“Black Lodge/White Lodge” is the occasional 25 Years Later version of the popular point/counterpoint style of debating, wherein two sides take opposing views and hash it out on stage. Here, we’ll be debating the finer points of Twin Peaks lore, in writing, for your reading pleasure.
Today’s debaters are: Brien Allen and Lindsay Stamhuis.
The topic is: Who or what stopped Laura from going with Cooper in 1989?
Black Lodge: by Brien Allen
Disappearing Act #1
[LAURA] Where are we going?
[COOPER] We’re going home.
While Cooper and Laura are headed “home” in 1989, we are taken back to the pilot episode, and we see Laura’s body disappear off the beach. It flickers out with the same digital affect that was applied when the Fireman sent Cooper “far away” after their little reminder session at the beginning of Season 3. That’s interesting. Let’s make a mental note of that and come back to it later.
So what’s going on at “home,” i.e. the Palmer house, at this time? Per the closed captions file, Sarah is “moaning,” “wailing,” and “breathing heavily.” In the background, there is an “ominous atmospheric hum,” “low, rhythmic whooshing,” and “thunderous clattering.” As she attacks Laura’s picture, there is also “ominous scratching repeating” as the glass shatters and she stabs the picture over and over. As the scene closes, the wailing “oddly reverberates.”
Whatever Sarah has become, she is seriously pissed. The order of presentation of these scenes clearly implies that the cause of her lamentations in the present is the alteration of the timeline in the past. Remember that Mark Frost has told us that the scenes in Season 3 are largely presented in order. So even though these scenes are set 25 years apart, they are in order with regards to cause and effect.
We should probably pause here and go ahead and talk about Judy. Most everybody thinks Sarah is possessed by Judy, and there’s plenty of good reasons for that. Reasons that, for the sake of this little debate, I’m not going to delve into. The cherry on top though was Mark Frost revealing in The Final Dossier that Sarah’s middle name is “Judith.” Most fans took that as the cool dad tipping his hat and just giving us the answer.
In Hiding in Plain Sight – Judy Revealed, I laid out a theory based on Sarah being broken by her grief and survivor’s guilt, split into two personalities, Sarah the victim of all that happened, and Sarah the monster who allowed it all to happen. Only she gave that second personality a different name, but still her name. Judy. Judy can ride shotgun, like when she hustles Sarah out of the grocery store, or she can take the wheel, like when she murders the trucker at the bar. Judy has access to all of Sarah’s “gifts” and has been able to access the Lodge spaces through her.
Regardless, via split personality or mere possession, this is Judy at the Palmer house, firmly in control, moaning and wailing and stabbing at Laura’s picture in frustration. Because it’s gonna be over for her once the new “official version,” in which Laura merely disappeared, catches up. In the new timeline, Laura merely disappeared. Since The Final Dossier doesn’t mention Leland taking his life from a jail cell, it’s a safe bet that his incestuous relationship with his daughter was never revealed. There may be grief, and even a bit of guilt, for this approaching timeline’s Sarah to chew on, but nowhere near what she faced in the original version. Not enough to break her.
Disappearing Act #2
So Judy is cornered, despairing and desperate. She has got to do something, to survive. She can’t let Cooper complete his mission. Again, the ordering of the scenes make it pretty clear. After the attack on Laura’s photo, we return to Cooper and Laura walking through the woods. We see their destination, the golden pool. Suddenly, the forest falls silent, and we hear the “soft clicking, scratching noise.” This is the same noise that the Fireman played as a warning for Cooper in that black and white debrief scene in Part 1. As we stay visually focused on Cooper’s slack-jawed amazement, we hear curtains flapping and Laura’s excruciating scream, as she is ripped up and away. Same sound and same painful extraction as was done to Carrie in the Red Room.
This is the signature of an amateur apparating. When Cooper is sent “far away” by the Fireman, he is digitally erased. Andy just vanishes. We don’t actually see Freddie’s mission brief with the Fireman, but you’d think he’d mention it if there was excruciating pain involved. On the other hand, recall when Phillip Jeffries apparated back to Argentina, he let out an excruciating cry of pain, not unlike Laura’s, showing his inexperience in the art of apparating. The being who ripped Laura out of 1989, and Carrie out of the Red Room, is either likewise inexperienced, a monster who doesn’t care about the person being apparated, or both.
My conclusion? Judy reached out, across time and space, and yanked both Laura and Carrie away from Cooper.
Disappearing Act #3
So, we need to also talk about Carrie. Another recent reveal from the not-as-cool dad was buried in the extras on the Season 3 DVD. David likes to call actors by their character’s name on set, and we hear Sheryl Lee being called “Carrie” on the set of the Red Room. Not “Laura.” In Season 3 at least, that’s Carrie in the Red Room. Carrie is the one who is 25 years older, has the short haircut, and feels like she knows Laura Palmer.
Carrie is some sort of tulpa version of Laura, dreamed into being by Sarah, or possibly the Fireman (remember the Laura orb from Part 8?). Potentially, this has always been Carrie in the Red Room, even back to the original series. A version of Laura who didn’t die, but perhaps merely ran away and assumed a new identity. An idealized, elegant version of Laura, with a bright shining light behind her mask, running stark contrast to the blackness that lies behind Sarah’s.
In the woods when all went silent, there was that scratching noise. Same as what the Fireman played for Cooper to “listen to the sounds.” This sound is associated with the “it” that is “in our house now.” That “it” is Judy. This is why it is “very important” to stop her. She is just Sarah Palmer – a crazy, monstrous, and powerful version of Sarah – with the manifest ability to reach into the Lodge spaces, to listen and act within them. (Or, if you prefer, it’s just the negative entity formerly known as Jowday, and that’s reason enough to want to stop her.)
So Carrie is also yanked out of the Red Room right before Cooper’s eyes, in the same trademark manner. A flapping noise, a tortured scream, and she is yanked up and away. This is the same culprit. When she is gone, the curtains billow out and then raise up to reveal a white horse. The avatar of Judy.
When Judy needs to save herself, she yanks Laura out of 1989 and Carrie out of the Red Room, combines them and puts them in a new dream, Odessa. In this dream, Laura doesn’t just assume a new identity, she *becomes* the new identity. Her life as Carrie is not idyllic, and this Carrie is not elegant. She’s a hot mess. This is the bad “what if” version of the Laura that merely went missing. Another way for Sarah to torment herself and be the damned soul Judy needs her to be.
The Fireman sends Dale and Diane into this new dream. Diane is lost to Linda, though perhaps at this point that’s what she prefers. Cooper finds Laura living out her existence as Carrie, takes her “home” successfully this time, only to find no Sarah there. He fails in healing Sarah by reuniting her with her daughter. Judy is a step ahead of him. But the Fireman is a step ahead of Judy, and he has planted Tremonds and Chalfonts at the Palmer house. They maintain the portal there, and thus Sarah is able to circumvent Judy and reach out to Laura. The sleeper is awakened, and she blows out the candles on Judy’s little dream.
OK, so maybe those last bits are wandering a bit into speculation territory. Let’s take a step back and reassess the original question. Who snatched Laura away from Dale in 1989?
First, listen to the sounds. The “soft clicking, scratching noise” (as the closed captioning puts it) is the same one that the Fireman played for Agent Cooper in the black and white debrief scene back in Part 1. This is a sound the Fireman was warning Dale against.
Second, look to the scene order. There is a cause-and-effect relationship playing out between what is happening in the past and Sarah’s lamentations in the present, and then someone / something acts against what is happening in the past.
Lastly, look at the various types of apparting. Laura’s yank from 1989 and Carrie’s yank out of the Red Room are undeniably similar. They are forceful. Raw. Painful. More comparable to Phillip Jeffries popping back into Buenos Aires (amateur) than Dale or Andy being sent away by the Fireman (pro).
Let’s think about why Dale went back to 1989 in the first place? Why didn’t he go back to when Laura was 12 and prevent Bob from ever touching her in the first place? Because 1989 was the birth of Judy, when Laura died and Sarah’s grief broke her in two. Or opened her up to possession by Judy, however you want to look at it. So he’s going back to 1989 to save Laura, yes, but mainly to stop the birth of Judy. Two birds, one stone. And thus it is Judy who intervenes to save herself by snatching Laura right out of his grasp and putting her in her own “far away” place.
White Lodge: Lindsay Stamhuis
Who stopped Laura from going with Cooper in 1989?
The Fireman, of course.
Now I’ve said this before, notably on the Bickering Peaks podcast, but I am not entirely sure that the three clues The Fireman gave to Cooper at the start of Part 1 were, in fact, clues. As the ending of the series settled around me and I had time to think about the implications of what we’d seen, I began to wonder if perhaps The Fireman was offering warnings to Agent Cooper instead.
The three clues, you will remember are:
- Richard and Linda
- Two birds with one stone
Stick in pin in that for the moment; I’ll be coming back to that. As I wrote in my article The Continuing Education of Dale Cooper, I don’t necessarily believe that Agent Cooper was right to try to take Laura back to the Palmer house at the end of Part 18. I believe he was stuck in a holding pattern determined by his White Knight Complex, something that told him over and over again to Save Laura. His entire raison d’être revolved around this; it was his defining characteristic, hardwired into who he is like his hair colour or predisposition towards coffee and away from birds.
In hearing what The Fireman has to say to him, Agent Cooper claims to understand. But while some view his “What year is this?” question as a result of Judy’s tampering with the timeline, I’m inclined to view it as the end result of a set of events put into place 18 hours earlier with Cooper’s misunderstanding.
Recall that, right after giving Cooper his three “clues” which prompts Cooper’s assertion of understanding, The Fireman tells him “You are far away”. Then Cooper crackles out of view. I think this is ultimately a sign from The Fireman that Cooper is nowhere near understanding. Like a Lodge-y game of Hot or Cold, The Fireman is saying “You couldn’t be further from understanding. You’re cold as can be. You are far away.” Cooper hasn’t learned his ultimate lesson yet. He’s still thinking about things in terms of how best to save Laura, when we all know she saved herself in Fire Walk With Me. Cooper hears the clues and thinks of them in terms of this mission.
What do those clues ultimately mean? I haven’t figured that out yet, but it’s easy to presume that the 4-3-0 is the mile marker where he and Diane will cross over; Richard and Linda are who they will become; and two birds with one stone could refer to two people (Diane and Laura) needing to be saved by the one stone (Richard — a name which means “strong”; what’s stronger than stone? Okay, lots of stuff is, but…bear with me here.) Cooper could have interpreted the clues in this way, and followed them to his ultimate fate, which was to be stumbling around in the street in front of the Palmer’s old house, now occupied by Alice Tremond.
We don’t know what The Fireman truly meant by his clues or his warnings, but I think the clue may lie in the other thing that he tells Cooper. The first thing he says.
Listen to the sounds.
That sound — some have described it as cricket-like, possibly the sound of the fricket creature in Part 8, or maybe the sound of a slot machine in the Silver Mustang Casino. But there is no doubt that this sound presents itself in Part 17 right before Laura is ripped away from Cooper in the forest in 1989. Right before Cooper embarks upon his ill-fated journey to visit Philip Jeffries and gain access to the slipstreams of time, he hears the sound.
Hears it. But does he listen?
It seems to me that the Fireman told him “Listen to this sound. When you hear it again, it will lead you down a path you may not be able to return from.” He detailed what would happen if he didn’t heed the warning. And Cooper claims to have understood it all, when he didn’t.
You are far away, The Fireman says, just before Cooper flickers away. The same flicker happens as Laura’s body is taken off the beach outside the Blue Pine Lodge. The sound is the same; the visual effect is the same. I believe the Fireman is the one responsible for both. He knew that Laura would be in danger if Cooper succeeded, and so he tried to hide her away.
I get the feeling that it was too late for Cooper. He’d been set on his path by his stubborn conviction in his own ability to save people. If he’d listened to the sounds that The Fireman played for him, he might have remembered the warning of what was to come, and maybe he wouldn’t have tried to spirit Laura through the woods after all.