Revisiting ‘Twin Peaks’ Episode Four: When Maple Syrup Collides With Ham

leland

This is not Leland’s day.

If you feel left out of the whole Twin Peaks phenomenon, we’re here to help! Every week, associate tvDownload editor Vinnie Mancuso attempts to figure out what the hell is going on in this town, while senior editor/Twin Peaks expert Drew Grant answers his questions. This week: ‘Rest in Pain.’ 

So after the horrifying fever dream that was last week’s Twin Peaks viewing, this week seemed understandably tame in comparison. In fact, nothing really significant happened in ‘Rest in Pain.’ Or maybe it did and I missed it. I haven’t been sleeping much, due to a constant unwavering fear that I’ll dream of this.

The big event this week was Laura Palmer’s funeral. Bobby’s stiff-as-a-board military father sat him down for a nice chat beforehand and tells him it is okay to be afraid of attending his (main) girlfriend’s funeral. “I can hardly wait. I’m going to turn it UP SIDE DOWN,” Bobby screams in reply. Which, odd response, if only because it sounds a lot like something a bro would scream before he popped some drugs and hit the clubs.

UP SIDE DOWN

Mr. Briggs looks like he got to the drugs early.

Then there’s the actual funeral. For the most part, it was over a minute of characters giving each other meaningful glances. A priest was talking about how much he loved Laura, but I couldn’t even hear what he was saying over the sheer emotional weight of all these glances, you guys. A few scenes earlier James said he wasn’t going to attend, but of course he does he just needed to wait for the swelling piano music to kick in.

Bobby, probably upset about the lack of EDM and strobe lights, proceeds to turn the funeral UP SIDE DOWN, calling out the entire town as hypocrites who knew Lauren was troubled. He…has a point. But James is righteous (besides the whole falling in love with someone else 32 seconds after Laura was pronounced dead thing) and starts a fight with Bobby. Thus proceeds the greatest unironic use of slow motion I’ve ever seen, complete with now baritone-voiced Bobby screaming in ultra slo-mo “Youuuuurrrrreeee deeeeeaaaaddd.”

Down goes Leland, down goes Leland. Somewhere during the kerfuffle, Leland Palmer leaps on to his daughter’s casket as it’s being lowered. Lowered, then raised, then lowered, then raised, then lowered…serious question. I’m not even going to wait to the Q&A section because I want a general consensus. When this show first aired, was this scene like, devastating? Like really really sad? Has my jaded millennial heart been so blackened throughout the years from reality TV and soda pop to the point where I can only find this so funny? So funny. Maybe I’m not alone. Maybe I should ask these guys.

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Poor Leland though, huh? His wife seems content to just wail and have visions of silver-haired demons(?) but Leland’s having a rough go of it. The guy can’t even watch his favorite show, Invitation to Love, not even when Morton Hadley as Chet is on the screen.

chett

And Morton Hadley as Chet commands your attention

Alas, Leland’s TV watching is interrupted by his niece Maddy, who…can I admit something? I had no idea that Maddy was supposed to look exactly like Laura Palmer. Seriously, I Google’d the character to remember her name, and her Wiki said “Maddy seems to be a few years older than Laura, but otherwise looks identical.” And I was like what? Then I IMDB’d it and found out it’s the same actress and I was like whaaaaat? So, moral of the story, glasses and dark hair is all it takes to confound me. Touche, Twin Peaks. Touche.

As for Leland, he ends the episode crying on a dance floor, begging people to dance with him, and generally doing other stuff that I did at my senior prom.

Elsewhere, we had Albert having no time for fools. “Return to your porch rockers and resume whittling,” is my new favorite way to deal with people, and I thank Albert for it. The forensic expert ruffled some rustic feathers but he did confirm that Laura Palmer loved her some cocaine, and was tied at the wrist and arm so that her arms bend back. JUST LIKE IN THE SPOOKY DREAM. Everything is coming together. For Dale Cooper. Not for me. Oh, God no, not for me.

All Albert gets for his trouble is the single most telegraphed punch in history from Sheriff Truman. Albert may be a forensics genius and insult master, but his reaction time is about as slow as Laura’s right now, apparently.

And hey if the murder, hallucinations and screaming wasn’t enough there’s also a drug ring operating in Twin Peaks. Not surprisingly Leo is the head of it, and even more unsurprisingly Leo wears overalls. Early on, Dale Cooper and Harry S. Truman go to question Leo about Laura Palmer, but he has an alibi for the night she was killed so he couldn’t possibly be up to anything illegal. Will Shelley back up his alibi? “She will if you ask her,” Leo says, before slamming an axe into a piece of wood, murderously. As for Shelley, she got a gun. You go Shelley.

Dale Cooper continues to gloriously toe the line between nice and insane, and it’s great. Apparently, dream Laura whispered the name of her killer in dream Dale’s ear, but he forgot. But it’s okay! He’ll get there eventually. Until then, he’s content with being in Twin Peaks and enjoying the taste sensation when maple syrup collides with ham. (Is that a clue? Is anything on this show a clue??)

I think I may have questions.

Soooo The Bookhouse Boys? Is there just a vigilante group in Twin Peaks? Or just a club of overactive middle-aged men?

It’s kind of worse than vigilantism, isn’t it? And they’re not ALL old men, because James is like the Robin to the regional chapter of dudes who piss off the Joker with their homemade Bat costume. Like no spoilers but I’m pretty sure this is how Big Ed meets his end:

vigilante

In any case, I’m not even sure if it’s vigilantism when it seems so dopey. If someone wanted to prosecute them, it’d be a hard case. Sure, there’s evidence that the police sheriff, his deputy and THE GODDAMN FBI GUY are sharing their Intel and resources on this case with some fine, upstanding citizens, only one of whom was recently brought in as a possible modern suspect. I mean, maybe that’s conspiracy or something, but come on… truly doubt that they can do much damage against the gambling, drugs or boozing flowing through town, considering they sound like a YA series by Scholastic.

Is there a reason Maddy is identical to Laura Palmer? It isn’t just Laura in a wig is it? Wait, is it?

There are two reasons that Maddy is Laura’s doppelgänger (write that term down in your secret journal; it’s important later). The first is that there is only so much we can take of the mourning of Laura Palmer without the overuse of flashbacks, because we don’t see how anyone acted towards her while she was alive. Like it’s all fine and good for Bobby to say he loved Laura (he does say that at some point, right? MAN, that kid is super shady!) but none of that comes through in how he’s acted since her death. James and Donna, Laura’s other closest friends, seem appropriately sad but also barely waited for her body to get cold before professing their undying love for each other. Maddie’s arrival gives you some context for how people REALLY felt around Laura: since she looks so much like the dead girl, it’s hard not to forget it’s not actually her.

The second answer is just that Sheryl Lee was a fucking revelation on this show and was being totally wasted in her limited role as a dead person so Lynch found a way to bring her back.

Please tell me that Audrey apparently being able to hear the background music last week will at least be brought up again?
Wait have I mentioned this show’s use of non-diegetic sound?

Real quick, a refresher: diegetic sound refers to all the stuff that the characters can hear:jukebox music, say, or a gunshot. Non-diegetic is all the stuff that’s external to the world these characters inhabit: like the score or narration. Most of the times it’s pretty obvious what audio is diegetic and which is not, but in the melty reality of Twin Peaks, of course “Audrey’s theme” is a choice on the jukebox.

To be fair, Audrey’s not breaking the fourth wall here: since Ben’s taking the needle off the record stopped the music, we realize it’s actually been diegetic this whole time. It was more a trick, like in Magnolia. Checkout Katheryne Kalinak’s essay “Music in Twin Peaks”
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I wanted to hold off on this question, becuase I feel like it’s “too easy,” but I can’t anymore. Who is Diane?!

diane

And I suppose I should just ask you directly, as well. Am I a bad person for finding Leland  Palmer’s coffin ride so funny? 

For this question im going to refer you to David Foster Wallace’s amazing essay about David Lynch on the set of Lost Highway and what it means for something to be “Lynchian”:

AN ACADEMIC DEFINITION of Lynchian might be that the term “refers to a particular kind of irony where the very macabre and the very mundane combine in such a way as to reveal the former’s perpetual containment within the latter.” But like postmodern or pornographic, Lynchian is one of those Porter Stewart-type words that’s ultimately definable only ostensively-i.e., we know it when we see it. Ted Bundy wasn’t particularly Lynchian, but good old Jeffrey Dahmer, with his victims’ various anatomies neatly separated and stored in his fridge alongside his chocolate milk and Shedd Spread, was thoroughgoingly Lynchian. A recent homicide in Boston, in which the deacon of a South Shore church reportedly gave chase to a vehicle that bad cut him off, forced the car off the road, and shot the driver with a highpowered crossbow, was borderline Lynchian. A Rotary luncheon where everybody’s got a comb-over and a polyester sport coat and is eating bland Rotarian chicken and exchanging Republican platitudes with heartfelt sincerity and yet all are either amputees or neurologically damaged or both would be more Lynchian than not. A hideously bloody street fight over an insult would be a Lynchian street fight if and only if the insultee punctuates every kick and blow with an injunction not to say fucking anything if you can’t say something fucking nice.

(The fact that David Foster Wallace wrote probably the definitive Lynch profile while never getting allowed to talk to the director is only halfway Lynchian.)

When I taught a class on Twin Peaks at Oberlin (no big deal, settle down everyone; autographs will be signed in a timely fashion), I kind of shortened/butchered this idea down to “To be Lynchian is to make the mundane terrifying and the terrifying mundane,” which maybe is a slightly different concept, but equally valid IMHO. Because it’s not JUST that he can take the most innocent symbols of Americana and imbue with a sense of dark foreboding, right? It’s also scenes like this one with Leland falling on that malfunctioning coffin, which takes a horrifying scenario–the death of a child, the wild-with-grief parents–and turns one of the deepest fears about human existence into a set-up for slapstick comedy. It’s supposed to be funny, but it’s also supposed to make you hate yourself for laughing about it. Like maybe YOU’RE the monster here? Well, are you? Are we supposed to hate Shelley for making fun of Leland, or those old guys for laughing? Isn’t it called “gallows humor” for a reason?

Also consider: the way this is funny is also the way this scene is terrifying. It’s got this insane, hysterical quality to it. It’s just so absurd and inappropriate that it jolts you out of moment and makes you think “That’s not normal.” But when you’re burying your own child, what, exactly, is normal supposed to look like?

There’s a reason David Lynch called his first album “Dark Night of the Soul.” Revisiting ‘Twin Peaks’ Episode Four: When Maple Syrup Collides With Ham