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This article contains spoilers from The Secret History of Twin Peaks. If you have not read the book, it is strongly recommended you do not read this article.
Margaret Lanterman (née Coulson), better known as the Log Lady, is known as such for carrying a cut log with her that she claims has an agency to be able to perceive events. To most residents in the town, she is perceived solely as mentally ill as she often speaks in nonsequiturs. She claims that her log has clairvoyance and that she translates its voice to those who cannot hear it. Many who are not familiar with her, dismiss this as a trait of mental illness. However aside from her confusing speech patterns, she is a shaman who is able to interact with the spiritual world through the log that accurately describes multiple. Members of the The Bookhouse Boys including Sheriff Harry S. Truman and Hawk recognize the Log Lady as having connections with the spiritual world, with Hawk mentioning that the log holds many spirits within it.
Prior to the murder of Laura Palmer, she delivers moving and cryptic warnings to Laura herself. The Log Lady does not interpret the messages transmitted by the log, but instead functions as a medium for the information it conveys.
The presence of spirits in inanimate objects like the Log Lady's log is later confirmed after the death of Josie Packard where her spirit is seen trapped within the wood of a chest of drawers at the Great Northern hotel. While the Log Lady possesses strong skills to receive clairvoyance, lesser degrees of clairvoyance are exercised by several others in Twin Peaks: with Mrs. Palmer receiving a vision of the killer BOB as well as a vision of James Hurley and Donna Hayward hiding part of a broken heart necklace, Maddy Ferguson seeing blood on the carpet that later is revealed as a partial foreseeing of her own death when BOB kills her, and Special Agent Dale Cooper receiving communication with spirits in Twin Peaks that give him clues to solve the murder of Laura Palmer.
In attempting to solve Laura's murder, Dale Cooper often makes use of the Log Lady's apparent ability to communicate, through the log, with a supernatural realm.
Twin Peaks (1990-1991)Edit
The Log Lady attends a conference held by Special Agent Dale Cooper, who announces the FBI's takeover of the murder investigation of Laura Palmer, who was found dead earlier in the day. She flickers the lights, shushing the citizens in attendance.
Margaret drinks coffee at the Double R Diner when she is greeted by Agent Cooper. She overhears him speaking about Laura and goes to him, saying her log saw something the night of the murder. She tells him to ask it, but he says nothing and she leaves.
The Log Lady attends Laura Palmer's funeral.
Deputy Hawk, Sheriff Harry S. Truman, Agent Cooper, and Doctor Hayward come to her cabin, where she has been waiting for them. She invites them in for tea and cookies and says they are two days late. She tells them about her husband, who was a logging man, who "met the devil" in the form of fire the day after their wedding. Hawk then comments that "The wood holds many spirits." She says that her log saw something the night Laura was killed and presents it to Agent Cooper, who asks it what it saw. Margaret talks for it: "my log" describes describing darkness, laughter, owls flying, two men, two girls, flashlights in the woods over the ridge, quiet and then the footsteps of a man. And then, not long after, she alleges the log heard the screams of a girl further up over the ridge.
She sits at the Double R Diner, chewing gum, which she spits out and sticks to the wall. It is strongly implied that she wrote the note for Donna Hayward from yesterday stating to look into the Meals On Wheels.
Margaret goes to the diner and sits next to Major Briggs. Norma pours her a cup of coffee and requests her to start properly disposing of her gum. She then swallows her current was of gum and asks for a bear claw. She observes the Major's medals, asking about him having pride for his medals, which he denies. Her log then says a message for Briggs, which she translates to "Deliver the message," which Briggs understands the meaning of.
She goes to Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman to tell them, "There are owls in the Roadhouse" and confirms that something is happening. She goes to the Roadhouse with them, where she eats many peanuts.
Margaret goes to the diner, where she sees Major Briggs, who has a pattern of three triangles behind his ear.
She goes to the sheriff's station with Briggs, and they tell Cooper about the markings on them, hers of the two mountains. She also recalls having heard a call of an owl when she received the marking as a girl. Margaret also says she also heard the sound before her husband died.
Margaret eats at the diner when Agent Cooper enters with his loud, nearly-deaf superior, Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole. She observes as Cole admires Shelly's beauty, and he declares that he can hear Shelly speak, despite his hearing problems. He describes it as a miracle, and Margaret asks what is wrong with miracles, declaring her pie to be a miracle.
Margaret attends the Miss Twin Peaks Contest, where choreographer Tim Pinkle cries with joy on her shoulder, upon seeing the contestants. The Log Lady is impersonated by Windom Earle who is seeking to abduct the winning girl.
Margaret goes to the sheriff's station, where Pete Martell accuses her of stealing his truck. However, Cooper says Windom Earle is responsible. She brings a jar to Agent Cooper with oil, which her husband retrieved and called "an opening to a gateway."
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with MeEdit
On February 18, 1989, Margaret briefly encounters Laura Palmer outside the local roadhouse, the Bang Bang Bar. Putting her hand to her log and then the stunned Laura's forehead, Margaret intones: "When this kind of fire starts, it is very hard to put out. The tender boughs of innocence burn first, and the wind rises, and then all goodness is in jeopardy."
Twin Peaks: The Missing PiecesEdit
Margaret cries and cradles her log the night of February 23 as Laura is murdered.
The Secret History of Twin PeaksEdit
Margaret was seen by a physician on September 9, 1947, having experienced intense thirst and hunger following her disappearance alongside classmates Carl Rodd and Alan Traherne. She also had a pattern of raised skin on the back of her right knee.
Margaret graduated from Twin Peaks High School in 1958.
She was later married to Samson "Sam" Lanterman, who died after falling into a ravine during a fire on their wedding night. The following day, she cut a log from a Douglas fir that had fallen during the fire.
Twin Peaks (2017) Edit
Prior to Coulson's death, she filmed scenes to appear in the 2017 revival.
Saturday Night Live sketchEdit
- Her husband is thought to be the Woodsman seen in the Meeting Room with other members of The Black Lodge.
- It is thought that the spirit of her husband resides in her log due to Hawk comments about the "wood holding many spirits" and seeing how Josie's soul is trapped in a wood knob in the Great Northern Hotel.
Behind the scenesEdit
The Log Lady was played by Catherine E. Coulson, who was previously involved in production of David Lynch's Eraserhead (while married to its star, Jack Nance) and played the titular character in his short film, The Amputee.
When the series was syndicated to Bravo, Lynch created new Log Lady introductions for each episode. They range in length from under a minute to about three minutes.
The Log Lady is an old idea of his, where he had intended to do an abandoned 1974 called I'll Test My Log with Every Branch of Knowledge. He presents the concept in such terms, some of it was reused while other ideas were scraped:
An oft-recited chant from the series reads:
- "It's a half-hour television show starring Catherine as the lady with the log. Her husband has been killed in a forest fire and his ashes are on the mantelpiece, with his pipes and his sock hat. He was a woodsman. But the fireplace is completely boarded up. Because she now is very afraid of fire. And she has a small child, but she doesn't drive, so she takes cabs. And each show would start with her making a phone call to some expert in one of the many fields of knowledge. Maybe on this particular day she calls a dentist, but she makes the appointment for her log. And the log goes in the dental chair and gets a little bib and chain and the dentist X-rays the log for cavities, goes through the whole thing, and the son is also there. Because she is teaching her son through his observations of what the log is going through. And then sometimes they go to a diner and they never get to where they're going. That was the idea"
- The magician longs to see
- One chants out between two worlds
- Fire walk with me
Interestingly, Margaret's scar presented in The Secret History of Twin Peaks is the marking on Major Briggs as rearranged by Agent Cooper, not of the Log Lady.
In David Lynch's project, Psychogenic Fugue, actor John Malkovich plays various roles from Lynch projects, including the Log Lady and Dale Cooper. Among images posted prior to the project's announcement was an advertisement for Lanterman's Essential Oils, presumably related to Margaret Lanterman.