2:6.2 – The evolution of The Arm

Continuing Agent Cooper’s (Kyle MacLachlan) adventures in the Black Lodge from where we left off, the furniture in the Waiting Room disappears as we take on Cooper’s POV. The red drapes billow again and are blown outward to reveal a pitch darkness behind them. This is a fascinating reveal. The existence of these drapes raised the question of what they shrouded. The answer appears to be a dark infinite space. The chevron floor stretches out. A white horse appears in the distance.

The white horse has appeared a couple of times before – at crucial and connected moments. In both instances it has appeared when Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) drugged his wife Sarah (Grace Zabriskie) while under the control of BOB. Sarah would see the white horse in her drugged state.

In theology, the white horse equates to death’s so-called ‘pale horse’. It is a harbinger of death and so its appearance here is sinister. Sarah’s visions of the horse occur in the events leading up to Laura’s death, and again on the night of Madeleine Ferguson’s (both played by Sheryl Lee).

Suddenly it appears as though Cooper’s chair is sliding forward across the floor. We are being taken toward the horse; toward death. But the white horse drifts by and it is as though we are hurtling into the abyss, as though Cooper is transitioning to another place. Things are becoming unstable following the violent departure of Laura Palmer.

But then, just as quickly, things snap back. Cooper is as before, sat peacefully in the Waiting Room. The furniture is all in place, and Phillip Gerard (Al Strobel) is there. The sense of non-linear time reasserts itself as Gerard repeats his earlier question, “Is it future or is it past?

Has this been Cooper’s experience since becoming trapped? An endless cycle of promises, threats and time loops? There’s a question raised here over how it would affect his sanity. As mental health will become one of the overarching topics of The Return, its not inconceivable that these events are in part here to get us asking ourselves these questions. Mark Frost and David Lynch sowing the seeds of the topics they plan to discuss.

Cooper looks across the room and now Gerard is in the far corner. He beckons Cooper to follow him and Cooper does. They exit through the drapes into the corridor and visit the next chamber.

Here, Cooper and Gerard find a withered tree. It crackles with electricity. Though there are several bare branches, at the top of the tree is an amorphous, organic shape that pulsates. It is either a head or a brain.

“The evolution of The Arm,” Gerard explains, pointing to the tree.

Previously in Twin Peaks, ‘The Arm’ (also known as The Man From Another Place) has been played by actor Michael J. Anderson. Anderson declined to appear in The Return, and appears to have a grudge against David Lynch for how he was treated on set during some of his previous experiences, though these claims haven’t, to my knowledge, developed into anything more substantial or detrimental to Lynch. At any rate, Anderson wanted no part in the show.

As the character had been an integral part of the mythos, it appears that Lynch and Frost decided to implement a particularly bold ‘work-around’. This tree-like being is their highly unusual (but not unique) answer to the problem. With the rules governing the Black Lodge so porous, why not have a formerly humanoid character ‘evolve’ into a tree with a fleshy brain on top? Gerard’s one line is explanation enough in this place of perpetual entropy. It’s an idiosyncratic solution, one that rears itself again in another form when the problem of working around David Bowie’s then-illness is addressed from a famously obtuse angle.

The Arm is one of the peskier inhabitants of the Black Lodge. From Gerard’s story, they were once one and the same, but Gerard severed his/The Arm in order to separate himself from the evil of BOB. Gerard became a more benevolent figure as a consequence. Therefore, The Arm is imbued with a more nefarious sensibility. In the guise of the Man From Another Place he had a habit of dolling out cryptic clues to help Cooper, but he also seemed to be the primary beneficiary of BOB’s killings. The Man From Another Place ingested the pain and sorrow (garmonbozia) of BOB’s victims in the form of creamed corn, suggesting that this was in part the purpose of BOB’s actions on Earth.

In that context, The Man From Another Place/The Arm is perhaps the ‘bigger Bad’ (though still subordinate to Judy). This taciturn nature gives us an indication on how these otherworldly beings are interacting with Earthlings; perhaps not acting out of spite or menace, but rather as a child does when pulling the wings off of flies. An indifference to consequence that is chilling in an entirely different way.

Through a mouth-like orifice, the tree confirms this, saying, “I am The Arm. And I sound like this.” At this point it makes a low chattering sound. In Fire Walk With Me when The Man From Another Place said this, he raised his hand to his lips and made a low yodeling sound, sort of like a crude impression of a Native American. This can be read as a very close approximation or, fittingly, evolution of the same gesture.

Cooper seems to accept this at face-value. I mean, in the Black Lodge, why not, right? The Arm asks, “Do you remember your doppelganger?” and we receive flashbacks to Mr. C laughing with BOB (Frank Silva); footage taken from the season two finale. Cooper does remember. He also remembers his doppelganger chasing and grabbing him. The two of them jostling.

“He must come back in,” advises The Arm, “Before you can go out.” This makes sense in terms of balancing entities and their place in the world(s). So Cooper’s time may have arrived, but his window of opportunity has its own conditions. This also secures for us the event Mr. C seemed preoccupied with in the earlier diner sequence already covered.

Next time:  Jack

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