Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Hidden Corners of Twin Peaks: a conversation with John Thorne, editor of Wrapped in Plastic, pt. 2 (The Missing Pieces & more)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hidden Corners of Twin Peaks: a conversation with John Thorne, editor of Wrapped in Plastic, pt. 2 (The Missing Pieces & more)


Needless to say (although I'm saying it anyway), this interview with John Thorne - co-editor/publisher/writer behind Twin Peaks magazine Wrapped in Plastic - will include many, many spoilers for the series and film.

In Part 1 of this interview, conducted in early July, John and I discussed Wrapped in Plastic and his theories about Fire Walk With Me. In this installment, conducted a month ago, we discussed the blu-ray boxset Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery, released a few weeks after our last conversation, particularly The Missing Pieces (90 minutes of deleted footage from Fire Walk With Me). We also discussed the second season of Twin Peaks and why David Lynch seemed unlikely to return to Twin Peaks (little did we know). In a week I will present part 3 of the interview, conducted earlier this week, discussing the amazing news from last Monday (originally part 3 was scheduled for two weeks hence, but I've moved it forward).


THE STYLE OF THE MISSING PIECES

Let’s start off with the most important thing as far as the new release is concerned. Your interview with Mark Frost is indeed on the blu-ray, as I’m sure you’re thrilled to see.

(laughs) It’s funny, I did check that relatively soon after getting it. It had been so long (I think it was 2001 when it came out) and I hadn’t seen it in that long. I watched the beginning of it, and thought oh, it’s not as bad as I remembered. Still kind of clunky and odd that they did it the way they did it. But of course it was kind of nice to see Craig, kind of cool. And I was very pleased for that reason that it was on there.

Obviously the big story was The Missing Pieces. Did they add anything new to your perspective or did you just enjoy seeing them?

I definitely enjoyed seeing them. I sat down and watched it straight-through and was just quite amazed, really. To be seeing new Twin Peaks material after all this time was strange. A couple things struck me. I was impressed with their presentation. He had gone to the extent to tweak them and remaster them and add audio that wasn’t there. I noticed this particularly with the Log Lady scene. She hears the screams off in the woods...obviously the shot of Catherine Coulson did not have all that sound mixed in there. He polished it to a great extent. So I was very, very pleased. To see the scenes by themselves was a gift, to have them presented in such a way was just mind-boggling and quite amazing. Some of the scenes really stuck out - amazing to see the full David Bowie scene. The Donna and Laura scene at Donna’s house with Doctor Hayward was quite a moving and just a really well-done scene. I’ve read the full script I don’t know how many times. I envisioned the scenes in my head. I could almost quote the scenes to you, having never seen them. And then to see them, it was very eerie in a way. It was strange after all this time, to know something so well and then to see it. It was almost like you got to revisit the dream again, and you were awake while you were watching it and that’s a weird thing! To see Bob say, "I have the fury of my own momentum." I just always loved that line. That was pure Bob. To see him say it, I had forgotten he says it. I mean, if you asked me, I could remember, but it caught me by surprise. I’m watching the scene and suddenly he says, "I have the fury of my own momentum" and he just sent the chills right down my spine.

That was a really cool sequence. I love it in the film as well, the way they do it with the cross dissolves. It’s just a world colliding with the real world. But the scene as presented [in The Missing Pieces], and this is true of all the deleted scenes I think, they all have this spooky air where it’s very meditative in a way. It’s all very Inland Empire. And that’s a scene, that and the ceiling fan scene where they have Laura doing that creepy smile...you can tell he manipulated the hell out of those in 2014. You know he recut them to begin with, but those ones it just jumps out at you. This is 2014 Lynch dealing with 1992 Lynch. I just find that so fascinating. You know, the sound design on that sequence in the convenience store, oh man, amazing. So rich.

That is interesting too. This is the question that could have been proposed, what if Lynch had been able to do The Missing Pieces but do it in 1992. How different would it have been? That’s the kind of question that you and I are asking that not a lot of other people are!

That’s one of my things with The Missing Pieces. I’m hungry for that discussion of where they fit in and what they do beyond that it’s cool to see this or that moment. Like how do these actually function as a work? Especially the stylistic aspect. It just jumped out at me, the decisions he made, as a director in the editing room, to create this. It’s close to the show but it’s also different in a way. There’s this stillness to it, these very long master shots, very quiet sound design to it too, and almost no music. He really pared down on the music as well.

It definitely caught my eye too. Did you think some of it was that he had no choice in some instances?

I wondered that. But really, that can’t be the case because he’s going back to the negative to restore this footage. Maybe I’m wrong about this but my understanding was he didn’t go and take fragments that had been cut and extracted and restored. He looked at the footage, re-edited the sequences and in order to restore them you've got to go back to the negative. They couldn’t have looked as good as they did if these were just extracts and fragments and the original negative was destroyed. So clearly, he had a lot of wiggle room there. And there are parts where he does use close-ups. Even if I’m somehow completely wrong and he had to stick with master shots, something about it felt like a decision. It felt purposeful.

I definitely agree with you and I think that is true of great portion of it. Some of the scenes stuck out to me as being clunky and I felt like they had no choice. For example in the Donna Hayward’s house scene, there’s a couple of shots where dialogue is happening offscreen and we’re not seeing the person talk. It was almost as if he didn’t have a choice there. I mean, he should cut over to see whoever it was speaking but instead we’re on Laura and they were just doing that coverage shot of Sheryl Lee. Maybe that was the best one with the best audio and he used that because it was the best one.



My initial sense was that certain things are locked in because they’re deleted scenes. He can’t do too much with sound, he can’t go film inserts, he can’t get coverage that he missed, or that needs to be made up for. He could have done looping, but he’s not going to, he’s going to use the sound he picked up there. So with all that in mind, yeah, there’s definitely limitations vs. going into the editing room straight after a shoot. But it seemed like he took the potential limitations and he ran with them and really emphasized a distanced look at Laura’s life. We’re closer than we were in the series but we’re not quite there yet. Also just in mood and tone it felt more like some of the later Lynch stuff. It sounds silly because he’s always had his experimental side, but it felt a little more avant-garde than something he would have done then, in ’92.

I know what you’re saying. I mean, the scenes at the end where Truman is sitting at a table.

Yeah (laughs) that was very Inland Empire-ish.

He definitely conveyed when it needs to be studied. There is an oppressive feel, there’s something hanging over...maybe that’s the sound work. I’d have to listen to it again. A low ambient hum is in a lot of scenes, it creates a certain mood or unsettles you. I’d have to look at that again but I did get that. I did get what you’re saying.

That’s a great example of that, actually, that scene.

You said you were hungry for discussion of the deleted scenes. I don’t know, I guess I was too to some extent. This makes me wish that Wrapped in Plastic was still around because I’d love for there to be some place to write a nice analysis, dig into what this is, treat it as its own entity, elevate it to an extent as more than just a collection of deleted scenes but as a work in and of itself that has a particular effect or function. I’m hungry for that too. Back in the day, you could go to Film Comment, the Film & Literature Quarterly, some of these really respected critical journals and sometimes you would get these wonderful pieces where somebody devoted time to studying and reading the work.

Like a close reading.

A close reading and more. Maybe somebody will, maybe you will, to study that work. We did a little article or two on the final episode of Twin Peaks; my commentary at the time was this is sort of a forgotten short film of David Lynch. It's sitting out there, way out on this pier or point or mountaintop. You can’t get to it unless you make this journey to it. But you've got to get to it because it’s a Lynch short film. It’s relevant and it fits in with his overall filmography and it’s important. If you go to any Lynch book that studies his work, they’ll study Industrial Symphony No. 1, they’ll study short films, and they’ll study the pilot of Twin Peaks, they won’t talk about that final episode. They skipped over it, it’s forgotten. To me, it’s such a critical piece of work, it’s worth study, and it’s worth analysis. It opens up new readings to the other works that he’s done. I think The Missing Pieces is [also] an important piece that needs to have study done. But I have a feeling, like the final episode, it’s kind of marginalized.

I was a little disappointed with the reaction to [The Entire Mystery]. Most publications are not going to have extensive coverage of a blu-ray collector’s item. But I was hoping there would be some coverage in mainstream magazines, people reassessing Twin Peaks and more importantly, reassessing Fire Walk With Me. I was kind hoping this would be an occasion but maybe we’ll have to wait for the 25th anniversary next spring. But what I loved about this Entire Mystery presentation was it puts Fire Walk With Me at the center. It says, you can’t avoid this film, this is part of Twin Peaks, like it or not, you've got to deal with it. When it’s the 25th anniversary they, unfortunately, can go back and can write the same old-same old. Great first season, went downhill, but hey it created Lost and Buffy...the same line that they write over and over again.


THE MISSING PIECES AND FIRE WALK WITH ME

The thing that struck me the most [about The Missing Pieces], some of the original design of the film really came through. The idea that it was going to be a re-introduction to a new storyline, in some ways they were setting it up to continue. The whole thing at the end with Cooper, seeing him fall down deliberately in the bathroom, and to cut to the hospital and see the famous scene of the nurse taking the ring, all of that implies to me that it was an effort to set it up so they could continue the story. And the fact that it was taken out says to me that Lynch either wanted to make what he considered a cohesive stand-alone film, or he knew the writing was on the wall. Why put all that in there, why not just try to tie it all up in Lynchian fashion? So that really struck me, having lived with Fire Walk With Me for so long, I still think of it as a standalone, cohesive film. To see these scenes, to see them pointing out in all these different directions, really, it was almost...it was bittersweet. The film as scripted, and certainly as shot, was awfully ambitious. And it was trying to do a lot of things, and it was almost two movies if not more. You have the whole Laura (tied with Teresa Banks) story, and then you have all of the Twin Peaks stuff which is to some extent, particularly [with] Cooper, pointing to something new beyond the horizon. So that was awfully ambitious that they scripted that. You wonder, were they thinking oh yeah, we’re gonna be going ahead? Were they just thinking, we’re gonna shoot it all and then we’ll see what we want to do with it? I don’t know.

I was wondering that too.

I tend to think that Lynch probably shifted gears - well, I’m fairly certain it was that. Even the way the thing was edited, the fundamental changes he makes between the final version of Fire Walk With Me and the scripted version. I mean he changes the meaning of the ring...

And the angels. In the new documentary, Moving Through Time, everyone talks about how surprised they were by Sheryl Lee’s performance. Part of me wonders if they thought, well, she’s untested. We’re building this movie around her but let’s have a lot of other stuff too just in case it doesn’t work. Then it worked way beyond their expectations and maybe they curtailed the other stuff because they said we don’t need to compensate?

It would be wonderful to sit down with David Lynch and have him completely and totally open about his experience on that film. Because even with everything we know now, the fact that it was scripted, MacLachlan’s in, MacLachlan’s out, they shoot all this stuff, they cut out scenes... Talk about something that was just constantly evolving! It’s like one of those fast-forward films of a flower, changing in the process of making it, from script to final cut. It seemed to be constantly bouncing around. I don’t believe that when Lynch set out to make it, he knew it was gonna end up the way it was.

He never does really, with Inland Empire, even all the way back to Eraserhead with the Lady in the Radiator.

When it comes to making a film, he’s open to letting it go the way it needs to go. But I have a feeling with this film there was even more going on, inside and outside that movie.

For me the big revelation watching The Missing Pieces [were] the connections. The last time we talked I wondered if maybe Fire Walk With Me and Twin Peaks shouldn’t just be considered two separate works with different purposes. And I really completely rolled back my thinking on that based on this whole release: The Missing Pieces, the title even – The Entire Mystery, the way he presented it all as being of one piece. It occurred to me that in a way what he’s doing is sort of what they call a ret-con, retroactive continuity. Maybe from the finale on - when he came back to the show after a long absence, Fire Walk With Me, Log Lady intros, Missing Pieces, Between Two Worlds. Everything he’s done has been to try and give it a sense of cohesive wholeness that as an aborted TV show it wouldn’t really have. [I then explain my preference for viewing The Missing Pieces as a transition between series and film, a bridge between the two worlds, which I previously described in my review.]

It’s interesting to hear your analysis, because I hadn’t thought about it too much. You gave me some new stuff to think about. I’m thinking in terms of how do The Missing Pieces function, in a way more than just a here’s a gift to you, here’s all this stuff.

That was all I was expecting initially too. I didn’t go into it with the hope that they were going to do what they ended up doing.

And that’s the thing too, Lynch doesn’t do anything without...you’ve got to be careful how you phrase these things here - he doesn’t do anything without great thought to it. He may instinctually know that it has to be a certain way, whether or not he can put it into words, whether or not he set out to do it. It has more to it than just simply here are the deleted scenes. It does function as a work that has its own value and you have added value to it in your analysis. After seeing The Missing Pieces, the deleted scenes, a couple of thoughts happened. One, I wanted to watch the film again. I was hungry to get to the film because I knew the film was going on, outside The Missing Pieces.


It’s like [Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, in which two minor characters wander around Elsinore, while the action of Hamlet take place just offstage].

Exactly. And then the other thing was, I’m happy the way Fire Walk With Me is. Granted, if he had edited it differently we would have lived with it for 22 years and never known a different way, but I am happy the way it is. I’m happy in many ways that some of this material didn’t make it in. That it just didn’t work. I think Fire Walk With Me, I think it achieves something bigger by having those pieces removed.

Totally agree.

But those pieces are wonderful! And they’re wonderful to see by themselves, over to the side. I definitely got back on to looking at bulletin boards again after all this came out. Somebody was talking about trying to do their own edit. And I thought, first of all, there’s no way you could do it. I mean you could take the pieces and you could try to fit them in somewhat chronologically but clearly Lynch had made deliberate choices, altering the meanings of scenes. David Bowie’s is the one that comes most to mind. Rather than present them as the way it was sort of scripted out and shot. He got into the editing room, he thought this is where it needs to go and this is how it will attain that and you can’t cut into that anymore. It is a different thing! That was my thought about the film. I wanted to go back and watch it and was very glad it was the way it was. I’m glad he didn’t try to incorporate and make a, quote, director’s cut. Which he would never do. And just glad the way it was. I think I said this to you the last time, and I say it frequently to anyone who wants to listen, but Twin Peaks fans and people on the bulletin boards, certainly the readers of Wrappd in Plastic, be careful what you ask! I want a new Twin Peaks, I want Twin Peaks, I want Lynch to come back to Twin Peaks...it’s not going to be what you think it’s going to be. He’s not going to come back and say, let’s find out what happened to John Justice Wheeler, and let’s follow this storyline to its logical end. It’s going to be something completely different, something maybe unsettling, something perhaps unrecognizable.

With The Missing Pieces, did you feel it complicated or changed anything in terms of your reading of the Deer Meadow sequence as a dream [explained in the first interview]?

No, not really, I believe the dream idea occurred to Lynch, there’s certainly evidence that he was keying into something while he was filming. But the stuff that we’re seeing was cut out. The film was constructed and then it was taken apart and then it was reconstructed. And when it was reconstructed in the editing room it was reconstructed with different ideas and different intents. So that’s part of why I wanted to go back and watch Fire Walk With Me again, that’s part of why I said I’m glad Fire Walk With Me exists the way it did, because obviously if we look at this material, it was incorporated in then obviously it would complicate the theory. But it doesn’t, it’s not there, it’s gone.

So you don’t consider it totally canon in the sense that it’s part of the same universe?

Well, it’s like you said, in a way. It’s almost like it exists to transform the viewer or the film itself into something else.

Almost like an alternate universe.

Yeah. Now you’re ready to watch Fire Walk With Me, because in some respects at the end of The Missing Pieces, you’ve got to go back in time, again…

When he ended it with the shot of garmonbozia on the spoon, that confirmed me in my idea that this was not the final piece of Twin Peaks. I said ok, this is leading us to Fire Walk With Me. Because I wondered before I saw it, is this going to be the new ending? And then I saw that and thought, this is definitely not an ending! Even less so, in an odd way, than the show because at least the show was showing us that for the first time. To go back and see it again is even less of a conclusion.

Exactly, in many ways, we were put through the same thing we were put through on the Black Lodge episode. As my friend Nick says, it still sucks. We don’t know, we don’t know what’s gonna happen! Whereas the film, you know, didn’t slap us in the face that way. It said, everything’s ok or whatever happens happens.

Because it made us go all the way through. I think that’s the key with Lynch, I think any of his films, even going back to Eraserhead, maybe even Grandmother, he believes you've got to go through the darkest stuff before you can see the light. So there’s no way he’s gonna say ok, now we’ve come close to Laura, we’ve seen her with her friends, we get to see her in the flesh, we haven’t experienced her trauma yet and when she’s being murdered we’re off in the distance with the Log Lady listening from afar and so with that in mind, there’s no way he’s going to end The Missing Pieces like ok, you’ve just experienced [enough]. You’ve got to go on. Here’s the garmonbozia, this is what’s up next. The pain and sorrow, get ready for it. Scroll up on your menu and go back to Fire Walk With Me!

Right. I really truly think that if Lynch felt that the story had not been told correctly, the way he felt comfortable with it, that he would have gone in and incorporated the footage. Anyway, roundabout, I still feel very strongly about the dream interpretation, that it makes the film a stronger film if you look at it that way. And I still believe that Lynch - whether he completely succeeded I don’t know - was trying to redefine the ring [as discussed in the previous interview]. And to make Laura an active character. To make her someone in control of her own destiny. He was really quite confined and restricted by what he had but he found something he could grab ahold of to try to convey that. So I do believe that those things are still in the film.


He also includes the scene where the nurse puts [the ring] on. And it’s like wait, it seems like they’re implying that’s going to save Heather Graham...so the ring’s a bad thing again? How does it fit in?

Right, how does it fit in? You've got to go back and look at the ring. In the script [Laura] doesn’t have the ring and in the movie she has the ring. She’s removed it from the field of play. She’s taken it. They no longer have the ring. I love the shot with the Little Man shuddering in the first scene where he’s lost the ring.

Well, I guess if you want to play the ambiguity card, is he shuddering or is he laughing with delight?

Well, that’s true, but there’s something in all that commotion and motion and power and energy. The ring blasts everything into pieces it seems. And so once that happens I don’t see how he could ever show the ring on Heather Graham, on Annie in the end. That HAS to go. But I think that scene would have gone, ring or no. I think it would have been pulled out because they were done with all the little subplots and storylines from the series. It was Laura.

Yeah, thank God he didn’t think there was a chance of a sequel or if he did, he didn’t think that was necessary, because if he had left that in there, as being the end of the film that was the last film we were gonna get, it just wouldn’t have had the same impact as just sticking all the way through with Laura, in my opinion. But it works great in The Missing Pieces.

It works great in The Missing Pieces, I guess I would believe that. You've got to wonder too [about] the ending, the ring and then Cooper. I never quite understood, reading the script and knowing that stuff was shot…why? I’m still scratching my head. Because it didn’t do anything new other than introduce the idea that the ring was going to be a thing we followed in the new storyline.

Even if it was setting up a sequel, it didn’t seem totally necessary.

The whole thing with Cooper in the room, it [added] zero. Except I guess you could argue maybe some clarification that Cooper was not Cooper anymore. He lays down deliberately to look injured. But I can’t completely understand why they shot that. What is that giving us that we don’t already have in the series?

You could almost say that about any of the stuff. And like I said, I love seeing it in there. But the Renault brothers sting, were they REALLY planning to cut to Lucy and Andy surprising themselves in the hall in the middle of Laura Palmer going off into the woods? It makes so little sense, it’s amazing.

It’s so funny you say that. I wondered about that too and it made me wonder about a couple things. My friend Nick said they must still have the sets available. Because he thinks they were shooting on the sets from the series. I wondered how much of it was Lynch just playing. And seeing, will this work? Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.

I would love to see a shooting schedule and just see ok, so this is when they shot the first angel scene. And then you can get a sense of when they came up with certain elements. A rough sense, the closest sense you’re gonna get without actually hearing it from the horse’s mouth.

Yeah. There will always be mystery associated with that and having picked it apart quite a bit, also...I believe that Lynch was constantly working that movie out. It was inside him and it was struggling to get out, and he was messing with it and tweaking it till he finally found something that he was comfortable with.


BETWEEN TWO WORLDS

Did you get to watch Between Two Worlds? What did you make of that, because it seems the closest we’re gonna get to a Twin Peaks coda. [Little did we know...]

Yes, I definitely watched that. I couldn’t help but think, while I was experiencing it I kept thinking, was this stuff scripted? How much direction did he give them in advance?

[Blu-ray producer] Charles De Lauzirika said that actually it was scripted. They don’t know when [Lynch] wrote it, but it was delivered to the set about an hour before they were going to shoot the interview with the actors so there was no plan to interview them in character. One of his people came: we’ve got papers for Sheryl and Ray and Grace. And they handed them their little papers, they went off into the corner. From what I can gather, nobody even knew what the papers were. And then they sat down with Lynch at the table and he announced to the camera crew, we’re now going to interview the Palmer family.

That is fascinating to me because the question I had, and it sounds like I was right...if it was the actors themselves who were ad-libbing and coming up with it, then I would have to say it’s not necessarily canon (I hate to use that word when it comes to Lynch). But if it’s Lynch then it’s real and it’s truly the closest thing we’re ever going to get to new Twin Peaks for those few minutes that those three characters spoke. Knowing now, certainly, that Lynch was behind it, I believe it to be new, part of the story. I was wondering especially when he got to Laura.

That was the giveaway to me. When I heard her speak I said, there’s no way. It was so Lynchian. It was so like the Log Lady intro that I thought he definitely had to have some sort of hand in this.

What I wondered was, what is she gonna say, whether it’s Lynch or Sheryl Lee? The movie ends with Laura happy. Last time we see Laura Palmer she is joyful, she is overwhelmed with tremendous good feeling and joy. So I was wondering how will Laura be? She should be, I would assume, at peace and happy. She didn’t quite seem that way. But of course in typical Lynch fashion she opened the door wide and said there’s still so much you don’t know. So in some ways it was a cop-out and in some ways it was what you would expect. Laura Palmer is a mystery. She will remain a mystery. I guess in some ways I almost could have done without the Laura Palmer. I was very pleased, particularly, with the Leland Palmer. I think he says, I didn’t kill...?

He says, I didn’t do those things. That wasn’t me.

I didn’t do those things! Yeah. That, I loved. Either way, Leland after death, whether it was the good self or the bad self, it wasn’t him who did it, it was some other entity controlling him. I was like, that fits, that’s right, he would want to profess his innocence. He obviously knew he had done terrible things, outside. And Sarah Palmer was also fascinating. I was a little sad, I guess, about that. It had been 20 years, she’s still devastated, had become a recluse, you know. Potentially suicidal, although she’s obviously made it this many years. She just, for whatever reason, is continuing on. I wondered what happened there, how would she be? That was interesting. And then obviously Laura was still sort of left as a question mark.

I think I wouldn’t have been happy if they had just done the Leland and the Sarah part. Because it’s the same thing as the film coming out, the film needs to end with Laura, I feel like the last coda needs to end with her. But what to me was most interesting was David Lynch’s reaction to each of their stories. Because he plays a part in it too. And he wrote the lines so it’s not like he’s genuinely surprised; he's planned his reaction. So Sarah tells her story and you can see he’s a little sorry for her almost. Well, thank you Sarah, and it’s a little sad. And then he asks Leland and the way I took it was that yes, Leland says that. But to me, he’s still in denial. Because whatever Bob was, Leland clearly had more of a partnership with him than was originally implied on the show. So to me watching it, it was like, he still hasn’t gotten it quite. And Lynch’s reaction to him is very polite but not totally engaged. Well, thank you, Leland that was, that was what I expected you to say, that type of thing.

That’s very interesting because I do recall, now that you mention it, there was a mild judgmentalness.

As close as Lynch gets to judgmental. Which is pretty non-judgmental generally. And then when he gets to Laura, he breaks out in a smile and says something like bless your heart, Laura! Just cannot hide his joy that rather than speak in the concrete terms, [like the] other two do, she gives him this poem basically. And it made me think of the Martha Nochimson books, where she talks about Lynch distrusting language. When he does use words to explain something he wants them to be poetic and suggestive rather than literal and I thought well, gee, that nails this to a T! She gives us this evocation of her inner life but nothing at all like the parents. So that was fascinating to me and I thought, it’s a gift in a way because it’s something I will be returning to and trying to kind of simultaneously figure out and not spoil by overanalyzing.


THE SECOND SEASON AND THE GHOST OF LAURA PALMER

[I asked John about the turning point of the TV series.]

The first time I watched [Maddy's murder sequence in Episode 14], a couple thoughts went through my mind. How did they get this on network TV? I’ve since found out that no one knew it was going to be that violent when it passed. And then the other thought was, what are the consequences of this? How many people are going to turn off the show now, what’s going to happen to the ratings? In addition to oh my God, Madeleine’s dead, and Bob is Leland - all of those thoughts! I turned to my friend who was sitting on the couch. She had turned her head away and had her hand up against her head. She could not watch it. She turned her head completely away from the TV. I said, what’s the matter? And she said, I can’t watch this, I can’t watch this. [Years later] I went to see that episode with a bunch of college students. I had gone back to school to get my Masters, so I was a little older than they were. I wanted to [cover], for the magazine, the crowd watching the "Bob killed Madeleine episode" for the first time. None of them knew what was going to happen. For me the interesting thing was to turn away from the TV during that critical scene and watch the reactions of the people in the room from it. Many of them were quite stunned and surprised and some got confused. Again, the question that happened afterwards frequently was, is Bob Leland, is he the killer then? What’s going on? Even though we knew what was going on, and some of us were denying it, or were just trying to process it, trying to accept it. Fascinating thing, fascinating thing to watch. Because it does shock you a lot.

I remember [before] watching the DVD, thinking, oh this is going to be fun, the reveal, the secrets is out. And after, being like wow, I wasn’t ready for that. And then a couple episodes later everything gets tied up neatly with a little bow and I remember being taken aback and thinking, wait, that’s it? I did like the end of it with the owl. They say where is Bob now, and I thought, oh I get this – this makes sense. We’ve resolved the mystery but her story and the stuff that comes out of it is still at the center of Twin Peaks. We’re just taking it further into the woods. Then of course the sinking [feeling] came at the precise moment when the mayor pushes his brother into the table [at Leland's wake]. Oh no, this can’t be happening. This is where the show is going? And it was.

A couple quick comments on it. The show really startled us with the death of Maddy. That show, it stands out as an extremely violent, probably the most violent scene that’s ever been broadcast on network TV.

Even when you compare graphic [content]. It isn’t so much blood, it's the emotional content of it, the way he directs it. Even when she runs up the stairs and he runs after her and you hear...

It’s brutal. It is. And it’s very, very harsh, it’s hard to watch. I remember thinking a couple things after, as the show was still going on. First of all, some of the silly stuff that came after really, really stood out as being silly when we had seen that. And it was like this isn’t the same show. You couldn’t quite still believe, you’re still watching it as if that scene were playing in your head. You know what I’m saying?

Exactly.

This is Twin Peaks, we’ll get past this because that other stuff is still out there. The other thing was when we knew that Lynch was going direct the final episode, his first time back since Bob killed Maddy. We had to wait till June because they cancelled it and put it together with the last two episodes, put it out late. But there was certainly a feeling of "who knows what will happen?" Knowing Lynch was going to direct it, it didn’t matter what the plotlines were at that point. It didn’t matter if it were some silly thing about Windom Earle dressed up as the Log Lady. We knew it was going to be something special. It could go anywhere. Anything could happen because having had Lynch direct that sequence with Bob and Madeleine and Leland meant we were on our guard. We had seen that before.


Sheryl Lee and Ray Wise are in the credits of every single episode up to episode 16. Even the ones that Maddy’s not in yet, there’s some way Lynch shoehorns her in: they have the flashback, they have the video. She’s always back in it. And then episode 17 is the first one in which neither Ray Wise nor Sheryl Lee are listed in the credits for obvious reasons. Grace Zabriskie, she is in that episode but this is the last time we ever see her until Lynch literally wrote a scene for her in the finale. Because that wasn’t in the script.

I agree, he was bringing back the people he wanted to work with.

Her final scene is at the wake, it cuts back and forth between the comic plots. They cut back to her and she says, I want to remember everything. And then they cut away and we never see her again for the rest of the show! That’s literally the moment they chose to drop her completely from the show. I just thought, wow that is an interesting, probably 100% unconscious, statement.

It’s so easy to second-guess but it would have been wise to keep Sarah Palmer in the storyline somehow, to have her grieving and to have something of Laura’s in the house they needed to go back to. Maybe there was network pressure, get away from Laura Palmer, get away from her. They could have kept going with the Windom Earle thing, that’s what they really wanted to do. Windom Earle vs. Dale Cooper, it’s going to be the battle of the titan detectives, and kept simmering in the background that Sarah Palmer was still there, Sarah Palmer still had something going on. There was more to her and more to her family. It would have been cancelled anyway [but] it might have retained a little bit of thematic continuity with the first half of the series. You bring up that she’s dropped. Leland, Maddy, and Sarah are gone. And that’s it.

Going back [after The Missing Pieces] and revisiting the whole series including the episodes I didn’t really like that much, I started seeing...I don’t want to say redemptive value, but I’m seeing something interesting in those episodes. You can see all the evidence of what happened, or what they’re trying to repress or avoid. You get little mentions of Laura in there, Ben holding up a picture or James and Evelyn talking about her. In a weird way, it feels almost appropriate that as part of the whole narrative of Twin Peaks you’re going to have this period where everybody goes into denial and tries to pretend. Even though it can be unsatisfying and it was obviously completely unintended, in a weird perverse way it does work as a statement on repression or avoidance. It gives the end of the season a poignancy as well. You really do feel like the town and Cooper and all of them have misstepped somehow in moving on. Something wasn’t quite resolved and now it’s coming back to kick them in the ass. The whole finale plays out that way. Everybody ends up in this crisis situation including Cooper and then that’s it for them. It begins with this discovery of this dead girl and the town has these demons to face up to, and they’re coming closer and closer to it. It’s structured like a whirlpool, you start way out on the periphery and get closer and closer. And then something happens where you skip right out of the whirlpool. When it seems like you’re getting right to the heart of it, everybody’s frantically running around trying to pretend like they’re on The Andy Griffith Show. There’s something so desperate about it.

You want it to remember itself in a way, and to remember Laura. In some respect had Lynch been there a little more - I know he was around - but if he could have just said, what’s important for the rest of the show is that Laura is still around, the presence of Laura Palmer still permeates the atmosphere of Twin Peaks. It did in the first season, and that’s what made the first season to some extent, especially when she was still a presence. And now that Maddy’s gone and Laura’s gone and Leland’s gone we need to still feel...ok, we got the answer who killed Laura Palmer but we still didn’t get resolution to their stories and they still need to haunt us. And it’s unfortunate in some ways that they didn’t find a way for all those crazy subplots to still have that...

That echo.

That hint of it, that echo of it, because I think it would have become much stronger. Even if the Little Nicky part had in a certain way incorporated loss or the idea of mourning someone. Or even the parts where James leaves and he’s still haunted by Laura, he keeps trying to get away but he can’t. If he had encountered another young woman taking cocaine and he tried to help her that would have been much better. They wanted to go with the noir thing, and the older woman. The characters at some point could even acknowledge to themselves, we can’t get away from her. It’s not Laura that’s haunting us, it’s that we can’t shake her yet. We haven’t finished our grieving and we keep making decisions, bad decisions that lead us into these situations where we’re still trying to cope with it. That would have made the show more profound.


DAVID LYNCH AND THE TWIN PEAKS BUZZ

[It's worth reiterating that the following conversation took place a month ago - I've left it in as an interesting snapshot of how unlikely a return seemed just one month ago, and a segue into the final part of the interview - appearing in a week - in which we discuss the announcement that Twin Peaks will return in 2016.]

Honestly it’s been a big part of my life, Twin Peaks, and I did get to a point where it sort of drifted away. It drifted away because it’s not like it used to be, it’s not a big pop cultural thing. I had that confirmed for me from the outside looking in at the big presentation of the blu-ray, at the big night in Hollywood where they were going to show The Missing Pieces. My friend Nick got tickets and he went. And he said, you know what, it was the same types of people who are at every Lynch event, it was a fairly small venue. From the outside, it has this glamour to it like it was a big event, and Twin Peaks was in the air. But in fact it was a small event magnified by social media and the internet. I’m glad it’s still there and I’m glad it’s getting press coverage but there’s a small core devoted. [Although there are] new people coming along all the time who get bit by the Twin Peaks bug.

I think there is potential for something. They had articles about Twin Peaks in the New Republic [and other magazines this spring] even though it was only the 24th anniversary. My feeling is, if Lynch 2014 was more in the mode of Lynch 1990, when he actually seemed to care about...I don’t want to be glib about it, but he seemed to be interested in a David Lynch brand and riding this zeitgeist. Twin Peaks arose in that moment and everybody bit in. If you look at the ratings, the pilot was huge [while the] following episodes were up against Cheers (they did pretty well in that context). But the press coverage compared to how the show was actually doing, there’s this huge gap. Because people in the press loved David Lynch, they loved the idea of Twin Peaks being a thing. And I think that’s true today if he wanted to play with it. If David Lynch, back in April or May, had announced Mark Frost and I are in talks with Netflix, we’re going to renew Twin Peaks - which I don’t think should happen [I thought I didn't!] - but if he did that then I think you really genuinely would see Twin Peaks become, at least for some period, a mainstream phenomenon again. You would see it on the cover of a couple magazines, you’d see celebrities bouncing it about on Twitter. There are certain moments where for whatever reason everybody’s talking about it again and there’s that potential to carry it over. But it would only happen if he wanted to play the media game and it seems like he’s just at that point, and probably has been since Fire Walk With Me died, where he just doesn’t really care about that anymore. He has his things, his David Lynch Foundation, his paintings, his music, and when he needs to get buzz for that he’ll do interviews. But he’s not, he doesn’t seem to really be interested in trying to...

He’s not as interested in playing that game as he used to.

But I do think it’s there, the possibility for it to go beyond being a cult phenomenon again. But he would have to do something he doesn’t really want to do to make that, to take the final step.

Yeah, I would say, it felt like he was done. That this is an end point. In a way this is sort of a door closing. Arguably it could be a door opening too. It was interesting timing with Reflections [An Oral History of "Twin Peaks," by Brad Dukes] coming out, and you say there’s this new book coming. Maybe there will be a rebirth, a renaissance, or something of looking at it and evaluating it and studying it again. It would help if Lynch put something new out. I mean that was the interesting thing, when we were doing Wrapped in Plastic, Lynch had something new coming out on occasion. It was a while between films but there was Lost Highway, there was Straight Story, there was Mulholland Drive, and there was Inland Empire. And there were things in between, smaller things and whenever a Lynch thing came out, Twin Peaks bubbled right up to the top again.

Yeah, it’s always there just beneath the surface.

Right, and it’s been a long time since Inland Empire. I’m still somewhat surprised...Mulholland Drive, did he not get an Academy Award nomination? I remember thinking, here it is again. Here’s Elephant Man again. Lynch has popped back up, we all recognize that he is a supreme moviemaker. I thought that shortly after that he’d be making another major motion picture with a big actor, or more than one. The studio would at least get behind it to get it out to the art circuit, the Magnolias, Anjelika-type theaters but it didn’t happen! And by his choice, I believe. It was like, you know what, I’m going to shoot...he started the website, he started shooting those funky little things that he ended up collating into Inland Empire. I don’t know what happened there. And so it makes you wonder if we will ever see another David Lynch movie. I wonder if he’s retired from that.

If some spirit moves him, he’ll do something for sure. It’s almost like he’s created a complete body of work and now he’s content.

Did you read the recent article about David Lynch in the New York Times? He’s got his art...is it Philadelphia that he’s doing it? There’s a gallery showing of his art. For the first time since the 1970s or whatever, they’re going to stage or re-create Six Men Getting Sick. And actually have the original. I would love to see that, I would die to see that. You wonder...the article talks a lot about his painting and how he’s devoted a lot of time to recreating his paint shows. It was painting that made him think, I’d like to see the painting move and make Eraserhead, or the short films. So I would hope that he looks at these paintings again and thinks, I want to see these paintings move and he’s ready to do it again. We’ll see, we’ll see.

• • •



Part 3 appears on Monday, October 20 (rescheduled, with the video for that date pushed back to October 27). We will be discussing the good news...

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