This is the internet weblog of Bix Frankonis.

We Have Descended From Pure Air

And then David Lynch, just before the halfway point of the 18-part Twin Peaks: The Return, but not for a full fifteen minutes into Part 8, suddenly gives us the origin story, the most mysterious thing about which being that he imbued it with an actual penetrability.

On the wall of Gordon Cole’s office hangs a giant photograph of a mushroom cloud, in that case a test from Nevada that occurred in 1957. So, not the same as the 1945 explosion in New Mexico with which Lynch begins the metaphysical backstory of the entire Twin Peaks cycle, but surely no coincidence either.

That explosion in 1945 was the world’s first successful test of an atomic bomb. This was the explosion that allegedly led Robert Oppenheimer to declare, quoting the Bhagavad Gita, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” (Kenneth Bainbridge allegedly observed, “Now we are all sons of bitches.”)

It also, in the world of Twin Peaks, had dramatic repercussions of an otherworldly nature.

It’s not entirely clear to me whether the Trinity test merely sent up a flare that alerted forces beyond our world to our existence (shades of The Day the Earth Stood Still) or instead actively tore a whole between two worlds. Whatever the case, what seems to be the creature from the glass box, perhaps also she of “my mother’s coming!”, and apparently the one thing, as evidenced by his having drawn the silhouette of her head upon a playing card, which Cooper’s doppleganger wants, proceeds to vomit forth a spew of eggs.

Among them—whether a part of them and hence himself being born, or perhaps already extant and merely hitching a ride, I’m not sure—the ball of hardened black energy that is Bob.

There is a long sequence in which the mythical convenience store appears. Reference to the convenience store in the original series didn’t develop very far.

Mike tells Cooper in a dream that he and Bob lives above a convenience store. He later tells Cooper in person, “We lived above a convenience store. I mean it like it is, like it sounds.” After the series’ end, in Fire Walk With Me, an entire sequence takes place above the convenience store. Among those present: the Arm, Bob, Mrs. Tremond and her grandson, a Jumping Man, and… others.

In the movie’s deleted scenes, this sequence includes some additional, interesting dialogue.

“From pure air,” proclaims the Arm. “We have descended from pure air.” In the script, Mrs. Tremond wonders, “Why not be composed of materials and combinations of atoms?” In the deleted scene, one character observes, “Animal life.”

Elsewhere in the movie, Philip Gerard yells at Leland Palmer, “You stole the corn! We had it canned! Above the store!” (Corn, of course, is garmonbozia. Pain and sorrow.)

There was a theory, in the wake of the movie, that the “convenience store” was, in fact, a reference to our world. That “above” it lay another realm apart from this one. That for whatever reason our world had become a convenient place for these beings descended from pure air to feed on pain and sorrow.

We never really see inside the convenience store. It’s shown to us from the outside, seemingly empty and quiet until disrupted by fog and increasing flashes and crackles of light. Dark figures eventually appear, flickering back and forth, erratically, staccato, or perhaps simply outside our normal sense of how time is supposed to flow.

Perhaps what we see here, for lack of a better term for it, is a representation of the “invasion”. A cozy little country store, suddenly bursting with energy and then violently swarming with… something.

They seem remarkably like the dark man from a few cells down from Bill Hastings. Remarkably like the man shuffling down the hallway outside the body of Garland Briggs. Remarkably like the men who appear to aid Cooper’s doppleganger after he’s shot by Ray.

These men descend upon New Mexico in 1956, from the air. One specifically is credited as Woodsman.

The other characters above the convenience store in the movie? The ones with the Arm, Bob, the Jumping Man, and Mrs. Tremond? In the script they are First Woodsman, Second Woodsman.

It’s not clear to me, yet, why the Woodsmen descend upon Nevada in 1957 if the Trinity test, be it beacon or breach, happened in 1945. For that matter, are the Woodsmen the spawn of Mother, or something else entirely?

If we take literally the order of events depicted, the Woodsmen appear to pre-date Mother’s vomiting up of her eggs, which would suggest these are different beings. Could the locust-frogs which hatch from the eggs be what creates dopplegangers? But the Dweller on the Threshold myth pre-dates the Trinity test. Does that matter, with the relationship of these other realms to our conception of time being somewhat suspect? Is it future or is it past?

“This is the water, and this is the well,” the Woodsman proclaims across the airwaves. “Drink full, and descend.” Water, well, convenience store?

At some point after Trinity, after Mother spews forth her many eggs, an alarm sounds in what we seem to be taking as the first appearance of the White Lodge.

Or, really, the second, or perhaps even the third.

The Return begins with Cooper in a black-and-white world, and it’s that world we see again here. (Here, the Victrola plays music crisp and clear; at the series’ start, you could barely hear distant, tinny noise.) But it’s also a world with a roiling ocean, much like the one Cooper saw in the purple world of Part 3, a world whose architecture closely resembles that of the White Lodge.

Perhaps it was purple instead of black-and-white because by that time it is under assault by Mother.

Whether or not ??????? and the Giant are one and the same, the alarm leads him to observe the events of the Trinity explosion and its otherworldly aftermath, and he responds by weaving together a golden orb from his own energy. One in which the face of Laura Palmer (“Doesn’t she look almost exactly like Laura Palmer?”) appears and which, with a kiss from Señorita Dido, is sent off to Earth, heading in a direction perhaps at least generally toward that of Washington State.

Nearly three decades after the murder of Laura Palmer, David Lynch and Mark Frost gave us what when discussing any other show would be called an “info-dump”.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that when it came, it was anything but pedestrian, but, at the same time, Twin Peaks has never quite been a show about the impenetrability of the world around us, and the mystery of the murder of Laura Palmer never was intended, originally, to be the destination but the entryway into the larger mysteries.

I don’t understand all of Part 8. Not yet. But if the underlying mythology of Twin Peaks ever has meant anything to you, it was the single biggest thing the show has ever done.

There’s been some grumbling on Twitter about this episode. I’m not sure whether its just a visceral disconnect or if some viewers really found it incomprehensible. But haven’t we been prepared for this?

The series only went so far. The movie went further. Why would the return do anything but go further still?

Once upon a time, the Giant gave Cooper—and viewers at the time, as they began the show’s second season—some sage advice: “Don’t search for all the answers at once. A path is formed by laying one stone at a time.” Cooper himself once gave us his own corollary of sorts, and if you can abide the Giant’s advice, The Return is fulfilling the promise of Cooper’s.

“I have no idea where this will lead us,” he admitted, “but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.”