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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Twin Peaks: What Story is That, Charlie? Twin Peaks
"What Story is That, Charlie?"
Season Three, Part 13
Written by Mark Frost & David Lynch
Directed by David Lynch
Original air date: August 6, 2017


Mr. C faces a challenge; Sinclair plots a move against Dougie; Jacoby bumps into his former patient, Nadine; Big Ed and James pine for the women not in their lives.


Read the episode summary at the Twin Peaks wiki


Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode


Rodney Mitchum

Bradley Mitchum




Agent Cooper

Anthony Sinclair

Bushnell Mullins

Janey-E Jones

Duncan Todd

Roger (mentioned only)

Sonny-Jim Jones

Mr. C

Ray Monroe (dies in this episode)

Renzo (dies in this episode)


Phillip Jeffries (mentioned only)

Bill Hastings (mentioned only, deceased)

Betty (secretary of William Hastings, mentioned only, deceased)

Richard Horne


Detective T. Fusco
Detective "Smiley" Fusco
Detective D. Fusco

Mrs. Fusco (mother of the Detectives Fusco, mentioned only)

Phil (mentioned only)

Detective Clark




Shelly Briggs

Becky Burnett

Bobby Briggs

Big Ed

Norma Jennings

Major Briggs (mentioned only, deceased)

Walter Lawford

Nadine Hurley

Lawrence Jacoby

Sarah Palmer

Audrey Horne


Billy (mentioned only)

MC at Roadhouse (unnamed)

James Hurley




Didja Notice?


The Mitchum brothers give Mullins three gifts: a box of Montecristo Number Two cigars, diamond cufflinks, and a BMW Convertible (the Mitchum's say the car is a match to Dougie's new car as well, so it must be a 2015 BMW M4, seen in the Jones' driveway at 5:11 on the Blu-ray).


The desk phone Anthony uses at 3:44 on the Blu-ray is a Cisco 8800 model.


    At 3:49 on the Blu-ray, the name of the claimant on the insurance claim form seen on Anthony's monitor is Nancy Steiner. Steiner was a costume designer for the series.

    The monitor brand is AOC


The delivery truck that delivers Sonny-Jim's gym set at 4:42 on the Blu-ray is a 1985 Ford Econoline.


The music that plays as Sonny-Jim plays on his new gym set is "Dance of the Swans" from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 1877 ballet Swan Lake.


As Sonny-Jim plays on his new gym set, Janey-E tells Dougie-Cooper, "He's in seventh heaven." This is a reference to the seven heavens described as part of the cosmology of many religions, such as Judaism and Islam, among others.


When Janey-E tells Dougie-Cooper, "I love you so much," he then mouths the words, "so much".


The military vehicle seen at "the farm" at 7:09 on the Blu-ray is a British Humber FV 1611 Pig.


The pick-up truck driven by Mr. C is seen to be a Chevrolet C/K Silverado at 7:17 on the Blu-ray.


At 11:54 on the Blu-ray, one of Renzo's men is carrying what appears to be a small bottle of Seagram's Seven whiskey. Another man is drinking a bottle of Dos Equis beer (currently owned by Heineken!).


Ray says that a prison guard he had never seen before gave him the Owl Cave ring and told him to put it on Mr. C right after he killed him. How did the guard get the ring? Was it really a guard? Or some manifesting agent of the Black Lodge?


Ray tells Mr. C that Phillip Jeffries was rumored to have been last seen at the Dutchman's. The Final Dossier states a matchbook from the Dutchman's Lodge motel in Montana was found in Monroe's pocket when his body was recovered.


At 22:48 on the Blu-ray, notice that Mr. C is looking right at the ceiling camera as he leaves the room, indicating he knows he's been observed.


At 24:01 on the Blu-ray, a woman is heard screaming in the background at the Las Vegas police station, with cops responding to her:


  - Hey, hey, hey! She can't piss on the floor!
- Get her out of here!
- She's still pissing, Phil.
- Cocksuckers! I'll shit in your mouth!
- I'll get her.
- And she's got a knife!
- Fuck you, twinkies! I'll cut your nuts off!
- Tase her, tase her!
- Phil, tase her!
- Get her out of here.
- We want to report a cop!
- Take a seat, ma'am. I'll be with you in a minute.


Detective Fusco tells his brothers they got the Douglas Jones fingerprints back from AFIS. AFIS stands for Automated Fingerprint Identification System, instituted by the FBI in 1999.


Anthony Sinclair asks Detective Clark what kind of poison he could use (to kill Dougie Jones). Clark tells him to use aconitine. This is an actual toxin derived from the plant known as devil's helmet or monkshood.


Detective Clark tells Sinclair to meet him outside of Crosley's for the toxin. This appears to be a fictitious establishment in Las Vegas.


    At 27:21 on the Blu-ray, Dutch and Chantal pass a freeway sign for highway 189 south to Provo and highways 52 to 15 for Orem. These are real world highways to actual cities.

    During their drive, the two discuss Mormons. This is a reference to the Mormon religion, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Members of this religion avoid alcohol and caffeine, as suggested in Chantal's dialog here.


At 29:17 on the Blu-ray, the receptionist desk at the Lucky 7 building is seen to have Dell monitors at the computer terminal. The application window open on it is AMAG Professional Edition, software allowing for control of security technology in business environments.


As Dougie-Cooper enters the Szymon's Famous Coffee cafe, a sign for Szymon's famous cherry pie is seen. The barista (her badge identifies her as Leslie) brings him a slice.


At 32:40 on the Blu-ray, Dougie-Cooper brushes some white "dust" off of Anthony's coat. It seems the "dust" is dandruff, as bits are seen in his hair as well.


The man using the urinal in the men's room who says, "That bad, huh?" when Anthony dumps out Dougie-Cooper's coffee cup is Mike Malone, a set dresser not only on this series, but also the original series and Fire Walk With Me! He also played a fellow FBI agent alongside Chet Desmond during the school bus scene early in Fire Walk With Me.


At 34:36 on the Blu-ray, Bunn coffee makers and a Server condiment dispenser are seen in use at the RR Diner. The diner's soda fountain features Coca-Cola, Sprite, Barq's, Minute Maid, Hi-C, Mr. Pibb, Fanta, and Diet Coke, all real world brands.


Bobby tells Ed and Norma that he, the sheriff, and Hawk found something of his father's "today". But the tube and notes of his father's that they found at Mrs. Briggs' house was a couple days ago now in the timeline (Part 9: "This is the Chair"). Assuming time is still flowing normally.


    When Walter Lawford arrives at the RR to meet with Norma, the two share a quick, chaste kiss on the lips in greeting. Are they lovers? In the United States it is not common at all to see a kiss on the lips unless the pair are either lovers or, at times, relatives. The implication would seem to be that the two are either lovers now or had been in the past, but are still close friends.

    When Big Ed and Bobby move out of Norma's booth so she can have her business meeting with Walter, notice that the two men sit two booths down and during Norma's meeting, you can see in the distance that Ed keeps looking up at them, possibly sad, maybe a bit jealous at the relationship she has with Walter.


During Norma's meeting, we learn that in addition to the RR itself, she co-owns four more franchised diners called Norma's RR Diner throughout the state.


At 46:15 on the Blu-ray, a reflection in the storefront window of Run Silent, Run Drapes shows the neon sign for Boxley's. This was a jazz club in North Bend, WA, now, sadly, closed.


It appears that Sarah Palmer's living room was shot on location in the actual house in Everett, WA because the house across the street seen through the window is the actual house across the street from the exterior shooting location at 708 33rd St, Everett.


At 47:36 on the Blu-ray, there is a photo that appears to be of Laura and Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle...I think!) in Sarah's living room. Is this an indication that director Lynch considers Boyle to be the true Donna? Boyle portrayed Donna in the original series but not in Fire Walk With Me, allegedly due to scheduling conflicts, being replaced by actress Moira Kelly in that film. Twin Peaks fans debate which actress is the "best" Donna. Rumor has it that Boyle was approached to reprise the role for the third season and she declined; the character does not appear at all in this season. I have not been able to determine whether Moira Kelly was approached for the season at all.


Sarah still has piles of cigarette butts in several ashtrays in her living room, just as she did in Fire Walk With Me. As Donna said in that film, "If I had a nickel for every cigarette your mom smoked...I'd be dead."


Sarah is seen watching what appears to be a very old boxing match (it's black-and-white with a mono-sounding sportscaster) on TV. The same 10 seconds or so of the match play over and over. What is going on? Is it an indication of a time loop? If that were the case, Sarah's actions would also occur over and over, wouldn't they (they don't, except that she checks the same empty vodka bottle twice, probably more of an indication of her drunkenness than a time loop)? Unless the presence of Judy (if Judy is, indeed, in possession of her body) shields her from the time loop as it takes place around her..? Maybe the repeated playing on the TV is indicative of Sarah's being stuck in the tragic past of her daughter's murder and her husband's complicity in their daughter's molestation and eventual fate.


Could one of the boxers in the match be a young Bushnell "Battling Bud" Mullins? (In reality, the footage is of a match fought on Monday, February 4, 1935 at the New York Athletic Club between Stephen Rozakis and Michael Juppe, as discovered in research conducted by Matt Marrone in his article "Punch Drunk" in Blue Rose #8, a Twin Peaks fanzine that is the heir apparent of the classic TP fanzine Wrapped in Plastic; visit them at


When Audrey says, "I'm not sure who I am, but I'm not me," Charlie sarcastically retorts, "This is Existentialism 101." Existentialism is a philosophy that accepts a sense of confusion and disorientation in a meaningless and absurd world. By adding "101" to the term, Charlie is equating Audrey's mindset as akin to what a student has learned in the most basic university-level class on Existentialism.


    In this episode, Charlie's dialog to Audrey is vaguely suggestive of his being her psychiatrist. His words evoke the feeling that he is trying to lead her into a certain mental direction that she is resisting. But is he doing it for her own good or some other purpose? He asks, "...are you gonna stop playing games, or do I have to end your story, too?", which seems like a threat, something I would think a doctor should not make with their patient. The use of the word "story" also makes me think of a writer and a script...and then to my personal speculation of whether the "dream" ("we live inside a dream", "who is the dreamer?") is a reference to the characters of Twin Peaks being just characters on a TV show called Twin Peaks in the "real world". Is the dreamer the script writer? Co-creators Frost/Lynch? The TV viewing audience?

    When Charlie asks if he has to end her story, Audrey asks, "What story is that, Charlie? Is that the story of the little girl who lived down the lane? Is it?" This may be a reference to the 1974 novel and 1976 film The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, about a teenage girl who lives alone in a house and who manipulates, and is manipulated by, adult males. But, how would/could Charlie "end" her story?


At the end of Audrey and Charlie's conversation, Charlie remarks, in regards to their proposed visit to the Roadhouse to look for Billy, that she now looks like she wants to stay and she responds she wants to stay and she wants to go, "I want to do both." She continues, "Which one would you be? Charlie, help me. It's like Ghostwood here." Ghostwood, of course, refers to the Ghost National Forest around Twin Peaks. Perhaps Audrey's statement reflects the idea that ghosts are both dead and living, their physical bodies deceased, but their souls still hanging around Earth, thus neither dead, nor alive, wanting to both ascend to the afterlife and linger in the physical world to achieve something that was left unfulfilled; this again (as I speculated in Part 12: "Let's Rock") possibly suggests that Audrey is left with questions about a possible relationship with Billy Zane (the actor who played her love interest John Justice Wheeler in the second season of the original series).


At the Roadhouse, Renee has a tattoo "7663" on her left arm. Not sure what that means, if anything.


Renee is clearly moved by James' rendition of the song "Just You" at the Roadhouse. The song was first performed by James, Donna, and Maddy in Episode 9: "Coma". Why is Renee so moved by the song? Yes, she is aware of James' eye for her since Part 2: "The Stars Turn and a Time Presents Itself", but she seems to barely know him at the time. Could it be that they do know each other, if distantly? Is the song actually about her? The lyrics of the song state, "We go strolling together, In love, We go strolling forever." Did James and Renee take a walk together as kids and now, hearing the song, she realizes he wrote it about her? Does this lead her to regret marrying Chuck (who seems like a bit of an asshole in Part 15: "There's Some Fear in Letting Go") when the sensitive and caring James was potentially available?


    At Big Ed's Gas Farm at 56:53 on the Blu-ray, Ed seems to squint at his reflection in the window across from him. His reflection can just barely be seen in between the two gas pumps when the window is shown. Notice that the reflection does not seem to sync up with Ed's movements though; at 56:57, it appears as if the reflected Ed still holds the cup of soup in his hand, while the real one has already set it down on his desk. His head movements also appear to be off. Are we seeing two timelines running at once? Does Ed actually see it as well, since it seems like he briefly notices the reflection?

    Another thing happens at 57:45 as the scrolling end credits reach about the midway point on the screen. The wall, window, and the objects outside suddenly shift just have to pay close attention to notice it. I suppose it could just be the result of a focus adjustment on the camera, because that background does get slightly blurrier with the shift. But if it were a focus adjustment, I would expect the foreground to get slightly sharper in contrast and that does not seem to be the case. Is the shift an indication that time has warped back to one timeline again? Ed's reflection is arguably gone after this shift, though with the credits scrolling over the screen, it's hard to say that for sure. It's also interesting to note that a sign reading "Frame Straightening" is seen prominently hanging over the pumps and is one of the objects effected by the shift.


What is the piece of paper Ed burns at his desk? It appears to be a small, tightly-folded piece of paper, possibly a note. Was it a note he had intended to give to Norma earlier but didn't after seeing her with Walter? Was it a note she gave him and he is burning it unread?


Memorable Dialog



I love you so much.mp3

what is this, kindergarten?.mp3

you're spending too much for pie.mp3

those drapes are completely silent.mp3

out of the shit.mp3

I feel like I'm somewhere else.mp3

I'm not sure who I am.mp3

this is Existentialism 101.mp3

what story is that?.mp3

the little girl who lived down the lane.mp3

the Roadhouse is proud to welcome James Hurley.mp3

it's like Ghostwood here.mp3 


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