Decoding Gordon Cole’s French Woman

Gordon Cole and his french woman

Way back when I was writing my weekly column while Series 3 was airing, I wrote about my hunch that there was more to the scene between Gordon Cole, Albert and The French Woman, played by Berenice Marlohe. She appeared only in this scene in Part 12, and I wrote an immediate response deciphering of her then, here in Let’s Rock, but to be honest, I think we can scrap most of those initial thoughts now in light of new discoveries.  I do, however, stick by my feelings that she was almost a “Lil the Dancer” type figure, a key to hidden clues of how to solve the mystery.

First things first, if she is a “key” for Gordon’s FBI pal Albert to decipher, we need to look at Lil for guidance. Gordon sent Lil (a palindrome name like BOB) to give clues to Agent Chester Desmond. Why?  Break the code, solve the crime. And be quiet about it. Gordon definitely couldn’t be quiet about it (think, OR-E-GON!), so he sent Lil to deliver the message to his team instead. Gordon knew at that point that the murder of Teresa Banks was a Blue Rose Case. How does he know so much? I’ll delve into that later on.

Lil’s Code

  • Lil wore a sour face meaning that Chet would have problems with the local authorities, they would not be receptive to the FBI.
  • Both of Lil’s eyes were blinking to indicate trouble higher up, the eyes are local authority.
  • Lil had one hand in her pocket meaning that the local authorities were hiding something.
  • Lil’s other hand was clenched into a fist meaning that the authorities would likely be belligerent.
  • Lil was walking in place meaning that there would be a lot of leg work.
  • Gordon said that Lil was his mothers sisters girl, and in that sentence what was missing was the Uncle.
  • Lil’s dress had been tailored with different coloured thread to fit her which was a code that drugs were involved.
  • Pinned to Lil’s dress was a blue rose. They couldn’t talk about that.

Lil is introduced to Chet Desmond as ‘his surprise’ from Gordon shortly after he steps off the plane and meets Sam Stanley for the first time. Lil immediately runs over to them and starts her ‘mime’ act. Her hair is as blaze red as (the real?) Diane’s. Gordon tells Chet that “She’s my mother’s sister’s girl”, and then covers his face with his fingers from above, like a mask. Later on, we will see Mrs Tremond’s grandson tell Laura Palmer that the ‘man behind the mask is under the fan’.  We, of course, know that the man was her father.  But additionally, now that act looks eerily similar to the removal of the mask-like faces of Sarah and Laura Palmer, the latter of which harked back to the Caroline Earle mask left for Coop by Windom Earle.

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I won’t deny that if The French Woman is a key, she’s way less obvious than Lil was. But maybe that’s precisely the point. Fire Walk With Me gave us the blueprints; Lynch told us we needed to watch it before embarking upon Series 3 as it was very important — for lots of reasons, it would turn out.  Lil was a lesson for Sam Stanley, new to the Blue Rose Task Force, but she was also a lesson to us viewing from the comfort of our homes. We have watched Lynch’s works intently, studied them in infinite detail. We have been trained to look for and decipher meaning from the obscure for decades now.  We are Lynch’s Armchair Agents.  After all this time, maybe we don’t need someone quite as obvious as Lil to give us tips. We are just like Albert, so experienced in his field.

So in comparison, what do the actions of The French Woman tell us, and perhaps more to the point, why does she need to tell Albert or us anything?

The Monica Bellucci dream

Monica Belluci dream

The words from Jeffries to Cooper when talking about Gordon Cole—“He’ll remember the unofficial version”—may be a clue. Gordon and Albert start to remember Jeffries’ visit to the Philadelphia office in 1989 when Gordon recalls having one of his Monica Bellucci dreams. This is played humorously, with Tammy and Albert glancing down as if to say, ‘here we go again, dirty old dog’, but I think the French Woman is there as a trigger for the memories. Perhaps sent by Major Briggs, who it seemed travelled to many times in an attempt to track down Judy – we know he has left clues from the future/past(?) before now, like his note left in “This is the Chair”.

briggs note inside a capsule with clues

She is indeed difficult to forget. What better way to remember something important than with a woman who made you wish you spoke a little French.

The memory of Phillip Jeffries’ visit had apparently been lost to them all this time; that in itself was quite a surprising revelation. We knew that they had both been in contact with Jeffries over the last 25 years but had no idea either of them remembered that incident. Why didn’t they remember? Maybe because that timeline had already been changed, and the memories of that timeline start to fade and will fade completely in the minds of most ordinary folk.  There will be another timeline change when Coop saves Laura.

Two Missing Agents Return

The returning scenes of the long lost lawmen are very similar. Jeffries turns up in the office in Philadelphia, points at Coop, asking Gordon and Albert who they thought he was (Jeffries had seen the future two Coops) and tells them he isn’t going to talk about Judy at all. He recounts that he had visited the Convenience Store and “We Live Inside a Dream”.  He then laments about the ring and the date (10:10 am on February 16th 1989) as if he had arrived back at a time he wasn’t expecting. Jeffries had changed the ‘original’ timeline just before he arrived in Philadelphia, just like Coop does 25 years later when he arrives back in Twin Peaks. What Jeffries had been up to that is anyone’s guess, and perhaps more to the point, what did he do next? (I’d like to think he saved Chester Desmond. Disappearing him as Coop helped with the disappearance of Laura, but I know that’s wishful thinking, and I fear the fate of Chet is less favourable).

Jeffries enters the philadelphia offices and Cooper and Albert talk to him, the jumping man is superimposed over the scene

Likewise, the real Dale Cooper turns up in Twin Peaks after 25 years of being M.I.A. Lucy kills Doppelcoop, Freddie destroys BOB and Coop tells all present in the Sheriff’s station that “We Live Inside a Dream” and that he hoped to see everyone there again. He then goes with the newly revealed Diane and Gordon to the Great Northern Hotel, where he enters the room where the strange sound like a Tibetan singing bowl is coming from.  He enters The Convenience Store, then goes onto the Dutchman’s where he meets Jeffries, who sends him back to February 23rd 1989, to save Laura and find Judy. It appears he succeeds in the former, but she is ripped away from him screaming, thrown into a new life, that of Carrie Page.

Bobby, The Mitchum Bros, Andy and Lucy with Coopers head superimposed over the scene

Then Part 18 happens. As the consequences of saving Laura and altering the timeline creep ever closer to them (despite them being 430 miles away from Twin Peaks — perhaps the perfect place to be between the two timelines when they meet), Diane starts to become Linda when she sees herself in the motel foyer. She begins to forget who she is and begins to think Coop is someone called Richard. Linda and Coop have sex, a terrible event for Linda as she doesn’t recognise this man, tries to cover his face to make it all go away. Coop, however, knows it is part of the process. He is told to ‘remember’ by The Fireman, and he does. Maybe it’s the fact that Diane looks like a physical embodiment of the Black Lodge that keeps him from forgetting — her red hair like the swaying curtains, her nails painted black and white.

Diane has disappeared by the morning, and Linda leaves the motel and Coop. The new timeline has washed over the surroundings too; the cars have changed, the motel has changed. Coop travels to Judy’s diner in Odessa, and from there, he manages to track down Carrie Page, who is, for all intents and purposes, Laura Palmer, but she had forgotten who she once was while living in this “timeline”. He takes her “home”, and Carrie starts to remember who she was in the “unofficial version”. But it suddenly dawns on Coop that he doesn’t know what year it is and that he’s been returned, like Jeffries, to the wrong time. Laura screams the lights in the house go out. Did Laura defeat Judy with that scream?  Was the power of her voice alone enough to banish the evil electricity from her home? Or has the Blue Rose task force failed again?

Ultimately the Blue Rose Task Force was set up to find and (presumably) destroy Judy. That is what Jeffries’ mission was, and Coops after him in a roundabout way.  On both of these occasions, the messages left by Jeffries and Cooper with Gordon are of vital importance. The Monica Bellucci dream triggered the memory of Jeffries visit in this current timeline. Another trigger that will require him to remember both the original timeline and what we knew to be the current timeline in the next timeline!  Yes, this is complicated. And this is for me where the French Woman comes into play.

Trigger memories are what card counters place in their minds and what the great Mentalists do, such as Derren Brown, a major star in the UK, famous for revealing “magic” tricks, mediums, spiritual healers and so on for the crooks that they are.  I was plucked out of one of his audiences once (it was harrowing), and he convinced me to willingly chew and swallow a genuine glass light bulb without any fear or hesitation whatsoever. But I digress. What Derren Brown does is plant seeds in your subconscious, whether you are aware of it or not, and that is what I believe Gordon Cole is doing here.

The French Woman’s Act

She is already with Gordon when we meet her. She rests her head on his shoulder while he gregariously tells her a story that sounds like it could be from an old Western, or as I initially thought, the story told at the beginning of the Secret History of Twin Peaks, about the Nez Perce tribes battle. I am wildly speculating here, of course. It was just the first thought that entered my head when I heard his tale.

Gordon’s story is interrupted by Albert knocking on his door, who clearly has something important to tell him. Albert asks him to ask his “friend” to leave. It is in preparing for her departure that her dance begins. It is much like Lil’s, a mime, clown-like even. For me, it is how Albert watches her and reacts to her every movement like he is reading her. He looks puzzled at some of her actions, impatient definitely, even backwards/glitchy in some places, but curious nevertheless. Perhaps the most telling of all is that he doesn’t comment once. Yes, Albert has indeed tamed a little in his older age, but he’s still got the snark in him, yet he didn’t use it; he just watched her intently.

She’s French. (Queen of stating the bloody obvious here). This is the first big thing to link her to Gordon’s dream, which was set in Paris. She speaks only two sentences, probably the most stereotypical French phrases of all, ‘Oui mon cherie’ and ‘tres bon’. If you needed trigger phrases to make you think of Paris, these would be them.

She wears a burgundy coloured dress. Burgundy is used throughout Series 3, worn by people who I suspect have one foot in the Lodge (either White or Black), be it through drug addiction (Gersten Hayward, 119 Mom), mental illness (Audrey Horne — it is no coincidence that she is bathed in purple light as she dances to her tune at ‘The Roadhouse’ where the music starts to play in reverse) and stress (the Polish Accountant). All of these folk have lost touch with reality, lost touch of who they really are, caused by the horrors of the world they live in.

Then there’s the more obviously ‘from another place’ folk. Firstly Naido, the host body for the real Diane, wears burgundy in her ‘hiding place between two worlds’ across the mauve oceans. Along with The American Girl/Ronette, who tells Coop to hurry for ‘mother’ is coming, and that, ‘when he gets there, he’ll already be there’. She wasn’t wrong. If she is Ronette, then we know that she saw the true face of BOB and suffered significant trauma but was saved by her Angel, sent from the White Lodge (possibly). We don’t know what fate Ronette suffered ultimately, whether she ever recovered — her mind may exist in the mauve world, her body may exist on Earth—much like I imagine the fate of Annie. Then there’s Diane’s Tulpa, who wears burgundy during this particular episode, The Jumping Man and The Arm before he evolved, who all appear to be from the darker side of the veil.

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What is the significance of burgundy, then? Honestly, I don’t know, but Dr Jacoby/Amp may be onto something with his two-tone glasses.  I quote here from The Secret History of Twin Peaks where Jacoby speaks of Nadine, how she would have been a perfect candidate for testing out his glasses if only she hadn’t lost the eye.

“Glasses with one red polarized lens for the right eye, one blue polarized lens for the left. My working theory being that the red spectrum slightly suppresses activity in the left or logical hemisphere, while the blue spectrum does the same in the spatial/intuitive side of the brain and that when worn together – although it does tend to give “reality” a slightly purple tint – the patient tends to experience increased integration between the two spheres by increasing activity within the corpus callosum and encouraging the two sides to work together”.

Two sides working together you say? Interesting. A place between the Black and White Lodges? Where good and evil blur into one?

If all this is happening in the subconscious mind of “The Dreamer” (whoever that may be), this sort of makes sense.

The French Woman puts on a black jacket. This could mean a cover-up or another hint to Naido, which backwards (in Lodge speak) spells odian, meaning black. Diane is covered up by Naido. This is a bit of a stretch, I admit.

She straightens her bosom flirtatiously in her dress with a coy smile. It may be hard to read this any other way than intended, but there is one strange denizen this could hint at — the gatekeeper to the Dutchman’s, credited as ‘Bosomy Woman’. She speaks backwards and tells Mr C, “I’ll unlock the door for you”.  She is the key.  She allows him in to visit Phillip Jeffries, who now resides inside room number 8.  A path that the FBI agents will need to travel through to complete their mission.

The French woman takes her time putting on her notoriously expensive Louboutin shoes. Red and black in colour, she kicks one leg high into the sky. She wants us to see these shoes. So there’s money involved, maybe. We know Mr C was more than likely the anonymous billionaire behind the glass box. These shoes were featured again in the show—a Costume Department fail? They should know by now we’re going to notice every little thing, so I don’t think this is the case. Chantal also wears them as she completes her hit on Mr Todd and his assistant, Roger. How did Chantal get her hands on a pair of shoes like that? She doesn’t seem like the kind of gal interested in high fashion; her usual attire is scruffy, and her chosen delicacy, Cheetos. Yes, of course, she needed to look smart to get into the building, but any old heels would have done. Chances are Mr C bought them for her. So why would this need to be remembered? Maybe because the Polish Accountant needs to be put in place to stop Chantal & Hutch from completing their hit on DougieCoop & The Joneses? It is all one big chess game, after all.

french woman kicks her leg in the air

She takes out a mirror from her bag, pouts, strokes both sides of her face and then shoots a massive, exaggerated grin at Gordon. Mirror images have always been a major theme in Twin Peaks. It was the mirror image of BOB in Leland’s reflection, and then later Cooper’s reflection, that revealed the horrifying truth that BOB was on board. It would be a mirror image again that revealed to us that BOB was still inhabiting Cooper’s doppelgänger after all these years. No one grins quite like BOB. The way she strokes her face is perhaps a hint to check the finer details, like Tammy’s discovery of Mr C’s fingerprints being in reverse. Some of the most iconic images of Twin Peaks have been reflections; who is really looking back? Do any of these people recognise who they have become?

french woman applies lipstick

She touches up her lipstick with another flirtatious glance at Gordon. The episode in which all this is taking place is called “Let’s Rock”.  Those words are famously painted on the car window in lipstick at the Fat Trout Trailer Park when Cooper investigates Agent Desmond’s disappearance in Fire Walk With Me. They are also the words spoken by Diane’s Tulpa in this very episode as she’s deputised temporarily into the Blue Rose Task Force. Evidence perhaps even then that she was not what she seemed. Lovely shade of burgundy on that lippy too.

The French Woman takes her wine glass, and with a deep inhalation, she rolls her eyes with pleasure, then takes a long swig.  Albert looks perplexed. Perplexed because she is taking so long? It doesn’t look like that to me. It’s a reaction as if he had been told some puzzling news. What news could that be? Well, now I know it’s easy to make anything I want fit, but I can’t help but think of the Woodsman’s lullaby;

“This is the water, and this is the well, drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes and dark within”  

And descend she does. To the bar, after fluttering a kiss from her fingers onto the lips of Gordon Cole, making like a statue in the doorway then slinking off. (Note the picture of the waterfall on the wall of the corridor to the room).

Would Gordon have known about this though? He most definitely had witnessed other Woodsmen the day he almost got pulled into the Vortex at ‘The Zone’ where Hastings led them. “Dirty, bearded men in a room”. He wasn’t there at KPJK Radio in 1956 (as far as we know), but he does have a rather magnificent picture of a nuclear mushroom cloud displayed on his office wall. (More about his choice of artwork later).

But it is what was said by Gordon Cole in the aftermath of her departure that got me thinking in the first place. He tells Albert: “She’s here visiting a friend of her mother whose daughter has gone missing. The mother owns a turnip farm. I told her to tell the mother that the daughter will turnip eventually”.  Albert stares back at Gordon, completely deadpan. “She didn’t get it either, being French it doesn’t translate. Do you realise Albert that there are more than 6000 languages spoken on Earth today?”  Albert continues to stare and blink, nonplussed.

This listing of relatives is very similar to the ‘mothers sisters girl’ clue given to Desmond & Stanley. What was missing in that sentence was the Uncle, I’m not sure exactly how they figured that out, but it turned out that Uncle Leland was the killer. Or indeed Bob’s your Uncle. So what’s missing from this new sentence? The father? Which would also be Leland. Now knowing that Laura is no longer dead and is indeed just missing (the missing Page), this makes a whole lot more sense.  How did Gordon know she’d turn up eventually?

Then there’s the comment about 6000 languages on Earth — a slightly strange expression, most folk would say “in the world” they wouldn’t consider languages outside of what we know of in this physical plane. It also makes me think that he was telling Albert, goddammit, work out this woman’s body language! And you viewers at home, you get on this too! So I did. But did Albert? He seems uninterested, not willing to participate in this game, and that makes Gordon concerned. He tells Albert he’s worried about him. Does he think he’s losing his detective skills or maybe his interest in the job? Or is Albert just so used to this he can’t muster up excitement like perhaps he once did? He’s getting old and tired of it all. (In my imagination, he meets Constance, the woman of his dreams, takes early retirement and rides off into the sunset with her).

All Roads Lead to Gordon Cole

Gordon Cole, Deputy Director of the FBI and Head of the Blue Rose Task Force—that’s pretty hardcore. He didn’t get to the top without knowing his stuff, and it’s not just any old stuff either; let’s face it, this guy is tuned into something/somewhere else.  We knew it from the very beginning, the moment he could hear the sweet sounds of Shelly’s voice perfectly when everything else was comically misheard.  He was tuned into her frequency, the frequency of love. Upon a revelation of such enormity for him, Gordon is not the type of guy to just accept it without further investigation.

Gordon lost his hearing in 1969 due to an incident he would only explain as a “long story”. By 1989, despite wearing two hearing aids cranked to the max, this didn’t seem to help, and he compensated by speaking very loudly. By Series 3, he does seem to have learned to tune into the frequency of those around him, being able to whisper when talking to Tammy and Albert about secret matters. I guess that during the past 25 years, he found a way to tap into the frequencies of those around him, and not only that, events occurring in the past or future, by using electricity — in this instance, brainwaves.

In 1975, Cole and Jeffries responded to a case in Olympia, Washington, where suspect Lois Duffy appeared to have killed her double. She said, “I’m like the blue rose,” before dying and disappearing. This was the first case and the namesake of the Blue Rose Task Force. He knew about Tulpas for a long time before Diane came along but what still puzzles me is how he knew that the Teresa Banks murder was a Blue Rose case? Does a Blue Rose case always mean a Tulpa was involved or a broad term for weird and unexplained phenomena? Teresa’s murder was unremarkable as murders go; she was a drifter, a cocaine user and a prostitute, with sadly no one even claiming her body. Stanley found BOB’s typed letter under her fingernail before Gordon knew about it, so had he been tipped off by someone? Or had he had a vision, maybe?

Gordon’s vision of Laura in the hotel room in Buckhorn is perplexing. This was not a memory; he never met Laura. This was a private moment between two friends that only they were part of. It was a vision sent to him, by Laura herself perhaps; her emotions cranked to the max at that moment, he tuned in to her frequency unexpectedly, 25 years in the past, to remind of him of the task in hand. Don’t forget about me. Don’t forget who did this to me, and don’t forget your friends. This is where the future and past collide. With the timeline change and the saviour of Laura, will this moment between her and Donna still happen, or will all those moments wash away?

gordons vision of Laura Palmer before her death

Gordon’s choice of office artwork is also fascinating. He appears to surround himself with imagery that is a reminder of the task they have been working on for years. The Trinity Bomb, a head of corn and Franz Kafka all appear. Kafka was a novelist whose work typically featured isolated protagonists faced by bizarre or surrealistic predicaments and incomprehensible social-bureaucratic powers and has been interpreted as exploring themes of alienation, existentialist anxiety, guilt, and absurdity. Sounds pretty much like the entire Twin Peaks story, especially Cooper’s journey out of the Black Lodge. One of his famous works, “Die Verwandlung” (The Metamorphosis), was about a travelling salesman who transformed into a bug-like creature. I don’t think I need to comment further on that.

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Even Gordon’s doodle appears to be a “clue”. It is a projection from his subconscious, maybe—the creature, possibly a Deer—is a reminder of the events at Deer Meadow or maybe Buckhorn. The Arm could be pretty self-explanatory as the Little Man From Another Place or could represent the tearing away of Laura from her life into that of Carrie Page – perhaps even by The Arm itself.

Gordons elk drawing

He’s not only surrounding himself with this imagery but his Task Force members too. All of these things will be imprinted in their minds, and I believe that Gordon’s plan is to ensure that should anything happen to him, there is someone else to take on the role of solving this infinite puzzle. His concerns about Albert are perhaps why he enlisted the help of Tamara Preston. He set her the task of finding out who The Archivist was when he issued her with the Dossier from The Secret History of Twin Peaks. Now, it’s clear as day who The Archivist was; Major Briggs admits it himself at the end, so that was not the task set for Tammy at all. It was actually a way for Gordon to prep Tammy for her future role.  Indeed as she wrote The Final Dossier, she became aware that she was beginning to forget the events that took place in Twin Peaks. She left the town upon this realisation, and hopefully, in doing so, those “unofficial” memories remain with her.

So if this is the case, where is Gordon getting all this information from?

In early 1983, Gordon and Jeffries visited the town of Twin Peaks supposedly to investigate the construction of the Listening Post Alpha facility by the US Air Force on Blue Pine Mountain. LPA was a deep-space monitoring operation, and it was during this time that Gordon first met Major Briggs. So these two had been an acquaintance for some time. We know that they were not expecting the body found in Buckhorn to really be the Major, as his fingerprints had been found at 16 previous ‘crime scenes’ (I’m speculating here — if they weren’t crime scenes, then why would they have been looking for fingerprints?) in the 25 years since his “death” at Listening Post Alpha. So, Briggs, it appears, when not hiding in “The Zone”, had been visiting different places perhaps in search for Judy or Doppelcooper or travelling to various timelines compiling “The Dossier”. So has it been Briggs feeding information back to Gordon all these years?

Maybe, but we also know that Gordon had been in secret communication with Jeffries throughout his disappearance. He knew he was out there but did not exist in any way we could logically explain anymore. We also know that Albert too had been in contact with Jeffries — both he and Gordon kept secrets from each other, perhaps another reason why The French Woman was there, as a kind of test maybe. In a world of possible Tulpa’s, it’s good practice to check that those closest to you are who they say they are.

Ultimately though, why? Why does Gordon need to remember the “unofficial version”? If we go back to when Gordon and Briggs met, they were both there to monitor deep space, and we know that Briggs was receiving messages, most likely from The Giant/Fireman. We also know that Briggs remains now with The Fireman wherever that may be—I do not feel confident in saying it’s the White Lodge, it may very well be, but it is not the place described by Briggs in his vision of the future of his son. Where The Fireman and Senorita Dido reside is a place with no colour, other than when the golden orb of Laura is formed. It appears that wherever they are, The Fireman can tap into time, future or past, with one swipe of his intergalactic iPad.

The Fireman enlisted the help of Gordon’s Blue Rose Task Force — actually, he stole them from him in many ways, but they are were perfect candidates, warriors for the greater good, in search of the truth. Why were Gordon and Albert never picked? Maybe The Fireman is the one who needs the ‘unofficial version’ remembered. Someone needs to recognise the different things they have tried in the quest to find Judy. Much like The Fireman/Giant left clues for Coop, Gordon leaves clues for his team.

Curiously Gordon was already aware that Coop might go missing, as Coop had told him before his disappearance, “If I get lost, find me, I’m trying to kill two birds with one stone”. So The Fireman’s message happened 25 years ago? I don’t think my brain can work that one out other than to say that time is looping continuously as they try time and time again to both save Laura and destroy Judy, a task that may not be possible.

What if that isn’t the real task at hand? Is that where they are going wrong? If they are all living inside a dream (as three different people have all told Gordon), then the only way to stop this is by waking up? But who is the dreamer? Perhaps it is the meta appearance of Monica Bellucci — playing herself, a woman from our world — that tells what we need to know…

monica belluci and gordon cole