A Tale of Two Spirits: Mike and BOB

My theory on Mike and BOB (not to be mistaken with Mike Nelson 'Snake' and Bobby Briggs) is probably one of the most solid ones on anything in Twin Peaks. I have spoken to quite a few people about it, and in the light that I usually end up explaining the story indicates that not much has been written about these two major characters; I hope that this may shed light on some of the confusion. Those who are very familiar with Twin Peaks (i.e. have read Laura Palmer's diary) will know BOB quite well; making several 'appearances' as written words in her diary during her own entries, the relationship she has with this unknown being becomes quite apparent. The first hint that BOB may at times have the ability to infiltrate her words alludes that he possess a spirit form able to inhabit a person's mind. Yet as we find out through Laura's stories, she encounters BOB on numerous occasions between the ages of twelve and sixteen as a tangible being; whether he is truly the being she sees is another story, but he can also take human form. Another form which BOB takes the shape of is the Owl. The owl is yet another vehicle BOB needs when he is in a certain frame of mind. My elaboration on these three main points at a later point will fully explain why and how these transitions takes place. But in order to completely understand this, I will explain who BOB is, his past, and how it relates to Mike.

Years ago, when Leland Palmer was a young boy, he used to live in a house on Pearl Lakes, just outside Twin Peaks, with his parents. In a later conversation with Sheriff Harry S. Truman and Special Agent Dale Cooper, Leland describes a man, under the name 'Robertson', who used to live in a nearby house. The man had long hair, and used to flick lit matches at the young Leland, chanting: "You want to play with fire, little boy? You want to play with BOB?" Given the fact that Leland's age is over forty, it would seem odd that the man he is describing, recognised by Leland years later in a drawing made of BOB as described by Ronette Pulaski (who was assaulted by him with Laura), would still look the same after such a long time. This suggests to me that something happened to BOB between the time Leland first saw him at Pearl Lakes, and now. Here we turn to Philip Gerard.

Philip Gerard is a one-armed man who claims to be a shoe salesman, wandering about the inhabitants of Twin Peaks, spreading his business for no apparent reason. Superficially happy, our attention is immediately drawn to his behaviour, from the onset of his sighting by Hawk in the Twin Peaks hospital following Laura Palmer's death. Philip Gerard is seen entering the morgue, and as Hawk follows him, he vanishes. Shortly thereafter, Dale Cooper has a dream in which the same man speaks, the scenes panning between the Man From Another Place in the Black Lodge, to BOB pacing around, Let's Rock!grinning. The One-Armed Man chants: "In the darkness of future past/The Magician longs to see/One chance out between two worlds/Fire Walk With Me. We lived among the people. How do you say, convenience store? We lived above it. I mean it like it is...and it sounds. I too have been touched by the devilish one. A tattoo on the left shoulder. Ah, but when I saw the face of God, I was changed. I took the entire arm off." This is intercut with BOB speaking: "Catch you with my deathbag! You may think I've gone insane, but I promise I will kill again." A link is made between BOB and the One-Armed Man. The facade of Philip Gerard soon changes when Dale Cooper, following advice from the Giant ("Without chemicals he points"), withholds the medication on which he depends on for a strange reason. As his non-sedated mind now settles, we see an immediate transition from Philip Gerard to one possessed by another form, as his voice changes completely, as do his mannerisms and words. He elaborates upon the words spoken in Dale Cooper's dream.

At this point, I will draw together all the details I have gathered, not only here, but also from previous discussions. Keeping in mind the history behind BOB and the One-Armed Man, their connection is as follows: A couple of years after the young Leland Palmer met BOB, BOB met Mike, and they presumably became close friends. BOB, bent on killing sprees, worked with Mike, who led the rampages. As an indication of their vow to darkness, both had the inscription, 'Fire Walk With Me' tattooed on their left shoulders. Whether or not both were at the time spirits sent by the Black Lodge, inhabiting foreign bodies to fulfil their deeds, I am not yet sure of. I think there are two main possibilities at this point, both of which tie in well with the present characters in Twin Peaks; one the one hand, both could be spirits as just described, from the Black Lodge, or, both could have been alive, human beings who knew nothing of the Lodges yet had the same inclinations. Either way, the story continues: At some point during their deeds together, Mike 'saw the face of God', as mentioned above, and turned against the previous inclinations of killing. Knowing BOB was unstoppable, that he would never see goodness, Mike killed BOB, and cut off his own left arm, removing the inscription and thereby cutting off his vow. Unfortunately, BOB remained strong in spirit form, retaining not only his dark inclinations, but possessing the ability to carry them out by possessing those not strong enough to keep him out. Mike, in the meantime, turned his life to the good, assuming the name Philip Gerard, with an extreme character of gentility and happiness, innocently selling shoes. However, he was not unaware of BOB's presence in spirit form, and in order to keep him out, used drugs to sustain strength and render himself impenetrable. In the light of these events, it becomes apparent why Philip Gerard lurks about Twin Peaks; he is BOB's alter, an attempt at BOB's conscience, trying to hinder BOB's actions. This is notably seen in Fire Walk With Me when Philip Gerard is running wildy through the woods as the camera cuts to BOB dragging Laura Palmer and Ronette Pulaski to the train car. Philip Gerard is accutely aware when BOB is present, and especially when he is about to kill. When BOB undergoes transitions between possessing someone, and leaving their body to take the form of an owl, Philip Gerard becomes aware of nothing else but the air around him, as if BOB's spirit was teasing him.

As I have explained, BOB either was alive and died, taking the form of a spirit, or has always been a spirit. What is certain is that in spirit form, he is closely linked to the Black Lodge. He is the messenger, the technician, so to speak, acting out the deeds as deemed by those inhabiting the Black Lodge. The desire of the Black Lodge is to aquire the souls of the good; obviously not of the bad, since by the proxy of being bad one is already linked to the Black Lodge. This is why BOB is often seen in the Black Lodge, most notably after Leland has killed Laura Palmer in Fire Walk With Me, as he stands before the Man From Another Place and Mike, Leland hovering next to him in the air like a weak balloon. BOB not only takes pleasure in his deeds but gloats at those he inhabits. This mockery is seen in the ongoing battle between BOB and Laura Palmer in her diary entries, as his constant insulting of her leads to her own adamant attack on him. Of course, in Laura Palmer's case, since BOB failed to possess her, he possesses Leland Palmer, the weak father whose weaknesses he has known since he was a child, in order to kill her ( knoing she would sacrifice herself for her father's sake). One thing crucial to know about BOB is that he does not possess his host 24 hours day; at times, BOB leaves the body and takes form of the owl; this forms the basis of the Giant's warning to Special Agent Dale Cooper: "The owls are not what they seem". Most often throughout the series, BOB takes the form of an owl after a killing, in order to return to the Black Lodge for a reward, or prior to visiting the Black Lodge and mingling with the others :)