Twin Peaks Episode 14 Review and Analysis: An ode to David Bowie
What. A. Dream.
When Twin Peaks decides to make an impact, it comes hurtling at us in full force. This was an episode that shows the series’ skill in placing us within a shroud of smoke, meaning that even the most basic facts become disorientating. How did we never link the mysterious ‘E’ in Janey-E’s name to ‘Evans’, in the revelation that Diane and Janey-E are half-sisters? Who else would get transported into the White Lodge apart from Andy, one of the only morally sound inhabitants of Twin Peaks? And of COURSE Gordon dreams about Monica Bellucci, the ex Bond girl.
But perhaps in Twin Peaks the reason why nothing can be pinned down is because, in its very essence, it’s just the mad ‘dream’ of David Lynch and Mark Frost. And ultimately, dreams can never be pinned down; parts dash out of our reach, fragments are missing, and they are always interpreted differently by different people. They are an air of smoke. And smoke is something that refuses to be captured.
The series so far has been an experiment of pace. While episode 11 was a test of patience, this week’s opening scene was an atomic bomb of revelations.
To our – and Albert’s – surprise, we discover that Diane is Janey-E’s estranged half-sister. Diane seems as shocked as anyone in the room that the ring in Major Briggs’ stomach was engraved with the names of her half-sister and brother-in-law, but was this response as genuine as it seemed? After the mysterious text message that Diane received that said ‘LAS VEGAS’, it could be that this was trap planted for the Blue Rose task force. After all, it may just be an oversight by Lynch and co, but in a world of social media, even if the sisters hadn’t seen each other in years, it feels hard to believe that Diane has never come across a picture of her sister’s husband: the doppelganger of her former boss, Special Agent Cooper.
But David Lynch soon reveals to us that the show is encased in even more layers than originally suspected. Gordon tells us he had ‘another’ Monica Bellucci dream (of course), and we cut to a black and white shot of a Parisian café. It is a scene that reeks of 2010’s Inception and its Pairisan dream scenes. Monica tells Gordon ‘we are like the dreamer who dreams, and then lives inside the dream. But who is the dreamer?’. In these few lines, the whole reality of the show is rattled. The layers of of madness avalanche into decent, only to reveal yet more layers.
In a particular meta moment, the camera cuts to a shot of Gordon, played by David Lynch himself. This feels a moment directed at the fans. It is a moment that recognised Lynch’s God-like status amongst his avid supporters that is conscious of how only he (and co-writer Mark Frost) truly understand the world they have created. Is it also a two-fingers up at the original producers who forced Lynch and Frost to change direction during the second series and not let their dream reach its full potential? Possibly so. This is definitely a series that prides itself in its insistence of pushing boundaries, over and over again.
By this point, we’re already shot into the stratosphere of unknown territory, when Lynch releases the moonage daydreamer himself: David Bowie.
With so many of the original cast members having died since the original series, The Return is haunted by ghosts. But no one more so than David Bowie. His character Philip Jefferies, despite not having featured in the new series, has been fundamental to the plot. Gordon has a flashback to Bowie’s appearance in Fire, Walk With Me. He points at Cooper and says: ‘who do you think this is there?’. He continues, ‘we live inside a dream’.
Not only are we watching a dream, but we are watching the creator (Lynch), watch his own creation. This fantastic article by Vox argues that the series so far has been a comment on the act of watching television, and this felt no more prominent than in this episode.
After going to Jack Rabbit’s Palace, Bobby and co find the woman who helped (in the loosest possible definition of the word) Cooper escape The Black Lodge naked on the ground. A vortex – the same that Gordon was almost sucked into – appears, and Andy is sucked up into it. Again, the picture is black and white, and he looks to be in the White Lodge. The Giant, who we now discover is called ‘The Fireman’ (and, considering the Black Lodge is the place of fire, The Fireman appears to be its natural foe, yet also oddly dependent on it), presents him with an object that gives Andy a summary of Episode 8 and the creation of BOB. We watch Andy, watching what we have already watched. It’s a postmodern Gogglebox in a world of people watching, but unable to comprehend what they are seeing.
If this episode couldn’t get anymore out there, then the show’s perfect blend of humour, horror and surrealism is brought together in a scene involving James, and fellow Great Northern security Freddie, who has possibly the world’s worst cockney accent. Freddie tells us how he came to Twin Peaks after he was instructed to do so by a man called ‘The Fireman’, after he saw him disappear into a vortex- standard happenings in London, apparently. The Fireman also instructed him to put on a green gardening glove on his right hand, which Freddie cannot take off (trust us, his doctor has tried), and gives him super human powers. Is this scene setting us up for more to come? Is Freddie going to punch Bad Cooper with his super human powers like how Bad Coop punched his opponent last week? Is this going to be another unsolved mystery? Perhaps so.
But the scene seemed to give some reflection on the madness of the show so far. ‘Why me?’, Freddie asked The Fireman. ‘Why not?’, said The Fireman. It’s this ‘why not’ that sums up the world of Twin Peaks: no matter the madness, we must embrace it for all its absurdism, and all its unexplained answers. Twin Peaks just is, and that should be good enough for us.
And yet, our beloved Cooper featured for a grand total of 11 seconds in the episode – only appearing in dream/flashback scenes. But perhaps this is the point. Twin Peaks was never about Cooper. In fact, despite being the show’s poster boy, he wasn’t even from the Twin Peaks.
The new series isn’t about Cooper because it was never about Cooper. It was a town broken by the death of Laura Palmer; a town that needed, and still needs, healing.
We still feel distanced from many of our beloved characters. But again, this is precisely how we’re meant to feel; like Cooper, we are only a guest in this mysterious town. We are watching, and interpreting, the dreams of someone else. We have a fragmented whole: these characters were never ‘ours’, and will always drift away from us like fragments from a dream.
This week’s episode was a physic shakedown in a moonage daydream of surrealism and absurdism, and boy, did we freak out.
Image: The Independent