What? About BOB?!?, or How I Learned to Stop Overanalyzing and Love the Bomb.
I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating, that Twin Peaks is more than just a show; it’s a visual and auditory experience that can’t—try as I might each week—be explained adequately in words. Part 8 of The Return took everything I thought I already knew about the show and blew it up in my face. Literally.
This is one of those episodes of television that I will do my best to recap—and there are major plot points to discuss and theorize about—but at the end of the day it needs to be experienced, and that experience is something that will be slightly different for everyone. This is as good a time as any to say that all opinions and theories expressed in this recap are my own, and there are probably as many interpretations of this episode as there are viewers. But when it comes to Twin Peaks (unlike most other things) I’m very comfortable being wrong.
So let’s jump in, shall we?
The first part of the episode is a bit more straightforward than the rest, but that’s not really saying much. We pick up with DoppelCoop and Ray, driving away from Yankton Federal in the car provided for them by Warden Murphy. We’re treated to some more of DoppelCoop’s seemingly magical tech because he’s got some super-phone that can sense tracking devices on the car. Apparently, he’s got an app for that, and when he types in the license plate of a truck in front of them and throws the phone out the window, the situation is just sort of handled. We’ve certainly come a long way since the days of Coop’s tape recorder.
Ray apologizes for getting himself jammed up, and he’s curious as to how Mr. C pulled it off. He also wants to know where Darya is, and DoppelCoop lies to him and tells her she’s waiting for a phone call from them. DoppelCoop suggests they go to a place called “The Farm,” which Ray is familiar with.
DoppelCoop wants the information (coordinates) that Ray got from Bill Hastings’s secretary, Betty, and Ray tells him he’s got the numbers memorized. But Ray has decided that this info is worth a lot of money and he wants Mr. C to pay up. At this point I’m thinking, “Ray was already a dead man but now he’s totally screwed,” but as always, Twin Peaks defied my expectations in the weirdest way possible.
Ray pulls over on a dark, dirt road to take a leak and DoppelCoop decides it’s time to make his move. He checks his “friend” in the glove compartment and sees that it’s fully loaded, and then he rolls up on Ray, but Ray’s got the drop on DoppelCoop (perhaps with the help of Warden Murphy?). Coop’s gun has been tampered with and won’t fire, and Ray has a working gun on him and uses it, shooting DoppelCoop twice in the gut. But before Ray can get off a kill shot, shit gets really weird.
This is one of many scenes in Part 8 I’m going to try to recap here but which really needs to be seen and heard for full effect. A group of the charred men, who we later learn are called the Woodsmen, emerge out of thin air. This group includes the man we saw in the jail cell in Buckhorn as well as the man walking down the hallway in the morgue, among others. Half of the Woodsmen seem to be performing some type of ritual around DoppelCoop’s body while the others circle and dance around a horrified Ray. The Woodsmen are, at times, transparent and they flash in and out. During this ritual (or whatever it is) they smear DoppelCoop’s blood all over his face and then (somehow) excise a dark, transparent orb from his gut. Inside the orb is the smiling face of BOB.
Oh, and did I mention there is a lot of ominous whooshing? Because there’s lots of ominous whooshing.
Ray finally hauls ass out of there and calls Phillip Jeffries from the car. He tells Phillip that he thinks that DoppelCoop is dead but that “he’s found some kind of help”—an understatement if ever I’ve heard one. He also tells him that he saw “something” in Cooper that “may be the key to what this is all about.” This leads me to believe that Ray knows a lot more than I thought he did. I assumed he was some random hitman Phillip hired to take out DoppelCoop, but maybe he’s something more.
Cut to what is essentially a 5-minute long Nine Inch Nails concert video as they play “She’s Gone” at the Roadhouse. Actually, it’s The Nine Inch Nails, according to the Roadhouse MC… I know a lot of people didn’t care for this and it was, on first viewing, really odd to have a full Roadhouse performance (which we’ve come to associate with the end of the episodes) in the first 15 minutes. But in a lot of ways this was the end of the episode—at least, the end of the Twin Peaks: The Return episode, as we’ve come to know them over the first seven hours. After this, the show takes itself (and us) to places both wonderful and strange, the likes of which I’ve never seen before on television and doubt I will again.
But before that, immediately after NIN is done playing, DoppelCoop wakes up, his eyes still a soulless black. My opinion: I think BOB is gone (taken by the Woodsmen) and now we’re dealing with DoppelCoop flying solo out in the world, without BOB riding shotgun. This would open up a lot of interesting possibilities, perhaps an eventual Good Coop/Bad Coop showdown?
And then we get to the real Part 8.
JULY 16, 1945. WHITE SANDS, NEW MEXICO. 5:30 AM (MWT).
We hear a countdown and then…
We bear witness to the detonation of the first nuclear bomb—the Trinity Test—which was carried out less than a month before nuclear bombs were dropped on Japan at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Combined, these bombs killed hundreds of thousands of people in an instant, with many more dying later from exposure. On our screens we watch the dawn of the nuclear age—a dark moment in human history, a point of no return—and as utter destruction is unleashed in our world, pure evil follows from another.
“Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki plays over the destruction, which is both horrifying and visually stunning. The auditory cacophony and dizzying visuals of this scene would lose almost everything in translation so I’m not even going to try. Suffice it to say that when Showtime executive David Nevins described The Return as “pure heroin Lynch,” I’m pretty sure this is what he was talking about. And we aren’t done yet—not by a long shot.
When the bomb explodes, it rips a hole between two worlds and unleashes an evil into ours. One could argue that the nuclear bomb itself is a large-scale representation of “the evil that men do” (to quote Albert from the original series), but something otherworldly is at work here. We are transported to a convenience store, which in Twin Peaks mythology is a place where Black Lodge spirits have meetings (see the meeting in Fire Walk With Me and extended version in The Missing Pieces). I think the “room above the convenience store” is not a place in our world that is physically above the convenience store but a place more like the Red Room/Waiting Room, where a portal exists.
What we witness in Part 8 seems to be the first time that the convenience store portal between two worlds is ripped open. There is static sputtering and flashing lights and smoke coming from inside the store. Time seems to be distorted and before long a group of Woodsmen appear and mill about for a while, disappearing and reappearing and going in and out of the store throughout the sequence. They all seem to have their hands up in a similar position, as if they are holding on to invisible reins.
It’s worth noting that there are stacks of cans that can bee seen through the window throughout the convenience store sequence—creamed corn, perhaps?
The Woodsmen disappear from the store and we move on to an otherworldly entity credited as “Experiment.” [The creature in the glass box in New York was credited as “Experiment Model,” so they are likely linked in some way.] The Experiment lets out a stream of what I can only describe as a sort of vomit/ejaculate substance containing multitudes of whitish eggs. If you look closely, you can see that The Experiment has small horns, not unlike the symbol on the playing card DoppelCoop showed Darya before he killed her. This is one of those things that could mean something or nothing, but I thought it was pretty nifty.
As the stream moves toward us we see the orb containing BOB—the same one we saw earlier coming out of DoppelCoop. It left me wondering whether we are witnessing the birth of BOB or the escape of BOB. Perhaps BOB has always existed in the Black Lodge and the rift between worlds just let him loose to bring his evil to ours. And there are other dark circles behind him, which seem to be different than the eggs. What other evil spirits are along for this ride?
There are then a series of explosions and flames out of which eventually appears a molten gold ball. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it reminds me of the gold ball we saw come out of the manufactured Dougie in the Red Room in Part 3, as well as the gold blob that materialized in (what I think was) Buenos Aires, Argentina in Part 5.
And from this we head back across the Purple Sea that we saw in Part 3, when Good Coop got out of the Red Room. There is an island fortress high in the sky, which I’ve decided I’m going to call the Watchtower since we don’t yet know whether this is a part of the White Lodge (as many people including myself believe) or whether it is something else. It’s also not clear whether this is the same building Coop fell onto in Part 3, but it’s likely the same place he was in with ??????? in the first scene of the series.
We enter the fortress through a very tiny window and see a woman named Señorita Dido dressed in the 1920s flapper style, sitting on a couch and listening to some vintage music on the gramophone. The song is called “Slow 30s Mood,” and it’s a beautiful original composition by David Lynch and Dean Hurley. Dido is swaying along slightly, just chilling out, when a large alarm bell-shaped thing starts to go off.
Out comes ??????? who is concerned by this alarm, and he stares off into the distance as if searching for the source of the danger. He turns the alarm off and exchanges a look with Dido before going upstairs to a large theater room. Here he watches what we’ve just watched: the bomb, the convenience store, and the Experiment. The screen stops on the face of BOB and ??????? seems to recognize the enormity of what’s happened. He floats up into the air and creates a golden cloud as Dido watches in awe.
I can’t speculate on exactly what this gold stuff is but I get a feeling that it is a source of positive energy to counter the evil just unleashed by the Experiment. From this cloud, a golden orb is formed.
The orb floats down to Dido, who catches it, and inside we see the face of Laura Palmer. Dido kisses the orb and then sends it back up, where it is sucked into a gold machine of some sort and launched through the screen and into our world. We don’t see it land but from its trajectory, it looks like it’s heading in the direction of the western United States. This entire sequence is just so beautiful, due in large part to a hauntingly beautiful score by Angelo Badalamenti, and I never get tired of watching it.
As far as the Laura orb goes, I haven’t decided what I think about it. Laura Palmer has always been at the heart of Twin Peaks and it’s not outside the realm of possibility that she is some sort of chosen one—though chosen for what, exactly, I don’t know. We know that she dies rather than allowing BOB to possess her. We also know that she is the reason that Agent Cooper came to the town of Twin Peaks. All I really know is that I’m positive it’s all connected and that, somehow and some way, both Laura and Cooper were always going to do battle with BOB. Laura couldn’t defeat him, but maybe Agent Cooper can.
We return to the New Mexico desert, but it’s 11 years later—August 5th, 1956—and one of the Experiment’s eggs hatches and crawls away. It looks like some sort of mutant frog-insect hybrid and I’ve seen some people calling it frogbug so I’ll go with that. Whatever you call it, it’s not of this world and it’s pretty gross looking.
In a nearby town, we see a young boy and girl walking together—the picture of innocent 1950s Americana. [We also hear dialogue for the first time in 26 minutes, since the countdown for the nuke.] She finds a “good luck” penny on the ground as they walk and the couple engages in some innocent flirtation as he walks her home (which is way out of his way). She allows him to give her a chaste kiss before she goes inside, but that’s where her luck runs out.
Several Woodsmen appear in the area. Their shadows float down out of the air and they materialize in the desert outside of town. They reach a road where they stop a couple in a truck and one of them asks, in a deep, frightening voice: “Got a Light?” He says it again and again and there’s electrical static and the sound is distorted as the wife of the driver screams. The driver seems drawn to the Woodsman, even though he’s terrified, but he is able to pull away and drive off before anything happens, which is more than can be said for some of the town’s other residents.
The Woodsman heads to a local radio station, KPJK, where the receptionist greets him. He repeats again, “Got a light? Got a light?” and she is also drawn to him despite her fear. He grabs her head and crushes her skull with one hand and then he turns his attention to the DJ in the booth.
He’s playing “My Prayer” by The Platters, which is broadcasting through radios around town as the people go about their business. There’s a mechanic working in his garage and a waitress at Pop’s diner cleaning up, as well as the young girl from earlier sitting on her bed—all listening to KPJK. At the station, the Woodsman grabs the DJ’s head and asks his usual question—”Got a light?”—before taking over control of the broadcast and repeating, over and over like some sort of evil mantra:
This is the water. And this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes and dark within.
One by one the townspeople listening to the Woodsman’s message over the radio fall unconscious, including the young girl.
As the Woodsman is broadcasting, the frogbug arrives outside the young girl’s house and flies in through the window. Even though she is unconscious, as the frogbug approaches she opens her mouth wide enough to let it inside and then swallows it.
The Woodsman finishes his broadcast and crushes the skull of the DJ. As he does so, we see the white of his eyes, and when he walks off and disappears back into the desert night, we hear a horse whinnying in the distance. The credits roll over the sleeping girl, whose eyes are fluttering as if in REM sleep. I don’t even want to think about what kind of dreams she must be having. After watching Part 8, I had some bizarre dreams of my own.
I could theorize about and dissect this episode forever (and I probably will) but I think the most important take-away here is that, when it comes to The Return, anything can happen. As much fun as it is for me and many others in the fandom, there really is no point in trying to figure out the mystery because it is so much larger than small town murder mysteries and the various Coopers running around. What I took from Part 8 is that The Return is really about the mythology behind the original series and how it shapes events both future and past. The original Twin Peaks was a microcosm of a larger and more pervasive evil that exists in our world, and the evil that men do is not limited to the goings-on in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. It is everywhere, and it’s been here for a long time, and it is going to take something mighty powerful to defeat it, if it can be defeated at all.
For your listening pleasure, here is our SPOTIFY PLAYLIST FOR PART 8.