Welcome to the latest edition of Topics, a new monthly feature here on 25YL where I speak with a guest about a Twin Peaks topic of their choice. This month, my guest is JB Minton, co host of The Red Room Podcast and author of the upcoming book, The Skeleton Key To Twin Peaks. JB and I originally had a different topic in mind (which does come up in this conversation) but as we kept talking, we really started to touch upon a lot of parts of The Final Dossier, seen through the perspective of JB’s big working theory he developed after reading the book. If you haven’t read JB’s theory, The Skeleton Key to Twin Peaks by JB Minton, give it a read and then come back and check out this conversation!
AG: There were a wide range of opinions about The Final Dossier. When you first finished the book, what were your initial feelings?
JBM: I loved it. I loved where it took me. I’m in the minority, I know I am but I just trust Mark Frost’s narrative instinct. I trust David Lynch’s vision, that place he’s coming from and wants to take us to but from a narrative storytelling perspective, when you have Frost balancing out Lynch, you have something magical. We saw it at points during the original series. We didn’t see it much during Fire Walk With Me but I think Bob Engels filled in for that. Season 3 though, we see a balance that creates absolute magic. I was just so appreciative when I finished reading the book. All of the answers I had were there, the mysteries I wanted protected were still protected and I felt like it was a closing event for me.
AG: Would you be completely satisfied if that was the final chapter of Twin Peaks?
JBM: At this point, I would be a little upset if they do come back. It’s become so crystalized and perfect in my mind that…well hell, maybe it should be destroyed (laughs). Right now, it’s just emotionally satisfying to me the way it all ended, book and show. It felt to me like they wanted to kill their creation and do it in a way that would get people talking 50 years later. So here’s my secret hope Andrew and that’s that Mark Frost’s previous book, The Secret History of Twin Peaks was a script or outline for Season 4 where we go back in time and see the town of Twin Peaks in the 1940’s and ’50s, with the Martells and when logging was the primary industry. Logging was the Twin Peaks industry, that was the culture. We could see the beginnings of when Leland and Sarah came together. That could be a really fascinating way to go back and re-examine the mythology and redefine every event that we saw take place all the way up to the ending of Season 3.
AG: Interesting. Have you read the Access Guide that came out right around when the show ended?
JBM: I have not. Is there something I should read about in there? Scott Ryan has offered to let me borrow his copy before.
AG: I think you’d enjoy the book. The seeds were planted for The Secret History of Twin Peaks there. It was really cool to see that Mark Frost got to return to some of these ideas many years later.
JBM: When I first read The Secret History of Twin Peaks, I remember being so satisfied. I remember it came out close to 9 months before the show came back and that was our first taste of Twin Peaks coming back. To some people it felt really sour but to me, and granted I don’t have the history – I’ve only been a Twin Peaks fan for about 10 years now, I had the gift of a beginner’s mind and was expecting new things. I loved it. I thought both books were superb.
AG: Getting back to The Final Dossier, you mentioned to me recently that you found a correlation between the town’s industry changing from being a logging community to having the private prison and Cooper. Let’s dive into that.
JBM: I did. One of the first scenes we see in all of Twin Peaks is Ben Horne and his scheming, we see that Leland is a part of it. That’s hospitality – they were trying to gather investors to come and build there. The idea was that Twin Peaks as a community had created their fortunes and legacies based off of logging. From there, this layer of hospitality started to be built. When the show returns, we see that they’ve branched out to things like cannabis for recreational use. We learn from Mark Frost that the Ghostwood development actually did happen and became a private prison. If we consider Cooper being captured and disappearing and the negativity that came out in his place from the Red Room, it had to have effected the spiritual balance of the town I’ll call it. In my mind, its a clear line back to that moment when Cooper was split and the best part of him as we saw was really, really good in Dougie Jones. The bad part of him was equally as bad and when that energy burst out of the Red Room, into the forest and the mountains and the town of Twin Peaks, I don’t think it ever recovered from there. What better institution to exhibit that than a private prison, built on land that should have been for luxury enjoyment?
AG: So if the good energy of Cooper is trapped, what happened to the good energy from the town of Twin Peaks?
JBM: In my mind, it’s the image of groundwater being sucked up when it’s too dry outside. I think of that — the good energy was literally sucked out of Twin Peaks and out of the people. As you can see, they’re all struggling, with the exception of Norma and Ed in that beautiful moment they have. That bursts out. That was an eruption of pure white light love that came out of that town. The ending image we see is the sun breaking through the clouds and to me, that’s what I like to think of as the ending of Season 3 now. That moment is above and beyond more important than anything that happens with Laura Palmer, Cooper or anything else. The fact that their love broke through out of the town again is the ultimate release in Season 3.
AG: Did you find any of the other people in town to have positive arcs or at least hope for them emotionally?
JBM: That’s a great question. The only person who pops into my mind right away is Jerry Horne and we saw what happened to him. That veneer of marijuana induced bliss quickly shed itself when he was forced to confront the darkness in the woods. That would probably be the only person though. Norma and Ed were the only ones happy at the end of Season 3. Maybe Lucy and Andy but still, there were losses there.
AG: How does Laura Palmer equate into all of this? I know she’s obviously central to your overall theory.
JBM: I know I’m in the minority of one here but I believe that Laura is the ultimate foe in Twin Peaks. When you look at Fire Walk With Me, I think we see a young woman who is half human and half demon. I believe that was confirmed by Mark Frost in The Final Dossier. What we watch in Twin Peaks is ultimately the surrendering of the human to the demon. In order to save her from BOB, she had to go down there and I think she became the overlord of the Black Lodge and that the Red Room itself was like a mind-web. If you look at all of the elements you can see that the red curtains are like those from Jacques’ cabin. This is Bryon from Twin Peaks Unwrapped‘s theory and I think it’s a beautiful theory, is that the last images her mind captured before she died actually allowed her to create this trap, this Red Room where she controls all aspects of it and she gathers and draws Cooper into it like a trap and then feeds him with lies for 25 years about how he can save her. That’s how his goodness dissipated over time. So I absolutely think she’s core and critical to this but again, I’m in the minority here and this is the thesis of my whole book that I just laid out here.
AG: I’d like to discuss Laura a little bit more without giving too much of your book away.
JBM: It’s all good man. I’m giving the book away for free to raise money for the David Lynch Foundation.
AG: That’s really cool you’re doing that. Ok, so let’s discuss a lot of the other characters associated with the Black Lodge. How do they fit into your theory and hierarchy of things with Laura as he overlord of the Black Lodge?
JBM: I see them as demi-Gods of sorts. The connection that I would love to make involves Denver Bob and the other man with him from The Secret History of Twin Peaks. My secret desire is that those guys when they were captured in Owl Cave by whatever that energy was, that negative energy — let’s just say that it was BOB and Judy from the underworld they were trapped in and that it could actually spiritually impact a certain area. To go back to The Secret History of Twin Peaks, there were all those tubes and stuff that they talked about in the mountains. There was an ability to capture their souls and their essence and that somehow transmuted into this whole Convenience Store concept. This construct, navigating between two worlds using electricity as a conduit, I want to connect all of that together in my mind because that would be so freaking cool if that mythology held.
AG: How does Carrie Page play into things given your hypothesis on Laura?
JBM: In my mind, Carrie was a tulpa, created to hold Laura’s spirit or essence or whatever you want to call it when she’s ripped out of the timeline. That was to remove her from influencing BOB getting back together with Judy and procreate again. So she’s ripped out of the timeline and put into this prison of the mind lets call it, just like Laura did with Cooper in the Red Room. It’s quite a fitting punishment. She now lives this kind of mediocre life as Carrie and she draws her own demons towards her. There’s a dead guy in a chair and she’s desperate to get out of town. She’s not making good decisions just like she didn’t in the other reality. So by nature she’s corrupted and taking her with her spiritual time-bomb inside of her out to where she finally surrendered. I always think of that scene in Fire Walk With Me where she’s on the stairwell and you just see her break. To me, that’s the moment where the demon takes over. What follows from there is a natural progression of that terrible fall from grace.
AG: Let’s stick with Fire Walk With Me for a second. The final scene of that film has been debated heavily since Season 3 ended. How do you view that final scene now with Laura, Cooper and the angel?
JBM: It’s the beginning of the big lie. We get to see the moment that the wicked, wicked moment that drives Cooper over and over again begins. Cooper tries save women, we know that. This is the moment where he starts to spend the next 25 years trying to save Laura. This is the beginning of the lie she tells him, about how he can save her. He just sits and dreams about it for the next 25 years. That’s how I see it.
AG: The final scene of Season 3 sees Cooper back in that chair and she’s whispering to him again. How do you interpret that? Is it the same thing she’s always been telling him? Is it something new this time? Or is the cycle repeating itself?
JBM: I think it could be any of those things. I like the idea of the cycle repeating again. Somehow those ten revolutions passed and now it’s starting over again, like a check point in a video game. There’s something elegant about that. The pessimist in me wants to tell me that Lynch is actually telling us the secret at the end, that she’s been whispering a lie in his ear the whole time. In fact, if you go back and watch, in Part 2, when she whispers in his ear he gasps. In Part 4 when he’s Dougie and the limo pulls up to the house, when Dougie looks into the mirrored reflection on the window, he gasps again. Almost like an equal moment and in some ways I want to think of it like he’s looking through the mirror of time and space and sees himself still sitting in the Red Room. It really excites me to think about that. There’s a mystery there.
AG: What do you think Season 3 told us about the character of Agent Cooper?
JBM: That he died in Episode 29. We never saw the Dale Cooper from before again. It’s representative of some things in life that you just can’t come back from, like murdering someone for example. There’s a fractured reality that takes place after that. There’s the you before then and the you after and Cooper was never the same as a spiritual entity the moment he was unzipped in the Red Room and the wrong half of him ran outside.
AG: Does the town of Twin Peaks stand any chance of recovering given your hypothesis about Cooper’s bad energy and its effect on the town?
JBM: I think they absolutely will recover, that’s my hope. Going back to Ed and Norma and the sun breaking through, I think that was a pivotal moment and BOB has at least been banished, if not destroyed altogether. Laura in my opinion has completely destroyed any spiritual remnant of herself, Cooper and anyone else in that timeline when she explodes at the end, which is why it fades to black. If we look at what’s left, it’s just Judy inhabiting the sad, wrinkled, old body of Sarah Palmer, the woman who eats herself from within from her own misery. It’s a very sad ending actually. She pulls in all that negative energy and feeds off it while the other people in that area have a chance to regrow, like rekindling after a forest fire.
AG: The ending of The Final Dossier sees Tammy make this connection that what she remembers isn’t what everyone else remembers. What did you get out of that ending, what did it say to you?
JBM: That time is slipping. It’s a concept Stephen King uses about time pushing back anytime you try to change a major event. I think what happened here was kind of a 4 dimensional chess game between The Fireman and Laura Palmer really, who ultimately got outplayed because what she didn’t know was that The Fireman, Major Briggs, Phillip Jefferies and The One Armed Man they knew what drove Cooper, his Lancelot complex, which is why he lived on Lancelot Court. They knew he would become a suicide bomber that would take the payload to the source and hit the button. In my mind, it was just a better played game of chess and it ended up with a freeing of the town.