Homeward Bound: Parts One and Two, The Path Out of the Black Lodge

A Glass of Water Sweetheart! My Socks Are On Fire! – Gordon Cole, Season 2 Episode 18 “On the Wings of Love”

I’ve never come so close to feeling the way Gordon Cole must have when he could hear Shelly speaking in the diner as I did when watching the first two parts of Twin Peaks: The Return. I needed not only a glass of water, but a two hour long skype conversation with our very own Lindsay Stamhuis and Aiden Hailes of Bickering Peaks Podcast, more sleep than I got that night, and probably some alcohol (sadly, I did not imbibe).

And now here we are. For the duration of this season, or until it merges once more with the greater plot, my theories and analysis articles, now titled “Homeward Bound” will follow our Dale Cooper, the Good Cooper, trapped in the Lodge. This weekly feature will be released on a new day – every Tuesday without fail. It may contain more questions or suggestions than answers, and many, many hypotheticals, but ultimately, all we can do for now is speculate. I fully expect and anticipate that each week I will be jossed on many of my ideas. Despite this, I will endeavour to do the best analysis of these sequences as possible.

Dale Cooper’s first appearance in Part One: My Log Has a Message For You is a flashback sequence, reminding us once more of the 25 years that have past. The best possible way to start the new season in my opinion, was with that singular and highly iconic sequence. Meanwhile…

The next stop for Dale is in a Black and White room with the Giant (also credited as ???????). Now, I don’t think that this is the Red Room. I don’t think it’s the Black Lodge. I’m not even sure when this is occurring. If there’s anything at all that I feel almost certain of, it’s that all of the Red Room scenes are in some sort of jumbled order. We already know that time is strange there, which I’ll get into a bit later on, but I think that entering an analysis of these scenes is best begun with a non linear mindset, as it opens them up to greater realms of interpretation.

Back to Dale and the Giant. The flooring is different – actually, I’m pretty sure it’s carpeting. The particular brush pattern and direction of the fibers creates an image of terrain to me, like the path a river carves through the land. Very evocative of the overhead landscape scenes from the opening sequence, and several which are interspersed throughout the series so far. We pan up from that carpet-river. The curtains, armchairs, side table, lamps and other assorted furniture are all different as well. If they were in colour, I would imagine the pervading theme to be a deep forest green. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s just the tree heavy imagery we’ve gotten so far, but for now we’ll call it intuition. Also, of note later on – Cooper’s lapel is pinless in this scene – this is not the case later in Part One or in any of Part Two.

Near the chairs there is a table with a gramophone, which the Giant directs our interest towards, instructing Dale to listen to the unintelligible chirping sound. “It’s in our House now,” The Giant says, a sentence which I’m not sure we’re ready – or will ever be able to – debunk. Maybe it implies an alliance between Cooper and the Giant, that it’s their house because of it. Or is ‘our’ not referring to Dale at all, but instead supposed to be recognizing Lodge Spirits, either Black, White or unknown?  But what could it be? An evil something, I imagine. Perhaps the terrifying extra-dimensional being that mauls faces off of horny college students. I guess we’ll find out, though, I doubt it will be anytime soon. I may make a guess or two all the same.

“It all cannot be said aloud now. Remember 430. Richard and Linda. Two Birds, one stone,”

“I understand,” Replies Cooper.

Well, Coop, I’m glad you understand, because the rest of us are in the dark. So far, these elements are oblique. We’ve no references to the number 430, and no mention of any Richard or Linda. And we’ve already met a lot of new people! “Two birds, one stone” may have a more pertinent meaning already later in the episodes already released. More on that later.

Finally, the Giant says that Dale is far away. That, I think is fairly straightforward in couple different ways, especially considering that he sort of…fizzles out of existence Cooper far away gifafterwards. First off, I don’t believe Dale was physically there with the Giant, in whatever physical way he can be in any realm akin to the Red Room/Waiting Room/Black Lodge. Secondly, because we know that his physical body – DoppelCoop – is running around South Dakota killing people, it makes sense that there is a distance between Cooper’s spirit and his body. I get a very astral-projection sort of vibe from this moment, as well as others later on, some of which include Cooper and some of which don’t.

If this scene is indeed not chronologically placed, many of these obfuscating clues won’t make sense, until much later, my guess being not even until after the halfway mark. People like Frost and Lynch tend to play their cards close to the chest until absolutely necessary.

So ends Dale’s involvement in Part One.

Part Two: The Stars Turn and a Time Presents Itself spends a lot more time on Dale comparatively, but still less combined than Parts Three and Four do. Back in the Red Room, we re-experience some iconic moments from the original run of the show.

Dale is in his armchair, where we have seen him sit time and time again. I get the feeling that he hasn’t moved once from that spot in twenty-five years. He has a lapel pin on in this scene (a mostly silver or gold one), which suggests to me that the sequence with the Giant occurs after this. Especially contributing to my theory that these scenes don’t follow a chronological progression of time is the first words spoken, by, of all people Phillip Gerard (I’d be inclined to call him MIKE, but he is credited as Phillip Gerard) who speaks the oft quoted favourite “Is it future? Or is it past?”

He then follows this with “Someone is here,” and vanished from the screen, not in a cut to Cooper, or a cut away, but just vanishes. Key, here, I believe, is the fact that there’s a noticeable change in angle after he disappears, as though the camera has been moved. It’s slight, only perhaps a centimeter or so of downward movement, but obvious enough that I imagine it’s purposeful. With technology the way it is today, they could have easily removed Phillip Gerard from the screen in post production, but whether that cut is meant to signify a time alteration, or just to feel like part of the same show produced in the nineties, I’m not sure. Personally, I believe it’s a time jumble. This scene with Phillip Gerard may not be chronologically first, but it would be easy to think so, considering what happens afterwards.

Someone is indeed there with Cooper. Even before she’s shown on camera, viewers can hear the distinctive walk of Laura Palmer. She sits, legs crossed, expression inscrutable. Dale looks at her and for the first time in any of his scenes so far, emotion crosses his face. Mild confusion is how I would term it, since most of his emotions are seemingly muted in the Red Room.

“Hello Agent Cooper,” She leads. “You can go out now,” Except, as we’re going to find out in a bit, he can’t actually go out yet. When this is really happening is thus unclear. “Do you recognize me?” She asks.

The following exchange is highly significant. When Dale asks if she is, indeed, Laura Palmer, we get a rehash of her lines from Cooper’s Dream in Season One. “I feel like I know her, but sometimes my arms bend back,” We already know what this is referring to – the night of Laura’s murder. Dale, apparently concurs with us. Seemingly unsure, he asks her who she is and then, clear as a bell, she replies “I am Laura Palmer,”

“But Laura Palmer is dead,” Cooper maintains.

For anyone who has seen Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, this sequence gets a bit strange. We know at the end of the film, Laura gets her ‘angel’, with Cooper standing by her side within the lodge. She cries and smiles and laughs. The white light encompasses us.

The general reading there is that she’s allowed to leave the Lodge, but now, I’m not so sure. Rather, I propose that she’s simply being allowed to understand that she has emerged the victor – that she’s been avenged. Otherwise, how could she be, as she replies to Cooper, dead, yet living?

We know that Cooper, despite being trapped in the Lodge, is alive, or was alive, when he entered it. The line between life and death inside the Red Room is blurry. Laura is dead outside, but her spirit lives within the lodge, same as Leland. They were claimed, and so there their spirits remained, much like the concept of purgatory. Cooper, still the only one (as Bickering Peaks Podcast pointed out) not talking backwards, is alive though his soul is trapped, or something along those lines. He’s not wholly theirs yet. A little like Dante’s Divine Comedy – Cooper is to Dante as (in the Return at least) Phillip Gerard is to Virgil. As Dante is a living being guided through the eternal realms, so is Cooper merely a visitor to the Lodge.Being neither living nor dead is a prerequisite to remain trapped there.

And then, we get Lynchian.

Laura moves her hand up, ever so delicately to her face, and…removes it. Like some sort Laura removes her face to show the lightof automaton. And coming from behind? Light, very similar to that same light which ends FWWM. When I saw this, my first thought was that Laura has transcended. She’s no longer alive, or dead, nor is she the remnant of a human. She’s something else entirely. Cooper appears alarmed, though his reaction is still muted comparatively. He watches her very closely, and it’s obvious that this is the last thing he expected or anticipated.

Because his reactions and emotions are so muffled by the Red Room, it’s often hard to get an emotional read on Cooper in these scenes. Generally, he just seems to absorb all of what is happening around him, an unaffected observer, until things get weird or terrifying that is, at which point he reacts visibly, but generally without any audible response. Laura, on the other hand, smiles slightly, knowingly, mysterious as always.

Facial ticks are the key to these scenes. Dialogue is at once straightforward and nonsensical, and visuals are purposefully misleading, so emotions are the only element left to fall back on. As they exchange looks, Dale appears to move past his surprise and asks “When can I go?”.

This is it. The moment. Laura stands and walks to him, a movement by movement recreation from Cooper’s Dream. He looks up at her, and she looks down at him, half loving, half pitying. Bends low with intent and raises her hand to his face. A smile blossoms across her lips. They nuzzle noses briefly. (It is an achingly beautiful moment!) His eyelids flutter and – They kiss, chaste. As Laura pulls away, she runs her hand along Dale’s cheek, under his chin. He’s looked away from her, but there is a definite fondness in Laura’s actions and emotions.

It’s significant to note how different the original scene is from this scene in those terms. This is a Laura who seems to know Dale. Laura of twenty-five years ago comes to him seductively, despite the chaste kiss, and carries mischief in her eyes as she whispers to him her secret, as if she knows that this is the man who is going to solve her murder. Gleeful. (When she’s whispering, it’s also important to note that someone – a disembodied voice – actually whispers the word ‘whisper’. It’s so subtle that I didn’t actually catch it until my third walk through. Creepy!)

This Laura’s emotions are not the same, and neither are Coopers.

Though she’s still smiling when she whispers to him this time, Dale seems content at first. But as Laura continues to speak his smile falls and when we get a front view of his face he looks almost anguished, or aggrieved. He is so moved by whatever it is she says that he has a verbal response, a pained sort of sigh. What she’s telling him, I don’t think, considering the particular events of Parts Three and Four, we will know for some time. But it’s obviously bad news. My initial thought was that perhaps, this could be Laura telling him some of what DoppelCoop has been up to in his absence – bad news guaranteed to horrify Dale, seeing as DoppelCoop (or Bob possessed DoppelCoop, depending on your reading) is using his body to kill and apparently run drugs and other nefarious activities with less than savory outcomes. Other possibilities include some portent or omen of the future that’s particularly terrible, or some other notification of events that have occurred in his absence.

Considering the fluid nature of time, any of these things is possible.

He looks up at her imploringly as she pulls away and gives him a smile. Maybe it’s pitying again, maybe it’s reassuring. It’s hard to tell because things get pretty disconcerting as she lookes up to the ceiling (is there a ceiling in the Red Room?) and begins to shake and gasp. Cooper follows her gaze. Between Laura’s terror and Dale’s horrified look, whatever it is that they’re seeing must be pretty awful.

There is a shot of the curtains rippling and then Laura is stretched and faded and shook up and out of the Red Room. Forcibly ejected might be an appropriate turn of phrase. Her scream is awful but it’s nothing like her Doppelganger’s in the Season Two finale. This scream is a human one.

When she’s gone, Dale looks back down, almost of reflex. He’s shocked, that’s for sure. But it just keep getting weirder. Wind from somewhere blows the Red Room curtains back and up into black nothingness. The chevron floor goes in forever and in the near distance, the white horse – our omen of death. Woe to those who behold it.

The camera pans into the darkness past the white horse and fades to black before returning to an image of the chevron floor shaking violently, with a crackling noise and a flickering white light – a call ahead to the end of this episode before cutting abruptly back to where we began. With Phillip Gerard saying “Is it future? Or is it past?” Dale looks, in terms of emotions, the same as he did in the previous Phillip Gerard scene. None of the visceral terror from Laura’s departure is evident here. And Dale’s tie pin is silver once more.

So far we have four different sequences, which occur at different times. We have Dale’s moment with the Giant (no tie pin), Dale with Phillip Gerard (silver/gold tie pin), and Dale with Laura (still silver/gold tie pin) and back to Dale and Phillip Gerard (silver/gold tie pin).

If you ask me, the Giant sequence takes place much later from now, the Phillip Gerard sequences are chronologically one right after the other, and Phillip Gerard is referencing someone else when he tells Dale that someone is there, and not the scene with Laura at all. By bookending the Laura sequence with this scene, it highlights the possibility that the moment we just witness happened either before the sequence with Phillip Gerard or sometime afterwards. The scene at the end, the split second shot of the floor with the crackling and the light, makes me think that this scene occurs shortly before the end of this episode.

But let’s continue, we’re almost there. Dale looks away from Phillip Gerard in the chair and then, after a moment of staring into the distance, looks to the corner of the room, where Phillip Gerard is suddenly standing, beckoning Dale to come.

With effort, Dale stands from his armchair, reinforcing my belief that he’s literally sat in that same spot for twenty-five years. Dale follows him through the curtain, down the hall and into the next room.

We all know what they meet there. The Evolution of the Arm. Is this what Phillip Gerard meant when he said “Someone is here?”? Now, I’m not sure how much of this is an actual, physical prop and how much is CGI, but the melon-esque head comparison between the arm, eraserhead baby and something elseon this electric sycamore tree reminds me immensely of the Spacing Guild emissary from the *cough* much derided debated Lynch directed Dune. Some have mentioned a relation to the baby from Eraserhead, which I’ve not seen, but I took a quick jaunt to google and educated myself a bit. I definitely see the resemblance. Others are calling it a brain, but actually, I’m inclined towards the term ‘flesh-pod’ myself. Because it’s a pod of flesh with an opening flap of a mouth and what looks like pulsing veins underneath said flesh. Again, hard to tell, since the texture is so particular, how much is CGI and how much is prop, but it’s definitely a mix of both.

At any rate, this is definitely the answer to “When you see me again, it won’t be me,”. The whooping sound it makes when repeating the “I sound like this” line is different, but the same. It’s the same rate of speed and rate of decrease of intensity, while sounding widely different. Obviously because it’s mouth is shaped differently and it doesn’t have any hands. Or opposable thumbs. Are it’s twigs opposable?

The Evolution of the Arm asks Dale to recall his Doppelganger and we get some more scenes directly from the finale as Dale recalls those horrendous moments. As they cut between the original footage and shots of Dale’s face, though he doesn’t react much you get the feeling that he’s far away. There’s a slight twitch of his brow, like it’s difficult to recall, not because it’s hard to do, but because the memory is awful.

The Arm gives some exposition here, telling how the Doppelganger has to come back to the lodge before Dale can leave.

Ding, ding, ding! If the Doppelganger has to be back before Dale can leave, wouldn’t it make sense that Laura’s scene takes place at a later time? I would hedge a bet that it’s so.

Dale stands and blinks and says nothing and emotes nothing throughout this whole sequence. When we return to the Red Room after a brief detour with DoppelCoop, the Arm tells Dale “253. Time and time again,” (Spoilers, in Part Three, we find out what this means) and then ominously repeats ‘Bob’ three times before telling someone, most likely Dale and Phillip Gerard to “Go now!”. Phillip Gerard doesn’t need telling twice but Dale hesitates and the Evolution of the Arm says it again and he follows Phillip Gerard out of the room.

But in the hallway, Gerard is gone, and Dale seems to enter in slow motion, which is cool. Dale continues down to where he knows the part in the curtains to be and we get the same, strange cut away like we did the first time Gerard said the line about future and past – Dale’s image jumps a bit, the frame, the camera moves when he touches against the barrier, which crackles with a similar electric sound.

Is this another time jump? What’s happening in this glitch-like moments? Does Dale actually enter that room, and maybe sees Laura? Is the Dale who is barred a Dale in the future of the Dale who really entered the room? Or have we switched Dales and the Dale who just saw Laura Palmer is now the Dale who can’t enter the room? We can’t know yet. But Dale is just as confused as we are and goes back the way he came. It’s notable that the room is now empty, which seems to surprise Dale. He goes down the next hall and enters the next room where he find Leland Palmer in an armchair, looking miserable and scared, who asks Dale to find Laura.

Dale looks determined as he turns away. Like he’s been given a purpose again. So much of Dale in the Red Room is just him following, or reacting. Never does he take action. In this moment, Dale takes action.

He walks to the curtains, and from a really, really strange angle, we see him look behind the curtain, that same crackling blue light on his face, and disappear within. It’s a really odd sequence because of the angle, that at once removes dimension, because of the way the red curtains blend together, and adds dimension, as he disappears behind. It’s very strange to watch as well, because we have never seen Dale enter a room or hallway from any angle except behind.

Behind this curtain we get a corner view of the Red Room, except that it’s two superimposed images, one that remains stationary and another that moves over it, creating this disconcerting ripple effect. (Personal note: I don’t ever want to get drunk in the Red Room). We zoom in, flash back to Cooper’s face and then, randomly, there’s the crackling noise and we’re seeing Phillip Gerard and the Evolution of the Arm again, but at a different angle. Next, a zoom in on one of the two statues – this one the Venus de Milo (theories and analysis about the symbolism of which you can read and listen to elsewhere). Back again to Gerard and the Arm.

“Something’s wrong,” Says an obviously concerned Phillip Gerard to the Arm.

“My Doppelganger,” It replies ominously.

Something tells me that this is the room that Dale was supposed to have entered and was barred from doing so.

A cut to another empty room. Dale walks diagonally across it. In the hall, slow motion again, zooms from Dale’s wide eyes to the Venus de Milo. This time when he looks through the curtain there isn’t another room, but a view of the outside world. A car, driving along the road – it’s DoppelCoop (Who checks his watch! Don’t forget that, because it’s important in Part Three!)

As Dale watches him drive, the Venus de Milo transforms into the Arm’s Doppelganger, which is absolutely hideous. Dale backs away in shock as the Doppelganger’s menacing branches swipe at him amidst the incoherent and disturbing noises it emits. The floor begins to break shift at the chevrons under Dale’s feet until he’s lost his balance. It splits open underneath him and the Doppelganger of the Arm yells “Non-exist-ent!” And Dale plummets through water? engine oil? into a starry void until he lands face first (despite falling with his back ‘down’ if there is indeed a down direction in the void) on the glass encasement of none other than the Brick, windowless building that houses the mysterious Glass Box.

He desolidifies and descends into the glass encasement. This moment is again very reminiscent of astral projection for me. Dale is not ‘really’ there at all. That much, I think, is certain. He goes through the orb into the room, specifically the Glass Box, and we see the couch set up from earlier. Sam isn’t there, and we discover in this scene that he’s actually checking the bathroom for the guard, which means that Dale falling through occurs just before the mauling of the two horny college students by the extra-dimensional entity.

This Glass Box is obviously a gateway of some kind. I suspect that it’s a manufactured gateway and not a natural one, considering all the technology underneath it. A gateway to the dimensional plane where the Black Lodge exists. Dale floats there for some time, observing before that weird thing with the Box happens. The scene starts to shake, and the box sounds like it’s actually groaning under some sort of immense strain. Then,it’s Cooper in the glass boxmoving back and forth through parallel dimensions that, because of the thinning of the veil at any gateway, allows them all to visible at one time.

At least, that’s my theory.

It is also my theory, and what seems to be the prevailing theory, that whatever the extra-dimensional being is that ate off Sam and Tracey’s faces, it escaped through the void with Dale. I thought perhaps the Arm’s Doppelganger. Someone else suggested that it’s Laura. Another yet suggested that it’s Dale himself, though this I doubt, because Dale floats backwards and out again, before the Box goes back to normal, possibly entering a different dimensional layer according to the relative location of the box when he left, because once again, he’s falling both up and down through the void. Maybe falling isn’t the right answer. Maybe he’s shaking through the void endlessly.

And that, is where we leave him until Part Three.

So, time skips in the Lodge, Doppelganger trickery, possible dimensional travel.

In what order are the Lodge scenes happening? Was Dale really supposed to be able to leave? (I don’t think so!) When does the Glass Box scene happen in relation to DoppelCoop’s car trip? Is it before or after?

Life’s a bit crazy for Dale Cooper in these first two Parts. But things are only going to get weirder before we get the answers to these questions, if at all.

What do you think about my theories? Did I miss something? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know what you think! Leave your thoughts a comment!

Header Image courtesy of Showtime

Written by Eileen G. Mykkels

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