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The 10 Best New Characters of Twin Peaks: The Return

David Lynch and Mark Frost never lost their magic and here's your proof

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twin peaks week final1 The 10 Best New Characters of Twin Peaks: The ReturnOn Sunday, September 3rd, David Lynch and Mark Frost’s iconic series Twin Peaks comes to an end. In anticipation, Consequence of Sound will be reporting live from The Great Northern Hotel with some damn fine features all week. Today, our staff selects their 10 favorite new characters that have popped up over the last 16 Parts of The Return. Given how many heroes and villains were first introduced in that time, they naturally spent hours and hours sipping coffee and poring over files in the conference room of the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department. Got a light?

In a recent episode of The Norm Macdonald Show, comedian Jerry Seinfeld argued that great television comes with a great sense of place. That’s true. We loved spending time with Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer at Monk’s Cafe or in his apartment. The same goes for today’s prestige television, from the offices of Don Draper to the New Mexico home of Walter White. Hell, that reasoning probably explains why The X-Files never really felt quite the same once production moved from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles, CA. Gone were the forest and in its stead were hazy deserts and sunny streets. It was as if something changed, and while they change was still amicable, it wasn’t why we fell in love with the show in the first place. That’s why David Lynch and Mark Frost returned to Washington for Twin Peaks, and it’s why we get all get chills when we see the R&R Diner or the Sheriff’s Department.

But, as Seinfeld would probably attest to, characters are just as important. You can dress up a set to the best of your abilities and find the most unique location with the greatest visuals, but it won’t matter much if your characters suck. That’s never really been a problem for Lynch, as his entire filmography (and extended resume on television), have all showcased outstanding personalities that are both of and out of this world. Some make us laugh, some make us cringe, some straight up confound us, but they’re traditionally memorable enough to linger around our minds, tickling our respective fancies with curveball one-liners (Thank you, Gordon Cole), bizarre wardrobes (No, fuck you, Diane), and indelible idiosyncrasies (Just patch ’em through, Lucy). That’s why we were never too concerned about whether Lynch and Frost could conjure up another rich batch of characters for The Return.

Who knew there would be so many, though. With every new episode comes another handful of faces worth noting. It’s like that scene from I Love Lucy with the conveyor belt: they just keep rolling out, no matter how hard we try to sort them. That’s a good problem to have, though it has led to some confusion (see: The Roadhouse), and while we try to remember each one to the best of our abilities, so many have fallen through the cracks (Wait, wasn’t Jane Levy in this?). Still, when looking back at the past 16 Parts to this series, we all agreed that there were enough new heroes and villains to carry Twin Peaks on its own, and those are the faces that appear on this list ahead. Sure, nobody will ever, ever replace the fire that walks with our fandom for Special Agent Dale Cooper or Deputy Hawk or, hell, even Killer Bob, but the fact that they can all co-exist in this strange and beautiful world is something quite spectacular. We’re really, really going to miss them.

P.S. We ultimately decided not to count Cooper/Dougie as a new character.

–Michael Roffman
Editor-in-Chief

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10. Candie

Portrayed by Amy Shiels

twin peaks candie The 10 Best New Characters of Twin Peaks: The Return

First appears in: “Part 5”

Located: Las Vegas, Nevada

Damn Good Quote: [blood-curdling scream after she smacks Rodney across the face with a remote in hopes of killing a fly]

It’s totally possible, and perhaps likely, that Candie’s just Candie — a woman with an unknown tragic backstory who’s taken in by the Mitchum brothers and cared for even when she frustrates them, as she nearly always does. If that’s all she is, then Amy Shiels’ platinum-blonde, not-quite-there cigarette girl would still be considered a season highlight. Shiels’ bone-deep commitment to this strange, sad woman makes her incredibly watchable (and incredibly funny). Any time she’s on screen, odds are your eyes will drift in her direction (and when they do, she’ll probably be making this face). But I’m not alone in thinking that there might be something more to Candie, something that connects her to the man that was Dougie Jones.

Theirs is — or was, after “Part 16” — a similar vacancy, and they shared a tendency to fixate on the things and people around them that seem significant. To me, and others, Candie seems like a possible home for the “seed” of Laura Palmer, a place where goodness can take root, just in time to face down the dark. Whether that’s true or not, and it probably isn’t, the fact that it even seems possible stands as a testament to Shiels’ work, and to Lynch’s, and to the world they created. There’s something going on with Candie. Even if we never find out what it is, that something will ensure she sticks with me for a long, long time. She’s also great at handing out lavish gifts.

–Allison Shoemaker

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09. Constance Talbot

Portrayed by Jane Adams

twin peaks constance The 10 Best New Characters of Twin Peaks: The Return

First appears in: “Part 1”

Located: Buckhorn, South Dakota

Damn Good Quote: “Cause of death: took me a while, but I think someone cut this man’s head off.”

Talbot is the coroner (and stand-up comedian) who keeps popping up during the Buckhorn murder investigations. We first meet her at Ruth Davenport’s apartment (in which I exclaimed, “Hey! It’s Jane Adams!”), but most of the time we find the coroner hard at work at the morgue, explaining her findings to Cole and company while terrifying “woodsmen” traverse aimlessly just outside the room. Talbot could have been a thankless role, existing solely to move the series regulars onto the next piece of the ever-complicated puzzle.

However, by casting professional scene-stealer Adams as the coroner, the role is elevated to a whole other level. Her award nominations for Hung prove our case. In the land of Twin Peaks, and with what limited screen time she has every other episode or so, Adams manages to steal scenes from Peaks vets David Lynch and Miguel Ferrer (wow), as well as newbie Chrysta Bell (sure). The series is chock full of offbeat characters and Adams ably inserts herself into the universe. Best of all, it looks like Talbot is getting ol’ sourpuss Albert Rosenfield to loosen up a little, at least in the romantic sense. Who would have thought? “Good for you,” Albert. We should all be so lucky.

Justin Gerber

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08. Bradley Mitchum

Portrayed by Jim Belushi

mitchum twin peaks The 10 Best New Characters of Twin Peaks: The Return

First appears in: “Part 5”

Located: Las Vegas, Nevada

Damn Good Quote: “It was, like, what, electricity?”

No one in their right mind would be excited about the casting of Jim Belushi. David Lynch fans, however, are notoriously never in their right mind, so seeing Belushi’s name alongside heavy hitters like Naomi Watts and Laura Dern was cause for excitement. Lynch isn’t in the Tarantino business of reinvigorating the careers of forgotten or disreputable actors; rather, he tends to round out his ensemble with actors whose general countenance or reputation help foster a particular atmosphere. And that’s exactly what he’s done with Belushi.

When taken in totality, Bradley Mitchum is not an easy character. When he first appears, it’s as a menacing, dead-eyed mob boss. Belushi’s beefy, oily persona pulls it off, too. And pairing him with a smaller, more manic brother in Rodney evoked Mulholland Drive’s Castigliane brothers in intriguing ways. But, as time went on, the brothers allowed their menace and mystery to melt away; after they realized Dougie Jones was on their side, they became his best pals. There were steak dinners, conga lines, and copious gifts. And once Coop got his wits back in last Sunday’s episode, the brothers functioned like comic sidekicks. Here, Belushi’s According to Jim schtick helped give these scenes an unexpected lightness that aligns with the high-concept humor that’s defined much of Dougie’s journey.

That said, it’s a little hard to buy Dale’s assertion that the Mitchum brothers have “good hearts” when they employ a trio of spacey, unwell women to indulge their every whim. But, hey, if we can’t trust Dale who can we trust?

–Randall Colburn

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07. Red

Portrayed by Balthazar Getty

balthazar twin peaks The 10 Best New Characters of Twin Peaks: The Return

First appears in: “Part 2”

Located: Twin Peaks, Washington

Damn Good Quote: “Have you ever studied your hand?”

Balthazar Getty is no one’s favorite actor. His dopey performance in Lost Highway ranks among the most despised in Lynch’s work. Of course, that’s why he’s so perfect as the handsome, eminently hateable Red, a drug runner who shares more than a few things in common with the (late?) Leo Johnson. Not only is he smuggling that “sparkler,” but he’s also using whatever magic he’s got under his belt to lord over Shelley Johnson, who’s more than willing to bail on her ex-husband and daughter to go french with him outside the Double R.

It’s fun having such a despicable douchebag hanging around Twin Peaks, especially when Getty is having the time of his life playing him. During “Part 6”’s prolonged intimidation of Richard Horne, Getty hops between lame karate poses, coin tricks, and colorful threats with a charismatic zeal; through it all, it remains unclear whether he’s a threat, or if we should be worrying more about the heavies with semi-automatic machine guns standing beside him. We’d love to see how those chops would fare against Killer Bob.

–Randall Colburn

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06. Richard Horne

Portrayed by Eamon Farren

richard horne twin peaks The 10 Best New Characters of Twin Peaks: The Return

First appears in: “Part 5”

Located: Twin Peaks, Washington

Damn Good Quote: “Little fucking smoking babies. Makes me laugh. I’m gonna laugh when I fuck you, bitch!”

Richard Horne is not a good person, and contrary to what his rapist father Evil Cooper thinks, he’s not a very bright young man, either. No, he’s a reckless son of a bitch, who runs over children, threatens women, savages his grandmother, moves all kinds of drugs, and puffs more smoke than an overworked choo-choo train. Basically, he’s the closest thing Twin Peaks has to Frank Booth of Blue Velvet, and that’s hardly good news for anyone. In fact, if it weren’t for his unlikely demise in “Part 16”, which found him playing lab rat to an electrical trap for his father, he’d be the most evil human being in Twin Peaks.

Still, it’s a shame we couldn’t see more from Richard. Eamon Farren brought such a delightful brand of evil to his character, oozing with the heroin chic of ’90s male models and snarling with the ferocity of a wounded cheetah. When we first meet his character, smoking alone at the Roadhouse, there’s a sexy danger to his demeanor, which makes sense considering his parents were the aforementioned Cooper and the true Twin Peaks princess, Audrey Horne. If anything, it would have been great to see him reunite with the latter, though given how his visit to grandma’s house went, it’s probably best he didn’t.

Suave. Goddamn, you are one suave fucker.

–Michael Roffman

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05. Diane Evans

Portrayed by Laura Dern

diane twin peaks The 10 Best New Characters of Twin Peaks: The Return

First appears in: “Part 6”

Located: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Damn Good Quote: “Fuck you…”

The reveal to end all reveals … or so we thought. There had been many theories regarding the character of Diane dating back to the ABC pilot. Who was she really to Coop? Was she really receiving all of those tapes? Was she even real to begin with? The answer was given to us at a Philadelphia bar … or so we thought.

Albert Rosenfield enters a bar and approaches a woman having a drink with her back to us. She turns to face us, and we meet who he believes is be Diane, played by Laura Dern, a longtime member of the Lynch ensemble. That Kyle MacLachlan’s Coop had been communicating to Dern’s Diane this whole time was that much sweeter for Lynch devotees … or so we thought.

After discovering in a jaw-dropping reveal that the Diane we we know is actually a tulpa (a.k.a. doppelgänger), we discovered we knew nothing at all. As we enter the final two episodes, all we know is that Diane may be a temperamental, foul-mouthed former associate who was once intimate with Coop long ago. Perhaps we’ll have our answers in the finale, but either way, the “Diane” we encountered was worth the wait … or so we think.

–Justin Gerber

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04. William Hastings

Portrayed by Matthew Lillard

twin peaks hastings The 10 Best New Characters of Twin Peaks: The Return

First appears in: “Part 2”

Located: Buckhorn, South Dakota

Damn Good Quote: “I wanna go scuba-diving…”

When high school principal William Hastings popped up in Part 1 as the suspect in a horrific double murder, we knew this dude was fucked. And while his demise came in a fittingly pathetic manner—getting one’s head bitten off while sobbing in the back of a cop car is pathetic, right?—I don’t think any of us expected such a hapless everyman to be at the center of so much Lynchian mindfuckery. Not only did Hastings and his colleague/lover, Ruth, essentially hack their way into another dimension, but they also encountered Major Briggs and what one can only assume were a legion of Woodsmen—“There was so many people there,” he says in one of the series’ freakiest lines. Just what exactly all of it means, and how exactly Briggs’ headless body appeared in Ruth’s bed, remains to be seen, but there was enough dread and mystery wrapped up in Hastings’ character that it was a shame to see him go.

Matthew Lillard’s fearless performance deserves a mention, too. Lillard, a rubber-faced performer known mostly for comedy, arguably does a better job than any of the newcomers in marrying the show’s underlying menace with the soapy foundations it was built upon. In both his bitter, nasty fight with his wife in “Part 2” and his confession in “Part 9”, Lillard took every emotion to its extreme for a performance that veered just shy of parody without ever losing sight of the character’s stakes.

He will be missed, and not because his death means we’ll probably never meet Heinrich Viegel.

–Randall Colburn

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03. Janey-E Jones

Portrayed by Naomi Watts

janey jones The 10 Best New Characters of Twin Peaks: The Return

First appears in: “Part 4”

Located: Las Vegas, Nevada

Damn Good Quote: “So here’s what we’re gonna do. Without my knowledge, my husband came to you for a loan of $20,000. You were nice enough to give it to him. But he should never have been gambling like that. I’m gonna pay you back. Now, at my bank, where we make less than one percent interest on what little money we have, people would be turning cartwheels just to get 25 percent interest on any loan, and that is what I’m generously gonna give to you right now, $25,000. That is my first, last, and only offer to you. What kind of world are we living in where people can behave like this? Treat other people this way without any compassion or feeling for their suffering? We are living in a dark, dark age, and you are part of the problem. Now, I suggest you take a good, long look at yourselves because I never want to see either of you again.”

I’ll admit, when Janey-E first hit the scene, she gave me pause.Twin Peaks already has more than its share of shrill, overbearing wives who exist to make their husbands sigh defeatedly the moment they march off screen. Foolish me — there’s no way Naomi Watts would or ever could be reduced to the stuff of The Honeymooners. Many elements of The Return grew in complexity and depth with every appearance, but even in this crowded field, Janey-E stands out. The quote above (really more of a monologue, but you can’t excerpt something that good) is funniest moments in the series, and more than a few of those come courtesy of Watts. But it’s also one of many in which Mrs. Dougie Jones let loose her resourcefulness, bravery, and decency. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that those all qualities we value in a certain sharp-dressed FBA Agent. There’s a chance we’ve seen the last of her — her breathless “Whoever you are, thank you” would make for a hell of an ending — but either way, she’s more than earned her place near the top of this list. With luck, Watts will end up high on the lists of Emmy voters as well. She deserves loads of love for this scene alone.

–Allison Shoemaker

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02. Sheriff Frank Truman

Portrayed by Robert Forster

truman twin peaks The 10 Best New Characters of Twin Peaks: The Return

First appears in: “Part 4”

Located: Twin Peaks, Washington

Damn Good Quote: “That’s enough, Chad.”

Three times the charm for Robert Forster and David Lynch. For years, the veteran filmmaker had tried to work with the veteran actor, inviting him to play Sheriff Harry Truman in the original series and later working with him in a minor capacity on 2001’s Mulholland Drive, back when his character had a more substantial part when it was designed as a television series. Needless to say, time worked out all wrinkles, and Forster came at just the right time, filling in for actor Michael Ontkean, whose role as Harry Truman in the original run is not too far behind Kyle MacLachlan’s Dale Cooper as the most beloved among fans.

Granted, nobody could ever replace the original Truman, which is why it was such a brilliant idea to cast Forster as his older brother, Frank. While the two have their share of similarities, especially when it comes to their general brand of pragmatism, there’s an inhuman patience to Frank that Harry never exhibited in the first two seasons. You see, nothing really gets under Frank’s skin, not even when dickhead Deputy Chad Broxford starts causing all kinds of dramatic ruckus as the Sheriff’s Department. No, Frank’s chiseled stoicism knows no limits and that has kept the true spirit of Twin Peaks alive.

Because, as Randall Colburn outlined in his recent op-ed, evil has taken over the quirky small town. Whatever ’50s preciousness once existed on the foreground has been relegated to the dark corners — you know, where all sorts of demons once dwelled — and that’s been the running theme of the new series. With Frank, though, you get the sense that he’s one of the old guards, a wisened protector of the light, no different than an old knight that’s been left behind to guard the abandoned castle, and Forster plays that role with ease. His silent meditations are a lesson to us all that patience is truly the highest form of currency.

Just don’t make him sit through another Wally Brando monologue.

–Michael Roffman

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01. The Woodsmen

Portrayed by Robert Broski and co.

woodsman twin peaks The 10 Best New Characters of Twin Peaks: The Return

First appear in: “Part 2”

Located: Everywhere

Damn Good Quote: “This is the water and this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes, and dark within.”

Where were you when that camera slowly panned from left-to-right, leaving the cell of Matthew Lillard’s Bill Hastings to introduce us to a white-eyed, charcoaled figure in ragged clothing? I was lying on the floor watching it with friends. My mouth dropped and I recall saying something along the lines of “Jesus Christ.” Then the figure, as we all recall, slowly disappeared and floated away. We wouldn’t see him or those like him for a few more episodes, but the impression was certainly felt.

Hyperbole alert: The Woodsmen are the most terrifying creation of this decade. They exist outside of our world yet destroy those within it. Whether they approach in a brightly lit hallway or materialize in a sunshine-draped South Dakota, they will always singe your nerves and send up those hairs.

In the instantly-iconic “Part 8”, the Woodsmen reached peak-terror as they scrambled around the New Mexico desert. “Got a light,” one of them asked, before commandeering a radio station and laying waste to its short staff through the most violent methods. With uncompromising menace, Lincoln impersonator Robert Broski closed out the episode with arguably the scariest fireside chat to ever hit American radio waves.

Even better, these Black Lodge creatures need no CGI to affect us. You can reach out and touch them, but god help you if you ever do. Simply put, we’re terrified to see what they have in store for us before The Return wraps up.

–Justin Gerber

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Honorable Mention: Agent Tammy Preston

Portrayed by Chrysta Bell

tammy preston gif The 10 Best New Characters of Twin Peaks: The Return

First appears in: The Secret History of Twin Peaks, “Part 3”

Located: Wherever the Blue Rose Task Force takes her

Damn Good Quote: “Blue rose does not occur in nature. It’s not a natural thing. The dying woman was not natural. Conjured. What’s the word? A tulpa.”

Agent Preston doesn’t formally make our list for a few reasons. First, she’s not (pushes up glasses) technically a new character, as she’s the lens through which readers see The Secret History Of Twin Peaks. Second, with a few exceptions — the scene in which she awkwardly poses for what feels like an eternity beside Cole and a superbly disdainful Diane chief among them — Tammy’s role has mostly been to react to things, and her reactions are stoic, to say the least. Still, the newest member of the Blue Rose Task Force can’t be denied, if only for the quote above. A chill went down my spine when I heard Tammy give a name to the doubles and doppelgängers that have populated this space, calmly defining that which those who’ve never visited the Black Lodge aren’t likely to understand. For that scene alone, she belongs here. Please direct all complaints to my Twitter account. I can take it.

–Allison Shoemaker

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Honorable Mention: Wally Brando

Portrayed by Michael Cera

wally brando The 10 Best New Characters of Twin Peaks: The Return

First appears in: Part 4

Located: Criss-crossing this great land of ours, from Alexandria, Virginia, to Stockton, California

Damn Good Quote: Oh, just watch the whole damn thing again.

We can’t in good conscience put Wally Brando on this list. He’s basically just a Michael Cera cameo. But we also can’t ignore it, because Michael Cera is the only person who could ever have played the son of Andy and Lucy, and because it delighted some and enraged others, and because it is so weird and wonderful and perfect. He’ll have to stay here, an honorable mention, accompanied always by his shadow — sometimes ahead, sometimes behind, sometimes to the left, sometimes… to the right.

–Allison Shoemaker

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