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A small, not-so-neatly-wrapped package

by Sarah O'Brien

The scene opens with Cooper, the Sheriff, Hawk, and the Doctor climbing under a huge fallen sequoia as they make their way through the woods. They chat about what Log Lady has told them but stop when they hear music, their still figures dwarfed by the gigantic trees surrounding them. The music escalates and a crow is seen flying away. The viewer sees Cooper’s side profile as he looks down at a picture of a cabin with red curtains and back up, when the other three men join him and their profiles are too shown in the frame. The cabin is identical to the picture. The same crow is shown again, this time beginning with its eye and zooming out to view the bird against a clear blue sky. The men crouch as it caws. The inside of the cabin is shown, where the record player has just finished the song and the arm moves to automatically begin playing again. The three men burst in, guns in hand; Cooper notices the record player and stops it, musing “and there’s always music in the air.” Sheriff gravitates towards the bird cage, lifting up a red curtain to find Waldo. Hawk begins examining a camera with film. Cooper bends down, putting on gloves, to examine a spot of blood on the ground. The sheriff opens a cuckoo clock (that just happens to chirp) to release a handful of small objects. Cooper picks one up, him and the object both shown against a red curtain backdrop, to reveal a chipped one-eyed Jack’s piece.

Perhaps the most prominent stylistic element in this clip is the color and light. The first shot, with the men in the woods, is both well-lit and composed of earth tones, two factors that are not surprising in a mountain town like twin peaks. However, as soon as Cooper approaches the cabin, the shot becomes drastically darker; it suddenly looks like it might be nighttime. When it cuts to a shot of the cabin the bright daylight returns, but as the four men are shown again the night-like backdrop returns. The effect isn’t completely obvious, and perhaps even unintentional, but it instantly sets the viewer a bit on edge. Inside the cabin, however, is an entirely different story: it is black, gloomy, and saturated with shades of red. The sharp contrast between the brightly lit outside world and dim, sultry cabin not only stands out to the viewer, but ties into the hidden meanings within the cabin itself.

The cabin as the setting holds huge significance. Firstly, it adds to the mounting evidence that Cooper’s dream has real implications, with red curtains and a color scheme that mirrors his dream to a tee. Within the cabin there are many things that ground different story threads into this one place: a bird that corresponds with the bird-bites on Laura’s back, a camera with film reminiscent of the video of Laura and Donna dancing, blood on the ground that reminds the viewer of her injuries and the blood found on Leo’s jacket, and a poker chip like the one seen with Mr. Horne (and that belongs to the brothel Laura likely worked at). Then, there is the implications of a “cabin in the woods” apparently holding the answers to all of their problems—could something with such dangerous connotations really be such a source of salvation?

The editing and music are worth being analyzed as well. The interspersed shots of a crow are both unsettling and were used in the episode about ten minutes prior, before the men entered Log Lady’s cabin. The inclusion of the crow and its caws both add elements of horror and mystery and raise questions about the bird motif that seems to be forming throughout the season. Furthermore, Cooper’s observation that music is always playing is either extremely meta or breaks the fourth wall entirely. Music is almost always playing from the viewer’s perspective; however, a lot of this music actually stems from events in the show (other record players, the diner, etc.)—it is possible Cooper is referencing this fact. But occasionally, the line between whether the music stems from items within the show or the show itself becomes blurred, as when Audrey Horne dances in the diner. It is entirely possible that Cooper’s statement may be an observation the producers intend for the viewer to hear and reflect on, disguised as his own perception of Twin Peaks. The music may always be playing for Cooper, but it is always playing for us too.

This scene is ripe with stylistic elements, meaning hidden within them, and contribution to the plot itself. It ties in many of the season’s motifs into a small, not-so-neatly-wrapped package for us to open and eagerly analyze. It is for these reasons that this clip should be included in our archive.


Twin Peaks, season one, episode six, "Cooper's Dream"

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Cooper, Harry, and Hawk visit the cabin in the woods.

from Twin Peaks (1990)
Creator: David Lynch
Posted by Sarah O'Brien