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Everyone remembers Naido these days because she has the dubious and uncomfortable distinction of being the identity housing the “true” Diane. But do you remember her roommate American Girl, played by Phoebe Augustine? I do. And I think since they were in the same location when Cooper arrived there, it stands to reason that they’d be there under similar circumstances as well. Which means someone completely different is likely to be inside American Girl, and I think the two strongest options are Audrey Horne or Laura Palmer.
It’s also possible American Girl is Naido’s guard/protector or Bailiff in charge of keeping Diane/Naido safe. The fireplace she’s watching could be a monitoring system where messages travel to and from, and she could be a Lodge presence that isn’t actually associated with any of the Lodge presences we’ve seen before now, though I seriously doubt it. If she is a Lodge presence at all, she’s likely to be a presence we’ve seen in a different state like how the Woodsmen (and the Arm, of course) have evolved into slightly different form. I would go with this being the case except for the fact that the visage is too familiar, even to Cooper. Ronette is the only person besides Cooper and Sarah who’d seen BOB, and the only one who’d seen BOB in actual life. Not even Cooper had met BOB like that until he entered the Lodge. She has this connection with Cooper, so it’s possible that American Girl holds that form due to Cooper’s associations (assuming Cooper had something to do with the ladies’ forms), but I don’t think that’s quite it either. The room isn’t a holding cell exclusively for Naido/Diane’s protection; I think it’s a witness protection room. I think Naido and American Girl are roommates, and that means more than likely that American Girl is holding a presence inside her just like Naido is housing Diane.
Is it Audrey Horne?
American Girl was wearing red just like Audrey would, and if there’s ever an American Girl, an America’s Sweetheart among the women in Twin Peaks, I can say Audrey Horne fits that bill more than most.
In Cheryl Lee Latter’s article The Pulaski Girl, she says Ronette was the often forgotten victim in the story of Twin Peaks and in the story of BOB, especially considering how close to it she’d been. It’s almost like Ronette wasn’t actually tied to the Lodges in more than a surface level, the way the story up until now has treated her. You can now say the same for Audrey mostly because she’d literally never been tied to the Black Lodge at all before the implied rape by BOB/DoppelCooper. Ronette was a witness to Laura’s death yet kept her soul, and at a meta level Audrey was as close as you can get to being involved in the Lodges without quite crossing the threshold (among other things in this article of mine I hypothesize the scenario where Audrey would’ve been the one abducted into the Lodge by Windom Earle except for the last-minute kibosh on her and Dale’s romantic subplot).
Audrey can also be tangentially linked to the Lodge because of her association with One Eyed Jack’s. Back when Lynch introduced the brothel it was in the same exact episode as Cooper’s first on-screen dream, the first time we met the Red Room, and I believe the red drapes and classical statues present in both locations were a way for Lynch to say “as above, so below”, and he purposefully tied the Red Room to One Eyed Jack’s. The wallpaper was reused in Fire Walk With Me as well, so this pretty much seals the deal that it wasn’t just Lynch’s passing whim. And if the cherry stem ties Audrey to One Eyed Jack’s she’s one step removed from being thematically tied to the Lodge. And once the Evolution of the Arm echoed her words about the girl who lived down the lane she herself is finally tied into the Lodge.
Though even before this explicit echo by the tree we had her theme music, “Audrey’s Dance,” playing the same melody as “Dance Of The Dream Man,” just with vibraphones rather than saxophone. And when she was zapped from the Roadhouse into that white room in Part 16, the Roadhouse was playing her theme backwards, as if the Lodge itself was singing along with it the way they say anything.
And then there’s the fact that both Audrey and Diane were victims of the same Lodge creatures (meaning DoppelCooper and BOB both), and could easily be housed in a room together in a Lodge version of a witness protection program because of their shared situation. I think it’s likely, since in the real world the Fusco brothers brought up Dougie Jones being in the witness protection program, that this purple room was a Lodge-style room for the same case and their new identities were assigned to them for their own protection.
Though it’s just as likely she’s Laura Palmer.
The easy meta-textual angle is that Naido’s actress Nae Yuuki played a role in Inland Empire off to the side of Laura Dern, and American Girl’s actress played Ronette, a role off to the side of Sheryl Lee in Fire Walk With Me. This is the kind of code that’s so overt it might be missed as too obvious, but we know how that kind of thing tends to go if you’ve read this article by Lindsay Stamhuis. A vote in favor of the obvious being the answer? The giant electric socket in the purple room that sends Dale through an electric socket to our world. Things sometimes are what they say they are.The witness protection program could just as easily apply to Laura as she was a victim of BOB and a person of interest to Cooper and therefore DoppelCooper. And American Girl was staring into the fire, almost like she was watching or absorbing it. And we all know fire is something Laura had been heavily involved with her entire life. She could be monitoring time on her watch because she knew she’d be actively removed from it by Cooper one day, and her reference to mother could be about Sarah housing a spirit banging on the door. And if Naido’s transition state is a Lodge-shaped Danish then maybe American Girl’s transition stage could be a Lodge-shaped Muffin. Then we’d know for sure it’s Laura in there (just checking your sense of humor).
If I had to put serious odds on American Girl’s identity, I’d say it’s Laura. Because the answer is always Laura (except when it’s not). I realize we’ll probably never learn the answer, and I don’t mind at all. It’s not about the answers, it’s about exploring the information we’re given and mining it for meaning.
Investigating the corners of the show always yields a richness and it proves the depth of the undercurrents beneath the surface of the show. Even if you’re still coming to terms with The Return, there is so much worth unearthing, just to see what it might yield. Twin Peaks may have been turned on its ear, but its depth of field hasn’t changed at all, except for possibly being an even deeper well to dive into. Just be careful because you may just find something.