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Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier- A Deep Dive Review and Analysis (Part 4)

‘Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier- A Deep Dive Review and Analysis (Part 4)’ is now available on Audio, read by author John Bernardy, exclusively for our Patreon supporters. For just $3 a month you will have access to our full library of Audio content, plus three new uploads every week. To sign up visit our Patreon page:

In Part 3 of this Final Dossier Deep Dive series, I brought up the section from Pages 131 to the end the book where Tamara Preston experiences a reality where Dale Cooper travelled back in time to 1989 and “saved” Laura Palmer from the immediate events that resulted in her death. I suggest this is a hazy conclusion, and also not necessarily true. I say this:

And in Part 4 of this Deep Dive, I will make a case for where exactly the (likely incorrect/malleable) details of The Final Dossier’s plot fits within a cycle from Denial to Acceptance.

And here we are at Part 4.

Does only Twin Peaks believe Laura Palmer is a missing person rather than a murder victim? The book never clarifies. Only that Preston’s head feels less messed with as her plane gets further away from Twin Peaks. I refuse to believe that Laura’s timeline removal is anything more than a veil over the actual events of reality.

You can take the words of this book at face value if you’d like, but that’ll lead you to believe that the association Tamara made about utukku is absolutely spot-on, and that Windom Earle is the one who put the birthday cake into Leo’s hair. Much in the way Tamara Preston gets to the emotional truth of things rather than the factual account, you can believe for 100% that we are supposed to know Sarah and Leland Palmer were both monsters, but I believe the utukku section specifically is the unofficial version to remember, and that the official version is much less specifically plot. It’s like how every drop of UFO lore is quite specifically laid out in The Secret History of Twin Peaks but is more likely explaining an aspect of what we can understand of the lodge denizens.

The truth of this book is in the philosophy, not the details.  It’s about looking into the dark and through it until you find the truth. If you get caught up in the window dressing of the surface words, you’ll get close, but I think we’re supposed to come to our own conclusions, and like the rest of Twin Peaks, work with what resonates and causes the shakeups in ourselves until we recognize the reality of our present and deal with the trauma within ourselves.

Only then do we know what we’re fighting against and we’re never supposed to give up. That part Tamara gets right. As far as how false “truths” being introduced in Final Dossier, I believe there are three kinds of factors in play:

  • Misdirection (in the text explicitly, and also from Mark Frost to us)
  • Veils (fog, reality)
  • Frequencies (in the same way radio stations work)

These three factors, added together, give us more than reasonable doubt that the premise Laura Palmer Did Not Die has plausible reason for being a falsehood.


Purposeful disorientation of when Tamara Preston is writing about events.

When I began looking into dates and time stamps, I thought I’d be able to catch time discrepancies, but that’s not the case. In the file named Today, Tamara writes about the Part 17 sheriff station showdown, then the next paragraph says “This happened today, Chief, just a few hours ago. Up to the minute.” But she’s not referring to what she just wrote, she’s referring to what she will write about the Twin Peaks Post microfiche.

I feel like this is a form of misdirection on behalf of Mark Frost rather than Preston, to keep us off balance. In her introductory memorandum to Cole she says “Pursuant to your directive to me upon the completion of my investigation into “The Archivist’s Dossier” last year.” In the Major Briggs file, she writes “It also led, weeks later [after Hastings’ Buckhorn interrogation], to our discovery of Briggs’ secret dossier.” Then she writes about the Part 17 sheriff station showdown and immediately talks about “today.” It seems like time is moving strangely, compressing faster and faster, but it’s always Tamara’s point of view from when she’s writing it on September 6th of 2017. Though we’re off balance, because Tamara’s off balance.

Misdirection explicitly in the text

Preston begins the Double R case file with this: “I’ve identified a curious piece of either misdirection or misinformation in Major Briggs’ dossier”. In part of the Dale Cooper-written composition notebooks Briggs says he found in the Bookhouse.

This was written just after the Jerry Horne case file where we learn about Jerry’s cabin music being so loud it could cause avalanches. At the point we hear the word misdirection, we have this on our minds: A frequency of sound so powerful that it physically affects the world. And I couldn’t help but feel that we were supposed to wonder if the importance of frequency was being hidden in plain sight.

Later on, we get information in the Major Briggs file about the all-important coordinates (that were hidden in a place that Bill Hastings and Ruth Davenport were able to hack into):

Briggs stashed the information in a place that would not have posed insurmountable entry barriers to amateurs like these two Buckhorn rubes, in a place where no professional would ever think to look for it. Misdirection.

No one would think to consider the structure of reality in a Jerry Horne file. Misdirection.

What was misdirection referring to in its appearance in the Double R file? The death of Marty Lindstrom. Instead of Norma’s father dying in 1978 as suggested by Cooper’s words, “She lost her father,” Marty merely was forced out of his family and he moved over to his secret family (Vivian and Annie) once it was revealed to his public family (Ilsa and Norma).

Why such importance paid to an otherwise mundane, tedious storyline as Vivian? Misdirection as misdirection. Get used to the concept as a tool during a mundane occurrence of a main theme.

Margaret Coulson, through the whole dossier, delivered the paraphrased message of push back the darkness with your light. Secrets grow darkness. Truth grows the light. There is a duality there. And there is a duality of Marty Linstrom’s life: he used a train to cross the threshold to his secret life with Vivian. Believe it or not, I’m going to cycle back to that later as it mirrors crossing over from a world that believes Laura died into one that appears not to believe.


Put nothing on paper

Tamara Preston was in Twin Peaks for a whole year. But it didn’t get strange until near the end, after she started writing things down about Phillip Jeffries literally becoming the thing he once investigated. Once she did that, she was in a fog that didn’t leave her until she left town.

Why was she under the fog? “Hastings indicated that he [Briggs] had cautioned them to put nothing on paper.”

In the Jeffries file, Preston writes that Cooper wrote down the part about the Jeffries dream. No one else had done it. Until she just wrote it in her file. In the Judy file later, Preston asks “can you confirm this, Chief?” Again, no backup. Tamara is merely reinforcing the random oddness of Phillip Jeffries and the concept of Judy (that was mentioned in a dream and not corroborated except with an angrily carved word (Joudy) in a hotel in Buenos Ares.

And Tamara is putting all of this down on paper. And, as she gets further into including Briggs, the Double and then Jeffries and Judy, this is when things literally get foggy for her.

As she writes things down more and more concretely, she finds microfiche that says Laura Palmer is a missing person rather than a murder victim. Not any time in the year before. No, only after she began writing about Jeffries.


Every single person Tamara asks about Laura being a missing person has a “slow, measured response” as if they were coming up from a fog. Every single one of them, once covered over by this fog, answered her in exactly the same wording:

“Yeah, that sounds right. That’s how I remember it.”

Fog obscures, allows for misinformation, misdirection. It can change how people remember things. But it can’t change where people are when they’re doing these different events.

As per the final files of Final Dossier, Ronnette still ends up on the train tracks. Leland commits suicide around the same time as he would’ve died in the sheriff station. Dale still investigates even though there’s only a disappearance. Audrey is in a loveless marriage with her accountant rather than being captured in a Lodge-adjacent space with Charley.

Just as in Secret History, observed by Joel Bocko on Twin Peaks Unwrapped as follows:

Character cores are the same in Secret History. Alternate universe stories usually change characters entirely, but here different beginnings come to the same outcomes.

You could call it a lodge veil over the truth as I did in The Fireman “Brings Back Some Memories”, projecting falsehoods over the top of true events. You could call it quantum entanglement as Eileen Mykkels and Lindsay Stamhuis suggests in The Quantum Mechanics of The Return: Copenhagen Interpretation. There are cases to be made.


Why am I so interested in referring to people’s altered memories as being re-tuned? Because of radio frequencies. Which is where songs play: on a radio dial. All it takes is a turn of the knob while you’re sitting in the exact same space and you’re experiencing a completely different mood and sound.

Also, this from Margaret Coulson:

There are forces of darkness—and beings of darkness—and they are real and have always been around us. They’re part of the dance, just as you and I are; they’re just listening to different music.

Jerry Horne is an audiophile. So is Albert. One is tuned to a different wavelength by marijuana. One is a Blue Rose agent. Likening that kind of wavelength with the Blue Rose Task Force, and likening music with beings of darkness like Margaret means there’s something else right with us on a different part of the radio dial.

And this, per the Jerry Horne folder:

The resulting wall of sound from certain recordings is rumored to create whitecaps on the water and terrify most of the indigenous wildlife within a five-mile radius. (Dr. Jacoby was once heard to mention, on his pirate radio show, that one winter Jerry’s blasting of Miles Davis’ album Bitches Brew at top volume triggered a small avalanche.)

This shows a purely physical response to an intangible sound frequency. Putting something big like that in Jerry Horne’s file? “Information where you’d never think to look for it. Misdirection” Put it in plain sight for us to understand, for even normal folks like us can get it.

More possible signs of altered reality

Much like the Part 7 diner patrons seating rearrangement, could the mention of Diane’s tampering with the redacted Cooper tapes be a reference to a change that took place…a veil coming over the town that Preston isn’t even aware of? Is it fixing the continuity within Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes that take it out of the canon since Fire Walk With Me disagreed with it, or is it a “correction”/change just like the microfiche? And Tamara noticed this before her hypothesis was formed and therefore it didn’t register with her then?

Notable erasures from moments we see in Season 3 as deaths: In Part 15 Steven shoots his gun in a heavily implied suicide, yet in this book he is ruled as missing.  Also ruled as missing in this book (though much more reasonably so) is Richard Horne. Windom Earle is also declared missing in this book but we know per Episode 29 that he died in the Lodge at the hands of BOB.

The corridor in the dark Cole went to with Cooper after the sheriff station showdown disappeared, revealing a boiler room and the Horne brothers. Was this a veil lifting like the fog? Was this a supernatural reality separating from a physical reality?

Third Rail

Third Rail is a train term Preston uses near the end of the book. In her Final Thoughts, she writes:

I feel like I laid my hand on a third rail that should be a concern to all of us: that a core fundamental of human existence is wonder—and its analogue is fear. You can’t have one without the other, flip sides of the coin.

Preston is talking about Darkness and Light with her comments, but in this case she uses a train term, third rail, and I can’t help but think of Marty Lindstrom. He took the train to visit Vivian and Annie before the secret was out. He stayed with Vivian after his secret was revealed. Wonder is on Norma’s side of the tracks, and Fear is on Vivian’s side. Do the Lindstrom’s move over to a different frequency after the secret’s out? One that is, or feels like, an alternate reality? One where Norma’s mom isn’t even Vivian anymore, she has to be a stepmother. And Annie can’t be a real sister, she has to be born in that darkness. It’s the only thing that could explain the emotional devastation each family member felt at the time, or so it feels to many of them. Though you don’t have to, you CAN go there keeping in mind other details in Final Dossier.

I’m not going to try to answer any of these questions here—I’ve got my Electricity Nexus column for that—but I AM making the case that all of this is an illusion in some capacity. I don’t have to prove exactly how or what, just that it’s reasonable enough to say there can be a veil of some sort.

Back to the term Third Rail, what does it actually mean? It’s a method of providing power to trains through a conductor placed alongside or between the rails of a railway track.

The fact that it’s direct current, that its return current feeds back into one or both of the running rails, feeds well into my actual theory on how I think reality is constructed, so I’m all aboard this third rail metaphor. Suffice to say that Preston is between choosing which to believe: the truth of what she already knew (that Laura had died), or all the misinformation in the fog.

The third rail is in between the two running rails. Tamara is between choosing truth or the darkness. She is physically between Twin Peaks and Philadelphia. I could go on all day.

Leaving Twin Peaks

There’s a world not written about, that Tamara is tuning into.

In the last bit of possible misdirection, Tamara goes to the thesis statement of the book that I express in Part 2 of this Deep Dive series as the fog is lifting, rather than showing the possible changed details as her fog lifts.

The story keeps moving, beyond this closing statement. By now, others have noted how the trap door ending of that lifting fog could prove anything.

We do not experience:

  • Getting answers from Gordon.
  • Corroborating evidence in other files at the actual FBI office outside the effect of the fog (assuming there’s a proximity to Twin Peaks issue which there appears to be).

If Gordon gets back to Tamara with information that corroborates what I’m calling the Unofficial Version, that’s one thing. But as it stands, there is room for doubt that Laura Did Not Die.

Just as there was room in the original series to believe Leland killed her on his own and needed the BOB delusion for it to make sense, or there’s a demon inhabiting a father who was forced to kill his daughter, there are grades of belief in play.

You can believe there’s an altering reality. You can believe there’s a mask over reality hiding the truth of Laura’s death as the delusion looks away. You can believe a number of things.

You can believe in the push and pull between Light and Darkness in however a concrete or metaphorical way as you want. There’s too much textual evidence. But you do not have to believe the plot points at the end.

You can show the white of your eyes to evil, you can look away from it, but if you maintain eye contact with it, you can see through it. As Tamara says, “can the simple, impossible act of persisting to look at what’s in front of us pierce the blackness and reward us with a glimpse of something eternal beyond?”

Paraphrasing Preston, the truth lies just beyond her fear and she must overcome the darkness. I personally think the darkness, in this case, is a reality veil, but whatever it is it seems unlikely to be the truth.

Her instinct is to remove herself from the fog before it sets in. She wrote down enough that it began to take effect, whatever “it” is. And she stared at it long enough to know what was not true. And the only way to reach the truth again is to pierce the fog where her fear resides and get beyond its limits, where the truth can return.

There are other interpretations, surely. If you want to believe that Laura Palmer has been removed from the timeline where she died, if you want to believe that Dale Cooper broke time, more power to you. But I choose to believe there’s hope that not everyone looked away from Laura’s death and tried to bury it in convenient retellings.

I believe the metaphor is this: the fog is denial, and the world where Laura Palmer died is acceptance. But you don’t have to accept this, I just offer you a path of stones to find the way back home, if you so choose.

Written by John Bernardy

John Bernardy has been writing for 25YL since before the site went public and he’s loved every minute. The show most important to him is Twin Peaks. He is husband to a damn fine woman, father to two fascinating individuals, and their pet thinks he’s a good dog walker.

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