Peak peak Rumination 16: Which way is the castle?


The #TwinPeaksRewatch schedule is at the bottom of the post! You can catch up, but it’d take a bit of serious binge watching…

This week’s piece by Dave Chapman brings us to episodes 27 and 28 – almost at the end now!

We again enjoy the lovely illustrative work of Grant Buist (@fitz_bunny), check out his strip Jitterati, and also his tweet-by-tweet reactions to watching these episodes, linked after the essay.

As per usual, you’ll also find below the details of the original NZ screening of these episodes, courtesy Paul Scoones.

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Previously, on Twin Peaks…

I was obsessed with Twin Peaks when it first aired in the UK. Possibly even beforehand. I remember renting VHS copies of Eraserhead and Blue Velvet from my local video rental store in my quiet little coastal home town in the north of England. When I spotted the VHS for a mysterious looking new movie called Twin Peaks, from the same director, I had to rent it. This was the International Pilot that you can now see on the DVD and BluRay set, with the extra footage that finished off the story in one sitting.

I had no idea it was a TV series, but it was cool and weird, and it captured my imagination straight away. Weeks, possibly months later, in the Radio Times (one of the UK’s only TV listings magazines at the time) announced the series was starting with a special feature and a guide to who’s who – a relationship map. I was excited to see it was going to be more than just a straight-to-video movie. I circled the listing in the magazine, and prepared a pile of blank VHS tapes.

I still have those VHS tapes somewhere. Recorded off the TV, sitting poised in front of the recorder, fingers ready on record for the moment the titles started, wondering when Alan Bennett would finish his episode of Talking Heads (that seemed to be on before every episode, and seemed to last forever). However, for the rewatch, I’ll be watching the bluray… Let’s fire it up, and take a trip back to 1991…

Episode 27 – aka “Path to the Black Lodge”

Windom Earle’s victim (poor Ted Raimi), ceremonially placed into a giant chess pawn, is carried away, and the first thing I’m doing is shouting at the TV – “It’s Mozzie from White Collar!” as a roadie!

The investigations into Windom Earle continues, as Major Briggs reveals Earle’s desire to find the Black Lodge. Earle was such a great replacement for the main mystery of the series. When “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” was solved, there was a real feeling of aimlessness in the series – without its core mystery, and Bob off the chessboard (if you pardon the expression), it struggled to capture the intensity of the first season. Bringing Windom Earle in – the perfect foil for Cooper – and his desire to access the strange and paranormal elements of Twin Peaks, really brought it all together.

Watching it again, for the first time in over 20 years, you can feel it building. The strange shakes of the woman at the Double-R, Agent Cooper, Pete Martell. Even the scene with Cooper talking to Annie at the diner has that familiar deep bass tone. The slow and sinister dripping of maple syrup. The slow pull back of the camera. Everything is getting darker, more urgent. When Jupiter and Saturn meet…

Of course, this leads to Andrew and Catherine and their mysterious box. Oh, Lynch loves his boxes! I know Lynch has said in the past that Lost Highway, in his mind, is in the same universe as Twin Peaks. That probably means the mystery man in Lost Highway is one of the people from another place. But is Mulholland Drive? With its strange box to hide memories…

The Mayor’s line “There’s something wrong here”, the Giant’s warning, and more slow pans around various locations build to the return of Bob…

Intermission

In 1991, when Twin Peaks first aired, I was at art college, looking to head off to University to do a degree in graphic design. One of the projects I was assigned was to graphically try to explain something. Foolishly, I decided that the subject would be Twin Peaks, and inspired by that Radio Times diagram I decided to map every character in the series and how they related to each other. It ended up being a massive diagram that, while it got me a pass at the grade, I’m sure just confused my tutors. But I couldn’t help thinking of the way that Twin Peaks was written, how Mark Frost and David Lynch would have worked out who’s who, and made a (probably simpler) map of the characters at the start and watched it evolve as the series progressed. That map has always stayed with me, and continues to inspire how I write and plan stories and adventures.

Back to the rewatch.

Episode 28 – aka “Miss Twin Peaks”

Windom Earle is looking really bad. I mean, really bad. Seems finally discovering the obvious (that the painting in Owl Cave is not just an invitation, but a map to the Black Lodge) has really allowed him to embrace his dark side. Luckily, thanks to Leo, Major Briggs escapes from Windom Earle’s dark clutches, but even after the series finale, Leo’s fate is unresolved. Leaving Leo to his doom with a cage of tarantulas hanging above his head, suspended by a cord in his mouth. Something for us to look forward to in the forthcoming season, I hope.

While preparations are being made, building to the Miss Twin Peaks contest, Pete, Andrew and Catherine have opened the box and discovered the safety deposit box key that will lead us to one of the many cliffhangers of the series. Thankfully, this was resolved in some way in Mark Frost’s Secret History of Twin Peaks published last year. I can’t believe we’ve had to wait 25 years to discover what happened…

The Miss Twin Peaks contest begins, and it’s everything you could imagine it would be. Cheesy, small-town, and bizarre. Reminds me of my youth, with small town entertainment at the town carnivals and amateur dramatics. Of course, they were never punctuated with crazed killers intent on opening portals to other dimensions… thankfully.

Audrey and Annie both give passionate speeches about saving the forest, and Lucy makes her decision over who will be officially the father of her baby (setting biology aside). Of course, this is all a build up to the dramatic final scenes as the strobe lighting kicks in, smoke bombs are detonated by Earle as he jumps on stage dressed as the Log Lady and abducts Annie. He needs Fear to open the door to the Black Lodge, and he’s going to use Annie to get it.

In the States, when this first aired, it was shown in a double-bill with the series finale (the legendary Episode 29 – aka “Beyond Life and Death”). Thankfully, I only have to click on the remote to go on to the next, mindbending episode. Possibly the scariest and most disturbing 45 mins in television history, but I’ll leave that amazing episode for the next entry here on the site.

David F. Chapman – writer, game designer, editor, publisher and all-round control freak. Probably best known as game designer on the award winning Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space roleplaying game for Cubicle 7 Entertainment and creator of the Vortex system that powers it, and as line developer on Conspiracy X 2.0 for Eden Studios, and as creator of #RPGaDAY.

You can keep up with his writing and ramblings by following the links on www.autocratik.com

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Enjoy Grant Buist’s livetweets of these episodes (click on a tweet and scroll down to read the whole sequence):

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Listener magazine listings for the original NZ screenings, thanks to ace researcher Paul Scoones:

Episode 27: ‘The Path to the Black Lodge’
NZ: 2 December 1991; Monday 11:05-12:05 (US: 18 April 1991)

Cooper and Truman continue their investigation of Owl Cave, Windom Earle takes a captive, Cooper and Annie find their romance blooming, and Donna discovers a scrapbook full of surprises.

Episode 28: ‘Miss Twin Peaks’
NZ: 9 December 1991; Monday 11:05-12:05 (US: 10 June 1991)

Cooper and Truman unravel part of the secret of the Black Lodge – but it might be too late. And the townsfolk gather at the Miss Twin Peaks pageant.

(See Paul’s full post for more information on Twin Peaks in New Zealand.)

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Rewatch Schedule:
Join the hashtag #TwinPeaksRewatch
15 Jan: Pilot: Starting at the start
22 Jan: Eps 1 and 2: Damn fine cup of coffee
27 Jan: Eps 3 and 4: Laughing at prayers
5 Feb: Eps 5 and 6: Invitation to Love
12 Feb: Ep 7*: Biting the bullet
19 Feb: Ep 8: We want to help you
26 Feb: Eps 9 and 10: Bury her deep enough
5 Mar: Eps 11 and 12: Sometimes the Can-Do Girls Can’t
12 Mar: Eps 13 and 14: Missoula, Montana
19 Mar: Eps 15 and 16: That gum you like
26 Mar: Eps 17 and 18: Blessed with certain gifts
2 Apr: Eps 19 and 20: Halfway through living it
9 Apr: Eps 21 and 22: And the hippie too
16 Apr: Eps 23 and 24: It’s a pretty simple town
23 Apr: Eps 25 and 26: Verses of the same song
30 Apr: Eps 27 and 28
7 May: Ep 29**
14 May: Fire Walk With Me***
21 May: NEW TWIN PEAKS!

* optional: The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer and The Autobiography of Dale Cooper books
** optional: The Secret History of Twin Peaks book
*** optional: The Missing Pieces

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