyle, however.
Or, James could have settled down somewhere, Donna went to meet him, and they settled down and had a family elsewhere. That’s also a possibility.

Leland Palmer and Killer BOB Now here’s another one up for debate. Ray Wise is almost DEFINITELY returning for season 3; he was basically promised by Lynch himself that they would “find a way around” the fact that Leland Palmer is dead. Some fans have theorized that Leland’s restless spirit is now the new BOB, terrorizing the town. And while that’s possible, that sounds like a pretty harsh deal for Leland, who was really a victim himself. In my mind, Leland could replace some other character as a Lodge denizen, conversing with Cooper and other visitors, giving them clues and such. Alternatively, he could play Leland’s brother (it wouldn’t be Maddy’s father, though: Maddy is probably from Sarah’s side of the family). However they pull it off, we are getting Ray Wise, and fans are rejoicing for that.

DIANE Interestingly enough, I’ve heard quite a bit of speculation on Diane, Cooper’s notoriously unseen assistant, and receiver of all those tapes he records over the course of the series. When rumors started milling about Lynch working on a project with Laura Dern, some fans threw out the idea that Dern could play Diane. Perhaps she could come to Twin Peaks in search of Cooper, or maybe she’s with Gordon Cole, helping him go through Coop’s notes to uncover the mystery. It would be pretty awesome if Dern was cast as Diane, and she played a role in saving Cooper. After her seminal performance in Inland Empire, Dern has proved that she can traverse dimensions and face demonic forces in her own right. It would also provide a reunion for MacLachlan and Dern, who worked together along with David Lynch on Blue Velvet, a story which is considered to be a sort of prototype for Twin Peaks.

Whew. Well, there you have it: Virtually every character (sans Pete Martell, may he rest in peace) in Twin Peaks, and all the theories that have circulated about their involvement in the upcoming season 3. Of course, we won’t know for sure until the show is out in 2016, so until then, enjoy some damn good coffee, some fine cherry pie, and enjoy the first two seasons (and the movie)!