The Dale/Mr. C showdown begins in Part 18 when Dale becomes DoppelCooper – Electricity Nexus #5

I began Electricity Nexus by describing a scenario where Cooper and Laura are stuck within a black lodge time loop until one of them figures out how to shovel themselves out of the shit to break their half of their intertwined cycles. This still feels fundamentally true to me, and I’m using this as the base framework for this thought experiment, but there are two prime additions here:

1) Dale Cooper is finally confronting his shadow self by living the life of his shadow self.

2) Laura Palmer has been put into a witness protection program of sorts by the Fireman, and her identity is a near carbon copy of Shelly Johnson’s life.

 

First, let me verify why I think it’s a black lodge universe rather than an alternate timeline in our reality.

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People are talking a ton about alternate realities being in play, possibly even Laura and Dale having entered our own reality (which could in fairness be explained by any number of things, including a VHS copy of the Twin Peaks Pilot that Andy Hazel discovered near the machine gun in Carrie’s house, so I’m not here to outright rule out that theory), but I think the clue has been hidden in plain sight just as so many things that are eventually proven true: Jeffries, who is now just as separated from the time stream as Dale Cooper is, creates an 8 from his supernatural machinery in the subliminal place known as the Convenience Store or the Dutchman, but the symbol is formed from a shifting set of lines that was originally shaped like the Owl Ring symbol. And based on what we know about the Owl Ring, we know that symbol is associated with a portal system that brings spirits to the Black Lodge.

Creating the number 8 from the Owl Ring symbol to me means that the infinite mobius strip loop is within the Black Lodge, or at least the Red Room. Especially as it’s Phillip Gerard, the most frequently occurring resident of the Red Room, who brings Cooper directly to this scene with Jeffries.

I posit Cooper officially made it out of the Red Room in Part 16, reentered our reality in Las Vegas, but actively chose to return to the Lodge Reality in this Jeffries scene. And everything from this point forward, including the Fire Walk With Me revisions, are within this reality rather than the main one of Twin Peaks. Yes, this means I believe Twin Peaks Seasons One and Two have not been written out of existence.

 

Now, let me verify why I think Cooper is living through the life of his Doppelganger:

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As Hawk told Cooper back in Season Two, you confront your shadow self in the lodge. Cooper did this the first time in Episode 29 and the Doppelganger superseded his life. Within the Return, Cooper was able to return to our world, and was told along the way that one of the Coopers must die to restore a balance. But there was no actual confrontation. It all made perfect sense within the plot that Lucy could shoot DoppelCooper, and it makes enough sense that DoppelCooper would stay dead long enough for Dale to come in and still have time to put the Owl Ring on him (again, to return DoppelCooper to the lodge), but the confrontation still hasn’t happened. Cooper was not allowed a rematch thanks to the Fireman’s plan. Maybe the balance was restored between realities in that only one Cooper exists in Twin Peaks reality, but this does nothing to fix the imbalance within Cooper himself. Cooper was not a proactive participant in the Part Seventeen climax, not even with the defeat of Bob. He was unable to confront his Doppelganger nor the evil spirit to whom he promised his soul. This is not the way to become a fully unified Cooper. This is the way to remain incomplete.

That’s why I think the second half of Part Seventeen and the entirety of Part Eighteen is the beginning of their showdown, the starting moments of Cooper shoveling himself out of his shit. I may change opinions on many things about Twin Peaks, but I will not on this: Dr. Jacoby’s message is central to the story. He is the first character we meet in the real world in The Return, and it was shown over and over again that those who confronted the problems within themselves and used their agency to bring themselves above their circumstances were allowed happier endings than those of the cast who were stuck in loops of unsatisfying sameness. Dale Cooper was denied the ability to use his personal agency to shovel himself out of his shit, therefore we see him once again trying to save Laura Palmer. He may not be poised to rise above his circumstances yet at the end of this show, but thanks to the Fireman’s plan (in other words, an answer to “what was the point of all that Fireman superhero team stuff, anyway?”), Dale is finally able to do something he was unable to do before now: confront his doppelganger when it is without the elemental force of Bob inside it.

How is Dale confronting his doppelganger? By living his doppelganger’s life from within. RichardCooper, as far as I’m concerned, is Dale within DoppelCooper, slowly superseding control just as Dale did within Dougie. That clinical coldness? It’s DoppelCooper as he was when fresh on this Earth from the lodge. But for every step he takes in this do-over lodge reality, Dale is within him and able to make more compassionate choices, though like Dale was dormant within Dougie while still absorbing and remembering every experience, Dale’s personality itself seems unable to surface very often. But because of the information we received from how Dale was within Dougie, we can correlate that Dale will do the same within DoppelCooper, even if it takes 25 years to undo everything DoppelCooper did in our reality.

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He’s gonna need a lot of shovels

And it may take all 25 years as well. To defeat your shadow self, you have to live as your shadow, have the perfect courage to trust you can rise above your basest shadowy instincts. To defeat your shadow you accept your shadow, then your basest shadowy tendencies gradually atrophy until, using terms from Theosophy (which Frost borrowed heavily from when originating Twin Peaks’ mythology), it falls away like the basest levels of astral matter from the self and the self is ready to evolve to the next astral plane.

RichardCooper is Dale experiencing DoppelCooper’s life firsthand and step by step, living through his shadow self’s time on Earth. And Part Eighteen is Dale Cooper being presented with the origin story of his doppelganger, witnessing how DoppelCooper was when he first left the lodge, though this time Dale is living through those events in his own way as well. This is a combination of Dale Cooper’s timeline after 25 years living inside the Red Room and DoppelCooper’s time from leaving the Red Room and the first moment we see him get out of that Mercedes in Part One. And this time they do it without there being a triumvirate made from the inclusion of the parasitic Bob. This time, Dale and DoppelCooper are a duality, and the battle for the nature of Dale’s soul is a fair battle.

Is this definitely DoppelCooper’s life they’ve jumped to? The Lost Highway-looking night driving should be your first indication. It’s THE hallmark image associated with DoppelCooper. And Richard’s car itself is a black Lincoln, extremely similar to the Lincoln that DoppelCooper crashes in Part Three (and though not exact, the cars are close enough for me to make a match).

Another clue that RichardCooper is the early life of DoppelCooper is the blatant western motif. RichardCooper began in Texas and the first duel we see is Richard going into a modern day saloon, Judy’s Diner, where he has it out with three cowboys. There’s a black hat, seemingly waiting on a rack for RichardCooper. This standoff, the gunplay, the taking of the guns, it’s as western a standoff as you’re going to get.

And how does DoppelCooper end? Shot in the back by a true lawfully good person with a gun during a standoff with the local sheriff. A local sheriff whose hat, mind you, jumps on his head just like they would have done in the old Westerns. Similar conventions, similar visual languages used for similar characters, to me means that we are witnessing the first days of DoppelCooper’s tenure on Earth by way of Dale’s understanding of the events.

 

DoppelCooper seems to know things about this experience as RichardCooper

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Things get tricky when I start to think of DoppelCooper’s timeline in this way: It’s possible, as Dale lives 25 years within before being sent back in time 25 years only to become RichardCooper, that DoppelCooper thinks of himself as Richard Cooper, that the unnamed Mr. C’s first name is actually Richard. It’s possible he knows he’s 50 years old when he meets Richard Horne, and fairly likely he has somehow named his child after himself. I also think it’s more than possible that (like the time-displaced Jeffries) his memory may get slippery and he begins to forget why he was searching for Judy in the first place, just that he was searching for her and it is the most important goal he could possibly achieve. In our reality, it is heavily implied the Bob-infested DoppelCooper wanted to find Judy. We don’t know what the motivations are, but I’ve heard theories during the middle of the Return’s airing where DoppelCooper may have also been trying to achieve similar goals as the FBI (he only killed bad guys, for one thing). Corrolation allows for a case to be made that RichardCooper’s motivations to find Judy are also DoppelCooper’s, are also Dale’s. Or based on how people remember things but also don’t remember things, it could be that DoppelCooper has since forgotten why he was trying to find Judy, just that it was very important to RichardCooper that this must be done.

 

How can DoppelCooper have experienced something that hasn’t happened yet or never happened?

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How Could DoppelCooper have experienced what RichardCooper had even though he has Bob within him?

As 25YL’s resident Timequake Theory Guy, I feel the need to mention that Dale Cooper moving through time would make for quite the interaction between the lodge reality and our reality, and the scraping of the two’s proverbial tectonic plates would definitely make shockwaves strong enough to overwrite the makeup of DoppelCooper from doppelganger/Bob to doppelganger/Dale, but I don’t even think I need to mention that here to make this new theory work. Time has always moved strangely in Twin Peaks, especially in the lodges.

There is always a Leland Palmer inside the lodge well after his physical self died, and there’s always a Laura Palmer in the lodge, And there’s also always a Dale inside the lodge, even from before he entered. Laura wrote down the dream she had in The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer about meeting Dale in the lodge. If Dale’s in the lodge then, I bet he’s in there before he was even born back when Chief Twisted Hair was communing with spirits at the nexus of White Tail and Blue Pine mountains. And if Dale is an ever-present lodge presence that would mean that every iteration of Dale would be privy to every other part of Dale’s experiences as he would’ve always know it, much as CooperDougie was privy to DoppelCooper’s actions. You can see this when CooperDougie touches the mirror in the Jones residence and remembers his Doppelganger in the Great Northern looking into the face of Bob. They are all connected, a concept similar to Quantum entanglement, a concept favored by Lynch.

For Dale and all of his iterations, his experience of time could be happening simultaneously from a single point, exploding ever outward when he was split in two, just as the atom was split in New Mexico in 1945 and it tore a hole between our reality and the reality of the lodges,

just as the screams of Laura are identical whether it’s her inside the lodge or as Carrie outside the Tremond Residence. This happening-simultaneously thing seems to be reinforced by the Return regularly.

And that means DoppelCooper could easily be remembering the future confrontation between himself and Dale’s as RichardCooper even as he goes through his first few years in Earth’s reality as he built the criminal empire as we see it at the beginning of the Return. This is why DoppelCooper would feel he is specifically 25 years’ Richard Horne’s senior, and probably also why he makes it so Richard Horne is named after himself (you know, before he does whatever he does to Audrey to trap her in her own lodge reality prison).

I think it’s also possible, if DoppelCooper understands the reflection of RichardCooper as being his own earlier life, that DoppelCooper could blindly be looking for Judy, continuing RichardCooper’s quest without understanding why, just knowing that he WANTS to find Judy.  Having no discernable reason why could be DoppelCooper holding his motivations close to the vest, or it could be what it looks like: he is blindly forging ahead without understanding why, just that he wants to.

And because this Doppelganger does not know why he does what he does, because he has only an empty purpose he’s borrowed from another side of himself, this lacking within himself allows him to be undone by one of the purest characters in the show, Lucy Brennan.

 

How does one atone for their shadow self?

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By the same turn, RichardCooper is also a reflection of DoppelCooper’s experiences as understood by Dale. As equally as DoppelCooper is living through what he understands of RichardCooper’s quest, RichardCooper is Dale living through what he understands of DoppelCooper’s life within Dale’s body after the doppelganger exited in Episode 29 of Season Two. They are inexplicably intertwined, and Dale needs to simultaneously extricate himself from and integrate into DoppelCooper if he has any hope of becoming a fully integrated Cooper, a character I assure you we have not yet seen within the scenes of Twin Peaks.

One of the first things he’s presented with is how DoppelCooper treated Diane. It didn’t happen exactly as tulpa Diane remembered her rape, but again, there is no Bob this time, and this is how Dale is experiencing DoppelCooper’s origin. And Diane appeared to be re-experiencing her past as well, though equally unable to make many changes. As I’ve said earlier, this is Dale Cooper making choices from with the exact steps DoppelCooper took through the world, not a carbon copy of DoppelCooper’s original experience. As I am positing this is Dale’s reclaiming of his soul, they have to replay the events that led to Diane’s rape but RichardCooper is passive rather than actively a rapist though Diane remembers how it went the first time (and herein is a case to be made also that in their sex scene Diane confronts her rapist, reclaims a certain agency within herself, and begins her own healing process from this point forward). There is more nuance than I am capable of in this scene, but I do feel they are trying to right wrongs here whether or not they achieve this. For one thing, instead of trapping Diane in the Dutchman presumably next to Audrey, Diane leaves on her own.

Dale is forced to take the same steps as DoppelCooper but he’s already making changes along the way. From within the cold exterior, he is influencing DoppelCooper in a more positive way that Bob had influenced DoppelCooper, and with enough time the shadow self may develop a conscience, or it could work in that Dale exorcises DoppelCooper from himself bit by bit as he plays DoppelCooper, I’m reminded of what John Pirruccello said during his interview on an episode of the Bookhouse Podcast. He said that playing Chad exorcised that Chad part of himself from him during the course of filming his scenes, Pirruccello says he is now a better person because of being in Twin Peaks. This is from an actor, and all he did was play an asshole, recognize the parts within himself that could come off as being an asshole, and he feels like he can leave those behaviors behind. Which brings me back to Theosophy’s tenants about the base astral matter that atrophies the less those base emotions are felt and encouraged. Can living as DoppelCooper exorcise the negative impulses and base astral matter of Dale Cooper from himself as he lives as his doppelganger? I suspect yes. And I suspect this may be the beginning of a long process that may finally result in what we’ve always wanted: a Dale Cooper who’s defeated his doppelganger. And in 25 years, with a little faith and maybe a shovel, I think it’ll work.

 

Dale’s part in this puzzle has proven larger than I thought, so I’ll have to save Laura for next time. While Dale’s living in his life modeled after DoppelCooper’s, I think Laura’s living a life modeled after Shelly Johnson’s. I bet you’ll see it too now that I mentioned it, but if not I’ll make my case. And the Fireman will probably be mentioned.

Until then, I want to hear your thoughts on this…I’ve heard remarkably little in this way of thinking so far and I love it when you test my theories.

 

For further reading, here are the articles I linked to earlier in the article:

Cooper’s time loop isn’t just his – Electricity Nexus #1

This Mystery has a blueprint: deciphering the obvious in The Return by Lindsay Stamhuis

What DO we know about the Owl Ring?

Time Moves Strangely, or, Metaphysical Geologic Events in Twin Peaks

And for more on western themes and what that means in a broader scale, read Mat Cult’s article Cowboys and Supermen – American Heroism in the Return

25 Replies to “The Dale/Mr. C showdown begins in Part 18 when Dale becomes DoppelCooper – Electricity Nexus #5”

  1. Exciting article. This gives me a lot of food for thought, but especially because it complements many of my intuitions and thoughts about Parts 17/18. I have been wondering why some of the aspects are not discussed more – Richard Cooper being named like Richard Horne, the sex scene being reminiscent of the Diane rape, AND: Cooper not confronting his shadow shelf. And I totally agree about the golden shovel as a key.

    My further thought is that this Odessa world and Judy in general stand for looking away from evil. The “mother of evil” is standing by and not looking the evil in the eye – that would be the white horse. I think that corresponds to the topic of integrating the shadow and Cooper running away from his shadow before.

    I still have to think about all the details from the article… Can´t wait for the next one about Laura.

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    1. Glad you dug it, Frank. I hadn’t thought of Looking Away From Evil being quite the thing but it totally is.
      I’ve got an idea about the white horse, at least the one in Carrie’s house, but I think it’s a multifaceted symbol and your thought fits into the imagery nicely.
      I forget where I read it but someone said the White of the Eye is shown when Sarah looked away from all the horror going on right next to her…sounds like you’d agree bigtime with that.

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  2. I’ve had a thought regarding that startling shot of DoppelCoop on fire in the Red Room in part 18: what if he’s being burned as fuel for Cooper’s evolution? Perhaps the way for DoppelCoop to be integrated into a complete Dale Cooper is via consumption.

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    1. I heard that idea on one of the pods! I loved it then and I love it now. I would’ve never come up with that, but it makes a LOT of sense.
      Except that I don’t wish that kind of fuel to be what Dougie Two was made from… Except it’s about 95% probable. Torn!

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  3. I agree 100% with Sarah, John. And with regard to the White Horse: There is not just the horse at Carrie´s; there are LOTS of horses at Judy´s Diner. There is a literal white horse in front of it, and there are lots of horse pictures and horse symbols inside of it. Have to admit that I just noticed that about a week ago, but Lynch seems to scream out the connection here…

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  4. Laura/Carrie can’t get away from horses can she? Since Bob started showing up, she got Troy for her birthday around the same time…. I completely agree there’s something to this. Been looking into it a little, but I missed the Judy’s Diner connection so far. Thanks much! and now I’m going add it into what I’m already planning for the next part

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    1. Andy Hazel said it on a Roundtable episode of the podcast called Twin Peaks The Return, said it was next to a machine gun but that’s as close as I’ve come to seeing it myself. Should’ve verified it first but I trust he saw it.

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      1. Great article, I do wonder to what extent David and Mark talked in this sort of detail about coherent meaning while in the process of creating a script and story. I mean for any of our interpretations to be ‘true’ then they’d have to have had exolicit intent. Of course there is intention and story from both writers, even in the abstract aspects but the many fan’s explicitly detailed ideas I lean towards doubting they were plotted out so plainly. Although your theory: maybe – what reality Coop was in could well have been one of those things and the nature of his ambiguous duality.

        On the VHS Pilot appearing the episode 18: I was super curious on this and practically did a frame by frame inspection. I don’t see it – could be an acuity/screen size issue for me. There’s a bouncy ball on the mantle I hadn’t noticed and something miscellaneous like a paperclip (I already forgot). There’s what looks like empty plastic food containers on the floor and something else I can’t identify under the TV. Doesn’t look like a video tape box though.

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      2. Hi Chris,
        I tend to think Lynch and Frost ballpark what they think should happen, and then go with their top three answers all at once 😜
        And I almost put this in the article (will do it next time): the only way to be wrong about Twin Peaks is to say “I have the only correct answer”. I don’t think there’s such a thing as one true answer, just a whole bunch of really good answers that follow a general direction.

        As far as the VHS box I’ll see what I can do about getting a pic of it. Will post here in comments if I can.

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  5. By the way, recently I also started to think that Part 18 is a lodge reality. After all, Diane sees her doppelganger at the motel. And where does one meet his/her doppelganger? In the black lodge. And doesn´t that symbolize another split due to her trauma? Anyways, after the sex scene the environment – the motel, the car – “magically” change, although they had already passed the 430 border earlier. Lodge mechanics at work, I would assume. The motel and the car seem to actualize from the past to the present. And then in the last scene, before Cooper asks about the year, he makes this movement with his hand as earlier in the red room when he could easily move the curtains. Confused as he is in the final scene, but he obviously knows, suspects or remembers that this is a lodge reality, only that the exit doesn´t work at that moment. It all fits to the observation that Part 18 is the confrontation with the shadow shelf, which of course should take place in the black lodge, according to what we know from Hawk.

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    1. There’s a good case you just made 👍🏻 (Especially that last point. I was thinking that when I started writing this but then got lost in the curtains and don’t think I ever did.)

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  6. Hi,
    DoppelCooper kills only bad guys? Arya is a bad guy? Roger is a bad guy? Killing Murphy in front of his son is ok? Raping Audrey and Diane….
    I liked your theory in the beginning but then…

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    1. I get where you’re coming from, and agree with you more than not but there’s a public opinion out there that thinks this and I accidentally shorthanded their case in the article so I’ll try to explain better here.
      Roger and Warden were killed on his orders but not by DoppelCooper. Tough to know if he’d left Roger alive or not or if he’d killed the Warden right there. Todd and Warden were mixed up in things. Mr C can equate that w bad guys. Darya was trying to kill Mr C. That’s a bad guy move. His better self killled Jean Renault for the same reason.
      I can see how DoppelCooper could THINK he’s only killing bad guys, especially if he’s got bob in him at the time. It’s warped and not perfect but I can see why people have been saying this.
      If it’s Dale in him on a second round I bet he’ll do things differently.

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      1. Thanks, I also get your point. We’re all trying to make sense out of everything we watched and loved in TPTR. I’m really grateful for your thoughts and time you must spend on writing all of this. I believe that Lynch/Frost also spent a lot of time thinking and writing. TPTR is a wonderful gift to people who like to think. It’s an existentialism work of art. A lot of it is metaphysical and metaphorical.

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      2. Glad you get where I was coming from👍🏻 Sounds like you’re also an explorer, so I’m glad you appreciate the need to explore that I’m doing over here.
        And yes, majorly thankful for all of Lynch and Frost’s work on this new experience of material, now to find more time!

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  7. i’m not sure if you’re suggesting that the new Doppelcooper/Dale is also back in time when the original doppelganger swap-out happened.
    another theory about a whole doppelganger universe was already making sense to me and i can see how this fits, in that the Cooper we see after the drive across the highway portal is not behaving as Dale would. there are also some Dougielike mannerisms here and there. integrating these two ideas is pretty easy. Dale and Diane drive into the doppelganger universe. Dianne sees her double at the motel. Dale doesn’t because he no longer has one. Doppelcooper is burning in the red room. instead, he has instigated a second swap-out and is now living what would have been Doppelcooper’s life in his home reality, where evidently his name is Richard. i’m skeptical that his attempt to turn Carrie into Laura is workable or even a good idea. similarly to Dale, she no longer has a double, hers having been murdered in the other reality, but maybe that memory link is active anyway. at some point, while living as Richard, Dale has to sort through his own inner darkness and then maybe he gets to go back to his home reality. what’s unsatisfying still is what is happening from the perspective of all the participants at the sheriff station. Dale shows up, showdown happens, he gets the key and goes through the door with the hum and then everybody waits again?
    my alternate theory remains that Dale is now living in Vegas, having retired from the whole mess and taken over Dougie’s life. His tulpa, created especially for the mission, is now moving semi-automatically forward according to the basic instructions it knows. find Laura, find Judy.

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    1. Thanks for sharing, I’m implying it all happens in a lodge reality rather than the reality with the Twin Peaks we know, so I left time as vague as it was in The Return as it didn’t matter so much. I’d be curious what you think of my upcoming article…I’ve been coming to fairly similar conclusions for completely different reasons. I love how many different angles there can legally be for functional Twin Peaks theories…I’m sticking with one reality and one dream reality only, and the weirdness happens when they interact. The quantum theory and multiple realities is probably closer to authorial intent but my brain just doesn’t work like that.

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      1. i read the next article and i’m more clear on what you mean about ‘lodge reality’ and the vagueness of time in the lodge reality. are you also suggesting that the Twin Peaks reality is being overwritten by Dale’s occupation of Richard’s life? Or does the vagueness of lodge time explain the ways Doppelcooper is strangely motivated during events we’ve already seen? Does Dale’s timeline now loop back and then return to the point at which he went through the door with the hum or does everyone have to wait a stretch before he can reappear among them in the Twin Peaks reality? i can deal with Dale making the original 25 year sacrifice but forcing him through another cycle like that just seems so merciless and undeserved.

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    1. No because he didn’t kill him. But really only mentioned this because it’s a fairly popular idea with podcasters that this is actually a thing.

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  8. Mr. C did NOT kill only bad guys. Ray worked for Gordon. Mr. C led his son into death. OK, Richard WAS a very bad guy, but this icecold action is surely not to be seen as “disposing a bad guy”.

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    1. I think it’s more of an instinctive thing anyway rather than an active choice. After a certain point I feel like DoppelCooper’s take on what a bad guy is probably skewed into whoever seems to be oposing him for whatever reason

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