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No, I don’t know what just happened, either. Let’s cut to the chase on that. The eighth episode of Showtime’s revived Twin Peaks went Full Cosmic, an hour-long spiraling portrait of supernatural surrealism. It all has to do with the first detonation of the nuclear bomb, on July 16, 1945. It also has to do with a movie theater in a castle on a mountain in a purple ocean in space. BOB, question mark? Laura Palmer, question mark? Also, “The” Nine Inch Nails.
This post will be barely helpful. Tomorrow, my personal shaman Jeff Jensen will unleash his full recap (UPDATE: read the recap here), and together we will try to solve the riddle of the Woodsman on the newest episode of A Twin Peaks Podcast: A Podcast About Twin Peaks. Until then, here are the main talking points.
Dirty Cooper gets out-Dirty Cooper-ed. Dale’s nefarious doppelgänger was about to get his beloved information from Ray, by any means necessary. But Ray outwitted his foul friend, shooting him.
Then things got weird, although obviously “weird” is a relative term and honestly everything about this season pre-nuclear bomb seems wholly normal in hindsight.
Ghastly, charred figures emerged out of the shadows. These figures resembled the roasted ghost seen haunting Buckhorn PD — not to mention the strange man in the alley from Mulholland Drive. We can perhaps refer to them as the “Woodsmen” — one of them (their leader?) was called “Woodsman” in the credits, which connects back to the strange woodsmen seen hanging out with the Black Lodge entities in Fire Walk With Me.
The Woodsmen surrounded the fallen doppelgänger, seemed almost to be tearing into him, or perhaps blessing him? Ray fled and called Phillip Jeffries. He said something about how something “may be the key to what this is all about.” That would be helpful! The bad Cooper woke up where Ray left him, but only after a performance by…
“The” Nine Inch Nails. Which is how the Roadhouse’s MC introduced Trent Reznor’s legendary demon-industrial scuzz-goth rock band. In what we have to retroactively refer to as the most “realistic” part of the episode, the band performed “She’s Gone Away,” a song which begins with the lyrics “You dig in places ’til your fingers bleed.”
The Birth of the Atomic Age. July 16, White Sands, New Mexico, 5:29 a.m. The first detonation of the nuclear bomb. We seem to move into the ensuing mushroom cloud. Strange mad things happen on screen, perhaps destruction, perhaps the birth of destruction. The music during this sequence was “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima,” a title that sounds like a clue. The Woodsmen appeared, laying claim to a Convenience Store. They moved a little bit like the woman from the Purple Room, outside the usual flow of time.
BOB is born? We saw a… being? Floating in… space? And she was vomiting or spitting or giving birth to… a lot of somethings? And one of those somethings was… an orb? With BOB’s face? There was a lot of “orb stuff” in this episode, and perhaps we may remember how poor Dougie seemed to transform into a golden orb several episodes ago?
The Space Castle in the Infinite Ocean. We saw that strange purple ocean that briefly caught Dale’s eye back on his jaunt through outer space. A mountainous rock stuck out of that ocean, and on top of that ocean was some kind of dwelling. A castle? A woman (credited as “Señorita Dido”) was in a room. There seemed to be some sort of alarm. The Giant appeared — or anyhow, a character who looks like the Giant.
The Giant went to a theater and watched the montage we just saw. Nuclear bomb, check; Woodsmen in the convenience store, check; BOB inside the orb, check. He took countermeasures. He ascended, held aloft, like Dale inside the glass box (or Leland Palmer inside the Red Room in Fire Walk With Me). A golden light emerged from his mouth.
The woman (his wife? His roommate? His mother? His daughter? His other half? The allegorical Feminine to his allegorical Masculine? Literally Dido, the first Queen of Carthage? Literally Dido, the singer of “Thank You”?) stared up at him, scared and fascinated and happy. A golden orb descended. Inside of this orb: Laura Palmer. (Or: Laura Palmer’s face.) (Or: Laura Palmer’s legacy.)
A large machine that looked a little bit like a trombone drawn by Dr. Seuss took the golden orb and fired it toward the movie screen, and on the movie screen was Earth, and the orb moved across the United States. Did it end up in the Pacific Northwest?
Got a light? Time passed in New Mexico. In 1956, a young boy walked a young girl home. They found a penny: heads up, for good luck. They kissed.
In the desert, the charred figures of the Woodsmen appeared. They scared drivers on the road. One Woodsman in particular kept asking: “Got a light? Got a light?”
(Random bit of information that is either important or pointless: The actor who played the Woodsman is Robert Broski, who looks so much like Abraham Lincoln that you can literally book him for appearances as Abraham Lincoln. And the young boy and girl had just found a penny with Abraham Lincoln’s head pointed up to the sky. What does this mean? It means AMERICA, MAN, seriously I dunno, will watch again tonight I promise.)
The Woodsman made his way to the KPJK radio HQ. He killed the secretary and the radio man, digging in their faces until his fingers bled. (Well, they bled.) He spoke into the microphone, sending a message through town:
This is the water, and this is the well
Drink full, and descend
The horse is the white of the eyes and dark within.
A casual Twitter-ing reveals that a lot of viewers think the Woodsman said “Drink full and a-scend,” not “de-scend,” which is obviously a totally different message. But maybe the message wasn’t important. He seemed to be hypnotizing the townspeople, who all fell asleep.
And a horror came then. We had seen a strange creature born out in the desert. I initially thought it was a cockroach, but its movements suggested several different nightmare creatures — amphibians’ legs, an overall human way of crawling. It found the home of the little girl. It came in through her window — just like BOB in Fire Walk With Me. And it crawled into the little girl’s mouth.
The Woodsman walked back into the desert.
WHAT DID IT ALL MEAN?
Here’s one theory:
But don’t worry! Here at our own private space castle in the infinite ocean in outer space, we are working around the clock to decode this wild hour of television.