So now the sadness comes. The revelation. There is a depression after an answer is given. It was almost fun not knowing. Yes, now we know. At least we know what we sought in the beginning. But, there is still the question, “Why?” And this question will go on and on, until the final answer comes. Then the knowing is so full, there is no room for questions.
When Twin Peaks was re-broadcast in full on Bravo in 1993, a year after Fire Walk With Me was released, David Lynch went back with Catherine E. Coulson and recorded little intros as The Log Lady to each episode to hint at what you should be noticing in each episode. Some of them are more cryptic than others, some are very honest and truthful. But, this one is absolutely perfect for this episode. It’s exactly the emotion you get when you finally know the solution to the engine, but then what’s left?
No episode of Twin Peaks is as single minded as this one. So, let’s get’s the two parental subplots out of the way. Norma’s mother, Vivian, complains about Norma’s omelette while suggesting how to improve them with unreasonable requests. Seriously, Vivian, no diner like the Double R, which caters to working class truckers, could afford to use veal sausage and morel mushrooms. They’d have to raise their prices and lose their clientele. Vivian may not be a model parent, but she’s trying to help her daughter.
Andy is finally taking charge of the situation with Lucy’s baby and bringing things to a head. He wants to know who the daughter is, and calls Dick Tremayne in to figure it out with Lucy. Dick comes in, and Lucy sits both of them down at once. Lucy states that she doesn’t know yet who the father is, but they have tests for when the baby is born. Until then, she expects cooperation from both potential fathers. And they agree to be loving boyfriends and supportive fathers.
After the discovery of Maddy Ferguson’s body, Albert the Cynic rushed back to Twin Peaks to help with the autopsy. Overnight, he discovered the letter ‘O’ (a perfect circle) under her fingernail and a handful of white fox fur from a stuffed dead fox that Maddy grabbed in her struggles. He offers his full support to Cooper saying that his mumbo jumbo techniques are the only thing moving this case forward, and that Cooper is the only one to have the ability to put the puzzle pieces together. The main reason for Albert’s presence is Albert’s realist cynicism is a mirror of Cooper’s optimistic spiritualism. Albert, for his part, gets shoved to the back up until the end.
One of the puzzle pieces still unknown is in Donna Hayward. At the Double R this morning (a Saturday), James is giving her a ring while telling her that they will be together all the time, if that’s OK with Donna. I should comment that this ring looks like an engagement ring, with a simple setting and a giant diamond (fake or not) that sits on the top. James never mentions the M words, but still, “we should be together all the time?” That’s damn close to an engagement.
As she’s joining souls with James, Andy is repeating “J’ai une ame solitaire” (I am a lonely soul) from Harold’s “suicide” note. If one remembers, this is also the phrase Pierre the Magician used at the Tremonds from the one time Donna delivered Meals on Wheels to them. All fingers are pointing to Mrs. Tremond for another puzzle piece, something deeper than the ones that came before.
Donna and Cooper go to Mrs. Tremond’s house, but find a completely different woman. The Mrs. Chalfort/Tremond that lived there with Pierre was a frail 70-year-old woman, dressed all in black, who looked like she would break if a fly landed on her. But, the Mrs. Tremond that greets Donna is probably in her 50s, big and boisterous and wearing the loudest floral patterns you could imagine. She doesn’t have a mother (she died three years ago) nor kids of her own. But, she does have an envelope for Donna Hayward that came about the time that Harold Smith died.
The mystery of the first Mrs. Chalfort/Tremond and her grandson has always been a bit of a mystery in and of itself. In Fire Walk With Me, they are seen in multiple locations, including Teresa Banks’ trailer park, the Blue Diamond Motel, and, most especially, the meeting above the convenience store with the other black lodge inhabitants. Whether these spirits are lesser than MIKE they are most definitely from the black lodge. Many signs point to them murdering Harold Smith rather than him committing suicide. In The Secret History of Twin Peaks, the black lodge has a habit of killing people and making it look like suicides, dating all the way back to the mystery of Meriweather Lewis (of Lewis and Clark), who may have been killed in Tennessee with gunshot wounds to the back of his head, but people to this day claim it was a suicide.
The envelope that Mrs. Tremond gives to Donna contains the final page from Laura’s Diary, containing two entries. The first entry described Agent Cooper’s dream of the Black Lodge from Season 1, where she whispered the secret of who killed her. The second entry is February 23.
February 23rd. Tonight is the night that I die. I know I have to because its the only way to keep BOB away from me. The only way to tear him out from inside. I know he wants me. I can feel his fire. But, if I die, he can’t hurt me anymore.
Donna feels a sense of loss with the last entry. She never knew how broken Laura was. Even after the bar scene in Fire Walk With Me, where she and Laura get fucked up with older men who are paying to have sex with them, she never realized just how much trouble Laura was in. Earlier in this season, when she visit’s Laura’s grave, she screams that they were always trying to solve Laura’s problems, but she never knew how deep those problems were. Now she knows. She knows just how far gone Laura was, and how much Laura was trying to protect everybody around her from seeing the full trauma and being destroyed by it. Laura was bearing the brunt and trying hard to cut what she couldn’t deal with into small pieces before laying that head trip on people. Donna knows.
That’s why Donna goes to visit Leland: to investigate what she feels deep in her gut. She knows that something is still wrong with the investigation; she knows something is wrong with how Laura’s diary ended; she knows something is wrong with how Maddy left town. It’s all pointing to Leland/BOB. And, Donna has to play investigator one last time. She pays Leland a visit to talk while wearing Laura’s sunglasses and smoking one last time. She’s trying to bring back the hardass of Laura, but the one person who could shake Laura was Leland, her father. Donna doesn’t know that.
Leland puts on BOB’s high intensity charm, constantly offering Donna lemonade for their chat. Even after he gets a phone call from Maddy’s mother, saying that Maddy never made it home, Leland still puts on the charm and says that he and Donna will figure out that mystery together. She just needs to have some lemonade, and maybe dance a little with him. He puts on a record and swings her around the living room before clutching her close and brings her in to breathe into her neck. Maybe he’s going to rape and murder her. Nobody’s home. But, the police save the day by bringing Leland back in to talk about finding Maddy’s body. Even if he didn’t kill her, that molestation shook Donna.
That clutch told Donna everything. It told her that Leland was BOB. It told her that Leland raped Laura for years. It told her that Leland killed his own daughter. It told her that he also killed Maddy and that he was wanting to kill again. Between this and Laura’s final diary entry, the sadness is too much to bear alone. She now has all the answers…but was it better not knowing?
James, the one who just gave her the ring and thinks that they should be together all the time, can’t bear the information either. He meets her at a gorgeous picnic spot just off the main road into and out of town where she pours her guts out to him. She knows too much. She can’t bear it alone. She couldn’t help Laura, and she couldn’t help Maddy. James’ soft exterior hardens and turns to cynicism. For him, the world is shitty and won’t change. His mother can’t and won’t change. They couldn’t stop Laura from dying. His and Donna’s relationship got in the way of saving Maddy. Now, it’s time for him to go. Just a few hours after he told Donna they should be together all the time and gave her a ring as a symbol of their relationship, he ditches her at the picnic area. Fuck off, James. Finally a girl is telling you exactly how she needs help and you ditch her to save yourself. I’d almost feel sorry for you, James, but I know exactly where you’re going next and it isn’t good…
Meanwhile, Cooper visits MIKE to get more help to solve the clues. MIKE acts sort of like the clue box in a video game when you get stuck on the last puzzle. He hints that the Giant is real, but he isn’t a Black Lodge denizen. He is known to them. It’s the Giant that holds the answer to Cooper’s questions. Pressed further, he tells Cooper that the answer is not in the head but the heart. Thanks, MIKE. Enter the Waiter, who tells Coop that the milk got cool, but is getting warmer now. As they speak, the police are bagging and tagging all of the evidence in Ben Horne’s office that still points to Ben’s guilt. But, Cooper still isn’t sure.
Ben’s alibi visits him in one last appearance as Mr. Tojamura. Catherine is still alive, and she’s still demanding everything she asked for in the tape recorder yesterday. She gets Ben to sign both Ghostwood and the mill over to her in exchange for verifying his alibi…but then reneges on that promise. If only Ben had waited a couple of days, he wouldn’t be so screwed…but he did try to have her killed and he is trying to destroy the town’s main source of industry. So, he totally gets what he deserves.
Cooper has every suspect join him, the police, and MIKE in The Roadhouse for an experiment in, for lack of a better term, magic. Just before 3:00, Major Briggs brings in the Waiter, who had hailed him outside for a ride to the Roadhouse. The Waiter gives Cooper a piece of gum, which Leland/BOB identifies as the gum he used to chew as a child. The Waiter states “That gum you like is gonna come back in style!” and time stops.
The Giant appears, and Cooper remembers what Laura told him in his dream. “My father killed me.” Finally, The Giant returns Cooper’s gold ring. Cooper learned all of the clues, and has solved the murder.
It’s not as easy as just arresting Leland/BOB. Cooper points the finger at Ben, but has a concerted plan to trap Leland in the interrogation cell. Its in that cell, when BOB knows that he’s finally trapped, that BOB finally comes out in his true personality in front of people. Leland’s polished demeanor drops, and now he has the animalistic behaviors of a schizophrenic. Leland is gone and BOB is all that’s left.
The story of Laura’s Killer in Episodes 14-16 present an arc of emotions. Episode 14, where the police arrest Ben and Leland kills Maddy, is pure and unadulterated horror and sorrow. Episode 15, where Leland/BOB prances around like Fred Astaire and sings Surrey With the Fringe On Top is black comedy at its darkest. This episode is realization, regret, and devastation. The three episode arc is one of pure shredding in emotion. Donna gets shredded five ways from Sunday, first by the sorrowful hit of Laura’s Diary, then by the shock and horror of Leland Palmer’s clutch, then the full realization of Laura’s life, and finally by James leaving her alone to deal with all these swirling emotions (reneging on his promise from earlier). But, none of this her story compares to the intensity of Leland/BOB’s final moments in the interrogation room
On first trapping, BOB throws Leland’s body all over the room trying to escape. Eventually, BOB settles down and shows his true face. He laughs with malice and insanity as he confesses to both murders. BOB also knows what happened in Pittsburgh with Cooper and Windom Earle’s wife; The Black Lodge has influences everywhere. BOB is also Leland’s protection. Leland sold his soul long ago. His lack of conscience is partly what helps him deal with Ben Horne’s business dealings, and it is also what allowed him to rape and murder his daughter. BOB was filling that hole, and protecting Leland the humane from knowing what Leland the evil was doing.
Just before BOB leaves Leland’s body, he shouts out this poem to whomever is listening:
Through the dark of futures past,
the Magician longs to see.
One chants out between two worlds
Fire Walk With Me
I’ll catch you with my death bag
You may think I’ve gone insane
But, I promise
I will kill again
With that, the sprinklers fill the room, set off by Dick Tremayne’s smoking and BOB rams Leland’s head into the door multiple times. BOB leaves Leland’s body, leaving Leland to realize what he has done and why. Deep horror gives way to the deepest devastation. Resting his head on Cooper’s lap, Leland gives his confession. When he was young, he invited BOB inside himself. When BOB came inside, he made Leland do terrible things. Leland was abused as a child and let that trauma fester inside him. That closeted side of him was the side that made him compulsively do what he was doing.
Trauma and victim counselors always talk about cycles of abuse. That abuse people experience can manifest itself as the exact same abuse they inflict on people in their later years. Leland said that BOB wanted souls and bodies. Maybe BOB made him bring in other boys to get abused. Leland speaks in code as he’s dying, with his head resting on Cooper’s lap as he sobs uncontrollably during his confession. But, Laura? She was strong. She didn’t let BOB in. She was breaking the cycle of abuse. By allowing herself to be killed instead of giving in to the evil that Leland/BOB was trying to infest in her, she can’t hurt the next generation. She knew the trauma she was already inflicting on all the innocent people around her – Laura, James, Bobby – and she couldn’t stop it from getting worse. She had to find peace. She knew that, by not giving in to the horror being inflicted upon her, that horror would eventually kill her. Finally, Cooper has seen and heard enough and guides Leland to the light. He guides him to the afterlife, where he sees Laura.
In the aftermath, what is BOB? Is he the work of a schizophrenic? Is he an excuse? Is he an actual spirit from another world who forces evil onto this realm? Or, is he a metaphor for the evil that men do? Is it more comforting to think that a spirit makes people commit acts of villainy against their will, or is it more comforting to think that a man would willingly rape and murder his daughter. If BOB is a spirit, he’s been freed to go to another vessel. Or, maybe he already exists in other people. There is no peace to be found here. Nobody can find solace in this solution. An owl from the Black Lodge flies at the screen.
- Bobby is a real jerk this episode. Not that he wasn’t a jerk before, but he was softening his edges. Here, he’s almost back to being the jerk he was in episode 1. I guess some people don’t actually change all that much.
- The magic all starts at 3pm. Also in threes? Hank Jennings’ original domino.
- I can understand David Lynch not wanting to kill his baby – he was against revealing the killer and killing the engine of the show. Can you imagine what he would have done with this episode? What horrors he could have inflicted in the extreme tension between Donna and Leland/BOB? Or, what depths he could have revealed with more interesting visual choices in Leland’s first interrogation? This episode has some great callbacks to other Lynch visuals in the series, but the whole episode feels like Lynch Lite.
- In much the same way that Mr. Tojamura’s reveal interrupted the pace of the final 20 minutes in Episode 14, Lucy’s meeting with Dick and Andy interrupts the pace of BOB’s reveal. For some reason, Lucy’s meeting feels completely different than the rest of that sequence, unlike Catherine’s reveal which was shot with the same feeling as the rest of her surrounding sequence.