Twin Peaks: Rest in Pain

“We have a responsibility to the dead.”

As Major Briggs explained, funerals are the rituals we use to achieve a new stage in the grieving process, to move from terror and pain to the tender acceptance that is necessary to getting through the series of days that constitute the rest of our lives. They’re also a time for a community to come together, for old friends and odd acquaintances to show their support.

The people of Twin Peaks rallied around the Palmers, even—in a weird way—around Laura. Ben Horne, despite all of his financial devilry and scheming with Catherine Martell, is a fairly decent friend to Leland Palmer. He is there for Leland, as is Doc Hayward. Cooper is there for the town of Twin Peaks, which endears him to Harry. And, of course, Maddie Fergueson is there for the Palmers. Maddie Fergueson, Laura’s cousin who just happens to look exactly like Sheryl Lee.

When Cooper took Harry’s side (that is, when he took Twin Peaks’ side) in the morgue fight, he picked his team. Cooper is increasingly drawn to Twin Peaks, and even considering buying some property there. While Big Ed claims Cooper is “just not one of us,” he doesn’t know Coop well enough yet—I suspect he’ll come to change his mind and welcome the agent into the fold. Cooper is starting to feel a bit of tension between his two loyalties: the FBI, or the good people of Twin Peaks?

All that emphasis on community-building doesn’t mean this was a good funeral, though. Between Johnny screaming, Bobby’s rant, and Leland’s coffin-dive, it was horribly awkward. Bobby’s rant, especially in the context of the pastor’s perspective on Laura, might say more about him than it does about her. It’s worth reproducing in full, though:

“What are you looking at? What are you waiting for? You make me sick. You damn hypocrites make me sick! Everybody knew she was in trouble, but we didn’t do anything. All you ‘good’ people. You want to know who killed Laura? You did! We all did. And pretty words aren’t gonna bring her back, many, so save your prayers. She would have laughed at them, anyway.”

Is Bobby right? Was the homecoming queen’s downward spiral so obvious to everyone? Was it more obvious to him, because he got glimpses of her dark side? If this town is so obsessed with Laura, both in life and in death, how could they have let this happen to her?

On the investigative front, we didn’t make too much progress. Leo Johnson is emerging as a strong suspect. In fact, he’s such an obvious suspect that he can’t be the murderer, which is a pity, as I’d support a nice lynching for Leo.

Fascinatingly, Cooper’s memory of his dream is slightly different from what we saw: his dream included Hawk sketching a picture of what Sarah Palmer saw. Part of Cooper’s dream reflects an unaired (in the US) conclusion to the pilot, but we could also probably theorize that this is some statement about what will be revealed on-screen versus the complex internal machinations going on in Cooper’s head. For now, though, I’ll just mention that Coop has forgotten who killed Laura Palmer. And that Mike and Bob have nothing to do with Mike and Bobby. Different people, weird coincidence.

Back in the first episode proper, Laura said on her tape to Dr. Jacoby that she was afraid she’d get lost in the woods again the night she died. Harry explain the significance of the woods in his speech to Cooper in the dinner:

“Twin Peaks is different. A long way from the world. You’ve noticed that. That’s exactly the way we like it. But there’s a back end to that, that’s kind of different, too. Maybe that’s the price we pay for all the good things. There’s a sort of evil out there. Something very, very strange in these old woods. Call it what you want. A darkness, a presence. It takes many forms. But it’s been out there for as long as anyone can remember. And we’ve always been here to fight it. Men before us, men before them. More after we’re gone.”

Although the Bookhouse Boys fight against the forces of darkness, evil continues to creep into a variety of places in Twin Peaks. The Johnsons’ house, which is away from town (closer to the woods) and less protected from the woods because it is so symbolically unfinished, seems to have honed Leo’s evil. Even the Palmers’ living room, which seems to host a persistent hallucination of Bob, isn’t immune to the darkness. (Major Brigg’s house, with its cinderblock defenses, might be.) The woods might be evil’s abode, but they don’t contain that evil.

The geography of evil isn’t black-and-white, though. Twin Peaks is full of hiding places: the safe behind the wall in the Martell house; Catherine’s secret drawer; Audrey’s secret passage between walls in the Great Northern. Those hidden places can contain both lesser and greater evils, and the unexpectedness of their existence—which even Cooper can’t know about yet—speaks volumes about the significance of place in the semiotics of good and evil on this show.

Bits and Pieces:

• Cooper: “Just ‘agent,’ Audrey. ‘Special agent.’”

• Cooper: “Nothing beats the taste sensation when maple syrup collides with ham.”

• Cooper: “Do you know where dreams come from?”
Harry: “Not…specifically.”

• Albert: “I’ve got compassion running out of my nose, pal. I’m the sultan of sentiment. Dr. Hayward, I have traveled thousands of miles and apparently several centuries to this forgotten sinkhole in order to perform a series of tests. Now, I do not ask you to understand these tests. I am not a cruel man.”

• Albert: “Mr. Horne, I realize that your position in this fair community pretty well guarantees venality, insincerity, and a rather irritating method of expressing yourself. Stupidity, however, is not a necessarily inherent trait. Therefore, please listen closely. You can have a funeral any ol’ time. You dig a hole, you plant a coffin…I’ve got a lot of cutting and pasting to do, gentlemen, so please, why don’t you return to your porch rockers and resume whittling.”

• Albert: “I’ve had about enough of morons and half-wits, dolts, dunces, dullards, and dumbbells. And you chowderhead yokel, you blithering hayseed, you’ve had enough of me?”

• Cooper: “The sheriff didn’t mean anything.”
Albert: “He hit me!”
Cooper: “Well, I’m sure he meant to do that.”

• Sleazy Lawyer: “I’ll bet you get all kinds of Romeos in here, begging for favors. How do you keep them from your door?”
Norma: “I usually tell them I have a homicidally jealous husband who’s doing 3-to-5 for manslaughter, but he expects to be a productive member of society real soon.” Way to go, Peggy Lipton!

• Major Briggs: “I realize you experience an ongoing disinclination to enter fully into meaningful exchange. This leads to stalemate, and a desire on my part to force certain wisdom upon you. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing Sometimes it’s the best course available.”

• Cooper: “Mmm. This must be where pies go when they die.”

• Cooper: “Dream souls. Where do they wander?
Hawk: “Faraway lands. The land of the dead.”

• Shelly had a bit too much fun with Leland’s coffin shenanigans.

Clues, Questions, and Answers:

• Cooper solved the mystery of the anonymous note about “Jack with one eye” in the first 4 minutes of the episode.

• The eye-rub? It’s the Bookhouse Boys secret signal. They have a clubhouse and everything.

• Laura and Ronnette both worked at the perfume counter at Horne’s Department Store.

• There was cocaine in Laura’s diary. She was a user.

• Two different kinds of twine were used to bind Laura; she was tied up twice during the night. She was pecked at by an animal of some kind. There was a partially digested bit of plastic in her stomach that contained the letter J.

• Jacques Renault, the bartender at the Roadhouse, might have something to do with the drugs being shipped in from Canada. Slimy Canucks.

Cooper said, “Break the code, solve the crime.” He meant the code in his dreams, but it’s also a direction to the viewer: understand the various symbols, how they are used, and—above all—the nuances and fluctuations between them. It’s hard to say this without spoilers, but I’ll just imply: the “solution” might not just be to who killed Laura. It might be to the nature of evil itself, and our reactions to it.

Whether Cooper understands that—I’m not sure. He likes Twin Peaks. Does he not see the evil that Harry talks about? Does he not see the hidden places, the dark woods? Or is that darkness part of what draws him to this town, even if he doesn’t realize it?

Three and a half out of four sultans of sentiment.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The "Evil" Harry talked about reminded me of a book I read years ago, "The Oath". There was an evil lurking in the woods surrounding this town, and let's just say it freaked me out! I hope this is not where Twin Peaks is going. I don't want to be scared. The mystery surrounding Laura's life and death intrigue me. I am hoping for some of these mysteries to be solved, but in the meanwhile I am enjoying following Cooper.

Love your reviews!

Josie Kafka said...

Thank you for your great comments, John!

Docnaz said...

I will always remember the goose bumps I had when Agent Cooper said "Sometimes my arms bend back".