David Lynch has a saying when fans ask him about their theories: “What you know is valid.” It doesn’t matter how on-point the theory is with popular opinion or if it’s completely tinfoil hat territory, Lynch believes if you’ve arrived at an answer due to the experiencing of his art that your answer is valid. This is something we should all keep in mind whenever possible.
I’ve been seeing a lot of fan discourse recently where everyone is sharing their pet theories trying to get to the bottom of things, which is good, but then inevitably someone will talk in absolutes and make an assumption that would shut down any other theories outside that assumption. And I’d hate for the loudest assumptions to become “givens” in the fan community before they can be proven one way or the other.
There was a “given” before Season 3 debuted that “you wear the Owl Ring, you die.” Everyone thought this (for over 20 years) because our data sample size was so small we had to misconstrue things. Now we know, thanks to Secret History of Twin Peaks and Season 3 that the ring transports souls to the Red Room, and it appears to grant wearers the power to achieve their strongest goals before sending them into a descent. The only person who automatically died when she put on the ring was Laura Palmer and I posit that’s because that was her strongest desire at the time. But how were we supposed to guess what it did to Jack Parsons, Richard Nixon and Ray Monroe with what we knew from only watching Fire Walk With Me?
A popular “guarantee” right now is that Sarah Palmer is possessed by Judy. The language people use makes that the assumption. Sarah is 100% possessed by Judy. Right? I even covered this last week, but I started off with the qualifier that I was operating under the assumption that the Sumerian god demons is a true backstory for Judy and BOB, and also that the logic jump to Leland and Sarah being their hosts was also a reality. That’s how many qualifiers you need before you can move on because technically we don’t know anything for sure about Judy.
Judy could be a state of mind, or the act of explanation, a force of negativity, or an identity of a possessing demon after all. And Sarah’s only been correlated near Judy because we don’t have enough information. There’s a case just as likely that Sarah’s possessed by the Jumping Man, or one of Judy’s eggs, rather than Judy itself. And there’s huge debate just on whether Sarah was always possessed or if it happened after the original Twin Peaks. So many permutations just involving Sarah Palmer, and so many others just involving Judy, not to mention the ones where Sarah and Judy are tied together, and all of these theories are evenly valid. Because very few of them can be actively disproven.
It can only benefit us to remain open minded as we sculpt our own theories, and not jump to too many conclusions along the way. This is a journey, and our competing ideas can coexist, especially if we remember none of our theories can be 100 percent accurate.
I personally believe Lodge time loops are almost a guarantee, but it’s just as likely there’s one linear story afoot where multiple non-Lodge realities exist at once and they flicker in and out as the frequency changes. One’s Upanishads and the other’s quantum physics, and either can easily work. And there’s another wrinkle in this category: it could be both options at once.
What speaks to you as 100 percent true will not speak to everyone at that level and may not feel valid at all to others. And they’re just as right as you unless they say you’re wrong. I’ll paraphrase Karl Eckler again and say “the only way to be wrong about Twin Peaks is to say you have the only correct answer.”
Multiple realities may or may not exist in Twin Peaks. Multiple timelines may or may not be on play.
Cooper could be a complete fool or a true hero bringing Laura to a date with destroying evil, or it might be irrelevant as it was all a dream. And there may be more or less versions of Cooper present in the story than you think, possibly a unified Cooper in Part 18 or possibly one just beginning to confront his shadow.
The last scene of Season 3 could be in the future or the past, or maybe even the present.
The Carrie version of Laura may know exactly who she is or she may be completely in the dark about the previous part of her life. Or Carrie might not even be Laura in any capacity. Carrie could be a completely different identity altogether, a reincarnation of Laura, or the the identity that hatched from the Golden Laura Orb from Part 8.
And the Golden Laura Orb could just be an organ/sac inside someone just the same as that black BOB sac in DoppelCooper. The Golden Laura Orb could be a symbol rather than a person at all, a symbol of hope that the Fireman was imbuing the world with rather than the creation point of a single identity.
You can make a case for everything I just said and none of it can be disproven regardless of how well the theories do or do not work together. Some ideas are more likely than others, but until more information is presented everything’s going to remain on the table. Technically we still don’t know which parts of Secret History is a forgery and which can be explained by multiple timelines and/or multiple reality interactions.
I’m the resident timequake guy but I’m always at the ready to drop it or repurpose it into better ideas that make more sense, but even it keeps ticking because nothing will explicitly disprove it. Our multiple theories can coexist just like the multiple realities that may or may not be simultaneously or alternatingly present in the Roadhouse.
No matter how strongly I believe in levels of astral and physical realities coexisting together at vortex/portal points, I’m still more than willing to accept the actual answer is multiple realities and timelines crashing into each other instead, or even that the discrepancies merely come from unreliable narrators. Because there’s evidence for those options too.
All of these theories are worth exploring as far down their rabbit holes as they go. There are truths to be unearthed in the Twin Peaks material, and in our own reactions to the material and theories that spring up around it. How it all resonates in us is important. This work is worth doing, and the truths you discover are hard-earned treasures. It just might not yield that same treasure to everyone.
If you catch yourself talking in absolutes, if you see yourself type “Cooper was in the past when he took Carrie to Twin Peaks,” I’d really appreciate it if you changed it to “I think Cooper was in the past when he took Carrie to Twin Peaks.” Just to remind us there’s still more to discover. Allow your language to leave open other possibilities. Because what you know is valid, and what everyone else knows is valid too. And open minds will end up benefiting us all.