3.8: Gotta light?
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
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.