On Sunday night’s episode of Twin Peaks, David Lynch took viewers deeper into the mysteries of the death of Major Garland Briggs and the murder of South Dakota librarian Ruth Davenport. He also took attentive viewers deeper into the mysteries of 1997-era web design. The subject arises in a crucial scene in which Matthew Lillard’s character William Hastings—suspected of killing Davenport—is interrogated by Chrysta Bell’s FBI agent Tammy Preston. “Are you the author of an online journal or blog entitled the Search for the Zone?” she asks him. It turns out that in both Twin Peaks’ dimension and our own, the answer to that question is an emphatic yes. Hastings’ website is online at thesearchforthezone.com, and it’s everything Twin Peaks fanatics could hope for, short of a home visit from those delightful woodsmen.
Hastings’ blog is as much of a return to the 1990s as the show’s revival: The web counter (remember those?) at the top of the page proclaims that the site was created on June 1, 1997, and the design hasn’t changed a bit since then. There are some deep cuts from the early web: Hasting’s site was a Yahoo! Pick of the Week and won a Webwalkers What-A-Site Award. Is there a guest book? Oh, you bet there’s a guest book. Like most sites of its era, staring at the graphic design will make your eyes bleed like you just sailed face-first into a nuclear mushroom cloud. I mean:
This being a Twin Peaks site, however, William Hastings’ blog also comes with a mystery or two of its own. Who is “Heinrich Viegel,” who Hastings says occasionally contributes to the site? Are there messages hidden in the audio files of “electrical interference” Hastings has posted? Are the coordinates hidden at the bottom of the page (44°30’44.8”N 103°49’14.6”W) the same ones Davenport gave Briggs before she was killed? What’s at that location, if anything? (It’s in the same general area of South Dakota as the show’s fictional town of Buckhorn, but at tenths of a second, it’s much more precise than it needs to be.) Why does clicking on the coordinates yield staticky images of the convenience store from the show? What’s going on with the 12 minutes of Twin Peaks soundtrack radio noise over what looks like footage of CRT TVs powering off that appears when you click the link for more of Hastings’ blog entries? Why does Bill Hasting’s “DONATE NOW” banner take you to a page where you can buy the soundtracks to the show from Rhino Records? What really went on between Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedys, and who really pulled the trigger on JFK? This seems like a case worthy of Special Agent Dale Cooper—or a legion of his nonunion Reddit equivalents, currently hot on the trail.