[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from “Twin Peaks” Episode 8 titled “Part 8 – Gotta Light?”]
What was only hinted at in the third episode of “Twin Peaks” became a full-blown surrealistic experience in Sunday’s avant-garde “Part 8.”
Despite the experimental filmmaking and very little dialogue, the 50-minute bombardment of sound and fury coalesced into an intriguing origin story that promised a lot more sense in the contemporary story to come. Giving historical context to some of the things we’ve seen so far anchors the story in a way that it hasn’t been before. But this wasn’t just the story of one birth, but of many. Let’s break those and a few other theories down:
What About Bob?
The evil spirit (Frank Silva) we first met in the original series has been riding along with Evil Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) in some sort of weird, mutual symbiosis. It seemed that Evil Cooper had appreciated having Bob around, and that paid off Sunday when Bob’s head emerged from Evil Cooper’s torso where he was shot (in a twisted mockery of birth) and brought him back to life. This is likely the “help” to which Ray was referring on the phone.
In the 1945 flashback to the atomic bomb Trinity Experiment, Lynch calls on all of his mastery of image and sound to approximate the beginning of life in combustion, blood, chaos and a structured cacophony perfectly embodied in Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima.” This is Lynch’s Big Bang, in which a figure — who looks a lot like the figure in the glass box — vomits a stream of particulate matter (primordial garmonbozia soup?) that includes Bob in an orb/egg. This figure could be “The Mother” whom the American Girl had referred to in the Purple Room.
While we still don’t know exactly what Bob is or what he can do, knowing his origins definitely helps to demystify him a little. He is not the ultimate evil, but he is an evil perhaps born of man. which in itself feels like a rumination on what evil is.
Incidentally, Dougie Milford (Tony Jay) in the original “Twin Peaks” was a former United States Air Force officer who investigated UFO phenomena, according to “The Secret History of Twin Peaks.” In 1945, he was demoted for the trafficking of Army black market liquor and cigarettes and assigned to the White Sands Missile Range, where Trinity took place. Milford was also the commanding officer who sent Major Briggs (Don S. Davis) to Twin Peaks to keep a record of the town’s mysteries. Intriguing! And yes, it appears there was another Dougie in the “Twin Peaks” universe before we met this one.
The Secret History of Laura Palmer
In response to the birth of Bob, The Giant or ??????? (Carol Struycken) sends an answering salvo in the form of a golden aura (which looks a lot like the one that rose from the boy who was hit by the car) that turns into a golden orb that has Laura Palmer’s face/essence in it. His fellow music room dweller Señorita Dido (Joy Nash) then kisses it and deploys it to Earth, whereupon it takes on monochromatic hues.
We’re not quite sure how to take this. If this Laura Palmer egg spirit is supposed to combat Bob then either she wasn’t very successful (which is tragic) or her life and subsequent death are all part of a bigger picture, which is possible since the “Twin Peaks” picture got plenty larger this season. It was her death, after all, that brought Cooper to town, and he’s in the thick of everything. Then again, Bob being able to sniff out whatever Laura is and target her is worrisome.
Perhaps this Laura essence has been watered down or scattered so that it’s not full force. That would explain why Laura couldn’t fight Bob one on one, and same with her lookalike cousin Maddie, who may have that essence. But for every Laura or Maddie, what comes of their sacrifice?
As for what happened to her orb during all that time between 1945 and Laura’s birth, we move on to…
The Locust-Frog Critter Thing
Directly after Señorita Dido deploys the Laura orb to Earth, we see an egg incubating on the New Mexico sands for 11 years, before hatching some creature that has frog legs and wings like a locust. It’s a far humbler critter than we may have imagined if that is indeed the Laura orb that eventually hatched. The amphibian-insect (amphi-insect?) immediately finds a host in the mouth of the teenage girl (Tikaeni Faircrest) in 1956. But in between that time and Laura Palmer’s birth, what’s it been doing?
This girl seems to be the key. We estimate her age to be anywhere from 12-15 here, so when “Twin Peaks” came on the scene in 1990, she would be in her 40s. Is it possible that this little girl grows up to be Laura Palmer’s mother Sarah (Grace Zabriskie)? She’s been known to have some paranormal powers, see things others don’t, and predict the future. Laura herself may have inherited some sort of powers but latent, maybe only manifesting themselves as communications in her dreams (such as when she dreamt of Annie).
Thanks to the credits, we at least have a name for these guys, since the main “Gotta light?” guy is labeled as “The Woodsman.” The earliest presence of these guys appears to be in 1945, seen milling about in sporadic fashion around a gas station/convenience store right after the Trinity bomb testing but right before Bob gets vomited into life. They seem to be part of that shadow realm and helping Bob do dark deeds, such as terrorizing that couple in 1956 or crushing skulls at the radio station. In present day, they appear when Evil Cooper is shot, and appear to be tearing away at him, but then Bob’s head emerges from the bullet wound. It’s not clear if Bob is being liberated or if he’s being summoned to help Evil Cooper, who then is resurrected.
Something to note though is that these Woodsmen, especially the ones seen in 1956 just look grimy, as if they were caught in an oil slick. But the ones we’ve seen earlier — the disappearing guy in the jail cell near Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard) and the one who was walking though the hall of the South Dakota morgue — were sooty black. Perhaps they turn darker over time the more they kill. In its black and white format, the 1956 scenes certainly made the blood on the Woodsman’s hands look inky black. Also, a line from the Nine Inch Nails song “She’s Gone Away” couldn’t be more perfect: “We keep licking while the skin turns black.”
Also, why they’re called The Woodsmen could be a clue. First of all, they are the opponents of the trees, which are the good and knowledgeable in this Lynch-ian world. But also, the Log Lady’s (Catherine E. Coulson) husband was a lumberjack burned in a forest fire. That would make anyone sooty.
We’re still not entirely sure of what the Woodsman was talking about when he repeated, “This is the water, and this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes and dark within.” But we did hear a horse neighing, seemingly in distress, at the very end when the Woodsman.
The most obvious connection here would be the pale horse, which Sarah Palmer had seen twice, the night before Laura died and the night before Maddie died. Cooper also saw the horse in the Red Room. When speaking of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, it’s said that Death rides a pale horse.
In the original series, the Log Lady reference the pale horse and its dark portent:
“A poem as lovely as a tree: As the night wind blows, the boughs move to and fro. The rustling, the magic rustling that brings on the dark dream. The dream of suffering and pain. Pain for the victim, pain for the inflicter of pain. A circle of pain, a circle of suffering. Woe to the ones who behold the pale horse.”
Buying the Farm
Ray (George Griffith) had mentioned to Evil Cooper that he was heading to The Farm. While it’s possible that this could refer to Ed Hurley’s (Everett McGill) Big Ed’s Gas Farm, we think it makes more sense that it’s Dead Dog Farm, an abandoned bungalow just outside of Twin Peaks where rather wretched illicit activities take place.
In the original series, the real estate agent Irene Littlehorse (Geraldine Keams) had explained that “the best and the worst are drawn to Dead Dog, and most turn away. Only those with the purest of heart can feel its pain. And somewhere in between, the rest of us struggle.” If this is correct, then that means Ray could be heading toward Twin Peaks, with Evil Cooper following closely behind.
Of course, we’re kind of hoping that it’s just a farm full of trees that have evolved from arms.
What are your theories about the latest “Twin Peaks”?
“Twin Peaks” airs new episodes on Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime.