WE LIVE INSIDE A DREAM: Understanding the Finale of Twin Peaks:  The Return by T. Kyle King


The following is a guest article written by friend of the site, T. Kyle King from the Wrapped in Podcast. This is easily one of the best theories I’ve read since the show ended. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do! – Andrew

Twin Peaks:  The Return is behind us, yet enduring questions remain – as, indeed, they always will.  As David Lynch himself famously said of his work, “It’s so beautiful just to leave it abstract.  Once it becomes specific, it’s no longer true to a lot of people, where, if it’s abstract, there could be some truth to it for everybody.”  This certainly was the case with Parts 17 and 18 of Twin Peaks:  The Return, so what follows is intended not as the definitive specific solution, but rather as one fan’s truth of the series’ ending.


For me, the sequence in the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station at the midpoint of Part 17 is the key to everything.  Up until that point, Part 17 had been 30 straight minutes of relatively linear narrative.  Everything initially seemed like it was adding up, but, the instant “the Cooper super” appeared over the screen, a divergence occurred; Mr. C. was gone, but still there were two Coopers, literally visible on the same screen, one atop the other.  Notably, the first lines uttered after this double-image appeared were Bobby Briggs’s baffled question and Bradley Mitchum’s forthright answer.  They spoke not just for all of us in the audience, but also for Lynch himself:  We were not meant to comprehend what happened from that point forward – yet Major Briggs clearly did, and Agent Cooper ostensibly does.


Coop says Gordon is arriving right on time, yet Gordon previously had been unsure whether the plan was working as intended and was concerned that Cooper’s call was overdue.  To the group, Coop says, “And that’s what’s brought us to where we are today” – effectively ending the narrative that was the first sixteen and a half hours of Twin Peaks: The Return.  He then turns to face the camera, and two Coopers’ faces are looking out at the viewer when one of them says:  “Now there are some things that will change.  The past dictates the future.”  In between these two sentences, Deputy Chief Hawk – who, like Phillip Jeffries, is aware of things he isn’t willing to discuss – nods knowingly.

The other Cooper, speaking directly to the audience and evidently to no one else, straightforwardly says:  “We live inside a dream.”  The first Coop then tells his assembled friends, “I hope I see all of you again.  Every one of you.”  At that point, ominous music swells, darkness inexplicably descends, and the seemingly physical Cooper calls out to Cole, who calls out to Coop in return – then they fade, the ethereal floating Cooper head solidifies in darkness, and the remaining 90 minutes bear only minimal resemblance or connection to what has come before.

What happened in this critical transitional moment?  In the midst of so many cross-currents of ostensible subtext, I’m sticking with the text:  Cooper says, “We live inside a dream” – and I take him at his word.  Essentially everything that happens after the Cooper super appears happens in a dream, Dale Cooper is the dreamer who dreams and then lives inside the dream, and Naido put him there, because Naido is Judy.


There are numerous clues throughout Part 17 pointing us toward this conclusion.  Twin Peaks:  The Return had a remarkable degree of symmetry to it, so it follows logically that, after the sleeper awakened halfway through Part 16, he went back to sleep halfway through Part 17.  Shortly before that happened, in fact, bad guy Chad sprung into action after the repetitious drunk briefly awakened and went back to sleep.  The drunk otherwise serves no narrative purpose, and Chad’s actions make no independent sense.  As a cue to what’s happening with Cooper upstairs, however, the sleeper waking up before nodding off again shortly thereafter is perfectly congruent.

The Cooper super, indicating Dale’s re-entry into dreamland, appears as soon as Cooper looks at Naido.  Within the confines of the story, this is explained away by the apparent revelation that Naido is Diane, but, like the rest of what follows, this makes linear sense only superficially and collapses upon closer scrutiny.  (Regardless of how the misleading subtitles may have read, the word “in” was nowhere audible in the earlier statement supposedly uttered by the Diane tulpa that “I’m in the sheriff’s station.”)

Naido also reacted nervously to Doppelcooper’s arrival at the sheriff’s station, which seems strange.  The Fireman, who sent Mr. C. there for the final confrontation, has been putting the pieces into place in preparation for this moment.  Consequently, everyone who’s doing the White Lodge’s bidding is confident and at ease, even in the face of extreme danger.  The Good Dale knows just what to do to send Bad Coop back to the Black Lodge; Freddie remains resolute about fulfilling his destiny even after BOB bloodies him; Andy doesn’t panic when Chad pulls a gun on him; only Naido is frantic.  Why would Naido be in such a state unless she and the Fireman were at cross purposes?

Finally, the coordinates the Diane tulpa texted to Mr. C. after receiving his “:-) ALL” text evidently led Doppelcooper to the place from which the Fireman was able to deposit him at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station.  If this is the Diane tulpa’s moment of clarity – “I hope this works!” – and Naido is Diane, why would Diane text Bad Coop the coordinates that she knew would place the real Diane at risk?

In light of all that, it makes no sense for Naido to be Diane, so she must be someone else, and who she really is must explain why and how she fools Cooper into thinking she’s Diane.  By far the most sensible explanation is that this important unidentified Asian female character is Jiao Dei, an ancient name that the Western tongue ultimately bastardized into “Judy” – just as, over time, a similar Eastern consonantal shift might well have changed Jiao Dei into Nai-doh.  Accordingly, Naido is Judy, and what’s troubling her about Mr. C.’s arrival is the fear that Doppelcooper and BOB will dispense with Cooper and deny her the privilege of doing so (and of collecting his garmonbozia in the process).

It’s when our Dale first sees Naido that his giant disembodied slow-talking dream head appears, just as it was when our Dale last saw Naido that the giant disembodied slow-talking dream head of his Judy-pursuing compatriot, Major Briggs, appeared to say, “Blue rose” – thus delivering the ultimate coded warning between these colleagues that Naido was not what she seemed.  (He certainly wouldn’t have used that artificiality-revealing phrase to mean that Naido was the real Diane!)  It’s when our Dale makes physical contact with Naido in Part 17 that the time displacements begin, just as it was our Dale’s physical contact with Naido in the Mauve Zone that ended the similar time displacements in Part 3.  We know the time displacements have begun here because the clock remains perpetually on the cusp of switching from 2:52 to 2:53, which is exactly the time change we saw occur on Naido’s wristwatch in the Mauve Zone.


briggs head

What Naido does here, therefore, is what Naido did the first time we saw her, in Part 3.  There, she caused Cooper to change course and take a different panel back into the real world.  MIKE, who clearly was working to maneuver Cooper back into his old self, made no bones about Dale’s situation:  “Don’t die!”  “You were tricked!” “Wake up!


Who tricked Coop by putting him to sleep so he could be killed by the villains in Part 3?  It was Naido – Judy – and that’s exactly what she did here, as well.  It only looks different to us now because, from Part 3 through Part 15, we saw Dougie Coop’s dream state from the outside looking in, and, this time, we’ve joined Dale in the dream.  This, however, allows us to see that Judy has learned from her previous mistakes.  In Part 15, the incongruous intrusion of the name “Gordon Cole” was the first jolt in shocking Coop back to consciousness, so, this time, Judy lets Cooper keep his own identity, includes Gordon at the beginning of the dream, and has Dale himself tell his boss not to follow him into his increasingly divergent dreamscape in the boiler room of the Great Northern.


Judy likewise has learned that the key to compromising Cooper’s judgment is to cloud his reason with affection and guilt over a woman he failed to save.  It happened with Caroline Earle, Audrey Horne, and Annie Blackburn in turn, so Judy inserts herself into the dream, disguised as Diane Evans, and she sends him on a futile and unending quest to rescue Laura Palmer.  These are the two iconic abstract female avatars in Dale Cooper’s life – the one we never saw in the original series and the one he never met on this Earth – and the violent crimes committed against the two of them continue to haunt him.  They’re the perfect albatrosses around Dale Cooper’s neck to serve as the anchors that will drag him permanently down into the dream.  By masquerading as Diane, Judy is also able to remain a presence within the dream, where she can watch him while hiding in plain sight as a constant reminder of his need to continue into perpetuity his quixotic subconscious crusade.  (Besides, it’s Twin Peaks, so, naturally, there have to be two of them.)


Moreover, a dream is the perfect trap for ensnaring Dale Cooper.  He trusts his intuition, oftentimes to the detriment of reason, but he is oblivious to his own ignorance.  Although Coop understands the mechanics of acetylcholine neurons firing high-voltage impulses into the forebrain, he’s clueless about the content, believing that “no one knows why we choose these particular pictures.”  Judy has shrewdly used his trusting wonder against him by selecting the images that serve her sinister purposes.  Judy is the water, the dream is the well, and Dale drinks full and descends into this world that increasingly is dark within.

In short, Naido tricked Coop into the waking dream of Dougietude to stop him from saving the day earlier, and she repeats exactly that same trick, only much more effectively, by putting him back to sleep to prevent him from completing Major Briggs’s plan now.  What’s Naido’s motivation for doing so?  It’s simple:  Cooper’s, Gordon’s, and Briggs’s most significant mission was to find Judy and capture her.  Naido has the ultimate incentive for wanting to prevent that, because Naido is herself Judy.

Accordingly, when the lights dim and Gordon and Cooper call out to one another in Frank Truman’s office, reality is intruding in a way the audience can perceive directly for the final time before Dale lapses fully into the Judy-induced dream.  After that, every scene featuring the original Agent Cooper is contained wholly within Dale’s unconscious mind, which makes sense of everything that happens in the last 90 minutes of Twin Peaks:  The Return.

It explains the dominance of “dream logic” in the progression of the plot.  It explains the recurrence of scenes we know Dale Cooper has dreamt before, such as MIKE reciting the “Fire walk with me” poem, an older Dale waiting in the Red Room, and Laura whispering terrible revelations to Dale.  It explains the otherwise inexplicable shifts in scene and nomenclature that Dale seems to take in stride, including his blasé acceptance of a murdered man in the middle of Carrie’s living room.  It explains Cooper’s erratic and strangely detached behavior, not least of all his uncharacteristic and indifferent carelessness with firearms behind the counter at the Odessa diner.


More importantly, it also explains the two dominant themes of Cooper’s extended and externally directed dream:  Judy maintaining a constant presence so she can keep watch on Cooper and exercise control over the course of his dream, on the one hand, and Cooper’s reason attempting to break through the fog and bring him back to conscious awareness, on the other.  These are the competing forces at work, vying for the upper hand, and this – not the expected faceoff between the Good Dale and Mr. C. that never came to pass – is, ultimately, the final battle between the forces of the White and Black Lodges.  Can Cooper, his courage perfected by his time in the Red Room and his prior passage through his waking dream state as Dougie, overcome the original ancient evil of Judy by escaping from this trap before her wicked progeny can kill his catatonic form in the real world?

Judy is with him every step of the way, assuming multiple forms.  However, because she is the “Mother” who gave birth to the evil that men do, she invariably assumes a female form, as she did both as “the young lady” from The Missing Pieces and as Naido.  In the dream, she appears as Diane, as the waitress in the diner, as the driver of the car that tailgates Cooper on the highway, and as the current owner of the Palmer house.  (Given the gender-fluidity of the Dutchman’s – where “Bosomy Woman” was played by a man and the Jumping Man wore Sarah Palmer’s face beneath his mask – it is conceivable that the Jumping Man on the stairs in Part 17 may be Judy lurking in the dream, as well.)

At every turn, Judy is watching him and directing him back toward Laura, or to the image of Laura, so that he can replay again and again his doomed efforts to save a young woman who chose to die more than 25 years ago.  In addition to dredging up dreams Cooper has had before, Judy also exploits his memories:  Cooper relives his experiences exiting the Red Room, this time with a telling twist.  Judy – who is here disguised as the Evolved Arm that originally bore a tattoo that read “Mom” – steers him toward Laura, the little girl who lived down the lane.  (Judy’s reliance on using Coop’s memories explains the absence of the “Double R To Go” sign when Dale and Laura – or, rather, Richard and Carrie – arrive in Twin Peaks, since this is the Double R as Dale remembers it, not as it now is.)


Although he is asleep, Dale’s brain knows better; as his somnolent self descended to dwell within the dream, his waking consciousness drowsily acknowledged that the past dictated the future just before he nodded off.  Unfortunately, as MIKE’s repeated question makes plain, the dreamer is uncertain whether it is the future of Carrie Page or the past of February 23, 1989; nevertheless, Coop’s silenced reason endeavors constantly to break through into the dream, in order to force him back up to awareness.  Cooper continuously sends these messages in bottles to himself.

We see it in MIKE’s befuddlement at the Dutchman’s.  We hear it in Phillip Jeffries’s otherwise incoherent statement that “[t]his is where you’ll find Judy” – the only person he finds when he gets back to 1989 is Laura – and his pointed exhortation:  “Cooper . . . remember!” (which sounds a lot like MIKE’s “Wake up!” and the Fireman’s “Remember 430”).  It’s even visually represented in the motel room, in the form of the figure 8 and the marble that moves inside it:

Within the figure 8, the marble is flipped over to the other side, then it shifts back to where it began, signaling to Dale both what has happened to get him here and what has to happen to get him back.  The small ball also looks like the seed into which a person is reduced by Lodge magic – representing Coop himself – which we know from Part 16 he is able to recognize.  (This is a clue for the audience, too; in this show about doubling, we see in a figure 8 something he explained to us in Part 16.)

Finally, regarding the figure 8 itself, we know Cooper is a great admirer of the Dalai Lama, so, of course, when trying to guide his unconscious mind to a literal awakening into enlightenment, his reasoning brain would direct his dream along the eightfold path of Buddhism.  Thus, the infinity symbol Judy attempts to project inside his mind – symbolizing the permanent recursion to which she has consigned him – is literally and metaphorically upended by Coop’s mind attempting to reassert itself.  Since Judy will not permit the clock to strike 2:53, Cooper can never make 2+5+3 add up to the number of completion; because he cannot make it to 10, he must settle instead for 8:  10, from which two – Richard and Linda – have been subtracted.  Viewed more positively, 8 is the Lucky 7 of 4+3+0, with one more added.  Judy (as Naido/Diane) tried to fool him into believing he was that one (“and only”), but the Log Lady knew the truth:  “Laura is the one.”

Likewise, when Cooper relives slightly altered versions of his memories, important differences emerge.  When his unconscious mind takes him back through his exit from the Red Room in the premiere, Judy alters events so that the Evolved Arm – which looks like nothing so much as those acetylcholine neurons firing high-voltage impulses of which Coop is so well aware – speaks of the little girl who lived down the lane . . . but reason intrudes when that selfsame arm then poses the challenging question:  “Is it?”  (This reference to the little girl who lived down the lane – a phrase earlier introduced by Audrey – likewise ought to remind us that it was Audrey who said:  “Dreams sometimes hearken a truth.”)

When Cooper dreams of awakening as Richard in the wrong motel room and driving away in the wrong car, his reason tries to warn him by attaching the name “Judy’s” to the diner.  When Dale is waiting in Carrie’s living room, evidently unaffected by the all the oddities around him, a ringing phone intrudes yet is never answered; this is Coop’s awareness calling him in the most literal way possible within the confines of his delusion.

During the drive to Twin Peaks, Laura – “the one” who takes us to the number of completion; the golden child introduced into the world by the White Lodge as the countervailing good to Judy’s overwhelming evil – repeatedly is the voice of reason and remembrance.  It is Laura, after all, who calls Cooper’s attention to Judy following in the car behind and makes comments carefully calculated to call to his mind the recollection of his meeting with her progenitor, the Fireman, at the start of Part 1.  “I tried to keep a clean house.”  “It is in our house now.”  “It’s a long way.”  “You are far away.

Kyle MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

Who, then, wins in the end?  In 1997, an article I wrote was published in Wrapped in Plastic, in which I called upon David Lynch to give Twin Peaks one of what I believed were his typical unconventional happy endings.  I believe he gave us one here.  Up until now, Cooper has gone along with the dream logic of everything that has happened, stoically accepting Laura’s disappearance in the woods, his and Diane’s time jumps, Laura’s new identity, and the general weirdness of his bizarre surroundings.  At the very end of Part 18, though, his reason breaks through; his confusion indicates that he finally recognizes that this makes no sense, and that awareness begins his ascent back toward consciousness, exactly the way it really happens when a person awakens from a dream.

How do we know this is actually what’s happening?  We know it because we previously saw Dale Cooper waking up after being tricked into a dangerous dream state by Judy in her form as Naido.  How did that unfold?  In Part 15, a statement made within the hallucination caught Cooper’s attention, and this first stirring of conscious awareness was followed by a flicker of electricity, the lights going out, and the blonde woman who was with him screaming.

This time, we’re looking at it from the inside, but exactly the same sequence seeps down into the dream from the real world outside.  There is a flicker of the e-lec-tri-city MIKE mentioned at the Dutchman’s (in another instance of reason attempting to break through), the lights go out (this time, in the Palmer house), and a blonde woman (in this case, Carrie) screams, arresting Dale’s wandering attention and snapping him back to full awareness.  This methodically repeated sequence is as sure a sign as it is possible for us to get from our perspective within the dream that Agent Cooper once again is waking up and that Judy has been defeated.


The question “What year is this?” – mirroring MIKE’s inquiry “Is it future or is it past?” – isn’t the new “How’s Annie?”  Instead, it’s the new “Get Gordon Cole!”  Since we are living inside the dream that is ending, the screen fades to black before we are able to see it, but the unseen next scene of Twin Peaks:  The Return is Dale Cooper’s triumphant reawakening.  What follows outside our observation is the perfect inversion of the frustration of the closing moments of the season two finale:  Cooper awakened there, in Room 315 of the Great Northern, with Sheriff Harry Truman beside him, to the realization that evil had been victorious; he awakens here, having been given the key to Room 315 of the Great Northern by Sheriff Frank Truman, with the knowledge that good has won out in the end.

When the dream concludes, Coop wakes up, the clock finally strikes 2:53, and Dale – the only one who understands fully the long game the Fireman and Major Briggs were playing – reveals to the assembled lawmen in Harry’s office that Naido is really Judy instead of Diane.  Given the juxtaposition of the dimming lights both in the sheriff’s station at the beginning of the dream and in the Palmer house at its ending, perhaps what Judy portrays with horror within the illusion – Cooper and Cole calling out one another’s names in fear – plays out in reality upon Dale’s awakening as two old friends greeting one another in victory and in love:  “Gordon!”  “Cooper!”

The mother of all evil is led back downstairs to her cell – this time as a prisoner instead of in protective custody – to await the justice she must face at the hands of the Fireman, whose insights from Part 1 Coop truly came to comprehend in his darkest hour.  We, too, now know that, in that monochromatic opening scene, the Fireman told the very special agent all he would need to know to free himself from Judy’s trap.

Agent Cooper.  Listen to the sounds.”  The noise of the scratching phonograph first heard then would be repeated in Dale’s dream when Laura was whisked away at the end of Part 17.  “It is in our house now.”  The purple sea and the Phillip Jeffries bell visible both in the Mauve Zone in Part 3 and in the White Lodge in Part 8 make it clear that Judy (disguised as Naido) is in a space adjacent to the Fireman’s and Senorita Dido’s home.  (Dale responds with the tentative “It is” of which his repressed reason later tries to remind him with the provocative question “Is it?”)


It all cannot be said aloud now.  Remember 430.  Richard and Linda.  Two birds with one stone.”  The Fireman knows what is coming, and he is preparing Cooper to recognize it, so that, when the numbers “430” and the names “Richard and Linda” later appear in Coop’s Judy-induced dream, they begin the stirrings that gradually lead him back to full awareness.  Dale says he understands, but he doesn’t yet.  “You are far away” . . . from full comprehension, and from coming full circle the way the figure 8 visually depicted he would.  Ultimately, though, the Fireman has said all that needs saying; as was true of the cryptic insights the Fireman provided in solving Laura Palmer’s murder 25 years earlier, Agent Cooper has all the clues he needs – as, in retrospect, do we.

Agent Cooper’s experience at the end of season three is the opposite of Audrey Horne’s; she awakens from a moment of idyllic fantasy into a harsh reality, while Dale departs from unconscious tragedy to conscious triumph.  In season three of Twin Peaks, as in season one, Dale Cooper’s dream was a code, waiting to be broken – and, as before, breaking the code led him to solve the riddle of the season’s central mystery.

Written by 25YL

This article was written either by a Guest Author or by an assortment of 25YL staff


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  1. Interesting read, but like many of the theories out there, probably too much of a stretch and reliant on things which weren’t shown or heard on screen. Also, it has been confirmed that Judy is not “jiao dei” , but “jowday”. And since the Return wasn’t written or filmed with 18 parts in mind (or any episodic structure at all) theories pertaining to major plot points relating to part numbers aren’t valid. Remember that Lynch said to look at the donut, not the hole. This is interesting, but it’s mostly the hole.

  2. Some good analysis here. I like it. I think I may ultimately have a different reading, but I like the idea that the last 90 minutes is a dream. Still scratching my head about many other things. I am reluctant to think Judy can be defeated. She is a part of nature, i.e., “the evil that men do.” She cannot be eradicated, but she can be denied (and I think the Sarah Palmer scenes at end of Pt 17 indicate she was). I also still very much want to find a way to allow Laura some agency in her story. This is just my two cents.This is the kind of essay I really like to read. Thanks for writing it.

  3. The insight that Judy is manifesting as various women during the closing dream is an intriguing perspective. “Is it you?” now has a renewed resonance and suggests Cooper exhibited a subconscious suspicion of Diane’s identity within the dream at the time he posed the question. Thanks for this thorough and insightful analysis!

  4. this mostly works for me but i’d combine it with the idea of the doppelganger universe which is indicated by the Dale/Richard identity shift. i’m resistant to a lot of the Judy action because i think the sudden assignment of that name to an ancient evil force on which the Blue Rose taskforce has been focused all this time was too much of a deus ex machina. (or at least Cole was focused. his whole staff thought they were investigating something else, apparently) However, the superimposed face of Copper absolutely has to signal something and it’s really from the moment it appears that every expectation we’d have for the plot and characters suddenly is undermined. maybe this is similar to the way Jeffries just vanishes from the FBI offices in FWWM. Maybe the second Diane at the motel is the real one and the other red haired Diane has been some kind of decoy or trick to send Cooper on the pointless quest to the doppelganger world.
    A lot of the super convenient and neat way everything is wrapping up from the moment Cooper comes to in the hospital could be due to the Fireman’s gambits all falling into place. There’s still a lot of way too sudden reveals that just don’t ring true or seem to fit the mechanics of the story up to then. it’s like part 17 is too tidy and almost cartoonish and then 18 threatens to reverse the whole thing. maybe when Dale wakes up the next time it’s back to a different point in the plot than the sheriff station. maybe its the hospital again or even earlier.

  5. I really enjoyed this take, as I have enjoyed other intricate theories. The one question I have for you is what’s your interpretation of when Coop asks Naido-turned-Diane “do you remember everything?” This was a key piece of evidence in another theory and I can’t figure out why he would ask that in terms of your theory.

  6. I think you’re onto something that Naido is not Diane and I think even the part about Naido inducing the dream might be true. I’m not convinced that Naido is Judy, though. If Judy is this supreme evil force, she’s not terribly effective. Naido seems to be afraid of Mr. C’s presence, but seems to want to help Cooper. I think she’s some kind of agent of the White lodge, just like the Woodsman are of the Black lodge. She’s leading Cooper on the journey to find some version of Laura to bring her home and awaken her. Perhaps the mission is to get Judy to leave the Palmer house. When Judy knows that Carrie/Laura is aware of her presence in the house, she has to leave. Maybe the point is not to save Laura, but to save Sarah Palmer from her purgatory. With Judy out of the Palmer house, Sarah can accept her grief and not live in a constant loop of torture.

  7. If Naido is Judy, how do you account for Andy’s dialogue after he reappears at Jack Rabbit’s Palace? “We need to get her down the mountain. She’s very important, and there are people that want her dead. She’s fine physically. We need to put her in a cell where she’ll be safe.” It sounds like he wants to put her in protective custody. Are you suggesting that Andy’s words are a ruse to keep Naido quiescent as he puts her in jail?

  8. Excellent. All pieces (every single one of them) will never add up neatly, but almost all of the last hour and a half of the Return points in this direction, to which I agree.

    I had the Cooper dreamer theory myself, based on a different trigger, but I did not find it anywhere else confirmed but here. My cue was the FBI pin. Cooper loses that with his shoes when entering the 3 socket in part 3. It is not obvious, but you can hear the cling, and dougie does not have it.

    The pin strongly reinforces this theory. Cooper lost it in the mauve zone, and it should not return to his suit out of the blue (rose ;). Still, as soon as he steps in (the dream) with “Diane” (a living impersonation of the red room) and Gordon, he has it again. Why? Because it is part of his projection of himself, the FBI special agent. He keeps it all the way to the end, and at Judy’s it is inverted – yet another dream mechanic to show things are out of the “normal” logic.

    During his dream journey (I believe Judy is just part of the force driving Coop, the most is his own “right every wrong” dream), Cooper tries to make various ammends to previous events. He walks out of the lodge in control (that same “door” he now unlocks with a move of the hand was shut in part 2, and a locked sound is heard, but not now), in the same spot he entered it, Glastonbury Grove.

    He tries to undo the rape trauma by “friendly” sex with Diane, fails, but still. He wonders through a world of reminiscent memories or previous dreams, including (that’s right, you pinned it!) HIS image of TP, not the current TP, RR is a strong indication to that.

    He is oblivious to many a thing he would never ignore in his lucid state, and does many a thing the lucid Coop would never do. He is bound on one thing – saving Laura and taking her “home” , whether home is the WL, or her actual home.

    The whole setting is standard dream world environment, similar to the Mulholland Drive one. As Audrey so well put it 25y ago: Isn’t it too dreamy? Silence, faded music, eerie, slow pace, self centered action (the persona of the dreamer never leaves the focus, also typical for dreams).

    The pin, the dream logic and mechanics, the wishful thinking behind every action, all point in the direction you so excellently analyzed. The awakening with electricity and a scream, as seen before, also perfectly fits in.

    This article made me think, someone is awake. 100%. Finally.

  9. I searched and found this article after I realized that the Dougie scenes we saw were Cooper’s dream, and that everything from when the super of Cooper appears in the sheriff’s office is also a dream. I can’t say I can get my head around all your theories, but that these scenes are Cooper’s dreams I agree with.
    Another thing struck me – when Andy is downstairs at the cells and says “I’ve got to get you all upstairs”, he doesn’t bring the drunk upstairs. Also, no one reacted to the drunk except Chad. I wonder if only Chad could see the drunk, and if his purpose was to delay Chad? And why does he seem so much like the Billy that Audrey was talking about? Is her situation linked to this somehow?

    • Here are some extra pieces of info, from several sources post finale (final dossier and the making of).

      1. Judy is either possessing or actually IS Sarah Palmer.

      This is suggested by Mark Frost in the final dossier book, when in the final chapter “Today” refers to the girl from New Mexico as Sarah Judith Novack Palmer. The Judith middle name is quite self-evident as a reference to Judy.

      2. The “reality of TP as we knew it is altered after Cooper’s disappearance from the sherrif’s office.

      In the final dossier, put together by agent Tamara Preston, Tammy, she addresses Gordon telling him about the events, and how Cooper and him found themselves in the engine room of the Great Northern, after which Cooper disappeared again, and for good, in a dark hallway.

      Then she goes on to say she did some research on the Laura case, and found no mention of her murder in the local gazette, and Cooper’s coming to TP was briefly mentioned only for the investigation of the disappearance of Laura, not murder, ending up in a cold trail.

      3. “Then it’s off to neverland” – indications of David Lynch during the making of the scene where Gordon and Coop call out to each other, then lights go off, and it’s off to neverland.

      To me, an old time Metallica fan, this sounded like the line from Enter Sandman, take my hand, we’re off to never, neverland. Might be the world of dreams Lynch refers to.

      Putting these together, and not abandoning the dream theory, it could be that while cooper slips into his own dreamworld after the sheriff’s station scene, his dream also alters reality and creates a parallel timeline – we live inside a dream.

      In this dream, Cooper is the dreamer and main character, and he pursues (without real success) his dream of saving Laura and tracking down Judy. The metaphorical “going home” from the woods, where “home” was the White Lodge with the Fireman, where Laura was created, is interrupted by Judy, via Sarah’s smashing the picture, and so an alternate reality is created.

      A new “going home” follows, where “Carrie” Laura is taken by Cooper, in a dreamworld filled with real life elements – gas stop, Odessa, Judy’s, they are all real.

      A very interesting, but hard to grasp idea is that just as the fictional universe of TP is an escape from the real world universe, also the fictional dream from the movie takes us back to the real world.

      Like the dream from the movie takes the characters to another world, which so happens is the real world – real in reality, but a dream within the movie universe.

      Just as when we dream we travel to “neverlands”, cooper’s dream takes him out of the movie and into real world, which for the movie universe is just as ” fantastic” as the fantasy of the movie is for real world.

      Then he gradually comes back to his known “reality” on the road to waking up, and comes back to TP, only this is not the “nowadays” TP, it is the one in his memory, the only one he knows, from 25y ago.

      Then he wakes up in the final scene.

      It is a lot to take in, but has a lot of nice elements to it. I must admit, upon seeing the finale, I was left saying “what? that’s it? what the hell (with Gordon accent)”.

      But after all the debates and theories, and discussions, I believe the finale is a masterpiece, so deep and almost inextricable, leaving room for the real analysis that a nicely wrapped up ending would have ripped off from the brilliant return of TP.

      I wish I could say I understand it, but am very satisfied with the fact that it is so masterfully done that no matter what theory we like, it will never be THE answer, but just another interpretation of a very option open grandiose finale.

      Cheers to that, and to Lynch’s masterful and artful genius!

  10. Judy (Garland) is the viewer, who enters a dream (which Lynch has previously said is another way to understand a movie – a dreamworld). The source of all evil (action and events) is Judy (the viewer).

    Really, how can Twin Peaks “end” when its viewers don’t want it to end? And if they don’t want it to end, that means they don’t want the murders, other violence, crime related mysteries and horror story elements to end. The Outer Monstrosities will continue to take new forms and play out drama for our amusement. It can’t end until Judy stops watching.

    As for Cooper-Mr. C-Dougie-Richard: which of them is the most “realistic”? Richard. Cooper is the superego ideal, Mr. C the Shadow, Dougie the subconscious preverbal innocent / child. The final unity is Richard. He doesn’t “love” coffee and he isn’t a superhero lawman; he isn’t a violent psychopath; he is no innocent. As some theorize, Richard might be the “real” person who fantasizes Mulholland style the rest of the earlier events. Those theories get a lot darker from there but they make some sense.

    Ultimately though, whether sitting in the film palace with the Fireman or the television studio of the Black Lodge until Judy (Garland) wakes up it will go on, and on, and on… Until even the time in which the events occur become detached from their continuity (“reality”) existing in a kind of mythic timeless void. And here we are.

    What would a Fourth Season actually be about? And if it is reboot or a remake, whether done by Lynch or someone else (don’t be too skeptical, a corporation took Watchmen away from Moore), no matter how entertaining what it actually means is more death, destruction and misery for the inhabitants of the latest iteration of Twin Peaks…

  11. I am not 100% in agreement with everything in your post but I do like the idea of the ending starting with the super Cooper being a dream. Before I considered this, I felt that Part 18 robbed Laura of the happy ending she got at the end of FWWM. But, I’d like to think that the “real” Laura enters the WL after seeing the angel and Carrie Page is a character in Dale Cooper’s dream. This keeps Laura’s original ending in tact.

    I remember reading that Mark Frost said that the ending was ultimately about Cooper’s hubris. I think his shocked realization is that no matter what he does, he will always fail to save Laura just as was the case with Caroline and Annie.

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