Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers for Twin Peaks: The Return Parts 1 – 8.
Since the airing of Part 8, the episode has proved to be the most divisive one yet among fans, with some citing it as the most revolutionary thing to air on network television, with others dismissing it as arbitrary nonsense. For those looking to delve deeper into the mysteries and coded messages of this episode, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take this journey together, and see if we can’t make some sense of things.
The episode begins where the last episode left off, with Doppelganger Cooper riding in the car with Ray Monroe driving. They dispose of a police tracking device, DoppelCoop lies and says that Darya is waiting for them, tells Ray they should go to a place called “The Farm,” and they drive off the highway to a secluded area. DoppelCoop gets out a pistol with the intention of killing Ray, but Warden Murphy, who had the pistol placed in the glove compartment as part of their deal, has double crossed him, removing the firing pin from DoppelCoop’s gun. Ray pulls out a gun of his own and shoots DoppelCoop, who falls to the ground, fatally wounded. A fog appears, and out of the darkness emerges the soot-covered woodmen we’ve seen in the South Dakota murder mystery. Some begin dancing in a manner reminiscent of the Jumping Man from Fire Walk With Me and some begin pawing at DoppelCoop, digging through his guts and smearing his face with blood. They eventually pull a tumor with BOB’s face on it out of DoppelCoop’s stomach. It’s pretty safe to say this represents BOB himself, the “inhabiting spirit,” living like a parasite within his host. I don’t think he’s a literal tumor inside his vessels, but this is how it manifests to the terrified Ray, who watches, paralyzed with fear. Eventually he summons the strength to run to his car and drive off. The fog disperses.
Ray leaves a voicemail for Philip Jeffries (or who he thinks is Philip Jeffries). His speech is slurred with fear, and I had a hard time understanding, so I took the trouble of transcribing it for anyone who might need help.
“Philip? It’s Ray. Uh… I think he’s dead. But, he’s found some kind of help, so, I’m not a hundred percent. And I, and I, uh… I saw something in Cooper. It may be the key to what this is all about. …Yeah, I told him where I’m going, so if he comes after me, I’ll get him there.”
We then cut to the Roadhouse, where an Emcee introduces “The” Nine Inch Nails (I’ve been a fan of them for over ten years and I’ve never heard them referred to as “THE” Nine Inch Nails, so I’m wondering if this was a mistake by the Emcee). The lyrics are from a song written back in 2016 for their album Not The Actual Events, so it’s possible it was written for The Return, as Reznor’s involvement had been announced by then. I love his performance here, because it seems animalistic and reminds me of the Jumping Man a little bit.
As with all of the band performances so far in the show, the lyrics seem to relate to occurrences in the episode. Here they are, for reference:
You dig in places till your fingers bleed
Spread the infection, where you spill your seed
I can’t remember what she came here for
I can’t remember much of anything anymoreShe’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away
She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away
AwayA little mouth opened up inside
Yeah, I was watching on the day she died
We keep licking while the skin turns black
Cut along the length, but you can’t get the feeling backShe’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away
She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away
She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away
She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away
(Are you still here?)-Nine Inch Nails, “She’s Gone Away”
I’ll get back to these lyrics as the episode unfolds, but we’ll say for now that this is a dead on description of the relationship between Laura and BOB. Returning to the episode, we see the supposedly dead DoppelCoop suddenly sit up and open his eyes. What could this mean? DoppelCoop and BOB are now separated. Presumably, the woodsmen took him back to the Black Lodge (We’ll see later that they seem to be handlers for BOB). A few episodes back, MIKE told Cooper, “You’ve been tricked. Now one of you must die.” Does this count as a death? Does this mean we’ll see the promised return of Agent Cooper next episode? Will he finally wake up from his Dougie-induced stupor? We can only guess for now. Unfortunately, the episode cuts before we can find out more. Fortunately, we get a lot of back story in what remains of the episode. It’s just a matter of deciphering it, using knowledge gained from The Secret History of Twin Peaks, and a bit of educated guesswork.
The Atomic Bomb goes off during its first test. Destroying the environment and murdering countless human beings, the A-Bomb is one of the greatest evils that men do. We travel inside the blast, going down to the atomic level and witnessing the explosion of atoms and particles. Space itself it torn open, and we see…
…a convenience store.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the famous convenience store we’ve been hearing about. It was mentioned by MIKE in the original series, and then we saw the Dugpas meeting above it in Fire Walk With Me. Now we see the exterior of it, through the newly torn rift in the dimensions. It’s teeming with the woodsmen. This tells us two things: 1) They are probably the same as the three woodsmen from Fire Walk With Me, and 2) They are probably Dugpas. Time distorts and lights flash as they move in, out, and around the convenience store.
We then see the Experiment, the monster from inside the glass box, floating in empty space. She vomits out a strand of what looks like creamed corn, inside which are little eggs and the tumor with BOB’s face. This seems to lend credence to the theory that the monster is BABALON, the “Mother of Abominations” which Jack Parsons wrote about. In The Secret History of Twin Peaks, Jack Parsons speaks to Douglas Milford, and mentions White Sands, Nevada, and how the Atomic Bomb tests made the area perfect for a ritual he plans to do, in which, at the behest of the Goddess BABALON, an Elemental Spirit will be summoned. Parsons calls this Ritual “The Working,” and planned to open up a “second” gate out in the desert. Where the first gate is, we aren’t told, but this Elemental could very well be BOB.
The creamed corn travels through the atomic blast and the tumor becomes a gold sphere, like the kind that emerged from Dougie. This object is directly linked with the creation of beings by the Black and White Lodges. We then overlook the same purple ocean which Cooper saw in Part 3. In the middle of it is a tall rock, atop which is a palace. We close up on a narrow window and look through it, into the palace. Inside we see a scene reminiscent of a hotel from the 1930s, which may be the same room we see the Giant and Cooper talking in at the beginning of Part 1, as we see the same gramophone sitting next to the sofa. There’s also another strange bell device, like the kind Naido threw the switch on before throwing herself into space in Part 3. A glamorously dressed woman named Senorita Dido sits on a couch, swaying to some music.
Quick aside on the correlations with the mythical character Dido: After being robbed of her inheritance by her brother, Dido fled to the land of King Iarbas, and asked that he grant her land to live on. He agreed to give her the amount of land that she could encircle with a piece of oxhide. So Dido cut the oxhide into fine strips, and surrounded a nearby mountain with it. There, she founded what would become the prosperous city of Carthage. So, here we can see some minor similarities, in that they both live in palatial buildings atop mountains. It’s not much, but it’s there.
The bell-device starts buzzing, and the Giant emerges from behind it. He examines it, checking the gauges on the side, and then pressed a button on it, which causes it to stop buzzing. I think of this along the lines of a phone, and the Giant basically just said, “I’ll take it in the other room.” He leaves the sitting room, goes up some stairs, and enters a theater which looks to be the same as Club Silencio (it’s the same shooting location, I believe). If you’re a fan of the Lynchverse theory, this should send chills down your spine. There’s another bell device in here. On the screen, the Giant witnesses the atomic blast, the convenience store, and the Experiment expelling BOB. In response, he levitates and expels some golden lights from his mouth as Senorita Dido enters the room and watches on awe. A gold orb containing the soul of Laura Palmer floats down to her, and she kisses it and sends it on its way to Earth. This is a pretty clear sign that Laura was created in some way by the White Lodge in order to oppose BOB. She may have been destined to die all along, in order to enter the White Lodge and help stop him. Now, I don’t think Laura was “manufactured” like Dougie, but, rather, seeded. Laura was a real person who was born and lived and died, whereas Dougie probably sprang forth fully-formed, and disintegrated rather than dying normally as a human.
Now, back to the New Mexico desert. It’s 11 years after the atomic blast. One of the eggs released by the Experiment is now hatching. From it emerges a strange creature that is a fusion of a locust and a frog. It begins to make its way through the desert. This bug is, most likely, an embryonic BOB, searching for his first host. One resourceful Redditor made the connection between the creature and this legend from Chinook mythology, which lines up with much of the Twin Peaks mythos.
Meanwhile, two teens are walking home from a date.
Now, I want to address this once and for all. Despite popular theories, this cannot be Sarah and Leland Palmer, nor Margaret Lanterman, as Leland and Margaret are said to have been born, raised, and died in Twin Peaks. Leland’s whole family is from Washington state. All I can find out about Sarah’s background is that she went to college in Washington state, where she met Leland. There’s no reason for any of them to be in New Mexico at this time, and it makes even less sense that BOB would be possessing either Sarah or Margaret. It is far more likely that these are the Robertsons, who, when Leland Palmer is a child, have a summer house at Pearl Lake, and transfer the inhabiting spirit to him.
The girl finds a penny on the ground and gets excited because she says it’s good luck. We’ve seen quite a few coins of significance this season, and I can only guess what it could mean, if anything. It’s possibly all a coincidence. It’s worth noting, however, that the girl rubs her thumb over the image of Lincoln, and the actor who plays the main Woodsman, Robert Broski, specializes in Abraham Lincoln impersonations.
Elsewhere in the same area, the Woodsman from the South Dakota jail cell drifts down from pure air. More appear, and they stop two cars on the highway, the sound of crackling electricity following them. What happened to the people in the first car, we don’t see. They approach the second car, and the Woodsman, unlit cigarette hanging from his lips, asks the couple, “Got a light?” This is similar to the phrase “Fire, walk with me,” as both are requests for fire. He repeats this question a few times, and time seems to slow down for the people in the car as the woman screams. Her slowed-down shriek of horror is similar to Maddy’s screams as she is being attacked by BOB in Season 2, suggesting that time distortions follow the Dugpas.
The man in the car seems hypnotized by the Woodsman, unable to move or stop from staring at him, until he manages to break the spell, and, wisely, drives out of there before the woodsmen can surround the car. They seemingly escape unscathed, as the woodsmen continue into town to fulfill their purpose. They take over a radio station, killing the only two occupants. The way the Woodsman kills the pair is similar to the old style of electric execution chairs. He grabs the top of their skull and an electric charge goes into their brain, causing it to bleed. He finishes by crushing their skulls. The Woodsman takes over the radio booth, and recites a spell over their air waves.
“This is the water
And this is the well
Drink full and descend
The horse is the white of the eyes
And dark within.”
This repeats several times, and let me come back to it in a moment. As he repeats the words, people listening to the broadcast collapse. Whether they die or simply fall unconscious, I can’t say. The girl from the date earlier, who is now home sitting in bed, goes to turn off the radio, but, seemingly hypnotized, just goes to sleep, allowing the flying frog to come in through her window and crawl down her throat, presumably to grow into the BOB-tumor inside of her. This is the story of how BOB came to our plain of existence in this era. This was the purpose the woodsmen needed to fulfill. They came to the desert to make sure BOB found a host, and, now that he has, they depart, for the time being. These creatures seem to be BOB’s caretakers in some way, as they were there when he found his first host, and they appeared when his last host died (or… nearly died). Do they answer to a higher power? Are they looking out for BOB due to the orders of the mother monster? Perhaps…
Now, let’s analyze some lyrics, which, as a music geek, I love to do. We’ll start with the spell the Woodsman recites. “The water” may be the inhabiting spirit, and “the well” probably means the source of the spirit, the Experiment we saw expelling the eggs from her mouth. The Woodsman gives the command to the host to swallow the frog-bug whole, so that it can take her over, and she can descend into darkness. The horse reference is harder to connect, and some theorize it has to do with the drugging of Sarah Palmer, as she is the one who saw the white horse in the original series. I am more wont to connect it to the white horse being death. The horse is white, like the pale eyes of the Doppelgangers, and it is a representation of death, so it is dark like oblivion. This part of the spell could be causing the death/unconsciousness of the non-host listeners.
Now, to the NIN song. This part, I don’t think is necessary, but fun to analyze. The act of digging in places “’til your fingers bleed” sounds a lot like hardcore drug addict behavior, which may tie in to Laura’s drug problem. The infecting and seed spilling is all about Leland and BOB’s attempt to jump from his body to Laura’s. And, of course, Laura’s gone away… or maybe the host is the one he’s talking about disappearing as BOB takes over? The mouth opening part is a nice foreshadow of the girl swallowing the frog-bug. “[T]he skin turns black” is a fairly good description of the monochrome woodsmen. The question ate the end, “are you still here?” I think is actually DoppelCoop wondering if BOB is still with him. And that’s a question we’ll all have on our minds until July 9th.
Well, that about sums up my analysis. What an episode that was! If you have any questions about something I missed, please post in the comments below!