Courtenay Stallings on Parts 17 & 18

LS: “The past dictates the future” is the “title” of this Part. Of course people speculated about the meanings and significance of each title once it was released. What does that mean to you? Or what do any of the “titles” mean, if anything?

CS: The titles are so interesting because Lynch and Frost did not title the original series’ episodes. It seems the titles for Season 3 were taken directly from the dialogue within that particular part and probably chosen because of the significance of the storyline within that part. Future and past and time itself play an important part in 17. The number 253 is the number of completion because it adds up to 10, and the time 2:53 appears in Sheriff Frank Truman’s office when Cooper, Diane et al are gathered there, but the time on the clock never completely reaches 2:53. It is stuck. There is no completion. Cooper asks Jeffries to transport him to Feb. 23, 1989, the fateful night Laura Palmer begins her journey to death. Cooper intervenes and rescues Laura from her fate. This appears to alter her fate. Her body, wrapped in plastic, disappears from the rocky beach. Pete goes fishing. Is Laura now alive? But then her body is whisked away similar to how it is in the Red Room. Does Cooper’s intervention in the past dictate the future? Does this intervention not only alter the future but time itself? Is this why the town of Twin Peaks seems disrupted? For example, when Laura was pulled from Cooper, did this open up another dimension for Laura as Carrie Page? I realize I am now asking more questions than you! This is what Twin Peaks does to us — inspires more questions than answers.

LS: Gordon’s explanation about his conversation with Briggs and Cooper about Judy seemed…strange. He’s so forthcoming, no riddles. It felt bizarre at this point in the story for questions to have answers that wrapped everything up so neatly. How did you view this scene or any of the other wrap ups that happen here?

CS: The first time I watched Part 17, I was extremely frustrated by how many loose ends were neatly tied up: BOB is killed by the deus ex machina hand of Freddie Sykes’ green glove. Naido miraculously turns into Diane; Everyone is neatly reunited in the Sheriff’s office, etc. This didn’t seem like Lynch’s usual storytelling because all seems to end well, and the narrative conflict becomes uncharacteristically unconflicted.  There’s an important clue that I believe provides insight into what’s going on in Part 17. At the top of the episode, Albert tells Gordon, “You’ve gone soft in your old age.” Gordon says, “Not where it counts, buddy!” On the surface, Gordon’s response is a comical sexual innuendo, but in a very meta way, Lynch is speaking about his filmmaking. Part 17 seems to wrap a few storylines up in a way that Lynch rarely does, but by Part 18, we realize that Lynch has indeed not gone soft where it counts as an artist — he’s introducing a whole new world with Richard, Linda and Carrie Page.

LS: What does Gordon mean that Jeffries doesn’t really exist anymore? How does he know that if he doesn’t know where Jeffries is (which is what he implied in Part 4)

CS: Gordon says that Jeffries’ no longer exists “in the normal sense.” He is still in the universe (a universe?) but is no longer human. We know that Gordon has participated in traveling or dangling in a vortex, so perhaps he has met or communicated with Jeffries on one of these journeys.

LS: Knowing that Naido becomes Diane — does this change the way you view her scenes?

CS: It certainly does, but I still can’t wrap my head around how Diane is functioning in the story and in Cooper’s life. Diane seems to be the character closest to Cooper because of their working relationship and their implied romantic relationship in Part 17 (Cooper welcomes her back with a passionate kiss implying their relationship is or was romantic). Given Cooper’s mystical intuition, it is odd that he does not recognize her in the Purple Palace — even though she is in the guise of Naido. Twin Peaks plays with the idea of doppelgängers, masks and things being not what they seem. Naido/Diane definitely fits into this narrative trope because Naido seems to be disguised as Diane, and the Diane we think we know as Diane is actually a tulpa. Nothing is as it seems.


LS: Ben’s final scene here presents a very earthbound explanation for Jerry Horne — in a way — since it sounds like he simply got high and walked/ran to Jackson Hole. Of course there might be more to that. But what do you think that side journey was really all about?

CS: Jerry Horne is on a drug-fueled journey that provides excellent comedic relief from the darker elements in S3, but there’s something else going on here. Drugs can open the mind to possibilities, but sometimes those things are positive forces and sometimes they are dark forces in the woods. Jerry’s line “You are not my foot!” is hilarious but could portend something more sinister taking over in those woods where the owls are not what they seem. Jerry is the only one to witness evil Mr. C murder his own son, Richard Horne. Remember, Jerry is related to Richard, too. This scene reminds me of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his own son, Isaac, to prove his loyalty to God. However, in the Biblical version, God ultimately prevents the sacrifice, whereas Mr. C sacrifices Richard for selfish ends.  It’s pure evil and manipulation. Evil for evil’s sake. This scene is significant — particularly because Jerry, a relative of Richard, is witnessing it. And he’s looking through binoculars but backwards so the image is far away instead of close. It is also telling that Jerry believes he is the one who killed Richard. Perhaps this is commentary on the way families do damage by passing on their bad/corrupt traits. Richard inherits Mr. C’s evil but perhaps he also inherits the Hornes’ tendency toward corruption and the desire to be loved, and that’s why he follows Mr. C to his death.

LS: What’s your best guess about the coordinates Mr C was searching for? It’s so confusing to me still. What is he hoping to find? Judy?

CS: My best guess is the coordinates lead to the gold pool vortex, which leads to the Fireman’s theatre and in which Mr. C is able to transport himself to a specific place — seemingly the Palmer/Tremond house — perhaps where Judy resides. Maybe this particular house is not one he can travel to normally, but requires transportation to another dimension.

LS: What do you make of the scene in the theatre with the Fireman, Briggs, and Mr C in the cage? The Fireman swiping right through different scenes and spitting Mr C out at the sheriff’s station. It’s so strange it’s almost comical, but also so intriguing.

CS: The Fireman seems to swipe away the intended location of the Palmer/Tremond house, which is why Mr. C seems surprised when he is relocated to the Sheriff’s Station. The theatre seems like a train station to other places/dimensions. The Fireman seems to be all-knowing across time and space and that was how he was able to show Andy all of those scenes of future/past/cross-dimensional. The theatre screen reflects different places and perhaps across different times/dimensions.

LS: And does Mr C not know where he’s supposed to go? Because once he arrives he asks “What is this?” like he doesn’t understand what’s happened to him. Does this undermine his strength?

CS: To me, Mr. C has a place in mind he is going (Palmer/Tremond house), but the Fireman diverts him to the Sheriff’s Station instead.  The Fireman knows past events but seems to have a knowledge of future ones, too. Certainly both the Fireman and Judy seem to be more powerful than Mr. C. Perhaps it is because he is a doppelgänger of Dale Cooper and not a supernatural being from the White or Black Lodge.

LS: This reunion of Cooper and the gang — it’s not exactly what we expected. Was it effective this way? This subversion of our expectations like this? (Not just here but throughout the show)

CS: This was a really frustrating scene the first time I saw it. It didn’t seem like Lynch to wrap up a scene and neatly reunite the cast/characters like this. I do think Lynch (and Frost) are playing with our expectations here. This reunification seems like the traditional ending with the usual denouement, but it isn’t. The conventional way to play this climactic scene of Season 3 would be to have good Cooper and bad Cooper face off.  Instead we have Lucy shoot bad Cooper, and then the Freddie Sykes engage in a supernatural boxing match with BOB. Dramatically, it is not as satisfying.  But in a way that sets the stage for Part 18.

LS: Cooper seems too chipper — did that bother you? Does this feel real or is it a dream? I guess that just leads to the bigger question here: How do you interpret that whole sheriff’s station scene, from arrival of the Woodsmen and Cooper to the trip to the basement?

CS: Fire Walk With Me was Laura Palmer’s story, and Season 3 seems like it’s Dale Cooper’s story. We ended Season 2 of Twin Peaks with two Coopers — the real Dale Cooper caught in the Red Room and his doppelgänger committing violence out in the world. In S3, Cooper is sent on a mission by the Fireman, but it is unclear what that mission is. But it seems like one of the themes in this season is the unreconciled selves of both Coopers. That is why Richard seems so striking when we meet him. He seems to embody those unreconciled selves of good and evil. This scene is again a way in which Lynch subverts traditional “happy endings” by giving the audience original happy Cooper and a reunification of original cast, but it doesn’t feel right because we can never go back again. Also, Cooper has not fulfilled his mission, whatever that is. This is just a distraction from the larger mission at hand. And even though BOB is defeated, there is a larger dark force in Judy to confront.

LS: Separate to that: Freddie, the green glove, and the BOB ball — what do you make of that?

CS: Freddie Sykes is a really endearing character, but he’s not who I would picture as the person who’d defeat BOB. Like many others out there, I believe the green glove and Freddie’s backstory are a commentary on the influx of superhero movies that feature a good guy and a bad guy with a deus ex machina (aka a green glove) that serves to save the day. It’s too easy of a fix for someone like BOB. But it also seems like a fairytale, which Lynch is subverting in S3. Traditionally, particularly with the Disney films, fairytales end happily, but there’s a whole other tradition in which they do not — in which the traditional fairytale is subverted. I believe Lynch is doing this in his storytelling here.

LS: “There are some things that will change” — what does this suggest to you about Cooper’s awareness of his situation?

CS: The situation is temporary — again there’s the play on the idea of time and impermanence of time which happens through this episode. Cooper seems to be completely aware of what is happening/will happen at this point. Perhaps he has already had the conversation with the Fireman (Part 1) in which the Fireman provides clues that Cooper seems to understand. He is aware of his mission and a greater purpose here. At least he seems to be. I find it interesting that he says this line while looking at Hawk, and Hawk nods knowingly. Perhaps they both can see beyond space and time at this point.

LS: Diane as Naido — her scene in the Red Room where half of her face is revealed before she is in the station. What is your interpretation of this? Especially that Cooper’s superimposed face disappeared until they look back to the clock after he says “Do you remember everything?”

CS: It seems as if the real Diane has been caught in the Red Room similar to Cooper and could not access Naido as herself until she comes face to face with Cooper. It seems as if there is a real moment of clarity when Diane and Cooper confront each other. They seem to remember a mission beyond the situation they are currently in. However, when they look at the clock, they notice the time is cannot quite reach 2:53, or number 10, the number of completion. Their mission is not over, and this is perhaps why we see the disembodied head of Cooper, looking perplexed/dismayed at this scene. The head says in a slower speed, “We live inside a dream,” because this is only one reality of many he is witnessing, and they are experiencing. This realization seems to jump Gordon, Cooper and Diane into another realm — the basement of The Great Northern with a door leading to Phillip Jeffries.

LS: “See you at the curtain call.” I love that line so much. It calls to mind the Club Silencio scene in Mulholland Drive, the performative aspect of things here. But because of the dream suggestion (we live inside a dream, after all) doesn’t this also suggest that the performance and the dream might be one and the same? I don’t really have a solid question here, just wanted to see what you thought about that line.

CS: I love that line, too. I believe it literally means he’ll see Diane again when the red curtains part at Glastonbury Grove, and he leaves the Red Room. Figuratively, it’s such a Lynchian statement because of Lynch’s fixation on curtains, stages and performance in his works. I have never believed the dreams referenced in Lynch’s work are actual dreams in the way that many of us conceive of them. Instead, dreams are perceived reality that is manifested by good, by evil, by karma, by past or other lives — similar to many concepts of dreams in Hinduism. That reality seems real to us, but it is also elusive, and it is up to us to live our best lives in order to progress/evolve as beings. Cooper’s goal seemingly is to save Laura Palmer from certain death. Perhaps the performance here is his journey with his lover (whom he also raped as his doppelgänger) to save another woman who was raped by the supernatural entity that inhabited his doppelgänger. Speaking karmically, there’s a lot Cooper has to atone for considering what unleashing his doppelgänger did upon the world.


LS: Seeing the Jumping Man coming down the stairs as Cooper and Philip Gerard ascend — what does that suggest to you?

CS: Well it’s definitely a call-back to Fire Walk With Me. I’m not exactly sure what the Jumping Man signifies, but he is related to the Black Lodge sinister characters like BOB, the Woodsmen, and those who live above the convenience store like the Tremonds. Perhaps this is a warning to the audience that this is not a safe place for Cooper. Perhaps Jeffries is trapped by the others here. Perhaps it’s a trap for Cooper, too. The presence of the Jumping Man seems to be a reminder and portent of evil.

LS: What is your interpretation of the Phillip Jeffries “teapot” scene? ”It’s slippery in here.” “He’ll remember the unofficial version.” “This is where you’ll find Judy” before sending out an  8/infinity signs. “You can go in now.” What is actually happening? What is Jeffries?

CS: Jeffries, if it really is Jeffries, seems to be trapped and no longer his former self. He seems to not be fully present, hence “it’s slippery in here” — wherever the where is he is. I’m not sure what the “unofficial version” is referring to in terms of what Gordon will remember, but maybe the F.B.I. has an official version of what happened to Jeffries, but Gordon is the one who really knows. Jeffries says “This is where you’ll find Judy” when Cooper asks to be sent to Feb. 23, 1989, but Cooper finds Laura instead. Perhaps this is part of his failed mission. His mission was not to save Laura, but he got distracted. Gordon, Jeffries and Cooper were looking for Judy all along. The 8/infinity sign represents infinite time and perhaps a loop of time. Jeffries pinpoints the Feb. 23, 1989 date for Cooper so he can send Cooper to that date — the night Laura Palmer is murdered. I’m not really sure what Jeffries is at this point or if it really is Jeffries. My theories: 1) this is Jeffries, and he is trapped by the Black Lodge entities. Maybe we can or cannot trust him or 2) this is not Jeffries, and perhaps a trap set by the Black Lodge entities/Judy to send Cooper on an errant mission.

LS: Cooper watching Laura in the woods was a chilling moment. I was literally in tears from the moment I realised what Cooper was up to. What were your feelings and emotions like during this scene?

CS: It was extremely emotional. Cooper knew what was going to happen to Laura that night — all the gory, violent details. He was on a mission to save her.

LS: Why is this scene in black and white up until the moment she takes Cooper’s hand?

CS: Black and white scenes like this usually signify a flashback in films and television. I think everything is a flashback in the sense that time has not truly been altered until Laura makes the decision to take Cooper’s hand.

LS: Laura flickers out from the beach the same way that Cooper does in Part 1. What is the significance of that?

CS: Perhaps she is transported elsewhere. She no longer exists at that particular place in that context: dead, wrapped in plastic on the beach in front of the Packard home.

LS: On a scale of bawling your eyes out to devastated, how emotional were you when you saw Pete going fishing?

CS: I was emotional just seeing Jack Nance on screen again, but when I saw Pete fishing, I thought, “What does this mean?” Is Laura still alive? Will Cooper never travel to Twin Peaks? Is everything from the original series erased? Is this like in LOST where whatever happened, happened, or did this change everything? Ultimately, seeing Jack Nance/Pete in that scene was a touching tribute to a man whom Lynch worked with since Eraserhead.

LS: And how do you interpret Sarah’s outburst in the house at the end of 17? Some people say they hear Sarah and Leland’s wails from Season 1 mixed together — I definitely hear Sarah’s.

CS: Sarah Palmer or whomever she is (Judy?) is pissed in this scene. Her squalls seem to be sadness until you see her attacking the image of Laura Palmer’s homecoming pic.

LS: And why can’t she destroy the photo?

CS: Whatever is going on in the Palmer/Tremond house in Season 3 seems to be happening outside of regular time. I’m not sure if Sarah Palmer is really Sarah Palmer. The homecoming picture of Laura Palmer is shown on every opening credit in the Season 3. It’s like a talisman guiding us through this season. Laura has almost evolved beyond a character at this point to become something mythic and symbolic. Nothing can destroy her — not even whatever insanity is happening in the Palmer/Tremond home.

LS: Cooper leads Laura through the woods towards…where? Is he taking her home? To the Lodge? (He definitely says he wants to take her to her mother’s home in Part 18.) He hears the same sounds from the gramophone and then Laura’s scream from Part 2 when she was sucked from the Lodge. Is that when Carrie was “created”?

CS: I am not sure what “home” is in this context. He could mean the Palmer home in this 1989 timeline or a different home outside of this time/world. I understand why Cooper wants to rescue Laura, but I don’t think he’s meant to here. I believe that’s why she is whisked away. One interpretation of what’s going on here is that Laura/Carrie warned Cooper in the Red Room of something — perhaps it was the creation of Carrie Page or this alternate dimension.

LS: Who took Laura away from him?

CS: I think the Fireman had a specific mission that Cooper was not fulfilling/remembering, so he pulled her away to another timeline.

LS: What is the significance to you of having Julee Cruise singing “The World Spins” at the Roadhouse to end this Part? It is so linked to Maddy’s murder that having it here almost seems to imbue what happened before it with the same kind of emotional heft as Maddy’s death had. But Laura seems to have survived, so why are we hearing such a sad song?

CS: Julee Cruise’s “The World Spins” at the end of Part 17 evokes Maddy’s death specifically, but I also believe it indicates another loss. For me, when Cooper tries to rescue Laura, he is robbing her of her agency in defeating BOB in Fire Walk With Me. It’s important for Laura Palmer to choose not to allow BOB inside her even if that means she will have to choose to die — to sacrifice herself. In another sense, Laura Palmer doesn’t need a man to save her when she can save herself. Maybe Laura was supposed to die, and that’s why she was ripped away from Cooper. Maybe Cooper is on the wrong mission. Maybe the real person he needs to save is himself, not Laura. “The World Spins” reminds us of loss. A world without Laura Palmer is a world of loss, but so is a world in which BOB continues to roam free. “The World Spins” is also about time, which Part 17 explores: “The Past Dictates the Future.” Cruise sings “Love, don’t go away, come back this way, come back and stay forever and ever.” But the world continues to move even as she begs for her love to stay. There’s a sense that her love won’t stay. We can’t go back. We can’t reclaim that loss. And if we do, like Cooper, everything will change, but not necessarily for good.


LS: Seeing Mr. C on fire in the Red Room, do you feel as though that is the end for him? Is his reign of terror truly over?

CS: Well, Evil Mr. C is back in the Red Room, so certainly his power to do evil in this world has diminished. I’m not sure evil is ever vanquished in Twin Peaks, but good has triumphed for the moment now that Cooper’s doppelgänger is back in the Red Room.

LS: Dougie returning home followed so quickly by Cooper failing to return Laura home feels deliberate. How does the conception of “home” work in The Return and what might it mean that Dougie can go home but Laura (and possibly Cooper) can’t?

CS: I recently wrote an academic article for the Supernatural Studies journal about how Twin Peaks Season 3 can be interpreted as a subversive fairy tale. Jack Zipes, in his book Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion, argued “fairy tales are not unreal; they tell us metaphorically that ‘life is hard,’ or that ‘life is a dream,’ and their symbolical narrative patterns that assume the form of quests indicate possible alternative choices that we can make to fulfill our utopian disposition to transform ourselves and the world.” Part 18 fulfills both the traditional fairy tale ending with the happy ending in which Cooper goes “home” to be a husband to Janey-E and a father to Sonny Jim. But this ending is “manufactured” because this Cooper is manufactured by the One-armed Man in the Red Room. The concept of “home” is important to both parts 17 and 18. Cooper tells Laura Palmer in Part 17 he is taking her home. The manufactured Cooper says “home” when he goes home to Janey-E and Sonny Jim in Part 18. Richard/Cooper brings Carrie Page home to the Palmer/Tremond house in Part 18. Lynch, who was heavily influenced by The Wizard of Oz, might be drawing on Dorothy Gale’s full story here. Dorothy Gale returns to her home in Kansas again and again, but in the last phase and last book, she is placed in exile. Glenda the Good Witch renders Oz invisible to all but those who live there. This is not an escape to Oz but a reckoning because one is forced to become aware of the reality of America. Perhaps there are different types of homes: homes to escape to for manufactured happy endings and homes where one confronts a reckoning — the truth.

LS: Cooper returns to the Red Room with Philip Gerard, but Laura is not there. This has been taken by some to be an indication that things have restarted (“Is it future or is it past?”) but that things are different this time around.

CS: There is something different going on. Cooper seems more aware. Something has transpired.

LS: How do you interpret the Evolution of the Arm repeating Audrey’s line about the little girl who lived down the lane?

CS: In one sense, this is a reference to the book/film in which a young teenage girl lives alone without her parents and deals with independence, love and sexual abuse. This is also a direct reference to the same line Audrey Horne utters earlier in Season 3. Both Laura and Audrey were sexually assaulted by BOB. Maybe this is a reminder of the horror that BOB has wrought but also Cooper’s doppelgänger’s violence against Audrey Horne. Maybe it’s a reminder and a warning that Cooper is implicated in this evil, too.

LS: I’ve always been curious about Leland and his role in the Red Room. His doppelganger claims he didn’t kill anybody back in Season 2, but I don’t trust him. His normal-eyed self here wants Coop to find Laura. I still don’t trust him. What is going on with him here?

CS: In my opinion, the Red Room was never the Black Lodge. It’s a waiting place between places. There are good and evil entities that reside there. I’m not sure what is going on with Leland in the Red Room, but he instructs Cooper twice to “Find Laura.” We also know that this is not Leland’s doppelgänger but a sad, older version of Leland. At first we might think Leland is suggesting Cooper find Laura in the past to save her, but maybe Leland is asking Cooper to find Carrie Page — who happens to be Laura.

LS: Cooper waving his hand and opening the curtains — does that mean he’s a full-fledged magician now?

CS: Something has certainly transpired between when we meet Cooper in the Red Room in the beginning of the series and now. Many have speculated about when Cooper’s conversation with the Fireman takes place. Perhaps it is this conversation and Cooper’s understanding that leads to his ability to crossover through the red curtains.

LS: When Cooper walked out of the curtains and into Glastonbury Grove, it was like a weight had been lifted. How did you react to seeing this happen finally?

CS: I had almost come to terms with the fact that I might not witness Cooper crossing through the red curtains, so it certainly was a relief when he did. I was really hoping to find Harry Truman waiting for him at Glastonbury Grove. Harry greeted evil Mr. C in the original series when he emerged, so I thought it would be fitting for Harry to be there when the real Cooper comes out. Alas, this only happened in my head.


LS: “Are you sure you want to do this? You don’t know what it’s going to be like once we…” “Once we cross it could all be different.” She knows what “this” is; Cooper knows what “this” is. They both seem to know that things will be different. And Diane doesn’t seem sure that this is the right thing to do while Cooper is determined. How do they have this knowledge about what is about to happen? Have they done this before?

CS: Who knows how they seem to know what “this” is, but we do know they’ve both spent time in the Red Room and gleaned information there. Or, perhaps the Fireman had a conversation with both of them, offering clues to their future. Or maybe, they’ve done this before, and they are participating in an endless loop until they get it right.

LS: We have the 430 (miles). We eventually have Richard and Linda. What does two birds with one stone mean?

CS: The number 430 is interesting. Just like 2:53 adds up to 10, the number of completion, the number 430 adds up to 7, the number that represents seeking truth and truth seeking in numerology. The number 7 is an important number in S3 and figures prominently (Lucky 7 Insurance). Cooper and Diane are on a journey to seek/change something. They both become Richard and Linda. The two birds with one stone is a reference to the proverb “to kill two birds with one stone” — essentially to achieve two aims with one action. Crossing over changes Cooper. Obviously he becomes Richard, but he seems to be an amalgam of both good Cooper and evil Mr. C. Perhaps the stone is the crossing over and the two birds that are killed/conjoined are the parts of himself that are brought together as Richard.

LS: Coop and Diane eventually cross over and arrive at a motel in the same car they were driving as before. It feels like the past, though — the decor especially tips us off. What are we to make of this apparent time travel? When did the time travel occur?

CS: I’m not sure what year it is, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the past. Some old motels in the U.S. still have old decor. This motel reminds me of the one from Fire Walk With Me as well as the one above the convenience store. Perhaps this is a place out of time and place — a waiting, in-between place to cross over into the next.

LS: What do you make of Diane seeing her double in the courtyard of the motel? Is this, as some have interpreted, the same kind of Dweller on the Threshold type of test for Diane as Cooper had in the S2 finale?

CS: Diane’s double doesn’t seem to be a doppelgänger. It could be a tulpa or it could very well be Diane herself who is also visiting this place. Perhaps Diane and Cooper have made this journey before, and they are on some sort of infinite loop before they get it right. When Diane sees herself, it feels portentous.

LS: How do you interpret the motel room sex scene? (Especially in light of the music being the same as the Part 8 New Mexico sequence, the dark rumbling, the way she covers Cooper’s eyes)

CS: Cooper and Diane enter motel room number 7. Again, going back to this idea of the number 7 being of truth seeking and uncovering hidden truths, Diane and Cooper must confront themselves. Cooper, as the doppelgänger evil Mr. C, raped Diane. They both seem to remember this trauma as they have sex. Their sex is not about lust or love but pain — true garmonbozia. I think this scene is about them coming to terms with that. It also functions as the true crossing over to the Richard/Linda timeline. Some have suggested this sex scene serves as sex magick to bring Judy into this timeline, just like the young lovers, Sam and Stacey, did by accident in Part 1. There seems to be something ritualistic happening here for a larger purpose.

LS: Cooper doesn’t seem to remember the Richard and Linda stuff from the Fireman, does he? Could that be a sign that he’s on the wrong track?

CS: After he reads the letter Linda leaves him, he ponders the names of “Richard” and “Linda” as if he’s trying to recall but just can’t quite remember. It could be a sign he’s on the right track, but he seems to have a trace of a memory of the names just as Carrie Page seems to recall the name Sarah Palmer. Perhaps his gut rather than his memory is guiding him.

LS: The car and the motel room have changed since the night before and Cooper only realizes that in the morning. It’s almost like he doesn’t remember at all, or has had his ability to remember obscured. What’s your read on this?

CS: I believe the real crossing over where everything changes happened when Cooper and Diane have sex. The ritualistic act propels them into this other world. Everything is different. They are different.

LS: How do you understand the series of events that taken place inside Judy’s diner? This doesn’t feel like “our” Cooper but more like a hybrid of Cooper and Mr. C, at least to me. What do you think?

CS: The best explanation I can think of is that this Cooper/Richard is good Cooper and evil Mr. C actualized in one person. Cooper seems to embody a bit of both just as all of us have elements of good and bad within us. He saves the waitress from the cowboys who are harassing her, but he seems dogged and intimidating in his quest to find Carrie Page.

LS: Seeing the telephone pole outside Carrie’s house fits in with the pocket universe theory of Twin Peaks. What theory about Odessa makes the most sense to you or which one do you like best?

CS: I find the theory that Odessa is Cooper’s reality and the rest of Twin Peaks is a dream or has only happened in his head really interesting, but I don’t subscribe to it. There are, however, some really interesting crossover clues from both the Odessa timeline and Twin Peaks, including the telephone pole, the use of horses (the hobby horse and photos of horses on the wall at Judy’s, the name of the restaurant is Judy and the entity Judy, the horse on the mantle of Carrie Page’s apartment, Carrie Page’s horseshoe necklace, etc.). Judy is the entity of pure negative energy, and horses seem to portend the unleashing of that energy. For example, in Sarah Palmer’s vision of the white horse as well as the sound of the horse whinny as the woodsman enters the night in Part 8. For me, the white horse evokes the pale horse of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, which represents death. The telephone pole signifies FWWM and electricity, which can be a conduit between worlds. Cooper is trying to remember just as Carrie Page seems to be trying to remember, so maybe these are clues left to guide them on this journey of remembrance to self actualization.

LS: Carrie Page does seem to have flashes of remembrance — especially when Cooper says her mother’s name is Sarah. So what’s the deal with her? Is she actually Laura and has forgotten that part?

CS: That’s what I believe. Page seems to recall her (Laura’s) mother’s name. The telephone pole and the horse on the mantle remind us of original Twin Peaks. There is definitely a connection here.

LS: An idea hit me as I was rewatching this that perhaps the things that Cooper experiences in this Odessa dimension — everything from the diner and the patrons (the waitress looks a lot like Becky, doesn’t she?) to Carrie, the bad guy she shot on her couch, the white horse on the mantle, and the telephone pole outside — are somehow what make up what we see of Twin Peaks, and maybe Twin Peaks is some kind of projected reality based on the actual reality that Cooper is experiencing. I don’t know — I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all. But it seems like Odessa is “real life” while everything else feels artificial somehow…(could that be why we see real Odessa population signs? Cooper has a real FBI badge; they stop at a real gas station; Twin Peaks looks like North Bend and Mary Reber is at the door of the Palmer house)…or am I way off?

CS: No, I think this is definitely one way to approach the Odessa timeline. Tim Kreider has written about this idea of Odessa being the reality with a really interesting twist regarding Cooper’s character. For me, Odessa as the “reality” seems jarring in the way that Deer Meadow is jarring when compared to Twin Peaks. This “reality” seems unreal because it is so unlike the world of Twin Peaks we’ve been living in even though it’s more like our world. For me, Odessa and the rest seem like the bad dream while Twin Peaks seems real. Ultimately, it is all “real,” just different versions/dimensions of reality.

LS: The ending: your interpretation? What was Cooper expecting to happen when he brought Carrie/Laura there? And what actually happened? Did Cooper succeed or did he fail?

CS: I’m not sure if Cooper knows precisely what his mission is regarding Carrie Page, but he is definitely on a mission to get her to the Palmer/Tremond house — to her home. Some have suggested that Cooper fails here, and he is on an infinite loop until he can break out of it and make the correct decision according to the Fireman’s plan for him. It seems as if Carrie Page is brought to the Palmer/Tremond house to remember who she is as Laura Palmer. At first she does not recall, but then she hears her mother’s name, and the memories seem to flood back, creating that iconic scream. This is a critical moment. Cooper tried to rescue Laura from her death by BOB, but instead of rescuing her, he transported her to this other dimension as Carrie Page. But Page is not living her best life — there’s a murdered man on her sofa. She laments to Cooper that she tried “to keep a clean house, everything organized,” but was “too young to know any better.” For me, Cooper could not save Laura because it wasn’t his destiny to save her. Even though he tried to save Laura by rescuing her in the woods, he could not remove the trauma of what happened. The trauma was always there, and it remained there with Carrie Page. Only Page’s confrontation with her past could help her move beyond it. It was always there. It was always there for the audience, too, but it was difficult for us to confront that Twin Peaks at its heart was about sexual abuse. This is why it was crucial for Laura Palmer to confront BOB, even if it meant her own death — because only Laura Palmer could confront her trauma (BOB) and no one else could do it for her. This gave her agency.

LS: There’s no electricity sound over the Lynch/Frost productions logo like there usually is and I find that to be absolutely chilling…some have suggested that it’s because Laura blew out the electricity. Just curious what your thoughts are on that — does it indicate anything to you? Or are we reading too much into it?

CS: I don’t take anything in the Twin Peaks universe for granted. It is significant that the lights go out in the Palmer/Tremond house as well as the Lynch/Frost logo. Electricity is a conduit of energy — both positive and negative. Carrie Page’s scream changes something. I argue it awakens her memory of herself as Laura Palmer. The lights going out could signify many things: the destruction of Judy, the creation of something new, a restart of the timeline with Laura Palmer because the story is on some sort of infinite loop.

LS: In your opinion, what effect does all of the silence in Part 18 have on the viewer?

CS: Sound is crucial in David Lynch’s work. He has worked as sound designer in almost all of his films and television shows. So the use of silence is striking. Part 17 packed so much action and noise into one episode while 18 slows the pacing down and forces the audience to sit with the characters for a while. The long night drive with Cooper/Richard and Page is frustrating because we want to find out what is going on, but Lynch makes us sit with these characters, often in silence, to meditate on what and who they are rather than moving the plot forward in a rapid-fire, finale sort of way. Like meditation, sitting in silence forces us into our own heads. It’s not always an easy space to occupy. Twin Peaks is about what we as individuals bring to it. Part 18 forces us to confront ourselves. Even the Lynch/Frost logo at the end does not have sound, forcing us into a cognitive dissonance with the usual Twin Peaks. The electricity is visible but the sound is silent. Something has changed, but what?

LS: Has rewatching the series provided any different viewpoints or ideas, looking back to where you were a year ago?

CS: For me, Twin Peaks is what we bring to it, so I bring parts of myself to it when I watch it. As I change and evolve, so does my interpretation of the show. When it originally aired last year, it was difficult to watch Parts 17 and 18 back-to-back on the same night since both episodes are doing very different things. Part 17 offers up the traditional, happy fairy tale ending while 18 is subverting the traditional fairy tale ending. Upon rewatching the series, I didn’t watch Parts 17 and 18 back to back, which allowed me to meditate on both individually. I don’t have a grand theory of the show at this point, but I love hearing what others think. Right now, I’m enjoying exploring Twin Peaks as a subversive fairy tale. David Lynch and Mark Frost are subverting fairy tales in general as well as retelling the story of Twin Peaks for our time just as fairy tales are repurposed to confront contemporary troubles. They are twisting the tropes of the original series and offering up a story which is darker yet comes closer to the truth in the way it looks at trauma directly. The stories of the seeker (Cooper) and the princess (Laura Palmer) are subverted and are complicated because Cooper, in finding Laura Palmer, removes her from the night of her murder and, ultimately, removes any agency she has in saving her soul from BOB. In the end, Cooper/Richard discovers that Laura’s trauma did not disappear but lived on in Carrie Page. Page crosses the literal and figurative threshold when she confronts the troubled home of Laura Palmer. She is awakened in that confrontation, but this is not Disney’s Sleeping Beauty who is awakened by a prince, but instead it is the story of a lost traumatized woman who is roused by a dark memory when she hears her mother call out her name. It’s compelling stuff.

Written by Lindsay Stamhuis

Lindsay Stamhuis is a writer and English teacher. In addition to editing and writing about TV and Film, she is the co-host of The Bicks Pod, a podcast currently deep-diving into the collected works of William Shakespeare. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her partner Aidan, their three cats, and a potted pothos that refuses to grow more than one vine.

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  1. I thought at the time and still do, that the series should have ended with Pete fishing rather than finding Laura “dead and wrapped in plastic.”

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