Raise your hand if during Sunday’s episode of “Twin Peaks: The Return” you took a moment to Google what happened on July 16, 1945 at 5:29 a.m. in the New Mexico desert.
You needed more than one screen to fully appreciate the eighth episode of the disturbing, perplexing, ambitious and captivating episode of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s series. Without the internet, you probably wouldn’t know, for example, that the fateful date above marked the end of the Manhattan Project and first successful test of an atom bomb.
It was a show perfectly constructed for the Internet: the long, fiery sequence that that followed the atom bomb test allowed you plenty of time to pick up your phone and Google. Die-hards would have been wise to track down exhibits from his 2014 Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts exhibition, “The Unified Field,” which seemed to predict some of the art-installation-like moments in Sunday’s episode.
But you didn’t just need Google to follow what was going on — you needed social media to assure yourself that you were actually seeing the unbelievable spectacle you were seeing: the possible birth and death of Bob, coal-black me wandering the desert, until one of them hijacked a radio station and delivered a deadly chant, a gas station full of apparent ghosts, the giant doing his odd work, floating up above, and releasing a brain filled with faerie dust, or cosmos, or something. A frog-roach crawled into a little girl’s mouth, and Nine Inch Nails played.
People have been using the Internet — or second-screen experience, as some prefer to call it — for more than a decade, trying to sort out the mythology of shows like “Lost” or to share fan theories. But this was different. The episode cried out not only for some Manhattan Project Googling, but also for an online support group of fellow fans.
“Well if this ‘Twin Peaks’ episode isn’t just the Lynchiest Lynch that a Lynch has ever Lynched,” one Twitter user wrote.
And that was a minute fraction of the puzzlement bred from the episode. But a whole lot of praise, too. Take a look: