Twin Peaks: The Return – Episode 3 Breakdown, Thoughts, and Analysis

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Episode 3
Written by Mark Frost & David Lynch
Directed by David Lynch

twin peaks cooper casino

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that this isn’t just a new iteration of Twin Peaks, but a revisiting and refining of all David Lynch’s themes and motifs. I also believe he and Frost are using this platform to revisit their unproduced scripts One Saliva Bubble and Ronnie Rocket. Both are very surrealistic films and Albert Rosenfeld quotes the subtitle to Ronnie Rocket at the end of this episode: “The Absurd Mystery of the Strange Forces of Existence”. Ronnie Rocket features the lead character traveling through surreal landscapes and electricity as a powerful representation of life and the energy of otherworldly beings. The more I reflect on these first four episodes the more it solidifies that this is Lynch’s magnum opus.

Our third episode opens with Dale Cooper still floating through this tempestuous sea of stars. Suddenly in the distance, we see a pink protoplasmic shape forming in a bright pink void. This appears to be a separate yet neighboring realm to the Black Lodge. Cooper falls onto the balcony of a monolithic tower that sits on the beach of an endless misty ocean. He enters the structure only to find a blind woman (Naido in the credits) seated before a fireplace. Time begins to stutter, rewinding actions back seconds. The woman’s eyes appear to have been sewn shut, and she only speaks in strange breathy clicks. A furious pounding erupts on the other side of a door down a nearby hallway. Through gestures, she tries to keep Cooper away from an electrical panel on the wall marked with a “15”.

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Gordon Cole’s “Cousin Lil” and the mysterious Blue Rose

Naido pulls Cooper towards a ladder that takes them above this room, overlooking a starry void. She manages to pull a lever that immediately ends the cacophony below, however, she is sucked into the celestial expanse herself. As Cooper stands atop the tower a large projection of the head of Major Garland Briggs floats past speaking the words, “Blue Rose.” This is a direct reference to Fire Walk With Me where Gordon Cole has an operative deliver intel to Agents Chet Desmond and Sam Stanley via interpretive dance. She wears a blue rose on her lapel and later, as Desmond is deciphering the symbols used in the dance, he asks if Stanley noticed the blue rose. Stanley confirms that he did, but Desmond states he isn’t going to tell him what that means. Fans of Twin Peaks have extrapolated the Blue Rose to mean a case that involves supernatural elements. It should be noted that when Cooper descends back into the room there is a blue rose in a vase near the electrical panel.

There is a new figure sitting on the couch before the fireplace, Ronette Pulaski? Well, it is actress Phoebe Augustine who played Ronette in the television series. However, she is never directly referenced as Ronette here. Like the entities in the Lodge, she speaks in a distorted cadence. Cooper feels pulled to the electrical panel (which is now labeled “3”) and finds his essence starting to dissolve and be transferred as he gets closer. Ronette stands up and tells him “When you get there you will already be there.” The furious pounding resumes on the door, and she appears frightened. Ronette continues, “You’d better hurry, my mother is coming.” Cooper steps forward and is dissolved into a smoky, electrical essence, pulled through the power conduit head first, his shoes remaining behind.

Bob meanwhile is continuing his journey to Yankton Federal Prison to get the coordinates out of Ray. Cooper’s sudden transference causes Bob’s own senses to distort. The camera focuses on the cigarette lighter plug in the car, implying that Cooper’s electrical essence is coming through this conduit. Bob crashes the car, flipping it over but landing right side up. Through the windshield, he can see the red curtains of the Black Lodge fade into view. However, Bob had a plan.

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The Three Faces of Coop: Bob, Dale, and Dougie

This was the first moment in the series where I was genuinely baffled as to what was happening. We cut to Las Vegas and a neighborhood that was likely victim of the real estate bubble of 2008. Lots of houses with “For Sale” signs and yards that have gone untended for a while. Inside one of these houses, we meet Dougie Jones, yet another doppelganger for Dale Cooper. He’s just finished up a session with sex worker Jade and she asks if his tingling left arm is okay. Dougie, pudgier and with a worse haircut than Cooper, replies that he’ll be okay. He is also wearing the owl ring that first appeared in Fire Walk With Me. The significance of this ring FWWM was that it started in Teresa Banks’ possession but wasn’t on her or in her personal effects at the Deer Meadow police station. It turned up next on The One Armed Man as he confronted Leland Palmer on the street about his possession by Bob. The One Armed gives the owl ring up to Laura Palmer in the middle of her murder by Bob and by putting it on there is an implication she’s protected from possession. In the FWWM Missing Pieces, the ring ends up on Annie Blackburn’s hand but is stolen by a nurse at Calhoun Memorial Hospital in Twin Peaks. How it got from this nurse into Dougie Jones’ hands is a mystery, but I suspect Bob may have killed this nurse to recover the ring.

Jade goes to take a shower, and Dougie finds himself overcome with an intense sickening feeling. He crawls on hands and knees to the empty, unfurnished living room of this vacant house and begins violently vomiting up creamed corn and miscellaneous viscera. Simultaneously, on the highway in South Dakota, Bob is holding back a similar mix while Dougie unloads. Bob looks up to see Dougie sitting in the leather chair of the Black Lodge and then the vision of the red curtains fades. At this point, Bob lets loose a torrent of the same creamed corn viscera and promptly goes unconscious. This scene does divulge a fascinating fact, Bob doesn’t need to be in a certain place at a certain time. The Black Lodge can come for him no matter where he is.

twin peaks owl ring

The Arm offers Laura Palmer the owl ring in FWWM

Very quickly we learn what Dougie Jones is. The One Armed Man looks shocked to see this bewildered man sitting before him but explains that Dougie was manufactured for a purpose and it appears that goal has been achieved. Dougie begins to corrode until he’s nothing but a pile of clothes, a glob of slime, and a small gold ball. The One Armed Man retrieves the owl ring and places it on the same marble pedestal it was seen on in Laura Palmer’s dream in FWWM. This strange third version of Cooper is a homunculus, a manufactured being much like Frankenstein’s monster. Homunculi have a strong connection to alchemy which may explain the golden ball at the core of Dougie. The strange glob of slime is likely sperm, an ingredient used in the alchemical awakening of a homunculus due to its belief to be the essence of life. At some point in the last 25 years, Bob created Dougie Jones with some of his own spirit and magic to act as a decoy in case Cooper was able to escape the Black Lodge. Now that his lure has been used up, it remains to be seen how both Bob and Cooper can simultaneously exist on the physical plane.

The original Cooper emerges from the electrical socket as a stream of black smoke, feet away from Dougie’s creamed corn throw up. He fully materializes, lying face up and motionless. Jade comes to investigate the commotion and believes this is still Dougie, despite his hair, weight, and clothing being drastically different. She gets him up and says they need to leave quickly, and Cooper follows without a word, zombie-like. Jade asks about the keys to the house; both this and Dougie’s Century 21 style jacket imply he was a real estate agent. Instead of finding the house key she discovers Cooper’s Great Northern Hotel room key. As soon as Cooper sees this, he begins to show a slight bit of cognizance of his surroundings.

We also learn Dougie Jones is being staked out by two hitmen. The one in front of the house tells his partner their target will be coming by in a jeep with Jade. However, a drop of the key on the floorboards has Cooper bent over the, and the sniper sees only Jade. When Cooper sits up, he glimpses the street sign “Sycamore Street” he speaks, but only parroting the dialogue he hears. Slowly but sure, Agent Cooper is readjusting to the physical plane after 25 chronological years but possibly experienced as an eternity, in the Black Lodge. The question from The One Armed Man last episode of “Is it future, or is it past?” implies it could have felt much longer from Cooper’s perspective.

The confused assassins communicate their error, and the one parked in front of the house emerges from his car to tag Dougie’s car with a device, likely an explosive of some sort. This is a very strange scene yet Lynch caps it off with a moment that makes it even more unusual and more reminiscent of Mulholland Drive. Across the street, a young boy watches the hitman’s actions while an adult woman, his mother possibly, sits at a table repeating “One-One-Nine”. She closely resembles a tweaker: dark circles under her eyes cracked lips, grime-caked fingernails. She methodically places a white tablet before her, then pours a glass of whiskey. My immediate impression of this is that the woman is possessed by a Black Lodge spirit. She is saying 9-1-1 in reverse and Lodge spirits speak in reverse. I believe her entire purpose is to show us that entities in transition between worlds are not able to immediately take on the speech and motor skills the rest of us have. Meaning Cooper will have to be rehabilitated to some extent.

Two state troopers come upon Bob’s wrecked vehicle. He is unconscious in the front seat. The stench of his garmonbozia is so strong one of the troopers collapse, and they call for backup.

choco bunniesAt the Twin Peaks sheriff’s department, Hawk puts up a sign on the conference room door: “Doughnut Disturb” and begins to review Andy and Lucy’s review of the Laura Palmer case files. A very amusing back and forth about how what’s missing about Cooper isn’t there because if it was then it wouldn’t be missing. Lucy spies an aged box of chocolate Easter bunnies and realizes 25 years prior she ate one of them. She immediately becomes distraught that she has caused a problem by doing this but Hawk assures her the chocolate bunnies have nothing to do with this or do they he opines. The bunnies are a reference to the pilot episode where Cooper delivers a very amusing non-sequitur into his recorder about a piece of evidence recovered from Laura Palmer’s house. Hawk also reiterates that The Log Lady informed him his heritage as a Nez Perce tribe member was connected to this missing piece of evidence about Cooper. There is an interesting Iroquois fable that connects the Owl and the Rabbit that likely isn’t intended to be referenced by Lynch but does have some interesting coincidences.

There is a meditative scene of Doctor Lawrence Jacoby spray painting the shovels gold that were delivered to him in the first episode. My immediate thought was that golden shovels are traditionally for a ceremonial ground-breaking, but what that has to do with Jacoby is still to be explained.

Jade drops Cooper off at the Silver Mustang Casino with a five dollar bill and tells him to call for help. It takes her pushing him out of her jeep for Cooper to begin shuffling towards the revolving door. Another moment is needed for him to figure out how this door works and he enters the casino. After an encounter with a security guard, he cashes his five in for a cup of quarters and mistakes the slot machines for a method of calling for help. A faint image of the floor and curtains of the Black Lodge begins to appear over individual slot machines, signaling machines that are about to pay out. Sure enough, Cooper starts racking up mega-jackpot after mega-jackpot much to the chagrin of slot addicts and the casino management. It appears the Black Lodge desperately needs Cooper to succeed at forcing Bob back inside, so they are providing him with more than enough resources in the physical plane.

twin peaks albert coleThe show cuts to the FBI office in Philadelphia where Gordon Cole (David Lynch) is being briefed by Agent Tamara Preston (Chrysta Bell) on a murder case involving a congressman. Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) is by Cole’s side to chime in with dry quips. After sending agents out to begin work on this case, Preston presents the findings from New York involving the murders of David and Tracy. Their faces were pulverized to a pulp, and the cameras around the glass case managed to capture a faint image of the entity responsible. Cole is interested in investigating further until he receives a call that Agent Cooper has been found.

They rush to Cole’s office and find out that Agent Cooper was picked up by South Dakota state troopers after a car wreck and is being held in Yankton Federal on charges not disclosed yet. As the audience, we know this is Bob, but Cole wants to be reunited with his long-lost agent to find out where he’s been for 25 years.

The episode is capped off with another Roadhouse performance, this time by The Cactus Blossoms with their song “Mississippi.”


I am beginning to see a meta-narrative forming that is about the nature of reviving something like Twin Peaks, and even anticipating its reception. In New York City we had David sitting front of a large glass box and waiting for hours and hours for something to happen. He had been told by his predecessor that he had seen something, but would not divulge what to David. David is convinced it must have been profound, so he sits there dutifully waiting to see it too. But nothing is happening. His girlfriend Tracy comes over, and they proceed to “Netflix and chill” on the couch, and it’s then when David is totally distracted that the important thing happens. The result is David and Tracy get shredded.

 

watching the box

Are David and Tracy watching and waiting for something profound that will never happen? Is the audience?

I was having a conversation with a viewer and self-proclaimed fan of the Twin Peaks original run who is very turned off by this new iteration. His main complaint was that scenes are just meandering, too slow, and not going anywhere. I argued that this is very much intentional on Lynch’s direction and that we are watching pieces laid out one at a time. We can’t really know what it all means until all the pieces are set out before us and even then it may take multiple viewings. I’ve watched the original run 7 to 8 times and still find new connections and details with every viewing. Lynch’s art opens up slowly and rewards the patient. David is sitting in front of this glass case waiting to be enlightened but nothing ever happens. The moment he is distracted though is when everything changes.

 

Then we have Dale Cooper emerging after a quarter of a century from the Black Lodge and not acting like himself. As he encounters reminders of his past life, he is slowly regaining his faculties. He’s still not the Cooper we know though. In fact, it’s almost like he has to learn how to be Cooper all over again. It couldn’t have been easy to write Cooper again after 25 years, so Lynch had to return to the character slowly. He had to recapture Cooper’s voice and movements. He had to keep from creating a meme of Cooper, but rather the genuine character himself. My suspicions are that a moment is coming when Dale Cooper becomes fully realized and this will be the same moment when Angelo Badalamenti conspicuously missing score returns.

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