A spectral killer who wears people like suits. A dimensional portal in a ring of trees. Owls who spy in silent flight. There’s never been another supernatural story quite like Twin Peaks.
The town of Twin Peaks looks like a small town akin to so many others in America. Nestled into a beautiful corner of its state, quiet residents carry on as a once-thriving industry fades and the country around it moves on. There are problems, sure. Greed, anger, and desperation have twisted some of the people. Just a few, but their influence is enough to cast a shadow over the town.
That shadow isn’t the town’s only darkness.
There’s a presence in the woods, and a portal. The portal, deep in the strange woods, is a pool of scorched oil at the center of a ring of sycamore trees. It opens on a place of darkness inhabited by spirits with the power to possess the weak and the willing. These spirits are attracted to fear, feeding on pain and suffering. Two of them, working together, killed a young woman a year before the events of the show Twin Peaks. Gone rogue, one killed homecoming queen Laura Palmer.
That rogue killer is BOB, who appears to residents of Twin Peaks as a laughingly vicious man with long greasy hair and a stained denim jacket. He is one of the true villains of Twin Peaks. He has possessed a host for many years, remaining mostly hidden — except for the occasional murder.
BOB and his fellow spirits are from the Black Lodge, a place that traps unlucky visitors in an endless maze of red-curtained hallways and all but identical rooms. Special Agent Dale Cooper, having traveled to Twin Peaks to investigate Laura Palmer’s murder, dreams of the lodge during one of his first nights in town. In the dream, he finds himself in a red room with a black-and-white striped floor, facing Laura’s double and a red-suited man who speaks in riddles.
The red-suited man — call him The Man From Another Place — seems helpful at first. But there’s more than a hint of malevolence in his eyes. Soon we find that he might be stringing Cooper along for his own ends as the agent seeks BOB. Later we meet a one-armed man, Philip Gerard, the vessel for a Black Lodge spirit called MIKE, in addition other humans who are possessed by their own doppelgänger spirits.
MIKE says BOB was once "his familiar," as he explains their bizarre existence. "Do you understand the parasite?" MIKE asks. "It attaches itself to a lifeform, and feeds. BOB requires a human host. He feeds on fear... and the pleasures. They are his children. I am similar to BOB. We once were partners." Their partnership ended when MIKE had a sort of religious experience, seemingly after meeting Laura Palmer.
A force exists to oppose the Black Lodge, a place of balance appropriately called the White Lodge. Where fear opens the door to the Black, love opens the door to the White. Deputy Hawk calls it “a place where the spirits that rule man and nature reside,” and the troubled former FBI Agent Windom Earle calls it “a place of great goodness.”
While we spend a lot of time in the magnificently weird Black Lodge, we never see the White Lodge. There is reason to wonder if the Black has occupied the space where White used to be. Are the white stripes on the floor of the Black Lodge a suggestion that White has been incorporated into Black?
Meanwhile, the spirit world bleeds into the “real” streets of Twin Peaks in unusual ways. Owls appear to be spies or messengers for Black Lodge spirits. Cooper receives a message from a very strange source, telling him, “The owls are not what they seem,” and owls are often an unsettling watchful presence in Twin Peaks.
Cooper, who experiences dreams and visions with spirits from the lodges, isn’t the only Twin Peaks resident whose vision pierces the veil between worlds. Laura Palmer’s mother Sarah has a vision of Laura’s killer, the blackly evil spirit BOB. And the widow Margaret, better known as the Log Lady, carries a perfectly shaped piece of wood that appears to contain some living spirit. That log is able to see and hear things most people can’t perceive, and it helpfully reveals those pieces of information in its own time. Why? We don’t know.
With all the odd stuff going on in Twin Peaks, chew on this: The two characters who are most dedicated to supernatural belief are an FBI agent and an army major. Not really the sorts of figures we expect to espouse the power of dreams, intuition and mystical phenomena. (This was before The X-Files and Mulder’s “I want to believe” slogan.) When two reps of conservative pillars in American society argue for the validity of the supernatural, you know things are strange.
In fact, another FBI agent is our most valuable source of information on the Black Lodge. Phillip Jeffries — played to jittery perfection by David Bowie in the 1992 prequel film Fire Walk with Me — infiltrates the spirits’ strange society. He describes a meeting of the lodge inhabitants, where The Man From Another Place commands BOB to “fell a victim” as the spirits reveal their need for "garmonbozia," an edible recipe of pain and suffering that looks a lot like creamed corn.
This is just the tip of the supernatural iceberg on Twin Peaks. There are abductions, electricity as a mode of transportation, strange tremors, and other phenomena that defy natural laws. Twin Peaks is a place both wonderful and strange, and we don’t want to give away all its surprises.
The new limited event series Twin Peaks premieres Sunday, May 21st at 9/8c – Only on SHOWTIME. Download the SHOWTIME app and start your free trial now.