Skip to main content

This is the water, and this is the well.

Twin Peaks
3.8: Gotta light?

(SPOILERS) Er…. Okay. An episode presumably conceived by Lynch and Frost entirely to stymie recap artists. Which is laudable in itself, I guess. It’s probably the closest the director has come to all-out Eraserhead weirdness since, only substituting fear of the bomb for fatherhood. Fortunately, unlike that movie – which I don’t really care for too much, even knowing that makes me a not-we when it comes to Lynchdom – I found Gotta light? mostly engrossing and only a little dull (these ratios are just about reversed with Eraserhead). It probably helps too that it’s a good 20 minutes shorter.


And this isn’t going to be too long either. Not because I think the episode is impenetrable – I suspect most people have roughly the same the gist as to what’s going on, give or take – but because there are so many times you can ejaculate “anti-Malick” as a description of what’s going on here, or hyperbolise that Lynch has just changed the face of television.


Evil Coop gets killed by Ray but is resurrected (and Ray, at any rate, believes he is on the phone to Phillip Jeffries, even if Coop didn’t think that was him a few episodes back), it seems, by a bunch of smelly tramps who were somehow unleashed – from the Black Lodge? – by an atom bomb test on July 16 1945, and have been milling about ever since (11 years later and now, most notably). Is Evil Coop still Bob-Coop, or now flying solo? I guess we’ll see.


It appears that the test has ripped space-time asunder, as a beautiful mushroom blossoms and bursts, accompanied by the discordant and disturbing Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima by Penderecki. Is Bob a child of the garm-bomb-zia, and Laura conceived as the counter (by the Giant and his cohabitee of… the White Lodge?) Or is the bomb merely an all-powerfully negative vessel propelling Bob’s force into the world? I had the impression he was around long before, both from the original series and The Secret History of Twin Peaks, so it may just attract his essential darkness (although, to counter that, there’s whatever the creature floating in space thing was birthing/puking up – more garmonbonzia? – containing his mugshot).


With regard to The Secret History, there’s no hint of Roswell aliens in either of these sequences (unless the aliens are, in fact, interdimensional beings), but one might, if one were so inclined, parallel Jack Parsons’ Babalon Working with the magickal activities of these entities breaking through into our reality. The sequence plays like an inverted 2001 stargate, the darktopia version, or Malick’s The Tree of Life fed upside down and backwards through a threshing machine.


And what the hell is that frog-insect thing, and why does it burrow down an innocent teenager’s throat? It has been suggested this is the essence of Laura and the girl is Sarah Palmer, but it seems strange then that this should occur when she’s just been lulled to sleep by the incantation of the dirty stalker, Mr Gotta Light (whose general apparel and absence of soap suggests brethren of the guy we saw in the background last week, behind Lieutenant Knox, and before that in the next cell from William Hastings).


As for his bloody modus operandi, it may not be quite as messy, but it nevertheless put me in mind of the thing that came out of the box in the opener (the aforementioned creature floating in space extruding a yard of snot also resembles the box being). This sequence is perhaps the closest the episode comes to a traditional cause-and-effect rhythm, as the words of the Woodsman (Robert Broski) elicit a decisively knockout effect on listeners:

This is the water, and this is the well
Drink full and descend
The horse is the white of the eyes and dark within.


If I’m honest, using the Trinity tests as a spur to ultimate evil feels a little, well, obvious, and I definitely can’t excuse, however inimitable it may be, Lynch pulling a “chosen one” origins story on Laura Palmer. I’ve been slightly dubious about the keen visual continuity of Laura and Bob in the season so far; for all that Lynch may not have been overly keen on Windom Earle – I thought he was terrific – he represented the series moving on. This run is managing to go in very different places – locations, characters, concepts – but it is almost morbidly focussed on the same core, to the extent that it becomes Lynch’s equivalent of the prequel trilogy (but not, you know, actually bad with it).


Nevertheless, one can’t but admire how unrepentantly tangential Gotta light? is. It could only ever be the sort of thing someone with complete control could bring to a TV screen, and is at least partially brilliant. But it may be more interesting for what it represents (TV doing something no other TV is doing) than necessarily how “good” it is.  Mostly this season, I’ve enjoyed Lynch avoiding cutting to the chase, but abstract Lynch runs the danger of spoiling us with over-familiarity; a diluted dose may have more persuasive effects. Oh, and NiN.


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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I just hope my death makes more cents than my life.

Joker (2019)
(SPOILERS) So the murder sprees didn’t happen, and a thousand puff pieces desperate to fan the flames of such events and then told-ya-so have fallen flat on their faces. The biggest takeaway from Joker is not that the movie is an event, when once that seemed plausible but not a given, but that any mainstream press perspective on the picture appears unable to divorce its quality from its alleged or actual politics. Joker may be zeitgeisty, but isn’t another Taxi Driver in terms of cultural import, in the sense that Taxi Driver didn’t have a Taxi Driver in mind when Paul Schrader wrote it. It is, if you like, faux-incendiary, and can only ever play out on that level. It might be more accurately described as a grubbier, grimier (but still polished and glossy) The Talented Ripley, the tale of developing psychopathy, only tailored for a cinemagoing audience with few options left outside of comic book fare.

You guys sure like watermelon.

The Irishman aka I Heard You Paint Houses (2019)
(SPOILERS) Perhaps, if Martin Scorsese hadn’t been so opposed to the idea of Marvel movies constituting cinema, The Irishman would have been a better film. It’s a decent film, assuredly. A respectable film, definitely. But it’s very far from being classic. And a significant part of that is down to the usually assured director fumbling the execution. Or rather, the realisation. I don’t know what kind of crazy pills the ranks of revered critics have been taking so as to recite as one the mantra that you quickly get used to the de-aging effects so intrinsic to its telling – as Empire magazine put it, “you soon… fuggadaboutit” – but you don’t. There was no point during The Irishman that I was other than entirely, regrettably conscious that a 75-year-old man was playing the title character. Except when he was playing a 75-year-old man.

So you want me to be half-monk, half-hitman.

Casino Royale (2006)
(SPOILERS) Despite the doubts and trepidation from devotees (too blonde, uncouth etc.) that greeted Daniel Craig’s casting as Bond, and the highly cynical and low-inspiration route taken by Eon in looking to Jason Bourne's example to reboot a series that had reached a nadir with Die Another Day, Casino Royale ends up getting an enormous amount right. If anything, its failure is that it doesn’t push far enough, so successful is it in disarming itself of the overblown set pieces and perfunctory plotting that characterise the series (even at its best), elements that would resurge with unabated gusto in subsequent Craig excursions.

For the majority of its first two hours, Casino Royale is top-flight entertainment, with returning director Martin Campbell managing to exceed his excellent work reformatting Bond for the ‘90s. That the weakest sequence (still good, mind) prior to the finale is a traditional “big” (but not too big) action set piece involving an attempt to…

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.

You're skipping Christmas! Isn't that against the law?

Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
Ex-coke dealer Tim Allen’s underwhelming box office career is, like Vince Vaughn’s, regularly in need of a boost from an indiscriminate public willing to see any old turkey posing as a prize Christmas comedy.  He made three Santa Clauses, and here is joined by Jamie Lee Curtis as a couple planning to forgo the usual neighbourhood festivities for a cruise.

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.

We’ll bring it out on March 25 and we’ll call it… Christmas II!

Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
(SPOILERS) Alexander Salkind (alongside son Ilya) inhabited not dissimilar territory to the more prolific Dino De Laurentis, in that his idea of manufacturing a huge blockbuster appeared to be throwing money at it while being stingy with, or failing to appreciate, talent where it counted. Failing to understand the essential ingredients for a quality movie, basically, something various Hollywood moguls of the ‘80s would inherit. Santa Claus: The Movie arrived in the wake of his previously colon-ed big hit, Superman: The Movie, the producer apparently operating under the delusion that flying effects and :The Movie in the title would induce audiences to part with their cash, as if they awarded Saint Nick a must-see superhero mantle. The only surprise was that his final cinematic effort, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, wasn’t similarly sold, but maybe he’d learned his lesson by then. Or maybe not, given the behind-camera talent he failed to secure.

On a long enough timeline, the survival of everyone drops to zero.

Fight Club (1999)
(SPOILERS) Still David Fincher’s peak picture, mostly by dint of Fight Club being the only one you can point to and convincingly argue that that the source material is up there with his visual and technical versatility. If Seven is a satisfying little serial-killer-with-a-twist story vastly improved by his involvement (just imagine it directed by Joel Schumacher… or watch 8mm), Fight Club invites him to utilise every trick in the book to tell the story of not-Tyler Durden, whom we encounter at a very peculiar time in his life.

When primal forces of nature tell you to do something, the prudent thing is not to quibble over details.

Field of Dreams (1989)
(SPOILERS) There’s a near-Frank Darabont quality to Phil Alden Robinson producing such a beloved feature and then subsequently offering not all that much of note. But Darabont, at least, was in the same ballpark as The Shawshank Redemption with The Green MileSneakers is good fun, The Sum of All Our Fears was a decent-sized success, but nothing since has come close to his sophomore directorial effort in terms of quality. You might put that down to the source material, WP Kinsella’s 1982 novel Shoeless Joe, but the captivating magical-realist balance hit by Field of Dreams is a deceptively difficult one to strike, and the biggest compliment you can play Robinson is that he makes it look easy.

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…