In mere weeks, we will get new episodes of Twin Peaks. It seems so strange to write that. Like Laura Palmer herself, Twin Peaks burned bright and then died young, and in the twenty-five years since the series finale, the show’s abrupt ending and unsolved cliffhangers have become as much a part of its lore as that backwards-talking little dude and Laura Palmer’s homecoming queen photo.
I recently restarted watching Twin Peaks, and it’s probably the fourth time I’ve watched the whole series in order, pilot episode to Fire Walk With Me. Every time I watch, I am reminded how often David Lynch uses doubling—mirroring, twinning, splitting, repeating or some other sense of turning one thing into two. It’s the most prominent theme on the show, and I thought it might be of interest if I collected every single instance I could think of in one post.
Here, then is that list. (Here, then is that list.)
The title of the show. It’s right there in the name: There are some peaks, and there are two of them. However, the peaks themselves never become a major plot point on the show. Several natural settings do—Owl Cave, Glastonbury Grove and Ghostwood National Forest, to name a few—but no one ever visits the geographical formations that give the town its name. Given that Lynch had initially wanted to call the series Northwest Passage, I’d guess this was his way of saying right from the get-go, “Hey, doubling is going to be a big thing on this show. Pay attention.”
Laura Palmer. She was essentially leading two lives: publicly as the popular good girl and privately as a tortured soul who used sex and drugs to cope with some heinous personal trauma. In that sense, Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) was her own evil twin, and this idea gets literalized in the Red Room, where the bad aspect to Laura’s personality manifests as a shrieking demon.
Maddy Ferguson. And then Laura gets twinned again with the arrival of her identical cousin, Maddy, who has dark hair and is older than Laura but nonetheless looks exactly like her, mostly because Sheryl Lee played both roles. Whereas Laura was outgoing and very sexual, Maddy is bookish and a little matronly—or at least until she breaks her glasses and starts acting more like Laura. The relationship comes full circle when Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) murders Maddy, just as he had Laura. It should also be noted that the character’s name is a nod to Scottie Ferguson and Madeleine Elster, the two lead characters in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, which was another mystery revolving around doubles and events that repeat.
Cooper and Evil Cooper. In the last episode, Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) flees the Black Lodge, but the person who makes it out is implied to be a possessed, insane version of Cooper. He’s a cackling monster. He is, essentially, an anti-Cooper. One of the “missing pieces” deleted scenes from Fire Walk With Me has Annie (Heather Graham) being wheeled into the hospital, where she tells the nurse, “The good Dale is in the Lodge, and he can't leave,” and we’re told one of the main plots of the upcoming series is Dale’s return to Twin Peaks.
Cooper and Windom Earle. In the second season of the show, Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh) is also a sort of anti-Cooper. Earle is Cooper’s former FBI partner, who went mad and who vanished for a period, during which Cooper and Caroline, Earle’s wife, became romantically involved. Earle stabbed them both, killing only Caroline, and then returns to menace Cooper during the show’s second season. Whereas Cooper uses his FBI-honed smarts to help people, Earle uses them to hurt people.
Annie and Caroline. Cooper begins dating Annie shortly after she arrives in town, and she becomes a stand-in for Caroline when Earle kidnaps her at the end of the second season.
Other dueling FBI agents. Yes, there are more than two FBI agents that appear in the series, but Agent Cooper is obviously the most important one. He’s affable and charming, and he quickly embraces all the folksy weirdness of the town of Twin Peaks. Early in the series and shortly after Coop arrives in town, he’s joined by Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer), who is prickly and cold. At least initially, Albert rejects everything about the town that Cooper loves. In Fire Walk With Me, Cooper gets a second twin in Chet Desmond (Chris Isaak), a similar-looking FBI agent investigating the death of Teresa Banks (Pamela Gidley).
Teresa Banks. Essentially a Version 1.0 of Laura Palmer, Teresa is a 17-year-old girl living in Deer Meadow, Oregon. She has a brief sexual relationship with Leland Palmer, who murders her when she attempts to blackmail him. It’s presumable that Leland’s interest in Teresa is sparked at least in part by Teresa’s resemblance to Laura.
ALL THE REVERSE DOPPELGANGERS. I’m unsure if there’s a better term for this sort of relationship, but many of the characters on the show have “weird doubles” that share key elements of their personalities, with other ones significantly tweaked—Bizarro Superman-style but also Bizzaro Seinfeld-style. Often these pairs revolve around a third character with whom they have overlapping ties. I’m grouping them all together in one list.
- Donna and Audrey. They’re both beautiful brunette high school students who seek to find out who killed Laura. But whereas Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) was Laura’s best friend, Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn) and Laura were rivals. Donna is a good girl, at least at the outset, and Audrey is a bad girl—again, at least in the beginning of the series. Their respective moral alignments push them down two different paths as they try to find out who killed Laura. Audrey’s path takes her to One Eyed Jack’s, the seedy casino and brothel, while Donna ends up tracing Laura’s Meals on Wheels route. Donna and Audrey’s bond is made even stronger at the end of the second season when it’s revealed that they are actually half-sisters and that Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) is father to both. There’s a Huffington Post article that posits that Donna and Audrey are actually the most prominent of the many doubles: “Onscreen together, they look alike right down to the stage-left flick of their weightless hair-dos; immaculately turned-out, pale as snow, eyes deep and soulful, they are of a type, of a height, and of one appearance.” Also this: “In an early scene, A.H. and D.H. stand side by symmetrical side in a bathroom, discussing Laura’s death—the one who dislikes her, the other her best friend, but both claiming to understand her better than anyone else, and both drawn, mothlike, towards the fiery mystery that is Laura Palmer. Reflected alongside one another in the bathroom mirror, like some human Rorschach test, they are a fourfold image of visual consistency, a doubled doubling that resonates with significance in the eyes of the viewer.” It should be noted that this bathroom is decorated with a red stripe that wraps around the room. At several points, it spikes up into two symmetrical triangles. It’s a representation of the mountains that give the town its name, but in this scene, it’s yet another example of duplication.
- Laura’s two boyfriends. Yes, Laura was sleeping with half the town, but her two most important relationships are with Bobby (Dana Ashbrook), her public boyfriend, and James (James Marshall), her secret boyfriend. Bobby is brash; James is shy. Bobby is on the football team and seems like an all-American dream but is secretly involved in the town’s drug trade. James wears a leather jacket and rides a motorcycle but is actually sweet-natured and honest.
- Bobby’s two girlfriends. Bobby has a secret relationship as well: He was seeing Shelly (Madchen Amick) while he was dating Laura, and this relationship continues after Laura’s death. Laura kept up the pretense of being a good girl high school student while she was doing drugs and associating with criminal elements. Shelly, however, dropped out of high school to marry Leo (Eric Da Re), a criminal, and you could say that she left behind any pretense of her high school life. (We’re led to believe that she would have been in the same class as Bobby, Laura, Donna and the rest, right?) By having an affair with Bobby, who seems to love her, while being married to Leo, who is abusive and does not seem to love her, Shelly also gets her own triangle.
- James’ two girlfriends. While secretly dating Laura, James falls in love with Donna, though the relationship only progresses once Laura is killed. Later, when Maddy arrives in town, a new love triangle develops around him, Donna and Maddy-as-substitute Laura.
- Donna’s two boyfriends. At the start of the series, Donna is dating Bobby’s friend Mike (Gary Hershberger), who is a dick but who is also popular. She later starts dating James, who is sweet to her in a way Mike never was.
- Ed’s two loves. It’s not just the teenagers in this town who have double relationships. Ed (Everett McGill) is married to Nadine (Wendy Robie), for whom he has some affection even though she is a terrible nag and seems mentally unwell. His true love, however, is his high school sweetheart, Norma (Peggy Lipton), who who understands Ed in a way Norma does not. His public relationship with Nadine hinders his private relationship with Norma.
- Norma’s two loves. Similarly, Norma is married to Hank (Chris Mulkey), an ex-con who lies to Norma about being reformed, but she actually has always loved Ed, who is an honest man. Both Hank and Ed are involved with the unseen elements of Twin Peaks—the former though the Renault brothers’ gang and the latter through the Bookhouse Boys, a secret society that aims to fight for good. In that sense, the Bookhouse Boys are the benevolent version of a criminal gang.
- Pete, Catheine and Josie. Take your pick about where to start. Pete (Jack Nance) is married to Catherine (Piper Laurie), who doesn’t seem to actually love him, but he has a special fondness for Josie (Joan Chen), who married Catherine’s brother Andrew (Dan O’Herlihy). Catherine hates Josie, both because she suspects her of killing Andrew and because Josie gained control of the Packard family sawmill. The three of them do-si-do until Josie’s death and Andrew’s (real) death.
- Donna and Ronette. They’re both friends with Laura, but just as Laura had public and private boyfriends, she had Donna for the “good girl” portion of her life and Ronette (Phoebe Augustine) for the “bad girl” portion. In Fire Walk With Me, Laura actively pushes Donna out of the latter part of her life, not wanting her to associate with the elements that she apparently has no problem with Ronette associating with, and as a result it’s Ronette, not Donna, who is with Laura on the night she dies.
- Lucy’s two boyfriends. Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) loves Deputy Andy (Harry Goaz), who’s a lovable oaf, but she also dates Dick Tremaine (Ian Buchanan), who’s slick and polished but not necessarily nice. Both Andy and Dick are potential fathers to Lucy’s baby, though she eventually decides that Andy should be the father.
- Donna’s mom and her two men. We never hear the specifics of how and why, but the second season ends with the implication that Eileen Hayward (Mary Jo Deschanel) at one point had a relationship with Ben Horne and that Donna was the result of that union. This is surprising, given that Donna’s mother is essentially a background character beforehand, but also because Donna and Audrey are the same age, seemingly implying that both Mr. Horne and Mrs. Hayward may have been married to their current spouses when Donna was conceived. Nonetheless, Doc Hayward (Warren Frost) seems to have raised Donna as his own, and this makes it easy to contrast the two characters: The doctor is kind and unassuming and dedicated to helping people, while Ben Horne is aggressive and opportunistic and focused on making as much money as possible.
Shelly and Norma. They’re not opposites but parallels; Shelly loves Bobby but is married to Leo, a criminal who doesn’t really love her, while Norma loves Ed but is married to Hank, a criminal who doesn’t love her. They both work at the Double R Diner, and in one episode even discuss how similar their lives are, whereupon they decide to get makeovers that make them look alike as well.
Norma and her mother. Late in the series, Norma’s mother, Vivian (Jane Greer), arrives in town. An undercover food critic critic who writes under a pseudonym, Vivian introduces her new husband Ernie (James Booth), who it turns out is a criminal accomplice of Norma’s husband, Hank. In essence, Norma’s mother also follows in Norma’s footsteps.
Also, it’s called the Double R Diner. We never find out what those Rs stand for.
“Just You and I.” At one point, James sings a song while Donna and Maddy provide backup. In this sense, the girls are paired, sitting side-by-side in front of James and looking more similar than they ever have before. Also, they’re both romantic options for James. However, there’s irony here, in that the name of the song is “Just You and I” but there are not just two people present; there are three. In fact, the disparity between the title and the fact that there’s a third wheel present is emblematic of most of the romantic relationships on the show. Also, the “you” James is singing to might actually still be Laura, for all we know. Yeah, there’s kind of a lot going on in this scene.
The Milford brothers. Mayor Dwayne Milford (John Boylan) is introduced in the first season of the show, and in the second, it's revealed that his brother, Dougie Milford (Tony Jay), runs the local newspaper. They hate each other, and Dwayne resents Dougie’s marriage to Lana Budding (Robyn Lively), a young woman men seem to find irresistible despite the fact that just about every other woman in town is a total bombshell. When Dougie dies shortly after the wedding, however, Dwayne takes up with Lana and they quickly become engaged. (BTW, it’s beyond the scope of this list, but apparently Mark Frost’s book The Secret History of Twin Peaks gives Dougie a lot of backstory relating to the military, Project Blue Book, Gordon Cole (David Lynch) and Major Garland Briggs (Don S. Davis) You can read it all here, if you’re interested.)
And two more sets of brothers. There are two Horne brothers, Ben and Jerry (David Patrick Kelly), and they are entrepreneurs, whose business ventures stand to make the town a lot of money. However, there exists a second set of brothers, the Renaults — Jacques (Walter Olkewicz) and Jean (Michael Parks) — who are also entrepreneurs manipulating a great deal of money in town but who do so illegally, through gambling, prostitution and drugs. The Horne brothers are actually affiliated with these illegal operations, it is revealed, but this does not seem to be widely known in town. The Hornes are seen as legitimate businessmen, but the Renaults are seen as criminals. (There is also a third Renault brother, Bernard (Clay Wilcox), but he is much younger and is quickly killed off, and I just don’t think he’s as important as Jacques and Jean are.)
One Eyed Jack’s. It should be noted that one of the places that the Hornes and the Renaults do business is across the Canadian border at a casino and brothel called One Eyed Jack’s. This name is important. On a show where nearly everything exists in doubles, the name of this places calls attention to something that is normally a double but has been rendered a single: The jack only has one eye. It’s an exception to the rule, and in this location things that are normally hidden are done out in the open.
Multiple Bobs and Mikes. Early in the show, we meet Bobby Briggs and Mike Nelson, who are both on the high school football team and who date Laura and Donna, respectively. Not long into the show, we meet a second set of characters with the same first names—BOB (Frank Silva), the boogeyman who possesses Leland Palmer and makes him do awful things, and MIKE, a spirit who once also reveled in rape and murder but who at one point “saw the face of God” and decided to stop BOB. Just as BOB inhabited Leland, MIKE inhabits Philip Gerard (Al Strobel), a traveling shoe salesman missing his left arm. Gerard’s middle name happens to be Michael, and he mentions being friends with Dr. Bob Lydecker, the veterinarian who runs the clinic that Coop and company visit in an effort to find Waldo, the mynah bird owned by Jacques Renault. (Both Dr. Lydecker and Waldo’s names are further references to the Gene Tierney film Laura, in which Clifton Webb played a character named Waldo Lydecker.) And before I finish talking about Philip Gerard once and for all, I will point out that he is also notable in the way One Eyed Jack’s is—half of a complete set. He has one arm, and it’s noted that his suitcase only contains right shoes, as they are sale samples and not complete sets.
T.M.F.A.P. and the Giant. The backwards-talking little person known as “The Man From Another Place” (Michael J. Anderson) is paired with the Giant (Carel Struycken). They’re both otherworldly presences who speak to Coop in riddles and vague clues, but the Giant seems more interested in helping Coop than just reveling in chaos the way T.M.F.A.P. does. In the final episode, both the Giant and T.M.F.A.P. sit next to each other, whereupon the Giant speaks the line, “one and the same,” which could mean they’re two aspects of the same entity. This interpretation gets complicated a little by the Man from Another Place’s statement, “I am the arm,” which would seemingly imply that he is somehow the left arm that Philip Gerard cut off because it bore the tattoo “Fire Walk With Me” and represented a connection to BOB. If T.M.F.A.P. is the arm, I’m not sure what that makes the Giant, but I don’t doubt this is a conversation that’s played out on Twin Peaks diehard message boards for the last twenty-five years.
The Giant and Señor Droolcup. There’s a debatable connection as well between the Giant and the elderly waiter (Hank Warden) who arrives at Coop’s hotel room moments after he’s been shot. The waiter delivers Coop a glass of warm milk and leaves, and moments later the Giant materializes in the room. Later dubbed “Señor Droolcup” by Albert, the waiter seems to be just a doddering old man, but he reappears in the Black Lodge in the second season finale. In fact, the Giant says “one and the same” moments after he seemingly takes the place of the Señor Droolcup, so you could argue that he’s referring to that and not his relationship with the Man From Another Place.
Señor Droolcup and Dell Mibbler. The final episode of Twin Peaks introduces a new character—Dell Mibbler (Ed Wright), the assistant manager of Twin Peaks Savings and Loan—and then promptly kills him off in the bank explosion. Before he dies, however, Audrey asks him to fetch her a glass of water, and the scene that follows is long, drawn out and comedic in a way that’s very similar to the scene in which Señor Droolcup delivers Coop’s glass of milk. It’s probably coincidental, and maybe more of a result of David Lynch thinking the impossible feeble old men are funny, but it’s notable that this episode also features an appearance by Señor Droolcup—in the Red Room. (Weirdly, Dell Mibbler shows up in The Missing Pieces. Lynch must have like this old weirdo.)
Lucy and Gwen. After it’s revealed that Lucy is pregnant, we meet her lookalike sister Gwen (Kathleen Wilhoite), who’s just had a baby. Lucy and Gwen look like twins and even talk similarly, and it seems notable that Gwen’s married name is Morton. Lucy’s full name is Lucy Moran, so that would make her sister’s full name Gwen Moran Morton, which would be instance of near-doubling.
Denise and Dennis. In the second season, Coop works with DEA Agent Denise Bryson (David Duchovny). Previous to Bryson’s activity in Twin Peaks, Coop knew the agent as Dennis, but she has since begun wearing women’s clothes and going by the feminine form of her name. However, for one operation with Coop, she wears men’s clothes and presents herself as male, so we see her as both Denise and Dennis. (NOTE: I feel like by today’s standards, counting Denise and Dennis as a double might seem like I’m saying “she’s both,” when it’s fairly clear that she identifies as a woman, but I also feel like this is how the character was presented back when these episodes aired in 1991. Now that everyone knows what “transgender” means, it will be interesting to see if Lynch and Duchovny address this when Denise comes back for the new episodes.)
Mr. Tojamura. Following the fire at the mill, Catherine disappears from the show and is presumed dead. Further into the second season, the town is visited by Mr. Tojamura, a Japanese businessman eager to work with Ben Horne. You eventually learn that this is actually Catherine in disguise. She is far from the only character on the show to adopt a false identity for one reason or another, but what’s interesting about this character arc is that the production staff allegedly tricked people into thinking Mr. Tojamura was played by a new actor—Fumio Yamaguchi, who’d allegedly worked on a number of Akira Kurosawa films and whom David Lynch had flown in from Japan. As Piper Laurie explains in this interview, the ruse was truly next-level: “The cast, crew, and all guest directors knew nothing; nor did my family. My name came off the credits, and Fumio Yamaguchi’s was put on. Because I wouldn’t talk about it when asked, my poor sister assumed I’d been fired. Sherrye was so upset that she started having asthma attacks, and I had to take her into my confidence.” She even had her makeup done off-set so she could arrive in character as Fumio Yamaguchi. And that is all kind of awesome.
A Packard family tradition. Both Catherine and Andrew Packard fake their deaths, only to make a shocking reappearance when they deem fit.
The other killer. In order to keep spoilers from leaking out, even in a pre-internet age, scenes were allegedly filmed with Ben Horne killing Maddy, thus implying that he was possessed by BOB and had also killed Laura Palmer. The scene allegedly plays out just like the big reveal does with Leland, even in the Palmer family house. The sequence has apparently never been released.
Josie and Judy. Okay, this is a weird one. You may well want to skip to the next item if you don’t feel like getting into the most abstract of Twin Peaks minutiae. In Fire Walk With Me, there’s an offscreen character named Judy mentioned twice: by Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie) and also by a monkey. No, really, there’s a monkey that gets a close-up at one point, and it utters Judy’s name, almost too quietly to hear. I have a video of it. You can hear the monkey talk around the forty-second mark.
In the context of the movie alone, we have no clue who Judy might be. However, it’s noted in a blog post about Judy (and titled, of course, “Judy, Judy, Judy”) that an early draft of the Fire Walk With Me script has Jeffries offering one more clue about this character: “I want to tell you everything, but I don’t have a lot to go on. But I’ll tell you one thing: Judy is positive about this. Her sister’s there, too—at least part of her.” For a few reasons, it’s posited that Judy’s sister might actually be Josie Packard. Foremost among them is that Robert Engels—a Twin Peaks writer who also co-wrote the script for Fire Walk With Me—said he thought Josie was in Buenos Aires, where Jeffries was previously, along with Windom Earle. So there’s that. If you take the “there” to mean the Red Room or the Black Lodge, then there’s an argument for it referring to Josie again. After she dies midway through the second season, she was at one point supposed to make a cameo in the second season finale—kinda sorta. According to this blog post, at least a portion of Josie’s corpse was supposed to be visible in that final episode, and you can even see behind-the-scenes photos that Richard Beymer took of Joan Chen’s stand-in on the set. It’s also noted in that post that Frank Silva, the actor who played BOB, even said that he remembered the scene being filmed, though he noted that Josie’s face hadn’t been visible. The scene doesn’t seem to have made the final cut of the episode, however. Finally, there’s that line that Jeffries speaks: “at least part of her.” It’s hinted on the show that in death, Josie suffered some sort of separation. For example, after Josie dies, her face is seen trapped in a wooden drawer nob in a dresser at the Great Northern. I’m including a video just because the special effects are gloriously early-’90s and we should all appreciate that.
When Doc Hayward does Josie’s autopsy, he notes that her body only weighs 65 pounds—a seemingly impossible fact that is never explained on the show but which would seem to indicate that some aspect of Josie was not present during the examination. That, coupled with Silva’s memory of the final episode showing Josie’s body (but not her face) has made some superfans postulate that Josie’s body was separated from its head—and that’s a ghastly thought, though perhaps not any more awful than any of the other sad fates that befall Twin Peaks characters. (There is also a second Judy in Twin Peaks: Judy Swain, the adoption agent played in the second season by Molly Shannon.)
Laura’s necklace. It’s a heart split in half, and it’s pretty easy to connect that imagery with Laura herself. She wears one half around her neck, in public, and gives the other half to James, her secret boyfriend. James buries his half, but it gets dug up; much like Laura, going into the ground doesn’t mean it’s gone for good.
The two diaries. Laura keeps one that most people know about, but there’s a second that she entrusts to Harold Smith (Lenny Von Dohlen) before she dies. That’s the diary that was published as an actual book, under the name The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer—a book, I should note, that Jennifer Lynch wrote twice because she lost the first copy of it.
The two ledgers. At one point, Josie discovers two account ledgers for the mill, offering two different pictures of the finances. At least one of them is counterfeit, created by Catherine.
The two rings. Fire Walk With Me focuses on Teresa Banks’ ring, which has a green stone and a picture of the petroglyph from Owl Cave on it. It has magical properties, and touching it makes Agent Desmond vanish, presumably sending him to the Red Room. It also doesn’t appear in the TV series, though Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) wears a similar ring. There is a different ring that figures prominently into the TV series, however: Coop’s ring, which the Giant takes from him after he’s shot and tells him he’ll get it back again when he finds all the clues. Rings and circles are also just a major motif of the show—donuts, the ring of trees at Glastonbury Grove and the circle of candle’s in Coop’s dream, among others.
Dr. Jacoby’s glasses. One lens is red; the other is blue. You could just view this as part of Dr. Jacboby’s kitschy schtick, but it’s also another example of someone taking what is traditionally a matching set and rendering it different from what everyone else has. Well, except for Nadine, who has only one eye, and I struggle to find meaning to that aside from a literal way of showing her myopia, as in her singleminded obsession with silent drape runners.
Hank’s domino. When we first see it, it has three dots on one side and three on the other. Later it’s four dots and four dots. There had been a few theories about what that change could mean—and what the domino in general could mean, as just the image of it is enough to intimidate Josie when Hank mails her a drawing of it—but the change in dots apparently resulted only from the original prop being lost. There is perhaps a lesson to be learned here in overreading.
Invitation to Love. At several points during the first season, residents of Twin Peaks are glimpsed watching this soap opera, seemingly oblivious to the soap opera elements unfolding around them in real life. But Invitation to Love also sometimes parallels things happening on Twin Peaks; for example, the character Jade (Erika Anderson) is shown to have an evil twin named Emerald (also Erika Anderson, duh) in the same episode that introduces Maddy as Laura’s identical but differently-tempered cousin. In the unedited version of this footage, you see that key plot point on the show was the production of two wills for one of the characters, one of which gets thrown into the fire. (BTW, all the Invitation to Love scenes were shot at the Ennis House in Los Feliz, which was also used in Blade Runner, Day of the Locust, the 1959 House on Haunted Hill and as Spike and Drusilla’s mansion on Buffy. There’s even a Mulholland Drive connection.)
Wrapped in plastic. That’s how Laura’s body is found, and then just days later that’s a key element of the costumes worn by the contestants in the Miss Twin Peaks pageant. Seems like it’s in bad taste, now that I think about it.
Twin Peaks and Deer Meadow. In Fire Walk With Me, we watch Chet Desmond, a kinda-sorta Coop, investigate the murder of Teresa Banks, a broke version of Laura Palmer, in Deer Meadow, an Oregon town that is essentially a bad version of Twin Peaks. Whereas Twin Peaks’ Sheriff Truman is upstanding, chivalrous and welcoming to the FBI, Deer Meadow’s Sheriff Cable (Gary Bullock) is a hostile jerk who literally fights Agent Desmond. There’s even an anti-Lucy working the front desk, who just giggles at Desmond when he comes in asking for information.
Twin Peaks and Twin Peaks. After handpicking the tiniest details for this list, it seems obvious to say that the town of Twin Peaks is also its own evil twin, but I also feel like that is key to the point David Lynch was making with the show. Even a place as pristine and friendly and gosh-darn American as this rural logging town has a seedy underbelly. It’s an idea he also explored in Blue Velvet, and you could make the argument that Twin Peaks was Lynch’s attempt to push that idea to even darker, stranger places.
The Black Lodge and the White Lodge. And then we have the biggest mystery of all—and the place that ended the original series. After all this time and all these episodes of Twin Peaks that I’ve watched, I still don’t really know what to make of the Black Lodge and the White Lodge, other than that they’re opposites and I don’t especially want to go to either. I will just offer the explanation given by Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse): “There is also a legend of a place called the Black Lodge, the shadow-self of the White Lodge. The legend says that every spirit must pass through there on the way to perfection. There, you will meet your own shadow self. My people call it ‘The Dweller on the Threshold.’ But it is said, if you confront the Black Lodge with imperfect courage, it will utterly annihilate your soul.” But it is interesting, isn’t it, that when we see Cooper travel through the Black Lodge in the final moments of the last episode, it looks no different than the Red Room he dreams about at the start of the show? And that the floor is zigzagged with white and black?
All that backwards talk. What should we make of it? It’s something made intelligible by being spoken backwards and then again played in reverse, but that process also renders it weird and unsettling. It seems very in line with the Twin Peaks reverse doppelgangers, being flipped and flipped again until you’re back where you started but still somehow different. And it seems notable that it’s the following phrase—a perfect palindrome—that seems to trigger Coop’s entry into the hellish Black Lodge.
“It is happening again.” There are a some miscellaneous plot points that come up more than once on the show and may be callbacks but may also not be obvious to people who haven’t watched the show as much as I have. I’m listing them off all together.
- Trapped in the wood. In the first season, the Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson) explains over tea that her “pet” log houses the soul of her husband, who died in a fire. In the second season, Josie dies mysteriously at the Great Northern Hotel, and then Pete subsequently thinks he feels her presence in the wood. Later, you see her faced, trapped in a wooden knob on a dresser drawer. It’s one of the weirder things to happen in the back half of the show, but I feel like people often don’t connect it to the Log Lady’s story. (By the way, there is some interesting discussion about Josie’s death in this blog post.)
- Daddy-daughter dance. There’s a scene at the start of the second season in which Audrey has infiltrated One Eyed Jack’s and is posing as the newest girl on staff. Her father, Ben Horne, arrives and wants to check out the new merchandise, and you have this awkward situation where Audrey, masked, is attempting to evade the sexual advances of her own father. It’s mostly played as cringe comedy, but it foreshadows the awful truth we learn a few episodes later about Leland and Laura Palmer. This other father-daughter set actually did have a sexual relationship, and it was just the most awful thing and it ultimately resulted in the deaths of both Leland and Laura.
- The ceiling fan. A visual motif in both the TV series and the movie is the spinning ceiling fan in the Palmer family house. There’s even a scene in The Missing Pieces in which Laura stares at it, seemingly hypnotized. I think it represents another major theme in Twin Peaks: inevitable repetition. Just as the fan blades can’t help but to spin in the same circle, over and over, events in this universe play out multiple times—Teresa and Laura, for example, or Coop and Annie or even Shelly inadvertently following in Norma’s footsteps. Repetition is, I suppose, another form of doubling.
- She’s spooky. Certain characters never interact with the supernatural elements of Twin Peaks, while others get more than their fair share. At one point, Donna describes Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) as being “spooky,” having visions and such. Her niece Maddy has these as well—seeing Bob climb through Donna’s living room (in what is easily one of the scariest things ever aired in TV) or even seeing blood on the Palmers’ living room carpet as an omen of her own murder. Maybe the women on Sarah’s side of the family share this ability, but Maddy maybe exhibits it even more strongly than Laura does.
- Donna’s two sisters. It’s not notable on its own that Donna has two younger sisters, especially since that makes for three Hayward girls altogether, but it does seem notable that in the second season premiere, when the Haywards have the (surviving) Palmers over for dinner, both Harriet (Jessica Wallenfels) and Gersten (Alicia Witt) perform. Harriet reads a poem about Laura—one that is arguably not super appropriate, given her family is the audience—and Gersten plays the piano—a lively tune that inspires Leland to dance. This is probably me overreading, but it always occurred to me that this scene showed the two younger sisters both being inclined toward the arts and using their art to process the trauma of their sister’s best friend being murdered, but also that they process it differently. Harriet’s poem is dark, but Gersten’s song is happy, and maybe those are the two ways that people use art to process trauma—diving into it or escaping from it.
- Bad trips. Fire Walk With Me shows a few brief glimpses of Phillip Jeffries, who vanished from a hotel in Buenos Aires, only to re-materialize at FBI headquarters, only to blink away again. All the while, he babbles about things that don’t make any sense, including the aforementioned Judy. It’s unclear exactly where he went, but it’s presumable that he had some interaction with the otherworldly forces that create havoc in Twin Peaks—and that the experience broke his brain. It’s similar in some ways to what happens to Cooper in the Black Lodge, only Jeffries seems outright crazy while Cooper is evil, by virtue of being possessed by BOB. The Missing Pieces offers a slightly longer look into Jeffries, and I found a clip of one of the extra scenes.
Miscellaneous meta bits. They’re probably neither here nor there but whatever.
- Lynch + Frost. I mentioned this in the Lost Highway podcast, but I feel it’s worth repeating. What’s interesting about Twin Peaks is that if you ask a semi-culturally literate person what jumps to mind when they hear David Lynch’s name, they’d probably say some mix of the quaint and goofy with the surreal and horrific. That’s not inaccurate, as that combination is present in Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive, but they’re most likely describing Twin Peaks, which is Lynch’s most famous work. The thing about Twin Peaks, however, is that it isn’t exactly a solo effort: It was created jointly by David Lynch and Mark Frost, and I think it’s the balance between this duo that made the TV show what it is. Notably, when David Lynch made Fire Walk With Me, Frost passed on participating. As a result, Fire Walk With Me plays out more like Lost Highway or Inland Empire—dark and raw and often horrifying, and without a lot of the humor that balanced out the TV series, “gobble gobble” scene notwithstanding. This is one of the big reasons I’m glad Mark Frost is returning for the new TV series.
- Twin Peaks, twinned. In the way Laura Palmer became her own shadow-self and the way the town of Twin Peaks had its dark flipside, I feel like Fire Walk With Me is the dark twin to the TV series Twin Peaks.
- Or maybe tripled. That previous statement may be rendered less meaningful by the new series, but it’s worth noting that in May of 2015, the news broke that the new series had itself doubled. That seems like an appropriate turn of events.
- Book sequel, twice over. The show has spawned two books that further explore the characters and the setting of the show: The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer and The Secret History of Twin Peaks.
- The Desperate Housewives connection. Early in the production of Desperate Housewives, Sheryl Lee was cast as Mary Alice, the dead neighbor who narrates the entire series. That would have been a doubling for Lee—playing Laura Palmer, the most famous murder victim in the history of American TV, and then playing another character whose best-known trait is that she was dead. In the end, however, the narration was supplied by Brenda Strong—Sue Ellen Mischke from Seinfeld, but also Jones, the assistant to Thomas Eckhardt (David Warner), the South African villain menacing Josie.
- The Donnas. Because Lara Flynn Boyle did not play Donna in Fire Walk With Me, Moira Kelly took the role and put her own spin on the character. Perhaps as a result of circumstance or perhaps as a result of the actresses’ vibes, the two takes feel different. Boyle’s Donna is a beautiful weirdo, while Kelly’s Donna is a bit mousier—or at least she is until she tries to go full bad girl. Regardless, we end up with two different Donnas. As the new series approaches, however, this point becomes interesting. James Hurley is coming back, as are Doc Hayward Gersten. It would seem strange if Donna weren’t in the mix as well, but she actually might be, despite the lack of either Lara Flynn Boyle or Moira Kelly in the cast. Lynch added a ton of people to the new series, and it seems possible that some of them could be taking over roles played by non-returning alumni from the original series. Could Ashley Judd maybe make sense as Donna No. 3? If Heather Graham isn’t coming back, could Laura Dern or Naomi Watts make sense as the new Annie? And who the hell is Jennifer Jason Leigh playing? Will we finally get to meet Diane? These are important questions, and I don’t want to wait two months to get the answers.
Twin Peaks, previously:
- BOB’s introduction to Twin Peaks was basically a happy accident—and all the more creepy as a result
- That one weird Twin Peaks-themed episode of Darkwing Duck
- Julee Cruise and This Mortal Coil
- Scooby-Doo visits the Red Room
- How Twin Peaks inspired a Legend of Zelda game