Twin Peaks Takes Us to the Wake of Laura

Kevin Mooseles | 20 Nov 2014 12:00
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Twin Peaks moves from introduction to implementation in "Rest in Pain."

The first light of morning in Twin Peaks is the indication that another episode is about to be under way, and this is a big one. Secrets will be revealed to the audience at a break-neck speed, Laura Palmer will be laid to rest (but not without incident), and Agent Cooper will be introduced to the secret society called "The Bookhouse Boys", which guards the town of Twin Peaks against an unnamed evil force that has lived in the dark forests nearby for a very long time.

But first, the vital early morning cup of coffee. After a brief exchange with Audrey Horne, Cooper is met by Lucy and Sheriff Truman to discuss his dream from the previous night. After explaining his dream to them in wonderfully Lynchian detail, Cooper says that he doesn't remember the name of the killer. But cheer up! All of the clues they'll need to solve the crime are in his dream, they'll just need to break the code.

The action then moves to the morgue, where FBI specialist Albert Rosenfield is having a heated debate over the tests he needs to perform on Laura Palmer's body before he can release it for the funeral. Albert is venomous and opinionated, and obviously being set up for the audience to truly relish the punch in the face that he gets from Sheriff Truman.

After this is a close up on "Invitation To Love", a show-within-the-show. It's a terrible soap opera, but presented so wonderfully within the context of Twin Peaks that it possibly may represent the birth of "meta" in pop culture. I haven't done the research required to either confirm or dispute the claim, but it feels right. There have been a few references to "Invitation To Love" previously, mostly through Lucy, which isn't surprising. But this is the first time that the show is shown within the show. (Ah! So meta! Must...break...paragraph before meta meltdown is reached!)

Leland Palmer is being given a shot to calm his nerves. He was in bad shape at the end of the last episode, dancing with himself and sobbing and generally falling apart over his daughter's death. He won't hold up very well during the funeral, and will make another scene in the third act, where he is alone on a dance floor and grieving over his daughter. It's all wonderfully and convincingly acted by Ray Wise, who really pulls you into his grief with a sincere approachability. In this scene, he is mostly calm, watching "Invitation To Love" with his nurse, both of them completely absorbed in the show.

Ray Wise (along with several other cast members) had spent some time -- 7 years -- acting in soap operas, and part of the "meta" nature of Twin Peaks is that it's understood within the world that it exists to be different than the rest of the world. It is a self-referential vortex, a special and unique place: it is a real life soap opera world.

That is the message of this entire episode, although it is never put in quite those words.

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