MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
The White Lodge is a place beyond linear time, without cause and effect, a place where American fans might be watching episode 13 of Twin Peaks: The Return, and German fans might be watching episode 14. That real-world snafu seems quite appropriate for this chronology-scrambling episode, in which Deputy Andy witnesses scenes from the pilot episode, as well as what turns out to be a preview of episode 17.
Bobby might seem baffled by it, but I loved the idea of good old sweet Andy being given the secrets to the universe. With the exception of one unforgettable horror scene involving Sarah Palmer at a bar, episode 14 sees Twin Peaks: The Return fully restoring the old show’s sense of humour. After two very dark, low-key episodes we’re given a week off tracking Mr. C and worrying about Cooper and Audrey. Instead, we get Chad receiving his comeuppance, and some wonderfully Lynchian comic non sequiturs like the overenthusiastic window cleaner who torments Gordon Cole, the incredibly angry head of the FBI’s Las Vegas division, and Freddie’s superhero origin story.
It’s easy to see Freddie as a ridiculous character, but he’s not played for laughs. If he was in Season Two, he’d be quite a grounded type, bringing sincerity to scenes with Dick Tremayne or the Milford brothers. I’m not even sure he’s weirder than the melty-faced drunk Chad ends up in prison with – although he clearly represents a more disturbing kind of absurdity. Freddie, by contrast, is clean-cut and good-hearted, brought to Twin Peaks by fate to carry out the Fireman’s plan. Put like that, he’s not too dissimilar to Dale Cooper.
Cooper – any version of him – is only present in flashbacks this week, apart from one shot of him standing stock still and faceless in Cole’s dream, like one of Rene Magritte’s anonymous suited men. That doesn’t mean he’s not doing anything important. Cole’s dream might just be the skeleton key to understanding The Return, and probably the whole of Twin Peaks. Fans can probably quote along with it, karaoke-style, by now.
Before Cole relates his dream, Agent Preston refers to the doppelgängers using a term we haven’t heard before: “tulpas”. A tulpa is a real concept in Tibetan folklore, for a being who attains selfhood after being dreamed. When Monica Bellucci asks “Who is the dreamer?”, it may refer to a creator of tulpas: Mr. C, perhaps, or MIKE. Or it may refer to the Fireman, who in some interpretations of The Return is constructing an entire parallel universe to trap Judy. Bellucci does, after all, specify that the dreamer “lives inside” his dream. There aren’t many beings with that kind of imaginative power.
There’s also a clue in the editing. After Bellucci asks who the dreamer is, we cut to Gordon Cole, played by David Lynch, one of the two men who, in our universe, dreamed up Twin Peaks. In our universe, too, Monica Bellucci is a real person, and so are most of the Roadhouse acts Audrey is dreaming about. What does it mean, that when Twin Peaks characters dream they conjure up what we recognise as reality? Are Lynch and Frost priming us to ask questions about the Twin Peaks universe’s relationship to our world before the finale? It’s a cop-out to end a story with “And they woke up and it was all a dream”. Lynch and Frost are about to end their story with “And they woke up, and we were all a dream.”