The Dream of Time and Space - Breaking the Code of Twin Peaks

A handy guide to understanding Dougie, Albert, Tammy, Candie, Richard, Sarah, Naido, Audrey, alternate realities, Part 8, and most importantly: Who killed Laura Palmer? (Wait, didn’t we already solve that in 1990?)

Twin Peaks.

Some of the best art makes us into its co-conspirators, asking us to jointly participate with it in the process of ordering the chaos of the world. “Twin Peaks” (“TP”) has always seemed this kind of art. Life is strange, TP has always seemed to say. Let’s walk right smack through that strangeness and take a good look at it. Walk with me a while; let’s see what we notice.

The initial vehicle for that strangeness, when TP began in 1990, was a murder mystery: Who killed Laura Palmer? This mystery, one of the most famous in television history, was seemingly solved in the middle of its second season. Some critics claimed that the show suffered after the propulsive force of that initial mystery was resolved. Yet a prequel film that followed shortly thereafter, 1992’s “Fire Walk With Me” (“FWWM”), returned to that foundational murder, exploring the last seven days of Laura Palmer’s life in great detail. To some, this seemed a strange choice of subject matter, given that we already knew who murdered Laura Palmer — what fun is there in a mystery where we know the ending from the outset? — and the choice of subject seemed especially strange given the series finale of the show (following its abrupt cancellation after two seasons), which ended in a major cliffhanger, stranding its beloved main protagonist, Special Agent Dale Cooper, in the surreal Black Lodge while his evil doppelganger took his place in real life. One of the most sublime artistic vehicles for mystery in the second half of the twentiety century had seemingly become mixed up about its mysteries.

Now, more than 25 years later, viewers are returning to the world of Twin Peaks. Once again, they are being asked to roll up their sleeves and join in the process of ordering the world’s chaos. Indeed, that is quite literally what the show is, and has always been, about: trying to sew some measure of harmony from the peculiar jumble of strange, conflicting forces that life regularly serves up. As “Twin Peaks: The Return” (“TP: TR”) rolls towards its conclusion, what will viewers discover as they continue to order the chaos?

This essay is an attempt to begin the process of answering that question. It attempts to take a systematic look at the mysteries raised to date by TP:TR and decode the underlying logic driving many of them, arriving at a skeleton key of sorts that we might use to see with fresh eyes not just TP:TR, but the entire run of TP, including FWWM. Among the many questions we’ll attempt to apply this skeleton key to help answer are: Why are we being made to watch so many hours of Dougie Jones? Why does the show’s mood often seem to whiplash from scene to scene? Why is Gordon Cole getting so much screen time, and why is he so concerned about Albert? What are we to make of characters like, say, Tammy, Candie, Richard, and Naido? Why do some scenes seem to have continuity errors or conflicting timelines? What is going on with Sarah Palmer? Was one of TP:TR’s scenes in Part 12 the most exquisitely deranged scene in film history — without anyone even noticing? What did we watch happen in Part 8, including: who is the girl who had the frog-bug crawl into her mouth? What is going on with Audrey?

Oh, and one more question: Who killed Laura Palmer?

That’s right: I believe that, having understood what TP:TR is trying to tell us, we can now go back and see with fresh eyes some critical details from the earlier installments of TP and FWWM that, in fact, suggest a different answer to that question than the one that viewers thought had been safely settled on in the middle of season 2. To be clear, I don’t mean this in a sense of a retcon — no, I mean that David Lynch and Mark Frost seem to have intended a different answer to that question all along, from the very beginning, and have been planting clues to that effect from the very outset. They have waited through occasional critical backlash (including the outright booing of FWWM when it first aired at Cannes in 1992), patiently sitting for over 25 years, to bring a full, beautifully realized conclusion to what has to be one of, if not the, most epic and ambitious constructions of a story in film history.


A table of contents for what follows:

PART I: TRIANGLE THEORY (GIVE ME A HAND)

PART II: ALBERT AND PART 8

PART III: ALTERNATE REALITIES?

PART IV: DOUGIE DIG BY ME

PART V: RICHARD AND LINDA

PART VI: REVISITING FWWM AND SEASONS 1&2


Before we get to the heart of the matter, three brief points. First, this essay was written and posted prior to the initial airing of the last four parts of TP:TR. (I.e., it was completed after Part 14 and before Part 15.) If you, as a reader, happen to be stumbling upon this essay after the airing of one or all of these last four parts of the show, I still believe that this essay (hopefully!) will be helpful in thinking about the main concepts and themes of the show. Just keep in mind that it was, in fact, written before Part 15.

Second, a caveat: while I have absolutely zero inside information about what will happen in the remaining four parts of TP:TR (I promise you, if actual leaked spoilers exist, I know absolutely nothing of them), I’m going to recount in this essay a theory — with some holes, and no doubt wrong in some respects — about what will happen and what it all means, that at least with respect to some of its particulars seems so rigorously required by the apparent internal logic of the show and its predecessor parts, that it feels almost impossible to me that it might be wrong on these subset of points. (Yes, I recognize the hubris in that.) In that sense, some of what we’ll discuss here is only a few degrees separated from out-and-out spoilers. Indeed, I was conflicted about whether I should even post this essay in the first place — even granting that I’m likely wrong on a fair amount of this, and that where I am right there are still many unanswered questions about how, exactly, the predicted scenarios will manifest. In the best of worlds, you — reader — would wait until after the show ends its run to consider reading this, so as to give yourself the pleasure of trying to connect the dots and decode the mystery as the final puzzle pieces are put in place. (And podcasts / recappers might consider giving a similar warning before discussing some of this.) Though, of course, we don’t necessarily live in the best of worlds. Your choice!

Finally, I want to thank the broader Twin Peaks fan community for being so vibrant and engaging; it’s been wonderful, and quite illuminating, reading and hearing so many fans’ lovely thoughts about the show on podcasts, social media, blogs and articles. I am a relative newcomer to the Twin Peaks fan community; until this summer, I had never watched FWWM, and had not watched the first two seasons of TP in over 20 years. (In fact, I still have not watched parts of the second season of TP in over 20 years, and I still have only watched FWWM straight through from end to end once. Trust me, both of those facts will change. I’ve just been a bit busy.) I’d like to in particular thank the following people/teams (among many others I’m forgetting on Twitter) whose thoughts have been quite helpful to me in understanding TP: the group at 25yearslatersite.com; John Thorne; Joel Bocko; the EW podcast by Jeff Jensen and Darren Franich; the Bickering Peaks podcast; the Diane podcast; David Bushman; and the Blue Rose Magazine team. I’m excited to see the discussions of TP that will branch out from where TP:TR leaves us; I see this essay as one of the tentative first steps in that new, post-TP:TR world of TP discussions.

Okay. On to the show.


PART I: TRIANGLE THEORY (GIVE ME A HAND)

Is it about the bunny? Yes. But more importantly, it’s about triangles.

Most viewers seem to be in agreement that the standout segment of the season to date has been Part 8, with its haunting imagery centered around the effects of the world’s first detonation of a nuclear weapon on July 16, 1945. That explosive splitting of the atom, the basic individual unit of our universe — a giant honking metaphor for the fracturing of the self — was code-named TRINITY by Robert Oppenheimer, after a resonant passage in a sonnet by John Donne. And indeed, the theme of “threes” — trinity — has constantly recurred in TP:TR. In each case, trinity represents two halves of an individual either harmonizing to make a unified whole, or struggling against each other in the internal civil war of a disharmonious self.

For me, the first piece of the puzzle in understanding Twin Peaks in greater depth was this: there sure are a lot of sets of threes in this show! Immediately, viewers can call to mind several trios, such as: Dougie / Mr. C / Cooper; Candie / Mandie / Sandie; the three Detectives Fusco; the three main locations of the show, Twin Peaks / Las Vegas / South Dakota — and the list goes on. The next question then becomes: why? Is there any deeper meaning at play here?

Here, it becomes important to remember the original, grand-daddy triangle of the show, the one formed by: the Black Lodge, representing the darker set of forces in mankind’s soul (represented by, among other things: aggression, motion, lust); the enigmatic, less-discussed, White Lodge, representing the lighter side (gentleness, repose, and platonic love); and reality, where these two basic sets of forces engage one another and cause (dis)harmony, depending on their balance.

The basic road map.

The hope is not that the forces of light can conquer the forces of dark; this is not a Manichean tale of good versus evil, but rather a much more complex story of the need for harmonious balance between a plurality of substantively worthwhile modes of being.

The critical thing to realize — the key to unlocking everything else — is that the triangles that recur throughout the show, in its characters and in other ways, all follow this same basic formula (though still capacious enough, as we will see, to allow an immense room for complexity and ambiguity within it): there’s a light side, a darker side, and a third option that tries (with varying degrees of success) to balance them. Let’s go through some examples of trinities and see if we can figure out the position assignments for each point of the triangle: Dark (1); Light (2); or the Middle (3), the point of engagement with each of the first two. (Remember these numbers and their assignments. It is critical.) On the way, we’ll start to learn certain lessons about how we can better understand what the show has to tell us.

Trinity 1: Dougie, Mr. C, and our whole Agent Cooper

The most obvious example of the triangle concept is glaring: the trinity formed by Agent Cooper and his two halves:

(1) Mr. C + (2) Coop-in-Dougie = (3) Agent Cooper

Simple enough! This is easy! Let’s move on.

Trinity 2: the three main settings of the show

(1) Buckhorn, S.D. + (2) Las Vegas = (3) Twin Peaks

This, too, is a pretty easy trio to figure out: South Dakota (and, in Part 13, Montana) is 1, dark; Las Vegas is light, 2; and Twin Peaks is the mixing point, 3 — which makes sense, given the very tonally diverse set of stories going on there (though it clearly veers closer towards the dark side in its current state of existence as we’ve seen it). Most of Mr. C’s manic evil this season has taken place in or around South Dakota, and most of Dougie’s ridiculous-yet-touching adventures have taken place in Las Vegas. Vegas might not be the obvious choice to use as a representation of the “forces of light” (in fact, Stephen King famously used it as the headquarters of evil in The Stand), but keep in mind two things: (a) as Candie says of the Las Vegas weather in Part 10, “we’re in the version layer” — meaning, INversion layer, because the phrase itself is inverted here— so the choice of Las Vegas makes somewhat more sense as an inversion of what we typically associate with it (an aside: we’ll revisit this “inversion” point about Las Vegas in greater depth later); and (b) the frivolous, glossy fun of Vegas has obvious similarities to Dougie’s (on the surface) light and airy adventures — though, as we will see later, the seeming absurdity of much of Dougie’s story belies a much darker center, a story of immense pain and denial that’s heartbreaking once better understood.

Trinity 3: the Detectives Fusco

The Detectives Fusco, revealing, among other things, that someone involved with TP:TR is a Person of Interest fan. (Or Cooper’s consciousness has absorbed the show via Mr. C, whom one can imagine watching it dead-eyed, eating Cheetos, saying to Chantal: “This. This is what I want. Root and Shaw together at last.”)

The Detectives Fusco, of Dougie’s Las Vegas storyline, are not terribly important characters plot-wise, but they are a *very* helpful entry point for the viewer to start considering what exactly TP:TR is on about with its many trios. (I mean, it should strike us as a little strange that three identically named detectives always walk around as a trio, introducing themselves as “Detectives Fusco.”) Note that, unlike the first two trios we considered, this trio actually interacts with each other within the very same scene. And lest the viewers think that the trinity concept only applies to persons with supernatural Lodge-created sub-selves like Mr. C and Cooper, here we see three apparently normal humans acting as a trio. Can we determine whether there’s a similar set of light, dark, and intermediate selves at play in their scenes?

Pretty quickly, it’s apparent that we can: one detective (credited, fittingly, as “Smiley Fusco,” and played by Eric Edelstein) giggles and jokes near-constantly, seeming to do little work — he’s clearly the 2 (light); another, D. Fusco (Larry Clarke), we never see crack a smile, studiously keeping focused on the job — a 1 (dark); and the third, T. Fusco (David Koechner) manages to both do his job and crack jokes — a 3 (mixed). Moreover, this is — as trios go — by all appearances a fairly harmonious one, with all three joining together to inspect one’s broken taillight (cars, we’ll see, are a symbol of the self in motion — i.e., in the darker, “1” realm — in TP:TR).

Nothing earth-shattering here, but it has introduced us to the important concept that TP:TR will at times be showing us the physical representations of the various sides of an individual life engaging with one another.

One last thing: note in the picture above that the 3 and the 1 are both simultaneously moving their right hand to take out a notebook. This, too, will be a critical thing to remember: the “1” side of the human soul is represented by right as opposed to left, and more specifically can be represented by the right human hand. Right hand (of the 3) = 1, left hand (of the 3) = 2.

Trinity 4: Wally Brando and his parents Andy and Lucy

It’s seemingly not accidental that Wally gives his entire monologue in a sort of median position between sitting (a 2 mode) and standing (a 1 mode); every little detail in this show is thought through.

Far from just being a gonzo funny scene, our introduction to Wally Brando also underscores the main point of the season: the quest for harmony in a fractured soul. In Wally, Andy, and Lucy we find a trio that the show, on one level, presents as a model of harmony (at least, given the personalities involved). Andy is, of the trio, a 1, driving around Twin Peaks in a car (a symbol of the self in the realm of movement, or 1’s realm) to engage darkness as part of The Twin Peaks police force. Lucy, on the other hand, is a 2, usually pictured sitting in a chair (a symbol of the self in its calmer, more resting mode — hence the name of Part 9, “This Is the Chair,” which dealt with the ultimate 2 in the show, Major Garland Briggs), helping people at the front desk, but usually never herself having brushes with darkness. Wally is a mixture of the two, riding around in a motorcyle — sort of a halfway point between a car and a chair — and exploring darkness while continually returning to his home. His heart is always in Twin Peaks (i.e., in harmony); he’s decided to let them do what they wish with his childhood bedroom (he has a good relationship with his past); he’s found his dharma (again, harmony); and so on.

Trinity 5: the Mitchum brothers and Candie (/Sandie/Mandie)

(1) Rodney Mitchum + (2) Candie = (3) Bradley Mitchum. Candie has a mostly-gone 1 and 3; the Mitchums have no 2. Together, they fill each others’ missing needs and reach a harmony, of sorts.

Now things begin to get a little more complex. What exactly is going on with Candie, Sandie, and Mandie? Only Candie ever seems to talk, and at that only after being prompted multiple times. And why are the Mitchum brothers so humoring of her?

The full answer to the question of what is going on with Candie is too complex to go into yet at this point, but for now we can just note, as others have, that her actions seem to some extent consistent with a history of past trauma. People still suffering deeply from severe past trauma, like Candie (and Dougie), are living as a 2. They need a 1 and a 3 to help round them out. Happily, the Mitchum brothers have the exact opposite problem: these two orphans have a 1 (Rodney, the more serious and violence-prone one) and a 3 (Bradley, funnier, and not quite as violent as Rodney), but they’re missing a 2. Together, the three of them help bring harmony to each other. (This helps illustrate the different ways one can interpret the 1/2/3 dynamic at play continually in TP:TR; one can see it not just as different parts of individual souls, but different modes that people can move between and interlock with one another to change their configurations.)

Rodney is the right hand, the 1.

A brief interlude, before moving on: Regarding the specific trauma that Candie has suffered, there’s no chance we’ve actually *witnessed* her initial trauma onscreen somehow, is there? Think back: have we seen Candie directly involved with any violent act (rather than just as a passive bystander)? Something that cut her up inside — a Candy cut, if you will?

But wait, it can’t be that: she was making a mountain out of a molehill in this fly-swatting scene— and in any event, this happened well *after* we already saw her acting disturbed. Recall, though, that Vegas is in the “version layer” (i.e., place of inversion — a concept the reason for which we’ll return to later on). What would the inverse of this fly-swatting scene be? If — *in the future* — some creature were to hit *Candie* so badly that it left near-permanent damage on her psyche, then, well, that would fit the bill. Only now, Dougie is here, and everything seems to turn out well for Dougie and those he cares about, doesn’t it? As the Vegas storyline likely wraps up in Part 15 (and possibly Part 16), it’ll be interesting to see if we do, in fact, encounter Candie’s initial traumatic event of which her fly-swatting was an inversion.


Okay. So far the look at trios has been somewhat interesting, but not particularly earth-shattering. That will begin to change as we look at the next trio, one which — once understood — I think absolutely changes the way one watches the show. Is there another glaring trio in TP:TR meriting discussion?

The Key Trinity: FBI Agents Gordon Cole, Tammy Preston, and Albert Rosenfield

Albert (1) + Tammy (2) = Gordon (3)

Once Tammy Preston (2 — lightness) and Albert Rosenfield (1 — darkness) are recognized as the two sides of David Lynch — I mean, Gordon Cole (3)— so many other scenes in TP:TR instantly become more understandable as fitting perfectly into the 1/2/3 dynamic. (Starting with the picture above, where Gordon is pictured through the driver’s window of the car, and Tammy and Albert, as representations of the two sides of his subconscious, are pictured through the back.) I will spend a great deal of time below discussing the dynamic of Tammy as Gordon’s 2, and Albert as his 1, because — as I’ll show — we have every indication that this dynamic will turn out to be enormously important in TP:TR’s endgame.

Let’s start by considering some evidence that Tammy is Gordon’s 2:

Tammy is considerate, nurturing, very appreciative of others, and good at using a light touch to deal with traumatized individuals tactfully. (Note that she carries the coffee cup to Gordon with her left hand, her 2.)

As seen above, Tammy is very thoughtful and kind to Gordon, presenting him with coffee and food regularly. She’s appreciate to others, as shown by her comment here to Diane. And twice now, we’ve seen Gordon decide to use Tammy to interrogate Bill Hastings — a traumatized, broken man in need of a delicate, light touch to be dealt with effectively. These are all quintessential 2 characteristics. (As is the fact that she’s much less experienced at her job than the other two agents —a “2” being one’s more pure and inexperienced side. And lest one think that the choice here to use Tammy, a woman, as Cole/Lynch’s softer side is playing into gender stereotypes, recall that Laura Palmer is the quintessential “1” in Twin Peaks’ world, and that many other women on the show are represented as “1”’s.)

Tammy tries to save Gordon from his vices.

Above we find another example of Tammy acting as Gordon’s 2, visibly showing her disapproval when Gordon considers smoking, and even verbally chastising him once he accepts a cigarette. More than just that, though, there’s a sly bit of visual humor hidden in the scene for those who have caught on to the 1/2/3 dynamic, and in particular the show’s equation of one’s right hand with a 1, and one’s left hand with a 2. Note in the picture above that once Gordon starts considering taking the cigarette, Tammy pointedly takes her left hand and grips her right arm — a visual representation of Tammy (2 / left hand) trying to stop Gordon’s inner 1 (right hand) from accepting the cigarette, a vice. After Gordon takes one puff and hands it back, Diane then asks, “you don’t want to finish it off?” (I won’t touch the double entendres here.) Tammy responds by this time moving directly to her right hand, gripping it with her left. It works; Gordon turns Diane down.

Albert, on the other hand (pun intended), is clearly a 1 — sarcastic, lewd, occasionally putting people down, interested in sex, and much older and more jaded than Tammy. We see both Albert’s 1 dynamic and Tammy’s 2 dynamic at play in this scene involving Constance, or “the morgue lady” as she’s referred to here:

Gordon’s inner 1 woos a lady, and he makes sure that his sweet 2 is led away before things get frisky.

Albert, Gordon’s inner 1, is trying to seduce a lady. Tammy, who as Gordon’s 2 views everything filtered from a sweeter, lighter lens, just thinks the situation is sweet. Underscoring that Tammy and Gordon (insofar as he’s interacting with Tammy) are operating in a 2 mode here, the show repeats the word “sweet” for us twice. And then, finally, Gordon takes his right hand and escorts Tammy away. When this Part first aired I saw a number of viewers online interpret this moment as a sign that Gordon and Tammy have a sexual relationship. When looked at through this 1/2/3 dynamic, however, the meaning becomes clearer. Gordon’s right hand — his 1 — is escorting his sweet, comparatively innocent inner 2 away before things get frisky with Constance.

Gordon’s inner 1: very sex-directed and, at times, crude.

Here again, in this “blue rose” scene at the end of Part 4, we see the same dynamics at play. Gordon sends his comparatively innocent inner 2 away before discussing dark issues with Albert, his inner 1. Albert once more proves his “1” credentials by making a crude, sexual remark as Tammy walks off. This scene, with its camera pan to Tammy’s behind as she walks away, felt to many viewers (myself included) as pointlessly crude, even sexist, when it first aired. In retrospect, however, it’s clear that the show is illustrating Albert’s role as Gordon’s inner, darker 1. (Which, as we will see, will turn out to be *very* important as TP:TR progresses towards its finale.) More evidence of Albert’s sexual nature is provided in earlier scenes involving Diane which, in retrospect (knowing Albert’s role as a 1), read as loaded innuendo for sex. (I won’t go into them here, but for those interested, one such instance can be found in Part 6, at the 19:20 to 20:10 mark, and in Part 7 at the 18:23 mark.)


Below we find a moment early in the season where the dialogue seemed, at first glance, somewhat arbitrary, and strangely abstract. Now, understanding that Albert is Gordon’s 1, and Tammy is his 2, the scene looks like a visual summation of the entire series:

Albert and Tammy are representative not only of the “absurd mystery of the strange forces of existence” within Gordon Cole, but of these mysteries as they have and will play out throughout the entire run of Twin Peaks (original series, FWWM movie, and TP:TR). This is because — and this will seem silly at first, taking me most of the remainder of this essay to explain — Tammy and Albert each metaphorically (will) contain trinities of their own, involving the good Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer (Tammy), and the three BOBs of Mr. C, Sarah Palmer, and Albert:

Many things will seem strange about this. The Good Dale is submerged inside Dougie, and Laura is seemingly dead; neither has met Tammy Preston. But as I intend to try to show, by Part 18 all three of these facts will have changed, and — united at last with her inner 1 and 2 — the character of Tammy Preston will truly be given her chance to shine. On the other hand (i.e., the other branch of the super-triangle), one will object that there are three BOBs listed there — yes, he’s a supernatural entity, but can he really be three places at once? We’ll address that issue, as well — after we’ve taken a closer look at the evidence indicating that BOB is (by the end of Part 12) inside of Albert. Two other things of note: (1) If Tammy has seemed thinly characterized thus far this season, keep in mind that the two representative levels of her subconscious are still both submerged. (2) The super-triangle above of three subset triangles can be visually represented in another way…

Look familiar?

Twin Peaks. Two triangles: a harmonious 1, 2, and 3, and a disharmonious 1, 2, and 3.

PART II: ALBERT AND PART 8

Gordon / David apologizes to viewers for the BOB-infected Albert yet to come.

The first serious suggestion we’re given that BOB may have a new host by the end of the season comes in the middle of Part 2, when Mr. C has a strange conversation (via some specially rigged electronic doodad) with someone he at first believes to be Agent Phillip Jeffries, yet midway through the conversation realizes is not. (For TP:TR viewers who have not seen the movie FWWM, you can watch David Bowie’s only, mesmerizingly enigmatic scene as Jeffries here, as well as a somewhat different alternative version here.) Their short conversation, in its entirety, is this: “You’re late. [Mr. C: Couldn’t be helped.] I missed you in New York, but I see you’re still in Buckhorn. [And you’re still nowhere, is that correct?] You met with Major Garland Briggs. [How did you know that? Phillip?] Actually, I just called to say good-bye. [This is Phillip Jeffries, right?] You’re going back in tomorrow, and I will be with Bob again.”

Mr. C talks to… David Bowie? Mike? Albert? Some rando?

The implication that some third party will “be with Bob again” becomes, in essence, the Chekhov’s gun of TP:TR (arguably one of several). The first thing that will strike many viewers about this conversation is the last word: “again.” It indicates that the mystery man has, in some way, been “with” BOB before. While BOB has had brushes with several characters throughout TP, the seeming only real candidate of someone BOB has truly been “with” other than Leland and Cooper— to our knowledge as viewers, at least — is Mike, the one-armed Lodge entity who partnered with BOB many years ago before seeing “the face of God” and repenting, cutting off his left arm. (A quick aside: given what we’ve seen above about 1/2 and their representation as hands or arms — in particular, the Tammy-Gordon-Diane smoking scene — Mike’s decision to cut off his left arm now appears more intelligible: he was the 2 to BOB’s 1 (or to BOB’s 3?), i.e., the left hand/arm, and by cutting that arm off he apparently severed the connection to BOB.) Yet Mike has had little screen time this season, and while at least some version of Mike was shown in FWWM getting angry and wanting back from BOB his stolen “Garmonbozia” (pain and suffering, which some Black Lodge entities feed on), in TP:TR he’s had little screen time, and what little he has had has featured him seemingly trying to help Cooper-as-Dougie in or from the Red Room. And, of course: that voice does not sound like his. While the Jeffries-impostor could, for all I know, still turn out to be Mike —it really might! —we at a minimum have reason to think harder about whether there might be other, better candidates.

But just how could someone else have been with BOB “before”? In TP:TR we’ve seen evidence that Major Garland Briggs — like Agent Jeffries in FWWM — apparently has been able to teleport through space-time. Moreover, some viewers have pointed out glaring continuity errors in certain TP:TR parts— see, e.g., here, or point 4 here — and questioned whether or not we may be viewing something like alternate realities playing out. I will address these “alternate realities” theories later on, but for now it just suffices to note that there is adequate reason to think it possible that any character, no matter their known history on the show, may somehow have been “with” BOB in the past, unbeknownst to us, via space-time travel, alternate realities, or some other TP kookiness. So: which character on the show seems the most logical choice to be the new BOB?

Once I understood the show’s 1/2/3 conceit— and more specifically, that Albert is meant to represent the darker side of the apparent avatar (Gordon) of Twin Peaks’ director, co-creator, and co-writer David Lynch (if not the darker side of both Lynch and co-creator / co-writer Mark Frost)— Albert seemed like the clear thematic choice to be the new BOB. If Albert were the new BOB, the decision would seem then to be illustrating: we’re all — including me, the show’s co-creator — susceptible to being under sway of the very worst manifestations of the “strange forces of existence,” like BOB. (And likewise, as we’ll see, including Laura and Dale on the other side of Cole’s triangle, under Tammy, would seem to illustrate the opposite: we’re also capable of modeling ourselves after the very best, most harmonious alignments of the strange forces of existence. We get to choose.)

To review the actual hard evidence pointing towards Albert, we’ll start with Part 4’s FBI interrogation of Mr. C. First, entering the prison facility, the Gordon trio are shown the contraband found on Mr. C. Looking at these materials — drugs, gun, etc. — Albert cracks: “What, no cheese and crackers?” What we as viewers eventually seem to know — but Albert seemingly has no way of knowing at this time — is that Mr. C loves Cheez-Its baked cheese crackers (as well as Cheetos, of course):

In the lower left, Mr. C and Chantal settle in for a night of Cheez-Its and Person of Interest binging.

Once the interrogation begins, Mr. C claims that he has for years been working undercover with Agent Jeffries, and that he was on his way to be debriefed by Gordon. He further claims that he’s “left messages…” — long camera pan to Albert’s face — “so that Phillip knows it’s safe” — more long camera pan to Albert’s glum face.

Albert tries his hardest to suppress his “I’m out to steal your evil BOB spirit all for myself” face.

Apart from the shadiness of Albert’s reactions here, it’s worth noting Mr. C’s use of the word “it.” “It’s safe,” Mr. C says. As viewers will start to notice once they pay attention for it, the words “it,” “thing,” and the like are often used in TP:TR with a double meaning, referring to a Lodge-related entity. (As one example, think of Sarah Palmer in Part 12 reassuring Hawk that a noise he heard in her house is “just something in the kitchen.”) Is Mr. C referring to BOB here?

The FBI team go outside, where (after Gordon sends his 2 safely away) Gordon and Albert address this shady business. Albert tells Gordon that he secretly told Jeffries “who our man was in Columbia,” authorizing Jeffries to pass this information to Mr. C. Then “[a] week later, that man was killed.”

Shady goings-on. (A blue shade, to be precise.)

This alone should make us very suspicious of Albert. To date in the series [remember, this essay was written before the airing of Part 15], Albert remains the only character we’ve seen to have had confirmed communications with Jeffries, other than Mr. C, or possibly Ray/Darya, who are now both dead. That he did this all behind Gordon’s back should raise our suspicions even more. (The supple symbolism of Gordon’s 1 doing something without his conscious knowledge is perhaps worth pondering further.)

It’s what Gordon says next, though — and its parallels to an earlier statement by The Arm in the Red Room — that should really grab our attention:

“Albert. Albert. Albert.” “Bob. Bob. Bob.”

After Gordon says of “this business that we witnessed today with Cooper” that he doesn’t “like it” (again, there’s that symbolic use of “it,” and arguably “this” as well), Albert scrapes his shoes against the pavement, causing Gordon (with his turned-to-the-max hearing aid in) to say “Albert, that sound you just made of your feet on the concrete, it’s like a knife in my brain.” This, too, is a subtle hint to careful viewers: every time we’ve seen a brain injury in TP:TR it’s been threatened or perpetrated by a clearly dark character: Experiment shredded the brain of Sam and Tracey in Part 1 (as shown fully in Part 3); Bill Hastings’ brain/head was exploded by a Woodsman; Mr. C shot both Darya and Phyllis Hastings through the brain/head; Ruth Davenport was shot through the brain/head as well; Red threatened Richard Horne that he would “saw your head open and eat your brains”; and (we’re getting very fine-grained here) when Richard Horne threatened a young woman who asked him for a light at the Roadhouse in Part 5, as she approached him her head passed over a giant saw hanging on the wall in the background. (More generally, sharp implements appear to generally be a symbol of 1s in TP:TR. Ike the Spike.)

Explaining that strange Gordon doodling / vision of Laura from Part 10

Let’s jump ahead now a ways to Part 10, when we enter Gordon’s hotel room to find him finishing a strange drawing. (This scene is an excellent illustration of how Lynch and Frost bathe every single moment in TP:TR with minutely exacting symbolism. And note that I am mostly applying symbolic translations here that I learned through watching other scenes, not necessarily this one; we are not expected to fathom the importance of all these details just by watching this scene, which would be impossible. We consider the totality of the work — everything we’ve seen — and then return to individual scenes to test out our ideas, adjusting them as needed, and then retrying our new frameworks.) Given the work we’ve done above building up our 1/2/3 theory, two things should jump out to you immediately when you look at this picture:

Pictured: Albert and BOB.

First, the hand we see is a RIGHT hand. Second, it conspicuously has one black dot on its cuff. (And in case it still wasn’t obvious, this drawing is done in black ink.) Clearly, the hand represents someone’s 1.

The right hand appears to be grasping after a four-legged log with 7 dots on it (8 if you include the eye), with flame-like antlers. Flames are always a sign of the more extreme end of the 1 spectrum — think, “Fire Walk With Me” — so this alone should tip us to the fact that a 1 is chasing after some sort of extreme 1 entity.

It’s worth pausing for a moment to address the number 4 here, as it will continue to have significance. Once I became aware of TP:TR’s’s 1/2/3 numerological conceit, I continued watching the show with an eye to any number that appears in a scene, even if it’s beyond 1/2/3, or doesn’t fit neatly in that rubric, suspecting that other numbers might have significance as well. Quickly, patterns started to emerge. I’ll spare you the deepest dive now in what’s already an overly-long piece, but it becomes apparent that the number 4, as in “breaking the fourth wall,” fittingly represents the beyond, or extradimensionality, in some sense — such as extradimensional travel (think of Gordon saying, after nearly entering the “Zone” vortex, that his shaking hand was like a cat — a four-legged animal — on a hot tin roof); Blue Rose (an examination into strange phenomena, the “troubling abstractions” and mysteries we find in our world); or — and this sub-meaning in particular is important for our present purposes — a Lodge-linked entity, like BOB, or Laura and (whole) Dale (if only because they are both, in an important sense, still in a Lodge).

Also worth recognizing here before we move on: the red wine and red wire-detecting device, and the binder clip. Red, as a TP color scheme, seems to have been clearly established as symbolic of exploring darkness, or one’s 1 side. The binder clip, on the other hand, looks somewhat like an infinity symbol (as does the number 8, that of Part 8’s nuclear explosion sequence). Quite suggestively, one or more pages have been torn from the top corner of the paper pad. We’ll return to this point a bit later, but note this imagery might make us wonder: could several torn pages + an infinity symbol mean that we’re numerous iterations into an infinite recurrence of something?

After finishing his doodle, Gordon hears five knocks on the door. (TP:TR seems to equate 5 with a hand. Five fingers = a hand, or one side of yourself, be it 2/left, 1/right.) Opening it, he’s greeted by a vision of a young, hysterical Laura Palmer sobbing (footage taken from FWWM), with the voice of Sarah Palmer yelling “Laura!” in the background. The vision fades to Albert (his right hand) standing alone in the hallway in place of where Laura, and Sarah’s shouting, had been:

That Gordon is seeing visions of Laura is, one would imagine, also symbolic of the fact that Lynch, as an artist, cannot get Twin Peaks out of his mind, even approaching 30 years later. (Frost too, one would assume.)

Rewatching the scene from which this footage of Laura is taken in FWWM (it occurs at roughly the 52 min mark if you want to look yourself), three things leap out: (1). This scene occurs immediately after Laura has fully realized that Leland, her father, is BOB; (2). Sarah is nowhere near this scene, nor is her shouting heard in it — Gordon’s vision has inserted Sarah’s presence into it for some intentional reason, it would appear; (3). Laura is sobbing to Donna (Moira Kelly) in her doorway. This third point will take on significance towards the very end of this essay; for now let’s focus on the first two. The first point suggests that perhaps BOB is in Albert; the second points suggests… what? That BOB is in Sarah, too? But how can that be? That would mean that, including Mr. C, we’d have three BOBs.

Leaving that point aside for the moment, let’s consider what happens next. After Gordon and Albert talk about Diane’s text messages, we cut to Tammy walking towards the door in the hotel hallway. Strangely, her walk occurs with slightly slowed motion — something is going on with Tammy, too? — and we see a brief flicker of something ethereal passing over the doorframe, where the spirit of Laura had been, right before she arrives at the door. She knocks four times, and Gordon lets her in, where she conspicuously holds her hands against the white background of the photo she’s carrying in three different formations as she enters— I imagine these movements being meticulously rehearsed by Lynch and Chrysta Bell — and then shows Gordon and Albert the photo from the NYC glass box room of Mr. C:

The painstaking construction of this scene is remarkable.

The photo is a picture of Mr. C. Notably, Gordon calls him “Dale” — something I’m not sure we’ve ever heard someone call Mr. C in TP:TR; that name seems to be primarily (solely?) used by the show in reference to the original, good, whole Dale Cooper. Gordon also says of the photograph: “This is something,” another instance of using a word like “it” — here, “this” — to refer to an entity like BOB/Mr. C or possibly even (because he’s also now Lodge-linked) the good Dale. The number 003 is written in the corner of the photograph, but it’s written in such a way that, as others have pointed out online, it might be misread as BOB.

Why is it important for Gordon to mention Dale? Because this establishes that we now, symbolically at least, have present in this scene both the good Dale and Laura — the two Lodge-linked 4-persons whom I said at the outset I believed to form a 1/2/3 triangle with Tammy. Fittingly, the first two hand configurations she makes over the white paper are in fact triangles. The third one, where she prominently displays her left and right hand (Dale and Laura!) on opposite sides of the pieces of paper, also forms a triangle between her two hands and her body/head. And in each case, she holds the paper with four fingers showing of each hand — four for each 4-person, Laura and Dale.

Just as it was important for TP:TR to have Gordon mention Dale so as to complete the “harmony” super-trinity of Tammy, Laura, and Dale, so was it important for TP:TR to have Gordon’s vision include the shouting of Sarah so as to complete the “disharmony” super-trinity of the three BOBs that I mentioned earlier (and am still in the process of marshaling evidence to demonstrate): Albert, Sarah, and Mr. C. At the top of it all is Gordon, of course, the 3 within which the forces of harmony and disharmony are in conflict. In one very carefully orchestrated scene, then, we have all seven points of the “twin peaks” triangles I mapped out above represented, very subtly foreshadowing the endgame of TP:TR.

The French Lady scene, and its link to the infamous Woodsman scene

How exactly does BOB enter, and become active, in Albert? We’ve seen it happen, right in front of our eyes, in Parts 12 and 8.

When the scene in Part 12 begins, Gordon is seated on the couch of his hotel room with a beautiful French woman resting her head on his shoulders. Does the way she’s seated at all remind you of anyone we saw earlier in TP:TR?

[A couple of caveats here before we proceed: (1) No, I am not suggesting that the French woman is frog-bug girl; just keep reading on; (2) I realize that a lot of people now think that Sarah is the frog-bug girl. While, as I’ve said, I believe BOB is also in Sarah — and thus she must also have an origin story of how BOB first infected her — this particular origin story I believe is of how BOB came to be in Albert, for the reasons I list here.]

Gordon is in the middle of telling the French woman a story: “The trap was set. They waited till after midnight, and then, 75 strong, they came up over the mountain, sirens wailing, guns drawn.” In the 1956-set sequence we saw in Part 8, the Woodsmen descended from the sky over distant mountains, then approached townsfolk in the dead of the cricket-chirping night, with strange flashing lights in the background (“sirens wailing”), prominently wielding their cigarettes (or “guns,” since one of TP’s metaphors for being enveloped by darkness / disharmony is being “smoked” — think, e.g., of the smoked jerky Sarah sees in Part 12, or of the numerous characters in TP:TR whose smoking symbolizes their testing of the slippery slope of darkness).

The Woodsman (Left Hand of Darkness?), 75-strong, sirens wailing, guns drawn.

As for Gordon’s reference to “75”: in TP:TR, “7” seems to usually involve or refer to an interaction b/w reality and one of the Lodges or Lodge-adjacent areas. (Think, e.g., of Dougie seeing the “7” in “Lucky 7” on his case files immediately before having a Red Room vision. In fact, “7” may just be a reference to the zig-zags on the Red Room / Black Lodge floor, and never used to refer to the White Lodge or Mauve Zone.) And as we’ve already seen, 5 refers to a person’s hand (i.e., their 1 or 2). Given that the Woodsman — although he wields his cigarette with his right hand — seems to crush people’s skulls with his left hand, I’ll go ahead and call him the Left Hand of Darkness.

In the middle of his story, Gordon hears a knock-knock-knock on the door. Albert, his 1, marches into the middle of the romantic situation that we’d just seen unfolding in the hotel room. He tells Gordon to “please ask your friend to wait downstairs.” The first time watching this, every viewer believed that Albert was clearly referring to the French woman, asking that she leave. In retrospect, it’s clear that — as Gordon’s 1 — Albert’s asking Gordon’s “friend” side — his 2 — to leave the room while Gordon’s 1 takes over. (While Tammy has not literally been in the scene, at the time of Albert’s knock Gordon had been holding the French woman’s hand with his left hand. That immediately stopped once Albert entered.) And, obediently, Gordon’s “friend” proceeds to say goodbye to her.

She then begins to put a black jacket on over her red dress —given the context, a visual signifier, like the two kids walking in the dark of night in 1956, of moving deeper into a sexual mode. While putting on her shoes, she kicks her right foot into the air — another apparent symbol, given the side of her on display, of elevating her 1 side — and also, consequently, giving the visual effect of appearing to visually spreads her legs open somewhat. She then puts red lipstick on her mouth, Gordon makes kissy faces (the camera cutting to Albert, standing straight, watching intently), and she takes a deep swig of the red wine (the camera then once more cutting to a now-squinting Albert, still focused on what the French woman is doing). The camera then cuts back to the French woman, who finishes her sip, makes a slight sigh of ecstasy, and says “très bon” (mirroring a“très chic” comment earlier by Gordon about her dress, and — along with the opening knock-knock-knock — the third hidden-in-plain-sight “3” reference we’ve had in this scene, a point that will take on more significance in the next section of this essay, on alternate realities).

To the woman’s sigh of pleasure and statement of “très bon,” Gordon, smiling, comments enthusiastically: “It’s a good one.” His “one” that he’s talking about here is, suffice it to say, not his wine.

She then fixes / pulls down her dress (it’s getting less subtle!), and the camera cuts to Albert, blinking as if awakening from a daze. As Gordon escorts the woman out with his left hand (which is apparently back in play, now that the action is over), Albert relaxes his stance and wipes his head off with his right hand.

Apologies for the darkness of the gif (literally); I’m not sure how to brighten gifs.

I mean, hooo: okay then!

After the woman leaves, and a freighted joke by Gordon to Albert, there’s a sequence of long — pregnant, one might say — pauses by Albert, during one of which Gordon mentions there are “more than 6,000 languages spoken on Earth” — “6” being a very bad, evil number in TP numerology— before Albert then gives Gordon information about Diane; Gordon responds with “we’ll figure it out;” and then Gordon responds “11:05” when he mistakenly thinks Albert is asking him for the time. The 5 on the right indicates the right hand (i.e., 5) is at play, and the “11” seemingly indicates there are now two separate “1s” present within it — Albert, and BOB. (Keep this context of the number 11 in mind — we’ll return to it in the final section of this essay.) After another pregnant pause by Albert, Gordon puts his left (concerned but clueless-about-1's-activities) hand on Albert’s shoulder and says to him (using the way closed captioning, which I believe is based on the script, puts it): “Albert… … [6 ellipses] sometimes I really worry about you.”

What an interesting moment: the light side of the avatar for Lynch(/Frost) is uncomprehendingly expressing some unease about the places that his dark side is exploring — and then, perhaps putting an exclamation mark on that, the very next scene in the show he’s co-created is an extraordinarily dark one of a young boy sobbing in horror as his father’s bloodied, exploded head rests at his feet. (Which also, as with this conception scene we’ve been exploring, fits in with the parenthood / what do we bring in to this world? -theme of the episode.)

Just to round out its connections with the French lady scene, let’s briefly revisit that 1956 sequence:

Meet Albert Rosenfield’s parents.

A boy (1) and girl (2) [note, the show emphatically does not make a simple equation between men as 1s and women as 2s — its world is much more complex than that] walk together through a dark night (1s) during a superficially serene 1950s-era American small town (2s). The boy is a bit more romantically experienced than the girl (see, their discussion of “Mary”). In front of a gas-peddling convenience store (1s), the girl finds a penny (cut to: a close-up of Lincoln’s face on the 1-cent coin), a metaphorical “1,” and — in Lincoln — a representation of civil war, or at least extreme engagement between two sides of the self. It is at this point, the girl walking with the sexually experienced boy through the night, and having found a metaphorical “1,” that the Woodsmen descend from the sky. Shortly thereafter the boy pushes her for a “kiss” — “please, just… one?” he asks. During this lead-up to the “kiss,” the head Woodsman is on his way to broadcasting a message that will send the entire town under the sway of darkness (1s). (A song about this falling-under-the-spell of 1-dominance plays during the buildup: “When the twilight is gone, you come into my heart, and here in my heart you will stay… While our hearts are aglow in a dream.”)

The Woodsman asks “got a light?” both to query whether the townsfolk have a 2-ness (“light” = lightness), and to indicate his desire as extreme-1-incarnate to burn them up (“light” = flame, a consistent symbol in TP of being consumed by utter 1-dominance). Given time constraints in what is already an epically long piece, I won’t try to walk through the decoding of the prose-poem the Woodsman broadcasts here; suffice it to say that I read it as a message of submission of 2-ness to 1-ness. Meanwhile, the girl falls asleep under the spell this broadcast casts; the BOB-carrying frog-bug / insect enters through her window (a total BOB-move), and it violates her (again, very BOB) by climbing in her mouth.

This all combines, across the span of 60 years, to result in the birth of Albert Rosenfield, and then in the activation inside of him of an evil (BOB) that has apparently been inborn yet sublimated since the start. (The show has given us hints of the possible connection between moments decades apart; as I first saw noted here, Audrey had a book on her shelf, The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot, that begins: “Time present and time past / Are both perhaps present in time future / And time future contained in time past.” And as Lucy has said, there can be moments when it seems “that the clock had stopped… that we didn’t even know what time it was. It seemed like forever.”)

So, to recap: in Part 12 we watched a three-way sex scene carried out in clothed, coded slapstick mime between a man (the show’s co-creator), a woman, and the man’s six-foot-tall metaphorical man-penis (who the entire audience initially read to be merely projecting comically sarcastic disapproval), conjuring an intertemporal link with another, much darker three-way sex scene 60 years earlier between two sweet-looking kids who appeared to merely be giving each other a chaste kiss, and an interdimensional frog-bug who is able to violate the young girl thanks to a spell a shadow-goblin Lincoln-doppelganger is broadcasting on a 50’s radio station, infecting her unborn child (the symbolic dark side of the first man mentioned) with a manic evil named BOB who has used mankind’s first nuclear explosion — an arguably profoundly humane metaphor for the evil that man does and the fracturing of the human soul into disharmony — to travel across realities to begin another nightmarish, proverbial cycle of violence once it is activated by the first three-way sex scene mentioned.

I mean, come on! This has to be, at minimum, one of the most exquisitely strange, tonally diverse, and symbolically complex scene(s) in TV-film history.

PART III: ALTERNATE REALITIES?

What’s going on with Jerry?

As I noted earlier, some viewers have pointed out apparent continuity errors in certain TP:TR parts and questioned whether or not we may be viewing something like alternate realities playing out (or at least a show that skips around radically in time from scene to scene). Many of these alleged “errors” might be explained away as editing choices rather than evidence of anything more. Collectively, though, they certainly do more than raise an eyebrow. To provide a non-exhaustive list of several examples:

  1. Part 11 ends with Dougie out celebrating with the Mitchum brothers. Part 12 shows him playing catch with Sonny-Jim. Part 13 then seems to pick up where Part 11 left off, with Dougie out celebrating with the Mitchums.
  2. In Part 11, Officer Jesse is shown assisting Bobby at the scene of the shooting / accident in town. In the very next scene, Officer Jesse is shown back at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department interrupting a conversation between Hawk and Sheriff Truman to ask them if they want to see his new car; he does not mention any commotion in town.
  3. The Mitchum brothers seem to change the amount that they claim Dougie won from them scene to scene. In Part 5, the stated amount is $425,000. In Part 12, the stated amount is instead $447,000.
  4. Becky seems to swing wildly in characterization from scene to scene, being contrite and chastened in one moment and angry and violent in another. (Some fans discuss this, and some similar discrepancies with Bobby, in a reddit thread here. The Sparkwood and 21 Podcast discussed seeming time discrepancies of Becky and Bobby scenes in their Part 13 Listener Feedback podcast at the ~7:30m mark.)
  5. Big Ed’s reflection in the glass at the end of Part 13 moves differently than he does.
  6. In Part 14, the order of the investigative party hiking in the woods seemingly alters from shot to shot (as Lindsay Stamhuis first brought to my attention in this piece)— and then, when they all reappear at Jack Rabbit’s Palace after Andy’s meeting with the Fireman, we’re seemingly shown multiple versions of each investigator materializing in and out as they walk.
  7. Jerry Horne and Sarah Palmer each have had scene(s) where they seem to be confused about where they are. Could they be slipping between realities?
  8. As many have pointed out online, Mark Frost’s companion novel to TP:TR — The Secret History of Twin Peaks, available here (I’ve just bought my copy and started reading; it’s very interesting!) — contains a number of discrepancies, ones which conceivably could be explained by an alternative reality theory. For example, Norma sends a postcard dated April 17, 1969 (i.e., before the July 1969 first moon landing), with a “First Man on the Moon” stamp on it that was not actually issued until September 9, 1969.
  9. Finally, in the closing diner scene at the end of Part 7 — which you can view again here — the seating arrangement of patrons in the diner undeniably changes from shot to shot. Many viewed this as a simple production/editing oversight; others were insistent that it was an intentional tip to a somehow fractured reality or timeline. (Perhaps notably, Santo & Johnny’s instrumental “Sleep Walk” plays over the scene.)

(To this list one might add Miriam’s changing last name, which has supposedly been explained by friends-of-TP-production as a simple production error, but given the three approaches taken— see here — looks to me conceivably like no accident.)

It’s the last example listed above, of the diner scene, that was the real clincher for me, making me really start thinking about whether a coherent alternative-realities theory could be developed that would be consistent with both the themes and scene-to-scene evidence of the show. The key point was the realization that there were, in fact, three different arrangements of patrons being shown:

The Part 7 diner scene: three different configurations of patrons. Top-left to clockwise: (1). Dark-haired woman sitting in back; (2). Two men sitting in same location; (3). A different man and new woman sitting in the same place.

This immediately struck me as so synchronistic with the 1/2/3 conceit the show is employing in other areas that it was highly unlikely to be a coincidence. It could make thematic sense for the show to be employing a similar 1/2/3 approach to alternate realities / timelines; perhaps reality itself was being shown split in three, with one reality representing 1, or dark characteristics, another representing 2, or light, characteristics, and the third, 3, representing the area of engagement between the forces of 1 and 2? It might help to explain the occasional feeling of narrative whiplash from scene to scene even within a location, and moments of characters acting in seemingly inconsistent ways. To boot, it might explain why Albert’s birthday is listed as September 13, 1956 in Twin Peaks lore, yet the frog-bug scene of Part 8 took place on August 5, 1956 — only five weeks earlier, clearly too brief a period for a normal pregnancy to play out.

Alternative realities: an overview

Having now subsequently thought about this issue much more, here’s an overview of my current stance on alternative realities (one might instead say “alternative timelines,” but for the purposes of simplicity I’ll just say “alternative realities” here) in TP:TR, and why we’re seeing them:

  1. We are watching three realities in TP:TR, which roughly correspond to the 1/2/3 dynamic spelled out in earlier sections of this essay.
  2. The show gives us enough small inconsistencies between realities— like many of the examples I list above — to clue us in that something is going on. That is the main role of these small inconsistencies; they have middling to zero thematic importance otherwise.
  3. For the most part, one can watch the show unconcerned with which of the three realities one is watching, as most major events seem to happen in all three realities. For example, I believe Coop-in-Dougie (at least after he’s created in Part 3) exists in all three realities, as does Mr. C (at least in the beginning), and the FBI team, and so on. Why do many/most major events seem to happen in all three realities? I imagine for at least these reasons: (a) It would be too obvious to viewers from the outset that they were watching different realities play out if wildly different sets of events were happening from reality to reality. Approaching alternative realities in this subtler way allows for more ambiguity and gradual discovery. (b) From a narrative standpoint, it’s likely unwieldy to handle three wildly different realities, harder to underscore individual important differences that really matter. (c) Even if we imagine that each of the three realities has some relation to the 1/2/3 dynamic spelled out above — so, e.g., reality 1 tends to have more predominant 1-characteristics in its people and events — the primary driver of action in all three realities remains each character and whether/when/how they act as a 1/2/3 person (i.e., whether they give in more to their dark impulses, to their light side, or struggle for harmony). A 1 character is still a 1 character even if they exist in a 2-reality. The extremes of their 1-actions may be muted some, but they haven’t somehow been transformed from a 1-character to a 2-character merely because they’re in the 2-reality. Mr. C is still first and foremost a 1-character in all three realities.
  4. If the points above are true, then why, from a plot and theme standpoint, is it important for the show to have three alternative realities? Well, to start, there *are* at least a handful of major differences between realities. One of them has already been staring us in the face, without viewers recognizing it for what it is:
On the left side: Mr. C is seemingly dead and vanished (top), then suddenly alive and back (bottom). On the right side: BOB is seemingly removed from Mr. C’s dead body, traveling back through the nuclear rift (top and middle), but then BOB has also seemed likely to still be in the live Mr. C (bottom). Can all of these points be true? Yes: we are watching multiple realities.

When it appeared in Part 8 that Mr. C was killed by Ray, had BOB removed from him, and then his body disappeared— that actually happened. When (after The Nine Inch Nails’ performance in Part 8) it appeared that Mr. C hadn’t died or disappeared after all, and then in subsequent Parts he acted as if BOB were still in him — that all actually happened too. Both sets of events happened: Ray successfully killed Mr. C, permanently, in one of the three realities. He didn’t quite kill him in the other two. That’s how we can/will see BOB in both Mr. C and in Albert simultaneously. (Because the Woodsmen did their strange dance around Mr. C after he’d appeared to die — intentional misdirection by Lynch/Frost — almost all viewers wrongly chalked Mr. C’s seeming resurrection from the dead up to some Black Lodge deus ex machina magic.) This is also why I expect that we’ll likely see something approximating another ambiguous potential death scene for Mr. C in one of the remaining episodes (likely Part 15), to explain how BOB has ended up in Sarah as well. To be clear, I believe BOB is ending up in Mr. C, Albert, and Sarah all in Reality 3 — although he’s originating from Reality 1 or 2 when Mr. C dies in each, he’s likely using the nuclear rift to cross over into one of the other realities (3) and, in a sense, going “back to starting positions.” If nothing else, this is needed from a plot standpoint so that we can have all three BOB characters, a 1/2/3 triangle of disharmony (Mr. C, Sarah, and Albert), in one reality to face off against the 1/2/3 triangle of harmony: Laura, Dale, and Tammy.

5. There are, I believe, at least one or two other very significant differences between realities as well (with possibly more to come), which I will address by the end of this essay. Suffice it here for me to note the way in which showing us three alternative realities underscores the general 1/2/3 theme of a fractured whole in search of harmony; here, even space-time itself is split into parts.

6. Also, as we’ll see, there is another possible way of looking at the three realities: two realities representing the two sides of our collective subconscious (1/2), and a third reality, 3, that represents something more like base reality. On this interpretation, realities 1 and 2 are somewhat like dreamworlds of reality 3, and persons in a given reality can perhaps access information from the other two realities in some cases, as if recalling something from a dream. (Think, e.g., of Gordon and Albert suddenly remembering Jeffries pointing at Cooper in Part 14.)

7. While the show does arguably provide us somewhat of a rubric for figuring out which of the three realities we’re watching (which I explore in greater detail below), there are only a few scenes where that seems to really matter (and even in those, the viewer may also need to use context-based reasoning).

8. In other scenes (ones where it doesn’t matter tremendously which of the three realities we’re watching), it’s often more difficult to tell which reality we’re watching, and — as I show and discuss further below — sometimes unclear whether we’re conceivably shifting between different realities within a single scene, from sentence to sentence. This is arguably left ambiguous — which, for the purposes of the show’s themes, is fine. The main point of ambiguity is that the coded 1/2/3 references within a scene might refer to either or both of two things: a) which mode (for lack of a better term) a character is acting from, i.e. whether that character’s actions represent the dark, light, or harmonious/conflicted side of that character; and/or b) which reality the scene is set in.

9. For these scenes — where it doesn’t matter to the plot which reality we’re watching , and examples of which we’ll look at below— it is left to the viewer to decide how to interpret these ambiguous 1/2/3 coded references, as modes, realities, or both. Regardless of which interpretation one chooses, the larger thematic significance of the 1/2/3 conceit remains similar:

Many critics and fans have noted that the show can be jarring in its tonal and characterization shifts from scene to scene (or even from sentence to sentence). The method of 1/2/3 analysis I’ve teased out here — whether, in some cases, one wants to interpret the shifts merely as characters bringing out different sides of themselves (i.e. modes), or more exotically as the show shifting between which reality it’s showing us — I think helps to show that this disorienting aspect of TP:TR is a feature of what Lynch/Frost have in mind, not a bug. This shifting from mode to mode, and/or from reality to reality, mirrors the experience of our actual lives: one moment we can be, e.g., patient or sentimental (i.e., our 3 is letting our inner 2 shine), and the next moment we can be angry or brooding (so, our 3 is letting our inner 1 take the driver’s seat). This matches the branching modes or realities that face us in any moment — which turn do we take? How do we respond? David Lynch has made a similar point:

Q: At times, “Twin Peaks” is also a very funny show.
D. Lynch: It’s a bunch of things. That’s the thing. It’s like life, actually — you could be crying in the morning and laughing in the afternoon. It’s the way it is.

Alternative realities: decoding which reality a given scene is in

After I realized we were likely watching three different realities play out, the next question seemed to be whether I could detect any method of telling which reality we were in, at any given time. A possible answer to that had also already occurred to me: through the early episodes of the show, it had seemed strange to me that in numerous scenes characters seemed to repeat words or sentences two or three times in a row. There also seemed to be occasional visual or direct dialogue references to the numbers 1, 2, or 3. Could all these elements be providing us with guideposts to determine which of three alternative realities we were watching? (Answering this question will by necessity get us deep into the weeds, so apologies in advance for any tedium in this subsection.)

For example, after the almost nightmarish mayhem of the Twin Peaks scene in Part 11 involving a child firing a gun at the diner and a different child one car over gurgling up vomit like a possessed zombie, the next scene, involving a calm, measured (seated! very 2-ish!) Hawk and Truman studying a map and talking to Margaret, is overflowing with 2 references. Hawk repeats several words twice; Margaret repeats two whole sentences twice; Lucy says Margaret is calling “on line 2;” Hawk actually uses the word “two” while describing two symbols; and to top it all off, Officer Jesse, in an otherwise complete non-sequitur, tells Truman that his “new car” is “a two-thousand” — and then he gets cut-off. Even the reference to Jesse having a “new car” seems to suggest he has new identity in this scene, as it takes place in a different reality than the one where he is, at this same time, gathering identification from witnesses at a shooting.

Margaret calls on line two; repeats a sentence twice; and then Jesse discusses his “two-thousand…” car. These comprise less than half of the many 2-references in this scene.

In other scenes, it’s less straightforward; we can arguably divine a 1/2/3 alt-reality code being communicated, but that communication feels muddled. For example, in Part 5, right before the Mitchum Brothers state the amount they’re owed as $425,000, Rodney Mitchum notes that Dougie has won “Thirty jackpots in a row. We haven’t paid out that many in a year.” Is the number being communicated 3, from “thirty,” or 1, from “a year” — or both? (Not helping the matter is that several beats later, after the $425k number has been given and the casino supervisor has been beaten, Bradley Mitchum says to the pit boss: “You. You got his job.” Are we to take that as a 2? And if so, did we just shift to watching a different reality?) Likewise, shortly after Janey-E states the winnings sum as $425,000 (also in Part 5), she makes a “1” sign with the pointer finger of her left hand, while her right hand (her 1) prominently caresses Dougie’s face. Is that all to be taken as a sign of a 1? (Again, not helping the matter: Dougie’s habit of repeating the last word someone says, as he does here when he says “work” right after Janey-E says “You’ll be late for work.” Are we to take those repetitions as a 2-sign? In a way, it would make sense that Dougie, a 2, is most at home in the 2-reality, and thus help to partly explain why the script keeps giving us Dougie doubling others’ words.) Finally, in Part 12, immediately after Rodney states the amount owed as $447,000, Bradley replies: “Right you are, Rodney. Right you are.” Seemingly that’s a 2-sign, as a doubled repetition (with the “right” aspect of it just referring to Rodney’s role as his 1).

On the left, Bradley repeats a statement twice; on the right, is Janey-E making 1-signals? Is Rodney making a 3-signal, and/or a 1-signal?

While we can overlay an explanatory theory on top of this mixed-bag of potential 1/2/3 messages in the Mitchum and Janey-E “winnings” scenes — namely, the $447k amount is in reality 2, and the $425k amount is in reality 1 and/or reality 3 — it’s still a mess.

At other times in TP:TR, a variety of 1/2/3 references are made within a single scene, but the changing references seem to make clear thematic sense in line with the original 1/2/3 conceit. For example, when Sheriff Truman visits Ben Horne to notify him of Richard’s crimes, he opens the conversation by stating: “Your grandson Richard was the one who ran over and killed that little boy.” This makes sense; Richard, indeed, is a deranged 1, and his crime was an extreme 1-act. After that statement, the scene shifts to a sea of uninterrupted 2-references — *way* too many (twelve consecutively!) to be in the script unintentionally: “Of course, of course.” “We haven’t used a key like this in over 20 years.” “Yeah. Yeah, Ben.” “Yeah. Yeah.” “I thought so too.” “I remember, I remember riding.” “My father got me this old Schwinn secondhand.” “He painted it green, two-tone green.” “Kind of a, kind of a…” “I loved that bike. I loved that bike.” “They’ll — they’ll know who she is.” And once again at the very end of the scene: “I loved that bike. I loved that bike, that my father got for me.” This, too, makes sense. Ben is expressing remorse; wishes to make amends; regrets; reminiscences about how much he loved his own father; and so on. (There’s also no doubt a deeper 2-message going on here, resonant with the rest of the Part, about the role of parents in developing their children into multidimensional, whole human beings (or not) — but we’ll leave that to the side.) The important point for the show here, then, is less which reality we’re watching (it makes little plot difference), but rather which mode people are acting in (in whichever reality they happen to be).

Only four of the 12 consecutive 2-references in this Ben scene.

We’ll consider one more general example: the Becky scenes, which (if anything?) seem to be (a) demonstrating the way that 1/2/3 modes are in disharmony in the town of Twin Peaks, though (b) leave a more mixed message for alt-reality-discerning purposes:

A. We’re introduced to Becky in Part 5, when she borrows money from her mother Shelly, then blissfully takes drugs with Steven in their car. This is a melange of 1/2/3 references: Toad and Becky repeat “Thank you” to each other (2); Shelly says “I love you too” (2); a one-dollar bill is prominently displayed behind them (1); a red-right-hand (!) crosswalk sign glows behind them (1); they drive a white (2) car (1); Norma says “Shelly, this is the third [3] time she’s asked you for money in two [2] weeks.” If this is supposed to be reality 3, then the jumble of different 1/2/3 signs (and happy/sad things going on in this sequence) makes a sort of sense. Becky’s outfit color scheme — greenish-yellow, magenta-ish red, and a white apron — is also a jumble.

B. We next see Becky in Part 10, when Steven is being verbally (and possibly physically) abusive to her (1). She is cowering in a prone position (2) on the couch. Apparently (?) symbolizing her hurt, fear, and victimization (or is it possibly his?), Steven repeats lines twice (2): “Listen to me. Listen to me.” “I know exactly what you did. Exactly what you did.” She is wearing a white shirt with a black jacket/cardigan over it. She appears to be in more of the “white shirt,” passive, afraid mode here.

C. In Part 11, we see Becky in a very different state: she’s still wearing the white shirt with the black jacket, but now she appears to be in more of a 1, “black jacket,” mode, standing (1), screaming furiously (1), calling her mother (who answers the phone with her right hand, 1, after impaling a piece of paper with a sharp implement, 1) to request that she immediately bring her car to her (1), then forcibly commandeering her mother’s car (1) in a scene where she repeats “I hate him” three times (3) and her mother repeats “Becky!” so many times that it’s hard to read an intended meaning into it. Arriving at the apartment building of Gersten Hayward, she shoots Gersten’s door six times (seemingly not an alt-reality sign, but rather a thematic sign re: her extreme darkness at this moment — think Richard killing the child in Part 6 near the #6 power lines), while Gersten’s scared neighbor repeats a line twice (2).

D. Later in Part 11, we see Becky — still in the same 1/2-conflicting outfit of a white shirt and black jacket that saw her in earlier — seated at the diner with her parents. There are three (3) of them: her mother, dressed in light pastel blue and white, offering her free money, and getting emotionally afraid for her, is the 2 in this scene; her father, wearing black, offering her a loan she can pay back, and talking about putting his foot down with respect to Steven’s behavior, is the 1 in this scene; and Becky, in her black-and-white get-up, is the 3, oscillating between contrite and angry. Becky, talking about how Steven will change, repeats a word twice (2). So does Shelly, repeating “I’m okay” twice (2) when Becky is concerned about her. But when Red shows up and steals Shelly out into the night (1), the camera cuts to the one-dollar bill (1) hanging by the door, and shortly after Shelly comes back in (and we see the one-dollar [1] bill again) the bullet whizzes into the diner, causing them to cut the diner lights off into darkness (1). Overall, then, the hue of this scene seems to switch from 3 to 2 to 1. (Much like a traffic light changes from green — 3 — to yellow — 2 — to red — 1. Something TP has pointedly shown us on more than one occasion.)

E. Finally, in Part 13, Shelly answers the phone with her left hand (2). Becky is calling from a seated position (2) (though, as with her earlier call to her mother, she’s using her right hand, 1), and pointedly says “that’s two [2] nights that he’s been gone, two [2] days that he’s been gone, mom.” Her mother offers her time to talk and relax (2), and then after hanging up pours two cokes (2).

If we had to assign overall 1/2/3 numbers to each of the scenes above, we might assign scene A a 3, scene B a 2 (insofar as it’s a scene about Becky), scene C a 1, scene D a 3, and scene E a 2. Now, leaving aside for the second that these classifications are debatable, let’s discuss what they even mean in the first place: while it’s possible that the show intends to be telegraphing that some of these scenes are set in different realities/timelines than the other ones, I tend to believe that’s not what the show’s getting at.

Rather, I think it’s primarily concerned with showing the conflicting forces of human nature playing out across these scenarios, and that for the show’s purposes it doesn’t really matter if they’re in the same or different realities/timelines. In fact, I imagine it’s possible, if not likely, that Becky acted basically similarly across all three realities/timelines, because she’s still at heart a “3” character, with both 1 and 2 prominent in her, no matter which reality we’re seeing her in. Yes, we might conjecture that she’d likely act more 2-ish in some of these scenes when she’s in the 2nd reality, and more 1-ish in some of these scenes when she’s in the 1st reality, but in general she is a 3 character.

Interpreting those Jerry scenes

One final note of alternative-reality business before we move on. There are some scenes in TP:TR which can be read to suggest that certain characters are either slipping/bleeding between the different realities, and/or that they are vaguely aware of or remembering things that their self in a different reality is doing or is aware of. I will discuss the Jerry scenes here, but one might add, among other things: a) the Sarah Palmer mini-mart scene in Part 12 (which, perhaps not coincidentally, immediately follows a Jerry scene), which given its various 1/2/3 references (rewatch; you’ll spot them) might be read as Sarah in reality 2 becoming aware that something is wrong with her in reality 3; and b) scenes of Gordon “remembering” things suddenly, such as him remembering Jeffries’ pointed remark at Cooper in Part 14, and him belatedly remembering the bearded men in Part 11.

Top: Jerry seemingly bleeding into reality 1 in Part 9. Bottom: Jerry seemingly lost in reality 2 in Part 10.

Undeniably, something strange is going on with Jerry. The easy, though thematically bland interpretation, is that he’s simply tripping on drugs, and the scenes are meant as brief comical interludes. Or perhaps, they’re simply meant as metaphor for how lost and disordered the town of Twin Peaks currently is at heart. While I think there’s truth to that, I also believe there is another layer to what we’re seeing here:

In Part 9, Jerry’s right foot talks back to him (see the picture above), telling him that he is not Jerry’s (right) foot. Here, part of Jerry appears to have slipped from reality 2 or 3 into reality 1, much to his surprise. As we’ve seen repeatedly above, one’s right side is representative of 1.

The fact that it’s his foot also corresponds to something we haven’t really touched on yet: TP also seems to equate down with 1, and up with 2. This makes some rough sense; the Black Lodge is vaguely like Hell (though that’s a very fraught, imperfect analogy), which is usually thought of as being in the depths below us; and the White Lodge is vaguely like Heaven (again: very fraught, imperfect analogy), which is usually thought of as being in the skies above us — think of the Fireman’s home being shown to us in Part 8 as in a tower very high above the ocean below. While TP usually uses a person’s right hand/arm to refer to 1, and the left hand/arm to refer to 2, the fact that it’s Jerry’s right foot — i.e., at the very bottom of him — would seem to add extra emphasis to the fact that part of him seems to have slipped into the 1 reality in this scene.

In Part 10, on the other hand, Jerry seems to unexpectedly find himself lost, having slipped from reality 1 or 3 into reality 2. We see him holding his left hand high in the air (see the picture above), all of which would seem to connote reality 2. Moreover, the fact that Jerry’s right foot was emphasized in one episode, and Jerry’s left hand held aloft was emphasized in the next — i.e., diametric opposites — seems too symmetrical to be a coincidence in a show seemingly so fastidious in its concern with every last detail.

In Part 7 —predating either of the two scenes above — we seemingly have this concept of intermingling between realities introduced. The scene starts with Ben conspicuously saying Jerry’s name 4 times. As we discussed early on, one of the meanings that TP seems to assign to the number 4 is extra-dimensional (or inter-dimensional) travel. (Think, e.g., of Gordon saying in Part 11 that, after briefly traveling to/seeing the bearded men through the sky vortex, his hand was shaking like a “cat on a hot tin roof.” A cat — a four-legged animal. TP uses four-legged animals — cats, bunnies, bears , etc.— to refer to extra-dimensional entities, or extra-dimensional travel.) Jerry then underscores the strangeness by stating that “someone stole my car.” This calls to mind something we discussed earlier that Officer Jesse says in Part 11 about his “new car,” in another scene seemingly meant to telegraph the fact of alternative realities.

In Part 7, Jerry’s inter-reality travel escapades are introduced by Ben repeating Jerry’s name 4 times. Jerry then mentions that his “car” (identity) has been “stolen” (shifted).

So, to recap: we are watching three realities, and there is evidence that elements from each are bleeding or dripping into one another. Note that we will return to the theme of alternative realities in the final section of this essay, where we will perform an even more in-depth analysis of the intended meaning of these three realities.

PART IV: DOUGIE DIG BY ME

GIVE THIS MAN AN EMMY!!! Seriously. Yes, awards are overrated, but Kyle MacLachlan deserves serious recognition for the phenomenally subtle and emotional work he’s performed in TP:TR, particularly as Dougie.

At the beginning of TP:TR, when viewers watched Agent Cooper prepare to leave the Lodge areas, many, if not most, of us expected to soon see our beloved Agent Cooper of old — the “Good Cooper” — back at it again in the real world, back to his refreshingly sincere, oddball, and effective sleuthing ways. He’d collect clues, pithily opine on how wonderful some mundane daily pleasure are, and just generally be a walking symbol of wholesome decency.

But that’s not what we’ve watched play out at all. Instead, the single biggest chunk of storyline time in TP:TR has been dedicated to the slapstick adventures of a near-mute, dazed, shell of a man who happens to look a helluva lot like Dale Cooper. What gives? What about the story of Dale-in-Dougie is so important to the overall arc of TP that they need to drag it out this long?

It’s this: Dale-in-Dougie’s story is the companion piece to Laura’s story in “Fire Walk With Me” — “Dougie Dig By Me,” or possibly “Sunshine Bathe By Me,” we might call it — and an absolutely essential component to the overall story of the quest for harmony that “Twin Peaks” as a whole has been telling for the last 27 years. Using the language of 1/2/3 that we’ve developed above, we can now understand that overarching story more fully. Specifically, we can now recognize that Laura’s journey in Fire Walk With Me was towards becoming a fully-formed 1, capable of confronting with clear eyes the darkness around her (in particular, BOB-in-Leland) and refusing to be conquered by it — even if the process of becoming that fierce 1 burned her up. That was Laura’s story (which we will look at more closely in the concluding section of this essay). As the Log Lady says — and as Part 10 is titled — “Laura is the one.” The question that we as viewers didn’t realize we should be asking ourselves was: okay, Laura is the one — but then who is the two?

Yes, but who is the two?

Just as FWWM was the story of Laura becoming the fullest realization of a fierce 1, Dale-in-Dougie is the story of Dale becoming the fullest realization of a harmonious 2. It’s the inverse of Laura’s story: rather than beginning in reality and moving down the dark side into Lodge-space, Dale begins TP:TR in Lodge-space and moves through the light side on his way back to reality. Or, in picture form:

I recognize that the placement of the Red Room and the Mauve Zone here are problematic in some ways; there is good reason to represent each as being in somewhat different places than they are shown here. I place them here — for which I think there is also some support — to highlight the inverse nature of Laura’s and Dale’s journeys as simply as possible.

To understand what “becoming the fullest realization of a harmonious 2” entails, it’s perhaps instructive to consider two of the scenes we analyzed above in discussing alternative realities. In the scene where Ben reacts to learning of Richard’s crimes, there are twelve consecutive 2-references. What happens across those references? Ben is experiencing sorrow for wrongs, earnestly expressing his wish to repair damage to the extent he can, remembering things he liked and loved in his life (his bike; his father), being grateful for the small, quiet details that comprise a life, and meditating on what it means to be a good parent. Likewise, in the scene where Hawk and Truman are studying Hawk’s map and talking to Margaret — another scene ripe with 2-references — they are slowly, steadily trying to make some sort of order out of the chaos, at least conceptually. We will see Dougie, too, engaging in aspects of each of these 2-processes.

But it’s just as important to note what Ben, Hawk, and Truman are not doing in those two scenes: they are not directly confronting 1-ness, the darkness. Ben expresses a lot of positive things in that scene, but he does not engage Richard himself. Likewise, Hawk and Truman’s map study does a decent job of making coherent sense out of some of the confusion surrounding Twin Peaks, but it’s done at an academic remove — they do not actually confront 1-ness, or darkness, in that scene. Like Ben, they are holed up in their office, seated, passive, while darkness reigns outside. The extreme version of this reluctance to confront darkness is denial, and the Dale-in-Dougie story, though beautiful and healing in many ways, is nonetheless suffused with denial — as we will see.

The overarching story of Twin Peaks is the need for a harmonious 1 and the need for a harmonious 2. Each needs to be well-developed, in harmony, but neither is sufficient by itself; they need to be joined together to reach total overall harmony. Laura was stronger than anyone but practically consumed by it; likewise, we’re seeing Dale learn to be more quiet, meditative, and repenting than anyone in a quest to heal himself back from nothingness — yet at the end of his Dougie journey, even having perfected his harmonious 2-ness, it will still be left for him to engage in the 1-realm and confront his 1 head-on (Mr. C). Similarly, at the end of Laura’s journey to total harmonious 1-ness in FWWM, it’s still left for her to find a way to live with herself (so to speak), to heal — i.e., to find her own 2-ness, in part by helping to heal a symbol of her broken 2-ness (Sarah).

Is this the moment when Dale realizes the horrors that Mr. C has wrought? It’s unclear to me if this is a moment of him literally learning of the horrors for the first time (causing his PTSD before becoming Dougie); alternatively, if this is the first moment he confronts the horrors consciously (after finishing his Dougie therapy); or if Laura is telling him something else entirely.

Dale is severely traumatized by his realization of the horrors Mr. C — a manifestation of part of him — has wreaked both in the world and on his psyche. He cannot just automatically snap back to being his old self; he needs to try to repair his fractured soul, to look inward, easing himself out of his PTSD and building up a renewed sense of self.

Why did Dale need to wait 25 years in Lodge-space? For two reasons: (1) healing is a long, arguably never-ending journey, and the long time period is in a sense a reflection of this life-long, recurring task. (2) Dale is trying to find perfect harmony in his 2 side, which the number “25” —think “left hand” (the 5 fingers of one’s 2-side, representing whole, harmonious 2-ness) — represents. It’s not a randomly chosen number. The number “25” is perfectly appropriate to Dale’s condition, in TP’s internally consistent numerology. Recall the picture of Dale-in-Dougie (or just “Dougie” from hereon out — if I need to refer to “original Dougie” I’ll call him that) above that begins this section, taken from the first scene of Part 6: Dougie alone in the dark, desperately trying to locate his missing left hand. 25.


Earlier I said that Mr. C is “a manifestation of part of [Dale].” Indeed, Mr. C is Dale’s 1, albeit a BOB-infected 1. Let’s explore that for a moment:

When TP:TR begins, Dale Cooper (the 2, and, in a sense, also the 3) has been trapped in the Lodge areas for the last 25 years, helpless, while his shadow self (the 1)— Mr. C — has run loose in the world, wreaking violence and destruction wherever he goes. Mr. C stands for uninhibited desire — as he pointedly tells Ray early on, “If there’s one thing you should know about me, Ray, it’s that I don’t need anything. I want.” — and he pursues his desire, be it for sex, Cheetos, or power, with no regard for who gets hurt. He also represents world-weariness; he has zero sense of wonder or discovery, wearing a constant expression of eerie grimness.

Yet Mr. C is not simply an inverted evil clone of Agent Cooper. He’s *part* of Agent Cooper, his 1, his shadow self— and a person can’t live without their shadow. Mr. C doesn’t merely represent abstract concepts of desire and world-weariness — he represents Agent Cooper’s desires and experience.

“If there’s one thing you should know about me, Ray, it’s that I don’t need anything. I want.” (Also pictured: sex, violence, and Cheetos.)

Am I saying that Special Agent Dale Cooper desires to rape and murder? No, because the whole Agent Cooper is composed of two countervailing sets of forces: dark AND light, experience AND innocence, desire AND love, jadedness AND sincerity. Here, in a vivid metaphor for the diseased heart, the dark half of those two sets of forces, his 1 — embodied by Mr. C — has gone AWOL, living detached from any countervailing forces for 25 years. And not only has Cooper’s 1, his dark half, gone rogue, but — and this is critical to note — it has for years been turbocharged, egged into being the most extreme version of darkness, by BOB.

Meanwhile, trapped back in the Lodge-space this whole while, Dale is a husk of his former Special Agent Dale Cooper self, severely traumatized by the realization of the horrors that his 1 side has wrought in the world.

This trauma to and fracturing of Cooper’s soul is neatly displayed in the otherworldly scenes of Part 3, in a space that (following other fans, and the color scheme of the scenes) I’m referring to in this essay as the Mauve Zone. Cooper spends time in two different rooms in the Mauve Zone, which collectively represent his soul’s struggle for harmony, and individually represent, in turn, harm and healing.

The first Mauve Zone room, with an electrical contraption labeled “15” and Naido.

In the first room — HARM — the very fabric of the room’s reality seems to be breaking apart, with the scene displayed in herky-jerky stops and starts, and flickering lights. The woman he encounters there appears to have a severely traumatized body — no eyes, no voice — and the apparently Japanese name that the credits provide her, “Naido,” nods towards Part 8’s usage of the musical composition by Krzysztof Penderecki, “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima,” during the nuclear explosion. An electrical outlet contraption on the wall is labeled with the number “15” — when Cooper approaches it, Naido tries to warn him away from it, making deathly cutting gestures (accompanied by slicing noises on the soundtrack). Meanwhile, an ominously loud banging noise has started on the nearby door.

It’s worth pausing for a second to note the significance of the number “15.” If, as we discussed earlier, “25” represents a left hand, or whole 2-ness, then the corollary is that “15” represents a right hand, or whole 1-ness. Realizing this brings to mind two thoughts: a) Dale, still in the raw throes of extreme trauma, is currently in no shape to face the 1-ness, or darkness, represented by the “15” outlet. b) The “15” outlet, as well as the thick layers of trauma signifiers present in the room and on her body, suggest that Naido is representative of a person damaged by extreme 1-ness. (My guess is she is either a 1.2 (the 2 in a 1’s personal 1/2/3 subtriangle) or a 2.2 (the 2 in a 2’s personal 1/2/3 subtriangle, which is perhaps where one would expect to find the most traumatized aspect of a person represented). The question of whose 1.2 or 2.2 she is is trickier — is she merely a human embodiment of an abstract concept, or does she represent a specific person’s 1.2 or 2.2? This question will be informed by the final section of this essay.)

After Naido leads Cooper up a ladder (into something resembling outerspace) and then falls down the vastness of space after flipping a giant switch, Cooper returns down the ladder (after seeing the floating head of Major Briggs say “Blue Rose”) to find himself now in a new, second room — HEALING.

The second Mauve Zone room, with an electrical contraption labeled “3,” a blue rose, and American Girl.

In this room, the herky-jerky playback and flickering lights we saw previously have ceased; this is a calmer space. Seated in front of a fireplace Cooper now finds a woman played by Phoebe Augustine, the same actress who played Ronette Pulaski in the original run of Twin Peaks. Ronette, a brutalized survivor of the violence doled out by Laura’s killer(s) BOB/Leland, is here reconceptualized as “American Girl,” as she is credited. Further, the electrical outlet contraption on the wall is now labeled “3,” rather than “15,” and a single blue rose sits in a vase nearby. After a brief exchange between Cooper and the American Girl (and more banging on the door), Cooper is sucked into the “3” electrical outlet, leaving his shoes behind.

So what exactly have we just witnessed here? In essence, we’ve seen — in the first room — Cooper try to skip right to the last step of a trauma-recovery program, only to be told by Naido that he’s not ready for that yet — he needs to work on himself first. The herky-jerky nature of the first room’s playback, as well as Naido’s seemingly trauma-induced lack of sight & voice, both indicate just how unready Cooper is to confront what lies in the “15” socket — an attempt at wholeness, and (in all likelihood) a direct confrontation with his shadow self, Mr. C. Instead, Naido takes Cooper up the ladder to the vastness of space — which, like “blue rose” (spoken by Major Briggs and seen in the vase after Naido pulls the lever), represents clear-eyed self-exploration of the two cosmic, eternal sets of forces at work in each of us, and in the universe at large.

Douglas Jones: moving like a cobra, and helping Agent Cooper to develop a new self-conception.

When Naido flips the switch, she’s shifting Cooper’s perspective; he no longer sees himself as a broken victim, and instead is trying to rebuild a more fulsome self-conception from square one. This reconception is manifested by the replacement of Naido with American Girl, a trauma survivor (Ronette) transformed into a safe, shallow trope (for remember, shallowness is on the extreme end of the “light” set of forces, as depth implies experience and its concomitant brushes with darkness — and the extreme shallow end of things is where one must start when plumbing the depths). She guides Cooper into the “3” socket, where he can begin his journey of self-exploration and healing, in preparation for eventually confronting what lies behind the “15” socket.

The numbers “3” and “15” are meaningful for a variety of reasons. On one level, they represent the fractured nature of Cooper’s soul: his Great Northern hotel room number is 315, as we’re reminded of shortly after Cooper arrives in Dougie:

Jade sends Cooper’s key/soul off to Twin Peaks.

Note that Dougie immediately loses his “315” key — i.e., his wholeness — and it’s sent off by Jade to Twin Peaks (itself another symbol for wholeness, or at least the meeting of the two sides of the soul).

On another level, “3” and “15” represent the journey that Cooper must go on to rebuild a harmonious self. Cooper enters the “3” socket and becomes Dougie in Part 3 of TP:TR; which is fitting, given that he’s trying to repair the harmony of his personal soul-trinity. It would be a perfect parallel for his journey as Dougie to end in the Part bearing the number of the other socket, “15” — something we’ve been given indications will in fact occur. (The full recounting of the evidence suggesting that Dougie will be replaced by Dale, a whole 2, by the end of Part 15, airing August 20th, is provided in its own section later in this essay.) Dougie’s journey in TP:TR Parts 3–15— though on the surface often comical and clown-like— represent Special Agent Dale Cooper plumbing his subconscious in an attempt to fix his heart, his 2— or, as Gordon Cole / David Lynch would put it, Dougie the clown-comic must fix his heart or die:

Attn, clown comics: fix your heart or die.

The beginning of Cooper’s quest for healing as Dougie, Part 3, is aptly titled “Call for help,” and, fittingly, features a heartrendingly flummoxed Dougie repeating the phrase “call for help” numerous times. The recipe for how Dougie will find this help lies in his name: Dougie will dig through Dale Cooper’s life — the good, the bad, the light, the dark, the silly, the shit — digging through the memories in an attempt to rebuild his sense of self, of identity, and come to terms with his past and his shadow.

Dougie calls for help, holding up a 5 dollar bill (with Lincoln on it, a symbol of Civil War); he’s gonna “need some change.”

Indeed, this diagnosis for salvation — dig yourself out of the shit! — is gestured at in the very first scene of TP:TR set in (present day) Twin Peaks, where Dr. Jacoby / Dr. Amp receives his shipment of shovels that he will soon paint golden (a symbol of harmony and goodness) and repeatedly proclaim to all as the instrument of their salvation. This “digging” theme has further echoes throughout the season, including during Trent Reznor’s opening lyrics during The Nine Inch Nails’ performance in the middle of Part 8: “You’ll dig in places ’til your fingers bleed.”

Dougie is digging.

The Version Layer, and a mission statement for Dougie

After finishing playing the slot machines at the Silver Mustang Casino, Dougie is escorted into the Casino supervisor’s office for a very meta, breaking-the-fourth-wall discussion with a higher figure (a “boss”) about the meaning of what’s happening, which — judging by the supervisor’s clear repetition of the word “No” 4 times consecutively at one point — is one of TP:TR’s few explicitly-signaled “4-mode” scenes (along with, e.g., Gordon’s meeting with Denise, another higher figure / boss, where a word is also clearly repeated 4 times). This scene provides a helpful overview of what Dougie’s journey represents, so we’ll take a moment now to look at it closely.

Before doing so, though, it’s helpful to recall that, as first mentioned above in the initial discussion of Candie, the Dougie storyline is, as Candie says of the Las Vegas weather in Part 10, set in a “version layer” — i.e., an “inversion layer” (for the inverse of “inversion” is “version”). Thus, everything about Dale Cooper’s life is inverted in Dougie’s storyline, including (in a sense) even the direction in which time is heading. We’ll explore this concept in greater depth below, giving concrete examples, but for now it’s worth noting that the “inverted” nature of Dougie’s storyline symbolizes both a form of extreme denial —Dale, in his PTSD state, not being prepared to face the horrors of Cooper’s life — as well as Dale’s attempt to create a mental “safe space” from which he can begin to rebuild his crumbled interior, to fix his heart, to reach a point at which he is strong enough to finally face those horrors head-on.

The supervisor scene begins with the man placing Dale’s spiritual “baggage” on his desk — here, inverted into a white bag of his “winnings,” with two golden circles at the top. Dougie then tells the supervisor of his spiritual malaise: “call for help,” he says. After the supervisor asks him who he wants to call, Dougie says, confused and inward-looking: “Who?” Remember, it’s worth reading basically every single Dougie utterance as having a double meaning about the state of Dale’s heart. Who is Dale? That’s what Dougie’s journey will be about. Through this all, the supervisor sits with his two hands — his 1 and his 2 — joined together, a picture of the harmony Dale lacks, and is seeking.

Dougie has baggage (inverted here into winnings); needs help; is doing soul-searching into who he is; and seeks harmony.

The supervisor then explains the role of Dougie’s world for Dale: “Well, we’d certainly like to help you. Would you like a room? Good meal? A drink? A little companionship? Think of us as a home away from home.” We will, in fact, see Dougie experience all of these things — a room (his safe, loving house with Janey-E and Sonny Jim); a meal (cherry pie, sandwiches, chips); a drink (coffee, coffee, and more coffee, as well as some liquor); some companionship (his love with Janey-E; his gentle mentoring by Battlin’ Bud; his friendship with the Mitchum brothers and Candie). Indeed, Dougie’s world really is a “home away from home” for Dale — a safe space where he can rebuild his sense of self, his heart, from the near-nothingness state that Mr. C has left it in.

That idea of “home” — an anchored, clear edifice of one’s identity — resonates deeply for Dougie; he gently repeats the word, “Home.” “Where is your home?” the supervisor asks. The supervisor then reformulates the question about defining one’s heart, one’s identity, one’s internal 1/2/3 constitution of the soul, a different way: “What’s your name, sir?” And, not coincidentally, what happens to be the already-officially-announced name of TP:TR’s finale, Part 18, the culminating sequence of the entire TP saga to date? Well:

Who are you? Who are we? The core question(s) of Twin Peaks.

After the supervisor insists that he provide a limo to send Dougie home in (“no no no, no cabs” he says, hitting the 4-signifier), the supervisor pushes Dougie’s baggage/winnings over to him. Perhaps symbolizing Dale’s inner fear of what the healing process — represented by his baggage/winnings — will entail, Dougie at first pushes the bag back towards the supervisor, resisting it. The supervisor then requests that Dougie come back — i.e., return to the healing process — “soon, anytime…day or night.” Spooked by this mention of “night” — i.e., 1-ness — Dougie repeats the phrase, “or night,” and looks up cautiously at the recessed camera on the ceiling, a black dome of electricity. This is what he is hiding from.

Dougie is then chauffeured through the black of night inside a white limousine, a sliver of 2-protectiveness shielding him from the 1-night on all sides, with his white winnings bag (i.e., inverted 1-baggage) sitting on his lap. Curiously, the green clock display in the limo jumps backward and forward in time from shot-to-shot, seemingly both underscoring the timeless nature of Dougie’s journey — really, his time as Dougie IS the 25 years, the process of healing — as well as providing a sequence of symbolic numerology about the Dougie story (which, in the interests of time/length, I won’t try to translate here, other than to note they are 10:49, 10:35, 10:37, and 10:54).

There is what appears to be a look of weary sadness on Dougie’s face as he sits in the back of the limo with his baggage, surrounded by night. When they arrive at his house and it is time for him to step out into the night, we first hear the driver’s “footsteps circling vehicle” (as the closed captioning / script refers to it), a further sign of the encircling, almost suffocating darkness around him. When the driver then suddenly starts to open Dougie’s car door into the night, Dougie gasps in startlement, a moment that is comical upon first viewing, yet heartbreaking when understood in context.

Dale-in-Dougie briefly enters the night.

As Dougie gets out of the car, his driver repeats “Mr. Jones?” three times — a symbol that we are now, at a minimum, in 3-mode, if not 3-reality. (This is fitting, for Dougie, the symbol of 2-ness, is in the night, a symbol of 1-ness; when 1s and 2s expressly engage one another, that’s 3.) Dougie then stands silently with his baggage in the night, his driver stating that he will wait “right” beside him. An owl flies above them. Then Janey-E opens the door to his home (house number “25140,” with the 25 indicating Dougie, and the “0” at the end nullifying the “14” — i.e., extradimensional 1, or Mr. C (1) -with-BOB (4)— that precedes it, so that his home is a safe space shielded from that darkness), and the real meat of Dougie’s storyline begins.

Building identity, inverting pain

Soon enough, Dougie is on his way towards building Dale’s identity back up from the near-nothingness state that Mr. C had left it in. He starts with small revelations: Urinating can be quite a relief! Coffee tastes delicious! Analyzing case files is something he has a knack for! As David Lynch has said in some of his few public comments about TP:TR, Dougie’s storyline is in part “about coming into the world as a new life, learning your likes and dislikes, and doing the best you can to find your way.”

Dougie shares pie and drinks with his friends the Mitchum Brothers; has a loving, passionate night with Janey-E; and learns how to turn a light on in the dark in a sweet, gently funny scene with his son, Sonny Jim.

Dougie is soon on his way towards building more substantial aspects of Dale’s identity. He learns about friendship with the Mitchum Brothers and Battling Bud; about love and sex with Janey-E; and about parenthood and innocence with Sonny Jim.

There’s a deeper level of coping going on as well in Dougie’s storyline, though. A number of elements from Mr. C’s life of evil conspicuously crop up in Dougie’s world, only in completely inverted form — here, they’ve been transformed into something positive. We’ll review specific instances of this type of inversion in the next subsection, but for now let’s just ask: what, exactly, is going on in all these instances of Dougie’s life mirroring Mr. C’s?

In each case, Cooper-as-Dougie is learning that life can carry on, finding at least some measure of happiness and meaning despite the trauma and deep pain he has experienced (and, in an important sense, caused). More importantly, though, these instances of inversion also represent Cooper, via his life as Dougie, finding a way to cope with unfathomable horrors — the evil life of Mr. C, his shadow self — not only by building a life of alternative choices, but by denying that the horrors ever took place in the first instance.

The stark state of denial that Dougie lives in is echoed by other characters in TP:TR. Candie’s state of rest seems to be a near-complete detachment from reality. Janey-E, after initially snapping with anger upon learning of the (one would think, marriage-rending) fact that her husband slept with a prostitute, seems to then promptly forget, and never raise the issue again. Perhaps most conspicuously, practically *everybody* in Dougie’s world denies that something seems to be *seriously* wrong with him.

Dougie’s denial also mirrors a tactic taken by many other characters in TP:TR who also are (or at least appear to be ) trying to mentally escape from some sort of past trauma: consuming drugs or alcohol to numb the pain and make them forget. We’re shown Sarah Palmer picking up bottle after bottle of vodka, and Diane knocking back drink after drink.

These two methods of escaping trauma come together in the severely dysfunctional household we see just across the street from the vacant, “bank-owned” house (itself a symbol of poor, original Douglas Jones) where we first meet Cooper as Dougie, on the other end of Mauve Zone’s “3” socket. Inside this household we find a disheveled, clearly drug-intoxicated woman seated at a table, shouting “1–1–9” in a stupor (again, a call for help), while her young child sits obliviously on the couch in front of her, snacking on a box of crackers as if nothing at all is amiss.

Everywhere we turn, Dougie’s world features escapism as a means of coping with all the hurt the world can bring. Nowhere do we see this more than in Dougie himself, whose life represents an extreme example of walling oneself off from horrors by creating a safer, fictional world to live in. (Not that I am saying Dougie’s world is fictional, note.) The symbolic extreme-denial-through-inversion of Dougie’s storyline calls to mind a quote David Lynch once provided about his earlier film Lost Highway, another work featuring inversion:

At the time Barry Gifford and I were writing the script for ‘Lost Highway,’ I was sort of obsessed with the O.J. Simpson trial. Barry and I never talked about it this way, but I think the film is somehow related to that. What struck me about O.J. Simpson was that he was able to smile and laugh. He was able to go golfing with seemingly very few problems about the whole thing. I wondered how, if a person did these deeds, he could go on living. And we found this great psychology term — ‘psychogenic fugue’ — describing an event where the mind tricks itself to escape some horror. So, in a way, ‘Lost Highway’ is about that.”

The parallels to Dougie’s storyline are apparent. Cooper-as-Dougie is hiding from his pain by living the “most wonderful” version of Cooper’s “horrible” life the last twenty-five years:

Kyle MacLachlan’s reading of the simple line “of my life” here is heartbreaking, especially in context.

All this denial serves a purpose, though: it at least gives him sufficient breathing room to get some inkling back of positive self-building-blocks like love, friendship, and family. Although these fundamental concepts and feelings are severely neutered, having originated in a state of denial, Dougie has to start somewhere.

Specific instances of inversion

(1). Dougie, like Mr. C, spends an unforgettable night with a strong-willed blonde. Only, whereas Mr. C’s night with Diane is implied to have been non-consensual and permanently scarring for Diane, Dougie’s mutually pleasurable night with Janey-E — though, one imagines, quite arguably non-consensual for Dougie (another inversion), at least initially — leaves them both softly muttering their love for each other, oozing warmth. (Making the moment even more of an inversion, we learn in Part 14 that these two blondes, each of whom has been expressly described by other characters as “tough,” are in fact half-sisters.)

The dialogue of Janey-E and Diane about their respective nights with half-Coopers eerily echo one another.

(2). Dougie, like Mr. C is implied to, has a son. Only, whereas Richard (the implied result of Mr. C raping Audrey while she was in a coma) is a homicidal maniac with no father whatsoever in his life, Sonny-Jim is a sweet, innocent child who dearly loves his father. (Still, the inversion can only go so far: even though Dougie is physically present for Sonny-Jim, he’s still often absent in spirit, as shown by the aborted game of catch they share in Part 12.)

Sonny-Jim: a sunny presence. Richard: a dick.

(3). Dougie, like Mr. C, is embroiled in a conflict involving organized crime. Only, whereas Mr. C is the head villain of a crime ring, Dougie is the fulcrum that helps to expose a crime ring.

Disbanding crime rings, vs. organizing them.

(4). Dougie, like Mr. C, leaves a strong impression on people. Only, whereas Mr. C makes them tell others to pray that they never meet someone like him, Dougie makes them tell others to reflect on how grateful they should be to have such a wonderful person in their life.

Would that we all had a friend like Dougie; Mr. C, not so much.

(5). Dougie, like Mr. C, rubs someone’s cheeks in a scene that invokes death. Only, whereas Mr. C somehow kills henchman Jack in Part 2 by oddly rubbing his cheeks, Dougie rubs his own cheeks in Part 11 and kills nobody, all the while standing next to his friendly boss. Again: a direct inversion.

(6). Dougie, like Mr. C, plays something expressly referred to as a “game.” Only, whereas Mr. C is playing a brute-force game of arm-wrestling to see whose right arm is the strongest 1, Dougie is playing “call for help” to see if he can harmoniously align his soul, say “Hellooooo” to his true self, and win change, thus healing his 2. The first slot machine Dougie tries, fittingly, is named “Fives & Sparklers,” and costs “25 ¢” — as in, 2 5, a healthy 2 / left hand, with a “C” (as in “Mr. C”) crossed out. When he wins it, by getting the symbols into alignment with one another, his prize is literally “change,” pouring forth from the machine. A bystander pauses, pointedly observing: “Ah, you broke that one.”

Mr. C’s game, on the other hand, is a toxic-masculinity game, a juvenile affair that Mr. C ironically refers to as “kindergarten.” One of the men explains to Mr. C that “any new guy gets one chance,” holding 1 finger up and then repeating the word “one” for emphasis. What is this game? Appropriately, it is a game of arm-wrestling to see whose right arm is the strongest. Given that we’ve already seen that a person’s 1 (or right arm) can have phallic (or, for women, perhaps yonic?) connotations, another way to think of this game is as a pissing match — or, more crudely, both men pulling out their, ahem, 1s to measure them against each other. (Note: I do not believe this game is meant to scathingly comment on 1-mode simpliciter —the show firmly believes in the possibility of a healthy, harmonious 1-mode — but rather merely on the disharmonious, toxic subset of 1-mode, and the connection between sex and violence in that disharmony. It calls to mind similarly scathing double entendres made by Sarah Palmer in Part 12, when — foreshadowing and recalling the sex-linked violence at the core of BOB’s manic evil — she exclaims with a mixture of anger and disgust: “men are coming.” This comment is mirrored by men at the wrestling match chanting: “come on!”)

Notably, Mr. C says some variation of “Let’s go back to starting positions” three times during the game, seemingly symbolizing the three different cycles of BOB from 1945-on that we have / will see play out (all in reality 3, likely) in Mr. C, Albert, and Sarah. Also, given that the arm-wrestling match takes place sitting down — something very 2-mode — I am guessing that the first time we saw Mr. C die, that may well have been in reality 1, and now this arm-wrestling match is occurring in reality 2 (where Mr. C is still a toxic 1, but perhaps expresses that through more 2ish outlets, such as a seated arm-wrestling match, than he would in reality 1).

(7). Dougie, like Mr. C, has had a hit out on his life. Only, whereas Mr. C is actually killed in one reality by his hit man / colleague, Ray, Dougie successfully: subdues Ike the Spike; makes friends out of his would-be killers the Mitchum brothers; and redeems Anthony, his colleague, from his life of deceit, resulting in Anthony earnestly expressing his desire to either change or die. Notably, in each case, Dougie converts his would-be assassins from 1-mode persons to 2-mode persons (or perhaps even harmonious 3-mode persons, if one believes that they’ve fully put their lives in harmony post-assassination attempts): he protects his loved one, Janey-E, by courageously standing up to and squeezing Ike’s right hand off (resulting in a briefly glimpsed, notably chastened Ike in a phone call scene thereafter); he charms the Mitchum brothers into changing from fairly hardened brutes into fun-loving goofballs, by offering them gifts of friendship as well as restorative justice (the $30 million they are rightly owed); and he sees right through Anthony, encouraging him to be a better person. These transformations, daffy though they may sometimes feel (in line with the Dougie storyline’s “clown comic” aesthetic), underscore the fact that TP’s 1/2/3 theory of persons does not deny the possibility of persons changing; indeed, this process of change, of seeking greater harmony, is very much what TP is entirely about.

Let’s briefly take a closer look at the Anthony near-assassination / transformation sequence. Recall that Dougie’s very first interaction with Anthony, early in the season, was seeing right through him, accusing him of lying. This act of trying to understand others —to understand Anthony, specifically — is mirrored in the near-assassination sequence, as Dougie pauses to give Anthony a gentle, friendly neck massage. This is no mere neck massage, though; Dougie notices the dandruff on Anthony’s collar, which — as other fans have noticed (see, e.g., Ramon Torrente here) — intentionally resembles stars shining in the night sky. In TP, stars represent light counterbalancing darkness — thus, when Rebekah Del Rio sings “No Stars” at the end of Part 10, it signifies the disappearance of harmonious light and the creeping encroachment of darkness in Twin Peaks. (See, also, David Lynch’s quote: “Don’t worry about the darkness — turn on the light and the darkness automatically goes. Ramp up the light of unity within….” [As an aside, if you want to go down a very surprising internet rabbit hole, google to see where that Lynch quote first comes from.]) By “s[eeing] right through” Anthony and finding his hidden inner “light of unity” — his dandruff stars! (this show!) — Dougie is engaging in an act of keen empathy and kindness, recognizing the better man submerged within Anthony and gently coaxing it to the surface.

Now, for once, the inversion causality seemingly runs the opposite direction — in an important sense, it is because Dougie engages in an act of radical kindness and understanding with his colleague Anthony, that Mr. C fails to spot his colleague Ray’s hidden plan, and through his callousness, eggs on the murderous viciousness within Ray. Once Mr. C is dead and cleared out in reality 1— which, in a sense (due to the inverse causality and inverse timing involved), didn’t really happen until Part 13 in Las Vegas — Dale has cleansed and revivified a critical part of his subconscious, his 1 reality.

This rejuvenation is vividly represented by a joyous, oddball sequence at the beginning of Part 13. First, Candie presents a set of three pairs of gifts — so, 3 sets of 2, representing increased harmony (3) in Dale (2). Why? Because, as Bradley Mitchum announces, “[a] wrong has been made right” — the horrors of Mr. C have been successfully exorcised from the 1 subconscious layer (reality 1) of Special Agent Dale Cooper’s 2 (Dale). The harmony of Dale’s 1 is represented by his new, white (i.e., 2-balanced) car — cars being an avatar of 1-ness, remember. Similarly, the backyard of Dougie’s house at nighttime — both representative of 1 — are brightened both by a literal spotlight (a 2 light to brighten the 1’s darkness) as well as by the presence of Sonny Jim, an emblem of 2-ness, happily playing on his sunny gym set, another emblem of 2-ness. Thus has a wrong been made right, and harmony restored to the inner 1 of Special Agent Dale Cooper’s 2.

Guessing what is to come for Dougie and Dale — and someone else

In Part 15, I expect we’ll see harmony restored to the inner 2 of Special Agent Dale Cooper’s 2 (Dale), likely causing Dale’s full emergence from the Lodge-space by the end of the Part, and a beginning of the countdown to Dale’s eventual confrontation with Special Agent Dale Cooper’s 1 (i.e., the reality 3 version of Mr. C). One imagines that this harmony-restoration in Part 15 will again involve an ambiguous death-scene of Mr. C, where this time he dies in reality 2 (and another BOB escapes through the nuke rift to reality 3).

What about after that, though? If Dougie’s storyline really is a complete inversion — including an inverted timeline — of Special Agent Dale Cooper’s broader story, then perhaps we can use the very beginning parts of Dougie’s story to make some very generalized predictions of the end of TP:TR.

Recall that in Part 3 Dougie wins jackpot after jackpot (as we saw above, a victory in the metaphorical game of “call for help”), thus collecting a river of change that pours out of the machines. This seems likely to be a mirroring of the return of Dale — a harmonious 2–5 (i.e., left hand, or whole 2) of Special Agent Dale Cooper — by the end of Part 15 / beginning of Part 16.

Now, I may well be mistaken about the implications of this, but let’s recall what happened to Dougie prior to his winnings as Mr. Jackpots (and thus, what we can expect to happen to Dale after he’s returned). Dougie spent a lot of that time with Jade, a strong, independent sex worker. Are there any other strong, independent TP characters who have engaged in sex work, and for whom Jade might be acting as a mirrored stand-in? Perhaps someone much more prominent in TP-lore? Perhaps… Laura Palmer?!

There are a number of interesting avenues of analysis we could take this Jade-Laura connection down to try to predict what it might mean (in inverse?) for Laura’s actions in the last Part or Parts of TP:TR — e.g., Jade sending Dale Cooper’s room key back to Twin Peaks! (This may be, in a sense, what we saw in Part 2, albeit out of chronology.) Jade getting her car not just cleaned, but detailed (i.e., made to sparkle like it’s new)! Jade giving Dougie two rides! Jade helping Dougie find his shoes/soles! Jade taking a shower!

But let’s look back at some events that occurred even before all that. Before that, the original Dougie was sucked into a Lodge-space, with the owl ring on his left hand, where he promptly turned into a golden marble. Might the inverse of all that be… Dale confronting and subduing Mr. C in reality 3 and thus earning the return of the full, harmonious Special Agent Dale Cooper from Lodge-space? (The inverse of original Dougie shrinking into a golden marble might perhaps be the varied sides of Special Agent Dale Cooper combining in harmony into a fully self-actualized, unified being.)

And what do we see the original Dougie doing even before that? What’s the very, very first position we see him and Jade in? Take a look at this image — keeping in mind that we’re in inverse-land here, and also that I had to edit it slightly so as to comply with Medium’s rules regarding adult images (though it’s still arguably NSFW, so beware)— and ask yourself whether it reminds you of anything from the very end of Fire Walk With Me:

In a sense, the final shot of Twin Peaks: The Return? (With some nudity I tried to tastefully minimize a bit so as to be more in line with Medium’s rules.)-

We will address the end of FWWM more directly in the final section of this essay. But first: let’s talk a little about Richard and Linda.

PART V: RICHARD AND LINDA

A message from ???????.

Part I of TP:TR begins — after some flashbacks — with ??????? (the Fireman? the Giant? some other White Lodge instantiation of that figure?) giving a seemingly whole Special Agent Dale Cooper a series of cryptic statements. This section will focus on one set of those statements: “Richard and… Linda. Two birds… with one stone.”

Before going on to discuss that, though, we’ll note just a couple other things about that scene: First, it seems likely that we are seeing, in sequence, both the 1 and 2 of Special Agent Dale Cooper here. At the beginning of the sequence, “Agent Cooper” (as ??????? calls him at the outset) blinks once during his shots. In the middle of the sequence, though, he briefly shifts to blinking twice during his shots — i.e., we’re seeing a 2 in these shots — and fittingly, it is while we are watching his 2 side (or at least, the whole Dale Cooper acting in a 2-mode) that “Agent Cooper” sounds more concerned, replying, “It is,” with a slightly troubled tinge in his voice after ??????? states that “It is in our house now.”

Second, the “sounds” that ??????? wants “Agent Cooper” to listen to repeat 6 times (possibly 7, depending on how one counts the initial stop-stuttering sound in the sequence) — which, combined with the pronoun “it” being used to describe what is in “our house,” suggests that BOB is in “our house.” (Is “our house” the Great Northern, Twin Peaks’ stand-in for the White Lodge? Is Albert staying at the Great Northern? Or does this more have to do with whatever James was onto in its basement in Part 14?) [Though, as I’ve noted earlier, both Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer are Lodge-linked entities now, and so conceivably might be referred to as an “it” or a “4” as well.]

Next, we’ll take a closer look at Richard and Linda. (Though we’ll leave a couple of questions, like the meaning of “two birds with one stone,” open for the epilogue to this essay.)

Richard’s trinity

We’ve discussed the 1/2/3 trinity of many characters in TP:TR; Richard, however, has so far not been among them. Let’s now take a look at what I believe to be his personal trinity, a trio that at first may seem quite surprising:

Richard’s personal 1/2/3 trio (in one of the realities, if not all — reality 1, at least) — or is Red, in this scenario, actually a 4?

This is a confusing trinity to wrap one’s head around, so bear with me in this section: I think there’s substantial evidence that the show intends to be forming some sort of trinity out of these characters. To start, when Richard meets Red in Part 6, the scene begins with Richard convulsing in place as he gets very high on a sample of Sparkle, the designer drug scourge of Twin Peaks: “Oh, tha-this stuff kicks” says Richard, cross-eyed. A short while later in the scene, Red — although we have not seen him take any drugs in this scene — suddenly starts convulsing, kicking his right leg (1) and clutching his right hand (1). Red explains this strange behavior away by saying: “I got a problem with my liver” — an organ that sits on the right side (1) of one’s body, and filters red (1) blood. All this seems to point to Richard being the 1 to Red’s 3.

Or is Red actually a 4? Upon reflection, this seems to be what the show is getting at. Recall that a 4 can represent some sort of extradimensional presence, and is often symbolized by the human head (think Major Briggs’ floating head saying “Blue Rose” in Part 3; overall in TP, it seems that the head = 4, the body = 3, the left-side limbs = 2, and the right-side limbs = 1). Red does very conspicuously put his hands on his head in this scene (see, e.g., the picture above). Red also seems to have quite 4-ish magical abilities — witness his trick with the dime. Notably, the dime trick ends with him stating that he is the “head” side of the dime: “Heads, I win,” he says. If Mr. C — a man inhabited by a 4, BOB — is the father of Richard, then it makes some sense that Richard might have a type of 4-presence as well. Red appears to be this 4-presence.

Top: Red’s right side convulses shortly after Richard takes drugs. Bottom: we get a metaphorical origin story for the killing of Richard’s inner 2.

Together, the 1 of Richard and the 4 of Red seem to add up to make one full right hand (5). What about a left hand, a 2? This scene appears to simultaneously be a depiction of this right hand 1 duo existing without a left hand 2, and at the same time a metaphor showing us what happened to kill off Richard’s inner 2 in the first place. Red — a 4-presence like his dad, the BOB-infected Mr. C — talks down to Richard, pointing 2 fingers at him and stating: “I’m gonna be watching you, kid.” This creates something of a complex in Richard: “Don’t call me ‘kid,’” he replies testily. This confused anger spills into the next scene we see him in, driving down a road in a truck: “Fuck you, man! Kid.” he yells at Red / his father / life. (This scene should perhaps be read in concert with the sequence in Part 13 where Red watches his father coldly kill two men, itself a seeming achronological representation of the passing of violence from generation to generation.) Richard then repeats “Come on” 4 times. He continues seething: “I’ll show you fucking kid.” Drenched in this anger, confusion, and self-loathing, he ultimately destroys his 2, his inner child — symbolically represented by the young boy he kills with his speeding truck (here, speeding truck = his unhinged 1-ness).

Who is Linda?

In Richard, we find someone who has a hole in his 2; he’s just a 1 and (depending on how you look at it) a 3 or 4, with no 2. Given the show’s love of inversion and mirror images, it seems quite possible, if not likely, that Linda — whoever she is — would be the inverse of Richard, and thus a 2 with no 1 or 3. It also seems likely that, given Linda’s seeming importance, we would have already spent time with her by the end of TP:TR’s first 14 Parts. Can we think of any young woman in TP:TR with whom we’ve spent a fair amount of time, and who seemingly has a functioning 2, yet a largely vacant or void 1 and 3?

Candie. Candie seems to fit the bill to a T.

Now, several questions will likely jump to mind upon considering the possibility that Candie is Linda. I think many of these questions can perhaps be answered by considering this: if and when harmony is eventually restored to Twin Peaks (something we’ll consider in more depth in a bit), it seems likely that Richard and Linda will also themselves find some measure of harmony. It further seems likely that they might each achieve this harmony by symbolically filling the missing hole(s) in their 1/2/3 identity. How might each of them achieve this? One possibility is that Candie, a 2, would simply fill the missing 2 in Richard. This seems unlikely, though, as, among other things, it would seemingly imply that there were no “Richard and Linda,” but only a single person. Another possibility is that the “1–1–9” addict-mother and child in Las Vegas might somehow play a role in this — the child perhaps somehow filling the 2 role for Richard, and the mother… somehow?…factoring into Linda’s harmony. Just by trying to explain that scenario now, however, you can see how unlikely it seems.

The exact same chords of Angelo Badalamenti’s “Accident / Farewell” music plays over these two scenes.

Much more likely to me is this: Sonny-Jim, in a way, represents the 2 that will be filled in Richard. It makes thematic sense; Dale-in-Dougie, by having been a good father to Sonny-Jim, will have in a symbolic sense helped to have salved the gaping 2-wound in Richard, Dale Cooper’s “real” son via Mr. C’s actions. This also helps explain why Dougie is crying, overcome with emotion, when he sees Sonny-Jim sitting in a car in Part 5; notably, the exact same chords of Angelo Badalamenti’s “Accident / Farewell” music plays over this scene as does over the Part 6 scene where Richard kills the little boy with his truck. Dougie is mourning the spiritual malaise of Dale Cooper’s rageful, fatherless son.

Through the end of Part 14, the only scene directly discussing Linda.

What about Linda? Well, recall that — aside from ???????’s cryptic statement to Agent Cooper in Part 1 — the only scene in TP:TR to date in which we’ve heard an explicit reference to “Linda” is in Part 6. There, we see Mickey joining Carl on a trip into town so as to retrieve Linda’s mail at the P.O.. Mickey’s relationship to Linda is unclear — he doesn’t wear a wedding ring, but he appears to at a minimum be her friend, if not her caretaker. Thanks to the “fuckin’ war,” as Carl puts it, Linda is in “one of them electric wheelchairs.” It’s a little unclear, since TP seems to normally associate “chairs” with 2, but it appears that Linda is a traumatized 1 (so, a 1.2, we might say) — her one mobile wheelchair is electric, and she is apparently in it because she fought in a war (seemingly a very 1-mode activity). (As an aside: If Linda is a 1.2 then perhaps it makes more sense to think of Candie as a 2.1, rather than the 2.2 assignment I’d initially given her above. After all, of the trio of her, Mandie, and Sandie, she is the one who does all of the actions — and we never see her seated.) Mickey, a seeming mixture of 1 and 2 signals, appears to be acting as her 3 — he used to smoke (1), but he quit (2); he sits in the backseat (2) of a moving vehicle (1) with his left hand (2) perched atop his right leg (1).

Just as the combination of Sonny Jim (2) and Richard (1) might possibly yield us an eventual harmonious Richard in mode / reality 3, the combination of Candie (2) and Linda (1) might possibly yield us an eventual harmonious Linda in mode / reality 3. (Since we’ve never actually seen “Linda” on screen, it’s possible that she, like Candie, will be played by Amy Shiels.) Again, this might make thematic sense. Although Dougie has spent less time with Candie than he has with Sonny Jim, he has indeed spent some quality bonding time with her group. Moreover, as I intimated much earlier in discussing what the scene involving Candie swatting a fly might be portending, I believe there is a decent chance we might yet see Candie come face to face with some sort of serious trauma (of which that fly-swatting incident was both a chronological and situational inversion). Just as Dougie helped Sonny Jim by helping to be a real father for him, it’s possible we’ll see Dougie help Candie by helping her to avert the instigating trauma that caused her/Linda so much pain in the first place. (Once more, recall that we’d expect this instigating trauma to come at the end of the Las Vegas storyline because everything is inverted there — it’s in the “Version Layer.”)

PART VI: REVISITING FWWM AND SEASONS 1 & 2

As I developed the analytical framework to TP:TR laid out in this essay, I was not expecting much of that framework to be particularly useful in looking back at the earlier installments of Twin Peaks, the movie Fire Walk With Me and the first two seasons of the show. Those were made a very long time ago, under very different circumstances. Given the passage of more than 25 years, it would be understandable if in many ways the new installment of Twin Peaks fit somewhat incongruously with many of the concepts and plot points underlying the earlier installments. (Certainly, one would not expect David Lynch and Mark Frost to have been actually planning, in the early ’90s, a specific conclusion that they expected could play out when the show was revived 25 years later.)

BOB’s next murder?

My first moment of surprise on this note came one night when I tried to pull up David Bowie’s Agent Phillip Jeffries scene from FWWM, hoping to refamiliarize myself with it in light of the many references to Agent Jeffries in TP:TR. While quickly skipping around to try to locate the correct scene in FWWM, I accidentally landed on a conversation between Coop and Albert about 45 minutes into the film. Rewatching it in light of my recent TP:TR-informed knowledge of the 1/2/3 concept, Albert’s eventual turn as BOB, and TP’s penchant for using “it” as a stand-in for an extradimensional entity like BOB, the scene played out in an entirely new way:

Coop and Albert forecast a future murder by BOB.

“Lately I’ve been filled with the knowledge that the killer will strike again,” says Coop. “But because it is just a feeling, I am powerless to stop it.” Then, making a pointed 1 reference in addressing Albert, he adds: “One more thing, Albert. When the next murder happens, you will help me solve it.” Albert responds: “Let’s test it for the record.”

Standing, Albert proceeds to ask Coop a series of questions about the future murder at issue, like “Will the victim be a man or a woman?” And: “What color hair will she have?” Coop answers each question in turn, providing a somewhat detailed description of the future victim:

Coop describes BOB’s future victim, in which Albert will “help” him to “solve it.”

According to Coop, the future victim will be a sexually active blonde woman in high school, who uses drugs and is crying out for help. In the context of FWWM, Coop is clearly describing Laura Palmer. However, given the fact that the scene arguably appears to to demonstrate some self-awareness (in 1992!) of Albert’s future turn as BOB, I wondered if it might not also be describing a future victim of Albert’s (or even of Albert and Mr. C, helping one another). So far, Coop’s description didn’t particularly remind me of any characters in TP:TR. The very last descriptive detail that Coop gives, however, set an alarm bell off for me, immediately calling to mind a Roadhouse scene at the end of Part 9:

Sky Ferreira’s character there, credited only as “Ella” (appearing with her friend “Chloe,” played by Karolina Wydra) is definitely blonde, and she’s seemingly a troubled drug user as well. It also seems not unlikely that she’s sexually active (regardless of whether or not her statement “I did the fucking work” is intended to have a double meaning), and she appears as if she could be of high school age. (Before you complain that Sky Ferreira is definitely older than 18: recall that Sheryl Lee turned 25 the year that FWWM opened, just as Sky Ferreira turned 25 this year.) The disgusting red rash under her left armpit (which she lustily scratches with her right hand) certainly could be a symbol of a creeping slide towards darkness. The discussion of a newly “out” zebra, as well as of an apparently missing “penguin,” is somewhat more of a head-scratcher, but could conceivably symbolize the return of BOB to Twin Peaks (a zebra — something like a white horse being slowly enveloped by darkness? — is a four-legged creature, suggesting a 4-entity) as well as the departure of Ella’s 2-ness (the penguin, conceivably, as it walks on two legs?). It’s the repeated discussion of Ella serving burgers, however, that truly seems to echo Coop’s comment about the future victim “preparing a great abundance of food.”

Now, I may be wrong. Ella’s character may well never be seen again in TP:TR; the Roadhouse scenes certainly play as one-offs. The echo may just be that, a slight little callback intended, in its moderate echo of Laura’s situation, as another in the long-line of accruing symbols of Twin Peak’s descent into disharmonious darkness. It’ll be interesting to see if and how Ella reappears.

Gordon’s Monica Bellucci dream, and Agent Jeffries in FWWM

Let’s now take a look at the scene I’d originally been trying to find in FWWM, the Agent Jeffries scene. Since Gordon just dreamed of this scene in Part 14, that seems like a good place to start.

Immediately before the dream-retelling scene starts, Agent Headley of the Las Vegas FBI office yells at his subordinate, “Wilson, how many times have I told you, this is what we do in the FBI?” As he says this, he emphatically bangs on his desk three times, perhaps indicating that what we’re about to watch takes place in reality 3. Gordon then immediately precedes his dream-retelling by noting that Sheriff Truman has told him there are “two Coopers” — perhaps indicating to us that the dreamspace we’re about to watch is, or at least is a similar concept to, reality 2. This is perhaps underscored by the fact that, in the dream, only the left side — i.e., the 2 side — of Cooper is visible. Similarly, in the dream Monica Bellucci has “brought friends” — in context, pretty clearly her own personal 1 and 2. She is shown gesturing only to the friend on her left (2), using her left hand (2). And when Gordon sits down with her at the cafe (a 2-ish type activity), only Monica’s 2 is shown with her.

Does this mean that the dream takes place in reality 2, as we’ve come to understand that reality? I don’t think so. Rather, I think the point this sequence is intended to illustrate is that reality 2 (and as we’ll see, also reality 1) are to reality 3 — the base reality — as dreams are to it. That is, realities 1 and 2 are representations of the subconscious; an interpretation of the three-realities we’d briefly touched on above in Part III.

Monica then cries a single tear as she looks at her fingers arranged in the formation of two overlapping triangles — Twin Peaks. As she looks up, at Gordon, she moves some of her fingers in a way that destroys the previously harmonious arrangement of the overlapping triangles: a symbol, I believe, that the two sides of the subconscious, or soul, are no longer in harmony.

Monica then says the ancient phrase: “We’re like the dreamer, who dreams and then lives inside the dream.” Between the first half of the sentence and the second, the camera cuts between Gordon’s face in the dream, and Gordon’s face in the Buckhorn hotel room. She adds: “But who is the dreamer?” We will address this very important question momentarily.

Monica’s question makes Gordon feel “powerful[ly] uneasy.” As he tells it, Monica next “looked past [him] and indicated to [him] to look back at something that was happening there.” (The camera cuts back to Gordon in the hotel room for the last several words of that sentence.) We then see Gordon look back over his right shoulder — indicating, I believe, that he is now looking back into the 1 reality / 1 side of the subconscious, where this version of the Agent Jeffries scene took place. (As if these two selves of Gordon are looking at each other, the Gordon we see in the flashback is looking to his left in the first shot of him — as if he is looking back at Gordon in reality 2.)

In the flashback (as I’m calling it here, for lack of a more precise term), Agent Cooper is telling Gordon that he is worried about a dream that he had. Cooper notes that “it’s 10:10am on February 16th,” and then says that he’s worried about today “because of the dream I told you about.” It’s definitely ambiguous, but I believe that in this context, the time and date are intended to signify the 1-reality — the time is only 1s and absences where we might some other number like a 2 or a 3. The date, 16, is also a 1-signifier — aside from the “1” in it, the “6” is, as we’ve seen a signifier of evil and destruction, which are more of 1-mode type concepts. (Yes, February is the 2nd month, but for reasons I don’t have the time to go into in this essay I think we should not read “February” as a 2-signifier in this context.) The fact that Cooper is talking about a dream he had is, in addition to potentially tipping us off about other things happening in the first chunk of FWWM, possibly meant as another clue about the multiple levels of reality / dreams / subconscious at play in TP, something this sequence — particularly as employed in the Monica Bellucci dream of Part 14 — is all about.

Jeffries walks in and points his arm at Cooper, asking: “Who do you think that is there?” Very curiously, there are two things about this Jeffries’ statement here that are different from the scene in FWWM that supposedly depicts the very same moment:

Top left: Part 14 of TP:TR. Top right: FWWM. Bottom: the voice of Jeffries in TP:TR.

(1). The language is slightly altered. In FWWM, Jeffries says: “Who do you think this is there?” In Part 14 of TP:TR, by contrast, Jeffries says “Who do you think that is there?” (2). The voice. In FWWM, Jeffries is both acted and voiced by David Bowie. In Part 14 of TP:TR, by contrast, Jeffries is still acted by David Bowie, but now he is voiced by Nathan Frizzell. Notably, the show did not need to find someone (because of Bowie’s passing) to voice the word “that” in order to make the language in Part 14 different than that in FWWM; they already had extra footage of Bowie using that exact language, “that,” from the shooting of FWWM, as shown in the “Missing Pieces” scenes that were released several years ago (see here).

Why have these slight changes been made? It seems highly likely that the show is trying again to tip us off to the fact that we have more than one reality playing out here. Notably, the extended scene in FWWM is a jumble of different 1/2/3 signifiers (as is the extended scene released in the “Missing Pieces”), including Cooper memorably looking for his image on the security footage three different times, on three different cameras — something intended, I believe, to suggest (along with the dream reference by Cooper, the Cooper image on the TV not following his actions, and Jeffries’ confusion and teleportation — to the fourth (4) step of a Buenos Aires hotel stairway, notably, in the Missing Pieces) that TP consists of several different layers of realities that we’ve been watching. It is quite possible that the FWWM version of the scene we saw was, in a sense, intercutting from moment to moment between which reality it was showing us. If that sounds impossibly disorienting, well: it is arguably the most disorienting scene in all of TP, and it’s moreover seemingly intended to be disorienting, so as to tip us off to the strange conceit at the core of TP in a viscerally unsettling manner.

This also helps to explain why Gordon finishes the scene by saying, of Jeffries’ accusation at Cooper: “Damn! I hadn’t remembered that.” Albert, who was also present in the Jeffries scene, adds: “I’m beginning to remember that too.” As others have pointed out (I believe I first saw this in an exchange between John Thorne and Jeff Jensen here), it is as if Gordon and Albert are slowly remembering a dream they once had. Now, again — this is ambiguous — but I believe the explanation is something along the lines that Jeffries did not make this accusation at Cooper (or at least not in as memorable a way) in reality 3, the base reality in which we seem to be watching Gordon, Albert, and Tammy now talk in the Buckhorn hotel.

This interpretation — that realities 1 and 2 are, in essence, the subconscious realms for reality 3, the base reality — is further supported by Agent Jeffries’ unforgettable statement in the FWWM version of the scene: “We live inside a dream.”

One thing about this interpretion of reality 3 as the “base reality” to the two other subconscious realities may seem fishy: we’ve seemingly been watching people walk around with physical representations of the two sides of their subconscious not just in realities 1 and 2, but in reality 3 as well. Albert and Tammy, the physical manifestations of Gordon’s 1 and 2 sides, are shown to us as being apparently real, sitting right there with him in reality 3. If reality 3 is the base reality, then shouldn’t all the funky subconscious stuff like that not be directly happening there? (Not to forget the fact that supernatural-ish entities like BOB seem to directly interact with reality 3 as well.)

Part of the answer, though not all, is perhaps provided several minutes earlier in Part 14, when Albert describes the very first “Blue Rose” case, one where a woman shot another woman who was, by all appearances, herself. Before dying and vanishing, the apparent doppelganger says: “I’m like the blue rose.” As Tammy then notes, blue roses do not occur in nature. “The dying woman was not natural. Conjured. What’s the word? A tulpa.” A tulpa, a concept from more than one religious / spiritual persuasion, is a “thoughtform,” a “being or object which is created through spiritual or mental powers.” (See, e.g., here and here, as well as here, where tulpas are described as “extra bodies that were created from one person’s mind in order to travel to spiritual realms” — full disclosure: I am decidedly not an expert on tulpas.)

Albert, hearing Tammy say the word “tulpa,” raises an eyebrow, then looks at Tammy — the physical embodiment of the “light” side of Gordon — and says: “Good.” It’s as if he is describing her: yes, you are the Good tulpa.

Who is the dreamer?

Are Tammy, Albert, and all the other 1/2 characters of TP that we’ve been identifying actually tulpas? On the one hand, the answer might be no: perhaps the word “tulpa” is only meant to describe Mr. C’s creation of the original Dougie Jones, and/or the existence of literal doppelgangers in Lodge-space (from which Mr. C has escaped). But I think the answer is actually yes — everyone in TP is, in fact, a tulpa. If that’s the case, then who, exactly, is the thinker who’s creating these thoughtforms, these tulpas? Or, as Monica Bellucci puts it: Who is the dreamer?

I think there are three possible answers to this with at least some level of substantial support. In increasing order of how well I think they fit what we’re seeing in TP, these are the answers I have in mind:

One, Laura Palmer is the dreamer. This will make more sense by the end of the essay — it is supportable, in some significant ways — but I still think the next two answers make more interpretive sense.

Two, the dreamer is Gordon Cole / David Lynch (and possibly Mark Frost, if one wants to read Gordon’s character, although played by Lynch, as representative of both of TP’s co-creators and co-writers; though for the purposes of simplicity here I’ll simply refer to Lynch). As we’ve already noted, the most important characters in TP:TR form two overlapping triangles — Twin Peaks — with Gordon/David at their very center. It’s conceivable that one could draw a single massive super-triangle containing every character in TP as hubs of the subtriangles within it, with Gordon/David at the very top. (Lest you think this is too trippy or too complicated a thing to contemplate, consider the large super-triangle on the cover of Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier, coming out this Fall.) In a way, this makes perfect sense: “Twin Peaks,” as with any art, is in some quite literal sense the thoughtform of the artists who made it. Given all the discussion of TP:TR as a potential capstone to Lynch’s career, containing references to and actors from all/many of Lynch’s prior works, this interpretation might seem fitting. (One could also interpret this answer more broadly: the dreamer is not just Lynch, or Lynch and Frost, but everyone whose life touches “Twin Peaks” and creates its overall imprint on our world — the cast, the crew, the network, the fans, the critics, the broader culture that’s semi-aware of it — everyone.)

Three, space-time itself is the dreamer. (Space-time, as in: time and space — i.e., the entirety of existence.) As confusing as this may at first sound, I believe this is what the show intends to be the answer, as, indeed, it has already directly provided it to us as the answer at the end of Part 10:

The Log Lady tells Hawk: “Watch and listen to the dream of time and space. It all comes out now, flowing like a river. That which is and is not.” But what does this mean?

As Mat Cult notes here, TP appears to be at least in part inspired by the Upanishads, “a collection of Indian texts that contain the seeds of both Hinduism and Buddhism.” The key passage Cult quotes, as translated by Thomas Egenes, is worth repeating here in its entirety:

“Look Balaki,” the king said. “Do you see that spider?”
 “Yes,” said Balaki, “I see the spider moving along its web.”
 “We are like the spider,” said the king. “We weave our life, and then move along in it. We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream.
“This is true for the entire universe. That is why it is said, ‘Having created the creation, the Creator entered into it’.
 “This is true for us. We create our world, and then enter into that world. We live in the world that we have created. When our hearts are pure, then we create the beautiful, enlightened life we have wished for.”

In the context of the show’s themes, I believe it all translates down roughly to this: We each of us contain multitudes, parts of ourselves that we create on an ongoing basis just by living. Often we don’t know how to make sense of these conflicting forces, thoughts, and feelings fluttering and bouncing inside of us. That is the everpresent, recurring task of life: as with watching an episode of Twin Peaks, on a daily basis we must try to watch and listen closely to what’s being created inside of us — the real essence of our life — to try to reach a deeper understanding and find a measure of self-harmony. And as with the task of understanding the subconscious realms and forces represented in Twin Peaks, this is often quite challenging —though if we pay close attention to what our heart is trying to tell us in a given situation, we can at least begin to move towards self-understanding.

This same process is repeated by the universe itself — it, too, contains multitudes, a jumble of conflicting forces, things, and beings inside of it, and the sum total of existence (“that which is and is not”) is an eternally recurrent process of the forces of harmony, of order, engaging the forces of disharmony, of chaos. (As for why the universe contains something rather than nothing in the first place: well, that is a wee tad difficult to answer.) We each of us are components of the universe trying to order itself, jostling against each other as part of this Great Ordering. This total, universal engagement between order and chaos is what we ultimately see represented in Twin Peaks. (Lest you think the concepts in this paragraph are solely the domain of religion and spirituality, note that, e.g., one of the most distinguished living analytical philosophers recently wrote a book supporting what we might think of as a version of these concepts. As the New Yorker review of the book describes it, his is “a theory of teleology — a preprogrammed or built-in tendency in the universe toward the particular goal of fulfilling the possibilities of mentality. In a splendid image, Nagel writes, ‘Each of our lives is a part of the lengthy process of the universe gradually waking up and becoming aware of itself.’”)

Thus, on this way of understanding things, there is no “base reality” where the overarching dreams, the thoughts, the consciousness, stop. Reality in TP, as in life, is in a very real sense a universal dream. So let’s not get too hung up on having tulpas in reality 3.

It’s dreams all the way down.

The ending of Fire Walk With Me

It’s time, at long last, to take a look at the very final scene of FWWM.

After the previous sequence ends with a shot of Laura’s dead, waterlogged body being unwrapped from plastic (i.e., the very first moment of Season 1 of Twin Peaks), the scene begins with a scroll into what appears to be the Red Room. We see a close-up of the right side of Laura’s face as she sits there; you can see that someone has their right hand on her shoulder. She is looking up, and we then get a shot of who it is that’s looking at her: it’s Dale, with the left side of his face shown looking down at her, smiling. He blinks once. Laura does not appear to understand why Dale is smiling. She looks down dejectedly.

She blinks once. There’s a pause. She blinks twice. There’s another pause. *Immediately upon her third blink,* a light flashes and an angel appears floating above them. Laura looks at the angel with bright-eyed wonder. Her mouth drops open. She begins to heave with sobs of uncontrollable exhiliration and joy; a wide smile breaks out on her face as she watches the white, floating angel slowly join its left hand and its right hand together in a praying motion. Laura throws her head back and laughs in disbelieving amazement, as the tears of unfuttered joy continue to pour from her. The camera pulls back, and the final image we’re left with is of these 3 figures in the Red Room: Laura; Dale standing next to her, with his right hand on her shoulder; and the floating white angel, its right and left hands clasped together in prayer.

It is this shot that Jade’s first scene with Dougie possibly echoes.

Rewatching this scene the first time, a chill ran down my spine as a question rang out in my mind:

DID LAURA NEVER DIE IN REALITY 3???

Did she survive BOB-in-Leland’s attack all along??? Has she merely been in a coma, or some such, all this time in Reality 3??? And is that the implication here of all of the 1/2/3 imagery — Laura is Dale’s right hand, his 1; Dale is Laura’s left hand, her 2; and combining them you get, in reality 3 (three blinks), the perfect overall harmony of a living Laura and Dale united together, as symbolized by the angel clasping its right and left hands together???

Is that really what’s happening here??? I mean…

Wait a second, let’s see if this checks out.

In the Red Room of TP:TR Part 2, let’s review to see if we can detect any signs that there are three Lauras, one of whom has always been alive:

Three Lauras.

Okay, okay, okay, this is checking out so far! I mean, we’d always known from Part 2 that there was some sense in which Laura still lives, but I, like I imagine all other viewers, figured that this was either merely some metaphor for her undying spirit, or, if she really was suddenly alive, this was likely to be the result of the Giant/Fireman/??????? engaging in some magical deus ex machina hokum. But the idea that she might have been alive all along??? I’d never considered this. Let’s continue to investigate by rewatching the “murder” sequence itself from a bit earlier in the ending of FWWM.

The sequence is led into by a shot of Leland maniacally running and pushing Laura and Ronette together in front of him towards the abandoned train car. Laura and Ronette look a bit like mirror images of one another, both dressed basically the same, both smeared with lipstick, both sobbing uncontrollably in abject fear, with one blonde and one brunette. Hmm. Interesting.

Inside the train car, Ronette and Laura are first shown tied back to back together on the floor, almost as if they are one body with a different face on each side. We then cut to shots where the two are separated. Laura lies on the ground and asks Leland, “Are you going to kill me?” Ronette, meanwhile, tied up on the side, says something very baffling while looking towards the area of the train that Leland appears to be in: “Father.

Of the two authorities I consulted to see their take on this moment— the excellent The Essential Wrapped in Plastic by John Thorne, and Twin Peaks FAQ by David Bushman and Arthur Smith — neither seems to directly address this comment (although I may have missed it), both, perhaps understandably, seeming to implicitly understand it as Ronette engaging in prayer. But knowing what we know now about TP’s 1/2/3 conceit, it’s starting to look pretty clear that Ronette is, in fact, a part of Laura — her 2.1, perhaps, or her 1.2; the exact assignment is not clear to me (though I’m assuming that with a little more time and thought — I wrote the final part of this essay in a relative rush — we can figure it out). The remainder of this sequence only further serves to confirm this.

Ronette cryptically continues her address: “If I die now, will you come and see me?” This is harder to parse, but let’s try. Given everything we’ve learned about the 1/2/3 conceit, and in light of a number of factors about this sequence, it’s also becoming apparent that BOB has possessed Leland’s 1-side. There still, possibly, exists a BOB-free 2-side within Leland, deeply submerged; it is likely to this side of Leland that Ronette is addressing her question. If a part of me dies — If my 1.1 dies (“If I die now”) — then will you, 2-Leland, come visit me, the still alive tulpa for Laura’s 2.1 (or whatever it is) — or, possibly, the gravesite of her dead 1.1? I can think of another reading to the particular words Ronette chooses; it’s just very unclear.

Leland places a mirror in front of Laura, and she looks, horrified, at BOB’s image in the mirror suddenly replacing hers — an apparent intimation of the inhabitation by BOB that awaits her if she doesn’t do something to stop it, and soon. Looking to her left, she sees Leland saying: “Your diary. I always thought you knew it was me.” We cut to an image of Ronette, possibly responding to Leland’s statement to Laura: “Don’t look at me.” Looking to her right, Laura then sees BOB saying: “I never knew you knew it was me. I want you,” he says pointedly to Laura, not Ronette.

Another cut to Ronette: “I’m so dirty,” she says, sobbing. “I’m not ready.” Laura and Ronette appear to look at one another. “I’m sorry,” Ronette says, apparently apologizing to her 1.1 for leaving her to her own devices in this situation. Ronette then underscores her 2-ness in this situation, repeating the line a second time, and even repeating the first word of the line twice: “I’m — I’m sorry.”

At this moment, the angel appears floating in front of Ronette, hands clasped together, a vision of the harmony and salvation that eventually awaits the full Laura. Ronette’s hands are suddenly free of their bindings. Phillip Gerard / MIKE (i.e., the one-armed man, whom I’ll simply call MIKE here) runs to the train door, yelling and repeating himself twice (2): “Let me in! Let me in!” Curiously, in what may or may not be significant (it happens so quickly that I hesitate to claim it’s definitely intentional, but knowing TP…), MIKE pounds on the train door three (3) times. With MIKE’s help, Ronette starts to slip out of the train car. As she leaves, Leland knocks her unconscious, and she falls out of the train door (which quickly shuts again) to the feet of MIKE. (It’s unclear whether Leland pushes her out, or she just falls out from the weight of his blow.)

Now that all signs of Laura’s 2-ness have exited the train car, the Owl Cave Ring appears on the train car floor. We then see Laura sliding the ring on, as Leland screams in the background. A sequence of quickly intercut snippets follows, rotating snippets of darkness with snippets of BOB or Leland making stabbing motions, and with snippets of Laura first making the fierce-shrieking face that we’ve seen her ghoul-ish doppelganger make on a couple of occasions (see also: Ronette’s memory of this sequence from Season 2, a memory she seemingly wouldn’t have if she were not part of Laura, for “Ronette” was thrown out of the train car before this happened), then snippets of Laura sputtering up blood in death throes. By becoming the fiercest, deadliest version of her 1.1 — symbolized by her putting the Owl Cave Ring on — Laura appears to have successfully warded off BOB from inhabiting her, although her 1.1 has seemingly died in the process. (As a quick aside: why doesn’t the Owl Cave Ring represent similar fierce powers when we see other characters put it on? My tentative guess: because those characters are not 1.1s, or perhaps not even 1s at all. If a 2-character of any kind puts the Owl Cave Ring on, it apparently makes that character a subject, rather than a master (as with Laura’s 1.1), of darkness.)

As Leland unloads Laura’s body from the train car, he sees Ronette’s limp form lying down. He kicks the body, apparently testing to see whether it is still alive. As it does not move — he does not realize she is still alive — he leaves. After placing Laura’s body in the river, he enters the Black Lodge and finds some version of MIKE and the Arm waiting for him there. I won’t review everything in this scene, just to note this: Leland stands off to the right of the room at first. We see him fall forward almost horizontally to the ground, seemingly representing that the pre-BOB version of Leland’s 1-ness has all but disappeared. He then floats up into the air, as if to the top point of a triangle. We see BOB standing at his bottom right side, the clear 1 point of the triangle. The 2 point of the triangle is empty; to the extent a 2-ness of Leland still exists, it has not joined him on this trek into the Black Lodge.

Leland’s triangle in the Black Lodge.

Reviewing other scenes from FWWM

Let’s take a quick look at two other scenes in FWWM. (I’ll leave untouched here certain other, less immediately relevant aspects of FWWM, like if/where Chet Desmond and Sam Stanley fit in Dale Cooper’s personal 1/2/3 superset.) First, let’s take a look at the “Pink Room” scene:

Warning, NSFW.

Rewatching this scene with what we know now, it’s remarkable. Donna Hayward, acting uncharacteristically, is out with Laura in the sleazy, debaucherous Pink Room. Once she begins to feel woozy, Ronette Pulaski suddenly materializes from the shadows of the room. “I haven’t seen you since I was thrown out of One Eyed Jacks” Laura says to her, the two of them touching their heads together in a seeming mind-meld. “What else did we do together?” Ronette asks. Laura shakes her head, slightly confused. “I remember,” Ronette says. Jacques walks up behind them. “Hey, the party twins,” he says.

Strangely, the conversation suddenly shifts. “She’s been dead a year,” Ronette says. “Yeah who?” Jacques asks. “Teresa… Teresa Banks,” Ronette replies. “Yeah, a whole year,” Laura adds.

Was Teresa Banks, too, a part of Laura?? That seems to be the clear implication. She appears to have played a similar 1/2/3 role for Laura, if not the same role, as Ronette.

Ronette and Laura continue to participate in the night’s debauchery, seemingly mirroring one another. But when Laura notices that Donna Hayward has joined in, rolling around topless in front of a man, Laura immediately loses her composure, screaming “No!” and repeating “Get her out out of here” twice (2) to Jacques, clearly implying that Donna is a part of her, on her 2 side. (In fact, given all this 1/2/3 analysis of FWWM, we can likely understand the two different actresses that have played Donna Hayward — Lara Flynn Boyle in S1–2, and Moira Kelly in FWWM — as representing different sides of Donna. LFB is perhaps Laura’s 2.2.2, whereas MK is Laura’s 2.2.1.)

A further rewatch of FWWM seems to only confirm this 1/2/3 role of Donna’s for Laura:

Reviewing the Ronette scenes from Seasons 1–2

Could this 1/2/3 concept, and this view of Laura’s fate, have actually been baked into Laura’s story from the very beginning of Twin Peaks?

Remarkably, mentions to Ronette in the first two seasons of TP appear to invoke a 2-sign at the outset of the scenes. Here, for example, in Episode 10, Agent Cooper immediately precedes his statement that “Ronette Pulaski has woken from a coma” with the statement: “Albert, you’d be surprised at the connections between the two”:

And here, for example, in the series finale, we see Truman and Cooper saying the line “scorched engine oil” in unison together — so, twice (2) — immediately prior to Cooper saying, “Hawk, bring in Ronnette Pulaski”:

(Perhaps notably, Ronette is spelled differently here — there are two “Ns” rather than one — suggesting that, in addition to all the other Laura 1/2/3 dynamics we’ve seen, there are perhaps two or more Ron(n)ettes at play as well.)

Reviewing Cooper’s meeting with Laura in the S2 Finale

Perhaps this go-round try rewatching this scene above first, seeing what you notice, before going on to read my take.

“Some of your friends are here,” the Arm says. Note his usage of the plural, “friends.” We then hear 9 footsteps — a sign of goodness, a suggestion of 2-ness — as Laura enters the room. Interestingly, though, she sits with her right leg crossed over on top (1), and also places her right hand on top of her left one (1). After she greets Agent Cooper, she winks at him with her left eye (2). She then snaps her right hand fingers (1), resulting in two fingers pointing downward (2). Then comes her famous line: “I’ll see you again in 25 years.” Given the mix of 1 and 2 references before this, Laura appears to be stating that her 1 and 2 will see him again in 25 years. (Her 3 is left unmentioned.)

“Meanwhile,” she then adds. At this, she poses her hands in a distinct fashion, the right hand upright, and the left hand prone underneath. I feel confident that this is intended to symbolize the reign of Agent Cooper’s right hand (1), Mr. C, for those 25 years, while the Good Dale (2) is trapped below in Lodge-space.

It all is fitting together.

Reviewing Cooper’s meeting with Laura in his Episode 3 dream

There is much we might review in this Episode 3 (or Episode 2, if you don’t count the pilot) dream scene of Cooper, one of the most famous moments in television history. All I’ll note here is this: the Arm describes the Laura-figure sitting next to him as “his cousin,” and the Laura-figure then states of Laura: “I feel like I know her, but sometimes my arms bend back.”

If TP had its 1/2/3 theory of Laura baked into it by Lynch and Frost right from the very start, then we’d expect some sort of 1-reference in the scene to link up with this seeming description of Laura’s Owl-Ring mutated 1.1. And what do we see?

Amazing.

Reviving Laura’s 3 in TP:TR

Laura may still be alive in reality 3 — be it via a coma or some other means I haven’t even imagined — but presumably in order for her to “wake up” she’ll need to also be alive in her subconscious. That is, she’ll need to have some representative(s) of her 1 and her 2 (or alternatively, her 1, 1.1, 1.2, 2, 2.1, 2.2 etc.) alive in realities 1 and 2, respectively, in order to be fully conscious and healthy in reality 3. (I speculate here, as the particular rules of how comas operate across a single person’s consciousness spanning multiple alternative realities and numerous tulpas is not exactly something I can draw from a great deal of personal precedents in addressing. (I think.))

In thinking back through the course of TP’s run, many potential candidates to be part of Laura’s 1/2/3 interior present themselves. Maddy? (Has to be, right?) Annie? (Maybe.) Renee, whose name sounds suspiciously like Ronette, and whose relationship to James’ music seems familiar? (Possibly.) While the full 1/2/3 map of Laura’s interior may yet take a while for TP’s fan base to completely tease out — presumably through finishing viewing the remaining Parts of TP:TR, as well as through continuing to revisit the earlier installments of TP with our new 1/2/3 framework in mind— there are three potential components of Laura’s interior I’ll comment on here, to conclude this essay:

(1). Audrey. In recent Parts we’ve seen two very peculiar (and peculiarly affecting) scenes with Audrey. In each, she is talking to a man named Charlie who is supposedly her husband, though by all appearances seems to actually be a representative of (some part of) her subconscious. Given the nature of their discussions, and the contexts in which they take place — never leaving a single room, and never seeing another person — my strong suspicion is that Audrey is, in fact, in a coma.

Now, I recognize this proposal raises a host of other questions. We’ve seen Charlie talking to someone on the phone, discussing people who seem to correspond to names and/or people we’ve actually recently heard or seen *outside* Audrey and Charlie’s room. Yet I suspect this is intentional misdirection. While I would need to rewatch the relevant scenes further to be more confident, my working hypothesis is that Billy — whome we see discussed in the Roadhouse, and whom we apparently actually see firsthand (looking grotesque) in a Sheriff’s Department’s jail cell — is a living symbol (a collective tulpa?) of the state of (dis)harmony in Twin Peaks’ 3-reality, and also carries a similar meaning in Audrey’s discussions with Charlie (only, in this different context Billy would stand for Audrey’s (dis)harmony in reality 3).

The signs that Audrey is in a coma, or some similar medical distress, seem too glaring to overlook. In her first scene, the empty hourglass on Charlie’s desk, in conjunction with both his refusal/inability to speak at the end of the scene, as well as her discussion with him of going into the night, signing legal papers (a la DNR papers), being so sleepy, being on deadline, and not having a crystal ball (while simultaneously having one sitting right there on his desk in front of him) —all raise a strong suspicion that this initial Audrey scene is depicting at least one of her personal 1/2/3 set dying (while the other one or two trinity members remain living).

The second scene, on the other hand, contains one very curious element threaded throughout it that I want to focus on here. Specifically, this set of statements by Audrey questioning her identity: “I feel like I’m somewhere else…. [l]ike I’m somebody else.” “Well, I’m not sure who I am but I’m not me.” “And I don’t even know who I am.” And most notably: “What story is that, Charlie? Is that the story of the little girl who lived down the lane? Is it?”

Now, I may be completely misreading these signs, but I read them with the context in mind that Laura’s personal 1/2/3 set (in all its potential various subtriangles glory) may or may not be in need of some replacement components to fill the place of those elements of her 1/2 that have either died or disappeared. Could part of Audrey’s 1/2/3 set somehow be becoming — for lack of a better term — incepted into Laura’s 1/2/3 as replacement component(s)? I realize this sounds like an utterly trippy concept, but the idea of members of a community somehow bleeding into and across one another, so that we end up containing part of each other, is intriguing. This remains a half-baked idea at this point, but it’s something to keep in mind as we progress through the final four episodes. (As an aside: it might also provide a potential avenue for TP-shippers’ heaven, as Dale Cooper could potentially end the series romantically linked to both Laura and Audrey, albeit in different realities.)

(2). American Girl. American Girl, as you’ll recall, is the credited name given to the woman that Dale finds in the “3” Mauve Zone room, and she’s played by the same actress who played Ronette. When we discussed this scene earlier, that fact seemed like just a sly thematic connection between Dale’s PTSD/survivor state and Ronette’s PTSD/survivor state. Now, however, recognizing that Ronette is actually a surviving part of Laura’s subconscious, American Girl’s presence takes on a whole new light. Since American Girl seems permanently fixed inside that room, the implication seems to be that Laura (via Ronette), unlike Dale and his Dougie quest, has yet to go through the fulsome 2-healing process needed to recover from the unspeakable trauma she survived. This makes sense, given what we discussed earlier — remember, Dale’s specialty is as the 2, and Laura’s specialty is as the 1; they are seemingly destined to help each other regrow/reclaim their respective missing hands. (Dale reclaiming his right hand, Laura her left.)

(3). Naido. Given that the woman inhabiting the “3” Mauve Zone room appears to be a member of Laura’s personal 1/2/3 superset, the question is naturally raised whether the woman who once inhabited the other Mauve Zone room we saw — Naido, in the “15” room — is also somehow a member of Laura’s personal 1/2/3 superset. Considering that she once inhabited the “15” room — i.e., the “right hand” room, seemingly — it would make sense for Naido to be strongly linked to a “1”-variety in a personal 1/2/3 superset. Could Naido somehow be the victimized 2 (a 1.1.1.2? 1.1.2?) that resulted from Laura’s fiercest 1 (a 1.1.1, or perhaps 1.1.1.1) embracing the Owl Cave Ring and transforming into the almost supernaturally explosive “Laura ghoul” / Laura-lookalike-whose-arms-bend-back version of a 1 at the end of FWWM that Laura felt was needed to ward off BOB’s impending inhabitation?

There is some evidence in what we’ve already been shown that this may in fact be the case. First, recall this scene from FWWM, where Donna and Laura discuss what would happen if you were falling through space (i.e., darkness)—as Donna puts it, would you “slow down after a while or go faster and faster?” This is by all appearances a metaphor for Laura’s slippery slide towards darkness in FWWM. And Laura’s answer is indeed ominous: “Faster and faster. And then you’d burst into fire.” (She also expresses doubt that “angels” would ever help her in such a situation.)

Recall now that TP:TR has actually given us two separate instances of someone falling through space. First, in Part 3 we saw Naido plunge down into space. Second, in Part 8 we saw the golden Laura-Orb that the Fireman made move through space towards Earth.

I believe these three instances of moving through space — Laura’s discussion in FWWM, Naido in Part 3, and the golden Laura-Orb in Part 8 — are intentionally paralleled, because the golden Laura-Orb is (at least in part) Naido. Indeed, rather than falling forever throughout space, Naido ends up exactly where the golden Laura-Orb was being sent — on Earth, in Twin Peaks. And unlike Laura’s worst fears that she would fall faster and faster forever, bursting into flames, she is (at least in part) slowing down or stopping.

Notably, during the Fireman’s vision sequence for Andy, after we’re shown a picture of Laura flanked by a praying angel on each side of her, the camera then cuts to Andy — who blinks twice (2) — and then cuts back to the vision, where we see the naked Naido lying on the forest floor of Twin Peaks. This sequence of cuts makes sense, if Naido is in fact a 2 (albeit perhaps a 1.1.2, or some such) of Laura’s personal 1/2/3 superset. Moreover, the fact that Andy says “there are people that want her dead” may indicate that the three BOBs we’ve discussed earlier may be converging on Twin Peaks for the specific purpose of finally killing off Laura Palmer. (Perhaps, given Laura’s strength, merely one BOB could not suffice to do the job.)

Some concluding thoughts

Why might the show choose Naido as the representative of Laura’s most traumatized side? It at first may seem like a strange choice. Earlier, recall our speculation that Naido, as a character, may have been drawn to evoke thoughts of the victims of the Hiroshima nuclear blast, especially given the role that the first nuclear explosion (and the Penderecki score Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima) plays in Part 8’s depiction of mankind birthing evil into the world. Is the show trying to draw a connection between Laura and a nuclear explosion?

I believe it may be. Specifically, it may be that Laura represents mankind. (In this sense, then, “Laura is the one” would have a meaning beyond just the 1/2/3 framework.) Like mankind at the end of WWII, Laura had to unleash a ghoulishly horrific power (her use of the Owl Cave Ring as a 1 / mankind’s use of nuclear weapons) in order to stop great evil in its tracks (BOB / the Axis powers). As a consequence, though, Laura / mankind was left forever scarred, as shown in Naido, a representative both of Laura’s demolished self as well as of the horrific consequences mankind unleashed on itself by entering the nuclear age (as typified by the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that Naido evokes). On this interpretation, Laura represents the unity of mankind rent asunder by the ouroboros of evil, the self-perpetuating cycle of violence.

Now, one may object that, unlike Laura, who had no other choice but to use the Owl Cave Ring, mankind (specifically, America) could and should have chosen not to use nuclear weapons at the end of WWII. (See, e.g., this argument here by John Rawls, one of the 20th Century’s premiere moral philosophers, and an American infantryman in the Pacific theatre of WWII.) But perhaps the analogy isn’t so inappropriate after all: recall that Dale pleaded with Laura in her dream in FWWM not to take the Owl Cave Ring. Did she, in fact, have any other option? Or was Dale just not able to understand what was at stake? He was, after all, a 2 trying to fathom the dilemmas of a 1.

Regardless of whether Laura could or should have chosen not to use the ring, the fact remains that she did take it. That ship has sailed. Similarly, mankind finds itself already enmeshed in an ongoing cycle of violence. There is no child born into a peaceful world; mankind has already made the symbolic choice to nuke itself.

The real question seems to be this: what are we going to do about this eternal cycle of violence now? Can we break it? Can we, like Laura seemingly will attempt, move towards harmony — towards unity from diversity — no matter how belatedly? We, as persons finishing watching Twin Peaks — heck, even as persons getting out of bed tomorrow morning, or as persons finishing reading/writing this essay — are faced with this same question every day, every moment, about the constitution of our personal identity and the nature of the way we engage with the rest of the universe’s great multitudes: Who are you?

What is your name?

— — Matthew C. is an attorney and writer living on the East Coast. He was going to make a joke here about his personal 1- and 2-tulpas, but is too tired. You can follow him on Twitter at @fatecolossal, a handle that comes from this. He recognizes that this essay could use a great deal of cutting down and editing (he apologizes for that), and that yes, it is bananas in its length. He enjoys writing about himself in italicized third person, and also appreciates, among other things, complex art.— —


EPILOGUE: “Two birds with one stone” / Linda’s parentage

This section didn’t fit neatly above anywhere, so I’m sticking it here:

Who is Linda’s mother? At this point, I’m not sure. We’ll have to stay tuned. The possibilities I can think of, in vague-ish order of most likely to least likely, are: Ronette (don’t ask), Annie, Laura (again, don’t ask), Audrey, Diane, and Donna.

While I’m not exactly sure what TP:TR has in mind by this statement of ???????, I do have a couple of ideas. First, the statement could merely refer to the combination of the 2-mode Richard/Linda representatives (Sonny Jim and Candie, the “2 birds,” or 2-mode happy characters), with the 1-mode Richard and Linda we’ve seen thus far in the show (“1 stone,” or 1-mode grim, weighted-down characters) so as to make a harmonious 3-mode/reality of each Richard and Linda.

Second, the statement could refer to some combination of trinities/triangles by which one arrives at those harmonious 3-mode/reality versions of Richard and Linda. If you look at an arrangement of two overlapping triangles, or twin peaks, the top border of it all looks like a bird. (Just like how if you look at twin peaks obstructed by two opposing triangles — a sign of disharmony — it looks vaguely like an owl. The fact that TP has seemingly embraced this similarity — see, e.g., the cover of Mark Frost’s The Secret History of Twin Peaks book, here — leads me to think that the word “birds” might also be referring to a particular arrangement of triangles.) To demonstrate what I mean about twin peaks looking somewhat like a bird:

Whether something like this is actually what TP:TR has in mind, at this point I’m just not sure. (I did note that some of the decorative metal grating in the background of the Fireman’s room in Part 14 looked vaguely like birds in this sense — but only very vaguely.) I’ve spent a little bit of time trying to fill in the nodes of those triangles with various combinations of Laura, Dale, Mr. C, Audrey, Richard, Linda, Candie, Sonny Jim, etc. etc., but so far I haven’t arrived at anything that looks appropriate. Perhaps another enterprising fan will have better luck! TBD.

EPILOGUE 2:

I just want to clarify one sentence (actually, one word) in my introduction: “They have waited through occasional critical backlash (including the outright booing of FWWM when it first aired at Cannes in 1992), patiently sitting for over 25 years, to bring a full, beautifully realized conclusion to what has to be one of, if not the, most epic and ambitious constructions of a story in film history.” To be clear, I do not mean to suggest that TP:TR necessarily is, or should be, the “conclusion” of the TP saga. If David Lynch and Mark Frost think they have worthwhile ideas for a fourth season (or some other continuation) of TP, then I am of course 110% onboard. (I can only imagine what a fourth season would even look like — suffice it to say, it’d be wild!) If TP:TR is, in fact, the end, though, then I, and I expect most other TP fans, will be very satisfied nonetheless.

EPILOGUE 3:

Tfw you’ve spent wayyy too much time analyzing which alternate reality various things are set in, and start to realize which characters of CBS’ Big Brother exist in which layer of the subconscious:

Mark is totally a 2. Cody, obviously, is an extradimensional 4.