Welcome back, dear readers. This will be my final article in the Third Day Theories series. It’s been a fun ride, at least until the end here. I’m not going to sugar coat it, I was bitterly disappointed by the last two episodes, but I’ll write about that experience elsewhere. Right now, there’s work to be done.
So I took last week off, and I’m glad I did. There are a few heavy hitting theories out there now about the ending and some of the unfinished business of the series overall. We’ll focus on those, changing up the normal format here, but we’ll also have the usual speed round for additional tidbits that don’t fit in those larger frameworks.
I know you understand, yet I’m still sorry. Let’s theorize..
Theory: “Ending didn’t really happen”, https://m.facebook.com/groups/1476744899216986?view=permalink&id=1960202917537846 [Melissa Mackey Nigh, “Twin Peaks (2017)” Facebook group]
Analysis: The gist of this one is that the ending, starting from when Cooper’s face was superimposed over the scene at the sheriff station in Part 17, through the end of Part 18, was all a dream. The “clues” that support this idea are:
- That superimposed image combined with his disembodied voice saying “we live inside a dream”
- The clock out the wall is frozen at 2:52
- Cooper’s FBI lapel pin appears on his coat, starting with the scene of him, Gordon and Tammy walking to the door under the Great Northern Hotel, and he’s wearing it throughout the remaining scenes (he had lost it along with his shoes when he passed thru the outlet)
The manner in which Cooper and Diane acted was very dreamlike, out of character especially for Cooper. Also, the way events flowed through different locations with no transitions was also very dreamlike. The bottom line being that Cooper is still standing in the sheriff station at 2:52 on Oct 2nd, and none of the events shown in the latter half of Part 17 and all of Part 18 happened.
On the one hand, believing in this theory means that hot mess of a finale mostly didn’t happen (we still have to live with the first half of Part 17 though), so I’m naturally inclined to buy into this one. However, with David Lynch, the line between dreams and reality is always a little blurry. Just because it was all a dream doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t happen, weird as it sounds to even say that. We’ve been bantering around dream theories all season, with Cooper and Audrey stuck in surreal dream-like states, Hastings’ dream about going to The Zone, and Gordon’s Monica Bellucci dream. In fact, Cooper was in Gordon’s dream but his face could not be seen, perhaps because it had drifted over into the Part 17/18 dream sequence.
Theory: Episodes 17 & 18 of ‘Twin Peaks: the Return’ are meant to be watched in sync, https://medium.com/@onantiad/episodes-17-18-of-twin-peaks-the-return-are-meant-to-be-watched-in-sync-81352ce38e8 [Alex Fulton, Medium.com]
Analysis: There have been two other places where perhaps over-diligent fans have found apparent synchronizations between scenes, between the Naido and Glass Box monster scenes, and the Dougie electrocution and Roadhouse girl screaming scenes. Taking the lead-in statement of “two birds with one stone” and the fact that these seemingly standalone episodes were released on the same night, folks have gotten the idea that the two birds are these two parts, and you kill them by watching them at the same time, in sync with each other.
Of course, over the weekend Sabrina Sutherland held an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/twinpeaks/comments/6zb65w/im_sabrina_sutherland_executive_producer_of_twin/#bottom-comments) in which she kind of demolished this theory when she was asked:
- u/thisIsDougiesCoffee: “There is a link going around that composites episodes 17 and 18 together so that the scenes and dialogue overlap…was this the intended way to watch these episodes all along or is it a happy accident they work together surprisingly well?”
- u/SabrinaSOfficial: “This is definitely not the way to watch these parts.”
That doesn’t say there are not parallels and/or synchronicity present in 17 and 18, just that it’s not intended that we actually overlay the two on top of each other and watch it that way. So let’s press on just a bit into the actual theorizing part of the theory, and ignore the mechanism for the moment.
This version of the 17-18 sync theory says that the synchronizations and juxtapositions don’t just reflect overlap between the two dimensions, but point to a kind of Mobius strip time loop that gives meaning to the “is it future or is it past?” question Philip Gerard keeps posing. The reset point starts when Naido transforms into Diane and Cooper appears to ascend and become omniscient (much like what happened to Major Briggs), seeing both timelines at once and hurrying his goodbyes as he sees the impending reset.
There are a few interesting points to consider:
- A lot of Cooper and Diane’s dialogue is mirrored by Naido and The Drunk’s “dialogue” in the jail scenes. This might support a side theory that has been appearing that The Drunk is a disguised version of Cooper, as Naido was a disguised version of Diane. He does repeat the last bit of dialogue he hears in a very Dougie-like manner.
- As Bad Cooper is transported out of the Zone to the sheriff station parking lot, Cooper and Diane drive through into the Richard & Linda pocket dimension
- The climax of Cooper and Diane’s awful sex scene is perfectly in sync with Lucy shooting Bad Cooper.
- The third cowboy drops his gun to the floor at the same moment the Owl Cave ring hits the floor in the Red Room.
- Cooper holds Laura’s hand in the past to lead her away from the meeting with Leo and Jacques, promising to take her “home”, and he holds Carrie’s hand to lead her up to the steps to the Palmer house, her other “home”.
- When the Alice Tremond opens the door in Part 18, Laura’s body on the beach flickers out of existence in Part 17.
- As Part 18 credits end, Part 17 dissolves from Cooper having lost Laura in the woods to Julie Cruise at the Roadhouse, singing “As The World Turns”.
As this particular version of the theory goes, when the door to the Palmer house is closed on Cooper and Carrie, it literally becomes the Palmer house in Part 17 inhabited by the wailing Sarah Palmer, hacking away at the picture of Laura in the same manner in frustration. As Cooper asked “what year is this?” and Laura screams with the realization of who she really is, the footage of Sarah is stuttering, fracturing and reversing – Judy is about to flicker out of existence – and the lights go out on the Palmer house.
Ultimately, this theory leads then to a happy ending of sorts. Judy is defeated, but Cooper has sacrificed himself to accomplish that end, stuck in an endless time loop. Some of the synchronizations are likely intentional parallels between one sequence of events (Cooper going back in time and “rescuing” Laura) and the other (Cooper and Diane go into the pocket dimension to “find Laura” and take her “home”). You may be able to watch scenes out of order, but it’s not necessary to make yourself crazy and try to watch them at the same time.
Theory: [S3E18] The *******’s Plan, https://www.reddit.com/r/twinpeaks/comments/6yuzuk/s3e18_the_s_plan/
Analysis: This one is short enough that I’m just going to repeat it here (typos and all):
- The atom bomb brings Judy, the Mother of Abominations, into the world. He sends Laura to the world to fight her, but she is abused and corrupted by one of Judy’s children, Bob, who eventually kills her.
- Dale Cooper investigates Laura’s murder, and the Fireman sees a chance to fix the plan. He contacts Mike, a “reformed” spirit who used to run with Bob, and Mike’s Arm visits Coop in dreams, while Mike’s vessel, Gerard, hunts Bob in the physical world.
- Dale is shot, at which point the Fireman visits him directly, as well as indirectly through his own vessel, Senior Droolcup (bless you Albert). With their help and Dale’s human companions they defeat Bob’s vessel and release his spirit back to the Lodge.
- Bob tries to undo the Fireman’s plan again by trapping Dale in the Lodge and releasing Coopleganger into the world, inhabiting him.
- But Coopleganger is too strong, probably because he was formed from a man already used to fighting Bob, and so remains in control. So the Fireman must use other agents, like Garland Briggs and Phillip Gefries, until the time is right for Dale’s return. A 25 year Cold War ensues.
- When Dale returns he is caught in one of Coopleganger’s traps as Dougie. Meanwhile other Fireman agents (Margaret, Hawk, Green Glove) activate and prepare for the final conflict. When all converge in Twin Peaks Coopleganger is defeated and Bob is destroyed. Dale can then finally enact the plan as intended.
- He saves Laura, which enrages Judy. This rage manifests through Sarah Palmer, who is inhabited by Judy herself. Judy captures Laura and places her in another life. But the Fireman anticipated this move, so Dale and Diane enter that world to rescue Laura. Dale was prepared for this (“Remember Richard and Linda”) and tries to warn Diane, but she can’t deal with the situation and leaves. Dale finds Laura and takes her to her mother, in order to kill Judy. But Judy has one more trick up her sleeve: she has hidden Laura on another world, separate from Sarah.
- The Fireman’s plan is still in motion. At the end Dale is still trying to calculate how to make it work, as Laura awakens to her true identity.
In this framework, the Richard & Linda pocket universe was a place for Judy to hide Laura. The origin of the pocket universe is the main point of contention between most of the competing theories. Was it set up by the positive side or the negative side? The Fireman knew of it in advance, as he showed Andy an image of the #6 pole by Carrie’s house in Odessa. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he had a hand in creating it. This could even be the other of the “two worlds” from Fire Walk With Me poem, especially if this is the real world of us, the viewers (more on that in later theories).
Overall, this presents the entirety of Twin Peaks as a long term battle between The Fireman and Judy, enacted through their various agents. At a 50,000 foot level, it’s nice and tidy, and actually makes it sound like there’s been a plan all along. As long as you don’t look too hard into the details. And of course, the ending of that battle is still left open and unresolved, and that alone makes it a good Twin Peaks theory.
Theory: “[S3E18] 4chan cracked the ending already”, https://www.reddit.com/r/twinpeaks/comments/6xxxfd/s3e18_4chan_cracked_the_ending_already/
Analysis: This one is even shorter and sweeter, so again let’s just lay it all out exactly as it was presented:
- last scene was a dream
- laura in 1989 is the dreamer
- cooper asks what year is it
- laura’s mother calls out to her from the waking world
- laura recognizes her mother’s voice and realize she’s dreaming
- she screams and wakes up back in 1989 the morning they would have found her body had cooper not had changed the past
So in this version, Cooper did save her from being murdered by Leland that fateful night, but she’s just waking up the next morning in her bedroom as her mother calls up from the kitchen for her to come down to breakfast. Part 17 happened and Part 18 was all a dream. Laura screams because she did not end her pain and suffering that night, she is about to wake up back in that reality. Maybe one without BOB in it though, if other events of The Return did happen, so maybe a happy ending is still possible for her. Or maybe she will become Carrie Page in 25 years, trapped in a different yet still hellish life.
“Who is the dreamer?” “Laura is the one.” It kind of fits.
Theory: “Twin Peaks Finale: A Theory of Cooper, Laura, Diane, and Judy”, http://www.waggish.org/2017/twin-peaks-finale/ [David Auerbach, Waggish]
Analysis: In the theory, Judy is the real antagonist of this season, not BOB or Bad Cooper. The pocket universe of Carrie Page is a “Cage” created by the White Lodge as a trap for Judy. The reason Cooper didn’t just go back to 12 year old Laura and save her before any of this happened is because the White Lodge needed to have all her pain and suffering intact. Not to use her as bait, as many theorize, but to use her as a kind of atomic “Bomb” of pain and suffering, reaching enough critical mass to overload and destroy an entity like Judy. Cooper and Diane actually act as the “Lure”, having that agonizing sex scene specifically because of the grief and trauma it inflicts on Diane to have sex with a man who looks (and even acts) like her former rapist. They lure Judy into the trap, and the lights go out on Judy (who is holed up in the Palmer house) when the Laura bomb is set off.
In this theory, Gordon and others will remember the “unofficial version”, where Laura Palmer was murdered by her father. Cooper’s plan works in the “official version”, but he becomes non-exist-ent as a result, much like Philip Jeffries and Chet Desmond.
There’s a lot to like here. It certainly explains the Cooper & Diane sex scene better than writing it off to some undeclared sex magick ritual. It gives a semi-happy ending to the whole thing, and maybe more importantly, a purpose.
Theory: Twin Peaks: “Audrey, Billy, and living inside a dream”, https://ozba.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/twin-peaks-audrey-billy-and-living-inside-a-dream/ [Theone3’s Blog]
Analysis: I saved what I think is the best for last. This theory doesn’t explain the ending of The Return so much, but it does take away part of the pain inflicted by the purposeful abandonment of one of the major plotlines running through the rest of the series: What’s happening with Audrey Horne?
In her scenes with Charlie, she is worried about her lover, Billy. There have been a lot of Billy’s thrown around this season, which is just one of those evil distracting things Lynch and Frost like to do (think Bobby and Mike versus BOB and MIKE in the original series), and it looks like we have fallen for it again. Here in the last half of the season, we’ve been trying to piece together Audrey’s Billy with the Billy that Bing is looking for when he rushes into the RR Diner, and/or with the Billy of the Roadhouse randoms who leapt a 6 foot fence and bled all over Tina’s kitchen. Billy might be The Farmer that Andy interviews, or he might be The Drunk locked away in the jail with Chad and Naido. Billy, Billy, Billy.
But what if Audrey’s Billy isn’t a character named Billy, but rather an *actor* named Billy? As in Billy Zane, who portrayed Audrey’s lover, John Justice Wheeler, in the second season of the original series.
In the culminating scene with Audrey at the Roadhouse, the first act is Eddie Vedder, but introduced by his real name, not his stage name. “Audrey’s Dance” is announced next, which is the name of that song in the real world, on the Twin Peaks soundtrack. This is presumably not the name of the song in the Twin Peaks universe, where Audrey punched it in on the RR Diner jukebox 25 years ago. These are fourth wall breaks, linking events happening to Audrey with the real world we, the viewers, are living in. Remember that Audrey doesn’t feel like herself and Charlie maybe has the power to end her story.
Gordon’s “Monica Bellucci dream” is another one of these fourth wall breaks. After she asks “But who is the dreamer?”, Gordon turns and looks directly into the camera, at us. However, in context, he is also looking over his shoulder at a location that, in our real world, is the space where David Lynch is showing his art in an exhibition entitled “Plume of Desire”. Cooper is brought out of his stupor not by coffee or pie or any of those mundane things within the world of Twin Peaks, but rather by seeing the real world movie Sunset Boulevard and hearing the name “Gordon Cole”. This is, in fact, the movie from which David Lynch actually took his character’s name.
All of this points to the answer to Monica’s question being that *we* are the dreamer. Events in the show, like these fourth wall breaks, can take us out of the dream. This is apparently what Audrey unwittingly triggers when she rushes up to Charlie and begs him to get her out of here.
In Part 17 & 18, the fourth wall breaks continue and there’s perhaps some indicators that Cooper / Richard has also crossed over into the “real world” (like the actress playing Alice Tremond being the actual owner of the Palmer house at the time of filming). This extension of the Audrey theory is perhaps overreaching, but it is interesting to contemplate the meta references to the show within the show.
For better or for worse, Audrey “waking up” to the white sterile room, wearing a white sterile jacket, looking at herself without her makeup and costuming, is going to be the final word on her character in Twin Peaks (barring some mention in Frost’s final book, but I wouldn’t hold my breath). The most interesting meta thing about this is that once again, the show ends on a cliffhanger, with one of the primary characters looking into a mirror, their identity completely suspect to us, the viewers. While it is not an answer, it is a question that is worthy of a Twin Peaks season finale.
Speed Round – Unresolved Plot Lines:
- “You follow human nature perfectly” – The Woodsman were at the Buckhorn jail acting as Bad Cooper’s eyes and ears. That’s why he knew about the affair Phyllis was having with George, leading to his “human nature” remark to her. That first woodsman smiles and floats off right after Bill and Phyllis confront each other about their respective affairs. Her affair was probably something she hadn’t let Bad Cooper know about, but it worked in his favor. I think I pointed this out before, but Phyllis was his eyes and ears on Bill Hastings, keeping tabs on his progress towards getting to “The Zone”.
- Who killed Betty? – We now know that Ray was an FBI informant, so he most likely did not kill Betty (Bill’s secretary). Mr. C arranged for that with Jack behind Ray’s back, because he was already on to Ray and knew he was not going to do it. Ray even says he met with her on the day she died (the day after Bill was arrested). Another tip off to Bad Cooper perhaps.
- Why didn’t Frank mention the Room 315 key to Gordon Cole? – This was a mini-puzzler at the time it happened, but I think the answer can now be seen to be fairly simple. He wanted to give that key to Harry as a memento. If he mentions it to the FBI, it may be placed into evidence. Harry is more important to him.
- A lot of initial reaction podcasts seemed to fail to understand that Tammy and Albert were rattling off all this info on Dougie Jones because it was being transmitted to them in real time from the Las Vegas FBI guys. You can see the PDF pages rolling in on the screen behind Gordon as he is talking to Mullins.
- The name Carrie Page may be an allusion to the still missing 4th page of Laura’s diary. However, many believe that the 4th page had previously been established to have been given to Donna by Harold, the one that describes Laura’s dream of meeting Agent Cooper in the Red Room (from S2E09 “Arbitrary Law”). In a season full of retcons, who can say which is right?
- The first two scenes of Part 18 remind us that there are still 3 Coopers: the doppelgänger (Bad Cooper), the tulpa (Dougie Jones), and the original (the Good Dale). This would seem more like the end of Part 17 than the beginning of Part 18.
- Many have pointed out that the Cooper in the Red Room at the beginning of Part 18 is a different, possibly forth, Cooper. He is not blocked at the curtain, he makes a hand gesture and is able to move through to Glastonbury Grove. His mannerisms with Diane are similar to Bad Cooper (“you come over here to me”). He’s not very kind to the staff at Judy’s. Kyle said in a Variety article that Richard was described to him as another variation on Cooper (http://variety.com/2017/tv/news/twin-peaks-kyle-maclachlan-finale-1202547022/). One popular interpretation is that this was just Cooper being whole for the first time, the “two” (good and bad sides) having become “one”. Of course, this implies the Cooper of the original series was all good and thus only half a man (“You know, there’s only one problem with you: you’re perfect.”).
- Many have pointed out similarities between the “real” red-headed version of Diane and actress Marjorie Cameron, who Jack Parsons believed he summoned to him with a sex magick ritual performed in the desert (for more info, see https://unwrappingtheplastic.com/2017/09/07/sex-magick-the-scarlet-woman/). Perhaps indicative that Cooper and Diane were performing the same or a similar ritual, or perhaps trying to reverse the results of the original one.
- The picnic basket Andy pulls out of his car in the parking lot looks to be the same one used in the original series when he and Dick Tremayne took Little Nicky on a picnic. I haven’t confirmed that, but it’s a fun little callback if it’s true. [Source: Twin Peaks Rewatch podcast]
- Odessa may have been selected for its association with jackrabbits. The Odessa Rodeo used to have a jackrabbit roping competition, they have a tourist attraction known as the “World’s Largest Jackrabbit” (http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/15841), and a public art project called the Jackrabbit Jamboree in 2004 filled the town with “37 beautiful and unique jackrabbits standing 6 feet tall […] strategically placed around the city” (http://www.odessacvb.com/visit/attractions/jamboree-jackrabbits).
- Odessa had a population of 99,940 (per the sign Cooper drove past) in their 2010 census (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odessa,_Texas#Demographics). That number, and likely the sign, won’t be updated until the next 2020 census is taken. This places the Carrie timeline most likely in “the present” (i.e. 2016, per the rest of The Return).
- Could the Mystery Voice have been Judy all along? Because maybe she would want to be with BOB, her child, again. This would explain the “missed you in New York” comment, and also the feeling Bad Cooper had that Judy wants something from him. He was told that the “they” who wanted him dead, wanted something in him. The thing that Ray saw, i.e. BOB. [Source: Chopping Wood Podcast]
- Cooper used the phrase “very important” while trying to coax Carrie to come with him to Twin Peaks. This is the same phrase Andy used when he realized the things The Fireman showed him were coming to pass. Perhaps a tipoff that Cooper is indeed enacting a plan instigated by The Fireman? [Source: Twin Peaks Rewatch podcast]
- There were, in a way, 3 endings to season 3. The season finale (first half of Part 17), “Save Laura” (the second half of Part 17), and “Find Laura” (Part 18). Some have even referred to this as a sort of Choose Your Own Adventure ending.
- This is a bit late breaking, but in Part 2, we see Darya say, “Shit. He’s comin’. I have to get off the phone.” But when Bad Cooper plays the conversation back on his magic tape recorder, she says “Shit, he’s coming. I gotta get off the phone.” Her wording has changed (“have to” versus “gotta”). [Source: Alan Jay Wescoat, Twin Peaks (2017) Facebook group]
- The Damn Fine Podcast guys pointed out that the Part 16 Agent Cooper, who wakes up from the coma and leaps into action, is so over the top that he’s like the Georgia Coffee commercials version of Cooper. Nice reference there.
- Many are comparing the Freddie vs BOB fight to a video game “boss battle” (see http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BossBattle), complete with BOB being punched into Hell and returning in his final form, before being smashed to pieces and ultimately defeated.
- Many theories have sprouted from possible real word definitions of “Jowday”, as it was given in the closed captioning. The most popular of these is “jiāo dài” in Chinese Mandarin, which amongst its many interpretations into English includes “to explain” – so people are saying that Lynch is telling us that explaining the mysteries behind Twin Peaks, giving us answers and conclusions, would be the greatest evil. However, I’d throw in that another translation at the bottom of the list (see https://chinese.yabla.com/chinese-english-pinyin-dictionary.php?define=jiao+dai) is “recording tape” – so Dale’s handy dandy tape recorder, possibly a.k.a. Diane, is the greatest evil. Ha.
- Technically, Cooper still has never confronted his shadow self.
As always, please reply below with your own comments and corrections, or give me your own well thought out theory. You can catch me on various Facebook groups, such as “Twin Peaks (2017)” or our own “25 Years Later” page, on the Reddit r/twinpeaks forum, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. See ya next week.