I've developed a few overarching theories about Twin Peaks this week. One: Evil will always triumph, because good is dumb. Two: This show takes place in an alternate universe.
The second one shouldn't even be controversial. Here in the real universe, when someone says "ladies and gentlemen, the Roadhouse is proud to welcome James Hurley," people react the way they did in my household: a sustained and simultaneous "NOOOOOOOO." In the world of Twin Peaks, apparently, the response is somewhere between gratified swaying and genuine transport. This is a world in which we are expected to believe not only that James is cool, but that James was always cool. It's not the world I know.
With that out of the way, Twin Peaks also has something to say about the nature of good and evil this week, and it's not the moral you might expect. This is an episode with high MacLachlan content, as both DoppelCoop and DougieCoop race toward the peaks of their respective arcs. It's an episode that lets us directly contrast the actions of the good and evil Coops and how they fit into the larger narrative. What becomes clear, when you do that, is that evil is active, and good is passive. Evil is purposeful; good is an accident.
Here's Dougie being showered with gifts and gratitude for what he's done for the Mitchums, entirely without his own conscious participation. Here's Anthony cracking and confessing to his fraudulent filings and his murder plot under DougieCoop's uncomprehending stare, telling Bushnell "he saw right through me"—and here's an unmoved Bushnell saying calmly that "Dougie already showed me, he explained all this already." He didn't, of course. Aside from nullifying Ike "The Spike," this iteration of Coop has done very little: He's pulled the levers he was told to pull, bought the pies he was told to buy, repeated the words that interested him, and let the currents of whatever's going to happen pull him inexorably toward a denouement. He's created a lot of chaos, not actively but passively, like a rock in a stream—but he's also done a great deal of good for his family, for his company, for the Mitchums, maybe even for the world. He has, perhaps, done more good than Coop did when whole, for all his propulsive energy.
Meanwhile, we also have DoppelCoop hunting down the man who killed him (though, as Renzo points out, he "didn't kill him too good") and who still has the information he needs. DoppelCoop seems to prefer a state of equilibrium, like Dougie's—the "starting position" he keeps coming back to in the arm wrestling match. But he's not able to rest there; his mission and his character drive him to destroy. He's an implacable wrecking ball this week, breaking through Renzo's arm wrestling record, his control over his team, his skull, Ray's quadriceps, Ray's resolve, and ultimately Ray's face. Along the way he seems to rattle a recently arrived Richard Horne—does he recognize his father? No matter: DoppelCoop's off to fuck more shit up. He's no Dougie; he's not going to Chauncey Gardiner his way through life. The good can stand by and watch things fall into place. The evil have to get things done.
In the original show, Major Briggs said that he and his colleagues at Blue Rose were searching for a place called the White Lodge, the home of good spirits. In the show, we see only the Black Lodge, the red room with chevron flooring where the One-Armed Man lives. I've long assumed that the Black Lodge and the White Lodge are connected or even coextensive—that they're two rooms off the same corridor or maybe a single room, and whether your visit there is evil or good depends on how you enter, how you move through the rooms, how you leave. That's why MIKE, who saw the face of God and was changed, lives there along with BOB, who will kill again.
Now I wonder if I was wrong. While evil in Twin Peaks is interventionist, goodness, it seems, is not. The evil spirits of Twin Peaks inhabit people, change them, direct their actions. The good ones (are there any besides the Giant, and I guess MIKE?) point and hint and stay out of the way. The red room is too close to human affairs for them, separated only by a wavering membrane. That fortress we saw in "Part 8," that remote island not even on this planet—maybe that's where they are, too far to ever be found.
Notes for Peaks freaks of old:
- I was surprised how much of a relief it was to hear Jacoby doing something besides shouting. He was always a mildly creepy character, but a magnetic one, and him standing silently and grinning at Nadine is the most I've liked him in a long time.
- Everyone knows Jacoby and Ben Horne were in West Side Story together, right? The actors, not the characters. The movie, not the play. OK, good.
- We also all know he's Amber Tamblyn's father? Good again.
- Did we also know that the guy who plays the One-Armed Man has a girlfriend who's an internationally renowned exorcist? I just found that one out myself.
- There were two moments of pained, betrayed shouting in my household tonight. The second I've already mentioned. The first was when some other man walks up and takes Norma away from Ed, again.
- But he and Nadine aren't married anymore, are they? Or are they?
- "It's like Ghostwood here," says Audrey, of her ambivalence about looking for Billy. Like being torn between ruining her father and succeeding him? Or did something else happen with Ghostwood that we don't yet know?
- Fuck that James scene, though, seriously. It's still stuck in my head. I'm mad.
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