The Black Box in Argentina is one of the most mysterious objects in Twin Peaks: The Return. It is terse and unreadable, and implodes into a black rock before we can even begin to figure out what it’s about.
What follows is the function and role of the Black Box in the Twin Peaks Universe.
- Mr. C Is The “Bad Man” in Duncan Todd’s Life
- In Episode 5, Lorraine sends the number “2” to a number in Argentina after she finds out the assassination attempt Mr. C ordered on Dougie-Coop failed. This causes the Box to blink twice.
- In Episode 5, while in prison, Mr. C calls a number, and enters extra digits corresponding to more than the typical phone number. The alarms in the prison go off. Mr. C appears to listen for a while, then says, “The Cow Jumped Over the Moon.” This seems to cause the Box to blink twice, then fold into a black rock.
- In Episode 7, A red square appears briefly on Duncan Todd’s screen. This causes him to initiate a plot on Dougie and Lorraine’s lives on behalf of Mr. C.
- In Episode 5, its revealed the Box resides in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- Mr. C Built the Glass Experiment Box in NYC
- In Episode 2, we see Mr. C download the blueprints of Yankton Federal Prison onto a device he is carrying, along with a suitcase full of high-tech gear.
- In Part 8, we see that Mr. C is able to reprogram GPS devices using a phone
- When tracking Diane-Tulpa’s texts, Tammy mentions that a text from Mr. C was routed through a tower in Mexico
- In Episode 4, Cole tells Warden Murphy to give Mr. C, “His ‘private’ phone call, and I[Cole] expect to hear all about it”
What Does It All Mean?
Note: This particular post does not have any of the “smoking gun” type of scene analysis that can make you go, “that’s definitely how it is.” However, this narrative is compelling and backed by the facts.
Mr. C Embraces Technology
Let’s start with Mr. C and his use of technology. For starters, We know he built the Glass Box in NYC, an experiment so technically complicated that he had to hire an expert to help him construct or maintain it (Although we never technically get any backstory on this scientist, in this case I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that he had something to do with the Glass Box).
Note the scientist on the right side of this picture
This isn’t the only advanced technology Coop uses in his mission. Apparently the texts he was sending Diane were being routed through multiple servers, at least one of which was in Mexico. After escaping Yankton Federal Prison, he is somehow able to reprogram three GPS devices to track another truck just using the license plate. Even crazier, he does this from a throwaway phone. Finally, when downloading the Yankton blueprints, we get a look at his suitcase full of FBI gear, from the FBI computer to an apparent call anonymizer.
Image courtesy of https://exploretheglassbox.weebly.com/
Mr. C Uses the Box To Communicate
This brings us to The Box, Mr. C’s latest and most mysterious piece of technology. The box, as a piece of equipment, seems to tap into the Lodge’s capability to manipulate electricity. It’s been programmed by Mr. C to do a few things.
First, Let’s look at Lorraine’s scene. After she finds out her hit on Dougie-Coop failed, she tentatively, and fearfully, sends the message “2” to the Box. The box blinked twice in acknowledgement.
Fast Forward to Yankton Federal Prison. Cole and the gang go to visit the newly incarcerated Mr. C. On their way out, Cole tells Murphy to give Mr. C his phone call, and then send the recording back to Cole.
Mr. C is a tactical thinker, and he’s demonstrated this across the season. From coordinating his and Ray’s escape, to setting up multiple hits on Dougie-Coop, to using his son as a guinea pig, he always seems a couple steps ahead.
Mr. C just met with Cole, and he knows Cole is going to be watching him. It makes sense that he would know that his call is being monitored as well. So here is a breakdown of how the call went:
- Mr. C makes a Mr. Strawberry reference
- Mr. C calls the Box. He also presses a series of extra buttons, telling the box to trigger all the alarms in the prison, in order to prevent the recording devices from capturing what he says to the Box. (Knowing that the call is being recorded for Cole).
- Mr. C says, “The Cow Jumped Over the Moon.” This appears to be a coded reference to the box that tells it to do 2 things:
- Self Destruct
- Send a message to Duncan Todd, letting him know that he needs to contract Ike the Spike to kill Lorraine and Dougie-Coop
- So what happens next? We see the Box in Buenos Aires. It beeps twice in acknowledgement of Mr. C’s request, then self-destructs into a black Lodge-rock, presumably after sending a signal that the hit failed
The Box Initiates Mr. C’s Backup Plan With Todd
Fast Forward Again. Now we’re in Las Vegas, sitting in Duncan Todd’s office. While working on the computer, he receives a signal:
courtesy of welcometotwinpeaks.com and giphy.com
This signal prompts him to initiate Mr. C’s hit on Dougie-Coop and Lorraine. But, what caused the signal?
I think the Black Box sent this signal to Todd’s laptop before self destructing, and the laptop showed it when Todd opened it to start his work. Although there is no direct evidence for this particular point, it lines up really well with how Mr. C was already using the box to communicate about Dougie’s hit.
Why Use the Box at All?
Why does Mr. C even use this Box? It’s clear he already has established comm methods using cell phones.
If there’s anything we know about Mr C, it’s that he doesn’t need anything, and he’s meticulous. He kills Phyllis Hastings after Bill goes to jail and frames it on her lover George. He kills Lorraine after she fails to murder Dougie-Coop. He murders Todd after failing to murder Dougie-Coop. He has all sorts of backup plans for the prison, including blackmail on the Warden, and blueprints of the facility. He has the Warden murdered, for no other reason, seemingly, than to tie up loose ends.
Hell, he even has a backup plan for death, in the form of the Woodsmen.
So it would make sense that Mr. C would want a way to facilitate Dougie-Coop’s death without anyone tracing it back to him. For this, the Box is perfect. Nobody in the US is going to know how to find this strange box in an attic in Buenos Aires. He never has to communicate directly with Lorraine. He never has to communicate with Todd either, the box even did that for him. Finally, Lorraine and Todd wouldn’t even be able to communicate with each other!
So his plan looked like this: Lorraine would murder Dougie-Coop and respond via the Box. If that failed, the box would send a signal to Todd: take out Dougie and Lorraine. It’s only because that also failed that Mr. C had to improvise: he called Todd when Ike the Spike was arrested, forcing Todd to lean on Sinclair. Finally, after Sinclair failed twice, Mr. C called in his emergency hit squad to finish the job.
This is really all the info on The Box I have, and it seems fairly self-contained. It definitely helped make the season feel just that more mysterious and sprawling, especially having put the box in Buenos Aires.
The theories I’ve heard relate to The Box having some relation to Jeffries, both having been in Buenos Aires at one time. How? I have no idea, but I would love to hear about it.