Written by Eden. H Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers for Twin Peaks: The Return Parts 1 – 16.
“Which will it be, Charlie? Hmm? Which one would you be? Charlie, help me. It’s like Ghostwood here.”
The absence and subsequent appearance of Audrey Horne has left many fans confused, angry, and saddened. However, what at first may have seemed just like a melodramatic plot shoehorned in for no good reason has turned out to be far more intriguing and possibly integral to the story line. Theories abound as to the truth behind her condition, either that she is in a coma, a mental hospital, is a tulpa, or that she is “the dreamer,” or something else. However, I believe I already know the answer, or at least most of it. First, let’s examine the clues in the case of the disappearance of Ms Audrey Horne.
First off, there’s the way that everyone talks about her, in that they don’t. So far, only Richard and Doc Hayward have even mentioned Audrey. Not even Ben, when he meets with Frank Truman to discuss Richard, says anything about Audrey. He only says regretfully that Richard “never had a father.” While this implies that Audrey has been around for some of her son’s upbringing, it makes it even stranger that she no longer is. This is one strike against the coma theory. But, if she was with Richard for a time, where did she go, and why did she leave?
So, Richard is one of the only people to mention Audrey, and what does he say about her, exactly?
RICHARD: I recognized you back at the farm. You’re FBI.
MR. C: How do you figure that?
RICHARD: ‘Cause I seen your picture in your fancy FBI suit.
MR. C: Don’t come any closer. Where’d you see that picture?
RICHARD: My mom had it.
MR. C: Who’s your mom?
RICHARD: Audrey Horne. And your name’s Cooper.
So, depending on whether or not you believe Audrey is still in a coma after 25 years, what likely happened was this: Richard, looking for clues as to his father’s identity, was going through some of his mother’s old things. He found the picture of Cooper, and brought it either to Audrey or Ben, who must have told him Cooper’s name. We can try to derive some info out of Richard’s phrasing, “my mom had it,” but, in truth, it’s fairly vague. The past-tense is only indicative of her having the photo in the past, and he is probably using past-tense to refer to the fact that he found it with her old belongings, which says nothing about the condition of Audrey herself.
What about Doc Hayward? He mentions her when questioned about his last encounter with “Agent Cooper.”
“I thought at the time he might have been looking in on Audrey Horne.
That terrible business at the bank, and… She was in a coma.”
While this is arguably as vague as Richard’s wording, I would say this gives us a much more clear cut idea. “She was in a coma” implies that she is no longer in a coma. If she was still in the coma, Doc would probably have used language more like, “She fell into that coma,” or “She entered a coma.”
If Audrey were present, wouldn’t Ben mention her to Frank? Better yet, wouldn’t Frank have gone to see Audrey? Wouldn’t Sylvia have called Audrey when Richard assaulted her? All this leaves us with one conclusion: Audrey is gone. And since no one is really making a fuss about it, she has probably been gone a long time. The only question is, how long? I’ll admit that the theory of her being in a coma is thematically congruent, and could even potentially tie in with the real Cooper’s story line. However, there are enough plot holes that this could be argued against. And, though we are in the television world where anything is possible, in reality, people rarely stay in comas for such a long time.
Next, let’s look at what we do know about Audrey’s current state. The many unfamiliar names thrown at us in her first scene is daunting, but I think it we cut away a lot of the extraneous elements and focus on what we do know, some interesting things will come to light. It has been noted that there are no establishing shots for Audrey’s location. It would seem that she’s cut off from the rest of Twin Peaks. However, we pretty much know that Billy and Tina are people in the real world, even if Charlie’s phone call to Tina might have been faked (It probably was). Someone looking for Billy enters the Double R, and a girl at the Roadhouse says that her mother’s name is Tina. So this is another strike against the coma theory.
The first scene is very confusing, but in Part 13, we are actually given a bombshell, hidden in plain sight: After saying she doesn’t feel like herself, Audrey mentions, “It’s like Ghostwood here.”
Let that sink in for a minute. It’s a confusing line, and one you might have missed. But it’s the most important thing we’ve heard from her so far. Because later, in Part 15, when DoppelCoop goes with the Woodsman to see Philip Jeffries, where do we see them? Walking through a hallway that fades in and out with the woods.
This other dimension overlaps the woods around Twin Peaks, a.k.a., the Ghostwood Forest. This is probably what Jerry was seeing when he was high and freaking out in the woods. It seemed like a Dugpa was even trying to possess his leg (what is it with Dugpas and limbs, by the way?). Why would Audrey say that it was like Ghostwood where she was? Because she IS IN the Ghostwood, but in another dimension. So, what does this say about the rest of the story?
Let’s make a rough outline of events. After the bank explosion, Audrey falls into a coma. Whilst in the coma, she is visited by Mr. C masquerading as Cooper, who rapes her while she is unconscious. When she wakes up from the coma, she discovers she is pregnant. She may suspect Jack Wheeler as the father, but perhaps DNA testing proves this wrong. Audrey raises Richard for some of his boyhood, but, one day…
Now, here is the gap. And within the gap, there is a truth which must be revealed, and when it is, I’m sure it will play a large role in the finale. I have speculations, but no answers. That said, here is my best guess, as a literary student and as a fan, at what happened to Audrey: Mr. C returns for her. He kidnaps Audrey and seals her in the Black Lodge. He puts Charlie, a lesser spirit, in charge of her. His job is to keep her compliant and confused, so she won’t suspect what’s going on, or try escaping, or cause trouble for the other Lodge dwellers. To do so, Charlie creates a fantasy world for her, where they live in a nice, large house, and she can go anywhere she wants — Charlie just has to dream it up for her. Charlie becomes infatuated with the beautiful Audrey, and casts himself as her husband. He plays music for her so she can dance for him. Either Charlie or Mr. C also bring other prisoners to this dimension, one of which is Billy, whom Audrey begins to have an affair with. Charlie allows it because it keeps Audrey distracted. All this keeps Audrey confused, but it only works for so long. Audrey eventually begins to break through the fantasy. When she goes to the Roadhouse to look for Billy, she starts to realize it is all a dream, so Charlie creates a scene, a bar fight, to frighten Audrey, so she asks to be taken back. She ends up in a white room with a mirror. I believe this is the “blank slate” of this dream dimension: This is what it looks like before Charlie projects scenes and places onto it.
There is also a darker possibility. Audrey’s “I don’t know who I am” speech is reminiscent of Tulpa Diane’s right before she tries to shoot Albert and Tammy. This has led to the theory that Audrey is also a tulpa, which suggests that our Audrey is elsewhere, and, as her fate seems to eerily mirror Diane’s, it’s probable that she was murdered. That leaves the question: If the Audrey we’re seeing is a tulpa, what was she manufactured for? All the tulpas we’ve seen so far have a purpose. What could Audrey’s be?
However she ended up there, and whether this is the “real” Audrey or not, there is no doubt in my mind that she is trapped in the Black Lodge, a dimension overlapping the Ghostwood. Perhaps Mr. C took her, or maybe she even went in looking for Cooper and got trapped. Whatever the case may be, I think by focusing on what we do know, and setting aside everything else until later, when things become clearer, we will have a better shot at deciphering the many remaining mysteries of Twin Peaks: The Return.