Notes from the Bookhouse: The Staff Get Theory-ous

Notes from the Bookhouse is my new weekly column! My hope is that this will be a place to do some theorizin’, some speculatin’, and to generally discuss the big topics of the Twin Peaks world.

This week, we hammered out exactly which of the many competing and complementary theories tickled our fancies and rocked our boats following the finale.

Lindsay: Theories. We’ve all heard some of them, and we’ve all probably got one, at least, that calls to us. Let’s start there. What are your favourite theories so far?

Ali: Well as far as I’ve read I like that overlay 17/18 theory. I haven’t dug deep into other theories yet and what we’ve been talking about in Slack is all running together in my brain. I also like the whole Jowday = explanation thing.

Matt: I liked the theory that I think John Thorne talked about on Twin Peaks Unwrapped that 18 could be be looked at as going before Part 1, and that throws a very different light on everything. Coop is told to remember Richard and Linda, and he understands that because he’s already done it. It reinforces the cyclical nature of Coop’s quest to save Laura.

Ali: i like that too. My problem right now is that a lot of different and conflicting things make sense in their own way.

Eileen: I think of it as a blessing. I’m enjoying that all of my theories are equally likely!

Lindsay: It’s a problem and it’s a blessing, sort of–in the sense that everyone can theorize and make it make sense for them. I’m amazed at how many conflicting theories I believe right now.

Ali: Same

Brien: There’s the theory that from the Dale overlay on, it’s all a dream.  His FBI pin magically materializes at that point or soon after.

Lindsay: That’s one that I like a lot.

Matt: The Coop overlay is the most obviously telegraphed message, but as to what it actually means I’m still not sure. It is telling us that maybe Coop is the dreamer, but which Coop and from where he is dreaming is still vague.

Brien: Then that Laura was used as bait to trap Judy in a pocket universe, the Richard and Linda one.

Lindsay: The problem I have with Laura being used as a pawn in any of these is that I still feel like FWWM was a closed ending and one that granted her so much dignity, so if she’s suddenly being played on the board again, revictimized in a way, I bristle against that.

Ali: I agree 100%

Lindsay: So for me, the explanation that retains Laura’s agency at the end of FWWM is the one that casts Dale as the bumbling idiot FBI agent who doesn’t understand that he has to leave well-enough alone. And I kinda hate that too…

Brien: Yeah, crap on Laura or crap on Dale. Great.

Matt: Coop as Lancelot was a good allegory from Diane podcast this week. Trying to save the maiden but ends up destroying the kingdom.

Lindsay: Exactly!

Eileen: I hate Lancelot. French created interloper. I don’t enjoy that comparison for Coop

Lindsay: It does seem as though Coop should have known better than to try to bring Laura home. He was there for her ascension or whatever it was at the end of FWWM. He should have known that she was okay and at peace. Why start meddling again? So I don’t know how to read that without, as Brien said, destroying either of their characters. (Unless we’ve misunderstood Coop’s role entirely…)

Brien: None of these retcons make any sense. Why would Lynch and Frost want to do that to their perfect creation? I just can’t wrap my head around it..

Matt: I think to some extent, Brien, they’re not worrying too much about following Twin Peaks’ and FWWM’s storylines to the letter. It’s like they’re retelling the story over again. Maybe tying in with the multiverses every story is slightly different, and in this version, we didn’t have Laura ascending, she was still bumbling around the lodge all this time.

Lindsay: So all the stories are equally real and equally happening maybe? I could buy that.

Brien: We never got a clear explanation on Frost’s book differences.  Maybe it’s just to be taken as a completely different, yet related, tale.

Matt: He did say it would be made clear. I can’t see that happening somehow.

Ali: I have a love/hate relationship with the theory that Laura is the dreamer and that the end is her waking up the morning after she was killed.

Lindsay: How so, Ali?

Ali: I like it because it feels like an ending but I don’t like it because I feel like it oversimplifies the story? I think? And I also like it because it keeps Laura alive but hate it because she’s still having to live her trauma

Lindsay: Okay, yes…that’s kind of where I’m heading too.

Jenn: I like this as one of the theories, Lindsay. I don’t think it oversimplifies it, because if you use the overlay and this theory…Dale & Laura leave the house, Sarah/Judy are still in there we see her destroying Laura’s picture…but Sarah wins out in this one when she senses Laura is back. So she calls out from the other “dimension” that’s why Coop asks, “What year is it?” then Laura screams and destroys Judy and wakes up in 1989.

Matt: There’s a theory out there that the script that Kyle read, and that Frost signed off on, Lynch just ran into the editing room and totally messed with. probably not true but amusing nonetheless.

Lindsay: That is funny to think about. I’m sure there’s a grain of truth to it, in some respect…Now I’m picturing Lynch throwing the entire script down a flight of stairs and editing the scenes together in the order in which they landed! The theory that holds the most sway for me, even though I’m still trying to work my head around it, is that somehow the scenes at the very end are supposed to be taking place in our world, the world of the viewer. And that this explains Mary Reber as the owner of the house (playing Alice Tremond) or the gas station being a real gas station, not a Big Ed’s Gas Farm type of set up, or the real Odessa population sign, etc…

Ali: See, Lindsay, I don’t like that one at all. I just don’t think Mary Reber or the Odessa sign or any of that is so out of place that it indicates our world

Matt: I can go with that. The use of the real owner seems something Lynch would do.

Lindsay: It fits with a kind of meta-commentary on the role of the viewer in this whole charade. The idea that Cooper — the real Cooper — will see us “at the curtain call” and then when we do see him next he’s in our world, beyond the stage now, walking among us

Matt: There may also be some meta commentary there, with the viewers being cast as the dreamers, and with Coop and Laura becoming normal people, and the characters we knew not existing, we are the dreamers who are living inside our own dream, although it’s not real. As much as we want it to be…Hey Lindsay, stole my thunder…

Lindsay: Sorry mate (*Ed. Note – we’re doing this via Slack, which makes for some interesting overlays of ideas…conversations that pick up far away from where they started…it’s very dream-like over in the 25YL Slack channel!)

Ali: A bit too meta for my taste. I respect the theory but I’m just not excited about it if that makes sense.

Lindsay: I know it’s not everyone’s favourite theory, Ali, for sure. It has a certain Lynchian quality to it. But it’s better than my tongue-in-cheek Back to the Future reference on our podcast last week! I just don’t see a way to honestly read it straight as literal time travel. Are there theories saying that? There has to be alternate dimensions or something going on, right?

Ali: I don’t think it’s straight time travel either.

Eileen: I think it’s both. Time cracks that leak between dimensions.

Ali: The dream of time and space or whatever the Log Lady quote was.

Jenn: Lynch likes the mystery…making us that much a part of the fourth wall being broken doesn’t jive well with me, and believe me I think we are the dreamers, just not in this context. Did anyone ever see Arrival with Amy Adams? The concept is non-linear circular time…someone described it as being able to go through and seeking a part of the story without erasing the past but can begin and end and its the same. I know it makes my head spin too, but it’s interesting to think of Twin Peaks also in this way.

Matt: I think there is something going on with the way Coop and Diane greeted each other in the Sheriff’s station. That implied real passion, that they’d been through something together. But in the linear sense, that doesn’t fit.

Lindsay: It’s very odd, especially if you compare it to their greeting in the woods later on.

Matt: It implies they have been lost and found each other again. Maybe many times. Trans-dimensional adventures of Richard and Linda! 

Lindsay: Pitch it! #TwinPeaksSeason4! But seriously, I think you might be right and this is something they have done many many times before…

Ali: I like the idea of Coop and Diane having done this many times because as it stands their intimacy doesn’t feel earned.

Lindsay: Yes! The intimacy does not feel earned at all! Cooper spoke to a tape recorder all of Season 1 and Season 2. We never saw Diane. It was at the point where no one thought she was a real person. That’s quite different from having a real physical relationship with someone.

Ali: I didn’t think she was real after the Missing Pieces scene.

Lindsay: Same! It didn’t feel real at all. (Neither did Cooper in the MP, but maybe that’s a topic for a future roundtable…)

Eileen: Maybe this is why I chafed against their relationship so much

Ali: I’m not a fan of their relationship either, and not because I ship him with anyone else just because it didn’t feel right to me

Lindsay: I didn’t mind it as much, and I didn’t hate the love scene, but that’s because I think it stood in for something else entirely. Like, what if what’s happening here is related to Babalon Working, Jack Parsons, and Marjorie Cameron?

Eileen: I can look at it like that now but couldn’t the first time. My second viewing was very enlightening.

Lindsay: From the moment I heard the song “My Prayer”, I think my first thought was: “This is a ritual.” Diane’s red hair is just like Marjorie’s. Sex is involved. It seemed telegraphed so clearly to me, which is why I figured it wasn’t supposed to be a stand-in for any kind of romantic love scene. Diane didn’t suddenly become Cooper’s love interest or a replacement for Annie or Audrey or whomever. Far from it. This was methodical and purposeful, as if they had a goal in mind that had nothing to do with each other. It was for the greater good.

Eileen: They are so distant from each other during something that should be intensely intimate

Lindsay: Exactly. I don’t feel there is any closeness or romance there, at all. It’s all business. Why? Are they summoning Judy? another portal? the Moonchild?

Eileen: I’ve seen everything from shifting dimensions through sex to closing a dimensional door, to the Moonchild to altering her identity.

Brien: Sex magic ritual is the going theory.

Ali: I haven’t read that theory but after having the Diane rape confirmation to then go to using her body as part of a sex ritual with a man who looks exactly like her rapist (even though it’s consensual) doesn’t sit well with me.

Lindsay: It’s a very disconcerting idea, Ali, because trauma is such a big issue in Twin Peaks, and here is our hero traumatizing his long time friend, co-worker, and someone he cares very much about…it’s horrifying…

Written by Lindsay Stamhuis

Lindsay Stamhuis is a writer and English teacher. In addition to editing and writing about TV and Film, she is the co-host of The Bicks Pod, a podcast currently deep-diving into the collected works of William Shakespeare. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her partner Aidan, their three cats, and a potted pothos that refuses to grow more than one vine.


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  1. Zero marks for the awful pun in the article title, but I enjoyed the discussion (especially Eileen’s rant about Lancelot), and the fact that it doesn’t try to definitively explain. Let’s start with what the questions are.

    • Hey I liked that pun! ? Thanks for the comment. Our point all along was to just lay it out there and work through it, hopefully give everyone a chance to watch us fumble with ideas and come to grips with it, maybe. So I’m glad to see we got there (even if our Dad joke game gets no respect…?)

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