What is the Significance of the Scratchy Electricity Sound? What about the Utility Poles?

Synopsis

The Scratchy Electricity Sound

We here this full, scratchy electric sound a number of times throughout the new season. It’s clearly part of Lynch’s audiovisual code– a tool to help guide us through the narrative of TPTR.

 

Hypothesis

The scratchy electricity sound is a signifier of Lodge-Creature related activity: When it’s being played, it means a Lodge creature, or lodge related device, is using supernatural powers. For the purposes of this article, Lodge Creatures means: Mr. C, BOB, MIKE, The Arm, The Arm’s Doppelganger, Richard (sort of),  The Woodsmen, The Experiment. Lodge Create Does not mean, The Fireman, Senorita Dido, Briggs, Jeffries, or Laura Palmer. Nor does it mean Chantal, Hutch, Darya,  or any of Mr. C’s human associates.

Also, for the purposes of this article, we’re talking about 1 specific sound, the meaty electricity sound that plays above. There’s also a subtler sound that sometimes precedes it; we will not be discussing that sound here. Finally, there is a specific electric sound that ties in with portal appearances. That sound is also for another post.

 

The Facts

 

When We Hear the Electricity Sound

  • In Episode 2:
    • When Coop tries to leave the Waiting Room through the curtains, there’s a jump frame, the electricity sound plays, and Coop is suddenly unable to move through those curtains
    • It also plays when Coop moves into the alternate Waiting Room, after seeing Ray, and right before MIKE says, “something is wrong.” It also plays while the two waiting rooms separate
    • It plays again when zooming in on the statue that turns into the doppel-Arm
    • It plays while the Arm’s doppelganger casts Coop into “non-exist-ence”

 

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  • In Episode 3:
    • Scratchy Electricity sounds while Coop is coming out of the electrical socket
    • It also plays while Mr. C is trying to avoid returning to the Waiting Room while in his car.

 

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  • In Episode 7:
    • while Lieutenant Knox is on the phone, the electricity sounds plays as we see the Woodsmen walking in the background
    • Right after, when the Woodsman is walking by the morgue room with Briggs’ body, the electricity sound plays

 

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  • In Episode 8:
    • during the genesis of the Woodsmen at the Convenience Store, we here a deeper, scratchier version of the electricity sound. It stops when they drive off
    • When the “Gotta Light” Woodsmen stops the car with the couple in it, the electricity sound is playing
    • during the credits, the electricity sound is playing while we watch the girl rest. This electricity sound is distinctly different from the static that was coming out of the radio earlier in the episode.

 

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  • In Episode 11, When Hastings sees at the Woodsmen behind the vacant house, the electricity sound is briefly but distinctly heard. It stops, but resumes again when Gordon and Albert are looking at the Woodsmen

 

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  • In Episode 12, While Hawk is talking to Sarah, and we hear the bottles rattling in the background, underneath the bottle sound is the electricity sound.

 

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  • In Episode 14:
    • the electricity sound plays while Gotta-Light-Woodsman shows up on the Ceiling-TV
    • It also plays while we’re watching the darkened utility poles shot in the ceiling TV

 

  • In Episode 15:
    • we see the darkened utility poles again, which the electricity sound playing. The scenes then cuts to Mr. C driving
    • when Mr. C picks up the phone in the motel after talking to Jeffries, he is transported outside. During all this, the electricity sound is playing, especially when he gets outside
    • when Cooper-Dougie is trying to stick the fork in the wall outlet, we hear the scratchy electricity sound while he’s being electrocuted

 

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  • In Episode 16:
    • while Richard is getting electrocuted, there are two simultaneous electricity sounds. One is the physical sound of Richard being electrocuted, but underneath that is the scratchy electricity sound.
    • when Audrey ‘wakes up,’ the electricity sound is playing

 

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  • In Episode 17:
    • when Mr. C goes to the JackRabbit’s Palace portal, there is a faint electrical scratching sound
    • when Mike takes Coop up the Dutchman stairs, the scene gets very juttery and the electricity sound plays. We also see the Sarah-Faced Jumping Man in this shot.
    • this sound plays after MIKE says “electricity,” and Coop starts the process of traveling back to 1989
    • when Sarah Palmer is stabbing Laura Palmer’s picture, you can hear the electricity sound

 

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  • In Episode 18:
    • When Coop looks at the #6 utility pole outside Carrie’s house, the electricity sound starts playing

 

When We Don’t Hear the Sound

  • In Episode 1, Cooper talks with the Fireman. There is no electricity sound present.
  • In Episode 8, During the entirety of Fireman and Dido scenes, we don’t hear the electricity sound at all
  • In Episode 11, the scratchy electricity sound doesn’t play while the scene with Cole and the Portal is occuring. Instead, a different electricity sound that is unique to portal scenes occurs.
  • In Episode 14, during Andy’s interaction with the Fireman, the electricity sound never occurs, except when showing the Woodman on the ceiling-tv
  • In Episode 17:
    • while Mr. C is in the Fireman’s home, there is no electrical scratching sound
    • Later, during Andy’s flashback of his time with the Fireman, there is still no electricity sound

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Interesting Electricity Occurrences

  • In Episode 12, While Hawk is talking to Sarah, and we hear the bottles rattling in the background, underneath the bottle sound is the electricity sound.
  • In Episode 16, when Audrey ‘wakes up,’ the electricity sound is playing
  • In Episode 16, while Richard is getting electrocuted, there are two simultaneous electricity sounds. One is the physical sound of Richard being electrocuted, but underneath that is the scratchy electricity sound.

 

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What Does It All Mean?

We’re covering, loosely, three topics with this post:

  1. The purpose of the electricity sound
  2. The meaning of the utility poles
  3. How they used the sound to illuminate certain scenes

 

The Purpose of the Electricity Sound

Looking through the times this sound is played, a pattern emerges. The electricity sound occurs whenever Lodge powers are occurring. However, specifically, I wanted to highlight that it also doesn’t occur when mystical non-lodge powers are being used. For example, nothing the Fireman does triggers the electricity sound, despite him clearly utilizing some crazy supernatural abilities (He’s repeatedly able to transport people using a movie theater screen)

 

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So anytime we hear the specific, scratchy electricity sound recorded above, we know Lynch is communicating that a Waiting Room / Lodge creature is using supernatural abilities, and not any of the Fireman related characters, with one notable exception.

Mike, although he appears to be working with Jeffries and The Fireman, triggers this sound when he uses some of his otherworldly abilities. Does this mean Mike is actually aligned with Mr. C, the Woodsmen, or the Experiment? We learned in the Original Run that Mike used to be aligned with these creatures, but changed his ways and cut off his arm. So it makes sense that, despite his apparent allegiance to the Fireman, he would still sound that way: he’s made of the same source as the Woodsmen and BOB, and so would only have the same types of abilities as them.

 

The Meaning of the Utility Poles and Lines

In Fire Walk With Me, we got our first hint that utility poles might play a role in the Lodge creature activities. We see the first #6 pole, and there are multiple sound cues that tie Lodge Activities to utility lines.

Here we see that taken much farther. The scratchy electricity sound ties Lodge activities to utility poles. They also imply that the Lodge has its own types of utility poles in addition to the “real” ones we see day to day. They use these poles, ostensibly, to travel, collect garmonbozia, and potentially underpin their Lodge-traveling infrastructure. We see this in two places:

  • In two scenes, we see an inverted-color driving shot of power lines by the road. Right after those shots, the scene cuts to Mr. C driving along roads that don’t have any power lines. During these shots, the electricity sound is also playing, further tying this idea in to the scene.
  • When Richard hits the child, we see power lines overhead in the reflection of his windshield. However, especially the second time this happens, there are no power lines actually above, or anywhere near him.

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Certain Scenes with Electricity

With this knowledge in hand, there are three scenes worth revisiting, where the electricity sound may shed new light.

 

Sarah Palmer and Hawk

When Hawk visits Sarah, there’s a brief moment where we hear bottles rustling in her kitchen. She’s clearly caught off guard, and doesn’t want Hawk to look into it. Underneath that sound is also the scratchy electricity sound, implying that whatever was causing that sound had to do with her demon’s Lodge powers.

 

Audrey Waking Up (Book Spoiler Alert)

In The Final Dossier, Audrey is confirmed to be alive, and apparently in a private facility (it doesn’t elaborate on that point, but the implication is she’s in a mental asylum). That seems to be the end of it, except… when she “wakes up” in episode 16, the electricity sound is clearly playing behind her. Additionally, right after that scene, Audrey’s dance is being played in reverse, an obvious sign of Lodge creature involvement. I’m not sure what this means, but I wouldn’t close the book on the Audrey story just yet.

 

Richard’s Electrocution

While Richard is electrocuted in episode 16, we hear a generic electric sound to accompany the physical shots on screen. However, underneath that, we can hear the scratchy electricity sound as well. This would be a clear implication that the Fireman did not set that trap, and it was instead a Lodge creature. The most likely culprit would be Mike, although I’m qualifying this as speculation.

 

Results

  • The Scratchy Electricity Sound is a cue that Waiting Room – Lodge powers are being utilized (as opposed to the Mauve – Lodge powers that the Fireman, Briggs, and Jeffries use)
  • The Waiting Room – Lodge creatures are followed, or have built, there own ethereal version of power lines.

Building Off This Post

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5 thoughts on “What is the Significance of the Scratchy Electricity Sound? What about the Utility Poles?

  1. Great post! do you have any thoughts about coopers fbi pin? why does he have it in some scenes in episodes 17 and 18 and in others not?

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    1. Thank you! Coop has his pin in the original waiting room scenes, but loses his pin when going through the wall socket into Vegas. There are two parts where it gets weird:
      1. In episode 17, it all goes black, and then they appear suddenly in the boiler room (the book confirms this all happens at once– it goes dark, then they just ‘appear’ in the boiler room) and Coop is wearing his pin again. This is also right when the superimposed face goes away. From this point on, Coop is wearing his pin.
      2. The Fireman’s talk with Coop has him without a pin. Then, when Coop leaves, he doesn’t leave like Andy, who was instantaneous. He left with the same animation as when he was time traveling in ep 17. But, when Coop is time traveling in ep 17, he’s wearing the pin the whole time. So when would this take place?

      unfortunately, we’re in the same boat right now :/ One thing I can tell you– I’m starting to develop an intuition for how hard it’s gonna be to figure out a particular piece of the season. For example, I could almost write the post right now about the complete story of the Lodge Owl ring. However, we’re still a ways away from understanding Sarah Palmer’s narrative. My gut is that the Coop-Fireman scene, and the pins, is going to be one of the hardest mysteries to crack.

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