Agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) sits in an office looking over the prints lifted from Mr. C (Kyle MacLachlan). She holds a photo of Dale Cooper circa 1990. Young. Fresh faced. He looks determined. It is as though she is trying to get a read on the man from this piece of archival evidence.
What’s intriguing is that in the photo, Cooper is backed by red drapes, heavily suggestive of the Black Lodge. There has been – certainly to our knowledge – no way that this photo could have been taken in that place. Nobody has had the opportunity. Who even knows if taking photographs in the Black Lodge is even possible? Therefore it seems like an odd choice from David Lynch to use this particular photo; something so brazen as to be hard to think of as a genuine mistake.
The other option, then, is that it is not a photo from Cooper’s experiences in the Black Lodge. That it is merely a coincidence, suggested by how readily associated those red drapes are with the show’s most iconic supernatural waiting room. Perhaps it is a photo taken at One Eyed Jack’s (where red drapes were also commonly found), or some other place visited by Agent Cooper during his tenure as an FBI agent. Still, it’s a bold and potentially confusing choice.
Tammy looks at the photo intensely. She is lit only by a desk lamp. One assumes that this is a South Dakota field office. The desk isn’t particularly personalised, though the Apple monitor’s desktop wallpaper (a rare instance of a hardware company other than Dell getting some product placement) is emblazened with the FBI’s emblem.
Tammy compares the photo of youthful Cooper with the mugshot of Mr. C. It’s one of the more contemplative moments of Part 5, as though through the camera Lynch is gazing into the face of mortality, at the inexorable forward motion of time.
Is Tammy trying to conjure a psychological insight. Her pensive silence and thoughtfulness suggest either profiling or perhaps even an attempt to manifest some kind of psychic connection. Psychic ability – to varying degrees – has proven commonplace among the teams corralled by Gordon Cole. It’s not inconceivable that Tammy might’ve drawn his attention for having displayed such talents.
She compares Cooper’s fingerprints with those taken from Mr. C on his incarceration, noting that his left ring finger print appears to have been inverted. Bell’s occasionally hyperactive acting style (we’ve established she’s relatively fresh to appearing on camera like this) searches for meaning in the discovery.
For whatever it’s worth, it looks as though the entire print on the screen has been flipped, including the onscreen text denoting which print it is. Is this another gaff in the same scene? It would be uncommon laziness if it was? It’s not something we’ll ever really know. The main intent here is to push us toward the conclusion that Tammy is onto something; something that may very well lead the FBI agents toward a greater truth about Mr. C.
Next time: One phone call