So it’s been a while since my last Twin Peaks update, and… Wow. Just, wow. Where do I begin to discuss where the show’s been in recent weeks?
Okay, sure. Why not? Last week, we were treated to David Lynch’s Over the Top!
Well, okay. Not exactly.
Except pretty much exactly.
The scene is just as ridiculous as it looks, one of those moments where the series departs from reality not with red rooms and backwards-talking midgets, but with behavior from (ostensibly) normal human beings that doesn’t make any damn sense. The idea here is that there’s a criminal stronghold somewhere in a remote part of Montana ruled over by a guy named Renzo, who maintains control of the operation because nobody can beat him at arm-wrestling. And if anyone ever does beat him, they become the new boss.
Yes. You read that right.
At first, the whole thing seems like it’s a cruel joke being played on Our Man Evil Coop. It looks like Renzo plans to crush him at arm-wrestling just for fun, then kill him. You don’t for a minute think they’re actually going to make Evil Coop the new boss if he wins. Because that’s patently ridiculous. If he wins, you think, they’re still going to kill him. Or try to kill him, anyway. But you don’t think that’s going to happen, either. You know he’s going to win, and you know he will somehow escape death. Because Evil Coop is a MAGIC BASTARD, and in spite of his significant disadvantage in weight, muscle, and age… You know going in that he will somehow MAGIC BASTARD his way to victory.
Which he does.
And then some.
And, lo and behold, it turns out that the gang at the Farm ACTUALLY LIVES BY THEIR ARM-WRESTLING CODE. So they start calling Evil Coop boss, and do whatever he wants.
Meanwhile in Las Vegas, the Mitchum Brothers (local gangsters with a mad-on for Our Hero Dougie Coop) decide not to kill Dougie because he brought them a cherry pie. Because one of them (Jim Belushi) had a dream about Dougie bringing them pie, and in the dream they didn’t kill him. Then they find the insurance check Dougie was also bringing them (which was largely the source of their ire to begin with), and suddenly DOUGIE IS THEIR BEST FRIEND. Next thing we know, they’re dancing into the insurance offices in a damn conga line to MAGIC MUSIC THAT SEEMS TO BE COMING FROM NOWHERE, but which definitely isn’t soundtrack music, either, because it gets lower when they cut inside a different office in the same building.
Also meanwhile, the FBI Blue Rose investigation team is still holed up in South Dakota. Gordon entertains a GORGEOUS FRENCH WOMAN, and KNOWS HER LIFE STORY in spite of an apparent language barrier. Also, their hotel rooms look increasingly like standing offices, complete with BOOK-LINED SHELVES and BANKS OF COMPUTER EQUIPMENT (except it’s still obviously in a hotel).
In Twin Peaks, a young Englishman tells James the story of how A GIANT TOLD HIM TO WEAR A GREEN GLOVE, and how that glove gives him INCREDIBLE SUPER-STRENGTH, but ONLY IN THAT ONE HAND (James, of course, reacts as if this makes sense). Sarah Palmer sits drinking herself into oblivion and watching THE SAME 15 SECONDS of a black-and-white boxing match OVER AND OVER on her giant big-screen TV. Sonny Jim gets a backyard gym set that looks… Well… It looks like something out of a David Lynch film, with a weird lighted archway and a freaking SPOTLIGHT running randomly around the yard. Janey-E turns out to be DIANE’S SISTER, in an out-of-nowhere plot twist that’s jaw-dropping when it’s announced, and increasingly disturbing as the implications of it sink in (though it does explain why Janey’s so tough). Audrey Horne finally makes an appearance, and seems distraught, trapped by the feeling that her life “FEELS LIKE GHOSTWOOD.”
The whole thing is increasingly coming to feel like a dream, in other words.
And that gets me thinking.
Events make sense, more or less, but sometimes only if you just go with it and accept the show’s internal logic, which is, more and more all the time, coming to feel like a dream. Now, Twin Peaks has always been less concerned with reflecting reality than it has with evoking an aesthetic and being funny, so I might be inclined to write all this off to David Lynch’s love of the surreal and the absurd. Except that Gordon dreamed about Monica Bellucci again.
In the dream, Gordon’s having coffee in Paris with Monica Bellucci. (Yes. I know. Albert was impatient, too. But bear with me.) And in that dream, Monica (he calls her by her first name, of course) tells him, “We are like the dreamer, who dreams and then lives inside the dream.” She’s quoting the Upanishads there (a text that reportedly informed Lynch’s film Inland Empire). The line also echoes David Bowie’s line from Fire Walk With Me: “We live inside a dream.” And potentially gives new depth to Audrey Horne’s early musical question “Isn’t it too dreamy?” So this is hardly new ground for Twin Peaks. But then she asks a question I’ve never really considered before:
Uhm… Holy crap. I have no idea. Is it Dale Cooper, lost in spiritual limbo? Is it Audrey, trapped in some hell we don’t yet understand? Is it Major Briggs, presumed dead and working for the White Lodge? Is it Laura Palmer, dead these last 25 years but also still alive? Or is this some kind of collective dream of everyone involved? The whole human race or (as the next line in the Upanishads indicates) the universe?
Hell if I know. But it’s a fascinating idea. And not in a “Bobby Ewing walks out of the shower” kind of cop-out way, either. This is a David Lynch production, after all, and for Lynch, dreams hold as much significance as reality. In some ways, dreams ARE reality. Alternate realities. Places we can visit and inhabit, to explore our worst fears and greatest desires.
So I wonder what we’re really dealing with here. Is it a dream? Or is it a dream reality colonizing our own? Different realities, converging and bumping into each other. In one, Bing’s looking for Billy. In another, Bing’s paying for his meal at the RR. In one, the convenience store has turkey jerky. In the other, it doesn’t exist. In one, James Hurley was always cool. In the other, he’s… you know… JAMES.
I am fascinated by this idea of multiple realities converging, the possibility that the season is sort of a fictional Schrödinger‘s Cat, and we’re watching some kind of quantum uncertainty collapsing in front of us. There’s a moment in this week’s episode where the members of the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department re-converge on a location known as Jack Rabbit’s Palace. This scene follows a Lodge event, so strange things are happening anyway. But as they come back to their starting point, we see multiple ghostly apparitions of each of them coming into frame from different directions before converging on the spots they eventually end up in. It’s a strange scene, and one that works far better in motion than with a screen capture. But here’s what it looks like, anyway:
Viewed from the correct frame of mind, that could indeed be a representation of different realities collapsing into one. Quantum ghosts converging into a single instance. Of course, it could also just be a neat visual effect for a scene designed to let us know that some freaky shit’s goin’ down. I don’t claim to have the answers here. I’m just tossing out speculation.
Immediately before that scene, we get one of my new all-time favorite Twin Peaks moments: Andy in the White Lodge.
I was both amused and astounded that this happened. But of course it was Andy. He’s the one who figured out the Owl Cave map in the original series. And besides… Who has a bigger heart than that guy? Who is the purest soul? And (ala good ol’ Senor Droolcup) who is the most unlikely agent for the White Lodge to work through? The Giant’s even got a slight smile on his face as he sits down to talk. He KNOWS this is some funny business. But then (through the agency of some kind of multi-dimensional smoke box), he basically shows Andy Episode Eight, and through that conveys important information about what Our Heroes must do next.
In real plot terms, this is a total Deus Ex Machina. There’s no other way for the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department to learn any of this, so Lynch and Frost went with the oldest cop-out possible. I mean, it’s a LITERAL GOD with a LITERAL MACHINE. But the scene is so strange and cool that I don’t care. If you’re going to move the plot via divine intervention, that intervention should be as enigmatic and weird as possible. That sort of thing is a hallmark of Twin Peaks, and they’ve pulled it off again, with nearly as much style as they had the first time around.
There’s something really freaky going on with Sarah Palmer, too.
But I have no idea what’s happening there. At first, I assumed she was possessed by Mother. But somebody pointed out that the smile matches up pretty perfectly with the one in Laura’s prom picture, so again… Hell if I know.
And with that, I bid you adieu. There’s just four episodes left (three if you count the two-part finale as one), and as usual I have no idea where it’s all headed. And that’s exactly how I like it.
Which, now that I think of it, provides an elegant answer to Monica Bellucci’s question: It’s David Lynch’s dream. And we’re just along for the ride.