10 Terms from Twin Peaks, Explained
By Angela Tung
“I’ll see you again in 25 years,” Laura Palmer tells Agent Dale Cooper in the last episode of David Lynch’s surreal series. While that may or may not happen, the 25th anniversary of Twin Peaks’ premiere is upon us, so why not pour yourself a cup of coffee and revisit these 10 damn fine terms?
1. BLUE ROSE CASE
Blue Rose cases are strange and unsolved, sort of like the X-files. While the term isn’t used in the television show, it appears in the movie prequel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me: “Not only has Agent Chester Desmond disappeared,” Cooper says to “Diane," “but this is one of Cole's Blue Rose cases.” Blue Rose cases may be so named because they, like blue roses, are odd and unnatural.
BOB, also known as Killer BOB, is an evil spirit that possesses people and turns them into homicidal maniacs. BOB has an ex-partner named MIKE, also known as the One-Armed Man. BOB and MIKE have the same names as teenage partners-in-crime Bobby and Mike, although the connection seems to go no further than that.
3. THE BOOKHOUSE BOYS
The Bookhouse Boys are a do-good secret society. Members include the town sheriff and deputy, as well as Cooper as an honorary member. The group is named for their meeting place, the Bookhouse—a bar that’s full of books.
4. DEATH BAG
“Mike, can you hear me?” says Killer BOB. “Catch you... with my death bag!”
As with many things David Lynch, a death bag sounds pretty scary, although it’s not clear what it is. BOB could simply be speaking metaphorically, or he could be referring to a body bag. (A suicide bag, by the way, is what's used in assisted suicide.)
BOB’s death bag is not to be confused with the smiling bag the Giant tells Cooper about, which refers to a body bag hanging on the hospital wall in the shape of a smile.
Twin Peaks is an apt name for a place full of doubles. Borrowed from German, the word doppelganger refers to the apparition of a living person, an evil twin, a regular twin, or a monster that takes the form of someone it's killed. When possessed by Killer BOB, Leland and Cooper become, in a way, their own evil twins. Laura Palmer is her own doppelganger, living a double life of the squeaky clean homecoming queen and a drug-addicted prostitute. Laura also has an actual double: her cousin Maddy Ferguson, played by the same actress. Moments before Maddy arrives, we see the opening credits of the show within a show, Invitation of Love, which stars "Selena Swift" as a set of twins, Emerald and Jade.
“Where does creamed corn figure into the workings of the universe?” asks the Log Lady. “What really is creamed corn? Is it a symbol for something else?” We're guessing yes.
When Donna brings a Meals on Wheels delivery to an elderly lady, the lady says, “Do you see creamed corn on that plate? … I requested no creamed corn.” When she asks again if Donna sees creamed corn, the corn has disappeared. The old woman’s creepy grandson (played by Lynch’s look-alike son, a miniature doppelganger if you ever saw one) is holding the corn, which promptly disappears again.
In Fire Walk with Me, the creamed corn is called garmonbozia, which is defined as pain and sorrow, and which Killer BOB, MIKE, and other evil entities need to survive. The origin of the word garmonbozia is unclear; it's probably a nonsense word although it sounds a bit like garbanzo, otherwise known as the chick pea.
Without the context of the movie, creamed corn might act as a MacGuffin, a film device “used to catch the audience's attention and maintain suspense, but whose exact nature has fairly little influence over the storyline.” Or maybe Lynch just really hates creamed corn.
7. LOG LADY
The Log Lady is the town weirdo-slash-psychic who carries around a clairvoyant log. In Twin Peaks, wood seems to be a conductor of spirits. Josie Packard’s soul gets trapped in a wooden drawer knob (you heard us), and a ring of 12 sycamore trees leads into the Red Room of Cooper's dream.
8. THE MAN FROM ANOTHER PLACE
While his moniker is widely accepted, no one on the show ever seems to actually call him the Man from Another Place. Cooper calls him “a midget in a red suit” and “the little man.” In Fire Walk with Me, the Man calls himself the Arm, referring to the arm that MIKE cut off.
Former FBI agent Windom Earle describes “a place of great goodness” (the White Lodge), and also “another place, its opposite, of almost unimaginable power, chock full of dark forces and vicious secrets” (emphasis mine). This other place is known as the Black Lodge, the residence of the crimson-suited little man.
MIKE, Killer BOB's ex-partner, cut off his left arm to rid himself of the devil's touch as symbolized by the tattoo, "Fire Walk With Me." His doppelganger is Phillip Michael Gerard, a one-armed shoe salesman with a suitcase full of right shoes.
MIKE, through Gerard, seems to want to help Cooper. Like MIKE, Gerard has a best friend named Bob, and while this Bob isn't Killer BOB's double, he indirectly leads Cooper to one of Laura's killers.
10. THE RED ROOM
Also known as the Waiting Room, the Red Room is a kind of limbo between the Black and White Lodges, and where Cooper encounters the Man from Another Place, Twin Peaks residents' cloudy-eyed doppelgangers, and other eerie figures.
In the Red Room, everyone except Cooper engages in reverse-speak and reverse movement. This was achieved by filming the actors speaking and moving backwards, and playing the film in reverse. The effect is incredibly creepy (and was memorably parodied in The Simpsons). Reverse-speak shouldn't be confused with reverse speech, a pseudoscience which claims that subconscious messages can be found in people’s recorded speech when played backwards.
BOB, by the way, is the same backwards or forwards. Why is this creepy? We’re not sure, but it is.