Let’s talk about BOB.
I always had one issue with this character, and that was that I never found him scary. Other fans talk about their nightmares and fear of him, but for me his motives are entirely apparent and clear, and that takes away any creepiness. The thought of BOB never scared me, just as the thought of any wild animal doesn’t scare me.
And that is what BOB is, a wild animalistic creature, with no conscience or compassion. Animal life. That is why, of all the dark characters we have encountered, of all the villainy we have seen, BOB will always be the worst of the worst.
Both Laura and Cooper first encountered BOB in dreams when they were adolescents. Both dreams were related to their mothers, and seemed to be the moment when the cord of innocence was broken and they became open to the darkness in the world.
A lot of the villains we met in the first two seasons are just simply very nasty people. Leo and Jacques are pimps and drug dealers, adult men who prey on young girls and use them for their own needs. Despite that, there are moments in Laura’s diary where they seem to be friends, where they and Ronette help her out and make sure she gets home safely. We don’t know enough about them to know if either of them have any redeeming features, but it’s unlikely.
Some fans think that Leo redeemed himself in Windom’s cabin when he sees the picture of Shelley and retaliates, earning himself a possible spidery death. I see his reaction as a glimmer of the old Leo. He reacted out of possessiveness. Shelley is his, and he is her abuser, and another man having her picture angered him. He didn’t want to save Shelley. He wanted to reclaim her.
Then we have Windom Earle. I actually loved Windom, despite his theatrical little Joker-esque ways. Windom was completely nuts, and would happily kill at will, just to fulfil his own little script ,and to fill in chapters of his own bad guy story. Windom did well to establish himself as a threat to Cooper, but in the end he was just a pawn for the Black Lodge. He was used to take Annie the lure to Glastonbury Grove in order to draw Cooper in, and then he was snuffed out with no fight whatsoever. No threat. In the end, his ego did him in.
Our season three villains have had much more of a darkness, much more of an edge.
Cooper’s doppelgänger is, of course, a denizen of the Black Lodge, and carries all the evil that contains. But to be fair to him, his actions over the past quarter century are largely conjecture. He may or may not have killed Major Briggs, Annie, or the nurse who took the green ring. We don’t know these things, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.
The killings we have seen with our own eyes have been mostly down to self-preservation. Darya, Ray and the farm boss Renzo were all trying to kill him first. They kind of brought it on themselves. And he didn’t technically kill Richard Horne. He just used him as a guinea pig. He didn’t actually know what was going to happen at that point.
Richard Horne, also, is a varying level of evil. He did some terrible things, but again, we don’t know that much about him. He does appear to be a psychopath and to just not really be wired quite right. But his emotional rage and tears of humiliation before he hit the child go against that idea. He’s screwed up and high and appears to have had no parenting at all. He has a sense that the world owes him and that he is entitled to take whatever he wants. He’s a chip off the old doppelgänger block in that survival and self-preservation guide his violent actions.
The Woodsmen are plainly Black Lodge creatures. They have a job to do. I see them as a kind of clean-up crew for Lodge business. They’re not necessarily evil. They just are what they are.
BOB, on the other hand, is pure evil. BOB is an abuser of women, and I fully believe that it is he who took over the doppelgänger’s body in those moments and raped Diane. And maybe, just maybe, Audrey, but let’s not assume anything there until it’s spelled out for us.
BOB is an ancient spirit, the epitome of the evil in the woods. BOB has existed for as long as evil has existed. The episode 8 scenes show us that BOB is born of destruction and violence, just as Laura is a symbol of creation and hope.
BOB is so bad that even the Black Lodge is sick of him. His entire existence is about his own enjoyment, in either world. He doesn’t care how much havoc he wreaks, or who sees him. He doesn’t care about a thing, and no possible repercussions are enough to stop him.
Perhaps in the final two parts of The Return, we will find out if BOB has a weakness. Or perhaps he will just forever be the face of the evil that men do.