It’s Twin Peaks hiatus week (boo!), but happy July 4th to all my American readers, and you know I think we needed a little time to fully comprehend and bask in the glory of what was Episode 8 of ‘The Return’.
For 25 years since Fire Walk With Me, the Convenience Store has been one of the most intriguing mysteries. Was it an actual place? Or was it a metaphor for something else entirely, a place between two worlds, perhaps? And who are the ‘people’ that meet there? And perhaps more importantly, why do they meet?
Well, we may have more of an answer after Part 8. It does appear that the Convenience Store is an actual, earthly building, at least temporarily, it is hard to say with any certainty, but it seems that maybe this was a store not far from the Trinity Site in White Sands New Mexico.
But it’s a little bit odd. ‘Convenience Store’ gleams the sign—not the name of a shop or a chain, a generic, THIS IS WHAT THIS IS. So was it a prop? A part of the experiment to see what would happen to the goods inside a store like this in the event of a nuclear war? What exactly would radioactive creamed corn taste like, I wonder?
We first heard of the Store from the long-lost Phillip Jeffries upon his surprise arrival at Philadelphia FBI Headquarters.
“Well now, I’m not going to talk Judy, in fact we’re not going to talk about Judy at all. Who do you think that is there? I sure as hell want to tell you everything, but I ain’t got a hell of a lot to go on. But I will tell you one little bitty thing: Judy is positive about this. Listen now to me carefully. I’ve been to one of their meetings. It was above a convenience store. It was a dream, we live inside a dream. Hell god baby damn NO! I found something… in Seattle at Judy’s… And then, there they were… and they sat quietly for hours. I followed. Oh, oh, oh. Ring. The Ring. May. February 1989.”
While this is happening, we are seeing the Convenience Store meeting for the first time. All of what was said in the original script, the film and the Missing Pieces are here:
First Woodsman: “We have descended from pure air.”
The Man from Another Place: “The chrome reflects our image.” The Electrician: “Electricity.”
The Man from Another Place: “From pure air. We have descended. From pure air.”
The Man from Another Place: “Going up and down. Intercourse between the two worlds.”
The Electrician “Animal life.”
BOB: “Light of new discoveries”.
Mrs Tremond: “Why not be composed of materials and combinations of atoms?”
The Grandson: “This is no accident.”
The Man from Another Place: “Garmonbozia.”
The Man from Another Place: “This is a Formica table. Green is its color.”
First Woodsman: “Our world”.
The Man from Another Place: “With chrome. Any everything will proceed cyclically”.
Second Woodsman: “Boneless”.
MIKE: “Yes, find the middle place”.
BOB: “I have the fury of my own momentum.”
The Grandson (pointing at BOB): “Fell a victim.”
The Man from Another Place: “With this ring I thee wed.”
The Man from Another Place: “Fire walk with me.” Second Woodsman: “Thus time moves on.”
Note that MIKE says, “Yes, find the middle place”, not The Man From Another Place in the script. It is clearly distinguished to be MIKE, though we do not see the character of MIKE or Phillip Gerard in the Convenience Store, just the LMFAP. Interesting!
Was what Jeffries witnessed their first meeting or one of many that they had before? And why do they meet? If this is the kind of conversation they have, then it might never be truly understood. Jeffries said they sat quietly. Were they communicating, nevertheless?
All this time, we perhaps assumed that they did say (as above) was about themselves collectively, but now I am not so sure. All of the ‘entities’ at the Convenience Store may be from different places. I think perhaps all of them are evil or at least a little bit naughty, tricksters, cursed souls and maybe even humans. Are they one of a kind or representatives of their kind? Are they ancient beings now given a doorway into our world when The Bomb blew an opening between the dimensions or were they born of the blast? Were they here long before The Experiment?
It appears that Jeffries, who we are pretty sure is human, managed to get there either physically or in a dream state. We don’t know exactly how he did that, but it appears that he can time travel; can he also travel to other dimensions? Is this what Fire Walking is? The scorched patch on the wall of the Buenos Aires Hotel where Jeffries reappears may hint at that. There are also similar patches of scorched paper in the Blue Diamond Motel where Leland set his date with Teresa, Ronette and unknowingly Laura. Had someone Fire Walked there to give Teresa the Owl Cave Ring?
When Jeffries returns to Buenos Aires, much to the shock of the Bellhop and maid, the Bellhop fearfully yells at him, “Are you the man? Are you the man?!” In the time he’s been gone ‘someone must have been looking for him, or maybe there is folklore in Argentina of a man who can appear and disappear in a puff of smoke? Does the fact that Jeffries could attend a ‘meeting’ mean that he is evil too?
The Convenience Store that we see in what I assume is 1954 is a one storey shop. So how exactly is there a room above it? There are steps to a roof area, so is the meeting room a place between our world and theirs? Is it a place, perhaps accidentally manufactured, where demons, gods, ghosts, humans, and spirit animals can convene, a spiritual plane accessible to all? Out in the pure air?
To understand what is going on here, we need to delve a little deeper into who exactly meets at the Store. Who are they?
The Little Man From Another Place (LMFAP)
We now know this fella as The Evolution of The Arm. His purpose is still somewhat of a mystery. Is he good or evil? From what Mike tells us, he and BOB were ‘familiars’, and they carried out some pretty dastardly deeds together as partners, but MIKE saw the face of God and took his arm clean off, the arm which bore the tattoo, ‘Fire Walk With Me’. In doing that, The Arm became an entity in itself — The Little Man From Another Place. We don’t know what that other place was/is. Is he from another planet? Another dimension? I doubt we will ever find that out, to be honest.
He and BOB appear to preside over the Store meetings, sitting face to face at the Formica table. Equals in terror and power. Bowls filled with garmonbozia ready to be consumed.
If we take a look at the Owl Cave map, there is certainly reason to suggest that the Giant/The Fireman and The Arm/LMFAP were together at one point in time or place, but that’s not to say that they both have the same intentions of course. I still wonder what their pairing could mean — is the map not a tale of the past but a vision of the future? Will the two need to work together to defeat whatever evil is lurking? Does it mean that good and evil can work in harmony?
Perhaps we are looking too simply at the Black and White Lodges. Can anything be purely good or purely evil, or is there a wide range in between? For example, there is boiling hot and freezing cold, but everything between the two temperatures also exists, not quite one or the other.
The Evolution of The Arm is now in the form of an electrified tree, with a brain/gum-like mass for a head, able to speak but physically do little else. But this is his evolution? Evolution suggests progression. He no longer needs to move around or dance; he can now do all he needs to by the power of telepathy and travel through electricity.
MIKE cut off The Arm because it was the evil part of him, but the EOTA does not appear to be so bad so far. If anything, he seems to be working happily with the rest of MIKE in the Red Room, trying to help Dale return to his world. The rest of MIKE has not changed; he’s just become older. Is that because he does not partake in the feast of Garmonbozia?
Did something happen in the last 25 years to spoil the relationship between the Arm and BOB? The EOTA’s doppelganger is another story, that’s evil for sure – but we haven’t obviously seen a doppelgänger in the Store thus far. Are the Doppelgangers becoming too much of a problem? Is the balance of good and evil leaning too far to the bad? Has BOB been away from the Lodge for too long? Are these the kind of topics covered in their meetings? Or is this where they choose their next victim?
BOB, we may now know, arrived in our world in a black orb egg, sometime between 1946 and 1954, after being spewed out by what may be the Mother of Abominations. Then he possibly hatched as a frog/ moth/mosquito/vole hybrid creature that crawled inside the mouth of a pubescent girl, his first earthly host.
While there is every chance that this is not the first birth of BOB, Part 8 was especially significant. It appeared to show the creation of Laura as a response to the evil that has been unleashed on the world. But was this the first time BOB had walked our planet? More than likely, no. BOB has been around for centuries, as long as man has walked the Earth.
He is animalistic; he writhes and groans and growls like an animal, unrelenting for his desire for Garmonbozia, the pain and sorrow/suffering he has inflicted on his hosts and victims for thousands of years. No empathy, nothing but greed, lust and hatred here. This is how he survives. He can morph into an owl which is often seen in visions by those with a second sight: the gifted and the damned.
BOB is the evil that men do. He has the potential to be in all of us if we let him in.
But is he even bigger than that? There’s a good reason why he is so needed back in the Black Lodge, and there is a reason why he doesn’t wish to return. He obviously enjoys playing humans and reaping as much Garmonbozia he can from them, but perhaps his time in our astral plane is causing discourse in the balance of nature. The world is too evil with him in it, and he needs to be reined in. Even the other evil entities know it.
Mrs Tremond and her Grandson
It was widely speculated before Series 3 that the Grandson was Leland Palmer as a boy, at the age of him becoming host to BOB, when he met him whilst visiting his grandfather at Pearl Lakes. If this was the case, Mrs Tremond could have been his actual grandmother and Laura Palmer’s great-grandmother. But in light of new discoveries, this may not be the case.
If the frog moth seen climbing inside the girl’s mouth in Part 8 was the first human inhabitation by BOB, then it’s got to travel somehow pretty fast to Twin Peaks to get to Leland to take him host as a young boy.
So who are the Tremonds then? We first see them approach Laura whilst she’s packing the car for Meals on Wheels. They give Laura the picture of the doorway ‘that will look good on her wall’. That picture lures Laura into a dream where she meets Dale Cooper and Annie Blackburn. Cooper tells her not to take the ring. She does not heed his advice. Why not? Does she sense that Cooper is not to be trusted? That he is to become the man that she fears? That we should all fear? We know now that Laura did take Annie’s advice to write in her diary that the Good Dale was in the Lodge and couldn’t leave.
What would have happened if Laura hadn’t taken the ring? Would she have let BOB in? Now that we know that Laura is extra special, was borne out of love, beauty and pure goodness, would BOB inhabiting her actually have been the death of him? Laura is the one – perhaps the only one who can truly defeat BOB – and maybe, just maybe, she’ll be the saviour after all.
The Tremonds are different from MIKE and BOB in that they do not use a host body to roam our world. What we assume are their true faces can be seen by anyone, not just the Gifted or Damned — Donna and Shelly we know for sure saw them. Carl Rodd likely had several encounters with them as they lived at his Fat Trout Trailer Park in Deer Meadow for generations, under the name Chalfont. It was under their trailer that Chet Desmond found the owl cave ring, and he was never seen again.
We have never seen them in the Black Lodge, only in our world and in the Convenience Store. So are they human?
Mrs Tremond appears to be disgusted by creamed corn, but is that just a ruse? A gimmick to show Donna her Grandson’s magic trick? Or if she refuses to eat it, will she cease to exist? If you don’t eat Garmonbozia, do you start to age?
The Grandson seems perfectly happy to accept the creamed corn. He even has an empty bowl of it at his feet in the Convenience Store scene. So he must have reaped and enjoyed someone’s pain and sorrow somewhere along the line. Harold Smith’s, perhaps?
Harold was at the very least driven to his suicide by the Tremonds. Harold was in custody of Laura’s secret diary, he promised her he would keep it safe, and he did his best to keep that promise as he truly loved her. He was not going to let anyone know the contents — something that would have led to the discovery of BOB’s true identity early on. They played with Harold like a toy, leading Donna to the evidence, who in turn led him outside, out of his safe haven, where his hand began to shake – lured into the open air where BOB could find him. I have long thought that Harold did not take his own life. It was made to look like suicide, but that really BOB got to him and shredded the evidence during the murderous act. The Grandson knew before the event that Harold was going to die; his suicide note read, “Jai une am solitaire”, I am a lonely soul. The exact words whispered by the Grandson when he met Donna before Harold’s life ended. This wasn’t just a prediction of what was to come for Harold, but evidence that he helped BOB claim his victim. And his reward was Garmonbozia.
After they meet with Donna, the Grandson mutters in a sinister tone, “She seems like a nice girl”. In fact, from the moment they met, Donna’s life became filled with pain and sorrow. Her actions led to Harold’s demise, for which she felt much guilt. Her heart was broken when her first love, James, cheated on her not once but twice and then she found out her birth father was Benjamin Horne. All of that within a fortnight of losing her best friend in the most horrific of ways, yep! She’ll be ripe with Garmonbozia in no time! Indeed she was very nearly a victim of BOB….and still could be?
The Grandson sometimes wears a mask with its eyes and mouth covered, a long pointed nose, a symbolic representation of when BOB is in control of Leland. The mask stops Laura from identifying her father as her abuser. If he wanted to help her, surely he would have shown her his true face?
I believe that the Grandson, or perhaps we should call him The Magician, plays a huge part in all of this – in fact, he may be running the show. His words, “Fell a victim”, while pointing at BOB, some interpret to mean BOB was a victim. But in my opinion, this is a command. He tells BOB to go hunting for him.
Is he the Magician referred to in the “Fire Walk With Me” poem?
“Through the darkness of future’s past, the Magician longs to see
One chants out between two worlds
Fire walk with me”.
It has been speculated recently that Red is the Grandson, all grown up. Whilst age wise this does work, I am not so sure. Red is bad for sure, but is he linked to the Black Lodge? I kind of hope so! As long as Shelly doesn’t become the next victim felled.
Very little is known about The Electrician. The part he plays maybe just that — a spirit who assists the denizens in travelling into our world and the collection of Garmonbozia. Electricity appears to be how The Arm travels through our world, so he may be there purely as an assistant to him. Or maybe he was there to also save BOB when his host Leland was dying — as BOB had no other body to inhabit (it seems BOB needs to spend some time grooming, he can’t just step inside), he allowed BOB to travel through electricity and back into the Black Lodge.
Electricity plays a huge part in our world in this technological age, but before that, electricity was primarily seen in the form of lightning and was much feared and considered the anger of the gods. Lightning strikes were the cause of two deadly fires in Twin Peaks. Was this the Electricians doing?
Long gone now are the days where we thought the Woodsmen were probably benevolent spirits, perhaps the physical manifestation of Sam Lanterman, the Log Lady’s husband and another logger who had died in a fire. While they are lumberjacks, their purpose now is far more important than we ever dared think.
Firstly in Fire Walk With Me, we saw two of them, not blackened, in the Store, sitting beside a radio transmitter. After seeing the horrifying ‘Got a Light?’ Woodsman make his way straight to KPJK Radio and using the airwaves to lull the local listeners into (hopefully just a) slumber; we know that radio frequencies are important to them.
Two fires are mentioned in the Secret History of Twin Peaks; the first happened on February 24th 1902 — The Night of the Burning River (note that Laura Palmer also died on February 24th). We also know that there are way more than just the two of them and they mostly appear blackened from head to foot, as if they have been burnt to charcoal. So are they the souls of once human Woodsmen who perished in fires?
The locals said that night the Northern Lights painted the sky with a dazzling display of colours they had never seen before, cobalt and vermillion not usually considered part of Aurora’s paintbox. The lightning struck and caused a fire that burned for seven days and seven nights until the wind came and blew the fire onto the land—taking out half the town and killing eight people.
In acutely similar circumstances, a fire in the woods was caused by lightning on the day of Margaret Coulson’s marriage to her one true love Samson Lanterman. He was a volunteer fireman and was killed that day when a flush of wind blew flames in his path and killed him instantly. He was the only victim. It is unlikely that any of the Woodsmen we have seen are Samson Lanterman. Margaret knew at the time of his death what needed to be done. She found his spirit trapped in a log of a great Douglas Fir. She cut it off and kept it with her from that moment on.
But other trapped spirits who have died in such circumstances may have been lost to the woods forever. They appear to be linked to BOB; perhaps because of his penchant for fire, they are now his henchmen or minions.
The Woodsmen that we have seen in Series 3 in the present day have been located at Buckhorn, where we are still waiting to find out Who Killed Ruth Davenport. Did BOB possess Bill Hastings at the time of her murder? He certainly remembers being there but thinks it was a dream, not a reality, much like when BOB was in control of Leland, he knows he was inside but couldn’t remember what he had done.
So this Woodsman we see in the jail cell, was he just making sure that BOB was not inside? Could he sniff him out just like MIKE was able to in the first series’? (MIKE knew BOB had been at the Great Northern, he could sense/smell him).
The second Woodsman we saw was also at Buckhorn, walking near the decapitated body of Major Briggs. I am still not convinced that Cynthia Knox saw him walking down that corridor; I think she noticed the electricity fizz and perhaps an unpleasant smell (maybe of scorched engine oil?), but I think her reaction would have been very different if she’d seen him. So what are they doing there? Are they looking for BOB to bring him back to the Lodge? Are they under the orders of someone/thing else? Would that be the EOTA or something worse?
Thirdly, we see several Woodsmen appear from the shadows at the moment Ray shoots Dopplecooper. They make a ring around the body and dig at his wounds. They remove the parasitic BOB from inside and smuggle him away. They are also able to reanimate the dead Dopplecooper, it seems. They do this by completing a ceremonial dance and smearing him with his own blood and Earth. So they appear to be working for the Black Lodge — but while this gang are creepy as hell, are they really evil? They dance around Ray but do not touch him. They do not hurt anyone in Buckhorn either, but are they just biding their time?
There is one Woodsman that we know only too well is able and more than willing to carry out a murder, and he does this by crushing their skulls with his bare hands. He seems to be different to the others, but is he? Have we just seen his actions as a sample of what the Woodsmen are capable of?
He was a man of few words, “Gotta Light?” and then this haunting sonnet:
“This is the water, and this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes, and dark within”.
The chant sends those who hear it to sleep, which reminds me of the folklore tale of the Sandman. Most stories tell that the Sandman is good, he brings delightful dreams to sleeping children, but there is also a myth that the Sandman is evil:
“It has skin of a dead persons, decayed and discoloured. It has very long fingers and many sharp teeth. It hides just out of sight in the dark and whispers “tik toc, tik toc” to its unlucky victim. This strange chant quickly puts the victim into a deep sleep. Once asleep, the Sandman will come out of hiding and devour the sleeping victim with its sharp teeth. It only needs to feast once per night, but it will sometimes chose to kill for fun. This creature can only come out in the dark. It is said to be the evil brother of the good sandman, but some people disagree”.
Is it the words that are spoken or the frequency in which they are heard that causes this? What do these words mean? We have seen that the Woodsmen do float down into our earthly plain. They have descended from pure air. Is the Earth their well and humans their water? Is this place a bountiful feast for them.
The Jumping Man
Perhaps the most mysterious of all the Store dwellers is the Jumping Man. He stands atop a crate, jumping onto the floor in an agitated, animalistic manner. He wears a red suit, much like the LMFAP did before his evolution. We can presume that the character will return in Series 3 as the actor who portrays him, Carlton Russell, is credited. It will be interesting to see if he has transformed too.
His face is quite grotesque, you might think he is wearing a mask, but he’s not; it is thick, white crusty skin and a long pointed nose, a little like a clown. David Lynch has referenced clowns in much of his work, even has an album called Crazy Clown Time. There is clown imagery scattered throughout Series 1 & 2, and I wonder if the red balloons we see in Rancho Rosa and at Dougie’s workplace are hints to a clown being nearby.
There are Native American tribes that believed in Sacred Clowns, the Heyoka, who used backwards humour to teach lessons. They are trickster spirits and show bad examples of how not to behave. The purpose of a Sacred Clown is to deflate the ego of power by reminding people of their own fallibility. They are not comedians but do poke holes in things people take too seriously. They remind us that the primordial energy of nature is beyond good and evil and that it doesn’t correspond with human categories of right and wrong. Like electricity, it can be deadly dangerous or harnessed for great uses. Sacred clowns are adept at uniting joy with pain and are called upon to re-establish the bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds.
So is this what the Jumping Man does? Must he be present for our and their world to meet at the Store? He carries a ‘wand’ a stick a little like a pruned rose bush and creates swarms of smoke around himself. He never speaks a word but instead makes a pained squawk, like that of a strangled bird. It is interesting to note that the Grandson chooses to wear a mask just like the face of the Jumping Man, though with no eyes or mouth hole, and he carries a very similar looking stick. Mrs Tremond tells Donna that her Grandson is learning magic, so is the Jumping Man his mentor? Is he the true Magician who longs to see through the darkness of future past?
While we have not seen MIKE himself in the Store, he deserves an honorary mention as he did tell Cooper et al. about the place, “We lived among the people. I think you, say Convenience Store. We lived above it. I mean it like it is, like it sounds..” and now that we have seen the place this makes more sense. He also mentions the Store in Fire Walk With Me when he pulls up alongside Leland and Laura Palmer in a rage:
“You stole the corn! I had it canned above the store!”. Then turning to Laura, “Miss, the look on her face when it was opened. There was a closeness. Like the formica table top”. “The thread will be torn, Mr. Palmer, the thread will be torn”. He then shows Laura the green owl cave ring and yells, but she cannot hear, “It’s your father! It’s your father!”
The ring is still a bit of a mystery, its power still unknown for sure. It was probably made from the Formica table, but is the table a real thing? Or is it a representation made sense only by human minds and eyes?
Formica is a manufactured version of Mica, a mineral that is stable when exposed to electricity, light, moisture, and extreme temperatures. It has superior electrical properties as an insulator and as a dielectric. When Laura donned it, did it not only protect her from inhabitation by BOB but also transport her soul to the Black Lodge?
Thank you for reading. As usual, I have more questions than answers, and I am sure that many of them will never be resolved, but that is what makes Twin Peaks as enthralling as it is. I would love to hear some of your theories on the characters of the Convenience Store and The Owl Cave Ring. For further thoughts on the convenience store, read The Convenience Store Revisited.
All images courtesy of Showtime/CBS unless stated otherwise.