The 13th episode of Twin Peaks: The Return didn’t end too well for our resident dirtbag Ray Monroe. After Agent Cooper’s terrifying doppelgänger shoots him in the head, Ray is transported into the Red Room thanks to a ring that “Mr. C” forced him to put on before his death. Ray apparently was given the ring by a guard upon his release from a South Dakota prison, and he was given strict orders about it from his unseen boss: “Jeffries said I was supposed to put this on you after I killed you.”
To put it simply, this raises all sorts of questions for diehard Twin Peaks fans. Will David Bowie’s character, the long-disappeared FBI agent Phillip Jeffries, somehow make a return? What has happened to Jeffries since the events of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me? And how would David Lynch even depict the character, given Bowie’s death, in 2016? We don’t have answers to those questions, of course, but enough for a moment about all of that. What exactly was that jade and gold ring? And why does it have mystical capabilities linked to the Red Room?
The briefest explanation is that the ring — often referred to as the “Owl Cave ring” due to its engraved symbol — can either protect its wearer from harm or mark its wearer for an inevitable death. (Yup, polar opposites.) The ring previously appeared in episode three of The Return, when the real Dougie Jones was transported with it into the Lodge, where he remarked that he felt “funny” and questioned what was “happening” to him before it slipped off his rapidly shrinking finger. Soon enough, his body disintegrated into a pile of dust, leaving only a small golden orb in its wake.
If you haven’t watched Fire Walk With Me, it provides a critical understanding of the ring’s capabilities, as Twin Peaks’ two-season run never mentioned it. Both Teresa Banks — the teenage prostitute who was murdered in Deer Meadow by BOB, which spurred an investigation by FBI agents Chet Desmond and Sam Stanley — and Laura Palmer were in possession of the ring at some point in their lives, with the latter receiving it during a visit to the Black Lodge with Agent Cooper and the Man From Another Place. (The ring disappeared from her hand shortly thereafter.) When Laura and her father, Leland, later get accosted by MIKE while driving on a local road, MIKE is wearing the ring, which solidifies to Laura that Leland is actually BOB. On the evening of her death, MIKE throws the ring into the train car right before BOB tries to possess her, which indeed prevents the possession from happening when she puts it on her finger. However, because the ring has prevented his desires, BOB decides to instead kill Laura out of rage.
Two other people have had experiences with the ring, one of whom seems to be a pivotal player in The Return. In Fire Walk With Me, Agent Jeffries mentions “the ring” while ranting about his mysterious disappearance, also saying that he was “above a convenience store” living “inside of a dream.” (Much like the convenience store in The Return’s eighth episode.) In that same scene, there’s also a “woodsman” hanging in an undisclosed location with BOB and The Man From Another Place, with The Man saying the following about the ring: “With this ring, I thee wed.” Not so coincidentally, the Formica table in this scene is the same color as the ring.
The other person is Annie Blackburn, who emerged from the Lodge wearing the ring. While she’s later in the hospital, a nurse steals it from her, which probably worked out totally fine.
Is there a definitive answer to the ring? Not yet. We’ve only got enticing theories for now, but it’s safe to say that it’s associated with MIKE’s arm — which would explain why a person’s left arm goes numb when they wear it, as MIKE chopped his off — and whoever wears the ring becomes either protected or cursed. Perhaps most interestingly, The Man From Another Place’s comment suggests that it can “wed” the wearer to the ring’s owner for eternity. Whatever its purpose may be, one thing is for sure: You definitely do not want this piece of jewelry in your possession.