THE RETURN What was up with the 100s of machines at The Fireman's place in Part 17?

The Bookhouse Bot

Archivist
Jul 1, 2022
228
40
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What exactly do these represent?

Does each one represent a different reality (or a different dream)?

Is there one labeled 315 for to Twin Peaks as we know it, and one labeled 430 for the Odessa-verse?

Is it really true, as @Dom theorizes, that the Dale Cooper we know is just one of many different aliases/personas without anything inherently special about it beyond our own familiarity? Is the Kyle Maclachlan character we meet with The Fireman in Part 1 even 'Dale Cooper' at all?

Is all of that absolutely nothing to do with the gif above and the machines? If not, then what do you think these machines are for?
 

Cappy

White Lodge
Aug 4, 2022
583
573
I’ve wondered about this shot too. To me it looks like a room full of Phillip Jeffries teapots.

No clue what the implications of that might be, but maybe that would connect back to the not-Phillip Jeffries Mr. C speaks with in Part 2..?
 

AXX°N N.

Waiting Room
Apr 14, 2022
317
751
This shot has always filled me with dread. Maybe because I don't remember seeing it on airing night, and it's not often discussed, and so in my first rewatch, after tons of discussion and reappraisal and general accounting of what I thought was every element, this scene jumped out at me without context, almost like it was re-inserted into the show when I wasn't looking. Or maybe because it's so elusive; I can't say I have anything approaching a definite grasp on it.

My immediate feeling is that it imparts me with a sense of industry. I don't know if that's the intent, but it's such an industrial design, and seeing endless copies of the same thing in what appears to be a storage room gets my mind to thinking of commodities.

The implications of that make my skin crawl, but I'm not sure I can explicate.

So, I happened to have read a passage last night in Dion Fortune's Psychic Self-Defence, the occult book where a great deal of TP's mystic mythology originates.

"...the Watchers, that curious section of the Occult Hierarchy which is concerned with the welfare of nations. A certain section of their work is apparently concerned with the policing of the Astral Plane. Very little is actually known about them. One comes across their work sporadically and pieces the bits together. I have crossed their trail on several occasions...Whenever black magic is afoot, they set to work to put a spoke in its wheels. Be that as it may, I came to the conclusion that, in view of what had now transpired, the impulse I had had [to write a series of articles on the abuses prevalent in occult fraternities] might have emanated from the Watchers."

Elsewhere, the "occult police force" that is the Watchers are tied to the White Lodge: "the occult police force which, under the Masters of the Great White Lodge, keeps guard over the nations..."

I mention this because it's this same scene where we see Briggs again, and he seems to have incorporated into the workings of the White Lodge in cahoots with the Fireman in some capacity. Elsewhere, we've seen a previous officer character, Jeffries, seemingly become transmogrified and, if not inhabiting one of these devices, using them to communicate, or as a conduit of some kind. It's hard to reckon with what's going on here because the general fan apprehension, half in jest, is that Jeffries is the device, lovingly called a tea kettle.

I have a friend who theorizes that the parallels between Cooper and Jeffries (and Chet Desmond) lays out a definite trajectory. These are all "occult officers" who, in diving deeper into the White Lodge, become either lost or superhuman. We see Cooper begin to have some kind of mastery over the lodge space, just as Jeffries was said to have been incorporated into the lodge space enough to have been to the meeting of entities. If we take these as similar tracks, it would mean that Cooper, eventually, winds up utilizing (or stuck inside?) one of these devices.

So does that mean these devices all correspond to an ascended human? What does this imply about the similar device that Naido leads Cooper to which seems to act as some kind of electrical transformer? Are these not unrelated, and Jeffries is also some kind of electrical transformer? Are the fates of these characters to become energy sources of some kind, powering the workings of the White Lodge?

Briggs' role here also fills me with dread. He's a beloved, good-hearted character, and yet I can't square that with the tone of his spectral appearance. If we compare him to the Fireman, what we're seeing is someone putatively good operating at such an elevated state that it becomes unfathomable, even dread-inducing. But the shot of the endless devices is so dread-inducing to me that I can't take it at face value as being connected to a source of good, even as their workings are re-directing a blatantly evil character like Mr. C.

It's kind of maddening!

Anyway, so, Briggs as a head is apparently because his body is still in reality, unlike Jeffries and Cooper whose entire selves are in the lodge space, able to transmogrify and inhabit a device. And so, is that the only reason Briggs isn't also inhabiting a device? Wouldn't that make his presence "lesser"? Then why does it seem like he, on the contrary, at least visually, is elevated above the rest, to the point he inhabits a universe in Part 3?

Beats me!
 
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MasterMastermnd

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
411
615
I’ve wondered about this shot too. To me it looks like a room full of Phillip Jeffries teapots.

No clue what the implications of that might be, but maybe that would connect back to the not-Phillip Jeffries Mr. C speaks with in Part 2..?
I die on the hill that Mr. C is talking to Sarah Palmer in Part 2, that they've been playing a cat and mouse game since sometime before the opening of the show, with Judy trying to eliminate Cooper and reunite with BOB and Cooper using dugpa magic to try and comprehend the nature of the threat against him
 
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Dom

White Lodge
Jul 10, 2022
811
783
I’ve wondered about this shot too. To me it looks like a room full of Phillip Jeffries teapots.

No clue what the implications of that might be, but maybe that would connect back to the not-Phillip Jeffries Mr. C speaks with in Part 2..?
I half wonder if the machine rooms are the power source of the universe or an aspect of our supernatural realm. Literature is full of stories about magic doors leading to hidden world that exist for the benefit of ours. Coop emerging from a power socket isn't so far off from Sadako emerging from a black-and-white TV image in Ring.

ring.jpg
 

calebhockey

Sparkwood & 21
May 10, 2024
1
0
I always thought it was some sort of power that the White Lodge harnessed, which would explain the Air Force's 'impure' reasons for seeking it
 

Cappy

White Lodge
Aug 4, 2022
583
573
I don’t really have a clear cut theory of what that room of machines is supposed to be or signify, but I am beginning to wonder if perhaps each one of these devices holds a different soul. Jeffries is trapped in one, and for some reason it’s at the motel above the convenience store. But if they are pseudo-electric, then perhaps there is a connection between these devices and the little boy Richard runs over, as energy leaves his body and seemingly dissipates over a power line.

This would be kind of an upsetting version of Heaven — good souls are rewarded by being entombed in a giant metal casing for all eternity. But maybe it isn’t forever, and these metal pod things are just temporary until a soul can be shot back to earth in a golden orb.

Just random speculation!
 

Cappy

White Lodge
Aug 4, 2022
583
573
Come to think of it, a facility that uh, facilitates the reincarnation of individuals would be pretty on brand for The Return, what with Cooper coming back to reality as two different individuals (Dougie and later Richard) and Laura returning as Carrie Page (and possibly as Maddie in the original series, if you wanna go down that route).
 

Ekorren

Sparkwood & 21
May 13, 2024
13
23
On my initial viewing I figured those were all people, or, rather, what I had designated as "dreamers". Given that Jeffries lives in a somewhat similar machine, I figured you need a machine for a person so a whole world would need a bit more than that. That was back when I thought the world was built to mostly consist of NPCs of sort and then a set of dreamers injected to... figure out their personal issues, or have fun, generate power or whatever the purpose of it all is.

The alarm going off in S3E8 seems to be tied to just one machine, though. I don't know why that'd be a person or a dreamer so that one just feels "hey this world is FUBAR'ed wanna check up on it?"
My immediate feeling is that it imparts me with a sense of industry. I don't know if that's the intent, but it's such an industrial design, and seeing endless copies of the same thing in what appears to be a storage room gets my mind to thinking of commodities.
I've been watching Westworld recently and (spoiling for Westworld) reading this gives me the same kind of mood as the collections of all the naked static hosts in that show.

Similarly, Jeffries' panic attack in the Philadelphia office after visiting the Convenience Store makes me think of how Dolores felt about seeing the bodies of other hosts when she ended up awake at the wrong time and realized something's very wrong with the "reality" she lives in.

Twin Peaks has been giving me strong "managed reality" vibes since The Return especially. You have the image in the OP, the repeated "we live inside a dream", the Fireman watching video footage, the Arm asking what story, and Jeffries showing an infinity symbol and casually moving a dot around it. E18 actually had a reduced impact on me because I was very much "this is all manufactured, ain't it" at that point, but admittedly I might watch too much sci-fi.
 

AXX°N N.

Waiting Room
Apr 14, 2022
317
751
That was back when I thought the world was built to mostly consist of NPCs of sort and then a set of dreamers injected to... figure out their personal issues, or have fun, generate power or whatever the purpose of it all is.
This brings to mind a thought I've had before about how much juxtaposition there is between the esoteric bits and the "mundane" bits of the show, and how each are kind of separately focused on in discussions without an attempt to reconcile the difference.

Noting your use of "NPC," I feel like the series spends so much time on presenting and exploring the dignity of the regular human characters that it becomes strange to have a macro view where it co-exists with the paranormal mythology ... but that juxtaposition, or tension, basically is the show.

I think a good example is the scene where Norma and Big Ed finally, seemingly permanently get together. Nothing paranormal is happening at all, but the emotion there is so ecstatic--it's definitely given a due importance. The beautiful shots of the sky then segues into an electrically charged sequence featuring Mr. C. Talk about whiplash.

There seems to be a cosmology at work, and I'd venture as far as to say that the machine room weighs just as heavily as the constant fixation on baked goods. There seems to be an expression through the show about what is or isn't important about life, and some kind of mythic contrast between diving deep and ending up out of your element, vs. striking a balance and riding "mundane" reality out with a kind of mythic tranquility.

The Log Lady is a great example of what I mean. She's tapped into the workings of things but she doesn't venture beyond her depth and try to grab hold of it with brute force. Her arc in the season is one where she accepts death and does so with dignity--probably the most "mundane" thing possible, but the emotional tone carries a mystical depth.

Maybe things like the industrial, eerie, unnerving nature of the lodge space, even when it's "good" characters like the Fireman and what's become of Briggs, is a visual representation of what exists underneath the mundane, but isn't actually separate. I fear I'm approaching a point where I can only lean into the reductive, but maybe the lodge space is like a visual manifestation of the "facts of life," the things one can do nothing about not in spite of, but exactly because of its inscrutability. Forces beyond us.
 

Ekorren

Sparkwood & 21
May 13, 2024
13
23
This brings to mind a thought I've had before about how much juxtaposition there is between the esoteric bits and the "mundane" bits of the show, and how each are kind of separately focused on in discussions without an attempt to reconcile the difference.
what is or isn't important about life, and some kind of mythic contrast between diving deep and ending up out of your element, vs. striking a balance and riding "mundane" reality out with a kind of mythic tranquility.
It feels very jarring at times to me. I think the intent in many places was indeed the "don't mess with things you don't understand, stay in your element", but is that actually... a positive message? I'm sure for Lynch it is, but it just makes my brain continue into the whole train of thought of "yeah dream your nice little dream, don't mind what we're all actually doing to you, don't worry your pretty little head about it".

And I think that's why the machines can look so eerie. It's familiar enough that it deletes the mysticism.

Like that's the funny thing. Tell someone they're on their own and the universe doesn't care and that may sound cold or boring. Tell someone they're guided by God and it sounds cool and mystical and wholesome. Explain that said "god" is just a higher order intelligent entity that's using a bunch of tech to manipulate things and that tech commits errors here and there, it doesn't really sound mystical and cool and wholesome anymore and you want to go back to "cold and boring".
 

AXX°N N.

Waiting Room
Apr 14, 2022
317
751
It feels very jarring at times to me. I think the intent in many places was indeed the "don't mess with things you don't understand, stay in your element", but is that actually... a positive message? I'm sure for Lynch it is, but it just makes my brain continue into the whole train of thought of "yeah dream your nice little dream, don't mind what we're all actually doing to you, don't worry your pretty little head about it".
I think it's maybe more like ... if we get rid of the hard separation between "mundane" and "grand" and instead see them as intertwined, it becomes possible to elevate the mundane. But if you carry with you this hard separation, your lens for viewing small joys can diminish. I feel like the Dougie subplot, for instance, features a lot of this element of the wonderous being injected back into the familiar. That's essentially why the perspective of children is so typically vital compared to adults when adults let all the sparks fade away ... in youth, every little thing is still massive. Not just joyful, but also surreal, often even deeply troubling.

I think that's the main thing that draws me back to Lynch's work, is that he has a skill in being able to take the familiar and make it have that kind of awe-inspiring infinite feel to it.

Or to tie it again to a seemingly whimsical line but that I think really does get at the matter, and again from the Log Lady: "This pie is a miracle."

Like that's the funny thing. Tell someone they're on their own and the universe doesn't care and that may sound cold or boring. Tell someone they're guided by God and it sounds cool and mystical and wholesome. Explain that said "god" is just a higher order intelligent entity that's using a bunch of tech to manipulate things and that tech commits errors here and there, it doesn't really sound mystical and cool and wholesome anymore and you want to go back to "cold and boring".
Yeah, no kidding!
 

Dom

White Lodge
Jul 10, 2022
811
783
Industrial hellscapes are something that has lurked in much of David Lynch's work. Even the ants at the start of Blue Velvet have a machine-like quality and the film opens with the 'machine' that runs Jeffery's dad's body malfunctioning. I think (and I'm going to sound like Hell's freezing over and I'm going 'meta') the machinery in season three needs examining in the wider context of all of Lynch's work. Flickering electric lights, ants crawling in the ground, lightning flashes, 'Jingle Dell' and his weird messages from aliens, rubber gloves (an insulator), using random concepts such as throwing rocks at bottles (quantum theory?) engine rooms on the other side of curtains (think The Wizard of Oz and 'Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!' and Philip Jeffries' 'Who do you think that is?') there's an undertone of a machine running behind the scenes in much of David Lynch's work. Eraserhead arguably did the 'steampunk' genre before steampunk existed!!
 

Ekorren

Sparkwood & 21
May 13, 2024
13
23
Yeah and I generally get the feeling of something negative about technology throughout the Return with the power lines and spooky sounds around them, the 6 power pole, the Convenience Store, the atomic bomb, and that whole talk of fire/electricity. Human technological expression in this universe seems to generate and magnify the entities.
 

Dom

White Lodge
Jul 10, 2022
811
783
I wonder if the machines are sort of storage vessels for used-up, worn-out husks akin to Miriam Blaylock's past lovers in Whitley Strieber's The Hunger. Is that the fate that awaits Cooper now he's no longer part of a 'real world', having become a being that traverses time and realities?

Philip Jeffries is said to be no longer human. Is that by choice? Is he inside the 'kettle' or is he the 'kettle?' I don't necessarily want answers. I would like a season four or film to give me further questions to ponder...
 

boske

RR Diner
Apr 15, 2022
22
15
Hello there! Have not checked in a while...

These machines to me appear as having something to do with electricity, they could be some sort of capacitors perhaps. More likely capacitors than resistors.

There are other interesting facts about that place, such as having two circular openings in the ceiling, one used for visual purposes and the other one seemingly shut.
 
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