Major Briggs had Dougie’s wedding ring in his stomach. It has this inscription: “To Dougie, with love, Janey-E.” Constance Talbot (who you know is a good soul because she and Albert hit it off) found the ring there during the autopsy. This is about all that’s known about it.
I went down this rabbit hole in a dream and it all made sense. I fundamentally understood a reasonable answer for why it was in the Major’s stomach. And when I woke up I scribbled as much down as I could before it faded. Usually, I don’t put much stock in dream validity, but this is Twin Peaks. Having a dream explain something is like having expert witness testimony. I’m going to do my best Frost impression here and describe these dream understandings in words. Though I’ll need to set the table first by dissecting some popular conjecture on the subject.
How did Major Briggs get the ring?
One popular persisting theory, covered well by Brien Allen in his article Dougie Jones, Inter-dimensional Hitman, is that Dougie, during an “episode”, kills Major Briggs. To me, this is the easiest way to explain the two characters being in the same location. Otherwise though, as an explanation for the ring being in Briggs’ stomach I find this highly improbable.
Janey-E knows Dougie goes missing from time to time and calls them”episodes” so this part I could buy, but Bill Hastings says nothing about a mustard or green coat, nor does Briggs seem to need to bite anyone’s finger in self-defense as Hastings describes Briggs’ decapitation as beautiful. It’s not the kind of struggle where Briggs could swallow a ring, especially as his head is being removed from his body at the same time.
As for the ring being inserted after the fact (like letters under fingernails), Constance’s report says nothing of Briggs’ neck or throat being tampered with aside from the decapitation, so I also don’t think Sleeper Agent Jones would have anything to do with cramming the ring into Briggs after the murder.
It could have been planted by DoppelCooper or the Woodsmen after the fact. There’s enough strange physics in Twin Peaks that I could see Ruth and Briggs being killed in the vortex house and in Ruth’s bedroom at the same time (think how Agent Cooper was in the Great Northern though the Giant says “The question is, where have you gone?”). But from purely physical logistics, the Woodsmen or the Doppelganger may have arranged the bodies in Ruth’s bedroom later to lead law enforcement to the scene in an act of misdirection. Instead of being missing persons, both Ruth Davenport and Major Briggs would be active murder victims being investigated by, eventually, the FBI (specifically Gordon Cole’s division).
This investigation would lead the FBI to Dougie Jones in Las Vegas which, while leading them to their lost Dale Cooper, would force them all to stay in town as Cooper’s legal troubles would get him detained in a prison for hopefully just enough time for DoppelCooper to enact his plan. This would be yet another way to trap or imprison Dale once he’s been switched out with the Dougie tulpa, but that seems way too overboard a way to frame Dougie when you could have simple fingerprints from Dougie (as the Bill Hastings and Major Briggs’ fingerprints brought in the government in the first place).
The other flaw in the plan that makes me think DoppelCooper was not responsible for the wedding ring is that the FBI would be consolidated in Vegas. As DoppelCooper has zero idea where the coordinates would lead, he may be leading the law straight to the coordinates. It awakens the Blue Rose Task Force to the situation while also potentially not even getting them out of the way. Also, it consolidates power if Dale and Gordon are together, especially as Gordon’s name alone wakes Dale up that final rest of the way to make him find a socket.
Sending Gordon to Dale seems counter-intuitive. It seems much more likely DoppelCooper had an idea that ring was in Briggs but not that he had anything to do with it. While DoppelCooper may see the FBI in Vegas as a timer for getting his work done and for finding the coordinates before the law finds Dale, it doesn’t seem to be worth the risk. More likely, because the ring was the property of a Cooper, the Woodsmen were able to hone in on the ring every time it surfaced in the physical world, like it was a beacon. Think of how they always know to find DoppelCooper when he falls so he can be prepared properly for his next phase. If the Woodsmen have Cooper GPS, that ring may have contained enough Cooperness to activate their sensors.
Regardless of DoppelCooper’s involvement, standard avenues of conjecture place the Owl Ring on Dougie’s finger in Part 3 together with the Wedding Band found in Briggs’ stomach. A switcheroo is implied. Especially as a) DoppelCooper is hell-bent on staying out of the Lodge, b) the Owl Cave Ring is known to transport people to the Lodge, and c) Dougie wearing the Owl Cave Ring appears to be the insurance policy to keep DoppelCooper from the Lodge. All signs point to DoppelCooper placing the Owl Cave Ring on Dougie.
Though Briggs may be the one who tricked Dougie out of the wedding ring. It could have been a proactive acquisition on the part of Major Briggs, even possibly trading the Owl Ring (as Jeffries already gave it to “good guy” Ray Monroe to place on a Cooper) for his true goal, the wedding band. Dougie does not appear to be the sharpest tool in the shed based on what Janey-E thinks of him in Part 4, so I could see our Major’s eloquence both confusing and convincing Dougie to give the ring to Briggs willingly.
It’s also possible that Dale Cooper gave the ring to Briggs. Dale was Briggs’ next Control according to The Secret History of Twin Peaks. Doug Milford said the next agent in line would approach Briggs and he would know this person when he sees them. At the end of the book, Briggs believes this person to be Dale Cooper, but he only realizes after Cooper’s Doppelganger enters the world. But what if Dale did become Briggs’ Control after all, just while Dale was in the Lodge and the Major was disconnected from time? Are they both agents of the Fireman, regardless of their corporeal states? Getting the wedding band to Briggs could be one step in their shared mission.
As far as Dale’s connection to Dougie Jones, if it’s plausible DoppelCooper can control Dougie during “episodes” then why couldn’t Dale? In Part 17 Dale reveals he’s aware of a behind-the-scenes plan when he knew Freddie was the one who would battle the BOB orb. This implies Dale has a way of communication outside of the Red Room, and one plausible way of this is to inhabit his tulpa. After all, if DoppelCooper and Dale are two sides of the same person, then Dougie is an aspect of both of them. It’s more than possible to think that the Good and Bad Dales could tune into Dougie enough to get the ring from him, even if it had to be acquired through dreamspace. Dougie’s from that world already, and we’ve already seen Laura acquire an Owl Ring through a dream in Fire Walk With Me, and Dale both gives and receives his pinkie ring to the Giant in Season 2. The logistics of the connections aren’t explainable but the connections are there all the same.
But why would Briggs or Dale want Briggs to have the wedding ring? And what would be so interesting about it that Briggs would want to ingest it?
What IS Dougie’s ring?
First things first, it’s made of gold. Jacoby talks about personal alchemy in The Final Dossier, but the easiest quote comes from Jack Parsons in The Secret History of Twin Peaks: “alchemy doesn’t just turn base metals to gold. Alchemy speaks to internal processes, and a radical revolution in our spiritual development, transforming the ‘base metal’ of primitive man to the ‘gold’ of an enlightened soul.”
As early as the Twin Peaks Gold Box DVD Set, I was made aware that Lynch understands the symbol of gold to mean something. It seems gold in his personal dictionary is likely a synonym to the number 10, the number of completion. The fact that Briggs has gold literally in his core is not lost on me.
This particular ring of gold? It’s a wedding band. It’s part of a binding contract of two people, and because this is Twin Peaks I think of the scene in Fire Walk With Me during “one of their meetings” when the Little Man From Another Place holds up the Owl Ring to BOB and says “with this ring, I thee wed.” Contracts and rings go together, which means Dougie’s ring and the Owl Ring share many points of conjecture.
The Formica table is what the Owl Ring is generally considered to be built from, though what the table means is well up for discussion. In his article Sex in Twin Peaks: The Return, Lou Ming mentions how the table could be a representation of the barrier between worlds (the same barrier I believe is weakened, and as Lou suggests is weakened from the hole left from where the ring’s material was taken) and that could be why the hearts’ desires seem to be realized for the Owl Ring’s wearers in Secret History and Final Dossier.
I suggest that the Owl Ring works on alternating current, but I wonder if a ring works differently if created from a union of love, between (as Lou also notes) the only two people with a positive sexual experience in the whole of Season 3 (consent issues aside; I believe Dale, who awoke into action to stop Ike the Spike, would’ve awoke into action if he was going into a negative space with Janey-E in that bedroom). I wonder if the wedding ring is Lodge-based in its origin, and that it works on Direct Current only. Because Love and helping others is a positive energy. Therefore instead of life essence being pulled back into the Lodge starting with his numb left arm, Briggs was able to put out nothing but positive energy into the world before transcending into the realm of the Fireman.
This all assumes that Dougie’s ring has Lodgespace properties, which I believe it has to. Because this is Twin Peaks. And because it was (implied to be) the property of Dougie Jones, a Cooper aspect. If the wedding ring didn’t start out from the Lodge as an opposite force to the Owl Ring, it sure got adopted by that place.
Before we forget, there’s another gold ring. Cooper’s pinkie ring. The one the Giant took with him when Cooper was shot, then returned suddenly during the reveal to Cooper that Leland was the killer. This is the same kind of material as Dougie’s ring. And per The Autobiography of Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes that ring originally came to Cooper from his dead mother, in a dream just like Laura’s first contact with the Owl Ring.
This does not prove Dougie Jones’ ring is from a dream, but there’s heavy precedent.
And there’s one more metaphorical ring Cooper’s involved with: the doubled Time Ring shaped like an 8. The one made from smoke that Cooper took from Jeffries to go backward in time through Lodgespace. The same 8 that was morphed from symbols that began as the exact symbol on the Owl Ring. Cooper took the owl symbol just like he told Laura not to do, and he was able to travel as if it were a portal. Rings in Twin Peaks hold power whether made from smoke, gold, or jade.
Which makes me wonder if the wedding ring was even in its golden form when Briggs was alive or if it was some energy Briggs somehow harnessed. Was it a manifestation of energy that upon Brigg’s death turned to gold? Is this electrical power inside ourselves like the black boxes that crumple into chunks of metal? Does this power inside Briggs become the ring? Diane’s tulpa turned into a lump of metal. The black box in Argentina turned into silver. The original Dougie Jones turned into a tiny sphere of gold. And Margaret’s log was turning to gold in the real world as she was passing on. Why wouldn’t Garland Briggs’ core energy also turn to gold as he ascended? Taking the form of a circle implying a union of love is fitting for the Major.
But then why the inscription?
If Briggs’s energy took the form of gold, I’d believe it. Even the form of the inscription makes sense for his world view; there are two people’s names, literally with love in between them bracketed in commas. But why wouldn’t it be Garland’s wedding ring with an inscription from Betty? Instead, “To Dougie, with love, Janey-E.”
Because Briggs needed Cooper’s energy to focus his ability to travel time. Just as the Owl Ring acts as a portal, I think the energy or the ring has its own ability. And I think it’s less of a portal and more of a compass. After all, it has an inscription from Love and Love tends to be the key.
Very likely, while Briggs is alive this gold ring is a metaphor (rather than a physical object) much like the smoke ring, or a literal aspect of that same smoke ring. And because Cooper wore the smokey time ring to travel through the Lodgespace, he now has his name imprinted on this power. Cooper’s harnessed the Owl Symbol as a magician and could have turned part of his power into that ring to give Briggs some time control in order to assist with the plan that involves coordinates.
Instead of needing to ask what year it was every time Garland surfaced, he may now be able to choose, just like Jeffries tuning the smokey 8. And this ring or this energy was given to Briggs by Cooper so that Briggs could continue his work.
And because Cooper is associated with this time power, and because the energy he gave to Briggs came at least partially from himself, it took physical form upon Briggs’ death by attributing its description to the kindest earthbound Cooper available. Hence the energy’s physical description declares its power source of positive energy (Love) literally.
Much like Jeffries gave Dale the time rings, did Dale (once you’re in the Lodge you’ve always been in the Lodge) give a similar kind of power to Briggs and it manifested inside himself? When Dale’s body dies will there be gold inside too?
Instead of Cooper giving Briggs the literal ring, it’s possible he gave Briggs a little ball of light (just as the Giant gave Cooper a glowing ball in Episode 9, saying “you forgot something”). Did this power manifest alchemically into a ring? Is this how rings are created?
This can work, especially if Dale Cooper is the Dreamer
If Cooper is a) stuck in a Lodge loop, a heavily implied situation based on repeated moments with Phillip Gerard and the fact that Laura is whispering in his ear yet again during the final credits, and b) time traveling through the Lodge so much that his constant changes are spilling out into the physical world every time he surfaces from the smokey owl symbol (I have an entire memory theory involving the ramifications of Lodge veils here), it would make sense that an aspect of this ability would have Cooper’s name on it in the form of an inscription. Every time Cooper re-does his Lodge loops, his will is being imposed in a stronger, more reinforced way than any Owl Ring wearer could. His hubris is amplified by overlapping cycles of time. Even if he’s not the Dreamer, he may as well be: the Lodge that is seeping out around Twin Peaks is being directed and constantly changed by Dale Cooper. The Owl Ring is practically synonymous with Dale after so many implied Lodge loops, and he’s essentially distributing the Lodge dream that physical reality’s Twin Peaks is experiencing.
If Cooper is the magician who is part of a time loop, then it is one of Dale’s time loops Briggs rode during his time skipping like a rock across time. Therefore Dale’s signature is on the time-looping artifact. And because Briggs’s path was of love, it is the most positive-leaning aspect of Cooper who gets the credit in the inscription.
Am I right? It’s purely impossible to be sure. But the dream I had felt absolutely correct that Dale Cooper was the power source of Briggs’ mission by way of that wedding ring.
Who knows? Either I intercepted an answer, came up with an interesting plausible angle while sleeping on it, or maybe I just ate something interesting the night before and things just came together for a minute.
Maybe the real message of this column is we are all the real dreamers, and we do it night after night and each one’s just a little different. But I can tell you I didn’t invent that wedding ring in Briggs’ stomach. I think that one’s on Cooper.