“Black Lodge/White Lodge” is the 25 Years Later version of the popular point/counterpoint style of debating, wherein two sides take opposing views and hash it out on stage. Here, we’ll be debating the finer points of Twin Peaks lore, in writing, for your reading pleasure.
Today’s debaters are: Ali Sciarabba & Lindsay Stamhuis
The topic is: What’s the deal with Candie?
Black Lodge: by Ali Sciarabba
Parts 10 and 11 of The Return gave a lot of screen time to the character of Candie (Amy Shiels), and her odd mannerisms and behaviors have a lot of fans wondering what her story is. The brief but memorable introduction of the Pink Ladies—Candie, Mandie, and Sandie—at the Silver Mustang in Part 5 didn’t give us much to go on, and I would not have guessed then that Candie would play a large role in the series. I initially believed these women to be a sort of window dressing—just a few dolled up, pretty faces to give the casino some Vegas showgirl flavor. But as The Return has progressed, the Pink Ladies (Candie in particular) have been featured more prominently and the mystery of Candie has grown.
My initial impression of Candie was influenced by my assumptions about the Mitchums. Early on, I assumed that Bradley and Rodney were your garden-variety gangsters—violent men with no respect for women, only concerned with money and power. I also couldn’t help but draw a comparison between the Pink Ladies—who stood silently, in full costume—with the women at One Eyed Jacks in the original series. The idea that Candie, Sandie, and Mandie were sex workers (and the Mitchums their pimps) definitely crossed my mind.
But in Parts 10 and 11 of The Return, we learn a lot more about Bradley and Rodney Mitchum. While there is no doubt that they are gangsters more than willing to use violence to suit their needs, they aren’t the one-dimensional Bad Guys I thought they were. There is more depth of character to these brothers than I was expecting, and a lot of this has to with the way they interact with Candie. They may beat the crap out of their Pit Boss and take out hits on their enemies, but the brothers both have a soft spot when it comes to Candie—but why? She’s not particularly competent at the tasks they ask her to do, so why do they keep her around? I think the answer to this—and a major clue about Candie herself—lies in Bradley Mitchum’s comment: “If we fire her, she’s got no place to go.”
These men clearly feel protective over Candie. Perhaps, like the Mitchums, she is an orphan and experienced some form of abuse or neglect as a child. Perhaps, as Amy Shiels herself suggests in a Vulture article about her personal backstory for her character, Candie was a victim of human trafficking. Regardless of the specific trauma suffered, I believe that a lot of her mannerisms and interactions make sense in the context of a mental illness born from childhood or early adolescent trauma. More specifically, I think that Candie may suffer from some type of dissociative disorder.
It’s easy to categorize Candie as just ditzy or spacey, but an examination of some of her specific behaviors points toward something deeper than just the “dumb blonde” trope. She is often staring into space, with a flat affect, and it’s as if she’s not even aware of her surroundings. This is how we are introduced to her in Part 5 during the scene where the Mitchums are reviewing the Mr. Jackpots security footage. Later, when Rodney is beating up the Pit Boss, Candie looks away from the violence in front of her. She is focused on her own hand, which she moves in a wave-like motion, and she looks at it as if it’s something alien that doesn’t belong to her. This could be an example of depersonalization: a sense of detachment from one’s self in body and/or mind. She is witnessing Rodney, a man she loves—whether as a brother or a father figure or a lover—commit an act of violence. She may be dissociating to avoid having to confront the fact that, even though the Mitchums care for her, they routinely do violent things to others.
The memorable scene in Part 10 with Candie vs. The Fly provides another example. The experience of a fly buzzing around is incredibly irritating and, more importantly, distracting. It’s easy to become hyper-fixated on getting rid of it, and this would be especially true for someone prone to dissociation. The fly buzzing around Candie would serve as a constant reminder of her own physical body, snapping her out of a dissociative episode, and it’s understandable that she would be single-mindedly focused on getting rid of it—even if it meant not realizing that by catching it on Rodney’s head, she would be injuring him in the process. When she succeeds, only then does it dawn on her that she has hurt Rodney, and it sends her into absolute hysterics.
Without meaning to, she committed an act of violence against Rodney. She’s already distraught having hurt him, but when she sees that she’s drawn blood, she starts to scream uncontrollably. It’s a minor injury and he says that he’s fine, but it deeply affects her and she can’t shake it for hours and hours after it happened. She even goes so far as to ask him how he could ever love her after what she did. To the Mitchums (and the viewers) it was just an accident that doesn’t merit the kind of response that Candie has, but to her the incident is absolutely devastating and holds a much deeper significance. She was the perpetrator of violence and she can’t forgive herself for it, and thus she can’t see how Rodney she could forgive her.
Later in Part 10, when she is tasked with bringing Anthony Sinclair to the Mitchums, she is very slow to respond to their commands and doesn’t even seem to understand what is being asked of her. She’s lost in her own world again, but I think it’s significant to note that while seemingly ignoring them, Candie continually strokes her own neck and décolletage. This may be an attempt to ground herself during a dissociation so that she can carry out the order from the Mitchums.
When she does finally get down to the floor, she has a long conversation with Anthony about the weather and about the miracle of air conditioning. This conversation, as well as the one she has in Part 11 about the traffic on the Vegas strip, seems almost childlike. She has a sense of wonder and astonishment at things in the world that most people take for granted—or in the case of traffic, find to be a nuisance. But Candie is fascinated and when she speaks of things like this and I get a sense that we may also be dealing with a case of arrested development as a result of her traumatic past. She may be stunted and stuck around the age of her first traumatic experience.
Whatever is going on with Candie, I find her character fascinating and Amy Shiels’ performance is absolutely outstanding. The Mitchums have also grown on me, especially after Part 11, and I look forward to a bit more Vegas action as Twin Peaks: The Return continues.
Ali Sciarabba is a Staff Writer at The Game of Nerds (@TheGameOfNerds) and the author of many nonfiction books for middle and high school students. She has been a Twin Peaks geek since the early 90s and is even more obsessed today than she was back then. You can follow her on Twitter @alimscribbles for random musings on Twin Peaks and the many other TV shows she obsesses over.
White Lodge:by Lindsay Stamhuis
Of all the new characters being introduced in The Return, few have sparked such instant fan appreciation as the beautiful and ditzy Candie (played by Amy Shiels), one of Rodney and Bradley Mitchum’s pink flamingoes. In her bubblegum pink dress and perfectly coiffed platinum hair, when she and her partners (Mandie and Sandie) first appear on screen they are literally eye candy: they say nothing and do nothing except lean casually against the wall while their bosses give their former employee a beat down for allowing Dougie Jones to abscond with half a million dollars in winnings from several slot machines. But in the most recent two Parts, she has come into her own as a character…somewhat. And, as with many characters in this show, this transformation has only deepened the mystery of what, exactly, is going on with Candie. For my money, I’m thinking she’s a manufactured character like Dougie Jones, a blonde bombshell who has now been put in Cooper’s path for some reason.
Candie’s vacant stare and bewildered/bewildering statements take the tired and worn out idea of the “dumb blonde” to such an extreme that it can’t be the only thing going on here. The parallel to DougieCoop was made in last week’s Part 10, but was made even stronger this week when she finally shared screen time with him. Perhaps Candie, like Dougie, has been manufactured by the Lodge to fulfill some purpose. Perhaps that purpose has something to do with Dougie/DougieCoop. We don’t know much about her other than the fact that she has no where else to go, as we were told by Bradley Mitchum last week; they won’t fire her on account of that. So this begs the question: where did she come from? Perhaps it was the Lodge itself that pulled her out of the ether and planted her in Las Vegas? (Maybe because Las Vegas is one of the places where manufactured souls start off–that certainly explains some of the strange people we’ve met on the Strip in the past…)
We don’t know the full story behind Lodge manufacturing. Is it possible for someone to be completely made up? Or do they, like Dougie, have to be created from a soul already in the Lodge (like Cooper)? If the former is true, Candie could be anyone. But the fact that her first meeting with Dougie was prefaced by a startlingly Twin Peaks-esque piano tune–one which DougieCoop seemed to recognize–makes me believe she is more important than that. Who could she be?
One obvious answer is another avatar of Annie Blackburn. I (alongside my Bickering Peaks podcast partner/husband Aidan) have argued for Annie’s manufacture in the past. In this case, the evidence is different but no less convincing. Candie serves DougieCoop a second slice of pie; Annie was a waitress in Twin Peaks who also served Cooper pie once upon a yesteryear. Before this, when Rodney is trying to get her attention, it seems as though he calls her Annie at one point–right before she snaps to and begins relaying information about the cars on the Strip, in a way not entirely unlike Annie might do if she were suddenly transported to Vegas after, say, a few years in a convent, or twenty-five in the Lodge.
Another character that she might be linked to is Diane. Diane’s behaviour has been very strange, swinging from anger and mistrust of the FBI to deep anguish and fear during her first meeting with Mr. C to steely duplicitousness as we’ve recently discovered her potential collusion with Mr. C. It has been put forward that the Diane we’re seeing might not be the real Diane but some kind of imposter planted there to help Mr. C; might the good part of Diane be still extant but trapped inside the person of a nearly catatonic Vegas showgirl?
One final option is that she could be the missing Laura Palmer. The last time we saw Laura she was being forcibly removed from the Red Room right before Cooper himself was ejected. It’s not a stretch to assume that Laura (or part of her, anyway; the part that existed for 25 years in the Lodge/Red Room) was ejected just like Cooper for some reason. Why she would appear in the body of someone who doesn’t look like her at all is a different question altogether; perhaps she is being hidden from the evil forces who might do her harm, forces like BOB who know what Laura looks like. Or perhaps Candie is some kind of reincarnation of Laura. Amy Shiels was heavily publicized for her role in Twin Peaks: The Return and while it’s certainly deserving (she’s putting in a wonderful performance) it’s odd for a newcomer to get this much press; perhaps she was being put out front because the powers that be knew she would play and important role, and what role is more important than that of Laura Palmer (or her cipher)?
Whether this is right, or whether Ali is right, or whether neither of us are right is a question that will be left until the end of The Return‘s 18th hour.
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