JB Minton from The Red Room Podcast is currently writing a book called The Skeleton Key to Twin Peaks! JB has sent us over the first chapter to publish so readers can get an idea of what the book is all about! We hope you enjoy this very interesting read!
“To introduce this story, let me just say it encompasses The All; it is beyond The Fire, though few would know that meaning. It is a story of many, but it begins with one and I knew her. The one leading to the many is Laura Palmer. Laura is the One.”
– The Log Lady Intro, Pilot, Twin Peaks –
The Sad Implication of The Final Dossier
The moment my brain made the connection was on October 31st, 2017, Halloween in the United States. I had just finished reading Mark Frost’s The Final Dossier, when that “Holy Shit!” moment exploded in my brain. I didn’t want it to be right but the implications were as apparent as the book in my hands. Let’s take this slow because it hurts at first.
In The Final Dossier, Tammy Preston has this to say about Joudy:
“Joudy, it turns out, is also the name of an ancient entity in Sumerian mythology. (This dates back to at least 3000 B.C.) The name was used to describe a species of wandering demon—also generically known as an utukku—that had ‘escaped from the underworld’ and roamed freely throughout the earth, where they feasted on human flesh and, ripped the souls from their victims, which provided even more meaningful nourishment. They particularly thrived while feeding—and I quote—’on human suffering.’ These beings were said to appear in both male and female forms—’Joudy’ indicated the female, and the male was known as ‘Ba’al’—and, while they were considered beyond dangerous individually, if a male and a female ever united while on earth, the ancient texts claimed, their resulting ‘marriage’ would create something far more perilous. As in: the end of the world as we know it. A few centuries later, Ba’al becomes better known, in both Christian and Islamic sources, as ‘Beelzebub,’ a false god, or, as he’s known more generically today, the devil.” (The Final Dossier, page 121-122)
There is a lot to unpack here. The most important revelation is that there are two (not one) walking demons and one of them is Ba’al who becomes Beelzebub. It is no stretch to see how this name too morphs into one familiar to all Twin Peaks fans, “BOB.” And of course, Joudy is the other half of this demon marriage. So, the good news is that we have one more love story in Twin Peaks but the bad news is that it overturns everything we ever believed to be true about the story of Laura Palmer.
Towards the end of The Final Dossier, we also learn that Sarah Palmer was indeed the young girl who swallowed the frog beetle spit out by the experiment in Part 8 of Season 3. Recall that short phrase in the passage quoted from The Final Dossier above, “escaped from the underworld,” while considering Mark Frost’s words on the Talkhouse Podcast with Sam Esmail, when he was asked about the use of the nuclear bomb in Part 8 of Season 3:
“The idea came out of the feeling that the larger issues of what was going on in this world that we’d created needed something like an origin story. It needed, not explanation, but illumination. We had to go back to the scene of the crime, the original scene of the crime, that had, perhaps, engendered all that followed. There are a lot of original sins if you look at American history, but the most modern and the most devastating is obviously the Atomic Bomb and the fact that we developed it and, knock wood, that we’re the only country that’s ever dropped one other human beings and it felt like that might have been an entry point for something. And we’d been playing all along with this mythological notion of other dimensions and other realms, and our version of a realm of the gods or the Demi-gods or a play of good and evil on another plane, that this felt like the organizing incident and so it was very carefully scripted.” (Talkhouse Podcast, “Episode 16”, Air Date: 11/16/2017, http://www.talkhouse.com/sam-esmail-mr-robot-talks-mark-frost-twin-peaks-talkhouse-podcast-2/)
This notion that both BOB and Joudy were released when the Trinity explosion occurred is incredibly powerful. Pontificating for a moment, perhaps they had been sentenced there by the three religions of the desert (Christianity, Islam and Judaism), throwing spiritual ropes around their necks and banishing them to the nether world prison like The Phantom Zone in Superman I and II. Regardless how they got to the underworld, BOB and Joudy were demons imprisoned and were thus released by mankind’s abominable hubris in the form of a nuclear explosion. They were now free to roam our timeline and complete their never ending mission to “Unite while on Earth.” I think it’s clear that if they could have united in spiritual form, they would have done so, but they must be “On Earth.” I interpret this as meaning they must inhabit physical hosts and this leads us to a very uncomfortable conclusion that BOB and Joudy both possessed human beings who eventually came together on Earth, in the flesh, and procreated, producing one child. I’m sure you see where this has led us.
Laura Palmer is the spawn of Beelzebub and his terrible mate Joudy, and she was the ultimate evil set loose upon the Earth to bring utter and total destruction. “End of the World,” is a term that has become so ubiquitous in modern civilization that it is nearly void of meaning. I would like to insert that, from a walking demon’s perspective, life must be hard. It must be a lot of work to breed enough misery to produce the garmonbozia needed to survive and there appears to be harsh rules and penalties to traveling between worlds. In the mythology of Twin Peaks, there is an interdimensional conduit system that seems to be regulated by electricity and which constructs a complex system of lodges, waiting rooms and convenience stores, all operating under a strange subatomic set of physics which must be obeyed or at the very least subverted like Mr C attempts to do in Season 3. There also seem to be rules of time applied here as well (25 years for a doppelgänger to roam free before they must swap with their host). Now, imagine an “Extreme Negative Force” that could banish all light from the world, leaving only cold fear and suffering, creating an all you can eat buffet of misery for these Black Lodge denizen, a total blackness that we careen towards, together with Laura and Cooper, like the journey has written in time with fire.
The True Nature of Laura Palmer
The implication of this new view of Laura Palmer is that the character we thought was a victimized hero was actually the biggest villain of the show, a sweet, beautiful, charming yet malevolent, manipulative, and passively murderous prom queen; who, in a final act of self-sacrifice, actually did try to save the world by submitting to her death; not suspecting that what came next could be just as bad. And as the last of her humanity drained out with her blood in that filthy train car, something darker was happening down below.
Consider the scene from Season 1, Episode 5, where Jacoby sends Bobby’s parents from the room during their counselling session and the following conversation takes place:
B: Laura wanted to die.
J: How do you know that?
B: Because she told me.
J: What else did she tell you? Did she tell you that there was no goodness in the world?
B: She said people tried to be good but they were really sick and rotten, her most of all. And every time she tried to make the world a better place, something terrible came up inside her and pulled her back down into hell. It took her deeper and deeper into the blackest nightmare. Every time it became harder to go back into the light.
J: Did you ever have the feeling that Laura was harboring some awful secret? Bad enough that she wanted to die because of it?
J: Bad enough that it drove her to consciously find peoples’ weaknesses and prey on them? Tempt them? Break them down? Make them do terrible and degrading things?
J: Laura wanted to corrupt people because that’s how she felt about herself.
J: Is that what happened to you Bobby? What Laura did to you?
B: So much. She made me sell drugs so she could have them.
“Every time she tried to make the world a better place, something terrible came up inside her and pulled her back down into hell. It took her deeper and deeper into the blackest nightmare. Every time it became harder to go back into the light.” We can see here the machinations of a garmonbozia machine. Laura intrinsically knew how to manipulate those around her into suffering and she psychically fed from it. Laura’s parents raised her to suffer through rape and incest by one while the other passively looked the other way. Like training a dog to kill in the fighting ring, it’s no surprise that this poor girl with a demon soul went on to manipulate an entire town into misery, and it only got worse after she died.
The Death and Resurrection of Laura Palmer
I submit that Fire Walk With Me wasn’t just the last week of Laura Palmer’s life, but was also the tragic tale of how a strong young woman’s mortal soul wrestled with a demonic force inside her that would not be beaten. I believe that Laura fell towards her death as a last act of desperation to sacrifice herself to save the world. That terrible moment of her breakdown on the stairs in her home, let us witness her finally succumbing to the understanding that if she were to remain alive, something horrible would happen in our world through her, resulting in the eternal suffering of every single living person on the planet. In this moment, I believe we see the self-actualization of an Anti-Christ who, for a brief but purposeful moment, holds compassion for the suffering she is about to impose upon the world. In this moment of compassion, through an act of supreme mercy, she submits herself to death at the hands of her father, who in an act of jealous rage, lays aside every ounce of parental protection along with his humanity, allowing BOB’s full nature of black fire to roar out and consume this poor young woman, who sacrificed the last of her humanity in the hopes that the demon within her would drown alongside her death. Alas, that was not to be.
In rewatching Season 1, I believe we see Leland and Sarah each struggling in their own way with these demons who possess them, neither quite bubbling up to waking consciousness, until Leland begins breaking down under the tremendous weight of guilt, sadness, and perhaps even BOB’s anger. Ultimately though, in the underworld of the Black Lodge, a new plan unfolds. I submit that when Laura puts on the Owl Cave ring and willingly submits to her own death, she descends into the Black Lodge and assumes the position of Dark Overlord with complete dominion over all the poor wandering souls, demigods, and lesser demons who saunter into the Red Waiting Room. I also posit that it is from this position that she sets a trap for an easy to manipulate pawn of a man, a perpetual do-gooder with a Lancelot complex, forever seeking a princess to save. And into this trap walks Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Dale Cooper, a man with too good intentions which allow him to become an unwilling pawn in an old war between good and evil, a man who would be manipulated by both sides to a final solution that tragically forced his ultimate sacrifice.
The Tragic Hero’s Journey of Special Agent Dale Cooper
On Earth, Cooper should have won this battle. He had all the skills and the best intentions to solve the mystery of this young woman’s murder and bring her transgressor to justice. Unfortunately, he was unprepared to fight on the underworld battle and he not only lost his soul in the process, but the worst part of him was set loose upon the Earth to enact Laura the Dark Overlord’s bidding to bring BOB and Joudy (still possessing Sarah Palmer) back together to procreate again and create a new child of darkness to complete their ancient and evil mission.
Dale Cooper’s pause in Red Room in the finale of Season 2 became his undoing. Confronted by the Princess masks of Laura, Annie, and Caroline, he stumbled and his evil double was able to run past him, out of the Red Waiting Room of the Black Lodge, locking Dale Cooper into a cycle of preparing to save the life of Laura Palmer for 25 years, a cycle of lies whispered into his ear by the very Queen of Darkness when he should have stood up and fled from her presence. If History is, “A lie agreed upon,” as David Milch the creator of Deadwood is fond of saying, then Dale Cooper is History’s greatest fool because we all metaphorically sat with him in that chair for 25 years, believing together that BOB was the true evil in Twin Peaks, when the terrible beauty was staring us in the face the entire time.
For 25 years, Mr. C ran rampant, sewing enough misery and pain to feed Beelzebub who possessed him, but also laying the groundwork to subvert the defense mechanisms of The Black Lodge, a system likely established to function like the swapping of crops, which prevents soil from become poisoned with repetitive over harvesting of the same crop. After all, if lesser demons ran free on the Earthly plane, murdering, raping, and harvesting misery from all of humanity, all of the time, the crop would surely be poisoned in a generation or two and the demons themselves would eventually succumb to the famine of their myopia. That’s what the promise of the anti-christ Laura Palmer was supposed to bring but 25 years have passed by Part 2 of Season 3 and Mr. C has run out of time, trying to reunite Joudy with BOB.
In an effort to bide enough time to find Joudy, Mr. C concocts an elaborate plan to capture and redirect Cooper on his way back into the Earthly plane. This plan involved creating a Cooper tulpa and setting him up with a half-life in Las Vegas. Here in, “The City of Sin,” Dougie Jones seems to have careened through his life as an absent father raising a distant child through an unloving relationship with a wife who came to resent him. Looking back at Janey-E, she seems to be a woman who was manipulated into a relationship with Douglas Jones and this grew her bitterness and resentment about her life and marriage into an obsession about finances and a parade of mundane family rituals like Sonny Jim’s birthday. That tulpa of Dougie Jones was a mouse trap waiting for Cooper to step on the spring. He was supposed to be murdered on that ride from the foreclosed home to the Mitchum Brothers Casino, but something intervened.
The White Lodge strikes back
During Cooper’s exile, I believe that Major Briggs colluded with The Fireman, The One Armed Man, and whatever Phillip Jeffries became to execute an alternate plan as countermeasure to Laura Palmer and Mr. C’s scheme to get BOB and Joudy back together again, because Mr. C was going to be successful. Nothing was going to stop Mr. C from getting to Sarah Palmer’s front door, except an incredible series of lucky events.
Consistently, the agents of the White Lodge intervene on Cooper’s behalf to guide him to the appropriate saving end and to thwart Mr. C’s progress, allowing for Cooper’s safe return to Twin Peaks. Cooper remains consistently behind his double throughout Season 3. When Cooper actually arrives in Twin Peaks, his double has already been dealt with by the good hearted and as of yet uncorrupted bastions of kindness and justice that were left to defend the walls of civilization in the Twin Peaks of Cooper’s absence, a city whose walls are buckling under the terrible negative forces converging on them and on our world as a whole, demons from the underworld pounding on the door, rattling and uprooting the hinges, ready to set loose upon the world a harvest of misery. And Laura Palmer is the Queen of all demons.
I believe what we witness in the defeat of BOB is his banishment back into the underworld he was imprisoned in before the Trinity nuclear explosion. If Cooper would have left it alone here, left Laura Palmer dead to the ages, ruling over her underworld Black Lodge dominion, this timeline could have begun healing. Joudy would be trapped inside Sarah Palmer, sentenced to wander the earth without her mate, sinking into Sarah’s isolation and misery until her host died a shriveled up ball of shame of pain, leaving her no more regurgitated creamed corn to perpetually chew into soggy mush. And Dale Cooper might have retired back to Janey-E and Sonny Jim’s welcoming arms as a father, husband, and observer of simple joys. But none of this happened and I believe that The Fireman, Major Briggs, The One Armed Man and Phillip Jeffries all understood that Cooper’s nature would forever be to save the girl, and therefore they built a phase 2 into their plan. Enter Richard, Linda, and Ms. Carrie Page.
I believe the golden ball The Fireman sends back in time is a tulpa to hold Laura Palmer once Cooper breaks the timeline by saving her from murder. This is a critical moment, where we hear the same record scratching sounds The Fireman plays for Cooper in the opening scene of Part 1, aligning us to what is acting to remove Laura. When she is ripped from the timeline in Part 17, I believe this is also the same moment that she is ripped from The Red Room in Part 2, as Cooper is talking to her, before she can repeat the same liars loop that has ensnared him for 25 years. At that moment, the Black Lodge has no overlord, which is why Leland begs Cooper to find Laura and he ultimately escapes. John Thorne has a fascinating theory he lays down in Issue 5 of The Blue Rose Magazine that easily applies here but I won’t belabor his points. Cooper ultimately escapes The Black Lodge’s grasp but he is not free from its wrath, despite the absence of its master.
When Cooper enters the room in the basement of the Great Northern, he is taken to the Convenience Store, where he meets Phillip Jeffries in the same room that Mr. C stood in only a day or so before. And he is sent back in time to thwart the murder of Laura Palmer, a dangerous act which could have terrible implications for all life on the planet if the demon inside her is allowed to influence events in our timeline past the point in which she was to be murdered. And so The White Lodge intervenes, snatching Laura Palmer out of our timeline, inserting her into an alternate one, where the tulpa of Carrie Page waits to be pushed back into the Red Room, where she no doubt pops her head and dissolves in that same golden ball that we saw Dougie become. And Laura lived her life in the haze of Carrie Page, a poor waitress feeding off the misery and murder of the poor men and women she connived with, acting completely from her nature, unknowingly waiting for that shining knight to appear at her door and lead her to a salvation which would mark the utter ruin of every person in this alternate timeline, including our misguided hero.
As Arthur Smith has laid out in his Trap Theory, Cooper and Diane copulate in one of the most miserable sex scenes ever shown on film between two characters that supposedly love each other, that mix of sex and misery no doubt becomes irresistible bait to draw him to Laura like a shark swims to blood, the same insight and circumstance that once had him throwing rocks at bottles to determine her killer in another time and another life, now drawing him towards her like a cruel gravity.
The Revenge of Carrie Page
Cooper delivers his payload to the home that was once Laura Palmer’s torture chamber in another other life but almost everything has changed. Sarah Palmer no longer lives there, the Tremonds do, and they remain defenders of the darkness in Twin Peaks, guardians of garmonbozia, and the stewards of suffering. As Agent Cooper struggles to understand what went wrong with the plan, searching desperately for how he failed, the second self-actualization of Laura Palmer takes place and she destroys everything in this alternate trap of a timeline, including every one of the human beings occupying it: Diane as Linda, the waitress, the cook, the other patrons in the restaurant, the Tremonds and everyone else in this timeline, including our tragic hero Dale Cooper, a man manipulated by his goodness by both sides of ancient war between good and evil, manipulated like a pawn to his own death so that he could take down the Queen so The White Lodge may check mate.
Laura Palmer disappeared from our timeline along with Dale Cooper and Diane. Leland Palmer killed himself a year after Laura’s death and Sarah still ends up isolated, lonely, battling alcohol addiction and she still kills that poor misogynistic idiot in the Elks Bar who was unfortunate enough to say the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time. And the garmonbozia still flows in Twin Peaks, even if only in small rivulets, while the haze of what might have happened disappears into a dream like memory, where we each suddenly wake, like Audrey in the White Room, looking at ourselves in that interminable mirror, and asking the same question: “What?”
The Skeleton Key To Twin Peaks
The Skeleton Key To Twin Peaks is that Laura Palmer is the evil force driving the town and the world towards destruction. She is not a fallen angel, and she is not a victim. Or rather she is both of those things but they are mere bullet points on her resume, which reveals her to be so much more. With this key, one can now unlock the secrets and most of the mysteries of Twin Peaks. Little is yet to be revealed and those unknowns which remain have little to do with the tragic story of Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer, the former of whom burned to death in the eternal of rage of the other. It’s an old and sad tale and there is no resting in peace for this kind of sacrifice. And so it is with deep sorrow and gratitude that we close the book on the perfect tragedy that is Twin Peaks at the end of Season 3. But before we do that, let us take a trip through that town and its tale one more time.
Now that you have your key, Welcome to Twin Peaks…
This is the Introduction to A Skeleton Key To Twin Peaks by JB Minton. The book will feature in depth scene-by-scene analysis for each Part of Season and 7 critical essays exploring the implications of the narrative and mythology of Twin Peaks given the thesis laid down in this introduction.