Twin Peaks: Navigating between two worlds (Part 1 of 5)

If you feel like the central trauma of Twin Peaks (the murder of Laura Palmer) shouldn’t/can’t be undone, this theory is for you. No matter how many Season 3 moments involve turning away from or covering over this fundamental trauma, reality cannot be expunged just because of persistent disinformation.

What’s my alternative explanation to the original Twin Peaks timeline being outright erased at the end of the season finale? Adam Stewart from the Diane Podcast was kind enough to read this before publication and summarized my thesis as such:

“A dream/nightmare born of trauma is encroaching on reality. To escape it, the characters, who are caught in a between place, need to make a choice: stagnate and enter the darkness, or join the world and step into the light.” He then suggested I saw Twin Peaks Season 3 as “a story about growth, change, and how to move beyond trauma, or not.”

I cannot say it better than that, but I can elaborate: the between place he mentioned is Season 3 itself. It doesn’t belong to the Timeline or Lodgespace, but is made from both states. And all the characters trapped inside it are frozen in place or stuck in loops; in desperate need of restarting their energy.

If you need a visual metaphor, imagine you’re in a movie theater. Season 1, Season 2, and Fire Walk With Me make up the screen itself. Lodgespace is the projector in the back, projecting a veil of images over the screen. Season 3 is in the seats with the audience as we constantly reinterpret what we see in front of us.

The three Season 3 moments that explain reality and how to navigate it

There are three sections of dialogue I find incredibly important to how I think reality within Season 3 of Twin Peaks is structured:

  • Margaret’s phone call to Hawk in Part 10
  • The conversation between an insurance salesman and Lucy in Part 1
  • Part of an exchange between Frank Truman and Hawk in Part 11.

In Part 10, Margaret Lanterman says this to Hawk just before Rebekah Del Rio sings “No Stars” in the Roadhouse:

Hawk. Electricity is humming. You hear it in the mountains and rivers. You see it dance among the seas and stars and glowing around the moon, but in these days the glow is dying. What will be in the darkness that remains? The Truman brothers are both true men. They are your brothers. And the others, the good ones who have been with you. Now the circle is almost complete. Watch and listen to the dream of a time and space. It all comes out now, flowing like a river. That which is and is not. Hawk. Laura is the one.

Pamela Tarajcak of the Between Two Worlds Facebook group put it in a most easy to understand way: If Laura is the one, that could very easily be an answer to “that which is and is not.” Which means Laura is, and conversely Carrie is not.

This is a fantastic connection all by itself, but I’ll take Pamela’s idea and raise her realities: There is a reality that is (the one where Laura died) and a reality that is not (the one where Dale takes Laura from the Fire Walk With Me flashback and she becomes Carrie).

I know it sounds like I’m endorsing multiple timelines, but I am not. There’s a timeline where Laura Palmer died, and the other “timeline,” if you can call it that, is a dream. A dream, as Margaret says, made of a time and space.

Rather than a time and space dreaming this all up (which would encompass everything within Season 3), the “dream” is made of a time (likely beginning in 1989) and a space (spreading from Twin Peaks, Washington). This “dream” is what Dale works within after he accesses it from Jeffries’ slippery 8 made from an Owl Ring symbol (proven to be a direct connection into the Waiting Room). This “dream” that Margaret refers to is a reality made up of Lodgespace, just like Dale’s first dream in Episode 2 of Season 1 back in 1990.

Just because Margaret calls it a dream, though, doesn’t mean “it’s all a dream” as so many theories put it. If it was all a dream, there wouldn’t be so many random characters caught up in it. Plus, it wouldn’t be flowing like a river at Margaret and Hawk; they would already be in it. Margaret wouldn’t be worried about Lodgespace flowing over the Timeline, she would speak of a current instead, as if they were all part of the same watery state. She’s worried about Lodgespace convincing people that its dream is conveniently more real than a world where a girl was killed under traumatic, complicated circumstances.

What we have are two states of reality: the Timeline we instinctively understand, and Lodgespace with its dreamy non-linear behaviors.

The next section of dialogue is between the Insurance Salesman and Lucy, one that brings up the Truman brothers again:

Insurance Salesman: “I’d like to see Sheriff Truman.”

Lucy: “Which one?”

IS: “Sheriff Truman isn’t here?”

L: “Well, do you know which one? It could make a difference.”

IS: “Uh, no, ma’am.”

L: “One is sick, and the other is fishing.”

Why are the Truman brothers called out specifically? Because they are symbols of their states of reality.

Harry Truman represents the Timeline, where Laura Palmer 100% died like we know from the original two seasons of Twin Peaks. He is sick because Lodgespace is coming at him like a river.

Frank Truman is rooted in the front lines of Season 3, where aspects of Lodgespace are asserting themselves all over. How is that signified in Lucy’s simple dialogue? There’s an immediate commonality with Pete Martell, who’d “gone fishing” when he did not discover Laura Palmer’s body on the shore in the reality that “is not.” Pete Martell fishing is literally the first divergent event in the Lodgespace “dream” after Laura’s body glitches away from the shore.

Though Lodgespace is part of his in-between territory, Frank is not part of Lodgespace himself. He is a true man, after all. Margaret said so. But his presence is also a signpost for where the “dream” intrudes.

Then there’s this part of an interaction between Frank and Hawk as they looked at Hawk’s map in Part 11:

Hawk: “[the symbol]’s a type of fire, more like modern day electricity.”

Frank: “Good?”

Hawk: “It depends. It depends on the intention, the intention behind the fire.”

Here is another reference to electricity. Coupled with Margaret’s “Electricity is humming. You hear it in the mountains and rivers. You see it dance among the seas and stars and glowing around the moon,” not only do we know electricity is everywhere, it appears electricity can be used for good (positive), while another intent could lead to darkness (negative). This implies there is a choice that needs to be made.

I contend the choice is between the Timeline with Laura Palmer (a positive intention), or the oncoming Lodgespace with Carrie (a negative intention). And according to Margaret’s words above, I think Harry and Frank Truman are some of the good guys who can use electricity in a positive way to push back the Lodge’s darkness.

I’m going to explain all of this extensively, but let’s begin by looking at the two main states of reality: the Timeline and Lodgespace.

Material and Non-Material

Esoteric Buddhism model

Author Laird Scranton, in a recent interview on The Higherside Chats Podcast, explained how when researching near-forgotten spiritual teachings he uncovered an Esoteric Buddhist tradition of universes forming in pairs: one material (which matches with what I’m calling the Timeline) and one non-material (which matches with my definition of Lodgespace).

A form of energy cycles between these two universes like sand in an hourglass timer, from one to the other as if each universe was a die pole. When the energy makes it all the way to one pole, the polarity reverses and the energy begins to flow back to the other pole and the cycle begins anew.

A diagram depicting energy flow between a material and non-material state in Twin Peaks.

Scranton says the flowing energy is essential to life, and it cycles the same way as natural water cycle does on Earth. In Twin Peaks terms, this energy is signified by:

  • Natural Electricity (everything from the impulses inside us, to what flows in ley lines)
  • Fire (on Hawk’s living map)
  • Alternating Current electricity (which Lynch has been fascinated by since at least Ronnie Rocket).

This energy hums, can be heard in the mountains and rivers, can be seen dancing among the seas and stars and glowing around the moon. It’s as natural as bodies of water and clouds in the sky, as humidity and rain. And it’s within every character in Season 3.

In addition to energy traveling between the universes, Scranton suggests that movement from the non-material to material is what ghosts may do, and in Twin Peaks terms is what the Fireman does. Though if you believe the Giant’s rephrased question of “Where have you gone?” the material also appears to find a way to travel to the non-material under certain circumstances as well. And there are portals (and mirrors, and windows) which allow access from one to the other. There is a framework within Twin Peaks that allows for travel between the two universes.

Many different aspects of the non-material universe have been described within the three seasons of Twin Peaks and the books (Secret History of Twin Peaks and Final Dossier in particular) in varying levels of esoteric and material. All of these aspects, whether gotten through direct communication with the non-material, or if its presence is merely felt, describe an aspect of Lodgespace much in the way the old adage works with blind men describing different disparate parts of an elephant. Any one of us can describe an aspect of the non-material and none of us can describe the entire thing. Our point of view from inside the material universe limits our ability to understand the other, yet we can describe aspects of a non-material universe.

A list of elements in Twin Peaks media describing a higher state of reality.

But why would the universes need communication?

Scranton says when all the energy is almost completely in one universe, the other universe is at its weakest and needs the stronger universe to take care of it. Even though it can’t be seen or felt, the universe needs to be remembered or it could cease to exist. And both universes need to survive to maintain balance, otherwise the cycle goes u-shaped and dissipates.

Neither universe is higher or lower in importance. They are side by side. One cannot exist without the other. To this end, the universes need to train caretakers on the other side to prevent the twin universes’ demise.

Scranton says communication from the non-material to the material comes in these typical forms:

  • Vivid images in dreams
  • Synchronicities
  • Unusual behavior of animals
  • Divination
  • Clairvoyancy and paranormal ways of knowing things

Tell me this doesn’t sound like regularly occurring events in Twin Peaks.

Esoteric Buddhism doesn’t have to explain everything exactly, but it sure matches well with everything about memory and the Fireman’s constant quest for balance that allows for evolution, as I described in How The Fireman “Brings Back Some Memories”. Two universes of different states needing to stay in balance with one another seems apt for what we see in Season 3 and the Frost books.

Why, if both universes are neither strictly positive or negative by nature, does it sound like I was making a case for the Timeline being strictly positive and Lodgespace being strictly negative? Because Twin Peaks is from the perspective of human beings. In terms of human beings within the cycle of life, positive energy flow is through the timeline. The only time the flow reverses to Lodgespace is when a character dies. Because that’s a person’s natural cycle.

Why I most think Season 3 happens in an in-between state is because no scene is ever cut and dry as to whether it is in the Timeline or Lodgespace. Fans are constantly debating if the Roadhouse is material or non-material, if Audrey is in a mental institution or the Black Lodge. Fans debate if the Las Vegas scenes are any bit real, or if everything in Season 3 is a dream. And there is debate if Season 3 is connected to Seasons 1 and 2 or if it erases them outright, and whether or not the Fire Walk With Me ending is invalidated by the Season 3 ending.

There are good arguments for either side of any of these debates. Because Season 3 is exactly in the middle of all the issues. There is equal evidence of material and non-material states because it is an in-between state of reality, a third state entirely. Which fits really well considering the Season 3 script is an exact middle point between David Lynch and Mark Frost.

The Script is the One

I believe the Season 3 script is a middle point between Mark Frost and David Lynch, best explained by this quote from Frost:

I would sit at the keyboard, and David would sit in a comfy chair, and we would go back and forth. You throw your minds up toward the ceiling, and they meet somewhere near the light fixtures. The script becomes written by a third party. The author is someone called Lynch-Frost.


The Twin Peaks Season 3 Script is exactly between its writers, Mark Frost and David Lynch.

Neither Frost or Lynch are positive or negative on this diagram, I merely put Frost on the Timeline side because of his expressed need to include the greater world (and its concerns and politics) into Season 3 while I put David Lynch on the side of Lodgespace because of his interest in Transcendental Meditation and hidden interior realms.

Also, there’s this:

Star Pics Twin Peaks trading card with quotes from David Lynch and Mark Frost about their partnership


At the heart of this modern incarnation of Twin Peaks is both Lynch and Frost’s instinct to help people. Mark Frost delivers his interpretation of this message in The Secret History of Twin Peaks and The Final Dossier working within a framework of a Jungian collective unconscious neural network, with a social conscious focus on Light and Darkness, summarized well by this tweet:

A twitter quote from Mark Frost urging Twin Peaks fans to vote.

David Lynch delivers his interpretation within Season 3 by showing aspects of a meditation state dissolving the proverbial “suffocating clown suit of negativity” made from anger, depression and sorrow which he explains well in Catching the Big Fish.

Both men show an instinct to help their fellow human beings. And their work here shows how they think humanity is best served during the time we’re given by striving for enlightenment/living in the present/embracing the light/using your energy in a positive way. Both men have different interpretations of how their message should be delivered, but at the base foundation behind the Season 3 Script is the message of this alchemic enlightenment and evolution.

A diagram showing the interrelated nature of Twin Peaks the Return, its script, Secret History of Twin Peaks and Final Dossier.

The path to get to this evolution is their own interpretation. Like themselves, neither interpretation is more positive or negative than the other. Like the material and non-material universes, Frost and Lynch’s interpretations are interconnected at a foundational level and unlock better understanding of the other.

T. Kyle King of Wrapped In Podcast has an interesting angle on this:

With respect to the past, Lynch has a strong sense of nostalgia, whereas Frost has a strong sense of history. Lynch relates to the past emotionally, while Frost reacts to the past intellectually. For Lynch, the greater sin with respect to the past is to get so lost in the romanticized past that it blinds us to the opportunities available in the present. To Frost, by contrast, the greater sin with respect to the past is to lose awareness of it to a degree that causes us to make impractical decisions that lead us down ill-considered roads as a result of our ignorance. The interplay of these countervailing forces of emotion/intellect, nostalgia/knowledge, and past/present is reflected in your theory, and is shot through The Return, and nowhere more so than in Part 8, particularly in the juxtaposition of Sarah Palmer in an iconic moment of Americana (a boy and a girl in a black and white scene from the ‘50s) with the BOB-frog-bug unleashed by the atomic bomb crawling into her mouth.

As a viewer, you may be more tuned to Lynch’s point of view, or you may be more tuned to Frost’s, but it is up to you to decide where on the spectrum you fall. Personally, I try to fall right in the middle, which is probably why I see Twin Peaks being told from a point in the middle of the material and non-material universes.

A diagram showing how David Lynch and Mark Frost’s interpretations interrelate within Twin Peaks media.

The in-between state

My color coding works as follows:

Timeline side is blue:

  • it’s the Original Twin Peaks Timeline that’s of the world
  • The World is coded blue in the song “Questions In A World of Blue”
  • Also, Jacoby’s glasses, one side is blue

Lodgespace side is Red:

  • The red curtains
  • Fire imagery
  • Jacoby’s other lens

The middle state is purple:

  • Jacoby’s lenses together provide a purple hue to the wearer
  • The Fireman (provider of balance per my previous theories)’s realm is purple

A Star Pics Twin Peaks trading card and page from Secret History of Twin Peaks discuss Dr. Jacoby’s colored glasses.

Frank Truman

I’ve said earlier that Frank Truman signifies the intruding presence of Margaret’s “dream” while also still being attached to the Timeline. Because he only has one foot in the dream. His other foot is in the Timeline. He is literally the symbol of being in between:

  • In Parts 1 through 3, Frank is not present. I believe these Parts are mostly in tune with the Timeline. Frank also is not present in the second half of Part 17 or any of Part 18. I consider those to be mostly in tune with Lodgespace. Frank Truman only exists between those points in the undecided middle state.
  • He neutrally reacts to both Wally Brando (full of positive energy and love for his parents) and Doris Truman (full of negative energy and trauma over their son’s suicide).
  • Per Final Dossier, is the acting Sheriff for a set period of two years between Harry’s stepping down and Hawk’s taking of the mantle.
  • Does not actively shoot DoppelCooper (though his hat takes a cartoonish hit from the bullet in a dreamlike way).
  • Acknowledges in Part 7 that Laura Palmer was killed as he goes through the discovered diary pages with Hawk.
  • Works in both the modern section of the sheriff station (where Maggie’s 911 dispatch station is located) and the older one where Andy, Lucy and Hawk go through files and discuss eating evidence.
  • He constantly references fish, symbolically referencing Pete Martell fishing because Laura is missing.
    • In Part 1 Lucy says he’s fishing.
    • In Part 7, he and Will Hayward make fishing jokes over Skype.
    • In Part 15, in a dark conference room, he was looking at pictures of fish when Hawk came in to announce that the Log Lady had died.

While the fish references are also time markers of Lodgespace’s “dream” asserting itself, I’m going to stick to the state of in-between for a while.

A sampling of characters in an in-between state:

Hawk is between being a deputy and a sheriff.

The Log Lady is at the precipice between life and death.

Andy and Lucy are also stuck in-between in their way. As I explained in detail here, Lucy and Andy were released by Wally Brando from the past when he gave them permission to turn his kept childhood bedroom into a study more suited to their modern needs. Their arc within Season 3 transitions from the past to the present, but is mostly between these states until Lucy understands cell phones.

Gordon Cole, Albert Rosenfield and Tamara “Tammy” Preston patrol the cases that have equal roots in both the material Timeline and non-material Lodgespace.

Bobby Briggs patrols the border between Twin Peaks and Canada.

Every character in this show is on some sort of precipice, which I will return to at a later time, but as for now I think you get the idea.

There are also locations of focus that are in-between states:

All of the hotels and motels are places where people go when they need a place to stay when they’re between times of being at home. This includes the Great Northern with the hum in its boiler room.

The Double R and Roadhouses are places where you go to eat and live between the time when you’re at home.

The Dutchman’s is in a literal state between being material and non-material.

The Palmer House is material but its residents appear to be both from the material and non-material.

Stairways (and also ladders, if you include the case files illustrations that make Bushnell Mullins connect LVPD and Lucky 7 people together in corruption) are an actual location themselves, and it appears that the stairway in the Dutchman’s takes you from the material (ground floor) to the non-material (2nd floor). Not to mention Sarah’s room in New Mexico (per Final Dossier) and Laura’s room in Twin Peaks are on the second floor, connected by stairs.

That purple Zone with Naido and American Girl (themselves possibly in-between states of Laura and Diane while their tulpas exist nearest the time stream, or under some form of Lodge-style witness protection) was between Dale’s time in the Lodge and his time in Vegas.

The Farm, where the arm wrestling occurred, was described by Ray Monroe as something like a halfway house for released prisoners reintegrating into civilian society.

The Frost-described three-year-old ghost towns of Las Vegas are where Cooper entered the world between his time in the non-material and his time in the Jones home as Dougie. The houses themselves are in between being built and having residents.

Trailers like Fat Trout Trailer Park as well as Dr. Jacoby’s trailer on White Tail Mountain are neither moving vehicles or houses, but can be used as either.

Junction points

All of these in-between locations operate as junction points. Just like the Season 3 Script is a junction point between Lynch and Frost’s interpretations. Just like the Waiting Room and Fireman’s lair are junction points.

David Lynch regularly goes out of his way to say in various way he’s never shown the Lodges on film. In this Rolling Stone interview, Kory Grow asks Lynch what feeling he gets when on the set of the Black Lodge, and Lynch responded with this:

I call it the “Red Room.” And the Red Room is sort of a junction point. It can be a very good feeling and it can be not so good.

Frost, in The Final Dossier, alludes to the Fireman’s lair being a junction point when he says Cooper’s Double is looking for the coordinates so he could locate a grand central station of junction points. You can see this in action in Part 17 when the Fireman captures DoppelCooper, swipes away the image of the Part 12 Palmer House, bringing up the sheriff station instead and then that is where we next see DoppelCooper appear.

You can also say the entirety Season 3 is a junction point for each character as they choose between positive and negative energy, which I’ve alluded to already and will explore in depth later. Right now, I will say that Season 3 operates as a portal for them, where they can go out into the positive or negative, depending which way they want to walk through the portal (or, if you prefer, threshold). Depending on which way you walk on the stairs declares which floor you end up on. And depending on which way you look into a mirror declares what you see as a reflection on the other side.

What I mean to say is Lynch loves his imagery to explain interior states. We’ve seen it in the original series especially with mirrors: Josie’s face is shown in the mirror first thing, her secrets and darkness reflected to us without us knowing what we’re seeing. Later, we see BOB looking back at both Leland Palmer and Dale Cooper. Used to be, you could see right through to the non-material through a mirror like it were a portal. Now in the stories sprung from the Season 3 Script, it’s as if we’re on the mirror itself, and depending which way your energy is tuned proves which state of reality you look out onto. The mirror is the junction point between image and reflection. And depending which way the mirror looks, you will see the image, or you will see the reflection. One is the Official Version, the other is the Unofficial Version, and the mirror is a portal to both.

Come back next time and we’ll look further into how modern Twin Peaks works as the mirror between Timeline and Lodgespace, and I’ll make a case for how Dale Cooper is responsible for its structure.

Thanks go out to Adam Stewart, T. Kyle King, Kylee Karre, Caemeron Crain, Brien Allen and Rob King for their tenacity in reading every part of this theory and providing me feedback during my writing process.

Also major thanks to Matt Armitage for rendering my pen scratches into the above classy diagrams. 


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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