The other night when Ty, Brad and I were getting together to record the latest View From The Cheap Seats, the conversation turned towards Twin Peaks, particularly the scene in the red room with the dancing midget. I don’t remember the topic came up but I do remember that Brad and I were doing the dance of the midget at one point. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done that particular dance and, hopefully, it won’t be the last.
At one point during the conversation, I think I called that scene the greatest five minutes of television ever. It was such a key element to the story, showing a bit of the non-standard methods that Agent Dale Cooper used in his work but it also is the moment that really set the tone and identity of the show. “She’s dead, wrapped in plastic” is such a great line from the pilot but it was the red room scene that set the show apart from everything before it and almost everything after it.
Agent Cooper’s aged appearance here reminds me of the aged Dave Bowman in the white hotel room scene in 2001. They’re both transcendent moments where the character steps into something so much bigger than himself, something wonderful, magical, confounding and ultimately a big mystery.
Both scenes lead to some kind of revelation that’s only really knowable by the person experiencing it.
I can’t remember anything on TV before the Twin Peaks’ scene that captured my imagination as much as that scene did. What was up with the weird speech? Why a red room? Why was Cooper old? Why does the midget’s cousin look like Laura Palmer? Where are they from? Why does her arms bend back? It all had to mean something! Didn’t it?
It’s now been so long since I’ve really watched the show that I can’t remember what that scene really led to. I remember watching it week after week hoping for a glimmer of the mystery and imagination of the red room. I remember wanting the midget to show back up and explain everything neatly and tidily. I don’t think it ever happened and the show, while remaining strong, never lived up to the promise of the dream of the red room.
And now for your viewing enjoyment, the red room dream from Twin Peaks…