Oct 1, 2014
Twin Peaks: The Owls Are Not What They Seem
No one knew that the answer would become so darn convoluted.
The premise: popular high schooler Laura Palmer of Twin Peaks, Washington, is found murdered.
FBI Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan, best known for Lynch's homophobic Blue Velvet) is called in to investigate, and works with local sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean, best known then as the gay guy from Making Love).
Cooper has a dream of a backward-talking dwarf who is From Another Place, who makes cryptic utterances like "when you see me again, I won't be me" and "everybody is full of secrets."
After seven episodes, the first season ended, with lots of clues but no answers.
During the summer of 1990, The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer was published, and became a must-read. It offered no new clues.
You could also get Twin Peaks: An Access Guide to the Town, with tourist information about the town, including the cafe where Cooper got his "damn fine coffee!" and cherry pie.
A giant who may be an alien warns Cooper that "The owls are not what they seem."
Whatever that means.
Laura appears in a vision and says "Sometimes my arms bend back."
Whatever that means.
Cooper learns of Black Lodge, which can manipulate world events.
There was no way to unite all of the plot threads into a coherent whole, so in December they threw in a lame explanation -- Laura was murdered by her father, who was being possessed by a being named BOB, who was working for the Black Lodge, who...or something like that. And everyone scratched their head and said WTF? All this to murder a teenager?
No beefcake to speak of.
So why did Twin Peaks gain so many gay fans?
Maybe it's the sinister small towns. In West Hollywood many of us came from small towns, and remembered them as prisons where everyone had lots of secrets.
Maybe it was wishful thinking. We were waiting for one of the "secrets" to be about being gay.
Or maybe it was our own hidden knowledge. Before the 1980s, and often after, kids grew up unaware that gay people exist. There was a conspiracy of silence that could be overcome only through seeking out subtexts, euphemisms, things left out, clues hidden from view. We knew more than anyone that "the owls are not what they seem."
See also: Lost: Charlie's Three Boyfriends.