GLIMPSES OF THE MYSTERY
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This summer has been nothing short of magical. My favorite television show of all time came back with a sublime vengeance after a 27-year hiatus, transcended my wildest dreams and most rigorous expectations, and enveloped me in a dazzling community of fans and fellow sojourners from all over the world whose daily comments and posts on various fan pages have added as much mystery, joy, and laughter to my life as Twin Peaks-The Return itself.
Then, my little hobby writing project--a private Twin Peaks journal of sorts that began as a mindfulness exercise to help me write faster and more feelingly, unencumbered by the perfectionism and self-loathing that can sometimes hamstring my professional writing process--morphed into a fledgling website that has been visited over 100,000 times since I made it public on May 24, 2017. As a phlegmatic academic working in a field whose professional journal articles have a pitiable average readership of 8-10 people, I couldn't have been more surprised and delighted that THE GLASS BOX found such a large, diverse, and enthusiastic readership. That people have devoted their precious time to perusing and engaging my scattershot but deeply-felt impressions of this strange and wonderful show feels miraculous. It's fair to say that writing has never been so much fun nor have its rewards been so immediate!
The end of the transcendent Twin Peaks summer of 2017 is drawing near and many of us are taking stock of the embarrassment of riches we've received from the greatest filmic event of our lives. For me personally, no work of art I have previously encountered has moved, stretched, inspired, delighted, or disturbed me as much or as often as Twin Peaks-The Return. I'll never forget this summer, not just because it will burnish into one of my most cherished memories, but because I know that I'll be reaping the considerable rewards of living daily with its invitations to cultivate a life of ready joy, deep compassion, critical reflection, and heightened attention for years and years to come.
In celebration of a magical summer and the decidedly unlikely success of THE GLASS BOX, I've assembled a collection of some of your favorites and mine from the past three months of watching in wonder together. Some of these posts racked up more "likes" than others (whatever the blue hell that means), but what they all share in common is that each struck a chord with at least one fellow Peaker, eliciting a comment or inquiry that really deepened or challenged my outlook on the show or what I had written about it. Click the photos below to revisit the posts, and thanks so much for reading along and sending your impressions throughout the summer! This certainly isn't "Goodbye!", as I suspect I'll have even more to say once we have the whole trajectory of The Return in splendor before us. But it seems like a good time, with the grand finale just a few days away, to take stock of what we've seen so far and prepare to be dazzled, come what may!
1. The oil and corn one. It got onto Reddit somehow and lots of people clicked on it:
2. The Roadhouse one, written before Audrey's dance complicated matters still further:
3. The one that was just a bunch of photos because I was too shell-shocked and slack-jawed to comment:
4. The one that goes on for awhile about why it's good to hang in there with tough stuff:
5. The one about men behaving badly:
6. The one about beauty's trapdoor into goodness and truth (lucky for lazy-ass aesthetes like me!):
7. The one about following the light:
8. The long-ass fire one that didn't get a lot of attention but remains one of my personal favorites:
9. The long-ass one about Phillip Jeffries:
10. The one about CrAzY Part Twelve:
BONUS--The one about the episode that fell from Televisual Platonic Heaven:
Did I miss any of your favorites? Anything you'd like me to tackle on the way into the finale? I'm taking requests!
On traditional measures of what people seek from televisual entertainment, there is little denying that the viewer satisfaction quotient skyrocketed and went astronomical this week as the sixteenth installment of Twin Peaks-The Return delivered no fewer than five major, long-awaited narrative developments--any one of which could have carried an entire episode--that virtually cleared the stage for a spectacular final reckoning between Cooper and Mr. C. in the two-part series finale next week. In a scintillating if scant hour's time, we witnessed two of the series' most vile villains vanquished, a double-agent with a troubled history unmasked, and two of the series' most beloved characters "finding themselves" after seemingly interminable somnambulant wanderings in the existential wilderness. Moreover, all of this was executed with such poetry and panache that even the most hardboiled of long-suffering fans had little choice but to stand up and cheer. It's fair to assume that this astonishingly good hour raised impossibly high expectations of the series improbably higher.
The Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca has some provocative advice for those with high expectations: "Cease to hope and you shall cease to fear." His point seems to be that the more attached we get to longing for certain outcomes, the more susceptible we become to allowing fear to take the helm of our lives, robbing us of the joy of living in the present. When our hopes are raised, our fears ascend in equal proportion: the more desperately we desire a certain outcome, the more fearful we become that it will not obtain. In this state of fear, the precious attention that we ought to lavish on each passing moment is dissipated--disseminated between the regrets that accrue to unrealized expectations past and the anxiety that attends to pining for their future fruition. Seneca's advice is difficult to follow at all times, but it's especially hard when prospects are looking good for the achievement of something you really, really want to happen.
I have to admit that Part Sixteen got my hopes up for a happy ending, and--as Seneca predicts--the advent of this hope has put me somewhat on edge. I typically try to enjoy life as it comes along, and I've intentionally approached The Return from the beginning without expectations so that I could relish each and every beautiful second, come what may. As a result, it's been a wonderful and mysterious ride that has helped me to cultivate present attention--to find intrigue in languishing bouts of childish scribbling on insurance paperwork, hilarity in unnervingly far-fetched arm-wrestling boss battles, and beauty in the rich details of Audrey and Charlie's interactions and surroundings, whatever and wherever it turns out that they "actually" are. To my surprise, the disciplines of attention I've been cultivating in watching The Return seem to have increased my daily joy in attending to the present details of my own circumstances as well. There is a kind of glow and a certain hum to things that I'm noticing more often and relishing more deeply, sometimes even to the point of tears. (Especially when "Shadow" is playing, which is often these days.)
As the events of Part Sixteen unfolded before me, I felt positively ecstatic. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've never felt so intensely good watching a television show. This feeling was more like the deep, sustaining, soulful good one experiences while watching one's child succeed at something she loves or being in the right place at the right time to help someone in trouble out of a jam. Now that some distance is gathering, I worry in retrospect that maybe Part Sixteen raised my hopes too high--so high, in fact, that I'm tempted to wonder if this episode wants to teach me something about the risks of heightened expectations. In that spirit, I'll take the warning and celebrate some of the great moments in Part Sixteen below as a means of letting them go, loving them for what they are while taking care to remain open to whatever wonders follow in their wake, for good or for ill.
Richard Horne's Shocking End
For some, Richard Horne's death might have seemed mercifully quick. One can perhaps be forgiven for willing a more protracted demise for a man who has been nothing short of loathsomeness incarnate: an incorrigible misogynist, a molester and probably a rapist, a drug-runner, an unrepentant child killer, a would-be murderer, a man who would--and did!--quite literally beat up his own grandmother. Even so, can we imagine a more poetically tragic end for poor Richard? Here is a young man seeking to exorcise the demons of a fatherless life by going full bore into toxic masculinity only to meet his untimely death serving as a disposable tool of his own father's rapacious greed, with nary but a smirking "Goodbye, my son" to mark his departure. That his own father got a wry chuckle from Richard's toss-away death somehow achieved the impossible in me--instead of the catharsis I was expecting Horne's inevitable death to be, I felt empathy for a person I had come to hate with burning fury.
With a Daddy who makes Darth Vader look like Mr. Rogers, Richard Horne never had a chance. That his final act would be a fireworks show ignited by dear old dad and witnessed by his drug-addled great uncle through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars is about as tragically fitting as it could be.
Hutch and Chantal's Final Accounting
Merciless psychopathy is tough to play for laughs. But Hutch and Chantal made it look easy week after week, as these Wendy's gorging, Cheeto-gobbling yokels with gaping holes where their hearts should be took out Mr. C.'s trash. That these two stone killers met their destiny at the trigger-happy hands of a representative of Zawaski Accounting Inc. makes perfect sense: where there is evil, there is usually inordinate love of money; and where there is inordinate love of money, there are always dutiful managers stacking it up and eliminating those who wish to take it by hook or by crook (or in this case by an automatic handgun with an extended magazine).
This grisly end to the Hutchins family was all the more fitting in view of Hutch's observance of at least mild regret over an outstanding fiduciary obligation to a deceased friend. One way or another, we all end up paying our debts.
The awakening of Special Agent Dale Cooper after his fantastic journey back to Earth and his protracted purgatorial sojourn in the life of Dougie Jones is one of the greatest moments in television history (where he now keeps elite company with himself in Part Three, his Doppelgänger's inhabiting spirit in Part Eight, his Doppelgänger's arm-wrestling triumph over Renzo in Part Thirteen, his Doppelgänger's visit to the Dutchman's in Part Fifteen, and etcetera). And his immediate reclamation of the signature combination of poise, grace, confidence, goodness, and near-to-omniscient command of the circumstances facing him and those he loves that compelled us all to fall hopelessly in love with him 27 years ago is almost too much to bear. I cried. Maybe you did too?
Picking up on the previous discussion of the connection between hope and fear, I can scarcely imagine having a deeper televisually-oriented hope than that Special Agent Dale Cooper will win in the end. As a result, I can scarcely imagine having a deeper televisually-oriented fear that he will be sacrificed somehow or--far worse--ruined by his quest. I suspect it would be an excellent test of mindfulness to have to witness his demise (again!) and bear it with resolve, dignity, and gratitude for his life. I also suspect it is a test I would miserably fail, notwithstanding my openness to facing it.
Diane's Double's Denouement
When Diane turned to face a rain-drenched Albert on that fateful night at Max Von's Bar, I was overcome by a nauseating sense that things wouldn't end well for her. And they certainly didn't end well for the woman at the bar. But perhaps the silver lining is that the woman at the bar was Diane's tulpa and not Diane herself. Do the futures of Janey-E or Naido hold the keys to redemption for the real Diane, if ever there were such a person? I hope so, but I also fear the opposite.
If the real Cooper and the real Diane ever meet again in this world or some other one, it's hard to imagine a more stable foundation for rekindled intimacy than the rare shared experience of having involuntarily delegated existence to a manufactured version of oneself from whom one must eventually reclaim being in order to be made whole. Or maybe this experience isn't all that rare after all, given that cultivating genuine vulnerability after the hard work of dismantling one's façades is pretty much the foundation of every intimate relationship.
Is there a word for inhabiting the past in such a fearless way that nostalgia is outstripped into the resolve for future travels along old paths previously obscured from one by naivety, wistfulness, or lack of vision? (I mean, Heidegger had a word for it--vorlaufende Entschlossenheit--but I'm looking for a better known, less nerdy word.) Everything about this scene was uncanny and I've never felt so blissfully in tune with not-at-home-ness. From the graying grunge-era rock god crooning us rapt about running out of sand to a brunette bombshell of a certain age clearing the floor to push a decades-old dance past its limit into a transgressive epiphany, the magic of this scene was cast through the jarring juxtaposition of memory and mortality, as if the audience had been furnished rose-colored glasses to observe the rapidly narrowing temporal abyss coming to swallow it whole.
Audrey's awakening (if that's what it was) presents us with some fascinating and unsettling prospects for the finale. Is the Roadhouse a real place, a psychic projection, a combination of both, or perhaps all of the above? And now that Mr. C.'s minions have all gone away--Darya, Ray, Duncan Todd, Richard Horne, Hutch, Chantal, Diane's tulpa--can one be blamed for fearing the worst, that perhaps Audrey is being summoned to serve nefarious purposes dreamed up by the man who paid her a fateful visit in intensive care so many years ago when coyness and saddle shoes were her only protection?
What will be will be. Let us embrace it with resolute gratitude and wonder!
Beauty is often a harbinger of goodness and truth, as I've observed in a previous post. And there is certainly no shortage of beauty in Twin Peaks-The Return. For a time, Cooper's journey through the non-exist-ent to the violet world in Part Three was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen on television. Then, the journey through atomic fire in Part Eight came to occupy the top spot. And now Mr. C.'s journey into the dark heart of The Dutchman's has become a serious contender for the most beautiful of them all.
For me, being enveloped in beautiful images and sounds lifts the veil of the ordinary, enabling me to transcend the natural skepticism and atomistic thinking of "practical" day-to-day life where we are constantly assaulted by the need to predict, control, and consume discrete objects, as if the world were just the sum total of the individual things rattling around in our narrowly construed field of vision--the objects that allow us to get a foothold in a world of near to overwhelming experiential possibilities. When beauty lifts the veil, there is a vulnerability--a naked exposure--to the all in which in which particular things have their individual being and meaning as collective participants in a great mystery. This is why--after a particularly intense experience of beauty--we often find that our vision is transformed upon our return to the ordinary world. Where once we saw merely disjointed objects arrayed for our conspicuous consumption, we now see things enveloped by a breathtaking mystery.
This truth and the feeling of deep, world-transforming goodness that follows in the wake of an experience of revelatory beauty came home to me in an astonishing way during Mr. C.'s journey to confront Phillip Jeffries. As Mr. C. crosses the threshold of door 8, he enters a room facing a wood paneled wall with an old steam radiator in the right corner.
In the middle of the wall is a prominent amber stain that--in my heightened state of awareness of the whole--immediately but atmospherically illuminated the present experience in the light of the atomic blast from Part Eight. As Mr. C. gazes at the wall--a perfect symbol of the ordinariness of everyday experience--it begins to peel away like a veil obscuring a great abyss, and Mr. C. finds himself in the presence of something extraordinary.
The straightforward importance of this scene is Mr. C.'s confrontation with the Judy mystery: Who is Judy and what does s/he want of him? We get the sense that Mr. C. is staring into the abyss of his own origins, vulnerable for the first time (we've witnessed so far) to the existential need of knowing who he is rather than the pedestrian wanting for things and objects to dominate, which he has thus far understood as his destiny.
But I am less interested here in the straightforward importance of this scene as a moment on Mr. C.'s journey than I am in its holistic importance for the unfolding of the mystery we are experiencing both in this episode in particular and in the series as a whole. And what we are shown as the veil rolls back over the abyss and the room returns to the ordinary wall and the radiator behind door number 8 is astonishingly illuminating of both the individual episode and the entire series.
What we find in the combined image of the veil and the abyss is nothing short of breathtaking: in my heightened state of consciousness, something deep within me chose to experience it as the sacred alchemy of Laura Palmer hovering above an atomic blast, enveloped in the Fireman's protective spirit, converting the devastation into a radiant log that is turning gold. There is fear in letting go, to be sure, but there is infinite, radiant, transformational beauty there too.
Here are twenty of my favorite still images from this exquisite painting come to life, including the startling tableau above of this sacred alchemy. What do you see in these images? How do they illuminate for you what lies behind the veil? And how do they bring that glory back into renewed vision of the everyday?
AN ENIGMA WRAPPED IN A MYSTERY OIL CAN: TRACING THE PHILLIP JEFFRIES NARRATIVE THROUGHOUT THE RETURN
If Laura Palmer is Twin Peaks' leading "woman in trouble," and Dale Cooper is its occidental-Tibetan-monk-investigator in shining armor, Special Agent Phillip Jefferies has emerged as the series' Ur-villain--the enigmatic mastermind-gone-mad at the origin of the Blue Rose task force and at the center of one of its most opaque mysteries: "Who is Judy and why can't we talk about her?". After Part Fifteen, there is little doubt that the Jeffries narrative will figure centrally in the remaining three parts of The Return. But on a close inspection, the search for Phillip Jeffries and the mystery at the heart of his disappearance has been one of the most persistent, important, and thoroughly explored narrative arcs of the new series. Jeffries himself or his guiding importance to the central mystery of The Return receives coverage in parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15.
Some of the most insightful people currently writing about Twin Peaks, including John Thorne (Wrapped in Plastic and Blue Rose Magazine) and Eden Roquelaire (Garmonblogzia and Twin Peaks Freaks), have offered fascinating treatments of Jeffries and his connection to the Judy mystery in Fire Walk With Me. I won't revisit the important ground they've covered in this post. My modest aim here is to try to pull together some of the most prominent threads of the Jeffries narrative woven through the arc of The Return through Part Fifteen in hopes of setting the stage for seeing as deeply as possible into the significance of the Jeffries narrative in the final three episodes. Some of the references to Jeffries I'll cover here are obvious and direct and others a bit more oblique, but my goal is to spotlight only those instances for which there is evidence that is approaching compelling based on what the series itself shows to us about Jeffries or, in the more oblique cases, what the promising interpretations put forward by Thorne, Roquelaire, and others have already revealed about him and the mystery he has come to represent. In addition to consulting the work linked above, readers may wish to refresh their memories on Jeffries' exploits in FWWM by revisiting the famed Philadelphia Bureau incident scene and the extended cut of this scene from The Missing Pieces that includes footage of Jeffries in Buenos Aires.
My approach is direct and unambitious. I simply move through the episodes in order, offering photos and brief commentaries on occurrences in the show that relate directly to Jeffries or can be plausibly interpreted as being important to the Jeffries narrative. I'd be most grateful to have any such occurrences that I have overlooked reported in the comments so I get get them integrated into the narrative.
Part Two-Retrieving a communications briefcase from the motel bathroom, Mr. C attempts to contact Phillip Jeffries. A threatening voice mentions a meeting with Major Briggs and declares that Mr. C. is "going back in tomorrow". Mr. C. suspects it isn't Jeffries after all, and when the voice goes silent, he logs into the FBI network to download information about Yankton prison where Ray is allegedly being held on weapons charges. After securing the plans for Yankton on a handheld device, he leaves. (Part Two, 36:16-39:48)
Part Three--Naido's interactions with Cooper in the violet world and the non-exist-ent may not initially seem directly relevant to the Phillip Jeffries narrative. But several clues--both in Part Three and in more recent episodes--suggest an important connection. For one thing, her plunge into the non-exist-ent after leading Cooper away from portal 15 is immediately followed by the appearance of Major Briggs' head exclaiming "Blue Rose," which we learn in Part Twelve in an elite task force originally headed by Jeffries. Also, her timely reemergence in Twin Peaks in Part Fourteen in a context that explicitly presages the Mr. C./Jeffries meeting in Part Fifteen coupled with the revelation that she produces verbalizations similar to monkey chatter (see below) are important clues that suggest a connection to the "Judy" and "monkey" threads of the Jeffries narrative, expertly discussed by Twin Peaks scholar and Wrapped in Plastic creator John Thorne in "Judy, Judy, Judy". I won't rehash those connections here, but will take them for granted as support for conjecture that Naido's steering Cooper away from portal 15 and toward portal 3 in the violet world (which takes him to Rancho Rosa in Las Vegas where he assumes the life of Dougie Jones) is important in some way to the dealings that have Jeffries and Mr. C. at cross purposes. Whether Naido is seeking to thwart or serve Jeffries' agenda isn't clear to me at this point, but that she is an person who is connected to him in some significant way seems highly probable.
Part Four-Outside the Yankton Federal Prison after the meeting with Mr. C., Albert confesses to Cole that Philip Jeffries had requested information on the identity of “their man in Columbia”—information which Jeffries alleged that Cooper desperately needed—and Albert complied and gave Jeffries the information. A week later, their agent in Columbia was killed. Cole, in disbelief, looking deep into Albert’s eyes and plaintively repeating his name, seems to come to a resolution: “This business that we witnessed today with Cooper—I don’t like it; something is wrong. Could be the accident but I don’t think so.” Their conversation is interrupted by feedback as Albert’s foot scrapes a pebble which causes Cole’s hearing aids to go haywire, causing a sensation like “a knife in my brain.” “I don’t think he greeted me properly, if you take my meaning,” Cole continues, “something is very wrong. Albert, I hate to admit this, but I don’t understand this situation at all. Do you understand this situation, Albert?” “Blue Rose,” Albert replies. “It doesn’t get any bluer—Albert, before we do anything else, we need one certain person to take a look at Cooper—do you know where she lives?” Says Albert in reply, “I know where she drinks.” (Part Four, 50:52-55:22)
Part Five-Obviously in fear for her life and unsure of what to do next, Lorraine--a woman hired by Duncan Todd on behalf of Mr. C. to murder Douglas Jones--hesitantly takes out a blackberry and nervously types something, looking as though she’d much rather be sliding down a razor and landing in a manure lagoon than engaging whatever horrors lie at the other end of her electronic communication. We see a single decrepit lightbulb jutting outward from a makeshift electrical box that dangles from exposed conduit. A windowsill is visible just beneath the filth-ridden fixture, which hangs thick with the remnants of a spider web full of hollow exoskeletons and other detritus. Presumably inside the building (which we later learn is located in Buenos Aires, Argentina--the place Philip Jeffries is known to have been stationed before his disappearance), a small black box with two red pinprick lights sits centered on an earthen plate atop what appears to be an ancient copper trunk; we hear the phone ring followed by an electronic beep. Lorraine types the number “2” into the Blackberry, above which we see the abbreviation “ARGENT” (Argentina) followed by the number “159” at the far-right margin. Both pinprick lights on the black box flash twice, accompanied by beeping. Is she communicating with Jeffries somehow, or does Mr. C. also have a base in Buenos Aires? If she's communicating with Jeffries, but Duncan Todd hired her to kill Dougie Jones at Mr. C.'s behest, does that mean she is double-crossing Mr. C. and providing information to his rival? (Part Five, 3:01-4:02)
Part Five, continued--We see an aeriel shot of Buenos Aires, Argentina followed by an abrupt cut back to the decrepit lightbulb and a pan down to a long look the enigmatic black box on the earthen plate. The two red lights on the box blink twice, and the box suddenly folds in on itself, rapidly collapsing into what appears to be a small pebble of pyrite. This sort of odd technology is just what one might expect to see from a man who uses contraptions (in Part Fifteen, for instance) shaped like old-timey oil cans in order to take meetings with vengeful Doppelgängers. (Part Five, 56:01-56:33)
Part Eight-Speeding through the dark after just having witnessed Cooper's exorcism by woodsmen, a deeply shaken Ray Monroe leaves a telephone message for “Phillip” (who we must assume to be Phillip Jeffries, especially after the revelation in Part Thirteen that Ray was working for Jeffries): “It’s Ray. I think he’s dead but he’s found some kind of help so I’m not 100% and…um…I saw something in Cooper that may be the key to what this is all about. I told him where I’m going ["The Farm"--the site of the epic arm-wrestling match in Part Thirteen], so if he comes after me, I’ll get him there." Ray's claim that the "something in Cooper" is the "key to what this is all about" makes a lot more sense now that we've learned from Ray's testimony to Mr. C. in Part Thirteen that Jeffries wants "something that is inside" Mr. C. (see below). (Part Eight, 11:25-11:54)
Part Eleven-Just before Bill Hastings is savagely murdered by a woodsman, Gordon Cole enters the vortex and catches a split-second glimpse of the woodsmen atop the stairs at a mystery location that we soon learn is "The Dutchman's"--the place where Phillip Jeffries is rumored to be staying according to Ray Monroe's testimony to Cooper in Part Thirteen (see below).
Part Twelve--After sweeping the room for bugs, Cole and Rosenfield fill in Agent Preston on the history of the ultra-top-secret Blue Rose task force. Rosenfield explains that the Blue Rose was convened by Gordon Cole to explore unresolved aspects of Project Bluebook, the government's two-decade investigation into UFOs which was shuttered in 1970 in what Albert suggests was a "massive cover-up." Rosenfield informs Preston that Cole appointed Special Agent Phillip Jeffries to lead the Blue Rose and then recruited Agents Rosenfield, Chet Desmond (who went missing in the Fat Trout Trailer Park in FWWM while investigated Theresa Banks' murder), and Dale Cooper into the fold. After noting Cole's reluctance to bring new blood into the group in the wake of the mysterious disappearances of Jeffries, Desmond, and Cooper, Rosenfield invites Preston to become a member of the elite task force, she accepts, and he pledges to brief her in detail in the morning. (Part Twelve, 2:40-4:50)
Part Thirteen--After permanently retiring Ray's "Boss" Renzo in an epic arm-wrestling battle for the ages, Mr. C. shakes down Ray Monroe for information on who put the hit out on Mr. C. and Ray spills the dirt: "It came through a man named Phillip Jeffries--at least that's the name he gives. I never met him. I don't talk to him on the phone. He set the whole prison thing up with Warden Murphy. Jeffries says you were going to kill me. He said I could get out and stay out if I killed you first." Mr. C. asks him "Why?", and Ray replies that Jeffries said that Mr. C. "has something inside that they want." Mr. C. asks whether Jeffries ever mentioned Major Briggs and Ray says "No." Then Ray reaches into his pocket and produces the Owl Cave ring: "Jeffries said I was supposed to put this on you after I killed you." "Where did you get that?", Mr. C. demands to know. Ray claims that an unfamiliar guard gave it to him just before their prison break. Mr. C. orders Ray to put it on his left hand and then demands the coordinates that Ray got from Bill Hastings' secretary. After Ray hands them over, Mr. C. inquires as to Phillip Jeffries whereabouts. "Last I heard," Ray replies, "he was at a place called "The Dutchman's", but it's not a real place--". His final sentence is interrupted by a bullet to the brain followed by an unscheduled trip to the Lodge. We see that Richard Horne has witnessed this entire episode via closed circuit television (all but the Lodge part, anyway), and wonder whether he might tail Mr. C. to "The Dutchman's". (Part Thirteen, 18:52-22:44)
Part Fourteen-Rosenfield is giving Preston the promised briefing on the origins of the Blue Rose, explaining that the whole thing started with a case concerning a murder investigation in Olympia, Washington in 1975 worked by two young field agents, Gordon Cole and Phillip Jeffries. Albert explains: "They arrived at a motel to arrest the suspect named Lois Duffy. They hear a gunshot outside her room and kick the door in. They find two women inside. One on the floor dying from a bullet wound to the abdomen. The other holds a gun which she drops as she backs away when they enter. They recognize the wounded woman as Lois Duffy. She speaks her last words to them: "I'm like the blue rose." She smiles, then dies, then disappears before their eyes. The other woman screaming in the corner, they now notice, is also Lois Duffy. By the way, Lois Duffy did not have a twin sister. Then while awaiting trial for a murder she swore she didn't commit, this Lois hangs herself." Tammy goes on to infer that the significance of Lois' last words ("I am like the blue rose.") is that the dying lois "does not occur in nature--is not a natural being," but is rather "conjured...what's the word...a tulpa." Albert affirms her inference: "Good." (Part Fourteen, 4:52-6:45)
Part Fourteen, continued--Just then, Cole busts into the briefing announcing "coffee time!" and Diane joins the group too ("Deputy Diane reporting for duty."). Echoing Mr. C.'s final interrogation of Ray in Part Thirteen in which Mr. C. wants to know if Jeffries mentioned Major Briggs to Ray, Cole asks Diane whether Cooper mentioned Major Briggs on that fateful night of their last visit. She confirms that he did. [If Ray was being truthful that Jeffries did *not* mention Briggs to him, and Diane was being truthful that Cooper (who was presumably already Mr. C. at the time) *did* mention Briggs to her, perhaps this means that Jeffries' lack of knowledge and Mr. C.'s knowledge of how Briggs fits into the equation will turn out to be an important plot point that gives Mr. C. an edge over Jeffries in some way.] Albert then briefs Diane on Briggs' recent death and the ring found inside his stomach, which triggers Diane's testimony that Janey-E is her half-sister. After this revelation she leaves, allowing Cole, Rosenfield, and Preston to continue with more sensitive matters. (Part Fourteen, 6:46-11:00)
Part Fourteen, continued--Gordon informs them of his conversation with Frank Truman, in which he learned that the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Department is investigating the found pages of Laura Palmer's diary "indicating two Coopers." He then moves on to discussing the details of "another Monica Belucci dream," in which Cooper and Jeffries figure heavily. Cole explains that Belucci invited him to Creperie Plougastel, that Cooper was there (but his face was obscured), and that after exchanging pleasantries and enjoying coffee, Belucci said to him "the ancient phrase:" "We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives inside a dream." She follows up, forebodingly: "But who is the dreamer?" She gestures to Cole to look behind him, and he turns to see his younger self in the old Philadelphia office (in footage from FWWM), talking to an alarmed Cooper who oddly informs him with a now uncannily familiar expressionless visage that "It's 10:10 am on February 16th; I was worried about today because of the dream I told you about." Cole continues: "And that was the day Phillip Jeffries appeared and didn't appear...and while Jeffries was apparently there, he raised his arm and pointed at Cooper and asked me "Who do you think that is there?". Damn! I hadn't remembered that! Now this is really something interesting to think about." Looking confused, Albert chimes in, "Yes...I'm beginning to remember that too." The interesting to think about, terrifyingly, is that of whether the Cooper in the Philadelphia office with the specter of Phillip Jeffries in 1989--before "the Good Cooper" went to Twin Peaks to investigate Laura Palmer's murder--was somehow actually, if we may borrow a line from Hawk, "not the Good Cooper." Was it Mr. C. at whom Phillip Jeffries was pointing? Or is Jeffries simply confused, having seen Mr. C. in non-linear time in his dimensional travels? (Part Fourteen, 11:00-15:10)
Part Fourteen, continued--While Andy's happening in the White Lodge and his interactions with Naido before and after do not make explicit reference to Phillip Jeffries, there are several important clues that these events belong squarely within the Phillip Jeffries narrative. As discussed above in reference to Part Three, Naido appears to be connected to the Jeffries narrative via her association with Briggs' "Blue Rose" declaration following her fall into the non-exist-ent, as well as her veiled connections to the "Judy" and "monkey" threads. As for Andy himself, among the visions shown to him by the Fireman during his time in the White Lodge is a hazy photo of the electrical wires that we see later on in Part Fifteen as Mr. C. drives toward his meeting with Phillip Jeffries (or at least his surrogate smoking oil can transmitter). Given that this image is the first in the series passing before him to depict a future event (something that has yet to happen, rather than a recap of happenings past), the Jeffries meeting and its aftermath will likely figure importantly into Andy's mission to keep Naido safe. That Naido is now on the same cell-block as the formidable "Garden Glove Sykes" (who occupies cell 8--we'll consider the possible significance of this below) seems to presage a coming attraction at the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Department in which Jeffries, Mr. C., and agents aligned with the Fireman (Frank, Bobby, Hawk, Andy, Sykes) will come into conflict over Naido and what she knows or represents.
That brings us to Part Fifteen, the final installment so far, where the Jeffries narrative drops into sixth gear as Mr. C. journeys to "The Dutchman's" to confront Phillip Jeffries himself (or at least the steaming old-timey oil-can avatar who speaks for him these days, perhaps in order to avoid being physically (or spiritually) close enough to Mr. C. to be susceptible to his mind-reading powers). I'll devote a bit more photographic attention to the step-by-step of this event captioning the pictures as we go (with sincere advance apologies for the fact that I'm on vacation and lack access to my 4K television, so my signature hand-taken-in-a-dark-room-with-an-ancient-iPhone stills are even grainier than usual).
Mr. C.'s earthly journey to the "The Dutchman's" terminates, satisfyingly, at the fabled convenience store from Part Eight, where a woodsman is waiting to escort Mr. C. through the convenient portal to his otherworldly destination even deeper in the dimensional stew than the convenience store itself. Intriguingly, this is the first time we see the convenience store in color, though the tones are decidedly muted (especially in my shitty iPhone photos taken from a grainy stream).
We know that this place is even stranger than the average portal to other places because the store itself--which isn't really there--is just stage one, as Mr. C. and the woodsman disappear while traversing the stairs of the already non-existent store, indicating their passage into a dimension even beyond the plane occupied by the store.
Mr. C. and his woodsy guide traverse a hall (adorned with the wallpaper from the framed print in Laura Palmer's bedroom) where they come upon a seated gatekeeper sitting next to a large electrical switch that comprises, among other things, a host of tubes and wires and an old turn-table platter. Mr. C. announces his intentions: "I'm looking for Phillip Jeffries."
Upon Mr. C.'s request to speak to Jeffries, the woodsman throws the switch and a burst of electricity illuminates the room, revealing the guts of his bizarre switching station. One imagines oneself to have caught a glimpse of a radio-station broadcasting microphone in the foreground in front of the turn-table.
As the sparks fly from the switch box, we briefly glimpse the masked jumping man from the convenience store scene in FWWM. As he jumps, the mask intermingles with visions of faces that are hard to discern, but that include, according to some with better means for photographing this brief scene, Sarah Palmer and Major Briggs.
Mr. C. follows his lumbering escort into a long passage leading to another staircase--presumably the one that Gordon Cole glimpsed in his split-second vision of the woodsmen in Part Eleven. As they walk, the woods that occupy the space on the earthly plane intermingle with the hall, suggesting that we are also moving through earthly space as we traverse the hall at The Dutchman's.
The wall rolls back like a curtain to reveal Jeffries' proxy: a smoking contraption that appears to be a modified diving-bell (like the ones from the non-exist-ent and the White Lodge) strongly and aptly suggestive of an old-timey oil can. Mr. C. and Jeffries engage in a stilted, confusing conversation the upshot of which is that Mr. C. (or perhaps Cooper or perhaps both?) has already met Jeffries in the Philadelphia FBI office in 1989, as depicted in the famed scene in FWWM that was reprised in Cole's dream in Part Fourteen. But whereas Cole's dream focused on Jeffries' accusatory identification of Cooper (exclaiming "Do you know who that is there?") and omits mention of Jeffries' infamous, incoherent, and much-discussed ramblings about "Judy", the conversation here in Part Fifteen is focused squarely on Judy.
Since the conversation between Mr. C. and Phillip Jeffries' oily avatar is likely to be extremely important to the events that unfold in the remaining three parts of The Return, let's take a minute to reprise it here:
Phillip Jeffries: “Oh, it’s you.”
Mr. C.: “Jeffries!”
Jeffries: “By God.” (or maybe “My God!”)
Mr. C.: “Why did you send Ray to kill me?”
Jeffries: “What? I called Ray!”
Mr. C.: “So you did send him! Did you call me five days ago?”
Jeffries: “I don’t have your number.”
Mr. C.: “So it was someone else who called me?”
Jeffries: “We used to talk.”
Mr. C.: “Yes, we did.”
[Flashback to FBI Headquarters in Philadelphia in 1989. Jeffries: "Well now: I’m not going to talk about Judy. We’re not going to talk about Judy at all."]
Mr. C.: “1989. You showed up at FBI headquarters in Philadelphia and said you’d met Judy.”
Jeffries: “So. You are Cooper.”
Mr. C.: “Phillip, why didn’t you want to talk about Judy? Who is Judy? Does Judy want something from me?”
Jeffries: “Why don’t you ask Judy yourself. Let me write it down for you.”
[Mr. C. dutifully takes out a pen and pad and writes down the numbers, which appear to emerge out of the steaming oil can spout in the following order: 4-8-0-5-5-1-1-4.]
Mr. C.: “Who is Judy?”
Jeffries: “You’ve already met Judy.”
Mr. C.: “What do you mean I’ve met Judy?” [Ed: Might Jeffries be referring to Cooper's interactions with Naido in the violet world and non-exist-ent in Part Three?]
[Jeffries falls silent and a phone starts ringing. It rings six times total. After the fourth ring, Mr. C. interrupts, yelling at increasingly elevated volume at Jeffries.]
Mr. C.: “Who is Judy? WHO IS JUDY?!”
[After the sixth ring we hear a loud switching sound and a burst of electricity and Mr. C. answers the phone just before the seventh ring. The feed flickers as Mr. C. is transported out of Jeffries’ oil-canny presence to the phone booth in front of the convenience store. As he listens into the receiver, the sound of electricity accompanies the staticky feed and his head is briefly drawn toward the receiver in a flickering stutter identical to the way that Cooper’s head was drawn toward the electrical portal in the violet world.]
Outside the convenience store, Mr. C. is accosted by Richard Horne, who witnessed Mr. C. murdering Ray at the Farm and presumably trailed him to the portal to "The Dutchman's" from that location. Horne announces that recognizes Mr. C. as an FBI agent from a photo in his mother Audrey Horne's possession. Mr. C. gives Horne a knowing look, spits at the ground to distract him, and incapacities him, commanding him never to threaten Mr. C. again and to get in the truck: "We'll talk on the way."
Where will Phillip Jeffries, the mystery at his dark heart, and Mr. C.'s insatiable search for Judy take us in the final three episodes of The Return? Goodness knows.
A silent meditation on the wonder, beauty, and deep meaning of the happening that enveloped Andy (with a foreword by Lao Tzu):
What we look for beyond seeing
And call the unseen,
Listen for beyond hearing
And call the unheard,
Grasp for beyond reaching
And call the withheld,
Merge beyond understanding
In a oneness
Which does not merely rise and give light,
Does not merely set and leave darkness,
But forever sends forth a succession of living things as mysterious
As the unbegotten existence to which they return.
That is why men have called them empty phenomena,
In a mirage
With no face to meet,
No back to follow.
Yet one who is anciently aware of existence
Is master of every moment,
Feels no break since time beyond time
In the way life flows. --Lao Tzu (The Way of Life, Perigee, 14)
You might be wondering, "Hey sicko, did you set out to compile this gory cavalcade of crushed melons?". The answer is an emphatic "No!". I was actually in the process of writing up a decidedly happier piece called "The Treasure of Thwarted Expectations," in which I catalog my delight in some of the wondrous surprises that came to us in Part Fourteen, among them the Conference Room Sting on the Deplorable Deputy Dickweed, the Mysterious Return of Naido, Vegetarian Andy and The Fireman's Documentary, Super Sykes of the Garden Glove, and of course Sarah Palmer's (Somewhat Darker) Reprise of Her Daughter's Face-Removal Trick (runs in the family, I guess).
As I was collecting a grisly still of Sarah's throatless jilted suitor for the post, I was seized by a chilling sense of how often I've had the unpleasant task of taking these photos of destroyed (or at least very badly damaged) human heads. As I searched back through THE GLASS BOX photo archive, I could hardly believe how much devastating head trauma we've seen--in almost every episode, excluding Part Seven, we see a badly conked noggin or at least a serious pain in the neck. So, though I'm hesitant temporarily to table my essay on the treasure of thwarted expectations, I suppose it is only fitting to adjust my expectations of the evening's labor to bring you the following grisly assemblage of head trauma in The Return, starting with the big fella who got me thinking along these lines.
I would say, "Enjoy!" but that seems like the wrong sentiment. How about "Be edified!"? As difficult as these images are to look at, they are profound reminders of our finitude. Inured as most of us are to images of violence and brutality in films, it can be powerful occasionally to slow things down to a still shot and seek edification from images of death and mortality that show us how fragile we are--we beautiful, ugly, perfect, flawed, simple, endlessly complex spiritual unities of intellectual, emotional, moral, and physical being that can be broken so easily, suffering head trauma of so many varieties, physical and otherwise.
Let's end on a positive note, though, shall we? Some of the most compelling heads we've seen so far are nothing short of cosmic fountains of healing light, right? So let's take a gander at those before we go to sleep, hmmm? Ahhhhh. Much better!
I'm a man, and I love my fellow men. But--am I wrong, fellas? (perhaps some women can chime in here, too)--before we get to work on discerning our flaws and honing our talents, some of us can sometimes be a little over-confident, under-reflective, aggressive, emotionally stunted, and fragile. At our best, we're capable of great things. But at our worst, as history has well shown, we are very bad indeed. Brutal, in fact. We've all but cornered the markets on domestic violence, assault, rape, murder, terrorism, war, and genocide. Our privilege has not always led to greatness, alas.
Fortunately for us, lucky number thirteen is a master course in the follies of toxic masculinity, and thus a terrific resource for learning from our mistakes. The centerpiece of Part Thirteen is an arm-wrestling odyssey that culminates in the death of Ray Monroe at the hands of Mr. C. in a scene that will join Part Eight's journey into atomic fire as one of the greatest both in Twin Peaks-The Return and in television history. But the entire episode is shot through with men doing badly, or at least, very, very sadly. One can hardly blame a woman with ring-side seats to this eternally recurring cycle of self- and other-destruction for seeking a little something to take the edge off as she watches these chowderheads bashing away, incessantly and forever, with no relief in sight.
The main event of this post is a photo essay of the arm-wrestling odyssey and Ray's trip to the ol' Lodge; we'll get there soon enough. Suffice it to say that if a picture is worth a thousand words, we'll have about 80,000 words before we're done. But before we proceed to a still-by-still of that testosterone-fueled travesty, let's meet the major players and see if we can discern a little of our darker selves (or our friends and partners' darker selves, maybe) in these characters'...frailties, shall we call them? Opportunities for honest critical reflection and self-improvement abound!
Invulnerable and evil to the core, Mr. C. likes to play a little cat and mouse before he brings the full-on malevolence home.
He tried dancing with the devil, but in the end good ol' Ray just didn't have the steps. Nice ring, tho.
Big, bad, bald, and king of the sucker punch, this guy was boss at The Farm for fourteen years. Why? Because he's the best arm-wrestler, of course. Toxic masculinity isn't really into visionary leadership or good administrative skills, I guess. It's more about forcibly pushing another guy's arm into the table.
Insecure leaders are well-known to hire weak-willed boors as their right-hand men. Behold, exhibit A.
The accountant isn't always there for the bloodbath like he was today, but ain't no bloodbaths going down unless somebody's trying to stack up a dollar or two.
These guys are here to look menacing until it's their turn to become a corpse for the brotherhood. Prospects for promotion are looking dim, gentlemen.
The devil knows there's no greater tool for evil than a man hollowed out by rage. And Richard Horne--shall we call him Dick?--is definitely a serious tool.
These men behaving badly may be the stars of the show, but they've got a supporting company of all-too-familiarly fragile fellas appearing on stage both before and after them throughout Part Thirteen. Let's meet this ship of fools, shall we?
Vegas, casinos, showgirls, cocktails, millions, conga lines. The brothers Mitchum have full garages and empty lives.
It's not his fault. Duncan Todd is just following orders.
He's a manchild and a crashing bore, but he's got a square jaw, a stable job, and powerful friends. You know you want to settle for him!
There's a big break in the case, but to see it requires a bit of creativity and resolve. Let's just crumple it up and throw that shit away, though, because we know what comes next.
You know the drill: he's the sort of guy who's crestfallen when his wife won't rape and torture the man he is about to murder in front of his own child.
Why does the crooked cop always, ALWAYS look like Harvey Keitel?
He thought he could make a little money chumming up to the mob and now it's time for the crying game. Poor, poor Anthony! So, so sad!
He used to be really good at sports and now he owns the place, so naturally he walks on water and can do no wrong.
This megalomaniacal narcissist never met a vulnerable woman he wouldn't offer Kool Aid--or in this case, Huckleberry extract with pure water.
He's got a heart of gold and he's totally turned things around, but he used to be a philandering, drug-running killer.
He's got TPS reports and a hot date with your name on it, but his spray tan will stain the sofa. Exercise caution!
Confused? Need a listening ear? A shoulder to cry on? Professor Existentialism 101 will explain everything you need to know in just a few short, scintillating lifetimes. Now you too can pull yourself together thanks to his expert help! Not recommended for the comatose or catatonic!
He had a hard childhood and a difficult life, which makes it okay that he's emotionally unavailable and his background singers are half his age.
He never learned to access or express his feelings adequately and now he's alone eating takeout with a carved wooden bear head.
Ding! Ding! Ding! And now for the main event! You know there's toxic masculinity coming because the jacked truck it drives just pulled into the abandoned warehouse full of violent, overgrown children with guns galore and no impulse control. What could go wrong?