by Mary Cox
“The Return, Part 9: This is the Chair
It was hard to know where this episode was going to pick up after last week’s jaw-dropping experimental venture into true Lynchian territories in “The Return, Part 8: Gotta Light?” but Part 9 swings us right back into the story of this season at full speed.
Evil Coop, who hasn’t been bested by the likes of Ray, is alive and well after being thoroughly mauled by The Woodsmen. Coop orders a hit on Warden Murphy, whom he previously blackmailed to escape from prison. Meanwhile, the LAPD discover that Dougie Coop has no previous records of existence prior to 1997, prompting them to stealthily take his coffee cup to get a DNA sample. Shortly after leaving a mysterious voicemail for an unknown person named J.T., Ike “The Spike,” is arrested.
Matthew Lillard gives a powerhouse performance as Bill Hastings in an intense investigation with FBI Agent Tammy Preston, who is speculated to be the “T.P.” repeatedly referenced in Mark Frost’s companion book, The Secret History of Twin Peaks. Preston questions Hastings on his blog, “Search for the Zone” (which, by the way, actually exists and is rumored to contain secret clues about upcoming episodes) and describes the death of Major Briggs, which careful viewers will note that we actually witnessed partially in “The Return, Part 3: Call for Help” while Good Coop was escaping from the Black Lodge.
The episode has a few other notable moments, such as Jerry Horne’s talking foot and Ella’s nasty armpit rash at The Roadhouse, but the most important sequence of this episode regarding advancement of the plot happens when Bobby, Truman, and Hawk go to investigate Mrs. Briggs, who reveals to them that the Major once foretold of their arrival. She gives the a small metal capsule from inside a chair that contains a secret coded map, which includes a small illustration, a set of numbers, and the word “Cooper” printed twice, alluding to the existence of two Coopers.
One small moment viewers might have missed was the scene where Chad is eating lunch by himself in the conference room. As Chad is ordered out of the room by Hawk, take a good look at what’s on his plate. After careful analysis, it appears to be nothing else but creamed corn. That’s right. The cop we all love to hate is straight up eating Garmonbozia.
For those out of the loop: in the Twin Peaks universe, Garmonbozia is human suffering in tangible form, which Lynch represents by creamed corn. It’s the preferred food of the residents of the Black Lodge. In Fire Walk With Me, we see Bob and The Man From Another Place chowing down on Garmonbozia on the Formica Table. Garmonbozia/creamed corn has often been a visual cue in Twin Peaks, and there are numerous references to it throughout the series and within the canon of the show.
Most notably, in The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, Laura cites creamed corn as one of her favorite meals, lending to the developing theory that she is an entity from one of the two Lodges. This theory was reinforced in last week’s episode when Senorita Dido and The Giant (cited in the credits as ?????) released a glowing sphere containing Laura into the universe to counter the birth of Bob. All of this is probably not meant to indicate that Chad is a resident of the Black Lodge, but it is a quiet nod to the nature of his true self, and it seems to be foreshadowing a possible betrayal on Chad’s part.
We’re also treated to a scene featuring a “fight” between Andy and Lucy Brennan over the color of a chair that’s reminiscent of the slow-paced, campy melodrama of the first two seasons. At first glance, this sequence doesn’t really add anything significant to the episode, other than to act as a red herring for those who are attempting to suss out the meaning of the episode’s subtitle, “This is the Chair;” knowing Lynch, there’s a chance that this scene will hold some great significance in the future that we can’t currently see or understand.
Some Twin Peaks theorists believe that Lynch is experimenting with the notion of alternate universes and String Theory in this series. This means that every time a decision is made, a new universe is potentially spawned. Is the fate of Agent Cooper going to hinge on Lucy’s decision to buy the red chair or the tan chair? We’ll have to wait and see.