Who or what is Twin Peaks’ BOB and has he possessed Agent Cooper?

BOB. The dark secret at the heart of the Twin Peaks mystery, and the creature responsible for the murder of Laura Palmer, was last scene staring back at Cooper in a bathroom mirror...

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David Lynch is a director who likes to make the most of chance occurrences rather than editing them out of his work, so when set dresser Frank Silva’s eerie reflection was accidentally caught on camera during the shooting of Twin Peaks, Lynch cast him as demonic killer BOB, whose grinning countenance haunted the dreams of many a Twin Peaks fan during the early ’90s.

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Silva sadly passed away just a few years after the original series of Twin Peaks first aired but it’s hard to believe that the looming presence of BOB will not be involved in some form when the show returns, so here’s a crash course in BOB, to get you up to speed…

BOB’s presence was first felt during FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper’s examination of the body of murdered Twin Peaks high school student Laura Palmer. Remembering the similar case of Teresa Banks, found with a folded piece of paper embedded beneath one of her fingernails, bearing a single letter T, Cooper extracted a near identical piece of paper from under one of Laura’s fingernails, printed with an R. As the investigation progressed, other victims produced two more letters, B and O. The murderer, Cooper concluded, was in the process of spelling out his full name, Robert, or BOB for short…

But who – or what – was this brutal yet calculating killer? Here’s what we learnt as the series unfolded…

BOB is a demonic creature who lurks in the dark ethereal realm of the Black Lodge. He takes possession of the living and forces them to do terrible things, feeding on the fear and suffering they cause.

BOB regularly possessed Laura Palmer’s father Leland, raping and abusing her from an early age. Under BOB’s control, Leland murdered Laura. When he finally told Cooper the truth, BOB killed Leland by forcing him to smash his head repeatedly against a wall. See, not a nice guy.

BOB started as he meant to go on. In life, he was a serial rapist and murderer of women. After entering the Black Lodge, he continued to satisfy his lust for power, terror and pain through others. 

BOB was not the only demonic spirit Cooper and co encountered during their investigation. There was also MIKE. In life, MIKE and BOB had raped and killed as a team. After undergoing an epiphany, MIKE decided that BOB must be stopped and in the guise of the mysterious ‘one-armed man’, he aimed to track BOB down.

When BOB manifests himself, he appears as a denim-clad straggled-haired man, usually with a broad, terrifying grin on his face. He is often glimpsed in mirrors.

The last time we saw Agent Cooper was after an ordeal in the Black Lodge. As he was getting ready for bed, something overtook him, causing Cooper to violently smash his head into the bathroom mirror. As a cackling Cooper maniacally repeated his earlier words of concern for his girlfriend – “How’s Annie? How’s Annie? How’s Annie? –reflected in the cracked glass was the grinning face of BOB…

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Twenty-five years later, will Cooper still be under the influence of the very killer he was attempting to capture? The glimpses we’ve seen of him show us a haunted man, who one way or another looks as if he has been battling his demons…