Thoughts on Miss Twin Peaks:
Well, here we are. One last stop before the spookhouse that is Twin Peaks’ final episode. Take a moment to savor it. We’ve come a long way since the relatively tidy plot of the series’ beginning. The show’s mythology has exploded outward suddenly over the course of these last episodes; we’ve gone from a quirky/eerie show about the search for a dead girl’s killer to a show about a Jedi-like FBI agent trying to prevent his insane and murderous former mentor from opening a door to a mystic “Lodge” that contains pure Evil. Twin Peaks has always been a show about the struggle against Evil, but the show is now literalizing/mythologizing that struggle to a degree that’s either exciting or eye-rolling, depending on your tolerance for such things. Season one’s visions were abstract, subjective things. We’re long past that now, as both protagonists and antagonists race to lay claim to an actual metaphysical portal. Windom Earle and Cooper’s troops both figure out that the purpose of the Owl Cave map is to point the way to the door of the Black Lodge (and maybe the White Lodge as well?). Major Briggs escapes Earle’s clutches and proceeds to babble and look really out of it for the entirety of the episode. The Miss Twin Peaks competition finally kicks off, and Windom Earle plucks his Queen as Annie Blackburne is crowned, leading us straight into a finale that will have Dale Cooper racing to rescue Annie from his insane former mentor before Windom Earle can open the door of the Black Lodge and do….what, exactly? We don’t know, and that’s okay. Whatever it is it can’t be good.
This is a very different show than what we started with. It’s also, to one degree or another, a lesser show. While I’m enjoying the plunge into wacky spiritualism for what it is it doesn’t really hold a candle to the arthouse horrors and sweetly surreal world that the show’s first episodes offer up. The Twin Peaks that I can say I genuinely love is the early, Lynch-heavy Twin Peaks. This stuff, while much, much better than what came before, is still largely devoid of that early feeling. Some of it is a lot of fun, even spooky. We get Windom Earle looking like an escapee from David Lynch’s Lost Highway his face white, teeth black, presumably a result of drinking the sludge from the dark pool we glimpsed at the end of The Path To The Black Lodge. It’s a memorable image shepherded by Tim Hunter, the episode’s director. But then we also get Heather Graham and Kyle MacLachlan speechifying at length about trees (Annie: “Trees aren’t the same as people. But they’re alive.” Cooper: “Your forest is beautiful and very peaceful.” Annie: “Part of it’s been damaged. I’ve tried to replant, but nothing’s taken root.” Cooper: “Let’s not talk anymore about trees.”), which has to be one of the single most awkward-sounding speeches on a show that’s chock-a-block with awkward speeches. Having Leo Johnson menaced by a box of spiders, or having Nadine crush her young beau’s hand in a pique of barely-disguised jealousy does nothing for me, and continues the show’s second season trend of mixing not-quite-weird-enough stuff with a bunch of seemingly irrelevant stuff. But more than the individual scenes what got me jazzed about Miss Twin Peaks was the way that the show dived headfirst into all this gonzo, backwoods mysticism. It’s all kinda goofy, but it’s also kind of neat, and very much in keeping with the sorts of themes Peaks has played with from the pilot. In Miss Twin Peaks we learn that Fear and Love are the keys to open the doors of the Black and White Lodges, respectively, and we hear Cooper offer his thoughts on the metaphysical characteristics of those doors – comparing them to shooting stars. We learn that the purpose of the Owl Cave drawings is to name the time and the place that the Black and White Lodges will open themselves up to possible travelers. I dig this stuff – always have. A good number of people felt that Lost went off the rails once they delved into the Black/White, Smokey/Jacob, Candidate/Recruit stuff, but I’m apparently genetically predisposed toward liking this sort of thing, because I genuinely enjoyed Lost’s final season (mostly), and because all the Black Lodge/White Lodge talk on Twin Peaks is entertaining the heck out of me. I see a fair amount of similarity of ideas here, and I guess what it boils down to is that I like stories that pit presumably-ancient evil against quirky/valiant people.
Major Briggs: “He was God, I suppose.”
Lucky me then, that Twin Peaks overtly becomes just such a show over the course of these two episodes. Granted, some of this is clumsy, and its all shot in a way that’s arguably pedestrian (when I imagine David Lynch directing an episode like this one (making the dialogue less on the nose and more elliptical, drawing out the menace of what’s being unearthed – a place opened by Fear, of ardently pure darkness for darkness’ sake) I become somewhat depressed. That said, see the above about being a sucker for this sort of thing. And despite the Lynchlessness of Miss Twin Peaks, there’s nonetheless a kind of quirky/eerie energy here, pushing the show into a Lynchian space just in time for Lynch himself to return to the show and close it down. I have no idea what Briggs is babbling about when he appears to refer to Windom Earle as “God” while he’s drugged up on Haliperiol, but I love the sense of pulpy menace it evokes.
Ben Horne: “The Koran, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Talmud, the Bible, New and Old Testaments, the Tao-te-ching … I have in my arms those holy books that constitute the fundamental framework of man’s philosophies of good. Somewhere in here are the answers I seek.”
Ben Horne’s continued search for what it is to be Good continues to further underline what I think is a subject of great interest to the show, even if the show hasn’t always found ways to dramatize this particularly well.
Audrey: “There is only one way to save a forest, an idea, or anything of value: and that is by refusing to stand by and watch it die. There is a law of nature which is more fundamental to life than the laws of man. And when something you care about is in danger, you must act to save it, or lose it forever.”
Miss Twin Peaks seems to me to be an episode in which a larger stage and story behind the one currently being told most clearly comes into focus. There are story details dropped into this episode that could only have gone on to have much greater significance in a season three that would never exist. Thuddingly clumsy dialogue aside, Graham’s weirdo speech about trees, and her SECOND speech about trees later in the episode (one wasn’t enough, apparently) ties in directly to all of the bizarre wood-related spookiness that’s been featured in the show so far. Josie’s spirit gets trapped in the wood of the Great Northern, the Log Lady carries around a log that she speaks to, and which presumably contains another spirit. The wood around Twin Peaks is actually called “Ghost Wood Forest.” The doorways to the Lodges are apparently located in the woods. And now Heather Graham delivers what seems to be a painfully-labored metaphor for her feelings, but might actually be a not-so-veiled statement of intent. Annie talks about the spirits in the trees, and we can’t help thinking about the spirits we’ve seen already, in parts of trees. Do the dead in Twin Peaks find themselves bonded to the trees around the town? Is this kind of existence what it means to enter the White Lodge? To literally “be one” with nature? Or is it instead a punishment enabled, somehow, by the power of the Black Lodge? Cooper confirms my previous theory about Josie dying from fear here – does that imply that the act of being fed on by Bob confines you to wood? Or that Josie’s dead spirit can’t move on to join the forest until something happens first? Or that she’s moved on, and the Great Northern itself is the “Twin” of the White Lodge?
Audrey’s pageant speech above takes the literal forest and asks the audience to consider it as a metaphor for the sorts of Big Ideas that the show is really playing with – the cruelty of nature, the savagery of man, twin forces to the warmhearted kindness and reverence for nature and life and the importance of taking a stand against forces that threaten what’s loved.
In addition to all this mumbojumbo, Cooper also goes ahead and makes explicit some of what I just discussed regarding Jupiter and Saturn. Jupiter is “expansive” according to Cooper, while Saturn is “contractive.” That’s in line with the idea of Jupiter as a symbolic force of “Good” and Saturn as symbolic force of “Evil.”
Jobs that Mr. Pinkle appears to fill in/around Twin Peaks:
1) Medical supply salesman
2) Public speaker, re: Pine Weasels
Major Briggs: “Protect…the Queen.”
While we’re watching, Twin Peaks is becoming a fairy tale of sorts, and it’s telegraphing that shift in a few different ways. The overt references to Queens and Kings and Knights, the overt references to this shift in the dialogue (See Annie’s comment in the last episode: “It’s like a fairy tale” and Major Briggs’ drugged-up references to Queens and Kings). Windom Earle’s kidnapping of Annie Blackburne, the “Queen” of the Miss Twin Peaks contest, echoes a specific legend, and I believe that this is entirely purposeful. I’ll discuss the legend in question next week, in the column for the show’s finale.
It all comes down to the Miss Twin Peaks contest, where we get to see the show’s bevy of beauties dance it up in hilarious/sexy outfits, and watch as Cooper’s new love being kidnapped by the insane ex-husband of Cooper’s former love. Credit where credit’s due – there’s something genuinely creepy in the moment when Bobby seems to see the Log Lady in two places at once, and Windom Earle makes for a pretty convincing Log Lady overall. There’s something approaching the Lynchian in the way he leers beneath a ridiculous, bobbed wig as he kidnaps Annie, in the way that the strobe light in this scene throws everything appealingly off-kilter. As the episode ends, both Cooper and Earle are headed toward the door to the Black Lodge. Next week David Lynch finally returns to the show to take us through that door. I can’t wait.