“The Past Dictates the Future” Finale Analysis – Part One

Coop

Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers for Twin Peaks: The Return.

The two-part finale for Twin Peaks: The Return left many fans reeling, whether thrilled or dismayed. It’s taken a long time to process it, but now that I think I have some solid theories to present to you, let’s not waste any more time, and jump right into my analysis of Part 17, with a separate article analyzing Part 18 to come.

The episode begins where we left off with Gordon, Tammy, and Albert after the disappearance of the Diane Tulpa. Gordon has a moment of exposition so that he can retcon the ending of Season 2. He talks about Judy, who’s actually Jowday, and Phillip Jeffries’ involvement with her, or it. This leads to some seeming inconsistencies with the way Judy is referenced in Fire Walk With Me and The Missing Pieces, where we are strongly led to believe that Judy is a human woman. A way of explaining this away is that Jowday was an inhabiting spirit, which called itself “Judy” while it was possessing a female body.

Gordon also mentions that Phillip Jeffries “doesn’t really exist anymore, at least not in the normal sense.” Of course we know that Phillip Jeffries is inside some kind of machine now. I think this has something to do with the altered timeline, which has all but erased Jeffries from existence. That’s why Albert and Gordon barely remember him, and why Jeffries will later mention something about Gordon remembering “the unofficial version.” I believe this indicates that Gordon is, to an extent, aware of the altered timeline. The “official version” of the timeline is the one we see in the show: “The unofficial version” is the one we saw in Fire Walk With Me, which is being erased.

GordonThen comes a big reveal: The “two birds with one stone” line was actually said by Cooper 25 years ago to Gordon. He told Gordon that if he disappeared like Jeffries and Desmond, to do everything possible to find him. He said he was “trying to kill two birds with one stone.” This could mean Cooper was trying to take out both BOB and Jowday. This retcon calls into question just how much of the past events Agent Cooper has actually been in control of. It’s heavily implied that his entry into the Black Lodge was anticipated, and made part of his plan with Briggs and Cole. For unknown reasons, it was kept secret from Albert. However, Gordon says that he isn’t sure if the plan is unfolding properly, as he expected to hear from the real Cooper by now. I believe the setback to the plan was the unanticipated creation of Dougie by DoppelCoop, which hindered Cooper.

We return to the jail, where Naido and the drunk have finally fallen asleep, so Chad is able to execute his escape. Now, much has been made of the drunk and his potential connections to Chad, Billy, and Naido, and why he disappears later. I honestly don’t think we have enough information to go on with him. There’s a decent possibility that he’s Billy, but he may also just be a weird character put in by Lynch for his odd humor. Sort of like the sweeping scene, but a character instead. Admittedly, however, it is odd that, when the drunk wakes up, Chad is discouraged from his escape attempt, and, later, when the drunk passes out but everyone else is awake, Chad continues his escape attempt. Also, judging by his weird sores and injuries, he may be addicted to the Sparkle drug. It’s also very curious why he isn’t in a hospital…

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Meanwhile, Jerry turns up naked in Wyoming. This could just be for comedic effect, but the first thing it made me think was that he had been struck by lightning, which can sometimes knock the clothes off of people. Now, you may point out that, if it was lightning, there would have been obvious signs, and it would have been mentioned. I think there were no signs because it wasn’t literal lightning, but a spiritual lightning. In Native American lore, lightning represents a spiritual awakening, usually granted by a thunder bird. You can read more about the connection between the thunder birds and Twin Peaks here. Perhaps Jerry had an epiphany?

DoppelCoop’s coordinates take him to Jack Rabbit’s Palace. He approaches the pool of liquid gold next to the lone sycamore and time begins to skip as the portal opens. DoppelCoop makes it into the White Lodge, but Briggs has laid a trap for him. This is probably part of the plan he put together with Cooper 25 years ago. DoppelCoop is caught in a machine, and, instead of making it to the Palmer house like he planned, the Fireman sends DoppelCoop to the Sheriff’s Station, for the final confrontation. We see many of the dome-shaped machines working in a room, as DoppelCoop is transported away.

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As he arrives, Naido sits bolt upright. When Andy and Lucy see him, they assume he’s Agent Cooper and are excited, until Andy remembers his vision from his meeting with the Fireman, in which he’s leading Lucy down the hallway. However, he doesn’t seem to know what to make of this. But once Agent Cooper refuses coffee, I think that clues Andy in that something’s wrong. He runs to get Hawk and tell him. Meanwhile, Chad is executing his big escape in the jail. Naido wakes up the drunk, who begins tearing the tube out of his nose angrily. Andy enters the jail, looking for Hawk, and gets held up by Chad, only to be rescued by Freddy. Upstairs, Lucy gets a call from Agent Cooper, and figures out how cell phones work.

This ongoing gag about Lucy and cell phones, I think, is a joke about Twin Peaks, both the show and the town, being perpetually stuck in the 1950s. It’s also a little play on the existence of Doppelgangers, and a person being in two places at once.

Anyway, Lucy turns bad ass and guns down DoppelCoop, which is what Andy’s vision was foretelling. The real Cooper, via phone call, warns Frank Truman not to touch the body, while Andy brings the occupants of the jail cell, Naido, James, and Freddie, but notably not the drunk, into the Sheriff’s office. He was probably previously instructed to do so by the Fireman.  Then, three Woodsmen show up and begin trying to resurrect DoppelCoop. I believe that the blood they rub on his face is actually a representation of Garmonbozia (remember, it was represented as blood during the ending of Fire Walk With Me). This should revitalize him, but it doesn’t work. Instead, just as the real Cooper arrives, the BOB tumor erupts from DoppelCoop’s stomach and attacks Cooper. Freddy steps forward and challenges BOB, narrowly defeating him, fulfilling his destiny.

Freddie

One of the most commonly raised complaints about Part 17 is the showdown between Freddie and the BOB tumor. Fans complained that it was ridiculous and mindless — too easy for the big showdown with BOB himself. This uncharacteristic anticlimax led fans to wonder if Lynch was making a joke, perhaps about superhero franchises, where problems are often solved by punching things. An interesting theory says that, had the series continued in the 90’s, Nadine, who had super strength at the time, would have been to one to punch BOB out. Once her story arc was altered, Freddie was supposedly created to fill the void.

But why is Freddie, the chosen warrior of the White Lodge, from England? It’s so seemingly out of the blue. However, I think there’s a reasonable explanation.

In the past, the Black Lodge has made good work of removing the agents of the White Lodge. They took Agents Jeffries, Desmond, Stanley, and even Cooper. They killed Bill Hastings when he started to talk. They took the real Diane and replaced her with a Tulpa agent. They killed Laura Palmer. They even took Audrey, who was a close friend of Agent Cooper’s and may have had a larger role to play. They possessed Sarah Palmer. They killed Major Briggs. The White Lodge needed to find agents that the Black Lodge wouldn’t see coming. They used Andy and Lucy, two of the last people who might be perceived of as a threat to the Black Lodge. They may have brought Laura Palmer back from the dead. So someone far from Twin Peaks, who the Black Lodge couldn’t get to and corrupt, was an ideal candidate.

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Cooper puts the ring on his Doppelganger’s finger, and its body disappears. Cooper asks Frank for his old room key, saying that Major Briggs told him that “Sheriff Truman would have it.” This strengthens the idea that Briggs had some ability to time travel through his dealings with the White Lodge. As the FBI arrive, Cooper notices Naido, and his face becomes interposed over the following events. This is because Cooper, has dreamed all of this before. In effect, he already watched himself do all these things, that’s how he knows what will happen. The interposed face is the dreaming Cooper watching all of this happen.

Next is a moment that almost seems like exposition, but it’s all very confusing exposition. Bobby arrives, as do Albert, Gordon, and Tammy, and Cooper launches into a speech. He explains that Garland Briggs “was well-aware of what is going on today.”  He then says, “Now, there are some things that will change. The past dictates the future.” This is a fairly clear indication that Cooper intends to alter the timeline, or knows that someone else will. Naido runs over to Cooper and touches hands with him, and the curse placed on her by the Black Lodge burns away, with much black smoke. The facade cracks, revealing Diane, who has candy-red hair. It would seem that, after attacking her and taking her to the Black Lodge, DoppelCoop trapped Diane in the form of Naido, who could not communicate, and was disguised so Cooper couldn’t recognize her, then made a Tulpa to take her place in the outside world.

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People have drawn a connection between Diane and Jack Parsons’s second wife, Marjorie Cameron, who also had neon red hair. Parsons believed that Marjorie was an “elemental” created by a ritual he’d performed, who was destined to help him with his magic.

Cooper and Diane kiss passionately, and the interposed image of Coop’s face disappears, suggesting this is where his dream ended. However, the face reappears a moment later. Coop asks Diane if she remembers everything, and she says she does. To me, this implies that she is also part of Cooper’s plan. Time starts glitching, as if it is stuck in one moment. With much distortion, the Cooper face says, “We live inside a dream.” The “regular” Cooper says to everyone that he hopes he sees them again, then stresses, “every one of you.” This suggests that he knows some of these characters do not exist in other timelines.

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Then, everything fades to black. Coop and Gordon call out to each other, almost as if asking, “Are you ready?” because they next move is together, along with Diane. They walk through the darkness and enter what seems to be a basement, filled with machines, like James saw a few episodes ago. However, it’s all very dreamlike as this basement seems to be made up of various other environments. It’s reminiscent of the basement BOB appeared in in the original series, as well as the one James saw, and includes the door to Coop’s old room at the Great Northern. We also hear the hum that Ben and Beverly have been hearing, which apparently indicates the nearness of another dimension. Some have suggested that this is the basement of the Great Northern, and the old key was repurposed for a door down there once the switch was made to key cards.

Cooper’s face fades out, for good this time. We see many doors down here, which to me suggests different dimensions are accessible from here. Coop enters one door and tells Gordon and Diane not to follow him. He looks back and them and says, “I’ll see you at the curtain call,” a reference to his meeting with Diane at the portal of the Black Lodge, the “curtain call” obviously referring to the red curtains in the waiting room. It also has a more meta interpretation, as the curtain call can also indicate the part of a stage production, after the play when the curtains go down, and the actors come out to take a bow. I noticed also that the black paint near the door he enters is speckled with white and looks remarkably similar to the background when we see him falling through non-existence.

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Cooper meets up with MIKE, who recites the Fire Walk With Me poem, which causes electricity to flash. They are transported to The Dutchman’s to visit Phillip Jeffries. We see the Jumping Man leave down the stairway, which may suggest some collusion between he and Jeffries.

Cooper gives Jeffries the date of Laura Palmer’s murder, and MIKE begins shaking his head. Perhaps he is sad, thinking of what happened, or perhaps he sees the folly of what Cooper is trying to do. Jeffries says he’ll find the date for them, and says, “It’s slippery in here.” The way he says it makes it clear that the two statements are connected, but what does the latter mean? I think it means that time is “slippery,” that it often glitches and is hard to keep hold of. He tells Cooper to say hi to Gordon, who will apparently “remember the unofficial version.” Read this as: “He will have residual memories of me from the erased timeline.”

Jeffries begins to spout some confusing dialog here.

This is where you’ll find Judy. There may be someone. Did you… ask me this?”

I’ll get back to that in the next article, though. Bear with me. He then shows them the Owl Cave insignia, which turns into an eight, then an infinity symbol, with a small dot traveling along it. This suggests an infinite loop, that Cooper has done this before. After the dot moves along the lemniscate for a moment, there’s a mechanical clank and it stops, as Jeffries finds the right time for Cooper. He says, “You can go in now,” mirroring when, in the Lodge, MIKE tells him, “You can go out now.” He then implores Cooper to remember, probably, to remember the alternate timeline, which holds some pertinent information. MIKE, who has been shaking his head all this time, says, “Electricity.” Right on queue, electricity crackles and time jumps as the energy is produced to transport Cooper back to the night Laura was murdered.

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We see events replay. Laura leaving with James to the woods, then James leaving her. This time, Cooper is watching. He was all along. Laura even sees him, and screams. After James leaves and Laura is alone in the woods, Cooper appears to her. She recognizes him from her dreams, and takes his hand. Her body, wrapped in plastic, disappears from the shore. He tells her, “We’re going home,” suggesting that he plans on taking her back to her house.

We cut to the Palmer house in what seems to be the 25 years later time period, and Sarah Palmer, who’s been possessed by Jowday all along, grabs the iconic photo of Laura, and, wailing the whole time, attempts to destroy it with a broken liquor bottle. Time skips, and no matter how many times she tries to stab the photo, she can’t damage it. In short, Jowday wants Laura dead, but cannot harm her. Laura is protected.

However, as Cooper is leading Laura by the hand through the woods, periodically checking to make sure she’s still there, we hear the sounds that the Fireman played for Cooper at the beginning of Part 1, and Laura vanishes. We hear Laura’s death scream, and Cooper looks despondent. Jowday couldn’t kill Laura, so she took her.

But, where is Laura now? Will Coop see Gordon and Diane again? What was Phillip Jeffries talking about? Find out in the thrilling conclusion, when I analyze Part 18 of Twin Peaks: The Return!

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Drink Full and Descend: The Secrets Revealed in Part 8 and What They Mean

Kyle MacLachlan in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

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.

01

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.”

02

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 anymore
She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away
She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away
Away
Away
A 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 back
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
She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away
Away
Away
Away
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.

03

July 16th, 1945. White Sands, New Mexico. 5:29 AM (MWT).

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.

04

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.

05

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.

06

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.

Anyway…

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.

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Robert Broski, a.k.a. the Woodsman, as Abraham Lincoln.

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…

07

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.

08

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!

The Owls Are Not What They Seem

Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

THE GIANT: I will tell you three things. If I tell them to you and they come true, then will you believe me?

COOPER: Who’s that?

THE GIANT: Think of me as a friend.

COOPER: Where do you come from?

THE GIANT: The question is, where have you gone? The first thing I will tell you is: There’s a man in a smiling bag.

COOPER: A man in a smiling bag…

THE GIANT: The second thing is: The owls are not what they seem. The third thing is: Without chemicals, he points.

COOPER: What do these things mean?

THE GIANT: This is all I am permitted to say.

owls

The phrase, “The owls are not what they seem,” is one of the most notorious and highly debated taglines of the Twin Peaks series. While most theorists are able to come to some general consensus about the meaning behind it, not everyone is able to agree on a deeper meaning. So, the owls are not what they seem… but what exactly are they? Dugpas? Demons? Angels? Aliens? Spies? Or something else? In this article, I will delve into the various theories and examine the evidence for each one.

After the Giant relays the ominous message to Cooper, it turns up again when Major Briggs arrives at Coop’s hotel room, bearing a piece of paper containing code. The code was read by “deep space monitors,” which we later learn are actually pointed at the woods in Twin Peaks. Most of the code is “radio waves and gibberish,” except for the phrase, “The owls are not what they seem,” and Cooper’s name repeated. This message was received at roughly the same time Cooper was shot, perhaps right as he was being visited by the Giant, who also relays the message. At first, we are sort of tricked into thinking this message came from aliens in outer space. We only later on learn that these monitors were actually pointed towards Ghostwood, which some branch of the government has apparently been researching as part of Project Blue Book. This last bit of information, of course, is revealed to us during the most hectic days for the Twin Peaks writing staff, about midway through season 2, when both David Lynch and Mark Frost were interested in other projects and the remaining writers were left to patch together the rest of the path based on rough drafts, guesswork, and their own ideas. This has caused certain fans to write it off, though it remains, in fact, canonical.

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Owl-like aliens seen on the cover of Whitley Strieber’s Communion

One popular theory, and the one that fits the best with the Project Blue Book storyline, is that the owls are aliens, as is written by Whitley Strieber in his novel Communion. In this novel, the author says he struggled with suppressed memories of alien abduction, and that, before he unlocked these memories clearly, all he could remember was the image of owls staring at him through his window. He later finds that the owls are a disguise used by the aliens, ergo, they are not what they seem.

If the owls are aliens (of some sort), then the involvement of Major Briggs and Project Blue Book amidst Native American mythology and Tibetan Buddhist spirituality seems a little less inexplicable.

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Another theory is that the owls are possessed by BOB and/or other Dugpas. This theory fits the infamous image of BOB, crouched behind Laura’s bed, with an overlay of an owl face. It also nicely explains how BOB is able to learn some secrets of the townsfolk, as he would be able to spy on them in disguise. Some further supporting points can be discovered by delving into mythology and folklore, which may have been drawn upon by Mark Frost, who would commonly weave such symbols into the mythos of Twin Peaks.

At one point, MIKE refers to BOB as his “familiar.” In black magic lore, a familiar is a demon that takes the form of an animal. In this case, the demon is BOB, and the animal is an owl. Owls have commonly been associated with witches and demons, especially through the entity Lilith, who is a patroness of witches and often said to take the form of an owl, or as being a woman with legs and wings of and owl. This would make the animal a natural choice for a familiar. They seem to be BOB’s personal favorite animal to take the form of, or perhaps the only animal he can take the form of, since owls, and no other animal, are repeatedly warned against by multiple knowing sources.

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Wood cut by Hans Wechtlin

Almost every ancient culture has seen the owl as heralding misfortune and even death. They are associated with witches, graveyards and demons that lurk in the night. In Chinese folklore, owls are seen as an omen of death (as their “hoo” call sounds like the Chinese word “hu,” which means “dig,” i.e., “dig a grave”), and associated with ghosts. The Chinese also linked owls with thunder and lightning. This is significant to Twin Peaks‘s owls, due to the symbolism of electricity, heyoka, and thunderbirds of Native American folklore.

This supports the idea that the owls of Twin Peaks are spirits that spy on the townsfolk, either inhabited by BOB, other Dugpas, or being separate entities of their own. Evidence indicates that BOB utilizes the owls, or is taking the form of the owls, which also ties into the idea of him being MIKE’s familiar. One area of confusion for this theory, however, is when the Log Lady brings Cooper to the Roadhouse, telling him “we [my Log and I] don’t know what will happen or when, but there are owls in the Roadhouse.” However, BOB is not present: He is at the Palmer residence, murdering Maddy Ferguson. It should be noted that the Elderly Bellhop (one and the same with the Giant) is present, which lends credence to the idea that the owls are commonly used vessels for all Lodge spirits; not just BOB.

 

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If the owls are aliens, or if the owls are spirits, or vessels for the Dugpas, it is necessary at some point to question the distinction between each of these. According to writer Bob Engels, there were some rough ideas for Season 3 that involved the Dugpas being from a planet of creamed corn, which would make them aliens, and reinforce the Project Blue Book storyline. However, this would seem like some odd back-tracking, after the revelation that the message received from the deep space monitors came not from space, but from the woods. If this storyline is to be taken into consideration, though, it blurs the distinction between spirit and alien.

There is yet another theory that the owls are agents separate from the beings that we know, perhaps spirits of nature simply observing these events that pass through their woods. I would argue that this does little if anything for the story, and is contradicted by evidence that BOB is connected to the owls. Besides, most signs support the notion that the Dugpas are nature spirits of a kind, even if it is a darker side of nature.

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It’s most likely that no definitive answer will ever be given on the nature of Twin Peaks‘s owls, as final answers are so rarely given in Lynch’s surrealist world. There are so many theories to consider, each with their own set of compelling evidence. Which do you find to be the most convincing theory? Or do you have your own interpretation? What other mysteries from Twin Peaks still have you stumped? Let me know in the comments section below!

“With This Ring, I Thee Wed”

Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks

The circle of Sycamore Trees at Glastonbury Grove, where the entrance to the Lodges is located.

The circle of Sycamore Trees at Glastonbury Grove, where the entrance to the Lodges is located.

“BOB and I, when we were killing together, it was this, this perfect relationship. Appetite, satisfaction; a golden circle.” -The One-Armed Man

A circle of trees… A golden ring… A spinning ceiling fan… A gem with a mysterious insignia… A phone with a little ring… A circle of burning candles… A beautiful girl’s ring… A cycle of appetite and satisfaction.

There are many rings, and references to rings, in Twin Peaks; The ring with the Owl Cave insignia on it (which for the sake of brevity we will call the “Owl Ring”); Cooper’s ring, which the Giant takes and returns to him once the killer’s identity is revealed; Audrey’s query to Cooper, “Do you like my ring?” But what does all that mean? Some of them are arguably less significant than others, but, according to my theory, any small reference to “rings” or “circles” is there to reinforce the importance of the more overt ring symbols. In this article, we will focus on the meaning behind these symbols, and what is perhaps the true meaning of the Owl Ring.

The Little Man From Another Place holding the Owl Ring.

The Little Man From Another Place holding the Owl Ring.

We already know that the Owl Ring is associated with BOB, MIKE and their victims: Both Teresa Banks and Laura Palmer were wearing it before they died, and Annie Blackburn returned from the Black Lodge with it on her finger. Agent Chester Desmond, in his investigation into Teresa’s murder, discovers the Owl Ring, and afterwards, disappears. In Agent Philip Jeffries’ flashback, we see the Little Man from Another Place put the Owl Ring on the green Formica table and say: “With this ring, I thee wed,” after which Mrs. Tremond’s Grandson/the Chalfont boy points at BOB and says “Fell a victim,” which may be an order, or a statement. I believe it was an order.

The Chalfont boy telling BOB to "fell a victim."

The Chalfont boy telling BOB to “fell a victim.”

Mrs. Tremond expresses her dislike of creamed corn to Donna.

Mrs. Tremond expresses her dislike of creamed corn to Donna.

It is my theory that the Chalfonts are the Black Lodge Dopplegangers of the Tremonds: The Chalfonts are working only to aid in the collection of more Garmonbozia, manipulating Laura and making it easier for her to slip into BOB’s clutches (I believe the painting they gave her is designed as a kind of trap), while the Tremonds give Donna clues about the identity of Laura’s killer. In Jeffries’ vision, we are seeing the Chalfont boy participating in the Black Lodge ritual and commanding BOB to go fetch them more Garmonbozia. We know that circles are often used in real-life rituals, and we even see MIKE ritualistically chanting “Fire Walk With Me” as he lights a circle of twelve candle, mimicking the circle of twelve sycamore trees surrounding the entrance to the Lodge in Glastonbury Grove; an entrance which can only be opened by a ritualistic act of either Love or Fear. It seems to me that the multiple mentions of “rings” and “circles” implies a cyclical nature to these ritualistic killings: In these almost ritualistic murders, there is always a Killer (BOB inside of a Vessel) and a Victim, to whom he is wedded. As long as Laura did not put on the ring, she would not be the Victim: She would be the Vessel for the Killer. However, once she put the Owl Ring on, she was ritualistically wed to Killer BOB, and thus had to be murdered, in order to faithfully complete the ritual. It appears that there is some law that the denizens of the Black Lodge must follow, binding them to the rules of this feeding ritual. Once the Owl Ring has been placed upon the chosen Victim’s finger, the Killer must execute them. Agent Chet Desmond finds the Owl Ring in a mound of dirt underneath the Chalfont’s trailer, so presumably another ritual was taking place, had taken place, or was about to take place there. This may have been where Teresa’s sacrifice was made, as she was killed very nearby in her trailer, or it may have been set in order to sacrifice Desmond himself. But if Desmond was not sacrificed, then what happened to him? Why did he disappear after finding the Owl Ring? Judging by what we already know about the Black Lodge, he most likely slipped into that world, and became trapped there, as Agent Cooper eventually would. This is, perhaps, also part of the ritual cycle: A detective investigates the murder of a woman, and the detective goes missing. Theoretical examples of this would be Teresa Banks/Chet Desmond and Sam Stanley, Laura Palmer/Dale Cooper, and Judy(?)/Philip Jeffries.

MIKE performs the Fire Walk With Me Ritual.

MIKE performs the Fire Walk With Me Ritual.

Taking this theory further, it is a possibility that Audrey’s reference to her ring may have been an early foreshadow to the purpose of the Owl Ring: To indicate who BOB’s next victim would be. This was meant, according to my theory, to reference early on the fact that Audrey would eventually be BOB’s intended victim, after he had possessed Evil Cooper (This is before the character of Annie was made up to take Audrey’s place).

The question is where MIKE fits into this ritual. He refers to BOB as his partner, and says that they killed together, which implies that they both played the role of Killer. Another possibility is that BOB was more of a servant to MIKE; he executed the Victim on behalf of MIKE, and delivered the Garmonbozia to him. In Cooper’s dream-vision, MIKE portrays himself almost as having been enslaved to the killing impulse until he cut his left arm off. The left arm may be a significant choice here, as it references not only the “Left-Hand” or “Sinister” Path, but also the ring finger, which in American tradition is on the left hand. In the final episode, as the path to the Black Lodge is opening up, Cooper, Pete, and a woman at the Double R experience tremors in their hands as a sort of presentiment. Major Briggs also, arguably, experiences this hand tremor when he is picked up after having been injected with truth serum: Both hands (and indeed his whole body) are shaking, but, when he is in the sheriff’s department, he is holding up his left hand, with his wedding ring on it, against his face, which may be reinforcing the significance of the ring finger in Twin Peaks’ symbolism. (Interesting note: Cooper, Pete and the woman at the diner all experience tremors in their right hands.) We have seen that MIKE wore Owl Ring on his right pinky finger while showing it to Laura: Is it possible that, before he cut off his left arm, he wore the evil ring on his own left hand during these times? And is it possible that wearing the Owl Ring is what allowed MIKE to possess Philip Gerard in the first place? We can only speculate.

MIKE wearing the Owl Ring.

MIKE wearing the Owl Ring

Two more important elements to note are the cycle of the planets and time loops. The cycle of the planets is of great significance to the Lodges and its residence, as it is by watching for certain alignments that one may know when the portal to the Lodges will open. We may also speculate that it was important to them because certain rituals could or should only be performed during certain alignments (think of the Pagan Sabbats, for example, which are celebrations taking place during certain planetary alignments). Time loops are also a noticeable aspect not only of Twin Peaks, but in many of David Lynch’s films. Fire Walk With Me is notoriously both a prequel and a sequel to the series, as events that occur both before and after the events of the series take place in a very disorienting manner. How is Annie Blackburn seen in Laura’s bed, speaking words she says after the events of the series finale? How is Dale Cooper already in the Lodge, speaking to Laura in her dream? How is Cooper an old man in the Lodge, while Laura is still a young woman? The answer is: Because time is not linear in the Lodges, as it is in our world. When it comes to the Black Lodge, time twists and turns, and when it interacts with this world, it may be that time loops and warps are a symptom of its interferences. This may be how Cooper and Annie are able to speak to Laura across time, and Cooper is seen as old, while Laura appears to still be young (although there may be other explanations for these instances). Hence the “ring” symbolism could also refer to the all-important cycle of the planets, as well as the bizarre time loops cause by the Black Lodge.

The full Owl Cave symbol.

The full Owl Cave symbol.

A final question: What is the significance of the symbol emblazoned on the ring, and why is it the same as the petroglyphs in Owl Cave? Well, it seems that the Black Lodge’s occupants have been crossing into this world for some time: They seem to have had encounters with the Native Americans, working their way into their folklore, which Hawk recounts to Agent Cooper. In the early days of their journeys into this world, the Dugpas may have had encounters with early humans, who then drew what they had seen onto the walls of what would become Owl Cave. Another possibility is that an early incarnation of the Bookhouse Boys is responsible for the drawings and strange mechanisms in Owl Cave. It is implied that the Bookhouse Boys have known about something deep in the woods for some time now, though they may never have been entirely sure what it was. They may have learned about the Black Lodge and its occupants, and hidden the information in Owl Cave, so that future initiates could find it if need be, and so the information could not be misused by those with an evil heart, such as Windom Earle. Whatever the reason was, it is most probable that the symbol has been used by the Dugpas for ritualistic purposes for centuries. It looks like a stylized owl, and though that interpretation is accurate, we all know that the owls are not what they seem, and therefore, neither is the symbol. I believe that the symbol can also be interpreted thusly: The “wings” are the Twin Peaks which give the town its name, and the diamond shape between them is the portal to the Lodges.

Another important thing of note: Tibetan Buddhism uses the idea of karma, which, among other things, plays a large role in the death experience, and controls what happens to a person when they die. If you are a good person, who chose wisely, acted kindly, and chose the path of love and light, then you would ascend to a higher level when you died. If, however, you lived as a cruel, ignorant or violent person, you could get caught in a karmic circle of pain and suffering, and be forced to reincarnate over and over again, until you evolve spiritually and become a better person. By choosing not to face his shadow self, and instead running from him in fear, Cooper was choosing the lower path; the path of fear and ignorance. Thus, instead of finding his way safely through the Black Lodge, he was trapped in a loop, unable to escape.

In summary: The Black Lodge denizens participate in an ancient ritual; a cycle of blood sacrifices. As part of the ritual, they created a special ring (the Owl Ring) to mark their chosen sacrifices. These sacrifices result in the production of Garmonbozia (pain and suffering), which the Dugpas feed upon. The various ring and circle symbols scattered throughout Twin Peaks reinforce the significance of this object to the central storyline. By taking Cooper’s ring, the Giant was not only giving him a sign that he’d finally found the killer, but was also giving him a visually key with which he could decipher the rest of the mystery. Too bad he didn’t get the chance before the series was cancelled. But with Showtime’s revival of Twin Peaks in 2016, there is a chance the Giant’s clue may not go entirely unnoticed.