I was away and unable to write these recaps for parts 6 & 7, but luckily Josh covered me for both and kicked ass in the analysis as they went. I was pretty eager to get back into writing these when I saw Part 8. On the one hand, I’m a little perplexed on how to even approach an episode like this, but I do get to write about one of the best hours of television ever made, which itself confirms for me that David Lynch is the best living filmmaker. I’ve been waiting for my excessively high expectations for this revival to summon a little disappointment, but instead I continue to be surprised week by week.
We pick up right where we left off last week, with Ray and Mr. C driving away from the prison. Mr. C disables the tracking devices in the car, before pressing Ray for some information he claims to have memorised. Ray pushes him for more cash, which Mr. C doesn’t take too kindly to. He attempts to shoot Ray, but the gun is a trick and Ray shoots him instead. Seven minutes in and the episode begins its deep descent into the abstract.
Before he can land the killing blow, Ray is scared off by images of the ghostly Woodsmen, similar to those seen near Bill Hasting’s cell in Part 1 and in the police station in Part 7. These apparitions remove a black orb with the face of BOB, then disappear. Ray drives away, leaving a message for Philip Jeffries informing him of what he thinks happened. The Nine Inch Nails play ‘She’s Gone Away’ at the Roadhouse. Mr. C wakes up revived.
Cut to the desert. It’s July 16, 1945 in White Sands, New Mexico at 5:29 AM. It turns out the portrait of the mushroom cloud we noted in Gordon Cole’s office was relevant after all, as we witness the Manhattan Project’s successful atomic bomb test. Once the bomb goes off, the camera slowly crawls in to the blast, beginning one of the most stunning surreal sequences ever committed to film.
We see a convenience store, shot in black and white. Light flashes and smoke billows out of the small building and more of those woodsmen spirits accumulate around the building. In space, we see a creature floating in a vacuum. It looks a lot like the figure that emerged from the box at the start of series and brutally killed the couple. It vomits up a string of god-knows-what, including the same black sphere with BOB’s face on it. Inside the fluid, it looks as if eggs are floating too.
Amidst the flames of the explosion is a floating gold substance, and within that is a vast stormy ocean and a tall rock, on top of which sits a white building. It’s unclear if this is the same ocean-surrounded building that Cooper visited, or perhaps one in the region.
At the top of the building sits a woman in a sequined dress (credited as Senorita Dido) sat listening to a gramophone. Some machinery in the room lets off an alarm. The Giant enters the room, who looks out the window with concern. He heads out of the room into a theatre, in which the image of the convenience store, the atomic bomb, and the emergence of BOB is projected on the big screen. He floats up into the air and begins to emit a glittering gold substance. The woman joins him, catching the golden orb he produces. She sees the image of Laura Palmer inside it, kisses it, and launches it through the screen and into Earth.
It is now 1956 in the New Mexico Desert, and a lone egg hatches into a grotesque toad-like cockroach. Meanwhile, a young girl and boy walk home having an awkward romance. Out of the desert emerges two woodsmen spirits who proceed to terrorise a couple and ask over and over “Gotta light?” One of the woodsmen approaches a radio station, brutally murdering one woman before incapacitating the disc jockey. Into the microphone he repeats the words:
“This is the water, and this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes (?), and dark within”
The residents listening to the radio begin to fall asleep at his words, including the girl we saw walk home earlier. The toad-like bug enters through her window and crawls into her mouth. She swallows. The woodsman kills the disc jockey before disappearing into the darkness.
Credits roll over the desert and the girl sleeping.
My biggest fear with the revival of Twin Peaks was the question: “is it worth the risk?” Now, still with 10 more hours to spare, the answer is a resounding yes. After last week’s episode I had some ideas about where this would go. With the change from the credit sequence in The Roadhouse to one in the Double R Diner, I was certain that this would be a repeated feature and a sign that after a few hours of mood setting we’d get closer to the town of Twin Peaks. I am immensely pleased to be so wrong.
It’s hard to know where to start, but I think I will start with an image that John Thorne posted on Twitter: a page from the script of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. When Lynch said that the prequel film would be important to the new series, I believed there would be some follow-up with some of the black lodge scenes, but we’re getting deeper than I believed we would.
While this may not reveal much, it is so fitting with what we saw in Part 8 that I got goosebumps reading it. The scene was never completed as shown above, but different versions of the scene and elements of its dialogue can be seen in the film as well as in The Missing Pieces (here and here). I will say here that everything else here is personal interpretation and, as tradition goes, will in all likelihood be proven wrong over the coming weeks.
This meeting takes place above a convenience store, a meeting of the absurd and the mundane, much like the one shown in this episode surrounded by woodsmen. Two woodsmen are present here. It seems like in this scene they are referring to appearing on this earth from another plane, their arrival being “no accident.” The Man From Another Place’s desire for “garmonbozia (pain and sorrow)” may have been sated anytime on Earth, but it was the testing of the atomic bomb, an act of pure evil that foreshadowed further horrors to come, that they were summoned. There is now a connection between two worlds, from which the waiting room of the black lodge acts as a doorway to. Slowly, but surely, they gradually stake their claim in this our world. It all brings more credence to Albert’s assertion that “Maybe that’s all that Bob is – the evil that men do.”
In Fire Walk With Me, the one-armed man shouts at Leland “You stole the corn! I had it canned over the store!” This is notable as Garmonbozia, which Bob gifts to The Man From Another Place from Leland, takes on the appearance of creamed corn. Speaking of that convenience store scene, there are some spirits that were not in the script and haven’t showed up in the show yet – notably a third man who looked like a drifter, known as “The Electrician”, and the white-masked red-suited “Jumping Man.” I always had an affinity for that guy, as in I was terrified of him. Perhaps he has something to do with Philip Jeffries and will return as the woodsmen did?
Phillip Jeffries, it looks like, was another FBI agent to come across the darkness of humanity in the form of these spirits, and was maddened and ultimately corrupted by the ordeal. Now he conducts misery from behind the scenes in some form. Or is this his doppelganger, and the pained man we saw David Bowie play in Fire Walk With Me the last days of his good self?
There is a huge amount to unpack when it comes to the more plot-related sections of the surreal explosion, notably the reveal that Laura was a creation of The Giant in what may have been the White Lodge, seemingly crafted as an antidotal factor to oppose Bob and the spirits that spread in his wake. Then the woodsmen seem to attempt to lull the quiet 50s townsfolk into submission, which is where things get a little more ocmplicated.
I’ve seen multiple interpretations. Either the woodsmen are helping Bob find a new host, and the hatched egg is Bob. Or, the toad-like insect is the beginnings of Laura, and the girl whose mouth it crawls into is Laura’s mother Sarah (who would be the right age to be the girl). Or if it is Bob, could it be that Laura was chosen as the site for good and evil to fight within? If this was her battle, it seems that she has lost or is losing it. Is her and Cooper’s stories about humankind’s inability to follow the advice of otherworldly transcendent beings?
Or is this insect unrelated to either, and is actually the first step in the evolution of The Man From Another Place? The egg does look similar to those floating around in Experiment’s vomited material, so it could be something entirely separate. I have read some saying this is a time-bending re-birth for Bob, but that feels wrong to me. I’m a little lost, but I think we’ll see more of this.
Aside from all this speculation, the most important thing is that this show provided the material for some truly capital “S” Surrealism, with aspects of Lynch’s career dating back to Eraserhead coalescing into something new and exciting. And it’s not just spectacle, as the mythology-driven writing of Mark Frost elevates the abstract into a moral statement on the evil of destruction that needed to be reiterated; altogether forming a symbolic origin story for the suppressed horror of post-war America.
Most Valuable Player:
Since there is very little character work here, it’s hard enough to pick a favourite. But when it comes down to it, I’m more than happy to break my own rules and choose David Lynch as MVP for his directorial efforts this episode. This is some of the best work of his career, and in many ways it is a greatest hits explosion of all the ideas that makes his art so fascinating.
- The floating figure may be the “Experiment” listed in the credits, mo-capped by Erica Eynon
- Perhaps “Experiment” is the “Mother” trying to get into the room of the eyeless woman in Part 3
- Carel Stuycken is listed as “???????,” rather than “The Giant” as he was in his appearance in Part 1
- If Senorita Dido is a benevolent force with a connection to Laura, is her form in the black lodge the angel that visited her at the end of Fire Walk With Me?
- The gold material we see in the flame – is this related to what Dougie turned into when he entered the lodge?
- The woodsman spirit seen a few cells over from Bill Hastings suggests that his life may have been interfered with by malevolent spirits
- In Mark Frost’s book The Secret History of Twin Peaks, it is revealed that Dougie Milford (Publisher of the Twin Peaks Gazette in the original series) was stationed at White Sands in 1945 when he was in the U.S. Air Force.
- The Giant, whose human counterpart was a waiter, seems to be an usher in a movie theatre. Adding to this, to me the golden energy that emanates from him looks like dust in the light of a projector. If this is meant to be The White Lodge, then this is particularly fitting.
- The score during the atomic bomb was “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” by Krzysztof Penderecki
- After Lynch has shown his love for slightly hokey special effects, he shows absolute prowess over CGI this episode
- The drive at the beginning had some more traditional ominous music from composer Angelo Badalamenti
- I completely missed it when the huge cast list was announced last year, but Carlton Lee Russell – who played the Jumping Man, is set to appear at some point
- The terrifying head-cracking woodsman was played by Robert Broski, a known Abraham Lincoln impersonator
- During the woodsmen’s revival of Mr. C, the minimalist music took the imagery from creepy to straight-up scary, right? Well it turns out it’s the first movement of Beethoven’s “Piano Sonata No. 14″ slowed down 5 times
Featured Image: Showtime