For me, one of the most important mysteries in The Return is the question of what happened to Major Garland Briggs. Not only that, who exactly WAS Major Briggs? How did he know the things that he knew? What was his connection to the Lodges? And even after reading Mark Frost’s The Secret History of Twin Peaks, which I thought might shed more light on the situation, I was still left wanting. [That said, I still recommend TSHOTP for those who haven’t read it because it really does tie in to some of the new series, especially Part 8.]
Major Briggs was always a mystery, and was one of my favorite characters from the original series, but with Don Davis having sadly passed away in 2008, I was not sure I would ever have any answers. But Lynch and Frost have done an exceptional job of incorporating major characters whose actors have passed away, and Part 9 gave me, if not answers to my questions, some more interesting questions to ponder.
We open with DoppelCoop, still bloody but no longer on the verge of death. It appears that during their ritual, the Woodsmen healed up DoppelCoop after extracting BOB—and I still believe, until proven wrong, that this is DoppelCoop riding solo and that BOB is elsewhere now, headed toward some new host. DoppelCoop walks down a country road to a farm. It’s uncertain whether this is this “The Farm” that Ray was supposed to head to or just some random place, but either way Chantal and her husband, Hutch (Tim Roth), are waiting for him, having expected him to arrive the night before.
An aside: as a big Tim Roth fan, I’ve been wondering what character he’d be playing. Like others, I thought he might be replacing the late, great David Bowie as Philip Jeffries. I would have been OK with that, but I would much rather see Bowie himself in some form—a la Frank Silva and Don Davis, who have both appeared in the show via old footage used sparingly and in creative ways. However it plays out, if David Bowie’s Jeffries does show up, I fully trust Lynch to do it right.
Chantal and Hutch are there to tend to the boss’s needs, which right now means a little bit of a patch job on the bullet wound and some fresh guns and phones (or “puppies and biscuits,” as Hutch calls them). Before DoppelCoop leaves, he sends a text from a bright pink, rhinestone-studded cell phone—“around the dinner table the conversation is lively.” He then calls Duncan Todd in his office in Las Vegas and asks if he did it (i.e. had Dougie killed). After Ike the Spike’s failed attempt, Duncan is forced to tell Mr. C that it’s not done yet—not what DoppelCoop wants to hear. He then tasks Hutch and Chantal with killing the warden, after which he’ll have a “double header” for them in Vegas. One of those heads is most certainly Dougie, but the identity of the second target is unknown. It could be any one of a number of people so I won’t speculate except to say that I really hope it’s not Janey-E.
Before he leaves, DoppelCoop gets some sugar from Chantal. Hutch is cool with it—encourages it even (but something tells me that even if he didn’t, he wouldn’t say no to Mr. C). Chantal also gives him some Cheetos for the road, which is by far DoppelCoop’s most #relatable moment thus far.
The FBI Squad (plus Diane) are on their way back to Philadelphia when they receive an urgent call from Colonel Davis at the Pentagon telling them about the Major Briggs situation in Buckhorn. Diane, predictably, says, “Fuck you, Gordon,” and wants to go home but Gordon tells her that the case might actually be of interest to her because it involves a man Agent Cooper once knew. Diane immediately knows that he’s talking about the “Blue Rose” case, which is interesting because I wasn’t aware how much Diane—as support staff and not an agent—knew about the Blue Rose case given its Top Secret status. She agrees to the pit stop in Buckhorn, but only if she gets some more vodka.
Diane checks her phone only to find that it’s blocked, but the FBI satellite phones are working fine and Tammy receives a call from Warden Murphy with some not-so-great news.
Back in Las Vegas, DougieCoop and Janey-E are at the police station with the three Detectives Fusco after Ike the Spike’s failed attempt on Dougie’s life. The detectives are questioning Bushnell Mullins about Dougie, asking if Mullins has any idea who might want Dougie dead. We learn that Dougie has been working for Lucky 7 Insurance for 12 years and Bushnell says that he had a car accident not long before he started working there. This goes a long way towards explaining why no one in Dougie’s life seems overly concerned with the way he’s been acting since Good Coop replaced him. Bushnell seems a bit suspicious of the cops and at one point the former boxing champ seems to (almost subconsciously) start making a fist. On his way out, Bushnell tells Dougie that they are going to work together to get some answers.
After Bushnell leaves, we learn from the cops that there are no records on Douglas Jones before 1997. This is presumably the year that Dougie was “manufactured.” The Fuscos think perhaps he’s in the witness protection program but just to be sure, one of the Fuscos has a plan: he brings Dougie a fresh cup of coffee and takes his old mug so he can run his fingerprints. We’re edging closer to the FBI’s discovery of the Good Dale, but since DoppelCoop has magic technology access to basically whatever he wants, I wonder if he will be alerted when Dougie’s prints come back a match for Special Agent Dale Cooper. Then the question becomes who will get to DougieCoop first, the FBI or DoppelCoop?
A sergeant comes in to inform the Fuscos that the palm print (or rather, the entire palm) left on the gun used to attack DougieCoop belongs to Ike the Spike, and that he is holed up at some motel off the strip. It seems like Ike is no stranger to the Las Vegas PD and they are pretty stoked to have finally caught him. It’s interesting to note that throughout this scene, the “Deer Meadow Shuffle” from Fire Walk With Me is playing. It’s an upbeat, jazzy little tune that gives me old school Twin Peaks vibes when I watch it.
In the waiting room, DougieCoop and Janey-E sit silently. Three things catch DougieCoop’s attention as they wait to be released: an American flag in the corner (with “America the Beautiful” playing), the red heels of a woman walking by, and the electrical outlet on the wall. I immediately thought of Audrey Horne and her red heels during this scene and I’m tempted to think that Coop is remembering her, but I don’t think that Agent Cooper ever saw her wearing them in the original series. Still, I got major Audrey vibes from this brief scene, if only because we are still waiting for her appearance in The Return.
The Fuscos head to Ike’s motel, where he is leaving a message for someone named (or with the initials) “JT”—“No cigar. Taking medical leave.” But before he can take his leave, he’s busted by the LVPD.
At the Twin Peaks sheriff’s department, Lucy and Andy are having a drawn out argument over what color chair to buy online. Lucy may not like cell phones, but she seems perfectly happy with the technological advancements in online shopping. Lucy wants the beige one and Andy wants the red one, and even though Andy eventually gives in to what Lucy wants, she secretly buys the red chair for him. I’ve seen some people complaining about not really understanding the point of this scene but—as I myself am one half of a married couple with different opinions on décor—it made perfect sense to me. [Also, the red chair was the right choice, IMO.]
Elsewhere in Twin Peaks, we are reintroduced (briefly) to more members of the Horne family—Johnny and Sylvia. Johnny has broken free and is running around the house as his mother calls out for “Mary” (Johnny’s caretaker?). Johnny ends up smashing his head into a wall, possibly fatally injuring himself. Next to him is an old black and white photograph of the falls (before the Great Northern was built).
Sheriff Truman, Hawk, and Bobby go to Bobby’s mom’s house to ask her some questions about Agent Cooper’s visit with her late husband just before his death. As soon as Betty Briggs sees that Hawk and Sheriff Truman are with Bobby, she knows what it is all about. Major Briggs himself had prophesied this meeting before he died. After Agent Cooper left that day, Major Briggs told his wife that one day Bobby, Hawk, and Sheriff Truman would come to her asking about Special Agent Dale Cooper, and that when that day came she was to give them something.
Mrs. Briggs shows them a chair, and hidden in the back of that chair, accessed by a hidden button, is a small, metal object. Per her late husband’s instructions, she gives it to them. It’s a very emotional scene for Bobby, especially given the speech that Major Briggs gave to him in the Double R in the original series (which is one of my favorite scenes of all time). Even though teenaged Bobby was into some bad shit and his father knew it, Major Briggs had a vision. He told Bobby:
This was a vision, fresh and clear as a mountain stream, The mind revealing itself to itself. In my vision, I was on the veranda of a vast estate, a palazzo of some fantastic proportion. There seemed to emanate from it a light from within, this gleaming, radiant marble. I’d known this place. I had in fact been born and raised there. This was my first return. A reunion with the deepest well-springs of my being. Wandering about, I noticed happily that the house had been immaculately maintained. There’d been added a number of additional rooms, but in a way that blended so seamlessly with the original construction, one would never detect any difference. Returning to the house’s grand foyer, there came a knock at the door. My son was standing there. He was happy and carefree, clearly living a life of deep harmony and joy. We embraced, a warm and loving embrace, nothing withheld. We were, in this moment, one. My vision ended and I awoke with a tremendous feeling of optimism and confidence in you and your future. That was my vision of you. I’m so glad to have had this opportunity to share it with you. I wish you nothing but the very best in all things.
Teenaged Bobby was incredibly touched by this, and adult Bobby is equally affected by what his mother is telling him: that Major Briggs knew how it would all turn out and always had faith in Bobby, even when he was at his worst.
The fact that Major Briggs’ vision turned out to be true is not only emotional but significant when you consider the details of the vision—the veranda of a fantastic palazzo? An immaculate, many-roomed house with a grand foyer? We’ve seen things that fit these descriptions in The Return, in the world with the purple ocean which some believe to be part of the White Lodge. We also know that Major Briggs’ disembodied head floats in this world. Was he, as he stated to teenaged Bobby, actually born and raised in this other world? We know Major Briggs has been to the White Lodge and that he is able to accurately prophesy the future. Could he be a Lodge spirit? He’s certainly much more than your average mortal man. Given the age of his corpse compared to what it should be, Major Briggs has definitely been messing about in time one way or another. We don’t get any concrete answers here, but even though he is gone, Major Briggs is very much present in this scene with his wife and son. The emotion is heightened by a new Angelo Badalamenti composition, aptly titled “The Chair.”
Major Briggs is not physically present in the scene with his family but he is present (sans head) in the morgue in Buckhorn, South Dakota. The FBI Squad and Diane have arrived there, much to Diane’s displeasure. She’s told she can’t smoke there but responds in true Diane fashion.
When everyone leaves the room, Diane checks her phone and we see she has received the text sent by DoppelCoop: “AROUND THE DINNER TABLE, THE CONVERSATION IS LIVELY.” It’s sent from Unknown and it’s in all caps, unlike the original, so it may have come through a middle-man or some other anonymous source. There has been some debate as to whether this means that Diane is actually working with DoppelCoop and/or knows a hell of a lot more than she is telling Gordon and the others. I’m not convinced one way or the other. Diane remains a mystery to me, her only constants being a foul mouth, vodka, and cigarettes.
On the way to see Briggs’ body, Buckhorn Detective Dave Macklay fills the FBI Squad in only the whole Bill Hastings/Ruth Davenport affair, including Phyllis Hastings’ murder and a car explosion that killed Hastings’ secretary. Albert responds to this info dump in classic form:
I choose to believe that this is a nice little meta joke from Lynch/Frost regarding the absolute train-wreck that was Season 2 after Laura’s murder was solved and nothing will convince me otherwise.
We also learn that Bill Hastings and Ruth Davenport were working together on a blog—The Search for the Zone—about an alternate dimension. [Note: There is actually a Search for the Zone blog and you need to check it out immediately if you haven’t already.] Hastings’ last blog entry reads, “Today we finally entered what we call the Zone, and we met the Major.”
It is not lost on Albert that he’s looking at the body of a man in his 40s—about the same age Major Briggs was when he supposedly died in a fire in the government facility (Listening Post Alpha) outside of Twin Peaks. That same time, 25 years earlier, Cooper was around Major Briggs. Gordon and Albert know there is a connection, they just don’t know exactly what it is yet. Constance also shows them Dougie’s engraved wedding ring, which she found in Major Briggs’ stomach during the autopsy.
There is a long, drawn out scene outside the station with Diane, Gordon, and Tammy where Diane is smoking cigarette and Gordon takes a drag. Tammy stands there incredibly awkwardly while Gordon and Diane exchange knowing glances and talk about the old times when they would smoke together.
Finally, Agent Tammy Preston gets her chance to shine when she interviews Bill Hastings. She hasn’t done all that much in the show so far but in the interview scene we really see how competent an agent she is. Bill Hastings is having a complete breakdown as he tells her about how he and Ruth found and entered a “different dimension” where they met the Major. He says that the Major told them he was “hibernating” there and that he wanted to go to a different place because other people were going to find him. Major Briggs asked Bill and Ruth to go to a secure military database and get him coordinates, which Ruth wrote on her hand. The night Ruth died, they brought Major Briggs the coordinates and then “others” came in and grabbed Bill by the neck, demanding he give them his wife’s name. Tammy asks Hastings to identify “the Major” and he picks a photo of Garland Briggs out of the array, then signs and dates it.
Hastings tells Tammy that when they gave the Major the numbers he began to float up and said, “Cooper. Cooper,” before his head disappeared. All of a sudden, Ruth was dead and when Hastings woke up, he was at home. He swears he didn’t kill Ruth and that there were “so many others there.” It would seem that Hastings is innocent and that Ruth was killed by these “others,” whoever they might be. The poor guy just wanted to go to the Bahamas with his mistress but they just had to go screwing around in other dimensions…
Back in Twin Peaks, Jerry Horne is still high af and lost in the woods. This time, his foot (or is it?) is talking to him. I said it before and I’m even more convinced now that something more than just drugs is at work here. The deeper Jerry goes into the woods, the weirder things are getting. As we know from the original series (as well as The Secret History of Twin Peaks) some very strange and dangerous things can happen deep in those woods.
Deputy Douchebag (aka Chad) is having his lunch in the conference room when Sheriff Truman, Hawk, and Bobby return. They kick him out (and open a window to air out the place) and Sheriff Truman examines the metal tube from the Briggs house. He can’t figure it out but Bobby laughs because he’s the only one who knows how to open it—his father brought one home when he was a kid. They go outside and he shows them how to do it. Bobby throws the metal tube on the ground and then listens to a tone it makes for a while, then when it clicks, he throws it again and it opens to reveal a message from Major Briggs.
The note is a set of instructions for them to follow, and again Bobby is the key to deciphering the message. Major Briggs references a place called “Jack Rabbit’s Palace,” which is a place only Bobby would know. It was a spot near Major Briggs’s station where young Bobby and his father used to go—their “make-believe world” where they would tell stories—and Bobby was the one who named it.
The note says to collect some soil from Jack Rabbit’s Palace and then go to a place 253 yards east of there. There is a time—2:53—and two dates: 10/1 and 10/2, the first of which Sheriff Truman tells us is two days from the present day in Twin Peaks (9/29). There are also a few symbols, one of which is the same symbol that was on DoppelCoop’s playing card. The time 2:53 is significant. It was said in the Waiting Room/Red Room by the Evolution of the Arm—“253. Time and time again.”—and is also the same time that DoppelCoop threw up in the car before his accident (while Dougie was sucked into the Lodge and Good Coop returned to his body). It seems clear that 2:53 is the specific time when a portal or portals open between the worlds.
There is also another piece of paper beneath the note, which is a section of the printout of a message Major Briggs received in the original series. In Season 2, Major Briggs went to visit Agent Cooper in his room at the Great Northern to show him a printout of some readings he received at Listening Post Alpha. He tells Cooper:
Among my many tasks is the maintenance of deep space monitors aimed at galaxies beyond our own. We routinely receive various communications—space garbles to decode and examine… radio waves and gibberish, Agent Cooper, until Thursday night, Friday morning to be exact. [Around the time Agent Cooper was shot.] The read-out took us by surprise. Row after row of gibberish, and all of a sudden, “THE / OWLS / ARE / NOT / WHAT / THEY / SEEM” … and then later in the morning, “COOPER / COOPER / COOPER.”
The piece of paper in the tube contains the section Major Briggs showed Coop in the original series, except it is cut off between the second and third Cooper. “Two Coopers,” Hawk says, but technically it is two-and-a half Coopers—could this stand for DoppelCoop, Good Coop, and the manufactured Dougie as the half-Cooper? Regardless, the group makes plans to go to Jack Rabbit’s Palace in two days and follow Briggs’ instructions.
“Laura’s Theme” plays over a shot of the Great Northern, where Ben and Beverly are still trying in vain to locate the source of the mysterious tone coming from the walls. It seems to be coming from a specific corner of the room. Beverly describes the tone as “mesmerizing” and Ben describes it as “otherworldly.” The two have a moment where it seems like they might kiss but, shockingly, Ben turns Beverly down. At the end of the original series, Ben swore that he wanted to be good. Maybe he really is a changed man.
We end with a scene at the Roadhouse. Hudson Mohawke performs “Human” as two young girls sit in a booth. They are both obviously drug addicts, especially Emma (Sky Ferreira), who talks of being fired from her job serving burgers because she was high at work. She also has an absolutely disgusting rash under her arm—a side effect of the drugs, perhaps? The episode ends with another performance by Au Revoir Simone, this time performing “A Violent Yet Flammable World.”
Compared to Part 8, which took place largely in other dimensions and time periods and focused on the series mythology, Part 9 advanced the plot in ways that are drawing the various characters together. Without appearing on screen (except in a photograph) Major Briggs drove most of the story, both in Twin Peaks and in Buckhorn. Truman, Hawk, and Bobby are following the Major’s clues. The FBI has a lot of new intel on their Blue Rose case thanks to Bill Hastings’ trip to the other side. The Vegas cops are about to have DougieCoop’s fingerprints. And, of course, there’s DoppelCoop on the loose, alive and well and determined to take out the Good Cooper. It’s still anybody’s guess who will get to him first—the Good Guys or the Bad Guys—but I’m very much looking forward to finding out.