An apologia for Sarah

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PandemoniumSeesaw
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An apologia for Sarah

Postby PandemoniumSeesaw » Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:54 pm

A lot of people here have been theorising about the evil nature of Sarah Palmer. Many identified her as Judy/The Mother/The Experiment or being possessed by some very malevolent entity.
What I believe instead is that Sarah indeed has something inside that is very dark and dangerous but I don't think se is malevolent per se. I think the darkness we see inside her is just the result of 25 years of solitude and desperation. Of course, evil lodge creatures might find such a desperate person as a good host but overall I do not think Sarah Palmer is ever malevolent. Here some thoughts about the scenes she appears in:
• At the supermarket. In this scene the only thing we can say is that Sarah is scared and confused to the point where she loses control, and of course "bad things happened to her"
• In the bar where she slashes the guy's throat. Of course something scary is going on here but I would rather interpret it as a "do you really want to mess with what I have become?", than say she is the representation of The Mother of all Evil
• Sarah trying to destroy Laura's picture. That, I interpret as Sarah's will to forget and to get rid of her painful memories. Of course the fact that Laura subsequently disappears from Cooper's grip suggests there is something more to this scene, but I do not see it as a direct consequence. Maybe the whole point is that you can't revert all the pain and sorrow the past events have caused. After all "the past dictates the future".
• Also, someone pointed out that in the few black lodge scenes where we see The Jumping Man in S3, we se Sarah's face superimposed to it. This I do not know how to interpret but, unless I am missing something, I don't think there are reasons to characterise The Jumping Man as an evil spirit, let alone The Mother of All Evil.
All in all, I don't see Sarah as evil, just a person scarily dealing with a lot of pain and solitude. I really find her character moving and beautiful.
Cde.
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Re: An apologia for Sarah

Postby Cde. » Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:29 am

I think you're on the money about what they were doing thematically. I think it's frustrating when people interpret it like 'Sarah was the real evil all along', or that Leland was holding her back from perpetrating true evil.
claaa7
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Re: An apologia for Sarah

Postby claaa7 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 2:27 am

If we go back to the events of he first series i am sure we are not to read Sarah as an evil or possessed person at all. Like you say her extreme pain and suffering has brought this extreme negativity to fill her with darkness. But this doesnt seem to be limited to Sarah alone but to the Palmer house as a place. Theres a few indications that the Palmer house is like the dark doppelganger of The Giants lair. For one it is shown to us as being the place Mister C wanted to go to via the coordinates.. Lynch also placed the Palmer house in opposite relation to The Giants lair in his design for the score soundtrack CD.

I think theres enough clues in the text for an assumption of the relation to Sarah, her possession, Judy and the house. At the same time Lynch often deals in abstractions and metaphors to paint a persons emotional state. E.g. BOB, the mystery man and Henrys baby all represent emotional or mental states while also functioning as real entities within the narrative.. And thats a beautiful thing!
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mine
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Re: An apologia for Sarah

Postby mine » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:12 am

But Sarah was never shown to be completely innocent to begin with - not unlike anybody in the town. Twin Peaks (both the series and FWWM) used to consistently revolve around the juxtaposition between the deep issues, dysfunctions, horrors and the charming, innocent, polished exterior that pretends to be oblivious but it's often shown to be very well aware of the fact that, at the very least, something is very wrong. You can see this relative to Laura (Bobby's funeral rant, every Palmer family scene, how dr. Hayward ignores and trivializes Laura's despair when she comes to Donna's house in tears). You can see it in nearly every family and character. Shelly is a perfect example because of the abuse she endured was shown very explicitly.
The keeping up appearances at all costs, most obviously Laura's life, seems deeply rooted in the town's mentality and Sarah is never shown to be innocent of that when it comes to her family. Interestingly BOB can be seen as a convenient scapegoat so that the town can keep up it's picture perfect exterior without ever taking any responsibility about what is happening in front of them.
How Sarah is portrayed in The Return can be interpreted as a way of refusing to allow her to claim victimhood for what happened to her daughter. Possessed characters in TP tend to be portrayed as not exempt from possessing negative traits to begin with. When someone who is supposed to be positive gets an evil counterpart it's usually in the form of doppelgänger and tulpas - meaning a double has to be created because the original is incorruptible by evil.
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Novalis
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Re: An apologia for Sarah

Postby Novalis » Fri Sep 15, 2017 4:59 am

Sorry to drop the fourth wall for a second here, but I think ever since Zabriskie played Juana Durango in WaH (and starred in Child's Play 2 the same year) Lynch saw the potential in her for creepy characterisation. It's true, some of that potential was clearly present back in the original season too -- recall Sarah crawling down the stairs like someone possessed in the Maddy murder episode. Recall her disembodied voice on the dropped telephone to Leland, in the pilot. Recall her possession in the diner in season 2.

She's had many roles over the years, but Zabriskie' appearance in The Grudge and Inland Empire have cemented her presence as unnerving, particularly the dutch angles on her closeup shots in the latter which worked particularly well in estranging her (very interesting) face. She's become a Brad Dourif style go-to for unnerving-ness, audience distrust and disquiet. I get the feeling that for Lynch there is no going back on all this: Grace Zabriskie is now officially one of his hobgoblins.

Maybe that's a little blunt. We do see, after all, the human side of Sarah in S3 as well, as she casually strolls into a testosterone-soaked bar (let's remember only male elks have antlers, which are everywhere) and tries to have a quiet Bloody Mary by herself. We also see her shopping for alcohol, answering the door, and lounging around at home. But she is always, inevitably, distressed by something and her environs are also deeply estranged by the sound design. She can't seem to get a break.

The way I would put it is that something is 'with' her -- dwelling alongside her. The fact she removes her face and shows a deep internal abyss doesn't really imply to me that she is evil as such. It may be that she is suffering terribly in her inner emotional world, and this is what she shows to the trucker in the bar -- the black smile looks like Laura to me. But she's definitely got a hobgoblin on her back, so to speak, and it seems that sometimes it overpowers her own personality.
As a matter of fact, 'Chalfont' was the name of the people that rented this space before. Two Chalfonts. Weird, huh?
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Mr. Reindeer
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Re: An apologia for Sarah

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:26 am

By way of agreeing with Novalis, and as I've noted elsewhere: it seems like in the instance of certain returning characters, DKL was more interested in the particular shtick he wanted to see the actor do than in crafting a "natural" evolution of the character (in traditional dramatic terms). Sarah's characterization definitely feels more an outgrowth of Grace's subsequent work (particularly with DKL) than of Sarah's character on the original show. However, as I've also noted elsewhere, this approach to characters like Jerry and Jacoby is actually refreshing because realistically, the events of February/March 1989 are a distant memory to these characters. Try to imagine reconciling who you are today with who you were in 1989.

In the case of Sarah, though, the events of FWWM and the original series have of course defined her life. And while the characterization in S3 is undeniably linked to Zabriskie's work in W@H and IE, it also feels like an oddly natural place for Sarah's character to go. I do believe that Sarah is a host for Judy, but also believe that the OP is right in saying that we are meant to view her as tragic and sympathetic. TP is at its strongest when the mythology functions on both literal and metaphorical levels simultaneously. Just as Bob in TSDoLP represented Laura's self loathing, Judy in Sarah's scenes is Sarah's embitterment and anger at the world; at herself, even at Laura for the pain she is feeling and can't get away from, no matter how many Bloody Marys she consumes. Notice how she begs the trucker in the bar to leave her alone, not wanting to lash out and trying to repress her anger. The upshot is: I don't think Sarah being a sympathetic/tragic figure and Sarah hosting an ancient evil are mutually exclusive. In fact, the cohabitation of these two ideas just makes S3 overall a richer work.

In a similar vein, I find Sarah's "I can still make the happy face" in BTW to be simultaneously one of the most heartbreaking and creepiest moments in all of TP.
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PandemoniumSeesaw
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Re: An apologia for Sarah

Postby PandemoniumSeesaw » Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:36 am

Novalis wrote:The fact she removes her face and shows a deep internal abyss doesn't really imply to me that she is evil as such. It may be that she is suffering terribly in her inner emotional world, and this is what she shows to the trucker in the bar -- the black smile looks like Laura to me. But she's definitely got a hobgoblin on her back, so to speak, and it seems that sometimes it overpowers her own personality.

This!
Mr. Reindeer wrote:I find Sarah's "I can still make the happy face" in BTW to be simultaneously one of the most heartbreaking and creepiest moments in all of TP.

Though I do not agree with the Judy possession, I indeed agree on this!
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Re: An apologia for Sarah

Postby DoppelBocker » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:02 am

Natural Evolution of Character?: I agree with the OP on most accounts but the scene in the bar with her removing her face as well as what subsequently able to do afterwards is too much for me to re-interpret as simply symbolic. Is this a natural evolution of her character though? I'm inclined to say no. I agree in parts of what others here have said in that Lynch perhaps saw some of Grace's acting resume and decided to utilize some of that to shocking effect.

State of Mind: Sarah's been suffering over the years. Along with the obvious pain she's suffering there's perhaps a bit of guilt mixed in over not recognizing what was going on within her family and being able to do something about it (although this is open to interpretation as a supernatural component involved in Leland's actions and she drugged most of the time whenever something did happen). One can tell, she doesn't feel something is right in FWWM by the way she sort of seems uneasy at the dinner table at certain points trying to quell it until 1 moment where she screams at Leland telling him to leave Laura alone perhaps letting some of the worry/unease show for a moment. Sarah is intuitive and somehow has a 6th sense about things; in other words she has some perceptive qualities in terms of she may sense something going on even if her mind can't totally realize it or find reason to go along with. This I think has led to some guilt intermixed with the agony over what's happened to her family. The alcoholism and lack of things to preoccupy her led to her to become vacant and lifeless eventually is seems.

Special Abilities: Besides her own perceptive qualities, she seems to be able to act as an antenna or channel for things we don't understand (think of women in mythicized Vril society in WW2 and get what I mean) as evidenced by what she did at the end of S2 as channels supposedly Windom Earl (although he not a spirit so something could be posing as him). Too much time somehow has led to too little of an ability to avoid sinking into a lifeless/routine pattern she's followed throughout the years with negative emotions that resonate in a cyclical manner.

Perhaps she's gained a few wierd interests over the years with some dabbling into the occult for a bit in the 90's before simply shutting out the world to live out the rest of her life in a lifeless manner. There's some bad energy resonating around this house somehow; with her channeling abilities and subdued mental faculties over the years she's somehow been totally replaced (not just posessed as she's able remove her face for godsakes) is my best rationalization. Sort of like how the wormholes open up and distort the physical reality around them, so can a replacement (a Tulpa or emanation of other sort or type) have a doorway openning up within distorting the physical reality around oneself hence giving the illusion of removing one's face to show the other side of one's transdimensional self. In Sarah Palmer's case, it seems she's been abducted/replaced and there's something else on the other side of this doorway latched on like the gremlin on the wing of an airplane in the twilight zone.
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FlyingSquirrel
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Re: An apologia for Sarah

Postby FlyingSquirrel » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:05 am

I definitely don't think Sarah was under the influence of Judy or any other Lodge spirit, or that she was herself evil or malevolent, during the events of FWWM and the original series. At most, *maybe* she could have done more to figure out what Leland/BOB was doing to Laura, but I don't think she really knew or understood what was happening, and everything I saw led me to believe that she genuinely loved her daughter. If the girl who swallows the bug in Episode 8 was in fact Sarah, then whatever that represented hadn't fully manifested itself as of 1989.

As for what happened to her since then, I don't recall seeing much of her between Leland's death and when she shows up to deliver the message to Briggs, but it's certainly understandable that she would have withdrawn and started drowning her grief with alcohol and cigarettes, and that this later made her vulnerable to Judy and/or enabled whatever the bug represented to exert greater control over her. She seemed to have some of the same psychic abilities that Laura and Cooper had, so maybe that meant that her good side was initially too strong for her to be subjected to Black Lodge influence.

When she freaks out at the store, I think that's the "real" Sarah, sensing that the Black Lodge forces may be preparing to wreak havoc in Twin Peaks again and trying to warn people but being too incoherent for anyone to understand what she's saying. The bar scene and the scene where she's smashing Laura's picture, that's probably Judy mostly in control. (Though this comes back to one of TPTR's shortcomings - if the Lodge spirits and/or DoppelCooper were in fact building up to something as opposed to just being randomly evil, it's unclear to me what it was. Would BOB have ended up possessing somebody again or otherwise going on the "attack" if Freddie hadn't been there?)
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Re: An apologia for Sarah

Postby Framed_Angel » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:34 am

Mr. Reindeer wrote: it seems like in the instance of certain returning characters, DKL was more interested in the particular shtick he wanted to see the actor do than in crafting a "natural" evolution of the character... Sarah's characterization definitely feels more an outgrowth of Grace's subsequent work.. than of Sarah's character on the original show. However, as I've also noted elsewhere, this approach to characters like Jerry and Jacoby is actually refreshing because realistically, the events of February/March 1989 are a distant memory to these characters. Try to imagine reconciling who you are today with who you were in 1989.
I could better appreciate some sort of tweaking or revamping a familiar character in their new-century mode had there been some framework for it, instead of letting befuddled viewers just sort of fall on that conclusion like a sword where they were expecting either familiarity, or explanation for the changed nature of the character, or both.

I haven't seen IE or all of WaH since not available the few places iTunes or amazon stream Iv'e browsed, and so those are meaningless to me. Viewing former roles of DKL's actors in DKL's films should not be fundamental to see what he's up to with the TP people brought back on the screen. If it lends some sidelong persepective, great; but shouldn't be mandatory. I think of American Horror Story reusing past actors who get new characters. I haven't watched it enough to see whether some characters remain the same from season to season, even though they switch settings and storylines. So I can manage a little playing-around with some character-role departures from what they once were, as associations are built with certain actors, then broken-down and re-formed. Sarah in S3 though? "Undeniably linked" to earlier works maybe a fraction of TP viewers have ever seen? We barely got much glimpse of Sarah in S3, almost negligible, so I'm not sure what her 'character' would remind anyone of in terms of other roles. It's as if the Sarah we saw this time was a sum of some fragmented parts, one high-drama and gory plus another two she's solo-freaking-out plus another is a chat with Hawk at the door; otherwise just sittin and watchin TV. Its' like she's a vehicle to demonstrate the manifestation of some evil more than there's even a person there to detect any 'character' IMO.

And, the notion how "1989 was so long ago" feels too simplistic for me. Not all events fade the same way from memory. It's rather selectively dismissive of one bothersome niche while giving others a pass, assigning each quirk of TPTR a slightly-too-convenient rationale because the irrationality of this series got so cluttered. I don't think it's fair to ask the viewer "OK here, when Jacoby's nothing like his old self, you have to just think realistically because that's what a lot of ppl IRL are like, totes different than 25 yrs ago! ... okay but HERE, when Gersten's shown with this Stephen guy, it's intentionally ambiguous and you're just supposed to not think about her absent sister or mom or their roles in the old show... and HERE, that's okay that Hawk talks and acts the same way as ever as he plunges through the dark woods with flashlight seeming for no reason and keeps an old map painting for cryptic symbology even as fellow Deputy Andy was shown last season to have a natural talent for map-symbol-decoding!"
Mr. Reindeer wrote: The upshot is: I don't think Sarah being a sympathetic/tragic figure and Sarah hosting an ancient evil are mutually exclusive. In fact, the cohabitation of these two ideas just makes S3 overall a richer work. In a similar vein, I find Sarah's "I can still make the happy face" in BTW to be simultaneously one of the most heartbreaking and creepiest moments in all of TP.
What is BTW? Sorry I see others recognize it but I'm out of that loop. "Between Two WOrlds"? a documentary maybe?
"Fool me once... shame on me!"
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N. Needleman
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Re: An apologia for Sarah

Postby N. Needleman » Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:43 pm

I'm not breaking any new ground in terms of original thought, but I just wanted to chime in that I don't believe Sarah was under much if any malevolent influence in FWWM or the original series. If she is the girl from part 8 and Judy was with her since childhood, I believe that entity may be the source of her "spooky" visions but that it grew inside her over time, and only began to assert itself over the last 25 years. Sarah is clearly still a woman in anguish, battling forces within herself.
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Re: An apologia for Sarah

Postby FlyingSquirrel » Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:59 pm

Framed_Angel wrote:And, the notion how "1989 was so long ago" feels too simplistic for me. Not all events fade the same way from memory. It's rather selectively dismissive of one bothersome niche while giving others a pass, assigning each quirk of TPTR a slightly-too-convenient rationale because the irrationality of this series got so cluttered. I don't think it's fair to ask the viewer "OK here, when Jacoby's nothing like his old self, you have to just think realistically because that's what a lot of ppl IRL are like, totes different than 25 yrs ago! ... okay but HERE, when Gersten's shown with this Stephen guy, it's intentionally ambiguous and you're just supposed to not think about her absent sister or mom or their roles in the old show... and HERE, that's okay that Hawk talks and acts the same way as ever as he plunges through the dark woods with flashlight seeming for no reason and keeps an old map painting for cryptic symbology even as fellow Deputy Andy was shown last season to have a natural talent for map-symbol-decoding!"


I actually didn't think Jacoby was all that different from his established characterization, though maybe TSHOTP did help here because it established Jacoby as someone with a restless and unconventional intellect. He and Nadine would have probably been my top picks for Twin Peaks characters most likely to believe in conspiracy theories even if I'd never seen TPTR.

With the Haywards I was a little puzzled that we didn't get more explanation of what had happened to the family over the years. Obviously they were in a bad place when the original series ended, and while Donna wasn't one of the main protagonists, I'd have liked to know if she did end up running away and if she cut ties with her family completely after that or if someone at least knows where she is and what happened to her.
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Re: An apologia for Sarah

Postby N. Needleman » Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:06 pm

I think Jacoby has always had an element of crank and skeeze - going back to the pilot and his relationship with the underage Laura. As he tells Cooper, he is not a good person. But he does sometimes have keen insight, and has a soul. I think his character is positioned, both in S1 and S3, as sort of caught between true enlightenment and cynical corruption. He has monetized himself as an Alex Jones-esque crank in S3, but he also genuinely cares for Nadine and helps her find her way.

I'd like more of the Haywards in a S4 - Harriet or her kids, Gersten. Eileen. And maybe Moira Kelly's Donna. But I also think Donna may have died in James' accident.
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mtwentz
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Re: An apologia for Sarah

Postby mtwentz » Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:39 pm

As much as I love The Return, the Sarah story is the most frustrating. Unlike Diane, where we get clarification at the end, with Sarah we still have no idea whether it's the real Sarah that we have seen, a tulpa, doppelganger, if Sarah is possessed, etc. It's hard to even have a discussion with the limited evidence we were given about her.
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N. Needleman
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Re: An apologia for Sarah

Postby N. Needleman » Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:43 pm

I think what's going on with Sarah is pretty straightforward, myself - she is the host for Judy. Eye of the beholder, etc.
AnotherBlueRoseCase wrote:The Return is clearly guaranteed a future audience among stoners and other drug users.

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