So a week has passed since the finale of Twin Peaks The Return. I can write this now with a lot more clarity in my head, but not so much in my heart. I admit after first watching, I felt in a world of despair, now I’m in a world of theoretical bliss. There have been many convincing theories, including those who say Parts 17 & 18 should be watched in sync. While I do not deny anyone’s opinions, I’m just going to do what I always do and talk through it scene by scene.
After the steam roller event of Part 17, the defeat of BOB at the gloved hand of Freddie, and Cooper saving Laura’s life, it would appear, we wondered what on earth could be in store for us. Were we going to find Judy now for a showdown like no other? It could be expected as the end of BOB, while not lacklustre, was perhaps not what we had hoped it would be after 25 years of battle. We always assumed that BOB was Cooper’s arch-nemesis, but now it appears there is a much bigger fish in the percolator.
The first image we see is a flaming and smouldering Dopplecooper, eyes white as originally seen, sitting in a chair in the Black Lodge. No expression. Is this his doom, to sit there burning forever? Or could he emerge blackened like a Woodsman? My initial name for them was the Charcoal Men—is this what happens to evil souls if this is indeed hell or a version of it?
The hand of MIKE reaches down to another chair to merge a gold ball bearing with the tuft of hair that Agent Cooper gave him. He rubs them together, and in just a few seconds, a new Cooper Tulpa is created. This one is a joyful mix of Dougie Jones Coop and the real Cooper. “Where am I?” he says with an excited grin like he’s in awe of his experience. Yes, he’s definitely more like the Cooper we know and love. The red door to Janey-E and Sonny-Jim’s home in Vegas appears. The doorbell rings, Janey-E answers, and there he is. She flings her arms around him, and Sonny-Jim runs at him, shouting, “Dad!”. They all embrace. “Home“. This is one happy ending.
We flashback now to the last episode. Coop leads 17-year-old Laura through the woods by her hand. The sound that The Fireman told him to listen out for happens again. ‘It is in our house now. It all cannot be said aloud now‘. She is gone, and her screams, the same scream that we have heard before as she is plucked from the Lodge 25 years later, ring out into the night. So if these are the same screams, what is happening here? How can she be plucked from February 23rd, 1989 and October 2nd 2014/2016 (not 100% sure what year this is in present-day Twin Peaks) at the same time? That may be the key to it all.
Cooper arrives in the Black Lodge chair. MIKE asks him again, as we have heard before, “Is it future or is it past?” He disappears, then reappears, beckoning Cooper to follow him. The chair that Laura usually sits on is empty. She’s gone. Cooper follows MIKE into another room where we see the Evolution of The Arm. As before, the EOTA tells him that he is The Arm, and he sounds like this. It must be said that the noise it makes sounds more like the pleasant humming we heard at the Great Northern over the series and not the Native American war call it used to make. Then it says, “Is it the story of the little girl who lived down the lane? Is it?” This, of course, makes us immediately think of Audrey, who asked Charlie the same question. We have never really believed that Audrey had any link to the Black Lodge. We haven’t had a real reason to until she bore a child of a doppelgänger, and now that child is dead. One of the biggest mysteries remaining at the end of the series is what happened to Audrey Horne. We may take solace in the fact that wherever she ‘woke up’ was a place of pure white. I have never been a fan of the coma theory when it comes to Audrey, but if that is the case, I feel that Audrey is no longer with us. If she was in psychosis, then it appears she has broken free.
Cooper is sitting in the armchair again. Laura whispers in his ear, and he gasps — we do not know what she tells him. It all cannot be said aloud now. With that, she is dragged away, as we saw before, that piercing scream once again. She has been pulled from the two places we know she exists, she is dead, yet she lives in both. Where is she now?
Cooper finds himself now in another room where a saddened Leland Palmer sits. “Find Laura,” he says. And so, the cycle begins again.
As Cooper walks down the last corridor to the exit, his walk changes to what we saw in his Dougie Coop persona. A stiffened scuttle. He waves his hand, not unlike how MIKE gestures to conjure something up. The curtains to the lodge quiver open, and out emerges Cooper into Glastonberry Grove, Twin Peaks. Waiting for him is Diane. Hair still scarlet red, nails black and white like a walking Black Lodge metaphor. She’s out of her pyjamas now, dressed in a black top and pink skirt. They reach each other, “Is it you? Is it really you?” Diane asks him, “Yes, it’s really me”, he replies with a vague smile. “Is it really you?” he asks her back. “Yes“. She looks so happy to see him, but there’s something up with Cooper. This is not the excitable young man we just saw 25 years ago; it’s not even the excitable older man we saw at the end of Part 17. What has happened now? If Coop saved Laura’s life in 1989, then all that happened in the series up to this point didn’t happen. He didn’t wake up in hospital in Las Vegas. This was his first awakening from the Black Lodge since he was imprisoned there. It’s undoubtedly affected his persona. Just how many times has he made this journey, I wonder? It would be enough to harden the kindest of souls. The red curtains disappear into the ether — the final curtain call?
Next, we see them driving through an arid landscape in an older vehicle, perhaps a 1950’s/60’s model. They don’t speak for a long time; it’s an uncomfortable journey to watch. Electricity pylons line the road. “Sure you wanna do this?” Diane finally breaks the silence. “You don’t know what it’s going to be like once we…” Cooper cuts her off, “I know that. We’re at that point now I can feel it. Almost 430 miles. Exactly 430 miles”. This is a man on a mission. A man who might have been trying to accomplish this mission time and time again over the last 25 years, it’s just that we have only witnessed it once. There is no look of surprise or horror when he loses Laura’s hand in the woods. It’s almost as if he expects it to happen. The Fireman told him 430 but no direction, so the possibilities are endless.
“Just think about it Cooper,” Diane says. For her, it’s a new journey every time, she doesn’t remember, but Cooper does. He gets out of the car along the road. The electricity pylons are crackling with electricity and they look not unlike the shape of the ‘mother’ card face. Even the wiring of them looks like a clock stopped at 2.53. Cooper checks his watch then gets back in the car, “This is the place alright.” He turns to Diane and says, “Kiss me. Once we cross it could all be different”. They kiss not lovingly this time like it’s just something they have to do. “Let’s go“, Diane says with an air of regret.
As they pass by the pylon, the electricity flashes them in and out of darkness. They appear to have entered a new timezone or maybe even an entirely new reality. It’s dark now. They still don’t speak; they have run out of things to say to each other. They pull up at a motel, and Cooper gets out of the car to get a room. Diane remains in the car watching. She sees a vision of herself standing behind a pillar. My gut tells me that she’s watched herself do this over and over. She’s played out this scenario time and time again. Maybe sometimes she gets out of the car, does something different. She remembers. Cooper gets out and stands in front of Room 7. The room number is important for the ritual they are about to perform.
Inside, Diane turns on the lamp. “Turn off the light”, he orders her. “What do we do now?” she asks. “You come over here to me. Diane“. They kiss. A stiff, unloving kiss, it’s like they are going through the motions, more a ritual than true passion.
The Platters, ‘My Prayer’ plays in Diane’s head as they have sex. This is not making love or fucking. This is ordered, structured, because they have to, sex. She tries to get into it, but she cannot forget the face of the man who raped her. Was it Mr C that did this to her? I am not so sure now. How many times have they gone through this ceremony? What if one time she refused? Cooper is so hell-bent on accomplishing his mission, hell he’s been trying to do this for 25 years, and sex seems to be an important part of the process. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. He’s cold, no emotion, there’s no music playing in his head. For Diane, she’s trying, but it feels like rape all over again. She covers his face with her hands, trying to blank it out; he doesn’t even try to stop her. Maybe once he tried smiling.
It is no coincidence that ‘My Prayer’ plays alongside this scene. It also played when The Woodsman started crushing skulls at the radio station in 1956, in Part 8. The record was released in 1956, but now in 2017, it will forever be synonymous with the feeling that something very dark has entered our world. Darkness has overcome our beloved Cooper.
Why do they have to have sex? The following day Cooper awakens alone in the motel room. He sits upright and notices a letter has been left on the bedside table. It reads:
When you read this, I will be gone. Please don’t try to find me; I don’t recognise you anymore. Whatever it is we had together is over.
Cooper questions who Richard and Linda are. He still remembers being Cooper. When they passed through into this place, their identities changed too. The Fireman told him, “Richard & Linda, two birds one stone“. Once upon a time, we thought that meant that Richard & Linda, whoever they might be, would have to die to make things right. And with the death of Richard Horne upon a stone, we thought half the mission was complete, but we were way offline. No, it seems that Cooper had to become Richard and Diane, Linda in whatever dimension/timeline they now find themselves in. Cooper remembers who he is, and it seems that Diane does too, at least a little. She’s tried to play the part over and over again, but she can’t do it anymore. Where has she gone, and will her disappearance affect the outcome or was she purely required for the sex magick ritual?
Speaking of sex magick, there’s no denying that Diane looks remarkably like a certain Marjorie Cameron, wife of Jack Parsons, the rocket engineer and follower of the occult religion Thelema, both spoken about at length in Mark Frosts, The Secret History of Twin Peaks. Parsons regarded Marjorie as the Scarlet Woman – Babalon – the Mother of Abominations herself. Parsons believed that Marjorie was the ‘elemental’ woman that he and L.Ron Hubbard (creator of Scientology) invoked during the Babalon Working rituals from January to March 1946. Parsons had attempted to conceive a child through sex magick rituals, but this never came to fruition (of that we can be thankful).
So what was Cooper trying to accomplish here? Whilst Diane herself is probably not the Scarlet Woman. Their coitus appears to have affected the timeline. The motel that Coop wakes up in might be the same building, but it’s different now. The numbers on the doors are not the same. The car he parked has gone and he now drives a modern vehicle, in fact, the same model of car Mr C drove in the early episodes. Cooper does not appear to be saddened or phased by Diane leaving whatsoever. Again he is on a mission, and nothing is going to get in his way.
Where can Diane go? Why would she just disappear in this town she doesn’t know? Does she know her way back, or is she stuck here forever? Or is this what always happens?
He drives along the highway into Odessa, Texas. The sign shows a population of 99,940. This is clearly a hark back to Twin Peaks, its town sign now infamous. Is this the new version? He first notices some container units—which reminded me of the portal that Gordon Cole almost got sucked into; the one Bill Hastings led them to. It was always strange that containers were just strewn around near that pinky-peach house. Or maybe it was the house that was out of place. They don’t ship wood here; they ship… stuff. Then he notices Judy’s Diner. He pulls up and takes a seat. This place isn’t a patch on the RR. It’s not bustling with patrons, and there’s no music, no cosy feeling. The sole waitress, Kristi, comes over and offers him some coffee. He takes it but with no thanks, no expressions of glory at the nectar that is coffee, even though it is black as midnight on a moonless night. Where has our Cooper gone now? No sooner did we get him back than we lost him again.
He asks Kristi if there is another waitress almost rudely. She replies that there is, but it’s her day off. Actually, it’s her third day off. Kristi serves three cowboys sitting at another table. One of them grabs at her, and she shouts at him to get off her.
Cooper shouts over, “Leave her alone” – there is a bit of the Cooper we know left in there. This does not please the cowboys who come over to start some trouble but are quickly left regretting that decision. The first gets a kick in the balls, the second a bullet to the foot and the third just has to sit on the floor like a good boy. He takes their guns away from them and drops them in the deep fat fryer—an old couple who were enjoying their breakfast watch on worried. Cooper doesn’t try to assure them, or the chef or Kristi. Things most certainly have changed since Laura was ‘saved’.
Cooper tells Kristi to write the address of the other waitress on a piece of paper. He leaves the diner and drives to a pinky-peach coloured house. Now it’s not the same house Bill Hastings led Gordon and the team to, but it is similar. This house is new—number 1516. There is an electricity pole right outside. It bears the same numbers as the poles were are so used to seeing firstly in the original Fat Trout Trailer Park where Teresa Banks lived in Deer Meadow, then in Twin Peaks itself. This pole, the conductor, is omnipresent. Possibly linking these towns to the lodge via the medium of electricity. This pole was shown to Andy when he visited The Fireman. Why did Andy get to see that? He’s not here? Maybe one day he will be.
Cooper walks up to the house and knocks on the door. A woman who we recognise to be Laura Palmer calls from inside, “Who is it?” Cooper answers, “It’s the FBI”. She flings the door open quickly and asks, “Did you find him?!” “Laura“, “You didn’t find him?”, “Laura,” Cooper says again, she shakes her head and says, “You got the wrong house Mr“, “You’re saying you’re not Laura Palmer?”, “Laura who? No, I’m not her”, she replies. “What’s your name?” “Carrie Page”. “So the name Laura Palmer means nothing to you?” Cooper asks, after telling him she doesn’t know what he wants, but she’s not her. Cooper tells her that her father’s name was Leland. She doesn’t recollect this. Then he tells her that her mother’s name is Sarah. Her expression changes, she looks into her mind, “Sa-Sarah? What’s going on?” Cooper tells her it’s difficult to explain, but he thinks she’s a girl named Laura Palmer and that he wants to take her to her mother’s home—her home at one time. It’s Very Important. Carrie replies, “Um, normally you see, somebody like you comes around, I tell em to fuck off, this door would be slammed in their face, but right now I gotta get out of Dodge anyway, Its a long story, so riding with the FBI might just save my ass. Where are we going?” “Twin Peaks, Washington”. “DC?”, “No, Washington State.” “Is it a long way?” Carrie asks, “It’s a ways away,” Cooper tells her. Strange answer! As if he knows it’s a whole lifetime away.
She invites him in while she collects some clothes. As Cooper pans around the house, he notices the body of a man sitting in a chair. He has been shot through the head, and rigor mortis has set in. His hands are elevated slightly, pointing, much like Ruth Davenport. His stomach is swollen, it could even look as if a BOB ball had been removed, but chances are that he has just been sat there for three days (she hasn’t been to work for that long), and the gasses in his body have made him expand like that. So this is all a little strange. Laura, as Carrie obviously hasn’t lived a perfect life here in Odessa. We know nothing of this story yet, but it’s quite probable that she killed this guy. Carrie doesn’t appear to be the brightest spark, and she doesn’t seem to recognise that she shouldn’t allow an FBI agent to see the dead body in her house. She could well be in shock, of course. Or maybe she has an intuition that this FBI Agent, who she probably assumes is not a real FBI Agent, will not do anything about this anyway. Which makes you wonder even more about the fact that she’s just going to leave with a stranger. Laura was forever playing with fire.
Still with one thought on his mind, Cooper decides to ignore the crime scene, probably going against every natural urge in his body. He pans around the room. An ornament of a white horse sits on the mantelpiece—the horse is the white of the eyes and dark within. He knows that this version of Laura has chosen this ornament. Somewhere deep in her subconscious, she remembers something. He pans around the room again. An assault rifle lies on the floor. She meant business. Next to the door, a massive pot, several toilet rolls and a vacuum cleaner sit. It appears that a cleanup operation was planned. But when she answered the door to Cooper, she asked if ‘he’d found him’. So she had either called the police herself after discovering the body there and had sent the police on a mission to find the culprit, either to cover up her own crime, or there really was someone else involved.
The phone rings in her house, but she doesn’t answer it. She asks Cooper if she’ll need a coat and worries that she doesn’t have any food to take on the journey. He tells her that they will stop on the way. As she closes the door to her house, she glares back at the body. That look probably tells us all we need to know. This version of Laura is as troubled as the original but in a different way.
The pair drive away, and Carrie asks him if he’s really an FBI Agent. He takes out his badge and shows her. “Well at least we’re getting out of this fuckin town of Odessa“. They drive long through the night, speaking rarely. Two white lights of car trail behind them. Carrie thinks they are being followed, but eventually, the car passes by without trouble.
“Odessa. I tried to keep a clean house, keep everything organised. It’s a long way. Those days, I was too young to know any better,” Carrie says, drifting to sleep. It seems that she is talking about her relationship with the body back at the house and that she may have been in an abusive relationship and maybe flipped out after years of taking shit from him, but there’s undoubtedly an inkling on Coopers face that she knows, she remembers her childhood, which seems like such a long time ago now. Leland always wanted her to make sure her hands were clean; he ran a very tight ship, especially when BOB was lurking. She didn’t understand what was happening to her as a child.
Leaves start to blow over the road as they get to the cooler climates of Washington State. Cooper looks for a reaction in her as they drive over a bridge, very much like the one that Ronette stumbled across after her ordeal. She shows none. They pass the RR Diner. Things have changed; it is not the RR To Go. Either since the saving of Laura, this never came to pass, or we are at a different time. My thoughts are that if Laura didn’t die and the FBI didn’t descend upon the town of Twin Peaks and celebrate Norma’s incredible cherry pie, then the RR to Go may never have happened. Just one minor change to reality can affect so much. We don’t know what time they arrive there, but in the Twin Peaks, we have witnessed this series the RR has been open late at night; it is always bustling. Here it is closed. Not a soul around.
“Do you recognise anything?” Cooper asks Carrie. “No“. They pull up outside Laura’s childhood home. “Do you recognise that house?” he asks, “No“, she shakes her head. Cooper looks slightly concerned. They get out of the car; Cooper takes Carrie’s hand and leads her to the doorway at no 708. The lights are on. Cooper knocks the door, he looks panic-stricken, and Carrie seems nervous, but she’s not sure why. She wears an upside-down horseshoe pendant. Is she bringing bad luck with her?
A lady eventually answers the door. Keen-eyed fans may have noticed that this is Mary Reber, the actual owner of the Laura Palmer house, and it was an absolute joy to see her answer the door. Cooper tells her he’s Special Agent Dale Cooper and asks if Sarah Palmer is there. “No there’s no-one here by that name”. “Do you know Sarah Palmer?”, “No“. She confirms that she owns the house, and she consults with her husband, we assume behind the door when Cooper asks her who they bought the house from. “Chalfont, Mrs. Chalfont“, she replies. “Do you happen to know who she bought it from?” “No, no I don’t”. “What is your name?” “Alice, Alice Tremond“. My heart sank to my stomach.
They walk away from the house, down the steps into the street. Cooper looks utterly defeated and confused. Carrie stares up at the house, and Cooper stumbles, questioning himself, “What year is this?“, then she hears her mothers call. The call she would have heard that morning, the call of her mother looking for her, but she wasn’t there, she was already dead. Carrie starts to shake as she remembers. She lets out a horrific scream. Cooper looks stunned. The lights of the house go out, an electric bolt lights up the sky briefly. Then darkness.
At this moment, Carrie remembered her life as Laura. The trauma she lived day in day out at the hands of her father, the trauma that her mother ignored.
So what was Cooper expecting here? He either knew that the mother of all evil was trapped inside Sarah Palmer and took her daughter there for the mother of all showdowns between The One and Judy. Or did he really not know and was expecting the two to be reunited in joy forever? I mean, if your child was murdered 25 years earlier then turned up on your doorstep, that would be a little weird, right?! and no amount of explaining could set that right. All the garmonbozia wouldn’t just be spat back out. So no, what did happen when Laura’s life was saved? She couldn’t go back home, to the place where her father was abusing her. BOB would inevitably strike again but on a different day. Nothing would really change. No, she had to go, far, far away. So is that why she was plucked from the forest? Instead of being murdered that night, did she just disappear? It would all make sense to everyone that knew her. James, Donna, Bobby — they all knew something wasn’t right in that house. So she did, like many 17-year-old girls, run away from home, never to be heard of again.
The Leland that we see in the Black Lodge is one very much pure Leland, no BOB. The one who truly loved his daughter in a healthy way. He wanted her to be found to reunite her with her mother. Unfortunately, Sarah Palmer has suffered still. Her daughter may not have died at the hands of her husband, but she still lost her. She spent 25 years wondering what happened to her, wondering if she was dead, wondering if she was ever going to see her again. Seeing girls that looked like the Laura she lost aged 17 working in the local store. What is worse, knowing what terrible horrors your child went through in their last moments or never knowing what happened to them at all? No wonder she stabs at the picture of her daughter, her last memories of her, forever wondering what happened, never able to move on or forget and get on with life.
Whatever you do, Cooper, unfortunately, you will make Sarah Palmer a prime host for Judy.
There is one thing you forgot. Laura DID take the ring. You told her not to when she saw you in her dream, but she didn’t listen. That is the thing you need to change. Laura’s life doesn’t need to be saved by Cooper; she needs to save herself. So what would happen if she didn’t take it? “He said if he can’t be me he’ll kill me“. So he will be able to take over Laura as a host. But Laura is The One, perhaps the only one who can defeat BOB from the inside. We saw flashes of him turning her; she revealed them to Harold Smith. It won’t be pretty, but it might just end this terrible saga. She’s so much stronger now.
All the clues lie in Fire Walk With Me. Jeffries turns up at FBI Headquarters, Philadelphia. Cooper tells Gordon Cole he’s worried about today because of a dream he had. Of course it turns out to be a dream come true. Jeffries enters, highlighting to Gordon and Albert that the Cooper there might not be who they think he is. Tells them about the Convenience Store then laments about a specific date — February 23rd 1989. The ring, the ring.
Every time Laura takes the ring, her body upon death is transported to the Black Lodge. It is MIKE who throws it into the train car. He’s still ‘attached’ to the Evolution of the Arm, and The Arm is still evil. We may trust him now, but should we?
One of many mysteries still unsolved is who made that call to Mr C while hunting for coordinates? Mr C thought he was speaking to Jeffries but questioned it. It was not Jeffries’ voice, and whoever it was said they wanted to be back with BOB. Leland is the only person we know to have been with BOB before, but he’s dead and seems an unlikely candidate. So that leaves The Arm. I believe it was him on the phone, and that’s why they were so keen on getting BOB back into the Black Lodge, so their evil partnership could be restored. BOB may have been blown to smithereens in our timeline, but once Laura is saved, BOB lives to fight and torment another day.
Gordon remembers the Unofficial version — what does that mean? My feeling is that he is forever tuning into the ‘other’ threads. Remember his vision of Laura at Donna’s door? This was her a few days before her death, and he saw this vision a few days before Cooper saves her/takes Carrie to her childhood home. He’s in tune with it all. His hearing aid and the electricity that passes through give him a greater intuition. I don’t believe he’s deaf at all — he’s just linked into another space and time when he doesn’t hear what’s in the present. It’s taken him some years to master this.
Laura has returned, and her mother is not there to embrace her. Where has she gone? Where is Judy hiding? The Tremonds have taken over our house now. They have access to the portal, and that opening to hell is corrupting the town of Twin Peaks. Judy knew the plan and scurried off. The Jumping Man may have tipped her off as he scarpered down the stairs from the Dutchman’s after Cooper and MIKE entered.
Cooper needs to figure it out one last time but will need help from his friends as they’re stuck in a place they cannot escape from right now. Gordon will remember where they are. Andy needs to remember the clue The Fireman gave him — the electricity pole. They can be saved.
Laura needs to take the ring. Her white light will be too strong for BOB. He won’t be able to take her over. In attempting it, his soul may be annihilated. She may lose her life too in this ultimate battle against good and evil, but she’ll return home to the place where she belongs—the White Lodge.
The end scenes of Fire Walk With Me are of Laura in the chair, Cooper warmly touching her shoulder as she cries tears of joy and laughs as she’s lit up with a beautiful blue/white light. Her angel does come for her, as seen by Andy during his visit to the White Lodge. This is the TRUE ending. Cooper just needs to learn how to get there.
What does Laura whisper in Cooper’s ear? Maybe it’s, “No-one can save me but me”.
This is my vision, my hope for the future. It’s not necessarily your truth, but it’s mine, and it can be what I want it to be, for I am the dreamer. And so are you.