The tumbling falls segue us to the interior of the Great Northern Hotel in Twin Peaks.
The camera drifts through Beverly’s (Ashley Judd) office where a serene ambient hum lingers in the air, seeming to emanate from a corner where a lampshade sits. Beverly and Ben (Richard Beymer) are both listening for the sound; evidently Beverly has brought it to his attention. He asks her when she first started hearing it.
“Some time last week,” she replies, “but I think it’s louder now.”
This would indicate that the arrival of the ambient hum coincides – roughly – with the events that geared up this third season of Twin Peaks. Their connection, and Beverly’s insistence that is has gotten louder, instills a sense of an event to come; that the rising hum will meet a crescendo with other events in the near future; something that will ultimately come to pass in Part 17. We will ultimately discover that the source of the hum is in the Great Northern’s boiler room, where a door leads directly into the labyrinthine realms of the Convenience Store and it’s connected dimensions. This scene is a significant if cryptic clue to how the season will ultimately resolve.
Ben asks Beverly to concentrate and try and determine the location of the sound. Doing this, Beverly believes, as has been intimated, that it is coming from the corner with the lamp. The two of them move closer to the lamp and listen again. Ben smiles and points across the room to where they were standing previously. “Now it sounds like it’s coming from over there.”
Beverly agrees with him and they move toward the opposite corner where there is a totem pole (part of that bold Native American design work that still typifies the Great Northern). Arriving on the other side of the room, the pair are dissatisfied. They can’t locate the source of the sound.
Beverly spots Cooper’s room key, which has made its way back to Twin Peaks thanks to Jade. She hands it to Ben for his inspection. The sight of the key takes him back. He remembers correctly that it was the key to the room Cooper stayed in, in the process recalling his memories of Laura Palmer.
Beverly asks him who Laura Palmer was and Ben muses, with a smile, that the answer to that is a long story. This marks another example of the show’s fine work with nostalgia; acknowledging the past that people love and feel connected to, but not necessarily becoming entrenched in it, or subservient to it. The well of memory is no longer dry. Action is being instigated through memory, as though the world of the show is slowly waking up again. The events of those past seasons are reforming in the minds of it’s characters. It is as though they are inflating with memory, becoming whole again.
Ben asks Beverly to have maintenance try and locate the source of the hum. He keeps hold of the room key. They both decide to call it a night. There is a frisson of chemistry between them.
A side note about the hum and the way in which Lynch’s camera lingers on the wooden beams that encircle the characters in this scene.
This wouldn’t be the first time that wood at the Great Northern Hotel is pointedly linked with an (at this time) unexplained element of the story. In the second half of season two, Josie Packard dies at the Great Northern. Right afterward, Cooper has a vision of BOB and The Man From Another Place in the room where her body is still lying, and at the end of the episode – conjuring much confusion and debate among fans – Josie’s face appears in the wooden drawer-pull on the bedside table, as though she has become trapped within it.
A haunted desk drawer knob. The idea of something living within furniture or, put further, within the very bones of the hotel. It is certainly enough to give another side to this scene, as inanimate objects clearly have the potential to contain souls in this universe. And how often do we anthropomorphise animals or even everyday objects in our own lives; talking to walls or utensils? This scene communicates our own superstitions and tendencies, and the feeling that places have personalities, history and even consciousness.
As the Great Northern starts to resonate to the frequencies of the supernatural entities surrounding the show, it seems to hum with potential. What else could manifest? There are echoes of The Shining about the hum and its presence in The Return, as though the Great Northern has always had some kind of psychic connection to The Overlook. Lynch was a fan of Kubrick’s and vice versa. It feels now as though their work is communicating in some unfathomable way.
Next time: Beverly at home