David Lynch, et al.
Posted on 20 April 2006
Features: A Guide to Twin Peaks
Reviews: Twin Peaks: Pilot
Reviews: Twin Peaks: Season 1
Reviews: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
A vision, fresh and clear as a mountain stream. The mind revealing itself to itself
The second season begins with Special Agent Dale Cooper lying on the floor of his hotel room, two bullets embedded in his bulletproof vest (standard procedure for agents working undercover) and one in his belly where he had pulled the vest up to dislodge a wood-tick. As he lies dazed and bleeding, we are given the satisfaction of one of the many cliffhangers from the first season’s finale: the arrival of Cooper’s warm milk.
One of Lynch’s particular gifts — and, indeed, his trademark — is his way of instilling cheerful banality with uncanny peculiarity and menace. With Lynch’s return to the director’s chair, the delivery of the warm milk (by a man whom Albert Rosenfield later describes as both “the world’s most decrepit waiter” and “Señor Droolcup”) lasts for an implausible duration that is utterly anomalous in network television. And while the viewer may attribute this sequence to a perceived affinity for gratuitous quirkiness in Lynch’s work, the way the waiter’s senility and ineptitude seems to mock Cooper’s situation, his enigmatic repetitions of “I’ve heard about you,” and his passing resemblance to the Giant imply the presence of far more sinister forces than bad customer service.
This is soon confirmed by a visit from the Giant himself who, petitioning Cooper to “think of me as a friend,” imparts the following cryptic clues:
A man in a smiling bag;
The owls are not what they seem; and
Without chemicals, he points.
Apart from this, the Giant also evokes the image of “Leo locked in a hungry horse,” suggests that Cooper look for a clue at Leo’s house, and requests the loan of Cooper’s ring, to be returned when these things have been proven true. Waking in the morning, still supine, Cooper has apparently taken this vision for a dream, and instead contemplates (aloud and to Diane, of course) those things he regrets not doing in his life: chief amongst which is visiting Tibet. Later, once the bullet and wood-tick are removed and he has received an update of the previous evening’s many events, Cooper wills for himself an immediate (and perhaps too hasty) recovery, determined to seek out whatever clues may be revealed at Leo Johnson’s house.
Back at the Palmer residence, Leland has himself staged a miraculous recovery, now with snow-white hair, while Madeleine begins to have terrifying visions. She and Donna both feel emboldened and a little uneasy after their clandestine activities with James, and receiving an anonymous tip-off about Laura’s Meals-on-Wheels route, Donna begins some more investigating of her own. At Leo’s, Hawk finds a gasoline-soaked duster and a library of Flesh World back-issues, while Andy quite inadvertently stumbles upon a stash of cocaine, as Albert arrives to check on Cooper.
With James’ report of his findings to the police, Cooper and Truman question Dr. Jacoby in his hospital bed, and he relates his suspicions that Laura had somehow allowed herself to be murdered. He also admits to digging up the necklace that James and Donna had buried, as envisioned by Sarah Palmer in the series pilot. The solution to this mysterious vision, however, is countered by the prodigious amount of apparitions, telepathic messages, and cryptic invocations with which Lynch peppers the episode. Three of the Giant’s clues are solved readily: the clue at Leo’s house, Jacques’ “smiling” body bag, and Andy’s discovery (mocked by Albert) that Leo was locked in Hungry Horse Prison on the date of Theresa Banks’ killing. But even while Madeleine is plagued by visions of blood on the Palmer’s carpet, and James haunted by Laura’s invocation of someone called “Bob,” Major Briggs’ vision of reconciliation with his son is more optimistic and the Giant’s visits to Cooper are more useful than ever.
With Audrey’s telepathic prayer for help from the confines of One-Eyed Jack’s, the Giant returns to relate still more advice to Cooper (“Don’t look for all the answers at once; a path is laid one stone at a time”) and to remind him of a few things that he had forgotten. These include Audrey’s letter, lying forgotten under Cooper’s bed since the shooting, but more importantly that there is a person who has seen the killer — the killer’s body, specifically — who is now ready to talk. This is Ronette Pulanski, whom we now see awake from her coma with a vision of the train car, of Laura as “someone else,” and of the killer himself. While the episode’s opening scene is perhaps the slowest, most anti-televisual experience one might devise, this final scene is no doubt among the most terrifying ever broadcast.
by Leo Goldsmith
I like to think of myself as one of the Happy Generation.
“Albert, my ring is gone,” Cooper tells his colleague, an indication that the Giant’s information is, as the apparition says, not wrong and that Cooper means to use it. Armed with a police artist’s sketch of Bob (obtained from Cooper’s dream), the special agent and Sheriff Truman now interview the newly sentient Ronette Pulanski who, while still unable to speak, is nonetheless able to indicate through much gyration and agonizing that Bob was indeed her tormenter in the abandoned railcar.
But Ronette is not the only one to recognize the face in the police sketch-artist’s rendering. Leland Palmer recognizes the face as that of a man from his youth. But annoyed with Leland’s shenanigans, and with the mixed results of their scheme to torch the mill and to kill both Catherine and Leo, Ben and Jerry Horne resolve to kill their lawyer, the Palmer patriarch.
If the season premiere functioned to resolve and clarify the flurry of events that concluded the first season, this episode introduces many of the new characters and subplots that will take root in Season Two. Albert reveals that Windom Earle, Cooper’s criminally insane former partner, has escaped from incarceration without a trace; Bobby convinces Shelly to take the now vegetable Leo home so that they can live off his disability checks; Donna, having taken up Laura’s Meals-on-Wheels route, encounters Mrs. Tremont and her grandson, Pierre (of the transmigrating creamed corn), who in turn lead her to Harold Smith; and Andy tells Lucy that he is sterile and so the baby she is carrying cannot be his.
Of course, as is notably characteristic of those episodes directed by David Lynch, there is a wealth of dreams, hallucinations, and messages from beyond. Audrey manages finally to telephone Cooper before being discovered by the vindictive Blackie. Tipped off by no less an entity than the Log, Major Briggs reveals to a pajamaed Agent Cooper that the major’s military assignment involves the monitoring of deep-space radio signals. And while these are normally nonsensical, a clear message — “the owls are not what they seem” — was recorded at the time Cooper was shot, followed by the triple repetition of Cooper’s name. Cooper’s own dreams persist, this time with a vision of Bob with an owl’s face (of more accurately, with an owl on his face). And Madeleine’s visions escalate to a frightening pitch, this time with a creeping approach from Bob himself, right in the Hayward’s living room (following the rehearsal of a heavily reverbed song, crooned by James in falsetto). This visit bodes evilly for Laura’s cousin and doppelganger.
by Leo Goldsmith
Want to play with fire little boy?
The pace quickens after Cooper and Truman visit Ronette, as clues increase but without improved clarity. As Cooper points out, those who have had visions of Bob form a tightening circle that include Cooper along with Ronette, Sarah Palmer, and now Maddy. However, are they simply visions? With the discovery of yet another letter under Ronette’s nail, a very physical being seems to embody the face that all four have seen. Leland’s vague description of Mr. Robertson, a grey haired loner who lived next door to his family during the summer on Pearl Lakes, increases the connection between the Palmer family and Bob. Leland’s recollection of Robertson flicking matches at him and asking him if he wanted to “play with fire” appear to contain vital information, if only based on the evidence of Cooper’s dreams and the mysterious poem from his vision, specifically the mention of “fire walk with me.”
Donna’s encounter with Harold Smith opens another chapter of Laura’s life, a tangle of unrelenting connections. When Donna confronts Laura at her grave she breaks down in tears, insisting (rather astutely) they have not “buried her deep enough” as evidence seems to unravel, rather than provide closure. Harold says Laura considered him another secret, certainly enough of one to entrust him with a diary, which Donna spies on a table, its cover open enough to view Laura’s name and handwriting. A second diary and another chapter to Laura’s secret life: doubling becomes a strong theme in the episode with several characters as well. While the doppelganger references connected to Maddy have already been discussed, Maddy addresses it herself in this episode as she breaks down to Leland, crying and distressed over the way people look at her, as if she were Laura. Far more sinister is the seemingly schizophrenic episode Philip Gerard has in the men’s room at the Sheriff’s office. Seeing Bob’s face on the wanted poster (for the second time), Gerard nearly faints before we find him twitching violently in a bathroom stall, speaking in an odd and eerie tone that matches his voice in Cooper’s dream; this time the One-Armed Man appears to be Mike, as he knows and calls out for Bob, claiming he is near, then drops a syringe on the floor before disappearing.
by Jenny Jediny
More than grief. It’s deep down… inside. Every cell screams. You can hear… nothing else.
One of the superior episode openings in the series, “Laura’s Secret Diary” begins with an unusual spiral shot, unsettling the viewer with no clear sense of origin or point of view. As the camera winds around and the shot slowly comes into focus it becomes apparent that we are moving in from the ceiling tiles for a close up on Leland Palmer’s face in the interrogation room. During the sequence there is an ominous cacophony, disoriented sounds that might be a mixture of voices talking and screaming, possibly a woman’s screams, as well as a girl saying “Daddy.” They form an unintelligible babble, which fades as Leland is questioned. The deliberate and repeated references to Hitchcock’s Vertigo throughout the series rise to the surface again with this spiraling camera, and it is clear that the grief over Laura’s death has driven Leland to a desperate emotional state as he confesses to Jacques’ murder.
Leland’s grief, expressed through his tears and statement about his pain and misery buried deep inside, extend pity to his character, seen as somewhat of a crackpot until now. Leland’s bizarre and often overdramatic behavior witnessed at Laura’s funeral, as well as his spontaneous dancing at home and at the Great Northern had rendered him as a sobbing and uncontrollable man. During his hearing with Judge Clinton Sternwood, Sternwood expresses his sympathy for Leland and recalls his position as an upstanding citizen of Twin Peaks. Sternwood’s odd speech for Leland before retiring for the evening includes the following lines:
Before we assume our respective roles, in this enduring drama, just let me say that when these frail shadows we inhabit now have quit the stage we’ll meet and raise a class again together in Valhalla.
Valhalla, in Norse mythology, is the Hall of the Slain. Much like the Great Northern or any lodge, it is a vast hall with many doors, where the Valkyries bring half of the heroes whom have perished on the battlefield, only to prepare them for the battle of Ragnarok. Ragnarok is the rather grim “destruction of the powers,” or the end of the universe in Norse mythology. This rather obscure mention by Sternwood, which Leland acknowledges, fits in with the Nordic air of the show in general, a rather touching idea that instead of the generic Christian heaven, these figures (and these Twin Peaks inhabitants) will arise and find comfort in a mythological afterlife.
On the darker side of the spectrum, Donna’s meeting with Harold runs deeper into Laura’s perverse sexual experiences. Reading directly from Laura’s “secret” and second diary Donna learns that Laura hid her feelings and thoughts, fearing Donna’s mockery or misunderstanding, perhaps not even understanding the thoughts herself. Laura’s fantasies and nightmares were “black and dark and soaked with dreams of big, big men in different ways they might hold me and take me into their control.” Donna, who has become increasingly expressive with her sexuality, plays the part of the “bad girl” in the second season. She seems both disturbed and intrigued with Laura’s revelations, and unsure of feelings for Harold, attracted to his aura of mystery while seeking answers for Laura and for herself. Although Donna’s angry outburst at Laura’s grave implies a rejection of Laura and all things connected to her, Donna can’t seem to rid herself of Laura’s demons, taking on attributes and habits of Laura in the process.
by Jenny Jediny
I’ll advise you to keep your eyes on the woods. The woods are wondrous here… but strange.
Although Audrey’s rescue at One Eyed Jack’s dominates episode 12, the undercurrents of seduction and Laura’s secrets come into full force at Harold’s apartment as Donna and Maddy attempt their own raid in stealing Laura’s secret diary. When she enters Harold’s apartment, Donna is prepared with her own confession for the diary that Harold now keeps for her. Donna relates a memory to Harold involving Laura, of the two girls at fourteen sneaking off and spending the night skinny dipping with older boys from the Roadhouse. Donna stands and begins to sway in front of Harold, dancing the way Laura danced the night. Her provocative moves recall Audrey dancing at the Double R diner in season one, as well as the videotape James made of both Laura and Donna dancing together. Donna recalls this night as the first time she ever fell in love, after one of the boys kissed her. Harold listens intently and seems almost sexually satisfied after Donna completes her tale.
Although it is never revealed if Harold and Laura were sexually involved, there is a strong sexual connotation in Harold’s pursuit of oral histories. Reminiscent of James Spader’s sexual pursuits through the camera in Sex, Lies, & Videotape, Harold may have secluded himself physically not only from the social world but also a physically intimate one. Harold’s orchid hobby is intriguing in the choice of plant; orchids are indicative of sex (perhaps most famously through the paintings of Georgia O’Keefe), and specifically the male sex, as the translation of the word from the Greek, orchis, is equivalent to testicle. As Harold cultivates his orchid greenhouse, he also tends a collection of confessions, which may or may not include individuals aside from Laura and Donna. Laura was Harold’s prize specimen, perhaps the reason he asked Donna to place a lady slipper orchid on her grave, a delicate and rare orchid (as a side note, this plant would have no chance of survival on a grave, let alone planted in an outdoor garden, similar to Harold’s inability to “survive” outdoors). The symbolic connection is strong, as is the sexual draw between Donna and Harold, which does not move beyond a kiss in the greenhouse, as Harold pulls away.
Harold becomes a rather unfortunate and frightening figure as he discovers Donna’s plot, which he views as a betrayal. In his anger Harold reveals a self destructive and rather mentally unbalanced side, taking his rage out on Maddy and Donna as he asks if they are looking for “secrets” and rakes a garden trowel across his face, drawing blood. Harold also asks if they want to know about Laura, “the secret of knowing who killed you,” hinting at the truth possibly within the diary.
by Jenny Jediny
He is Bob, eager for fun. He wears a smile…everybody run.
Still trapped in Harold’s apartment, Donna and Maddy cling one another in fear as Harold rages, accusing Donna of contaminating him. Although Harold is certainly afraid of the outdoor world, it is not known if it is a case of Spermatophobia, germ contamination, or another phobia so easily defined. Perhaps, in continuing the sexual thread running through Harold and his secluded dwelling, Harold trusted Donna, and his sexual feelings for her are now a contamination in that they are wreaking havoc on his body and mind with her betrayal.
Joining Truman and Cooper at the sheriff’s office is Gordon Cole, (hilariously portrayed by David Lynch), Cooper’s supervisor. Gordon’s arrival brings a new light on Cooper’s background, as he (loudly) expresses his concern over Cooper’s unsolved gunshot wound, recalling a past incident in Pittsburgh and producing a letter sent to Cooper at the FBI. The note merely contains the phrase P-K4, an opening move in chess, and has been sent by Windom Earle, Cooper’s deranged former partner. Although little has been revealed about Cooper’s past the pieces are slowly set into place, particularly with the wound Cooper received once before in Pittsburgh, and the confession to Truman of his actions once hurting those he loved.
Leland appears to be on the brink of completely returning to his old life until Ben hears him singing once again, performing karaoke for the crowd at the Great Northern. Drawing on show tunes this time around, rather than big band music, Leland performs “Getting To Know You” from The King & I, a rather interesting choice for two reasons: first of all, the ever altering personality of Leland, and secondly its lead into the next scene as Cooper and team interrogate the apprehended One-Armed Man.
The One-Armed Man, Phillip Gerard, writhes in pain as Cooper refuses his request for his medicine, waiting to see if his suspicions will prove true. As Gerard suddenly twitches violently, in a similar manner as his behavior in the men’s room (see Episode 10), he undergoes a shift in not merely personality, but almost in being, and looks calmly at Cooper, revealing that he is indeed Mike, the man from Cooper’s dream. Gerard/Mike’s situation is not that of the schizophrenic, but rather of an inhabiting spirit, one who lives in the body of a human. While Mike has become benevolent, Bob is still killing and intends to do so again. Mike reveals that Bob is near, in a large house made of wood that Cooper interprets as The Great Northern Hotel. Again the lodge comes into focus, the Nordic myths that these large dwellings hold many souls, including those that are evil, while it is unclear if the Great Northern (if Cooper is correct) is the home of Bob or merely his location at that moment.
by Jenny Jediny
It is happening again
In establishing the revelation of Laura’s killer, two earlier moments in the episode should be mentioned. Harold Smith has committed suicide, allowing Cooper to gain access to her secret diary. Although several pages have been ripped out (some of which were found near the railroad car that became the murder site), Cooper manages to garner Laura’s intimate knowledge of Bob prior to her death, as she mentions knowing Bob from an early age, and incidents of abuse and molestation. Although there is also specific mention of Benjamin Horne, later revealed to be one of Laura’s many lovers, the diary makes it quite clear that Laura not only knew Bob but had interaction with him several times prior to her death.
In addition to the diary revelations, Maddy informs her aunt Sarah and uncle Leland that she wishes to return home, a confession she has already made to James. While both Sarah and Leland offer their support and love, the scene is shot in an unsettling fashion, with the camera held back in a wide shot, allowing the family to be framed, nearly confined by Laura’s homecoming picture as well as the record player. As Louis Armstrong sings in the background, the mise-en-scène suggests a closing in, rather than a release for Maddy and the Palmers.
In the last act of the episode we intercut between the Palmer household and the Roadhouse, where Cooper has gone on the advice of the Log Lady, who claims “there are owls in the Roadhouse.” While Cooper, Truman, and the Log Lady take their seats at the Roadhouse, we see an empty Palmer living room, the record player on, but the needle off the record, skipping and creating an eerie beat. The camera turns to the stairs and a hand reaches in from out of frame, as Sarah Palmer makes her way down the stairs on her stomach, crawling to the floor and calling for Leland. As she makes it to the floor she looks up to see a light and a white horse suddenly appear before her head falls to floor, losing consciousness. The white horse, sometimes noted as a “pale horse,” has been linked to symbols of heroin (the drug used on Audrey at One Eyed Jack’s), but is also a harbinger of death; it could also be argued that within a show that invests so much into the symbolism of black and white, perhaps the white horse is both a warning and a sign of safety for Sarah Palmer, who will not be harmed physically and is emotionally protected from being a witness to murder.
As the record player continues its droning beat Leland is suddenly in view, dressed in a suit and looking at his reflection in the hallway mirror as he fixes his tie. By the time we cut back to the Palmer house again and move in for a closer look, Bob is suddenly staring back at Leland from where his reflection should be. Maddy calls out from upstairs, and Leland turns, grinning and putting on latex gloves. As she reaches the bottom of the stairs, Maddy remarks on a burning smell, the same smell mentioned by Jacoby before he was struck by the gazebo, and connecting Bob once again to fire, as the scent is described to be similar to burnt engine oil. A white light, almost a spotlight, appears and remains on Maddy as Leland/Bob attacks her.
Throughout the murder, Maddy sees Leland as Bob, and the scene moves in and out of slow motion, as Maddy’s screams become garbled moans. Bob brutally throws Maddy and then picks her up to “dance” with her, as the pair swirls about the room (notably the only time Leland has danced without an actual tune playing). As in Vertigo, Leland/Bob loses a sense of which girl he is dancing with, saying Laura’s name and then going back and forth between crying and repulsively kissing Maddy. Maddy, who found herself Laura’s replacement for so many residents in Twin Peaks, now finds herself ultimately in her cousin’s place as Bob murders her, pushing her violently into glass and then placing the next letter under her nail. Maddy’s intertwined connection to Laura has been elaborately set up, from her very name to her mention in Cooper’s dream (“She’s my cousin, but doesn’t she look almost exactly like Laura Palmer?”), that the events are not so much a surprise as they are tragically inevitable.
As events unfold at the Palmer household, a lounge singer performs at the Roadhouse where Cooper, as well as Donna, James, and Bobby are all in attendance. The singer, performing in front of a red curtained stage, sings a song with a beat similar to the sound coming from the Palmer record player. As time appears to pass slowly at the Roadhouse, and the band plays a far more melancholy tune, and suddenly a similar white light to the one at the Palmer house appears, shutting everyone into darkness save Cooper, who sees the Giant from his vision onstage. The Giant merely says “It is happening. It is happening again” before fading away as the lights come back up. Cooper knows he is the only person (aside from the Log Lady perhaps), to have seen this vision, although a tense emotional state seems to fill the Roadhouse as Donna begins to weep openly as she listens to the singer perform. The tragedy at the Palmer household seems to emotionally connect to those at the Roadhouse, as the elderly waiter from the Great Northern approaches Cooper and offers his sympathy. Emotional shock and trauma linked to music, particularly staged music (for example, the Silencio scene in Mulholland Drive), is a Lynch trademark, and remarkable here as it pulls together the emotional and metaphysical ties of the Twin Peaks community once more.
by Jenny Jediny
The trail narrows, Diane. I’m close, but the last few steps are always the darkest and most difficult…
With the audience fully aware of Laura Palmer’s (and now Maddy Ferguson’s) killer, this episode vacillates slightly. Narrative threads are built involving Benjamin Horne and two audio tapes; one hand delivered from Pete revealing Catherine’s escape from the mill fire and her intention to extort money from Ben, while the second is found by Bobby in Leo’s shoes, this one revealing the mill plot and dealings with Leo. The revelation of Leland as the killer is kept in check however, as he baits Cooper while reacting to his success in an over the top fashion. Similar to the excessive weeping and melancholy portrayed in the first season, Leland is now manically energetic, singing and now soft shoeing in the halls of the Great Northern. It’s almost too much; even Agent Cooper senses something in Leland as he asks him to pass on any information he may have concerning Benjamin Horne, now in custody for Laura’s murder. When Truman and Cooper pull Leland over for reckless driving, there is another twinge of recognition for Cooper, although he is distracted when the One Armed Man is found wandering near the waterfalls.
As Leland speeds along in his convertible, he sings yet another Rogers & Hammerstein tune, “Surrey With a Fringe On Top,” from Oklahoma! Although it certainly doesn’t offer any explanation, and perhaps shouldn’t, it is interesting to note Leland’s extraordinary attraction to and expression through music. While Leland seemed to surround himself with only Big Band tunes so far, breaking down at the Great Northern during a soiree and also at home with his record player, he has now turned to Broadway show tunes, first performing from The King & I at The Great Northern and now with this rendition as he transports Maddy’s body to the waterfall. Was there another musical genre prior to Laura’s death? Aside from some of the lyrical irony, why does music appear to be a trigger for Leland? It’s an intriguing idiosyncrasy.
by Jenny Jediny
That gum you like is going to come back in style
Je suis un ame solitaire, or “I am a lonely soul,” seems suited for Harold’s lifestyle as well as his solitary demise, but is also appropriate for several fellow souls in Twin Peaks, ranging from Laura, with genuinely no one to turn to, Agent Cooper, with his self sufficiency and avoidance of dependency and relationships, and certainly to Leland Palmer, whose death reveals a trapped and weakened spirit, isolated from himself and his family, and only redeemed in death.
Cooper’s turn to a practice he deems “magic” not only reveals Leland as Bob’s vessel for murder, but ties together the supernatural air of the Roadhouse, Cooper’s dreams and visions, and several figures involved in the life and death of Laura Palmer. The Roadhouse sets the stage, after the elderly waiter from the Great Northern appears with the key element (and phrase) that unlocks the code of Cooper’s dream. Handing off “that gum” to Leland, we see the elements unfold; “there’s always music in the air,” the phrase uttered by the midget before his dance, connects to Leland as much as the nostalgic gum, with his consistent record playing as well as his replaying of the past, reminiscing about “the good old days” and committing, in some sense, an identical murder.
Leland’s arrest brings Bob out in his entirely, at least as much as can be garnered through his human host. Leland’s death scene, staged on a concrete floor with sprinklers on at full force, brings his redemption on in full symbolic capacity, as his sins are washed away with his confession and expressed regret. Although the religious references are noted, as Cooper asks Leland to look toward the light, and Leland claims to see Laura beckoning him, the discussion between Cooper and his team afterwards is based on more of a spiritual bent, bringing together the elements of light and darkness that pervade the woods of Twin Peaks. While Truman still reveals doubt in Leland’s demonic possession, Cooper’s observation, that a father raping and murdering his own daughter would be easier to swallow, jolts the Sheriff, and perhaps wards off viewer’s psychological explanations as well. Certainly the final shot of Bob’s unseen spirit tearing through the woods offers up an invitation for future occurrences, as well as evidence that things in Twin Peaks are still not what they may seem.
by Jenny Jediny
You, Sir, are blessed with certain gifts. In this respect you are not alone. Have you ever heard of the White Lodge?
With Laura Palmer’s death solved, the series begins to focus on more of the small town dramas already given roots in preceding storylines, and introduces several new characters. Although several plotlines have a soap opera feel, such as Nadine’s return to high school or the ongoing paternal mystery over Lucy’s baby, the Renault brothers continue to liven up the scene with Jean’s partnership with not only Hank but also Ernie, a somewhat hesitant participant in the drug trafficking scene.
There is also an enigmatic (and far more Peakish) development with the sudden disappearance of Major Briggs from the woods. Prior to the fishing trip with Cooper, Major Briggs had increasing appearances in the last few episodes, joining the Sheriff and Cooper after Leland’s death to debate philosophy and the mysteries of Twin Peaks. He continues this veiled debate with Cooper at the campfire, briefly mentioning the “White Lodge.” Pausing the conversation for the call of nature, Cooper suddenly hears the recognizable owl before seeing a blinding light and a hooded figure in black in the distance. With no clues offered at the close of the episode, Major Briggs’ disappearance can only be connected at this time to the mysterious power of the woods, and its wavering tendencies between the merely mysterious and the malevolent.
by Jenny Jediny
Cooper, you may be fearless in this world. But there are other worlds.
Cooper’s foray into the briefly mentioned “White Lodge” produces a cautionary air from Hawk, who describes the White Lodge as a local legend where spirits ruling man and nature reside. However, an alternate world is mentioned in turn, the Black Lodge, where spirits enter and encounter “a shadow self” before they are allowed into the sanctuary of the White Lodge. Although the imagery of Black vs. White is a rather obvious metaphor, the notion of a shadow self is intriguing, particularly with the increasing contact Cooper has with Windom Earle. In terms of a “shadow self,” many of the main players on the show have had a double life, from Laura to Josie, and now possibly Cooper, whose own history has revealed several dark passages. This former life appears embedded in Earle and has come back to haunt him. On a more humorous note connected to Cooper’s past, the show brings back David Lynch as Gordon Cole, if in voice only, and introduces DEA agent Dennis/Denise, portrayed by future X-Files heartthrob David Duchovny in drag.
Although this episode provides the first major development in the James storyline since he took off on his Harley, the encounter with the mysterious (and married) older woman would reek of soap opera fluff if she didn’t look so much like a fortysomething Laura. The woman’s ruched dress and side-swept hair bizarrely recalls the image of Laura in the Red Room, along with the familiar turn James takes to the jukebox. Even the woman’s name, Evelyn, could connect to femme fatale Evelyn Mulray of Polanski’s Chinatown, along with her peculiar marriage and secretive behavior. The numerous film and television references that have already enriched the series would not render this connection a surprise.
by Jenny Jediny
Betty: “Is everything all right?”
Briggs: “No dear. Not exactly”
Although the unexpected return of Major Briggs lends the episode a touch of the unknown (and some much missed Peaks otherworldliness), the majority of the episode remains grounded in soap opera antics and straight up crime investigation. Cooper’s plan to nail Jean Renault echoes the Audrey rescue from One-Eyed Jack’s (although Denise adds an interesting twist).
The theme of curses weighs in heavy on the episode, between the “cursed” Milford widow and little Nicky’s familial past. The curses don’t add up anything other than an odd moment of jealousy for Lucy when the men of the Sheriff’s office fawn over Lana Milford’s unexplainable aura, along with another further pratfalls for Tremayne. Further romantic complications develop for James and Evelyn, as James’ white knight syndrome takes over after discovering Evelyn’s damaging domestic situation, at least according to her brother Malcolm, the apparent black sheep of the household. It is still unclear by the close of the episode how much of Evelyn’s situation is in James’ head, still guilt ridden over both Laura and Maddie’s deaths.
by Jenny Jediny
Suddenly it’s daybreak.
Major Briggs is interrogated at the Sheriff’s station regarding his disappearance, which he has faulty recollections of. His retelling is not informative, but he remembers the image of a giant owl. Below his right ear, Dr. Hayward notices, is a scar in the shape of three triangles. Before he exits with a pair of soldiers, he mentions his search for a mystic location deemed the white lodge. As a means of pursuing this, as well as to stage a drug bust to arrest Jean Renault, Dale Cooper is made an honorary deputy, and, in a Lynchian trademark, given the badge number 13.
Meanwhile, Ben Horne’s office is in controlled disarray as a miniaturized Civil War battlefield. He hovers over tiny soldiers and cannons, dressed in a Confederate shell jacket, staging a victory for his army, ignoring the history of the war on which he has based his microcosm. Audrey and Jerry Horne observe Ben’s behavior, and enlist Dr. Jacoby to nurse his neurosis.
James, having fled from Twin Peaks via Highway 96, is seduced by an older woman, a sultry blonde named Evelyn. Without any immediate priorities other than to remain absent to his friends and family, not to mention in need of money, James opts to repair her Jaguar, and will later learn of the larger machinations that motivate she and her husband.
The drug bust fails, as Ernie, the mole outfitted with a wire, begins sweating profusely, causing the wire to smoke underneath his shirt. Aware of the conspiracy, Renault makes Ernie a hostage, and exchanges him for Cooper. The cabin is now surrounded by policemen, and Renault expresses his disdain for Cooper’s presence in Twin Peaks:
Before you came here. Twin Peaks was a simple place. My brothers deal dope to the teenagers and the truck drivers. One Eyed Jack’s welcome the businessman and the tourist. Quiet people live a quiet life. Then, a pretty girl die and you arrive and everything change. My brother Bernardo shot and left to die in the woods. The grieving father smother my remaining brother with the pillow. Kidnapping, death. Suddenly, the quiet people, they’re quiet no more. Suddenly, the simple dream become the nightmare. So, if you die, maybe you will be the last to die, maybe you brought the nightmare with you and maybe the nightmare will die with you.
The bust is redeemed with the help of Dennis, in drag as Denise, who approaches the cabin with an unsolicited delivery. His captivator distracted, Cooper draws a gun from a holster on Denise’s leg, and shoots Renault, killing him.
Returning to the Sheriff’s station, Cooper and Truman find a body (placed strategically during a power outage). In its mouth is a pawn, and in front of it a chess board. The body is unidentified, but Cooper realizes this is Windom Earle’s next move.
by Rumsey Taylor
I have the clear intuitive sense that there is much trouble ahead.
The anonymous corpse contains a pawn in its mouth, and before it a game of chess suspended in play. For every piece captured, someone will die at the hand of Windom Earle, and Truman enlists Pete Martel — revealed to be the strongest chessman in town — to ensure a checkmate that results in the fewest captured pieces.
During the power outage, Shelly finds Leo has awakened from his vegetable state. She screams as he tosses her to the ground and approaches her with a knife. Bobby, hearing his girlfriend’s screams, enters and prohibits the violence. He clutches Shelly as Leo escapes aimlessly into the woods.
Elsewhere, we learn that Evelyn is apparently conspiring with her husband to frame James for a murder, although her motivations and truth are never clear. (I consider this to be the weakest, most useless thread in Twin Peaks’ labyrinthine network of plots.) Donna is perpetually frightened by James’ absence from Twin Peaks, and is tipped by Ed of his nephew’s whereabouts.
Dazed, Leo comes upon Windom Earle’s hideout, and is instantly graced with warm sympathy in the renegade FBI agent. He is sheltered and fed—moderately resuscitated before Windom will abuse him as a slave in the extraordinary mousetrap he is fashioning for Cooper. Earle’s conniving machinations are justified in Cooper’s explanation of their rivalry: during their partnership in the FBI, Cooper was in charge of protecting a key witness. He fell in love with her—she was Earle’s wife, and in an ambiguous murder (which, in Cooper’s description, bears striking resemblance Windom’s current crimes) he finds her dead in his arms after being knocked unconscious.
by Rumsey Taylor
I had the strangest dream. You were there, and you, and you…
As Windom Earle’s machinations become more apparent to Cooper, he is established as a nemesis with similar if not equivalent assets, matching Cooper’s idiosyncratic methodology in his insistence that their rivalry be executed in a chess match; as partners in the FBI, Cooper remits that they played a match per day for three years, each of which Earle won. “Windom Earle’s mind is like a diamond,” says Cooper. “It’s cold, it’s hard, and it’s brilliant.”
At the helm of his miniature Civil War, Ben Horne, having enlisted Audrey, Bobby, and Jacoby, celebrates the victory of his Confederate soldiers, and the action jars him out of his schizophrenia. He embraces his daughter, and remembers the experience clearly as a dream. He informs Jacoby, who asks if he’s dizzy, that he feels incredible, and inquires on the party’s unusual attire.
Retiring for the night to his room, Cooper finds a mask on his bed, one in the shape of Caroline’s face, which triggers an audio recording of Earle’s voice when it is disturbed:
Breathtaking wasn’t she? A truly beautiful woman, Caroline. Funny, isn’t it? After all this time, after all that happened in Pittsburgh, I still love her and I know that you do too. Now, Dale, listen carefully. It’s your move.
by Rumsey Taylor
What’s the greatest gift one human being can give to another? The future.
Pete overlooks the chess board, maneuvering and describing different strategies to Cooper. The game has just begun, but Pete ensures him of a most conservative move. Cooper complies, and their option is posted in the next day’s issue of the Twin Peaks Gazette as a means of forwarding the agenda. For his next victim, Windom Earle admires the visages of Audrey, Shelly, and Donna, and surreptitiously arranges for the three to meet at the roadhouse, at which he will be inconspicuously present.
Josie is isolated as Cooper’s intended killer in Episode 7’s cliffhanger ending. Rosenfield presses him to make an arrest, which he avoids due to the potential effect it will have on Truman. He is informed of her presence in Thomas Eckhardt’s suite at the Great Northern. Cooper enters the room armed after hearing a gunshot, one that leaves Eckhardt dead at the hand of Josie. “He tried to kill me,” she remarks.
“Is that what you’ll say about me,” asks Cooper. “Why did you shoot me, Josie?”
“Because you came here.”
In this statement, Josie — heretofore a trusted colleague to Cooper as Truman’s lover — channels Jean Renault’s dying statement, that although Twin Peaks was corrupt, Cooper’s presence interrupted a stable biosphere. As Truman enters and demands that she put down her weapon, her body falls limp. Truman embraces her, and Cooper sees in her place Bob and then the man from another place, dancing briefly on the bed. The composition frames a drawer knob on the nightstand. On it is Josie’s agitated, contorting face, her spirit sustained but imprisoned.
by Rumsey Taylor
It’s a pretty simple town. Used to be, anyway. Maybe the world’s just caught up to it.
In the face of plummeting ratings and reviews Twin Peaks was yanked from the TV schedules in February 1991, the network promising to air the last 6 episodes of the season at an indeterminate time. A press conference was held on the Great Northern Hotel set in Snoqualmie, where Lynch turned to the show’s rapidly dwindling fanbase for support: “We’re in trouble. We need your help.” Returning a few weeks later in a new Monday night timeslot, it must have been clear to fans and creators alike that Twin Peaks was doomed, from fad to classic to impending cancellation in little more than a year. It would be easy to blame American audiences for the show’s demise, accusing them of unwillingness to accept the show’s more outrageous or surrealist aspects. Or perhaps the network executives were to blame; they’d been scheming against Peaks from the start, furious that a major hit had slipped in under their radar. But the truth is that Twin Peaks just wasn’t the show it had been a year before; the quality had slipped dramatically, and as producer Harley Peyton scrambled for ratings the plotlines became more outlandish, more absurd, further and further from Lynch and Frost’s original, complex vision.
Episode 24 is a perfect case in point. The episode begins with Sheriff Truman, wracked by grief and guilt, drinking alone as a lone sax blows mournfully. But this honest emotional moment descends into clumsy noir homage in the hands of director James Foley (fresh from Madonna vehicle Who’s That Girl and the noirish After Dark, My Sweet, and soon to achieve fleeting credibility with Glengarry Glen Ross). But Foley is only partly to blame for the episode’s faults. The ‘Thomas Eckhardt’ plotline drags on. Nadine Hurley has become a walking, wrestling freakshow, her relationship with Mike producing little more than strained laughs. Windom Earle prances about in a variety of disguises, coming on like a low-rent pastiche of Jack Nicholson’s Joker, punning and scheming and generally playing the fool to no great effect. And it is in this episode that we are treated to perhaps the low point of the entire series: the ‘pine weasel’ incident. It’s as though somebody mixed the scripts and a stray scene from Lynch and Frost’s mercifully short lived ‘comedy’ series On The Air escaped into Twin Peaks. First the ignominy of the fashion show, with Andy suitably awkward in ‘a plethora of plaid.’ Then the unveiling of the weasel itself, brought onstage by the fawningly camp Tim Pinkle. The animal latches onto Dick Tremayne’s nose, and hilarity attempts valiantly to ensue. It’s slapstick farce of the weakest kind, desperate and excruciating.
But it’s not all bleak. The episode sees the first appearance of Annie Blackburn, Cooper’s long awaited love interest. Michael Ontkean turns in a powerhouse acting performance, as Harry rages against cruel fate before collapsing, bereft, in Cooper’s arms. There’s also Madchen Amick as Shelly Johnson, growing noticeably more comfortable in her role as she ceases to be just a victim and develops into a likeable, funny, well rounded character, and Billy Zane’s John Justice Wheeler, sweeping Audrey Horne quite literally off her feet in another romantic plotline that will develop satisfactorily over the coming weeks.
by Tom Huddleston
You start with a nearly frozen, unstrained glass of tomato juice. Drop a couple of oysters in there and chug it down. Breathe deeply. Next a heaping mound of sauteed sweetbreads with chestnuts and Canadian bacon. Finally some biscuits and a bucket of gravy, and here’s where it gets tricky, you’re gonna need some anchovies…
And suddenly, everything goes right. This is by far the strongest of the later episodes, between Laura’s death and Lynch’s final bewilderment. Playing on the series current strengths — likeable characterisation and sheer unpredictability — Harley Peyton and Robert Engels turn in a near-flawless romantic comedy script: sweet, funny and heartwarming. The dark edges may have been filed down on the show as a whole, but for this episode at least it didn’t seem to matter—a new direction seemed possible, combining the murder mystery antics of Earle’s chess game with an almost sitcom romantic angle. Director Dunham, Lynch’s regular editor, had been with the show from the very beginning, and his familiarity with the world must have been an asset. And Lynch’s presence, returning as FBI Bureau Chief Gordon Cole, seems to have forced everyone to pick up their game.
The episode begins in unspectacular fashion, wrapping up last week’s cliff-hanger as Harry fights off Eckhardt’s foxy female assistant Jones. The attack spurs Harry to pull himself together, setting the stage for the first of many memorable scenes—Cooper’s hangover cure. The quality of the writing in this scene combined with a palpable sense of camaraderie between characters and actors alike raises the standard higher than it had been in many weeks. A brief but welcome interruption from Audrey and Wheeler follows, before Gordon Cole appears, fresh from Bend, Oregon (“there’s a whole lot of shakin’ going on in Bend”). Then we return to the Double R for the main event—an epic love scene on two fronts as first Cole then Cooper try their hand at “a little counter Esperanto”—romancing the diner’s staff, Shelly and Annie respectively. Lynch’s wide-eyed boy scout routine is perfect, uttering lines like “my socks are on fire!” with an expression of genuine enrapture. Cooper tries to play it smooth, but a nervous, joyous energy seems to be seeping from every pore, infecting Annie with his barely concealed enthusiasm. It’s perhaps Maclachlan’s finest scene as an actor, simultaneously awkward and controlled, passionate and uncertain. The sequence climaxes with a moment of sheer, exuberant glee, as all four characters laugh out loud at separate jokes—unexpected perfection.
The rest of the episode passes entertainingly enough—Ben Horne’s path to goodness contains more cracks than pavement, but we do get a fleeting visit from disabled son Johnny, shooting down plastic buffalo in the garden. Windom Earle dons another feeble disguise and menaces Audrey at the library. The scene lacks any real sense of threat, but does contain a few memorable lines: “It is incumbent upon the young to disobey.” The episode climaxes with the first visit to Owl Cave, and the petroglyph. There’s just time for another glorious Cooper-Annie moment in the bar at the Great Northern; a tentative, exploratory meeting between two scarred souls, and a promise of further happiness to come.
by Tom Huddleston
I believe that these mysteries are not separate entities, but are in fact complimentary verses of the same song. I cannot hear the song yet. But I can feel it.
Twin Peaks began life as a soap opera with mystery and police procedural elements, what one reviewer wittily dubbed a “soap noir.” And although the mystery had now been solved and Laura’s killer revealed, the writers were left with a myriad of dangling plot strands, many of them supernatural in nature — the giant and the dwarf, the ‘red room’ and the two lodges, Bob and Mike, the “evil in these woods” — products of David Lynch’s unpredictable subconscious which lesser writers insisted on treating with pragmatic literal-mindedness. Faced with impending cancellation, they decided to go for closure, attempting to weave the disparate plotlines into one story thread, however much twisting and compromise that might entail. The binding agent for this morass of supernatural mumbo jumbo was Windom Earle and Project Bluebook, and the mythology of the black lodge. In the process they unwittingly invented The X- Files — an FBI investigation into UFOlogy and the paranormal, pairing one believer (Cooper/Mulder) with one sceptic (Truman/Scully, though Harry’s unbelief is always tempered with an automatic willingness to trust Cooper’s judgement). But The X-Files centred around an already existing mythos, that of UFO’s, abductions and government secrecy. Twin Peaks was created on the hoof, and nowhere is this more apparent than in these later episodes—Native American legend, alien radio signals, possessing spirits, all of these unconnected elements piled haphazardly, with no method or underlying strategy, no real intention beyond wrapping up storylines and confounding audience expectations.
This is another episode which highlights the problematic direction the series had taken, and the writers’ perplexing insistence on introducing (and often interweaving) elements of science fiction and slapstick comedy, conflicting genres in which they seem to have little or no experience. We open with Windom Earle clarifying the legend of the two lodges, for the benefit of anyone who hadn’t been paying attention. Again, Kenneth Welsh’s performance strays over the border into parody, and the fact that he’s sermonising to the drooling Leo Johnson and a textbook “woah… dude” metalhead (played by Sam Raimi’s brother Ted) doesn’t encourage the audience to take any of it seriously. Major Briggs, fast becoming the series’ resident expositor, is wheeled in to explain Blue Book and the FBI’s UFO program, and link the Owl Cave petroglyph to the black lodge and Windom Earle. The comic theme is extended with preparations for the Miss Twin Peaks pageant, and Dick Tremayne’s excruciating wine tasting evening.
But it’s another strong character episode—Cooper and Annie’s romance deepens (“Whenever I talk to you, I get an odd tingling sensation in my toes and in my stomach…”), and the writers seize the chance to develop her character into something more complex and fragile. The attempted romance between Cole and Shelly reaches its satisfying, hilarious conclusion with “TWO ADULTS SHARING A TENDER MOMENT!” And there’s a discussion on the nature of love between Cooper and Wheeler in the Great Northern bar, an incisive, intelligent piece of writing which only serves to throw the preceding ‘onophiliac soiree’ into sharp relief. There is a real literary sense in this episode, a love of words and language which throws up a wealth of memorable speeches—Pete Martell’s reminiscence of the Doolittle Twins in Guam, Earle’s speech to Raimi just before the murder (“Where will my spirit wake?”) and Lynch’s wry, self-aware assertion that “this world of Twin Peaks seems to be filled with beautiful women.”
by Tom Huddleston
The only thing Columbus discovered was that he was lost.
Panic sets in. Cooper’s opening assertion that Earle is playing “off the board” is the first clear sign that the series’ impending cancellation was spooking the producers into rash decisions, hoping to stem the hemorrhage of audience members and rescue their threatened livelihoods. But in truth they were flogging a dead show; nothing they could say or do could resuscitate Twin Peaks so late in the game. And the haphazard desperation in the plotting was starting to produce cracks in the veneer, plot holes widening—the Miss Twin Peaks pageant takes approximately three days to plan, choreograph and stage (Audrey actually enters the contest on the day of the pageant). Earle’s interest in Shelly, Audrey and Donna seems to have waned; he’s now only intending to prey on the pageant Queen. And even the romance between Cooper and Annie is starting to feel the pressure, as they rush to fall deeply in love before the series draws to a close.
The final Peyton/Engels collaboration lacks the spark and warmth of previous episodes, but it’s still a cut above- how many TV writers would cover Heisenberg and bowling in the same scene? As in previous weeks it’s the character scenes that work best- Bobby’s declaration of love and repentance is honest and sweet (‘it’s like my brain rolled over’), with Dana Ashbrook clearly relishing the chance to express something other than rage, frustration or deviousness. Billy Zane once more exudes likeable integrity as Wheeler, lecturing Ben Horne on the nature of goodness. And despite the quickened pace, the Cooper/ Annie romance is still the highlight (“I’ve been seeing your face in fried eggs all morning”). The consummation of Audrey and Wheeler’s relationship is the heart of the episode, subtly framed by the circumstantial friendship between the young Miss Horne and a slightly out of his depth Pete Martell. The race to the airport is exciting, Audrey’s declaration of love genuinely affecting, as is Pete’s tearful patience. His offer to take Audrey fishing recalls a similar bargain struck with Josie Packard far earlier in the series, and we get a real sense of how much Pete misses her.
Director Stephen Gyllenhaal directs with confidence, toying subtly with the viewer—coffee drips in slow motion, hands shake uncontrollably, previously unseen police deputy Cappy looks eerily like a miniature version of Sheriff Truman. There’s even a wry Lynchian reference in the scene where Cooper and Annie dance—a cocktail jazz version of “Mysteries Of Love” plays, recalling the high school dance between Maclachlan and Laura Dern in Blue Velvet, highlighting the similarities between Cooper and that film’s Jeffrey Beaumont.
by Tom Huddleston
Once more with feeling, girls. I only have three things to say: energy, energy, energy.
The headlong race to the finish line continues. Overall, this is without doubt the weakest episode of the series, coasting by on pace and tension, desperately papering over the cracks and tying up the knots. Writer Barry Pullman, the man responsible for the heinous pine weasel catastrophe, was inexplicably given the task of penning this penultimate episode of the series, and his ham-handed, overly literal approach to every aspect of plot and character makes for frustrating viewing. There are some interesting scenes: the father-daughter bond between Audrey and Ben Horne is deftly illustrated, and the psychiatry session with Nadine, Mike, Ed, Norma and Dr. Jacoby (a character we’d missed in recent episodes) is suitably awkward and unsettling. But in other areas Pullman fatally drops the ball—Cooper’s admission of the facts surrounding Josie’s death have almost zero effect on Sheriff Truman, her supposedly distraught lover. The ubersoap plotline involving Donna’s uncertain parentage was crude enough to begin with, but an overwrought scene between the Hayward family only undermines the characters yet further (and begs the question: what happened to Donna’s two sisters?). And most cruelly of all, Pullman fluffs the first lovemaking between Cooper and Annie, the scene that should have brought their burgeoning romance to satisfactory fruition. It’s schmaltzy and embarrassing, labouring under the weight of a crude, overplayed ecological metaphor (“Your forest is beautiful and peaceful… all I know is that I want to make love to you.”).
Everything in the episode is geared towards the Miss Twin Peaks pageant, a bellwether of how far the series’ standards had slipped—a cheap end-of-the-pier beauty contest has become, for many characters, the climactic event of the entire season. Crude sexual references abound in the scenes pairing Dick Tremayne with Lana and Mayor Milford. Pointless annoyance Tim Pinkle returns as the show’s choreographer, demeaning most of the female characters with a pair of crass, suggestive dance routines. The costumes are garish and insulting, the speeches trite, the talent contest interminable—appropriate, perhaps, for a small town beauty pageant, but a world away from what Twin Peaks had started out to be. As though to add insult to injury, the episode concludes with Windom Earle’s crudest disguise, dressing up as the Log Lady, robbing any sense of dignity or elegance from that most enigmatic and fascinating of Lynch’s original characters. Director Tim Hunter (River’s Edge) attempts to spice things up with a dramatic strobe-lit sequence, and there are moments of real threat and tension as Earle kidnaps the unsuspecting Annie. But the overall feeling as the episode ends is one of disappointment, perhaps even anger; that something so unique, so powerful and personal, has been so comprehensively demeaned.
by Tom Huddleston
David Lynch’s final episode of Twin Peaks is the work of a man working almost entirely without restrictions, beyond those of budget and societal decency. It’s an astounding work of the imagination; complex, frustrating, nightmarish and dreamlike, beautiful and inexplicably emotional. The series’ cancellation was by this point confirmed, so there were no longer any boundaries, no viewers to satisfy, no ratings to worry about. But despite appearances Lynch is a responsible filmmaker, and the episode still manages to work as a conclusion to most of the plotlines in the series, even if that conclusion is sometimes rather more violent and shocking than we had expected.
Mark Frost claims to feel harshly treated by the public’s perception of Twin Peaks as David Lynch’s creation, in one quote even comparing himself to Paul McCartney, struggling in the shadow of Lynch’s Lennon. His influence on the series was undoubtedly huge—one only has to compare the broadness and warmth of the Lynch/Frost penned pilot episode with the brutal single mindedness of Lynch’s own Fire Walk With Me. But there’s a reason why David Lynch is a world renowned filmmaker while Mark Frost still struggles on the fringes of TV, amply illustrated in the disparity between the Frost/Peyton/Engels script for Twin Peaks’ final episode, and the beautiful, bewildering mini-masterpiece which Lynch eventually delivered to our screens.
Anyone reading the shooting script would have had ample cause for concern. As with other recent episodes it’s frustratingly literal: the Black Lodge is represented by a rundown hotel, Windom Earle speechifies endlessly about his plans to rule the world and sings a comedy version of “Back In The Saddle Again,” Bob makes only the most fleeting appearance, inexplicably possessing Cooper in a flash of white light. In this context the violent scenes back in Twin Peaks feel like a fit of destructive temper, a frustrated writing team throwing their toys out of the pram and killing off our favourite characters. It would have been a sad, ignominious end, crass and unworthy.
The spate of deaths and disasters which occur in the original script also find their way into Lynch’s finished episode (leading one to surmise that he may have kept even his collaborators in the dark about his intention to throw out most of their script and go his own way). He clearly shares Frost’s frustration at the death of his baby, and a certain cynical willingness to violently confound audience expectations. Lynch is, if anything, more extreme—Ben Horne’s wound is clearly mortal in the filmed episode, Leo Johnson finds no rescue, and it’s loveable Pete instead of Catherine who dies in the Savings and Loan explosion. But in context these scenes work as vignettes, as a gradual stripping away of all extraneous concerns until only Cooper is left, alone with his ghosts in the red room.
And there are some happy endings—Bobby and Shelly, the Major and Betty Briggs. Andy and Lucy retreat from the stereotypes they’ve become, their relationship regaining some of the purity it had in the first season. Lynch also attempts to bring things full circle, reintroducing Sarah Palmer and bringing back the character of German Double-R waitress Heidi, who reappears for the first time since the pilot episode and has an identical conversation with Bobby and Shelly (“seconds on knockwurst…”).
But the centrepiece of the episode is Cooper’s excursion in the red room, with its womblike curtains and striped parquet floors, and Little Jimmy Scott warbling “Sycamore Trees” like a dying angel. It’s foolish to attempt too much direct analysis of the sequence—ever the transcendentalist, Lynch prefers much of his work to remain unexplained. The key plot points are obvious on second or third viewing—the ‘red room’ is the waiting room to the two lodges, where one faces the aforementioned ‘dweller on the threshold’, a test of inner worthiness. But Cooper reacts with fear, unable to confront his dark self. He is defeated, and remains trapped in the lodge—all of this is explained by Annie’s brief appearance in Fire Walk With Me. Lynch’s distaste for the Windom Earle plotline is openly expressed in the way that character is dispatched, several pages of dialogue in the original script reduced to two lines and a merciful death.
But the sequence is not about plot, but about emotion, and image, and subconscious creativity. The episode is Cooper’s nightmare—never for a moment does he seem in control; permanently perplexed, uncomfortable, and eventually afraid. And it’s hardly surprising; there’s real terror in Laura’s screams, in Bob’s sudden appearance, in the marble-white eyes of the doppelganger who runs Cooper down. His coffee turns solid, then to oil, one of the staple ingredients of the series twisted into something ugly and wrong. The two loves of his life appear broken and murdered before his eyes. Of all the harsh plot twists in the episode, it’s Cooper’s defeat that hits the hardest—the final image of this seemingly flawless, ideal human being hopelessly corrupted is one of the blackest in all of Lynch’s work. In retrospect the ending of Fire Walk With Me, showing Cooper and Laura united in harmonious understanding, feels almost like an apology for the brutal way in which the series originally closed.
Perhaps one day Cooper will escape from the lodge to track down his evil self, and rid the world of Bob. But as the years draw by, as the cast age and Twin Peaks recedes into fond memory this possibility seems ever more unlikely. For some years after the series drew to a close Lynch repeatedly expressed his desire to return to the Northwest, to rediscover the town and the people he had created. Those comments appear to have dried up; Lynch has bigger things to worry about, like the forthcoming digital production Inland Empire. But there is one thing worth remembering—at the end of the European movie version of the pilot, and also in episode 2 of the series, Cooper is shown with Laura in the red room, 25 years after the events depicted in the series. If Lynch is intending to keep to this timetable he still has 8 years to make it happen.
by Tom Huddleston | Continue to Fire Walk With Me →