We're Noticing A Pattern With Twin Peaks & Sexual Assault

Photo: Courtesy of Showtime.
On Sunday night's episode of Twin Peaks: The Return, Diane (Laura Dern) revealed what was already fairly obvious from previous episodes: the evil doppelganger of Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) raped her. She's alluded to this moment in the past; it occurred three or four years after the real Cooper disappeared, which means that her rapist wasn't the Dale Cooper most people know and love. It is an evil-infested version of him that is currently terrorizing Twin Peaks: The Return. She then revealed that she wasn't actually Diane. She was a "tulpa" — an otherworldly doppelganger with evil intent.
"I'm not me," she admitted, wailing in the office of the FBI. She pulled out a gun, conceivably to use on herself. Before Diane shoots, though, Agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) fires, and Diane disappears. The "not-Diane" Diane then appeared in the Black Lodge, the Twin Peaks place of mystery, where she's told: "Someone made you." In the Lodge, the alter-ego Diane literally rips to pieces and then disappears, leaving behind her seed.
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It's an unnerving metaphor for the reverberations of rape; the implications are that Diane, after being violated by Cooper, became a warped version of herself, literally a corrupt doppelganger. It's also emblematic of the show's primary objective — since the beginning, Twin Peaks has been an exploration of the aftereffects of sexual violence.
Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) is the epicenter of it all. Her death started everything, and has been since shelved as the show's "Macguffin." But she's more than that. Palmer is a guiding light of sorts for the show; her death set a precedent for how this world would treat sexual violence. The prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me revealed that Laura was raped repeatedly by her father Leland Palmer (Ray Wise). This eventually drove Laura to destruction — the series began with her naked body, wrapped in plastic, washing ashore in Twin Peaks, Washington. Her father was also the one to kill her.
Palmer's actions were, of course, courtesy of the spirit Bob. Bob is "pure evil," and takes pleasure in violence for the sake of violence. When Cooper raped Diane, he was under the influence of Bob. And Diane, it turned out, was also part of Bob's growing clan of demons.
The series repeatedly attributes violence and growing entropy to this demon and another dimension where evil, like a virus, flourishes for no reason. Bob functions a lot like a virus, actually. When it makes contact with a person from our realm, the ill will multiplies, metastasizing across the sleepy Washington town of Twin Peaks. (Of course, in the 2017 reboot, the doppelganger has made it all the way to South Dakota. Left unchecked, a virus can spread very fast.)
As sexual violence appears to be Bob's forte — the demon's specialty, if you will — it's as if the show wants to portray sexual violence as an inexplicable illness. Because that's the thing with Tulpas: They don't have much purpose. It's not like they need their dads to be proud of them. It's not as if they want to fall in love. They're just here to rape and pillage the Earth, and spread their violent seed.
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Then, the question is: What's the best antibiotic here? Who can rid Twin Peaks of its virus?
So far, the signs point to Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie), Laura Palmer's mother. Sarah is one of the few characters who can see Bob. She saw him in the very first episode of the series. During the show's return, Sarah Palmer has been acting a little weird. She warned a grocery store clerk that the "men are coming." She's been watching an awful lot of boxing. In episode fifteen, Sarah goes to a bar, where she's harassed. A trucker makes a pass at her, and Sarah politely declines. He then persists, making lewd remarks and suggesting she's a lesbian. The trucker perpetuates an insidious form of sexual harassment; he believes he has ownership over Sarah simply because she's a woman.
Sarah then rips off her face to reveal another, smiling one. She attacks the trucker, gouging his neck with one clean shot. He bleeds out in the bar, and Sarah Palmer puts on an act of confusion.
This type of violence seems typical for a tulpa. But Sarah's act of violence is intentional; the trucker was aggressively hitting on her. Tulpas usually go for needless violence. Sarah Palmer's bizarre face-ripping attack seems almost heroic. If Bob infects anti-women violence — which is running amok in Twin Peaks: The Returnthen maybe Sarah Palmer is specifically equipped to defeat it.
If the Diane who disappeared last night isn't actually Diane, this means there's a real Diane out there somewhere. And, Diane's sister Janey-E (Naomi Watts) has a real reason to support the morally sound version of Dale Cooper. Hopefully, they'll band together, and the reign of sexual violence in Twin Peaks will come to an end.
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