The Packard Mill

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Mr. Reindeer
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The Packard Mill

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Mon May 08, 2017 12:30 pm

Something that's been eating at me during this rewatch: the Mill is hardly ever referenced after the first couple episodes of season 2, and its fate is left extremely ambiguous. The Mill is the lifeblood of the community, three of our main characters' personal finances and careers are tied to it, it was the focus of a major storyline in season 1, and every single episode opens with imagery of the Mill in action. Yet, we really have no idea what happened to it. I'm hoping the new series addresses this, but before we get there, I wonder what people's thoughts are based on the original show.

The show seems to imply (and IIRC the Access Guide outright states) that the entire Mill burned to the ground and closed down, at least temporarily. However, if you listen closely to Cyril Pons's newscast in Episode 8, he says "a massive log storage area" burned down -- not the entire Mill. Perhaps this would be enough to put the entire operation out of business, particularly if Catherine's book-cooking had already brought it to the brink of financial collapse, but it's never actually clear that the Mill shut down. Indeed, when Pete brings Ben Catherine's tape in Episode 15, Ben sarcastically surmises that he is bringing greetings from the boys at the Mill, implying that people are still working there.

Even more perplexingly, in the smoked cheese pig scene in Episode 8, Ben says it might behoove them to keep the fake ledger showing a successful operation because then they could get a better price for the Mill -- implying not only that the operation is still salvageable, but that Ben plans to sell it! Wasn't the whole point of obtaining the Packard land to raze the Mill and make way for Ghostwood?

It's worth noting that the Episode 8 script makes a conscious effort to emphasize that only part of the Mill burned down: Jerry tells Ben (S-N-A-G) that the fire was contained to the drying sheds (the show states that it started in Drying Shed 3), and says it spread to the plywood building but not the main processing plant. (I know nothing about the milling business, but Ben says they can still work this, implying that the loss would still be fairly damaging to the business even though it's less than he wanted.) Lucy also confirms later in the script that only part of the mill burned down.

So, what do we think? Was the Mill still operating throughout season 2, perhaps with a skeleton staff? Or did it shut down entirely (which I imagine would have crippled the town, while civic leaders Catherine & Andrew were too busy fiddling with a Mystery Box to save their family business, like Nero fiddling while Rome burned)? It seems unlikely that the Mill will appear in the new series, since there are no Packards/Martells on the cast list, and the real-world Mill location is long gone. Will we see a ghost town version of Twin Peaks, betrayed and abandoned by its central industry and founding family? Or will some other industry -- possibly Ghostwood-related tourism -- have taken its place?

One other Mill-related question that has been floating around my head for about 20 years: what the heck are those machines in the opening titles doing, exactly? It looks like the machine on top is a buzzsaw, but it's not cutting wood: rather, it seems to be going in between the teeth of another buzzsaw, one at a time. I've always assumed this is some sort of sharpening tool, but I have no idea if I'm correct. Does anyone know for sure? It seems like there was a lot of discussion in the old-school fan community regarding what type of bird opens the show, but no one seems to have discussed those damn machines!
Last edited by Mr. Reindeer on Sat Jun 17, 2017 12:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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laughingpinecone
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Re: The Packard Mill

Postby laughingpinecone » Mon May 08, 2017 2:04 pm

Lots of interesting points, really going in depth about stuff I've been wondering since my last rewatch (plus the eternal question about the machinery in the opening, yeah).

Honestly, I always chalked it up to the show dropping all its plotlines. If Audrey and Ben can be best pals from one day to the next, then the mill can stop being a concern from one day to the next. And if the Access guide says it burned down, it burned down, good enough for me. It's also most likely burned down in the present because of the state of its real-life location. But there are all those little hints you point out... Is it possible that they were trying to keep both options open? They could quietly drop the plot if they didn't want to go back to it or say "...it was just a drying shed that burned, AS WE CLEARLY FORESHADOWED" if they wanted to go back to it.

With all this information, I'd say that my unified theory for this Schrodinger's Mill is that it didn't burn down in its entirety, and kept struggling throughout the second season, but the damages it suffered were eventually fatal and it was abandoned not long after the old show's events.
Maybe Pete was optimistic about it and would've kept trying to bring it back to its former glory, but with him dead, Josie dead and Catherine otherwise occupied, the resulting leadership void killed it. Or something like that?
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tmurry
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Re: The Packard Mill

Postby tmurry » Mon May 08, 2017 2:49 pm

If you had asked me (unrelated to this question) which post-credits character I'd most like to see a name actor take over for the new show I would have said (millworker and father of victim) Janek Pulaski. It is precisely for the reason that that guy - lying at the intersection of all of the various traumas that had befallen decent men in Twin Peaks/America at this time point - is in a unique place to speak from the fall of the hard-working family man from the other side of town. Given the current state of things, the appeal of this has only sharpened. He was played by two different actors you have never heard of that the internet can't tell me if they're dead or not. Twin peaks needs more blue collar.

I always assumed the mill burned down and was left nonfunctional and the unemployment nearly complete while Ben and Catherine and Audrey fought in their own ways to determine the fate of Ghostwood. This isn't realistic, but consistent with the generic soap-like TV's treatment of everything outside of the status bubble (that continues to this day... I keep waiting for the Great Maple Syrup Flood in Riverdale - I hope it's like the Boston Molasses Disaster).

But you are right... the mill seemed kind of central to the show's consumption/processing of nature themes and it was odd to completely abandon it.
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Re: The Packard Mill

Postby Snailhead » Mon May 08, 2017 5:01 pm

Very interesting thread!

I too always wondered

tmurry, you're right, Ronette's parents would be fascinating characters to get to know for a number of reasons. I see it as a missed opportunity that they never got to interact with the Palmers - to contrast not only their different experiences of grief, but also their very different social class within the town.
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Re: The Packard Mill

Postby tmurry » Mon May 08, 2017 6:25 pm

Ronette's parents would be fascinating characters to get to know for a number of reasons.


Also, we're in the post Inland Empire Lynchverse and his name is Janek. Wonder when his family came over from old Poland.
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Mace
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Re: The Packard Mill

Postby Mace » Mon May 08, 2017 8:08 pm

Mr. Reindeer wrote:One other Mill-related question that has been floating around my head for about 20 years: what the heck are those machines in the opening titles doing, exactly? It looks like the machine on top is a buzzsaw, but it's not cutting wood: rather, it seems to be going in between the teeth of another buzzsaw, one at a time. I've always assumed this is some sort of sharpening tool, but I have no idea if I'm correct. Does anyone know for sure? It seems like there was a lot of discussion in the old-school fan community regarding what type of bird opens the show, but no one seems to have discussed those damn machines!


I believe those are grinding/sharpening wheels that are sharpening the saws. One would expect the opening credits to feature a saw cutting through wood but instead we have Lynch going deeper, showing us the tools that sharpen the tools that cut the wood. To me that imagery points to the underbelly of how The Mill works and how Twin Peaks the town and the show works.
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Mr. Reindeer
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Re: The Packard Mill

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Mon May 08, 2017 8:14 pm

Terrific points about Janek, both in terms of socioeconomic spheres and DKL's fascination with the Polish. One of the things I love about the Pilot is the Mill workers we see in the background of the town, such as the guy eating breakfast at the Double R before his shift. It's a great little touch of realism that the show lost pretty quickly.
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AXX°N N.
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Re: The Packard Mill

Postby AXX°N N. » Mon May 08, 2017 8:52 pm

Great thread idea! This was something that stuck out at me on my last rewatch; me and my partner were both perplexed that the Mill pretty much disappeared out from under the plot never to return again, and with no real aspects of its closing explored as to its effects on the town, even as it opened every episode in the credits! It was later in the Access Guide, as you said, and I think the 3-issue Twin Peaks Gazette somewhere, that the mill was acknowledged as having financial consequences and gave the tiniest sense of closure, but it's so odd to relegate that to spinoff material.
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Re: The Packard Mill

Postby Cappy » Mon May 08, 2017 8:56 pm

It's interesting that Ben thought he needed to torch the sawmill in order to build Ghostwood Estates... wasn't there a ton of unused forest he could've knocked down for his development? Unless it was state/federal protected land, then maybe Catherine owned the bulk of private land in the area, and the only way he could build was to take her land.

I do feel like Season 2 missed a big opportunity by not exploring the impact of the mill fire on the town. The sudden, mass unemployment would likely result in a minor crime wave. Maybe business at the Double R and the Great Northern would be hurt as well?

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