For the final installment of our Twin Peaks episode guide — until new episodes start in 14 weeks, that is – I’m taking a look at Fire Walk With Me, which Lynch has recently stated is vital to understanding the upcoming third season. It’s a tricky work though, full of vagaries and misdirections, so consider this your road map through the darkest stretch of Twin Peaks.
Much maligning has been directed at Fire Walk With Me, the prequel film to the Twin Peaks series, but honestly, if you’re still bitching about this, you just don’t get it. Fire Walk With Me is the link that makes the narrative of Twin Peaks a perfect circle, it’s the head of the snake biting its own tail and far from narrowing the story, it inflates the mythology of Twin Peaks, BOB, and The Black and White Lodges into something much larger with many more possibilities than the series ever even hinted at. Fire Walk With Me is now, with season three on the horizon, more important than ever, and so is our need to understand it. Going into season 3 just knowing the first 29 episodes will leave you woefully unprepared, but recognizing it’s still a complicated piece of cinema, use this very thorough guide to fill in the blanks and clear up some of the fogs. And by the way, I don’t use “very thorough” lightly. Get a snack, we’re going to be here a minute.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
Written by David Lynch & Robert Engels, Directed by David Lynch
Released August 28th, 1992
We open on a television full of static that is suddenly smashed as a woman screams “No!” Seconds later we see the implied source of the scream, 17 year-old Teresa Banks, dead and wrapped in plastic, floating down a river in Deer Meadow, Washington. From what we’ve been told in the series, we know this is happening a year before the murder of Laura Palmer. Cut to Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole (David Lynch), who is telling his secretary to get Agent Chet Desmond on the phone. Desmond (Chris Isaak) is in Fargo busting teeny-boppers when he gets the call. Cole s assigns him the Banks case and arranges to meet him in Portland. Side-note: from the series we’d been led to believe that Cooper investigated the Banks case; the only reason that differs here is that actor Kyle MacLachlan only had limited availability to give the project.
At a private airport, Desmond meets with Cole and Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland), an Agent from Spokane. Cole then introduces them to a “surprise:” a woman in a red dress, a red hat and a strange expression on her face. She spins and blinks and opens and closes her left hand. Cole says her name is Lil and she’s his mother’s sister’s girl, then Cole fans four upside down fingers over his face, which Desmond takes to mean Federal. Sam is confused. Later in the car, Desmond explains Lil was a living code system: her sour expression means there will be problems with local authorities; both eyes blinking mean trouble with the higher-ups who run the authorities; one hand in her pocket means these higher-ups are hiding something, while the other one making a fist means they’ll be belligerent, to boot; she was walking in place so a lot of legwork will be involved; the mother’s sister’s girl (or aunt) in conjunction with the four fingers means the uncle of a higher-up is in federal prison; and the dress Lil was wearing was taken in to fit her which means drugs are involved, and the flower pinned to it, a blue rose, means something Desmond can’t tell Sam about. That’s a lot for one lady.
In Deer Meadow, Desmond and Sam are trying to meet with Sheriff Cable but as forewarned, he’s purposely keeping them waiting and in the meantime his deputies and receptionist are showing the Federal Agents open disrespect. So Desmond gives the deputy and attitude adjustment through his nose and shows himself to the Sheriff’s office. He states his case to Cable, who doesn’t seem to care for anyone honing in on his investigation. This is inconsequential to Desmond as his authority supersedes Cable’s, so regardless of the Sheriff’s feelings, he’s going to need everything the department has on Ms. Banks. Cable gives it up along with his professional assessment that Banks was a drifter and her murder was “a basic kill.”
Desmond and Sam go to the morgue to examine Teresa’s corpse. Sam does the dirty work while Desmond pores through her file. Seems Cable was right about the drifter part, she’d only been in town a month at the time of her death. The file has her living out at the Fat Trout Trailer Park, and working the night shift as a waitress at Hap’s Diner. No one came forward to claim her body and no one was expected to, no known next of kin is listed. Sam says her skull has been crushed by repeated blows to the back of the head with a blunt, obtuse-angled object. She’s missing a ring, they can tell from the tan line of it, but there isn’t a ring listed among the personal effects in her file. This causes Sam to look closer at her finger, the third of her left. There’s something under the fingernail there. Upon closer inspection, Sam extracts an object. It’s a piece of white paper with the letter “T” printed on it. Of course we remember the letters found under fingernails during the series: Laura’s “R,” Maddy’s “B,” and intended victim Ronette Pulaski’s “O.” We also remember these letters were spelling out “Robert,” BOB’s full name. Why they are delivered out of order, or if and/or where the “E” and other “R” victims are is never addressed.
They finish their examination in the wee small hours and instead of sleeping head to Hap’s Diner for some food and info on Teresa. The head waitress, Irene, tells them Teresa worked there a month, was nice enough if often tardy, had bit of a nose-candy problem, and her death was a freak accident, no evidence supporting this last bit given. Oh, and one other thing, for a three-day period shortly before her death, Teresa’s left arm went completely numb. Irene just assumed it was a drug thing, but Sam thinks it would have to be a nerve problem, but he’d have to take the body back to Portland to test for sure.
Once the sun comes up Desmond and Sam check out the trailer park. They meet with park manager Carl Rodd (Harry Dean Stanton, confirmed for season three) and get shown to Teresa’s trailer, which Carl implies saw frequent and various male visitors. On the fridge there’s a pic of Teresa and in it her missing ring is plainly seen, a gold band with some kind of green stone in the setting. Carl gets everybody coffee and as they drink it they’re visited by an older woman, dirtied and hunched over on a cane, an icepack to her face. She looks around the trailer. Desmond asks if she knew Teresa. She leaves without saying a word. Carl seems respectfully fearful of her, and amidst this reaction a telephone pole with 6 on it is intercut. Carl offers no explanation for the old women but to say timidly that he’s already gone places and just wants to stay where he is.
Desmond and Sam return to the Sheriff’s station to receive Teresa’s body and take it to Portland. The Sheriff tries to resist but Desmond ignores him and asks instead where Teresa’s ring it. Sheriff plays smartass and nothing is learned. Desmond tells Sam to start to Portland with the body, he’s going to check out the trailer park one last time. Sam knows whatever Desmond is doing there, it has to do with the blue rose on Lil’s dress.
Desmond returns to the park at dusk. Carl shows him to Deputy Cliff’s trailer, the Sheriff’s lapdog with the aching nose. It’s just down from Teresa’s. Desmond is left alone outside it. He looks up at the telephone pole humming next to him, and notices the #6 on it. Then he notices a dirty, derelict trailer behind him and goes to inspect that instead. The lights inside come on as he approaches. He knocks on the door. There’s no answer. He looks under the trailer and there, on a mound of dirt like the one (to be) found by Cooper and Truman in the train car with Laura’s half-a-heart necklace atop it, is Teresa’s ring, the green stone bearing same mark found in Owl Cave in the final episodes of season two, the squared diamond with twin peaks coming off its upper sides. As Desmond takes the ring from the mound the scene goes dark.
Next we know we’re in Philadelphia at 10:10 am on February 16th, and Special Agent Dale Cooper is meeting with Gordon Cole because he’s worried about a dream he had pertaining to this exact day at this precise time. He then leaves the office to go and check if there is a time delay on the security camera in the hallway. He does this by standing in front of the camera for a few seconds then going to an adjacent room to check the camera’s monitor. The first time he does this, he isn’t on the monitor, so there’s no delay. But he checks again anyway, and the second time he isn’t on the monitor either, so there still is no delay. Down the hall, an elevator opens. The third time Coop checks, he sees himself on the monitor, so there is a delay. A man (David Bowie) in a white suit and tropical shirt briskly exits the elevator. While Coop is watching himself onscreen, the man in the white suit walks past his image into Cole’s office. Coop rushes in as though danger is afoot. Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) is there now, too. The man in the white suit is Phillip Jeffries, a long-lost agent who opens a passionate diatribe (in a Southern accent) with the cryptic statement: “I’m not going to talk about Judy. In fact, we’re not going to talk about Judy at all. We’re going to keep her out of this.” He then points angrily at Cooper and asks the room “Who do you think this is there?” Jeffries is obviously in a state of mental distress, and possibly insane. It seems he was sent out on a case two years ago and that was the last anyone here has seen or heard from him. Cole asks where he’s been, and Jeffries says he wants to tell them everything, but he doesn’t have a lot to go on. At this point the scene dissolves to a dingy, boarded over room that crackles with electricity. In the room are BOB, the Man From Another Place, a bearded man (Jurgen Prochnow), Mrs. Tremond and her Grandson Pierre from episode nine of the series (“Coma”), a man in a red suit and a white mask with a prolonged, sharp proboscis holding a piece of wood, and two others dressed similar to the bearded man, like lumberjacks. The Man From Another Place is at a table with BOB and he talks of garmonbozia and Formica. We hear Jeffries say it was a dream they all live inside. The Man From Another Place tells BOB, “with this ring I thee wed,” referring we assume to the green-stone gold ring with the Owl Cave symbol on it. Off-screen Jeffries moans, “the ring, the ring,” and reveals the location of the room: “It was above a convenience store.” We remember from the series that a room above a convenience store is where BOB and MIKE stayed at one point while they were killing together, so then we can infer that this room is an extension of The Black Lodge, or at least that all the inhabitants are. The bearded man – who likely is Margaret the Log Lady’s husband who died in a fire the night of their wedding and who before that had brought her a jar of scorched engine oil which he described as a key to a gateway, namely to The Black Lodge – slaps his knee twice. Jeffries tells his colleagues he’s been to one of these meetings of those people in that room, then gets even more excitable and says he “found something…and then there they were…” BOB and The Man From Another Place are seen walking through the red curtains of The Black Lodge and then Jeffries disappears from the office. When they call the front desk to see if he’s left the building, they learn he was never there, and furthermore, Agent Chester Desmond is officially missing. Coop and Cole examine the security footage and Jeffries is on it, so then was in fact there.
Coop goes to Deer Meadow himself and meets with Carl at the trailer park. Carl shows him Deputy Cliff’s trailer, which is the last place Carl saw Agent Desmond. Coop instead is interested in another lot, empty, where the dirty and derelict trailer used to be. Coop wants to know who last rented this spot. An old woman and her grandson, Chalfont was the last name, same as the people who rented the spot before them. Desmond’s vehicle is discovered nearby. On the windshield in lipstick is written, “Let’s Rock.” Coop confides in Diane – on tape, alas – that this a confusing situation, even for one of Cole’s blue rose cases, and the only thing he’s certain of is that Teresa’s killer will strike again. He just doesn’t know when or where.
But we do.
33 minutes into the film, we at last cut to the town of Twin Peaks one year later, seven days before the murder of Laura Palmer, who we see alive and walking to school. She’s joined by Donna (not Lara Flynn Boyle but Moira Kelly; Boyle was otherwise committed) and ogled by Mike and Bobby. At school she sees James, her secret lover, and snorts cocaine in the bathroom.
During gym class, Laura wearing only a towel meets with James in a back corridor. She wants to be kissed, but he wants more, he loves her, but she says she’s already gone like a turkey in the corn. He pays more attention to the turkey part of this statement than the gone part. That’ll haunt him. Laura is teary eyed and shaking, but they make out and some of that towel falls away.
After school Bobby finds Laura after looking for her all afternoon. Their encounter is chilly and barbed. He’s suspicious but she’s manipulative and turns on her charm to calm him down.
At the Hayward’s, Donna asks if Laura is going to see James that night. Laura is defensively private, calling nighttime her time. Laura says she might go see Bobby and Donna offers her opinion that Bobby is a goof and James is the one. The dreamy way she describes him indicates her true feelings. Laura’s agreement doesn’t convey the same depth or breadth of emotion, even though she’s wearing the half-a-heart necklace he gave her. Velocity in a vacuum is discussed, and Laura makes it into a melancholy metaphor for the futility of existence, the insignificance of the individual, and the absence of higher power. Ah, to be a teenager.
Back at her own house, no ones’ home so Laura smokes a butt and writes in her secret diary, which she keeps behind her dresser. Everything’s cool til she notices a few pages have been ripped out. This terrifies her and she leaves with her diary and drives to see Harold Smith, the agoraphobe on her Meals on Wheels route. He asks who could’ve torn the pages out? BOB, obviously. This confuses Harold because BOB isn’t real. Laura disagrees: someone tore the pages out, that makes BOB real, along with the fact that he’s been raping her since she was 12. She says he comes in through her window at night (which is on the second story) and is getting to know her now, he’s started speaking to her. Harold, afraid and tearful, asks what he says? She says he either wants to be her, or kill her. Then she grabs Harold by his collar and hisses in his face “Fire walk with me.” For a split second her face goes white, her lips black and her teeth yellow, a monstrous vision (similar to what happened to Windom Earle’s appearance once or twice in the series once he started visiting The Black Lodge), and an instant later she collapses into his arms sobbing uncontrollably. She tells Harold he has to hide the diary, he’s the one who made her write it all down, after all, and BOB doesn’t know about him so he and it will be safe here. They kiss passionately and then she leaves, crying, and tells him she doesn’t know when she can come back, maybe never, which is a declaration that leaves him despondent.
Back in Philly, Coop is confiding in Albert how he knows Teresa’s killer will strike again, but he doesn’t know enough to stop it. When the time comes, though, he says that Albert will help him solve it. Coop is intuiting this, so Albert decides to put his intuition to the test with a series of questions: will the next victim be a man or a woman? A woman. Hair color? Blonde. Other things about her? She’s a high school student, sexually active, a drug user, and she’s crying out for help. Albert points out that this describes half of the teenage girls in America, so asks something more specific: what’s she doing right now? Preparing a great abundance of food.
Sure enough, at that moment in Twin Peaks Laura is preparing to embark on her Meals on Wheels route. Diner waitress Heidi usually goes with her, but she’s got a bloody nose today so Norma asks Shelly to take her place. Shelly’s hesitant, on account of secretly banging Bobby, Laura’s (public) boyfriend, but she agrees anyway. While loading the car, Laura is approached by Mrs. Tremond/Chalfont and her grandson, who is wearing a white plaster mask with a prolonged, sharp proboscis identical to the one we saw him put on in the room above the convenience store. The old woman gives Laura a painting of an empty room with an open door in the corner and says it would look nice on her wall. The grandson whispers, “The man with the mask is looking for the book with the pages torn out. He is going to the hiding place. He is under the fan now.” Laura knows pretty much what this means and freaks out enough that she bails on Shelly.
At her house, Laura is standing under the fan. She creeps upstairs and into her room. There she sees BOB hiding behind her dresser. She runs terrified from the house and hides in nearby shrubbery, sobbing uncontrollably. Everything gets worse when she sees her father, Leland, emerge from their house. This is the horrible, heart-wrenching moment in which Laura learns that BOB is inhabiting her own father.
Laura shows up an emotional wreck at the only place she feels safe, Donna’s house, and demands to know of the other girl if she is her best friend. Donna doesn’t know exactly what’s going on, but she knows enough to answer, “Always” and comfort her friend.
Later that evening back at the Palmer’s, Leland is waiting at the set dinner table when Laura comes home. He tells her to sit down, then chides her for sitting down without washing her hands. He goes over to inspect them and finds dirt under the nail of her left ring finger. Sarah enters with dinner. Leland starts to get a little weird by grabbing Laura’s half-a-heart necklace and asking tauntingly if it’s from a lover. Sarah tries to get him to back off, to no avail. Leland knows the necklace isn’t from Bobby, he knows there’s someone new in his daughter’s life. Sarah keeps trying to get him to back off, and she starts to lose it a little, too. Laura is silently terrified, but Leland takes his seat and they try to have a normal dinner. That is, once Laura washes her hands. She leaves, crying, to do so. Even without the threat of BOB this is a horrifying look at domesticity. You really never know what’s going on in people’s homes.
Later that evening the Palmers’ are in their respective bedrooms. Leland breaks from BOB long enough to have a good cry. He goes to Laura weeping and tells her how much he loves her in a sweet, remorseful, fatherly way. He leaves her be, but this encounter has her more upset than ever. She asks a painting of angels if it’s true, “it” being that her father is the abuser she knows as BOB. We don’t hear an answer, but immediately after this she hangs up the painting Mrs. Tremond/Chalfont gave her and goes to bed. She dreams of the room in the painting, she goes through the door in the corner and there is Mrs. Tremond/Chalfont beckoning her through another door into another room where her grandson waits. He snaps and red curtains cover the screen, then she is moving across the chevron flooring of The Black Lodge to a pedestal on which Teresa’s ring sits. Cooper enters this room. Somehow the Man From Another Place is already there. He asks if Coop knows who he is. Coop shakes his head. “I am the arm,” the Man says, “and I sound like this:” he hoots. The Man then offers Laura, in whose perspective we are still viewing this scene, Teresa’s ring. Coop implores her not to take it. This is when Laura wakes and finds herself in bed with Annie, bloodied in Caroline Earle’s dress as we last saw her in the series’ season two finale. Annie introduces herself and says she’s been with Dale and Laura, and good Dale is in The Black Lodge and can’t leave. She wants Laura to write this last bit in her diary. Laura then wakes again. She is alone in bed, but in her hand is Teresa’s ring. Laura gets out of bed and opens her bedroom door to peer into the hallway. There’s nothing there. But when she looks at the painting on her wall, she sees herself in it standing in the doorway as she is now. Behind the her in the painting are the curtains of The Black Lodge. And then Laura’s consciousness is in the painting, watching herself in bed asleep.
Then, at last, she wakes for real. It’s morning. There’s no ring. There’s nothing different about the painting. Laura takes it down anyway.
At Leo and Shelly’s, Leo is belligerently showing her how he likes his kitchen tile cleaned. She sasses him and he reels her in with some domestic abuse. The phone interrupts. It’s Bobby calling for Leo and looking for coke, but Leo’s not helping the kid out, Bobby already owes him 5k. So Bobby tries Jacques Renault at The Road House. Jacques can help him for 10k. That’s a ton of blow in 1992. I assume. They set up a meet for midnight two days from now, “by the sound of sawing wood.”
That evening at the Palmers’, Laura is home alone and having a nice stiff drink when Donna drops by. She notices Laura is dressed to the nines in a tight miniskirt with her hair done up. Donna asks where she’s going and Laura gives the coolest answer: “Nowhere fast and you’re not coming.”
Laura’s first stop is The Road House, where runs into the Log Lady outside, who places a hand on her forehead like she’s checking the girl’s temperature and tells her “when this kind of fire starts, it is very hard to put out. Then tender boughs of innocence burn first, and the wind rises, and then all goodness is in jeopardy.” It is a touching, maternal moment and Laura feels the weight of it.
Inside Julee Cruise is singing with the band before a red curtain when Laura enters. The music draws out her eternal sadness. She takes a table and starts to cry. That’s when Donna comes in, having followed her friend. Donna sees her crying but goes to the bar instead. Laura pulls it together and nods at Jacques, who then taps a fella at the bar on the arm and directs him Laura’s way. He and a buddy take their drinks over to join her. Apparently Laura is hooking tonight. Donna joins the table and says she wants to “boogie.” The men eagerly wonder if she’s a part of the deal. Laura says she isn’t but Donna downs a shot to prove she’s a big girl and Laura decides to test how big she’s willing to go. The long and the short of it is, they’re both willing to go pretty far. They end up at a strip club in Canada where basically a drug-fueled orgy transpires between the girls, the Johns, and Jacques, aka “The Great Went.” Ronette Pulaski shows up halfway through this scene; seems she and Laura know each other from being “hospitality girls” at One Eyed Jacks. Jacques refers to she and Laura as his high school sandwich, and he looks hungry if you know what I mean. Then out of nowhere Ronette says she’s been dead a year, Teresa Banks, she means. Ronette says she was going to get rich by blackmailing someone. Jacques remembers this, says Teresa called him before she died asking what their fathers looked like. This sets off Laura, but Jacques steers away from the touchy subject by suggesting the two of them come up to his cabin later that week, Thursday, maybe. From there the debauchery continues. At one point Laura notices Donna half naked and getting loved on by her John, and she flips the fuck out, screaming at Jacques to get Donna out of there, seemingly terrified for the other girl’s mortal safety. She doesn’t want this kind of life for Donna, and so they leave.
The next morning Leland comes to pick up Laura from Donna’s. All Donna can remember from the night before is that Laura got mad at her for wearing something of hers. It’s all good, they’re still besties, Laura just doesn’t want Donna to be like her, she’s too good for that. Donna wants to know Laura sells herself. That’s when Leland walks in. Seeing the two girls jars a memory he has of Laura and Ronette sitting on a motel bed together, both barely dressed in lingerie. He snaps out of this, collects his daughter, and they go to meet Sarah for breakfast. On the drive, a reckless driver in a truck with a camper tailgates them anxiously. Laura asks if there’s something wrong with their engine, it smells like it’s burning. We remember, of course, that’s the smell of scorched engine oil is indicative of spirits from The Black Lodge like BOB, as there is a puddle of it at the Lodge’s entrance in Glastonbury Grove. At a crosswalk the truck pulls up beside them. The driver is Philip Gerard, aka MIKE, and he accuses Leland of stealing the corn. The burning engine smell gets worse. Gerard mentions the room above the convenience store, the Formica table there, the “look on her face,” and he uses Leland’s name specifically when he tells him the thread will be torn. MIKE/Gerard then shows Laura his pinkie, where he’s wearing the Owl Cave ring from her dream. “It’s him,” he screams at her, “It’s your father!” Then he drives away. Laura and Leland are understandably freaked the fuck out. He retreats into memory, specifically of being in bed with Teresa Banks, telling her how much she looks like his Laura. Teresa is asking when he’ll be back in town on business. Soon he says, and next time he wants to party with the girlfriends she talked about. He then covers her eyes with his hand and asks her, threateningly, who he is? She’s smart enough to give him the right answer: she doesn’t know. Laura’s concerned shouts bring him back to the moment. She wants to know who that man was, and why he looked familiar? Leland/BOB plays dumb as he’s remembering going to meet those girlfriends of Teresa’s: it’s the same scene he saw back at Donna’s house, Laura and Ronette Pulaski waiting for him on the motel room bed. This understandably rattles him and he takes off before the girls can see him, paying Teresa for her trouble. As he flees, the Tremond/Chalfont grandson in his plaster mask frolics about the motel parking lot. In the present moment again Leland composes himself. Laura is emboldened enough by her fear to ask him if he came home during the day last week. She means the day she saw BOB in her room. He says no and screams at some nearby mechanics. She thought she saw him, she presses. Now that she mentions it, he thinks he did, on Friday, he had a headache and was in the area, so popped in for an aspirin. He asks if she was there then because he didn’t see her. She says she saw him from down the street, which is only half a lie.
Later Laura is in her bedroom thinking about how the ring on Mike’s pinkie was the same as the ring the Man From Another Place tried to give her and the man in the dark suit, who we know was Coop, told her not to take. It’s also the ring Teresa wore, she remembers now. This revelation triggers a strobing blue light that would seem to indicate the coming of BOB. Brave in her anguish, Laura asks the light who it is, really. Downstairs Leland is pacing, recalling the memory of murdering Teresa in her trailer with a pipe.
The next day Laura is taping her safety deposit box key in a baggie into her diary after snorting the last of the cocaine from said baggie. At school, she tells Bobby she needs to score. He gives her a little to tide her over until that night, when he’s supposed to meet Jacques’ man for the big buy. They set up a rendezvous an hour before that. By midnight when they meet with Jacques’ man – who we recognize as Deputy Cliff from the Deer Meadow prologue – Laura’s wasted. Cliff tries to rob Bobby, but Bobby is armed and kills him. Bobby freaks but Laura’s too far gone to care. They flee the scene.
James shows up at Laura’s house the next day. She comes out to see him. They had a date last night but she never showed. He knows it’s because of drugs. He asks when he can see her, but Leland appears on the porch, so she has to go.
That night she’s cutting lines in her bedroom. In their bedroom, Leland brings Sarah a drugged glass of milk. She takes is, almost knowingly. He makes sure she finishes it all, then turns on the fan in the stairwell. Sarah falls into a dazed, troubled state. She has a vision of a white horse, just as she did during the series in the episode when Leland/BOB killed Maddy. In both instances, it is the drugging that seems to bring on the vision. Upstairs in Laura’s room a blue light starts to strobe. All coked up on the verge of delirium, Laura slides the comforter off her bed seductively, eyes on the window. BOB crawls through as she writhes erotically. He creeps to her bed. Onto it. Onto her. She trembles at his touch but doesn’t recoil, in fact she seems to become increasingly aroused at his touch. As BOB begins to take her she demands to know who he is. That’s when she sees her father’s face, sees his form on her, in her, and she screams.
The next morning at breakfast every Palmer seems normal again except for Laura, who is still understandably traumatized. She breaks down and leaves the table. Leland follows. He tries to find out what’s wrong but she’s not pretending anymore, she knows the truth about what’s been happening to her, and she tells him to stay away. This stoically angers him. All day Laura remains in a doleful daze, and oddly enough no one seems to notice the crying girl in the fourth row of homeroom. From here on out, astute viewers know the rough timeline of what’s to come; this is, after all, the last day of her life. That evening Laura is at Bobby’s, he’s trying to make out but she’s trying to cop enough coke to get through the night without falling asleep. Bobby knows then she doesn’t really love him and maybe she never has, she’s just using him. Somehow this is okay with him – probably because he doesn’t lover her either, he loves Shelly – and he gives her a little coke for her to take home. She does it in her bedroom. Around 10:30 she gets a call from James and agrees to meet him. She stops to look at the painting of the angel on her wall. As she watches, just the image of the angel disappears. This would seem an obvious metaphor: not even Heaven can help her now. James picks her up and they ride off into the night. But a motorcycle is a loud thing, and Leland has seen them leave. The BOB in him is boiling over.
James and Laura go out to the woods to talk. She’s hopped up, talking all fatalistic. She can sense what’s coming. She mocks James’ earnest emotions and slaps him. He’s more steadfast in his belief in their love in the face of her denial of it. They embrace. She does love him, she just can’t allow herself to. They kiss, then she realizes BOB might try to kill James if he finds out about him. BOB is a jealous lover, not of her body but her heart, which is maybe why Bobby was never bothered by the spirit; BOB only wants to destroy her pure happiness. She tells James about Bobby killing Jacques’ man in the woods, then offers to take him to the body. He doesn’t believe her, and she lets it go, addled as her mind is in the moment. She proclaims how unknown she is, even by her closest friends, him included. It seems to give her a moment of sad lucidity and she tells him his Laura is gone, she disappeared, and what he sees is the girl who’s left. Then like she’s abandoning a puppy she withdraws all affection from him, turns cold and resistant to his advances. She tells him to take her home. But at the stoplight, fatefully, she hops off, embraces him, shouts her love for him to the wind, then runs away into the forest, crying. He lets her go. For his childish petulance, he will never see her alive again.
Laura meets up with Jacques, Leo and Ronette and they go to Jacques’s cabin for some booze, drugs, and S&M. Waldo the mynah bird is there, and outside, Leland/BOB watches through the window. Jacques goes outside for some fresh, cool air after a strenuous round of roughing up Laura and Leland knocks him out by breaking a bottle over his head. Leo hears this ruckus and goes to investigate as Laura begs to be untied. Leo sees Jacques unconscious and bleeding on the ground, figures someone did it, so bolts, leaving Laura bound. Leland enters the cabin and apprehends the women then runs them through the dark woods. Gerard, MIKE, is running through the woods as well, following the echoes of the girls’ screams.
At the train car, horror unfurls. Leland ties the girls together. Rather, Leland is gone, and BOB is here now. Both girls know they are going to die. BOB toys with Laura while Ronette, ignored for the moment, prays. As the ferocity heightens, an angel briefly manifests in the train car. When it disappears, Ronette’s ropes have been untied. Outside MIKE bangs on the train car door to be let in. Ronette opens the door and starts to escape but BOB grabs her, beats her unconscious, then tosses her out of the car anyway. MIKE tosses the ring inside the car as the door is closing. In a moment of anguishing catharsis, Laura accepts her fate and puts on the ring as Leland begs with BOB not to make him kill her. It doesn’t work. BOB savagely murders Laura. He takes her necklace and leaves it on a mound of dirt. Wraps her in plastic and carries her from the scene, leaving Ronette unconscious in the dust. He sets Laura adrift in the river then goes to the entrance of The Black Lodge in Glastonbury Grove, just down from the train car in Ghostwood forest. He enters and finds himself in a red room with MIKE and the Man From Another Place. Leland is bleeding from his gut. Laura’s body washes up on shore. In the Lodge, BOB stands next to Leland, who is floating above the floor. MIKE, using his arm the Man From Another Place as a conduit, tells BOB he wants all the garmonbozia, which means Leland’s pain and sorrow. BOB puts his hand on Leland’s wound and takes it away, throws the blood on the floor where it disappears. Creamed corn – the visual reference for garmonbozia as seen in the Phillip Jeffries scene – is eaten by the Man From Another Place. A monkey shows its face. The sun breaks on Laura’s beached body as the plastic is pulled from her face. And in The Lodge, Laura is with Cooper. An angel appears to them and this, if only for the moment in this timeless place, seems to bring Laura peace; delirious, demented, slightly demonic peace. The angel seems to claim Laura’s spirit in a wash of white light.
Narratively, this delivers us right back where we started in the series, with Laura freshly killed and the mystery ready to unfurl. Two hours and fifteen minutes Lynch took to advance the plot to its beginning. I get why people were pissed. The first few times I was too. However, as the coming of a third season has cleared my head a little, I’ve considered the idea that there was no way, given how the series ended, that we were going to get a satisfactory ending to Twin Peaks in a two, two-and-a-half, or even a three-hour movie. Twin Peaks was always a slow-boil with great hooks, that’s ultimately what led to its downfall: it was too intriguing to move at the pace it wanted, people wanted answers because the questions were too burning. To try and wrap everything up in a movie, even though that’s what the majority of the fan base wanted him to do, would have ultimately cheapened the entire project. Lynch had to aim smaller than that, he had to expand the story without going too far, so he went back and he showed us the biggest missing puzzle piece: the last few days of Laura’s life.
And of course there’s the notion that this was Lynch and Frost’s plan all along, to revisit the series after 25 years; in the second season finale Laura says as much to Coop in The Black Lodge when she tells him “I’ll see you again in 25 years,” a line that at the time we could only hope was a straightforward as it was. But it came true. 25 years later, Twin Peaks season 3 was in production. To be fair, this notion was somewhat debunked by Frost recently when he was explaining how he and Lynch got back together. It was because of the “25 years” line, but only because Frost noticed it in the script and found it interesting, not because it was a part of a grander scheme. Or so they say…
Overall, while Fire Walk With Me does a lot in terms of filling in the character of Laura, especially in regards to displaying the kind of torment she was under, there’s a lot in the film that doesn’t feel like the Twin Peaks we know, and that’s because, oddly enough, David Lynch is responsible for most of the story. In terms of the series, outside of the overarching plot, Lynch’s name only appears on the scripts for the pilot and three episodes. Especially in the second season when Lynch was busy with other projects, much of the narrative direction the series took came from Frost, and Harley Peyton and Engels. Now, Engels is the co-writer Fire Walk With Me, but unlike the series, this isn’t a partnership, this is a David Lynch film, so ultimately it answers to his artistic sensibilities. What’s realized on the large screen might be more true to the director’s vision and intentions for Twin Peaks, but that doesn’t help it gel with the series, which tempered Lynch’s excesses with Frost’s measured storytelling. Without the co-creator on board scriptwise, this Twin Peaks doesn’t feel quite the same. This can be seen as advantageous, though, because this isn’t the same story as was told in the series, not technically, it’s a stranger off shoot. At the time of its release, most people chose to look at the movie as a failure, or at best a letdown. It is neither of these things. It is different, of that there’s no denying, but in the much larger context of the Twin Peaks universe, especially now that said universe is broadening to the scale of another 18 episodes, Fire Walk With Me is more important than ever in regards to understanding everything that’s come before, and preparing for what is yet to come.
BETWEEN TWO WORLDS: Perspectives on Twin Peaks
So that’s all folks, that’s the entire Twin Peaks narrative until now. If you’re looking to fill in some gaps, check out Mark Frost’s book The Secret History of Twin Peaks, which went on sale last year and shines a light on the town before and after all the trauma. Otherwise I’ll see you back here on May 21st, 97 days from now, for the start of the third season. It is happening again.
Related Topics: David Lynch, Twin Peaks