When Mulholland Drive was first released it was marketed with a set of 10 ‘clues’ to help viewers navigate the film’s Möbius strip narrative (and forewarn of its canny complexity). One of these clues asked us to “notice appearances of the red lampshade“.
The lampshade in question sat in the home of Diane Selwin (Naomi Watts), on a table beside a telephone. And – spoiler alert for that movie – little does Diane know that her apartment will ultimately be the place of her death. She shoots herself in the head in a desperate effort to evade her own demons. The lamp appears during scenes involving the telephone, while the whole apartment holds the grim spectre of death and decay.
David Lynch’s interest in lamps is well-established. They feature prominently in many of his movies and many scenes of Twin Peaks. He even makes his own lamps (one of his many side-projects away from filmmaking). But the red lampshade has, since Mulholland Drive, come to feel associated with death or its foretelling.
The next scene in The Return sees the first appearance of soothsaying hermit Margaret Lanterman (Catherine Coulson) aka ‘the Log Lady’. As in the original run of the series, she still lives in her log cabin out in the woods.
Coulson was a long-time collaborator of Lynch’s; one of the closest members of his tight-knit ‘company’. She was there assisting him through the many years of shooting for Eraserhead in the 70’s. Her Log Lady became one of the true icons of the original run of Twin Peaks.
By the time the shooting of The Return came around, Coulson was dreadfully ill, and she died before the show made it to air. Still, even in her diminished state, she didn’t let Lynch down, and she appears again here as Margaret.
Lynch incorporates Coulson’s illness into the character, as though they were one and the same. It’s sad and a little startling at first. Coulson appears with very little hair, gaunt, breathing through tubes in her nose. Beside her, next to the telephone, is a prominent red lampshade; similar to the one seen in Mulholland Drive in the home of Diane Selwin.
Now, the circumstances surrounding the deaths of these two characters couldn’t be more different, yet still the lampshade acts as a signature foreshadowing something tragically inevitable. This will be addressed more directly in a truly touching tribute to both the character and actress later in The Return. For now, there are plot points to set in motion…
Margaret places a call to Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse) at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department. Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) patches her through
(and there’s a subtle callback to Lucy’s obsession with details during the transfer ).
“Hawk,” Margaret says, “My log has a message for you.” Each Part of The Return has a loose title, detailed in the liner notes of the blu-ray boxset; each one a line of dialogue contained in its corresponding instalment. ‘My Log Has A Message For You’ is the assigned title for Part 1.
“Something is missing and you have to find it,” Margaret continues. The Log Lady’s clues in the original run of the show – imparted to her psychically by the log that she carries, thought to be imbued with the spirit of her dead husband – were always joyfully obscure in a manner that is singularly Lynchian. But she has never been presented as a kook. Even from those initial episodes, Hawk, Sheriff Truman – even newcomer Dale Cooper – treated her with reverence and respect. Hawk, having been raised with folk tales and superstition, is particularly open to Margaret’s words.
“It has to do with Special Agent Dale Cooper,” Margaret continues, adding, “The way you will find it has something to do with your heritage.” The answer to this riddle won’t come for a few hours yet, but this call will set Hawk and the other fine officers at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department on a path both strange and mysterious. Hawk thanks her and wishes her good night and the call ends. He is left to ponder the message, and ruminate on his now-distant memories of Dale Cooper. The world of the show is beginning to wake up again…
Next time: Print match