Twin Peaks season 3 decoder: Blue rose

This mystery code word takes on a new meaning in the show’s latest episodes.


Martyn Conterio


This article contains spoilers for Twin Peaks season 3: parts 3 and 4. For maximum enjoyment, we recommend reading after you’ve watched the show.

The opening sequence to part three is without doubt the most audacious moment in Twin Peaks: The Return. Having passed through the mysterious glass cube seen in parts one and two, Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) falls through time and space into a pink-hued world. In a room, he meets a blind Asian lady sitting by a fireplace, who speaks in what sounds like static discharge. The jittery frame rate, staccato editing and repetitive body movements recalls Mike’s line in part one: “Is it… future, or… is it… past?” The blind lady leads Dale to a rooftop, flips a switch which charges an electrical current, before slipping into the abyss of the stars. Then, a great big surprise…

Don S Davis (Major Garland Briggs) passed away in 2008. It was something of a shock to see him on-screen as a gigantic, planet-sized floating head, appearing before Cooper to utter the enigmatic phrase “blue rose”. When Coop climbs back into the room, another lady is sat by the fireplace (played by Phoebe Augustine aka Ronette Pulaski in seasons one and two). “My mother’s coming,” she says, the steel door dented with pounding fist marks. Heaven knows what lays behind it.

The term ‘blue rose’ first appeared in Fire Walk with Me. Gordon Cole (Lynch) asks Chet Desmond (Chris Isaak) to investigate the Teresa Banks murder case in Deer Meadow, eastern Washington (a town that is like the inverse of Twin Peaks; its ugliness not hidden but out in the open). Tagging along is the man who cracked the Whitman case, Sam Stanley.

As Chet arrives at the local airport, Cole and Stanley meet him and then the boss man introduced his ‘mother’s sister’s girl’, a woman in a red dress and red wig, who mimes a series of gestures (a sour face, blinking eyes, a twirl, one hand in her pocket, the other hand made into a fist, walking on the spot). Chet decodes their meanings for the benefit of his slightly befuddled partner (and the viewer). “Tailored dresses are code for drugs,” Chet explains (okay…). When Sam enquires about the blue rose, though, he’s met with a sharp rebuttal: “I can’t tell you about that.”

At the end of part four, Special Agent Tamara Preston (Chrysta Bell) is told to go wait in a nearby restaurant by Deputy Director Cole. He and Special Agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) have a conversation about their prison interview with Bad Coop. They know something is up. “Something’s wrong, Albert. I hate to admit this, but I don’t understand the situation at all.” With Tammy having exited the scene (wearing wire), Albert uses the term ‘blue rose’ to describe his sense of ill-ease. “It doesn’t get any bluer,” Gordon replies.

Both Tammy and Sam are excluded from the full picture. They’re not trusted. They’re on the team but they’re not in Cole’s inner circle proper. Desmond was, Coop was and Albert is. Most crucially: Major Briggs understands its meaning and his appearance does suggest he’s there to remind – to plant it in his subconscious. For Coop, having emerged through the plug socket in Las Vegas, is rendered an amnesiac taken to mimicking others.

Briggs and Cole have a shared history (related to Project Blue Book), so it’s very possibly a phrase used to decode the profoundly mysterious, the unsettling and the supernatural. The blue rose on Lil the Dancing Girl’s dress was not in the original or shooting script for Fire Walk with Me, but added by Lynch intuitively during the shoot. It gave Desmond a big hint that the Banks case will lead somewhere odd. He did after all vanish into thin air, when he picked up the jade ring at the Fat Trout trailer park.

Published 30 May 2017

Tags: David Lynch Twin Peaks

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