The Marine's sister walks in Nikki's house, alone in the dark. She says, "Sweet." The lights come up as Nina SImone's recording of "Sinnerman" begins. Others appear: Niko sits in a chair with her monkey. A character portrayed by Laura Harring blows a kiss to Nikki, who sits on a couch next to her friend. Harring flirts with a "trainyard worker" sitting next to her. A lumberjack saws a log. Two other individuals, credited as "teacher" and "archaeologist," sit nearby Nikki and her friend. A cigarette-smoking piano player in a wide-brimmed hat plays. The Valley Girls enter and dance. A group of barefoot dancers enters. The lead dancer (Monique Cash) lip syncs to the recording, and they dance energetically.
- The scene may take place in a sort of afterlife. It also may be related to "the palace."
- The song "Sinnerman" has strong religious overtones in its lyrics. Lynch directed the dancers, "When you sing those things, feel those things. You’re singing to the Lord!"
- Sue heard stories about both the Marine's sister and Niko in the main body of the film, but did not meet either.
- This sequence appears to be filmed in the same room as a scene in Lynch's 1992 Who is Gio? Georgio Armani ad.
- Dominiquie Vendenberg, a stunt rigger on the film, plays the Trainyard Worker. Keith Kjarvil, an executive producer on the film, plays the Lumberjack.
- Nick 13, lead singer of the band Tiger Army, plays the Archaeologist.
- The uncredited piano player is rumored to be played by Ben Harper, Laura Dern's husband at the time the film was released. Harper was raised in the Inland Empire area, and when Lynch heard the name, he was inspired to make it the title of the film. (Source: Catching the Big Fish, David Lynch, 2006, Penguin Group, p. 143.)
- The Teacher is played by Penny Hintz, who has no other film credits. She also received a "special thanks" credit on INLAND EMPIRE.
- Logs and log-cutting are a recurring theme in David Lynch's work, particularly in Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet and Industrial Symphony No. 1.
- The Lynch 2 documentary shows the shooting of this sequence.
- There was only one log on set. Lynch warned Kjarvil not to saw too hard, or he would go through the log before they finished the sequence.
- The Lynch documentary shows Lynch telling an assistant he needs a "one-legged sixteen-year-old," a "Japanese Eurasian, twenty-three, we'll knock her down a little bit," and a pet spider monkey.