We've only seen four of the 18 hours of David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks: The Return, but we already have a lot of questions. A lot. Since half the fun of Twin Peaks is never fully understanding what's going on at any given moment, we decided to round up everything that's bedevilling us the most — realising, of course, that we may never know exactly WTF is going on.
All images: Showtime via screen grab
1) What does the Giant's message mean?
The Giant is a friendly but enigmatic presence who emerges from the spirit realm to pass information to Agent Cooper. On the original series, he appears at two significant moments: First, after a woozy Cooper has just been shot, to convey three clues about the Laura Palmer case that end up having great significance (including the oft-quoted, "The owls are not what they seem"). Later, he materialises at the Roadhouse to tell Cooper, "It is happening again," when Laura's murderer takes another victim.
In short, when the Giant speaks, you better pay attention, especially when he's given the first dialogue on the first new Twin Peaks episode in decades. They're sitting face-to-face in what appears to be a black and white shot of the Black Lodge; it's hard to tell precisely, but the Giant is doing that backward-forward speech thing that everyone but Cooper does there.
Giant: "Agent Cooper. Listen to the sounds." [A record player skips, a callback to another time we heard that sound — the night "it happened again".] "It is in our house now."
Cooper: "It is?"
Giant: "It all cannot be said aloud now. Remember 430. Richard and Linda. Two birds with one stone."
Cooper: "I understand."
Giant: "You are far away."
Cooper understands, but we sure don't. Keep your eyes peeled during future episodes for that number and those names.
2) What is Dr Jacoby up to?
What does the ageing doctor need with so many shovels? Why is he spray-painting them gold? And why is he living in what appears to be the woods outside of Twin Peaks? Shouldn't he be retired to Hawaii by now?
3) Who made this contraption - and why?
After four episodes, we know a few things about this top-secret, carefully guarded (except when it's not), constantly surveilled, glass box stashed high above New York City. It's obviously some kind of portal to the Black Lodge, capable of allowing forces both good (a floating Agent Cooper) and evil to pass through. But who is the "anonymous billionaire" who set it up? (My guess: The moneyed "Him" referenced by the nervous Mr Todd in episode two, as in, "You better hope that you never get involved with someone like him.") Once we know who's funding this thing — and we probably will eventually, since the FBI's finest, including Gordon Cole (David Lynch) and Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer), are on the case — we'll likely get a much better idea of its ultimate purpose.
4) What do the Log Lady's prophecies mean?
The oracle of Twin Peaks speaks twice to Deputy Chief Hawk. In episode one: "Something is missing and you have to find it. It has to do with Special Agent Dale Cooper. The way you will find it has something to do with your heritage." Then, in episode two, while Hawk is walking in the woods waiting for "something to happen" around that familiar grove of sycamore trees: "The stars turn, and a time presents itself. Hawk, watch carefully." We're watching too, but we have no idea what we're looking for yet.
5) Who - or what - is this?
This disappearing fellow is the only other prisoner in the Buckthorn, South Dakota gaol besides high school principal Bill Hastings, who either committed a double murder and jigsaw-puzzled the corpses together in a dream (or maybe while possessed?), or is a big fat liar, or is being extremely framed.
6) What does Laura Palmer whisper to Agent Cooper in the Black Lodge?
Despite the otherwise strong déjà vu in this scene, it probably isn't "My father killed me" this time around. It's something in response to the long-lost FBI agent's question "When can I go?" But it's doubtful we'll find out exactly what Laura shares with Coop until much later in the series.... if at all.
7) What does this doctored playing card mean?
Again, Bad Dale's apparent connection to the Hastings case seems like something the plot will eventually puzzle through. However, when he shows this strange playing card to his soon-to-be murder victim and says this is the information he seeks, the meaning is (of course) unclear. As for this weird symbol, it could have something to do with Windom Earle, Cooper's old FBI partner, a man fond of using playing cards to send threats — and who was last seen having his soul ripped out by BOB in the Black Lodge.
8) Is this a fourth Renault brother working at the Roadhouse?
In the background of a scene that wants you to pay attention to Shelley, James, and a new character played by Balthazar Getty (star of Lynch's Lost Highway), there's a grey-haired bartender who looks a lot like Jacques Renault (suffocated in his hospital bed by a grieving Leland Palmer on the original series, you may recall). It's the same actor (Walter Olkewicz), playing a character called "Jean-Michel Renault". Obviously, that can't be a coincidence.
9) What does Major Briggs have to do with any of this?
First, we hear Bad Dale admit to someone who may or may not be the long-lost FBI agent Phillip Jeffries (played by the late David Bowie in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me) that he met with Major Briggs, an unusually perceptive Project Blue Book veteran would be a major person of interest if Twin Peaks had its own X-Files. Then, the Good Dale, still trying to claw his way out of the Black Lodge, has a vision of Briggs, who speaks two words: "Blue Rose." Fire Walk With Me fans will recognise this code phrase used by the FBI when a case has supernatural elements — like Laura Palmer's murder, for instance. We also learn in episode four that Cooper was the last person to see Briggs alive; soon after they talked, Cooper went MIA and Briggs died in a fire.
Later, at the end of episode four, FBI colleagues Albert and Gordon are discussing their weird interaction with an imprisoned Bad Dale, who not only looks exactly like their fellow agent Cooper but has his same fingerprints, too. "Blue Rose," Albert surmises. "Doesn't get any bluer," Gordon agrees.
10) What does "253" mean?
The Giant tells Agent Cooper to look out for 430, but the Arm (the brain-electrified tree thing that lives in the Black Lodge, which isn't getting its own spot on this list because it isn't something we need to be explained, really) tells him, "253, time and time again." Then, when Cooper is fumbling through the boundary world that envelops the Black Lodge — soon after he sees Briggs' floating head — he meets a cryptic woman with a digital watch. Guess what time it is? The same time appears moments later on the dashboard clock of Bad Dale's car.
11) Who unleashed a third Agent Cooper doppelganger out in the world?
Las Vegas schlub Dougie Jones first pops up in episode three, paying off an exasperated prostitute after a tryst and wearing the Owl Cave ring. Eventually, a perplexed Dougie finds himself in the Black Lodge, where the One-Armed Man tells him he's been manufactured for a specific purpose, which has now been fulfilled; soon after, Dougie shrinks into a small gold ball, mustard-coloured blazer and all. (The ring, of course, stays behind.)
We're left to ponder who, exactly, pulled the strings on this, and why — and also to delight in the levity that ensues when a dopey, alien-like Good Dale (still in possession of his Great Northern Hotel room key!) emerges into the real world in the guise of Dougie, a man who's apparently forgotten what coffee tastes like. As part of the deal, he gets a tightly wound wife (played by Mulholland Drive's Naomi Watts) and a son who's apparently the only person who realises Dougie has been replaced by a verrrrry odd lookalike. Thumbs up, kid.
12) Who's giving Dougie/Dale guidance at the Silver Mustang Casino?
Cooper wins at least 29 mega-jackpots when he realises a symbol (which looks awfully evocative of the Black Lodge's red curtains and zig-zag floor) hovers over every slot machine that's about to hit big. Has he become a psychic due to his time on the other side — or is someone giving him a big assist from beyond? Dougie sure needed the sudden influx of cash, considering he was apparently in all kinds of debt to some seriously well-armed people.
13) What crazy twist of fate led high school hellcat Bobby Briggs to join the Twin Peaks PD?
Seriously, need more information on what happened here.
14) Will we be seeing more of Wally Brando?
"My shadow is always with me. Sometimes ahead, sometimes behind. Sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right... except on cloudy days or at night." Look, I don't want to see a lot more of Michael Cera's wonderfully strange character, but I do hope he turns up again. Not all of Twin Peaks: The Return has felt exactly like Twin Peaks (though it's always felt Lynchian), but this supremely bizarre, wonderfully uncomfortable, seemingly endless scene would have fit right into late-period season two.
15) Who's the headless corpse with high military clearance in Buckthorn?
Bill Hastings stands accused of two murders — the decapitated librarian Ruth, and a mystery man whose prints are on file — but the flummoxed local police don't have the clearance required to reveal his identity. Who could he be, and how is the military involved in all this?
16) Who was "our man in Colombia"?
Years ago, at the FBI, Albert authorised Jeffries to tell Cooper a bit of top-secret information about the bureau's "man in Colombia" because it seemed urgent at the time. A week later, the man was dead. How does this spy-novel subplot tie into everything? Bonus round: Who is the "one certain person" Gordon wants Albert to contact to offer an opinion on the newly-resurfaced Cooper? And if she drinks at the Roadhouse, who could it be?