[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Twin Peaks: The Return” Episode 14, “Part 14.”]
“Twin Peaks” dropped a major hint on Sunday about the origins of Dougie, the man whom Evil Cooper/Mr. C created as a decoy, and whose life Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) took over upon his return to the real world.
While it seemed apparent that Evil Cooper made the fake version of himself to act as a replacement who would be called back to the Black Lodge in his place, it wasn’t clear what exactly Dougie was or how he came to be. A scene in “Part 14” between Albert (Miguel Ferrer) and Tammy (Chrysta Bell) sheds light on the man who was Dougie.
The two discuss the very first Blue Rose case in which FBI agents investigate two women — both who appear to be someone named Lois Duffy — in a hotel room. One has shot the other, and the injured one says, “I am like the blue rose,” before smiling, dying and then disappearing in front of the agents’ eyes. Tammy surmises that “blue rose” is significant. “The dying woman was not natural, conjured,” she says. “What’s the word? A tulpa.”
The word “tulpa” comes from Tibetan mysticism — a subject near and dear to David Lynch’s heart — and refers to a thoughtform: a being that is created through a person’s mental or spiritual powers. This is not just an imaginary friend, rather a real, sentient being. According to a post on the anthropology blog Savage Minds:
“Tulpamancers are people who, through extended bouts of concentration and visualization, produce a special kind of imaginary friend that they call a tulpa. Tulpas are understood to be distinct sentient beings with their own personalities, inclinations, and (relative) autonomy… Tulpamancers meet tulpas in imagined environments called ‘wonderlands’, dream or mind-scapes that more fully contextualize interactions and provide a place for tulpas to ‘hang out’ when idle. They also work to perfect ‘imposition’ —seeing, hearing, or feeling tulpas in the ‘real world’ — and may practice tulpa-possession or even ‘switching’, where the tulpa takes over the host’s body and the host temporarily occupies the tulpa’s form in the wonderland.”
The explanatory passage above may not be the precise phenomenon that is occurring on “Twin Peaks,” but it provides a rough guideline of what the characters might be dealing with.
The concept of tulpas has become a trend in pop culture, namely with the “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” Bronies. For the purposes of “Twin Peaks” though, the tulpa explains the presence of duplicate individuals who are not quite like the original or people who are not quite of this world. Through Evil Cooper’s mental exertions, he can create a tangible manifestation in the real world. Perhaps also this would explain how he is able to manipulate his arm to be extra strong and win an arm-wrestling match.
In this case, Evil Cooper is able to manifest a tulpa that was known as Douglas Jones. Fully formed, Dougie lived his own life, gained more weight than either of the Coopers, and even cheated on his wife.
Furthermore, the wonderland described could refer to the Black Lodge. The powers or energies that create tulpas could be that omnipresent electricity or “fire” that Hawk (Michael Horse) had referred to that had good or bad intentions. Therefore, tulpas don’t need to be a copy of a person, like Dougie is of Evil Cooper, but could be any being in any form. The possibilities seem endless, and at the risk of recreating a “Battlestar Galactica” situation in which almost anyone could be suspected of being a Cylon, “Twin Peaks” is full of candidates who could be tulpas or have created a tulpa. Here are a few possibilities:
Laura Palmer: In Episode 8, while the Fireman (Carel Struycken) floated up, a yellow-orange essence seemed to emanate from his head, and this became the glowing orb that had Laura’s face in it before it was sent to earth. Therefore Laura may have been the Fireman’s thoughts to save the world translated into something tangible: Laura.
Maddy: Laura’s cousin seemed to have come out of nowhere… or perhaps from Sarah Palmer’s (Grace Zebriski) head. That she looked exactly like Laura definitely is giving off tulpa vibes.
Sarah Palmer: The forlorn woman has always had strong a strong psychic or mystical connection, much to her detriment. Could she make a tulpa without consciously trying? A double of herself could explain the strange personality shift and attack on Mr. “Truck You.” Or perhaps a tulpa is the thing she was referring to in the kitchen.
Drunk in the jail cell: This man’s bleeding face could indicate that he’s Billy, the man from the story that was told in the bar. This is likely the same Billy with whom Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn) had an affair. His behavior is similar to the not-quite-there Cooper living the Dougie life: in a daze, not engaging, and repeating key phrases. But is the drunk the tulpa or the original?
Naido (Nae Yuuki): Her unique appearance without eyes and way of communicating could be explained if she had been created from someone’s thoughts.
Anyone who has “poofed” out of existence like Lois Duffy’s tulpa did: The Major Briggs that William Hastings (Matthew Lillard) saw, the Woodsman in the jail cell next to Hastings, Philip Jeffries (David Bowie) …
But what of Evil Cooper, who’s a double of Agent Cooper? Is Evil Cooper a tulpa himself? And if so, can a tulpa create its own tulpa?
As always, Lynch’s revelation of more information inspires more questions than it answers. But just as Dougie surely sprang from Evil Cooper’s mental powers, Lynch’s thought experiment has taken form as “Twin Peaks,” a creation with a mind of its own.
“Twin Peaks” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Showtime.