The Gifted and the Damned: What’s Eating Sarah Palmer?

Homeward Bound Part 14

In place of Homeward Bound this week, I’ve decided to pursue the scariest thing on television since BOB crawled over the couch. Both, ironically, were preceded by James Hurley singing Just You, and I. Coincidence? Well, we all know what Dale Cooper has to say about coincidences…

We’ve had only a handful of scenes with Sarah Palmer up until a little while ago. The shot of her watching the Violent and Gory Animal Channel came first, and just sort of existed. Then, with Part 8, came the stream of people suggesting that Frogroach/Frickett/Bugthing Girl was Sarah (still others, unconvinced believe it’s Cooper’s mother, or even Lois Duffy, our original Blue Rose case victim), and all talk of her escalated. Next came the strange sequence in the story which re-solidified everyone’s Sarah Palmer looking confused at the check outestimation of Sarah Palmer as Messed Up™ . Many have gone over her dialogue in that part as being particularly important, as it shows she’s maybe more than she seems. She speaks in a strange voice, lower and disturbed, of men that are coming, possibly Woodsmen, and likely talk of the convenience store, noting her cigs are Salems and making witch connections (which I adore!). But what’s important from that exchange especially in this case is her preoccupation with the Turkey Jerky. Our next visit with Sarah is from Hawk’s perspective, and again, the voice she uses when she feels ‘threatened’, so it seems, is distorted or deepened. We hear a noise in the house, in the kitchen, but we, like Hawk don’t know what it is. And then, the by now infamous time loop boxing scene. All of these things will be covered in time, but the impetus for the writing of this article isn’t all of that – it’s what we learned with past Sunday evening, when we followed Sarah Palmer to a bar (#9) and what occurred there.

I won’t describe it. I don’t have to. It’s the scariest and one of the most unexpected things I’ve viewed on television since BOB came over the couch. Someone on Twitter indicated that James’ “Just You and I” is a herald of doom, and I think that instead of BOB, this time, he brought us Sarah Palmer. Not perhaps unexpected for something to be wrong with her, but in that moment, what happened was truly unanticipated.

Sarah Palmer removes her face to reveal a big white grin

To start, I think we can safely conjecture that Sarah Palmer is inhabited by the Experiment 1 , or at least the Experiment is one of the things inhabiting her. Based on what we saw behind her face, it’s a safe assumption. The white hand in particular seemed to fit the image we have of the Experiment. Secondly, the nature of how she killed the ‘Truck You’ guy follows the MO of how the Experiment did away with Tracey and Sam at the glass box in New York.

But what else did this remind people of, instantly, even before she removed her face? Laura. Her demeanor, the conversation, indeed the topic of the conversation are all reminiscent of Sarah’s late daughter. In true TWIN PEAKS form, fans have been chomping at the bit to determine just whose teeth we’re seeing float around in that dark, swirling void. Some say BOB, some say the Jumping Man from FWWM, and yet others are now suggestion that it’s Laura’s smile! We have yet to have evidence enough for a concrete determination of this, but evidence is compelling…

Most obviously is the parallel to the Lodge Laura that Cooper met earlier in the Season, in the removal of the face which serves as a mask to what seems to truly lay beyond. Laura’s true ‘face’ emanated such a bright light that it literally was glowing, and nothing else could be perceived within it. Sarah’s did not glow, did not threaten to burst beyond the place where it was held, and we were shown several things, notably just pieces of what make up a person- the mouth and the hand. The hand, which I touched on earlier, has further significance in that it’s spiritual mound finger (like Gordon talked about when looking over DoppelCoop’s fingerprints) is black, in contrast to the rest of the hand which is white. It’s also facing the wrong way. Creepy. So, Lodge Laura, who is both Laura and Not Laura at the same time, now has a counterpart in Sarah. Does that make Sarah both Sarah and Not Sarah at the same time too? I’m not sure I can fully answer that question, much less any of the ones that I put forth here today. Sarah and Laura Palmer remove their facesThe bigger question might be, if Sarah is inhabited by (at least) the Experiment, for how long has that gone on? I feel confident in saying that the Experiment has not been with Sarah for long – probably only since Cooper exited the Lodge, closely followed by the Experiment’s probable escape and subsequent murder of Sam and Tracey.

Switching angles just a tad bit, let’s go back to Frogroach Girl. While she could be any number of people, I think that the Woodsman’s poem indicates that she is Sarah.

This is the Water and this is the Well.

Drink full and descend.

The Horse is the white of the eyes

And the Dark within.

Let’s start with the first two lines: The Frogroach is the Water, and the Experiment’s vomit is the Well… Sarah Palmer is often credited as being a bit of a prophetess. We’ve long been inclined to count her as one or the other of “The Gifted and the Damned”, though many could not agree on which role she filled (I argue it’s both), her gift being her prophecy and her damnation being the fact that her husband was raping their daughter and both ended up dead or something to that effect. I digress. Anyways, in traditional mythos, from any number of cultures, taking a draught of something (Water is, I think, a leading word, and not necessarily literal. It’s there to play equal/opposite to the Fire Walk With Me poem) precedes a vision quest, wherein people seek understanding and often prophecy. In The Secret History of Twin Peaks, Dr. Jacoby does that very same thing. So, to drink something, or ingest it, and descend could be indicative of a descent into a vision, or a dream/sleep like the girl. Ritualistic wells, no matter how metaphysical in this case, are also a long standing part of vision and prophetic tradition.

The last two lines are even more clearly defined. The Pale Horse which appears to Sarah before Laura’s death and again before Maddy’s is a clear connection.

“And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold! A pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”

Revelations 6:8

Our traditional omen of death remains true to its origin. But the horse itself isn’t death – the rider is. Next, “The White of the Eyes” is a phrase commonly associated with warfare – Don’t shoot until you see… – usually indicative of a warning not to take hasty action. In this case, however, I believe it refers to closeness with one’s enemy, physically, metaphysically or both. In other words – the perceived enemy (the horse) won’t pounce until it’s close enough to it’s victim, lured in by some means. The Dark within, is of course, the evil that it will release. a white horse stands in the Palmer living roomIn this scenario, Sarah is the Horse. She’s the unassuming dressing, the mask, that a victim lets in close before SNAP! the darkness within is revealed (literally the darkness that is visible when she removes her face, as opposed to Lodge Laura’s earlier light). She is the bearer of Death, not Death itself. Then, what is Death?

I postulate Four answers:

  1. The Experiment: We know that the Experiment has something to do with nuclear/atomic bombs. Don’t forget Oppenheimer “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
  2.  The other thing that Sarah physically bore – Laura Palmer: We know that Laura in the Lodge both is and isn’t Laura. What if Lodge Laura is Good Laura and Bad Laura is elsewhere…potentially hosted by her mother? Split into two beings, like Dale and Mr. C. If that mouth does turn out to be hers, I’ll consider giving myself a pat on the back.
  3. The Experiment and Bad Laura are both there, along with potentially other spirits: I don’t feel like I need to explain this one.
  4. The Experiment is Mother is Bad Laura Yes. I went there. She’s at least part of her. Possibly. There was a lot of talk about what the Frogroach was physically. BOB? Dale Cooper? Laura Palmer? Something else? In this case, I’d speculate Laura, as a whole. Lodgetime makes anything possible. She stays dormant within Sarah until birth (think about this – if Leland was already inhabited by BOB as people speculate, then Laura’s birth has some seriously weird implications – BOB is from the Experiment who might be Laura partially?) but a part of her presence remains behind as Sarah’s gift of prophecy.

Another indicator of any of three which include Laura is the Turkey Jerky incident. I decided to do a little bit of research into the origin of the phrase “like a turkey in the corn” and while I found that it’s from a song about a slave who escapes on the Underground railroad, I learned far more interesting information when I looked up the etymology of the word Turkey.

turkey (n.)

1540s, originally “guinea fowl” (Numida meleagris), a bird imported from Madagascar via Turkey, and called guinea fowl when brought by Portuguese traders from West Africa. The larger North American bird (Meleagris gallopavo) was domesticated by the Aztecs, introduced to Spain by conquistadors (1523) and thence to wider Europe.

The word turkey first was applied to it in English 1550s because it was identified with or treated as a species of the guinea fowl, and/or because it got to the rest of Europe from Spain by way of North Africa, then under Ottoman (Turkish) rule. Indian corn was originally turkey corn or turkey wheat in English for the same reason.

The Turkish name for it is hindi, literally “Indian,” probably influenced by Middle French dinde (c. 1600, contracted from poulet d’inde, literally “chicken from India,” Modern French dindon), based on the then-common misconception that the New World was eastern Asia. After the two birds were distinguished and the names differentiated, turkey was erroneously retained for the American bird, instead of the African. From the same imperfect knowledge and confusion Melagris, the ancient name of the African fowl, was unfortunately adopted by Linnæus as the generic name of the American bird. [OED]”

The Guinea Fowl and the Meleagris gallopavo ended up both being called ‘Turkey’ both erroneously so, considering that neither bird originated in Turkey. Because of its Turkish name, the bird is associated with ‘Indians’ and because of the fabulously incompetent (and supremely dickish) Christopher Columbus, ‘Indians’ became synonymous with Native Americans for the better portion of our history.

Laura Palmer like a turkey in the cornSo we have one thing, understood to be another – a possible relation to the true inhabitant(s) revealed beneath Sarah Palmer’s face? Laura already called herself a turkey, then referencing the song, wherein she’d be “long, long gone”, but she is also something other than what she seemed, and so now, it appears in Sarah. In this, Sarah and Laura are both Turkeys.

The same erroneous naming happened to the variety of corn associated with the bird in question, and so I did some more checking. Turkey and corn have a long history beyond that of the obvious. There’s an Apache legend called “Turkey Makes the Corn and Coyote Plants It”. It’s a lovely legend on it’s own, but, within the realm of TWIN PEAKS, everything becomes ominous. Corn = Garmonbozia = pain and sorrow, which both Laura and Sarah create in spades. BOB has long been associated with a trickster figure, which is the role Coyote plays in most legends, and BOB is definitely a farmer of Garmonbozia, as well as its consumer.

The next big Sarah Palmer question on the horizon has already been bandied about before Part 14 – is this the real Sarah Palmer? Is this Sarah Palmer’s doppelganger? Are both Sarah and her doppelganger running around pulling a “The Prestige” on everyone? Is Sarah living with a tulpa?

Personally, I believe that this is indeed the original Sarah Palmer. We have no evidence of her having a doppelganger, and every evidence of her being a weirdy right off the bat, so that axes questions two and three for me. But then, some might question, what was in her house that Hawk heard? Doppelganger is out, in my estimation, which leaves the still ‘another Sarah’ idea that there’s a tulpa of Sarah, in the vein of the original Blue Rose case victim herself Lois Duffy.

My thoughts on this are a bit complex. I believe that Tulpa is a misnomer on the part of the FBI, simply as a result of a lack of information. Tulpas are thoughtforms created (this is another one of Lynch’s lovely Tibet/Buddhism references) and sustained by the belief held in them. Doppelgangers ( as I’ve gone into depth on before in my article Doppelgängers, Owls and Other Folklore Superstitions in Twin Peaks) are the physical twins (but opposite or reversed) of the person whom they resemble and seek to replace the original person for evil machinations. They do not require belief to sustain them in traditional lore. If the Tulpa idea has any bearing, then it must work together with the Doppelganger. I imagine that this would work in the following way: The Doppelgangers are exactly the way we know them, but in order for them to exist in this world, people have to believe that the Doppelganger is the person they replaced, or, the person whom they replaced has to believe they have a Doppelganger in order for said Doppelganger to exist and sustain their existence outside the lodge.

I think this is overly convoluted, but just because I don’t believe it, doesn’t mean it isn’t still a contending theory.

Does Sarah Palmer have a Tulpa? In my estimation, no, and for the exact same reasons as I nixed the notion of her Doppelganger. This is the real Sarah Palmer. That then begs the question, does she know what she’s doing? Does she know what she said when she freaked in the grocery store, or when she killed the man at the bar? Or was she lying?

Possession, which I believe Sarah Palmer to be the victim of, often leaves the inhabitant with either no recollection or only a vague superstition as to what happened. I genuinely think that she has her suspicions but doesn’t really know or remember anything that happened.

The second question one could formulate then is, what was in the house when Hawk stopped by? I think, but won’t get into it, that the Palmer House is in a non-linear time loop. Sarah watching the boxing match certainly makes it a possibility, so it’s likely that Hawk heard Sarah, in the house, at a different time of day, doing something in the kitchen. But really, I’m grasping at straws there. Who can know for certain?

What’s eating Sarah Palmer is the half knowledge. She lives without the benefit (or detriment, depending on your point of view) of Leland drugging her, and thus is much, much more aware of the world around her. And, like most Prophets, she lives under the weight of her knowledge, of the things which she can herald and help into being, but has no way of combating or changing. She’s a ghost of a woman, always has been, innocence stripped by the Gift, Damned by the fact that she was chosen for the Gift, forever able to predict the coming atrocities but unable to do anything. I’d wager she’s even aware of the time anomaly in her house, and possibly all of Twin Peaks. I’d wager she’s the only one aware of it, forced to live out the same things in a different order, unable to move forward, unable to go back. And worst of all, the darkness housed within her, eating away at her, it a farmer of her garmonbozia as much as BOB ever was.

The Palmer family portrait


1 – Some people believe that the Experiment and the Mother are the same thing. I am fond of both theories – that they are the same and that they aren’t, but for the purposes of this article, and unless otherwise stated I’m considering them to be separate entities, as we have no confirmation that they are One and the Same

Turkey makes the corn and Coyote plants it

Long ago when all the animals talked like people, Turkey overheard a boy begging his sister for food. “What does your little brother want?” he asked the girl. “He’s hungry, but we have nothing to eat,” she said. When Turkey heard this, he shook himself all over.

What do you think about my theories? Did I miss something? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know what you think! Leave your thoughts a comment!

Some images Courtesy of Showtime

Written by Eileen G. Mykkels

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