As we travel further down the red curtain-lined corridor of Twin Peaks Season 3, the mysteries appear to be closing in from all sides. Although #DavidLynch and Mark Frost have thrown us bones along the way (like finally getting the intro to this character!), they've also kept plenty of secrets from the first two seasons and Fire Walk With Me going well into the third. One of these mysteries is the nature of the Owl Cave ring, which plays a much bigger part in #FireWalkWithMe than in the series, but is an integral part of the story in Season 3. But there are just so many unanswered questions about it, not least, where did it come from, and what does it do? Well, we'll attempt to parse apart the information we've been given in the prequel movie, the original run, Mark Frost's The Secret History of Twin Peaks, and #TwinPeaks Season 3 to give you some answers.
The History Of The Owl Cave Ring
For the beginning part of this anthology, we'll rely heavily on Mark Frost's book, The Secret History of Twin Peaks. For those who don't know, the book is a dossier sent by an anonymous source to the FBI. The documents inside have been carefully compiled and stem all the way from Lewis and Clark's early exploration of the north-western United States up until the disappearance of Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks.
The book starts out with letters and diary entries from both Meriwhether Lewis and William Clark from when they set about exploring the newly acquired US territories for President Thomas Jefferson from 1804 to 1806. During their travels, they encountered Native American tribes who had been living there for centuries, and it was in the Nez Perce tribe that they came across a ring. One of the most powerful tribes in the Pacific Northwest, the Nez Perce welcomed Lewis and Clark into their territory. Chief Twisted Hair mapped out a nearby territory for them, saying it was a place where one could interact with the spirit world (which is surely Glastonbury Grove). He also showed him a ring, whose description perfectly aligns with that of the Owl Cave ring. Twisted Hair says that he got the ring from White Indians who live around the area we now know as Twin Peaks, and he gives it to Lewis when he decides to voyage out there to investigate, since he wasn't aware that any other white men had been in that area. However, Twisted Hair also warns him not to ever wear the ring, but to keep it in its pouch. Lewis later stumbles back to the camp after a few weeks, raving about a room with tiled floors and Greek sculptures.
Charting The Ring's Progress
From The Secret History of Twin Peaks:
1. "White Indians" living around Twin Peaks give it to Nez Perce chief Twisted Hair.
2. Twisted Hair gives it to Meriwether Lewis.
3. James Neely steals the ring from Lewis's body after he's murdered.
4. Jack Parsons, the leader of the Thelema cult, is noted to wear the ring and commune with the spirit world in rituals.
5. The ring also appears on President Richard Nixon's hand.
From Fire Walk With Me:
6. Teresa Banks had it on, but it wasn't on her body when Agent Desmond arrived in Deer Meadow to examine it.
7. Agent Desmond finds it underneath Teresa's trailer at the Fat Trout Trailer Park.
8. The ring shows up in Laura's hand after she has a dream vision of being in the Lodge with Dale Cooper (and then Annie appears to her). In the vision, Cooper warns her not to put on the ring. However, when she fully awakens, she doesn't have the ring anymore.
9. Mike has it on his hand when he confronts Leland, shouting at him out of his car window at a familiar intersection.
10. Laura remembers she'd seen the ring on Teresa Banks.
11. Mike shows up at the carriage car where Laura and Ronette have been dragged by Leland/Bob and tosses the ring inside. Laura picks it up and puts it on, forcing Bob to kill her since he could no longer possess her.
From Twin Peaks Seasons 1, 2, 3, and The Missing Pieces:
12. Annie has the ring on after she leaves the Black Lodge.
13. In the Missing Pieces, we see a nurse take the ring off Annie's finger while she's in the intensive care ward.
14. Cooper's evil doppelgänger gets ahold of the ring and makes a decoy doppelgänger, Dougie.*
15. Dougie has the ring on when he gets absorbed back into the Black Lodge, and that's where the ring remains.
16. Ray has it, telling doppelCoop that he got it from a prison guard who said to put it on the evil being before killing him. However, the tables turned and instead Ray was forced to wear the ring when evil Cooper shot him. Ray then appears dead at the Lodge and the ring is put back on the formica table by Mike.
*Bear in mind, point 14 is the only one we haven't seen take place on screen/on page. However, after Episode 7 of the new season we know that Cooper's doppelgänger was in the intensive care ward at the same time as Annie. Doc Hayward tells Sheriff Truman that he saw Cooper in there and assumed he'd come to visit Audrey, who was also being treated after the bank blast. Since we saw the nurse take the ring off Annie's finger, and we know doppelCoop was there at the same time, it seems to add up that that was when he acquired the ring, giving it to Dougie after manufacturing him.
The Owl Cave Ring's Powers
Here's where things get a little more muddled. We know that the ring is a powerful object connected to the Black Lodge. The same symbol that appears in Owl Cave, and on both the Log Lady and Major Briggs (after their Lodge experiences), is also on the ring. We also know that Twisted Hair, the Nez Perce chief, advised Lewis not to wear the ring and keep it in its pouch, and also told him that it was connected to the spirit world, so clearly it is a dangerous, powerful object.
What happens to people who wear the ring? Well, they die. However, let's remember that death is not actually the worst option in Twin Peaks. When Laura puts on the ring, it seems to shield her from being possessed by Bob, which is why he murders her. Similarly, we haven't seen any of the other ring-wearers come back as evil doppelgängers outside the Lodge, so it seems to have a sort of soul preservation mechanism.
My theory is that the ring connects the wearer to the spirit world (the world of the Lodges) and allows them to remain intact in all aspects of themselves. Adding further credence to this theory is that Dougie is essentially comprised of dark matter and a tiny golden pearl, yet with the ring on, his human form remains intact. When he arrives in the Lodge, and with the ring back in its "home," he disintegrates, his purpose served, and the ring is back on the table.
What do you think the Owl Cave ring does?