The Secret History of Twin Peaks: Oh, What A Tangled Web – Reporting on Reporter Robert Jacoby (Secrets and Mysteries, Part 4)

There are a lot of brothers featured in Twin Peaks [1]. Ben and Jerry Horne. Doug and Dwayne Milford. Jacques, Bernard and Jean Renault. Even Tim and Tom Pinkle. In My Life, My Tapes we learned that Agent Cooper had a brother, Emmet. The Secret History introduced a couple more brothers to already established characters. Sheriff Harry S. Truman took over the job from his brother Frank. The name of James Hurley’s father, brother to Big Ed, was revealed to be Billy (a popular name in Season 3). And Dr. Lawrence Jacoby had a brother Robert.

After Doug Milford, Robert Jacoby might be the most important new character introduced in The Secret History. He plays a fundamental backstory role as a reporter for the town newspaper, with several of his articles preserved in the Archivist’s dossier. His book is the source material that fills in the history of the town’s founding families. He’s also a bit of a mysterious figure himself, with a small pile of “discrepancies” to his story and stories of those who are linked to him.

Family History and Timeline

Here is what we can piece together of the early history of the Jacoby brothers. Their father was named Richard (another popular name in Season 3) and their mother was named Esther. Robert is identified by Tamara Preston as being the older brother to Lawrence. In 1939, the family moved to Hawaii, beginning a life-long love of the islands, for Lawrence at least. A year later, the parents abruptly divorced. The reason is unknown, but shortly thereafter Esther changed her name to Leilani. Does this hint at a problem on the mother’s side? Perhaps. Because a year after that, Richard returned to Twin Peaks with Robert in tow, while Leilani and Lawrence stayed behind in Hawaii. If something cracked in the mother (also popular as a theme in Twin Peaks), Lawrence was left alone with her to deal with it as he grew up.

One curious bit in all of this is that Richard was in the Navy. The move to Hawaii in 1939 is attributed to his being stationed there. However, prior to that he was in Twin Peaks, and two years later he returned to Twin Peaks. If he was newly enlisted, that was a pretty quick tour of duty, especially with WWII going on. If he was career, what Navy assignment could he have held at land-locked Twin Peaks? The nearby real world Fairchild Air Force Base, located outside Spokane, WA, would not come into being until 1942 [2], and nearby fictional Unguin Air Force Base wasn’t established until the late 1940s, per the Access Guide. Was he some sort of spook like Doug Milford?

Robert moved back to Hawaii for his senior year of high school, so he did not graduate from Twin Peaks High School. Not many kids would willingly leave behind all their friends and start completely anew in their last year of school, so we can presume this move was necessitated by another life changing event. Richard is not mentioned again, however Lawrence says that when he moved back to Twin Peaks in 1981, it was to be with his only surviving relative at the time, Robert. So perhaps Richard died sometime around Robert’s junior and senior year, and Robert had to move back with his mother and brother. Or perhaps there’s a happier version where Richard and Leilani got back together. (In Twin Peaks? Nah.)

Lawrence made the move back to Twin Peaks after the death of their mother, sometime in or just before 1981. He moved to Twin Peaks not just to be near his brother, but also to help take care of him. Robert had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) by this time. He would eventually die of complications from MS in 1986. His remains were cremated and scattered over Pearl Lake in Twin Peaks. Lawrence kept a portion of his brothers “cremains”, and scattered those over Hanalei Bay in Hawaii when he returned there in 1989. Their mother’s ashes were also scattered there years before.

The Mystery of Robert Jacoby’s Birth

This should be straight forward, right? After all, the bulletin from his funeral, included in Archivist’s dossier, says he was born on May 8, 1931 and died on November 19, 1986. In The Final Dossier, Agent Preston says that Lawrence Jacoby launched his live podcast, “The Dr. Amp Blast”, in 2006, just after he turned 70. The places his year of birth as 1936. Five years after his older brother was born in 1931. This makes a decent amount of sense.

However, in his last article for the Twin Peaks Post, “If These Woods Could Speak”, Robert says that he met Margaret Coulson in the 3rd grade, where he was originally seated behind her. Margaret was born in 1940, per Dr. Dan Hayward’s patient intake form from the day after her abduction, making Robert 9 years her senior. Yet, he also reports that he and Margaret had dated off and on during high school. Presumably they weren’t 9 years apart at that point, or it would have been quite the scandal, perhaps even criminally so.

Of course, the Twin Peaks Gazette article “All’s Well That Ends Well” that chronicles the disappearance and safe return Margaret, Carl Rodd and Alan Traherne in the fall of 1947 was written by, you guessed it, none other than staff reporter Robert Jacoby. Pretty intrepid for a 3rd grader, but less so if he was 16 at the time. 16 years old might sound a bit early to be writing for the town newspaper, but recall that 20 years earlier Andrew Packard also wrote an article, “Our Strange Camping Trip”, for the Twin Peaks Gazette at age 16 as well.

In that article “If These Woods Could Speak”, Robert concludes his career saying that chronicling the lives and stories of the people of Twin Peaks has been his “honor and privilege for nearly fifty years now”. That was written in 1986. So let’s interpret “nearly fifty years” as 49 years. That would mean he began his career as a reporter in 1937 – at age 6! Obviously impossible. If we pull a familiar number out of the air and say he was 16 when he began his newspaper career, then he would have been born in 1921, not 1931, making him a more believable age 26 in 1947 when he wrote “All’s Well That Ends Well”.

So we have three possible Roberts. Robert Jacoby born around 1921, reporter for nearly 50 years. Robert Jacoby born in 1931, older brother of Lawrence. Or Robert Jacoby born around 1940, classmate and friend to Margaret. To quote Gordon Cole: “What the hell!?”

It’s almost as if there is a baseline Robert Jacoby born in 1931, however when his path crosses Margaret’s path, things get slippery. In 1947, the older than baseline Robert wrote the article about the younger than baseline Robert’s childhood friend Maggie. In 1986, the younger Robert reminisces about meeting her in 3rd grade, while the older Robert reminisces about a career of nearly 50 years. He even says in that 1986 article that she is his “dear friend of over forty years”, which would mean they met even prior to third grade in 1947.

The Mystery of Robert Jacoby’s Death

Again, this should be straight forward, but it isn’t quite. Much of the Jacoby brothers’ story collaborates well around Robert’s death in 1986. In 1981, Lawrence returned to Twin Peaks to take care of Robert, who had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Robert, now editor of the Twin Peaks Post, writes his article to “set the record straight about Margaret” in the October 28, 1986 issue. The Archivist notes he died 3 weeks later from complications from the aforementioned multiple sclerosis. That fits November 19, the date on the funeral bulletin, to a tee.

However the original Archivist himself throws a monkey wrench into this continuity. Doug Milford returned home to Twin Peaks a week after the first moon landing. The Archivist (presumably Major Briggs at this point) places the date of the moon landing in July of 1969, unlike the postcard from Norma Jennings. The postcard from her Hollywood honeymoon with Hank had a commemorative stamp for “First Man on the Moon”, but the post office cancellation mark is dated April 17, 1969 – 3 months before the actual moon landing on July 20 [3]. In the “real” world, that stamp was issued on September 9, 1969 [4]. It’s also unusual that she would use that particular stamp, as it was twice the amount needed. It was a 10 cent stamp and the postage rate for post cards in 1969 was only 5 cents [5]. It wouldn’t be 10 cents until 1978.

Doug tells friends that he’s retired from the military and plans to take up fly fishing and oil painting. Instead, he buys controlling interest in the town’s newspaper, the Twin Peaks Gazette. He does so “following the death of editor/publisher Robert Jacoby”. In 1969. Tamara Preston ignores that however and immediately clarifies that Milford bought the Gazette from Pauline Cuyo, daughter of the original owner, Dayton Cuyo. Doug had lived with her for a year in the 1920s and apparently considered her his first, common law wife.

It seems pretty clear at this point that this one can be chalked up to one of Mark Frost’s “unreliable narrator” moments (we’ll discuss this more later). The editor/publisher who died was probably, in fact, Dayton Cuyo. Major Briggs, who came to town in the era of Robert Jacoby being editor, just got this particular fact mixed up. However, it will not be so easy to write off the next mystery.

Look to the Skies

Robert’s article about the three missing children was not his first, chronologically speaking, captured in the Archivist’s dossier. His article “Look To The Skies”, about Einer Jennings’ (grandfather of Hank Jennings) UFO sighting, was published 6 days earlier on September 6, 1947. Here again there are a lot of “discrepancies”:

  • The newspaper header says it is Issue 252, Volume 25, and the date is Saturday September 6, 1947. The newspaper began publishing in 1922, and assuming the Volume numbers follow the year, Volume 25 does indeed correspond to 1947. For a daily newspaper, the Issue number follows the day of the year, meaning that Issue 252 would fall on the 252nd day of the year. However, September 6 was the 249th day of the year. Could there have been 3 special issues published in the year that led to the plus 3 discrepancy? Perhaps.
  • Agent Preston says that the paper was biweekly. It certainly started out that way. The Archivist calls the paper biweekly in 1927, when Andrew Packard’s article “Our Strange Camping Trip” was published. The Issue number on that article would seem to confirm (though this time coming up two numbers short). So maybe Tamara was just confused about it still being biweekly in 1947. Then again, at the end of “All’s Well That Ends Well”, Robert Jacoby promises to follow up on the Friday article in the Gazette’s Tuesday edition. Those could be the two days a week that it was being published on at the time.
  • Jennings identifies the jet that gives pursuit to the UFO as a “USAF fighter plane”. The USAF did not come into being until September 18, 1947, 14 days after the incident, with the implementation of the National Security Act of 1947 [6].
  • The fighter plane was further identified by Jennings as a McDonnell FH Phantom. Those were in use in 1947, however they were used exclusively by the Navy and Marines only [7].
  • The article says fighter plane flew back to Fairchild Air Force Base. However, at the time, that base was named Spokane Air Technical Service Command [2]. It would not be named for General Muir S. Fairchild until January 1948 [2].

We can write off the newspaper numbering issues as potentially having some sort of rational explanation. However, the elements that counter the known history of the USAF are more troubling. This is not the only instance in The Secret History where the facts of the USAF’s history do not line up. Douglas Milford’s military enlistment form is dated 8 Dec 1941, and titled “U.S. Air Force Volunteer – Air Force Enlistment Form”. Again, the U.S. Air Force did not become a separate military branch until September 18, 1947, with the implementation of the National Security Act of 1947 [6]. In 1941, it would have been known as the U.S. Army Air Forces [6], and that terminology would be expected on any enlistment form (or more likely it would just say “U.S. Army”). In fact, “U.S. Army Air Forces” is exactly what his identification pass, issued at Roswell, NM, says.

So here we have, on two different instances within The Secret History, some sort of alternative history of the U.S. Air Force. What do we make of this? This isn’t just an unreliable narrator speaking in their own words. These are written documents. Similar to the altered newspaper accounts and police records that Agent Preston would find documenting the “official version” timeline wherein Laura Palmer only disappeared, instead of being murdered. Except on a much larger, non-localized scale. Could this have been Major Briggs’ doing, when he had his apparent time travelling moment in Season 2? Could this be a hint as to why Agent Cooper was asking “What year is this?” at the end of Part 18?

All’s Well That Ends Well

Robert’s next article, at least as captured in the Archivist’s dossier, is the previously mentioned “All’s Well That Ends Well”, about the disappearance and reappearance of Margaret Coulson and two of her 3rd grade classmates in 1947. Here again, there are “discrepancies”, both in the article itself and in the supporting documentation the Archivist included with it.

  • The article says the three children were in the 3rd grade in the fall of 1947, and the Archivist says they all graduated from Twin Peaks High School in 1958. This only works if all three were held back a year. A third grader in the 1947-48 school year would be a senior in the 1956-57 school year (ending 3rd grade in 1948 -> ending 12th in 1957).
  • On Dr. Dan Hayward’s intake form, he lists her birthday as 10/10/40 and age as 7 years old. This was written on 9/9/47, a month before she would turn 7.
  • Assuming her birth date was correct, this would be the school year Margaret started as age 6 and ended as age 7. That is typically a student’s 1st grade year (ending 1st grade at age 7 -> ending 12th at age 18). At best, maybe she skipped a year and it was her 2nd grade year, which would match up with graduating in 1958 (ending 2nd grade in 1948 -> ending 12th in 1958). If her age was right, *and* the year of birth was wrong by a year (1939, not 1940), *and* she skipped a grade, then and only then could she have been a third grader at the time of the abduction.

So what do we make of all of this mess? Are we dealing with unreliable narrators here, or alternate timelines / realities?

Definitely Dr. Dan Hayward got one of his two facts wrong, that much is pretty straight forward. The conflicting facts (Margaret’s birth date versus her age) are both on the same piece of paper. The Archivist is the one who places their graduation at 1958, and that could certainly be subject to unreliable reporting. The newspaper article written at the time is most likely to be factually correct, placing the children in the 3rd grade. But then again, what it says specifically is that they were “elementary school students” who were on a “third grade nature walk”. Could that walk have included first or second graders? Maybe it was led by the third grade, and included the second and first grades.

As a side note, I’d point out that on the Margaret Lanterman card #42 in the Star Pics trading cards, her birth date is listed as “unknown” [8]. This stands out as unusual, since one of the gimmicks of the cards was that they hired a professional astrologer to determine birth dates for all the characters [9]. So maybe this fuzziness around Margaret’s age is the continuation of a gag started long ago back in Season 2.

From The Jaws of Victory

The next article from Robert Jacoby that appears in The Secret History is “From The Jaws of Victory” reporting on the 1968 state championship football game. Now we’ve jumped forward to the November 14, 1968 issue of the Twin Peaks Gazette. Once again, there are discrepancies, but this time with the previously given history of Twin Peaks, as established in the book Twin Peaks: Access Guide to the Town.

Now let me say a word about before you start scoffing at the Access Guide. Mark Frost, in an interview with the Twin Peaks Unwrapped podcast [10], explicitly said that he re-read the Access Guide “to reacquaint himself with the geography and general history of Twin Peaks” [11]. In contrast, the only episode of the original television series we know he definitely re-watched was the Season 2 finale [12]. So we can surmise with fairly high certainty that any discrepancies between The Secret History and the Access Guide are purposeful. What that purpose might be is anyone’s guess.

The two accounts agree on some facts. Twin Peaks High was undefeated that year, leading up to the championship game against Kettle Falls in November of 1968. Quarterback Harry, fullback Hank and tight end Big Ed are on the team and their coach is Bobo Hobson. However, in the Access Guide the Twin Peaks Steeplejacks won that final game, and in The Secret History the Twin Peaks Lumberjacks lost. In the Access Guide version, Hawk scored the winning touchdown after a handoff from Harry. In The Secret History, Hank took the handoff and fumbled the ball for a heartbreaking loss.

The issue at the heart of this tale though, in both versions, is the corruption of Hank Jennings. The Access Guide actually details every game from that season, and various hints at Hank’s future turn to the dark side were dropped here and there. In The Secret History, this article appears in a section devoted to Hank, as a lead in to the revelation that his fumble was intentional, having been “bought” by Jean Renault. Thus began Hank’s life of crime as a lackey to the Renault clan.

Oh, What a Tangled Web

The next writing of Robert Jacoby featured in The Secret History is a book rather than another newspaper article. In 1984, the Twin Peaks Town Council commissioned Robert to “set down for posterity the story of our foundational years, while many of this marvelous saga’s original voices, however dimmed by time, can still be heard.” This task was realized in the slim volume “Oh, What A Tangled Web…” that the Archivist discovered in the Bookhouse. The included excerpt from the book begins with the stories of the three founding families, the Packards, Martells and Hornes. and their various feuds, touches on the formation of the Bookhouse Boys, including a bit more about the 1968 championship game, and ends with the engagement of Pete and Catherine.

Here again, there are details that conflict with the Access Guide. Family patriarch James Packard still arrives in 1890, but in The Secret History the Martells had their lumber mill established three years prior to that, instead of arriving themselves the following year. Things continue like that, with small details and several of the key players’ names are changed throughout the account. Overall though, it largely follows the same narrative, section by section, that is documented in the “History” section of the Access Guide – the dueling lumber mills, Horne’s department store, the Opera House. In fact, the parallels are glaringly obvious, and make the little tweaks all the more infuriating to those in the know.

As the narrative moves on to discuss the founding of the Bookhouse Boys, new details arise from the insertion of Frank Truman into the narrative. That’s maybe to be expected. Names on the 1968 football team roster have shifted around a bit, including a strange appearance of Ben Horne as Team Manager in The Secret History, despite being in his mid-20s around that time.

The excerpt from Tangled Web ends with the final resolution of the Packard-Martell feud, in the courtship and marriage of Catherine Packard to Pete Martell. Agent Preston labels this section an “amateurish slice of Chamber of Commerce civic puffery” and as such, likely “pure fiction”. Then again, might that phrase not also describe the Access Guide?

Public Custodians of the Local Fourth Estate

One thing that is obvious in The Secret History is that Mark Frost loves the character of Robert Jacoby. In The Final Dossier, it is Jerry Horne and Lawrence Jacoby who stand out as his favorites, each having longer than necessary chapters devoted to them for people who, for Agent Preston anyway, are largely tangential to the events she was sent to investigate. In The Secret History, Douglas Milford is obviously the thread that binds a large chunk of the dossier together as it moves out and about beyond the borders of Twin Peaks, but he’s not really portrayed as a likeable character. He’s like Forest Gump, showing up in scene after scene in the highlight reel of America’s weird history with UFOs, but he lacks the caring soul of Forest Gump. “TP” reveals more personality in her little margin notes than Milford does as one of the two primary Archivists.

Robert Jacoby, on the other hand, cares about the people and the town, and it shows in his writing. His articles are not just statements of the facts. Each one is a story unto itself, with characters we can care about. His final words about Margaret, a five-page article included in the dossier, is the heart of the book, as are her final words at his funeral. Over 200 people turned out for Robert Jacoby’s funeral on the shore of Pearl Lakes. Robert touched a lot of lives and was obviously much loved.

It’s not just Robert Jacoby who acts as a reporter in The Secret History. Andrew Packard, of all people, leads off with a personal story about a mysterious sighting in the woods. Doug Milford returns home to take over the town newspaper and write a few articles himself. While he can affect the small town charm on occasion, like in the article introducing the Briggs family, it seems he mostly uses the newspaper as a platform to promote his political views. Even Carl Rodd has an editorial captured in the dossier, along with Agent Preston’s mention of his “Carl Says” blurbs featured in the late 1980s.

Frost’s affinity for the press is also evident in the transformation of his cameo proxy Cyril Pons from a television reporter to a newspaper reporter, taking over the role of town chronicler after Robert’s death. In his Reddit AMA [13], Mark explains:

“Cyril’s thriving career as a local reporter in the Spokane media market let to a brief stint as anchorman, tragically derailed when he used the F word during an on-air earthquake and dove under his desk. Downhill from there, as if he riding a luge, all the way to the Fat Trout Trailer Park.”

Cyril has two newspaper articles featured in the dossier, unknowingly documenting the two deaths of Andrew Packard.

Even Lawrence Jacoby has been transformed into a reporter of sorts in The Secret History. We learn that in the 1960s and 70s, Dr. Jacoby published a series of research articles, leading up to his book The Eye of God: Sacred Psychology in the Aboriginal Mind. Lawrence reports on his experience with the Amazon tribe not in the factual manner of an academic, but rather in the same, personable manner that his brother uses in his reporting. By the way, that book included a quote on its back cover from none other than Jerry Garcia himself, in case anyone was still wondering which band member invited him along for that final tour. After his own Forest Gump-like tour through events of the late 1990s and early 2000s, Lawrence settles down back in Twin Peaks to reconnect with “his youthful sixties-era radicalism”, as Agent Preston would put it later in The Final Dossier. He develops the character of Dr. Amp as a reporter of sorts, exposing the corruption and greed at the center of the “dark age” that both he and Margaret had warned of.

Lawrence Jacoby’s reporting is even mired in inconsistencies, like his brother’s. Of course, the most talked about one is that he says Laura was 18 when she first came to see him, directly contradicting the established narrative that she was 17 when she died. There’s probably obvious reasons for that one, but his notes on another patient, Nadine Hurley, have a few interesting twists:

  • Dr. Jacoby’s evaluation states Nadine’s birth date as 1/25/1950 and age 37, which matches – good. That would mean she would graduate high school in 1968, the year she’d turn 18. Big Ed graduated in 1969. This would make Nadine roughly the same age as Big Ed (though actually a year older) – bad.
  • At the wedding of Big Ed and Nadine, Andy, who was a “few years younger” than Hawk, Harry and Ed, says he was in Nadine’s class at school. This would make Nadine roughly the same age as Andy (and thus younger than Ed).
  • Dr Jacoby’s evaluation is dated 11/29/87 (this was 3 weeks after Big Ed had shot her eye out). He says Nadine’s mother had a breakdown about 10 years ago and 2 months later Nadine had her breakdown. Making her approximately 27 at that time.
  • Andy tells Hawk that her nervous breakdown was in the spring semester of her sophomore year. That would be the year she turned 16 in January. Dr. Jacoby also says her breakdown happened at school.

So is Nadine the same age as Big Ed or Andy? Did she have her breakdown at age 27 or 16? Most likely, the older Nadine of Dr. Jacoby’s evaluation is fiction, but then once again we’re left asking why?

In Conclusion

So, what have we learned?

“If I’ve learned nothing else it’s that there are many ways of knowing, not just the ones they taught us in school or church, or that you see on TV or read about in a book.” – Robert Jacoby

There are a lot of “discrepancies” in The Secret History, well beyond the handful we’ve discussed here [11]. Names. Dates. Events. Discrepancies with what we have seen on the TV series or read about in the books, certainly, but also discrepancies internal to the book itself, sometimes within the same document even, and external to real world events.

First of all, let’s be clear that these are not accidental. When The Secret History initially was released, there were fans who actually claimed the inconsistencies were a result of sloppiness on Mark Frost’s part. The very idea is ludicrous. Frost and Lynch had over 3 years of plotting and planning for both Season 3 and the bookending novels, and many elements had probably been in mind for much longer than that. In Q&A sessions during the book tour for The Secret History, Mark Frost said that he had a team of people doing research for him to ensure the accuracy of some of the historical events detailed in the book [14]. If those aspects of the book were meticulously researched, what would make us think anything differently about the in-universe aspects of the book?

Was Mark Frost’s intent perhaps to do a little bit of retcon engineering, fix things he didn’t like about Season 2? In an interview with Digital Spy [15], he was asked that exact question. Here’s what he had to say:

  • Q: “So much has been said about Season 2 – was anything in Season 3 or the books a corrective to that?”
  • A: “Only incidentally. Season 2 went a little bit sideways for a whole bunch of reasons. A lot of people presume they know the reasons for it but in fact there were many more factors at work than have ever been discussed publicly – and it’s gonna stay that way.”

“Only incidentally.” Hmm. So, if there are retcons, they are not there for their own sake, but rather as a consequence of some other driving narrative reason.

One of those reasons was eluded to earlier: the “unreliable narrator” [16]. In multiple interviews, Mark Frost has referred to this idea when the subject of these discrepancies has come up. In the “real world”, eyewitness testimony is subjective, people’s memories are faulty, historical documents contain misprints, or even misinformation. Mark wanted to make that part of the experience with The Secret History [17], as if it really was a dossier of found documents collected over time by an all-too-human archivist. So when Robert says he’s been a reporter for 50 years and yet has also known Margaret for 40 years, he’s simply misremembering one or both of these facts. “Time strains the fabrics of our narrative,” as his brother Lawrence puts it.

Frost has also acknowledged that there are deliberate mistakes, like little puzzles planted throughout The Secret History to see if hardcore fans would pick up on them [14][17]. He thought this would give the book “an internal sense of play” [17], but given some of the negative backlash, it would seem he greatly miscalculated the effect. “I didn’t realize the extent to which people would quickly circle around and zero in on them”, he confessed to the Deer Meadow Radio podcast [17]. In-universe, we could consider that these were puzzles for Major Briggs left by Doug Milford, as a test to see if he was a worthy successor. For example, Frost has specifically hinted that the stamp on Norma’s postcard could be a forgery [14]. He had even planned some of these as hooks for Tamara Preston to research and clear up in The Final Dossier [17].

We should also acknowledge that it’s kind of always been this way with Twin Peaks, especially with the books. The Secret Diary, the first and most popular of the Twin Peaks spinoff books, had its share of inconsistencies with the series at the time [18], the biggest of which is that it is set in 1990 (not 1989)! Gives a little perspective to the question “What year is this?” Sadly, this lack of continuity has led many fans to dismiss the books, including The Secret History and The Final Dossier. In my mind, those folks are missing out.

Confession time: when I first listened to The Secret History on audio, I didn’t pick up on any of these discrepancies. While I am an OG fan of Twin Peaks, I hadn’t re-watched in ages, so none of these things were very fresh in my mind. I was just so overjoyed at having new Twin Peaks for the first time in 20+ years, I couldn’t have been critical if I had wanted to. There would be time to be critical later, I just wanted to enjoy the experience on the first pass. And I so did.

One of the major themes of Season 3 was living in the present moment [19], and perhaps this book was intended by Mark Frost as a primer for that important lesson. Focus on the donut, not the hole. The fans who focused on those discrepancies in The Secret History went into Season 3 looking for explanations, wary that every little glitch or inconsistency was opening up a doorway to the Twin Peaks multiverse. The theories about multiple timelines and multiple realities abounded all summer long [20]. When all was said and done, Mark Frost had to come in with his post-season Reddit AMA and clarify that only one character time traveled in the show [13]. Mark may have thought this was all in good fun, but I fear he may have inadvertently ruined some fans’ experience of Season 3 as a fallout.

In the end it’s about the story, after all. All of the reporters I eluded to above are really story tellers. The Bookhouse Boys are story tellers. The Archivist is a story teller, and eventually Agent Preston becomes one too, when she takes over the role in The Final Dossier. The story is what is important, and not necessarily the details. Robert was a reporter and longtime friend of Margaret’s. Doug Milford joined the military in WWII and eventually retired from the USAF. The 1968 Twin Peaks High School football team…well, OK, maybe there are still a few mysteries left to be solved.

“Storytellers don’t run out of stories, they just run out of time. It’s just someone else’s job now.” – Robert Jacoby

References and Notes:

  1. See S.C. Penny’s article Welcome to the Town of Brotherly Love for a more in depth review of some of the other brothers featured in Twin Peaks.
  2. “Fairchild Air Force Base” (Wikipedia): https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairchild_Air_Force_Base
  3. “Apollo 11” (Wikipedia): https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11
  4. “#C76 – 1969 10c Moon Landing” (Mystic Stamp Company): https://www.mysticstamp.com/Products/United-States/C76/USA/
  5. “History of United States Postage Rates” (Wikipedia): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_United_States_postage_rates
  6. “History of the United States Air Force” (Wikipedia): https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_United_States_Air_Force
  7. “McDonnell FH Phantom” (Wikipedia): https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_FH_Phantom
  8. “Twin Peaks Star Pics Card 42” (LynchNet): http://www.lynchnet.com/tp/tpcard42.html
  9. See my article The Twin Peaks Trading Cards – Another “Missing Piece” of Twin Peaks for more details on the trading cards.
  10. “Twin Peaks Unwrapped 72: Mark Frost on The Secret History of Twin Peaks” (Twin Peaks Unwrapped podcast): http://twinpeaksunwrapped.podbean.com/e/twin-peaks-unwrapped-72-mark-frost-on-the-secret-history-of-twin-peaks/
  11. “The Secret History of Twin Peaks” (Twin Peaks Wiki): http://twinpeaks.wikia.com/wiki/The_Secret_History_of_Twin_Peaks
  12. “Mark Frost Q&A” (Dugpa.com, Oct 29, 2017): http://www.dugpa.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=3935
  13. “I’m Mark Frost, co-creator of Twin Peaks and author” (reddit/r/twinpeaks, Nov 9, 2017): https://www.reddit.com/r/twinpeaks/comments/7bn45h/im_mark_frost_cocreator_of_twin_peaks_and_author/
  14. “Twin Peaks Unwrapped 77: Mark Frost Book Tour 2016” (Twin Peaks Unwrapped, Nov 21, 2016): http://twinpeaksunwrapped.podbean.com/e/twin-peaks-unwrapped-77-mark-frost-shotp-book-tour-2016
  15. “Twin Peaks’ Mark Frost interview: ‘The Final Dossier doesn’t close off Season 4’” (Digital Spy, Nov 13, 2017): http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/twin-peaks/interviews/a842709/twin-peaks-the-return-season-4-final-dossier-mark-frost-interview/
  16. “Unreliable Narrator” (TV Tropes): http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/UnreliableNarrator
  17. “Mark Frost (Twin Peaks Creator and Author) – The Deer Meadow Radio Interrogation” (Deer Meadow Radio, Nov 14, 2017): http://deermeadowradio.libsyn.com/mark-frost-twin-peaks-creator-and-author-the-deer-meadow-radio-interrogation
  18. “The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer” (Twin Peaks Wiki): http://twinpeaks.wikia.com/wiki/The_Secret_Diary_of_Laura_Palmer
  19. See my article Maybe It Doesn’t Matter What We Call It – Thoughts on Judy as a Metaphor for more details on the theme of living in the present moment in Season 3.
  20. One of the better ones being our own John Bernardy’s Timequake theory, see The Resonance of Timequake Theory: From Stuttering Time to Robert Jacoby.

One last note: The two images of Robert Jacoby that are provided in The Secret History are, of course, actually pictures of Russ Tamblyn, the actor who portrays Lawrence Jacoby. You can see the originals at http://www.listal.com/viewimage/7798733 (young Robert) and https://www.allmovie.com/artist/russ-tamblyn-p69732 (funeral bulletin picture). No, I don’t believe this was any sort of hint that they are actually twin brothers, though I did toy around with the idea for a bit.


The previous articles in this Secret History of Twin Peaks series are:

The Secret History of Twin Peaks: Milford, Nixon and the Blue Book Years (Secrets and Mysteries, Part One) by Mat Cult

The Secret History of Twin Peaks: The Lewis & Clark Expedition and the Nez Perce (Secrets and Mysteries, Part 2) by Ali Sciarabba

The Secret History of Twin Peaks: UFOs, Conspiracy, and the Players, p. 86-123 (Secrets and Mysteries, Part 3) by Rob E. King


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One Reply to “The Secret History of Twin Peaks: Oh, What A Tangled Web – Reporting on Reporter Robert Jacoby (Secrets and Mysteries, Part 4)”

  1. Ha, an entry after my own heart! Robert Jacoby’s age discrepancy was one of the elements of The Secret History that perplexed me most, so I’m glad you did a deep dive here. That said, I’m 90-99% sure Frost wasn’t intentionally playing any games with the most (or at least many) of the slip-ups in the book. (The Vivian thing in The Final Dossier feels like an absolutely blatant attempt to ret-con his own mistake in The Secret History after it was pointed out to him – the elaborate stepmother story would be an entirely superfluous, convoluted, and inconsistent addition to the Norma story in its own right, but as a Hail Mary attempt to fix his own oversight it’s kind of nuttily admirable). In a few cases this frustrates me but for the most part I almost find it one of the work’s charms, and I do think it was “intentional” not in the sense that he carefully thought out each one but that he entered the writing with an overall attitude of “write what you feel” and let the chips fall where there may.

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