No slideshow today; I’m doing this old-school, with embeds, because the chronology of the oddities that take place here is layer upon later of HANG ON WTF and it’s pleasant — or amusing? — to let the bafflement unfold.
This episode feels as if the first 15 minutes were actually supposed to be the last 15 minutes of episode 7, which limped to a very weird, punchless ending. We open here with a nice menacing scene, some TOTAL weirdness, and then a protracted Nine Inch Nails performance the likes of which usually comes at the end of an installment — followed by a perfect button for the whole thing. Everything that comes after feels like a standalone. But the thing is, if you carve off that chunk and glue it to episode 7, it would mean following a supersize Twin Peaks with an eighth episode that a) logged in at only about 41 minutes and change, b) spent half an hour entirely wordless, and c) employed no familiar characters at all except for the dude who played Lurch in The Addams Family. The thing is, I’m sure it was written as aired because I doubt David Lynch gets or takes notes on Twin Peaks, and that Showtime and everyone else whipped themselves into a frenzy of “Oh that’s just pure David Lynch, upending the conventions of television,” but it’s so strange. You can do some gymnastics to connect the first segment to the rest, but… well, let’s go through it together.
The First Chunk: Fairly Weird
I have questions about the plausibility of this part (yes, I know, it’s Twin Peaks, but still). Continuing where we left off, Agent Creeper and Ray are driving to… wherever… in their given car. When Ray stops for a pee break, Creeper pulls a gun on him after specifically checking to see that it’s loaded, and demands his information. Ray has anticipated this and brandishes HIS pistol… so Agent Creeper fires. Nothing happens. Ray has double-crossed him. But, like… do they make bullets that look real, and act real, except when fired the gun clicks like it’s empty? Or is it… magic? Is Ray somehow David Blaine, Street Magician?
As soon as Creeper’s body hits the dirt, a bunch of weird spectral hobos come out of the woodwork — they resemble the dude who was zapped out of Matthew Lillard’s prison, and also the one shuffling through the background of the Buckhorn morgue scenes last week — and start essentially having a cannibalism orgy.
Obviously in the set photograph, they look more whole and human than they did in the finished show itself, where they flitted and flickered and seemed translucent while appearing to tear open the body. We see blood and we see his face being gnawed, but then we also see it being lifted up intact and Ray peeping some sort of CREATURE inside Creeper’s chest cavity. What is it?
A cardboard cutout of BOB. Just kidding, I’m sure it’s CGI, but it looks so cheap. I like to imagine that the Twin Peaks offices have this cardboard cutout, and that every employee tries to smuggle it into the scariest place imaginable, like the other side of the bathroom stall or in a dark craft-service pantry.
We get a lot of Ray seeming horrified, and translucent dudes who look like they should be carrying sticks with handkerchiefs tied at the end, and violent string music. But, maybe that wasn’t spiritual cannibalism; maybe they were just eating the death out of Creeper’s body and leaving BOB safe. Or, a third option, did they free BOB from him? When Ray drives away and calls Phillip Jeffries — David Bowie’s character, who may or may not still be himself and/or may or may not be tainted by the Lodge — he notes that he isn’t sure if “he” is dead because “he had some kind of help.” He also notes that he told Creeper where he was going (“the farm”), so “he” is likely to show up, indicating that Ray knows a bullet won’t stop him; and b) he saw something inside him that might be the key to everything and explain a lot. WILL IT THOUGH. BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE GREAT.
Then, we cut to the bar, where Academy Award winner Trent Reznor comes out with Nine Inch Nails and plays for what feels like an eternity. I guess when you get Academy Award winner Trent Reznor, you turn over as much of the show to him as he wants. The song the band performs is called “She’s Gone Away,” and maybe the reason Trent got this plum slot is because there is no way anyone would pay attention it at the end of the hour due to the fact that from here on out it’s a hellish ride on a turgid shriekwagon.
Oh Yeah And:
After, we go back to the wilderness, and an intact Agent Creeper sits up and the music gives him a nice sting. Now that’s an episode ending. Except we’re only on minute 15 or whatever.
White Sands, 1945: The Birth of BOB(?) Is Really F’ing Weird
A chyron tells us where we are, right before a nuclear mushroom cloud obliterates the area. At length. Slooooowly. Two fragments you could add to almost any review of any scene of Twin Peaks. It’s essentially the Manhattan Project.
I guess this is where David Lynch is making manifest all his fears about California being sunk by nukes. I’m also pretty excited to experience that. According to him, it will be ten or so confusing and discordant minutes of red and fuchsia canals that are almost vaginal, and which swirl and whirl and never quite take you to the light at the other side. As if our rebirth and survival will be permanently arrested.
I don’t particularly want to read into that.
Also, there is a convenience store, and we see the return of the hobos — they are cartoonish enough in their shambolic dress that they remind me of actors who’d be singing “We’d Like To Thank You, Herbert Hoover” in Annie — in a series of jump cuts with increasingly unsettling music.
It’s almost like a time-lapse camera was parked in front of the store, and it captures people appearing, disappearing, flashes of light, burnt out windows, people inside the store, etc. I’ve read on the Interwebs that this may be a reference to Fire Walk With Me, where I guess some Black Lodge spirits lived above one, or something.
And then, we cut to black, and floating in the right corner is a little dude that looks like a teeny tiny parade balloon, except we recognize him somewhat as The Force Of Evil That Popped Out Of The Box And Ate The Faces Off Two Hot Banging Youths.
This malevolent schmoo opens its tiny mouth and begins to spew out a very long, undulating baguette. But not the kind that would make good toast. Instead, it’s like cosmic tissue.
And what should pop up in his baker’s vomit?
BOB. I sincerely hope all of this qualified Frank Silva’s family for some great residuals. RIP, Frank.
We cut to a black-and-white shot now, in a house high on a hill, where a fancy lady who might be a fortune teller and an opera singer in her spare time — except that she clearly never leaves — lives in her Castle on a Cloud along with Lurch from The Addams Family. (We saw him at the top of the premiere, warning Agent Cooper about things infecting their world.)
Lurch’s funky knowledge machine over there calls his attention to something, so he goes over to a matching machine in a theater and pops in the theoretical VHS tape of White Sands and the Baguette-Barfing Schmoo.
If this is the creation of BOB, then connecting that to the Manhattan Project feels like a statement that this eternally toxic spirit was borne of man’s craven desire to control, or to use power to destroy what it cannot. And Lurch is real bummed out about it, as one would be when Pandora’s Box is opened and the contents deemed insufficiently rotten and in need of an upgrade. He handles disappointment the same way I do: by levitating and ejaculating glitter out of his head.
His wife is enthralled.
“I married him solely for his face-ejaculate, you know.”
Then his cosmic emissions form a bubble, which is revealed to have Laura Palmer’s face inside.
His wife kisses the baby they made from his cranial confetti cannon and then sends it up to some Seussian saxophone in the sky…
… where it goes in one end and is sent out to the Earth from the other. We don’t know when this happened, but it seems to imply that shortly after White Sands, Lurch found out about the birth of BOB and dispatched some fluid of majesty to deal with it, and that somehow Laura Palmer’s essence was… I don’t even know. Living in his face up until then, I guess, and sent to save the world from BOB? That didn’t play out as planned.
1956 in The New Mexico Dessert: Really F’ing Weird
There is an egg. An ugly-ass bug comes out, and I say that as someone who thinks all bugs are ugly.
This one seems like it has legs that want to be vaguely human, or frog-like. It’s like a roach and a frog combined and developed aspirations of personhood. It’s twelve years after White Sands, so if this is larval BOB coming out to play, I don’t know what took him so long. Maybe it’s something else.
Meanwhile, we’re forced to listen to two wooden teen actors attempt a staid courtship and kiss.
It’s really frustrating to have a stable of competent actors, or even just familiar ones, and have them all be benched so that two people we have never seen before can stumble over awkward small talk. All you need to know is, he’s not going with Whatsherface anymore, so he’s free to give this girl a chaste kiss on the mouth. Meanwhile, she is wearing a cardigan so tight and ill-fitting that you can see the outline of her camisole and that was so distracting for me that I thought it was going to turn into a plot point. (It didn’t.)
Then the hobos come back — or rather, one in particular, flagging down a car and asking in a weird distorted voice, “Got a light?” It’s tense and prolonged, and you assume he’s going to rip open their heads, but instead they speed off into the night.
So he murders two people at a radio station instead, by crushing their heads. This cannot feel friendly.
Before he kills the second one, though, he hijacks the frequency and starts reciting over and over the exact same lines: “This is the water, and this is the well. Drink full, and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes, and dark within.” He appears charred, which has led to an Internet theory that he’s The Log Lady’s husband (he died in a fire). And those words could refer to the fact that doppelgangers in the Twin Peaks world have dark eyes that have almost entirely consumed the whites.
The repeated words cause everyone listening to drop either dead, or dead asleep, including the girl — credited, creatively, as “Girl” — from the painful courtship scene. I guess it fits the horror tropes that she would be menaced here, because she had the temerity to get herself kissed. Anyway, she lies down, giving in to slumber, only to have the new creature LEAP INTO HER ROOM…
… AND WALK PAST HER FACE…
… AND INTO HER MOUTH. The actress even gives a little gulp once he disappears, so that you know it’s been well and truly swallowed.
AND WE’RE OUT.
So, you can see why I thought the first part seemed like it belonged attached to last week’s hour. But you could argue that beginning the hour with BOB and his saviors connects here because we see the beginnings of those mysterious forces at work. Perhaps those charred dudes are the devil’s minions, working to create and protect new malevolent forces on Earth, and in seeing them at work, we’re invited to look back at where it began. Or, maybe the network was like, “Dude, we CANNOT have an entire episode that’s like 75 percent silent and 0 percent filled with anyone we recognize and has NO Kyle MacLachlan so FIX IT.”
Either way I’m now more afraid of bugs than I was before, so thanks for that, Mr. Lynch.