Tuesday, September 5, 2017

We Live Inside a Dream

I mentioned in a post a while back that I was a huge fan of Twin Peaks (and David Lynch in general). I really wanted to write a post on here about the finale of the third season of Twin Peaks, or Twin Peaks: The Return as it's often called. But where to begin?

I LOVE the unexpected. Anything that avoids that moment when you go "Ah, I can see what's going to happen" is great in my book. I love to be surprised by TV and movies, to not see the same old plots and tropes. Twin Peaks is far from predictable. Where the first couple of series were a soap opera / murder mystery with some paranormal elements, the third / return series has been full-on David Lynch.

My old post was just after watching the first two episodes and I was already hooked and thrilled. It did everything I wanted - it introduced new characters, a new murder mystery, addressed some of the Cooper elements with the Black Lodge and the doppelgänger, and had some stand out weird elements.

But nothing prepared me for the now legendary Episode 8 (aka "Gotta Light?") where, after a brief period of relatively normal narrative, we are treated to a live performance by my favourite band ever (Nine Inch Nails), then 45mins of strange black and white sequences with the nuclear explosion at Trinity, the birth of BOB from the "Mother", the Fireman sending a golden orb of Laura Palmer into the desert, strange frog-legged bugs crawling into the mouth of a young girl as she sleeps, and various woodsmen breaking into our reality and killing people.

The birth of BOB in Episode 8 of Twin Peaks: The Return

That was the moment I had an epiphany. Twin Peaks had a message for me.

"Do whatever you like. Don't try to please everyone, just create."

Do you think David Lynch, when he was coming up with that episode, thought "I really shouldn't do this, people won't get it." I know Mark Frost co-wrote this series, but there's so much Lynch in this episode - so much Eraserhead and his wacky b/w art-movie feel - that I don't think Frost got much of an input on this one.

But it really did make me think that I should stop worrying about what I'm writing, and just get it out there. Not everyone is going to like it, but someone will. Maybe just one person who's as nuts as me.

Then came Episode 14, aka "We are like the Dreamer". Like Lynch, I'm fascinated by dreams. I wish I could do the transcendental meditation where he catches his big fish. But if you've followed my game writing, especially for WILD and what I've been trying to do for the last six years with it, you'll understand. When Episode 14 started and Gordon Cole (played by David Lynch) says that he had "another Monica Bellucci dream" and we see the strangeness that unlocks a memory of his encounter with Philip Jeffries (the late, great David Bowie) back in the movie Fire Walk With Me - you'll know I was squirming and giggling with delight.

The ever amazing Monica Bellucci - subject of Gordon Cole's dreams...

"We are like the dreamer, who dreams, and then lives inside the dream. But who is the dreamer?"

The finale was shown as two episodes (17 & 18). Everything was perfectly wrapped up in Episode 17 pretty early on - evil Cooper doppelgänger (Mr. C) had been dispatched, the BOB inside was punched into oblivion, and then it all gets REALLY weird. With a close up of Cooper's face superimposed over a lot of the scene, Cooper foreshadows what he intends to do - "There are some things that will change. The past dictates the future." But the superimposed face of Cooper reminds us - "We live inside a dream."

While Cooper travels back to the night Laura Palmer died, he tries to intervene and stop her murder. We see scenes from the first ever episode, as if Laura was never found "wrapped in plastic". But she vanishes when Cooper tries to lead her home and Cooper leaves the Lodge to be greeted by Diane. They set off to travel into another reality to save Laura. It all gets even weirder as the final eighteenth episode progresses with changes of personality, of name, of reality. All culminating in a final scene that will resonate in TV history and spark even more debate than "How's Annie?" ever did twenty six years ago...

"What year is it?"

Twenty six years ago I was just as obsessed with Twin Peaks. As I mentioned in my previous post, I recorded them all off of BBC2, and analysed them as much as my younger brain could. When I had to present a project for my graphic design course (the project was to explain something to someone) I foolishly picked Twin Peaks.

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across a photo I took of the project, trying to make a relationship map with all of the characters from the original two series.

Photo of my Twin Peaks relationship map project from 1992

It's not very good, and I didn't have the internet to check all of the relationships, but it does show how completely and utterly obsessed I was with the series back then. I hope it raises a smile at least!

Now, with the finale out of the way, it still inspires me. There are huge elements that tie in with what I've been writing - dreamlike narratives, the strange seeping into reality, tulpas, etc. I'm looking forward to a rewatch of all 18 hours (though it may be a bit mindblowing to do it in one sitting).

All I can really say at the end of all of this is a huge thank you to Mark Frost and David Lynch. For letting us into their world, and telling us that it's okay to be inspired by our dreams. And thank you to everyone involved with the series. For challenging what a TV series can be and getting everyone talking and thinking.

Please don't leave us wanting for another twenty five years!

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