Welcome to Diane… #18.

As the curtains close on the Laura Palmer case, Rosie, Adam and Mark  grapple with the question of guilt as presented in episode 16 of Mark Frost and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, also known as Arbitrary Law.

Ben is confronted by his slimy ratbastard past, Donna and James wonder if their relationship is cursed… and the beast bit twice before Cooper could catch him. Leland says BOB killed Laura, but Leland’s just crazy, right?


It is in the name of the father that we must recognise the support of the symbolic function which, from the dawn of history, has identified his person with the figure of the law.

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Next episode: Bro’s on the go

18 Responses to “Diane… #18: Twin Peaks Episode 16 – Arbitrary Law”

  1. Anton B Says:

    Another great episode Dianes. Not much to add. Loved the essays on disguises and identity.
    The Tarot magician not only has his right arm raised but also points his left arm downward to ground the energy. He is a conduit. I noticed a lot of shots were filmed looking down from a very high crane or looking upwards from a low angle. This seemed to accentuate the theme of the dichotomy of the spiritual and the mundane. I’m not sure any scenes were actually shot with a pink filter (which would be a lighting camera effect) more that all the colour is hyper saturated toward the red. (Which is a post -production edit effect) I’m guessing TP was mostly shot on film but video edited. Anyone know?

    I’m intrigued to see how you guys apply your critique to the remaining episodes. I’ve always felt that TP in its proper undiluted Lynchian form ends decisively with Leland’s death and is then only evident fitfully until the final episode.

    I do like Major Briggs dissapearance and return, Whyndam Earle (sometimes) and the continuing Nadine/Big Ed sitcom. But can do without Dick Tremayne and little Nicky,the Miss Twin Peaks contest or James’ road trip soap opera. Oh well, maybe we’ll discover some threads and resonances we never spotted before. …Onwards.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Oh and also, spot on with the predatory older male trope from Golden Age Hollywood in the Donna Leland/Bob scene. I was reminded of the awkward chemistry between Fred Astaire (referenced by Leland/Bob last episode!) and Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face. The disturbing inference is that it is Bob himself who is the old Hollywood musical aficionado. In fact all the anachronistic styling in Twin Peaks, the almost psychochronography of the fifties dresses, cheerleaders, leather jackets, motor bikes, old phonographs playing vinyl records, could be the influence of the Owl’s timeless spiritual energy permeating the town. They’ve certainly been around a long time.

    The possibility that Leland has harboured Bob inside that hole in his conscience since childhood is chilling. Suggesting that he himself was initially a victim of Bob. Lured into his clutches, as was suggested, by that chewing gum.

    Lastly, have we seen the alternate Mrs Tremond somewhere before? This is driving me mad, I can’t decide if I’m just remembering her from previous viewings of the series or whether she has been a background figure in an earlier episode. Perhaps a guest at the Great Northern or a customer at the double R? In any case you’re right she is definitely related to Doctor Jacobi.

  3. Anton B Says:

    ^ that was me by the way. Not sure why I came up as anonymous.

  4. Adam Says:

    It’s tricky to talk about S2 here because we need to save our thoughts for the pod. What I will say is that despite not being well loved it hugely influences how we talk and think about the show. The whole concept of the TP mythos is largely a product of late S2 (starting withe Arbitrary Law), and much of what we love about the characters hails from those episodes.

    Love that observation about the high and low angle camera work. I was trying to come up with something substantive to say about it but failed.

  5. John Says:

    Fantastic work as always, Team Diane.

    I LOVE this part of your podcast: Bob is an urge, Leland is the planner, and therefore there’s complicitous behavior in Leland.
    This is fantastic and I completely go with it, but there’s something about the way you discuss things that triggered a new train of thought I haven’t heard much about: People with a parasite are complicit with their parasite’s urges in real life…but only because their biology has been essentially hacked into while the parasite demands its host satisfy its survival. It come to mind the people I’ve heard about about that start eating things like paperclips and it feels absolutely normal right up until a parasite is removed from their body. I’ve heard something like this on science podcasts years ago but it’s been so long ago I couldn’t even begin to site the source. I’m going to have to look into this again…science sidling up to mythology again and it still finds a way to be totally sensible in Twin Peaks without discrediting the other argument.

    Thoughts on disguises were comprehensive and really explained how across the board the theme is.
    “The screen of the television isn’t safe anymore”…about leakage of the supernatural into the insulated part of the town the Donna occupies, that’s a good way of explaining one of the main the undercurrents of the show (And really put a finger on why I’ve been drawn to the Donna/supernatural pairing, thanks). Well put stuff.

    Oh, you didn’t mention how James is gung ho for marriage and then leaves town both in the same episode. Talk about weak identities everywhere. Way to pick ‘em, Donna.

    I agree with Adam that pretty much every reason this show is talked about, all the puzzle boxes we’ve been trying to open, starts with the back half of Season Two. Anton, I hope you come around to Dick Tremayne before it’s all over. Once Nicky goes away especially, he is revealed to be a DELIGHT.

    Can’t wait to hear how Team Diane delves through next episode’s tone shifts and character resets, I bet it’ll be as fascinating as ever. I hope one of you says the words “green butt skunk” with your lovely british words.

  6. John Riordan Says:

    Top epiosde (TP and podcast). I love the revelation at the Roadhouse – the gum, the old timer/giant and Dale’s straight-up MAGIC, but it does make the more stubbornly rational part of me laugh. For all that he’s presented as a Sherlock Holmes super-detective Dale FINALLY cracks the case when the victim comes to him in a vision and literally tells him the answer!

  7. Rosie Says:

    “It come to mind the people I’ve heard about about that start eating things like paperclips and it feels absolutely normal right up until a parasite is removed from their body.”

    Well this is maybe the creepiest thing I’ve ever heard thanks John! The fact that it’s paper clips rather than something obviously creepy makes it worse. Shuddering. Also shuddering at James, of course, forever.

    You may be in luck re the Green Butt Skunk…

    Anton, another one here who absolutely CANNOT do without Dick Tremayne but certainly Little Nicky is a struggle. Strangely enough I’m perversely looking forward to getting to the little scrote this time round but that’s probably because I know I’ll have a platform to complain.

    I feel like we didn’t do the best job of highlighting the abuse connection with Leland at Pearl Lakes. Adam did cover it briefly but again it was on the chopping room floor. This comments section is quickly becoming the Rosie Struggles to Justify her Terribly Editing Decisions Forum. Glad you liked the Hollywood thing it seriously always creeps me out and combined with the way women are very often being patted on the head and sung to there’s this horrible paternal vibe as well that I think Twin Peaks mines with disturbing efficacy.

    I feel the same way about ‘real’ Mrs Tremond. Does she turn up somewhere else? Really can’t place it but it feels like she does?

    And yes, John R, it is amazing how great a detective you can be when you have the victim whispering the answer in your ear. Glad you’re enjoying!

  8. Anton B Says:

    It certainly isn’t the performances that annoy me in the Dick T/Little Nicky scenes. I think both actors play and understand their roles well. It’s more that their story is never paid off; adding fuel to the “they were just making up wierd shit as they went along” criticisms of the writing of season two.

    As to Cooper’s detective skills. All fictional detectives receive help, usually from the author. It’s easy for Holmes, for instance, to tell where a character has been from the mud on his boots if Doyle decides that that’s the information the Great Detective can read. It’s no less believable that Cooper gets clues from his dreams, particularly given the supernatural nature of the show.

  9. James Wheeler Says:

    Can’t let this pivotal episode of Diane and Twin Peaks pass without comment – stellar job as always, team.

    As I still haven’t seen FWWM (I’ll be sure to get to it before Diane does) I don’t feel fully equipped to tackle culpability, but appreciated your grappling with it here.

  10. John Says:

    I want the Diane outtakes/deleted topics. In expanded episodes or in one sexy bundle, doesn’t matter which. When all the regular episodes are said and done, I want it.

    I’m completely serious.

  11. Anton B Says:

    Me too

  12. Adam Says:

    They miiiight be coming. Slowly.

    James, the way I read it Coop does do the work, it’s just that it’s magical work as opposed to detective work. Arguably getting shot is the hard graft here

  13. John Says:

    Wait a minute, Adam, what was that? A little guy behind you kept shouting “I’ve got good news”

  14. John Riordan Says:

    Yeah, don’t mean to be hard on Coop or the show, in context the MAGIC revelations work brilliantly. It just makes me laugh is all, in the same way as when you think about Skyfall later on and realise hang on, everybody died, Bond’s the worst secret agent ever!

  15. D Cairns Says:


    Worth mentioning that Jane Greer (Vivian) is a film noir icon for one role, her femme fatale in Out of the Past. That movie has no particular Twin Peaks resonance, except in the way that all noir does, but it relates to Lynch.
    In the story, Robert Mitchum’s character is forced to disappear and start a new life, which he does, as a small town garage mechanic working alongside a deaf kid. Both Lynch’s garage movies (Blue Velvet and Lost Highway) feature disabled men working in garages, but more excitingly, in Lost Highway Bill Pullman quite literally starts a new life when he unexpectedly mutates into Balthazar Getty, who works in a small-town garage.

  16. D Cairns Says:

    Oh, also: bizarrely, starting a new life as a garage mechanic is a noir meme, associated also with Burt Lancaster in The Killers and Brian Donlevy in Tension and I think one or two others. Apparently auto repair is something private eyes, boxers, tycoons, and sax players can easily turn their hands to.

  17. John Says:

    D, when I heard about Out of The Past, I immediately thought of Big Ed in his garage but then working undercover operations with the Bookhouse Boys up in One Eyed Jacks. He got sidelined in season two as Nadine’s caretaker, but in season one, he totally fit this kind of mold. (and really, if they intended his having so many scenes with James, they have him working with a tone-deaf kid all of season one as well)

  18. Matt M Says:

    Playing catchup in my rewatch and my Diane listening, and a few thoughts:

    *The new Mrs. Tremond is VERY reminiscent of the landlady Coco in MULHOLLAND DRIVE, both in appearance and in the way she interacts with our protagonists.

    *Rosie’s take on Leland’s culpability (as far as we’re currently aware) is great. Bravo. Very curious to hear her expound on this after the finale and FWWM.

    *The big untouched subject, for me, is what we can read into the final expressions on Leland’s face as he dies. It seems to me that the joyous reunion with Laura gives way to a look of horror at the moment of death. I get the impression that he may have been waylaid on his way to the light…

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