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Obscured as the narrative is, it took me a while to realize that Diane Evans and Laura Palmer are the heroes of Twin Peaks Season 3. But they absolutely are.
How can I say that when clearly Kyle MacLachlan was present through the entire series? Because he (mostly) played the roll of the villain. The Big Bad of Season 3 (if you had to pick just one) is Dale Cooper’s hubris. Whether it’s in the form of DoppelCooper or if it’s still being dealt with inside the RichardCooper character of Part 18, the hubris causes nothing but trauma and trouble to everyone around it, including Dale Cooper himself.
If you stay with me through this column, I will explain in detail how the two most important women of Twin Peaks deal with Cooper’s hubris differently, but here’s the nutshell statement: Diane has a protagonist-adjacent arc of realizing the guy she loves isn’t good for her and she reclaims her agency, while Laura is (as always) her own woman and is decidedly not part of Cooper’s plan to make every damn thing “right” no matter how much he tries to make her complicit.
Diane Evans, as we’ve seen throughout the various incarnations of Twin Peaks, is always some form of a tool for Dale Cooper:
- A tape recorder, who silently fulfills the orders of Special Agent Dale Cooper.
- A tulpa, who against better judgement fulfills the text message orders of DoppelCooper regardless of their complicated pasts.
- “Real” Diane, who really loves Dale Cooper and against better judgement follows Dale into (presumably) Lodgespace on a mission.
These various forms of Diane are difficult to understand as aspects to a character, even as much as how her different forms relate to each other. And it’s still quite possible we’ve never even seen the real Diane at all (Eileen Mykkels, for example, differentiates the Diane from Parts 17 and 18 by calling her Redhead Diane when she distinguishes her from other Diane forms). But Diane was a presence throughout Season 3 regardless of her level of enigma, and I plan on exploring her role in the story here. In particular, based on a conversation I had with Andrew Grevas where he said Lynch tends to make women the heroes in his stories, I think Diane in Twin Peaks Season 3 is exactly one of these heroes.
In Andrew’s recent article “Don’t Take The Ring Laura” – Looking at the Fates of Both Laura Palmer & Agent Cooper, as well as my own Electricity Nexus work (with A Linear Chronology of Dale Cooper, Complete With Happy Ending in particular), we’ve said time loops reflect incremental steps/improvements from the time loop previous. This brings in a level of hope to Dale’s character arc, that eventually enough baby steps will have been taken that the person stuck inside the time loop may achieve enough small victories to achieve a version of their goals one day, or at least grow in an alchemical way towards being properly balanced. But as of the end of Part 18, while Dale is closer to this balanced state, he is still very much far away.
Dale’s time loop seems to begin again when he speaks to Phillip Gerard in the Waiting Room and Phillip asks him “is it future, or is it past?” Once Part 17 happens, once BOB is defeated by Freddie, and once Dale goes back in time for the botched attempt at bringing Laura to the portal Andy had used to meet the Fireman, Dale returns to the Lodge and his new loop begins again. Phillip Gerard asks him “is it future, or is it past,” but this time two things are different: Laura is not present in her chair (I’ll get back to this later) and Dale is allowed to leave right away.
Why can Dale leave immediately? Because after Freddy’s crushing of BOB in the previous time loop there’s no longer a BOB, and therefore no 25 year-long Doppelganger soul switch/agreement/contract that was enacted in Episode 29.
Dale comes right out instead of his shadow. Except, as I dealt with at length in The Dale/Mr. C Showdown Begins In Part 18 When Dale Becomes DoppelCooper, rather than having a free-roaming path this Dale still follows the same general path his Doppelganger took in the previous loop, as if he’s locked into it on a track. I think this happens because the loops are happening simultaneously upon physical reality while in Lodgespace they appear to happen linearly in succession. The path of Dale’s Lodge loops are generally the same though incrementally effected as he goes. (I’ve explained the effects Lodgespace has on physical reality and why in other columns, especially Understanding Season 3: How the Fireman “Brings Back Some Memories” so read those if you need to know more what I mean).
This loop where Dale is following his shadow’s path contains a Dale fully unified but nowhere near fully calibrated. Dale and his Shadow are together in one body, but he is nowhere near reconciled or balanced. This is a Dale Cooper who has fresh new tires after a blowout but the alignment service wasn’t done so the steering wheel shakes like crazy if you get over 60 miles an hour. If a nuclear explosion takes over seven minutes of film and sweeping a floor or changing a glass box’s camera data cards takes almost three minutes each, it’s silly to think Dale and his Shadow would just be fixed immediately when Dale puts the Owl Ring on his doppelganger. No, we are seeing Dale integratING as he goes. This is an important distinction later because Diane is the one who meets Dale when he leaves the red room at the beginning of his journey, expecting her fully integrated agent. Diane being that agent’s Girl Friday.
His Girl Friday is also living in similar loops. Just as Leland “commits suicide” in the post-BOB loop according to Tamara Preston in The Final Dossier around the same time frame that he was fatally wounded by BOB in the sheriff station in the previous loop, things happen pretty much the same as before regardless to how the setup of the events have happened. I call them classic timequake symptoms, but let’s not worry about why and accept this phenomenon as a thing that is actually a documentable pattern.
This means instead of DoppelCooper/BOB bringing Diane to a hotel and raping her as her tulpa explains in Part 16 to the Blue Rose agents, on this loop and around the same general time frame she goes willingly (though with reservations) with her hero guy into where the electricity turns the day into night and who knows what else. In this new loop, our Integrating Agent and his smart-to-be-wary Girl Friday go into Lodgespace on purpose instead of DoppelCooper taking her under duress or false pretense. And they act like they’re enacting a sex ritual.
What is the deal with the ritualistic sex magic we’re probably witnessing? Why would our IntergratING agent do this thing with Diane? Because it’s a remnant from before.
It’s the same action that a BOB-suggestible DoppelCooper enacted with Diane trying to bring about the coming of Experiment/Judy/Moonchild that would supposedly satisfy BOB’s appetite and is what Frost says in The Final Dossier is DoppelCooper (the Double)’s endgame. The Part 18 sex scene is the same action, but without the (BOB) teeth that would have brought Judy. This is Cooper’s Lodgespace we’re in and things are incrementally better so this time there’s no intent to summon. Experiment will not get the call this time. It merely makes Diane remember her past loop with DoppelCooper and Dale and BOB.
And instead of turning into Naido like she did after the initial trauma of the first incident, she turns into Linda because she realizes Dale still isn’t the person she thought he was. She thought she was getting the complete Dale. Instead she got an integratING Dale that might be closer but he’s sure not close enough.
The Diane Double she sees is what I’ve said before in various columns. This is Lodgespace. She is seeing herself at her scariest point of trauma just like Dale saw himself in the Lodge floor in Episode 29 stabbed next to a dead or dying Caroline, who switched back and forth with his then-current focal point of romantic interest, Annie Blackburn. Diane’s scariest point of trauma is her betrayal and rape at the hands of DoppelCooper and BOB, and she sees herself at the same location where the assault happened, living through the event (sex magic and all) with Dale alternating with DoppelCooper/BOB according to Diane’s experience. And that’s why Dale only has cold orders for her. He won’t go as far as his worst instincts of over-entitlement or magical rite incitement, but he’ll still tell her what she needs to do all right.
In this new loop, instead of forming a trauma tulpa from the experience, her Double is in the physical place of the tulpa. And because Diane is able to face it with (in Season 2 terms) perfect courage, she is able to best it. And as Rosie of the Diane Podcast says, she covers Dale’s eyes in the sex scene so that she is not under observation by Dale and therefore her form is not fixed in the moment of trauma, that I am then suggesting would keep her tied to his loop.
And because of her actions in this new loop, Diane does not turn into Naido. This time she turns into Linda (at least according to Cooper’s point of view) as she leaves the loop.
If I had to look at Diane’s chronology from the point of view of the physical world, it goes like this:
- She meets Cooper, whether it’s at the red curtains or him paying her a visit.
- She goes with him on a mission and is pulled into Lodgespace.
- She is raped by the fluctuating Dales of the moment and the past.
- Diane turns into someone else from the experience, whether it’s Naido or Linda. In the previous loop she becomes Naido while her tulpa enters the physical world, and in the following loop I believe she takes the tupla’s place (and what would have been her Doppelganger’s place if she’d looked away rather than acknowledging her situation) and goes out into the world just like Dale was able to take the doppelganger’s place in the world.
Diane was not able to re-enter the world until she could overcome Cooper’s magicianship. And by magicianship, I mean he can flick his wrist and open curtains now, and who knows what else. He has control over his situation, and can get what he wants, not what he needs (because really, if you have complete control over your surroundings, what could you possibly think you need?). And just like Dale would demand things into his tape recorder and magically get earplugs days later, and just like DoppelCooper would text Diane and she A) compulsively texts him coordinates against what appears to be her better judgement and B) remembers everything when he tells her 🙂 ALL, this integratING Dale demands her to come with him, and to stand over here, and remove her clothes, without even asking if she’s comfortable or being remotely empathetic.
In the Part 18 loop, Diane begins stuck under the spell of Cooper’s magicianship. And while she does love Cooper, maybe it’s not to the degree of those heavy Part 17 kisses, except she was that way possibly because Cooper needs her to love him like that. Wants her to. Sorry.
This is what’s keeping Cooper in his Lodge loop. Cooper’s hubris is the villain of this story, whether it’s personified as DoppelCooper or it’s his shadow within the real Dale as it integrates under the surface of the newly unified (but not yet properly balanced) Cooper. He’s still doing the same things over and over again. He’s even taking his Girl Friday into the Lodge and a hotel even though it’s going to traumatize her right into somebody else. He does it over and over again because he thinks all these things he does is the right answer because at one point part of him thought it was the right answer. Therefore of course it is.
And the lady who absolutely has to be in love with him is going to help him achieve all this stuff.
Cooper’s got to figure things out like Norma Jennings did. Her repeated scene of doing the books in the diner booth is literally re-used footage. She’s literally doing the exact same thing over and over no matter what the scene is like around her, whether it’s day or night, light or dark. Until she figured out it was crazy and sat down with Walter and told him there was a different way than franchising. She bought herself out of her contract and immediately was in the right place and the right time for a future with Ed. Cooper needs to sit down with Gerard and tell him “it’s not one or the other, man. It’s not just the future or the past. It’s the present, man.” And then he needs to take agency over his own life just like Norma did and buy himself out of that Lodge contract. Because if he doesn’t, he’s always going to be this person that Diane doesn’t recognize anymore. Or, like when CooperDougie was in front of the mirror in the Jones house in Part 4, a man he himself doesn’t even seem to recognize.
Diane wants this to happen. She always hopes Coop is right. She wants him to be right, but it never seems quite like it will be. Maybe this time he will be, but probably somewhere nearby someone is reading a Peanuts where Lucy’s taking the football away from Charlie Brown one more time. And Diane has had it. That Part 18 sex scene was it. She wasn’t going to be someone’s tool to re-enact some demon’s tried-and-failed sex ritual, or even to send any more earplugs. It’s up to Dale this time to shovel himself out of his shit. Diane is her own person and she has more self respect than that, and it doesn’t matter how much charisma or magicianship he exerts over her: Diane knows who she is.
We may not know who Diane is, but she is very aware of who and what she is. Every step of the way. And Cooper, however powerful he becomes through his Lodge loops, can not keep her in his thrall.
She’s the hero of Season 3, reclaiming her agency against all odds, against all manner of supernatural forces and Lodge-amplified hubris. And she’s not the only one.
One Laura Palmer also appears to be seen as a tool of a Lodge-looped Dale Cooper. I’ve said this as far back as Cooper’s Time Loop Isn’t Just His that Laura and Dale are tied together in their Lodge loops, and that Dale was likely depriving Laura of her agency. I’m surprised to say I haven’t moved much from this position over the past ten months.
In Lodgespace, Cooper’s loops absolutely need Laura Palmer because he’s trying to solve her murder and save her, much like the optimistic agent who, upon possibly bleeding out on the floor of the Great Northern in Season 2, desperately wanted to be the guy who solved the Lindbergh case. He needed to go into the dreamlike sea of time within the Lodge and take Laura Palmer to her angel just as it happened in the ending of Fire Walk With Me (he knows it happened like this because he was there somehow) but this time she didn’t have to die to get there.
Dale and Laura are tied together because their initial contact with Lodgespace (to the best of their active observable knowledge) was in their shared dream. Besides “is it future, or is it past?” the other loop they keep going back to is the one where she whispers a secret to him to him in the Episode 2 Red Room dream that blew everyone’s minds in 1990. They were both human beings who observed the other and therefore they are both tied into the waiting room Lodgespace whether it’s before Laura died or the in final credits of Part 18. It’s a different kind of loop altogether from the Phillip one but just as problematic.
Because they are tied together in Lodgespace like this, it makes perfect sense upon Dale’s exit from the Lodge (when Diane meets him) that instead of following his Doppelganger and BOB’s Find Judy quest, he’d instead substitute the Find Laura quest in its place. Because after all, if there’s no BOB in his current loop because of Freddie, then there’d be a missing Laura because she was removed to an undisclosed location with a scream during Cooper’s Fire Walk With Me Flashback scene. And Dale, hoping this was his Lindbergh case, thought finding the person who went missing on his watch made a ton of sense to make his top priority.
And because he believes there is now a BOBless world, he can return Laura to the home where she was raised, and his big important case would be solved. But instead, Carrie Page screams.
Dale finds Carrie in a life that is incrementally better than her previous life’s loop, just as Dale’s and Diane’s Lodge loop lives appear to be (for example, rather than taking matters into her own hands and defeating the bad guy by dying in the train car, her Odessa version BOB stand-in has a bullet in his head as if Laura was able to take matters into her own hands, defeat the bad guy, and remain alive though will assuredly be in trouble with the law). But when she is returned to her BOB-free childhood home she screams, thus mucking up Cooper’s fairy tale “I-Solved-The-Case Ending” and starting the time loop over one more time.
I’ll get back to the two other Laura screams that pull her away from the Lodge in Part 2 and from the Fire Walk With Me Flashback in Part 17, but there are these additional screams in Season 3 that frame what a bloodcurdling scream can mean:
- The girl in the courtyard, facelessly screaming away from the scene before Laura’s death is officially revealed to her school over the intercom. Where is this girl when her classmates receive the news? Way the hell away from the story.
- Lucy, in Part 4. She screams and can’t accept Frank Truman appearing before her despite talking to her on the cell phone. She eventually gets to accept the concept of cellphones in Part 17 after a process of acceptance and uncoupling from being stuck in the past.
- Ruby, in Part 15. She is removed from her Roadhouse booth in a surreal way by two biker-looking dudes and she crawls along the feet of an unseeing crowd before she primally screams. Her story isn’t explained but she never appears again so I’m assuming whatever her trauma was unable to be processed so much that we just never saw her again, much like the courtyard classmate.
Cooper’s hubris considered absolutely no issues with bringing Carrie to the Palmer House before Carrie was ready to accept her situation (or her name). He didn’t even prepare her for the situation. If the snippets we saw of the car scenes with Carrie were any indication, he sat in silence through the entire ride. And Carrie, ill equipped for any form of reunion, had no choice but to scream because she was not prepared.
Carrie’s scream is very much in the same vein as the screams I’ve just described, both in intensity and in thematic purpose, and I suspect Lucy is a template for how we’re supposed to see Laura’s place in dealing with her trauma when she screams. Why do I think Laura wasn’t ready to accept her situation like Daine after that Part 18 scream? Because the next time we see her, she’s back in the Red Room, whispering once again to Dale Cooper. She is at the point where Lucy was: a breaking point that puts her in a position to choose to accept her situation, or conversely to deny her situation. But as Laura’s, Diane’s, and Dale’s loops (and even Lucy’s arc) have gotten incrementally better I refuse to believe anything besides Laura being on an arc leading to acceptance and reclamation of her agency.
How else do I see Laura fighting? Her three screams. We could see at the end that Laura was confronted with her true past that ended in her death (the house broadcasting Sarah Palmer’s slowed-down “Laura”) and Laura instinctively doing something with her scream even as she tried not to believe her situation.
That Part 18 scream matches up exactly with the one that pulled Lodge Laura from the Lodge in Part 2, and also the one that pulled FWWM Flashback Laura from the forest. What do those two Lauras have in common? They are in immediate proximity to Dale Cooper, who is possibly enthralling Laura magician-style into his Lodge loop. This means even as Laura wasn’t able to acknowledge her actual past and literally turned out the lights, she still knew to pull herself away from Dale Cooper and how to do so. Even though Laura could not entirely acknowledge her past in that final scene, she still wakes up to some sort of agency. She has hit a breaking point where she can begin to reclaim herself. And she literally begins pulling herself out of Dale’s Lodge loops bit by bit. Just as in The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer when she began fighting BOB before she knew what he truly was, she begins fixing her life and we see she is no longer in Dale’s loop at the point of Part 2 and Part 17. She knew she saw Dale in the dream, and she knew she saw him in FWWM and she pulled herself back away from him. He is not allowed to use her as a tool, no matter where his intentions began. Even as she couldn’t face her past she had this message for Dale Cooper. And I bet any money that by the end of the next Lodge loop, which is incrementally better than the one before it, she will have extricated her entire self from Dale’s loop just like Diane finally did in Part 18.
This will be easy for Laura to do once she actively realizes the situation, because Dale isn’t actually changing time in the physical world at all (it’s just a Lodge-adjacent fog that comes over people). He’s just changing the look of his manufactured Lodge loop. Some effects from his Lodge loops will trickle into reality from various portals, but the only place where Laura is a missing person rather than dead is in Lodgespace. But try telling that to Dale. He thinks he’s going through timeline after timeline and making things better. Which is crazy in the first place that a human being thinks he can do that. This is Cooper’s unbridled hubris, and even as Dale is recombined with this hubris, at this point in his Lodge loops he is still a victim to it.
How do we know he’s victim to his hubris? He thinks he needs to do more, and he thinks he can do more. He actively wants to do more. How do we know? Laura, in Part 1, literally says “You can go out now” but he chooses to wait around for an excuse why he couldn’t. It’s that BOB problem. He’s got to defeat BOB first and get the doppelganger back in. then he can leave. It reminds me of how Audrey couldn’t possibly go to the all-important Roadhouse even though her husband said he’d go with her, and she stops going just because he was sleepy. If Dale really wanted to leave the Lodge, he could’ve gone when Laura said he could leave. Instead he chose to believe Gerard and the BOB excuse, because that suited his wants better.
But once he sees BOB “defeated” he has no choice. He can go out now. So he does. For about five minutes.
He actually leaves the Lodge, picks up Diane, but then chooses to go right back in. Because this time Laura needs to be found. Diane, as we’ve discussed earlier, wields her courage and takes her agency back, escaping from this loop back into her own humanity. And later on Laura (even though she doesn’t wholly accept it) finds herself in a similar position and her agency immediately activates. Somewhere inside Laura she knows what happened in physical reality. She know she died yet someone keeps dragging her tulpa self through the wringer anyway. And that someone needs to stop.
She began to fix her problem immediately, partially pulling herself from Dale’s loop, so she could find her peace like she already did until she was suddenly a tulpa. When Laura pulls away from Dale’s loop entirely, the loop may literally unravel, thanks to her not being there to observe him and fix him in permanent position to the Waiting Room, and therefore he won’t lock her in place anymore either.
If Laura can completely extract herself from Dale’s self-created Lodgespace loop, it’s possible Cooper will finally have a chance to confront his more shadowy tendencies and possibly find balance of his own now that he’d have run out of excuses. Maybe he’d finally have the time to acknowledge and defeat his hubris, and then like I’m suggesting with Diane he could step out of the loop in place of his tulpa that went to Las Vegas to hug Janey-E and Sonny Jim, but that would take being the hero of the story. Maybe that can be Season 4, but we know the role of the hero in Season 3 is reserved for Diane and Laura, who respectively refuse to be a tool or a victim for the hubris of Dale Cooper. Diane and Laura, who prove to be women with agency and identities all their own, against all odds.