Revealing the killer - public vs. private

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Revealing the killer - public vs. private

Postby LostInTheMovies » Fri Apr 17, 2015 7:38 pm

Gabriel brought up an interesting point on another thread & rather than keep the discussion going there (since it's off-topic) I decided to post this here instead.

I'll post his exact message and my response below, but first when I'm most interested in looking at is this idea of the reveal as a bait-and-switch: we think Laura's mystery is a public one and it is, in a sense, but the reveal makes it very emphatically a personal mystery even with all the supernatural trappings.

Actually that makes an interesting topic too, and one that I think commentators were more conscious of at the time: how does placing blame on a spirit distract not so much from the incest theme - this has been discussed elsewhere on this board - but from the idea that the corruption and intrigue haunting Twin Peaks is a result of the townspeople's own mischief rather than otherworldly intervention?

I have some further thoughts which I'll share in a separat message. Here's what kicked off the conversation:

Gabriel wrote:I confess I'll always be a touch disappointed that it was Leland. Prior to the revelation of his guilt, both the show and Laura's diary implied to me something bigger was going on in the town. Even if Leland was bad, at the very least, was he alone? Were other people involved too?

It's the thing that really killed the show in the second season. So, Leland's the killer; that should have raked up the muck of who else was sleeping with her and what other dirty secrets were present in the town (think of the likes of the cult in Eyes Wide Shut.)

I always feel disappointed that, by ultimately internalising the Laura Palmer story to simply one family's tragedy, that the appeal of the whole town having secrets was lost. For me, Laura was a thread that should have unravelled the entire community, rather than her death having been a relatively small (in terms of 50,000 people) incident that led to the show needing outsiders to arrive (Thomas Ekhardt, Windom Earle etc) to keep the story going.

Imagine if Mayor Milford was involved in organised crime and Laura knew; imagine someone in the Sheriff's office was a traitor and Laura knew or Nadine had gone mad because she discovered Ed was involved in drug trafficking and murder and Laura knew the truth. . . the show was called Twin Peaks, but became more of a series about about outsiders going to Twin Peaks to cause trouble. Cooper should have been the only real outsider regularly in evidence.

The tag line for the post-revelation series should have been: 'If Leland hadn't killed Laura, someone else would have . . .'


My response:

I remember being surprised about the Leland reveal too. I wouldn't say "disappointed" so much because the shock of the reveal was much more disturbing and affecting this way, whereas if it had been a result of the town's secrets, the killer's identity itself would have been almost redundant. In the sense of ending the story on a brilliant twist, there really was no better option. But in terms of paving the way for the show to continue...yeah, it was a pretty terrible development come to think of it!

This also makes me wonder yet again how the decision of who killed Laura Palmer was reached. Because the way you describe it, with the whole town having some vast conspiracy, social entanglements, corruption on high, with Cooper the only outsider peering in...it sounds way more like the kind of story Mark Frost would want to tell vs. David Lynch. Indeed, it sounds quite a bit like Storyville!

For Lynch, it seems, the darkness and trouble that manifests in the outer world always corresponds to, and usually begins at, home where pyschological trauma unfolds. Obviously Lynch & Frost agreed early on that Laura's killer was Leland. But I wonder who thought and/or spoke it first? If it was Lynch, that makes it all the more ironic that Frost was in more of a rush to reveal the killer, since it sort of undermines his vision of the show as the story of a town and its web of shadowy intrigue.

(spoilers for True Detective follow)

This also makes me think of True Detective which teased us with a vast web of intrigue and esoteric lore...and then reduced the investigation to one lone nut recluse/refugee from a Thomas Harris novel. I enjoyed the final episode, but partly because I assumed that was just the end to season one and that, even with different characters and a new location, we would go on to explore elite corruption and the Yellow King mythology in future seasons. But now I'm reading that this probably will not be the case?!

If that's the case you sort of have the worst of both worlds. Like Twin Peaks, it pulls away from exposing a wider, worldly web of intrigue but unlike Twin Peaks it doesn't offer a psychological gut-punch. In fact, if anything, the final two episodes distract us from the inner & familial turmoil of Hart & Cohle and project it outward.
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Re: Revealing the killer - public vs. private

Postby LostInTheMovies » Fri Apr 17, 2015 7:55 pm

Really, this idea crystallizes the tension at the heart of the show, which the film just explodes. The tension between Twin Peaks as the story of a town vs. the story of Laura Palmer (and hence between Frost's and Lynch's visions), between the idea that "all road lead to Rome" (i.e. everything is connected) vs. all these separate subplots unfolding within the framework of the town, between the idea that troubles arrives from within (either within the community or within the family) vs. outside (either via supernatural forces or, as Gabriel points out, all the troublemakers from Elsewhere).

The shock of the abuse angle, especially after watching Fire Walk With Me, is so strong that I think a lot of my attention has been on how THAT changes the course of Twin Peaks. But perhaps an equally - or at least also significantly - important factor is that the ecosystem of Twin Peaks changes when we learn.

It's also really interesting for me to think how Lynch was presenting the facade of a show that was actually themed quite differently from all his other work, in that it was the tale of a community vs. individuals (despite the ensemble of Wild at Heart, it's still basically the tale of Sailor's and Lula's). When meanwhile, it was about what was important to him all along - personal, psychological, individual struggle - and how it killed him to come clean about this.

And it also makes Frost's conception more confusing (even if the network was the main instigator, Frost - then and now - thought it was important to end the mystery). Because rushing to reveal the killer - and to reveal that it was Leland/Bob - not only harms the show's main narrative hook of WKLP, it more fundamentally undercuts the whole idea of this web of intrigue which had such a Frostian flavor to it and was the highlight of season 1, which Frost himself managed.

Yet I've never heard any stories or even vague whispers that Frost wanted the killer to be, say, Ben. It's always been "we agreed from very early on that it was Leland." Frost's vision for where the show should go is so profoundly unclear to me. Sometimes I suspect - and Paula K. Shimatsu-U. hints at this in the USC talks - that perhaps Frost wanted to move onto other projects (she lumps Lynch in with Frost on this). Maybe Frost assumed that either a) Twin Peaks' hype would sustain it in the long haul and they needn't worry about paying close attention as it unfolded or b) Twin Peaks' hype would be short-lived and he had to use it as a springboard to launch other projects quickly before it faded. Either way, he seems to have had no deep interest in how the post-mystery series unfolded, until the season neared its end.

I get why Lynch stepped away: he's a cinema guy, and the main story had ended; he was falling in love with Laura, and now she was out; the reveal forced him to go further than anything work he'd done before, and that was a hard act to follow; and he had essentially been forced to reveal the killer and we're all witness to how he reacts when creatively compromised! But Frost's disengagement still baffles me.

I don't know, this whole discussion is really turning the gears in my head. It's stuff I've sort of vaguely thought over but never really focused on/articulated. Thanks Gabriel!
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Re: Revealing the killer - public vs. private

Postby N. Needleman » Fri Apr 17, 2015 8:55 pm

A lot of people were really hyped about the TD lore, thinking it would be a huge part of the story. In the end it was about those two men and their personal (and spiritual) journeys. I ended up satisfied with that, but I can understand why some people wanted more Yellow King.

I don't think Frost was disengaged, though - he was clearly fairly involved with crafting the Windom Earle saga and the final set of storylines, clearly had a lot of ideas for Season 3. They both took a powder mid-Season 2 but I got the impression Frost came back first.

I remember being surprised but not shocked that Leland was the killer as a child. My mother had always known, had said so since Season 1, but she'd never articulated why. As I was very young to be watching, I now suspect she saw all the signs a lot of other people apparently did - no father grieves like that unless he was abusing her. And it certainly fit with Laura's secret diary, which I'd read (and should not have been reading at that age!). I don't think there was any other way for that story to end.
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Re: Revealing the killer - public vs. private

Postby LostInTheMovies » Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:58 pm

N. Needleman wrote:I don't think Frost was disengaged, though - he was clearly fairly involved with crafting the Windom Earle saga and the final set of storylines, clearly had a lot of ideas for Season 3. They both took a powder mid-Season 2 but I got the impression Frost came back first.


I agree but even so there's a good 6-7+ episodes in which you can barely if ever feel his hand on the wheel. Apparently he still did a final pass on the scripts but of the 11 scripts he wrote or co-wrote there's a 10-episode stretch there where he doesn't write any. Likewise he's taken or been given credit for certain ideas (such as Ben-in-Civil-War & the Windom chess game) - and I'm sure he introduced the Theosophically-inclined stuff in that stretch too but it seems pretty clearly a matter of conception rather than execution given how clumsily these ideas are handled. Indeed, Harley Peyton gave an interview where he admitted the chess game was left to him & Engels and they had no clue how to manage it since Frost was the chess player!

So it does seem that, like Lynch, he stepped back from the show just when it probably needed him most. I get Lynch's reasons. Frost's remain fuzzy to me especially since Storyville pre-production didn't keep him from having a hand in the late season recovery (or promoting the show during the COOP days).
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Re: Revealing the killer - public vs. private

Postby MasterMastermind » Sat Apr 18, 2015 5:57 am

I guess I liked that the powerful men mostly got away with it in TD, such a grand cynical statement. I agree with you on Twin Peaks, through.
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Re: Revealing the killer - public vs. private

Postby mujubuju » Sat Apr 18, 2015 6:06 am

disregard, wrong thread :)
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Re: Revealing the killer - public vs. private

Postby Gabriel » Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:06 am

Perhaps 'disappointed' is slightly inaccurate. Surprised, not shocked, but wondering how they were going to deal with many other aspects of the town as featured in the diary. In the end, there were many other secrets supposed to be in the town that I hoped would be explored: not just things implied to live in the woods, but the orgy cult she was involved in (her diary lists people she has slept with by initials and she mentions JH – perhaps Jerry Horne – as an orgy-goer.)

The two books (Laura's and Cooper's diaries) strove to tie in with the show as much as possible – the original final episode teleplay includes material from My Life My Tapes – and there are even arguments that Chester Desmond in FWWM is some kind of alternate Cooper, meaning the material in Deer Meadow isn't necessarily contradictory. There was so much more that could have been built out of them.

I felt like Laura's death and Cooper's arrival should have been like rocks thrown into a pond, creating ripples through the supposedly perfect town, dredging up all sorts of dark secrets. Instead, by cutting off the investigation of Laura's death so quickly, all that flatlined.

I guess the original idea would have been that, as the investigation dragged on through the seasons, more and more secrets in the town would have emerged and, by the point it was revealed to have been Leland, it would have been ironic that after so much death and destruction and so many dark revelations have shaken the town to the core, it was actually Laura's dad all along and none of the revelations in the town would have needed to come to light if they'd caught him early.

Twin Peaks, I suspect, should always have been made of short, focused seasons. Even if they do blow it in season two, I love lots of the goofy aspects of it. And I kind of hope, should the new show happen, we'll get back to focussing on the town an move away from unnecessary outsiders.
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Re: Revealing the killer - public vs. private

Postby LostInTheMovies » Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:38 am

mujubuju wrote:disregard, wrong thread :)


No - that's this one!

*True Detectivd spoilers*

It's not so much the "get away with it" part that bugs me but the "don't learn more" aspect. Like we had just barely started scratching the surface and Pizzolato looked at his watch and said "Oops, only an episode to go, forget all that stuff."
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Re: Revealing the killer - public vs. private

Postby MasterMastermind » Sat Apr 18, 2015 9:25 am

I never thought of it that way. I learned enough for my personal satisfaction I guess!
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Re: Revealing the killer - public vs. private

Postby Jonatan Silva » Tue Apr 21, 2015 1:48 pm

First of all, I was disappointed for the killer being revealed so quickly - 15 of 30 episodes. Then I think Leland's guilty looked like an improvised way of ending something up. Of course the abrupt discovery of the killed also killed the whole series. Well, as it was explained above, the killed could be someone whom could not be directed to Laura's murder - as Ed, James, the Sheriff or even another one.

I can't figure out how David Lynch said yes to a kind of thing but I'm sure Leland's guilty messed around with unfolded questions. Some people never came along again or the character seemed inactive for centuries - as Johnny (Audrey's brother). The One-Eyed Jack part - when Audrey is imprisoned by Blackie, Jean Renault and Emory - is somethings so boring.
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Re: Revealing the killer - public vs. private

Postby MaddieAerona » Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:58 pm

Gabriel wrote:Even if they do blow it in season two, I love lots of the goofy aspects of it. And I kind of hope, should the new show happen, we'll get back to focussing on the town an move away from unnecessary outsiders.


So glad to see I'm not the only one who wasn't entirely disappointed by season two. At points it did get mundane, yes, but it is the boring things that make exciting parts all that much more thrilling. I think that even the episodes that I would consider weaker in season two still helped build a lot of characters.

I do hope that with the 2016 Twin Peaks we can get back to the dark secrets of the town and perhaps develop the community of Twin Peaks a little more.

To be completely honest, I'm entirely torn on whether or not I think that the reveal of Leland was well done. While I agree that it really flatlined some character development, I think that at the same time it also advances some characters. In my personal belief, I think that the unnecessary outsiders would have had to be dragged in regardless of when or if Leland confessed. There would have to be some sort of plot thickening and suspense during this wait. Or, if the reveal had happened earlier, new characters would have to be brought in to keep the story moving at all. I simply feel as though the people coming from outside of Twin Peaks, while lacking the charm the residents hold, are just as worthwhile and endearing.

Either way, in my opinion, I am not entirely unsatisfied with the reveal. Although I do agree, it wasn't perfect, but I can't see any other way it could have gone about.
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Re: Revealing the killer - public vs. private

Postby N. Needleman » Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:59 pm

I think a lot of people loved Season 2. It's certainly my favorite season, warts and all.
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Re: Revealing the killer - public vs. private

Postby StealThisCorn » Fri May 08, 2015 3:21 am

How the hell did I miss this thread till now?

There are so many points made here that have been inside my head which I haven't articulated this well.

Gabriel wrote:Prior to the revelation of his guilt, both the show and Laura's diary implied to me something bigger was going on in the town. Even if Leland was bad, at the very least, was he alone? Were other people involved too? It's the thing that really killed the show in the second season. So, Leland's the killer; that should have raked up the muck of who else was sleeping with her and what other dirty secrets were present in the town (think of the likes of the cult in Eyes Wide Shut.) I always feel disappointed that, by ultimately internalising the Laura Palmer story to simply one family's tragedy, that the appeal of the whole town having secrets was lost. For me, Laura was a thread that should have unravelled the entire community, rather than her death having been a relatively small (in terms of 50,000 people) incident that led to the show needing outsiders to arrive (Thomas Ekhardt, Windom Earle etc) to keep the story going. Imagine if Mayor Milford was involved in organised crime and Laura knew; imagine someone in the Sheriff's office was a traitor and Laura knew or Nadine had gone mad because she discovered Ed was involved in drug trafficking and murder and Laura knew the truth. . . the show was called Twin Peaks, but became more of a series about about outsiders going to Twin Peaks to cause trouble. Cooper should have been the only real outsider regularly in evidence.


I couldn't have said it better. I do absolutely think Leland as the killer just feels completely right to the point where I can't imagine any alternative character having near the emotional weight, shock, sadness and horror, in no small part because of visual terror so deliberately injected into the Palmer home since the Pilot. But at the same time you have BOB, the "inhabiting spirit"/"parasite", who is such a good device to use because, on one hand, the crazed drifter serial killer is the biggest red herring of all, but on the other hand, it's such a cool, mysterious, terrifying Face of Evil. I've seen him described as a "have your cake and eat it too" kind of villain and, for a writer, he really is.

But I definitely think there should have been some kind of cult or conspiracy within the town itself rather than continually bringing in less and less plausible new external threats like Jonathan Kumagi, Thomas Eckhardt, Miss Jones, Windom Earle etc. Like maybe the old families knew about the Evil In The Woods and consciously allowed it to possess one of their young every generation who would grow up as a black sheep but on the understanding that none of the garmonbozia murders would take place inside the "walls" of the town (maybe at Glastonbury Grove are the names of these hosts carved onto the sycamore trees). But should they refuse to offer up the one whom the Evil chooses (speaking to them in their dreams/calling them to get lost in the dark woods), evil will be unleashed on the town and all the corruption and secrets will be exposed as everything unravels and falls apart. Leland accepted as a boy. By Laura resisting and refusing to allow the Evil inside her and being slain by it, she breaks the cycle and when the town finds out everyone knows that it isn't supposed to be because she wasn't supposed to die, she was supposed to become the next host so everyone is afraid, sad, guilty etc.

Furthermore, we should have seen Mayor Milford and some of the other old white guys at One-Eyed Jacks. EDIT: As was mentioned above by an astute poster, the "orgy cults" with the chair in the woods that are in The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer that Leo seemingly helped organize were also pretty damning and could have been explored more.

Like Doc Hayward said he delivered Laura and presumably he was her family doctor. Laura was raped by Leland since she was twelve. If that were a real scenario, would Doctor Hayward really not notice any physical evidence of Leland's sexual abuse of his daughter during her physicals and checkups? If we look at it like the whole town is silently consenting to this and look at Laura as their brightest star but also the black sheep whose destiny is to be abused and possessed by the Evil then it becomes even darker and more sad. It pays off that sense in Season 1 that almost the whole town is guilty because they knew she was in trouble and didn't do anything. And after seeing Fire Walk With Me, how could anyone not see that Laura was in trouble?

LostInTheMovies wrote:This also makes me think of True Detective which teased us with a vast web of intrigue and esoteric lore...and then reduced the investigation to one lone nut recluse/refugee from a Thomas Harris novel.


See that kills me. With True Detective you have a show which even David Lynch agrees is extremely well done. They introduce a compelling mystery, hints of a generational conspiracy in a heavily atmospheric part of the country and even flourishes of dark esoteric lore. And then proceed to completely reduce everything down to it's simplest and most mundane explanation. I would almost argue they had a rare opportunity to become a modern day Twin Peaks and all they would have had to do was decide that the Yellow King and Carcosa all that stuff actually has something real to it. That there actually are some kind of malevolent supernatural entities out there involved in this. Firmly decide that there is actually something really weird going on beyond the material here. But they didn't and what a waste because they immediately would have had an insane cult genre fan base going on. Oh well.
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Re: Revealing the killer - public vs. private

Postby LostInTheMovies » Fri May 08, 2015 5:39 am

True Detective spoilers follow.

StealThisCorn wrote:See that kills me. With True Detective you have a show which even David Lynch agrees is extremely well done. They introduce a compelling mystery, hints of a generational conspiracy in a heavily atmospheric part of the country and even flourishes of dark esoteric lore. And then proceed to completely reduce everything down to it's simplest and most mundane explanation. I would almost argue they had a rare opportunity to become a modern day Twin Peaks and all they would have had to do was decide that the Yellow King and Carcosa all that stuff actually has something real to it. That there actually are some kind of malevolent supernatural entities out there involved in this. Firmly decide that there is actually something really weird going on beyond the material here. But they didn't and what a waste because they immediately would have had an insane cult genre fan base going on. Oh well.


True Detective is in many ways the anti-Twin Peaks, for better and worse. Better in that the whole thing was apparently pretty tightly planned, was written & directed by the same team, and stays very focused while still allowing some tangents in the storytelling. They went in with a design for 8 episodes and executed it. But it's worse in the sense that it purposefully misses so many core triumphs of Twin Peaks, those triumphs that were in many cases precisely a result of the show not having a bible, improvising/taking risks, not being afraid to fall on its face.

There's the mythological elements which you've noted. I don't think they had to become supernatural necessarily, but they should have been given more "credibility" in the sense that obviously these people are having some kind of psychologically profound experience engaging with these ideas/feelings. What does that entail? But a lot of fans seem to brush off those intriguing questions with the "simple plebes falling for religious hooey" handwave.

TD also drops the ball on character complexity, imo, in a way that maybe TP did too until the film - I'm thinking specifically of Leland here (although also Laura in the film and to a certain extent Cooper's fall from grace in the finale). Halfway through the series, Cohle and Hart were so fascinatingly flawed - we admired them & enjoyed their company but honestly weren't sure if they were heroes or antiheroes. By the end they very simplistically become "the good guys" again and while this is satisfying on a basic level, it seemed to betray some of the ambiguity of ep. 5 & 6 for me.

Finally, there's the matter of alternate perspectives. I don't think True Detective is necessarily flawed for deciding everything would be filtered through Cohle & Hart and that the victim would very clearly be a MacGuffin to get us into the mystery. That's fine on its own terms. But early in the series, they still did a good job of prodding us to see that Cohle's and Hart's perspective wasn't the only one - and particularly offering glimpses of/from the sidelined female characters. Ep. 2 did a good job fleshing out Dora's murky past/milieu and he madam's speech in the brothel, while self-serving, also poked some holes in Hart's self-righteousness, as did the writing of his interactions with the mistress and wife. This seemed to get lost in the end when it became all about the chase in the final two episodes.

Obviously this show was never going to be about Dora Lange. But what about Audrey Hart? They give us intriguing glimpses of her troubles and then at the point where her character seems like an important key to the bigger story and a window into Hart's troubles, bang, she's gone from the show. Hart's fling with the grown-up prostitute is handled even worse after ep. 6. All this careful preparation of her character and background, the surprising and effective twist that she comes back into his life and then she's dropped, which automatically reduces her intriguing role to the level of she-broke-up-their-marriage which frankly any character could have played.

I've heard completely unsubstantiated rumors that Fukunaga and Pizzolatto had some tensions between them, and frankly it would make some sense. In interviews Pizzolatto seems very insistent on a single, emphatic reading of the show and its purpose/arc. Fukunaga's direction is often much more ambivalent/ambiguous. That scene with the girl who murdered her kids is one of the most brilliantly executed scenes I've seen in any show/film and honestly it's as much if not more the performance and direction as the writing that extracts that ambiguity. In one sense, Cohle is totally justified & understandable in his cruelty, but the way it's played it's really dark and disturbing glimpse into his character. I feel that's eventually lost with the tidy resolution.

Look, I don't mean to totally hate on True Detective. I actually liked it a whole lot, and even enjoyed the ending (with some caveats, mostly character-related) on my recent run-through. But I became more disappointed when I realized it was supposed to BE a complete ending. I went in really excited that it was going to be a limited series because there would be a tight structure and focused approach. By the end I wished there were more episodes because there seemed so much to explore. I guess in a way that's a good thing?
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Re: Revealing the killer - public vs. private

Postby MaddieAerona » Fri May 08, 2015 6:31 am

I'm so glad this thread is being contributed to!! I think that this is a really important analysis that needs to be looked at especially with the expectation of a third season soon.

StealThisCorn wrote: Furthermore, we should have seen Mayor Milford and some of the other old white guys at One-Eyed Jacks.


Yes!! This is something I thought about regularly throughout the show, more of the old skeevy rich white guys should definitely have been involved in a lot more of the dirty grimy stuff, especially cocaine and prostitution. I was really disappointed to see that they were outwardly portrayed as being somewhat... I would say innocent, but I'm not sure if that's exactly what I'm trying to say. Maybe helpless would be a better way to put it. Either way, in reality, these would be dirty, cheating, overall pretty gross stereotypical wealthy white men. I believe that they are guilty of more than is being shown, and I feel that they could have been furthered developed.

StealThisCorn wrote: Like Doc Hayward said he delivered Laura and presumably he was her family doctor. Laura was raped by Leland since she was twelve. If that were a real scenario, would Doctor Hayward really not notice any physical evidence of Leland's sexual abuse of his daughter during her physicals and checkups? If we look at it like the whole town is silently consenting to this and look at Laura as their brightest star but also the black sheep whose destiny is to be abused and possessed by the Evil then it becomes even darker and more sad. It pays off that sense in Season 1 that almost the whole town is guilty because they knew she was in trouble and didn't do anything.


I think that the best part of this concept is that it definitely exists, but nobody acknowledges it. (perhaps out of politeness? perhaps out of utter guilt? I'm inclined to the second one.) The only person who really voices this is Bobby at Laura's funeral. Otherwise it goes completely unspoken, completely 'silent consent' like you said. I think that this really develops this whole helplessness of the town and how the evil affects everyone in the town and it is within all of them, even without being possessed. Of course, then there is an entire debate over the definition of evil, which I am actually considering starting another thread on.
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