Twin Peaks Takes Us to the Wake of Laura

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Twin Peaks moves from introduction to implementation in “Rest in Pain.”

The first light of morning in Twin Peaks is the indication that another episode is about to be under way, and this is a big one. Secrets will be revealed to the audience at a break-neck speed, Laura Palmer will be laid to rest (but not without incident), and Agent Cooper will be introduced to the secret society called “The Bookhouse Boys”, which guards the town of Twin Peaks against an unnamed evil force that has lived in the dark forests nearby for a very long time.

But first, the vital early morning cup of coffee. After a brief exchange with Audrey Horne, Cooper is met by Lucy and Sheriff Truman to discuss his dream from the previous night. After explaining his dream to them in wonderfully Lynchian detail, Cooper says that he doesn’t remember the name of the killer. But cheer up! All of the clues they’ll need to solve the crime are in his dream, they’ll just need to break the code.

The action then moves to the morgue, where FBI specialist Albert Rosenfield is having a heated debate over the tests he needs to perform on Laura Palmer’s body before he can release it for the funeral. Albert is venomous and opinionated, and obviously being set up for the audience to truly relish the punch in the face that he gets from Sheriff Truman.

After this is a close up on “Invitation To Love”, a show-within-the-show. It’s a terrible soap opera, but presented so wonderfully within the context of Twin Peaks that it possibly may represent the birth of “meta” in pop culture. I haven’t done the research required to either confirm or dispute the claim, but it feels right. There have been a few references to “Invitation To Love” previously, mostly through Lucy, which isn’t surprising. But this is the first time that the show is shown within the show. (Ah! So meta! Must…break…paragraph before meta meltdown is reached!)

Leland Palmer is being given a shot to calm his nerves. He was in bad shape at the end of the last episode, dancing with himself and sobbing and generally falling apart over his daughter’s death. He won’t hold up very well during the funeral, and will make another scene in the third act, where he is alone on a dance floor and grieving over his daughter. It’s all wonderfully and convincingly acted by Ray Wise, who really pulls you into his grief with a sincere approachability. In this scene, he is mostly calm, watching “Invitation To Love” with his nurse, both of them completely absorbed in the show.

Ray Wise (along with several other cast members) had spent some time — 7 years — acting in soap operas, and part of the “meta” nature of Twin Peaks is that it’s understood within the world that it exists to be different than the rest of the world. It is a self-referential vortex, a special and unique place: it is a real life soap opera world.

That is the message of this entire episode, although it is never put in quite those words.

The “Invitation To Love” scene, of a father writing a suicide note to his twin daughters (who are played by the same actress according to the announcer) is interrupted by the arrival of Maddy Ferguson, who is Laura Palmer’s identical cousin (except she has brown, curly hair and wears glasses). Sheryl Lee plays both Laura Palmer and Maddy, and the multi-layered introduction she gets to her first living character on the show is fitting.

Later on in this episode a conspiracy involving the fate of the town Mill is explored, which is a tried and true soap opera story device, if the prime time TV viewers of Twin Peaks have ever seen one. Another notable moment (among many just in this episode) is when Leo Johnson gets a call from Jacques Renault to come pick him up, and his wife Shelly meets him as he leaves. Leo is keeping his business with Jacque secret from Shelly, and tells her to mind her own business when she asks where he’s going. But as soon as he’s gone, she reveals a gun in her purse, and hides it in a secret drawer which also holds the blood-soaked shirt from a few episodes back, and the stalemate of Twin Peaks’ existence is best represented. Characters can hide what they want from each other, but chances are good that anyone they encounter is so preoccupied with maintaining their own web of lies and secrecy that they won’t even notice the efforts to hide that are being made. This juggling act is maintained for an impressive amount of time, and it’s a mesmerizing display conducted by the entire ensemble of characters.

Agent Cooper is fully accepted as part of the town in this episode. He looks into purchasing “reasonably priced” real estate, and for the rest of the show Cooper becomes more and more at home in Twin Peaks. His acceptance is symbolized by his introduction to “The Bookhouse Boys”, where Truman explains to Cooper that there is an evil force out in the dark woods that sort of balances out “all the good things” that make Twin Peaks different. They (and others before them) are constantly working to keep that evil force in check. Cooper absorbs this news without missing a beat and in the very next scene he is participating in their activities: interrogating a minor who is tied up but not under arrest, protocol and laws be damned.

This episode is the one to watch if you are a gamer who enjoyed Alan Wake and wanted to know just how much inspiration the game took from Twin Peaks.

The very essence of “The dark presence in the woods” is a big chunk of what Alan Wake fights against in the course of the game. The “Bookhouse Boys” secret society has a counterpart represented in the game. Landmarks, scenery, and tone in Alan Wake are obvious tributes to the special nature of Twin Peaks. But one of my favorite nods is the TV show “Night Springs” within Alan Wake, which is an echo of the Twin Peaks soap “Invitation to Love.”

Bottom Line: By this point the show is shifting gears from introduction to implementation. Story lines are moving forward at a quicker pace, and consequences are looming up ahead. Also this is the show to watch to understand much of the inspiration that Remedy took for their unique and fun 2010 game Alan Wake.

Recommendation: This episode is full of wonderful moments, exchanges, breakdowns, and helps explain why the town of Twin Peaks is special.


Kevin Mooseles knows (but won’t tell yet) who killed Laura Palmer. He enjoys a damn fine cup of coffee, and has been craving doughnuts every day since he started watching Twin Peaks.


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