The Long Lost Phillip Jeffries – Explained!

Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for Fire Walk with Me and The Secret History of Twin Peaks.

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One of the most enigmatic scenes in all of Twin Peaks is the brief but memorable appearance of the “long lost” Phillip Jeffries (played by the late great David Bowie, R.I.P.). The scene sparked so many questions with the very little it showed us, and almost none of it is explained or even referenced again in the film. It’s a bizarre aside in the larger story, but there is undoubtedly great importance to it. It features many integral characters and motifs, yet it is so hard to fit in with the rest of the movie. What is Jeffries doing in Buenos Aires? Why has he been missing? Who is Judy?  What is the relevance to the rest of the plot?

Jeffries’ appearance is one of the most hotly debated mysteries among Peaks Freaks everywhere, and, in this article, I will attempt to put the story as straight as possible for the benefit of both veteran fans, and the curious newcomer. First, we will go over the major points of interest from the main scene, then, in the end, we will construct the most coherent narrative we can from one of the most surreal moments in the film.

I’d like to cite that one of my major sources for this article is this enlightening post from the Above the Convenience Store blog, so go read it first. Also, I am drawing dialogue from The Missing Pieces, which contains an altogether different take of the Phillip Jeffries scene with bits of extra dialogue.

Phillip Jeffries appears, walking out of the elevator at and walking straight into Gordon Cole’s office. Agent Cooper spots him, along with what may be his own Doppelganger, on the security camera. He says he remembers this from a dream he had. Rushing into the office, Cooper meets up with Cole, and Albert Rosenfield, who have just come face-to-face with Jeffries, who seems anxious and confused.

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“Cooper, meet the long-lost Phillip Jeffries. You may have heard of him from the academy.”

We’ll start here, as it is the only back story we are really given to Jeffries. Given the reference to him being talked about by the academy, it’s safe to assume he’s an FBI agent, while he’s never explicitly called one. He is also associated with Dale Cooper, Gordon Cole, Albert Rosenfield, Sam Stanley, and Chester Desmond in The Secret History of Twin Peaks. He’s been with the FBI much longer than Cooper, as he was apparently being talked about at the academy while Dale was still training there.

So Jeffries has been on the case for a while. But what case?

The reference to Jeffries being “long-lost” is the most intriguing part here, and actually gives us a good idea of what has happened to him. We know of other FBI agents who have been “lost” — Desmond and Stanley are both missing by the end of the film, and Cooper can be presumed to be in a similar state in the aftermath of season 2These agents all have one thing in common: Involvement with the Black Lodge, and Gordon Cole’s “Blue Rose” cases.

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“Listen to me carefully. I’ve been to one of their meetings. It was above a convenience store.”

Jeffries ignores all of the other agents’ questions and goes on a harried tangent about a “meeting” he witnessed, which we see overlapping Jeffries’ scene in Cole’s office. He says that this was a “dream” (and that we live inside a dream), and that he found something in Seattle “at Judy’s.” This “something” may be an opening to the Lodges, or it could be the secret meeting place of the Dugpa — the room above the convenience store. Or perhaps this “something” was an artifact related to the Dugpa, as he then babbles about “the ring,” before breaking down crying.

Jeffries also has some revelation or recollection about the date May, 1989, and subsequently disappears as if he was never there. What the relevance of this is is never elaborated upon, and the date is never reached during the course of the series. It was, however, important enough for it to warrant an appearance in the trailer for The Missing Pieces, and most likely has some connection to Major Briggs’ enigmatic “mayday protocols” mentioned towards the end of The Secret History of Twin Peaks. Could it be that Jeffries, Judy, and Briggs were all involved in some plot that was to take place on May 1st, “Mayday”? Are they all involved in the mayday protocols?

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“I’m not going to talk about Judy. In fact we’re not gonna talk about Judy at all. We’re gonna keep her out of it.”

Judy is one of the most talked about mysteries in the fandom, and more has been said and hypothesized about her than I can include here (a very in-depth study on the history of Judy as a character can be found here). Suffice to say, it’s probable she was Jeffries’ informant or partner, who was involved in the case with him. She’s important enough for him to tell the other agents that “Judy is positive about this,” as if her opinion holds weight with them. Albert Rosenfield even scoffs “How interesting. I thought we were going to leave her out of it,” as if he knows Judy and doesn’t approve of her in some way. This supports the possibility of Judy being Jeffries’ partner. But why is he reluctant to talk about her? Why does he want to “keep Judy out of this”? Was there some point of contention between himself, Judy, and the other agents? Did they not think he should be involved with her? Could it be that she was a person of interest in a case, and Jeffries became romantically entangled with her, in keeping with the classic film noir trope? What is she so positive about, anyway?

Evil Doppelgangers of Cooper and Leland.

 

“Who do you think this is there?”

Near the beginning of the scene, Jeffries points to Cooper and asks Cole, “Who do you think that is there?” No one has any idea what he is talking about, and Jeffries never elaborates. However, I have an idea. We might presume that for the past two years, Jeffries has been, like Cooper, lost in the Black Lodge, which as we know operates in nonlinear time. Just as young Laura was able to meet an old Cooper and transmit a message to the past through him, it is not far-fetched to believe that Jeffries, during his wanderings in the Black Lodge, came across Cooper’s Doppelganger, and now that he is out, believes that Cooper is still not who he seems. In effect, this is more or less a “foreshadow” of Cooper’s possession by BOB at the end of season 2.

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“He’s gone.”

Before anything can be done, there are electrical problems, and Jeffries vanishes. This is a pretty clear indication that the magic of the Black Lodge is at work here. He reappears at his hotel in Buenos Aires in a burst of flame, much to the shock of his bellhop. Now here, I’d like to bring up the subject of Buenos Aires and why Jeffries is there. If you watch The Missing Pieces, we find that Jeffries arrives at his hotel to receive a message from a woman, presumably Judy. This suggests that they were investigating something there together, or, that they had run away together. Possibly both. In either case, something strange is definitely happening to Jeffries, possibly as a consequence of wearing or proximity to the Owl Ring. It appears he randomly phases in and out of dimensions, possibly by way of the Black Lodge. I suggest that after disappearing in Buenos Aires, he briefly went through the Black Lodge and emerged in Philadelphia. This explains his panicked but determined demeanor: He understands that he has been given a chance to warn Cole, but also that he has little time before he phases out again. He tries to alert Cole about to the relevant points: BOB’s leaving the Black Lodge to go on a murderous rampage, the ring, and even “Evil Cooper.”

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Conclusion

Well, I want to tell you everything, but I sure don’t have a lot to go on. But I’ll do the best I can to construct the most likely narrative:

Phillip Jeffries is an FBI agent, working closely with Gordon Cole, and possibly also with Major Garland Briggs. He takes on a “Blue Rose” case, which, most likely, marks the case as involving the supernatural. In keeping with the recurring motif in Twin Peaks, we might presume there was the murder of a young woman involved. Jeffries goes to Seattle to investigate and meets Judy, who is a person of interest in the case. He and Judy become romantically entangled, to the disapproval of Jeffries’ peers. He meets her at her house, and she shows him the Owl Ring and possibly gives it to him. He sleeps over that night and (“I found something… in Seattle, at Judy’s.”) has a dream, caused by the Owl Ring. In this dream, he sees Dugpas, and follows them to a meeting in a room above a convenience store. Upon waking, he discovers that he now phases through dimensions in a burst of flame, something which he has no control over. In order to help him, he and Judy investigate the ring and the Dugpas, an investigation that takes Jeffries away from his previous assignment in Seattle, and causes him to go off the radar for two years. This leads them to Buenos Aires, where they believe there is another opening to the Black Lodge. They plan to meet up at the hotel, but when Jeffries arrives, Judy is gone, and she left a note. He then disappears from the hotel, enters the Black Lodge, and re-emerges in Philadelphia, where he attempts to warn Cole of the horrors he has discovered before disappearing again in a burst of flames and reappearing in Buenos Aires.

There are still many loose threads and exact details missing, like the involvement of Windom Earle, who was allegedly in Buenos Aires with Jeffries and Judy, and the bizarre security camera phenomenon, but I believe my proposed scenario fits in well with the overarching story and helps explain some of the non sequitors that proliferate this scene. For sure, there are still more mysteries to be uncovered, and hopefully we will learn some of the answers when Twin Peaks returns this May.

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Through the Darkness of Future’s Past: The Magician and the Devilish One

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Written for Twin Peaks Freaks by Eden H. Roquelaire.

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for Twin Peaks the series and Fire Walk With Me.

“Through the darkness of future’s past, the magician longs to see. One chants out between two worlds… Fire Walk With Me.”

Undoubtedly, one of the most fascinating arcs of Twin Peaks was the mystery of MIKE and the One-Armed Man, Philip Gerard. Unfortunately, Gerard disappears from the series after Season 2, episode 9 (“Arbitrary Law”), and his reappearance in the film Fire Walk with Me brings up more mysteries than answers.

After watching Fire Walk With Me, I think I was left with the most questions about MIKE and BOB. There were a lot of things bugging me. What were the origins of MIKE? Was he an ordinary man once, or a spirit like BOB? Was the Man from Another Place truly helping Cooper, if he was indeed the “evil” left arm? Why, indeed, was the Man From Another Place a representation of MIKE’s arm? Who is MIKE, anyway, and whose side is he on?

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Angels and Demons:

My first theory involving MIKE also involves the Angel seen at the end of Fire Walk With Me. It is an important point that angels seem to exist in the Twin Peaks universe, or else some being is using the image of an angel to appear to humans. The being that Laura sees is her angel, the one she was hoping for, and, in her perception, the angel came for her in the end. Most likely, this was an emissary from the White Lodge, taking the appearance of an angel in order to appear to Laura when it came to guide her to the next plain of existence.

So, if angels exist (to an extent) in the Twin Peaks universe, is it possible that they appear anywhere else in the series?

When I first saw Cooper’s dream sequence, where MIKE is introduced, my mind immediately drew an association between him and the Archangel Michael, based mostly just on their shared name, and their connections with Christianity. As I delved deeper, I found that this association actually makes even more sense than I initially thought, and helps to explain his relationship with BOB. Correlations can be found between MIKE and BOB, and the Archangel Michael and the Dragon of Revelations.

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MIKE is the Archangel Michael, adversary of the Devil/Dragon/Lucifer, who will strike him down during the Apocalypse. In Muslim lore, the Archangel Michael is believed to have wings the color of emerald, paralleling the stone in Owl Ring and the color of the infamous Formica table. Michael is also said to have been given dominion over the forces of nature, such as wind, snow, rain, and lightning — wind being a recurring element in David Lynch’s movies, and lightning tying in with the symbolism of the Dugpas. Michael is also an angel strongly associated with repentance, and MIKE is first presented to us as a repentant killer, desperate to atone for his crimes after seeing “the face of God.” Michael’s planetary affiliation is Mercury, the planet of alchemy and ritual magic. In Roman mythology, Mercury is the God of Magicians, which connects to the Magician who “longs to see.”

BOB is Lucifer/the Devil/the Dragon, who, with “the fury of his own momentum,” breaks away from the other Dugpas (similar to how Lucifer leaves Heaven, wanting to run his own Kingdom). Both are strongly associated with fire, death, and “the evil that men do.” When we first see BOB in Cooper’s dream, he is in the basement. This can have psychological connotations, such as representing evil’s residency in the depths of the subconscious, but it could also connect to the Devil’s place in subterranean Hell. In the battle that takes place in Revelations, Lucifer, in the form of a Dragon, battles the Archangel Michael, and is finally defeated. This conflict between the two mirrors MIKE’s need to defeat BOB.

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Another intriguing clue into the nature of this relationship is that MIKE refers to BOB as his “familiar.” This implies that, though he is “similar” to BOB, they are not equal, as BOB would seem to be his servant. A familiar, in Black Magic folklore, is a demon that takes animal form to serve a witch or warlock. This would imply that BOB was once servile to MIKE, and perhaps the other Lodge spirits, until he gained “the fury of his own momentum” and broke away.

Piecing these clues together begins to weave a convincing narrative: MIKE and BOB are spirits, possessing human forms, who work together, killing and sowing misery in order to collect garmonbozia for themselves and the other Lodge spirits. However, BOB becomes greedy, and breaks away from the rest of the spirits, stealing all the garmonbozia for himself. At some point, MIKE has a divine revelation, repents, and removes his own left arm, which severs his connection with BOB. (Perhaps this betrayal is what spurred BOB on to leave in the first place?) As part of his penance, MIKE attempts to hunt BOB down and stop him. However, here is where we reach one of many contradictions in MIKE’s character: If he is now seeking penance, and no longer wants to kill with BOB, why does he want his share of the garmonbozia, or pain and sorrow?

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It could be that, in spite of what he may wish to be, MIKE is still a Lodge spirit, and thus needs to consume garmonbozia in order to survive. Another theory is that he is still being manipulated by his evil left arm (the Man from Another Place), who is seeking his portion of pain and sorrow. The third, and, in my opinion, most depressing theory, is that MIKE is lying when he pretends to be an agent of good. He has not repented, he is still a creature of the Black Lodge in body, mind and spirit, still happy to subsist on the pain and sorrow of others. He only works with Cooper in order to find BOB faster, and claim his share.

The Magician Who Saw the Face of God:

Another point of interest: In the dream where Laura meets Cooper in the Black Lodge, she believes that he is MIKE, and, in an early draft of the script, Cooper reaffirms this, saying “Laura and I had the same dream, but in her dream, I was MIKE.” Considering the recurrence of chronological anomalies in Twin Peaks, could it be possible… that Cooper is MIKE?

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“Bob and I … when we were killing together … there
was a perfect relationship; appetite and satisfaction. A
golden circle.”

It has been noted by fans that we never see MIKE’s true face in the same way that we see BOB’s. Some have theorized that the true face of MIKE is the Man from Another Place, but I would argue that he is “the Arm,” as he says, and therefore can’t be the face as well. So… is it possible that Agent Cooper, in the future, becomes MIKE? In my article predicting the potential future of Cooper, I propose that he is destined to become a shaman, or magician, in order to defeat BOB. Following this logic, he could become the same magician from MIKE’s poem, the one who can look back “through the darkness of future’s past,” as he seems to do in Fire Walk with Me when he warns Laura not to take the ring. Cooper, like MIKE, most likely ends up killing together with BOB after his return from the Black Lodge, perhaps until he (or rather, the Good Dale) experiences the visitation from the Angel alongside Laura (this could represent “the face of God”). At this point, speculation becomes more tricky. Cooper taking off the left arm could mean a few different things, and perhaps isn’t meant to be taken literally. He may have a confrontation with the Man from Another Place (who states, “I am the arm”), which leads him to freeing himself of BOB’s influence. It may very well be that Cooper becomes trapped in a time loop, his evil Doppelganger freely killing with BOB, while the Good Dale, trapped in the Lodge, becomes a powerful magician, and uses his powers to communicate back through time to give himself vital clues about BOB’s identity, and try to save Laura Palmer.

However, this would mean that his goal is potentially impossible, as it would cause a paradox if he were to succeed in saving Laura. This could explain some of MIKE’s seemingly erratic behavior, as he is repeatedly going back to this point through time, and trying different methods, in desperation, to save Laura and help his past self stop BOB. Perhaps this is the reason for MIKE’s reference to his relationship with BOB being “a golden circle”: A direct reference to Cooper’s ring, which he gave the giant. Perhaps MIKE is telling him, “I know something about you that no one else would know.”

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“Who do you think that is there?”

It could be that, once Cooper ascends to being a shaman, he becomes an agent of the White Lodge, in other words, an angel. And an Archangel at that: He is to be their warrior, who will cast down the Devilish One. MIKE could be an honorific title bestowed upon him as an Archangel, or it could be a code name so that he can remain unrecognized by his younger self.

The Left-Hand Path:

On the general symbolism of hands and arms in the Twin Peaks mythos, there are many points to consider, some less obvious than others. There are numerous references to rings, which, of course, are worn on hands, but also have their own significance within the series. One ring, the “Owl Ring,” directly connects to the significance of arms. Before Teresa Banks died, her arm was said to have gone completely numb. It is implicated that there is a connection between this phenomena and the wearing of the Owl Ring, as Laura’s arm goes numb when she awakes with the Owl Ring in her hand. When the doorway to the Lodges are about to open, hands of the townsfolk are seen trembling violently, apparently in reaction to the celestial and/or interdimensional event. One of the earliest and most memorable references to arms is Laura’s statement, “Sometimes my arms bend back,” referring to the fact that her arms were bound behind her the night she was murdered. This has no tie-in with the mythos of Twin Peaks, but it serves as an essential clue in Cooper’s investigation, and reinforces the recurring motif of hands and arms. During the Lodge sequences, Laura is seen to make a few cryptic hand gestures. The so-called “Meanwhile” pose, which is theorized to be a version of a Tibetan Buddhist hand sign, meaning “Fear not,” and is a warning to Agent Cooper not to feel fear in the Lodge. What Laura could also be saying is that, in the meanwhile until she and Cooper meet again, he will be achieving this state of zen fearlessness. The nose tap, which probably refers either to Laura’s cocaine use, or the disclosure of a secret, or both. A nose tap often is used to indicate some kind of secret communication is taking place, and that is just what is happening when Laura makes the gesture to Cooper. Finally, there is the “snapping and pointing” gesture, which has not yet been given a satisfactory translation. It may be connected to a similar gesture Laura makes while having sex with a client in “the Pink Room,” and thus could have some sexual meaning.

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MIKE having removed his left arm is very telling, as following “the Left Hand Path” is a term for being a follower of the Devil. By cutting off his left arm, he is cutting off his connection to “the devilish one.” However, nearly all other symbolism involving hands involves the right hand. This could simply be because the majority of people, including the actors in these scenes, are right-handed, and tended naturally to use their right hand. However, I would imagine that if David Lynch wanted it to be the left hand, he would specify it, and it would have shown up as such. The use of the right hand rather than the left hand, if one wanted to ascribe meaning to it, could signify a person’s alignment to the steps of the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path, which are Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

Hands are a significant symbol in Twin Peaks, because they represent a individual’s actions; i.e., the good or evil that one does, which is such an integral point in the narrative.

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It is my conclusion, based on this evidence, that there must be a final confrontation between MIKE and BOB, the Archangel and the Dragon. And there will be, however, not in the form that we might expect, especially with BOB’s actor, Frank Silva, having sadly passed away in 1995. How this resolution takes place is anyone’s guess, but it would be fitting if it took the form of Agent Cooper confronting his own inner Devil and casting it out. An important recurring symbol in the series is duality, and the need for balance. It is only fitting that the series should end with Agent Cooper restoring balance within his own soul, as well as the town of Twin Peaks.

“Even the ones who laugh are sometimes caught without an answer: these creatures who introduce themselves but we swear we have met them somewhere before. Yes, look in the mirror. What do you see? Is it a dream, or a nightmare? Are we being introduced against our will? Are they mirrors? I can see the smoke. I can smell the fire. The battle is drawing nigh.”

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