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

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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.

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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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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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