Missing Pieces and Missing Pages: More On “Twin Peaks”
There are those of us who will always wonder what Twin Peaks might have been like had David Lynch and Mark Frost been allowed to have free reign with the series. The first season was a bona fide sensation; the second season was less thrilling, although it definitely had its moments. 1992’s movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me helped to fill in some of the gaps of what was not explicitly shown in the series, but there were still about 90 minutes of deleted scenes. For years fans wondered if these would ever be made available. Then in 2014, Lynch scored them and edited them together, releasing them as part of the Blu-ray set (and in at least one theater). This second film is known as The Missing Pieces.
While some hardcore fans have edited together Fire Walk With Me and The Missing Pieces together as one massive Twin Peaks film, it’s remarkable how well these deleted scenes work together as a self-contained film, especially when paired with The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, which was originally published in 1990, between the airing of the first and second seasons of the show. It's the kind of extra-textual artifact that would go on to influence similar extra-textual documents in shows like LOST: not necessarily essential to understanding or appreciating the show, but a whole hell of a lot of fun.
Lynch and Frost’s initial intention was to have Laura Palmer’s murder serve as merely the entry point for the show, with the real draw being the other plotlines and mysterious, often bizarre, occurrences. Neither man wanted to ever solve the murder, much less reveal the identity of the killer, though in retrospect, it’s a good thing that they did. The BOB/Leland storyline is certainly one of the most memorable and frightening in any TV series.
Despite video tapes that appeared as clues within the series’ plot and flashback scenes of Laura Palmer herself, in many ways, Laura Palmer wasn’t even the star of her own TV show, much less her own life. This is what makes Fire Walk With Me, The Missing Pieces, and The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer that much more compelling. It doesn’t glamorize Laura’s life---including her slide into depravity and eventual death---but shows her as someone who was truly victimized by people (and forces) far beyond her control (or anyone else’s, for that matter).
The diary itself was written by Lynch’s daughter Jennifer (who would go on to become a critically acclaimed filmmaker in her own right) and that alone gives it the kind of legitimacy that would have been lacking were it penned by Lynch or Frost. It genuinely reads like a teenage girl’s diary, in tone and content, in addition to being an account of a tragedy of epic (and mythic) proportions. There are pages missing from the diary that were never found and one wonders if any of these scenarios were intended to be portrayed in either Fire Walk With Me or The Missing Pieces or simply designed to keep fans guessing.
Despite answering a lot of the unresolved questions from the series, when considering Fire Walk With Me, The Missing Pieces, and the Diary together, there is still at least one important question left unanswered.
Is BOB a real person who assumes physical form, or is he, like Pazuzu in The Exorcist film (and the 2016 TV series), an entity who possesses people? Laura claims in Fire Walk With Me that Bob has been having her since she was twelve years old, and in episode 9 of Season Two of the series, Leland confirms that BOB has been taunting him since he was a little boy. Yet others have dreamed of and even seen BOB, so it’s never confirmed whether or not he is “real,” a collective hallucination, or like Albert Rosenfeld says just a manifestations of “the evil that men do.”
Regardless, it begs the question: did BOB find some incestuous desires within Leland Palmer and exploit them? Or did he cause them to exist in the first place? As Dale Cooper points out to Sherriff Truman, “Is it easier to believe a man would rape and murder his own daughter? Is that any more comforting?”
More significantly: Since Frank Silva passed away in 1995, how will the story of Twin Peaks progress without the presence of one of its most significant characters? According to David Lynch, when Silva’s reflection was accidentally caught in a mirror during a scene, it provoked the idea of BOB as a character. Could such a chance occurrence have informed whatever mysteries await viewers in the show’s much anticipated third season?
Much of the Twin Peaks universe deals in liminal spaces, despite the stark contrast of that black and white tiled flooring. There is the suggestion that we’re all inside a dream and the way that BOB appears when lights flash or in the blurry hum of a ceiling fan. As posed in Laura’s diary, there is also the explicit question of whether “good Laura” and “bad Laura” could be the same person. There is even the fact that Season 2’s character Annie Blackburn appears in the movie prequel to the series. In addition, The Man From Another Place asks Cooper in The Missing Pieces “Is it future or is it past?” This becomes more fascinating when one considers the list of Season 3’s cast members, many of whom were killed on the show and have since aged (and one would hope that Lynch wouldn’t go the “young Tony Stark” route).
When the original audience of Twin Peaks is still intrigued by these mysteries, and has now joined with the newer legions of fans who were either too young to watch the show or not even born when it was originally on the air, the flattening of time and space has come almost full circle. Twin Peaks seems to go beyond these boundaries, and we are all invested in how far the show will take us this time around.