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 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 non sequiturs. She claims that her log has clairvoyance and that she translates its voice to those who cannot hear it. Many whom 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 forseeing blood on the carpet that later is revealed as a partial forseeing 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.
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Conceptual history According to David Lynch, the Log Lady was an old idea of his, where he had intended to do a television series based around the character called "I'll Test My Log with Every Branch of Knowledge". The idea came about whilst working alongside Catherine Coulson on the set of Lynch's directorial debut, Eraserhead.
Some time before the events of the series, it is revealed that the Log Lady's husband was a lumberjack who died in a fire on their wedding night decades before. (The Log Lady later says that her husband "met the devil"), Nothing is revealed of her husband beyond this, save for that at some point before he died, her husband returned from a trip to Glastonbury Grove (which served as an access point to the metaphysical realms of both the White and Black Lodges) with a jar of mysterious oil, which he claimed was for "opening a gateway." (However, when the story of her husband's death is first related in the series, Deputy Hawk mentions that the wood "holds many spirits", so it is possible that her husband's spirit resides in her log.)
Her husband, a woodsman, is thought to be the character played by Jürgen Prochnow briefly shown in the convenience store scene with other members of The Black Lodge in the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.
On February 18, 1989, five days before Laura Palmer is murdered, Margaret briefly encounters Laura outside the local roadhouse, the Bang Bang Bar. Putting her hand to the 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."
On the night Laura is murdered, Margaret later claims "my log" witnessed "two men, two girls" both approaching Jacques Renault's cabin-- which is located a distance away from her own cabin home in the woods. And then, not long after, she alleges the log heard the screams of a girl.
The Log Lady first comes to the attention of FBI Agent Dale Cooper at a town meeting on February 24-- the day after Laura Palmer's murder, which Cooper is investigating. She later approaches Cooper in the Double R Diner, who is clearly skeptical at her claim "my log saw something that night."
Four days later, Cooper arrives at the Log Lady's cabin alongside Sheriff Truman, Doc Hayward, and Deputy Hawk. Cooper is now more open to the log's power following his questioning (perhaps also noting the local men's reverence for the Log Lady's knowledge).
The Log Lady also provides advice to the other townspeople, most notably an other-worldly message she tells Major Briggs to deliver to Cooper, and it is strongly implied, to Donna Hayward in a note mentioning Laura's involvement in the Meals-On-Wheels.
She also guides Cooper to the Bang Bang Bar to see a vision of the Giant on the stage to hear his words: "It is happening again," a reference to Maddy Ferguson's murder, which was occurring at the same time.)
During the disastrous Miss Twin Peaks Pageant, the Log Lady is impersonated in a bizarre disguise by the insane former FBI Agent Windom Earle, who is seeking to abduct the winning girl to help provide the means to enter the Black Lodge. When Cooper, Truman and the sheriff's deputies later regroup at the Sheriff's Station in a desperate move to learn Earle's location following his abduction of Annie Blackburn, the Log Lady also arrives. She then presents Cooper with the jar of oil her husband retrieved from Glastonbury Grove. (Thereby, providing Cooper with the means to enter the Black Lodge).
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" the day after their wedding. She says 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, describing darkness, laughter, owls, men, girls, flashlights, footsteps, and screams.
She sits at the Double R Diner, chewing gum, which she spits out and sticks to the wall.
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 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.
The Secret History of Twin PeaksEdit
The Log Lady 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 three-triangle 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.
Behind the scenesEdit
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 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 starred in his short film, "The Amputee."
Interestingly, Margaret's scar presented in The Secret History of Twin Peaks is the marking on Major Briggs, not the Log Lady.
In David Lynch's project, "Playing Lynch," 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.