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Ron Reed

TWIN PEAKS

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NBooth   

Someone somewhere pointed out that Four Quartets shows up in the background of the Audrey scene. And now we know that episode 17 is titled "The Past Dictates the Future." Which makes me think about the opening of "Burnt Norton," of course:

Time present and time past


Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.

 

And then, a little later:

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;


Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,
Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.
Yet the enchainment of past and future
Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.

 

All of which is suggestive, at least.

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NBooth   

I started laughing hardly a minute into part 13 and didn't stop until the last 20 minutes. Then started again in the last five. 

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NBooth   

Woah. Part 16 is...really, really wonderful. 

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M. Leary   

SPOILERS BELOW

--

Episode 17 is legendary. Canon.

Episode 18 was blistering, unpredictable, and not where I thought this was all going. It is the first time I have sensed a willful resistance to closure in Lynch's work. The loose ends always feel so natural, part of the work. I am sure part of this is from everyone wanting answers to lingering questions about different characters and occurrences, but the quantum tack of the narrative here was so quick and pervasive that even Coop was taken by surprise and left confused at the end. We could handle Coop having been sucked into the Black Lodge on his law-abiding quest to rescue Laura. Even in the eventual transition of Coop to Dougie as he found his way out of that dimension, there was always hope that Coop would resurface and get back to business. And he certainly does in Episode 16-17. 

But then everything begins to slip and shudder in a way Twin Peaks never has before. To herald the emergence of this hazard, Cooper's face resolves across the entire screen like a watermark. He is no longer in the screen, he has somehow become the screen and this unsettling new point of view is beyond the professional ken of both Coop and Cole. He does have Diane by his side as he tumbles into this new lead back at the Great Northern. Cooper travels back in time to save Laura, thus unraveling the sequence of events which has led to Seasons 1-3. The plastic-wrapped blue rose of her body vanishes from the pebbled beach. 

Coop and Diane then arrive at a precipice, mile marker 430. The narrative mechanics which got us here are really clear; the crumbs scattered as far back as the first encounter between Cooper and The Fireman in this season. But what happens next is so remarkable as an advance in the clarity of Lynch's depiction of the cosmos riddled with gaps, threats, and aggressions - navigated only with bursts of confidence by people of love and wisdom. Even so, this evil is no mere abstraction as it is embodied and personified across time in thieves, conspirators, rapists, the people who make bombs, etc... Just as someone like Cooper incarnates a will to live and thrive, so does Judy instantiate fates worse than death.

Cooper and Cole have always had a confidence in the grain of the universe, bent toward justice. What happens when this is proven false? Well, Cooper finds himself in the answer to this question. A world in which Diane love is impossible. Laura is always being awoken to her past. He doesn't even know what year it is. In this season we met bad Coop, Dougie, and were reacquainted with the real Coop. Now all we have left is alternate Coop, who seems an amalgam of all three (fights like bad Coop, moves and walks like Dougie, feels and remembers like real Coop). If the key to survival in Lynch-world is a strong sense of self which resolves in the confidence to love someone else, then this Coop has lost this inner narrative integrity. 

This is, to our great surprise, a first for Twin Peaks. Call it absurdist, confusing, intentionally ambiguous, whatever... it has always had a center in Cooper. Not anymore.

 

Edited by M. Leary

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The finale of Twin Peaks revealed that the entire arc of the series is toward horror.

Cooper proceeds beyond the boundary of his world to the territory of JUDY's world. Ever the FBI agent, he wishes to follow the trail back to its origin. It's a "be careful what you wish for" moment; in proceeding to JUDY's universe, he loses himself, he loses his sense of place, of time. He knows he must bring Laura/Carrie to the Palmer house--that central spoke in the wheel of evil, which has become inhabited by JUDY over the course of season three. And in bringing Laura there, he apparently *does* conjure Judy, but only renews Laura's sense of tragedy: Laura's scream cuts across time and space and imagination.

So, in the end, Cooper and Laura share a dark secret--the face of darkness--which is why the final image of the series is of Laura whispering the unspeakable secret to Dale Cooper in the lodge. This is the ultimate mystery Twin Peaks: unspeakable horror, a bottomless void.

Chilling, frustrating, and despairing. It makes the season two finale palatable in comparison.

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NBooth   

ASSUME SPOILERS

 

Yeah, I really need to rewatch (the whole series, really) and digest some more. There's a couple of things that come immediately to mind:

1] This really is a show about Laura Palmer, as it has been all along, and about the prevalence of evil. Incest carries with it a particularly noxious stain to most people, which is why the incest taboo is at the heart of small-town books like Kings Row and Peyton Place. The double-vision of a bucolic town and its obscene underbelly has been present in the literature since at least the Revolt from the Village, and probably earlier (Twain does something similar, time and again). Twin Peaks is a lot of things, but at its core it's the same story of incest and victimization that faces Cassandra in Kings Row and Selina in Peyton Place (Laura is, in this construction, somewhere between Cassandra, who is murdered by her incestuous father, and Selina, who kills her abuser). 

2] Insofar as small towns represent a microcosm of America (Sinclair Lewis: "The place is America...."), what they seem to suggest is that America itself is undergirded by an obscene incestuous secret. This is, of course, a Lynchian motif as well--the opening scene of Blue Velvet is essentially Twin Peaks writ small. In The Secret History, Frost ties Twin Peaks, the town, to the displacement of Native American communities (most notably, Chief Joseph) and the whole bloody history of westward expansion and growing imperialism. The Return does the same, in two ways: first, by taking the show "on the road," it suggests that the dark forces at work in Twin Peaks are a small part of the larger cosmic forces (small-town hick villain BOB is defeated by punching him really hard, but The Experiment is different because she is more diffuse. Secondly, the history of Twin Peaks is tied to the Bomb, which is the morning star of American Imperialism considered as a global, rather than purely continental, phenomenon. 

3] The focus this season is interesting in that the evil is specifically maternal--as opposed to the paternal evil of Leland and BOB. The Experiment/Mother/Judy is thus tied to fecundity rather than aggression (I'll leave out the whole Zizekian thing about the maternal superego, though I imagine something could be done with that). If Lynch is Gnostic (as, for instance, The Strange World of David Lynch suggests), then The Return would be the clearest picture of that, insofar as The Experiment is a demiurge, creating and recreating the world in which these characters live. Is this, then, the obscene secret at the heart of the universe? That all we are and seem are but a dream within a dream, and that dream is not the incantation of a good God but of a malicious one?

4] Sarah Palmer, as a host of Mother (maybe) and the 119 girl both offer more dark mother imagery.

5] Speaking of Sarah--I've held for a while that she knew, or at least strongly suspected, what Leland was up to. The performance in Fire Walk with Me leaves little doubt in my mind as to that. So, symbolically, her infestation by Mother suggests the guilt attending her over the past 25 years, looking back and knowing that she knew or suspected and yet did nothing (from fear or disbelief or whatever). I find that very powerful.

6] Audrey's scenes, including the final shot, are essentially this season writ small.

7] On the least interesting level possible--lots of good stuff about the cliffhanger and Lynch's refusal of closure, but the ending also speaks to Lynch/Frost's seemingly genuine love of television as a way of telling stories. Lynch famously never wanted to resolve the Laura Palmer killing, on the grounds that it was simply a motor for the rest of the story. The idea of a neverending, open-world narrative--a soap opera--has always been in this show's DNA, and although The Return shed much (though less, I think, than some folks assume) of the soapy stuff, it's still interested in the idea that stories don't have to end, that they can always spin out into new and unexplained territory.

8] I've been on the "no season 4" bandwagon for a while, but after the finale I won't, at least, be mad if they do another season.

9] Something needs to be said about that particularly unsexy sex scene, but I'm not sure what.

10] Kyle M deserves every award they can throw at him.

Edited by NBooth

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M. Leary   
53 minutes ago, Mr. Arkadin said:

So, in the end, Cooper and Laura share a dark secret--the face of darkness--which is why the final image of the series is of Laura whispering the unspeakable secret to Dale Cooper in the lodge. This is the ultimate mystery Twin Peaks: unspeakable horror, a bottomless void.

Right. Except there is always a universe out there with a Wally Brando in it. (And everyone else in the last interior shot of the Twin Peaks police station.)

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M. Leary   
13 minutes ago, NBooth said:

ASSUME SPOILERS

3] The focus this season is interesting in that the evil is specifically maternal--as opposed to the paternal evil of Leland and BOB. The Experiment/Mother/Judy is thus tied to fecundity rather than aggression...

9] Something needs to be said about that particularly unsexy sex scene, but I'm not sure what.

 

On 3, Yes!! That is incisive and gets at what I have had trouble articulating. 

On 9, I guess I did not experience it as unsexy in the sense that sex is a much broader experience than cinema/tv typically conceives. This pairing was so exquisitely framed as the kind of physical pairing which occurs for reasons other than mere physical pleasure, after time and desire have bloomed into something a bit like desperation but more a way to tell someone you both belong to the same story at the same time.

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M. Leary   

But also... I have enjoyed taking this journey through The Return with you all. This has been a very helpful place of reflection and I learned a lot.

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5 hours ago, M. Leary said:

Right. Except there is always a universe out there with a Wally Brando in it. (And everyone else in the last interior shot of the Twin Peaks police station.)

Yes. And Dougie is there, too. There is a very conscious doubling of finales here. Chapter 18 is a postscript, what Cooper calls the "curtain call."

 

4 hours ago, M. Leary said:

This pairing was so exquisitely framed as the kind of physical pairing which occurs for reasons other than mere physical pleasure, after time and desire have bloomed into something a bit like desperation but more a way to tell someone you both belong to the same story at the same time.

Both Cooper and Diane lose themselves there, and it's where the horror first begins to creep in. There is a suggestion that Diane is reliving the trauma she experienced at the hands of Mr. C, and she covers Cooper's face as though she's desperate to hide it.

 

4 hours ago, M. Leary said:

But also... I have enjoyed taking this journey through The Return with you all. This has been a very helpful place of reflection and I learned a lot.

Yea, verily.

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NBooth   
2 hours ago, Mr. Arkadin said:

I'll add that I have pre-ordered Mark Frost's Final Dossier. I anticipate that it will offer answers to questions no-one asked.

Same here. Or to questions people asked that are manifestly not within the show's real zone of interest.

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I wrote 3,000 words on Twin Peaks: The Return. I'm not sure how coherent any of it is. But I was grateful for the conversation here which helped solidify some of my thoughts.

Quote

In episode three of Twin Peaks: The Return, David Lynch doesn’t side step any possible confusion over the idea of toxicity, he steps directly into it, portraying the spirit of BOB – an entity of malice who inhabits? possesses? individuals – as literally toxic, poisoning a highway patrolman who comes across the vile vomit of Agent Dale Cooper’s (Kyle MacLachlan) doppelgänger who has crashed his car while escaping being drawn back into the Black Lodge. BOB has possessed Agent Cooper’s doppelgänger and has been living in this simulacrum for 25 years in the “real world,” since the end of the original Twin Peaks series as Agent Cooper has been stuck in the Red Room of the Black Lodge.

If that seems at all hard to follow, it is. If you haven’t seen, or at least are familiar with story of the original Twin Peaks television series and its prequel film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, you won’t easily be able to jump into Twin Peaks: The Return nor be able to make much sense of the plot. In fact, even if you are familiar with what has come before, you might find yourself hard pressed to keep up with what follows. At the same time, the specific intricacies of the plot serve not so much as a linear narrative as linked scenes, which taken together form the story; more abstract, or dreamlike than centered around causality. The Man from Another Place, also known as The Arm, from the original series, for instance, is now a talking tree. Why? Is there some greater meaning or symbolism in this? Or is there some sequence of events that make this evolution make causal linear sense? Or is the talking organic mass on top of the tree “just a head” as Lynch called it?

This juxtaposition of The Arm’s symbol-less metaphor and the literal symbolism of BOB’s toxic regurgitation as Agent Cooper’s doppelgänger is a fundamental element of what Lynch is doing with Twin Peaks: The Revival and indeed much of his work. It is also a key response – a mirror, if you will, reversing front to back, maybe rightly – to cultural confusion surrounding storytelling and listening (storytelling is fluid, not rigid and listening is active, not passive).



 

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Oops! I forgot to add the link! Haha. Thanks.

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