“Black Lodge/White Lodge” is the 25 Years Later version of the popular point/counterpoint style of debating, wherein two sides take opposing views and hash it out on stage. Here, we’ll be debating the finer points of Twin Peaks lore, in writing, for your reading pleasure.
Today’s debaters are: Lindsay Stamhuis & Eileen G. Mykkels.
The topic is: Who are Richard Horne’s Parents?
Black Lodge: by Lindsay Stamhuis
In the final minutes of Part 5, we are introduced to a character who absolutely pushes the bounds of sinister depravity. Apropos of nothing, he violently harasses a woman in the booth next to him at the Roadhouse, physically and sexually terrorizing her as she sits beside him in search of a light for her cigarette, while the patrons around him sit back and do nothing. It’s a tall order, but this stranger might actually be one of the most vile we’ve seen wandering the streets of Twin Peaks.
And his name is Richard Horne.
But what’s really in a name? Richard Horne’s parentage is fast becoming the hot topic of this week, with guesses spanning everyone from one of the elder Brothers Horne to Donna Hayward. But there are several clues that point to the idea that this young man is actually the son of perennial fan favourite Audrey Horne. But who, then, is his father? The ugly conclusion is made clear to me within this brief but illuminating scene: Richard Horne’s father is DoppelCoop.
There is no question that Richard possesses a resemblance to Jerry Horne, and he is in the running for certain as Richard’s progenitor. This fact doesn’t discount Audrey as his mother, but could point to strong Horne genes being passed down along the Horne bloodline. Richard also bears more than a passing resemblance to Audrey. He has the same heavy-lidded eyes that she once upon a time fixed on Agent Cooper; he also appears to possess a mole near his eye—a possible physical trait passed on from mother to son? He clearly has emotional problems, something which Audrey says runs in his her family, and he is also someone who gets what he wants, just like Audrey famously told Emory Battis. Finally, the way that Richard holds his cigarette—delicately placed between his fingers—reminds me of the way Audrey held her own cigarette back in Season 1. It seems like a deliberate directorial choice to frame this character in this way. Audrey has yet to be seen on screen, so what a way to reintroduce her to us after 25 years.
But what of his father? There is a possibility that Audrey’s brief fling with John Justice Wheeler may have produced a child, but I think this is highly unlikely, considering the way Audrey’s story ended in Season 2—with her being caught up in a massive explosion at the Twin Peaks Savings and Loan. She would almost certainly have undergone enough physical trauma to cause miscarriage. Is it possible that Wheeler came back at some later date and picked up with Audrey where he left off? Of course it is. Is it likely? …perhaps. But specific evidence pointing to DoppelCoop being the genetic contributor is hard to ignore.
Richard certainly acts the part of DoppelCoop’s son. His laconic swaggering attitude is replaced by barely contained fury the moment Charlotte sits down next to him. He grabs and appears to close his hand around her throat, all the while threatening her with sexual violence. It is a scene that many have linked to Frank Booth, the famously demented antagonist of Lynch’s 1986 film Blue Velvet. I don’t think we even need to go that far to find another character who this reminds us of: Mr. C/DoppelCoop simmers in every scene he’s in, and it was only Part 2 wherein Mr. C brutalizes Darya in a sleazy motel room before murdering her in cold blood.
Most alarming is the presence of strobing lights on stage at the Roadhouse during the band’s performance. This lighting effect is present in only a few shots that we can see, which are inter-cut between normal shots of the stage bathed in red and blue light. It seems as though this is an instance of either time being played with or some kind of alternate reality being shown to us for brief snippets. With all the other situations in The Return where time appears to be looping or stuttering in relation to the Lodge or its inhabitants, is it plausible that we’re seeing something similar happening onstage at the Bang Bang Bar? If so, it also suggests that a Lodge entity is nearby, or that a tear in the fabric of our reality is allowing the Lodge to seep through. The only evil character in this scene—or at least the one currently most likely to be connected to the Lodge—is Richard Horne.
If Richard is indeed the child of Cooper’s doppelganger, this raises many questions. How can Lodge dwellers reproduce? Can they reproduce at all? (And do we really want to know the answer to that question?) Also: when, exactly, would conception have occurred?
Permit me to go on a tangent to counter opposing arguments: let’s look at the evidence found in The Secret History of Twin Peaks (TSHoTP). It is said in the final pages of the dossier that Major Briggs met with Agent Cooper on March 28, 1989; Agent Preston then says that the trail goes cold and there’s no further information to be gleaned about either of them (at least not at her security clearance level). We know from Bobby Briggs that Cooper was the last person to see his father alive; the fire that claimed his life took place a day after this meeting between the two men. Bobby doesn’t give us a date for this event, but it has been conjectured that this fateful meeting was on March 28, 1989—the date of the meeting in the dossier. If we take this to be true, then this leaves very little time or opportunity for DoppelCoop and Audrey to have conceived a child together, as Agent Cooper would have left town by March 29, only days after the bank explosion and while Audrey was almost certainly still in hospital.
But could there be another interpretation of these events? The Archivist provides information about events that took place months after the final events of Season 2; in fact, the existence of clues within the dossier (such as the now-famous “Fear the Double” clue in the Bookhouse bookshelf photo discovered by Aaron Mento) suggest that it was compiled (or at least added to) long after the discovery that Cooper was not who he appears to be. Certainly Briggs wouldn’t have been able to compile an entire dossier in the time between first discovering who DoppelCoop truly and his death in a fire the very next day? That’s just not enough time for an undertaking as massive as this.
Then there’s the fact that nothing in Agent Preston’s FBI paperwork suggests that Briggs died at the end of March 1989; she doesn’t even know he’s dead, only that she can’t find any further information on him beyond March 1989. That doesn’t mean that the information doesn’t exist; it’s just that she can’t access it, something she openly admits in her closing letter.
It’s all very tantalizing…
What I’m suggesting is that the March 28th entry in the dossier—including the “M*A*Y*D*A*Y protocol”—is but the start of Briggs’s investigation, which he carried out over the course of several months or possibly years afterwards. Briggs would almost certainly have found it necessary to spend time observing “Agent Cooper” in Twin Peaks in order to piece together the hows and wherefores of this situation before his “death”* in the fire. His actions during this time could have subsequently been classified by the Pentagon, where they remain to this day, hidden from the investigative eyes of Agent Preston and her low-level security clearance. (Could all of “Agent Cooper’s” actions during this time also have been classified—at Briggs’s request, perhaps, or maybe on orders from Gordon Cole and the higher-ups at the FBI? Is this why Agent Preston can find nothing more about either of them?)
Imagine the possibilities here! Perhaps “Cooper” did stay in town; maybe he bought a house and made a show of settling down, playing a role not unlike Leland did once upon a time. Or, maybe DoppelCoop spent this time tarnishing the sterling reputation of the FBI Agent he replaced, seducing Audrey in the process, and fathering Richard before skipping town, never to be seen again. And all the while, he was being watched and investigated by Major Briggs, who compiled his dossier before either being found out by DoppelCoop and killed by him or faking his own death in order to go deep undercover to continue his investigation.
This is all conjecture, and it’s icky to many (myself included). But in my mind, there is little doubt that Audrey Horne and DoppelCoop are the parents of Richard Horne…which, if true, will almost certainly lead to dramatic and highly charged emotions once Audrey makes her appearance on screen. It gives her a motive to (potentially) be seeking Cooper all these years (possibly as the glass box financier?), and could even lead to her being the woman Albert and Gordon were going to meet with at the end of Part 4 (because who better to shed light on Agent Cooper than the woman with whom he had a relationship and fathered a child?) It also goes a long way to explaining what Major Briggs may have been up to in the intervening years—and if you know me, you know I love it when theories dovetail together like this! So for these reasons, I believe this is the most likely answer to the question of Richard Horne’s parentage.
* I’m far from the first to suggest that Briggs faked his own death. Evidence from the Pentagon conversation in Part 5 is highly suggestive of the fact that Briggs survived the fire and continued his work in secret during these intervening years, unbeknownst to or perhaps with the aid of his wife and son.
White Lodge: by Eileen G. Mykkels
As I finished Part Five, like always I was wondering what it was I had just watched. I caught that ever-important glimpse of the credits and saw Richard Horne’s name. Talk about surprising! Upon discovering who he was, my first reaction was “I seriously hope that’s not Audrey’s kid,”. My second was the following: Did Horne-y Ben Horne Father this Richard???”
When we left TWIN PEAKS in Season Two, Ben Horne was a reformed man. Looking out for the environment, trying to connect with Donna – his daughter by Eileen Hayward – hoping to reforge his connection with Audrey, and so on and so forth. Even when we pick back up with him in The Return, we see that he’s seemingly remained a stalwart champion of goodness
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Jerry,” He says after his lewd brother insinuates that Ben’s slept with his latest assistant.
A man searching for redemption may do a lot of crazy things, not the least of which, trying to reconnect with another possible bastard child?
When Richard Horne was quietly (or not so quietly, depending on your outlook) introduced to the world of TWIN PEAKS, many people first said – it can’t be Ben’s kid, he’s just not evil enough to have spawned such a cretin. The prevailing theory, so far (which I myself can’t help but subscribe to, at least a little bit) is that Audrey and DoppelCoop are his parents. But let’s look to precedence here for a theory that’s based in some greater circumstantial and factual support.
The scenario goes like this: A repentant Ben Horne, desperate to make things right at any cost, goes on a hunt to discover any bastard children he may have fathered over the years, possibly with a girl from One Eyed Jack’s, or elsewhere. Considering what we know about One Eyed Jack’s and the girls who work there, it is plausible that the mother, sexed up and drugged up, was in no position to properly care for a young child. Actor Eamon Farren is 32, and he could be playing a character younger or older than that number, respectively, but if we run with that age, to give us an approximate, that would put the young boy at five years old. This child, our hypothetical Richard, would have been old enough to remember the awful conditions he grew up under, even after a belated adoption by Ben, either to clear his own conscious, or secure an heir (if Ben’s falling out with Audrey from TSHOTP is anything to go by).
Considering the cutthroat nature of the Horne clan, Ben’s prior record as a generally awful parent (even if he does care) and what Richard’s upbringing may have been like to that point, it’s possible that he could have been embittered to his sire and turned his path down a dark road, especially considering he’s obviously part of this Chinese designer drug ring along with our strapping young officer Chad. It would also explain why no one went to stop him. I wouldn’t be shocked that they’d be afraid to confront the son of the wealthiest man in town, even if he wasn’t the disgusting and aggressive person he really appears to be.
But that’s just one theory. Others abound as well. Jerry Horne has also been fingered as the father, considering anything from the particular resemblance they share, to even the fact that Jerry is in the marijuana business and apparently doing quite well for himself. He does mention specifically to Ben that his business is now outstripping the Hotel and other Horne acquisitions. Could there be a dark side to Jerry, and the marijuana is only a front for a larger, darker enterprise, of which his son is an integral member? Nothing is off the table here folks. I always knew there was something sinister about that smoked cheese pig.
Another theory, which would require Farren to be playing beneath his age by some years (which is not unheard of, nor unlikely) is the possibility that this is instead Donna’s son, as we learn that she is likely Ben’s daughter, much to her chagrin. That begs the question, then why the Horne last name? Perhaps she reconciled her parentage and chose the Horne side of the family after that evening when Doc Hayward socked Ben Horne a good one. I highly doubt that theory, to be perfectly honest. It’s far more likely that Donna had her hell-spawn with someone (James? That would be really weird!) died, at some point, or was unable to take care of her son. In such an event the Hayward side of the family was beat out by Ben for custody (once more trying to be the do-gooder he so strives to become), leaving Richard to be adopted into the Horne clan and take on the Horne name. Of course, Donna hates Ben and so has poisoned her kid against him, or something. Or maybe Donna married a real loser (not James, though his loser status is debatable…apparently) and that’s where his genes come from.
Audrey’s brother Johnny is a possibility, but I find this even more implausible than most other theories here presented.
A final theory holds that Audrey is indeed Richard’s mother – I’m agreed that the particular way in which they hold their cigarettes is too similar to be coincidence. Again, the question becomes, who then, is the father? John Justice Wheeler? I certainly hope not. For many reasons, the least of which being that I can’t imagine how awful it would be to have a kid with your rebound man, I find the very idea mildly revolting. All the same, it is possible that he came back from his South American jaunt to rekindle the lust he and Audrey shared, producing Richard in the process. And knowing what we do of JJW, he may have up and left (again) which in turn leaves Richard to grow up embittered or some such thing. As Audrey’s only other romantic interest from the previous seasons is Cooper, that leaves the final option unnameable to us – some other unknown man who fell under Audrey’s spell and found his affections (or lust, as I can’t imagine that Richard Horne is the product of a loving relationship) reciprocated.
I think that one thing we can all agree on, regardless of who this sinister individuals parents are, is that in a land of Leo Johnsons, whoever sired Richard Horne is definitely one of the worst and I can’t wait until we find out.
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Some images Courtesy of Showtime