Throughout this rewatch, I've been thinking about the later reveal that Ray was an FBI informant. This has seemed a bit off/convoluted to me ever since it was revealed, and I'm still not really sure it holds together. So, Ray was reporting to Gordon, but Gordon was seemingly totally unaware that Ray was palling around with a guy who looks like Cooper and goes by the name "Mr. Cooper." Doesn't it seem likely that Gordon would have at least inquired at some point as to the name of Ray's "boss"? This Part rather intriguingly paints Phillip as Ray's "handler," so maybe Gordon's intel was being filtered through Jeffries, who has his own agenda and wasn't totally forthcoming? And why was Ray arrested? Was he actually stupidly running guns, or was it to protect him?
The Woodsmen descending on Mr. C is still one of my favorite moments from S3 on its own merits, but Part 17 cheapened it a bit. Watching the Woodsmen desperately try to recreate their ritual in the bright light of day robbed the Part 8 scene of a bit of its murky mystery, and the Bob orb will never quite be the same after the zany green glove battle. :-/ I guess given the franchise's wildly inconsistent history, it's oddly appropriate the the season's most artistically satisfying Part is inexorably linked to the season's stupidest scene.
On the other hand, the reuse of "My Prayer" in Part 18 just gives the song deeper resonance, mystery and creepiness. Are we meant to draw some parallel between the Woodsmen and Coop/Diane's disturbing sex scene? She does cover his face in a manner slightly reminiscent of the Woodsmen's head-crushing, which also probably ties in to Naido's facelessness? In any event, the song (and some clever editing) gives us one of the funniest moments of the season IMO: when the singer says to "tell me the words I'm longing to know," the Woodsman interjects, "Gotta light?"
Speaking of music: The lyrics to a lot of the songs chosen for this season have interesting thematic resonance, but the placement of "She's Gone Away" seems to have special significance. The reference to digging in places 'til your fingers bleed seems to deliberately call to mind the Woodsmen digging into Coop's wound to spread his blood on his face. Much of the rest of the song struck me on this go-round almost as a message from Mr. C to Bob, voicing the doppel's dead-eyed world weariness about their partnership/mission ("I can't remember what you came here for"). "A little mouth opened up inside" calls to mind Sarah at Elk's Point #9. I wonder if the "she" in "She's Gone Away" references Experiment/Mother, since Mr. C/Bob seems to be hunting her down?
I'm a big fan of the Schröedinger's Sarah approach to 1956 Girl; she both is and isn't Sarah, as far as I'm concerned. I have no horse in the race, and I'm happy not knowing, but it's a fun idea to toy with. This time, I did watch with Sarah in mind, and it made the scenes all the more heartbreaking. Seeing Sarah in the context of a sweet girlish crush while knowing what is to become of her marriage and her life, and her finding a "good luck" penny (shades of Hawk in the bathroom stall) just before something awful crawls inside her, destroying her life. Oof. I'm not saying it's the definitive interpretation, but it is a powerful one.
I think this one takes the record for least time spent in the town of Twin Peaks (just the Roadhouse), and perhaps the only time in a TP episode we don't see the "good" Dale at all (I believe there is a later Part where we only see a photo of him and archive footage from Fire Walk with Me).
This one strikes me as the perfect mix of Mark and David. Mark: "Let's explore the atomic bomb as a means of unleashing the Mother of Abominations." David: "Great! I'll do a Brakhage montage and break out the Penderecki!"
I recall someone positing weeks ago in this thread that, when the Fireman stares dead into camera at something we never see, he is looking at the audience in disgust and pity, making us question our own culpability in humanity's grander spectrum of evil. Viewed through this lens, that moment gives me chills. Somewhat relatedly, at one point in the "A-bomb montage," we see a gold orb seemingly forming, still in its viscous/molten phase. I'm not sure what this is supposed to be (it obviously parallels the "seeds"), but the way it floats toward camera, I subconsciously expected to see my own reflection in it when it got closer, and was slightly disturbed not to.
So the "Laura orb" thread never went any further than what we got here. I'm glad. I was skeptical about this development for the reasons many have indicated, but what we got here is ambiguous enough that there's plenty of room for interpretations that don't rob Laura of her humanity or her agency. If the Fireman dreamt up Laura's essence to some extent as a force of good to combat Judy/Bob, I don't view that as any different than Leland & Sarah creating the specific DNA cocktail that gave her life. We all start life with certain genetic advantages and limitations. Laura may have had certain things instilled in her by the Fireman, but -- as we see in FWWM and TSDoLP -- she still often gave in to pain, temptation and self-loathing in a very human way. My fear was that she would be painted as having some predestined function, but the way L/F left it, I think the Fireman simply threw her into the mix as a shot in the dark to hopefully make a difference at some point down the line, not as some cosmic chess move where he knew the exact repercussions and had charted out the course of her entire life before she was born. Of course, S4 could prove me wrong, but I think this approach is much more consistent with DKL's usual approach to the character. (And has there ever in film history been a more prolonged love affair between a director and a character?) There are still a lot of questions, most notably: Why was she sent to Earth in 1945 but did not come into physical existence until 1971? If we're to accept that 1956 Girl is Sarah, for argument's sake, perhaps Laura couldn't be born until two individuals inhabited by Judy's "children" met and reproduced?
I know there's been a bit of debate, in the Gender thread and elsewhere, about the merits/wisdom of making a mother figure the "big bad." It is interesting that she is brought into the world through the work of a team of predominantly men, striving to build a "tool" that could lay waste to vast swathes of Earth. Judy may only be "evil" from our perspective...remember Mark's book talking about how the interests of the spirits/aliens may not be traditionally good or bad but simply beyond our conception. I posit (just thinking aloud) that Judy is a facet of the Mother archetype that Native cultures often worship, who is usually closely tied to Earth and its fertility. As human society simultaneously moved toward phallocentricism and decreased respect for the planet,
culminating in the invention of a potentially world-destroying weapon (the ultimate act of presumptuous machismo), the Earth-protecting/vengeful element of Mother, Judy, stepped in. Thus, she and Bob and her other spawn are only "evil" from our limited perspective, because they are working against our interests -- trying to poison humanity and ultimately destroy us so that the universe can survive. Of course, they seem to predominantly do that by preying on the weaknesses mankind already has, thus using the exact thing they are fighting against to bring about our downfall (sort of like the "Monsters on Maple Street" Twilight Zone episode on a global scale). So, the bomb detonation did not "birth evil," or even a new type of evil, but rather, caused the elemental forces of nature to say, "Enough is enough, mankind...now we're fighting back." In this scenario, I'm not sure what to think about seemingly more benevolent spirits like the Fireman or Mike. Are they simply more sympathetic to human concerns, or are we just pawns to them in reaching some other end?
I'm not necessarily endorsing this interpretation, but I find it interesting, and it's definitely consistent with the themes of Mark's book.