Rings and Cycles
A ring is round. A circle that begins where it ends, a ring has only two continuous edges, the inside and outside, that wrap into infinity. Circles and rings cut through Twin Peaks like omens and harbingers. Mike the One Armed Mand sells Circle Brand footwear, branded with a hoop on the sole. Pies are round discs with a flaky crust covering over the true fruity center. Donuts are toruses, a ring made of rings, consisting of one singular continuous surface. Records are discs imprinted with a continuous spiral hiding the music within the grooves. Cassette Tapes are made up of a spiral of magnetic material that transfers from one spool to the next. A ceiling fan perpetually cycles the same rancid air outside Laura Palmer’s room. When Sarah Palmer hears the news of Laura’s death, the camera focuses on the spiral telephone cord, and then the receiver end of the handset – a circular surface with circular holes puncturing it. The recurring stop light is three circles on top of each other. Hank’s domino has six circles on it. The circle is a loop where each new step is a step that’s been taken before; the stories of Twin Peaks is about the cycles of trauma that perpetuates itself in a continuous fashion. Sometimes these cycles are natural and intuitive (Laura’s trauma was thrust upon her, changing her forever from the inside) while others are forced and automatic (Josie didn’t need to kill Andrew, which forced Catherine to seek vengeance). In the premiere, Donna rides a bicycle and James rides a motorcycle.
By the end of the first scene, a mysterious giant takes Dale Cooper’s ring and will return it when Cooper understands the giant’s clues.
The season 2 premiere, directed by David Lynch, brings back Twin Peaks‘ weirdness with a bang. In the final two episodes of Season 1, Twin Peaks was content to let the dream imagery and spirituality take a back seat to the soap opera machinations of Twin Peaks’ resident muckrakers. But, as Cooper is lying on the floor, slowly bleeding out after having been shot, he is visited by 2 people. The first is the elderly overnight hospitality worker at the Great Northern who brings Dale the warm milk he has ordered to help him go to sleep. This guy has probably seen some shit and knows how to ignore any manner of hotel weirdness, including a guy slowly bleeding on the floor. The waiter repeatedly gives Dale a thumbs up before he leaves the room without calling the doctor and after hanging up the phone.
The Great Northern Waiter is tied closely to Cooper’s second visitor, The Giant. As Cooper lay dying on the floor, a mysterious giant, who nearly stands from floor to ceiling, comes into the room with a blindng bright light to deliver more cryptic clues, stating that “we want to help.” Who’s “We”? Much discussion has happened around the Giant, especially in light of his several appearances, his ties to the waiter, and various other clues.
By the end of Season 2, the waiting room of the Black Lodge is the same room of Cooper’s Season 1 dream with The Man From Another Place. The Giant and the Dwarf, the white and the black, the light and the dark…many have said that The Giant is the White Lodge equivalent of The Man From Another Place. In the season 2 finale, The Man From Another Place, the Waiter, and the Giant are in the waiting room, and TMFAP states, “One and the Same.” The Giant rarely appears without the Waiter, and when he does he can’t communicate.
The Giant’s appearances are stylistically similar to two other apparitions that occur within Twin Peaks. The first is Sarah Palmer’s white horse, which she sees as she’s about to fall unconscious while BOB makes another attack. The second is the guardian angel that appears to Laura at the end of Twin Peaks, blazing a white light and offering a chance at redemption for her soul. Is the Giant a spirit from The White Lodge, and is the “We” he refers to the “good” spirits within the woods? Twin Peaks never explicitly answers but many implications are within the context.
The Giant does help the case with 3 cryptic clues, and 2 more less cryptic ones about Leo Johnson.
- “There’s a man in a smiling bag.”
- “The owls are not what they seem.”
- “Without chemicals, he points.”
- “Leo locked inside a hungry horse.”
- There’s a clue at Leo’s house.
Once Dale Cooper figures out the meaning of the first three clues, his ring will be returned to him. The unearthing of their meaning takes multiple episodes, and present an arc of sorts. They also present a thematic bridge of sorts. In the middle of the episode, “There’s a man in a smiling bag” is about Jacques Renault being carted away in a body bag. Once the bag is emptied and hung up to dry, the opening droops open to smile. In a way, the smile needs to be filled by a dead body to exist, creating a morbid joke about facades and happiness. “The owls are not what they seem” refers to the otherworldly spirits that monitor the world and fight over its soul. “Without chemicals, he points” refers to how drugs and alcohol can be abused to deaden our perception of the world, referring to Laura using drugs and sex to deaden her own traumatic guilt and providing a cover for her not revealing her abuser.
The last two comments about Leo are both uncovered by Andy in the course of this episode. The first, “Leo locked inside a hungry horse,” only takes a little bit of research and finds an instance where Leo Johnson was jailed on the day that Teresa Banks, the first victim (referred to in the pilot and in Fire Walk With Me), was killed. The second is discovered by accident. Andy is running onto the porch and gets hit by a plank of wood, uncovering a secret hiding place for Leo’s cocaine and workboots.
Sex and drugs are a theme that go together throughout the course of the show. The season 2 premiere alters the course of one character from where she was in the first season. Actually, she was first changed in The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, but its in this episode where the change gets its first on screen airing. I’m talking about the true nature of Blackie. For the run of the first season, Black Rose is a dark-tinged madam who runs One Eyed Jacks with a bit of cold slickness. She looks and acts like a normal madam in her few appearances. But, in the first 15 minutes of Season 2, David Lynch turns her into a heroin addict kept in her supply by Ben and Jerry Horne. Jerry traps Blackie with her own addiction to drugs, and, in turn, she supplies sex workers to rich men so that she can get her fix.
One of those workers is now Audrey Horne, the Queen of Diamonds, who is now trapped in a bedroom to make her first trick to “the Owner,” Of course the owner is Ben Horne, and she has to play coy to get out of committing incest. She tries closing the drapes of her four-poster bed, and hiding under the covers, and even wearing a mask. Like Blackie, she’s trapped by one of the Hornes – Ben – and has to supply sex to get out of it. Fortunately for her, Jerry calls Ben for an emergency related to the not-deaths of Leo Johnson and Catherine Martel.
That’s right, Leo didn’t die. He’s in a coma in the hospital, along with half the town. Lucy’s recitation of the events is hilariously matter of fact:
Leo Johnson was shot. Jacques Renault was strangled. The mill burned. Shelly and Pete got smoke inhalation. Catherine and Josie are missing. Nadine is in a coma from taking too many sleeping pills.
As Dr. Hayward puts it, “We haven’t had this much action since the Elk’s Club fire of 1959.” But, the Brothers Horne are not happy about Leo and Catherine not being definitively murdered, all supposedly organized by Hank Jennings. Ben and Jerry stalk circles around Hank demanding answers for his shoddy craftsmanship, generating their own cycles from which the town suffering originates. The mill burning is going to cost the town 150 well paying jobs, but the Hornes just want their country club.
Just because Ben and Jerry were forced to flee One Eyed Jacks to take care of business, that doesn’t mean that Audrey was allowed to leave. Instead, Blackie traps her in her bedroom, posting a security guard outside the door. Blackie doesn’t know who Audrey is, but she knows that Audrey lied about who she was. Audrey has secrets, and she’s going to pay for trying to deceive people. And, this is a difference between Audrey and Laura. Laura knew who she was at all stages, and never fronted a different identity. Both Cousin Maddy and Audrey played games with their identity, posing as Laura and Hester Prynne respectively, and there were consequences involved in both cases – Dr. Jacoby being assaulted and being trapped in a whorehouse.
Speaking of Maddy, the more she stays at the Palmers, the deeper she gets involved in Leland’s madness. Leland beat up Dr. Jacoby, in no small part because of Maddy’s game playing. But, Maddy is starting to see things too. She confesses to Sarah that she had a vision of the living room carpet, right from her perspective, and it was stained with blood. Before she can finish that thought, Leland now with shock white hair, bounces in singing an old nonsense song, Mairzy Doats, that uncovers a nonsense double phrase:
Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you?
If the words sound queer and funny to your ear,
A little bit jumbled and jivey
Sing “Mares eat oats and Does eat oats and little lambs eat ivey.”
After killing one witness to Laura’s murder, and the two other witnesses are in comas, Leland Palmer is happy as shit, and has been fully taken over by BOB. BOB/Leland is in the free and clear now, having created a whole week of miserable chaos in their wake. Sarah is distressed by this development, not knowing that BOB has anything to do with possessing Leland. But, The Brothers Horne love the new happy-go-lucky white-haired Leland.
But, white hair isn’t the only visual symbol that transfers a person’s spirit. Sometimes, its as simple as a pair of sunglasses. Donna asked for a pair of Laura’s badassed sunglasses carrying a certain level of femme fatale strength in them. Maddy wears them to the diner, and has a badass Laura look as she hands them off to Donna. And, as soon as Donna dons them, she starts smoking and speaking with a hardboiled dialect that dismisses any sense of responsibility. While Maddy is worried about how their actions last night led to Dr. Jacoby being attacked and having a heart attack. But Donna/Laura dismisses these concerns, saying “we’ll go crazy if we think like that.” Thinking about cycles of behavior and consequences is for losers.
The sunglasses and playing Laura inspire Maddy to ditch her big rimmed geek glasses and embrace a stronger persona. But, when Donna goes to visit James in jail, she’s already smoking with a bold lipstick, and playing a seductress. When she kisses James and he pulls back, “Is it just not OK for me to want you” and then she bites his knuckle gripping the bars of his cell. This whole scene is magical and silly because we know who Donna is, and this isn’t Donna. This is a goody-two-shoes playing a femme fatale. It’s such an overt, ironic, and hilarious about the various facades we can put on in various manners.
James truly did get caught into Bob’s whirlwind of trauma. His big confession of the episode is an incident with Laura, about her reciting a poem. He said Laura was reciting a scary poem about fire and then asked, “Would you like to play with fire, little boy? Would you like to play with Bob?” This seed is a reference to trauma that happened to Leland Palmer when he was a child. His family would go on vacation where he was molested by a neighbor who called himself Bob, and would fling matches while asking Leland those same questions. But, there wasn’t ever a Bob at that address. That neighbor had been molested as a child, then molested Leland who molested Laura who was now exacting that same abuse onto both Bobby and James. James only felt it for a little time, but Bobby experienced it for years.
Bobby has a revelation, given by his father. Bobby is in a sunken place, of sorts. I mean, wouldn’t you be? You’ve spent years dealing drugs to keep your girlfriend supplied with cocaine. One night, a drug deal goes wrong, and you killed one of the mules who also happens to be a cop. Then, your girlfriend is brutally raped and murdered. Over the course of the next week, you find out that she hasn’t just been sleeping with Jacques and Leo, but also with James Hurley. And then your new girlfriend is a married woman who has been abused by her husband. But, then she gets severe smoke inhalation because the husband tied her up while he burned the mill down. And then you see her husband shot by Hank Jennings. All within two weeks. It’s any wonder that he could get himself into the Double R.
But, luckily Bobby does make it to the Double R, where he sees his father. His father knows that Bobby is having a rough time, and rebelling for a reason. But, not all cycles are meant to last. Major Briggs frees Bobby from the cycle of trauma by telling him a vision he had, a vision of seeing his adult son succeed and of being happy and successful with a family. In this vision, the cycle of trauma is put behind him, and they can live their life as a better person. Major Briggs is trying to cut the threads that have tied Bobby to the Black Lodge. He doesn’t necessarily succeed in severing them all, but Bobby can see the future now, and he wants it. It’s not quite a turning point; it’s more of a curving point.
Big Ed may be experiencing that later future, but not in the best way. Nadine is in a coma, and he feels regret for how their relationship crumbled in the past decade. His whole life has been cycles of comical misjudgments. Big Ed and Norma were dating for four years in high school. But, then Norma went out with Hank one weekend, which made Big Ed so pissed that he ran off and married Nadine. At that point, Norma hadn’t even consummated the relationship with Hank. So, now that Big Ed married Nadine, Norma married Hank. And, then, on their honeymoon, Big Ed shot out Nadine’s eye. She never even cried.
There are two reactions to that story. Stony-faced seriousness, or outright laughter in disbelief. These are provided by Sheriff Truman and Albert, who has come back to Twin Peaks after Dale was shot. Albert is mainly here to look after Dale and provide color commentary while the investigating gets done. This premiere turned Albert into a one-man Statler and Waldorf routine. “Where does this attitude of general unpleasantness come from?” “I’ll have to get back to you on that.”
Dr. Jacoby, meanwhile, provides a missing link in the case. He informs the police that he thinks Laura reached a final decision. She had been living a traumatized life, one with a divided heart as represented by Laura’s necklace. But, she had reached a decision to end the trauma. She may not have killed herself, but she might have invited her own death. When interrogated about who killed Jacques, he mentioned the scent of “Scorched engine oil.”
And, with that, Dale has figured out what events happened the night of Laura’s murder. Over a table full of donuts (rings made out of rings), coffee and evidence, Dale and Albert tell the full story of the night, but without the final Who.
The night Laura Palmer was killed, she made two appointments. In her diary she had written, “Nervous about meeting J tonight.” I now believe this was a reference to James Hurley. She was nervous because she planned to tell him she didn’t want to see him anymore. Before she snuck out of the house, she received a phone call. We believe it was Leo Johnson making a second appointment for some time later that night. Laura met James, was with him until 12:30, when, at the intersection of Sparkwood and 21, she jumped from the bike and ran into the woods. We believe it was there that she met up with Jacques Renault, Leo Johnson and Ronette Pulaski. Together, they drove to the foot of the trail that leads up to Jacques’ cabin. They climbed the trail; they were heard passing by the cabin of The Log Lady. They reached Jacques Renault’s cabin at approximately 1 a.m. Drugs and alcohol were consumed. Laura was tied up and had sexual relations with both Leo and Jacques. Waldo the bird was let out of his cage and attacked Laura. Leo and Jacques fought. Jacques went outside and passed out. When he came to, Leo and the girls were gone. We believe Leo hiked back down the trail to his Corvette alone, leaving the girls behind. The reason being there was a third man. Deputy Hawk found evidence of a third man outside the window of Jacques’ cabin. The third man took Laura and Ronette to the train where they were tied up. Laura for the second time, Ronette for the first time. Using a blunt object, the killer hit Ronette and knocked her unconscious. He must have been so intent on killing Laura, he didn’t realize that Ronette regained consciousness and escaped. Either he didn’t know or didn’t care. He made a small mound of dirt and put the half heart necklace of Laura’s on top. He then placed a small cut out letter R under the nail of her left ring finger. You’ll recall that he placed the letter T under the fingernail of Teresa Banks. He left a note written in blood, “Fire walk with me.” Here’s the interesting thing. The blood on the note was tested. It doesn’t match Leo’s, Jacques’, Laura’s or Ronette’s. So, we surmise the killer wrote the note in his own blood. It’s a rare type, AB negative. The towel that Deputy Hawk found five miles down the tracks was soaked in blood of that type. He also found, near the towel, scraps of faded paper. These scraps may have been left by the killer. They’ll be sent back to Washington D.C. for testing.
The info dump was delivered in a professional, matter of fact way, but it’s all brutal trauma, sex, drugs, bondage, and murder. Souls were lost and found. Damage was done. And the world was left a little more scorched than before. It leaves Andy weeping, while Albert states, “I know. I know. It’s what we call a real three-hanky crime,” sending Andy into a fury at the elite callousness of Albert’s attitude. You can’t be crying and still do your job, but this type of crime is draining on an emotional level. Andy’s reaction is appropriate as a human being, but ineffectual as an officer of the law. Albert and Dale’s coldness is appropriate as a police office, but not as a human being. They’re both right and they’re both wrong.
On a cold rainy night, the Haywards have another installment of the Hayward Supper Club. It’s the only one on the show. The Hayward Supper Club is led by the Hayward’s youngest daughter, Gersten, who is dressed like a fairy princess as she will be in the school play. She also lives under the shadows of her older sisters Donna and Harriet, who both got high marks in school. Gersten is also talented enough to plays a variety of music on the piano, from Mendelssohn to The Merry Macs. First, Harriet recites a poem about Laura trying to heal the wounds she left behind. Her poem is beautiful, mysterious, haunting and tragic…but she is overshadowed by the antics of Leland/Bob. In the middle of the meal, Leland is led to driven to give a boisterous rendition of Get Happy, driven to a frenzy before passing out. Get Happy mocks evangelical revivalism, and the verse Leland quotes is about a dead person crossing the river Styx to clean themselves of their sins after they’re dead. So went Laura Palmer.
Which brings us all back to The Giant. Re-summoned by Audrey Horne’s wishes that Dale Cooper would get her note and come rescue her from her enslavement, The Giant returns to Dale Cooper at the end of the episode. Cooper is blinding himself in an attempt to sleep at night when The Giant wakes him up. He says, “Don’t look for all the answers at once.” He tells Cooper that he forgot something. And, he also says that one person saw the killer’s body and is now ready to talk. And, with that, Ronette comes out of her coma after remembering everything that happened that night in the train car.
- Dale really is an all-American boy who has all-American dreams. He wanted to crack the Lindbergh baby case, and find out who really shot JFK.
- I love that the bullet hit the wood tick. It’s one of the best visual gags.
- Lucy and Andy looking through Flesh Worlds is another priceless gag. “I sure do uncomfortable being in this situation with you.” “Why? We’re both Professionals. *meep*”
- “He did take a little bit of his food.” “My God, could that be it?” I love the hospital slop.
- Donna gets a note to check in on the Meals on Wheels…Wheels, cycles…
- I want to be friends with somebody who will bring me a chocolate peanut butter pie. And, bring the whole pie.
- Gersten, on getting good grades in relation to her sister, “So now I don’t have to worry about being ashamed anymore.” There’s so much shame running through this town.
- Some mysterious Asian guy is looking for Josie, but she’s missing. Pete thinks she went to Seattle to do some shopping from the big city.