So Twin Peaks returns tonight, after a one-week hiatus. I’m kind of glad we had that week off, too, especially after the phantasmagoria of episode eight. It gave me some time to cool down, stop thinking about the show, and relax. Of course, now that we’re getting close to another new episode, my fascination / obsession has been on the rise again. And I’m finding that the break has helped my brain make some connections while I was thinking about other stuff.
Not that I think I’ve figured it all out, mind you. I’ve given up trying to predict this show, or even expecting anything specific of it. At this point, I’m just taking it as it comes, and analyzing afterwards. So this is nothing even close to a Unified Field Theory of Twin Peaks. It’s more ruminations on specific details. A rambling collection of thoughts and questions that I thought might be worth sharing. So don’t expect great revelations, or even much in the way of structure. But hopefully there’s something here that you’ll find worth chewing on…
Pictures of Laura
Bobby breaks down upon seeing Laura’s prom picture.
That same picture is the one we see in the opening credits.
It’s also the image in the Giant’s glowing ball of light.
So is that image supposed to reflect Laura, or the idea of Laura? What Laura represents, at her best? What she represented to the town of Twin Peaks? Is that idea what Bobby’s mourning, rather than the actual, flawed person? How do we separate the two? Can we? Should we?
Laura was the darkness and the light. She was the pretty young homecoming queen who loved her friends and did after-school charity work. She was also the cynical drug-running prostitute who laughed at her boyfriend’s distress when he killed a cop, seeming to delight in his corruption. In the end, though, the light won out. She chose death over corruption (represented as possession by Bob), dying for all the sins she’d involved herself with, and becoming the town’s salvation.
The Laura who’s in the Red Room, both alive and dead, and filled with light, has been ripped from the metaphysical world of the Lodges by persons unknown for purposes unclear.
Agent Cooper’s been tasked with finding her, but he can’t quite wake up from his 25-year nap in the Lodge. I’ve given up on trying to predict where this show is heading, as I said. But if I had to guess, it would be back toward Twin Peaks, and Laura Palmer.
The hallmark of the new show, as far as I’m concerned, is its storytelling style. It is fearlessly, defiantly, patient. It takes its time with everything, doling out plot in small scenes that add up to something much bigger than they seem in the moment. The deeper we get, the more apparent it becomes that scenes we initially thought were devoted to comedy, character and tone were also establishing plot. We just didn’t know it at the time.
Look at the various Twin Peaks scenes, for example. Designer drugs are killing high school students. A member of the sheriff’s department (Deputy Chad) is on the take from the drug runners. Bobby Briggs, who was secretly a part of drug-running operations in town when he was in high school, is now a deputy in charge of the security cameras that mysteriously haven’t picked up any suspicious activity. The offspring of one of the town’s most prominent families is a strung-out criminal asshole, and part of the operation. A local school teacher who “can’t afford” the tips she leaves at the RR recognizes him as he speeds past after committing a hit and run on a small child, implying to some that she’s part of it, as well. And at the head of the operation is Red…
…whose seeming magical powers have lead some to speculate that he may be the grown up version of Mrs. Tremond’s grandson, a young magician with ties to both the White and Black Lodges.
Red’s strange demeanor and use of magic mark him as a Black Lodge operative, anyway, and that all by itself means the town needs help in a big way.
Then there’s the mystery of Andy.
Andy Brennan is one of the most beloved characters in the series. He’s a sweet-natured soul who cried upon seeing Laura’s body, and engaged in a heartwarming romance with Lucy. He’s been lighthearted comedy relief from day one, and it’s hard not to love him (the Little Nicky subplot notwithstanding). He’s continued in this role in the new season, sometimes coming off as such a stupendous dolt that it strains credulity. But there’s this one scene…
Andy confronts someone who may be part of the drug-running operation, about the truck Richard Horne used to commit his hit and run, and Andy comes off as surprisingly competent law enforcement. He also gives the guy surprising leeway, agreeing not to talk to him at his house, but to meet him up the road in an hour. The guy never shows (it’s implied that he’s dead), and when Andy checks the time out at the meeting place…
…he’s wearing a Rolex. That’s a mighty expensive watch for a small-town deputy sheriff, and that, combined with that odd scene of Andy interacting with the redneck, has lead some to speculate that he may be on the take, as well. Which would be a sure sign that something’s wrong, and the most heart-breaking thing Lynch and Frost could possibly do to the show’s fans. And, you know, I wouldn’t put it past them.
But they’re also famous for their red herrings, seeming clues that lead nowhere in the long run. The original series had plenty of them, like Leo Johnson’s bloody shirt, or Dr. Jacobi’s constant spying on Laura’s friends. They’re also planting ten thousand details in the new show, aware after 25 years that their fans have sharp eyes and active minds. So maybe it doesn’t mean anything. Maybe Andy’s just too trusting, and his trust got his suspect killed. That would certainly be in line with what we know of him. And so he’s got a Rolex. So what? Maybe he saved up for it. Maybe it was a gift. Maybe it belongs to Harry Goaz (the actor who plays Andy), and he just wore it for the scene.
For now, we don’t know. And that’s part of the fun.
The Black Woodsman’s Chant
This is the water.
And this is the well.
Drink full, and descend.
The horse is the white of the eyes.
And dark within.
Why does the water come first? Normally, you’d get the water from the well. Here, the water is being offered to to you, and if you take it, you descend (presumably, into the well). Lots of possible interpretations here, but it could represent the easy path leading to darkness. Evil. Hell. Drink now, pay later. The sort of deal the Black Lodge offers.
The horse’s whiteness takes us from the surface to the center. The color is what we can see (hence “the white of the eyes”), but inside is only darkness. Another metaphor for evil, perhaps? Or, more likely, duality.
Other thoughts: White can represent both purity and death, which, now that I think of it, might mean it has something to do with Laura. But it’s dark within, and she’s filled with light…
…so maybe not. Unless it’s a Trojan horse, representing the shell of Laura’s physical form, rather than the inner spirit born of the Giant. But now I’m venturing way too far down the rabbit hole, so I’ll move on.
The Spike and the Arm
Ike the Spike is maybe my favorite character of the new season. Such a great, weird, vicious animal of a man. He seems like just a fun evil throw-away, but there may be more to him than meets the eye. For instance:
She doesn’t go into specifics, but the smell of burnt engine oil has been associated with Black Lodge spirits in the past (Bob and Mike both have been said to smell of it). Considering that the speaker is a little girl who may not be able to pinpoint the odor exactly, Ike smelling funny may be an indication that he’s possessed by a being of the Black Lodge, too. Which one? Well…
The Arm’s appearance during Dougie Coop’s struggle with Ike makes me wonder if it’s the Arm’s own doppelganger, last seen dumping Cooper into “non-exist-ence” at the start of all this. I thought at the time that the Arm’s Doppelganger might have been trying to use Cooper’s window to escape, but we don’t actually see that, and nothing’s come of it since, so I dunno. But the Arm popping up, and being so bizarrely excited by the fight, makes me wonder if he doesn’t have a personal stake in this confrontation.
Also, the Arm’s first incarnation was as a little person, and Ike’s also a little person, so there’s that. Part of me wonders, in fact, if Ike isn’t David Lynch’s way of working out some frustrations with Michael J Anderson, the original Arm actor, who’s made some pretty ugly accusations against Lynch since his salary demands for this third season weren’t met.
What Evil Coop Wants
Cooper’s doppelganger has defined himself as a being of pure desire. He doesn’t NEED things, he told Ray. He WANTS things. And that’s lead me to thinking about his earliest days out in the world, after the real Dale Cooper was trapped in the Lodge. If he’s Cooper’s dark side, all his worst aspects and petty desires made flesh, what might he do first?
Well. Doc Hayward tells us that he saw Evil Coop at the hospital, leaving the intensive care wing. Doc speculates that he might have been visiting Audrey Horne, who was in a coma after the explosion at the bank. That’s lead some to speculate that Evil Coop may have snuck in and had sex with the comatose Audrey, thinking that it might explain Richard Horne’s mean streak. I kind of dismissed that train of thought at first, but now… Hmm. If Evil Coop is all of Good Coop’s base desires, he might very well seek out that pretty girl who was naked in his bed a few days earlier.
Good Coop nobly declined Audrey’s advances, stating rightly that he’d be taking advantage of her. But the attraction was obvious. He must have been tempted. And Evil Coop is all about sating that kind of desire.
There’s also been a lot of speculation about what happened between Cooper and Diane.
The nature of their relationship has always been a bit of a mystery, but she’s incredibly bitter over something these days, and it seems to have something to do with a night she and Cooper spent together. So there’s been speculation that Evil Coop also paid Diane a visit between leaving Twin Peaks and disappearing into the criminal underworld. Which also makes sense. If there was unfulfilled attraction between Cooper and Diane, Evil Coop might have wanted to satisfy it before he jettisoned Good Coop’s life forever, and went underground. Some have further speculated that he raped her, which is certainly in the Killer Bob / Black Lodge playbook. But I don’t know. If Diane’s always been as tough as Gordon says, it might have been more damaging in the long run if Evil Coop loved her and left. If they consummated a mutual desire that they’d always denied, and then she never saw him again. That’s the kind of thing she’d keep to herself. The kind of thing that would fester and grow and make her bitter over time. The kind of soul-deep pain that the Black Lodge likes best.
Before Dale Cooper switched places with Dougie Jones, Dougie had been missing for three days. It’s been implied that he had “spells” of some kind, and that he would go off on benders from time to time. And, considering that Dougie was some kind of construct created by Evil Coop, I’d think there wasn’t much more to it than that, except…
They found Dougie’s wedding ring in Major Briggs’ stomach. So did Dougie make a side trip to South Dakota for a few days? Was he present when Briggs was killed? Did Evil Coop (if Evil Coop is the one who killed Briggs and the librarian) force Briggs to swallow the wedding ring as a further complication for Good Coop when he and Dougie switched places? Did he want Good Coop facing a murder rap in case the assassination attempts failed? And if so, did he trade Dougie the wedding ring for the Owl Cave ring? And why? In the past, that ring has been used to seal and break deals with Lodge spirits. In Fire Walk With Me, it’s implied that it keeps Bob from possessing Laura. So what’s going on there?
For that matter, if Evil Coop did give Dougie the ring, how did he get it? When last seen, it was on Annie Blackburn’s finger in the hospital. The “Missing Pieces” deleted scenes from Fire Walk With Me show a nurse stealing it from her comatose form. Of course, that may also be why Evil Coop was in the Intensive Care unit in Twin Peaks: to get the ring. Which may mean that he never even touched Audrey (and we all have dirty minds for thinking he did).
As with so many things here at the halfway point in the new season, it remains a mystery. Which is kind of the whole point, right? Mystery is the primary attraction of Twin Peaks. It’s why we watch, why we speculate, and why we’re all so obsessed with it (because I figure, if you’re still reading at this point, you HAVE TO BE as obsessed as me). I don’t know if anything I’ve discussed here is even remotely close to the truth, and I don’t care. It’s the mystery that matters, the wondering and the speculating. That’s the fun of it. That’s what makes it great.
And now I’ll shut up, and await the latest chapter just like everybody else. And then the speculation can begin again…