In a previous article, Maybe It Doesn’t Matter What We Call It – Thoughts on Judy as a Metaphor, I presented a case for considering Judy as a metaphor for one of the main lessons of Season 3: living in the present moment. Under that interpretation, the negative forces she represents are regret (living in the past) and worry (living in the future). However, I ended that article with a footnote regarding a different metaphorical interpretation brought up by Reddit user u/ulfurinn in his post, [S3E18] “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil…”, where he proposes that Judy represents the indifference of bystanders. Now, with Mark Frost’s final book, Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier, in hand, I believe this interpretation has a much more solid footing and may lead to a unifying theory that spans the entire Twin Peaks canon.
In Season 3, Judy was transformed from a real person, as originally presented in Fire Walk With Me and The Missing Pieces, into the chief antagonist of the season, and potentially even of the entire series. In Part 17, Gordon Cole reveals that “Judy” is the modern translation for an ancient entity known as “Jowday”, an “extreme negative force” that Phillip Jeffries was pursuing when he disappeared over 25 years ago. However, in The Final Dossier, Tammy investigates Agent Jeffries himself and stumbles across a clue that he left behind pointing to a different ancient entity known as “Joudy”.
Joudy, per Tammy’s research, is one of a pair of demonic beings known as utukku, from Sumerian mythology circa 3000 B.C. This species of demon came in a female form, known as Joudy, and a male form, known as Ba’al. Individually, these beings were rather horrible, of course, as demons invariably are. In fact, they are described as “feeding on the suffering of humans” and “ripping the souls out of humans”. Sound familiar? This sounds like Bob, feeding on garmonbozia and ripping the soul out of Windom Earl in the Season 2 finale. The conclusion that many fans are reaching is that Ba’al became known as Bob, in the same manner that Joudy became known as Judy.
This revelation about utukku puts Bob and Judy on equal footing, and reestablishes Bob as an evil demonic spirit that has always existed alongside mankind. Judy is not the mother of Bob, she is his female counterpart. Part 8 did not represent the birth of Bob, it represented something else.
Tammy goes on to explain that if these two utukku, the male and the female, are ever united, the resulting “marriage” would create something far worse, like “end of the world”-type worse. In non-metaphorical terms, many believe this is exactly what happened. Tammy’s research discovers that Sarah Judith Novack was the character we know as “1956 Girl” from Part 8, who was lulled into some sort of trance-like state by the Woodsman’s poem and made to ingest one of the frog-roach creatures. If this a depiction of Judy possessing Sarah, as Leland was possessed by Bob somewhere around this time back in Twin Peaks, then as Sarah and Leland were married, so too were Judy and Bob. And thus Laura is not the Messiah (as I feared in my article Laura Is Not The Messiah, and Other Misgivings About Retcon Origin Stories), she is the Anti-Christ!
This is not an improvement.
Despite Frost practically beating us over the head with Sarah = Judy connotations (really Mark, her middle name is “Judy”?), that doesn’t mean Judy has always been in there. For one thing, there are several indicators in Season 3 that the Jumping Man is the entity hiding out behind Sarah’s face (see the last few Third Day Theories for further details), not that we know a whole lot about him. But let’s go ahead for our purposes today and assume it is Judy.
When Bob possessed Leland, he had to be invited in. Indeed, Bob can’t just possess Laura without her doing the same, leading to his defeat when she chooses death instead. So let’s assume the same applies to Judy. In that case, the scene of the frog-roach entering Sarah cannot be a scene of her possession by Judy. She is not a willing recipient. She did not invite this creature in. This is a violation. Now, it may however have laid the ground work in some manner for her eventual possession. Dr. Jacoby even alludes to this in The Secret History, surmising that perhaps Sarah had experienced some trauma in her past that made her susceptible to the depression and alcoholism she slid into following the deaths of her daughter and husband.
I believe David Lynch gave us a strong hint before Season 3 even began that Sarah’s possession is fairly recent. In the “Between Two Worlds” segment on the Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery Blu-Ray, Lynch interviews the Palmer family, Laura, Sarah and Leland, at a restaurant and they are all in character for present day (approximately 2014, at the time). Things are falling apart for Sarah, sure, but this Sarah is nowhere near the state we see her in during Season 3. That Sarah has gone completely off the deep end and sunk to the bottom of the pool. The pain and suffering she emitted in the aftermath of the events of the original series would certainly turn her into a shining beacon of garmonbozia, potentially attracting the attention of negative entities that feed on that type of thing.
So perhaps, like ill-fated but star-crossed lovers, Bob and Judy just missed each other. Bob heads out of Twin Peaks hitching a ride with Bad Cooper, and Judy comes in to town either just shortly thereafter, or perhaps only recently, 25 years later. While Bob certainly seems to be enjoying the ride, I think there are clues in Season 3 that he is subtly driving Bad Cooper to “want” to find Judy. That seems to be Bad Cooper’s end goal (something that in fact he’s been pouring billions into researching, we find out in The Final Dossier), but when he visits Jeffries at The Dutchman’s, he seems to have no real clue who Judy is and what she might want from him. When the Fireman dismisses Bad Cooper and Bob with a swipe, sending them away from Judy in Sarah at the Palmer house, and into a trap with his pre-positioned actors, thus ends the present day opportunity Bob and Judy had to get together. But that doesn’t mean they never got together.
In recent interviews supporting the release of The Final Dossier, Mark Frost has described Part 8 as “a Twin Peaks origin story, [showing] where this pervasive sense of darkness and evil had come from .” Many took Part 8 to be depicting the birth of Bob, the birth or rebirth of Laura, and the possession of Sarah by Judy. But note what Mark Frost says, this is an origin story for the “sense” of darkness and evil, not for a particular character. The history of the town is well established back to its founding, in both the Access Guide and The Secret History. The Lodges and their associated spirits are firmly anchored in early American Indian legends, in the original series and Season 3. Bob and Judy are dated back to ancient times in both Season 3 and The Final Dossier. So what “origin” could we be talking about here?
Part 8 starts out in 1945, with the first nuclear bomb detonation in White Sands, NM. From there, we cut to the Woodsmen milling about the Convenience Store and the Experiment vomiting out the eggs that would eventually hatch into the frog-roach creatures. The Bob orb is seen in that flow of spew, but it is notably different from the eggs and other matter surrounding it. This is not a Bob egg that is going to hatch into Bob someday. That’s ridiculous. Bob has “survived as long as man has been on earth”, as the Star Pics trading cards so aptly put it.
In The Secret History, a behind the scenes layer is added to the 1945 Trinity test. Jack Parsons was attempting to combine explosives and magick in a ritual to summon an entity known as Babalon, the Mother of Abominations. Jack also was in possession of the Owl Cave ring, tying him to Black Lodge entities like Bob. Bob is, metaphorically speaking, the evil that men do, and nuclear weapons of war are arguably the pinnacle of our evil capabilities. It makes a certain kind of sense that the Black Lodge would be represented at this momentous event.
If this isn’t the birth of Bob, then what are we seeing in that scene with the Experiment? We’re on fairly solid ground surmising that this is a birth scene of some nature, with these eggs that would later hatch “abominations”. So if the Experiment is the “mother”, who is the father? How about Bob? Let me suggest that perhaps what we are seeing in Part 8 are the events that took place the last time Bob and Judy got together. Perhaps Bob is taking the metaphysical “walk of shame” back to earth after they made a little sex magick of their own. The causality in these events could flow either way, with mankind’s action allowing the two demons to unite, or their union leading to the invention / use of nuclear weapons. We now know that at several times during the Cold War, the “end of the world” through nuclear war had been only been narrowly averted.
Another thought arises from one bit about utukku that I did not mention above. These demons were on the earth because they had escaped from Hell. Perhaps then Bob had, at some point, been sent back. Now with this opening between the realm of Babalon (the Experiment) and the Earth, he is shown sneaking out again, hidden in the stream of eggs spewing forth from the dark goddess. What I’m trying to get at is that there are other possibilities besides this being the “birth of Bob”.
Whatever the case, from there we jump ahead to 1956. With the selection of this particular year, we’re starting to get metaphorical again. It’s no secret that Lynch loves the 1950s. He injected a 50s aesthetic into the original Twin Peaks series and several of his films from around that time. I had even read somewhere (though I cannot now find the source) that when asked what year he would go back to if he could, he answered 1956. This is the era that the “Make America Great” crowd harkens back to with nostalgia, and they’re not entirely wrong. America was “great” in the 1950s. It was an era of prosperity and great technological advances. We were the guys in the white hats, leading the “cold war” against communism. Our relatively young country still held on to its innocence, having not yet experienced the assassinations of the 60s, the fiasco of the Viet Nam war, and the destruction of authority caused by Watergate. Our country’s moral compass, while flawed in many way looking back from our modern perspective, still essentially pointed true north.
The Girl and Boy in the 1956 scene are oozing this nostalgic innocence, with their nervous walking home banter and that chaste little kiss goodnight. And then 1956 Girl’s innocence is violated in the most gruesome way. Indeed, the entire idyllic little town is violated. Per The Final Dossier, we find out that there were no ill effects from Sarah ingesting the frog-roach. No physical ones, at least. It seems to have been more of a seed that was planted. ”Something happened to me!” Sarah would tell the poor confused kids at the grocery store decades later. “Men are coming!” Just as they had before, when she was a young girl.
As Tammy continues to research Briggs, Jeffries and Judy, she runs across the legend of the Dweller on the Threshold. This entity represents the “sum total of all the dark, negative, unresolved qualities that reside in every human being”. She mentions that the concept of the Dweller can also apply to fate of nations, but she doesn’t go any further. This makes an interesting parallel for our country. Like Cooper rushing into the Black Lodge, our country in the 1950s thought itself to be the “good guy”, possessing perfect courage as we faced our external enemies. Once the Cold War was over though, and we had no real external enemies to face, we turned our attention to face the darkness within our country. Racism. Sexism. Government corruption. Corporate greed. Both Dr. Jacoby and Margaret Lanterman refer to a “dark age” being upon us. It could be argued that America’s moral underpinnings came loose with the decision to drop nuclear weapons on civilian targets in 1945. We rode the wave of victory for a few years after 1945, but the corruption that began with that choice in many ways marked the end of the age of innocence for our country.
So getting back to Bob and Judy then, if Bob is “the evil that men do”, as Albert so aptly put it, what, in metaphorical terms, when “married” to the evil that men do, leads to something far, far worse? I’m going to suggest that Judy is “the indifference of bystanders”.
The indifference of bystanders is actually a theme that has been present in Twin Peaks since the early episodes of the original season:
“You make me sick. You damn hypocrites make me sick! Everybody knew she was in trouble, but we didn’t do anything. All you good people. You wanna know who killed Laura? You did! We all did!”
Bobby’s admonition was downright prophetic. As the investigation continues, we find out Laura’s life crossed the paths of most of the main characters presented, in one form or another. Many of these people did know that something was wrong, but they looked away. Not just the ones who were using her, but also those who loved and cared for her. Bobby is certainly included in that list, and maybe the recognition of his own role in Laura’s death was his first step towards becoming the “good” man his father envisioned him becoming.
As a bookend to Laura’s funeral in Season 1, The Final Dossier presents another funeral, that of Margaret Coulson, the Log Lady. Once again, it seemed the entire town turned out for a funeral, and this time they received less of a tongue lashing and more of a gentle lesson. In the letter Hawk reads at the service, Margaret says, “No one is helpless, no one is beyond helping. It is good to seek out those who need us and do what we can for them. I recommend that.” Indeed, the Log Lady was one of the few people in town who did attempt to reach out and help Laura, as documented in her Secret Diary.
If anyone in Twin Peaks takes the Log Lady’s messages to heart, it would have to be Deputy Hawk, right? However, in a recent interview with the Twin Peaks: The Gifted And The Damned podcast , actress Grace Zabriskie had an extremely enlightening interpretation of Hawk, specifically related to the scene where he stops by to check in on her character, Sarah Palmer, after the grocery store incident:
“Someone is in terrible, terrible trouble. Someone meaning very well says, he hopes that you’re fine, he wants to be told if you need anything. And even though you are letting him know, if he’s paying attention, that you’re not okay, and you desperately need help, and there’s some god damn thing in the other room for god sake. And he doesn’t tweak to it. He chooses not to. He stays in the good guy…uh, just let me know if there’s anything I can do for you. Couldn’t be more sweet and helpful and all of that. But I get look at him with the face of someone who knows that I am really, really on my own, and that no one can help me. And I look at him with that terrible face.”
“No, I’m not hoping. I know better than to hope. But I’m just, you know, I’ve known better than to hope. No one can help me. I know that. But, but here is someone that I go way back with, who hasn’t bothered with me much in all these years. You know, but here he is and he’s heard I was coo coo at the grocery or whatever. And so he’s coming by to check on me. And I am…and I am so clearly not okay. And he’s um, dealing with that as people do. And I kind of…I think I wanted that scene to be about when people are in terrible trouble and other people are doing what he’s doing. Which is meaning well, but not wanting to get involved. You know, not really able to help, not really wanting to be able to help. Not really. Not really. […] And not even acknowledging that. Even to himself.”
If Hawk is not exempt from scrutiny, there is probably no character more damned by that spotlight than Sarah Palmer herself. Speaking of Catherine Martell, the Archivist says, “Survivors bear the brunt of tragedy, especially if they had a hand in creating it.” The same could be said of Sarah Palmer. Hints of her culpability in Laura’s death began with Fire Walk With Me. In another Reddit post, [ALL] Season 3 as the damnation of Sarah Palmer, user u/BaePls points out that the one time she stood up for Laura, at the dinner scene where Leland got obsessed about making her wash her hands, Sarah doesn’t really help Laura, she just wants everyone to return to the table and get back to normal. We already knew that Sarah had a touch of the psychic in her, and Part 8 hints that she’s had the gift since childhood at least. She had to have known something was terribly, terribly wrong. Yet when Leland hands her the drugged milk, she drinks it down. She seems to be willingly taking herself out of the picture so Bob could go about his wicked business.
Likewise in Season 3, the Cooper-as-Dougie storyline gave us further examples of the indifference of bystanders. Upon his arrival in Las Vegas, it is clear there is something very wrong with Good Cooper. Yet to the bafflement of the viewers, person after person who crosses his path fails to notice and respond to his “call for help”, even people who knew the real Dougie Jones, like Jade and the Shakers. No one wants to get involved. This continues at home and at work. It takes Janey-E several days of his weird behavior to finally get him in front of a doctor, and at that appointment both she and the doctor completely ignore his catatonia to instead remark only on his physical changes.
In the final word on Twin Peaks, the last chapter of The Final Dossier, this indifference effect spreads to the entire town of Twin Peaks. Laura’s incestuous rape and murder at the hands of her father was a horrific event that rocked the entire town. Indeed, the implosion of the Palmer family heralds the downfall of many of the other prominent families of the town, the Martells, Packards, Hornes and Haywards. This kind of thing simply doesn’t happen in a sleepy little town like Twin Peaks. And now, as Tammy wraps up her investigation, she finds the narrative is changing. Laura wasn’t killed. She just went missing. “Yeah, that sounds right, that’s the way I remember it.” The entire town has rewritten the horror of what happened 25 years ago. Sure, we saw Cooper go back in time and “save” Laura, but Tammy still remembers the “unofficial” version. Could that be because she has no vested interest in accepting the “official” version, the one with a much more palatable narrative that doesn’t implicate the entire town?
Various interpretations of the Woodsman’s poem in Season 3 have appeared recently, calling out that the “white of the eye” is a meaningful evolutionary development. It allows for the conveyance of feelings without words, such as wide-eyed fear or down-looking deference. It can be used to give a non-verbal conveyance of danger, coming from a certain direction. Sometimes the message being communicated is not intentional, but is there for viewing nonetheless. Such as the indifferent bystander, looking away from events occurring right in front of them.
Showing the white of their eyes. Judy.
And the “dark within?” Well that would be Bob.
So, the horse (death) is the white of the eyes (the indifference of bystanders) and dark within (the evil that men do).
Drink deep and descend, my friends.
Notes and References:
- The last word on Twin Peaks by David Lynch’s co-creator Mark Frost (Salon): https://www.salon.com/2017/11/07/the-last-word-on-twin-peaks-by-david-lynchs-co-creator-mark-frost/
- Grace Zabriskie Interview + Twin Peaks Double R Diner (Twin Peaks: The Gifted And The Damned): http://twinpeaksthegiftedandthedamned.libsyn.com/grace-zabriskie-interview-twin-peaks-double-r-diner-pop-up