Notes from the Bookhouse: Diane’s Dweller on the Threshold

Co-authored by Aaron Hussey & Lindsay Stamhuis


“There is also a legend of a place called the Black Lodge. The shadow self of the White Lodge. Legend says that every spirit must pass through there on the way to perfection. There, you will meet your own shadow self. My people call it The Dweller on the Threshold. But it is said that if you confront the Black Lodge with imperfect courage, it will utterly annihilate your soul.”


Remember the first time you heard those chilling words? It was the first time for many of us that the Twin Peaks mythology broke wide open, way back in the middle of Season 2, before tulpas and theosophy and Jowday and White Sands, New Mexico. And it still has the power to move us to this day, partly because of the mystery of it and partly because of Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) and his retelling of this ancient story. But in the crush of fan theories and the deepening well of mythology that has sprung up around Twin Peaks this year in light of Season 3, and as we mad-dash towards new and more intriguing theories, I have to wonder: have we all forgotten our roots? 

The two-part finale of Season 3 left things pretty wide open in terms of interpretation. So many think pieces and articles and analyses have been printed on the subject of what actually happened, but there hasn’t been much discussion yet of one very intriguing but brief moment in Part 18 — the moment when Diane sees her double outside the motel — and that is where today’s column begins.

A few weeks ago, I approached local Twin Peaks theorist (and fellow Canuck) Aaron Hussey about this idea, and together we ran with it. Aaron did the lion’s share of the legwork, combing through the Parts and mining for nuggets of conversations and observations enough to fill ten articles (don’t worry, folks; I’m working on getting him to write them out for you!) and condensing them into a shared document several pages long filled with notes and quotes and citations from his rewatch. I merely connected the dots that he discovered, so delighted was I to find someone else on the same wavelength as I. (We make a good team.) We’ve since met more people who independently came to similar conclusions about Diane, which only further emboldens us in our suppositions, which you’ll read below. What we present here, we hope, will be a tipping point for our collective contention that Diane Evans met her own Dweller on the Threshold that night at the motel…

What Do We Know?

First, let’s try and lay out some facts. Cooper and Diane meet for the first time in The Return in the Sheriff’s department when Naido turns into Diane in front of Cooper’s eyes following BOB’s defeat. Of course we know that “they” “met” way back in Part 3, but as Naido and the newly-released Cooper. This revelation some thirteen hours later adds a level of poignancy to that Purple World scene, and Naido’s desperate tactile response to Cooper’s presence in the third hour of The Return. But leaving that earlier (or later? Is it future or is it past, indeed…) meeting for now, we see that the absurdity of the Sheriff’s department scene, as pointed out by many, leaves reason to doubt what, if anything, is true. Is it a dream? What’s reality?

If you take it at face value, this is the first time we see them see each other, so let’s stick with that; otherwise we could end up falling down a White Rabbit-sized hole of epic proportions and you may never hear from us again.

Interestingly, in The Final Dossier, Tammy doesn’t mention Naido or Diane at all. Her omission is strange given what we saw happen next, but as far as Tammy is concerned, there was no Diane and there was no Naido. Was she there at all? Or was this some kind of timeline trickery being foisted on us once again? Regardless, we know we saw her at the end of Part 17 when she accompanies Cooper and Gordon to the basement of the Great Northern before Cooper apparently goes back into the Lodge to complete his quest to save Laura, even if she is not mentioned as being present in that scene by Tammy during the compilation of Gordon’s final dossier.

It is worth noting the change in Diane’s hair colour here. Eileen has subtly posited that this could mean there are literally two Dianes (and maybe more?) and certainly we are led to believe that there was a Tulpa Diane before, with white hair, and that this red-headed incarnation is the “real” Diane, locked inside Naido somehow and for some reason at some point in the past. [1]

Cooper’s subsequent slippery timeline adventures take us to the end of Part 17 and set into motion the theories about alternate timelines or realities, evidenced by Laura’s disappearance from the shoreline and finally (apparently) confirmed in The Final Dossier. When he emerges from the curtains and into Glastonbury Grove, it is witnessed not by Hawk (whom we all expected, based on his journey through the woods in Part 2) but by Red-Headed Diane. After confirming their identities to one another, Cooper asks her if she remembers everything; she does.

CooperThis all seems very important. Cooper meets this particular Red-Headed Diane in the woods after his messing around in the past has been completed. The Diane he meets here in the woods may not be the same Diane he saw in Part 17, or even the Diane he narrated his tapes to in Seasons 1 and 2. Maybe the timeline warped around her as it seems to have done with Tammy; it’s equally likely that she is changed as a result of the changes too. In fact, any number of things could be different about her, including whether or not she experienced any trauma at the hands of his doppelganger; just as easily, the things that are the same — such as her red hair — may not actually indicate that she is the same Diane he left in the Sheriff’s station. But who she is exactly doesn’t seem to be the point. The fact is that she remembers, or claims to anyway. It’s not important how or why, but merely that she does. This is all Cooper needs to hear before continuing with his plan, as if her remembrance is crucial for the next step. [2]

One final note about this scene: it’s tantalizing to imagine that the Glastonbury Grove Hawkthat Cooper walked into at the start of Part 18 is not the same one he walked into at the end of Season 2 but one from this parallel universe that he created, or the one from the pocket universe created by Jowday, or even that this isn’t the real world at all but that he’s still trapped in the Lodge, as some have suggested. This could make it entirely possible that it is not the same one that Deputy Hawk went to as well, back in Part 2; that Hawk figured out the right time but was in the wrong timeline to meet Agent Cooper…

Imperfect Courage

But let us back up for a moment. It is widely accepted that Dale Cooper faced the Black Lodge with imperfect courage when he raced in there after Annie and Windom Earle in the Season 2 finale, and that this is the reason he remained trapped there for twenty-five years. John Thorne’s Wrapped in Plastic essay “Half The Man He Used To Be” (which is reprinted in the well-titled “The Essential Wrapped in Plastic”) illustrates how this might have shaken out: Cooper’s pure, “good” half would remain trapped while his “dark” side, complete with his dark desires, roamed freely in the real world.

It’s definitely a sound theory, and holds up beautifully even in light of new information gleaned from The Return. Hawk warned us that meeting your double was a test, and it’s one that Cooper evidently failed. Now we know what the consequences of that were: Mr. C raped two women Agent Cooper was closest to, used his skill to amass a criminal empire that would make the Corleones proud, and left a trail of dead bodies in his wake as he moved through the decades.

All along it seemed that when and if Cooper left the Lodge, he would be required to reunite with his “dark” side, a side of him that he seemed to repress in Seasons 1 and 2 to his own detriment and which, once accepted, would enable him to be a whole person once again. And with the emergence of Agent Cooper into Glastonbury Grove in Part 18 — after “meeting” his double in the Sheriff’s station and dispatching him to the Red Room once again — it would seem as though this came true. Gone is the chipper and cheery Agent Cooper who loves cherry pies and coffee and the scent of Douglas firs, replaced by a more severe and moderated version of our Special Agent in Richard-Cooper; a kind of half-and-half mix of positive and negative, good and bad, pure and evil, (re?)unified in one body.

Diane is the only other character to meet her double in the entire run of Twin Peaks. How did she fare? And what does it mean that she meets her double anyway?

‘Remember 430…Richard and Linda…two birds with one stone’

The moment Cooper and Diane drive across the barrier between this world and the one on the other side, things turn dark. It’s a strange place, a dream-like place, a Lynchian place. It changes the next morning, too, from a decrepit desert motel to a shiny and new motel on a busy thoroughfare; from vintage auto to shiny new sedan; from Cooper and Diane to Richard and Linda. Something isn’t quite right about the nighttime motel, and we believe it’s because it’s not real. When Cooper and Diane drive across at 430, they enter a different world. Not quite the Lodge, maybe, but not far off. Another kind of waiting room. A new Red Room. A space between two worlds.

A threshold.

Diane DwellerReturning to the Season 2 finale for a moment, John Thorne writes extensively about the changes between what was scripted version of that episode and what made it onto the screen. He points out that it seems to have always been Lynch’s intention for the Red Room to be a place accessed not physically but metaphysically, through dreams; having it be a physical location accessed through Glastonbury Grove changes that reading of the Red Room slightly, but Lynch’s dramatic alterations to the script for Episode 29 suggest he was trying to return the Red Room to a place of psychological reflection and, yes, even torment (p. 236.) Robert Engels called it a “metaphysical state” (p 225). If this is true, then there is no need for the Red Room to continue to look like the Red Room we’ve come to expect at all times. Its dimensions and contents could change depending on whose psychological reflection it belonged to.

Is it not possible then that the motel threshold belongs not to Cooper but to Diane? [3]

Diane seeing her double literally standing on the threshold of the motel lobby, while sitting on her own kind of threshold in the car in front of the hotel room she and Cooper take for the night, takes on fascinating dimensions if you view it as her test. She watches herself watching herself. Her double hides behind a pillar, partially lit, partially in shadow. They do not exchange words, but Diane is nervous. She’s not defiant or full of strength; she’s nervous. That’s extremely telling.

What follows this is a love scene that is awkward for many reasons. It is wordless,Cooper:Diane shrouded in darkness, and underscored by a mixed sense of palpable urgency, outright disgust, and tremendous despair. This is not an act of erotic love or passion, nor does it feel like the culmination of years of unrequited feeling; it’s dark, sinister, almost ritualistic, as if it were happening because it has to happen, not because anyone wants it to happen. If this is a projection of Diane’s mental state, perhaps she is living out her desire for intimacy with the man she worked with for so many years, a desire that has been tarnished by the acts of sexual violence she went through at the hands of Mr. C. She has agreed to this because she loved him once, in spite of what she’s gone through at his hands, but she remembers everything after all. And it’s painfully perverted now. She’s having sex with a man who looks almost exactly like the man who raped her. How could it be anything but painfully perverted?

We believe this is Diane’s test. She’s faced her double and turned away nervously, just as Cooper did when he turned and ran from Windom Earle in Episode 29. She’s engaging in an increasingly frantic race towards some finish line, just as Cooper did as he raced through the maze of curtains just steps ahead of his doppelganger.

Cooper didn’t make it out back in Season 2. Here in Part 18, we don’t believe Diane did, either.

More Questions Than Answers

When “Richard” wakes up the next morning, with a note from “Linda” on his bedside table, we believe this represents the whole Cooper waking up and rejoining the real world, altered by his journey through the slipstreams of time so that Laura Palmer is only missing and not dead. We still have questions, though. Was he complete the entire time, or was his completion achieved as a result of consummating his relationship with Diane the night before? If the night before was a projection of Diane’s psychological state, then we suppose the answer is that he was complete the moment he walked out into the Grove, but as with most things in Twin Peaks, this is entirely up for debate.

What was the point of the sexual congress anyway? It’s been suggested that this was all in service of some kind of sex magick ritual along the lines of that described in The Secret History of Twin Peaks as having been performed by Jack Parsons and Marjorie Cameron. They were attempting to summon the Moonchild; is that was Cooper and Diane were attempting, too? Were they successful? You can be the judge of that.

Is this final world that “Richard” and “Carrie” inhabit a world in which Diane exists? If you subscribe to the theory that there is only one world and one timeline that has been altered, and that Tammy and the others simply possess deja vu-like memories of some other series of events, then this is the same world in which Diane was raped by Mr. C and turned into a tulpa, but that events changed around her when Cooper played Mr. Fix-It in the past. This would mean that her tulpa would either change too (in which case…has Red-Headed Diane been the changed tulpa all along?) or would cease to exist (we do see her tulpa returned to the Red Room in Part 16, so perhaps that is evidence for this reading.) Or maybe the Red-Headed Diane is the real Diane, a Diane who was never victimized but who remembers, as Tammy does, a time when she was.

Was Diane ultimately destroyed? This too is debatable, but we don’t see her again in the show, and she is not referred to as anything other than a duplicitous tulpa in The Final Dossier, so it’s possible that she was destroyed, her soul utterly annihilated as Hawk foretold. This begs even more questions. Is she still trapped in the Lodge, the way Cooper was for 25 years? If there are time loops being employed here, is this the moment when her fractured self becomes Naido? We just don’t have the answers to these questions.

But it sure is intriguing to try and figure it out.


[1] Who is Naido, anyway? It was brought up by many that Naido and Diane share phonetic similarities in their names, with Naido being (roughly) Diane backwards; there was also a connection made between Diane’s Asian-inspired decor and clothing and the fact that Naido was played by Japanese actress Nae Yuuki prior to this final transformation. Why Diane was trapped inside Naido, or turned into Naido, is an unanswered question at this point. We don’t know what happens to a person after they are used to manufacture another; perhaps Naido represents this post-manufacturing process entity.

[2] The fact that Diane — or rather half of her — is seen floating inside an egg-sac shape within the Red Room is also mysterious and tantalizing. This is not the White-Haired tulpa that we saw before but Red-Haired Diane who is supposedly Cooper’s partner in crime during the first half of Part 18. That she is seen in the Red Room doesn’t bode well, as it could suggest she’s (still?) trapped there, or that half of her is. It may be because of some connection to Judy/Jowday and her potential master plan to trick Cooper into rescuing Laura from within a pocket universe. These are all ideas we haven’t time to explore in depth here, but it is worth thinking about.

[3] This would lead nicely into the reading that Audrey’s construction of the Roadhouse and her home with Charlie was some kind of similar Lodge-related projection, her own Red Room. Behind the scenes video from the recently-released Blu-ray special features show Sherilyn Fenn in costume as Audrey Horne, wearing an Owl Cave ring. Could this be a subtle indication that she’s been in the Lodge the entire time?


Aaron Hussey is a long time Peaker (kicked it old school on Bravo back in the day). He’s crazy about hockey, the outdoors and all things Canadian in the Great White North (Muskoka, ON). When he’s not pontificating about Twin Peaks, he spends his days working in social work/services. He hopes he’ll be around for another 25 years to unpack this mystery!

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6 Replies to “Notes from the Bookhouse: Diane’s Dweller on the Threshold”

  1. i think if we stick with the show’s internal logic as it existed before we got surprised with the time travel gambit, what we saw was Cooper and Diane driving into the doppelganger dimension. since everyone apparently has a double, those doubles must come from somewhere and could plausibly have lives of their own. maybe they’re not exactly evil, just sort of opposite to us in our dimension. Diane sees hers at the motel. at that point, her doppelganger can just walk up the road and the swap is done, or Diane can gamble that she has some time there before she’s trapped by the rules of doppelganger exchange. we don’t know which one goes to bed with Cooper but i feel like the most happy ending scenario would have Diane returning to her home dimension and her double performing the strangely ritualistic sex and then bailing out.

  2. I SO appreciated this post! Last week I stumbled across one guy’s theory and it all revolved around Richard (!!!), and he basically said that most of the film was thin air and all of it a dream—of Richard’s. To make his case he had to invent a lot of stuff that we never saw or were led to believe. Not that he is wrong (who am I to say), but the theory ultimately frustrated me because it seemed to imply that there was nothing “real” in the film. He wanted to rewrite it according to his inferences from it. Ugh! So thank you again. 😊

    Best to all of you!
    Vicki

    1. it isn’t difficult to theorize that the whole thing is Richard’s dream and you don’t need anything outside of the show to do it. He wakes up in that motel room. nothing after we see the ‘Dear Richard’ letter indicates that his name is anything but Richard. he doesn’t behave like either Dale or Doppelcooper. We don’t know why he knows that Carrie works at Judy’s. the entire device of everybody’s-name-is-different and other bits of location and plot points tying in via dream-logic has absolutely appeared before in Lynch’s work. it’s the easiest explanation and therefore the most likely. However, we were then given more material suggesting the altered timeline and can’t just ignore that. i have to say that to me it really looked like that very cop-out and i was pretty sure we’d all just waited 25 years for some guy to wake up. if Bobby Ewing had stepped out of the bathroom it would have been no surprise. i still don’t really like the sudden sci-fi plot twist, but that’s easier to accept than the whole thing being a dream so i’m going with it.

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