The Log Lady and The Woman (Another Entry in our Twin Peaks/ Sherlock Holmes Series)
WARNING: this article contains spoilers for both the Sherlock Holmes canon and the Twin Peaks series. DO NOT READ THIS if you're not caught up with Twin Peaks or haven't read Arthur Conan Doyle's "A Scandal in Bohemia".
"...she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name."
--Dr. Watson, A Scandal in Bohemia
"I carry a log -- yes. Is it funny to you? It is not to me."
-- Margaret Lanterman, aka The Log Lady, Twin Peaks season 1
DERRICK: The Woman! To Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler will always be the woman. To Twin Peaks fans, Margaret Lanterman, the Log Lady, will always be the woman. She was the heart and soul of the series. Both characters were a step above the men around them. They knew much more than they were given credit for; even the detectives were always a few clues behind them.
Sadly, now both characters have passed away. Irene Adler died from some unknown cause, referred to as the late Irene Adler in A Scandal in Bohemia. The Log Lady, in the most moving scene in all of Twin Peaks, tells Deputy Hawk, that her time has come. "Hawk, my log is turning gold. The wind is moaning. I'm dying. Good night, Hawk."
The Log Lady, like Irene Adler, always was one step ahead of the detectives. Irene Adler was underestimated by Sherlock Holmes. She actually outsmarts the great detective and earns his respect, something very few people ever earned. The Log Lady was seen as the town's crazy cat lady (albeit crazy log lady) by most residents of Twin Peaks. Very few took her seriously. Those who did, like Agent Cooper, often did not fully comprehend Margaret's words of wisdom, her words of warning. Like the otherworldly beings, the Giant and the Arm, the Log Lady tried to give advice to Agent Cooper, but most of the time the special agent spent so much time trying to figure out the meaning of the words that important pieces were lost in translation.
Sherlock Holmes kept a photograph of Irene Adler on his mantle. It was his memorial to a remarkable woman. Deputy Hawk, at the end of his phone call with Margaret, gathers together Andy, Lucy, Bobby and Sheriff Truman to let them know that The Log Lady has died. Sheriff Truman respectfully removes his hat and places it on the table before him. It is a poignant scene, a scene that shows the respect they hold for Margaret Lanterman.
BRIAN: That's not to say that the Log Lady was ever held in high regard by the majority of the Twin Peaks populace. To most, the term "Log Lady" meant the town crackpot. In this current season, Deputy Chad Broxford makes cruel, condescending remarks about her and is disgusted to find that his fellow officers actually respect the Log Lady and her obscure warnings. People who did respect her, by the way, called her Margaret... at least, to her face. That includes the majority of the Twin Peaks Police Department (original and current series), Special Agent Dale Cooper, Major Garland Briggs, and Norma Jennings; although even sympathy couldn't prevent Norma from warning Margaret to stop sticking her gum under the counters at the Double-R Diner. Make what you will of Wyndham Earle's disguising himself as the Log Lady in order to infiltrate the Miss Twin Peaks Pageant...
Irene Adler was also respected and scorned, albeit for much different reasons. Indeed, she is described in the very first paragraph of A Scandal In Bohemia as "...a woman of dubious and questionable memory". She was a known "adventuress," which according to bakerstreet.wikia.com means "...a designation barely above "courtesan" or "lightskirt" in terms of social acceptability". Those who truly knew her, however, held her in high regard, including her current lover and blackmail victim Wilhelm von Ormstein, King of Bavaria. She famously earned the respect of Holmes, by not only tricking him with her disguise, but by escaping his clutches and explaining to him how and why she did it. By the story's end she has also renounced her life of crime, keeping her incriminating photograph "...only to safeguard myself, and to preserve a weapon which will always secure me from any steps which <the king> might take in the future". The king then admits that "I know that her word is inviolate. The photograph is now as safe as if it were in the fire".
The Log Lady went a step further; genuinely trying to help those around her. In Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, she stops Laura Palmer outside of the Road House, warning her that "When this fire starts, it is very hard to put out". She heard Laura Palmer and Ronette Pulaski being dragged from Jacques Renault's cabin to their doom at the abandoned train car, and describes this event to Coop & company as best she could. She also advises Major Briggs to "deliver the message" to Agent Cooper, that message being "The owls are not what they seem" and "Cooper... Cooper... Cooper..." transmitting from somewhere in deep space. And I don't think it's a coincidence that she's among the few Twin Peaks residents at the Road House when Ben Horne is arrested for the murder of Laura Palmer.
For many, these women represent the souls of their series. For Irene Adler, she is the one character who not only beats Holmes, but does so in an enjoyably rascally way, without a hint of malice or cruelty. Holmes is not perfect; he is defeated from time to time. But only Miss Adler was capable of doing it in such a way that she earns the undying admiration of Holmes and the loyalty of generations of readers.
Margaret Lanterman is the archetypal "wise fool"; seemingly crazy and out of sync with society, yet possessed of a wisdom not available to the mainstream. She is quirky and kind and grouchy and lonely and haunted and blessed and damned. Perhaps most important of all, she is played by Catherine Coulson, longtime friend of David Lynch and former wife to Jack Nance. Many people have said that Kyle MacLachlan represents the spirit of Lynch's work, but I'd say it's Catherine. She died shortly after the filming of the new season, giving her character's appearance and words a gravity that broke my heart every time she appeared. By the way, I heard her line as "Hawk, my log is turning cold", which damn near tore me apart.
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.