This was a conversation I was eager to have. Emma (aka the Vlog Lady) was a constant companion of many (myself included) during the run of Twin Peaks: The Return last summer via her popular YouTube channel. Her insights and reaction videos provided endless sources of inspiration and analysis, and so we thought we’d look to her for her insight into Parts 9-12 one year later for this Return Rewatch series.
LS: After the madness of Part 8, to come back to Part 9 felt like a crash-landing. We open on a bloodied Mr. C coming up on what we learn is the hideaway for Hutch and Chantal. After what happened to him in Part 8, how did you react to seeing him apparently alive at the start of Part 9? What were you expecting?
VL: After Mr C’s gruesome resurrection it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see him still strutting around, still bursting with arrogance and continuing his plans. His bloodied form is completely grotesque to me. The character is a million miles away from Agent Cooper and it’s easy to forget when watching these scenes that they are played by the same actor. It’s so interesting and somewhat sickening to see Hutch and Chantel being so obsequious to him. It seems Hutch is so excited that his physical ticks go into overdrive.
LS: We get a lot of mystery from Diane in this Part. After the bombshell in Part 7 and the realisation that something truly awful had happened between Diane and Cooper all those years ago. Her continued involvement in the case is convenient and maybe strains credulity a bit, but we wouldn’t otherwise have seen these text messages, which were a source of confusion and much conversation amongst fans. How do you view Diane’s involvement, looking back on how you felt about her at the time as well as how you feel now that you know she was a tulpa all along?
VL: On my first viewing of the series I found Diane’s role quite difficult to accept. One reason for this may have been because she was certainly not what I was expecting after having formulated an idea of what she may have been like following Cooper’s interaction with her via his tapes in the original series. Rewatching The Return a year later and knowing that this Diane is a tulpa, I find that my feelings have changed quite substantially. The nature of the tulpa is something that interests me a lot in regards to her character. Is she an echo of the original Diane, embodying all of the real Diane’s thoughts and feelings or has her identity shifted due to her experiences and lifestyle? It seems evident from future episodes that perhaps not even she knows the answer. On my subsequent rewatches I have found myself feeling quite heartbroken for the real Diane and also for the tulpa Diane for both having to carry such immense pain caused by Mr. C. The romantic and intellectual connection between the real Diane and Agent Cooper is certainly easier to gauge on a second viewing.
LS: DougieCooper observing the American flag, the red shoes, and the electrical outlet in the police station was significant to viewers for many reasons. What do you suppose those images signify to DougieCoop? Are they speaking directly to Cooper’s memories?
VL: The American flag seems to inspire a memory of patriotism for Cooper which isn’t surprising considering his noble character and his career in the F.B.I., a moral authority in the U.S.A. Initially those gorgeous red shoes reminded me of Audrey Horne but perhaps they symbolise the modern American woman in general and further prompt Cooper to regain his fractured identity. These moments do seem to serve as little ‘awakenings’ culminating in a shot of the electrical outlet at which point I think Cooper may have remembered how he arrived in this Las Vegas ‘world’ and where he was beforehand.
LS: Some people are making a lot of the reading that Lucy is a symbolic presence and that her storylines mirror in some way what is happening elsewhere in the plot (and that this is how we can read her aversion to cellphones, for instance, which doesn’t exactly jibe with the capable if ditzy Lucy we remember.) In that vein, and specifically with regard to this Part, is there anything more to Lucy and Andy’s disagreement about what chair to buy? Or is it just a marital spat and a window into their relationship?
VL: I like to think that Lucy and Andy’s playful dispute symbolises the connectivity of all things in the universe. These characters are part of a much bigger story but they don’t fully realise it — only we as an audience know. It’s also like a lighthearted way to foreshadow the unfolding mystery of Major Briggs’ hidden message later on but concurrently is a sweet insight into Lucy and Andy’s marriage. This moment allows me to visualise how much fun and love they’ve experienced in the past twenty five years together.
LS: Major Briggs’s non-present presence in The Return proved that you need not be around to cast a shadow. Here, we learn that Briggs anticipated everything perfectly, and that Betty was in on it. Does this level of planning surprise you? Was it something that you expected for the Major?
VL: I love that Major Briggs plays such a huge part in The Return as I feel it’s what the character deserved. I think fans admire Briggs in the original series because he is so dedicated to truth-seeking and is one of the most upstanding characters in the show. I think the fact that he is somewhat strict with Bobby and not always physically or emotionally present for his family is forgiven because fans understand that he is working for ‘the greater good’. I think Briggs has reached a spiritual omniscience by the time he dies and his role is to guide others towards a positive conclusion and protect them from the evil that exists.
LS: How did Dougie’s wedding band get into Major Briggs’ stomach and why was it put there? (Your best guess!)
VL: My guess is that Major Briggs somehow acquired Dougie’s ring and swallowed it as a way of concealing a clue that would expose another piece of the puzzle. We know that Briggs was fond of concealing important information until the right people could access it. Briggs may have simply been able to convince the simplistic Dougie to give him his ring or perhaps Briggs asked one of Dougie’s lady friends (someone perhaps a little less decent than Jade!) to swipe it. How long ago did the ring go missing? Is it plausible to think that Briggs was somehow present during or after Dougie’s car crash and it was was at this stage that Briggs took his ring? In any case Dougie’s car crash seems like a suspicious factor in the whole story. It makes me wonder if certain kinds of people, groups or secret factions might have been tailing Dougie throughout his existence and this is what led to the crash.
LS: What is “The Zone”? Is it the Lodge or the Red Room or is it the Mauve/Purple/Lavender World we saw in Part 3? Or is it something else entirely?
VL: My imagining of the zone is the starry expanse that Agent Cooper finds himself in Part 3. I think the fact that Major Briggs’ disembodied head is seen here links this location to ‘The Zone’ that William Hasting’s describes. I think that of all of the places Cooper finds himself in this ‘lodge world’ that this vast sparkling space is the most beautiful and I think this fits in with how Bill Hastings felt about the zone – before things got ugly.
LS: The papers in the metal tube that Bobby opens reveal two dates, one of which we never see come to fruition in the series. What is the significance of that? Did we see both dates in some way? What was supposed to happen on the second October date?
VL: I’ve seen a lot of theories about all of the dates, times and numbers in The Return. However, none of the theories I’ve come across seem to touch on the second date on Briggs’ message and I’m stumped as to why there is a second date written down. Perhaps these dates simply mark the period of time the portal will be accessible from Jack Rabbit’s Palace — so from 2:53 on the 1st until 2.53 on the 2nd.
LS: There is so much violence towards women in this Part — Steven towards Becky, Richard towards Miriam and Sylvia, and hinted at in the remembrance of Laura’s abuse in the scene with Gordon in the hotel room door — which is coupled with the earlier hints and revelations about Mr. C’s actions towards Audrey and Diane. Much hay has been made about this, since the violence in general was so dramatically different from the violence in the original series, with conversations centering around necessity. Do you feel the violence here was over-the-top or is it warranted? Have your feelings changed on this since your original viewing?
VL: I think that violence against women is one of the most shocking things to which an audience can be exposed. My feeling is that Lynch and Frost needed us to recognise these crimes as the ugly markers for this society, revealing the extent of the degeneration that has taken place. Twin Peaks, and indeed the wider world, has been saturated Mr C.’s malignant influence. I think that these scenes also may serve to comment on the decline of morals and decency in this society not simply because of Mr C. but also because of political and spiritual deterioration. I do think these scenes are necessary although they will never be easy to rewatch.
LS: In a similar vein, the cleverly subverted when Rodney is hit by Candie and he doesn’t retaliate the way we expect. Is there something to this subversion of expectation?
VL: Here is my interpretation of this: I actually find Rodney’s non-reaction in the face of Candie’s complete breakdown to be horrifying and quite cruel. Candie is obviously an emotionally damaged person who desperately seeks love and care but Rodney doesn’t comfort her when she is in distress. Candie’s role seems like that of a subservient pet animal who anticipates a negative response from her owner after making a mistake so is living constantly in a state of fear.
However, it’s also entirely possible she has nothing to fear from Rodney but is simply conditioned by past negative experiences to react in this manner. I know the actress who plays Candie has suggested that the brothers are in fact Candie’s saviours and later scenes do imply that they are interested in her welfare. I’d say this was true of Bradley more than Rodney. Regardless of what is true these scenes make me think about the longer lasting psychological effects of abuse. I feel like I’m being asked to laugh at the scenes of Candy as she weeps while the brothers essentially ignore her but instead I just feel very uncomfortable and sad.
LS: We also have an instance here that caused some controversy during the original viewing — I’m referring to Janey-E and Dougie’s sex scene. As Dougie is almost catatonic, the issue of consent was brought up here, and while arguments could go either way, it does seem a bit uncomfortable to watch by virtue of the fact that Dougie doesn’t seem able to participate fully. Should this be of concern since this is, after all, a show that began and is still haunted by the specter of sexual violence against Laura? Or is there another way of reading this?
VL: This is a difficult one to address and I know there were a lot of people who thought it was unacceptable for Janey-E to have pursued Dougie. I think that perhaps at this stage that Janey has gone through many of these episodes where Dougie is less responsive than usual due to his apparent brain surgery following his car crash. She perhaps feels that during these times she must provide what her husband needs and desires physically and emotionally and when she initiates sex with Dougie-Coop she believes him to be her husband.
I think the fact that we see Dougie-Coop enjoying the moment suggests he has consented as much as he was capable of doing. However, when I think about reversing the genders of these characters and playing out the scene I do suddenly feel a little more uncomfortable about it.
LS: In my rewatch, I felt as though the two scenes at the Buckhorn hotel with the Blue Rose team seemed to be occurring at two different times. We have Gordon and Tammy approvingly observing Albert and Constance on a dinner date, followed not long after by Gordon’s vision of Laura, Albert’s arrival (sans Constance) and Tammy’s arrival soon after. It seemed to me that, at the very least, these instances were shown out of order, perhaps on different nights; another possibility occurred to me, though, that we could be seeing different timelines at play. My question here is less about the Gordon vision scene but more about timelines in general. What is your feeling about the timeline question? In your opinion, is there anything to that theory?
VL: The theories regarding different timelines being in play were something that, during my original viewing, gained more momentum and validity towards the end of the series. Re-watching with these ideas in mind is very interesting and indeed the Buckhorn hotel scenes stand out whereas I didn’t imagine these moments as being particularly relevant to the timeline theory first time around. I personally think that there are certain scenes, in particular Agent Cooper’s conversation with the Philip Jeffries ‘tea kettle’ entity, that suggest that Cooper’s attempt to save Laura has in fact created a time loop and/or two or even multiple timelines. If we are seeing different timelines at play then it’s so subtle that it’s genius! There are many other scenes which you can tie into the timeline theory too – most notably the strange glitches we see of scenes of Big Ed and his reflection (watching this scene makes me feel a bit seasick!). The changing customers at the diner is an interesting one too – maybe the existence of Billy is a marker to tell us which timeline we are seeing.
LS: Re: that vision scene — what do you think is happening here? Why does Gordon see Laura right before seeing Albert? (Is this a remnant of the other version of events that Gordon has forgotten?) And what do you make of the glitch in the doorframe when Tammy approaches?
VL: I’m not surprised that Gordon has this vision of Laura. I think that his years of experience with the Blue Rose Task Force must have honed his intuition and sensitivity to the supernatural. It’s possible that this is a memory from a previous or slowly dissolving timeline but it could also be a message sent to help Cole, in the same way the One Armed Man guides Dougie-Coop and the Fireman guides Andy. The changing doorway is very subtle but the other more obvious ‘glitches’ like Big Ed’s reflection being slightly different or the customers jumping around at the RR Diner which make me think that nothing is an accident. I love the theory that these instances are revealing the different timelines created by Cooper after he has tried to save Laura. It makes a lot of sense and it explains a lot about the inconsistencies and strange happenings in Twin Peaks.
LS: What do you make of Gersten Hayward’s involvement with Steven Burnett, and Becky’s discovery of their affair? The Final Dossier does explain a bit of the background for the Hayward family, but without that background it’s hard to jibe our previous knowledge of Gersten from Season 2 with what we see of her here, which leads to a larger question about the necessity of Frost’s books. Do we need to have this background in order to sympathise or understand the characters in question? And if we don’t need it, why did Mark write it in the first place?
VL: Gersten’s role in this season is most definitely made whole by the information Frost provides in The Final Dossier. On my original viewing of the show I was perplexed by Gersten’s affair with this rather seedy younger man and couldn’t comprehend how her path in life had led her here when she had appeared to be a talented and precocious young girl. After digesting the information about Gersten in The Final Dossier and then returning for a rewatch I find these scenes with Gersten, Becky and Steven to be much more interesting and worthwhile. Lynch’s intuitive direction of the gun shooting sequence in this episode means that even without knowing much about these characters we can feel the energy and emotion that drives them to act as they do. However, with Frost’s additional narrative I feel these scenes are even more impactful. I’m drawn into the scenes with Gersten much more because I sympathise with her and I understand the journey she has been on and why she is here in this exact moment.
LS: Diane’s non-reaction to the Woodsman who kills Bill Hastings has been remarked upon at length. We were suspicious of her for a long time already by this point, but in light of our knowledge that she was a tulpa and essentially on Mr. C’s “payroll”, how do you think we should view this scene and her behaviour? Does she know this is part of the plan? Does she simply not care?
VL: I am left with the impression that this tulpa version of Diane is a being of two halves. It appears that she is genuinely carrying the pain of the real Diane’s assault. These memories seem real to her and I believe that they have sculpted her tulpa personality. I also think she holds affection for Gordon.
The tulpa Diane’s interactions with Mr. C seem to jolt her into another state and it is a state which she does not always seem comfortable to embody. I do think she is under duress and reluctant to be part of Mr. C’s plan but that her personality or tulpa design dictates that she must obey. Later in the series we see Dale offer some of his hair to recreate a Dougie tulpa. It does make me wonder about tulpa Diane’s composition. When she sees the Woodsman there does seem to be a flicker of shock which makes me think she was not fully aware of everything that was about to unfold. However, I think she accepts the inevitable.
LS: The long-awaited reunion of Bobby and Shelly onscreen was tainted by the knowledge that they were no longer a couple, in spite of the fact that they have a child together. It was, as were most of the nostalgic moments, a bittersweet scene. In your opinion, was this intentional on Lynch/Frost’s part as a comment on nostalgia or expectation vs. reality?
VL: I think many of us hoped for Shelly and Bobby to be together but I actually think Lynch and Frost made the right decision to have them be separated. I think it makes a lot of sense for them, and in particular for Shelly’s character, to have taken this direction. I’m not convinced Lynch and Frost did this purely as a creative exercise or to annul viewer expectation. I like to imagine that much of the storytelling is an organic process where the fate of certain characters from the original show has always been there inside Frost and Lynch as creators.
LS: Further to that scene — which has a lot going on within it — we have Shelly falling under the magical spell of Red, who remains a mystery to most of us. How did you view his hold over Shelly? Is this more fuel to the fire that he is a magician/Dugpa of some kind? Or is Shelly simply magnetically attracted to bad boys?
VL: Although I do believe Red is an agent of the Black Lodge I am not certain he needs to use any kind of dark magic to entice Shelly to take an interest in him. I think Shelly may see Red as someone who reminds her of the kind of man Bobby was when he was younger. It seems like Bobby has undergone a massive personal and spiritual transformation but I think Shelly may not have had the same kind of growth.
When I watch scenes with Shelly and Becky it seems like Shelly is really struggling to cope with her daughter’s situation with Steven. It also seems like Shelly relies a lot on Norma for advice and support in how to be the best parent. She doesn’t always make the best choices for her daughter. She isn’t the perfect mom. The scene where Shelly decides it’s appropriate to run out and snog Red during the tense family meeting is perhaps an example of Shelly’s immaturity, whether that is an intellectual or spiritual deficit.
It may be that Red offers distraction and relief for Shelly but it certainly seems to me that the attraction to Red highlights her own character flaws. The fact that Becky sometimes treats her mother with little respect, for example taking money for drugs and almost killing her with the car, combined with the fact that Norma is so influential to her, suggests that something isn’t quite right with the mother-daughter relationship. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I do wonder if some of Becky’s bad decisions in life can be attributed to the fact that she has been shaped by Shelly’s behaviour and ideas. Shelly is obviously not a bad person but she is definitely misguided.
LS: Finally, the scene in the road outside the diner. It starts with a young boy accidentally firing a gun from his parents’ vehicle, which many people have presumed was a comment on the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” theme of Season 3 that we come to understand from Richard/Mr. C, Becky/Shelly, and others. It ends, bizarrely, with the zombie girl throwing up in her caregiver’s car while the caregiver screams in terror before Bobby’s eyes. What is going on in this scene? It’s a lot to unpack, I know, and plot-wise it doesn’t seem to serve much purpose as we don’t hear about any of this again. But since much of The Return seems to operate on the level of metaphor, how can we understand this scene metaphorically? Or can we?
VL: I do think this scene must be interpreted as being metaphorical. There is a lot of commentary on young people and their caregivers in this sequence, starting with Becky and her parents and ending with the sick girl. There seems to be a whirlwind of apathy and hysteria with the younger generation becoming the victims of the choices of their elders. It does feel like the apex of a societal crisis where gun violence is out of control and where communication and interactions between human beings have completely decayed. I wonder if it’s plausible to imagine that the heavy focus on drugs throughout the series is continued with the scene with the zombie girl. This kid is clearly not experiencing a normal childhood vomiting episode and is either desperately ill or has possibly taken something chemical to induce this state. The intensity of this moment and the fact that her condition seems vastly exaggerated (to the point of it being reminiscent of the demonic possession in The Exorcist) suggests she is a metaphorical representation of the younger generations falling into this horrible place, a sick society, a directionless world of spiritual lacking. I think it reflects a world influenced by Mr. C but I also think these scenes comment on the real world outside of the fictional one of Twin Peaks, highlighting some of the problems we currently face as a society. I do wonder about Bobby’s response to these scenes. Has this sort of thing been a common situation he has had to deal with during his time as a cop? If not will this be a learning moment for him, a point at which he sees the true darkness out there and becomes more ready than he ever has been to fight it, just like his father did?
LS: The “deus ex machina” of Bradley’s dream — about Dougie with the pie in the box — was a magical moment for many people. We knew this was going to be important because Dougie was drawn to the pie counter by Philip Gerard, but I think it was still a shock to see it work out so brilliantly in DougieCoop’s favour. Did you feel this was a cop out or did it fit well within the lucky streak that Dougie apparently had going for him? And how did it inform our opinions about the Mitchums as gangsters with hearts of gold who steadfastly look out for their friends?
VL: The ‘pie in the box’ scene is definitely one of my favourite moments of the series. On my first viewing it was satisfying for me to realise that Cooper was gaining allies who were men of power and money, men who could perhaps protect him or offer support. I think it provided a much needed boost of hope for our trapped hero. I felt that this prophetic partnership with the Mitchums was a giant step in nudging Cooper towards waking up. It’s a scene which changed my opinions about the brothers but of Bradley in particular. This may be because Jim Belushi plays the scene so beautifully with perfect comic timing and engaging delivery. I’m also more drawn to the character because he has been imbued with this special portentous dream and therefore arguably becomes one of the ‘gifted’ characters of the show of whom we may need to be more attentive.
LS: Hawk’s map reminded many people of the the Owl Cave petroglyph, for good reason. Is it important that we decipher it completely or is Hawk’s assertion that there are some things we shouldn’t want to know meant to put us off from unraveling every mystery of the map?
VL: I personally don’t feel the need to interpret every aspect of the map or indeed of the whole series since I do think that the mystery is part of the appeal. There are obviously a lot of connections that dedicated fans can perhaps decipher in Hawk’s map but I think other things are left open for personal interpretation. I see Hawk’s warning as more of the build up to creating this sense of dread about the ultimate darkness or negative force that Cooper will eventually have to face.
LS: Mini question: The song that Carl Rodd sings at the start of the episode is a famous folk ballad, popularised by cowboys on the frontier in the 1880s but most probably written about a Metis woman lamenting her lover’s return to the east from Manitoba in the 1870s. Is there an opportunity here to read into the song as another instance of Native American culture being brought into Twin Peaks, or is this more a commentary on Carl Rodd’s cowboy/folk hero status in the trailer park? Or is it just a lovely song that Stanton liked to sing?
VL: I think this is an incredibly beautiful moment which expands on the character of Carl Rodd but which also lets Stanton really pull us into his lovely performance. This might be a controversial thing to say but I feel like there is more soul and meaning in his simple crooning than in many of the loud and trendy Roadhouse acts. I think understanding more about Carl’s life and character from Frost’s books makes this moment even more poignant. I believe the song choice reflects Carl’s personal influences and tastes. He sings it like a man who is resigned to accept that life is a mystery filled with both joy and pain. It feels like a song of nostalgia for him too and because of this I feel it comments on Rodd’s age and the fact that he is an old man whose hourglass is quickly running out of sand.
LS: Why do you think Diane was deputized as a Blue Rose Task Force agent? Did they really need her help or was it a case of keeping their enemies closer…?
VL: This does appear to be a case of Gordon and Albert attempting to make tulpa Diane believe that they completely trust her. I think that her reaction to being deputized, her slip into the “Let’s rock” delivery, suggests that she doesn’t recognise their suspicions but that also her true nature is emerging as she edges closer to fulfilling her tasks for Mr C.
LS: Much was speculated about Sarah’s scene in the grocery store. What do you think is happening here in Sarah’s mind and in reality? What is she referring to as she talks to the checkout girl?
VL: Sarah’s behaviour in this scene is reminiscent of a person who is suffering from a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia where one is at war with an internal voice or voices. It appears that she is attempting to reveal something to the grocery clerks but is dissuaded from doing so by a voice or an entity within her. Knowing what we know about Sarah now I rewatch this scene and I wonder how much of the real Sarah is left inside that body and mind. I think her confusion at the store seems to come about from a bitter conflict of the real Sarah and the inner parasitic entity. However, I don’t know if what remains of the original Sarah is healthy or capable of normal thoughts or behaviour. I think that what she says to the grocery clerks suggests that there is some small part of her that is still fighting for the ascendency of good against evil.
LS: Later, when Hawk comes to Sarah’s house, we get more suspicious behaviour. The parallels between this scene and the end of Part 18 is a bit shocking in retrospect — similar camera angles, similar conceit of a noise coming from within the house (a noise in the kitchen here; an offscreen voice/conversation between Alice and presumably her husband). How do you understand this scene? What is happening here?
VL: I think rewatching this scene with more knowledge about Sarah and her possession is even more terrifying. There are lots of different things that occur to me on a rewatch. I’m now aware that Hawk is so close to danger. I’m also imagining various entities banging around in that kitchen — whether it be the nightmarish smiling lipped creature, the creeping frogmoth, the violent mother figure or in fact any other Lodge entity. It’s still horifying to imagine that the innocent little grocery store boy might be in there once we know what Sarah is capable of doing.
This scene brings to mind a lot of horror from the past, memories of a time that has left the future with an emptiness where Laura should have been. It seems to me that the only real thing Sarah says in this conversation is that it is a “god damn bad story” and everything else is delivered with a kind of deadness and insincerity. This could be the real Sarah and her parasite at war again or it may be just the empty shell of a woman who is now resigned to accept the terrible things that are happening. The way the house is shot, just like in episode 18, makes it seem like a living entity and it does not feel like a place of comfort or safety to me but rather more takes on the qualities of the convenience store setting – a hub of dark energy where no good thing happens.
LS: Frank and Ben having a tête-a-tête in Ben’s office is intriguing — Ben tells Frank about his childhood bike and gives Frank Cooper’s room key to give to Harry as a memento, which seems like an odd choice…were you frustrated with this turn of events or intrigued?
VL: I love this insight into Ben’s life and the troubles he and his family have had raising Richard. The reminiscence about the childhood bike reminds me a lot of the scene from the original show where Ben and Jerry remember Louise Dombrowski dancing by flashlight. I think it’s a realisation of lost or corrupted innocence and of facing the horrible truth that the journey of life is often painful and ugly. That longing to think yourself into a simpler time or to always have these brief but beautiful moments to recall in times of trauma is quite poignant. There’s a realisation too that Ben is now an old man, not able to indulge in the carefree moments of youth anymore. His body is tired and it’s only his mind that is able to skip through time like the needle over the surface of a record.
It also serves to inform us about Richard and the fact that he has lacked a paternal figure growing up. Rewatching this after learning about Richard’s parentage makes me recognise the horror that Mr C. has inflicted on the lives of so many people. It also makes me compare Richard with Sonny Jim and the fact that the little boy becomes enamoured by his ‘father’ Dougie-Coop – the differences between Coop and his doppelganger highlighted again. Although many fans hate Richard and see him as pure evil I can’t help but feel sorry for him as in the end he is just another victim of Mr. C, bound by his genes and the energy of the black lodge to be who he became.
At this stage it seems like Ben passing the key to Frank for Harry is one more incident in a long chain of events that feel somewhat pre-destined to occur in order to take our hero where he needs to go. Aside from being a vehicle to drive the plot I feel that this moment is one where viewers are invited to remember Harry and to understand how meaningful Cooper was in his life.
LS: How do you view Gordon’s French woman operating within the plot of this episode? Some people have interpreted it as a revamp of Lil from Fire Walk With Me, with Albert’s inability to understand the joke Gordon tells being proof that he isn’t up to task, just like Sam in the film (though he does bring important information about Diane’s texts to Mr. C…)
VL: I don’t think the run up to Albert’s entrance suggests that Cole has arranged this as a coded message and I also don’t think that Gordon would need to test Albert at this stage in their careers. However the scene is definitely reminiscent of Lil’s moment in Fire Walk With Me and Albert seems to scrutinise the actions of the French woman as if he is wondering whether this is another one of Cole’s codes. In recognising that this ISN’T a coded message it suggests to me that Albert is more than up to the task and is actually so used to the secret dealings of the Blue Rose Task Force that he just never switches off or stops looking for clues. I think that this scene plays out like a joke both on Albert and on us as an audience, formulating the idea that we can sometimes over analyse things and it also makes a humorous comment on the interplay between the brilliant but ridiculous Cole and the sarcastic and dour Albert.
The French woman is hilariously funny, from my perspective. She is the stereotype of a French woman in every aspect down to the brand of lipstick she uses. It feels like an indulgent moment written to titillate the Gordon Cole character. Anyway, it’s a beguiling piece of playacting where there is a lot of space and time to enjoy and feel the scene.
LS: Audrey returns in this episode. We don’t get much from her, except that she needs to get to the Roadhouse. Looking back on Audrey’s arc as a whole, how do you view her role in Season 3? Is she functioning as a metaphor or is this real life? Is it all in her head?
VL: I originally thought it was strange to introduce Audrey so late in the series but rewatching the show I feel differently about this. Every one of Audrey’s scenes has a dream-like quality and sense of utter confusion and these elements become more important as we head towards the conclusion of the show. It seems that all of Audrey’s scenes are not set in reality but are a reflection of what she may have experienced in real life. Frost’s Final Dossier provides more clues about this but I’m still unsure as to whether Audrey’s mental prison is somewhere she was forced to go by an agent of the Black Lodge or whether her own sad circumstances led her to this breakdown.
One thing seems clear — that Audrey’s part in the whole story is crucial. We know this because of a few reasons. Firstly, the fact that Mr C. sought out Audrey at her most vulnerable moment in order to enchain her. Audrey may never have forgotten Cooper but she could have had a different life without having to raise a child like Richard. I feel that Richard’s dark energy must have acted like a magnet for the beings of the Black Lodge and that Audrey was subsequently exposed to that. Next, Audrey’s conversations with Charlie appear to be significant to what is happening in the ‘real world’ or even the ‘Lodge world’ — but how? Lastly, this fact that the Evolution of The Arm repeats something Audrey has said or vice versa. I feel that any overall theory about the show and what is going on must refer to these scenes with Audrey.
LS: In these four Parts since Part 8, we had two rather cryptic scenes in the Roadhouse — with Ella and Chloe talking about part time jobs and armpit rashes in Part 9, and one with talk about Clark and Angela and Mary followed by Trick and his frightening car accident here. Is it coincidence that these strange scenes begin after Part 8? Are these related to Audrey’s need to get to the Roadhouse? And do you get the sense that these scenes are symbolic in any way, and if so, how do you feel they function in the series as a whole?
VL: I feel like these Roadhouse scenes are very similar to the Audrey scenes and they serve as ways to push us further into this sense of unreality and disorder. I think that the actual storylines relating to these scenes are almost impenetrable and have been designed to frustrate logic.
Trick’s shaking hand is something that we’ve obviously seen before, most recently with Gordon Cole’s portal experience. His car accident and the uncouth discussions about him being a “free man” draw on many negative associations. It invites us to imagine who might have driven him off the road. It makes us think of Mr. C and his inevitable arrival in the town. Many of the people in these scenes are insalubrious and undesirable. It’s a society that is brimming with sick and malfunctioning people and it’s a world most suited to Mr. C. I think these scenes begin to become more frequent as the situation with Cooper and Mr. C becomes more desperate and the possibility of Mr. C succeeding in his plans becomes more achievable.