Cooper: “Donna, this is serious business – more serious than Laura falling in love with someone other than her boyfriend. Much more serious than you know.”
• More serious than even Cooper knows, really. Two women have been murdered, and one has been raped and left for dead. That’s, quite clearly, deadly-serious business. But this is just the beginning.
Cooper: “Here’s something we haven’t seen before.”
• Cooper and Truman enter the train car crime scene and discover “a mound of dirt approximately a foot and a half in diameter,” half of a gold heart on a necklace, and a scrap of paper with the words “Fire walk with me” scrawled in blood. There’s something cultish and ritualistic about all of this, which is perfectly in keeping with the overall mood that Lynch is establishing here.
• The Horne’s mentally-handicapped on Johnny? In the Native American headdress? No idea what that’s about. Is bizarre.
• Audrey’s weirdly infantile acting out against her father by telling the cheese-eating Norwegians that Laura was killed, that there is a killer lurking in the town, plays bizarrely against Badalamenti’s jaunty score. It sets up yet-more tonal dissonance, as a genuine tragedy is used for a petty, giggly prank.
• Laura’s safety deposit key yields more intrigue and a growing sense that Twin Peaks ain’t just a folksy small town, nor are its residents the sort of Mayberry archetypes that the setting and their behavior suggests. The discovery of “Fleshworld” magazine (where Ronette Pulaski apparently advertised her….services) and over ten grand in cash (love how Cooper just knows this by quickly flipping through the stack of bills). There’s that seedy underbelly again, turning over to show itself to us. Again, the sense that Laura’s death is more complicated than simple random tragedy is stirred, and there’s something fundamentally unsettling about the sense that Laura Palmer’s secret life is a dark pool, and we’ve only skimmed the surface of it.
• Leo Johnson looks a lot younger to me than I remember. In fact, a lot of the characters/actors on this show do. It’s strange – as I’m getting older, I’m noticing that my perception of aging is changing. When I first watched this show back in the day, Leo Johnson seemed like an adult – a scary, abusive, weirdly-haired adult. Watching his scene with Shelly last night it struck me that he looks far more like a kid than a grown-up. What a strange effect of aging that is.
Cooper: “Who’s the lady with the log?”
Truman: “Oh, we call her the Log Lady.”
• The Log Lady became an early iconic character for this show, and for obvious reasons. Cooper and Truman’s meeting with the town elders helps to drive home the continuing seriousness of the situation here. There’s no guarantee that the murders will stop – in fact, Cooper seems to anticipate that they’ll continue. The setting of a curfew continues the theme of a town shutting down almost entirely, from its main business to its school to its nighttime streets.
• Bobby’s drunken, whacked-out, car hood surfing routine is quintessential Twin Peaks to me. It’s bizarre, a teensy bit eerie, weirdly funny, and lasts juuuuust long enough to be both too long and not long enough (a trick that Family Guy attempts, over and over again, with a depressing lack of success). It’s that last, herky-jerky dip he makes that really sells the moment.
• Julee Cruise, the chanteuse who sings “Falling” in the pilot, is one freaky-looking lady. Listening to her voice, I’d always pictured her as a Monroe-esque torch singer, but instead she appears to be one of those butch-female-biker torch singers you hear so much about. Or don’t. Such was the first season phenomenon of Twin Peaks that Cruise briefly became at least marginally famous. The soundtrack to the show, which Cruise sang on over several tracks, became an unlikely hit.
• The fight at the Roadhouse is both affecting and goofy. It’s the natural outpouring of a day’s worth of roiling emotion, and it’s also completely artificial. There’s actually a guy dressed like Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones, for chrissakes.
James: “It all makes some kind of terrible sense that she died – that someone killed her.”
• This is maybe James’ finest moment in the series, a hushed confession to Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle acts her ass off in this scene, both actors achieving a kind of naturalistic intimacy that’s almost electric in its, again, voyeuristic aspects) that confirms the darkness underlying Laura’s homecoming queen image. James’ description of Laura paints the picture of a lost soul, a troubled woman far removed from the picture-perfect photo of her that we see, in various locations, throughout the episode. This present darkness will only grow as the episodes go on, and the complexity of Laura’s past, the confusion in her character, is one of Peaks’ finest achievements. This town may be swell, cherry pie, generous donuts and excellent coffee all included, but it’s also a place where a girl that everyone claimed to have loved can apparently fall into very real despair and self-perceived damnation.
• On the other hand, the rapport between Donna and her father reassures us that not all is falling apart in Twin Peaks. The gyre may be widening, but there are decent, loving, genuine people in this town. Despite the darkness of the day’s events there is still a place for love among the spookily-whispering pines.
• Returning for a moment to savage imagery, Bobby’s roaring mouth here continues to evoke primal expressions of deeper, darker things. Lynch loves shots like this one, and they shore up the thematic notion that there’s a conflict going on in this show between animalistic and civilized behavior. Evil doesn’t shout or yell on this show – it roars.
• Do you see?
That’s a question that Twin Peaks is very interested in, and it’s a question that it shares with its spiritual heir, Lost. The devil in Northwest Passage is quite literally in the details – reflected back to the show’s characters and to its audience in ways literal and figurative. In the final moments of this episode we get only a glimpse at a greater Evil in this town, and that’s extremely fitting. Evil wears many faces in Twin Peaks – masks that hide the malevolence of its purpose. That Evil is both present and hidden here, in the show’s final seconds, is hideously appropriate.
• In a former life I used to know a guy who most people chose to describe as “a little ‘off’,'” but I knew the truth. I knew the truth because he used to claim that David Lynch’s films were best experienced with the aid of certain psychedelics/stimulants. Clearly the guy wasn’t a little off – he was drunk-on-the-blood-of–Kali Insane.
The majority of David Lynch’s oeuvre is already a bad trip pressed to a screen; experiencing it in the kind of altered state my friend advocated for seemed tantamount to saying “y’know, sanity’s fine. I can see why some of you go for it. But me? I’m ready to stare into the abyss and have that f*cker stare right back. Get a dude to handle my drool, mmkay?”
Lynch doesn’t screw with everyone’s head the way that he screws (so very, very effortlessly) with mine. Some folks find his films empty, exercises in surrealism and juxtaposed banality that don’t land their punches. If you’re among that crowd then you’re probably going to hate these columns. Much as I recognize and will write about the potential for, and existence of, overinflated, underwhelming melodrama and style without substance on this show, overall (with frankly frightening regularity) Lynch’s vision works my psyche over thoroughly. His way of portraying the emergence of Evil into a mundane world has the power to genuinely disturb me; that he can manage this feat through the careful deployment of soundscapes, extreme lighting and ordinary objects is astonishing. He touches, somehow, on the best/worst sort of fear there is – the uneasy prickle, the chill at the back of your neck you get walking a hallway in your home late at night; that sense that someone or something is THERE with you, present in some awful, inexplicable, invisible sense. Lynch conjures the shivers that precede the urge to flee like few others. And he does this without gore or expensive special effects or anything, really, other than sound, light and performance. Dread hangs heavy over the town of Twin Peaks. The clouds haven’t opened yet. The storm hasn’t come. It’s all hints and subliminal touches and a foreboding that becomes (for me) palpably thick, but there’s dread to spare here, both outright and hidden.
• This show is so relentlessly ODD. Hooray for America. Even if we couldn’t sustain our interest in the show (and even if, as some have claimed, the show’s runners couldn’t sustain the quality), I’m proud of us for taking this strange beast into our homes every week. Those are some of my impressions. What did you folks think? Having gotten a taste of the madness, I’m eager to jump back in for the next episode. Tune in next week, where things get even stranger.
This week’s Twin Peaks Ephemera
Each week I’ll link to a bit of pop culture ephemera that was created around the time of Twin Peaks’ airing or that was created due to the show’s influence/inspiration. This week’s link is:
Catch up on Lost & Found!