THE RETURN Who is Billy?

Jasper

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This article does a pretty good job at covering the Billy mentions, and his possible appearance.

Billy seems to be, on one hand, the open extramarital lover of Audrey Horne. Audrey is in some sort of rivalry over Billy with a woman named Tina. The name Billy appears in three places, namely in the Audrey/Charlie scenes, a scene between two Roadhouse Randos (one of whom is Tina’s daughter), and in a scene where a random person, “Bing,” (played by Lynch’s son Riley), dramatically opens the RR Diner door and, in a distressed manner, asks if anyone has seen “Billy,” before racing off. In the first two examples, “Billy” is said to have some sort of bleeding injury to his head/face. In all three instances, “Billy” is missing, and is apparently in some type of peril.

We also repeatedly witness a man in a holding cell who makes non-verbal sounds, and bleeds profusely from his face, which has led many to theorize that this could be Billy, or a least one of his permutations. The article that I posted above theorizes about a link between this individual and Dougie-Cooper, noting their shared difficulties speaking. I’d note that Cooper’s regular self is missing, sort of like Billy appears to be missing, and Cooper is, of course, in peril. We can theorize further about a meta link between Cooper/Kyle and Billy.

I was among those who saw meta elements in the Audrey/Charlie scenes. Sherilyn Fenn’s unhappiness with her scripted part was causing all sorts of issues and delays in production of The Return, to the point that it was beginning to cause serious annoyance in some corners, including among some fans, and even perhaps among some of the cast. Fenn has made no secret over the years that she believes that Audrey and Cooper should have gotten together, and there’s little doubt that she’d have liked that to have finally taken place in The Return.

Charlie, it seems to me, is at least in part a representation of Lynch during the production of The Return, surrounded as he is by stacks of paper, and bemoaning to Audrey how he has so much work to do, and that it’s so late. Audrey, on the other hand, wants only to be with Billy, not stuck with Charlie. Audrey is also jealous of Tina, and Tina’s relationship with Billy. This seems to me to be, at least in part, related to Fenn’s desire for her character to be paired with Cooper, and dissatisfaction at him being paired off with other love interests. (It’s unclear how much Fenn knew, but Charlie’s refusal to share with Audrey what he’s heard about Billy on the phone might intentionally mirror Lynch’s caginess with the script, and Charlie saying that he doesn’t have a crystal ball, when there is one right on his desk, might be an additional joke along these lines.) Fenn’s desires might be further represented by her dance at the Roadhouse, which seems to be a dreamed/imagined return to her iconic dance at the diner in the original show, when she’d just met Cooper (and had just conveyed her interest in him to Donna), and when Fenn’s own real TP glory days were beginning. Audrey’s demands upon Charlie, including her insistence that he help her to reunite with Billy, seem to mirror Fenn’s own demands for script changes from Lynch, and her desire for a long-awaited romantic union of Cooper and Audrey.

After the original airing of The Return, behind-the-scenes footage in The Man With The Gray Elevated Hair seems to strongly bolster this interpretation, (which is not to say that there’s not additional layered meaning to what’s going on with Audrey, Charlie, and especially Billy). For example, Lynch, discussing Audrey’s part with Fenn prior to shooting, says that Audrey is, “givin’ him [Charlie] the business.” Fenn responds, “Like I gave you the business.” Lynch laughs, nods, and says, “Mmhmm, exactly,” to which Fenn responds, laughing, “You know where you wrote it from, you brat!” as they both laugh. This exchange takes place in this documentary at 19:45:



The other interesting thing in this segment is that Lynch twice emphasizes how important it is that Fenn strongly convey her dream about an injured Billy, encouraging her to, “paint a picture of how he was bleeding from the nose and the mouth,” and, later, “gushing,” and that she should show deep concern over it. An Audrey/Charlie type dynamic emerges when Fenn begins to ask a question, (perhaps, it seems, about Charlie’s papers), before cutting herself off, saying, “I don’t think that . . . will these . . . yeah, I won’t ask, you won’t tell me.”

Most disturbingly of all, Fenn's real onscreen TP love partner was played by none other than Billy Zane.

season 2 john justice wheeler GIF by Twin Peaks on Showtime
 

Mr. Reindeer

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Wonderful thoughts, Jasper. I agree with everything you said (although I believe the meta element is only one of several levels the material is functioning on, and that Audrey’s storyline also plays on The Return’s themes of identity, trauma, dissociation, the passage of time, etc. etc. …and I disagree with those who boil the storyline down to Lynch simply taking a dig at Fenn—you can see in the behind the scenes footage that she is amused by that element and they’re both in on the joke, and that she is also highly moved after shooting the scenes).

The one thing I’d add to what you said is that the Roadhouse scene with Tina features Emily Lynch as Tina’s friend Sophie. So, both scenes mentioning Billy outside of the Audrey/Charlie scenes feature a Lynch family member.
 
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Jasper

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I believe the meta element is only one of several levels the material is functioning on, and that Audrey’s storyline also plays on The Return’s themes of identity, trauma, dissociation, the passage of time, etc. etc.

I agree. There's clearly a lot more to this business than just the more meta elements, but the meta stuff is very interesting, and might also simply be the easiest to understand. There's a lot more to delve into.

The one thing I’d add to what you said is that the Roadhouse scene with Tina features Emily Lynch as Tina’s friend Sophie. So, both scenes mentioning Billy outside of the Audrey/Charlie scenes feature a Lynch family member.

This is a great point. I was just going by memory, and I completely forgot that this was the particular role (Sophie) played by Emily, and it didn't even dawn on me that both of these non-Audrey/Charlie mentions of Billy involve Lynch family members. Strange!

I don't have enough of a sense about the filming timeline to know whether the Roadhouse and diner mentions of Billy were filmed before or after the Audrey/Charlie scenes. It would be interesting to know which came first. Similarly, I wonder if the if the line about "the little girl who lives down the lane" originated with Audrey, or with the evolution of the Arm.
 

Mr. Reindeer

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I agree. There's clearly a lot more to this business than just the more meta elements, but the meta stuff is very interesting, and might also simply be the easiest to understand. There's a lot more to delve into.



This is a great point. I was just going by memory, and I completely forgot that this was the particular role (Sophie) played by Emily, and it didn't even dawn on me that both of these non-Audrey/Charlie mentions of Billy involve Lynch family members. Strange!

I don't have enough of a sense about the filming timeline to know whether the Roadhouse and diner mentions of Billy were filmed before or after the Audrey/Charlie scenes. It would be interesting to know which came first. Similarly, I wonder if the if the line about "the little girl who lives down the lane" originated with Audrey, or with the evolution of the Arm.
The diner mention was definitely WAY before the Audrey scenes were shot. The Double R was one of the first Washington locations shot, in mid-September 2015. The Audrey scenes were almost the very end of production, in mid-April 2016. There were only two days after that before they wrapped, with the last day being Silver Mustang interiors. I’m pretty sure the Roadhouse stuff was done before then as well, although I’m not sure when exactly. Presumably at some point during studio shooting in March-April 2016. The Red Room stuff was in late March, although obviously the “little girl” line was dubbed in later in post, so it doesn’t really matter.

It never really occurred to me before, but that’s interesting that Bing’s mention of Billy came so far before Lynch (presumably) had conceived of the Audrey/Charlie stuff.
 

Mr. Reindeer

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Ok. I just looked at the Double R scene, and the “Has anybody seen Billy?” line was almost certainly added in post. It doesn’t even look like Riley’s mouth is moving when he says it! I wonder what the original intent of the scene was.

Also, this is almost certainly the reason for the discontinuity between those shots that people have attributed to some subtle Lynchian trickery. The two shots without Riley (shots 1 and 4) have all the patrons in the same spots. The two shots with Riley (shots 2 and 3) are also consistent with each other. Presumably there was more to this scene at some point, and the scene was chopped up to add the Billy line and change it to its present form.
 
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Jasper

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Ok. I just looked at the Double R scene, and the “Has anybody seen Billy?” line was almost certainly added in post. It doesn’t even look like Riley’s mouth is moving when he says it! I wonder what the original intent of the scene was.

Also, this is almost certainly the reason for the discontinuity between those shots that people have attributed to some subtle Lynchian trickery. The two shots without Riley (shots 1 and 4) have all the patrons in the same spots. The two shots with Riley (shots 2 and 3) are also consistent with each other. Presumably there was more to this scene at some point, and the scene was chopped up to add the Billy line and change it to its present form.

Did you watch a really good quality version? I watched the one below, zoomed in, and at .25 speed, and he definitely does the “hey!” part, but I can’t really tell whether or not his mouth actually moves on, “anybody seen Billy?” The picture isn’t good enough. His movements more or less match the comment, and he seems to be looking around for a response to his question. Strange.

 

Mr. Reindeer

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Did you watch a really good quality version? I watched the one below, zoomed in, and at .25 speed, and he definitely does the “hey!” part, but I can’t really tell whether or not his mouth actually moves on, “anybody seen Billy?” The picture isn’t good enough. His movements more or less match the comment, and he seems to be looking around for a response to his question. Strange.


Yeah, I watched it on Blu Ray. He definitely says the “Hey!” then there’s a cut to the other angle, and he appears to be just looking around, with the line overdubbed. I’m guessing he had some other line(s) in there that were cut out.

Also, is it me or does the guy in the bottom right of the final shot that the credits run over look an awful lot like Bobby? (The guy whose cheek Heidi pinches.) We only see him from the back and I’m assuming it’s a coincidence since he’s sitting across from an extra. But, leather jacket, very similar hair color and style.
 
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Jasper

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Also, is it me or does the guy in the bottom right of the final shot that the credits run over look an awful lot like Bobby? (The guy whose cheek Heidi pinches.) We only see him from the back and I’m assuming it’s a coincidence since he’s sitting across from an extra. But, leather jacket, very similar hair color and style.

Yes, he does look like Bobby. I thought this myself, although it's very unlikely.

The diner mention was definitely WAY before the Audrey scenes were shot. The Double R was one of the first Washington locations shot, in mid-September 2015. The Audrey scenes were almost the very end of production, in mid-April 2016. There were only two days after that before they wrapped, with the last day being Silver Mustang interiors. I’m pretty sure the Roadhouse stuff was done before then as well, although I’m not sure when exactly. Presumably at some point during studio shooting in March-April 2016.

Since it’s not clear whether Bing looking for Billy at the diner was ever scripted, The Roadhouse mention of Billy is the only one that we can definitively place as being filmed pre-Audrey. It’s possible that it was going to be an isolated mention, fitting with other Roadhouse randomness, but was later expanded upon by Lynch, maybe first in the jail scenes (without mentioning Billy), then to the Audrey/Charlie scenes, then to Bing’s scene, possibly via editing/dubbing. Or this order could be completely wrong.

So, was the jail cell business with the bleeding man filmed after the Roadhouse scene talking about Billy? Was the jail material shot pre-Audrey/Charlie?
 

Tulpa

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It’s possible that it was going to be an isolated mention, fitting with other Roadhouse randomness, but was later expanded upon by Lynch


This guy has made a series of videos on Twin Peaks with outrageous production values and the view count isn’t consummerate with the effort put in.

This is his stab at the Billy question from a strictly proceduralist standpoint.
 
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