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Laura Palmer is in the White Lodge’s Witness Protection Program

And Her New Identity is Modeled After Shelly Johnson

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Carrie Page is an identity whose name may or may not be a silly reference to a still-missing fourth diary page. I don’t have an angle on that at all. But I am massively confident she’s a created name to keep Laura Palmer safe by (most likely) the Fireman’s team in a form of witness protection program. Why am I so hot on the idea that Laura Palmer is in the White Lodge witness protection program? There are two reasons, and one is in the Lodge world while the other is in the material world.

First of all, the detectives Fusco mention the concept in regards to Dougie Jones. They assume his having no records previous to 1997 means he’s probably in the witness protection program. It’s the only time the phrase is mentioned, but usually the throwaway comments from the comedic characters (I’m looking at you, Andy, Lucy, and Jacoby) mean massively important thematic things if you look at it closer. The goofball detective brothers are likely in that same camp, though only for one specific purpose: to get you to understand the concept is in play in the material world.

And, with everything Twin Peaks, as below so above. Witness protection just looks a bit different when you’re dealing with the Lodge types. Such as Naido being the (uncomfortably whitewashed) cover identity for Diane. That scene in Part 17 shows us the result of the witness protection program when it’s Lodge-style. You literally become a new identity. Diane needed entire physical reconstruction to remain safe from DoppelCooper, but as far as how Laura Palmer’s Carrie Page goes into the program, she just needed to be hidden in an out-of-the-way metaphorical house in a life she felt comfortable enough in. And that brings us to Shelly Johnson.

Good choice, Laura!

The Shelly Johnson connections

As a seventeen year-old girl stolen out of her Lodge loop (Yes, I still think she’s in a Lodge loop) that looked just like Fire Walk With Me except in black and white, something comfortable to her is somewhere where she’s not being abused by an evil entity. She doesn’t need much more than that, because she can handle anything else. She probably thought Shelly Johnson was a bit of a Pollyanna type who just got involved with the wrong guy, so why not be in a life like that. If she needed to stay put, a simple job in a simple diner would do just fine. And if she needed to be with a Leo, so be it. I mean after all, The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer shows us that Laura is partying and sleeping with him already anyway. She can handle a Leo of her own. Leo’s no BOB. He’s a much easier situation to deal with.

What are some of the hallmarks that really make me recognize similarities between Shelly Johnson and Carrie Page besides both blatantly being diner waitresses? Here’s a few of them.

Carrie’s front yard is as dead as the Johnson house was unfinished. Both houses are incomplete. And thematically, there’s that whole part that Shelly’s house was wrapped in plastic. Maybe this house (as a reflection of that other house) wraps around Carrie and there’s a metaphor where under the surface Laura knows the state she was in when she died and in a way replicated it. It’s a reach, but if your soul remembers things (and both Lynch’s Hinduism and Frost’s Theosophy bents believe this to be true), I would not be shocked if this is another way for the power within Laura to assert itself and not take her situation passively. She will not forget what happened to her, no matter which identity she’s given.

The abusive husband type appears to be present. The dead Leo type in Carrie’s house is played by the same actor who played the less-wordy loan shark enforcer told off by Janey-E fairly early in The Return. [EDIT: while their look is similar, the actor absolutely did not play this Part 18 role…the connection may be visually thematic, but is not literal.] He was a low-level shady guy in that real world and likely the same kind of guy in the Lodge reality. And it’s the same level Leo was at in his criminal pursuits when we met him in Season 1. I’m not saying the loan enforcer character was the same character exactly that was in Carrie’s house, but the symbol of him is.

One of the few patches of dialogue involving Carrie has her saying “I tried to keep a clean house, keep everything organized,” and the first time watching this I thought for sure her next line was going to be “smoked only one brand of cigarettes.” That’s how instinctively close Carrie Page is linked to Shelly Johnson in my head. I wasn’t even hunting for links, they came to me. And it’s possible that the next line she says, “I was too young to know any better,” could be about her choosing a life like Shelly’s to exist in. And it could be another one of those moments where she’s remembering herself after so long not doing so.

And let’s not forget the fact the Leo substitute’s dead. Laura takes care of her Leo-sized problem. Shelly shoots with her eyes closed. Differences, sure, but not by much. Let’s file this one as Laura taking one giant step in the right direction of shoveling herself out of her sh*t.

Why do I think the Lodge is involved in this?

Not to beat a dead horse, but I’ll remind you again that Cooper entered this reality through an 8 that was originated from the Owl Ring symbol, as sure a direct line to the Red Room as ever there was. So he was in there already when Cooper was seeking her out.

Also there’s telltale signs related to Audrey. There’s forgetting yourself, but that could be anyone. There’s constantly being fixated on “did you find him?” There’s “do I need a coat,” admittedly the most tenuous line to draw. But those are just tells of similarity to prime the pump for the real comparison: when Audrey arrived at the symbol for the Roadhouse, she basically woke up from her situation into a whole different realm. Carrie left her house and arrived at the symbol for the Palmer house, and she heard her mother call for her and she screamed electricity out of the world. Both of these leaving-the-house stories are similar enough that I’d say they’re in the same reality. And what’s the affiliation most noticeably present in Audrey’s situation? The backwards music, playing as if the Lodgespeaking folks are listening to it.

Back to Carrie’s house, its color scheme is a may-as-well-be-white pink, with a white fence, but these are superficial aspects. Its color scheme is possibly a shade of the Red Room or White Lodge, or some in between territory like the purple room. But the color scheme is more superficial than anything. It’s the Lodge surveillance system in it that I’m most concerned with.


The horse is the white of the eye. There is a black circular plate with a horse dead center in front of it. If the horse is in relation to an eye, and they literally make an inverted eye shape on the mantle, that’s a damn eye watching Carrie’s house. Argue with me if you want but I’m not budging on this one. Someone is literally keeping an eye on Carrie’s house, and that to me likens to a home security alarm system. I understand those cameras are on the outside of the house and only at entrances, but when you’re tasked with making sure someone remains safe and you’re in a metaphysical space anyway, the more cameras you have where you can ensure their whereabouts the better (and you better believe I’m bringing this aspect back up when I return to my The Prisoner analysis). Frank, an astute reader who posted in the comments for the first part of this exploration, mentioned to me that there are a ton of horses in the earlier Judy’s Diner scene, and he’s not kidding. There’s a white horse right outside, one of the kind you put some quarters in and your toddler can ride on for a minute while it goes up and down. There are a lot of horse pictures in frames on the inside, but most appear to be brown Horses. The one outside could easily be keeping an eye on when Carrie comes and goes, but all the horses inside? The verdict is out, but let’s make a case they are seeing eyes. Pictures in frames—like the indestructible Laura homecoming photo—have power. Some—like the painting the Chalfont/Tremonds give to Laura in Fire Walk With Me—are most likely portals. All these framed horse pictures could very well keep every angle of that diner in frame for whoever needs to see. And who do we see actually monitoring things from a screen? This guy:


The Fireman definitely has some kind of plan

I don’t know what the Fireman’s plan is, but it could go all sorts of ways. The most interesting ones I’ve come across so far being David Auerbock’s Cage Theory over at and T. Kyle King’s We Live Inside a Dream right here at 25YL. Honestly, I don’t even want to make a guess myself because I’m just not there yet. But I do know he has a plan. The golden Laura orb from Part 8 tells me that much. If you had to pin me down to something, that orb scene’s either him sending Laura into her new witness protection life in Odessa’s past, or he’s sending that homecoming photo to the Palmer House and it acts as a portal (which goes to the purple room, and the knocking of mother is explained by Sarah Palmer trying to destroy the picture and therefore open up a gateway to that place, but that’s a subject for another column, I promise). But the why of the plan is something I’m not touching.

I think it’s possible that Laura’s been through her repeating cycle a little too often and she’s possibly forgotten herself. Maybe the Fireman did too good a job, giving Laura a place to heal after being beaten down so long by her life and her life’s repeating cycles. Maybe the Fireman knew that for Laura to finally be able to heal, she needed to be removed from her cycle and she actually needed to be placed into a dormant state until she stopped focusing on the aspects of herself that kept her (Theosophy-named) lower astral matter in play. Maybe she’d never end up leaving behind her lower astral matter because she couldn’t forget what happened to her, a form of spiritual PTSD let’s say. Maybe she needed a fresh start for a while just like Dale needed while inside CooperDougie. She needed a rinse, a recalibration. Maybe she was, in her own way, absorbing energy and her humanity. Maybe Laura also went through a period of re-learning how to use a body, experiencing kindness from strangers, and before she really fell in with the Leo substitute maybe she too experienced the freshness similar to enlightened being territory. You know, before she started to remember herself because she’s such a strong force of will and agency.

Okay, so maybe I did have a take on the Fireman’s plan, who knew? Maybe it was comparatively smaller stakes that the confrontation with true evil like Gordon Cole was saying. Maybe true evil in this case was keeping Laura Palmer from being able to save herself. And maybe to the world the odds of this one person’s troubles being as large as they are is pretty small, it may not be much to the grand scheme of the world, but to this one person with a life she didn’t deserve, her troubles were as omnipresent as the world, and 100% of her world view. To Laura, her struggle was as omnipresent as it comes. And maybe the Fireman (and his team) wanted to right a wrong and help her.


Dale had the power over Laura to snap her out of her state by mentioning her own “remember Richard and Linda” trigger names of Sarah and Leland, but in every other way, Laura’s in charge.

That Leo substitute is sitting not unlike DoppelCooper was in the lodge when the doppelganger was being consumed by flames. And the blood behind the man is in a similar range to where the darkness cloud exudes from tulpas Dougie and Diane before their essences lump into a precious metal. And then there’s the protruding stomach area that may as well be a BOB sac. I think this appearance is less about being DoppelCooper’s in Lodge reflection and more about why Cooper doesn’t do anything about the man when he collects Laura for his mission. Even if Cooper recognized that husk as his own atrophied astral matter, there’s nothing you should do about It but let it lie apart from yourself, whether it’s left you recently or sometime in your future. Touching it, acknowledging it, only activates your sh*t and there’s no moving on if you need to start digging all over again.

And whether or not that is a reflection of DoppelCooper, it is an echo of that sort of entity and I think there’s something to be said for Carrie’s implied ability of having command over Cooper’s shadow nature as well. And that it’s implied she’s able to kill it. Much as she whispers to him in the Lodge, Laura always has dominance over Cooper. She always knows more than he does. Always.

But writing as I am seems to simplify the issue a little too much. I still think Dale and Laura are in repetitious time loops as they shovel themselves out of their sh*t. Laura’s close to finishing her job, especially after that break as someone else, and Dale’s just getting started, but the scenes we see of them in Part 18 is them with their shovels, probably simultaneously working some job for the Fireman while they work on healing themselves as well.

Why do I think Laura’s still got digging to do? Because the phone rang in her witness protection house. It was her proverbial Charlie calling, to keep her from going with Cooper, to force her hand into staying inside the house. To keep her from fully remembering.

But whoever called was too late because, as always, Laura’s stronger than that. When she makes up her mind, she doesn’t let anything stop her. And maybe that means not even herself, thanks to having a little help from outside herself this time.


Next time, I have no idea what I’ll be writing about other than it’ll be related to The Final Dossier. I’m sure I’ll have a thing or two to say about timequake theory, maybe some compare/contrast points between it and Secret History. I bet the odds are good though that I’ll go Deer Meadow Radio on it and make it at least a five-part exploration. I’m excited for this book, and I have high expectations that this thing is going to be densely packed with puzzles for interested minds like mine. And I’m ready to get to work.

Take care until then, and let me know in the meantime what you think about this column. I’ve been working on this essay’s idea since September 15th and I can’t wait to get other opinions in the mix.

Written by John Bernardy

John Bernardy has been writing for 25YL since before the site went public and he’s loved every minute. The show most important to him is Twin Peaks. He is husband to a damn fine woman, father to two fascinating individuals, and their pet thinks he’s a good dog walker.


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  1. With your talk of photo frames as portals or viewing windows, I would have thought you’d mention the wall art in Laura’s room where the guardian angel disappears.

    • I thought I did, just credited it as a portal to the dutchman/convenience store. Since it’s the same hallway….probably should’ve brought up the angel but I’m less versed in FWWM than the rest of the episodes and books.

      • Love the “horse-is-the-white-of-the-eye” observation, the figurine set before the black plate! That’s spot-on. However my impression of the “horse” image … especially as it’s associated with Sarah Palmer’s visions, and the advent of the Woodsmen in Part 8 … is that this is a symbol for “Judy.” Could the Odessa-world (our — the audience’s world, what with the VHS tape in Carrie’s home?) be the place to which Judy whisked Laura , to keep her imprisoned?

        • Thanks for the comment, Steve. I think the Judy angle is just as reasonable as anything else, I was just going for something more internal for a struggle, plus the Judy angles have been done as far as I can imagine them so I wanted to explore some other options. I really feel good about the witness protection angle, probably to be hidden away from Judy, but just as reasonably to hide her away from herself while she resets and heals. Since none of us can prove any answers I thought it’d be fun to try something new and I liked it. If you still like the Judy angle more, have no fear, I’m not trying to discredit it.

  2. Interesting stuff. Can I query the statement about “Lynch’s Buddhism” as I am fairly certain he does not claim any affiliation to Buddhism. He’s into Transcendental Meditation but that’s really nothing to do with Buddhism. He has spoken enthusiastically about, and alluded to, the Upanishads and other Hindu mythologies. Are you maybe getting your contemplative traditions a bit blurry?

    • Absolutely got them blurry, thanks for calling me out on that. I have no idea why I insist on transposing those two but I do it much more often than I wish.
      Changing it in the article too

  3. Very interesting. Thanks for writing this. It definitely gives me a certain clarity of feelings about a lot things, relating to twin peaks and to my own personal life.

  4. just wanted to point out that gordon referred to jao dai as a “negative energy” not an “evil energy”. i find, personally, that viewing things as “creation vs destruction” instead of “good vs evil” fits the thematics of twin peaks and frost/lynchian thinking much better and is a subtle but important “flavour” twist to the entities and energies at play in the tp world. loving your posts, yrev much.

  5. I always thought it was odd that Carrie did not run a mile from Cooper or Richard or whoever he was supposed to be. Then again there was a dead man in her living room which Cooper chooses to ignore and Carrie herself admits that she needs to escape. Even at the Palmer house she simply goes along with Cooper. I also think that Carrie is a lot smarter than viewers give her credit for, maybe not in the same league as Laura but she definitely is not as dim as she first appears. Maybe Carrie’s parents really are called Leland and Sarah , but even when she doesn’t recognise the Palmer house she still doesn’t run away from Cooper. Maybe her scream ends the reality Judy has created for her.
    Then again maybe Even after 25 years Laura Palmer and Dale Cooper are still in the Red Room or worse yet have been transported to yet another reality or dimension.

  6. I gotta say, I think you are way off with this one.  Laura herself was a waitress at the RR, so there’s no need to posit a Shelly Johnson origin for this aspect of Carrie Paige’s life story.  Shelly’s mockery of Laura’s funeral (!!!) in Season 1 suggests that their relationship was most likely pretty frosty.  And wouldn’t Laura most likely have looked down upon Shelly while alive, since she knew she was giving Leo something Shelly couldn’t?  Similarly, since Dougie/Dale wasn’t actually in Witness Protection, there’s no need for that aspect of his life story to be reflected in a Lodge reality.

    More importantly, this interpretation ignores the clues that imply Carrie Paige is a tulpa.  She’s been missing 3 days (like Dougie pre-switch) and she’s been attacked by a Black Lodge assassin (like Dougie post-switch).  Given the fact that Laura-with-short-hair arrived to help Cooper go out of the Lodge, it’s likely that Carrie arrived to do the same thing.  The phone call could have been a means to this end: the tulpa and Richard/Dale have made contact, so extraction via telephone can proceed.  Charlie never had to use a phone to keep Audrey in place – he was right there blocking the exit.  If anyone in this situation is like Charlie, it’s Richard/Dale!  

    In my view, Richard/Dale is the one diverting Carrie from her true mission.  He insists that she’s Laura Palmer and almost gets her to believe it.  He’s spreading the darkness of future past over her mind, doing the work of the Black Lodge, because he lacks sufficient self-knowledge to recognize that he contains remnants of Mr. C within him.  We can only imagine what took place within the Valero gas station, but there’s every reason to believe that going there was Richard/Dale’s idea.

    I realize that I view Laura’s ascension in FWWM as decisive/complete, so we’re unlikely to agree on the intention behind any of Laura’s Season 3 actions.  But I’m genuinely mystified: what makes you say that Carrie is one the one leading Richard/Dale to Twin Peaks, WA?

    • If Laura was tucked away in lodgespace for safety purposes, which is what this one’s exploring, it’s keeping her away from remembering herself. I think like Audrey’s thing, these lodge scenarios are created by people’s understandings of themselves, and people set up traps so they don’t remember what they don’t want to/aren’t ready to remember. And the setup Carrie was in seems like just such a construction. And Laura’s strong enough to see through the construction. At least I’d hope so. At the time I wrote this I was grasping for any kind of Laura agency I could. I’ve gotten my take on Carrie streamlined to my current thinking (as of almost a year after I wrote this) in my column #21.

  7. Thanks for this piece! Finally one that matches my views on the final happenings in season 3. So many people seem to fixate on a doomed ending, one where Cooper failed yet again as he is trying to save the girl. It never felt like that to me. To me the scream at the end is Laura awakening to her complete self and her full potential, ready to fulfill her role as ‘the one’ who is going to break the downward spiral of negative energy.
    I agree with the ‘witness protection’ idea. The fireman has a plan and Cooper does his part and executes his orders. He wasn’t trying to save Laura on his own, but rather extracting her as part of the Fireman’s plan. Think about how Fire departments fight fires. First step is often to water the outside of the building to prevent spreading and to safeguard adjacent buildings. Then they focus on the actual fire inside the building. Controlling the spread of a fire is the first thing you should do even before exiting the building, I.e. keeping doors and windows closed to reduce oxygen flow. Same here…by extracting Laura from the timeline, the fireman is starving the ‘fire of negative energy’ of oxygen, to weaken the fire and stop it from spreading. This enraged the entity channeling through Sarah Palmer, resulting in the attack on the framed picture. By the way, I love the image of that being ‘mother’ banging on the portal door. Once Laura is safely tucked away in an alternate reality, Cooper is sent in again. Yet another extraction, this one to ‘activate’ Laura and shift the fire fighting focus on from containment to putting out the fire from the inside out.

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