Thursday, July 20, 2017
Considering the dark and mind-bending climax to the previous episode, Episode Three kicks off with in an oddly sunny manner. First off, as Cooper notes, it’s a beautiful day (see above).
Upon waking up from his post-dream sleep, Cooper goes to the Great Northern’s dining lounge where he is confronted by Audrey, who is lying in wait for him. I find it odd that Audrey’s comments are the first time Cooper has heard about Laura Palmer working at the Horne Department Store perfume counter, alongside Ronette (and other girls who ply their wares at One Eyed Jack’s, as we learned last episode). And this, mere moments after Cooper remarks upon Audrey’s perfume? Strange.
The oddness continues when Cooper is joined by Sheriff Truman and Lucy for breakfast. His unbridled enthusiasm about the weather, the quality of the food at the Great Northern (“Nothing beats the taste sensation when maple syrup collides with ham!), and his insouciance at having forgotten the name of the killer are all somewhat off-putting.
Another strange bit of business, what’s up with Cooper telling Truman and Lucy that they were both in his dream, when as far as we could see, they were not? Could this simply be just another tossed-off reference to The Wizard of Oz, as Lynch is occasionally wont to do? This seems too cheap, all things considered.
Laura Palmer has been dead for a few days now, but she's looking like one of those saints who refuse to rot.
Ben Horne getting up close and personal with his Department Store's one time perfume counter girl. What kind of a rinky-dink morgue is the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Department running, anyway?
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
The second episode proper begins with yet another of many scenes featuring domestic meal-taking. This time, it’s dinner at the Horne household, where Ben's disturbed, 28-year-old son Johnny, whom Laura used to tutor, is decked out in a full Native American headdress for some reason. As part of the rustic lodge decor, the screen continues to be filled with First Nations art of the Northwest Coast style, which is an extremely rich and varied network of differing artistic traditions. The works present throughout the series so far do not belong to a single tradition, although I've seen numerous instances of Salish and Haida works, such as is visible on the left side of the screen on the image below.
Uncle Jerry’s "back", even though it's the viewing audience's first time meeting him, and he’s brought brie and baguette sandwiches back from France with him.
Lots and lots of brie and baguette sandwiches. Literally dozens of bags full.
Ben and Jerry (their names allegedly chosen to match that of the ice cream company) both seem to love these sandwiches, as they try to speak with their mouths full of them.
Bringing so many bags filled with a European "delicacy" into a room/lodge filled with Native imagery (built on land stolen from Native Americans) strikes me as a possible satirical statement about the way these altogether ridiculous people live.
Possible Kubrick homage: Ben and Jerry talk about “a new girl, freshly scented from the perfume counter” (like Ronette!) working at One Eyed Jack’s, over the water (and the border) in Canada. According to Ben, Jerry’s got "a 50/50 chance of being first in line". To which Jerry responds: “All work and no play make Ben and Jerry dull boys.”
One Eyed Jacks, of course, is a Marlon Brando film that Stanley Kubrick worked on for months before Brando decided to direct the film himself. Also, Uncle Jerry cuts a peculiarly Kubrickean figure… sort of a cross between Dr. Strangelove, Alex from Clockwork Orange and Jack from The Shining (from which the “all work and no play” maxim is taken).
Furthermore, the aforementioned pervasive presence of Native American motifs throughout the Horne properties and elsewhere throughout Twin Peaks is also reminiscent of The Shining. Unlike Kubrick’s film, however, I don’t believe Lynch intended a sly political commentary. Instead, I think he likes the way the large sculptures of Pacific Northwest Native tribes resemble the iconography of Ancient Egypt and Babylon, such as the Sphinx, or the Winged Bull.
It occurs to me at this point, considering the series' sheer volume of visual references to Native American culture, art, and thus, inescapably, myths and legends, that I should definitely do more research in this direction. I can already think of a few good places to begin. The first book of Peter Levenda's Sinister Forces trilogy, for instance, devotes a great many pages to some of the darker practices of our haunted continent's Pre-Columbian, First Nations cultures.
Keep watching this space for more details. Now, let's get back to Episode 2... and to One Eyed Jack's.
Monday, July 17, 2017
In Cooper’s ridiculously rustic, “clean and reasonably priced” room at the Great Northern Hotel (room 315), we see dear hooves shaped into a gun rack, and an assortment of trophy animals and/or simulacra thereof crowds the kitschy log cabin décor.
Cooper hangs upside down, most likely for his back, but still, it makes for a literal portrayal of his, let’s call it unique perspective on things.
Another aspect of Cooper’s character (and, perhaps, Lynch’s project) is revealed when he admits to curiosity about the Kennedys’ relationship with Marilyn Monroe, and harbors doubts about the assassination of JFK.
In other words, the only way Agent Dale Cooper could be any more American is if he shat apple pies and farted Yankee Doodle Dandy.
Which brings us to another element of Twin Peaks that percolated into the national consciousness: the connection between the Pacific Northwest and an excellent cup of coffee. There have been other allusions before Episode One, but it is in THIS episode that Cooper’s cuppa obsession reaches its apotheosis.
The Great Norther’s java doesn’t disappoint.
Sunday, July 16, 2017
First things first, Twin Peaks kicks off with a real stylistic bang. Angelo Badalamenti's score, otherworldly and ethereal, plays over video showcasing the peculiar rugged beauty of the Pacific Northwest intercut with industrial images of machines sharpening the teeth of other machines, with nary a human being in sight.
And as for the color scheme chosen for the titles... what even are those colors? An ugly, murky brown bordered by a vivid coniferous green, as best as I can make out. As Badalamenti’s score fades out it all makes for a rather intoxicating blend.
The sign on the outskirts of town, in the shadow of the titular (no pun intended) mountains, reads: “Welcome to Twin Peaks Population 31,201”.
With Laura Palmer dead, that brings the population to 31,200. 312 AD is the year Constantine converted to Christianity. In some esoteric traditions, 312 is considered to be an “angel number”, but I doubt this is of any meaningful significance in this case. Still, the idea that Laura is the town’s “plus one” sort of puts her outside of things. She stands, or stood, alone, not really part of the population, almost a vestigial member, wiggling away on the periphery, primed to fall away from the rest.
After a brief image of a waterside lodge, the first image we see is a close up of two stylized statuettes on sawmill owner Josie Packard’s desktop. They appear to be statues of Anubis, the Egyptian god of Mummification and the Afterlife.
Considering Laura's state upon being discovered by Pete Martell, mere moments later—wrapped like a mummy, in plastic, bringing the Ancient into the Modern—makes this seem like more than mere coincidence. Also, consider the idea that the whole series (and film) are essentially Laura's "afterlife" in more ways than one.
“Ghostwood” country club and estates certainly is an interesting name for (Laura’s father) Leland Palmer’s planned development project.
Against long odds and at a time when any good news seems miraculous, it appears as though the third series of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks is something of a masterpiece. In light of this incredible development yer old pal Jerky has decided to revisit the beloved, landmark television series (and the film) that spawned so many enduring trends and motifs that it has become one of the cultural lodestars by which we understand the 1990’s and beyond.
At the time, the series launched numerous careers, became a cottage industry in itself, and exerted a profound influence on mass culture. Everything from Grunge Rock to The X-Files has some Twin Peaks DNA inside of it. But more importantly, it changed the way people take in popular culture, perhaps not creating but definitely bringing to the fore a sort of paranoid narrative style.
This, I suspect, is an artifact of Frost reining in and diluting Lynch’s wild industrial surrealism just enough to make it palatable to the uninitiated entertainment consumer. That way, the show could appeal to the average viewer who was just looking for something different, while also leaving itself open to deeper levels of interpretation by the obsessive, Mystery School set.
Succeeding at the former made the show a huge success. Succeeding at the latter made it into an enduring legend. For better or for worse, I think an argument could be made that the Twin Peaks phenomenon has had an effect on our culture that is only now--with the notoriously prophesied arrival of the third series some 25 years later--beginning to be understood.
Here is how I am going to go about this public exercise.
First, I’ll be commenting on one, two, or three episodes of the first two series per blog post. Then I will have a little something to say about Fire Walk With Me. After that, I will devote one blog post to every episode of series three (which is ongoing).
Most of my blogs will consist of bare bones, maybe even point form, running commentary. I won’t be trying to solve any mysteries, or make any conclusions, beyond basic observation. At least, not as a general rule.
For the time being, I will be severely limiting my intake of any Twin Peaks scholarship or analysis undertaken by others. You may see me get excited about finding some new clue or symbol that you already know about because it was mentioned on some other Twin Peaks website, or maybe you spotted it yourself, but please allow me any minor joy that my independent discoveries might bring, and, if you have a link to an article or blog post that builds upon my “discovery”, I would be grateful if you please included it in the comments section.
I’ll also be trying to avoid pointing out symbols or connections that are too obvious, pedantic, or general, the art of symbology being so wide open as to be essentially meaningless if one doesn’t attempt to streamline its application to some degree.
Watch for the first installment no later than tomorrow afternoon!