Back to the Black Lodge. Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is as we left him, stood before The Arm which continues to crackle with electricity. The Arm tells him, “253“.
These numbers are important and recur throughout The Return. Lynch is a believer in numerology. When totalled together these figures equal 10 and this is referred to as “the number of completion.” 253 comes to be significant in numerous ways; frequently it is an important time. Cooper’s exit from the Black Lodge is due to happen at this time, as will be confirmed by the clock on Mr. C’s dashboard soon enough.
The prevalence of important numbers in supernatural TV shows is common. The most famous recent example, perhaps, are the mysterious and significant numbers in LOST (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 – again these numbers total another significant number within the lore of the show: 108). The use of 253 in Twin Peaks feels like an echo. The Arm even acknowledges that 253 will recur, adding, “Time and time again.”
The Arm starts repeating the name “BOB”; a warning that the evil entity is near, or due to converge again, housed as ‘he’ is within the Cooper doppelganger. This repetition may also indicate that The Arm is becoming aware of Mr. C’s planned interference with Cooper’s exit. “Go now!” The Arm encourages Cooper.
Cooper follows Gerard out to the corridor but arrives there alone. He walks down the corridor toward us, to the opening to the next chamber, but the sound of electricity fires on the soundtrack. A brief time cut occurs in the image and Cooper is unable to open the drapes. The time cut may very well signify the exact moment at which Mr. C and The Arm’s doppelganger affect their change that alters the rules of Cooper’s exit. The Lodge is becoming unstable as a result.
Cooper’s path is blocked so he returns in the direction he came. Crossing the previous chamber, he becomes distracted and pauses. He looks in the opposite corner and The Arm has disappeared. He continues on his path across to the other exit. Trying this new corridor, he passes into another chamber. In this one he finds Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) sitting in a chair next to one of the tall lamps.
Leland’s appearance in the Black Lodge is not unexpected. He appears to have existed there ever since his death in the mid part of season two, when BOB escaped him. One might interpret the Black Lodge as a kind of purgatory if one were to imprint a western theological viewpoint upon it. The maddening timelessness is certainly in-keeping with tales of being trapped in limbo. Perhaps this is the fate of all hosts to BOB, and the reason that Mr. C is fated to return there.
Leland tells Cooper to find Laura; a request which will echo again toward the end of The Return, again signifying a collapse of time within the Lodge. Leland seems to be holding something in, or uncomfortable in some way. Cooper continues looking for the exit.
He is drawn toward some intermittent light and passes into a new chamber. Here, two images of the Black Lodge are laid over one another; in one the camera pulls back, in the other it pushes forward. Reality is coming apart. Electronic sounds crackle on the soundtrack. Gerard and The Arm appear and then Lynch pushes in on the statue in stuttering fits and starts.
“Something’s wrong,” says Gerard.
“My doppelganger,” replies The Arm. In the season two finale several inhabitants of the Black Lodge appeared to have ‘evil’ doppelgangers, not just Cooper. Leland Palmer, Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) and The Man From Another Place (Michael J Anderson) all had them. In The Return, The Arm has a doppelganger also, who must be in league with Mr. C in the outside world. The doppelganger can be recognised as the ‘brain’ on top of it’s tree appears yellowing and rotten.
Cooper exits to the corridor and the image slows down. The statue is at the end of the corridor which seems to give Cooper pause, designating this as a new area. Again Lynch pushes in on the statue. It’s the footage from a moment ago. Time is being affected, too. Cooper walks toward the statue and the soundtrack quietens. He opens the drapes and sees a desert road from a high vantage point.
Mr. C drives down the desert road. We intuit, therefore, that on Earth it is the next day; the day following Mr. C’s murder of Darya and the other events at the motel. In his car, Mr. C checks his watch. It’s almost time. The statue is replaced by the doppelganger of The Arm. Cooper may have sensed that it was not what it appeared to be, hence his pause on seeing it moments ago. It screams and chases Cooper down the corridor. The chevron floor becomes unstable.
“Non-exist-ent!” screams The Arm’s doppelganger as the floor splits apart. Beneath it appears to be oil or black water. Cooper falls down. He is plunged through the surface of the oil and finds himself hurtling through space. It is clear Mr. C has done something to sabotage Dale’s exit. He is out… but where is he headed?
Next time: Glass box revisited