Lost in the Movies: The Spirits of Twin Peaks (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #21)

The Spirits of Twin Peaks (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #21)

*A revised entry will be published separately in 2024 or 2025 for an updated character series (which will be collected here). This is the original entry written before The Return.

The TWIN PEAKS Character Series surveys eighty-two characters from the series Twin Peaks (1990-91) and the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) as well as The Missing Pieces (2014), a collection of deleted scenes from that film. There will be spoilers for the original series and film.

ORIGINAL ANNOUNCEMENT: The character series is pausing for at least a month and will resume in the midst of Twin Peaks: The Return (2017), although its focus will remain the older material. [Update: This plan was revised; see above.] I will be reviewing the new episodes of the Showtime series every Sunday night/Monday morning starting May 21, 2017.

What their sound and fury signify is difficult to apprehend from appearance alone, but something is happening, isn't it?

Everything we see and hear, across space and time

A wooden utility pole, marked with the number “6” on a metal backing, stretches toward the sky and emits a faint war whoop while strange energy travels through its copper veins. A mouth emits a distorted, slurpy message – “The chrome reflects our image” – each breath clouding and obscuring our view. A bright flash illuminates a sparse, decrepit room above a convenience store. Is the store real but the room imaginary, or vice versa? A group is gathered for a meeting. Against three windows ensconced in the residue of grotesquely shredded curtains, five figures sit. A man with a stick and a woolen hat is seated in a chair, next to an old lady perched on the arm of a couch, and a young boy in a tuxedo slouched next to her, his leg resting on a can. Hunched all the way on the other side of the sofa is a bearded man with glasses and a baseball cap (its logo clouded by dirt), leaning slightly towards the medium-sized wooden box to his left (on its front are a series of dials which he occasionally adjusts). Next to this is another box, filled with bulbs and wires, and at the end of this lineup sits another man in a woolen hat, with a darker but equally long beard, who also reaches over to fiddle with this wiring. When he and the other man do so, a bright light flashes from the machine (illuminating a radiator-like grid at its bottom) while the rest of the room momentarily grows dark. In the middle ground between the back and front of the room, closer to one of the flanking walls than the seated figures, is a man in a red suit with a white, pointy-nosed mask – although the mask almost seems to be his actual face. He holds a small, branched stick (looking like a sling shot without the sling) and hops around on top of a small machine with a switchboard, next to an overturned metal pail. Across from him on the same plane is an unattended, three-legged triangular stool. Away from the rest of the group, but seemingly the focus of their attention, is a Formica folding table. One half is empty but for the hands of the little Man From Another Place resting upon it, the other half holds two metal bowls (one medium-sized and one large) and two plates, all holding creamed corn. The little bowl and the plates are closer to the Little Man, a small person in a red suit perched on the edge of a stable metal chair. The larger bowl is closer to BOB, a long-haired figure in a blue jean jacket, seated in a folding chair, hands resting on his knee, chin pointed toward the ceiling as his grins and gnashes his teeth. Another figure “speaks,” unintelligible squawks that sounds like the mating cry of a bird and a dolphin – this is the Jumping Man, whose yellow teeth flank a cavernous blank mouth that inverts his long white nose. The man with the stick speaks: “Eeeeelectricity…” The Jumping Man squawks louder. The Little Man gazes around him in wonder. “From pure air. We have descended…” The man in the woolen hat, looking exhausted, taps his stick as the Jumping Man stretches his arm and rises to the top of his electric-box platform. “…from pure air,” the Little Man continues. “Going up and down. Intercourse between the two worlds.” “Animal life,” proclaims the man with the stick. The man on the other end of the couch taps his knee a couple times. Staring at the creamed corn with pleasure, the Little Man declares, “Garmonbozia.” Rubbing the tabletop over a small bare spot, he announces, “This is a Formica table. Green is its color.” A weird dissonant yet harmonious outbreak of movement and noise bounces around the room before BOB leans forward, staring unnervingly at the Little Man, and shouts, “I have the fury of my own momentum.” The Little Man raises his hand as if in a pledge, or a request to stop. The little boy on the couch points toward the table and commands or observes, “Fell a victim.” The Little Man announces, “With this ring, I thee wed.” He and BOB join together in swelling laughter. The Little Man stops laughing long enough to say, “Fire walk with me,” and BOB claps his hands. Red curtains emerge while the Little Man gazes in awe. Together BOB and the Little Man part the curtains and enter the Red Room, decorated with a few pieces of furniture, a dark/light chevron floor, and a table with a gold base and black marble top, on which rests a small ring with a gold band and a green stone, impressed with a a small symbol of a diamond with two triangular wings and small tail. Over this setting, as a wind rises and lights flash, the face of a teenage girl floats. The figures in the room above the store become diffuse and hazy, doubling and separating before fading into a misty treescape.

Jumbled images of this meeting cascade across one another amidst static and the babbling voice of Phillip Jeffries –are these his fragmented memories of what he observed in his travel between two worlds? “It was a dream,” Jeffries murmurs. “We live inside a dream…” Garmonbozia, the felling of the victim, the declaration of the ring, and the mouth murmuring “Electricity” are highlighted. The boy lifts a small version of the white, long-nosed mask (this one without eyeholes) from his face and then covers himself again. When the mask is lifted a second time, it reveals not the boy but a little monkey. Jeffries screams…

And somewhere in the human world, as a distressed man rushes out of a motel parking lot, the boy with the mask leaps from the bushes. He is clutching a stick like the one the Jumping Man was holding (a little branch pokes out of the top of his mask too) as he runs in a circle and hops up and down before evaporating.

A fan whirs as lights flash – the girl whose face floated through the Red Room tugs at her collar and moans. “I want to taste through your mouth,” BOB's disembodied voice jeers at her as she gasps, “No…” and the red curtains envelop her expression.

The little boy (still wearing the mask) and the old lady stand in another parking lot, this one belonging to a diner where that same girl is loading the back of a station wagon with a tray full of food. When the old lady beckons, the teenager wanders over. “This would look nice on your wall,” declares the woman, holding aloft a picture (either a photo or a photorealistic painting) of a creepy room with aged wallpaper and a door opening to another room. The boy whispers, “The man behind the mask is looking for the book with the pages torn out. He is going toward the hiding place. He is under the fan now.” The girl runs away as the two figures calmly but quickly cross the road and walk toward the woods.

At her house, the girl slowly opens the door to her bedroom and peers around, her gaze finally resting on BOB, grinning maniacally as he crouches beside her dresser. She screams, and he roars.

Inside of the picture given to her, the dreaming girl wanders through the door, past dim curtains and the beckoning, pointing old lady, through another another door until she reaches an even more shadowy room. The little boy snaps his fingers, summoning light and eventually the red curtains, which swallow this shabby, gloomy environment and reveal the more dazzling Red Room. The Little Man stands next to the black tabletop and the ring, staring upward toward the girl’s perspective until a man in a black suit emerges from the curtains behind him. The Little Man approaches the table and waves his hand over it as he did over the Formica table in the room above the store. A faint, slow whoop echoes somewhere in the distance. “This is the ring,” he announces. “Is it future or is it past?” he asks. “Do you know who I am?” The man in the black suit shakes his head and the Little Man announces, “I am the arm. And I sound like this.” He himself makes the war cry by waving his hand over his mouth. Then he holds the ring aloft and the man in the black suit turns toward the girl and says, with concern, “Don’t take the ring, Laura. Don’t take the ring!”

Laura ascends the stairs and halts as the fan begins to speak to her again in BOB’s voice. “Do you see what we can do?” it snarls. It repeats its declaration of desire, and a dazed Laura falls under its spell, a smile stretching across her face until it becomes demonic in its ferocity.

Laura lies in bed, bathed in a flashing light. As BOB climbs through her open window she begins to writhe, shudder, and lightly moan. He crawls on top of her, rubbing himself on her body and caressing her legs as she gasps. She holds his face and stares at it and asks, “Who are you?” with growing determination and intensity even as she continues to moan. Her hands temporarily trace black hair in place of BOB’s gray locks and as he thrusts she looks again at his face and screams.

The screaming continues in an abandoned train car in the woods, as Laura stares into a mirror and a laughing BOB replaces her own reflection. Amidst flashes of static/snow, the Little Man laughs in his Red Room. Laura sobs, her face smeared with blood and lipstick while BOB crouches on her right side and whispers in her ear, “I never knew…you knew…it was me. And I want you!” BOB laughs maniacally next to Laura’s body on the floor of the train car; he stabs into her repeatedly. The Little Man shudders and makes his hands into claws, gritting his teeth. Laura screams, blood dripping from her mouth. Nearby, a note – “Fire walk with me,” written in blood – sits embedded in a mound of dirt. BOB kneels over her corpse and throws his head back, screaming, laughing, or crying in animalistic fury. He leans in over her quiet face as he wraps the whole body in layers of plastic.

As Laura’s plastic-wrapped corpse floats down a river, BOB turns away with a flashlight in hand.

The red curtains part and the main room is entered by a man with a bloody stain soaking the bottom of his shirt. Two figures watch him: a one-armed man seated next to the Little Man. One or both of them together evoke the mysterious MIKE. The man with the stain hovers near the ground than floats up as BOB appears next to him. “BOB,” the MIKE duo declare in unison, as the Little Man touches the one-armed man’s shoulder stub. “I want all my garmonbozia.” It is understood by all that garmonbozia is another word for pain and sorrow. BOB touches the floating man’s stomach, retrieves the blood and splashes it onto the floor. It fades into the chevron pattern and the Little Man lifts a spoonful of creamed corn to his lips and devours his food. A monkey whispers, “Judy…”

A woman in a bathrobe leaps up from the couch where she has been resting and yells in terror. BOB’s face hovers in the mirror behind her.

The same woman sees BOB crouching behind a bedframe and screams even louder.

The man in the black suit from the dream lies in bed, dreaming his own trip into the spirit world. He sees the Little Man shuddering in a corner and BOB behind the bed. The one-armed man recites a poem: “Through the darkness of future past, the magician longs to see – one chants out between two worlds: fire…walk with me.” He continues, “We lived among the people. I think you say, convenience store. We lived above it. I mean it like it is, like it sounds. I too have been touched by the devilish one. Tattoo on the left shoulder. Ah, but when I saw the face of God I was changed. I took the entire arm off. My name is MIKE. His name is BOB.” The sleeping man dreams of BOB in a boiler room, looking worried before growing churlish: “MIKE, MIKE, can you hear me? Catch you with my death bag. You may think I’ve gone insane, but I promise I will kill again.” A circle of twelve candles are extinguished. The dreamer tosses and turns in bed and goes deeper into his dream…

This same man now lies on the floor of his hotel room, bleeding from a gunshot wound. A giant materializes above him, wearing a bow tie, his head nearly scraping the wooden ceiling. The man on the floor is illuminated. “I will tell you three things,” the giant calmly informs him. “If I tell them to you and they come true, then will you believe me?” The giant says to think of him as a friend and when the wounded man asks where he’s come from, the giant corrects, “The question is, where have you gone? The first thing I will tell you is there’s a man in a smiling bag. The second thing is the owls are not what they seem. The third thing is without chemicals, he points.” He is not permitted to say more but he takes the wounded man’s ring, promising to return it when he finds these things to be true. “We want to help you,” he says before offering one last statement: “Leo locked inside a hungry horse. There’s a clue at Leo’s house.” He then helpfully advises the suffering man that he’ll require medical attention before disappearing.

The giant waves his hand over this man’s face, waking him up from a slumber. Recovered from his wounds but still weary, he is sharp enough to realize that this is not a dream – and that the giant’s first clue was correct. “Better to listen than to talk,” the giant advises. “Don’t search for all the answers at once. A path is formed by laying one stone at a time. One person saw the third man. Three have seen him, yes. But not his body. One only, known to you. Ready now to talk.” The giant also reminds him he has forgotten something but disappears in a flash before explaining more.

In someone else’s vision, BOB races forward through a doorway, rapidly drawing closer until his teeth smash into the observer.

A teenage girl delivers Meals on Wheels to an old house. The old lady and the little boy inhabit the room, the lady in bed, her son across the room in a large chair. “Sometimes things can happen just like this,” the boy declares, snapping his fingers. The old lady is horrified to see creamed corn on her tray. “Do you see creamed corn on that plate?” she asks the girl. “I requested no creamed corn. Do you see creamed corn on that plate?” To the girl’s astonishment, the corn is gone, but with a quick glance she ascertains that the boy has the food cupped in his hand. “My grandson is studying magic,” the old lady proclaims proudly. “I’m taking Laura Palmer’s place in the Meals on Wheels,” the girl helpfully explains. “She’s dead,” the old lady informs her replacement, before denying that she knew Laura well and cringing at the memory of the hospital food she used to be brought. As the girl starts to leave, the old lady advises her to visit their next-door neighbor, Mr. Smith, who was friends with Laura and does not leave his house. “J’ai un ame solitaire,” the boy offers in a solemn voice. After the girl is gone, the boy turns to his mother and states, “She seemed like a very nice girl.”

Another girl, who looks like Laura but with dark hair, gazes across a living room to see BOB emerge and slowly walk toward her. He climbs over a couch and across a coffee table and shoves his face right up in hers, causing her to leap back in terror.

The man who was dreaming before dreams of a girl writhing in bed while a blurry BOB strolls in place. “The owls are not what they seem,” several voices recite as an owl is superimposed over BOB’s face. Then the blurry BOB comes into focus, a sickly grin spread across his face as he laughs excitedly.

A light rises on this same man in a crowded room – only he (and maybe one other companion) can see the giant onstage as he announces, “It is happening again. It is happening again.”

A record spins endlessly in a house across town. A white-haired man gazes at BOB in the mirror – when the dark-haired Laura lookalike runs downstairs to tell her aunt and uncle that she smells something burning, she sees both BOB and her uncle and tries to run away. BOB drags her downstairs and, illuminated by a white-hot light, he chases her around the living room as she screams for help. He grabs her and sneers in her face, tossing her on the couch and then molesting her, sucking her chin and groaning with frenzied hunger.

The giant stares solemnly at the dazed man in the crowded room, before fading into a band performing onstage.

BOB smiles back from the mirror at the white-haired man as he straightens his tie, mimicking this gesture himself.

The white-haired man adjusts a rearview mirror in his car and catches BOB’s grin.

This time, BOB snarls as the white-haired man’s reflection in a wider mirror.

BOB shouts and grimaces as a record plays and lightning flashes, turning toward the Meals on Wheels girl as she waits nervously nearby.

The man whom the giant keeps visiting receives another vision. The giant opens his palm to reveal the missing ring and drops it on the floor.

The white-haired man bellows in excited rage as water pours down from the ceiling of his jail cell, revealing BOB, soaking wet with arms outstretched.

An owl flies into view of an entity racing through the woods, likely BOB’s ride arriving to convey him home.

BOB climbs atop a hotel bed in a bright spotlight and laughs maniacally: “Coop, what happened to Josie?” Cooper, the man who frequently saw the giant, gazes at this new vision as BOB vanishes and the Little Man appears, dancing on the bedsheets.

The giant emerges again on that same stage, waving his hands and mouthing, “No.” Cooper, standing on the dance floor with a young woman who can’t see this vision, looks confused.

In Glastonbury Grove, amidst the circle of twelve sycamore trees, the spotlight calls forth BOB’s hand, writhing before his whole body materializes. The red curtains are reflected in the pool of black oil at the center of this grove.

Cooper opens the red curtains and walks down a hallway toward the armless statue of the Venus de Milo. He enters the main room, where the Venus de Medici statue, four chairs, a table ornamented with a little green, ringed planet, and a lamp provide the only audience (beside him) for a crooner in a tuxedo, holding an old-fashioned microphone and bellowing a song about sycamore trees. The Little Man dances into the room, sitting down and slowly turning toward Cooper as a strobe flashes. The singer disintegrates into pure air as the song ends.

The Little Man stares at Cooper, who has taken a seat next to him in the Red Room. “When you see me again it won’t be me,” he informs Cooper. He stomps his foot down and grinds it on the floor, further explaining “This is the waiting room. Would you like some coffee? Some of your friends are here.” On that cue, Laura joins them, winking, snapping a finger downward, striking a pose and declaring, “I’ll see you again in twenty-five years. Meanwhile.” Then she’s gone. The Little Man smiles enigmatically at Cooper. An old room-service waiter rises from a chair to give Cooper coffee; after he puts it down, the giant takes his place, strolling back to the same chair where he explains, “One and the same.” When he dematerializes, the Little Man rubs his hands together and Cooper tries to drink his coffee. First it is frozen, unable to leak from the cup. Then it splashes on the floor and the Little Man stops rubbing his hands. He looks away with a serious expression. Cooper tips the cup one more time, and it droops out like an oily sludge. “Wow, Bob, wow!” is all the Little Man has to say, before summoning a fiery explosion by commenting, “Fire walk with me.” Cooper enters another version of the Red Room where the Little Man points at him: “Wrong way.” Elsewhere, Cooper finds the room empty until the Little Man pops out from behind a chair to introduce “another friend” before returning to his hiding place. This Little Man, however, has pale eyes and laughs like a maniac. When Cooper sees him again, this version of the Little Man snarls, “Doppelganger.” In a flash of strobe, BOB appears before Cooper with a shuddering, terrified man in his grasp. “Be quiet,” BOB snaps at the man, who continues to gesture without making a sound. “You go,” BOB tells Cooper. “He is wrong. He can’t ask for your soul. I will take his.” As BOB flings his hand up and back in, a flame shoots out of this man’s head and then he goes limp. Cooper exits and BOB laughs. A doppelganger Cooper emerges from the other direction, writhing in the curtains and jogging up next to BOB, where they both share a long, vicious laugh. BOB sneers and grimaces one last time in the Red Room as the strobe flashes.

The Little Man watches Cooper emerge from the curtains just as he did in Laura’s dream. Their same conversation repeats itself – to a point. The only difference is that the ring is gone. Cooper notices this and asks after it. “Someone else has it now,” the Little Man reveals. Cooper speculates (“Annie…”) and asks where he is and how he can leave. “You are here,” the Little Man answers, “now there is no place to go BUT HOME!” He dances as if to mock Cooper, who looks upset.

In his hotel bathroom in the human world, Cooper smashes his head into the mirror. In the cracked glass he sees BOB with a matching head wound. “How’s Annie?” Cooper and BOB repeat, laughing wickedly. “How’s Annie? How’s Annie?”

Twenty-five years have passed. An aged Cooper sits in a chair in the Red Room, next to the small statue of the planet. He turns to see the Little Man vibrating and then notices a blonde girl sitting across from him – it appears to be Laura. The Little Man whirls around (“Let’s rock!”) and rubs his hands together as Laura touches her nose. They hold hands and a shadow floats across the curtains behind their couch and the Venus de Medici statue that watches over them. This is all familiar – Cooper dreamt it that night he saw MIKE and BOB. The Little Man announces with excitement, “I’ve got good news! That gum you like is going to come back in style. .... She’s my cousin. But doesn’t she look almost exactly like Laura Palmer?” As Cooper exchanges some confused words with Laura, the Little Man grins: “She’s filled with secrets. Where we’re from, the birds sing a pretty song. And there’s always music in the air.” Hearing this music he stands and begins to boogie, shuffling and snapping his fingers as a mild strobe flashes. Laura crosses to Cooper and kisses him, whispering in his ear while the Little Man joyfully dances, and dances, and dances…

A GUIDE TO EACH CHARACTER (including interactions)

Only the Monkey can talk about Judy.

The Monkey appears twice in extreme close-up in Fire Walk With Me: once when Pierre Tremond covers his face with a mask and then the mask is removed again (revealing a simian, rather than human, face), and then near the end of the film when it whispers into the lens the final words of Twin Peaks for 22 years: “Judy.”

The Monkey is not in the script – David Lynch asked for its presence a few days before shooting the “convenience store” sequence. He uses an extreme (and apparently tiny) fisheye lens to photograph various character speaking lines or moving their mouths in close-up, and the monkey is included in this group. Most likely, the decision to dub the line “Judy” over the monkey’s lip movements arrived during post-production, i.e. at the point when most references to Judy had already been left on the cutting room floor. Whatever Judy meant at the writing stage, she meant something else by the time Lynch had the monkey speak her name.

There is something beautiful, frightening, and even a bit comical about this monkey in the context of all the spirits who have a human appearance. This entire entry must grapple with the question of “How do we talk about Lynch’s most ineffable effects,” but this seems especially true for the creature we glimpse just twice, for less than a quarter of a minute, in the thirty-hour saga. All I can say is that it seems perfectly appropriate for this almost absurdly fleeting character – a talking animal, at that! – to whisper the final words of the film and transition us into one of the most sublime scenes in cinema history, as Laura meets her angel.

Character interactions
The monkey is the only one in this entire character series who never appears onscreen alongside someone else. However, via direct cuts, a masked Pierre transitions into it and Laura’s dead body transitions out of it.

List of episodes: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (feature film)

*Screentime: about a dozen seconds
*Scenes/episodes: two scenes in Fire Walk With Me

The Jumping Man

Designed by his creator as “a talisman come to life,” the Jumping Man conveys the uncanny power of an animated inanimate object.

There may be no character as thrillingly terrifying in all of Twin Peaks as the Jumping Man. The intensity of his living eyes behind that textured mask, the ferociousness of his gaping maw, and especially the incongruous appearance of that deadly-sharp nose in the middle of the face…this is truly a figure of nightmares. He looks like a composite of several other spirits despite his own distinct identity; his red suit matches the Little Man’s while his mask matches Pierre Tremond’s.

Here is another figure who was not in the script and was dreamed up by Lynch close to the shoot. In Fire Walk With Me, he serves as our gateway into the convenience store scene, emerging as a superimposition over the babbling Jeffries and eventually fading in amidst static before we cut to the wide shot of the whole assemblage. As such, he sets us on edge for the whole sequence. In The Missing Pieces, we hear his voice, not human at all; indeed, less human-sounding than the monkey’s, an unsettling mixture of animal roars/twitters and electronic manipulation.

Wow, for a character whose appearance is so brief there’s much that could be said about the Jumping Man. His link to the Little Man and the Tremond boy have already been noted, but there has also been speculation that he represents MIKE’s “true face” since, at least in costume, he resembles a larger form of MIKE’s arm. Others have wondered if he is connected to Leland, given his link to Pierre. Since he doesn’t talk, and looks the least human of anyone, others have wondered if he’s simply a conglomerate of the other spirits, a totem of the Black Lodge that represents its totality rather than any one feature. I don’t think I’m ready to commit to anything yet. Perhaps the new series will offer further ideas, but for now I like to focus on how inexplicable yet effective the Jumping Man is. So much of the spirit world’s power is beyond analysis, and he’s on the furthest edge of that.

Character interactions
The Jumping Man is quite enthusiastically in his own world; while he doesn’t interact with any of them, he appears onscreen alongside the convenience store gang (the woodsmen, the electrician, the Tremonds, the Man From Another Place, and BOB).

List of episodes: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (feature film) • Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (collection of deleted scenes from the film)

*Screentime: about a minute
*Scenes/episodes: one scene in Fire Walk With Me/The Missing Pieces
*Only location: room above the convenience store

The Electrician and the Woodsmen

The dynamic power of electrical currents and the sturdiness of wood are represented by an Electrician and two Woodsmen (who work with electricity themselves).

Three men sit near the back of the lineup in the room above the convenience store. They appear mostly as still, silent observers – aside from some up-and-down motions with their hands, the two woodsmen only move to fiddle with the electrical switches nearby, and only the electrician speaks (“Electricity!” and “Animal life!”).

Although ostensibly the most normal spirits (compared to the other presences in the room), they are some ways the oddest additions to this scene. Along with the Jumping Man, they form the half of these characters whom we have never seen before – and whom we will never see again. Even more strangely, these are not simply anonymous actors offered a day job (one actor was famous enough to receive alphabetical listing in the opening credits, on par with actors who are onscreen for the majority of the movie!).

The most notable speculation about these characters involves one of them – probably the black-bearded fellow – being the husband of the Log Lady, who was consumed by a forest fire and has perhaps had his soul trapped in wood like Josie (hence the Log Lady’s log, though Catherine Coulson herself has frowned on this theory). I’m not sure I go for that either – I prefer the idea of these characters being spirits who take on a human appearance rather than humans transported to a spiritual realm. That said, the woodsmen and the electrician seem to best represent the conduits between these two worlds: wood and electricity.

Character interactions
Though they appear alongside the various spirits in the convenience store (the Man From Another Place, BOB, the Jumping Man, and the Tremonds), the electrician and woodsmen don’t actually interact with any of them.

List of episodes: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (feature film) • Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (collection of deleted scenes from the film)

*Screentime: about a minute
*Scenes/episodes: one scene in Fire Walk With Me/The Missing Pieces
*Only location: room above the convenience store

The Lodge Singer

The Lodge Singer kicks off the ultimate show as the Black Lodge provides the stage for one of the most unusual lounge acts of all time.

When Agent Cooper enters the Black Lodge, this distinctive performer is waiting for him, wailing in a crystalline countertenor voice: “Under the sycamore trees/And I’ll see you in the trees/And I’ll see you/And you’ll see me/And I’ll see you in the branches that blow/In the breeze/I’ll see you in the trees…”

The Lodge Singer is the first spirit in this lineup to appear on the series itself, not just the film. He also may be the only character in all of Twin Peaks to be playing himself – Little Jimmy Scott has such a distinctive voice and presence that it’s hard to imagine this being anyone other than the legendary jazz singer transplanted into another realm. Lynch was inspired to include Little Jimmy when he witnessed the recording of a 1991 album – but the song has deeper roots in the Lynchverse. A draft of Lynch’s legendary unproduced screenplay Ronnie Rocket (which was supposed to star Michael J. Anderson, a.k.a. the Little Man), from the early eighties, closes with one character speaking the lyrics of "Sycamore Trees" to another.

Quite a lot of Lynch’s changes to the final teleplay, cryptic and abrasive as they are, can be traced back to some roots in the characters’ psychology or the themes of the narrative. This addition is purely a case of whimsical self-indulgence, and it works like a charm. If the Jumping Man provides our gateway into the “convenience store” scene of Fire Walk With Me, Jimmy Scott opens the door to the Black Lodge in the Twin Peaks finale. It’s so perfect, indicative of what only Lynch can do: a strange pivot between his inclination to run away from any historical grounding, into a universe more iconic than naturalistic, and on the other hand his propensity to startlingly draw on influences from far outside the material’s usual frame of reference. There is no real way to easily rationalize the Lodge Singer within the cosmology of Twin Peaks’ spirit world, and he’s kind of glorious for that alone.

Character interactions
The Lodge Singer does not interact with the characters who watch him, though he shares the screen with the Little Man and Agent Cooper. It’s almost an open question whether he even sees them or has simply been conjured forth from another place as a kind of hologram (there I go rationalizing…).

List of episodes
Episode 29 (German title: “Beyond Life and Death”)

*Screentime: about two minutes
*Scenes/episodes: one scene in episode 29
*Only location: the Red Room

The Tremonds (Mrs. Tremond and Pierre Tremond)

Known as the Tremonds, the Chalfonts, and doubtless many other names, this spooky duo offers unsettling but frequently helpful guidance.

Also known as the grandmother and the grandson, the Tremonds show up together four times: in the room above the convenience store with the other spirits (probably, although not definitively, confirming their non-human identity), in Laura’s dream directing her through shabby rooms toward the Red Room, somehow replacing the other (actual) Mrs. Tremond when Donna Hayward visits on her Meals on Wheels route, and delivering a creepy picture frame to Laura outside the diner (and telling her what’s going on in her house). Additionally, Pierre Tremond jumps out from the bushes when Leland is fleeing from a near-rendezvous with Teresa Banks, Ronette Pulaski, and his daughter Laura at the Blue Diamond Motel. Pierre’s disappearance in this moment may be the most overtly supernatural occurrence we ever witness from them, although creamed corn also quickly vanishes from Mrs. Tremond’s plate and appears in her grandson’s hand across the room when Donna visits. We also learn, when they are not present, that an old woman and her grandson named Chalfont lived near Teresa in the trailer park, and that they were the second Chalfonts to live in the same space (echoing the moment in the series when Donna brings Cooper to Mrs. Tremond’s house and discovers a totally different Mrs. Tremond, who claims her mother died years ago).

It’s possible that these are the only spirits in this entry to originate with someone other than David Lynch (although then again, he have created them). Quite likely, they initially weren’t supposed to be spirits at all. Harley Peyton introduces the characters in his teleplay for episode 9, giving Donna some colorful characters to visit on her route before she meets Harold. Despite their eccentricity and the grandson's magic tricks (involving playing cards not teleporting creamed corn) there is nothing overtly supernatural in the script. The creamed corn, interestingly, is in the draft available online but has been credited to Lynch (maybe he told Peyton to add a line about it during revisions) – apparently Mark Frost saw the dailies and was perplexed about the corn, and Lynch explained that they’d served creamed corn in the commissary recently and he had been inspired to add it. And so garmonbozia was born. The Tremonds appear in only that one scene in the entire series (which ultimately constitutes half of their entire screentime), but Lynch brings them back for Fire Walk With Me to cement their status as spirits as well as their connection to Laura – and Leland.

I’m not sure there are any spirits I’ve refrained from discussing more than the Tremonds. There’s just too much that seems up in the air – too many possibilities. However, I’ve certainly read a lot of theories and observations about them (apologies for limited attribution; it’s hard to remember what I read where, so just know that none of the theories in this section originated with me). Most readings focus more on the boy than the old woman; although there are questions about why she seems to detest creamed corn (is she not powerful enough to feed on garmonbozia, or is she a “reformed” spirit who no longer wants pain and sorrow?). Some have speculated that the grandmother actually has a lower status in the spirit world than the grandson, reversing what we might expect based on age. Pierre is the Tremond with the richest associations, particularly to David Lynch. Most obviously, on the series (though not in the film) the character is played by Lynch’s son, and in both film and series he is made up to look strikingly like the elder Lynch, especially his hair. Furthermore, the boy is known as “the magician,” a status which draws him close to Lynch’s role as manipulator of this onscreen world. Finally, his status as the “grandson” and his suit/bow tie combo (not sure if it’s a tuxedo or not; in the film it’s a dark suit and tie) connect him to one of Lynch’s earliest protagonists. In Lynch’s award-winning short film The Grandmother, which got him into the American Film Institute in the early seventies, a little boy from an abusive family magically “grows” a loving grandmother in his attic.

However, the boy also seems connected to Leland; Leland is one of the few character who wears a tuxedo – in the episode right before Pierre is introduced. Leland certainly wears a metaphorical mask just as the boy wears a literal one (or does BOB wear Leland as a mask – is the mask mutual?). Two of Pierre’s scenes are linked to Leland: he informs Laura that Leland (“the man behind the mask”) is looking for her diary at that exact moment (sending her home to get her first clue that Leland and BOB may be the same) and pops up as a guilt-ridden Leland flees the motel, a moment which both confronts him with his daughter’s sexuality and sets him up for the blackmail which will lead to the Teresa Banks murder. Like other spirits, the Tremonds often materialize in moments of great need and/or traumatic exposure for the characters, as if called forth subconsciously by the characters as much as willfully intervening themselves. The Tremonds present Laura with an open door when her world feels more enclosed than ever (her diary has just been exposed and sacrificed). Here's a forum where the topic has been covered. There’s also a fascinating video, The Grandson and the Grandmother, which I’ll discuss further in the “Additional Observations” section below (along with other videos by this author).

Characters the Tremonds interact with onscreen…
(here are the first spirits in this lineup who actually do interact with other characters)

Laura Palmer

Donna Hayward

Other spirits they interact with…

BOB (probably – this seems to be who Pierre is looking and pointing at when he commands, or comments, “Fell a victim”)

List of episodes: Episode 9 (German title: “Coma”) • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (feature film) • Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (collection of deleted scenes from the film)

*Screentime: about six minutes
These are the first spirits in the line-up who would appear in this character series even if they weren’t compiled with others (because they speak in at least three scenes). If disentangled, they would be ranked between Invitation to Love (currently ranked at #66) and Thomas Eckhardt (#65).
*Scenes/episodes: five scenes in episode 9 and Fire Walk With Me/The Missing Pieces
*Primary episode: episode 9 (but FWWM/MP is almost exactly equal)
*Primary location: the Tremond home
*Primary character interaction: Donna

The Giant

The benevolent Giant is more companion than guide, offering observations and general advice but unable to point to definitive answers.

The giant only communicates with Cooper. He appears six times: once when Cooper has been shot, to tell him “three things” (plus a fourth clue) and take his ring; once that evening to preach patience and offer a few more cryptic comments; once as a murder takes place across town to intone “It is happening again”; once to return Cooper’s ring when he remembers what Laura told him in his dream; once to wave his hands and mouth “no” as Cooper leans in to kiss his lover; and once inside the Black Lodge, switching places with a room service waiter who has appeared near him many times, to say “One and the same.” In none of these appearances except for the hand-waving gesture does the giant really point Cooper in any particular direction. Instead, he either predicts something that will happen, encourages a certain mindset, or hints at aspects of the spirit world. His calm demeanor and the “clue”-like nature of his enigmatic statements condition us to see him as a helper but when we step back and look at the role he plays, it’s hard to see how or where the giant actually plays a truly active role in Cooper’s work.

During the summer of 1990, Mark Frost reports that David Lynch called him up and said simply, “Mark, there’s a giant in Cooper’s room.” The rest, presumably, was up to Frost although Lynch receives co-story credit on the episode that introduces this memorable character (for the suggestion alone?). And, of course, Lynch directs that introduction. The giant materializes immediately after a seven-minute sequence involving a bumbling elderly waiter who ignores Cooper’s wound and returns to the room several times for no apparent reason. Many antsy viewers who barely made it through this extended, agonizing kickoff for the new season finally threw up their hands and tuned out when the giant proved no quicker in his delivery, nor clearer in his purpose. (I once showed my father a clip from episode 8, and while he laughed along with the waiter, once the giant began slowly intoning his advice, he stormed away from the computer in frustration: “Ok, I can’t take this anymore.”). More than two-thirds of the giant’s total screentime is consumed by this particular episode (his second scene is nearly as long as his first). He reappears in the three most important following episodes: the killer’s reveal, Cooper’s resolution of the mystery, and Cooper’s entry into the Lodge. He’s also used to warn Cooper about Annie, which doesn’t feel entirely in keeping with his persona (perhaps because his “guide” role, as we’ve seen, is more ambiguous than explicit, and perhaps because he seems way too agitated in this moment – his defining personality trait is his near-somnambulist calm).

There is a sense that in season one, the supernatural aspects (Sarah’s psychic premonitions, Cooper’s dream, the synchronous coincidence) are used to express a kind of subconscious intuition, whereas in season two they become more active participants in and manipulators of the narrative – becoming characters rather than just forces. In other words, in the first season they run parallel to the mystery, in the second they intervene in it. That conception is accurate in many ways (or at least, it might be accurate) but I’m not sure it fits the giant for the reasons mentioned above. He shows that there is a spirit realm, but he never demonstrates what purpose it serves. To the extent he could be seen as an emissary of the White Lodge, meant to counter the malicious interventions of the evil spirits, he would demonstrate the weakness of that force.

In fact he is a prophet rather than a rescuer, and as The Lodgers podcast has pointed out, prophets rarely alter events by predicting them ahead of time. They offer cryptic clues that can only be understood afterwards. The role of a prophet is typically less to provide a path around fate than to underline its inevitability. Some have even wondered if the seemingly gentle, helpful figure is actually a secret agent of the Black Lodge (since he leads Cooper to the Road House in a crucial moment where he could be checking up on the Palmers). That seems rather too cynical to me (others point out that the giant’s absence in Fire Walk With Me, so heavily focused on more sinister spirits and the consumption of pain and sorrow, may be the best confirmation that he belongs to the White Lodge after all).

And what of “one and the same”? The obvious reading is that the giant is speaking of the waiter whom he replaced, suggesting that the old man is his human host (explaining why we see him in the hotel, and twice at the Road House, just before or after the giant). However, the giant speaks this line when seated next to the Little Man, who nods, leading to speculation that the Little Man is who he’s talking about (reinforced when the giant vanishes, leaving only the Little Man behind). Since we learn in Fire Walk With Me that the Little Man is MIKE’s arm, does this mean that all of these other spirits – maybe the Tremonds too – are manifestations of MIKE, various counterforces arranged against the singular evil of BOB? There’s a certain elegance to this notion, reducing the complicated cosmology of the Lodge to central forces battling one another. Like the giant, I’m going to take a passive approach to all of this and let you draw your own conclusions!

Characters the Giant interacts with onscreen

Agent Cooper

other spirits who interact with him…

The Man From Another Place

humans who co-exist with him…

Room Service Waiter

List of episodes: *Episode 8 (German title: “May the Giant Be With You” - best episode) • Episode 9 (German title: “Coma”) • Episode 14 (German title: “Lonely Souls”) • Episode 27 (German title: “The Path to the Black Lodge”) • Episode 29 (German title: “Beyond Life and Death”)

*Screentime: about six minutes
If disentangled from the collective spirits entry, the giant’s screentime would earn him in a place between Invitation to Love (currently ranked at #66) and Thomas Eckhardt (#65), just like the Tremonds.
*Scenes/episodes: eight scenes in five episodes
*Primary episode: episode 8
*Primary location: the Great Northern
*Primary character interaction: Cooper


“He is BOB, eager for fun. He wears a smile. Everybody run…”

BOB has one of the most distinctive and unique presences in Twin Peaks, always showing up as a long-haired man in a denim jacket (or, once, in a sleeveless blue flannel shirt). Except of course when he doesn’t… For the purposes of this entry, however, we are going to focus exclusively on BOB in his spirit form. I think that makes far more sense logistically and aesthetically, for reasons to be discussed in Leland’s entry (this also opens up a can of worms with MIKE, but we’ll get to that). In his first few appearances, BOB is unnervingly, ominously silent and solemn. When he speaks he seems a bit odd, less scary than strange. In season two BOB exhibits more animalistic behavior, and he also laughs and grins constantly, to the point that it becomes a trademark. When he kills Maddy, however, his expression is ferocious and hungry– his “smile” is as much a grimace as a grin. He’s been more animalistic than human since the very beginning of the season, but never more than in this moment.

BOB appears in (at least) four phases. At first he’s a fleeting image, terrifying in part because his meaning and identity can never quite be pinned down. He’s hidden in mirrors, embedded in dreams and visions, never seen in person but always hovering nearby as a threatening presence. Then, revealed as Leland’s inhabiting spirit, his narrative purpose draws into focus and he tends to be used in the same ways repeatedly: as a reflection of Leland and as a grimacing presence intercut with him, reminding us that the evil spirit is crouching behind the mask of this respectable businessman (in the reveal particularly, he sometimes seems more like a manifestation of Leland’s personal dark side rather than a demon pulling the strings himself, although this element tends to be played down in other moments). When BOB returns, severed from the dead Leland, he is not really back to his original role – instead he pops up as a kind of overlord of Twin Peaks’ spiritual forces, taunting Cooper and Windom. He’s both less human and more of an individual character than ever.

Finally, in Fire Walk With Me, BOB becomes a sort of composite of all these different roles – at times a near-symbolic totem of trauma, at times an expression of evil sharing and consuming Leland, at times an independent force grappling with rival spirits. Without abandoning that last aspect (especially in BOB’s first and last scenes), the film restores BOB’s primary connection to the Palmers after a time on the series when he was largely associated with the woods and the Lodges.

BOB’s origin is legendary. There are several different stories of how the character came about, but Lynch either synthesizes them into a coherent whole or clarifies the order in which they happened. According to him, the pilot was being shot on location in the Palmer house when some crew members were setting up Laura’s room. One of these men, the set dresser Frank Silva, was moving the bed around and a woman (perhaps the production designer) shouted to him, “Make sure you don’t close yourself in there, Frank!” Lynch was immediately struck by the image of this crew member trapped inside the bedroom and he shouted for Silva to stop where he was. Perhaps worried about union rules, Lynch confirmed the set dresser was in SAG and shot a quick pick-up, with low lighting, of him crouching down behind the bed, staring up at the camera. Who knew how this would end up being used? (Lynch certainly didn’t.) At another point in the shoot, possibly that evening, Lynch was filming the scene in which Sarah leaps up from the couch and shrieks. The camera operator informed him that someone was caught in the shot; as it turned out, that someone else was…Frank Silva! Giddy with the coincidence, Lynch refused a retake.

From there, things get confusing. According to Grace Zabriskie, it was at this moment that Lynch took Silva upstairs and shot the pick-up in Laura’s bedroom, suggesting the image was less a coincidence than an inspiration although it’s possible she mixed up the order of events. The alternate ending of the pilot, which Lynch and Frost were required to include in case ABC refused the series and it had to be converted into a feature (for release in European markets), opens with a shot of Sarah jumping up and calling to Leland, telling him she saw the man who killed Laura. This must have been shot quickly after the accidental shot of Silva in the mirror, suggesting that Lynch was very much making up the ending as he went along. Soon after, Lynch invited Silva out on a ferry to a remote island, where they descended into the pit of an old schoolhouse and shot a scene with him in a boiler room, surrounded by a circle of candles, singing a strange song and offering odd lines before another character shoots him dead. In this scene, also included in the alternate ending, Silva plays a criminal drifter who is identified as Laura's killer. His name is Bob.

During season one, BOB’s appearance is almost entirely limited to these three scenes (the scene behind the bed is reshot in a well-lit close-up, but the mirror shot and BOB speaking to the camera are taken directly from the pilot/alternate ending). Described as “Killer Bob” in the credits, the character remains ambiguous and it’s quite likely the creators themselves didn’t know what to do with him yet. Frost has said they wanted a supernatural element from the very beginning, but he’s also stated that they didn’t settle on Laura’s killer until after the pilot – in other words, after all of BOB’s season one material was invented. This changes, of course, in season two. If his name in the credits hadn’t already been a tip-off, BOB is shown murdering Laura in the flashback that closes the premiere (although one TV critic insisted that he was actually giving her CPR). The following episode features perhaps the most terrifying image of BOB, as he climbs over the couch and directly into the camera.

However, the biggest boost for BOB wasn’t onscreen but on the page: Jennifer Lynch’s The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer reveals that BOB was the singular presence terrorizing Laura since childhood, the locus of all her torment, trauma, and self-hatred. There is also a sense that he is masking somebody else; between the book and the first two episodes, the central question of Twin Peaks quickly became less Who killed Laura Palmer? than Who is BOB? (which would necessarily answer the first question). While BOB is one of the most cherished aspects of the show today, this was less true at the time. Critics frequently cited the character as a reason that the series lost its luster in season two. Some considered him too terrifying and offputting for an audience that wanted a spooky soap opera mystery. Others saw him as a cheat, scolding Lynch and Frost for introducing a new figure, barely glimpsed in the first season, to pin the crime on. And many regarded him and the giant as unfortunate signs of Twin Peaks’ turn toward the supernatural, not something they expected or desired after the naturalistic pilot and the surreal but relatively down-to-earth season one (the Red Room was, after all, presented as a dream).

For those who did love BOB, primarily hardcore fans by this point, there were mixed feelings about the reveal and closure of the mystery (as the Usenet boards of the time indicate). Some were disappointed to find out he was literally an inhabiting spirit rather than either something more difficult to pin down – and thus more uncanny – or something more overtly metaphorical. (Jennifer Lynch voiced solidarity with the latter group, complaining many years later that the series used BOB to erase Leland’s responsibility). Others felt that this climax fully delivered on the character’s promise, allowing him to embody the malevolent force saturating the town since the earliest episodes and providing a perfect allegorical (but also literal) representation of the town’s dark side, and the Palmer family’s particular experience of abuse. For those in the latter group, and probably even many of those in the former, there was eager anticipation for the role BOB would play going forward. In this sense, the reveal was brilliant: by identifying Laura’s killer as an incorporeal killer from an uncertain source, the mystery could continue even after the initial question had been resolved.

Curiously, then, the middle of season two seems to drop BOB altogether. He doesn’t appear again for seven episodes, pops up again four episodes later for a brief cameo (in both cases immediately before the series goes on hiatus) and finally plays a major (albeit relatively brief) role in the finale. But then the memory of BOB always tends to distort his actual presence; most of his appearances on the series are extremely fleeting – even in the flashback to Laura’s death and Maddy’s murder sequence, the actual shots of BOB constitute less than a minute of screentime. In fact BOB is seen nearly as much in Fire Walk With Me as in all of his TV episodes combined (quite a bit more if we include The Missing Pieces). He is, however, mentioned far more often in the first third of season two than in the remainder of that season; this probably plays into the perception of omnipresence followed by absence.

BOB is at the very heart of what draws me to Twin Peaks, and what occasionally frustrates me about it. First of all, BOB made me a fan of the show. When I began renting the DVDs in 2006, the pilot was not on Netflix so I had to begin with the first regular episode. I was initially not very impressed; to my eyes (much more accustomed to classic movies than classic TV) it seemed like a fairly typical early nineties show. I wasn’t hooked. Not, that is, until a weird scene with a woman on a couch embracing her dead daughter’s friend and repeating “I miss her so much” before gasping and…I literally yelled out loud and jumped in my seat. I was NOT expecting that completely incongruous shot of a long-haired man staring directly out of the screen at me. I was terrified. I was shaken. I was hooked. I’d seen Mulholland Drive at this point, and the sudden jolt of this stranger reminded me of the creature behind the diner. But it was more frightening in a way, appearing human rather than monstrous but all the more chilling for it. Above all, there was a sense of invasion without any warning. The rules could be completely violated and no one, especially the viewer, was safe. I had to know more.

It took me a couple years to finally watch the whole series (I stopped to wait for the pilot as well as season two, which was still forthcoming at this time) but when I did, BOB’s couch scene became an instant favorite. I watched a lot of films at this time and anything that could effect me so viscerally, without any mediating reflection, was a hell of a find. In fact, I was looking that clip up on YouTube when I came across my first spoiler: a clip entitled “BOB kills Maddy.” I remember being a bit surprised, primarily because it was hard for me to imagine BOB having enough of a physical presence to kill someone. At this point I didn’t see him as human but as a force beyond the human, or else burrowed deeply inside the human – less an independent presence capable of lashing out than a terrifying reminder of a darkness without name (I can’t remember what I made of the flashback to the train car; in fact I was weirdly unconscious of that scene until my fourth or fifth viewing).

After his role in the murder played out, I eagerly awaited his return. But when BOB finally returned on top of the hotel bed after a long absence to sneer “What happened to Josie??!!” I do remember I was disgusted. I’d stomached all the crummy subplots and bizarre character developments of the mid-season but this felt like too much, a totally degraded take on an iconic character. I know others are simply relieved he’s back, but the scene has never worked for me. It’s a bit like being a little kid, terrified by a larger-than-life film villain, and then going to Disney World and seeing them waddle around with a giant cartoon head, waving and signing autographs. You’re either pleased to see your favorite coasting on their recognizability, benignly incorporated into a comforting canon, or you’re vaguely peeved that they’ve been robbed of their singularity. I was thrilled to see him in better form in the finale, especially as he received the honor of dispatching Windom Earle, a villain I regarded as far inferior.

When BOB was fully restored to his animal nature in the film, I was initially on board. And yet as the movie developed, I couldn’t help feeling that this iconic character was beginning to seem…unnecessary. Throughout the series he had slowly guided us to the realization that Laura had suffered unspeakable horror and that the source of her trauma was within the home, not outside of it. (Cannily, the character looks exactly like the type of creepy stranger whom society worries about as a threat to children as opposed to the far more frequent source of abuse which is familiar and domestic.) BOB, brilliantly, embodied the inability of the people within the narrative – but also the narrative itself – to depict or convey the beating heart of this trauma (except for the brutality of Maddy’s murder, an approach that could be sustained for four minutes but not two hours, let alone thirty episodes). And yet Fire Walk With Me, as quickly became apparent, did not carry this same inability. In scene after scene, it was able to articulate and express Laura’s trauma and as such the supernatural aspects of BOB began to feel gratuitous.

The character’s appearance was still powerful as a metaphor, but all of the associated Lodge imagery felt like a distraction, something obscuring the movie’s strongest elements, as if Lynch wasn’t able to admit to himself that the core of the story was so rawly realistic. In a review written minutes after I finished the film, I wrote, “I'm a great believer in the powers of mysticism, the uncanny, surrealism, and the language of dreams, and I don't believe they are antithetical to serious subjects. But here there is the irresistible feeling that all of the movie's supernatural elements end up obfuscating, and hence, cheapening the movie's true heart of darkness. Part of me wishes that Lynch had abandoned the black lodge, and the dwarf, and Agent Cooper, and the dreams, and the FBI investigation. Keep Bob as a metaphor, certainly, a way to shed light on the power of denial. But focus the movie, honestly, on its appalling subject: the complete destruction of an innocent human being by the person closest to her.”

I can still very much understand that reaction, but I feel differently now. I think BOB, as an independent force and not just a mask for Leland, is important to the film – and by extension, the larger Twin Peaks mythology – in several ways. For one, he reminds us that Laura’s story, for all its isolated intensity, is part of a larger spiritual landscape (for myself, echoing Lynch’s own interests, I have found that Hindu mystical texts clarify this immensely). Evil, or more specifically, repression, cruelty, bitterness, self-indulgence, and abuse, are not just contained within individuals, they operate within larger systems within which we are embedded. BOB also draws our attention to the limits of a purely rational, physical understanding of our world, which is far more complex and expansive than the narrow lens of everyday perception can contain (Martha Nochimson’s view of Lynch through quantum concepts in David Lynch Swerves has been particularly helpful here). And without the figure of BOB, the ending of the film makes little sense and serves little purpose – his desire to possess Laura provides the narrative stakes which the angel and the ring overcome, leading us to wonder what Laura herself has to do with this: how does she defeat him?

This leads to the most important reason for BOB to be an active presence in the movie, calling back to Laura’s diary (which I hadn’t read when I first saw Fire Walk With Me). From the beginning of the show through the reveal, and especially afterwards, BOB’s importance is tied to the question of Laura’s killer. But he is also tied to Laura herself. The diary makes this especially clear, as he talks to/through Laura when her father couldn’t be around, writing in all caps inside her diary and giving voice to her own self-loathing. Through much of Fire Walk With Me, Laura views BOB as a temptation she must overcome, a terror within herself. Of course, this obviously has questionable aspects – as the podcast host Rosie said in a recent Diane… episode, (touched on around 1:17:00) “I do not like the idea that BOB is situated in Laura. That is something that I find very difficult. ... He’s the spirit of the event, and the spirit of the abuse, and the spirit of the incest and the spirit of the rape. I reject the idea that he solely belongs to Laura. I think we have a terrible tendency in patriarchal cultures to locate abuse within the abused. There’s an article I read years ago in Jezebel by an author named Dana Evans: 'You Don't Have Daddy Issues, But Your Piece of Shit Father Might.' And that’s the way I kind of think about this. Laura doesn’t have BOB issues, Leland is the one who’s having to grapple with BOB.”

I wonder if, beyond my objections to mixing “safe” genre conventions with unflinching psychological horror, this was part of what bothered me on my first viewing – a sense that, by making BOB real, Lynch was not only exculpating Leland but judging Laura, placing her in a situation where she was supposed to reject BOB to prove her worth. We’re getting into territory now that is best left for Laura’s own entry, but I’ll end by saying BOB works for me because he literalizes forces that are both beyond and within us all (in fact, he represents exactly the intersection of inside/outside). He becomes thorny and questionable because he’s also much more than that: he’s a soothing escape hatch, he’s a terrifying reminder; he’s a fun boogeyman, he’s an unsettling presence; he’s a “cool” baddie, he’s a personification of horrific violence; he’s a haunted house ghoul, he’s impenetrable despite all the genre snares that attempt to trap him. BOB is both a searing indictment of denial and an evasive expression of it. In short, he’s problematic as hell…but isn’t that exactly how BOB should be?

Characters BOB interacts with onscreen

Sarah Palmer

Maddy Ferguson (his victim)

Windom Earle (his...victim?)

Phillip Gerard…

other spirits who he interacts with…

...or is that MIKE?

The Man From Another Place

The Tremonds

humans who co-exist with him…

Leland Palmer

Agent Cooper

Laura Palmer...temporarily? potentially? (his victim)

List of episodes: The Pilot • Episode 1 (German title: “Traces to Nowhere”) • Episode 2 (German title: “Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer”) • Episode 8 (German title: “May the Giant Be With You”) • Episode 9 (German title: “Coma”) • *Episode 14 (German title: “Lonely Souls” - best episode) • Episode 15 (German title: “Drive With a Dead Girl”) • Episode 16 (German title: “Arbitrary Law”) • Episode 23 (German title: “The Condemned Woman”) • Episode 27 (German title: “The Path to the Black Lodge”) • Episode 29 (German title: “Beyond Life and Death”) • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (feature film) • Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (collection of deleted scenes from the film)

*Screentime: about eighteen minutes
If disentangled from the collective spirits entry, BOB’s screentime would earn him a place between Ernie Niles (currently ranked at #46) and Jacques Renault (#45).
*Scenes/episodes: twenty-six scenes in eleven episodes and Fire Walk With Me/The Missing Pieces
*Primary episode: Fire Walk With Me/The Missing Pieces (episode 29 is the top TV episode)
*Primary location: the Palmer home
*Primary character interaction: While the obvious choice would seem to be Leland, BOB and Leland usually switch places rather than share the frame so they actually have hardly any screentime together. In fact, BOB shares the most screentime with the Little Man (if including both versions of the convenience store sequence), with Laura a very close second. (If measuring the spirits' screentime individually, BOB just misses the top 10 for Fire Walk With Me/The Missing Pieces.)

The Man From Another Place

The Little Man oversees the entire spirit world from his comfy throne – but to what purpose?

One of the only things I knew about Twin Peaks before I watched it for the first time was that it featured a backwards-talking dwarf. Rather unimaginatively in retrospect, I pictured a small gnome-like man with a big beard in a wooded glen. I definitely did not picture this little guy with slicked-back hair and an all-red suit, snapping his finger and dancing to jazz music in a red-curtained room with a chevron floor. Such is the brilliance of David Lynch. When the Little Man (officially dubbed “The Man From Another Place” in the episode credits) pops up in Cooper’s dream at the end of episode 2, his existence defies narrative conventions and transcends the show’s mystery trappings. At the same time, his statements are quickly adopted by the writers as a code to be broken.

Like the show itself, the Little Man straddles the gap between pure mood/atmosphere for its own sake and the gathering of clues, however unconventional, in an ongoing investigation. Several episodes will dip back into this footage, using a character’s dialogue as pretext but hoping to immerse us in a sensation that can’t simply be evoked through words. Meanwhile, the Little Man’s (and Dream Laura’s) pronouncements are literalized, as a web of psychic premonitions and uncanny echoes in season one and then as more on-the-nose supernatural phenomena in season two. With the mystery solved, the Little Man’s utility seems to be over. Yet his identity is still ambiguous. BOB has been explained as an inhabiting spirit, Cooper has determined that the giant is not just a dream vision, but the Little Man remains a cryptic enigma.

Despite one brief, nearly throwaway appearance after Josie’s death (the only time he’s not written and directed by Lynch), there isn’t any real follow-through on the Little Man until the finale. In this episode, he seems less fun and carefree than he did in that first appearance. At times he grins, at others he stares with unnerving concern at Cooper. He warns “When you see me again it won’t be me,” and sure enough the rest of his appearances mark him with the behavior and appearance of a doppelganger. In Fire Walk With Me (and especially some of The Missing Pieces), the Little Man cements the film’s status as a sequel in addition to a prequel. If his debut suggests a role as master of ceremonies for a spiritual underworld, his work in the finale and the film confirms this. In addition to connecting the Little Man to the Owl Cave ring that Laura places on her finger just before BOB kills her, the film also delivers a rather astonishing reveal. In one scene, the Little Man proclaims “I am the arm,” later linking up with the stub of the one-armed man. This suggests he is the arm that the spirit MIKE chopped off to sever his evil bond with BOB.

Quick, make a list of the top ten most universally recognized, iconic characters of Twin Peaks. If you read the Log Lady or Jacoby entries you may already have one ready: Cooper in his black suit with the tape recorder (or cup of coffee), Laura wrapped in plastic, the Log Lady with, well, her log. Maybe Dr. Jacoby with the red/blue glasses or Nadine with the eye patch or Gerard/Mike the one-armed man, but they’re a bit more specific, probably requiring someone to actually watch the show rather than just encounter it through cultural osmosis. Bob in his jean jacket and the giant in his bow tie are certainly unforgettable, but they’re tied to season two which tends to be overlooked by the more casual observer. Maybe Audrey swaying in the diner? Let’s be honest, it’s impossible to compose a top ten without the dancing Little Man.

In fact, many – maybe even most – people barely familiar with Twin Peaks would probably list him before any other character. He can stand in as readily for Twin Peaks as the Wicked Witch for The Wizard of Oz or Darth Vader for Star Wars. Unlike other supporting characters who gradually took over the iconography of their series, however (Fonzie and Steve Urkel come to mind), the Little Man remains a fleeting presence in the crowded ensemble. Remarkably, between his stunning debut in the Red Room dream sequence of episode 2 and his unscripted return for the finale, the character appears in only one shot, lasting a few seconds. This largely forgettable moment (in which he dances on a bed) was also the first time in nearly two years that the production had called upon Michael J. Anderson, since the Red Room had been shot as an alternate ending for the pilot back in the spring of 1989.

However, hardly anyone outside of devoted Peaks fans remembers that fleeting cameo in the middle of season two, and brilliant as the finale is, too few have made it all the way to the end of the series (let alone the film which contains a good chunk of his material). The Little Man’s reputation, and his intimate association with Twin Peaks, derives almost entirely from that one scene early in the first season, perhaps the most legendary dream sequence in TV history. There are many elements that make it work: the chevron floor, the red curtains, the music, the bizarre non sequitur dialogue, and maybe especially the backwards-talking sound effects (Lynch recorded the scene with the actors speaking phonetically backwards – a skill which, by complete coincidence, Anderson excelled at since childhood – and then played the scene backwards in post so that the lines come out “forward” but distorted).

But there’s no doubt that Anderson himself is central to its effect, the liveliest element onscreen, delightful and offputting in equal measure. The notion that a little person, even one with features as unusual as Anderson’s, inherently makes a scene “surreal” has been criticized as unenlightened (and parodied as lazy, in films like Living in Oblivion). However, I don’t think it’s just Anderson’s stature or appearance that startles us. I think it’s the absolute confidence with which he dominates the scene. Cooper is unsettled and Laura is enigmatic, but the Little Man – from his rambunctious “Let’s rock!” to his final extended boogie under the closing credits – is truly in his element. And that’s what so weird and exciting about it: this world may be totally bizarre, but someone belongs in it, calls it home even! If it makes sense to him, maybe we’re the ones who are out of it? As such, the Little Man is a perfect avatar for the magic of David Lynch.

Is the Little Man good or evil? A solid answer is probably, “No.” A better answer might be another question, “Is he helpful or unhelpful to the human characters?” First of all, I don’t really get the sense that the Little Man – even less so than the other spirits – is operating by a human being’s moral code. Instead he seems to represent spiritual currents larger than those categories, despite his identification with MIKE’s “evil” arm (more on that in MIKE’s entry). The Little Man’s “good/bad” qualities rely less on his enigmatic intentions than on the effects of his presence.

The Red Room dream is entirely helpful for Cooper, providing encouragement in his search for Laura’s killer and ultimately identifying the culprit directly. Obviously the finale is more ambiguous, especially when we see the wicked-looking doppelganger, but at what point does the Little Man actually harm Cooper? If anything, he seems a bit beyond intervening for Cooper either way, playing more of a witness role to see how well Cooper passes a test (in the “Additional Observations” section I’ll relay a theory from a video that describes Cooper’s coffee – and the Little Man’s reactions – as evidence of how the detective fares).

The film (especially incorporating The Missing Pieces) provides the most confounding case. On the one hand, we see the Little Man laughing along with BOB. In a dream, he shows Laura a ring which Cooper tells her not to take. He is possibly laughing again, in cutaway flashes, while Laura is killed (although others have interpreted these spasms as sharing her pain). At the end of the film he eats the garmonbozia (pain and sorrow – though it looks like creamed corn) that BOB brings him. Most importantly, the Little Man is revealed as MIKE’s arm – which was imprinted with the tattoo “Fire walk with me,” linking him to BOB, and which he removed after seeing the face of God. This suggests the arm, and thus the Little Man, is linked with evil.

On the other hand (no pun intended), MIKE does not seem to reject the Little Man at the end of the movie. Instead, together, they appear to confront BOB, who does not look happy about giving them their garmonbozia. So is the Little Man, like MIKE, an opponent of BOB and thus, if not exactly a “good guy,” a convenient ally for Laura in her struggle against the same? The ring that the Little Man offers helps Laura, causing her death, yes, but in the process preventing BOB from possessing her. And whenever the ring is present, it accompanies a power and agency on the part of its bearer, be they Teresa or Laura. Even the arm situation may be more ambiguous that it first appears.

Circumstantial evidence sprinkled throughout Fire Walk With Me associates the Little Man with BOB but the grand thrust of the narrative does quite the opposite. My vote, for what it’s worth, is that the character represents a positive force in both Cooper’s and Laura’s experiences. The Little Man is the highest-ranking spirit within this entry, and there’s much more that could be said about him. To get to that, however, we have to discuss one more character whose screentime, identity, and nature is almost impossible to pin down…

Characters the Little Man interacts with onscreen

Agent Cooper

Laura Palmer

Room Service Waiter

Leland Palmer

Phillip Gerard
(or at least, his physical appearance, though the entity itself seems to be…)

other spirits who he co-exists with…


other spirits who he interacts with…


The Giant

List of episodes: *Episode 2 (German title: “Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer” - best episode) • Episode 23 (German title: “The Condemned Woman”) • Episode 29 (German title: “Beyond Life and Death”) - including his doppelganger • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (feature film) • Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (collection of deleted scenes from the film)

*Screentime: about twenty-six minutes
If disentangled from the collective spirits entry, the Little Man’s screentime would earn him a place between Harold Smith (currently ranked at #36) and Evelyn Marsh (#35).
*Scenes/episodes: eleven scenes in three episodes and Fire Walk With Me/The Missing Pieces
*Primary episode: Fire Walk With Me/The Missing Pieces (episode 29 is the top TV episode)
*Primary location: the Red Room
*Primary character interaction: Cooper
*Episode screentime: If measured individually, the Little Man would be in the top 10 of episode 2 and (collectively) Fire Walk With Me/The Missing Pieces and in the top 3 of episode 29.

...and then there was MIKE

BOB’s determined opponent, who fights him at every turn (or does he?), MIKE is a spirit whom we never see outside his host’s form (or do we?).

Dissociating the spirit from the host is difficult because, unlike Leland/BOB, both apparently take the same form. However, we do see MIKE once in Cooper’s dream and once inside the Black Lodge; since these are incorporeal spaces, these appearances could be interpreted as “pure” MIKE rather than MIKE through a Gerard mask. However, there are signs that perhaps MIKE overlaps with other spirits too, making it difficult to zero in on him as an independent character the way we can with BOB or the giant or the Little Man.

As with BOB, after a couple silent, fleeting appearances, we are officially introduced to MIKE in Cooper’s dream. He’s a bearded, one-armed man who tells Cooper that he lived with BOB above a convenience store. He had a tattoo on his left shoulder that was “touched by the devilish one” but after he saw the face of God he took the entire arm off. Unless speaking in metaphorical terms, this sounds much more like the backstory of a very physically-present person than an ethereal spirit. Adding to the confusion, when Cooper catches up with the one-armed man in waking life, his name is Phillip Gerard, he sells shoes, and doesn’t know the long-haired BOB from Cooper’s dream (though his best friend, a veterinarian, is named Bob). Season two attempts to square this circle by revealing that Gerard is the human host of an inhabiting spirit named MIKE, who is suppressed through injections of Haloperidol. BOB was MIKE’s familiar and partner – they used to kill together (forming a perfect relationship between appetite and satisfaction), until MIKE saw God and removed his arm. Since then, MIKE has continued to inhabit Gerard with the goal of finding BOB.

Yet in the film, Gerard/MIKE is shown confronting Leland directly both in the human world and inside the spirit realm; since the story is a prequel this contradicts the series. He does know BOB’s host after all. Why lie to Cooper? Furthermore, he calmly reunites with his “arm” (the Little Man) in the Lodge and demands that BOB deliver his garmonbozia (suggesting BOB has the appetite for garmonbozia but he MIKE will receive the satisfaction, a relationship he told Cooper was over). So was he lying as well about cutting his arm off, choosing a righteous path, and fighting BOB? Are they actually still allies? This doesn’t really work either, because MIKE seems to help Laura repeatedly (as does the Little Man) and seems genuinely pissed at Leland/BOB for “stealing the corn.” Who is MIKE? What does he want? What is his true face?

As noted in the Gerard entry, it’s likely MIKE’s confusing character motivations (and his confounding relationship to his host) has a lot to do with the writers making the narrative and mythology up as they went along. In fact, I already described the process of MIKE's creation in that entry; since the two characters themselves overlap so thoroughly, I might as well reprint that section here before moving on:
I will mostly be dealing with the spirits of Twin Peaks in a single, massive entry devoted to them collectively, within which I'll dive into individual entities. MIKE presents a dilemma, however, and requires some discussion here. In that entry, I'm focusing almost exclusively on instances when the spirits appear in their own form...but what is MIKE's form? When we're introduced to the spirit for the first time on the show, in Cooper's dream, BOB appears as BOB not Leland, but MIKE appears as Phillip Gerard. This is extremely confusing, but there are some obvious practical explanations... 
When writing season one, Lynch and Frost had not yet settled on the course their mystery would take (although both claim they identified their killer early in the process, they don't seem to have charted out a resolution). The "supernatural" elements of season one are usually more psychic than anything else; it's possible the one-armed man was not supposed to have any actual relationship to the "MIKE" in Cooper's dream, any more than Maddy knows the "cousin...who looks almost exactly like Laura Palmer" or Jacques' curtains and spinning record connect in some supernatural way to the Red Room. Rather, Cooper is remaining receptive to the universe and allowing clues to arrive in a dream form which will guide him in the real world. In that sense, Gerard's role is finished when he tells Cooper about his veterinarian friend (conveniently named "Bob") who happens to treat Jacques Renault' pet bird and work next to a convenience store that sells the twine Laura Palmer was tied up with. There's no mention of drugs or blackouts; Gerard's middle name is "Michael" but the tattoo on his lost arm reads "Mom" not "Fire walk with me." Maybe Gerard will be brought back in connection with Bob Lydecker, whom we never get to see (though Gerard's glance at the police sketch confirms that he doesn't look like the Bob from Cooper's dream). Or, more likely, Gerard has just served his plot purpose and now we can move on... 
Except, of course, he hasn't and we don't. Because Gerard does come back, and it turns out he does have a relationship to MIKE - and how! I highly suspect this notion of spiritual possession, at least as far as Gerard goes (Leland may be another story), was a season two development and not something planned all along (according to several accounts, Lynch and Frost didn't even expect to be picked up for season two). Bringing back a great actor and a cool character, who could also continue to draw upon that goldmine of a dream, makes a lot of sense. At this point though, as the Log Lady says, "complications arise." We've seen MIKE. We've seen Gerard. They look the same. If MIKE is an inhabiting spirit, and so is BOB why does the former appear in his host's body when the latter doesn't - indeed can't (the mystery would be spoiled if he did)? It smells a lot like a retcon that was never fully retconned. As such, we have to come up with explanations on our own. And I'll save those for the upcoming "Spirit World" omnibus entry in a few weeks.
Well, here we are not just a few weeks, but a month later, so I guess it’s time.


Because he can’t be pinned down completely I’ll offer several different readings of MIKE, based on my own thoughts but also other theories I’ve read. (I’ll try to attribute where possible, but I’ve read and discussed a lot over the years so if I can’t remember the source I’ll just note that it’s not me.) Starting backwards from my last question...

What is MIKEs true face?

• The first, most obvious answer would be that MIKE’s spirit form echoes his human host. I wish I could remember all the theories about why this might be (as I recall, there was a good one offered as feedback on the Sparkwood & 21 podcast at one point – maybe from Daniel Smith?). In some readings, this has something to do with him seeing the face of God and severing his arm and connection to BOB (though this would leave open the question of what he looked like before he did that). In others, MIKE is always a spirit who takes his host’s form because he’s too grand to require his own; he is “above” that need, so to speak – a spirit who can’t be contained or glimpsed by human eyes in his raw state.

• One of the most compelling arguments I’ve encountered is that we do eventually see the “true face of MIKE” (as explained in this video by selphiealmasy8): the Little Man is not just his arm, but his whole being, severed when the cut was made. This seems borne out when we see Leland/BOB enter into the Lodge at the end of Fire Walk With Me – there is a nice symmetry in who faces who: the long-haired man (BOB’s true face) stands across from the Little Man (MIKE’s true face) while Leland Palmer (BOB’s human host) floats in front of Phillip Gerard (MIKE’s human host). Personally, I am drawn to this idea because it implicitly cast doubt on the wisdom of Gerard/MIKE severing his/their arm. After all, division is seldom a good thing in Lynch’s world, and the idea of cutting off your arm to expunge evil in unusually dualistic for his spiritual ethos.

• Others conclude that MIKE’s true face is the Jumping Man, given his red suit. This one is popular on dugpa’s World of Blue forum; this thread offers a more nuanced version of that notion, in which, rather than identify one or the other appearance as MIKE’s true face we recognize that they are all fragments. The user Nighthawk explains: “It can be surmised that there is a connection between MFAP [Man From Another Place] and Jumping Man. They both wear an identical red suit. The implication is that since MFAP is the malevolent part of Mike’s consciousness remaining in the lodge, then Jumping Man is Mike’s "body." Of course it is difficult to talk about spirits having a physical body, but there is some residue of the original Mike that still remains in the BL, probably because it wields two symbols of power: the red suit and the wooden sceptre. This "body" is of course just an empty shell, jumping around like a headless chicken, performing some distant approximation of a ritual dance that Mike (as the BL Magician) used to perform. It appears that Mike is now in fact split into three entities. The spirit inhabiting Philip Gerrard, MFAP, and Jumping Man.”

What does MIKE want?

• According to the series, MIKE simply wants to catch and stop BOB. Fire Walk With Me suggests another motivation: he isn’t looking for some grand cosmic, action-oriented battle, nor is he trying to assist human law enforcement in finding this nemesis (a plan rooted in the European ending of the pilot). Instead he wants justice – BOB stole garmonbozia that belonged to him and he wants it paid back (“You stole the corn from the can above the store!” he shouts at Leland/BOB). The film suggests that the spirits have their own ecosystem/economy based on the emotions experienced by the humans they inhabit, prey upon, and/or kill. Their currency is garmonbozia, which appears as creamed corn within their own realm and is composed of the pain and sorrow (according to a final subtitle).

• Why does BOB owe MIKE garmonbozia? Did his killing of Teresa poach a harvest from MIKE’s territory, since she wore the ring associated with MIKE and the Little Man? Or, since (look closely) Teresa was not wearing the ring at the time of her death – unlike Laura – did BOB “cheat,” taking Teresa’s pain and sorrow for himself when she was momentarily unbound to MIKE? Or is the garmonbozia owed for other reasons? Perhaps BOB’s abuse of Laura is so intense that he has been hoarding excessive pain and sorrow; after killing her at the end of the film, he has to give it back There’s another theory (from the same person who made the “True Face of MIKE” video above) that the garmonbozia MIKE and his Arm receive at the end of Fire Walk With Me is actually BOB’s own, not Laura’s, since he is upset that he was unable to possess her. Essentially there are two questions that needn’t be related – whose garmonbozia did BOB originally steal, and whose is he forced to give to MIKE?

• Can the war over garmonbozia be squared with MIKE’s version of falling out with BOB on the show? The series presents their battle as having a moral dimension, a war between a good, reformed spirit that has seen the face of God and another that still indulges in murder and mayhem for his own pleasure (in fact, the series tells us that BOB feeds not on pain and sorrow, but “fear and the pleasures”). But two vultures fighting over the meat on a corpse is hardly a grand struggle between good and evil. At this point I may as well share my own pet theory about garmonbozia which has little to no support within the film or series but isn’t necessarily contradicted by it either (although it doesn’t quite match up with the “redeemed”/“reformed” idea of MIKE on the show, which I’ll get to elsewhere). I like the way it places something real at stake, differentiates between the different forces, and resonates with the human psychology of the story (rather than just squatting on top of it like a superimposed mythos).

• What if “garmonbozia (pain and sorrow)” doesn’t mean “garmonbozia, i.e. pain and sorrow” but “a type of garmonbozia, pain and sorrow.” In other words what if garmonbozia is human emotion but it is converted into different flavors depending who consumes it and how they got it? So if BOB’s favored garmonbozia is fear and the pleasures, in accordance with the series, MIKE’s is pain and sorrow. And they get to partake in it depending on the state of the person over whom they are bickering. If the person is in denial, indulging themselves but afraid to confront the consequences of their own actions, then they produce fear and the pleasures, which go to BOB. However, if they are facing their own trauma, grieving but also allowing themselves the possibility of growth and even healing, then they produce pain and sorrow, which goes to MIKE. This contextualizes BOB and MIKE’s war over Laura (and, to an extent, Leland) – perhaps BOB has forced his host and his desired host into such abject states of desire and repression that he has taken more than his share of their being. Perhaps Teresa was MIKE’s chance to strike back, by exposing Leland’s double life to Laura and others, and by killing her BOB “stole the corn” that was due to MIKE (signified by Teresa’s/MIKE’s/the Little Man’s ring). Now MIKE does what he can to awaken Laura (“It’s him! It’s your father!”) and prevent her from succumbing completely to BOB’s possession.

• This comes to a head in the final scene. Let’s assume, and this is an idea I’ve heard others float first in various places, that Leland/BOB is taking Ronette to the train car so that Laura can kill her there (this would also explain the “R” placed beneath Laura’s fingernail – it was intended for Ronette, like the “T” under Teresa’s nail). As a murderer, Laura would have fully given herself over to BOB. Perhaps Leland would be killed too at this point – implicated as the murderer so Laura can go on living a double life, a perfect hiding spot for BOB. MIKE is desperate to stop them (hence we see him racing through the woods though his options to influence events are limited), but ultimately he can only do so with Laura’s help. Inside the train car, I believe it is Laura’s compassion for Ronette, her ability to share her friend’s pain and sorrow rather than completely succumb to the fear of BOB, that manifests the angel who unties Ronette’s bonds. This leads directly to Ronette opening the train car door, which allows MIKE to toss the ring inside, claiming Laura for himself. This is not a random spiritual event but is triggered directly by the shape of Laura’s emotions which now trend toward MIKE rather than BOB. BOB can only kill her at this point, because he can’t possess her. She has accepted MIKE instead.

• To return to the idea of MIKE being wrong to sever his arm, if this is true (and at this point, that interpretation is essentially up to us) then I think it speaks to the value of a unitary conception of reality rather than a dualistic one. If MIKE gained consciousness of a larger reality that conflicted with his own behavior, he may have misinterpreted this information and concluded that he had to cut himself off from his shadow side. This weakens and confuses him, separating him from the necessary energy and wisdom, however dark at times, of the arm which has to find its own way to reach out to Cooper and Laura. At this point we have to broaden our inquiry...

Who is MIKE? (And who are all of the spirits?)

The spirits are beyond human language and comprehension (drawn from the subconscious realms that Lynch is so good at accessing, particularly through meditation). The (mostly) human forms we observe them in probably have more to do with our – and the characters’ – perceptions than their own true natures. I’ll briefly introduce several possibilities with the caveat that the best answers probably lie in crossover between these options rather than in any one isolated category. We’ll start with what I think is the weakest and (fortunately) the least likely. The spirits could be extraterrestrials. I’ll get into this more elsewhere, but this stems from Major Garland Briggs’ appearance in episode 9 – when he shows Cooper a readout from a military program monitoring the stars, and it echoes the giant’s words. It’s amplified by Mark Frost’s obsession with UFOs, the popular notion of owls as masking devices for close encounters, and some of Robert Engels’ stories about brainstorming Fire Walk With Me. However, I don't think this does much to account for the spirits’ ability to appear and disappear, to insinuate themselves within human bodies and minds.

Another notion is that they were once humans themselves, and have become caught in the spiritual realm they explored. Sometimes this is taken purely at the level of appearance (i.e. the BOB that haunts Leland is the image of the man who molested him as a child), at others more literally...were these people once dugpas who studied other realms and were swallowed up by it, something like the monsters in Hellraiser? Using that as a segue, a more compelling read (and also more trendy, given the recent popularity of Stranger Things) posits that the spirits are interdimensional beings, perhaps from a higher plane of reality, perhaps simply from a different realm. That said, their aura and activity indicate that they are much more powerful than we are. One of my favorite descriptions of the spirit world was recently left under one of my videos: Daniel Stover writes that the show’s attempts to gaze into this realm are “a little bit like a cell trying to look back up through the microscope at the scientist.”

This raises another possibility, one which could easily overlap with the interdimensional reading: are these gods? And if so, are they powerful beings who rule, study, or feed off humankind but are indifferent to our own joy or suffering (or the scientist toward the cell)? Or do they have some stake/share in our condition, a bit closer to the Judaic and particularly Christian God? Much of Twin Peaks leads us to the former interpretation, but then there are the angels (maybe their exceptionalism is why I relegated them to the “30 Hidden Characters list” rather than incorporating them here). MIKE also seems to act on humanity’s behalf at times, as does the giant (more consistently), and I always feel the monkey is a good guy, for lack (or probably just willful defiance) of a better term. This ties back to the idea I mentioned above, of the different spirits reflecting different qualities and leads us to our final possibility (although I’m sure we could concoct many more if we wanted to).

What if the spirits are projections/reflections/amplifications of emotional/psychological states of being? This may veer dangerously close to “it’s all in their head” for some people, and clearly these creatures have a very real physical presence which Lynch highlights even as he grounds them in subjective perspectives. But it’s worth considering when the spirits appear, especially in Fire Walk With Me. They are not just arbitrarily intervening willy-nilly, they are arising at moments of particular need for the characters. This brings them close to other Lynch figures like the Mystery Man in Lost Highway, the Creature Behind the Diner in Mulholland Drive, and the Phantom in Inland Empire (we could even go back to the Lady in the Radiator in Eraserhead), who always play a necessary role or fulfill a need for human characters.

Viewers who watch the film in isolation, knowing how Lynch approaches this sort of material in his other works (going so far at times as to push us toward a reading of the imagery as a dream or psychogenic fugue) and not familiar with the series mythology, often conclude that the spirits are Laura’s, and perhaps Leland’s, ways of dealing with and articulating their tormented inner state. Even knowing what we know, I think that could be true and still allow for an independent existence of the spirits. And with that, I’m going to cut myself short. The speculation could continue forever, and indeed I will expand on many of these ideas in the “Additional Observations” section below, but it's time to move on lest we get lost in one area of the boundless spirit world forever...

Characters MIKE interacts with onscreen

Leland Palmer

Agent Cooper

other spirits who he interacts with…


other spirits who he co-exists with…

The Man From Another Place

humans who co-exist with him/whose form he appears in…

Phillip Gerard

List of episodes (in which he appears in Gerard’s form but outside of the physical realm): Episode 2 (German title: “Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer”), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (feature film)

Impressions of TWIN PEAKS through the Spirits
It's amazing to consider that when Twin Peaks began, to huge critical acclaim and the biggest ratings it would ever see (indeed, the pilot was watched by more people in one night than ever saw a David Lynch film in its entire theatrical run), at this moment of maximum exposure there was nothing overtly supernatural. True, we witness Sarah's psychic flash at the end of the pilot and, if we look closely, we can catch BOB's reflection in the mirror. But as far as most viewers were concerned, this was a moody soap opera/murder mystery with a surreal flavor. The idea of a spiritual cosmology emerging, with various beings holding complex relationships to one another and to the human characters, would have been regarded as absurd. And indeed, as this feature did emerge particularly in season two, it received a lot of criticism. Ironically, today, this is one of Twin Peaks' most beloved and most enduring qualities. It's quite possible the show never would have achieved its devoted cult following without the mythology.

The spirits, despite the ad hoc nature of their development and unveiling (often one and the same), offer Twin Peaks a sense of cohesion. The sprawling cast and diverging storylines are united by two things: the evocative location and the sense that they are all part of a cosmic battle happening just offscreen. Privileging these characters also draws our focus toward two of the strongest and most intense, and yet - at least initially - least loved chapters in Twin Peaks: the final episode (which bombed in the ratings as a Monday night movie-of-the-week, paired with one of the series' weakest episodes and losing out to a rerun of Northern Exposure) and the feature film (booed at Cannes and receiving what are still some of the most vicious, nasty reviews I've ever read). I've often noted that these two parts of the story, just three hours in an over-thirty-hour saga, contains well over half of the Twin Peaks mythology: doppelgangers, the Red Room as the Black Lodge, garmonbozia, the Owl Cave ring, the Little Man as MIKE's arm, Jeffries, Judy, the crew above the convenience store, and a massive chunk of the various spirits' screentime, given how fleetingly they are used elsewhere.

Without the spirits, Twin Peaks would belong to genres that have become more or less passe (the nighttime soap) and others that have remained relevant (the dead-girl detective drama, as seen in The Killing, True Detective, and Top of the Lake), but it wouldn't be nearly so hot or forward-looking, everything from The X-Files to Lost to the aforementioned Stranger Things baring its imprint. A mythology gives fans something big-picture to grapple with, a puzzle to piece together that goes beyond whodunit, to whatdoesitallmean. Because this is (at least partially) David Lynch, the answers tend to lead to more questions and the overall feel is less a mechanistic, orderly cosmology than saturation in a certain atmosphere. Yet because this is also Mark Frost, and because the narrative demands of episodic television led Lynch to engage with the kind of world-building he usually eschews for pure mood, Twin Peaks is not entirely independent of other genre fare.

Daniel Smith, among others, has even wondered what would have happened if Mulholland Drive had been picked up as a series (as originally intended): would the man behind Winkie's and Mr. Roque and the Cowboy have developed more defined roles and origin stories, just as MIKE, BOB, and the Man From Another Place did? In a parallel universe, is the lofty, critically-vaunted "Greatest of the Twenty-first Century" art film a proto-prestige TV classic with a sprawling mythology that eager fans pick apart for clues (of course, visit some Lynch fan sites and you may conclude that we do live in that parallel universe after all). Because of its scope, sprawl, and pop culture reach, Twin Peaks remains unique in Lynch's canon. It can exist within both his highly personal, idisyncratic body of work and a larger popular genre context that has, to a great degree, been spawned by Twin Peaks itself.

The Spirits’ journey
The seeds of all these character are contained within less than a half hour, and the long-delayed payoff is contained within another half-hour. That's the thing - this series is thirty episodes and a two-hour feature film, yet the material directly depicting the spirits (even including the deleted scenes collection from the film) barely fills out more than a single episode. Mark Frost has stated they always wanted to include a supernatural element, embedded in both the particular event of the killing and the town as a whole. However, the pilot indicates that this probably had more to do with a human, ritualistic cult (maybe like the one in the Frost-written The Believers) than with actual monsters or ghosts. There is a vague aura in the woods but it's diffuse, all-encompassing, not embodied in particular images. The two-hour premiere paints an off-kilter but nonetheless naturalistic portrait of a small town; indeed, as the more far-out elements emerge, the characters take them in stride but are nonetheless shocked. "I've seen a lot of things in these old woods," Sheriff Truman proclaims halfway through the series, "But this..."

Two of the spirits, the ones whose central conflict would animate so much of the mythology, were not conceived as ethereal beings at all, but earthy criminals. The Mike and Bob of the alternate ending in many ways predict the larger arc of the mythology (notice, for example, how the thin pillars and circle of twelve candles in Bob's basement lair anticipate the skinny sycamore trees and white stone-rimmed circle of oil in Glastonbury Grove). But they belong more to the world of Blue Velvet, with its sketchy lowlives, than to a show about paranormal undercurrents. The Little Man and the Red Room, by contrast, are clearly otherworldly but they are so utterly decontextualized that they can't be assigned to a supernatural category either. The Little Man's absurdist dialogue plays more like an avant-garde conceit, mocking the very function of detective fiction, than the opening salvo of a spirit world with rules of its own. Even when these elements are incorporated into a dream they retain some of their original qualities. It isn't until the giant shows up in the second season's premiere that the world-building really begins.

Until the final two chapters load up on the far out, the first third of season two contains the sweet spot of the Twin Peaks mythology. The two Lynch-directed episodes, especially the second, are disproportionately loaded with cosmic goodies from the giant to BOB to the Tremonds to some contributions that are clearly more Frost, like Major Briggs showing up with a message from (seemingly) outer space. This alienated many casual viewers at the time who were looking for a combination of Dallas and Columbo, not The Twilight Zone, but it endeared the more fanatical viewers. Even as more conventional arcs like the Donna-Harold relationship and Cooper's rescue of Audrey rose to the fore, there was a consistent undercurrent of tantalizing supernatural material. This climaxes with the killer's reveal, identifying the spirits with the very heart of the mystery.

Curiously, the spirits completely disappear after the Laura investigation ends. You'd think that the whole point of identifying BOB as Leland's inhabiting spirit was to give the narrative somewhere to go after "Who killed Laura Palmer?" had been answered. Yet for nearly seven episodes, many of which make not the slightest mention of BOB, MIKE, and the gang, our attention is mostly fixated on more down-to-earth plots. Among other things, this is an indication that Twin Peaks was so far ahead of time that the show itself didn't know what it had on its hands (can one imagine a sci-fi/fantasy series today abandoning those elements to focus on a love triangle between two elderly man and a Southern belle, or a noir-esque murder intrigue set in an entirely different location?). There is mythological world-building going on, but at first it appears to be totally unrelated to the spirits.

It's easy to forget in retrospect, given how it all comes together in the end, but for eleven episodes the Black and White Lodge lore that intrigues and excites Cooper, the Major, and Windom Earle is never explicitly or even implicitly tied to the mythology of the show's first half. BOB, the Little Man, and the giant each make a quick cameo or two in the six episodes before the finale but only in the penultimate episode do the writers inform us that BOB is linked to the Black Lodge. And even then, the script for the finale only shows BOB there. Lynch, returning to direct after literally half the show had passed by without him, synthesizes the Frost-led world-building of the Lodge lore with his own iconography of particular, offbeat characters. The following feature film is in some ways torn in two directions, an intense psychodrama about an abuse victim and a side trip into the furthest extremes of the series cosmology (though Lynch drops the Lodge terminology of the show). Lynch also solidifies - if that's the right word for something so ambiguous and suggestive - the way this spirit world works, by introducing garmonbozia, among other touchstones.

We can't necessarily speak of these characters having arcs, aside, I suppose, from BOB, who loses one host but gains a potentially far more powerful one (or, at least, a collaborator in Cooper's double). But the spirits exhibit something more fascinating: their character development occurs in real time, before our eyes, made up as they go along.

(Al Strobel, who plays MIKE, is covered in the Phillip Gerard entry)

Carlton Lee Russell (Jumping Man)
Russell is a comedian (including working at a clown college), actor, stunt performer, salesman, social worker, and nonprofit director, whose screen work is mostly limited to the nineties. He was the cryogenically-frozen Gary Coleman in Austin Powers and popped up alongside Tony Cox in the "Black People Awards" segment of In Living Color in which they award Whoopi Goldberg from a field consisting entirely of Whoopi Goldberg. He performed stunts in The Little Rascals, Camp Nowhere, The War, The Fan, and Gone in Sixty Seconds, among others. In the documentary Moving Through Time, about the making of Fire Walk With Me, he describes how Lynch directed him to act like a "talisman come to life." He can presently be found on Twitter. By the way, I initially found the In Living Color still on this Twin Peaks Gazette message board with a lot of fascinating speculation and background about the Black Lodge/room above the store. (series pictured: In Living Color, early 1990s)

Calvin Lockhart (Electrician)
Lockhart joins at least a dozen other Twin Peaks actors in Wild at Heart, tormenting Harry Dean Stanton (Carl Rodd) alongside Grace Zabriskie (Sarah Palmer) and David Patrick Kelly (Jerry Horne) in an entirely Peaks-cast scene. However, that's just the tip of the iceberg; born in the Bahamas and relocated to New York in the fifties, Lockhart achieved acclaim in  the early sixties on Broadway in The Cool World and appeared in Joanna as one of the title character's three lovers (another was Donald Sutherland, good old Sam Stanley's dad). Lockhart was cast in a series of blaxploitation classics like Cotton Goes to Harlem, Halls of Anger, Uptown Saturday Night, and Let's Do It Again as Biggie Smalls - the role that gave the Notorious B.I.G. his first stage name. Lockhart was also an actor-in-residence with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the mid-seventies, and starred with Peter Cushing in the werewolf classic The Beast Must Die. He popped up on television throughout the seventies and eighties on Starsky and Hutch, Good Times, and Dynasty while continuing to appear in films like Coming to America and Predator 2. Fire Walk With Me was his final film role until the year he died. Late in life he returned to the Bahamas and ran a theater company. (film pictured: Let's Do It Again, 1975)

David Brisbin (Second Woodsman)
Yes, that's right - one of the woodsmen is that guy from Hey Dude. Brisbin plays Benjamin Ernst in sixty-four episodes of the early nineties Nickelodeon series. He also shows up in Law & Order, Murphy Brown, Thirtysomething, Matlock, The Wonder Years, Seinfeld, Ellen, Empty Nest, Grace Under FireHome Improvement, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Melrose Place, The Jamie Foxx Show, The PracticeParty of Five, The X-Files, The West Wing, Crossing Jordan, Boston Legal, NYPD Blue, Bones, Desperate Housewives, and Justified. Over four years, he appeared in nineteen episodes of ER as Dr. Alexander Babcock and his films include Forrest Gump, Leaving Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Erin Brockovich. Prolific in the nineties and early zeroes, he's slowed down in the past decade, although he did join the cast for a Hey Dude reunion several years ago. (series pictured: Hey Dude, early 1990s)

Jurgen Prochnow (First Woodsman)
Prochnow launched his career during the heyday of New German Cinema in the seventies, including a prominent role in The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum. He was a regular in the films of Wolfgang Petersen in both Berlin and Hollywood, including Die Konsequenz, a breakthrough TV movie about a homosexual couple that was banned by Bavarian broadcasters, and probably his most famous starring role, as the submarine commander in Das Boot. He also played the villain in Beverly Hills Cop II and was considered for The Terminator (decades later, he would portray Arnold Schwarzenegger in a biopic about his political career). His first collaboration with David Lynch was as Duke Atreides in Dune, in which Kyle MacLachlan was cast as his son. It was a difficult shoot; Prochnow was nearly burned alive by molten glass and, on another occasion, permanently scarred by a smoke-emitting device attached to his face. Because of Prochnow's prominence, he receives top billing in Fire Walk With Me, alongside all the other major cast members aside from Sheryl Lee and Ray Wise (and Kyle MacLachlan, who is tagged on at the end). However, Prochnow is in the film for only a few seconds, wearing a disguise, and speaks no lines. Prochnow's film work includes The English Patient, Air Force One, and The Da Vinci Code; he also had recurring roles on NCIS: Los Angeles and 24. Currently he has seven projects in various stages of production and recently showed up on the German cop show Tatort for the fourth time in forty-three years (each time as a different character). He just sold his home in California and is moving back to Europe. (film pictured: Dune, 1984)

Jimmy Scott (Lodge Singer)
Scott was a singer, not an actor - despite the occasional cameo (such as in Be Kind Rewind - the first film I ever reviewed for this blog, incidentally). Suffering from Kallman syndrome, which arrested his physical development at a pre-pubescent stage (although he grew eight inches when he was thirty-seven), Scott had an unusually high voice which contributed to his popularity especially among other musicians (he would perform in two presidential inaugurations forty years apart: Eisenhower and Clinton). One of the first inductees in the R&B Music Hall of Fame, "Little Jimmy Scott" got his start with the Lionel Hampton Band as a lead vocalist on top ten hits for which he did not receive credit. In the sixties, several of his albums would go unreleased due to legal issues with record contracts. This bad luck would plague him for decades as his musical career declined and he settled into a working-class life in Cleveland. A performance at a funeral in 1990 provided a massive comeback, leading not only to his role on Twin Peaks but a new album and recordings with top jazz and rock musicians (over the course of his career he collaborated with Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Ray Charles, David Byrne, and Lou Reed, among many others). (record album pictured, 1956)

Frances Bay (Mrs. Tremond)
Bay was a radio performer in Canada who hosted a broadcast for service members during World War II. She didn't launch her film and TV career until the seventies, regularly playing grandmothers: Fonzie's on Happy Days, Little Red Riding Hood's on Faerie Tale Theatre, and the title character's in Happy Gilmore. For a change of pace she was Kyle MacLachlan's aunt in Blue Velvet and Lynch cast her in Wild at Heart as well before introducing her to the Twin Peaks world. Her most iconic TV role may be as the "Marble Rye" lady on Seinfeld, from whom a desperate Jerry steals a loaf of bread ("Shut up, you old bag!") before this act comes back to haunt him. The character reappears in later episodes, including the finale. Despite waiting until she was fifty-seven to make her debut, Bay racked up well over one hundred fifty credits before her death at ninety-two. Films include Twins (along with Twin Peaks co-star Heather Graham; as noted in the Annie entry, this was probably the first live-action film I saw in theaters) as well as The Karate Kid, Single White Female, and Arachnophobia. TV shows include Kojack, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Jeffersons, The Dukes of Hazzard, Family Ties, Cagney & Lacey, Amazing Stories, Cheers, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, The Golden Girls, Newhart, ALF, Tales from the Crypt, Matlock, Quantum Leap, Who's the Boss?, L.A. Law, Life Goes On, The X-Files, Murder, She Wrote, ER, Passions, Charmed, Hannah Montana, and Grey's Anatomy. She had recurring roles on nine episodes of The Hughleys and eleven episodes of The Middle. (series pictured: Seinfeld, 1996)

Austin Lynch and Jonathan Leppell (Pierre Tremond)
The second character in this series to be played by two different actors (after Johnny Horne), the recast is usually attributed to David Lynch's son getting too old for the part. But the film was shot only a year later and he was still only nine, so logistics may have been a bigger factor. For whatever reason, Leppell - a Seattle-area local who never acted in another movie - plays little Lynch in Fire Walk With Me. A couple years ago he appeared at the Twin Peaks Festival in Washington. The original Pierre, Austin Lynch, turns up in another of his father's projects sixteen years later, as a loutish member of Justin Theroux's entourage in Inland Empire (he's graduated from "she seems like a very nice girl" to "you gotta admit though, she's got a nice ass"). Lynch now works in documentary, creating The Interview Project several years ago in which he traveled the country to talk to random people in remote places; he also directed the documentary about the making of The New World (which, oddly enough, rigorously avoids Terrence Malick, barely catching him on the periphery of the frame and never showing his face). Lynch appears alongside Dad in the Over Yonder web videos where they play two guys with their own private dialect who sit outside and watch the world go by (including the passage of a giant). (film pictured for Lynch: Inland Empire, 2006)

Carel Struycken (Giant)
After training as a film director in the Netherlands, Struycken enrolled the American Film Institute at the same time David Lynch attended, although it's unclear if they knew each other. At seven feet tall, Struycken carved out a niche in the film/TV world - often in sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. He appeared in both Star Wars and Star Trek projects (Ewoks: The Battle of Endor and as Mr. Homm on The Next Generation series). He was Lurch, the silent family butler, in The Addams Family films. Other films include The Witches of Eastwick and Men in Black. Struycken is also a photographer, specializing in "spherical panoramas", and has developed technology for virtual reality. (film pictured: The Addams Family, 1991)

Frank Silva (BOB)
Silva, famously, was used to working on the crew side rather than the cast side of things. Twin Peaks and Fire Walk With Me remain his only acting credits. If he was inevitably associated with BOB, BOB was also inevitably associated with him; their fate is bound up together. Of course, by every available account Silva was a warm-hearted, lovable man. Friends and associates grow tearful remembering him (Jennifer Lynch, among others, considered him a soulmate). Yet there are numerous stories of cast and crew members freaked out by his appearance either before they knew who he was or after they had only encountered him as BOB. There's even an account (shared on The Twin Peaks Podcast) of a Peaks fan who hired Silva to climb out of a birthday cake at a friend's party, nearly giving the friend a heart attack. Silva, for his part, was amused by the notoriety and gave some thoughtful filmed and printed interviews in the years before his early death. I particularly love this moment from a Japanese interview, immediately after Silva is asked if he has a message he'd like to share with fans. Probably the most extensive and delightful interview was in Wrapped in Plastic, the fan magazine that began published the month the film came out. Silva discusses working with Lynch under Dino DeLaurentiis in the eighties, his various prop and set dressing roles on the production, what it was like to play BOB, and how his work in Fire Walk With Me kept getting delayed. In fact, the last day of the production was the train car murder sequence. It was shot on Halloween. Which, believe it or not, is Frank Silva's birthday. A birthday he just happens to share with Michael J. Anderson. (magazine cover pictured, mid-1990s)

Michael J. Anderson (Man From Another Place)
In his twenties and thirties, Anderson worked ground support for NASA's space shuttles. Out of this period grew his award-winning documentary Little Mike. He met Lynch in the eighties while wearing a gold suit and dragging a wagon around New York City; delighted, Lynch planned to cast him as the title character of Ronnie Rocket, a film about a little man reconstructed after an injury and imbued with powerful electric currents. Following Twin Peaks, and the one-time stage performance Industrial Symphony No. 1 (in which he performs various acts while Julee Cruise sings), Anderson appears in one other Lynch film, Mulholland Drive, as the mysterious Mr. Roque. Roque is an all-powerful figure who controls the film industry behind the scenes. Since the character is of average height (Anderson has the condition osteogenesis imperfecta and is three foot seven), Anderson's head was perched upon a false body. In the zeroes, Anderson starred as the manager of a traveling carnival in Carnivale, an acclaimed HBO program cancelled after three seasons despite rave reviews and a devoted following. Anderson's TV work includes Picket Fences, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (as Rumpelstiltskin), The X-Files, Charmed, and Cold Case. Bizarrely, all things considered, his last role was as the voice of the Little Man in a Scooby Doo tribute to Twin Peaks. (film pictured: Carnivale, mid-2000s)

The Pilot

Episode 1 (German title: "Traces to Nowhere")

Episode 2 (German title: "Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer")

Episode 8 (German title: "May the Giant Be With You")

Episode 9 (German title: "Coma")

Episode 14 (German title: "Lonely Souls")

Episode 15 (German title: "Drive With a Dead Girl")

Episode 16 (German title: "Arbitrary Law")

Episode 23 (German title: "The Condemned Woman")

Episode 27 (German title: "The Path to the Black Lodge")

*Episode 29 (German title: "Beyond Life and Death" - best episode)

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (feature film)

Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (collection of deleted scenes from the film)

The spirits, with the possible exception of the Tremonds, are all invented by David Lynch. He introduces them in the alternate "European" ending to the pilot (based on his conception, but likely co-written with Mark Frost), the season two premiere, his improvised additions to the finale, and the feature film. Overall, Mark Frost writes the characters the most often (in six episodes not including the pilot, since BOB's appearance is a Lynch-supervised accident/addition). Lynch, Robert Engels and Harley Peyton all write the spirits four times, including the film. Tricia Brock and Scott Frost get one crack each. It's worth noting, though, that when Lynch directs Frost's, Peyton's, and Engels' work (in episodes 8, 9, and/or 29) he changes and amplifies BOB's appearances substantially. Episode 14 is difficult to judge because the only available draft was an obvious decoy, designating Ben Horne as BOB's host. As a result, Frost's plans for the big reveal scene are hard to suss out.

David Lynch directs the spirits more than all the other directors combined, a total of seven times. In fact, these are the first characters to appear in every single Lynch episode plus Fire Walk With Me (an accomplishment duplicated by just half of the upcoming subjects). This is because BOB, specifically, is in every Lynch episode - as long as we include his blurry reflection in the mirror on the pilot. Five other directors have a chance to handle these figures - Caleb Deschanel, Duwayne Dunham, Lesli Linka Glatter, Stephen Gyllenhaal, and Tim Hunter. All seem to approach the task somewhat nervously (Dunham, with his simple shot of BOB staring into the camera for a few seconds, gets the best results; Glatter, who may overall be the best Peaks director next to Lynch, unfortunately gets the worst).

In Brad Dukes' Reflections, Hunter offers some self-criticism: "I think I made a mistake with Bob by trying to make him too terrifying. I've got him mugging a little bit and that could be my fault as much as his, and then I remember seeing what David did with him where he revealed him and it was so subtle and so scary. It just sent a chill through your spine, whereas I was trying to pump the guy up. I don't think it worked as well and I always thought that was one of the many measures of David's genius, how he could hit stuff like that without even trying."

The spirits are onscreen for roughly fifty-five minutes. They are in forty-one scenes in eleven episodes plus the feature film and deleted scenes collection. They're featured the most in Fire Walk With Me/The Missing Pieces, when they meet above the convenience store and participate in the last days of Laura Palmer (in the show they're featured the most on episode 29, the season two finale). Their primary location is the Red Room. They share the most screentime with Cooper. They are among the top ten characters in episode 9 and (collectively) Fire Walk With Me/The Missing Pieces, among the top five characters in episode 2, and second only to Cooper in episode 29.

Best Scene
Episode 9: One of the simplest scenes remains the most terrifying; I've watched it dozens of times and still experience an involuntary shudder when BOB shoves his face right into ours.

Best Line
“The second thing is the owls are not what they seem.”

The Spirits Offscreen

Episode 3: At breakfast with Truman and Lucy, Cooper describes his dream (we see footage from the Red Room as he speaks). He also includes extra information about MIKE shooting BOB that we didn't actually see in the dream.

Episode 4: Sarah describes her vision of BOB and Andy draws a sketch. He shows this to Cooper who acknowledges it's the man from his dream. They show the sketch to the one-armed man when they find him in a motel room, but he doesn't recognize it ("kind of looks like somebody though, doesn't it?" he says). When the lawmen arrive at a veterinarian clinic, they spot a convenience store next door and Cooper declares that the men in his dream lived above such a store.

Episode 5: In a cabin decked out with red curtains like the room in his dream, Cooper stops a record player and mumbles the Little Man's words to himself: "...there's always music in the air."

Episode 8: At the hospital, Cooper sees Jacques Renault wheeled away in a bodybag and remembers the giant's clue ("a man in a smiling bag"); later he sees the bag hanging from a wall, unzipped, and indeed it looks as if it's smiling. James tells Truman that when Laura was high she would ask him, "Do you like to play with fire, little boy? Do you like to play with BOB?" That night, Cooper tells Diane that he hallucinated a giant while suffering from a gunshot wound (hence his surprise a few seconds later when the giant returns).

Episode 9: Over breakfast, Cooper tells Albert he plans to show a sketch of BOB to Ronette Pulaski, the girl who survived the attack on Laura and has just woken up from a coma. He reminds Albert that both he and Sarah saw BOB in visions ("Has anyone seen BOB on earth in the last few weeks?" Albert quips). At the hospital, when Ronette recognizes the sketch she becomes frantic. Andy struggles to tape up a poster of BOB (emblazoned "Have you seen this man?") at the RR diner, and Leland spots a poster lying on a desk in Ben Horne's office at the Great Northern. Shocked, he declares, "I know this man!" That night, when he dreams of BOB, Cooper also sees flashes of the giant from the night before and hears his line about the owls once again.

Episode 10: Cooper admits to Albert and Truman that he was visited by a giant. Albert deadpans, "Any relation to the dwarf?" At the sheriff's station, Cooper draws a chart around BOB's poster to demonstrate who has seen him - he believes the giant's clues have something to do with this mysterious "long-haired man." Albert has sent inquiries to every government agency and found nothing on him. Truman continues to ask about the giant, as does Hawk later - everyone seems fascinated by his attributes (and no one doubts Cooper). Leland visits the station to report that the long-haired man was a neighbor of his grandparents at Pearl Lake, living in a house belonging to the Robertsons. When Leland was a child, this man would flick matches at him and taunt, "You like to play with fire, little boy?" The one-armed man visits the station to sell shoes but grows faint when he sees the poster of BOB. In the bathroom he emerges from the stall possessed by MIKE and growls about BOB's presence. When Cooper finds out the one-armed man was there, he reminds the others that this man knew BOB in his dream. Then he finds a needle in a stall and remembers the giant's clue: "Without chemicals, he points."

Episode 11: Cooper remembers another of the giant's observations ("There's a clue at Leo's house,") when he sees Andy wearing the same Circle Brand boots found with drugs at Leo's. They were sold to Andy by the one-armed man; Cooper concludes the real clue wasn't the cocaine after all.

Episode 12: Cooper understands the giant's clue from his second visit - "You forgot something" - when he spots Audrey's note under his bed.

Episode 13: At the station, the one-armed man is denied drugs and he re-emerges as an inhabiting spirit named MIKE who explains his backstory as well as his relationship with BOB. He states that BOB is like a parasite that feeds on fear and the pleasures and has inhabited a human host for nearly forty years. "Few can see his face," the one-armed man declares. "The gifted...and the damned!" He implies that BOB is currently at the Great Northern Hotel.

Episode 14: The lawmen take the one-armed man to the Great Northern to identify BOB's host. He has a seizure when Ben Horne enters the lobby. They also find Laura's secret diary in the home of a suicide, Harold Smith, and Cooper pieces together Laura's history with BOB, "a friend of her father" who subjected her to many years of "abuse and molestation on a regular basis." Based on clues in the diary, the one-armed man's seizure, and Audrey's report that her father employed Laura as a prostitute and was in love with her, Cooper determines that BOB is in Ben. Near the end of "dancing" with Maddy, the weeping Leland snaps to attention, suggesting BOB is now in total control and shouts "Leland says you're going back to Missoula, Montana!!!!", smashing Maddy's head into a picture on the wall. He bends over her and inserts a letter ("O") under her fingernail. From this point on, whenever we see Leland it is implicit that BOB is controlling his actions or at the very least near the surface, operating in cahoots. (A couple notes on earlier episodes in retrospect... Jacoby reports "scorched engine oil" either when he's attacked in the park, when Jacques is killed, or both - Jacoby's recollection is ambiguous - suggesting BOB is very present when Leland commits one or both of these assaults. Also, when Leland visits Ben's office a day before Maddy's death, he picks white fur off a stuffed fox which will later be placed on Maddy's corpse. Is BOB planning her death in advance of her announcement that she's leaving?) At any rate, we're aware of BOB's presence through every Leland scene up to his death.

Episode 15: Leland/BOB packs golf clubs into a bag containing Maddy and drives around town. At the Great Northern, he dances around the lobby and hallway. Cooper and Truman inform him that Ben has been arrested for Laura's murder, and he acts shocked but he is laughing and making strange faces when turned away from them. Pulled over by Cooper, he claims that he heard Ben talking about a diary the night Laura died, and then grips his golf club as if it's ready to hit the FBI agent over the head. The one-armed man sniffs around Ben and declares that BOB has been close, but is gone. Ben's brother/lawyer Jerry is confused and asks who BOB is.

Episode 16: Donna visits the Tremonds with Cooper. They discover that the grandmother and grandson are not there and, according to the very different woman who answers the door, never were. Donna reads an extract from Laura's diary in which she describes the same dream, with the Little Man, that Cooper experienced in episode 2. Laura writes that BOB is only afraid of one man: MIKE. The one-armed man shares more stories of the MIKE/BOB partnership and says the giant is known to them. At the Road House, when the Room Service Waiter repeats the Little Man's line about the gum, Cooper flashes back to the dream and sees the Little Man dancing as he finally remembers what Laura whispered to him. Once inside the jail cell, Leland acts out as BOB, banging against the walls and howling in frustration. As he is handcuffed and questioned, "Leland's" personality seems totally altered - this is BOB's confession, not Leland's. He admits to murdering Laura and Maddy, says he has a thing for knives and then whirls around to growl at Cooper, "Just like what happened to you in Pittsburgh that time, huh, Cooper?" BOB also claims Leland will remember everything when he leaves his body ("almost time to shuffle off to Buffalo!"); sure enough, when the sprinkler system is activated, Leland/BOB bashes his head against the door until he collapses, blood running into the drain as Leland fully emerges from the cover of his spirit. BOB is gone. Leland tells the lawmen that BOB visited him in his dreams as a boy and that he allowed the spirit in; from that point on he didn't know when BOB was there and couldn't remember when he was gone - he also says that BOB made him do "terrible things." "They" made Leland kill Teresa and Laura - the latter at least because she wouldn't let them use her the way they used Leland. In the woods after Leland's death, the men debate BOB's existence. Truman says he can't be real while Albert reminds the sheriff that multiple people saw BOB, while also wondering if maybe BOB is "the evil that men do." If he's real, Truman wonders, "where's BOB now?"

Episode 17: Cooper tells Sarah that the man she saw in her vision ("dirty, disgusting hair," she contributes) made her husband drug her and hurt their daughter. But he's gone forever now, Cooper promises. That night, over a campfire with Major Briggs, Cooper offers a different scenario - he's haunted by the thought of BOB roaming around, looking for another victim.

Episode 20: During a long stretch in which the spirits are never mentioned nor seen (the first such stretch since season one, and much longer), there are a few fleeting references to their memory. As Cooper looks at a Polaroid of the strange tattoos found on the Major's neck, water from the overhead sprinkler drops onto the snapshot. The music and camera highlight its significance, as does the script itself: "Just like the one that heralded BOB's flight to freedom."

Episode 26: Cooper, Truman, Andy, and Hawk come across a petroglyph in Owl Cave which contains a big figure and small figure side by side (obviously referencing the giant and the Little Man). This drawing will be reproduced on the sheriff's station blackboard for the rest of the series.

Episode 28: Cooper tells Truman that he saw BOB when Josie died. He speculates that BOB comes from the Black Lodge and is drawn toward people by their fear.

Episode 29: As he attempts to decode the petroglyph drawing - which he's realized is a map - Cooper repeats the Little Man's words: "Fire walk with me."

Fire Walk With Me: Cooper investigates the trailer park in Deer Meadow, learning that the grandmother and grandson lived in an abandoned spot under the name "Chalfont." He discovers missing Agent Chet Desmond's car with the Little Man's words scrawled across the windshield in red (probably lipstick): "Let's rock." Laura tells Harold that BOB must be the one who ripped pages out of her diary. "But BOB isn't real," Harold offers. "BOB is real," Laura insists. "He's been having me since I was twelve." When the one-armed man accosts Leland, he references the Formica table. BOB's presence in Leland is more ambiguous in the film than it initially appears on the series (when BOB seems to be controlling Leland during every scene from Maddy's murder to just before Leland's death). Sometimes Leland's behavior plays more naturalistically, like an abusive father, sometimes it's more baroque and exaggerated - suggesting an evil spirit animating him from within; sometimes we see flashes between him and BOB, at others we only see Leland. A few moments are worth noting, especially near the end. When Laura sees BOB in her bedroom and runs outside, she sees her father emerge from the house immediately afterwards. When BOB crawls through her window the night before she dies and begins having sex with her (fully clothed) and she asks "Who are you?" he is replaced by Leland (who is not clothed). The third scene in which we visually switch between Leland and BOB is the train car, where it happens multiple times (this is evocatively described in the script as "BOB AND LELAND going in and out like breathing"). Just before BOB says "I never knew you knew it was me," Leland appears on the other side of Laura to whimper, "I always thought you knew it was me!"

The Missing Pieces: In the extended version of Jeffries' scene, we witness his visit without any overlapping convenience store imagery. He explains that he found something "in Seattle, at Judy's ... and then there they were ... they sat quietly for hours."

• There are scattered references to the spirit world sprinkled throughout Mark Frost's The Secret History of Twin Peaks, including lore about ancient giants. Meriweather Lewis seems to access the Black Lodge through the green ring but we don't know if/how he encountered the familiar characters of that realm (the Nez Perce who give him the ring say they got it from a race of ancient "white people," suggesting that the spirits appear to them roughly as they appear to us on the show - rather than adjusting their appearance over the years depending on the qualities of the society they exist alongside). Occultist/rocket scientist Jack Parsons mutters, "The magician longs to see," and bears that ring as well, as does Richard Nixon! (How it traveled from the President of the United States to an unknown teenage prostitute living in a trailer park in rural Washington goes unreported.) However, again, none of these human characters (or historical figures) actually interact directly with the spirits we know from the series; Frost explores the larger mythos rather than the specific icons Lynch invented. The book is more absorbed in UFOs than BOB and MIKE. That said, BOB makes one appearance near the end, superimposed over a photo of Leland which of course stretches credulity if the text is supposed to be a found document (although perhaps it's supposed to be one of those photos in which a ghost is accidentally captured on film). Even in this section, written by Dr. Jacoby, BOB is contextualized by a larger lore of demonic possession in various tribes. Frost is definitely much more interested in the grand history of paranormal phenomena and spiritual theories than honing in directly on an isolated, self-contained mythology.

• By contrast, the mythology of Jennifer Lynch's The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer is entirely personalized and decontextualized. And it is very much based in the iconography of the show. Or rather, it's based on the feelings and associations gathered around that iconography rather than the visuals...I don't think BOB's physical appearance is ever mentioned once. Instead he appears more like a concept. If on film that concept takes a particular physical form, on the page it becomes verbal: when he "speaks" through Laura's pen, it's in all capital letters (including his name, written as "BOB" rather than "Bob"). This BOB is as talkative as the TV BOB is silent, but it works. Depending on the medium at hand, BOB's essence fills the container it's given but somehow remains the same. BOB is referenced in the very first entry of The Secret Diary after Laura excitedly recounts the gift of a pony on her twelfth birthday: "P.S. I hope BOB doesn't come tonight." The effect is chilling. In entry after entry she wonders how to deal with him. Maybe he is testing her (maybe he's even sent by God), to see if she can remain pure? Maybe, on the other hand, she has to embrace her dark side and her sensuality to out-BOB him? Should she try to ignore him, confront him directly, or obliterate his tyranny by numbing herself with drugs? The book makes abundantly clear that BOB has wormed his way inside her consciousness, almost rendering moot the question of when he is and isn't present - he's infected her to the point where he's always present. This triggering self-torment may in fact be one of his methods of possession. However, that possession is also physical, and specifically sexual: although there were signs in season one, the book clarifies that Laura was definitely a victim of abuse and that in fact this loomed over all of her risky behavior as a teenager - it's her origin story.

• Halfway through the diary, BOB begins taking over for certain pages, rendering even more explicit the tight grasp he holds on Laura's mind, and suggesting (as Fire Walk With Me does at times too) that possession is not necessarily a sharp turning point but a slow process, and that by the time she died BOB was already partially inside her. He taunts and terrorizes her, at times blaming her for her own misery, at others taking full responsibility and gloating in his power over her: "I COULD TELL YOU MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK ARE SECRETS THAN YOU COULD TELL YOURSELF! YOU LET YOUR GUARD DOWN, DIDN'T YOU, LET ME HAVE A NICE VACATION FROM THAT STENCH OF YOURS . . . THEN YOU HAD TO CALL ME BACK . . . RANCID LITTLE BITCH!" "TELL THEM THAT I TAKE YOU AWAY AND YOU NEVER ARGUE? YOU NEVER SCREAM FOR HELP" ... "REMEMBER, LAURA PALMER, I CAN MANIPULATE YOUR CONSCIENCE SO THAT YOU FEEL NOTHING BUT WHAT I CHOOSE FOR YOU TO FEEL." In the final entries of the book, Laura is determined to identify BOB, sensing that he has an identity beyond the vague force that threatens her. In the final passage, she writes, "I know who he is. I know exactly who and what BOB is, and I have to tell everyone. I have to tell someone and make them believe."

• There is no metaphysical speculation in the book. BOB is feverishly felt (like some uncanny sensation out of a psychological horror story) rather than theorized about. There is a sense that he is too overwhelming to analyze or understand - the closest thing to this experience in Frost's writing may be his description of Major Briggs' experience in the woods. There is also a rich balance of inside/outside that taps into the core questions of Twin Peaks' spirit world - a sense that BOB is both something invading Laura from outside and mutating inside of her. This month, an audiobook version was finally released after years of speculation and anticipation (I've downloaded a copy and will listen to it before my Laura entry). Although at one point the idea was floated for Jennifer Lynch to voice BOB, ultimately he is voiced by the same narrator who plays Laura - Sheryl Lee herself.

The Spirits in the alternate "European ending"
MIKE, BOB, and the Man From Another Place were all given first form in the alternate ending of the pilot, as discussed in the various character studies above. MIKE and BOB were Mike and Bob, an estranged duo from the criminal rather than the spiritual realm. Mike’s role in this ending is discussed in Gerard’s entry. The Bob we meet (aside from Sarah's creepy, grainy flashback of him hiding behind the bed) is rather more flamboyant than the BOB we know on the show, proclaiming in theatrical fashion, with a great flourish, "Welcome…to the killer’s lair!" When told Mike is not with Cooper and Truman, he pouts, "I so much wanted to sing with him again." He than begins to recite a poem/song: "Heads up, tails up, running to you scalawag, night falls, morning calls, catch you with my death bag!" Bob says that the letters under the fingernail would spell his name "Robert" (which ended up being a detail used on the show). When he promises to kill again, Mike bursts in to shoot him dead, before dying himself. The Red Room sequence which follows is mostly identical to what we see in episode 2. Only two stretches were cut for TV (shortening the whole sequence by fifty-seven seconds): an opening moment that will be discussed in Cooper’s entry, and thirty-three seconds when the Little Man stops rubbing his hands together, reaches to take Laura’s (in a vaguely unsettling close-up), and then begins rubbing his hands again before the bird silhouette appears.

Additional Observations

• Unfortunately, even in such a long entry I can only scratch the surface of Twin Peaks’ spirit world. It is highly recommended you visit the links provided throughout this piece and/or launch your own exploration.

• One of the biggest influences on my reading of the Twin Peaks mythology is the article "Cherry Pie Wrapped in Barb Wire", by Brett Steven Abelman. In it he attempts to preserve the human characters' agency alongside the spirits' reality and proposes that these forces exist but must be invoked. As he writes, "Laura both did create BOB as psychological cover for what she was going through with Leland, and did not; she had to imagine her father as an evil stranger, so she did, and it was natural for BOB, already being 'around,' to present himself as the form her evil stranger would take. In other words, Laura’s 12-year-old mind needed a monster, and BOB came out of hiding and took the job. (My theory here, to restate, is that all the Lodge people, even if they already exist, require this sort of imagination or invocation to manifest.) ... Thinking of the Lodge people as manifestations that take on a life of their own but are subject to the emotional wills of people like Laura preserves her, and Leland’s, psychological agency."

• Another strong influence on my interpretation of the Twin Peaks mythology is Martha Nochimson's superb The Passion of David Lynch, probably the best book I know of on the director's work. The notion of BOB as a representation not of some omnipresent, pervasive evil, but of a limited, suffocating negativity that only seems all-consuming when you're inside of it, is well-expressed in her chapter on Fire Walk With Me. "Following BOB's atrocity is the revelation that he is unstoppable only within the confines of the rigid but penetrable realm of the social construct. In contrast, in the subconscious space of the Red Room BOB is unexpectedly docile, only a part of a larger flowing order." Her later book David Lynch Swerves examines Lynch's subsequent films using quantum concepts and Vedic scripture as reference points. While it doesn't deal much with the Twin Peaks film or series, it's worth noting that her take on BOB as a limit rather than a threat closely aligns with Hindu conceptions of reality and (not coincidentally) Lynch's belief in the "unified field" underlying all forms of existence, a sea of consciousness that envelops everything and washes away the negativity that arises only in ignorance of the whole.

• To what extent is the mythology of Twin Peaks related - coincidentally or otherwise - to Hindu practice, ancient Vedic scripture, and the practice and theory of Transcendental Meditation? These ideas were explored on a couple dugpa threads several years ago, specifically in "Vedic/Hindu influence on FWWM" but also scattered throughout "The Owl Cave Ring - thematic significance" - worth reading if the subject interests you. Considering Lynch’s spiritual beliefs, one of the most fascinating associations is with Hanuman, the monkey-god in the Hindu text the Ramayana (Lynch's praise appears as a pullquote on a recent translation of this ancient epic by a Transcendental Meditation guru). Years ago I researched Hanuman for my video essay on the spirit world of Twin Peaks. None of this material made it into the final work but I'll share some quotations here. You can determine their relevance for yourself; I found many quite striking in light of Fire Walk With Me's end - especially my interpretation of Laura and the angel.
"Because of his bravery, perseverance, strength, and devoted service, Hanuman is regarded as a perfect symbol of selflessness and loyalty. Worship of Hanuman helps the individual to counter the bad karma borne out of selfish action, and grants the believer fortitude and strength in his or her own trials during the journey of life." (source
"It was decreed that Hanuman would remain blissfully unaware of his own prowess, unless, during the course of a meritorious deed, his memory would remind him of his superhuman ability. It will be seen later how this apparently insignificant matter lays bare the symbolic significance of Hanuman." (source
"Hanuman's name too illustrates his self-effacing character, being made up of 'hanan' (annihilation) and 'man' (mind), thus indicating one who has conquered his ego." (source
"When Hanuman enters Rama's life, he changes Rama's world. He transforms a crisis (the loss of Sita) into an opportunity (rid the world of Ravana). He transforms a victim into a hero." (source)
At one point, Hanuman shows his devotion to the central figures by tearing open his chest to reveal his beating heart with the two lovers inside (hence the illustration below, which I unfortunately haven't been able to trace to its original artist - it was posted without attribution where I found it). I like to think that the Red Room in which we see Cooper and Laura come together is in some sense an expression of this same idea: the beating heart of Twin Peaks, so to speak.

 • In 2015, Jubel Brusseau shared a feedback letter with the Sparkwood & 21 podcast that has stayed with me ever since. Here is a small sample: "It seems to me that Bob, Mike, the Tremonds, The Man From Another Place, and the rest are either trans-dimensional beings, or aspects of a single entity that is pressing in on our own dimension enough to be aware of human consciousness. By trans-dimensional, I mean in a fifth-dimensional sense, if we live in four (Length/Width, Height and Duration). This entails a form of consciousness that experiences causality as a static state of affairs (which quantum physics and Buddhism both allude to frequently). ... What these entities do, is pick up on symbols in our minds and play with them, or arrange them in ways that seeks to communicate, and also represents their communication with each other to us, since we would never be able to comprehend them directly. Garmonbozia is a prime example: What is creamed corn? It's one of the most universally loathed foods by children, at least in the Western World. It seems to me that it was a symbol, attached to an emotion (pain and suffering), that was pulled from the mind of a human that they encountered, perhaps someone with a childhood memory of being forced to clean their plate, or suffer a beating. Burned engine oil: strong smells that create specific memory triggers in people. The sense of smell is located in a part of the brain that is very close to our memory center. The "Formica table...green is its color" is common household furniture, one that came into fashion in the 50s, and is the random kind of detail that could have a larger-than-life significance in someone's childhood memory of a beloved (or abusive) grandmother...perhaps the original physical model of the form that Mrs. Tremond takes on?"

• I've already mentioned several of her videos, but selphiealmasy8's whole channel is worth exploring for theories about the various spirits. Highly perceptive and inventive, they propose everything from the Little Man being the true face of MIKE (I'm inclined to agree) to Leland warning Laura of BOB's intentions via the figure of the grandson (not so sure about this one, though it's thought-provoking) to Fire Walk With Me taking place in an altered timeline, triggered by the events of the finale, in which Laura actually could become possessed by BOB despite the outcome we've seen on the series (I don't quite buy this, but it's fascinating as hell - and with the upcoming series perhaps it's on to something). In one of her most compelling videos, she posits that Cooper's coffee reflects the state of his soul; when it appears to be firm, the Little Man smiles approvingly but when it turns to liquid the Little Man becomes solemn - Cooper will not be strong enough to withstand BOB's challenge and so the Little Man already acknowledges his defeat.

• Are MIKE and the other spirits...aliens? In the wackiest version of this backstory, Fire Walk With Me writer Robert Engels claims that at one point an interstellar origin was brainstormed, with BOB and MIKE coming from a planet made of creamed corn. (He also suggests that gathering the substance on earth would somehow help them get back home.) Of course, Lynch has expressed little interest in extraterrestrials during his long career. In The Passion of David Lynch, Martha Nochimson goes so far as to claim UFOs are "a subject that bores Lynch," adding in a footnote that Lynch's repeated statements of disinterest in science fiction (and his own surprise as wanting to make Dune despite this), "give credibility to my surmise, parallel to that of his longtime friend and coworker Catherine Coulson, that the emotionless involutions of the UFO plot on Twin Peaks were much more [Mark] Frost than Lynch." Whether one finds them emotionless or not, the abundant UFO lore in Frost's recent The Secret History of Twin Peaks further confirms this notion. With that in mind, many fans have concluded that if Lynch really did propose the idea of a planet of corn, it had more to do with another dimension of reality, generated by (and/or generating)/feeding off of pain and sorrow, than with a literal planet in another galaxy traveled to and from with spaceships or the like. Lynch's use of a planet in Eraserhead - connected to the psychological state of the main character - further reinforces this interpretation.

• One obvious connection with the monkey's whispered "Judy" is "Judy Garland," star of one of Lynch’s favorite and most directly-referenced films, The Wizard of Oz…which of course also features flying monkeys. I wish I could remember where I first read this! (The epiphany definitely isn’t mine.) Many have pointed out the evolutionary connotations of the monkey: is Lynch suggesting that behind the human mask is an animal nature? Writing it out that explicitly feels way too on-the-nose but certainly the associations that flicker through our mind on a more intuitive level as we watch are compelling. A pet monkey appears under the closing credits of Inland Empire (he is owned by a dying woman whose friend describes her lifestyle and medical conditions in a long monologue near the end of the film). In 2014, Lynch casually announced that, in addition to the upcoming Twin Peaks he was working on a feature project about a monkey, but no word on the project since then (more recently he's stated that he'll never make a theatrical film again but he also said he was done directing and that Twin Peaks was never coming back, so who knows).

• The Monkey is one of only a few animals in Twin Peaks. Here are the exceptions I can remember:

  • Waldo the myna bird (featured near the top of my 30 Hidden Characters list)
  • The white horse that appears twice to Sarah
  • The pine weasel
  • The llama that stares Cooper in the face (plus several other animals at the vet’s)
  • The birds we see in the forest (looks like maybe a hawk and a raven) when the lawmen travel into the woods to look for Jacques’ cabin 
  • The woodpecker Truman and Pete spot outside the station
  • Ducks on a lake (on several occasions)
  • The black dog barking as Gerard yells at Leland and Laura in traffic 
  • And of course the first "character," indeed the first image, we see in Twin Peaks is a bird on a branch (calling back to one of the last images in Blue Velvet, a robin with a bug in its mouth).
  • Nobody that I can think of has a pet dog or cat, although Laura had a kitty who got who a new collar according to the diary Cooper and Truman look through in the pilot.
  • There are also plenty of dead, stuffed animal heads featured, including several deer as well as a goat, the posed weasel and snake given to Jonathan by Pete, and the taxidermied fish Pete shows Truman. Josie also serves a pig’s head.

Let me know if I missed any, I’ll add them!

• In an article from The Little White Mask Blog ("Sacred Clown Time" by Eden H. Roquelaire), a startling association is made between the Jumping Man and and the mask worn by a Heyoka Medicine Man of the Oglala Lakota:

• An article about the room above the convenience store on DavidLynch.It (written by Matteo Marino and translated by James Woolley) makes several fascinating observations about the green Formica table – it is reminiscent of the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz (L. Frank Baum, the author notes, was – like Twin Peaks – into Theosophy), but also the Emerald Tablet of alchemist fame, whose opening lines are essentially echoed by the Log Lady in the episode introduction where she discusses creamed corn: "As above, so below." (The piece is definitely worth reading in full). It also observes that Formica is an electrical insulator so perhaps the green ring (possibly cut from the Formica table ) is meant to insulate against BOB, frequently associated with electricity. (A commentator, Michelle, also notes that insulators also work as enhancement/conduction of electricity – so perhaps the ring might best be seen as a way to navigate these forces in a certain direction.)

• Technically, I could have expanded my count of the Lodge Singer’s screentime, because we very faintly hear his voice on the soundtrack of Fire Walk With Me (when an instrumental track is played during Leland’s entry into the Lodge, Jimmy Scott’s vocals appear quietly in the mix).

• Many of my discussions about Gerard/MIKE were conducted on the dugpa World of Blue forum in the month before the Showtime series was announced in 2014. Last year I gathered many of these comments in a post called "Mike & Other Mysteries". I even speculate that the Little Man actually corresponds to MIKE's right arm, i.e. the one he still has! Which is definitely a bridge too far but sometimes jumping off those bridges can be fun (to mix metaphors).

• In Japan, the scene where Maddy sees the bloodstain on the carpet includes a truly bizarre video-"animated" BOB.

• According to the script for episode 1, Sarah was supposed to see a vision of BOB running down a hospital corridor. Obviously this was shot and then distorted and re-used in the season 2 premiere near the opening of Ronette's flashback (though it's possible the idea was simply abandoned and Lynch shot that footage himself for episode 8). In the episode 2 script, the entire European ending is described so it seems that all the stuff with MIKE and BOB being criminals at the hospital was supposed to be included (there are stories of Lynch going to network executives and asking for a two-hour episode; perhaps this was why; it also explains why Cooper describes all that additional material in the next episode). Maddy was originally supposed to see BOB in episode 8; the script describes him standing in the alcove at the Palmer house, staring at her silently. The episode 9 script contains a different version of her vision: she glimpses BOB sitting at the dinner table at the Haywards' house. Instead of crawling over the couch, he slowly turns to look at her. In deleted dialogue from episode 16, the one-armed man says that MIKE and BOB are "creatures of the fire." In episode 27, the giant was originally written to walk through the crowd of dancers to try and warn Cooper, and when BOB appears in Glastonbury Grove, he is a disembodied head that howls (the shaking arm motif was invented and sprinkled throughout the episode by director Stephen Gyllenhaal).

• The Little Man appears alongside Catherine Martell, Agent Cooper, Deputy Andy, and the Log Lady in an ABC commercial from the spring of 1991, when Twin Peaks returned from its hiatus and was re-scheduled from Saturday to Thursday. Unlike the others, he stands at the foot of the bed (without speaking, he makes an excited gesture when Cooper reports "The Man From Another Place was there too!"). This is a nod to his popularity as a symbol for the series, but also probably another Wizard of Oz wink, given the Munchkins.

• In the teleplay for the finale, there are no spirits until the penultimate scene. Windom Earle and Cooper are inside a doctor's office in the Black Lodge when a man shows up in a dentist's smock with his face obscured. Then he is revealed as BOB, speaking without moving his lips. He scolds Windom for breaking the Lodge's rules by asking for Cooper's soul, but admits he's not going to let Cooper go and reveals a syringe for extracting souls. Laura grabs his arm to stop him and the two battle as "tremendous energies collide." As in the episode itself, Cooper eventually squeezes toothpaste and a toothbrush and sees BOB in the mirror, but on the page he doesn't squeeze the paste into the sink or smash his head into the mirror. The Lodge Singer, the giant, and - most surprisingly, given his prominence in the finished episode - the Little Man were all added after the fact by Lynch.

• Interestingly, the Fire Walk With Me screenplay introduces the Little Man as "The Man From Another Place (Mike)," which is duly noted by the video I linked above. The dialogue in the "room above the store" sequence is juggled around (for example, a woodsman, not the Little Man, says "From pure air..."). Some dialogue never made into the finished film or The Missing Pieces: "Light of new discoveries" (BOB), "Why not be composed of new materials and combinations of atoms" (Mrs. Tremond), "This is no accident" (Pierre), "Our world" (First Woodsman, after the Little Man describes the Formica table), "With chrome. Any ["And"?] everything will proceed cyclically" (the Little Man), "Boneless" (Second Woodsman), "Yes, find the middle place" (the Little Man, although for this line only the script dubs him "Mike"), "Thus time moves on" (Second Woodsman). At Harold's, Laura asks, "You're not Bob are you, Harold? If you are, you can kill me right now." When Laura passes the fan later on, BOB's voice says to her, "I'm glad you're talking to me. You used to not let me talk to you." Driving from the Road House, one of Laura's johns "does an Indian whoop" and Laura has a flashback of the Little Man doing the same. In the nightclub, when Laura sees a drugged Donna being groped by the other john, she hears BOB's voice: "SEE WHAT WE CAN DO TO DONNA?" After Laura remembers the different times she's seen the ring, BOB speaks to her: "That's not important." (His line about tasting through her mouth is located here in the script, though it's moved to the fan scene in the finished film; a line about breathing through her nose was deleted.) In another fan scene, after Bobby has killed Deputy Cliff on the drug deal, BOB's voice says, "I want to kill thru you" and "I want you to kill for me." In the woods, the one-armed man declares, "Bob, I can hear you singing." When MIKE and the Little Man asks for BOB's garmonbozia in the Lodge, they also say, "Bob, you're not going home without me." When Cooper and the Little Man meet up again (the scene in The Missing Pieces when the ring is not on the table), Cooper notes that it must be the future and the Little Man responds, "The later events have never been kept a secret."

• There were so many great images of the spirits that I might as well share some of the leftovers here. After this flurry of hopefully informative and entertaining words, here's a reminder that images still speak louder.

SHOWTIME: Yes, some of the actors who played the spirits are on the cast list for 2017. No, unfortunately, others - including the two biggest names - are not. Carlton Lee Russell (the Jumping Man), Carel Struycken (the giant), and Al Strobel (MIKE) are confirmed to return. Jurgen Prochnow and David Brisbin (the woodsmen) are not coming back, Austin Lynch and Jonathan Leppell (Pierre Tremond) obviously grew out of the role decades ago, and Michael J. Anderson (the Man From Another Place) was supposed to come back, but negotiations collapsed and subsequent acrimony made clear that he is definitely out. Many of the actors have passed away in the years since Twin Peaks: Jimmy Scott (the Lodge Singer) in 2014, Frances Bay (Mrs. Tremond) in 2011, Calvin Lockhart (the electrician) in 2007, and Frank Silva (BOB) in 1995. Silva's death was earliest of all, so David Lynch and Mark Frost knew going into the screenwriting process that they had to work around his absence. It is unimaginable to me that they would recast a role conceived entirely with that particular person's qualities in mind - it's not as if they wrote the character of an intense, creepy-looking spirit and cast the part. Frank Silva himself (in appearance, of course, not personality) was inserted into the world of Twin Peaks on an almost meta-level. The substitution of a "lookalike" would be crass and vulgar in the extreme. It would also be unnecessary - these are spirits, not strictly bound to a given appearance. So if BOB appears in a new form, it will have to be something completely unlike the long-haired, jean-jacketed man who terrified us on the original series. It's also difficult to imagine them tossing another actor into Anderson's shoes, so particular was his persona. They had much shorter notice to work with, but I hope they found a solution that doesn't simply treat the actors as interchangeable. Given Lynch's unusual use of a single actor as two wildly different characters, or two wildly different actors as the same character, I can't imagine he would do anything as pedestrian as trying to duplicate the original effect with an imitation rather than move in a radically different direction. From their first appearance to their last, the spirits have shocked and disoriented us. Let's hope the wildest experiences are yet to come.

Summer: Josie Packard

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