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

We live in a twilight world.

Tenet (2020)
(SPOILERS) I’ve endured a fair few confusingly-executed action sequences in movies – more than enough, actually – but I don’t think I’ve previously had the odd experience of being on the edge of my seat during one while simultaneously failing to understand its objectives and how those objectives are being attempted. Which happened a few times during Tenet. If I stroll over to the Wiki page and read the plot synopsis, it is fairly explicable (fairly) but as a first dive into this Christopher Nolan film, I frequently found it, if not impenetrable, then most definitely opaque.

Anything can happen in Little Storping. Anything at all.

The Avengers 2.22: Murdersville
Brian Clemens' witty take on village life gone bad is one of the highlights of the fifth season. Inspired by Bad Day at Black Rock, one wonders how much Murdersville's premise of unsettling impulses lurking beneath an idyllic surface were set to influence both Straw Dogs and The Wicker Mana few years later (one could also suggest it premeditates the brand of backwoods horrors soon to be found in American cinema from the likes of Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper).

She was addicted to Tums for a while.

Marriage Story (2019)
(SPOILERS) I don’t tend to fall heavily for Noah Baumbach fare. He’s undoubtedly a distinctive voice – even if his collaborations with Wes Anderson are the least of that director’s efforts – but his devotion to an exclusive, rarefied New York bubble becomes ever more off-putting with each new project. And ever more identifiable as being a lesser chronicler of the city’s privileged quirks than his now disinherited forbear Woody Allen, who at his peak mastered a balancing act between the insightful, hilarious and self-effacing. Marriage Story finds Baumbach going yet again where Woody went before, this time brushing up against the director’s Ingmar Bergman fixation.

You can’t climb a ladder, no. But you can skip like a goat into a bar.

Juno and the Paycock (1930)
(SPOILERS) Hitchcock’s second sound feature. Such was the lustre of this technological advance that a wordy play was picked. By Sean O’Casey, upon whom Hitchcock based the prophet of doom at the end of The Birds. Juno and the Paycock, set in 1922 during the Irish Civil War, begins as a broad comedy of domestic manners, but by the end has descended into full-blown Greek (or Catholic) tragedy. As such, it’s an uneven but still watchable affair, even if Hitch does nothing to disguise its stage origins.

I mean, I am just a dumb bunny, but, we are good at multiplying.

Zootropolis (2016)
(SPOILERS) The key to Zootropolis’ creative success isn’t so much the conceit of its much-vaunted allegory regarding prejudice and equality, or – conversely – the fun to be had riffing on animal stereotypes (simultaneously clever and obvious), or even the appealing central duo voiced by Ginnifier Goodwin (as first rabbit cop Judy Hopps) and Jason Bateman (fox hustler Nick Wilde). Rather, it’s coming armed with that rarity for an animation; a well-sustained plot that doesn’t devolve into overblown set pieces or rest on the easy laurels of musical numbers and montages.

My name is Dr. King Schultz, this is my valet, Django, and these are our horses, Fritz, and Tony.

Django Unchained (2012)
(MINOR SPOILERS) Since the painful misstep of Grindhouse/Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino has regained the higher ground like never before. Pulp Fiction, his previous commercial and critical peak, has been at very least equalled by the back-to-back hits of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Having been underwhelmed by his post Pulp Fiction efforts (albeit, I admired his technical advances as a director in Kill Bill), I was pleasantly surprised by Inglourious Basterds. It was no work of genius (so not Pulp Fiction) by any means, but there was a gleeful irreverence in its treatment of history and even to the nominal heroic status of its titular protagonists. Tonally, it was a good fit for the director’s “cool” aesthetic. As a purveyor of postmodern pastiche, where the surface level is the subtext, in some ways he was operating at his zenith. Django Unchained is a retreat from that position, the director caught in the tug between his all-important aesthetic pr…

He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)
(SPOILERS) I don’t love Star Trek, but I do love Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That probably isn’t just me, but a common refrain of many a non-devotee of the series. Although, it used to apply to The Voyage Home (the funny one, with the whales, the Star Trek even the target audience for Three Men and a Baby could enjoy). Unfortunately, its high regard has also become the desperate, self-destructive, song-and-verse, be-all-and-end-all of the overlords of the franchise itself, in whichever iteration, it seems. This is understandable to an extent, as Khan is that rare movie sequel made to transcendent effect on almost every level, and one that stands the test of time every bit as well (better, even) as when it was first unveiled.

Do you read Sutter Cane?

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
(SPOILERS) The concluding chapter of John Carpenter’s unofficial Apocalypse Trilogy (preceded by The Thing and Prince of Darkness) is also, sadly, his last great movie. Indeed, it stands apart in the qualitative wilderness that beset him during the ‘90s (not for want of output). Michael De Luca’s screenplay had been doing the rounds since the ‘80s, even turned down by Carpenter at one point, and it proves ideal fodder for the director, bringing out the best in him. Even cinematographer Gary K Kibbe seems inspired enough to rise to the occasion. It could do without the chugging rawk soundtrack, perhaps, but then, that was increasingly where Carpenter’s interests resided (as opposed to making decent movies).

Poor Easy Breezy.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)
(SPOILERS) My initial reaction to Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood was mild disbelief that Tarantino managed to hoodwink studios into coming begging to make it, so wilfully perverse is it in disregarding any standard expectations of narrative or plotting. Then I remembered that studios, or studios that aren’t Disney, are desperate for product, and more especially, product that might guarantee them a hit. Quentin’s latest appears to be that, but whether it’s a sufficient one to justify the expense of his absurd vanity project remains to be seen.

I take Quaaludes 10-15 times a day for my "back pain", Adderall to stay focused, Xanax to take the edge off, part to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine... Well, because it's awesome.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Along with Pain & Gain and The Great Gatsby, The Wolf of Wall Street might be viewed as the completion of a loose 2013 trilogy on the subject of success and excess; the American Dream gone awry. It’s the superior picture to its fellows, by turns enthralling, absurd, outrageous and hilarious. This is the fieriest, most deliriously vibrant picture from the director since the millennium turned. Nevertheless, stood in the company of Goodfellas, the Martin Scorsese film from which The Wolf of Wall Street consciously takes many of its cues, it is found wanting.

I was vaguely familiar with the title, not because I knew much about Jordan Belfort but because the script had been in development for such a long time (Ridley Scott was attached at one time). So part of the pleasure of the film is discovering how widely the story diverges from the Wall Street template. “The Wolf of Wall Street” suggests one who towers over the city like a behemoth, rather than a guy …