Permutations of American Girl

Phoebe Augustine in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

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 Ronnette 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 Jacks. 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 Jacks.  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 Sixteen, 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 Danish then maybe American Girl’s transition stage could be a lodge 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.

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Written by John Bernardy

John Bernardy has been writing for 25YL since before the site went public and he’s loved every minute. The show most important to him is Twin Peaks. He is husband to a damn fine woman, father to two fascinating individuals, and their pet thinks he’s a good dog walker.


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  1. Just out of curiosity (and without any pretentious sync), it’s interesting to make a parallel between Cooper’s escaping sequence from the Fire room in 3rd episode and Sarah’s attempt to stab the photo of Laura in the 17th. The hum in the background is actually the same in both the sequences and the “thuds” against the door match closely the stabbers on Laura’s photo. After the American Girl says “my mother’s coming” effectively in the next sequence on 17th Laura is thrown away with a scream from Cooper trying to save her. Could be anything (or nothing) but well…

  2. I always felt the American Girl was a tulpa of Ronette. Before I saw her credit, I thought Phoebe Augustine was playing the same role. Much like the giant playing the fireman, a lot of people in The Return have doubles.

    • I think that’s totally reasonable an angle, and makes a lot of sense to be correct, I just went off of an interview w (I think it was Madchen) where they said some people are playing different characters than they did before, and I know that meant more like desk clerk Louie being a doctor in Vegas, but I applied to Phoebe Augustine too.
      Before the credit I thought Ronette too but am big investigating potential signs of misderection.

  3. I think it makes more sense to view these spaces as way stations on the journey between the Black Lodge and our own “world of blue,” if not products of the tug-of-war between the Black Lodge and White Lodge as each struggles to claim Dale as its own. Naido’s world is pinkish (White + Red) and American Girl’s world is purple (Red + Blue). As for the fire, I’d interpret that using the skeleton key provided by Mike: “One chants out between two worlds, Fire Walk With Me.”

    Naido is in a waiting room like Dale was, and Dale presents an opportunity for her to “go out now,” just like Laura did. I think it’s significant that Naido is first shown in a shot that mirrors almost exactly Dorothy Vallens as she waits for Frank Booth. Is it a dim memory of the karmic connection between Dorothy and Jeffrey that leads Naido to help Dale? Or is it perhaps an aura of benevolence that surrounds the approaching head of Garland Briggs? Or is it Diane influencing Naido from within? In any case, Naido liberates herself by contributing to Dale’s liberation.

    I suspect it was Naido’s intervention that fouled up Mr. C’s assassination plot. Everything had to be timed exactly right for Dougie/Dale to escape as he did: if Dale had exited through Electric Socket #3, he would have been a goner. The room of American Girl is closer to our own, since it is Red + Blue. This means that signals from the White Lodge are more garbled. Ronette housing Laura might be a natural result of this sort of scrambled signal. But I wonder … American Girl’s appearance resembles that of Lil. Might American Girl be one of Gordon Cole’s French lady friends sent out to assist Dale? In this instance, the scrambling of the signal would have occurred in the other direction.

    • Sure, I can find that plausible enough, but no more or less than mine or anyone’s angle as long as thought’s put into it. There’s a LOT of wiggle room and fascination available.

      • I agree that the wiggle room is vast, and I know that I personally generate new opinions pretty much any time I revisit the material. I’m having a hard time grokking the “witness protection” component of your theory – could you attempt to spell out who’s doing the protecting and why? Since confinement in a Lodge space seems pretty undesirable, I tend to think benevolent forces would use this tactic as a last resort.

        • CooperDougie was Gerard’s workaround to getting Dale and DoppelCooper in the same place at the same time. It’s kind of like a witness protection problem in that Dale’s assigned a different identity in a different town. So it IS witness protection program, just not how detectives Fusco say. The concept is mentioned by them, and there’s a loose connection to the intent rather than the execution that works well above as below. And because there’s one happening in the world side of things, usually there’s an equal concept happening on the lodge side of things. So there’s probably another “keeping someone out of harm’s way” happening up north. Which would be another version of metaphorical witness protection. And American Girl almost has to be some kind of assigned identity if her roommate is an assigned identity different from who’s inside.
          I’ve written this in a number of places so I’ll stop but I feel like everything explains everything else so why would this be different?

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