By Cheryl Lee Latter
‘I play my part on life’s stage. I tell what I can to form the perfect answer. But that answer cannot come before all are ready to hear, so I tell what I can to form the perfect answer. Sometimes my anger at the fire is evident. Sometimes it is not anger, really – it may appear as such, but could it be a clue? The fire I speak of is not a kind fire.’
Although in Season 1 and Season 2 we got an indication of Margaret’s special gift and connection to the spirit world, she was still in some ways a comedic figure, and the local eccentric in a town full of eccentrics.
In Season 3, and through the Secret History, a much deeper character came to light, and one that, far from being a local joke, had become a beacon of light in a darkening world. Her cabin in the woods, previously the bolthole for someone who struggled to fit into polite society, was now a lookout post for danger and for bad things that might happening within those trees.
We can surmise that she was chosen for this higher purpose as a child, when the giant owl (the same one dreamt of by Laura in the Secret Diary?) marked her for abduction and for what was undoubtedly her first experience of the Lodges.
‘When this kind of fire starts, it is very hard to put out. The tender boughs of innocence burn first, and the wind rises, and then all goodness is in jeopardy.’
Taking the whole story (screen and books), it seems that the Log Lady hadn’t pursued the Lodges since her experience as a child. Despite that, she was eager to come forward and help once Major Briggs appeared with his tattoo after his abduction, and to provide the oil that Cooper needed (or thought he did) to open the red curtains.
‘A log is a portion of a tree. At the end of a crosscut log — many of you know this — there are rings. Each ring represents one year in the life of the tree. How long it takes to a grow a tree! I don’t mind telling you some things. Many things I, I mustn’t say. Just notice that my fireplace is boarded up. There will never be a fire there. On the mantelpiece, in that jar, are some of the ashes of my husband. My log hears things I cannot hear. But my log tells me about the sounds, about the new words. Even though it has stopped growing larger, my log is aware.’
Sam Lanterman had his own experiences. He knew that ‘this oil is an opening to a gateway’, whether from seeing things up in the forest, or from stumbling in there himself. And on that note, what would be his reason for saving some of it in a sealed jar?
What opens the gates? When Jupiter and Saturn align? Well, maybe not, as Hawk found out when he went looking that night.
Bob’s victims smell scorched engine oil when he is close, but perhaps that is actually the smell of their own fear. Windom used Annie to try to win entry through the circle of trees, but her frozen doll state once in the circle took all of the fight out of her. Far from her fear opening the gate, the Lodge took control of her for its own use then and there.
If fear smells like scorched engine oil, then Sam Lanterman took some of it home knowing that it may be needed one day to trick the Lodge doors into opening. It seems that Sam was, both literally and figuratively, playing with fire.
‘My husband died in a fire. No one can know my sorrow. My love is gone. Yet, I feel him near me. Sometimes I can almost see him. At night when the wind blows, I think of what he might have been. Again I wonder: why? When I see a fire, I feel my anger rising. This was not a friendly fire. This was not a forest fire. It was a fire in the woods.’
Margaret and Sam were married in Glastonbury Grove, a place that purportedly meant a lot to them, although that seems strange considering it was the site of Margaret’s childhood abduction. It is no frivolous choice of marriage location – whether Lynch or Frost’s story, Margaret became wed to the spirits that day.
‘My log is afraid of fire. There’s fire where you are going.’
It would have been nice to have more backstory about Sam Lanterman. Did he anger the spirits by holding such a bright, loving ceremony in a place that is malevolent and hopeless? The fire took him that very night.
It seems generally accepted that his spirit entered the wood, or at least used it as a conduit to continue to communicate with his bride. I expect they both knew all along that, with their knowledge and experiences, working together spiritually would only benefit Twin Peaks.
The Secret History conjured a tragic figure fit for a Bronte romance, as Margaret hiked up to the forest to see the site of her husband’s demise. Once there, she cut a log from a sycamore, the same log that then spoke to her for many decades to come, that became her permanent companion until her last breath.
For a long time, the log, and perhaps her own deep intuition, kept her aware of the darkness seeping into the town. Even on the night of Laura’s murder, she knew the danger was at its highest, but she was powerless to help.
Margaret struggled to have relationships. Her log was her support, her confidante and her security. The link it provided to other souls in the world stopped her loneliness from being complete, although it was nice to see in Season 3 that her assistance during the Cooper days had created a friendship with Hawk and those at the Sheriff Station.
‘My log is turning gold. The wind is moaning. I’m dying.’
At the end she saw it changing, and turning gold, perhaps glowing like embers as the trees did the night of her wedding.
Her log kept her connected to the spirits. When it was time for her to join them, perhaps it lost its power then. She no longer needed it to connect her as she would be joining them all.
And what then of the benevolent spirit of Twin Peaks? Did she too become part of the haunting of Ghostwood Forest, watching over the town from above?
Maybe finally she had peace, reunited with her woodsman, and free to walk with him through the lush greenery and bright sunshine of the mystical White Lodge, far away from the fire, her part in the story complete.