Could Sherlock Holmes, Franz Kafka, and H.P. Lovecraft Make Sense of Twin Peaks: The Return Episode 8?
Be forewarned that, as always, there are spoilers ahead. Whether anything we write could spoil episode 8 is its own topic for debate.
Depending on who you ask, episode 8 was either a clear explanation to much of the mystery of Twin Peaks (perhaps too much of an explanation), pure unadulterated madness upon the screen, or some degree in the middle. What is our opinion of the episode? We used the Sherlockian approach to observe, analyze and deduce.
This was easy enough to do as the episode was one of the most captivating hours in the history of television. We saw:
*Doppelganger Cooper gets shot to death by Ray. Then, the weird homeless ghost men show up out of the ether and begin to smear their bodies with Cooper's blood, possibly consuming his garmonbozia (pain and suffering). Ray is terrified at what he sees and drives away. Shortly thereafter, Cooper rises from the dead.
*We see a nuclear bomb test in 1945. This test tears apart the fabric of reality in a scene reminiscent of the finale of 2001: A Space Odyssey. We then see a black humanoid figure spew forth a long tentacle thing into our world. This tentacle has weird bulbs with bugs on it as well as the entity we know as Bob.
*We see the Giant responding to an alarm by creating a ball of light that emerges from his head and contains the face of Laura Palmer.
*We see the homeless men/creatures coalescing around a convenience store in the desert.
*In 1956, we see one of the homeless man/creatures constantly asking people if they "got a light." He then says an odd poem over and over at a radio station and kills those he meets and all adults who hear his voice.
*Lastly, still in 1956, we witness a strange bug creature hatch out of an egg and crawl into a sleeping girl's mouth.
|Did atomic bomb testing draw the Beings from Another World into our world and therefore, into Twin Peaks?|
This is where it gets tricky. Like Cooper receiving messages from the dancing dwarf and trying to determine the killer of Laura Palmer, we are receiving these messages from Lynch and Frost and trying to draw order from their chaos.
We do appear to have the origin of Bob. That seems to make sense, that something as destructive as an atomic bomb could catch the notice of an ultradimensional being, and then that ultradimensional being could come into our world to feast. But then it also seems like we are witnessing the origin of... Laura Palmer?!? That doesn't seem to add up. If Bob is evil incarnate, shouldn't we have a pure agent of good to counter him? Shouldn't we have the image of Dale Cooper or Major Briggs or even the Log Lady?
BRIAN: Interesting. We see that some... vaguely female humanoid... thing (Judy?)... is spewing what appears to be Qlippothic entities into our world for some unknown purpose, and that one of those entities is clearly Bob. Is this his birth? Was he already alive before this, and is just now being sent to our world? And where is Mike? In the original series, Mike tells Cooper "Bob was my familiar", before Mike's conversion to the White Lodge, and Mike is nowhere to be seen in this episode. Mike must team up with Bob at some time after this.
Another thing is, why does this happen with that particular atomic bomb test? There have been several nuclear explosions since the 1940s, but we haven't been overrun by hordes of Black Lodge creatures. We know that Bob doesn't need an a-bomb to enter our world --- one of the last episodes of the original series shows Bob's arm stretching forth from Glastonbury Grove, implying that he can come and go between the Black Lodge and our world as he pleases, or at least when "the stars are right", as Lovecraft would say.
I assume that the Black Lodge creatures are deliberately spreading fear and death in order to feed off of it, as was shown in the series and in FWWM.
It may be that the denizens of the White Lodge did send Laura to our world as "a pure agent of good" to counteract the agents of the Black Lodge let loose on earth. My theory is that's what attracted Bob to Laura in the first place, and made him want to corrupt her. What did Bob do to Cooper when Coop entered the Black Lodge? He made an evil version of Coop. What did Bob do to Laura? He tortured and abused her, splitting Laura's personality --- there was the good Laura who started the Meals on Wheels program, tutored Johnny Horne and Josie, and befriended Harold Smith; and there was the evil Laura, the party-girl drug addict who posed for Flesh World and worked at One-Eyed Jack's. Bob wanted to BE Laura, in the same way that he IS Evil Coop. The difference is that both of Laura's selves inhabited the same body, while Evil Coop and Dougie Coop each have a body of their own.
Bob loves to take innocence and twist it into his own horrible image. Leland wasn't strong enough to fight him. Laura fought Bob but still wasn't strong enough. Coop... we'll see.
DERRICK: It has been noted that we have the evil homeless creatures appear in and around a convenience store. This seems to tie in with Agent Jeffries telling Cole in Fire Walk with Me (FWWM) that the creatures live above a convenience store. But that convenience store in FWWM seems much different than the one in this episode. This one doesn't appear to have a room above the ground floor. Is it the same convenience store? Was the room in FWWM an addition built later? Is the meeting space above the convenience store but in the air, possibly in another dimension?
Then, what is up with the bug? From its appearance, it seems to be an evil being. Who is the girl who unknowingly consumes the creature? Is she a new character? Is she someone we have met before, possibly the mother of Laura Palmer?
BRIAN: I think that the bug/frog is the spirit of Laura Palmer. Lynch has a recurring motif of innocence and purity being physically repulsive, like the baby in Eraserhead, or John Merrick in The Elephant Man. The creature doesn't seem to be hurting this girl; perhaps it enters her to protect her? Perhaps this girl goes on to become the future Sarah Palmer, with the bug/frog giving her psychic powers as a side effect (or perhaps the creature was attracted to the girl because she has these powers)?
DERRICK: I believe Holmes would say that it is unwise to draw many conclusions from this episode... yet. We simply need more data. Even so, I will allow myself to draw two conclusions:
The Lovecraft Connection
In the first two seasons of Twin Peaks, the audience was led to believe that the creatures in the Black and White lodge were creatures of good and evil much like angels and demons doing battle for the souls of human beings.
This is reminiscent of how H.P. Lovecraft developed his mythos. In the story "The Call of Cthulhu," the great and mighty Cthulhu comes across as an evil being trapped in the kingdom of R'lyeh. If he ever was freed he would bring about an Armageddon of madness and despair upon the earth.
Like the creatures in Twin Peaks: The Return, the Lovecraftian gods evolved over time and in his greatest work At the Mountain of Madness, Lovecraft reveals that Cthulhu is not an evil god but an alien from across the cosmos. It appears the same is true for the Giant and Bob. They are aliens from another world. While one seems to want to help us and one to hurt us, this could easily be a game for them and not a holy war.
|Bob appears to be like Cthulhu, what appears to be an evil demon but is really an alien from another world|
Cole Knows More Than He Lets On
The other conclusion I can draw from episode 8 is that Cole may have all the answers. In episode 7, we see him sitting at his desk in FBI headquarters. Behind him is a poster of the nuclear explosion from episode 8. He also has a picture of an ear of corn on his wall. He also has a framed picture of Franz Kafka in his office. What does this tell us? The picture of the nuclear explosion indicates Cole knows about the origin of the people from another world and he keeps it there as a reminder of his Blue Rose cases. The ear of corn is corn in its natural state, before it is turned into cream corn or pain and suffering. The corn is the ideal Cole is working towards. Kafka represents the Cole's challenges. We have seen a metamorphosis of the arm and of Agent Cooper. Kafka's novel The Metamorphosis shows two different metamorphoses. One is Gregor who awakens as a giant bug. He loses his humanity in the process and eventually dies. The other is Gregor's sister Grete. She tries her best to help Gregor and by the end of the novel has blossomed into a beautifu woman. Kafka represents Cole figuring out the pieces of his world, the allegiances of the characters, and how they change over time.
BRIAN: Back in FWWM, our first shot of Gordon Cole shows a gigantic picture of a river in the pacific northwest taking up all of the wall space behind his desk. I remember reading in an issue of Wrapped In Plastic that the image is of Laura's body floating down the river, or at least, the same shot of the river before her body is discovered. Sorry, I couldn't locate the article! Anyway, it proves that Gordon is definitely aware of more than he lets on. This could explain his love of code --- even the People From Another Place would be hard pressed to figure out anything about Lil walking in place at the airport.
Kafka --- people transforming into bugs, and vice versa. I think it fits my theory about the bug/frog being Laura Palmer's spirit.
DERRICK: So, there you have it folks. In our opinion we learned a lot from episode 8, but it also left us with more questions than answers. That's not a bad thing. Part of the beauty of Twin Peaks is not completely comprehending what we are watching. It makes our analyses that much deeper, discussions that much richer. And we are very much looking forward to the second half of the series.
Belanger Books is a small press owned by artist Brian Belanger and author Derrick Belanger specializing in new Sherlock Holmes books, Children's books, Steampunk, and genre specific anthologies. Some of our books have been #1 bestsellers in their categories on Amazon.