“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.

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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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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.

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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!

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.”

DaleBob

Beyond Life and Death, Part 2: The Return of Agent Cooper

Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

Warning: Contains spoilers for Twin Peaks Season 2.

Note: This is the second part of a two-part article. To read the first part, click here.

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Without doubt, the most anticipated moment of the new season of Twin Peaks is the return of Agent Cooper. Speculations abound as to how this might go. Is Cooper still possessed by BOB? Has he killed anyone? Or was BOB cast out of him already? If the Good Dale is still in the Black Lodge, what has he been doing all this time? Is Laura still there with him? Is he still being pursued by the terrifying Doppelgangers? In this article, we will theorize how Agent Cooper might return to the series.

So we’ve journeyed through the Black Lodge, and analyzed the many symbols that confronted Agent Cooper during his pilgrimage to rescue Annie Blackburn. We have some idea of the meanings behind these symbols, but what does all this mean for the future of the Good Dale? What has happened to our hero?

As Hawk said in his description of the Black Lodge, any being passing through the Lodge will have their soul “utterly annihilated” if they do not demonstrate perfect courage. When Cooper is forced to confront all of his demons — his fears, his regrets, his desires — he keeps a cool facade, until the very end, when, shaken by his confrontation with Windom Earle, the man who tried to murder him, and whose wife he loved, Cooper sees the ultimate embodiment of all his weaknesses, and the evil that might dwell in his own heart: His Doppelganger. Instead of facing his Doppelganger, Cooper turns and runs from him.

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It is because he ran that he was overtaken. But in what way was Cooper’s soul “utterly annihilated”? Wouldn’t that mean his soul would cease to exist? Not necessarily. Legends are often mistranslated and/or misinterpreted, and this seems to be such a case. In reality, it seems that the soul is simply removed, rather than actually destroyed, leaving the vessel empty and able to be possessed by evil spirits. Based on the dream shared by Cooper and Laura, we know that Cooper’s spirit still exists in the Lodge 25 years later, and thus we know his spirit was, thankfully, not annihilated, but still exists somehow.

So why say that the spirit would be “utterly annihilated,” giving the impression that it would no longer exist at all? One could say that Hawk was just misinformed, and that is a possibility, but all the rest of Hawk’s information seems accurate. So why would this be wrong? Perhaps it is a case of mistranslation: “Utterly annihilated” could just mean it will be overwhelmed, defeated, and captured by the dark spirits within the Black Lodge. However this leads us to another question: What exactly is BOB doing to the souls of those he possesses?

GoldenCircle

Knowing Twin Peaks‘s penchant for references to Tibetan Buddhism, I think this ties in with reincarnation. According to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the afterlife must be strictly prepared for during one’s lifetime. If an individual fails to live by Right Thought, Right Action, Right Words, and goes into the afterlife unprepared, they will re-enter the cycle of reincarnation instead of ascending to a higher spiritual plain. The Tibetan Book of the Dead tells us that, as a spirit is leaving its body and heading into the afterlife, it will meet a series of entities in pairs of two, who will test the spirit. These beings are almost exact mirror images of each other, and laden with symbolism. One represents letting go of the physical plain, and the other represents material temptation. Choosing the correct one will lead your spirit towards a higher plain, while choosing the wrong one will lead you back into the circle of reincarnation.

Garmonbozia

I believe that the Dugpas are purposely manipulating people to keep them in the cycle of reincarnation. Keeping them in their physical bodies, unable to reach the higher plain, keeps them in the cycle of pain and suffering (garmonbozia), which in turn feeds the Dugpas and continues their equivocal cycle of appetite and satisfaction (the “golden ring” described by MIKE). The Doppelgangers that appear in the Lodge are similar to the entities that appear to the spirit in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. In fact, I believe, in Cooper’s experience, that Laura is a prime example of this: Good Laura represents letting go and ascending to a higher plain, as she has actually transcended to the White Lodge (more on that in a bit), while her Doppelganger represents Cooper’s guilt, and his inability to let go of the past.

[For more analysis on the symbolism of rings in Twin Peaks, click here.]

So any body possessed by BOB is being made to suffer, and being fed off of. Perhaps being “utterly annihilated” takes time, as the soul is slowly feasted upon by the Dugpas. Note that Leland seems to not have become possessed by BOB by entering the Black Lodge and being overtaken, and he still had moments of being able to control his own body. However, Cooper failed his test in the Black Lodge, and so had his spirit “utterly annihilated”; in other words, his spirit is no longer able to occupy his body AT ALL. Instead, it is trapped in the Black Lodge to be food for the Dugpas, until it is completely devoured.

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Now, here’s a tricky part: What exactly does it mean when Laura says, “Meanwhile…”? I’ve got a theory, but it gets a little complicated, so hang in there.

I believe it is another allusion to the non-linear procession of time in the Lodge, and is a hint at the importance of its existence. The non-linear time flow can explain many puzzling elements of Twin Peaks. Think about what Laura’s Doppelganger is really saying to Cooper in the Lodge: She says, “Meanwhile…” and starts screaming. But that’s not just any scream; that’s her scream from the night she was killed in the train car. So what does that mean?

The Good Laura will see him again in 25 years. Meanwhile, she is still going to be murdered in the train car.

This event both has happened already, and hasn’t happened yet. Remember that the “25 years Later” scene is a dream that Cooper and Laura shared at different times. This dream is technically taking place in three different times: When Laura had the dream before her murder, when Cooper had the dream after the murder, and 25 years later, when it “actually” happens.

It is key to remember that the Black Lodge does not run by time as we perceive it. Because of that, time travel (for lack of a better term) is technically possible. This power could be used for both good and evil. If a powerful psychic on the side of Good, like, say, Agent Cooper, was able to harness this power, imagine the heroism they could achieve. Maybe saving a certain  character from a bank vault explosion? Or sending messages back through time to warn Laura about the ring? Who knows. We are getting into an area of total speculation, but there are some amazing possibilities when we consider the warping of time in the Lodge.

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So, what does this mean for Cooper in the aftermath of Season 2?

There are many signs throughout the series and in the film that suggest that Cooper will become a shaman. Keep in mind that, from the beginning of the series, we are shown that Cooper is special. He is highly intuitive, borderline psychic perhaps, describing himself as “a powerful sender” of mental images. So we know that Cooper has some mystic abilities already. But there seems to be evidence that these powers became stronger in the course of his hero’s journey.

In the episode “Traces to Nowhere,” we see Cooper fashioning a wooden whistle. Later, he stands in the doorway of his hotel room and blows on the whistle before smiling in satisfaction and entering the room. The subtext is that this whistle is meant to scare away any evil spirits that might be dwelling in the room. This is an old superstition:

“…the older belief that the friendly wind would blow if an evil spirit had not stifled it, and that whistling would scare the evil spirit and the kindly breeze would be able to blow.”

Indian Antiquary, Volume 25

Cooper is satisfied with his whistle.

Cooper is satisfied with his whistle.

So we can see Coop, in a small way, being connected to purification rituals. But big deal, right? That doesn’t make him a shaman. However, let’s move to our next example before you form your opinion:

In the episode “Arbitrary Law,” when it becomes apparent that Leland is dying, Cooper turns Leland onto his left side, and speaks to him, guiding him through his death experience, so that he passes into the afterlife safely. This is related to a Tibetan Buddhist death rite, which requires a shaman to accompany an individual during their time of death. The shaman is to turn the dying individual onto their side and talk them through the experience to help guide them successfully into the afterlife, and out of the cycle of reincarnation. This is exactly what Cooper does once he realizes that Leland is dying. Notice how he even makes a point to turn Leland onto his side.

Agent Cooper talks Leland through his death experience.

Agent Cooper talks Leland through his death experience.

Finally, let’s look at the ending scene of Fire Walk With Me, where we have the rare experience of seeing Laura Palmer and Agent Cooper, the two heroes of Twin Peaks, together. It was recently rumored to be of particular significance as some sort of foreshadow to what would happen in season 3. Whether this rumor is true or not, I believe it gives us a clue about Agent Cooper’s character development. Let’s re-watch this beautiful scene:

It looks like Cooper is doing the same thing for Laura as he did for Leland. If you subscribe to the popular theory that this scene depicts Laura ascending to the White Lodge, then think about what Cooper’s presence during this scene means. He has a hand place comfortingly on her back as the angel appears. Perhaps he brought the angel to her? But how did Cooper acquire a skill like that?

We can theorize that Cooper and Laura have already been in the Black Lodge for a while by this scene, since Laura appears resigned to being stuck in the Black Lodge, whereas Cooper seems to be endowed with renewed hope of escape; very different from how he appeared when he was talking to the Man from Another Place. This idea would give Cooper time to investigate the Black Lodge, perhaps to realize why he failed his test, and to learn and grow from his near-fatal mistake. Perhaps he found a way of communicating with the angels of the White Lodge. Cooper is no fool, and as powerful as the Black Lodge is, I believe there’s no way it could continue to outsmart him; especially since he is known to already be gifted with some form of psychic abilities.

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But if Cooper can aid people in escaping the Black Lodge, why has he himself not left yet?

The first possible answer to this is that Cooper has only found one way out, and that is into the White Lodge. Perhaps one cannot enter the White Lodge unless they are truly dead. In this case, it’s not the exit Coop is looking for. Another possibility is that he actually did go with Laura into the White Lodge, and met with the good spirits that live there. Perhaps he even ran into Major Briggs while he was there, and learned how to escape the Black Lodge for good? Either way, what this scene implies is that Cooper has grown and become more powerful while he has been trapped. I believe that, the next time we see Agent Cooper, he will be a fully-fledged shaman, capable of using his powers to overcome the forces of the Black Lodge.

So, in sum, what does all this mean for the fate of Agent Cooper, both in body and soul?

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It means that, in the last 25 years, Agent Cooper has most likely sharpened his psychic abilities, and is now an Agent of the White Lodge. 25 years is a long time, and it’s plenty of time for an inquisitive and determined soul to evolve and become stronger than ever. If this is true, Cooper could be as powerful (or more powerful) than BOB, especially if we consider the non-linear procession of time in the Black Lodge, 25 years to us may be an eternity to someone trapped in the Black Lodge. And I doubt Cooper would just be sitting idly by in all this time.

Until next time…

“All things considered, being shot is not as bad as I always thought it might be. As long as you can keep the fear from your mind. But I guess you can say that about almost anything in life. It’s not so bad as long as you can keep the fear from your mind.”

-Agent Dale B. Cooper

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Beyond Life and Death, Part 1: Cooper’s Voyage Through the Black Lodge, and What It Means

BeyondLife&Death

Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

Warning: Contains massive spoilers for the final episode of Twin Peaks Season 2.

“The shadow-self of the White Lodge. The legend says that every spirit must pass through there on the way to perfection. There, you will meet your own shadow self. My people call it ‘The Dweller on the Threshold’ … But it is said, if you confront the Black Lodge with imperfect courage, it will utterly annihilate your soul.”

-Deputy Hawk

We all know that the final episode of Twin Peaks Season 2 revolves around Agent Cooper and his exploration of the other dimension known as the Black Lodge. What you may not know, however, is what, exactly, it means. In this first segment, we will do a scene-by-scene analysis of Cooper’s pilgrimage through the Black Lodge, and attempt to shed some light on the mysteries that lie beyond life and death.

Evil Doppelgangers of Cooper and Leland.

Evil Doppelgangers of Cooper and Leland.

The journey through the Black Lodge is, ultimately, a test of one’s true character. Cooper must face his “Shadow,” or, in Lynch-Frost language, his “Doppelganger,” or “the Dweller on the Threshold.” He must confront everything he feels guilty for, particularly all the deaths he could not prevent: Laura, Maddy, Leland, and Caroline. He also encounters a specter of Annie, whose death he fears he will not be able to stop. He also faces one of (if not the) most traumatic events of his life: The murder of Caroline Earle, his illicit love, and the attempted murder of Cooper himself. This is similar to many accounts of NDE’s (Near-Death Experiences), wherein people say that they go through a “Life Review.” In this Life Review, they experience everything that has happened to them in their lives, and not only feel all their own emotions again, but feel the emotions of the people whom their actions affected, making them aware of the consequences to their choices in life. With this in mind, let us proceed with our scene-by-scene analysis of Cooper’s journey through the Black Lodge.

The entrance to the Black Lodge, surrounded by Sycamore Trees.

The entrance to the Black Lodge, surrounded by Sycamore Trees.

First, Cooper enters the Lodge, and the lights begin to flicker in a strobe effect, mirroring the black and white/dark and light pattern on the Lodge floor. Cooper stares, wide-eyed, as the Man From Another Place dances by, and seats himself in the black chair. Jimmy Scott sings the final lines of “Sycamore Trees,” then vanishes.

Let’s talk about this song for a moment. It is given prominence, as it is playing when Cooper first enters the Lodge, but what is its significance? Of course sycamores are the kind of trees that encircle the portal to the Lodges in Twin Peaks’ woods, and these trees have an intriguing symbolism in the lore of Ancient Egypt:

“In Egypt the Holy Sycamore is said to stand on the threshold of life and death, connecting the worlds.”

(Source: Ancient Wisdom Foundation: Tree Lore)

That’s a bit on the nose, I would say, and most likely why Mark Frost chose to use them. However, with David Lynch, it might be another story. Lynch has always been inspired by music, as most famously seen with Blue Velvet, and music is most likely a source of inspiration for him here, as well. There is a classic standard from the 1930s, entitled Dream a Little Dream of Me. Here are the lyrics:

Stars shining bright above you, night breezes seem to whisper, “I love you”.
Birds singing in the sycamore tree, “Dream a little dream of me”.
Say “nighty-night” and kiss me. Just hold me tight and tell me you’ll miss me.
While I’m alone and blue as can be, dream a little dream of me.

Stars fading, but I linger on, dear.
Still craving your kiss, I’m longing to linger till dawn, dear.
Just saying this: Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you.
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you.
But in your dreams whatever they be, dream a little dream of me.

Stars fading, but I linger on, dear.
Still craving your kiss, I’m longing to linger till dawn, dear.
Just saying this: Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you.
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you.
But in your dreams whatever they be, dream a little dream of me.

This classic has similar lyrics to the Lynch/Badalamenti penned song, Sycamore Trees. Notice also certain elements that coincide with imagery from Twin Peaks: Sycamore trees, dreams (The Lodge is seen in the dreams of Cooper and Laura), kisses (Laura kisses Cooper before she tells him the identity of her killer), the stars (celestial events are connected with the Lodges), and birdsong (“Where we’re from, the birds sing a pretty song.”) Have a listen to this version by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, because this sounds like it could be the version that inspired David Lynch to create the first scene where Laura meets Cooper in the Black Lodge:

Returning to our analysis, let’s take a moment to examine the Waiting Room decor:

There is an oddly specific lamp sitting on a small table in this room: A 1939 World’s Fair Saturn Lamp. Saturn is the Roman God of the harvest, and, as such, was considered to reign over the cycles of time as well. Time is shown to be non-linear in the Lodge, and the presence of this lamp could be referring to this fact. Perhaps a more important point, however, is the identity of Saturn as the lord of the harvest, as the Dugpas harvest pain and suffering to feed on. In mythology, Saturn was also known to have devoured his children, which is similar in the way that Leland murdered his daughter Laura and niece Maddy, and BOB devoured their pain and suffering. Also consider that the people BOB inhabited were “his children.”

Notice the Grecian-style statue in the background: It is called the Venus Pudica and I shall return to it later.

Cooper sits in a black chair, across from the Man From Another Place. The Man From Another Place tells him, “When you see me again, it won’t be me,” a foreshadow of the later appearance of the Man From Another Place’s Doppelganger. He asks, “Would you like some coffee?” (which doesn’t come right away) and informs Cooper that some of his friends are there. This indicates that Cooper will have to meet the spirits or representations of important people in his life. Cooper looks up and watches as Laura walks in and sits down in the black chair next to the Man From Another Place. She winks at Coop, and snaps her fingers, leaving her middle and index fingers pointing sharply downward. In Lynch’s later film, Inland Empire, snapping is used almost as a magical gesture by Laura Dern’s characters, and her sex worker friends. (I will cover magical gestures in a later article.) Laura then tells Cooper, “I’ll see you in 25 years,” referencing the eventuality of Cooper being trapped in the Black Lodge for 25 years. She then says “Meanwhile…” (remember this for later) and holds her hands up in a cryptic pose.

“Meanwhile…”

Meanwhile: Also seen during the waiting room sequence, and accompanied by the words “meanwhile”. The gesture is later mirrored by the “doppelganger Laura” during Cooper’s Black Lodge test, before she starts to scream hysterically. The exact meaning of the sign is controversial, but allegedly refers to a vedic mudra meaning “do not fear”. Other theories suggest that she is holding an imaginary object, like a picture, a vase, or (my interpretation) perhaps a pillow. The pose looks similar to that of a person asleep holding their pillow, but upright. It is interesting that Laura makes the sign after saying “I’ll see you in 25 years“. It has been suggested that the sign foreshadows what Cooper will experience in between, that is, being trapped inside the Red Room, or as Jeffries puts it: “[living] inside a dream“.

-From the Twin Peaks Gazette

Laura’s hand gesture is similar, though not identical, to the vedic abhaya mudra, or “Do Not Fear” hand gesture. This fits so well with the circumstances and symbols of Twin Peaks that I feel we should overlook the slight variation of the pose and consider them to have the same meaning. Laura’s spirit is appearing to Cooper to remind him not to fear the Black Lodge, as that would ensure his demise. Laura’s expression in this scene also seems to be blissful, or aloof; much like depictions of the Buddha. Notice also that this is actually Laura, not her Doppelganger.

The vedic abhaya mudra, or

The vedic abhaya mudra, or “Fear Not” pose: One palm facing forward, and the other facing upward.

Laura disappears, and a moment later, the Elderly Bellhop is sitting in her place, holding a cup of coffee. The Bellhop makes the “Indian Whooping Call.” The significance of the whooping call may be one of two things: 1) It has to do with interactions between the Dugpas and the Native Americans in the past, since, based on what Hawk tells Cooper, the Native Americans had knowledge of the Black and White Lodges, or 2) it represents the wind whistling in the trees; Considering the statement in The Missing Pieces, “We have descended from pure air,” spoken by the Man from Another Place during the meeting above the convenience store, as well as other references to air and wind in the series, such as the repeated imagery of the wind blowing through the trees, we can associate the Dugpas with this element.

The Bellhop says, “Hallelujah,” and the Man From Another Place says “Hallelujah” back. “Hallelujah” originated as a command to a congregation of people to praise the God Yahweh. Its significance here, I cannot say, except that it is yet another example of ritualistic behavior exhibited by the Dugpas (For more analysis on this subject, review my article “With This Ring, I Thee Wed”). It may, however, play into the theory that the Giant and the Man From Another Place have been wanting to put a stop to BOB’s antics, and Cooper may be the savior they’ve been waiting for: The one who can reign in the rogue agent who has the fury of his own momentum.

The Elderly Bellhop serves Cooper coffee, then turns into the Giant. The Giant sits down in the chair next to the Man From Another Place and says with a smirk, “One and the same.” This is to say, the Giant was most likely possessing the Bellhop in the same way that BOB possessed Leland, and the spirit MIKE was possessing Philip Gerard. Similar antics are most likely also in play in the cases of Mrs Tremond/Chalfont and her grandson. It is also possible that the Log Lady’s husband is similarly possessing and speaking through her log; we see these similarities again with Josie being trapped in the wood of the Great Northern Hotel. The famous line, “The owls are not what they seem,” may allude to the owls being used in this same manner, being possessed by Lodge spirits in order to watch the human world. The Giant is finally letting Cooper in on his secret.

BOB with an Owl overlaying his face, suggesting that he might be possessing the owls to disguise himself.

BOB with an Owl overlaying his face, suggesting that he might be possessing the owls to disguise himself.

The Giant then disappears, and the Man From Another Place begins rubbing his hands together. This may mean that he is satisfied with the way things are going, or it may be one of the mysterious “magical hand gestures” that I have noticed occur in many of David Lynch’s works. Cooper looks at the steaming cup of coffee left by the Elderly Bellhop. He attempts to drink the coffee, only to find it solidified. He shows it to the Man From Another Place, who looks pleased. Cooper looks at his coffee again, and tips the glass. This time the coffee spills like normal. Cooper is confused, and looks to the Man From Another Place for answers, only to have him look off in another direction, seemingly angry. Finally, Cooper tips the mug again, and it pours out slowly: It seems to have transformed into something like tar (perhaps oil?). The Man From Another Place looks unhappy, and, looking off at some unseen thing or person, says, “Wow, Bob, wow,” and “Fire walk with me.”

There is an interesting theory about this scene, and it goes as follows: The coffee is a sort of fortune telling device that the Dugpas are using to predict how Cooper will fare in his test. At first it is solid and unmoving, and the Man From Another Place looks satisfied. This means that Cooper, at first, will be steadfast and brave, and potentially defeat BOB. Then, it takes a darker turn, when it transmutes into the motor oil, suggesting the presence of BOB. Then, finally, the coffee runs, predicting that, ultimately, when Cooper faces BOB and his evil Doppelganger, he will run. The Man From Another Place then looks angrily at perhaps an invisible BOB and says to him, “Wow, Bob, wow,” as in, “Impressive, BOB: Looks like you win, again.” Other theories related to this scene are that the changes in the coffee represent the manipulation of time — slowing down, or freezing entirely, and that the hand rubbing motion made by the Man From Another Place represents the conjuring of heat or fire by use of friction. Another interesting thing of note: Both the words “Bob” and “Wow” are the same backwards and forwards. This could suggest the mutability of time, and linear events.

Nobody likes stiff coffee.

That coffee might be a little stale…

The idea of the coffee being an important fortune telling device is not as far-fetched as you might initially think, especially considering David Lynch’s (and Cooper’s) obvious adoration of the beverage. It actually reminds me quite a bit of the concept of reading tea leaves.

When the Man From Another Place says “Fire walk with me,” it is almost as if he is resigned, as if to say that BOB is on his way, and the ritual is about to begin, whether Cooper is destined to persevere, or not.

Flames explode in the darkness, announcing the approach of BOB and the Doppelgangers. The light begins to flicker. This strobe effect, I believe, is a variation on the Black Lodge carpet – the black-and-white chevron pattern. Hence, I believe they both represent the duality of light and dark within everyone, as well as referencing the Black and White Lodges. We also hear Laura’s dying scream in the distance, as if it is “moving through time” to reach Agent Cooper. Cooper gets up and walks out of the room. The Man From Another Place has disappeared. Cooper enters the hallway and walks toward the Venus DeMilo statue, parts the curtains next to it, and walks into another room, identical to the first.

Let me break here and talk about the two statues in the Lodge. There are a few points to make. First let’s note that these are both depictions of the Goddess Venus, and thus are another planetary reference (along with Saturn) within the Black Lodge. Another thing to note is that this is another example of Doppelgangers in Twin Peaks.

The first is the Venus DeMilo, which has a couple of connections to Lynch: Gordon Cole refers to it as “the babe with no arms” when comparing Shelly to the statue. Incidentally, shortly after Twin Peaks ended, David Lynch’s daughter, Jennifer, put out the movie Boxing Helena, which was built entirely around the symbolic connotations of the Venus DeMilo. The film also starred Sherilyn Fenn, a.k.a. Audrey Horne, as the Venus figure.

The Venus DeMilo as seen in the Black Lodge.

The Venus DeMilo as seen in the Black Lodge.

The other is Venus Pudica (meaning “modest Venus”). This represents the “Virgin” archetype, the dual half of the more sensuous Venus DeMilo.

The Venus Pudica seen in the background of the Black Lodge.

The Venus Pudica seen in the background of the Black Lodge.

It’s probably my imagination playing tricks on me, but from a certain angle, it almost looks as if she looks like she is pointing with her right hand into the empty space of the room, perhaps at the same unseen thing that the Man From Another Place is gazing at when he says “Wow, Bob, wow.” Or, as seen above, she may be pointing to Laura, who is, in a way, the “Venus” of the Black Lodge.

These statues are another reference to duality, being two different depictions of the same Goddess. On the one hand, Venus brings loving couples together, but on the other hand, the word “venereal” (as in “venereal disease”) is derived from her name. Through Venus, we can be shown both the light and dark sides of love and lust. Being a Goddess of sex, Venus could be thought to represent Laura and her own struggles with the contrasting personality traits, particularly her sexual relationships. Another way of looking at it is that the DeMilo represents Laura, and the Pudica represents Maddy, her more timid lookalike cousin.

Venus Pudica could also be related to the story of Eve and the apple in the garden on Eden, as she is covering her nudity as if in shame. This could tie back to those feelings of disgust and shame that Laura felt when she prostituted herself and did drugs. In The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, Laura wonders if it was her discovery of her own sexuality that brought BOB to her, as a form of punishment.

Returning to the narrative… Cooper enters another room, which looks just like the first, except it is devoid of life. He leaves, goes back down the hallway, and enters what may be the first room, again. The Man From Another Place is there. He points toward Cooper (or in the direction he should be going) and says “Wrong way.” Cooper turns, goes back down the hall, and enters what should be the room he left earlier. It looks the same, only empty of any occupants, but we soon hear the Man From Another Place laughing maniacally. He appears out of nowhere, and dances in reverse to his chair and sits down. This is not the normal Man From Another Place, this is his Doppelganger, and this is what the Man From Another Place means when he tells Cooper, “When you see me again, it won’t be me.” The Doppelganger says, “Another friend.” This relates to the Man From Another Place’s earlier statement to Cooper, “Some of your friends are here.” The Doppelganger then laughs and hides behind the chair he was sitting in, right as Maddy walks in.

Maddy tilts her head coquettishly and says, “I’m Maddy. Watch out for my cousin.” Of course it refers to Laura, but not the Laura we’re thinking of: Her evil Doppelganger. I think this indicates that this Maddy is also a Doppelganger, and not her actual spirit. However, as we do not get a close look at her eyes, we cannot tell for sure where she is or isn’t. Cooper turns away and Maddy vanishes.

Cooper returns to the other room. This time, the room appears completely devoid of any people, spirits, or furniture. Then Cooper sees something out of the corner of his eye and turns his head to the left, where he sees the Man From Another Place’s Doppelganger, who says, “Doppelganger.” This can be construed as a warning, or an announcement: We are here, and we’re coming for you.

Doppelganger.

Doppelganger.

Cooper then looks to the right, where he see Laura’s Doppelganger (this is the cousin Doppelganger Maddy was warning Cooper about), holding the “Meanwhile…” pose. Only now, instead of an expression of aloofness or bliss, she looks angry.Her hands shake with rage, and her lips curl into a sneer as she says, “Meanwhile…,” then begins to scream. Of course this is Laura’s death scream. She backs up and steps behind a new chair, one that is particularly unique: It is red, with two conjoined seats, both facing opposite directions. This of course is another representation of duality.

A unique chair in the Black Lodge.

A unique chair in the Black Lodge.

She then runs up and screams in Cooper’s face, as if mocking him with her death, as he will never be able to save her. Cooper, frightened, turns and runs. Note that after Cooper leaves, we see a shot of Doppelganger Laura’s screaming face. This particular shot is not a continuous one, using the strobe light; it is actually two different shots of Laura’s face, interchanging. Another example of duality.

Cooper enters the other room, but begins to stagger. Confused, he looks down to see blood running from his torso. This is because the Doppelgangers have succeeded in frightening him, and now he is slowly being drained by them. Of course, this wound also mirrors the one dealt to him by Windom Earle in Pittsburgh, when Caroline Earle was murdered. Cooper looks at the trail of blood he has left, and follows it back out into the hallway. Judging by the trail, he has been bleeding since he left the room with Laura’s Doppelganger: Notice that that was also the first instance he showed obvious fear.

Cooper peers into the room, clutching his injury, and sees himself, lying wounded on the floor, holding the murdered Caroline Earle. When she sits up, however, we see that she is actually Annie in Caroline’s dress.

Annie replacing Caroline in her murder scene.

Annie replacing Caroline in her murder scene.

Annie looks confused, scared, and seems to be unable to speak. The strobe light begins again. The next few seconds are actually a continuous shot of the Lodge’s chevron floor lit by the strobe light. This shot fades into a view of the red curtains as Cooper walks through the hallway again. I believe this indicates a time lapse: He’s been wandering around for a while. Things get a bit more confusing here. Cooper looks into the room and sees Annie, wearing her black dress from earlier, standing there. She walks up to him and says, “Dale. I saw the face of the man who killed me.” Of course, this is referring to Windom Earle. Cooper does not understand this. She tells him, “It was my husband.” Again, this means Windom, but it could be a foreshadow to something we may see in the new season. I’ll get back to that in the second part of this article. Everything here has a dual meaning: Some of it just relates to Caroline’s past, but it is also playing on Cooper’s anxieties over Annie’s potential death.

Confused, Cooper says Annie’s name again, only to have her respond with, “Who’s Annie? It’s me.” She then turns into Caroline, who continues to say, “It’s me.” However, notice the appearance of Caroline’s eyes: They are the same as the Doppelgangers of Laura, Maddy, Leland, and the Man From Another Place. To me, this suggests that Caroline herself is not trapped in the Black Lodge. We are only seeing a sort of “puppet” of her, created by the Black Lodge to test Cooper.

Caroline Earle in the Black Lodge, with eyes similar to those of a Doppelganger.

Caroline Earle in the Black Lodge, with the eyes of a Doppelganger.

She then turns back into Annie, but wearing Caroline’s dress. She touches Cooper’s face lovingly and says, “You must be mistaken. I’m alive.” This is actually Annie responding to Cooper earlier, when he asked, “The face of the man who killed you?” Suddenly Annie’s hand is gone from Cooper’s face, and she has turned into angry Doppelganger Laura, who continues to scream, before stopping abruptly and standing, staring angrily at Cooper. Cooper then flinches as she turns into Windom Earle.

Now, it must be noted that this scene has played a large part in shaping people’s interpretation of Cooper’s journey through the Black Lodge. Many people take this scene as an indication that the interchanging Annie, Caroline and Laura were all just Windom Earle using the power of the Black Lodge to shape-shift, and scare the wits out of Cooper. Some even believe that all the spirits that we see in the Lodge are Windom in disguise. I don’t believe this for several reasons. First of all, there are too many bits of hidden wisdom spoken for me for think that Windom could pull off imitating the Lodge spirits all this time. Windom, no matter how evil he may be, is just an arrogant human who went insane. He’s too weak to control to Black Lodge’s magic to this extent. Also, Windom has not made any sacrifice yet, thus has harvested no garmonbozia, and so has most likely not received any power from the Lodge. And finally, everything thus far has gone according to Hawk’s descriptions of the Black Lodge, and what one must go through within. Therefore, it is my opinion that Windom had nothing to do with any of the events, between him taking Annie and entering the Lodge, and his reappearance in front of Cooper. I even believe that Windom was not aware of Cooper’s presence until that moment, and has no idea that the Black Lodge is also playing tricks.

Windom addresses Cooper, and then Annie, wearing her own black dress, materializes. She is breathing heavily, as suggested by her movements. She looks from Cooper to Windom, then disappears again. This implies to me that Windom is holding her captive, in a sort of psychic cell, and he is only showing her to Cooper to prove that he has her. She is his bargaining chip.

In the corner of this room, we in fact see the table from Fire Walk With Me (The one in the Lodge, when the Man From Another Place shows Cooper the ring). This table has golden wings holding it up, perhaps connecting it to the Angels of the White Lodge. However, because the Owl Ring is seen on it in Fire Walk With Me, it is also connected to the sacrificial rituals the Dugpas of the Black Lodge perform.

Windom laughs maniacally and says, “If you give me your soul, I’ll let Annie live.” Of course Cooper consents unflinchingly. Here’s where things start to get even more confusing.

Windom stabs Cooper, right where he stabbed him in Pittsburgh, and Cooper falls. However, the wound is bloodless: It is actually a psychic attack, and Windom is taking Cooper’s soul. Then everything explodes into fire, announcing the arrival of BOB. The scene where Windom stabs Cooper is played in reverse, suggesting that it has been undone (this would mean Cooper got his soul back). The strobe begins again, and Windom cries out for help as BOB gets a hold of him and begins torturing him. BOB says “Be quiet,” which mutes Windom’s screams. BOB then tells Cooper, “You go. He’s wrong. He can’t ask for your soul. I will take his.” This indicates again to me how powerless Windom really is.

BOB takes Windom Earle's soul.

BOB takes Windom Earle’s soul.

Windom begins to scream again, and we see fire go into his head, seemingly at BOB’s beckoning. Windom then goes still and quiet. BOB has presumably taken his soul. Cooper walks slowly out of the room. As he does, however, another figure comes running up behind the red curtains. It is Cooper’s Doppelganger. Even if BOB told him to go, it isn’t that simple: There is still another trial that Cooper must pass. The Doppelganger laughs with BOB, who still has Windom.

(This is the last we see of Windom Earle.)

Leland's Doppelganger tells Cooper,

Leland’s Doppelganger tells Cooper, “I did not kill anyone.”

Back in the hall, Cooper is about to enter another room when Leland Palmer’s Doppelganger steps out, laughing, from an area where there should be nothing. His hair is its original brown shade. Doppelganger Leland tells Cooper “I did not kill anybody,” which is a reference to Leland’s role as a pawn in BOB’s murders, and Cooper’s guilt that he could not save Leland. He steps toward Cooper, seemingly trying to intimidate him, but Cooper avoids him and parts to curtains to enter the other room. However, he steals one last look backward at Leland’s Doppelganger, and sees his own emerge from the other end of the hall. This is a continuation of his mistake of not facing his Doppelganger, but instead continuing to search for Annie. Cooper steps into the other room, and the Doppelganger enters the hallway. He and Leland’s Doppelganger smile and laugh.

The appearance of Leland’s Doppelganger is significant because of what is about to happen to Cooper: He is about to be a vessel for BOB. The only other vessel for BOB that we have met is Leland, hence his Doppelganger’s appearance at the end of the Black Lodge sequence.

Now, instead of going back and forth down the hallway, Cooper is running consistently through the rooms of the Lodge, most of which are empty. Doppelganger Cooper laughs as he pursues Cooper, and as he finally catches his quarry, the strobe light once again begins to flash, and we see BOB’s face smiling into the camera. The scene in the Lodge fades into the scene of the entrance – red curtains hanging in the circle of Sycamore trees. There is a spotlight on the curtains, and it become brighter right as two bodies suddenly materialize outside…

Cooper made the fatal mistake when he ran from his Doppelganger: He had already shown fear, but I believe that, if he had ultimately faced his Doppelganger, the “Dweller on the Threshold,” he could had succeeded. The fact that he ran at that crucial moment is what spelled demise for Cooper, and why he ended up trapped there for 25 years, while his Doppelganger and BOB run amok.

So that is the sum of what, exactly, happened to Cooper inside the Lodge. So what does that mean for the future of Agent Cooper and Twin Peaks? We will explore that in the second part of this article; Beyond Life and Death, Part 2: The Rebirth of Agent Cooper.

To Be continued.

To be continued.