“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: Ali Sciarabba & Sezín Koehler.
The topic is: Is Mr. C communicating with Phillip Jeffries or an imposter?
Black Lodge: by Ali Sciarabba
The character of Phillip Jeffries has been an unseen but important presence in The Return. With the original actor, the late great David Bowie, no longer with us, and Phillip Jeffries yet to physically appear on the show, there has been a lot of speculation as to whether the “Phillip Jeffries” in The Return is the real Jeffries. As much as I would love to see a posthumous David Bowie cameo (a la Frank Silva and Don S. Davis) I believe that the “Phillip” in The Return is not Phillip Jeffries but Phillip Gerard, MIKE’s human host in our world.
The current whereabouts of Phillip Gerard are unknown and I believe that Gerard (sans haloperidol) is pretending to be Jeffries in order to bring DoppelCoop (and BOB) back to the Black Lodge. At the same time, Lodge MIKE is aiding DougieCoop and guiding him safely through the various hurdles he faces in Las Vegas. MIKE would be aware of the existence of Phillip Jeffries; they may have even met at some point (perhaps at the convenience store). I believe MIKE (as Phillip Gerard) is using his knowledge of Phillip Jeffries and his FBI contacts to trick DoppelCoop and set him up for a return to the Lodge. Lodge MIKE tells DougieCoop that either he or DoppelCoop must die. I think Lodge MIKE is trying to keep DougieCoop alive while his human host, Gerard, schemes to kill DoppelCoop—two birds (the Coopers) with one stone (MIKE).
There are three people who we know have had contact with someone they think is Phillip Jeffries. The first is DoppelCoop, who speaks to “Phillip” in Part 2. It’s unclear whether he’s seen him in person and their conversation strongly suggests that they haven’t been in physical contact:
Phillip: You’re late.
DC: Couldn’t be helped.
P: I missed you in New York but I see you’re still in Buckhorn.
DC: And you’re still nowhere, is that correct?
P: You met with Major Garland Briggs.
DC: How did you know that? Phillip?
P: Actually I just called to say goodbye.
DC: This is Phillip Jeffries, right?
P: You’re going back in tomorrow and I will be with BOB again.
DC: Who is this?
[Phillip hangs up]
It’s clear by the end of the call that DoppelCoop no longer believes the person on the other end of the line is the real Jeffries. He’s triggered by the caller’s knowledge of his meeting with Major Briggs and the fact that whoever it is on the other end wants him back in the Lodge. If DoppelCoop thought he was working WITH Jeffries this whole time, this conversation proves to him that this “Phillip” is really working against him.
The second person who claims to have had contact with Jeffries is Albert. When Albert, Gordon, and Tammy see DoppelCoop in prison in Part 4, he tells them that he has been working undercover with Phillip Jeffries since his disappearance. He’s pretending to still be on the side of the FBI and was on his way to inform Gordon when he had his accident. He then looks directly at Albert and says, “I’ve left messages… so Phillip knows it’s safe.” Albert is visibly uncomfortable this entire time and we soon find out it’s because he’s been hiding something pretty significant from Gordon.
Albert tells Gordon that, several years earlier, he was in contact (via phone) with Phillip Jeffries, who asked him for some information about the FBI’s “man in Columbia.”* Jeffries told Albert that Cooper needed this information but a week after Albert passed on the info, the man in Columbia was killed. The fact that Albert knew (or was led to believe) that both Jeffries and Cooper were not only still alive but working together and failed to mention any of this to Gordon seems pretty significant to me. Albert is definitely hiding something and I believe he knows a lot more than he’s been letting on. In this case, though, I think Albert may have neglected to mention anything because, after the death of the man in Columbia, he realized he’d been played. He may have believed that both Jeffries and Cooper were impostors and so he kept it to himself because he screwed up. Only when they discover that Cooper is, in fact, back does he tell Gordon about the Jeffries/Cooper situation.
We don’t know anything else about the “man in Columbia” but it’s possible that his death was a necessary part of MIKE’s plan to get DoppelCoop/BOB back. It could have been a way for MIKE to gain DoppelCoop’s trust as part of his long game. Since this happened many years ago and there seems to be a specific timeline for exactly when DoppelCoop/BOB will be sucked back into the Lodge, MIKE would have had many years to execute his plan before DoppelCoop’s 25 years were up.
The last person who had contact with “Jeffries” is Ray, who has also only ever spoken to him by phone. “Jeffries” hired Ray and Darya to kill DoppelCoop at the designated time when he would be sucked back into the Lodge. In Part 13, we learn more about Ray’s interactions with “Jeffries”: he told Ray that Mr. C was going to kill him to give him motivation (besides money) to kill him first, and then set up the whole prison thing. “Jeffries” also told Ray that Mr. C had “something inside that they want.” When Ray tells him this, DoppelCoop looks as if he’s doubting something (the same way he looked after the phone call in Part 2). It seems to me like DoppelCoop has realized that it’s not the actual Jeffries who is pulling the strings.
Then Ray takes the green owl ring out of his pocket and says that “Jeffries” told him to put it on DoppelCoop’s finger after he killed him. He got it from an intermediary—a mysterious guard at the prison who Ray had never seen before. While I don’t think this guard was Phillip Gerard (the missing arm would have been pretty notable), MIKE was the last person to have the ring. The last time we saw it, it had fallen off of Dougie in the Red Room and MIKE placed it back on the table. It’s not a stretch to think that MIKE is responsible for getting the ring to Ray in the prison.
When DoppelCoop finally gets the coordinates from Ray, he asks Ray where Jeffries is and Ray tells him, “last I heard he was at a place called The Dutchmen’s, but it’s not a real place…” DoppelCoop shoots him before he can clarify and says, “I know what it is.” He puts the ring on Ray’s dead body and watches as it disappears. Ray’s body (or maybe just his spirit?) then ends up in the Red Room, where MIKE reclaims the ring and puts it back on the table.
I think whatever “The Dutchman’s” is holds the key to a full understanding of the situation. DoppelCoop knows what it means (even though the audience doesn’t) and I think that this piece of information has somehow confirmed for him that none of them have been dealing with the real Jeffries. By putting the ring on Ray and sending it (and him) to the Lodge, DoppelCoop/BOB was sending MIKE a message that he knows now that he’s been behind it the whole time.
* This was a source of confusion for all of us on staff, as context suggests the nation of Colombia is what they’re referring to, while the subtitles say Columbia. We went with the subtitles.
Ali Sciarabba is a Staff Writer at The Game of Nerds (@TheGameOfNerds) and the author of many nonfiction books for middle and high school students. She has been a Twin Peaks geek since the early 90s and is even more obsessed today than she was back then. You can follow her on Twitter @alimscribbles for random musings on Twin Peaks and the many other TV shows she obsesses over.
White Lodge: by Sezín Koehler
TL;DR: Why wouldn’t the Jeffries everyone keeps mentioning be the real one? From a forensic narrative perspective, all evidence to the contrary is purely circumstantial.
Putting a pin in the fact that Phillip Jeffries was played by one of the most iconic men who ever lived and to see him again years after his death would be the best gift within The Return gift ever — we’ll come back to this — the very nature of reality in the third season of Twin Peaks is consistently up for debate.
We know that the Dougie Jones vessel has the exact same fingerprints as DoppelCooper. Not even identical twins have the exact same fingerprints. Whatever Lodge magic has woven its way into our world, it is affecting our very laws of biology. (But not our laws of quantum physics.) Even if the Jeffries in play is a doppelgänger, he is still biologically the same person. That makes him pretty real.
Might there be two Jeffries in play just as there are two Coops? Sure. And if Diane is working with one of them, she might not know which one it is or even that there are two. Since Cole and his team have yet to ping on the fact that there is another man in America who has Agent Cooper’s exact fingerprints, they don’t fully know the scope of the weird that’s going on around their investigation. Connecting these dots would help a lot.
Our new 25 Years Later colleague Mat Cult surmises:
“Jeffries is the real Jeffries because everything he’s doing is trying to stop Mr C. And he and Mr C are locked in a strategic battle. A surreal game of inter-dimensional chess.”
I agree. If he’s not the real Jeffries he wouldn’t be actively sabotaging DoppelCooper. My own Jeffries doppelgänger theory just flew the coop. It’s okay; I won’t miss it.
And the green owl ring? There is no reason to assume there is only one. This isn’t Highlander after all, and doubles abound in The Return’s world.
Next, there’s the question of The Dutchman, mentioned by Ray before his death. In nautical lore, the Flying Dutchman is a haunted ghost ship doomed to never make port, captained by the madman Davy Jones. This fata morgana is an omen of bad things to come for whomever lays eyes on her. Could The Dutchman’s be another name for the Black Lodge, since both the Flying Dutchman and the Lodges existentially function on principles of spiritual and quantum limbo as well as negative and evil connotations? Or has Jeffries constructed some Lodge-adjacent ship equivalent, maybe with the help of Major Briggs? Could The Dutchman’s be the proper name for that Purple World, with its oceans and lighthouses calling soul-ships to shore? Could The Giant/????? himself be The Dutchman?
And here’s where David Bowie comes back into play: His birth name is David Robert Jones, and was affectionately referred to as Davy Jones even after he changed his surname. David Bowie also goes so far as to sing about The Dutchman in his song “Tin Machine”:
“Hey, hey, golden roses around a rajah’s mouth
Hey, hey, all the dead children buried standing
A flying dutchman, smoking gun and spice wind”
Of all the names that the Toxic Masculinity Club could call a non-exist-ent place they chose one that directly links to the godlike figure who plays Phillip Jeffries? I don’t think this is a coincidence. And while the whole Miriam Hodges/Sullivan snafu suggests that there actually are some accidents in The Return’s narrative, the Flying Dutchman –> Davy Jones –> David Bowie/Davy Jones connections seem deliberate.
Let’s also not forget Occam’s Razor: “Entities are not to be multiplied without necessity.” In other words, the idea that (often) the simplest and most obvious answer is the correct one. And since physics plays so heavily into The Return, physicist Ernst Mach says in his Principle of Economy, “Scientists must use the simplest means of arriving at their results and exclude everything not perceived by the senses.”
None of this is to imply a just because defense, and especially not since I am extremely biased when it comes to my beloved David Bowie. Of course I want the man everyone keeps talking about to be the real Jeffries because the very thought that we might see Bowie reprise his role would be so beyond my wildest dreams I might not even believe it’s real if it does happen.
Further, we are contending with the very principle of reality at its core in this third season of Twin Peaks. Could everything we are seeing be someone’s elaborate fever dream, a la Mulholland Drive? If so, then whether anyone in the narrative is real even within the narrative — let alone Phillip Jeffries — is called into question.
All that aside, yes, something terrible happened to Jeffries when he was in Buenos Aires. I suspect it has to with seeing The Woodsmen and their convenience store, which never seems to end well for anyone. Whatever happened has taken him down the bizarre path we’ve traced around the world via many third parties, including Mr. C. And Jeffries appears to still be a fighting presence, battling known forces of evil who are pulling so many strings in our world and across dimensions. He might not be the exact same Jeffries he once was — whether by doppelgänger Lodge magic or the “simple” passage of time and trauma — but on a cellular level he is still Phillip Jeffries.
Remember: Quantum entanglement and physics are the only real things we can rely on in Twin Peaks at this point. Which is to say, what a grand set of mysteries we continue to find before us.
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