The two Waiting Room scenes– in Episodes 2 and 18– are slightly different, but both involve Mike and the Evolution of the Arm. In each of these scenes, there is very specific sound design and camerawork that is used to express insight into some of the larger narratives.
In episode 18, after the Arm asks Cooper, “Is This the Story of the little girl who lived down the lane? Is it?” Coop watches Laura woosh away. This is actually a flashback to episode 2.
This implies Laura is the little girl who lived down the lane. It also implies Coop knows that story, and that the scene in episode 2 is relevant both to the story and Cooper’s larger mission. There is more that is discussed in the Analysis section.
Red Room in episode 2
Let’s start at the scene where Laura gets whisked off into the blackness:
- She gets whisked off, we see the white horse, and the scene resets (we’ll cover this in another post).
- Coop is now in the red room with Mike. The Mike-Red Room music plays softly in the background.
- Mike says, “Is it future, or is it past?” Then jump cuts to the far corner of the room.
- Mike beckons to Coop, and they exit into the hallway
- They reach the Arm, and Mike introduces Coop to the Arm, and the Arm introduces itself.
- The Arm then asks, “Do you remember your Doppelganger?” Coop recalls a flashback of being chased by his Doppelganger in the season 2 finale.
- The Arm gives some advice to Cooper.
- Cooper enters into another hallway. When he enters, there is a juttery effect, as if 30% of the frames had been removed from the recording.
Red Room in episode 18
Like in episode 2, let’s start when Laura gets whisked away in the forest.
- Coop is holding Laura’s hand, walking her to Jack Rabbit’s Palace
- Coop heres the Gramophone Noise from episode 1, and Laura disappears from behind him
- Laura screams and vanishes with the same sounds as episode 2
Ok, we’re at the start of the scene. Now Mike and Coop are sitting across from each other in the Waiting Room. The Mike-Lodge music is also playing.
- Mike: “Is It Future or Is It Past”
- There’s a long Point of View (POV) shot of the empty chair where Laura would have been sitting, with some reaction shots of Coop
- Mike beckons to Coop, and Coop follows Mike to the room with The Arm
- The Arm introduces itself
The Arm asks: “Is this the story of the little girl who lived down the lane? Is it?”
This is where it gets interesting. The next shots that happen are:
- A POV shot in a waiting room hallway
- A montage of partial shots from the beginning of the episode 2 waiting room scene– These shots are from when Laura whispers in Coop’s ear then is pulled away
There are 5 signs that in these two shots, we are actually watching Cooper recall his memory of the episode 2 scene.
- (1): Structurally, the two waiting room scenes are extremely similar. they proceed in the same pattern: Laura and Coop engage each other, Laura is whisked away, then hard cut to the Waiting Room. Followed by Mike beckoning, the intro to the Arm, then Cooper’s flashback. This pattern, evident in episode 2, is followed to the letter in episode 18. Cooper’s flashbacks would be, respectively, the Doppel-Lodge flashback, and the Laura-whooshing scene.
- (2): Right before the shots in question, We get a close up shot of Cooper’s face. This is the exact same close up we see while he’s remembering the Doppel-Lodge scene in ep 2.
- (3) The next shot is a POV shot of Cooper in the Red Room hallway. Switching to Cooper’s first-person POV signals that we’re about to watch a Cooper flashback, not actual real-time events.
- (4) In that POV shot from #2, as an additional clue that this is a flashback, we see the exact same juddery effect that we see while he’s in the hallway in Episode 2.
- (5) During the Red Room scenes, Mike’s Lodge-music can be heard playing in the background. However, that music goes away for both the Doppel flashback and the Laura scene, and comes back after. Also, All the sounds are subdued in Laura scene, except for Coop’s “huh” and Laura’s whoosh / scream.
Finally, in episode 2, we move back to the Arm, who gives advice to Coop. However, in episode 18, the next shot is Cooper walking into Leland’s room. This scene gives us a couple hints that the flashback is over:
- The sound effects return to normal volume, the electric humming goes away, and Mike’s Lodge-music comes back.
- Coop enters this room from a different place than he entered it in Episode 2– showing that this is a new scene, and not a flashback of talking to Leland.
What Does It All Mean?
For starters, “The story of the little girl who lived down the lane,” is a reference to Laura or her story. Not only that, but that tagline seems to remind Cooper specifically of the scene from episode 2 where Laura whispers to him, then is whisked off while screaming.
Considering the finale rolled the credits with that scene, it’s clearly important to the story. In fact, I’m writing another post about that scene after this.
Going back to Cooper, his flashback in episode 2 wasn’t random: It set up the conversation about what Cooper’s mission was, and it was the most relevant flashback to what he and the Arm are discussing: his Doppelganger.
Likewise, this flashback would be the most relevant scene to Coop’s new mission. Clearly it involves, “The Story Of the Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane,” which we now know is referring to Laura Palmer.
Specifically, however, its about Laura getting taken away from Cooper and the Waiting Room. Whatever that is, and whoever is behind it, is key to Cooper’s mission in the finale.
Who is that, you might ask? I’m covering the facts for who or what this being is in another post.
If you’ve read this far, thank you for sticking with me through this outrageously long post 🙂
Let’s talk about the other flashbacks in this season, and how they relate to this new one.
- The flashback in Ep. 2 Waiting Room, when Coop recalls his Doppelganger.
- Ep. 15, when Mr. C is talking to Kettle Jeffries. He has a flashback of Bowie Jeffries saying to him, “We’re not gonna talk about Judy At All.”
Here’s whats interesting about these two flashbacks. Coop has a flashback of the first time he sees his Doppelganger, and Mr. C has a flashback of the first time he ever talks with Jeffries, and the first time he hears about Judy. Those scenes reflect when Mr. C and Jeffries first enter the story.
These scenes reflect the start of the quest that the version of Cooper is currently on.
- In Episode 2, Coop’s primary mission is to defeat his doppelganger– his flashback is when the Doppelganger first escapes the Room
- In Episode 15, Mr. C’s primary quest is to find the Experiment/Judy (Its implied, but not confirmed, that Judy and the Experiment are the same. However, since we’re in the potential theories area, we can speculate a little). His flashback is the first time he hears about Judy.
Could it be that this memory is the beginning of “the story” of the little girl who lived down the lane? Whatever narrative involves these whooshing Laura’s, is Lynch implying that scene is the start of that story for Cooper?