“Electricity is humming. You hear it in the mountains and rivers. You see it dance among the seas and stars, and glowing around the moon. But in these days the glow is dying. What will be in the darkness that remains?” — Margaret Lanterman
In this article, I’d like to speak about electricity. What I’m going to say below might contain some inaccuracies in terms of science of electricity. I admit, it is not really my field of expertise. But Twin Peaks doesn’t deal with exact sciences either, so I’ll allow myself more freedom to explore it in a symbolic way.
The role of electricity in supernatural events of Twin Peaks has been especially prominent in Fire Walk with Me and later in The Return. Electricity is the mean by which everything in the world, as well as between the worlds, operates, moves, changes. It is how the travel between the worlds, spaces, and times is possible. It is everywhere, it has sound, glow, light, and it moves, or ‘dances’ as the Log Lady calls it. Margaret, in one of her conversations with Hawk, talks about dying of its glow and of the darkness that remains after its death.
Margaret herself dies in the part 15 of The Return. In the last conversation before her death, she talks about her log turning gold. We see that windows of her house are turning dark—electricity dies in her windows too, darkness remains after Log Lady’s death. And also remains her golden log.
Turning something into gold requires energy. It may be the energy of atomic bomb, or it may be the energy of human spirit. I understand Margaret’s words as her energy, or her spirit, purified through her life and death, goes to her log and turns it into gold. Gold has some connection with fire too. It is purified by fire. We’ve already seen the golden spiritual energy when child died in a hit-and-run accident. We’ve also seen it when Laura’s orb was created by the Fireman. And it’s a ‘good fire’ that operates here—in contrast to bad, black fire represented by diseased corn, scorched engine oil, or everything connected to and corrupted by Bob and Bad Cooper.
What is happening to Margaret on a personal level can be extended to the events happening in the universe. The energy, or electricity, of the universe that moves among stars and seas is dying. But what causes it? Maybe the energy is being sucked into a ‘black hole’ which in the context of Twin Peaks: The Return is Sarah/Mother with her grief, ‘devouring mother’? Is she devouring all the energy? Here I’d like to mention Pamela Tarajcak’s article where she discusses Maddy in the context of myth of Persephone and Demeter. But in my interpretation, Laura is Persephone and Sarah is Demeter. Sarah lost her daughter and will continue devouring the energy of the universe until she gets her daughter back. This is what Cooper is trying to accomplish by taking Carrie/Laura ‘home’.
Now, keeping electricity in mind, I want to go to the ending of The Return, where Carrie’s scream leads to electricity shutoff. If I stick to the idea introduced in my previous article, Carrie has both opposites in her (or carries the opposites?) But without her memories, these opposites are separated and the circuit is broken. After Cooper takes her to Twin Peaks and her own blocking mechanism (or can we say insulation) gradually fades away, resulting in the memory of Sarah and Twin Peaks leaking through in Carrie’s mind, the circuit completes—Carrie connects to the negative inside herself and, let’s use the technical term, the ‘short circuit’ occurs. If, as I mentioned in my previous article, Sarah is the ground, she could function as ‘earth’ in this electric circuit and consume all the charge. But there is no Sarah in Palmer house, and the grounding cannot happen. Instead, there are others who come into play—the Tremonds.
Who are the Tremonds and why are they in Palmer house? What is their role in the whole story? I’ve always had some uncertainties regarding them. It’s not quite clear if they are benevolent or malevolent beings, are their actions helpful or disruptive? My answer is that they are neither, but they act in a quite different manner.
In The Return, they occupy the place where we, together with Cooper, expect to find Sarah. But we are mistaken. We have already seen something similar in Season 2 when Mrs. Tremond appeared to occupy the house of the old lady with a grandson, who Donna knew as Mrs. Tremond (but was she Mrs. Tremond really or was she Mrs. Chalfont instead?)
These two events have something in common. In both cases, something is wrong, the right moment or point is missed. And to my understanding, the presence of Tremonds indicates exactly that—something is not right, or it’s not the right time, or we have missed the point. When Mrs. Tremond appeared for the first time in the series, Donna missed the opportunity to see things right. In the ending scene, Cooper made the same mistake. Because of this, he is unable to fulfill what he intended. He is outsmarted once again by the universe which has its own logic.
Tremonds in The Return bought the house from the old lady named Mrs. Chalfont. The name Chalfont also appears in particular moments. In Fire Walk with Me, it was Mrs. Chalfont who lived in the trailer park with her grandson. While working on Theresa’s case, Chet Desmond ended up lost forever when he found the ring under their trailer. Laura was given the opportunity by the same old lady and her grandson to enter their world, to see from both sides. All this makes me think that the Chalfonts keep the gate between two worlds. The gate that can be opened to whom they choose and when they choose. And if you miss the right moment, you are left with the Tremonds who block the way and cover up traces. They maintain the façade of ordinary world. They maintain the balance by not allowing unprepared people or those who lack understanding to interfere. They don’t allow extremes to happen.
And this is what seems to happen in the end of The Return. As a result of Carrie’s ‘short circuit’, electricity cuts off. Here, Tremonds might be functioning as ‘circuit breakers’, who protect the integrity of the universe they belong to. If they don’t shut everything off, Carrie’s complete circuit might destroy the whole universe, with all its dimensions. (Because Carrie is the crossing point of all the dimensions, she is the one who connects all of them together.)
For make things a bit clearer, I’ll mention the scene that takes place earlier in The Return and which foreshadows the ending. It is similar because short circuit occurs there too, but in a literal sense. I’m talking about the scene where Dougie, being reminded of Gordon Cole, sticks the fork into the power outlet and electricity cuts off. Even Janey-E’s scream is somewhat similar to that of Carrie from the ending. But Dougie’s action operates on much lower level and can affect only electricity in his house (or in the neighborhood at most), but not the whole universe. He is conscious of what he’s doing, does it deliberately, aiming at regaining his full consciousness. And he eventually succeeds. When Dougie ‘electrocutes’ himself and darkness falls, he completes his illusory circle—he is fully conscious FBI agent Dale Cooper again. To paraphrase Margaret’s words, his full consciousness is what remains in his darkness.
But what happens after Carrie’s scream? Her ‘short circuit’ operates on a much larger, universal level. What will be the result of Carrie’s circuit break? Or “what will be in the darkness that remains?” We see that actually darkness falls, which to my understanding means the cancellation of that particular dimension where we find Carrie and Cooper in the end. As a result, Carrie/Laura returns on her own circle in the Red Room.
What I mean by returning to circles—this will be the topic of my next article.