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…

Our very strength incites challenge. Challenge incites conflict. And conflict... breeds catastrophe.

The MCU Ranked Worst to Best

Why would I turn into a filing cabinet?

Captain Marvel (2019)
(SPOILERS) All superhero movies are formulaic to a greater or lesser degree. Mostly greater. The key to an actually great one – or just a pretty good one – is making that a virtue, rather than something you’re conscious of limiting the whole exercise. The irony of the last two stand-alone MCU pictures is that, while attempting to bring somewhat down-the-line progressive cachet to the series, they’ve delivered rather pedestrian results. Of course, that didn’t dim Black Panther’s cultural cachet (and what do I know, swathes of people also profess to loving it), and Captain Marvel has hit half a billion in its first few days – it seems that, unless you’re poor unloved Ant-Man, an easy $1bn is the new $700m for the MCU – but neither’s protagonist really made that all-important iconic impact.

Stupid adult hands!

Shazam! (2019)
(SPOILERS) Shazam! is exactly the kind of movie I hoped it would be, funny, scary (for kids, at least), smart and delightfully dumb… until the final act. What takes place there isn’t a complete bummer, but right now, it does pretty much kill any interest I have in a sequel.

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…

I have discovered the great ray that first brought life into the world.

Frankenstein (1931)
(SPOILERS) To what extent do Universal’s horror classics deserved to be labelled classics? They’re from the classical Hollywood period, certainly, but they aren’t unassailable titans that can’t be bettered – well unless you were Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan trying to fashion a Dark Universe with zero ingenuity. And except maybe for the sequel to the second feature in their lexicon. Frankenstein is revered for several classic scenes, boasts two mesmerising performances, and looks terrific thanks to Arthur Edeson’s cinematography, but there’s also sizeable streak of stodginess within its seventy minutes.

Can you float through the air when you smell a delicious pie?

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
(SPOILERS) Ironically, given the source material, think I probably fell into the category of many who weren't overly disposed to give this big screen Spider-Man a go on the grounds that it was an animation. After all, if it wasn’t "good enough" for live-action, why should I give it my time? Not even Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's pedigree wholly persuaded me; they'd had their stumble of late, although admittedly in that live-action arena. As such, it was only the near-unanimous critics' approval that swayed me, suggesting I'd have been missing out. They – not always the most reliable arbiters of such populist fare, which made the vote of confidence all the more notable – were right. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is not only a first-rate Spider-Man movie, it's a fresh, playful and (perhaps) surprisingly heartfelt origins story.

Only an idiot sees the simple beauty of life.

Forrest Gump (1994)
(SPOILERS) There was a time when I’d have made a case for, if not greatness, then Forrest Gump’s unjust dismissal from conversations regarding its merits. To an extent, I still would. Just not nearly so fervently. There’s simply too much going on in the picture to conclude that the manner in which it has generally been received is the end of the story. Tarantino, magnanimous in the face of Oscar defeat, wasn’t entirely wrong when he suggested to Robert Zemeckis that his was a, effectively, subversive movie. Its problem, however, is that it wants to have its cake and eat it.

Do not mention the Tiptoe Man ever again.

Glass (2019)
(SPOILERS) If nothing else, one has to admire M Night Shyamalan’s willingness to plough ahead regardless with his straight-faced storytelling, taking him into areas that encourage outright rejection or merciless ridicule, with all the concomitant charges of hubris. Reactions to Glass have been mixed at best, but mostly more characteristic of the period he plummeted from his must-see, twist-master pedestal (during the period of The Village and The Happening), which is to say quite scornful. And yet, this is very clearly the story he wanted to tell, so if he undercuts audience expectations and leaves them dissatisfied, it’s most definitely not a result of miscalculation on his part. For my part, while I’d been prepared for a disappointment on the basis of the critical response, I came away very much enjoying the movie, by and large.

Rejoice! The broken are the more evolved. Rejoice.

Split (2016)
(SPOILERS) M Night Shyamalan went from the toast of twist-based filmmaking to a one-trick pony to the object of abject ridicule in the space of only a couple of pictures: quite a feat. Along the way, I’ve managed to miss several of his pictures, including his last, The Visit, regarded as something of a re-locating of his footing in the low budget horror arena. Split continues that genre readjustment, another Blumhouse production, one that also manages to bridge the gap with the fare that made him famous. But it’s a thematically uneasy film, marrying shlock and serious subject matter in ways that don’t always quite gel.

Shyamalan has seized on a horror staple – nubile teenage girls in peril, prey to a psychotic antagonist – and, no doubt with the best intentions, attempted to warp it. But, in so doing, he has dragged in themes and threads from other, more meritable fare, with the consequence that, in the end, the conflicting positions rather subvert his attempts at subversion…