I’ve been mulling over the eighth episode of Twin Peaks, reading all of the various reactions to this very Lynchian episode after the previous, more traditional episode and it seems like everyone has already forgotten the extremely challenging third episode, which I found to be much more off-putting than this latest outing. Perhaps it’s because the last episode felt so much more like something we may have seen on ABC back in the day, but this is Showtime and Lynch and Mark Frost basically have free reign to tell this story the way they want to tell it. And you can tell which episodes are true collaborations between the two and which are pure Lynch, and this episode pulled a fast one on us with the first scene that felt like we were picking up exactly where we left of in Episode 7.
Starting with Mr. C and Ray continuing their escape from federal prison, we know the doppelgänger wants something that Ray has, a series of numbers. It was interesting at one point to hear Ray actually call his “boss” Cooper. But when Ray needed to stop to relieve himself, and Mr. C found his “friend” in the glove compartment, it looked like Ray was about to buy the farm (interestingly, The Farm is where the two are headed). But Ray pulled a fast one on “Cooper,” emptying his gun, giving Ray the upper hand. And then — BANG! Three bullets into Mr. C’s body! WHAT?! I don’t think anyone saw this coming, did you?
And then things got weird. A herd of those spooky shadow men came out of the darkness and proceeded to tear open the doppelgänger’s body. As Ray watched in horror and confusion, a large black orb came out of the body and very clearly in that orb was the face of BOB. Ray took off, and made a call to Phillip (Jeffries!) telling him that he saw something that may be the key to everything. So Ray is working with Jeffries, who was played by David Bowie in the Twin Peaks movie so it certainly makes one wonder if Lynch is somehow going to conjure Bowie up for a cameo as he’s done with BOB portrayer Frank Silva, who died in 1995. Or was Bowie able to secretly film some scenes before his death as about half the cast seems to have done before their own passings? But more importantly, is there anything that can keep the doppelgänger down for the count? It seemed he’d be dead and gone after the removal of BOB, but he’s not and he’s probably not going to be happy that his “old friend” is no longer with him.
And then we go to the Roadhouse for a musical interlude from “The” Nine Inch Nails. Okay. But the song “She’s Gone Away” has some lyrics that perfectly mirror the events of this episode. Check them out.
But those few minutes were all we were going to get this week as far as linear storytelling goes. Because Lynch then takes us back to July 16, 1945, White Sands, New Mexico, the site of the first nuclear bomb test. And in some stunning black and white cinematography (the rest of the episode was black and white with small splashes of color — something ABC would have definitely balked at during the series’ original run), Lynch takes us soaring over the bomb blast area and directly into the mushroom cloud on a journey through space and time, all set to “Threnody for the Vicitms of Hiroshima”. But what does this all mean for the folks of Twin Peaks?
As we’ve seen in Gordon Cole’s office, he has a huge photograph of this nuclear blast on his wall. It’s always seemed like an odd thing to enshrine, but there it is. From what we can deduce by the imagery Lynch shows us as we travel through the blast, the event seems to have triggered or unleashed evil onto the world. One of the things seen was a misshapen body, very similar to the one seen in the glass box, the one that broke out and killed the two young people. This figure seemed to be vomiting, for lack of a better word, something filled with orbs or eggs, and in one of the orbs we again saw the face of BOB. So I believe Lynch is telling us this event is what possible caused a breach in our universe, allowing this evil into our world. Or not. Who knows? Lynch may give us an answer, and he may just let us prognosticate until the end of time, but it does all seem to be saying that this event allowed the evil into our world.
During the journey, we took a detour to a Convenience Store (warning: smoke and strobe light effects will be used during this performance) where a herd of those same crispy men we saw tearing evil Coop apart are milling about. We should also note that these appear to be related to the same figure we saw in the jail cell and lurking down the hallway at the police station in South Dakota. The Convenience Store (which from certain angles resembles Big Ed’s Gas Farm) is specifically the physical location where the inhabitants of the Black Lodge lived, including MIKE, BOB and The Arm. MIKE had talked to Cooper about this place in the original series, and we also got a look inside in Fire Walk With Me.
We also found ourselves sailing across that purple sea once again, possibly the same one good Cooper saw in episode three. Jutting out of the waters was a large, spire of rock and atop the rock was some kind of building. Inside a woman, Senorita Dido, sat and listened to some music on her Gramophone. An alarm sounded and suddenly the Giant appeared from behind a large black object in the room (similar to one seen in episode three), gazing at something with a concerned look on his face. He walked into what appeared to be a large theater where he played a film of everything we had just seen (“Laura Palmer’s Theme” can be heard playing backwards), freezing on the image of BOB in the orb. The Giant levitated toward the ceiling, Senorita Dido entered and a golden light emanated from the Giant’s head, gathering near the ceiling, and coming together into a golden orb which floated down to Senorita Dido. She looked into the orb and saw the face of … Laura Palmer! Dido released the orb which floated up into a Seussian trumpet. On screen the image was now one of Earth and the orb was ejected from the device and penetrated the screen, gliding over the Earth, quite possible heading for the Pacific Northwest. So does this imply Laura Palmer was sent to Earth to be a force of good in the face of evil? Senorita Dido seemed to think so.
Back on Earth, time passes to August 5, 1956, still in New Mexico. A quick Google search reveals nothing remarkable happening on that date so we’re left to ponder an egg in the sand. One of the eggs spewed forth by the figure in the blast cloud. Cracking open, a horrific insectoid thing with large wings and frog-like legs crawls out and into the darkness. Definitely the thing nightmares are made of. We also come across two young kids walking home at night, past the Convenience Store, possibly from a school dance. Along the way, the girl finds a penny in the sand, heads up, so it to be good luck. It is for the boy as she allows him to give her a kiss before she goes into her house.
Back in the desert, dark figures descend from the sky, more of these shadow men. One, who looks suspiciously like Abraham Lincoln (and actor Robert Broski is literally a Lincoln impersonator for hire), proves to be not such good luck for those he encounters. A couple driving down the highway stops when they see these odd men, and the Lincoln guy (billed as Woodsman) approaches the car, electricity crackling, asking in an electronically distorted voice, “Gotta light?” The terrified couple speeds off, dodging more of the spooky men. We then find the Woodsman standing atop a hill, looking down at the KPJK radio station. He wanders in and asks the receptionist, “Gotta light?” before smashing her skull with his bare hand (and at this point we should be thankful that the entire scene is in black and white). Woodsman then enters the booth where a DJ is playing “My Prayer” by The Platters. He swipes the needle off the record, grabs the DJ’s skull and flips on the mic, delivering the message:
“This is the water, and this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes, and the dark within.”
The Woodsman repeats his refrain over and over again causing those listening to the radio to collapse. It’s unclear if they’re dead or just asleep, but the girl is also listening to the radio and she simply seems to fall asleep. And then … the nightmarish bug thing leap-flies up to her bedroom window and crawls in, making its way to her. She unconsciously opens her mouth and … it crawls in. She calmly swallows it as the credits roll.
So what does this mean? Considering the source of the egg, I would suppose that this is how BOB manifested itself on Earth. Or not. The question is who is this girl, as she’s only listed as “Girl” in the end credits. Probably by design. Lynch doesn’t do anything by accident. A quick biographical search for Twin Peaks characters reveals that Laura Palmer’s mother Sarah was born in … 1945. Could this “Girl” be Sarah Novack? There is no information on where Sarah was born, and instead of the bug thing being BOB, it could be what has given Sarah her “gift” of being the only person who can actually see BOB. Lynch may eventually give us the answer … and he may not.
Going in to this episode I was filled with dread, flashing back to the migraine I got from Episode 3. But in the end, while many of the images were disturbing, as a whole I found Episode 8 to be a piece of cinematic art, harkening back to Lynch’s Eraserhead in part, but not even as mentally challenging as that film (there’s also a lot of Lynch’s visual style from The Elephant Man on display here as well). I know a lot of people found this episode more challenging to get through than Episode 3 but I did not find that to be the case. We may not have spent any time in Twin Peaks proper this week, but I believe — I want to believe — that everything Lynch laid out here goes a long way to explaining the mythology of Twin Peaks if we choose to see it. And Showtime is giving us an extra week to rewatch and ponder this episode while they take a week off for the July 4th weekend.
What did you think of this episode? Have we witnessed the birth of BOB and Laura Palmer? Is the girl Sarah Palmer? Tell us what you think!