Part 8 of Twin Peaks, series 3, was the most incredible, beautiful, startling, enlightening and horrifying hour of television the world has ever seen; I cannot stop thinking about it. My mind was full of ‘what if’s and ‘buts’ and ‘ah-ha’s!’ than it ever has before. My third eye felt like it was going to pop out of the front of my skull. If you were to watch my face whilst I watched Part 8, it would have been like that tremendous display of expressions by Winona Ryder at the SAG Awards this March.
After Part 7, I was expecting something colossal happening this week, but not quite so huge. I thought we’d perhaps revisit Bill Hastings, the Dossier would be found, or we might even catch up with Audrey Horne! (I jest), but as news started trickling out that this part was going to blow our mind, we were whipped into a frenzy. And rightly so!
There’s no Buckhorn, Arlington, or Buenos Aires for me to comment on this week, but if you read my previous articles, you will know that I have spoken and theorised at length about the ‘Charcoal Men’. Have any of my theories been correct? Well, yes and no.
I wondered if there was just going to be the two Charcoal Men, and if there were, I thought they could have been the two Woodsmen seen above the Convenience Store in Fire Walk With Me. We now know that, yes, these folk are Woodsmen, and they do indeed meet at the Convenience Store, but there’s not just two. Oh no, there are lots and lots of these ‘things’.
Ignoring the beginning of Part 8, with Doppelcooper and Ray for just a minute, and jumping straight to July 16th 1945, White Sands, New Mexico. It is 5.29 am (MWT), we hear a countdown to 5.30 am (which would be 4.30 am Twin Peaks time, let me remind you what the Giant/????? said in the first few mins of Part 1 of The Return, “Remember 430, Richard and Linda. Two birds, one stone”. It could be important).
The countdown ended, and Boom! There she blows. This was the moment of the first detonation of a nuclear weapon. Code name Trinity. This happened in real life, of course, this is not storytelling. May I add here that if you still do not own a copy of Mark Frost’s book, The Secret History of Twin Peaks, I strongly suggest that you give yourself a present and get your hands on a copy quick. This book is fast becoming my Bible; I feel like I need a pocket version on me at all times to refer to.
What happens next is almost 20 minutes of the most beautiful and mesmerising journey through the mushroom cloud created by the explosion, accompanied by the most triumphant orchestral score. This isn’t a TV show; this is an event. I felt like this was happening in real-time, my mouth agog with awe and also horror that this really happened and could happen again, quite easily at any given time.
We race through the cloud of swarming particles, black and white, like hurriedly scurrying amoebas, all with an important job to do, somewhere to be, crashing into each other in a mass of chaos. The colours bleed from pinks to oranges, purples and reds as we burst through white-hot fires, explosions within explosions.
Then the Convenience Store. Sign lit up in the darkness. I gasped when I saw it. The biggest mystery for me for all these years has been what the Convenience Store really was and who were the beings inside it. Was it as it sounds or something otherworldly? Well, from the outside, it looks like a regular Convenience Store/Gas Station. Rundown though, dishevelled, paintwork shabby, ceiling scorched. I can’t say that I ever really expected to see this place, hence the gasp. This scene in black and white, grey clouds start pouring from the door, the lamps from the gas pumps only lighting the vision at first, then electric flashes from the windows, and the silhouettes of Charcoal Men, many of them, scurrying just like those amoebas. They leave in their droves and off into the wilderness. Was this the birth of the Woodsmen? From this point on, I shall call them Woodsmen as we now know for sure that is what they are.
Over the years, I have thought that the Woodsmen were good folk, lodge denizens, yes, but not necessarily evil. We hadn’t seen anything to suggest this up until this point. The two we had seen previously in Fire Walk With Me hadn’t said or done anything untoward; they hadn’t been eating any garmonbozia as far as we knew. They always just seemed ‘different’.
So what’s happened? Did the Trinity nuclear test break a wall to another dimension? Man managed to split the atom, so anything is possible.
Let’s do a little research here. The Secret History of Twin Peaks covers a lot around this period in time and especially the works of Jack Parsons, Rocket Engineer and the founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), who led a double life as an avid occultist and Thelemite, a follower of the English Ceremonial Magician, Aleister Crowley. Parsons was a leader of a lodge of Crowley’s magical order in Pasadena, Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). He, along with his ‘friend’ L. Ron Hubbard, who was a Science Fiction writer — and later creator of the scientific mental health system called Dianetics [Diane you say?], which became what we know as Scientology today — collaborated on the ‘Babalon Working’.
The Babalon Working was a magick ritual intended to summon an incarnation of Babalon, otherwise known as ‘The Mother of Abominations’. – Mother, you say?
And where did they carry out these rituals?
This one they carried out at The Devil’s Gate. A dam built in the 1920s to control flooding of the Arroyo Seco River in Pasadena, not far from where Parsons lived and where he carried out much of his JPL research. It is named because of the demon-like face of a horned figure in the natural rock outcropping.
Long before Parsons was there though, the Native American tribe who lived there, the Tongva, believed that they could hear the devil laughing in the sound of the running water. Crowley and Parsons believed this place was a portal to hell, and there are some true horror stories from that place. Two children were murdered by a serial killer who was a construction worker. He buried their bodies in the freeways of Los Angeles and have never been found. Two other children went missing, never to be seen again after they’d left the supervision of adults for only a matter of seconds.
All of this is true. Verified. LS.
The Secret History of Twin Peaks (SHOTP) goes into more depth, and while, of course, the conversations in the Dossier between Douglas Milford and Jack Parsons are fabricated, there is great importance in these texts to understanding perhaps what we have seen in Part 8.
JP: The desert is the perfect medium for summoning… an empty canvas, a beaker into which, under certain circumstances and with fearless rigor, you can create an elixir that will call forth…call them what you will….messengers of the gods…
JP: They assume many forms . The grays for instance. You know Zeta Reticulans. The tall ones, now, the Nordic types, they’re different. More benign. Some say they have always been here. Supposedly they came from the Dog Star.
The Nordic types sound a bit familiar, don’t they? Many Twin Peaks fans do not like the suggestion that what we are dealing with when it comes to the Giant/????? is an alien from another planet. But you know anything we don’t understand or is not of earthly origin is an alien. Plus, I am not so sure that they are not from Earth; they may be alien to us but may have been here long before you and me, long before man or any creature for all we know. So I am personally not of the mind that these are saucer flying folk. And it would seem that the Nordic type like to look out for certain chosen humans for some reason, yet unclear.
Now Jack Parsons believed that his summoning of Babalon had worked. A striking redhead turned up at his door the following week; her name was Marjorie Cameron. She and Parsons ended up married. She was not the ‘Mother of Abominations’ of course; she was just a regular woman. Probably.
In the SHOTP, an anonymous friend of Parson’s tells Milford that Parsons and Hubbard carried out a second ritual at a gate they had found in the desert (White Sands), and this time they were trying to bring across an entity called the ‘Moonchild’.
This ritual took place just before the UFO incident at Roswell. It was an attempt to conceive a child through sex magick workings. Crowley had originally written about this in 1923—a novel about a battle between two ‘lodges’ of black and white magicians over an unborn child who may or may not be the Antichrist. Crowley had attempted this ritual himself on several occasions but failed, as did Parsons. Or did he?
Let’s lay it all out here.
There is a nuclear bomb testing at White Sands. This created a series of catastrophic events—the gates to hell were opened and out poured the evil entities into our world. These are the Woodsmen.
Around the same time, Parsons and Hubbard attempted to summon Babalon, the ‘Mother of Abominations’. Parsons certainly thought he’d managed this, and she was Marjorie, but it was not. What he had summoned was the creature in the glass box from Parts 1 & 2.
This creature spewed forth a mass of white milky froth, inside which we see thousands of tiny white, egg-shaped pebbles. But one stands out, black and perfectly round, and inside we see the head of BOB.
What we have witnessed here is the birth of BOB. Possibly the Antichrist or Moonchild that Parsons and Hubbard were hoping for.
Then we are swooshed across the purple oceans—the same that we saw back in Part 3 when our Good Dale met Naido, and we arrive at a very tall, mountainous cliff in the middle of the sea. This is a much bigger and tall, obelisk place than where we met Naido, but possibly is the same location; we just might have only seen a tiny portion of it before. We glide through a black slit window and meet Senorita Dido. A beautiful, shimmering, flapperesque goddess.
Perched on a sofa listening to some obscure and slightly disturbing jazz play on the gramophone, she sways slightly to the music. A large bell type object is stood on the floor in front of her. It has an alarm that is sounding, but Dido does nothing.
The carpet in this room is the same as the first few moments of Part 1 when Cooper meets the Giant/????? is this the White Lodge?
????? enters the room, looking dapper as always in his smoking jacket. He goes to the alarming bell, stares towards us viewers for quite a few seconds, with a pondering, curious look on his face. He then turns to the bell and flicks a switch to stop the sound.
He walks up a staircase and into a theatre—for those eagle-eyed viewers, this is the same set as Club Silencio in Mullholland Drive. I don’t know what this means. There is no one seated in the stalls or box, only ????? is there. He walks onto the stage, and with his hand pointed to the screen, produces an image of what we have just seen before: the nuclear test, The Woodsmen in our world, and the birth of BOB.
A spotlight appears, and in sways Senorita Dido, sequins glistening, all the more beautiful in black and white. Like a silent movie queen. I wondered if she was going to burst into song at any moment. She did not, but she has a spotlight for a reason. The only two other lodge inhabitants to have a spotlight of their own were BOB and ????? himself.
Senorita Dido seems upset to see the face of BOB being projected through space. She does not say a word, but her face is of sadness. ????? levitates into the air, then lies back, much as the Good Dale did in the glass box, and when he travelled through the electric socket. He lies floating, then a golden mass of sparkles starts emanating from his head. These tiny particles move like sand, making what I felt to be the shape of ovaries forming an egg. A glistening golden ball is created and inside that ball is the face of beauty queen and our tragic heroine, Laura Palmer. Dido catches the golden globe with a smile and kisses it.
She lets it float up into the sky, into a golden pipe in the ceiling. It is then projected like molten gold through the theatre screen and into an image of the Earth, where Laura is sent. I am not ashamed to say I shed a tear. This was the creation of Laura. The egg that becomes her in years to come. It’s all about Laura. It’s ALWAYS been Laura.
The clock rolls forward 11 years from 1945 to 1956. It is August 5th in the New Mexico Desert. In the ripples of the sand, we see a white pebble, much like one of those spewed forth by ‘Mother’. The pebble starts to hatch, and from it comes a creature. This creature appears to have amphibian/frog-like rear legs, insect-like front legs, a long pointy mosquito nose, large moth-like wings and a water vole type body.
This is not good. This is not only a ‘child abomination’, but it’s possibly radioactive too. It slithers off through the sand.
We are at a Gas Station now, not the Convenience Store gas pumps unless they have had a makeover. A young couple, on what appears to be their first date, walk home. They are at a guess around 14 or 15 years old. Maybe even slightly younger. These are innocent times, and no younger girl would be allowed out with a boy on her own at much younger than that.
The girl squeals with glee that she “found a penny and it’s heads up! that means its good luck”. They walk on, and when they arrive at her home, the boy asks her for a kiss. She allows him to peck her lips, and she coyly returns home.
A herd of Woodsmen descend on the town, looking ravenous. A middle-aged couple sits in their car. One of the Woodsmen walks to the driver’s window; the driver winds it down—the couple is terror-stricken at the sight of his blackened face and white eyes. The Woodsman, with a cigarette propped in his mouth, asks, “Got a Light?” His voice is demonic; a hark of voices in one guttural pitch. He repeats the question again and again. The couple in the car are stunned and terrorised. Luckily the driver steps on the accelerator and speeds off out of there, narrowly missing more Woodsmen who are creeping like zombies towards them.
I did not like these ‘charcoal men’ before — now I am petrified of them — something about how they look messes with my psyche; I whimper when I see them! I know that sounds pathetic. I suppose it’s the same effect clowns have on some people. But I did laugh when I saw this particular Woodsman as I knew straight away he was played by Robert Broski. I had been talking with other Twin Peaks fans only the night or so before about how or when Abraham Lincoln was going to play a part in Series 3, that is because Robert Broski is often cast as Lincoln as he looks, so similar. Ooh, you played that one well, Lynch and Frost! I was not expecting an evil Abe lookalike!
The Woodsman, still looking for a light for his cigarette, reaches KPJK Radio station in the desert. The Receptionist, directly fashioned from an Edward Hopper painting (Office at Night), turns to see him standing there. She cannot even scream; she is paralysed with fear.
He asks, “Got a Light?” and grabs her by the top of her head and crushes her skull with his bare hands and a gruesome crack. Next, he walks into the DJ Booth. The DJ is turned away from him. ‘My Prayer‘ by The Platters plays.
We see shots of a place called ‘Pops Diner’ where a lowly waitress works and a man working on a car in Motor Garage. They are both listening to the radio. We also see the young girl from earlier, now lying on her bed, reminiscing of her date with the boy, looking dreamily and listening to the song on the radio, thinking of him.
The Woodsman scratches the record off. The DJ is stunned. The Woodsman flicks on the microphone switch and starts chanting, what I can only describe as the new ‘Fire Walk With Me‘ poem. Perhaps even part of the same poem?
“This is the water and this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes and dark within“.
As this incantation is pumped through the airwaves, the listeners fall down, lulled into sleep or a catatonic state. The girl in her bedroom reaches for the radio to turn it off but doesn’t make it. She slumps down to sleep. Through her open window crawls the strange hybrid creature. The girl’s mouth opens, and in it climbs.
After crushing the skull of the radio DJ, the Woodsman disappears off into the darkness. A horse wails ethereally in the blackness. I don’t know if this means that the Woodsman turned into a horse, rode off on the horse or if he found a horse and crushed its skull too. What I do now know is that the Woodsmen are 100% evil. All this time I never knew, now there is no doubt.
Jump back to the present. Ray and Dopplecooper have escaped/been freed from jail. They are on their way to ‘The Farm’. Some people theorise that this is Camp Peary as U.S. Military Reservation in Virginia nicknamed ‘The Farm’. Who knows at this point.
Ray needs to take a leak. They stop the car. Doppelcooper takes the gun left for him in the glove compartment. He goes to shoot Ray, but the weapon does not fire. Ray tells Doppelcooper he has been tricked and shoots him three times.
As he lies on the ground, a swarm of Woodsmen appears from nowhere, bathed in blue electric light, coming in from the fields. The dance around the body of Dopplecooper, round and round, and up and down, ritualistically. They pull at his body, smearing his blood over his chest and face and themselves. As this goes on, Doppelcoopers stomach starts to balloon, and a black orb appears, the face of BOB grinning inside. The Woodsmen take the ball and vanish.
They do not hurt Ray. They dance around him but only scare him. Once they have BOB, they disappear. Ray drives off — calls Phillip Jeffries and tells him, “I saw something, maybe the key to what we are looking for”.
Dopplecooper sits upright. He’s not dead.
There is a lot to talk about here. I believe that the creature that crawled into the mouth of the girl could be The Jumping Man. The pointed proboscis, the frog-like jumping. Lynch had always said that the Jumping Man was a talisman, a metaphor brought to life in a sense. If the girl is meant to be a young Sarah Palmer, something began inhabiting her from a young age, like a parasite waiting to feed on her forthcoming pain and suffering.
BOB had been inside Leland for a long time before Laura was conceived. The golden ‘egg’ that Laura was sent down to Earth in perhaps lay dormant in her mother’s ovaries, waiting for the time to be fertilised many years later. Indeed in 1956, when Sarah turned 11 would be around the time Sarah would start producing eggs.
Sarah meets Leland in College, and they fall in love, get married and have ONE child. There was no chance they would have borne anyone other than Laura. But Leland part created Laura. Is that what stopped her from being the pure soul she should have been? Because BOB is ultimately partly her father? While physically, no one other than Leland can be her Dad, who knows who was in control the night she was conceived.
This is not a pleasant theory and not a happy tale, but I don’t think we are in for too many happy stories in Series 3. With the still unconfirmed but possible realisation that Doppelcooper raped a comatose Audrey Horne that created Richard Horne, there are really no topics out of bounds. It would make Richard Horne part Doppelganger part BOB. That’s pretty evil!
What part did the Woodsmen play in reviving Doppelcooper? Are they just black lodge spirits protecting their master? The smearing of blood obviously had an effect; it was ritualistic, like an exorcism or even a shamanic healing, but for what reason?
They took BOB from Doppelcoopers body because there was no host available for him to reach in time. It is perhaps the closest he has been to death. There were no owls around, the only other living thing was Ray, but did he not have time to try to inhabit him? Does a host vessel have to give permission? Ray certainly wouldn’t have granted that. Once the body of the host is dead, can he not leave? He left Leland as he was dying via electricity in the cell. He wasn’t able to do that in a field with no cables or lighting anywhere around him and no wildlife.
But is BOB just the evil that men do? Were there thousands of others just like him spewed out on that fateful day man was evil enough to create a nuclear weapon? It’s a perfect recipe for evil. While I am not saying for a second that BOB as an entity does not exist, his existence could be symbolic too. He targets children about to start puberty, wanting to experience their budding sexuality. It is no coincidence that this frogmoth creature chose a young girl to inhabit, who has just had her first kiss and fantasises about more kissing and becoming more intimate with him as all youngsters do at that age. Are these evil parasites like BOB the symbol of a loss of innocence?
He enjoyed being Leland so much, ruining Laura, taking every part of her innocence away, training her up to make her the most powerful vessel of all. Taking over Laura’s body would have been a triumph of evil—the black lodge would have won. But the goodness in Laura won out that night; despite all she’d suffered, she still chose the light, and the light won.
It will take a lot more pondering over to work this all out. The meaning of the chant of the Woodsmen is not evident as yet, and it may never be. I wouldn’t put it past Mark Frost to have got his hands on some of Crowley’s actual magick ritual verse though.
What we do know is these black lodge entities haven’t been on Earth all that long. We have no idea how long ????? and the Little Man From Another Place, now the Evolution of the Arm and MIKE and have been around though.
I feel that they have been here a very long time, perhaps just visiting, possibly original Earth-dwellers who have moved on. The owl cave map always showed a Giant and smaller figure standing together. So I would say that they have been around for longer than whoever painted that cave and preceding the Nez Perse tribe too.
I’m pondering who the Tremonds are in all of this—I think we can safely say now that any entity that meets at the Convenience Store is evil; why they meet is another big question waiting to be answered.
Part 8 was really like nothing else. While I feel I understand what happened now, and it was amazing to see, I am sure I’ll still speculate about what we experienced for many years to come.
All images courtesy of Showtime/CBS unless otherwise stated