Now that we are all a ways out from the airing of the Twin Peaks: The Return finale, I have been fascinated by the many thoughts, ideas, theories, memes, artwork, synced up experiments and all of the hilarious and heart felt responses so many have had about this wonderful, beautiful, frustrating and exasperating masterpiece.
Optimist that I am, I have come to my own thoughts on how I intuited the show. In no way do I hope, expect, or mean to “explain” anything, I just wanted to follow my intuition with as much humor and respect as possible, and if it connects with any of you in any way, I am delighted. If it doesn’t I am excited to take in your ideas since so many folks helped me into some of these conclusions.
While the ending of the series takes its toll in various ways on all of the characters, and all are transformed by these events, I think there is a reasonably straight forward way to find the “happy” ending in it, though it too comes at some pretty heavy costs.
When Cooper utilizes Phillip Jeffries’ “slippery” relationship to time to go back to save Laura on the night of her murder, he is successful in effecting her time line, causing her body to flicker away from its “wrapped in plastic” fate. The big consideration is, which Lodge entity snatched her away from him to transform her into Carrie Page as he was gently drawing her through the woods—was it Judy, or was it the Fireman?
I believe it was the Fireman.
We know that the Fireman has the ability to do this from the sequence that has Mr. C. heading for the GOOD vortex (the golden one that Naido came through and where Deputy Andy was taken up to the White Lodge), only to be redirected to the Twin Peaks Sheriff Station.
When the Fireman diverts Mr. C., he is protecting the White Lodge from being infiltrated or destroyed by Mr. C. It was the White Lodge portal’s coordinates I believe Mr. C. has been after the entire show. He already knows how to get to the Convenience Store Black Lodge Portal, and the bad coordinates that Jeffries gave him through Ray were meant to get him killed.
In keeping him from the White Lodge, the Fireman is also placing Mr. C. in the right place at the right time to be thwarted by all of the folks the Fireman has been helping to gather to take him (and the Bob within him) down at the Sheriff Station.
The Fireman has worked to place Freddie there with his power glove, Naido/Diane to be safely revealed there and reunited with Cooper, given Andy his fore knowledge of what is to occur, and now we also realize that Lucy’s odd understanding of cell phones may also have been baked in to her via the Fireman’s machinations. Of course the rest of the Blue Rose Team, the Mitchums, Candy and the rest of our heroes will also be there as witnesses (one for the grandkids!). Good thing Candy and the gals made so many sandwiches!
One of the things that has haunted me since the finale is that when Cooper is walking with Laura Palmer in the woods, he says that he is taking her “home.” Considering that the Palmer home is also where Leland/Bob resides and which we now understand is one of the crossing points that allows the entry of dark entities into this plane of existence, that is not where she should go to be safe—so the Fireman snatches her away to “hide” her in the Odessa time line, transformed into Carrie, for Cooper to find later.
This is also what causes the Laura Palmer/ “Twin Peaks-as-we-know-it” time line to collapse—Laura Palmer no longer exists on this time line, and she IS saved from her horrific murder.
In the “PRESENT” day timeline, Judy/Sarah recognizes that this has happened, which is why she goes ballistic, moaning and crying and smashing Laura’s picture—the White Lodge, with Cooper’s help, HAS changed Laura’s fate, but in doing so, rendered the “Twin Peaks-as-we-know-it” timeline—and all of the characters we have loved so very long, moot. Judy is thwarted, trapped in that now “collapsed” and irrelevant (at least regarding Laura and Copper there) timeline.
I know a lot of us would have loved to have seen a Blue Rose Task Force pie and coffee celebration at the Double R Diner once Cooper came back out of the Red Room, but we are denied it. Now that Laura’s Twin Peaks timeline has been transformed and she has been saved from her terrifying murder, Twin Peaks is also changed, and the Blue Rose task force would never have even known of this lovely mountain town—which is why only Diane, who remembers it all, is there waiting for Cooper.
Now, they are the only two people who know about both timelines, and after their long “years” in the limbo of the Lodges, they are both rather stranded in this unique NEW timeline, which is why I believe they risk the changes that may occur to them when they “cross over” to the other time stream, Cooper in hope of fulfilling the remorseful Leland’s request that he “Find Laura.”
Once they cross, we realize in their complex sex scene that even when we shift ourselves over to different timelines (or karmic streams), we carry with us the traumas of the past. This will also prove important with Carrie Page soon enough.
Diane loves Cooper, but as they both considered and feared, once they cross, they ARE different. Dale Cooper is still dutiful, direct, and wise, but he has shed a lot of his warmth and boyish optimism, which may have been, in part, given over to Dougie, now that we know that that Cooper’s Tulpa will live on in love, respect, and prosperity with Janey-E and Sonny Jim, with the support of Bushnell Mullins and the now reformed Mitchum brothers.
In their sex scene, Diane and Coop strive to connect, but the echoes of Diane’s trauma prove to be too much. She starts to cover Cooper’s face with her hands, in an attempt to cover up the face before her, the face of her rapist, Mr. C., and in a reverberation of the blinded and scarred face of Naido.
When Cooper awakens, he finds himself in a different bed, and Diane gone.
The Fireman had told him to remember Richard and Linda, and now, he finds a goodbye note from Linda at his bedside.
So what happened?
I believe that Diane’s “prayer” at the height of their “love” making was to be given a different life, a life she glimpsed when she saw a double of her at the motel where their love making is taking place. Diane is now ready—and willing, to surrender over her previous time line as Cooper’s marvelous and inspiring FBI cohort, to free herself of as much of her past trauma as possible, to be able to forget her strange purgatory as Naido. Letting the Fireman transform her into Linda would also free her of the complex emotions of loving Cooper. As they make “love.” Diane comes to realize she can never fully give herself over to Cooper because of her horrific experience with Mr. C., and the fact that gentle, boyish Cooper has been transformed into this harder-edged version of him after they crossed over. As “My Prayer” plays, she “prays” to be transformed, and I believe the Fireman grants her prayer.
When Cooper awakens in a different hotel room, in potentially a different year, in a different city (Odessa), it is because the Fireman has maneuvered him to be there, using the same mechanisms that moved Mr. C. from his search for the White Lodge portal to the Twin Peaks Sheriff station. I believe that the reason the Fireman does this while Cooper is asleep, and after he primed him to remember “Richard and Linda,” is because he knows how terribly “shifting” the time/space realities of Phillip Jeffries in HIS hotel in Buenos Aires flipped him out, as we know from the Fire Walk with Me Missing Pieces scene. It appears likely that Judy is the entity that “shifted” Jeffries, and The Fireman wants to spare Cooper that psychic trauma.
The Fireman has placed Cooper just where he needs to be to find the transformed/hidden Laura Palmer.
We, and the Fireman, know that Dale Cooper is a man of strong intuitions who is great at seeing important portents, so the Fireman has made sure that the transformed Laura Palmer, now Carrie Page, works at a place called Judy’s, which is just down the road from the hotel in Odessa the Fireman placed Cooper at AND which is the first place he comes across that serves coffee. Crossed-over Cooper’s love for coffee may be lessened now, but his coffee-dar is intact!
Cooper is intuitive enough to know to stop there, and extrapolates that there is some connection to Laura to be found at Judy’s. Of course, there is. In this sequence we also get to see how “crossing over” has made the always capable Cooper into a sort of avenging angel, in the most kick-ass scene we’ve ever seen him in.
When he gets to Carrie Page’s place (I love the idea that she is the “missing Page” from Laura’s diary!), he is more blunt than original recipe Cooper might have been, but still gives off enough calm charm that she trusts him and agrees to go with him —though she does so also because she is in a compromised situation.
Let’s consider Carrie for a moment. She has still been a victim of some pretty wild and dark things, based on the fact there is a dead man in her living room, but she has not been raped and tortured by Twin Peaks scumbags and then murdered by a dark entity that has resided in her own serial rapist father for decades, so I would say that is a major improvement.
As to the dead man in her living room, we don’t know if he is her husband, a skeevy local, or some random creep she shot when he broke into her place. We don’t even know for sure if she shot him. When Coop arrives, one of the first things she says is “Did you find him?!” Is that “him” the person who shot the man in the living room? Whatever was going on, it wasn’t good, but Carrie HAS survived it. She still carries trauma with her, but in this timeline, the Carrie wheel of karma is still far less terrible than Laura Palmer’s fate in the Twin Peaks we have previous known. Progress!
Carrie seems to connect with the names Sarah and Leland, which the Fireman might have made sure were somehow part of Carrie’s reality, just as “remember Linda and Richard” was implanted into Cooper’s consciousness by the Fireman. Copper using the words “Sarah and Leland” seems to help her trust him and opt to go to Twin Peaks with him.
Cooper and Carrie make the long trek to Twin Peaks. Carrie speaks of trying to keep her house in order, to keep things organized. This reminded me a bit of Mike—someone who had delved deep into dark things, but had a core of goodness that kept them from surrendering to the very worse aspects of that life. Carrie clearly has some deep issues, but there is still light left in her.
When they make it to Twin Peaks, they are seeing the town from a whole other sensibility (with no sign of the iconic Twin Peaks sign and the diner looking quite different), and it is appropriate and reasonable that it is changed, since Cooper, with the aide of Phillip Jeffries dropping him into that time stream to prevent Laura’s murder and the Fireman whisking Laura away to hide her as Carrie, has collapsed the timeline of “Twin Peaks as we knew it.” This IS a different, alternate Twin Peaks.
When they arrive at what was the Palmer house, they discover that it has been in the care of those extra-dimensional real estate flippers/house-sitters the Chalfonts and Tremonds.
When they walk back down to the street, Cooper, ever the intuitive man he is, finally senses the dark vortex of the Palmer House, as his body leans forward at a strange angle, almost like it is a sort of dowsing rod, and a bit like how his body reacted at the “crossing point” when he and Diane drove over into the new reality/time stream. Cooper, the intuitive, sensitive “agent” that has been placed in Laura’s various time streams with the support and protection of The Giant/Fireman, is rendered a bit overwhelmed by all of this, and that’s when it hits him that he has fallen a bit out of time (though he handles it far better than the freaked out Phillip Jeffries did), and asks “What year is this?”
It’s then that Carrie hears Sarah say the name “Laura”—and, like Diane’s tulpa’s memories of her rape by Cooper, all of the memories come rushing back to Carrie. Like Dougie Jones waking up to his “100 percent!” self as Dale Cooper, Carrie only then becomes the true, complete, 100% White Lodge generated Laura Palmer, the One. She screams the piercing, full powered scream that knocks out the “power” of the “Palmer” house—shorting out the dark electricity of the Palmer house portal that Judy and the forces of the Black Lodge, including Bob and Judy, have used in the previous “Twin Peaks as we knew it” timeline to cross over to cause so much suffering and death.
Judy’s entry point into this time line, our time line, is destroyed, and the Judy-inhabited-Sarah is now stuck in the collapsed “Twin Peaks as we knew it” timeline. The Experiment (AKA Judy) made Bob, and he is destroyed. Generated by the love and care of the meditative dreamer the Fireman, Laura/Carrie, the weapon of light, was made by him and blessed by his White Lodge co-hort as a way to counterbalance the creation of Bob.
Laura, with the aid of Agent Cooper, wins. She and Coop have fulfilled their mission and her destiny—to take out Bob and to stop Judy.
As to Laura’s scream, in the past context of “Twin Peaks as we knew it,” that was a scream of terror and dread (and likely a tremendous garmonbozia generator), here, in this new context, is a weapon that cuts the “electricity” of the Palmer House portal and destroys it.
We know from Episode 17 that the Judy-possessed Sarah of the 2017 timeline has flipped out over the collapse of the “Twin Peaks as we knew it” timeline, smashing up the picture of Laura that has been an icon of the show since its start. Judy is stuck in THAT now collapsed and irrelevant timeline, since now that the Carrie/Laura scream bomb has detonated the Palmer House crossing point/gateway, Judy can’t come over to the “Odessa” timeline. Cooper and Laura have saved Twin Peaks by destroying “Twin Peaks.” Cooper and Carrie/Laura are safe, Laura Palmer was spared a horrific death, and Laura “the One” lives on, with Cooper at her side.
In the very last image of the show (and perhaps the last image we may ever see of the show, though I sure hope not!), Laura and Cooper are back in the Red Room, reset to how they appeared 25 years ago.
If the Convenience Store is the Black Lodge, and the Fireman’s groovy movie palace is the White Lodge, than the Red Room is a sort of way station/purgatory/waiting room between them. Entities there, like Mike, seem have a mix of good and bad in them, but are part of a vaster, extra-dimensional sensibility. Some seem to be working through the suffering they caused others (like Mike and Leland, and even to some extent Copper) and it is there that Cooper and Laura are now seen. They have trapped Judy in the collapsed “Twin Peaks-as-we-knew it” time line, they have destroyed the utility of the Palmer House portal, and Bob was vanquished by Lucy and Freddy. Meanwhile, the characters we all have known and loved live on in “Twin Peaks as it is,” where it is as if Laura never died (or perhaps never even lived) there, and Agent Cooper and the Blue Rose team never needed to come there, which likely lead to all kinds of differences, both subtle and great.
In the timelessness of the Red Room, Laura and Cooper can now go forward to be wherever and whenever they need to be, since we know from Cooper’s experience with Phillip Jeffries that time is “slippery.”
We saw Cooper control the curtains of the Red Room when he reemerged from it to find Diane waiting for him—something that has alluded him many times before previously. Now, Cooper has the ability to leave the Red Room at will.
If, at the end of finale Cooper and Laura are both 25 years younger, the time they “lost” in their strange purgatory in the Red Room has been given back to them, and they are now, like the Fireman, like Major Briggs, and in a different way, like Phillip Jeffries, living outside of even the notion of time. All of time and reality is now theirs to explore and effect. They have destroyed Bob, stranded Judy in a different strand of time, and gained the ability to leave the Red Room at will.
Now, about Laura whispering in Cooper’s ear.
For me, that image is all about context. For years, we have seen that moment as the time when Laura whispered into a dreaming Cooper’s ear the name of the person who killed her, but when he woke up the next morning, he couldn’t remember what she had told him. That is the context we’ve always viewed that scene in.
However, now that the “Twin Peaks-as-we-knew-it” time line is collapsed and the entire Leland/Bob circumstances are rendered moot, Laura can NOW be saying ANYTHING to Cooper.
I was inspired to think about this because of the roadhouse musical interlude with James singing “Just You.” In an interview with Vulture magazine, the actor, James Marshall, noted that he was a bit mystified by the fact the Lynch used the EXACT same track from the original show for him to sing to—it is the corny, pitchy, adolescence voiced version of it that he is lip syncing to. But then Marshall came to understand that this choice by Lynch was all about context. The fact that it is the OLD version in this NEW context is what gives the song a very different impact than that scene would have had if they had made a fresh version of the song, with Marshall’s now more mature voice, or with different instrumentation.
That is how I considered the last scene. It is an image we’ve seen before, but now in a new context. And while Cooper’s expression can be read many ways, I like to think that now Laura, the survivor, the vanquisher of evil, The One, is telling her dutiful “agent,” Cooper, what year it is, and with any luck, soon enough what their next mission will be.