Skip to main content

I'm the white rabbit, drawing you closer to the rabbit hole.

The Secret History of Twin Peaks

(SPOILERS) I never got around to reading The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, as I think I rather unfairly dismissed it as little more than a cryptic cash-in. I also managed to wrong-foot myself with this latest secret edition, a precursor to forthcoming the third season, which I assumed would be something of a gap-filler for the intervening 25 years, rather than an exploration of the near-200 prior to the pilot. It has been suggested that the return of Twin Peaks will be tonally much closer to Fire Walk with Me than the oft-whimsical show itself. That may prove to be the case, but if so, it raises the question of how that will balance with this volume. Because Fire Walk with Me was all David Lynch, whereas The Secret History of Twin Peaks is all Mark Frost.

More than that, it has the kind of conspiratorial coherence – in terms of threading actual conspiracies rather than loosely threading together the essences of a vague idea - that one might have expected of The X-Files if it could have been bothered to plan anything out in advance, or behind. Or if it hadn’t been overseen by Chris Carter.

And somehow, it all appears to make sense, almost as if Lynch and Frost always had this in mind, even though, as we know, the former’s whacked out on whackedness. I mean, since there was no mention of UFOs or Project Bluebook, or even a suggestion thereof, hitherto in Lynchdom, it was a fair bet that Major Briggs’ strange fascination was all Frost. And, while “The owls are not what they seem” is just the sort of thing Lynch would have dreamt up while drinking a hot cup of joe, connecting it to masonry is definitely Frost’s thing.

And so, he joins an engrossing series of dots from the Lewis and Clark expedition (masons), to the  various forms of the Illuminati, to taking in the disappearing giant skeletons in the Smithsonian (clearly designed to evoke Carel Struycken’s Giant), to all manner of E.T.s and including Roswell, White Sands, Area 51 (the alien focus not precluding their being interdimensional, which is much more Peaksy), L Ron Hubbard, Aleister Crowley (two lodges of black and white magicians), Timothy Leary, ayahuasca, Watergate (Nixon was onto those UFOs, and even had a Grey in his basement), Jack Parsons and the Babalon Working, Bohemian Grove, and suddenly the child abuse at the centre of Twin Peaks takes on a more overarching, ritualistic theme, bricks stacking around the netherworld invading one man’s psyche.

What’s most impressive here is how fluid Frost’s refashioning is. Positing itself as written by Major Briggs (although the FBI annotator concludes it’s down to Coop at one point), The Secret History ends not long after the second season cliffhanger, so maintaining an air of suspense over what happened next, and offers very little insight into those we know from the show, such that it’s almost a sop that there are accounts of trouble at mill, Josie Packard, and Big Ed (the most we get of additional info is that Audrey survived the bank explosion, which killed Andrew and Pete, also that “bad” Coop paid a call on Briggs just before his journal ends, leaving the latter in an anxious state – as for the absence of Annie from Season Three, she ain’t here either, although Frost has apparently specified there are reasons for this).

Rather, it takes one of the least interesting strands of the show, the feud between the Milford brothers, and weaves a whole backstory regarding Douglas Milford (Tony Jay) and his involvement in all manner of arcane activities, triggered, it seems, by an encounter in the woods (such an event also later marked the Log Lady).

While Frost resists forming conclusions – that would be tantamount to revealing who killed Laura Palmer – he weaves such a compelling tapestry that, as stated, you’d almost believe they had all this in mind from the outset. It’s so tight that the frequently saggy interludes of Season Two are banished from the mind. Frost even makes time for Fire Walk with Me characters, from the disappeared agents Chester Desmond and Sam Stanley to Carl Rodd and, most enticingly, Phillip Jeffries.

There are also some very funny bits, such as the mock-up of Dr Jacoby’s mind-expanding “The Eye of God: Sacred Psychology and the Aboriginal Mind” (so glad Russ Tamblyn is making a return).

It’s quite possible, nay likely, that most of what’s on offer here will be entirely tangential to the dozen-and-a-half episodes arriving in a few months’ time, but it nevertheless provides a fascinating underpinning of all things Twin Peaks, one that expressly links the world of Lynch to the outside conspirasphere. Because, let’s face it, the Project Bluebook part of the original never exactly screamed for attention. Now, whatever connects the lodges in the woods to whatever’s out there in the universe appears to have been tagged as central. Oh, and leading us directly into the series, the annotations are made by Agent Tamara Preston, who will be played by Amy Shiels.


Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

Dude, you're embarrassing me in front of the wizards.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
(SPOILERS) The cliffhanger sequel, as a phenomenon, is a relatively recent thing. Sure, we kind of saw it with The Empire Strikes Back – one of those "old" movies Peter Parker is so fond of – a consequence of George Lucas deliberately borrowing from the Republic serials of old, but he had no guarantee of being able to complete his trilogy; it was really Back to the Future that began the trend, and promptly drew a line under it for another decade. In more recent years, really starting with The MatrixThe Lord of the Rings stands apart as, post-Weinstein's involvement, fashioned that way from the ground up – shooting the second and third instalments back-to-back has become a thing, both more cost effective and ensuring audiences don’t have to endure an interminable wait for their anticipation to be sated. The flipside of not taking this path is an Allegiant, where greed gets the better of a studio (split a novel into two movie parts assuming a…

I don't like bugs. You can't hear them, you can't see them and you can't feel them, then suddenly you're dead.

Blake's 7 2.7: Killer

Robert Holmes’ first of four scripts for the series, and like last season’s Mission to Destiny there are some fairly atypical elements and attitudes to the main crew (although the A/B storylines present a familiar approach and each is fairly equal in importance for a change). It was filmed second, which makes it the most out of place episode in the run (and explains why the crew are wearing outfits – they must have put them in the wash – from a good few episodes past and why Blake’s hair has grown since last week).
The most obvious thing to note from Holmes’ approach is that he makes Blake a Doctor-substitute. Suddenly he’s full of smart suggestions and shrewd guesses about the threat that’s wiping out the base, basically leaving a top-level virologist looking clueless and indebted to his genius insights. If you can get past this (and it did have me groaning) there’s much enjoyment to be had from the episode, not least from the two main guest actors.

When two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object of inquiry we must always pay strict attention.

Twin Peaks 1.5: The One-Armed Man
With the waves left in Albert’s wake subsiding (Gordon Cole, like Albert, is first encountered on the phone, and Coop apologises to Truman over the trouble the insulting forensics expert has caused; ”Harry, the last thing I want you to worry about while I’m here is some city slicker I brought into your town relieving himself upstream”), the series steps down a register for the first time. This is a less essential episode than those previously, concentrating on establishing on-going character and plot interactions at the expense of the strange and unusual. As such, it sets the tone for the rest of this short first season.

The first of 10 episodes penned by Robert Engels (who would co-script Fire Walk with Me with Lynch, and then reunite with him for On the Air), this also sees the first “star” director on the show in the form of Tim Hunter. Hunter is a director (like Michael Lehman) who hit the ground running but whose subsequent career has rather disapp…

An initiative test. How simply marvellous!

You Must Be Joking! (1965)
A time before a Michael Winner film was a de facto cinematic blot on the landscape is now scarcely conceivable. His output, post- (or thereabouts) Death Wish (“a pleasant romp”) is so roundly derided that it’s easy to forget that the once-and-only dining columnist and raconteur was once a bright (well…) young thing of the ‘60s, riding the wave of excitement (most likely highly cynically) and innovation in British cinema. His best-known efforts from this period are a series of movies with Oliver Reed – including the one with the elephant – and tend to represent the director in his pleasant romp period, before he attacked genres with all the precision and artistic integrity of a blunt penknife. You Must Be Joking! comes from that era, its director’s ninth feature, straddling the gap between Ealing and the Swinging ‘60s; coarser, cruder comedies would soon become the order of the day, the mild ribaldry of Carry On pitching into bawdy flesh-fests. You Must Be Joki…

He mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.

Darkest Hour (2017)
(SPOILERS) Watching Joe Wright’s return to the rarefied plane of prestige – and heritage to boot – filmmaking following the execrable folly of the panned Pan, I was struck by the difference an engaged director, one who cares about his characters, makes to material. Only last week, Ridley Scott’s serviceable All the Money in the World made for a pointed illustration of strong material in the hands of someone with no such investment, unless they’re androids. Wright’s dedication to a relatable Winston Churchill ensures that, for the first hour-plus, Darkest Hour is a first-rate affair, a piece of myth-making that barely puts a foot wrong. It has that much in common with Wright’s earlier Word War II tale, Atonement. But then, like Atonement, it comes unstuck.

Ain't nobody likes the Middle East, buddy. There's nothing here to like.

Body of Lies (2008)
(SPOILERS) Sir Ridders stubs out his cigar in the CIA-assisted War on Terror, with predictably gormless results. Body of Lies' one saving grace is that it wasn't a hit, although that more reflects its membership of a burgeoning club where no degree of Hollywood propaganda on the "just fight" (with just a smidgeon enough doubt cast to make it seem balanced at a sideways glance) was persuading the public that they wanted the official fiction further fictionalised.

Well, who’s going to monitor the monitors of the monitors?

Enemy of the State (1998)
Enemy of the State is something of an anomaly; a quality conspiracy thriller borne not from any distinct political sensibility on the part of its makers but simple commercial instincts. Of course, the genre has proved highly successful over the years so it's easy to see why big name producers like Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson would have chased that particular gravy boat. Yet they did so for some time without success; by the time the movie was made, Simpson had passed away and Bruckheimer was flying solo. It might be the only major film in the latter's career that, despite the prerequisite gloss and stylish packaging, has something to say. More significant still, 15 years too late, the film's warnings are finally receiving recognition in the light of the Edward Snowden revelations.

In a piece for The Guardian earlier this year, John Patterson levelled the charge that Enemy was one of a number of Hollywood movies that have “been softening us up f…

Luck isn’t a superpower... And it isn't cinematic!

Deadpool 2 (2018)
(SPOILERS) Perhaps it’s because I was lukewarm on the original, but Deadpool 2 mercifully disproves the typical consequence of the "more is more" approach to making a sequel. By rights, it should plummet into the pitfall of ever more excess to diminishing returns, yet for the most part it doesn't.  Maybe that’s in part due to it still being a relatively modest undertaking, budget-wise, and also a result of being very self-aware – like duh, you might say, that’s its raison d'être – of its own positioning and expectation as a sequel; it resolutely fails to teeter over the precipice of burn out or insufferable smugness. It helps that it's frequently very funny – for the most part not in the exhaustingly repetitive fashion of its predecessor – but I think the key ingredient is that it finds sufficient room in its mirthful melee for plot and character, in order to proffer tone and contrast.

This is no time for puns! Even good ones.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman (2014)
Perhaps I've done DreamWorks Animation (SKG, Inc., etc.) a slight injustice. The studio has been content to run an assembly line of pop culture raiding, broad-brush properties and so-so sequels almost since its inception, but the cracks in their method have begun to show more overtly in recent years. They’ve been looking tired, and too many of their movies haven’t done the business they would have liked. Yet both their 2014 deliveries, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Mr. Peabody & Sherman, take their standard approach but manage to add something more. Dragon 2 has a lot of heart, which one couldn’t really say about Peabody (it’s more sincere elements feel grafted on, and largely unnecessary). Peabody, however, is witty, inventive and pacey, abounding with sight gags and clever asides while offering a time travel plotline that doesn’t talk down to its family audience.

I haven’t seen the The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, from which Mr. Peabody & Sh…