Join our guest author, Carson Carruth, as she guides us through a journey to find Judy in Twin Peaks
Mr. C: “Who’s Judy?”
Phillip Jeffries: “You’ve already met Judy”
The character of “Judy” or “Jowday” has been a conundrum for fans of Twin Peaks: The Return. On the one hand, she seems to really exist on some level, being tied to Sarah Palmer, the White Horse, the “Experiment”, and whatever happens at the end and perhaps at the beginning with Cooper and Laura Palmer. On the other hand, the only exposition we have about this apparent villain is given by Gordon Cole with odd timing at the start of Part 17. Why didn’t he mention the point of their quest before? I believe that I have mostly resolved this confusion, and I will lay out the presence of Judy in the story in this essay in a fashion that—to me at least—makes sense of much of the plot and shows how she is the central antagonist, taking the place of BOB before her.
My analysis is based on my experience with David Lynch’s visual style in general: he shows explicitly what happens, but he hardly has any exposition to explain it. So, if something is shown to us—besides super small details that could just be continuity issues—presumably it’s there for a reason and has to be connected into the plot with visual or audio motifs in the absence of expository dialogue. Interpreting shots of power lines or strange, repeated noises that characters sometimes notice as “atmospheric” keeps the story from being properly interpreted, since those are in fact storytelling mechanisms of choice for David Lynch.
Keeping this constraint in mind will stop us from going off on tangents that are disconnected from the plot as we’ve been shown it; to wit, the meaning of significant visual and audio cues need to be determined in their immediate context and in what has come before to find meaning, without any appeals to plot devices that we have no evidence for. Hopefully I have laid my thinking clearly on the table.
So it is with this set of assumptions that I will set about analyzing the character of Judy and illuminating the central mystery of the show’s plot.
Who is Judy?
I believe Judy is a demonic entity that uses Sarah Palmer as a home-base and conduit, thanks to the Frogmoth/Jumping Man spawned from her egg in Part 8 eleven years after the nuclear bomb goes off and evil is released. It’s signposted quite explicitly, whether it’s said aloud or not (Why would it be? “It can’t all be said aloud now,” after all). My main reasons for thinking so are:
- In the Final Dossier, the story about the Sumerian demons whose union would end the world is an allusion to at least BOB. And what other female demonic entity have we seen that could fit the description of his partner? The Experiment! Sarah Palmer is also Leland’s wife, so a demon infecting her is a nice parallel story-wise.
- Also, the Final Dossier says that the girl in Part 8 was Sarah Palmer without much ambiguity. This and the last tip seem intended to allow viewers to piece together the central plot, which is depicted only in piecemeal and in a cloak of mystery in the show itself.
- Cooper, Gordon, Briggs, and who knows whoever else have a plan to do something about Judy, and this apparently involves getting Laura and taking her to an otherworldly(?) Palmer house in Part 18. The only person who lives there is Sarah Palmer, who is otherwise unremarkable. So there must be something about her.
- The appearance of the demon/darkness inside Sarah in the Part 14 scene at the bar where she kills the trucker is also important. It looks like has the proboscis of the Frogmoth, pulls that away, and then looks fuzzily like the Experiment. It’s also sort of a “big reveal” after we’ve been shown a lot of seemingly puzzling scenes of Sarah behaving bizarrely.
- When Sarah is at the grocery store—or in Part 17 smashing Laura’s picture—she is involved in weird time loops and temporal disturbances either in the world itself or her own perception. These also occur whenever she’s watching TV. When she smashes Laura’s picture, it seems she basically senses and intervenes across time and space to stop Laura from surviving or getting away once she realizes what Agent Cooper is doing (more about this later as well). The Experiment leaving the glass box in Part 2 seems also to be shifting rapidly through time and space in an unstable way, so I see these as connected.
- The Frogmoth and Jumping Man share design elements—especially the big proboscis—and are respectively shown going into young Sarah’s mouth and inter-cut with her face when Mr. C goes to visit Phillip Jeffries. The Jumping Man lights up with electricity in that scene, seeming to serve as a conduit of sorts. My conclusion is that the Jumping Man prepared the way for Judy and serves as her conduit to the world and to possession of Sarah Palmer. This fits with the fact that Sarah doesn’t show such signs of possession until Season 3, but has since the original been a powerful conduit of spiritual forces, which is inexplicable until this is taken into account.
So basically, it’s Occam’s Razor. The more elegant solution—that these are all related—is more likely and makes more sense than every one of these points being deception or something unrelated. Why else include all the weirdness with Sarah Palmer at all, instead of just showing her as a sad alcoholic with a few scenes like other denizens of Twin Peaks who have small cameos? She’s clearly central to the story, along with Judy.
What does Judy do/where is she?
I’m going to lay out Judy’s interaction with the plot here. I am quite certain about most of this interpretation because it relies only on repeated audiovisual clues and a linear interpretation of events, not alternate timelines and dimensions or multiple storylines divorced from each other to try to explain discrepancies. I believe Judy—or at least indications of her—is shown to us a lot, and tying them together is the main mystery of the show in terms of the plot itself.
Judy is elusive, hard to find, and seems to be present in a lot of places. She is powerful but not confrontational, unless she is discovered. I think—based on where we will see her appear in the plot— that Judy hangs out in electronics and the power lines and is therefore monitoring many plot developments. I’ll detail some specific places below where this is happening as we go episode by episode.
This ability to listen in is why she shouldn’t be mentioned or discussed unless you have a proper reason to – she’s paying attention. Gordon seems aware of this, for instance, when he jacks up his hearing aids to whisper with Albert after their interview with Mr. C. I think he’s worried about Judy eavesdropping. This dovetails with Sarah Palmer seeing TV shows related to plot events or saying “men are coming,” as well as the frequent shots of buzzing power lines and seemingly random electrical noises related to certain events, usually involving Mr. C or those connected to him. Judy wants to be with BOB again like the good old days, and to hold onto Laura, so she’s watching the Blue Rose team as well as Mr. C and trying to get them where she wants them. Both of those factions, on the other hand, want to capture, defeat, or use her somehow. Only some people are aware that Judy is watching.
Judy manifests in several forms in the story that are mostly indirect: the Experiment, Sarah Palmer, the White Horse, the Frogmoth, perhaps the Jumping Man, and most importantly: electricity and sounds! There are tons of strange audio cues, and if we follow the Fireman’s warning to “listen to the sounds,” we find lots of little things that I will explore more in the blow-by-blow for each episode. If you need some convincing, here is the “sound” that the Fireman played plus three other occurrences of a heavily distorted version:
The first is from the opening scene. The second is when Richard Horne stops to wipe off his truck after running over a little boy in Part 6. The third is in Part 15 when we see a shot of power-lines and it seems something is traveling through them. The fourth is from when Diane and Cooper “cross over” in Part 18. They are all more-or-less distorted versions of the original “sound” made to sound like electricity, and I take that as meaning Judy is present or nearby. The “sound” is also repeated without modification when Laura disappears again in Part 17—as we know—and that’s why I interpret Judy as being the person who takes her away. It reoccurs at other parts as well, which I note below for readers to find themselves.
Judy is basically the BOB of this season, though she operates on a much larger scale and has a habit of hiding or not showing her true form. I like this a lot, because Twin Peaks is a mystery show, after all. The advertisement campaign before the new season’s release included phrases like “It’s happening again” and missing posters for Laura Palmer. The central mystery of the story in my eyes, then, is “what is this entity that has done something to Laura Palmer (again) and must be defeated?” My answer is Judy. The basic plot of the first couple of seasons is here, but writ large. Also just like BOB in relation to Leland’s crimes, you can read Judy as an abstracted depiction of the crushing guilt and sorrow of Sarah Palmer somehow made manifest.
We’ll explore more of the when and why as we explore each episode, but I hope these points have shown you that you need to be listening and watching carefully—above all—to connect the storytelling dots and find Judy, and that Judy is actually right under our and the characters’ noses the whole time.
So without further ado (and going chronologically episode by episode):
- Cooper hears warnings about Judy from the Giant in Part 1. “It is in our house now. It cannot all be said aloud now.” I’ll come back to these later as appropriate scenes pop up. He also gets the final warnings about how things will go in the plan to find or do something about Judy. Some people say this scene must really happen right before Cooper goes to Odessa in Part 18. I don’t necessarily buy that. Cooper has to have been doing something in the 25 years he was locked away, after all. He knows a lot already when he wakes up in Part 16 and is ready to execute the plan he and others have cooked up. The first two episodes—we shall see—basically introduce us to Judy piecemeal along with the other, more apparent strains of the core plot focused on Cooper, the Blue Rose team, and Mr. C. We also hear “the sound,” which will recur over and over and signal Judy’s presence in a scene or place.
- We get to see Judy directly for one of the few times in the season. She (called Experiment Model in the credits for mysterious effect) is following Cooper between dimensions and perhaps attracted to Sam and Tracy having sex in front of the box set up by Mr. C. It seems that the box can lead into the interdimensional portals everyone keeps using or encountering, since Cooper falls through it in Part 3. before munching on Sam and Tracy. Who got sent into the world as a golden orb in Part 8? Laura (see Part 2 for more on this)! She has abducted Laura, who she took from the Red Room before following Cooper to New York from the Lodge. We see that this is the sequence of events, because Cooper passes through the glass box in the next episode right before Sam and Tracy get killed. Judy either tries to hunt him down once he’s left the Lodge and seen Judy take Laura, or she just forces him into a dark dimension to get rid of him before manifesting with the Laura orb in-hand.
- Mr. C gets a call from “Jeffries” as he gears up for the next day. The voice obviously isn’t Jeffries’, and it says it knows Mr. C met with Major Briggs and that Mr. C is “going back in” so it can “be with BOB again”. Also, “I missed you in New York.” I think these are all clues that make sense in terms of later plot (except “I missed you in New York,” which I think is pretty clearly a reference to the Experiment’s violent trip through there). The only person who could be “back” with BOB is a member of the Palmer family or a Black Lodge denizen.
- Phillip Gerard keys us in to Judy being around when Cooper meets him in the Red Room. “Is it future, or is it past?” refers to the temporal/dimensional screwy-ness that happens around Judy more so than even what goes on in the Lodge, and “someone is here” is a strange way to phrase things since he knows who Laura Palmer is. He phases away just in time to avoid Laura, in fact. This is indeed Laura, but I think she’s under Judy’s influence in a way that isn’t precisely depicted. We find more proof for this when she is about to lean down to whisper to Cooper, and we hear an audible voice whisper the words “whisper” to Laura, that sounds a lot like Sarah Palmer’s voice, which jives with Judy being in Sarah Palmer and controlling Laura. Then Judy takes Laura away, and pulls the curtain up…and there she is. We see the white horse and darkness, the “extreme negative force” Gordon describes in one of its many forms. The horse is tied to Sarah Palmer—and Judy—and comes up repeatedly throughout the entire show. The darkness contrasts with the pure light we see within Laura.
- Judy abducts Laura and essentially hides her light away. Then there’s an electric buzzing and a time reset to the start of the scene, which isn’t something associated with the Arm or Gerard, the only other characters around. Judy is constantly associated with temporal and dimensional screw-ups—a recurring theme—and therefore I see her as being the cause of this “reset” to keep Cooper from immediately following her or doing something. Laura certainly isn’t there for the re-do, and now we have Leland saying “Find Laura”, whereas she wasn’t missing before.
- Another thing: this is more on the side of conjecture, but I think Laura tells Cooper he can go out in this scene because Judy wants BOB out of Mr. C and where she can be with him. If Cooper comes out, Mr. C goes back in. This is also what we can glean from Judy’s call to Mr. C in this episode. It doesn’t mean she wants Cooper to really get out safely, since she seemingly puts him through a few other dimensions connected by the “Mauve Zone” in the next episode while chasing after him. Rather she wants to be rid of Cooper in all forms and free BOB.
- Right after Cooper goes through the glass box, we are shown Sarah Palmer watching lions kill African Buffalo with great interest. This is when Sam and Tracy are killed, chronologically. It’s pretty on the nose: The mauling of the buffalo doubles the mauling of Sam and Tracy by Judy, so somehow Sarah is participating in or reflecting the experience of the demon inside of her. Judy is either in her and traveled to New York or possessed her after leaving the glass box.
- Looking at this and other scenes, I believe personally that Judy can project out of Sarah Palmer into the power lines and doesn’t have to be stuck with her at all times—being a trans-dimensional being and all of that—but their relationship is left a bit vague. It’s not a crucial point of interpretation, regardless. I lean towards the idea that Judy simply uses Sarah as an earthly means of access and projection and source of nourishment, with the Jumping Man/Frogmoth spawned by Judy being Sarah’s primary possessor.
- Something else I have seen that may be a theme or motif related to Judy that begins here: rooms that look like faces. The mirrors behind Sarah Palmer’s couch loom over behind her and reflect the TV she watches in several of her scenes, very much looking like two eyes and a nose looming over her. The camera emphasizes this by pointing up a bit as she watches and gets a strange look on her face.
- Judy continues chasing Cooper in the “Mauve Zone.” There’s banging on the door in both Naido and the American Girl’s rooms, and American Girl says “my mother is coming,” which may relate back to the central mother figure of the show, Sarah. American Girl is also played by Phoebe Augustine, the actress who played Ronette Pulaski. Ronette was attacked by Leland along with Laura in FWWM, which makes the parallel uncanny. The demon inside Laura’s mother is confining or scaring an entity that is visually tied closely to Laura, though American Girl has a different identity than Ronette. Maybe she’s trapped like Laura is in Odessa in Part 18, with a different persona? That definitely seems to be the case for Naido—i.e. disguised/scrambled Diane—who helps Cooper get out the right way so he won’t go somewhere dangerous or be trapped when Judy gets in. Plug 15 may have led out into the world and resulted in Mr. C coming in, but it seems that Cooper might have met his end on the other side of it based on Naido’s cut-throat gesture. Also notice that Naido hushes Cooper when the banging on the door starts, which goes with the theme of being silent about/around Judy.
- Both of the rooms in the “Mauve Zone” look like faces oriented around the fireplaces, superficially resembling Sarah Palmer and the mirrors watching over her, though the two people on the couches are facing it rather than sitting beneath it. “It’s in our house now,” we know, and this looks like the Fireman’s house. Is Judy there watching and running the place? She certainly can find out wherever Cooper is despite Naido’s intervention.
- Something curious happens when Gordon dismisses Tammy to talk to Albert. There’s an audible buzzing noise that I can’t identify, and it goes away as she walks off. This may have been the cause of his concern about the wire. Gordon gets very quiet a few moments later like someone might be listening. When he says “Albert” three times in seeming disapproval, the third time he looks quizzical and seems to focus on a high-pitched sound that started a few seconds earlier. When the sound disappears, he resumes talking. “Listen to the sounds” indeed. Is Judy trying to figure things out about Mr. C too?
- When Richard Horne is on the run, he pulls over to wipe off the blood on the front of his truck. Before he gets out of the cab, we hear the “the sound” heavily distorted and modified. It’s definitely the noise though, as can be heard in the audio I posted above. It stops as soon as he leaves the truck, which indicates Judy’s in there with him. We also saw the “6” power pole watching over the scene earlier when he ran over the boy. I believe Judy is watching Richard, or at least feeding off the suffering he is creating. Perhaps her being around is also part of the reason he is so messed up. We can speculate as to why. Maybe she is watching after someone who is in a way BOB’s offspring, or she is expecting Mr. C to come for him someday.
- The same truck later turns up at the house where Andy questions the trucker. We’re later shown an ominous scene of his door ajar, and he never shows up for his meeting at 4:30—which recalls the Fireman saying “4-3-0.” I think Judy may have killed him somehow after hitching a ride with Richard for some garmonbozia. This may tie into the whole “Billy” subplot, but I’ll save that for another essay.
- This whole episode is essentially the origin story of BOB and Judy entering the world. BOB’s orb and the egg of the Frogmoth come from the mouth of the creature that is awoken by the Woodsmen in the convenience store. They get their “ritual” started after the nuclear bomb blows a hole in reality and creates an opening. Based on what we can learn from The Final Dossier, we can see that it is Sarah Palmer who is infected by the hatched frogmoth that is perhaps the Jumping Man in a larval form. His face is clearly intercut with Sarah Palmer’s in a later episode, and his pointy “nose” looks a lot like the frogmouth’s proboscis.
- We get another “white horse” reference from the poem the Woodsman recites over the radio to lull everyone to sleep. There is also neighing in the distance of the desert after he walks away into the darkness. These are more signs of Judy that have come up before. The last shot is strikingly reminiscent of Cooper in Part 2 looking into the darkness behind the curtains at the white horse and beyond before he leaves the Lodge. This time, neighing is used instead of the actual horse as Judy’s calling card.
- The Fireman sees all of this, and sends Laura’s goodness into the world to specifically counteract BOB and the other evils that he sees coming about. Perhaps he is a being on the level of Judy, who is acting to balance things as part of his cosmic duty. I don’t think this interpretation is controversial based on what’s onscreen. The Fireman watches the events that have happened, becomes concerned, then generates the Laura-orb and sends it to Earth. This is the reason Judy wants to get rid of her or capture her; to remove that balance so she can satisfy her urges and fully manifest on Earth—which has occurred to a degree in Season 3 and results in all sorts of evil and decay in the town of Twin Peaks. I also think it’s related to BOB’s motivation in FWWM.
- This is why finding Laura and saving her is important, too. Not because she’s “the one” in the sense of a savior, but because without her everything is out of balance with the presence of so much supernatural evil in the world. Her fallible human self also contains a pure spiritual element in opposition to that of BOB, Judy, and other “dark” entities, indicated by the pure light that shines within her and her depiction as a golden orb in contradistinction to the cracked, vile orb of BOB.
- Gordon—as usual attuned to things people can’t see—opens the hotel room door and sees Laura’s crying face surrounded by a color like that of the golden orb from Part 8 and in Judy’s hand in Part 2. We hear her mother’s voice call for her before she disappeared. I think Gordon sees that Laura is captured, something that Cooper himself witnessed in Part 2 in the Red Room. Sarah Palmer—or what’s inside of her and using her—has her captured in some spiritual sense, perhaps in a spiritual “dream,” which is why we hear her calling out to Laura to reign her back in.
- Several symbols of Judy are relatively straightforward. You can see one in this episode as Sheriff Truman and Hawk pour over Hawk’s “living map.” Judy is shown over Blue Pine Mountain, where she later grabs Laura in Part 17 as Cooper tries to save her. It’s the same symbol as on Mr. C’s card in Part 2—“this is what I want”—and Major Briggs’ note to Bobby and the Twin Peaks sheriff’s posse, where she is located in the same place over Blue Pine Mountain.
- Sarah Palmer has a breakdown at the grocery store. She’s confused by the presence or non-presence of things on the shelves as well as about when the new beef jerky came into style. She says “men are coming” and talks to herself in the third person. I think it’s pretty straightforward: she’s possessed more and more by Judy herself, who shifts through time and space rather easily and is infecting Sarah with similar perceptions that deviate from the present “physical” reality. As for the identity of the men, we can speculate that she is referring to all of the people coming together in Part 17 to defeat BOB and set in motion the last chain of events related to saving Laura and doing something about Judy. Naturally, Judy can foresee this to some extent with her time-travelling powers and is worried about it. She is in some ways opposite to BOB, which makes sense since they are a pair. Judy schemes, hides, and tricks to get her sustenance. BOB’s violence was much more extroverted, in a way.
- We also have the scene with Hawk visiting Sarah. She’s clearly not doing well mentally, and something is in her house. Since I’m treating her possession as the most plausible plot line, it’s not too hard to explain. Judy or some related beings—the Tremonds or the Jumping Man, perhaps, the means of Judy’s contact with the dimension of Earth?—are in there messing around.
- Sarah is drinking and watching a boxing match in a loop at home. If we were to use the earlier scene as a prototype—where what she watched matched what Judy does with Sam and Tracy— then it’s not hard to see that earlier in the episode Mr. C was having his arm-wrestling match to get a hold of Ray Monroe. He wins after playing at losing for a while, and the boxing scene does in fact seem to have a surprise knockout. I think Judy is following Mr. C and other events, and Sarah is once again indirectly experiencing it.
- Here we have the scene where Sarah reveals her possession. In the bar, she pulls her face open before killing the trucker who harasses her. The design elements of the shadows within look respectively like both the Frogmoth/Jumping Man—including a proboscis—and the Experiment. This vision also serves as a complementary double of Laura’s golden interior seen in Part 2, similar to how BOB’s orb contrasts with Laura’s golden one in Part 8. The image is clear enough: the inside of Sarah is dark and opposed to Laura’s inner light, and there is something that is living in or causing that darkness inside her—and it seems pretty happy based on the creepy smile! This is Judy, of course. I don’t see another sensible solution to it, looking back on all of the moments I have highlighted until now. The Frogmoth possessed Sarah and became the Jumping Man, who has allowed Judy’s influence to enter the world through Sarah.
- We catch Judy once again by her motifs of power lines and “the sound.” We are treated to a shot of power lines rapidly passing by with “the sound” repeating in a distorted, electrical form. Judy is going to spy on Mr. C, who we see driving to the convenience store right after. The superimposition of Sarah Palmer’s face on the Jumping Man when he’s doing his electrical teleportation thing shows that she’s there, and listening in. No wonder everyone is so hesitant to discuss Judy! This is almost a double of a couple later scenes in Part 17 that I’ll discuss in that section.
- Mr. C goes to Phillip Jeffries in the Dutchman and asks him about Judy. Jeffries more or less gives it away although Mr. C doesn’t realize it since he has less to go on than viewers. Jeffries calls Mr. C “Cooper” without any distinction and tells him he’s already met Judy. Good Cooper himself—as I pointed out—had some close run-ins with Judy already. Mr. C, for his part, had his mysterious phone call back in Part 2 that I believe was Judy or a possessed Sarah Palmer and has Judy close by in one form or another. Jeffries drives it home when he makes the phone ring in response to Mr. C asking again and again “who’s Judy?” They’ve already spoken on the phone, so he should know. In fact, it could be Judy herself calling, since Jeffries beats a hasty retreat and disappears.
- One more thing. When Jeffries says “this is where you’ll find Judy.”, h, which is pretty straightforward. Judy is with Sarah in some way.
- Gordon does his info-dump about “Jowday” at the very beginning of this episode. I think he was waiting 25 years until a proper time – going with the Fireman’s “it cannot be said aloud now” from Part 1. This also corresponds with Margaret talking to Hawk in one of their conversations and talking about “the dream of time and space” and the moment that is approaching. Presumably, the mysterious plan by Briggs, Cole, Cooper, the Fireman, and others needs a certain timing to succeed or even be possible. Clocks and precise dates and times are also important motifs and plot elements throughout The Return and are related to interdimensional weirdness and travel, which seems to support this idea. The time and date are just right for the journey that Cooper goes on after defeating BOB.
- When Mr. C is diverted to the Sheriff Station by the Fireman, we see a shot of power lines like the one we saw before he went to meet Phillip Jeffries. “The sound” also plays in its distorted electronic form, same as before. Immediately after we see Naido and the Drunk—I think he’s Billy, but that’s another plot point for another essay!—making noises that echo “the sound” pretty directly. Judy is heading toward Twin Peaks to monitor events, and some people can hear. I think these two have both met Judy before, or at least have a foot in the spiritual world enough to be aware of her making her way to Twin Peaks.
- Also note that Judy is aware of Cooper’s time jump – the Jumping Man rushes down the stairs after Cooper and Mike go past, probably to alert his master that something is happening and to go after Cooper. It isn’t a stretch to see this as directly connected to Sarah Palmer’s screams and rage a bit later, when Judy has found out and is reaching through time and space to put a stop to Cooper.
- Clearly Cooper’s white-knight plan doesn’t work against a demon that can transfer itself through time and space rather freely. You can’t save Laura without having her confront Judy, it turns out. After Cooper starts leading Laura away, we get the change to color indicating that the past is changing. Then we go to Sarah Palmer in the present, where she is crying out like an animal in apparent reaction to what’s happening. She smashes Laura’s homecoming picture repeatedly, which is looped footage that seems like a strange time distortion.
- The scene immediately following is Cooper hearing “the [Judy] sound” that the Fireman played in Part 1, and Laura being stolen away again by Judy like in Part 2. Cooper is visibly disappointed, which is why I say this was Plan A. Plan B to save Laura and fight Judy seems a lot more haphazard and dangerous, which I will get to in my section about Part 18. Perhaps Cooper imagined he could just get around the whole problem by going back to save Laura, but instead he has to go somewhere more dangerous to have her confront her mother and finally put an end to this.
- Another note is a piece of dialogue by Margaret Lanterman several episodes back to Hawk, “Watch out for the one I told you about, the one under the moon on Blue Pine Mountain.” On Hawk’s map, as discussed earlier, that’s the Judy symbol (as seen below). Cooper should have been around to listen, because Laura is snatched away again as he takes her to the portal on that same mountain.
- Cooper goes through the lodge again and seems to have to wait 25 years to emerge, at the time he was supposed to at the start of the series when Hawk seems to go to wait for him at Glastonbury Grove and the red curtains are flashing. I say this because Diane seems to be Cooper’s age, and the world as far as we can see seems like the 2010s. Some have noted that the sycamores look young like in the original. That’s true, but we don’t have much to go on so I don’t find that conclusive. It could just be that Cooper’s intervention in the past changed the world in certain ways. I’m not sure the precise year affects the events very much.
- Diane greets Cooper, and they ask each other if they are ready and if they are really themselves. I think they are asking each other if they’re ready in reference to a Plan B—or maybe what should have been Plan A, difficult as it will be—which is to travel to Judy herself in other-dimensional space and defeat her to free Laura from wherever she’s keeping her.
- Cooper and Diane travel 430 miles to a point along some power lines, where a large transformer looks like the Judy symbol. This is more evidence of the connection of Judy with power lines and the electric buzzing throughout the series. The sound of the buzzing itself resembles a distorted, modified version of the ‘[Judy] sound’ from parts 17 and 1, and the sound of other power lines that are focused on in various episodes. It’s more obvious in the several seconds when they are actually ‘crossing’, which you can listen to above. They have to travel into that electrical/spiritual world and fight on Judy’s terms, it seems.
- Once they’re in that ‘other world’, they have sex like Sam and Tracy did (it also mirrors the much more innocent affection of young Sarah Palmer for a young man before her own infection by Judy, emphasized by the same song playing as was on the radio in Part 8, before it is again disrupted, this time by ominous music instead of the woodsman’s poem). She, unlike Cooper, hasn’t overcome her shadow self, and this is clearly an otherworldly place where it could confront her.
- When Cooper leaves the hotel, he looks back and seems suspicious about a sound on the wind. There is distinctly a noise of a bug or a buzz, that quickly ends. Another noise that sounds like electric buzzing plays when he notices and looks at Eat at Judy’s. Judy is hanging around and not showing herself, trying to trick Cooper.
- Another thought that occurs to me is that the new world Cooper is in after waking up is illuminated. It was a dark night before. Judy has arrived, changed the place and actually lit it up, since this is her electrical world and she is a presence with great energy. We see white horses at Judy’s diner and ‘Carrie Page’s’ house, familiar signals, as well as the 6 power pole. Judy is watching and manipulating things in her usual discreet fashion. A very strange case of this is how when Cooper enters the diner, we are treated to a shot straight out the front door, as if we’re watching him. The two old people are sitting where the camera would be, and they aren’t very perturbed by the whole series of crazy events that goes on and when Cooper points a gun at them. Are they watching out for Judy?
- A numerological note that may have to do with the traveling to a spiritual world where Judy is dominant. If you add together digits and pay attention to numbers, you find that: Cooper is teleported to the Great Northern at 2:53, 2 + 5 + 3 = 10, he uses his room-key 315, 3 + 1 + 5 = 9 to open the door, then goes to Phillip Jeffries in room number 8 to perform time travel, and when he and Diane cross over they are in room 7 at the hotel before they have sex (which makes sense! 4 + 3 + 0 = 7). Then, there is the 6 power pole in front of Laura’s house. The Palmer house number is 7 + 0 + 8 = 15, 1 + 5 = 6, where they finally go. 15 is also the number of the ‘bad’ outlet in Part 3 that Naido tells Cooper to avoid. I’m not speculating on the esoteric meanings of these numbers, but these ‘coincidences’ seem a bit more than that. This isn’t the ‘normal’ world, whatever that means at this point.
- Other strangeness confirms the supernatural elements of this episode for me – Odessa couldn’t be the real world. We’re not allowed to see the people at the front desk of the hotel where Cooper and Diane stay. There are no pedestrians on the streets in Odessa, you can’t see any drivers in the cars going by, and the only people we see around are at the places Cooper goes to. Many of those people behave strangely and blankly, like they’re getting instructions from somewhere else. Everyone acts like they’re in a dream, which corresponds with the theme of ‘we live inside a dream’. It’s not a literal dream, but it’s the power of the mind, in touch with certain spiritual forces, to bend and create a reality to its liking. This is where Judy has trapped Laura, perhaps manipulating the power, suffering, and inability to let go of Sarah Palmer to create a place stuck in the time around her death, where the R&R hasn’t changed yet and ‘Carrie’ is stuck in a stasis.
- The dead man on Carrie’s couch has elicited much comment from viewers. I noticed something that put it in context for me: there is a wide shot of the white horse on the mantle to the right of him, with a door in between. He looks like he’s about the age Leland would have been and has a hole in his stomach like the one in Mr. C when BOB was dug out of him. There are flies buzzing around him. The whole arrangement looks like a face with one of the eye’s put out. Is this a message from Judy to Cooper, that he killed BOB but she’s still watching him? Laura can’t escape her parents or their demons, especially in this dream of Sarah’s Judy has infested. Also a small thing, but the left-right arrangement of male and female was doubled by the old people sitting at the Judy’s restaurant.
- We don’t see any other people in the other cars or at the gas station, and the lights of the car that follow them could be Judy herself, catching up then passing them to make it to Twin Peaks first. The town itself is dead, not a person in sight. Only electric lights are on, and the Palmer house is strangely illuminated. Judy is home! Alice Tremond, with her very lodgy name, only confirms that something is up. She literally takes instructions from an invisible person right behind the door, like Laura being told to ‘whisper’ in Part 2. ‘Ignore the man behind the curtain!’. You can see what looks like the face of the Jumping Man or the experiment between the two columns to the right of Cooper and Carrie, and the camera seems to try to constantly move to where you can see it. The proboscis is quite obvious. We’re not shown any adjacent house that looks like that in any way, and Alice Tremond seems to look right at that spot at one point.
- But, despite all of this, there is victory of a sort. Laura remembers. She turns back to the house, and screams, releasing energy so powerful that the lights of the house go out. No more of that ceiling fan, no more of the spirits that dwell there. Cooper has had to take them somewhere beyond understanding to do it, but they have defeated Judy and kept her from destroying the world.
Judy—like BOB before her—is our antagonist, and she is an ambiguous one on that. She embodies certain evil qualities—like obsession and negligence—that leave us wondering if she is nothing more than the evil sprouting forth from the mind of Sarah Judith Palmer in her grief and forcing itself onto the world. I don’t think the literal villain I have traced here and the abstract concepts that she embodies have to be kept apart. She is both the pain and obsession of Sarah Palmer made manifest as well as the being that lives off of it and channels it to its own ends, hoping to fully enter the world and join with BOB, who himself embodies and feeds off other aspects of evil
The beauty of this show in this—as in so much else—is that it is both a quest in literal plot terms as well as a quest on the part of the characters to master themselves and seek spiritual peace and harmony. The ending is both the literal defeat of the electrical horrors inside the Palmer House, as well as perhaps a chance for Laura to finally put to rest and release all the trauma she was made to forget as she was held onto as a living memory by her mother. She breaks free from the dark heritage of her family and asserts her personal light, and she does the same on a cosmic level and breaks the terrible curse that Judy is spreading into the world. It’s dark and mysterious and disturbing to watch, but—perhaps—it’s not such a bad ending as it seemed after all.
6 CommentsLeave a Reply
Fantastic article. I want to add that the sound of Gordon’s sharpie as he draws in the hotel room (right before opening the door for his Laura vision, I think?) sounds very similar to the Judy sound as well.
Great read! I tend to interpret the ending in the similar way, although I can’t quite pinpoint why, if it’s leans toward being positive, would it end with such a depressing feeling and focusing on Laura’s whisper and Cooper’s troubled face. Any theory regarding this?
Wonderful!!!! Spot on, I am totally on board with most of this. I always felt that the ending was one of hope rather than the despair that so many others saw in it. I’ve been telling people that as far as DKL is going to go, this is his version of a happy ending 🙂
Lynch has said that TWIN PEAKS is a continuing story, and I take that to mean the show (story) is not meant to end. So if Judy were defeated, a fourth season would require a new antagonist. But from the way the season ending, I get the feeling that it was a tease for more rather than a conclusion (whether 4 happens or not, we’ll see). I’m inclined to believe that the Laura scream scared Judy out of the house, or damaged her, rather than defeated her.
Thanks so much, Carson – this is an outstanding piece of work, and it helped me to develop my own understanding.
I strongly agree with your premise that Lynch “shows explicitly what happens, but he hardly has any exposition to explain it.” I would add that he says exactly what he means – he does not lie or misdirect – and he doesn’t say any more than is needed to be exact.
For 25 years our Judy data-set consisted entirely of Phillip Jeffries’ strange line in Fire Walk With Me which we all know and love, and based on that data I concluded that Judy is, simply and literally, “that which can’t be talked about.” In a text that’s fundamentally about trauma and secrets, that definition had a certain poetry to it. Somewhat to my surprise, season 3 did little to change my mind. Since watching it, my idea has been that “Judy” represents psychological fragmentation itself. She has no true name of her own – she takes the name of whomever she operates within, and Sarah Judith Palmer happens to be the prime example for our story.
Psychological fragmentation occurs when a part of self is so unacceptable that one’s personality dissociates from and becomes unconscious of it. While suppression of the fragment may be successful to some degree, ultimately it continues to operate unacknowledged, creating all kinds of havoc which seems to be mysterious.
Thus, as you illustrate, although Judy is present throughout season 3, she is almost always hidden: she is banging from the other side of a locked door; she is in the wires (which may be seen as a metaphor for neurons); she is inside of Sarah Palmer’s body and name; and so on. She eats the brains of those having a secret affair. She was created by the collective trauma of the atomic bomb.
MR C.: Who is Judy?
PHILLIP JEFFRIES: You’ve already met Judy.
In other words, “You’re a fragment.” How do you explain to a fragment what a fragment is?
Jumping to the end, we see Cooper help a Laura fragment by bringing her to her childhood home, although that help doesn’t occur in the way that he thinks it’s going to. At first he does his white knight thing, attempting to do the work for her by interacting with the occupants of the house himself. But the fragmentation that happened there is not truly his, and so the house just presents him with “empty” people while Laura blinks sleepily, out of the power position. Defeated, Cooper accidentally “wins” by giving up: with him effectively out of the way, the power position passes to Laura, and for her the house is now full of all that needs to be reintegrated.
Great question. And I know it wasn’t addressed to me, but apparently I’m still in babble-mode, and would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on this.
My current read is Laura is telling Cooper that he needs to let her go do her own thing, and to attend to his own healing process.