Monday, 15 May 2017

POP! Television: Twin Peaks – Leland Palmer

Spoiler Alert: This review contains spoilers for Twin Peaks and Fire Walk With Me.

Leland Palmer: [as BOB] Leland's a babe in the woods, with a large hole where his conscious used to be. When I go children, I will pull that ripcord and you watch Leland remember. Watch him!

Twin Peaks is a quirky show, with plenty of humour and fun oddities. But the light is contrasted with the dark; the show is centred around a murder mystery after all. And one of the key figures in that mystery is the subject of today’s review, Leland Palmer.

When we first meet Mr Palmer, he’s simply a bereaved father trying to keep it together after the death of his daughter. But as the series continues, the deeply unpleasant truth is revealed; Leland is the vessel for the mysterious BOB, and Laura was not only murdered by him, but the victim of his incestuous attentions for years prior. 

Leland’s complicity in his crimes is the subject of some debate. It’s suggested that Leland has been possessed by BOB since he was a young child, as a result of being molested himself. By contrast, Fire Walk With Me paints a somewhat different picture. BOB may be controlling Leland when it comes to the abuse and murder of Laura (and Teresa Banks) – but there’s no real indication of BOB’s influence when he earlier visits prostitutes. 

Of course, David Lynch is not really known for providing definitive answers, so I just go with the most commonly held opinion; namely, that Leland is largely ignorant of his own acts until the he kills Jacques Renault, one of the suspects in Laura’s murder. Although an all-round terrible person, Renault is actually innocent of the crime, so Leland murdering Renault of his own volition appears to provide BOB with a gateway to fully take over.

As is traditional with breakdowns or mental illness in pop culture, this is demonstrated in incredibly *cough* subtle *cough* form. Leland’s hair turns completely white overnight and he runs through the Great Northern Hotel singing showtunes from the 1940s. But I suppose some of it can be excused by him being literally demon-possessed by this point in the series.   

Naturally, the POP opts for this look, with white hair and white eyes. It is the more visually interesting option, but I do think it’s a shame that we don’t also have a “regular” version of Leland. I think I may pick an extra one up and just repaint the hair, eyes and hands, as that’s pretty much all that’s required. Also, the body would make for a perfect Carl Jung custom, if coupled with a Bernie Sanders head.   

It’s now been 26 years since Leland was revealed as Laura’s murderer…and although I love Twin Peaks, the show kind of fumbles a bit awkwardly after the big reveal. Nonetheless, Ray Wise’s performance as the tormented Leland is nothing short of excellent. What could have been camp, silly or contrived is instead a compelling, sympathetic and well-rounded character. Already an established actor by the time of Twin Peaks, he’s since gone on to have a fantastic career as a character actor – and now it’s only a week until he returns to our screens again. Roll on series 3!

No comments:

Post a Comment