The Bob/Leland relationship

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Re: The Bob/Leland relationship

Postby StealThisCorn » Sat Sep 06, 2014 1:09 am

My impression is that it was always a "we don't talk about this" kind of thing. Unfortunately, abusive fathers have often been shown to operate under the delusion that their daughters "like" what's going on, and that's it's some kind of consensual secret rather than a matter of shame, manipulation, and intimidation.

Very well said. Yes I fully agree that the film conveys this as well. It really is amazing how well Lynch balanced a serious and uncompromising story of incest and murder which could inspire and speak to real world victims of it without selling the fascinating and compelling mythology involved from the series short.

And yes I have read that one and the one covering the series before. I didn't agree with all of it, but they are great reads.

Maybe what Bob means is that he didn't know she knew he was in her father (maybe he thought she perceived her abuse by Leland and her harassment by Bob as two separate matters). Not sure that last interpretation really works for me but it's one idea.

That could be it. I mean it is a bit overly complicated, perhaps, but it doesn't contradict anything at least. She is clearly wondering who Bob is. In the script she even asks Harold, "Are you Bob? If you are, please just kill me now." It just seemed like watching the film through that Bob is a mask which hides the fact that Leland is behind Laura's abuse from her, facilitating such things as MIKE telling her through Gerard, "It's him! It's your father!" But then at the end to hear Bob suddenly say, "I never knew you knew it was me", I was completely thrown off like, what the hell DID you think then?
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Mark Frost quote about Bob/Leland (from Behind the Scenes bo

Postby LostInTheMovies » Mon Sep 08, 2014 8:19 pm

Today I received the Twin Peaks: Behind the Scenes book from 1990, written by Mark Altman. Editorially it's a disaster (as the Amazon reviews had already hinted) rife with misspellings, missing punctuation, repeated paragraphs, and confused section headings. BUT it's chock-full of fascinating information, culled both from contemporaneous articles (many of which can be hard to find nowadays, unless you're one of the lucky ones who kept a scrapbook from the time) and the author's own interviews. That plus the fact that it was written in '90 and thus offers a fresh perspective culled right in the middle of season two (a time that, as Brad Dukes has often attested, many participants seem too eager to forget). Having bought it for only a few bucks, it was well worth it.

Anyway, the relevant quote I wanted to post here is from Mark Frost, discussing who or what Bob really is. Though many have taken the show's presentation as very much emphasizing the demonic-possession angle (something tweaked and/or subverted by Lynch in FWWM), it's interesting that Frost clings to ambiguity in his statement:

"'It's kind of like the relationship between an artist and an agent,' Mark Frost says of Bob's ability to possess a human soul. 'He is a creature from somewhere else and maybe he's only from within Leland. We don't exactly say where he was belched up from. He is somebody who kind of went along for the ride. When Leland talks about knowing Bob as a child and says this was someone who invited me in to play and I invited him in, there's a certain classic type of vampire myth that comes into play when a soul that invites something into it to take part in its life cannot than [sic] refuse it anything. That's a myth that goes way back before pre-Christian times and that's one possible explanation...the other is that Leland is just completely whacked out of his mind.'"

Also enjoyed these quotes:

Madchen Amick: " parents are in that group [that just doesn't get it]." "It's getting pretty weird," her parents told her. "I don't know, we're only watching it for you."

Miguel Ferrar: "Thank God for this show because you know, no matter what happens with my acting career, 20 years from now I'll be picking up a couple of grand in Atlanta doing a TWIN PEAKS convention. I won't starve."

EDIT: Almost forgot my favorite one.

[Todd] Holland directed [Season 2] Episode 4, one episode before [Blackie] was killed. He recalls, "Victoria Caitlin, who plays Blackie, said to me, 'I don't die, do I?' I had read ahead to Episode 5 and I just sort of winced when she asked me. My face turned white; I didn't know what to say. She got really upset because she was having fun on the show and I said 'I'm sorry, I feel like the Grim Reaper."

Holland continues, "I would have been more clever if I had been prepared for it. I assumed she knew. People are dying right and left and they don't know until they crack open their script. It's a little like the hand of fate. No one takes them aside and says, 'Sorry, you're dying this week.'"
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Re: The Bob/Leland relationship

Postby LostInTheMovies » Tue Sep 08, 2015 1:12 pm

This began as a response to this thread:, but I thought it would be more at home here...

N. Needleman wrote:I'm not sure what Ray Wise's take would be on that short segment - I think he's maintained that the way he reconciled the twist was to take the more literal interpretation, which was that Leland was by and large just a hapless vessel for BOB who would never harm his daughter. I may be misreading some of his interviews. That is an actor's journey and their prerogative in terms of their internal take, though I do not 100% agree with that interpretation.

Yeah, that's one of the fascinating things about the whole Leland/Bob conundrum. Wise has also talked about inventing a lot of the mannerisms and approach in ep. 16 so it's easy to imagine that without Lynch's involvement, the show tipped heavily towards the Bob-being-fully-in-control-of-Leland partly because of Wise's own view on the matter. (I've always found Frost difficult to read on the subject: in interviews he makes it all sound much more ambiguous than it plays onscreen, and despite his love of the supernatural his readings of characters on the show - most notably Cooper - tended to be more ambiguous than Lynch's usual approach to characterization, at least up to that point in his career.) It's a tour de force performance but the idea of leaning so heavily on this interpretation is a dramatic and thematic mistake, to my eyes at least, and I'm glad in the film Lynch coaxed a more nuanced presentation of Leland's dark side.

Wise's read on Leland/Bob is still quite evident in certain moments, like when Wise grimaces at the window (or in the woods) or when his face shifts dramatically from one mode to the other in several scenes. But it seems like Sheryl Lee's avowed view of the situation - that Laura was very much a realistic survivor of her father's abuse, with Bob's function primarily psychological - is given at least equal weight (note that Lee is, as far as I can determine, the ONLY person to openly acknowledge FWWM's central subject as incest at the time of its release - Lynch's comments to Chris Rodley came several years later). This is especially true in the "wash your hands" scene which plays very much like an abusive father rather than an otherworldly demon, singlehandedly changing my read on Leland/Bob when I watched it for the first time. And of course there's that easy-to-miss line, "I always thought you knew it was me." I'm curious as to Wise's take on this dialogue, since it seems so unambiguous as an indictment of Leland (and it's delivered in an unmistakably "this is Leland speaking" manner, even aside from the fact that Lynch explicitly follows this shot with Bob on the other side of Laura to underscore their separation).

Anyway, just to be clear, though I have a very different read and am honestly quite uncomfortable with the idea of Leland not being responsible for the incest, I don't begrudge Wise his interpretation at all. He had been playing Leland for over a year and a half when the truth was revealed to him, and he's often talked about how much he hated the idea of turning this character he loved into an incestuous serial killer both because he felt so attached to Leland the lovable, well-meaning loon and because he was a new father himself. Pulling this trick on an actor is really harsh and even when they're a seasoned pro like Wise was, a sensitive director is going to feel somewhat uncomfortable about putting them in this position (added to which, Wise was essentially being laid off).

I sometimes wonder if Bob's demonic aspect wasn't inspired partly by Lynch wanting to give Wise something to hold onto, to soften the blow. It wouldn't be unlike him to do that - consider how the angels were ostensibly rooted in Lee's and Phoebe Augustine's objections to the bleak ending. The genesis of the Leland/Bob conceit has always been shrouded in mystery to me. When did Lynch and Frost chose Leland as the killer (Frost says it was shortly after the pilot, but when exactly, and what was the trigger)? When did they decide he was going to be demonically possessed? How did they work out the mechanics of Bob's possession, or did they purposefully want to leave it ambiguous?

I know Frost has said there would be a supernatural aspect to Leland from the beginning but...well, I guess I'd really just like to know more about what that means and when it really occurred. Because Frost seems uncommitted to something this extravagant in the first season given how he plays out Coop's psychic clues and essentially defuses the one-armed man storyline. That's why I'm inclined to think it was originally just "Leland did it, plus there's this weird supernatural aura surrounding Twin Peaks" and only became "that supernatural aura is directly responsible for Laura's death" when they had to actually deliver on this plot rather than leaving it as a vague secret hovering in the background as originally planned.

Plus, all of Frost's other work suggests that he isn't much into giving devil-made-me-do-it outs to characters. The possessed parents in The Believers, the Satanic villains of The List of 7, and the greedy politicians in Storyville (some of whom start off seeming sympathetic) all made conscious decisions to choose the path of darkness, and his episodes of Hill Street Blues have several fairly sensitive portrayals of abuse victims (and their unsympathetic abusers) as well as indictments of society looking the other way. Though in the past I've leaned toward Frost as the progenitor of Bob controlling Leland, with Lynch favoring a more damning view of the father, lately I've come to seeing it more as a war within Lynch himself (appropriately!), the cauldron from which the complex characterization of his later films is born (which was closer to my original view as well, before I started digging into Frost's involvement).

I also suspect - based on almost NO evidence, just a hunch! - that Mary Sweeney preferred this more "realistic" portrayal of Laura and her father's relationship and probably coaxed more of that out of the film by highlighting certain moments and cutting certain lines. But I'm probably overstepping my bounds with that speculation, haha, because who knows. It's interesting that she and Lynch bonded over the cutting of the killer's reveal and Roadhouse reaction in ep. 14 though (the first thing she ever edited for him).
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Re: The Bob/Leland relationship

Postby BlackMoonLilith » Thu Sep 10, 2015 9:05 am

harmolodic wrote:The truth being told is a metaphorical truth. Leland is, and to a certain extent, isn't, responsible for his actions. The central metaphor of TP is the cycle of sexual abuse. Leland makes it very clear, in almost unbearably literal language, that he was sexually abused as a boy. Many individuals who were abused as children go on to become abusers themselves: this is the cycle of Twin Peaks, the spinning fan. So we can be horrified at Leland's actions but still realize that his own experiences essentially turned him into a monster. He can feel remorse and guilt but is powerless to halt his obsessive, programmed behavior.

Of course, Laura has also, through her own abuse, begun to portray programmed behavior--she humiliates and mocks Bobby and others, and at one point reveals her "true face" to Harold. She's begun the cycle as well.

Not really, no. Some good analysis here; I just want to clear this up. Much like how the mentally ill are portrayed almost exclusively as violent on screen, when it is statistically more likely for the mentally ill to have violence inflicted on them than to inflict violence, this is a TV/movie cliche that exists because this idea of a "cycle of abuse" (which actually refers to the way abusers repeat lashing out and then repenting, not the Star Wars generational saga fiction presents it as) is logical storytelling in that it connects story strands together in a thematic way. But in real life, most abusers weren't abused and CERTAINLY most abused don't become abusers. There's a great self published, autobiographical comic named Something Terrible about a man who was abused as a kid, and because of TV saying this so much, was terrified all his life that he would be an abuser one day. It's a heartbreaking read.

But yeah, it's the intention, unfortunately. Ah well. Psycho has that terrible scene at the end too. I'm used to pop psychology. :P
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Re: The Bob/Leland relationship

Postby Dalai Cooper » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:29 pm

Count me among those who see Leland as the agent of Laura's abuse - I find it hard to see how you can come to any other conclusion, in fact (almost to the point of finding it offensive). Even the murders, although more BOB's doing obviously, seem to me to have their origin in Leland's weakness, lust and spite. FWWM makes this too explicit to ignore, and gives the lie to Leland's "they made me kill that girl Teresa" guff, but it's the series itself that convinced me; I know some people really latch on to episode 16's idea that Leland is a "babe in the woods" (while ignoring the second half of that sentence), but I personally think Lynch shows us everything we need to know in episode 14: Leland is present at the murder, not absent, and if he's very much the mewling, self-pitying manchild we've come to love, this scene recasts that same figure in a much more unpleasant light. For me the giveaway line in terms of the mechanics of the Leland/BOB relationship is "Leland tells me you're going back to Missoula, Montana!" - people sometimes point to this as proof that it's all Bob, willfully ignoring the fact that Leland is talking to Bob. Bob may be where the bloodlust comes from but I have to think Leland knew what he was doing when he told him that his niece was leaving him alone in his house with what he'd done.
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Re: The Bob/Leland relationship

Postby LostInTheMovies » Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:04 am

Great comment, Dalai. It's hard for me to explain WHY ep. 14 makes Leland feel responsible somehow, bu it does for me. You've done a great job digging into why. It's interesting that while Bob's motivations remain ambiguous (except for a general desire to feed on fear and/or pain) Leland's are clear: he kills out of rage when the victim shows themselves to be beyond his control.

A lot of times I've talked about why Leland is partly responsible, and also why it's dramatically necessary but in response to a recent criticism of my ep. 16 objections, in addition tohe above I also was compelled to lay out why it feels ne essary on a more fundamental level: ... vurgvhg504[/url] (comment & my response at top of thread under video, pertinent paragraphs near the end of mine)

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