On Thursday, July 13th, I had the opportunity to speak with Wrapped in Plastic writer and co-founder, John Thorne. John also wrote the book The Essential Wrapped in Plastic and is currently working on The Blue Rose Magazine, which he helped create along with Scott Ryan. I came prepared with a list of questions and asked precisely one of them. What happened instead was much more exciting. I hope you enjoy reading my conversation with John Thorne!
AG: What did you think of Part 9?
JT: Of course, I loved it. I haven’t had time to watch it even a second time yet. Usually, I watch them at least three times. I liked it a lot. I liked how it connected a lot of what we’ve seen in Parts 1-7 and also the callbacks to the original series; particularly the Major Briggs stuff. That really thrilled me.
AG: Let’s start with a high-level overview of “The Return” —some of your favorite scenes and parts and go from there.
JT: Let’s get the elephant out of the room right away in Part 8, which was just one of the most brilliant pieces of Twin Peaks, let alone television itself, ever. The daring creativity of David Lynch and Mark Frost saying look we’re going to suddenly expand the narrative to such a degree that we’re going to potentially talk about the origins of some of this or at least reference some initial events that started all of this. Not only that by itself but also the way Part 8 was done; something so startling and so unexpected, mesmerizing and thought provoking. I got that out of the way. We could talk about Part 8 for hours and hours. Other than that, seeing Diane for the first time and having her now as part of the narrative was really, really special. Whenever they reference one of the original characters, I’m always kind of thrilled when that happens. I was particularly moved by the end of Part 2, when James walks into the Roadhouse and shares this glance with Shelly. There was something really moving and nostalgic about that. The way the music was playing and obviously we don’t know anything about that weeks later. Really, I’m extremely pleased with the whole thing.
AG: The scene with James and Shelly and also the scene in Part 4 with Bobby breaking down at the site of Laura’s picture both really got to me and tugged at my heart.
JT: We got a little more of that when Bobby goes to visit his mother, which was a scene I was fully expecting. I was fully expecting it since Part 4, and I think that’s one of the many reasons why I was so pleased with this series is that I had certain expectations going in and now I have certain expectations of what’s to come. Some of them are being met the way I would expect them to, such as when Bobby first says my father died in a fire and Agent Cooper saw him before. I immediately thought they have to go talk to Betty Briggs right now, all of them. All of the Sheriff’s Department has to go, and that’s exactly what happened. They went and talked to her and it was one of those great moments where it called back to the old series, and Major Briggs was such a significant essence in that scene even though Don Davis wasn’t there. It was really lovely to see.
AG: Every week that goes by, I get a little more obsessed with the very first scene of Part 1 with Agent Cooper and I’ll call him The Giant for conversations’ sake. I’m trying to unwrap it and see where it fits in narratively and I was curious if you had any theories on it?
JT: I do. I’ve thought about that a lot. Right now, it’s so hard. I’m trying to write about the show and it’s difficult to write anything with any lasting substance because we don’t know what’s coming. You can propose all of these theories and they fall apart the next week. My theory right now on that is that is Agent Cooper and he’s an agent of the White Lodge now, being sent on assignments by The Giant. His assignment is perhaps— and this is where it really gets difficult to know for sure—is to go back, I guess you could say back in time although I’m not sure time is measured or flows the same way in these other realms. Essentially The Giant is saying that there’s an issue that needs to be dealt with and you (Cooper) need to go back and deal with it. So that is a unified Agent Cooper, post perhaps all of what season is still to come, who has been sent on a mission. It’s hard to say, but really it seems sensible with what we know. What do you think?
AG: I absolutely agree with Cooper becoming an Agent of the White Lodge. That’s where my mind was going too. I think what I’m really most intrigued about is the line “They’re in our house now”. Are we looking at an invasion of the White Lodge and Cooper, as an agent of the White Lodge is there to help defend it?
JT: It’s very possible, but we’re 9 hours in and the narrative hasn’t established that at all. They still have time so they certainly could but how much shifting do they have to do to make that fit in? It does sound like an invasion though. There’s another interesting line “You are far away”. I interpret that as time, not that it would be an impediment to Cooper but it would take him some time to get where he needs to be. Still, it’s all idle speculation at this point. I think it’s critical—it’s the first scene it has to be critical.
AG: Any theories on the town of Twin Peaks or for any of the characters currently there?
John: It’s tricky. Twin Peaks so far seems to be disconnected from the rest of the narrative. Even though Las Vegas, Buckhorn and the FBI also seem to be separate, their connections are getting more firmed up for lack of a better term. I think it’s fairly clear that Evil Cooper called Las Vegas to get an update on what’s going on there. We’ve had Dougie’s ring show up inside Major Briggs body. Now we have the FBI in Buckhorn, etc. That stuff is starting to coalesce. Other than the key showing up at the Great Northern we assume from Jade in Las Vegas, there has been no connection to the other narratives. I’m curious and I’m careful not to make any assumptions that part of the story is happening simultaneously with what else is going on. Did the stuff in Twin Peaks happen two years earlier than what we’re seeing elsewhere?
There are also other curious things happening in Twin Peaks, which is not unusual. I’ve written about this and it will be coming out in the magazine in a couple of months, but the Sheriff’s station almost seems to embody these two different times. You have Lucy and Andy on the left side of the station and they have old phones and an old thermostat. They do have computers though so there is some modern technology. Then on the right side, you have other officers, like Maggie, the dispatcher with high tech equipment. It just seems more modern over there. You do see Deputy Chad passed back and forth between these worlds a little but other than that they don’t interact too much. You don’t see Andy or Bobby down on the other side. It’s almost as if there’s a Twin Peaks of now and a Twin Peaks of then. Whether or not that’s meaningful or metaphorical, I don’t know. It does seem to call attention to itself though, like there may be some weird time dilatation going on. I hope it’s not that literal but I do get that sense that something doesn’t quite match in Twin Peaks. Things happen even outside the station that don’t add up. Like when Andy went to went the guy off the road and was looking at his watch. Right now, it’s impenetrable but there’s something off.
AG: Twin Peaks does seem removed from the other narratives but I can’t help but feel that the action is heading there. I have this theory that in Part 8, when Bob seemed to be extracted from Evil Cooper that Bob would be on his way back to Twin Peaks. It’s home for Bob and now that Bob is free from this partner, since Evil Cooper is definitely different than Leland for example, that he would be eager to do his own thing again and that Twin Peaks is where he’ll want to be.
JT: I think you’re onto something, I really do. So let me ask you, you think Bob was extracted from Evil Cooper?
AG: I do.
JT: I do too. I think it was fairly evident because you see him get pulled out and then you have Ray make the comment that he saw something inside him or however he phrased it. So the question becomes is Evil Cooper a diminished character? Is he less powerful than he was before? The other big question I have is, was Evil Cooper the one possessing Bob, essentially the opposite of what Bob normally does? Obviously Bob possesses people and Evil Cooper is a doppelganger/shadow self / evil half of Cooper—however you want to phrase it. So because of that, he is not the typical human that Bob would be able to possess. He didn’t’ the weaknesses to allow Bob entry. So it makes me wonder how much control Bob had? I think Evil Cooper was the dominant player there in that relationship. What do you think about that?
AG: I also think Evil Cooper was the dominate one, which is partially where my theory came from. It seemed to me that Bob had to be extracted by the Woodsmen to be free; he needed help to leave.
JT: Bob was not free himself to leave. Maybe he didn’t mind being there and didn’t mind being associated or connected to Evil Cooper and didn’t care to leave. But once Evil Cooper was shot my question is, did the Woodsmen remove Bob because they thought Evil Cooper was dying and they wanted to save Bob from a dying vessel or did they say Evil Cooper is finally weak enough for us to get Bob back? I am interested in what the motivation was for what the Woodsmen were doing. I like that idea a lot though that maybe Bob is going to be heading back to the realm of Glastonbury Grove where he has haunted those woods and potentially looking for another victim.
AG: To go back to your question about whether or not Evil Cooper is a diminished character or not; he seemed to be pretty reliant on Hutch and Chantel. I suppose there could have been a certain comfort and affection for those two but he did seem like he needed them.
JT: I’m not sure if it was because he had just been shot or if he is a diminished character. Hopefully, we get more on that soon. He did suffer a mortal wound and then it seemed that the Woodsmen healed him. So they extracted Bob, but then they healed him. Unless the whole process was just to extract Bob and the after effect was that it healed Evil Cooper? Or did they perform two tasks? It’s vague. He obviously sits up in Part 8 as to say that he’s ok from these bullet wounds.
AG: It reminds me of the first time I saw Fire Walk With Me, and it got me questioning what the relationship was between Bob, the One-Armed Man and The Arm. I thought I had an idea of their relationship until I saw that film. Now, after Part 8, I’m questioning the relationship between Bob, the Woodsmen and Evil Cooper.
JT: That’s really something worth thinking about. It does seem to be implied, if not explicit, that there’s some sort of power struggle between these otherworldly beings and that they are in conflict with Evil Cooper to some extent. I say that because he has the call with the Imposter Phillip Jefferies. Whoever that was, says, “you are going back in, and I will be with Bob again”. Whatever that force is wants Bob and is in opposition to Evil Cooper. I would assume if they both want Bob, they are both evil beings. So there is some sort of conflict going on there, let alone the conflict between Evil Cooper and our forces of good. We don’t know yet.
AG: Do you have any ideas as to who the imposter Jefferies might be?
JT: I really don’t. That’s the most curious thing and I wonder how much they are going to address the fate of Phillip Jefferies. I really assume David Bowie didn’t have time to film anything. They could recast him but they have been careful not to recast anyone of any significance. I guess you could argue that they recast Johnny Horne and Toad. The Toad thing is curious too. I could probably go on and on about that too. What exactly is going on there? Will they recast Jefferies because he’s too important? I don’t know. The fact that there’s an “imposter” makes you think that whoever that is and has done away with Jefferies and has assumed Jefferies role in the story. That may be where they’re going with this. We’ll see.
AG: I can’t help but wonder what is Leland’s role in all of this? When we saw him and he said “Find Laura” it made me think that he was on a redemption quest of sorts.
JT: Yes, without a doubt. I do believe that he is seeking redemption. What’s interesting about how Leland was portrayed in that very brief scene is that he did not have white hair or eyes. He was not the doppelganger. He was the Leland of old or a whole Leland but he also seemed to be a weakened character, sitting there incapable of action other than to say “Find Laura”. I do believe Laura palmer has such a major role to play in this storyline. She got sucked out of the Lodge/Red Room and somehow manifested into a golden orb. Whether those things are connected or not, I don’t know. Laura, I believe still has a critical role in balancing good vs evil or combating the evil, ultimately helping Cooper regain his identity. This upcoming episode is titled “Laura is the One”. Whether that will be a reference to something or they’re reading a diary page, or if Laura is present and playing a larger role, I don’t know. But she will. I believe she will.
AG: I was recently asked what my favorite current theory is and its that Cooper needs Laura to fully awaken eventually. Curious to hear your thoughts on that one.
JT: I’m curious about what’s happening with Dougie. It seems fairly evident that forces are guiding him and most likely, they’re theories of good. Although the One-Armed Man did say that “you’ve been tricked” and now we have more evidence that Dougie was manufactured long ago to play this role. I guess we could say to be killed. They tried to blow him up, they tried to get Ike to kill him, all to stop Cooper. Well someone is guiding Cooper and solving all of his problems. When he first gets here, he needs money and he gets a ton of money. He was guided with the files, and then, of course, he comes to life to defend himself against Ike. I can’t help but wonder if there some other force inhabited him briefly to help him. I think pretty clearly something is helping him. My two choices right now are Laura or the Cooper that was sent off on the mission by The Giant. One of those two was sent to Las Vegas to protect Dougie. What do you think about that?
AG: I hadn’t thought about Cooper protecting Dougie. I had almost sold myself on it being the One-Armed Man, but now I’m liking the idea of it being Cooper.
JT: Cooper was directed to do something. Laura seemed to be removed against her will. The One-Armed Man appears to be confused. He even walks around in circles saying “Something’s wrong, something’s wrong”. He doesn’t seem to be savvy enough right now to do it. We don’t know enough about Laura, but The Giant/Fireman did generate a Laura sphere [laughs]. That’s a whole different thing though. Cooper was sent on a mission though. Right now, we see Dougie guided by forces that we can’t define. That’s how I’m connecting it.
AG: There’s a lot of speculation about when Cooper/Dougie will wake up. I personally wouldn’t be happy if there were no ramifications of the 25 years he spent in the Lodge and everything that has happened after.
JT: I question whether or not he can snap out of it as Dougie. I’ve thought long and hard and have written about the last episode of the series where Cooper split into two beings. It’s not like its theory. It’s fairly evident. Annie said “The Good Dale” and David Lynch himself in interviews has called him “The Good Cooper”. So there’s a good Cooper and a bad Cooper— Mr C. The being that was thrown through the socket was the good Cooper, who I guess is embodying Dougie. Even the good Cooper would not be a whole Cooper. I would argue that the two beings, Mr C and Dougie, would have to come together in order for the Cooper of old to reassert himself. Mr C has still got the memory and skillset and maybe some of the personality of the original Cooper, although that’s arguable. He’s just the evil Cooper. If you took all of the goodness out of Cooper, you have this incredibly devious machine, which is Mr C., So I don’t know that the good Cooper will snap out of Dougie. Even if he does, he can’t be the original Cooper, can he? We still have nine episodes left. Do we think Mr C dies? He is in some confrontation—maybe with Dougie or forces around Dougie. In that moment of tension, Mr C dies and it allows for transformation and for Cooper to emerge. Then it could play out over how many episodes remain from there with our Cooper on the case. There’s gotta be so other something else. Mr C is in conflict with another force. Does Mr C fail and then it’s up to our Cooper to resolve this conflict? I’m speculating, but we do want to see our Cooper back and we don’t want to see him in just the last 15 minutes of the series. We want to see him around for a little awhile. Again, this is all speculation. There’s not enough to go on.
AG: I know this series was originally only supposed to be 8 or 10 hours before it was renegotiated. It makes me wonder what a condensed version of “The Return” would’ve looked like.
JT: It’s interesting. As much as I’m enjoying the story right now, as engrossed in it as I am as a long time Twin Peaks fan, I cannot tell you what the conflict is, what the mission is or what the story is. It still seems like a prologue. Mr C has a plan to stay on earth, he needs these coordinates and maybe he’s even in conflict with Experiment, whatever that being is that we’ve seen twice now. I guess you could then say that his opposition will be his other half, which he has been trying to eliminate, so he doesn’t have that worry anymore. Even if he fails at eliminating his other half, what is the mission? All of the other characters in all of the other plots are struggling to figure out what the mystery is. This isn’t who killed Laura Palmer and we’re halfway through it. Do you feel the same way?
AG: It’s almost like the shadow self of the original series which told us what the central story was right away and then made us try to find a resolution with the characters. Here, we are trying to find the central story with the characters. I have a lot of faith in Lynch and Frost as storytellers, but if this were a different show, I would probably be a little sceptical.
JT: I think you’re onto something. We come at this as longtime fans and its always so rewarding when we watch new parts because it connects and illuminates to the back story. It’s a thrill. When I watch it and then connect something or clarify something, I’m just jumping up and down I’m so happy. That’s me as a longtime fan. I think it would try the patience of someone who hasn’t invested as much or especially someone new. It still really isn’t saying that it’s about. I agree with you completely, especially when it comes to Mark Frost. He’s got this figured out in terms of a plot that has stages and chapters to it and how it’s structured and where it’s going to go. I thin k Lynch has been able to take great liberties with exploring and spending lots of time, maybe on tangents, at least within scenes. He’s in no rush to get to plot points but those plot points I do think are coming. Once they do, it’s quite possible that the last seven parts are just going to move like a freight train. Now we see what the conflict is, what the consequences are and what the stakes are. Maybe there are prices to pay and maybe characters won’t survive. We’re going to get that tension which I think is missing to some extent.
AG: I am not of the opinion that there will be more Twin Peaks after this season. Perhaps it’s just living through the years and years of wanting and false rumors but I’m telling myself to enjoy every minute because this is it. Where do you fall on this?
JT: I pretty much agree with you. I would be very surprised if there was more Twin Peaks. Lynch and Frost spent many years preparing this limited series. After the principal photography finished, it took Lynch a year to craft it the way he wanted it from editing to sound design, etc. When you look at it and study the work, you can see the meticulous effort it took to get it the way it is. I’m not sure they would want to commit to doing that again. When a new season of Game of Thrones comes out, they are scrambling to get everything together in a year between seasons.
I don’t see by any means there would be another Twin Peaks. I think they probably said what they wanted to say in this and I have a feeling that it will end in a way with at least more resolution than there was. I doubt it will be resolved entirely. I don’t see them assembling this kind of cast again. That being said, I could see Lynch doing another film with a limited cast in that world if they approached him. I’m not sure what would be in it for Showtime to do this; I don’t see any upside for Showtime. But they could come to him and see if he wants to do a Cooper movie or maybe a newer character or something in that world. Even if they did that, I don’t know what it adds to it. I get the sense as I’m watching this that we are going to reach some sort of conclusion. Anything that goes past this might even diminish this. I’m not sure that I want anymore. Obviously, I love the world, love Twin Peaks but maybe it’s better to end it. What else is there left to do? I doubt they structured it so they could come back for another 18 episodes. So, a long answer to yes, I agree with you.
Me: What’s this experience been like for you? Since the announcement of the show’s return your book has come out, you’ve helped launch The Blue Rose Magazine with Scott Ryan, you’re a frequent guest on podcasts and you have people like me asking you for interviews. You’re right in the middle of our fan community. I imagine it has to be a very interesting time for you.
JT: It is. I always say I’m a very lucky person, at the right place at the right time. That’s not to say I wasn’t very devoted to producing quality work for 13 years with Wrapped In Plastic. It really was a labor of love. Craig Miller and I were very much devoted to making that a documentation of Twin Peaks. We really felt strongly that the show needed to be examined, analyzed and discussed. So yes, I was a big part of that. I honestly at a certain point thought I was done with Twin Peaks, for the most part. We had stopped the magazine, and I had in a way kind of way moved passed it. So when it came back, it was very exciting, very thrilling to know that we were going to have a continuation.
There was pressure as well. I won’t lie; I felt like a burden was put back on me. People were asking when the magazine would come back out and what are you going to do about this and I felt that I almost had a responsibility to reengage with the show. I’m thrilled and honored to have that position in the fan community. The fact that I was invited by Mark Frost to go out to Los Angeles for the premiere was really a high point. As a fan and as someone who had devoted so much of my life to this to be included in their celebration was a thrill that I’ll never forget. It was almost like all the work in the year’s past had led to that moment and to be able to do that. So I feel like that was just a wonderful reward.
Now I want to write about it; I want to stay engaged in it. I’ve got the magazine with Scott Ryan that we’re putting out. I’m so close to it as it comes out every week that I can’t get perspective on it. I keep having to remind myself “It’s ok”. I don’t need to come up with an answer. I might not know for years how it will make sense to me or how I want to interpret it. I’m in it for the long haul again. I want to be writing about it for years to come again and stay engaged again. Yet, I have to keep myself in perspective. I don’t need to have all the answers on September 3rd. That’s the beauty of Twin Peaks – you can stay involved and talk about it for so long. As a long, rambling answer to your question, it’s a great thrill to be reconnected to Twin Peaks and to acknowledged both by Showtime, briefly and by Mark Frost as playing some role, no matter how small, in the history of Twin Peaks. It’s a great honor and a great thrill.
AG: I was recently asked by Ben and Bryon from Twin Peaks Unwrapped about how the idea for this site came about. I shared with them that I was sitting at home reading your book one day and it had been years since I had really thought about the show on a deep, analytic level. Reading your book, I found that I wanted to write about the show and look at the new material on that kind of level. There’s a generation of us that are following in your footsteps.
JT: Thank you very much for saying that. That makes me feel great. What you guys are doing on your site, what the Twin Peaks Unwrapped guys are doing; it makes me feel good that what Craig and I did inspired people. Some of the stuff coming out, some of the stuff you guys and others are doing is remarkable. It’s wonderful. I’m glad there’s a new generation that’s engaging in it and putting together high-quality analysis and interpretation of Twin Peaks because the show needs that. It needs people to do that. You guys are doing that. It’s different now with social media and instant reactions but Twin Peaks is open to so many interpretations and there’s room for so many people to come in. I’m a little dismayed sometimes when I hear people say “Oh, they don’t know what they’re talking about” or “Why are they spending their time on that?”. There are many theories that I don’t agree with, but at the same time, thank goodness people are spending their time thinking about it and talking about it because no idea is wrong or bad when it comes to Twin Peaks. So, more power to you, keep at it.
My conversation with John concluded with us laughing about how I asked him exactly one of my planned questions but that was more than ok. This was a really great experience and we made an agreement to catch up right before “The Return” concludes for a Part 2 on this conversation. I hope you enjoyed reading it!