By Pamela Tarajcak
“Maybe that’s all that BOB is, the evil that men do.” We as a fandom have always debated who or what BOB is. Is he some figure that Laura or Leland made up to cover for the abuse? Is he a real demon? What happens if he’s all that and more?
He is real. People saw him. Maddie saw him. Cooper saw him. Jeffries saw him and a whole passel of other Lodge Spirits. Ronette saw him. Therefore he has a face. Before you, dear reader, say that Laura or Leland could have projected him onto other people, there is something that must be noted here. Neither Laura nor Leland were known to be strong senders. If anything, Laura is a strong resistor and Leland is a strong receiver. There is no way that he is visible to that many people, that many people not carrying Novak and/or Palmer DNA, to not be a real presence, a real threat.
Moreover, if he was just one figure out of everything, it is understandable if someone would think that he is a projection, but we have other beings of the supernatural nature that are visible to others. The Tremonds make their presence known to not only Laura but to a lot of other characters, Donna, Harold (maybe), Jeffries, Carl (maybe). Gerard turns into MIKE quickly and it is a whole different person. He definitely has something inside of him too. It is even more obvious that he knows that Leland is known to MIKE when MIKE said to Laura, “It’s your father.” However, Leland doesn’t recognize MIKE or Gerard. There has to be something there to that scene which indicates BOB being a real presence as how would Gerard know about Leland’s perfidiousness if BOB was a wholly made-up figure? Diane and the blogsters note the presence of Woodsmen. The Radio station employees and two unfortunates on the side of the road note what could possibly be the Chief Woodsman. Sam, Tracy and a camera find the Experiment. Therefore, the supernatural world is no mere made up thing; it’s real and immanent and among the world as we speak. Major Briggs, quoting the Bard, encapsulates this well, “There are more things on heaven and earth.”
At the same time, perhaps the face BOB was given was the face that Laura and Leland gave him because he is faceless. He is a real faceless demon. Demonic figures never really have faces. We all wondered what MIKE looked like but maybe he has no face. He is just an imminent force that lives within Philip Gerard. Maybe that’s what BOB is too, an immanent force of evil that Leland let in. Perhaps his true form looks more like the Experiment. Or his true form looks like nothing we would consider true matter. Therefore to give him a face, to give him form and substance, Leland or Laura made something up to make sense. If it was Leland, maybe the assaultive old man, Robertson from his past at Pearl Lakes. If it was Laura, who knows where she got that form and shape from? I tend to believe that Leland made up the shape and form and it sort of stuck with the demon. Perhaps the demon liked the menacing look that the form gave him.
The demon allowed Leland’s worst instincts to flourish. He was not in control of Leland’s actions but he tempted Leland into embracing his actions. The evil in you calls you by your worst instincts but the good in you calls you by your name and who you really are. Leland’s evil, Leland’s BOB, was tempting him to keep on doing what he did to his daughter. At the same time–this being Twin Peaks after all–Leland’s demon became him for moments, allowing Leland to revel in the destruction of his own daughter without the victim of his own atrociousness suspecting. Though there are intimations in the Secret Diary that gave hints as to who was using the demons face. The poem on April 24, 1986 said it well. “A memory of skipping/I was small, looking up at him/Before he told me to lie down/Or to say things/Before he told me/That opening my mouth was bad/That we had a secret/Before he began to turn me inside out/With his dirty claws/Before I sat on the tiny hill/We used to skip/Hold hands/Talk about what we saw/He told me what to see/But I didn’t see it/I have been blind/I think/Ever since the skipping stopped.” So she had clues that it was her father that was using the demon’s face to get away with hell. In short, he gave Leland the cover to do practically anything. The demon was getting quite a bit out of the deal too, including being fed that profane garmonbozia and enabling him to feed others like MIKE and the Arm. So the demon was glad to lend the human his face.
Then there are times when obviously Leland is acting evil without the help of BOB’s cover. Was BOB acting as a cover when he was killing Teresa? We don’t see BOB’s face when he’s murdering her; we see Leland front and center. He killed Jacques as himself. (Even though we obviously didn’t know that Leland was any different than a mourning father.) He was himself while picking the fox fur which would eventually implicate Ben Horne. Furthermore, in Fire Walk with Me, Leland carried his own face (there was no phasing in and out of BOB to Leland) during the horrific dinner table scene, during the scenes with Teresa, during the scene on the morning of February 23 when Laura took control and said “Stay away from me.” His evil is alive in those scenes, without BOB needing to be present. When he is at Jacques cabin and throughout most of the end scenes, he has his own face.
The evil was always inside of Leland. But evil sometimes needs a demon to tempt it out of the person, to create, like Windom said, “Evil for the sake of evil.” BOB already knew that Leland had that potential for evil within him, probably. Perhaps Leland’s first evil act at Pearl Lakes is how he let BOB in. Maybe it was killing an animal. Maybe it was teasing someone mercilessly. (Sorry, if I’m going off in realms of fan fiction but a lot of Leland Palmer’s background is mere speculation.) Who knows what it was, but his first true evil act allowed BOB to enter in and continue tempting him. Continuing allowing him to revel in the evil that was already inside. Continuing to influence him to do the evil that he was always tempted to do. Saying it’s okay to embrace that total darkness to become his worst self. Because that’s what BOB is really good at, convincing someone that they are ONLY their worst selves. How many times in the Secret Diary did BOB convince Laura that she was only bad, only evil, only her worst actions? Too many times to count. So many times that Laura believed that she was only those things and she had to constantly prove mostly to herself that she wasn’t. BOB did that for Leland, to the point where he believed it. To the point where BOB admitted, “Leland’s a babe in the woods with a large hole where his conscience used to be.” That hole was probably caused by BOB constantly telling Leland that he is only his worst instincts instead of his best. He seemed like he was a good friend to Ben Horne and Will Hayward. (Perhaps that was the only thing that was keeping those adversaries for Eileen’s affections at peace, was their mutual friendship in Leland? Forgive the diversion.)
Was Leland conscious of his actions? That is unclear. After the dinner table scene, he never said he was sorry for assaulting Laura with the command to wash her hands. He made the conscious decision to start having an affair with Teresa because she looked like his Laura. Which brings up another point, he always said “my baby,” or “my little girl” or “my Laura.” It is almost as if he knew he had possession of her, she was an object to him. When Laura confronted Leland on the morning of her death, it seems that at first Leland had no idea what she’s on about, but as soon as she said, “Stay away from me” he knew. He knew his actions when he was peering out the window at Laura fleeing from the house with James and at Jacques cabin. Maybe every once and awhile, so Leland would keep on committing atrocious acts, BOB would allow him to conveniently forget, but who knows?
BOB is real but he is also the evil that men do. Because he did both. He is pure evil and influenced Leland to do the evil already immanent within him.