As we approach the release of Twin Peaks Season 3 on DVD and Blu-Ray, we mark three months since the somewhat controversial finale of season 3 which divided a fanbase into those who admired the ending and those who most definitely disliked the way it all played out. But whether you liked how it was handled or not, there is no doubting that David Lynch’s auteurist triumph of a series created a tonne of discussion and a lot of theories that I for one haven’t been able to stop thinking about.
And with Mark Frost’s recent release of The Final Dossier this just added more fuel to the fire in the form of information, revelations, and potential answers that filled me with excitement, resulting in my mind being consumed by numerous season 3 theories. So I felt that I needed to get this out there and develop a revised theory of what exactly I believe happens in season 3 based on some of the new parcels of information The Final Dossier has gifted us. I have many theories running through my head and this one may not be correct, hence ‘theory’, but it’s fun to speculate nonetheless. Now, being an extensive Twin Peaks theory this covers a large period of time as well as different timelines and realities, so I will try to make this as easy to understand as possible, but considering the content being discussed I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Before Twin Peaks
Season 3 of Twin Peaks delved much deeper into the history of some of the good and evil supernatural forces that lurk outside this world taking things back as early as July 16, 1945 in White Sands, New Mexico…. where we begin this story. As part of the Manhattan Project, the first nuclear weapon detonation was executed (codenamed Trinity) in White Sands, New Mexico. Through this explosion we are subject to scenes depicting static and fire until we come to an image of Joudy (for this theory I will be referring to Judy, Joudy, Experiment, and Mother as the same entity) regurgitating a number of eggs, and amongst the eggs is an orb with the face of the Black Lodge spirit BOB within it. Some may believe this explosion is what gave birth to Joudy, but to me this is a rip or a gateway simply being opened to our world where Joudy sends a number of eggs along with BOB to plague the planet.
This fact that Joudy is an ancient evil is described by Tammy Preston in The Final Dossier where she uncovers that in ancient Sumerian mythology dating back to 3000BC Joudy is the female form of an ancient demon known as an utukku that feasts on human suffering. In this same passage it is also revealed that the male counterpart of this demon went by the name Ba’al who was later known as Beelzebub…. Whether this entity is then later known as BOB is unclear but I believe this is entirely possible considering Judy was derived from Joudy.
Meanwhile in a vast purple sea we come across a house inhabited by The Fireman and Senorita Dido where The Fireman is ever so suddenly alerted to the fact that Joudy has just sent evil down to Earth in the form of BOB through the gateway opened by the explosion. In order to combat this evil The Fireman and Senorita Dido conjure up a gold orb, a being of light to hopefully ward off the forces of evil. This orb which contains the face of Laura Palmer within it is then sent down to Earth where it will one day inhabit the Laura we know.
Skip forward to 1956 somewhere in the New Mexico Desert where we see one of the eggs sent to Earth by Joudy hatch where a creature (frogmoth) emerges. The frogmoth makes its way to Los Alamos, New Mexico where a 13 year old Sarah Judith Novack Palmer is in her upstairs bedroom listening to music.
We now know that this girl is in fact Sarah Palmer from information revealed in The Final Dossier.
Meanwhile, a woodsman breaks into a local radio station and broadcasts a mysterious message to nearby towns which resulted in around 12 residents instantly falling asleep. This allows the frogmoth to sneak into Sarah’s room where it enters through her mouth and essentially acts as a placeholder which would at some point allow Joudy to use her body as a host. I don’t believe this is the moment Joudy possesses Sarah Palmer (more on this later), and the fact that she released a large number of eggs towards Earth suggests there could potentially be a number of other victims who all fell subject to a frogmoth entering their body.
Dale Cooper – Official Timeline
Next I will be following the journey of Special Agent Dale Cooper through what I will be referring to as the ‘official’ timeline or the ‘Laura dead’ timeline.
When I’m referring to the ‘official’ timeline I am talking about all of the events with Cooper that we follow throughout all of seasons 1 and 2 of Twin Peaks as well as in Fire Walk With Me. Another easy way to think of this timeline is as the ‘Laura dead’ timeline, the one in which we find the body of Laura Palmer in season 1, episode 1 which leads Dale Cooper on a hunt for her killer and prevents Pete from going fishing.
With this theory I’m assuming you know all of the events of the original series and the film all the way up to Dale Cooper being trapped in the lodge whilst his doppelgänger takes his place in the real world.
So the next time we see Dale Cooper is in Part 1, 25 years later where he is still sitting in the waiting room where MIKE asks “Is it future, or is it past?” before vanishing. Then as she said she would, Laura Palmer appears to Cooper, whispers something in his ear and then disappears whilst screaming in anguish. After Laura disappears, the curtains in the waiting room begin to move revealing a black void and a white horse. Then we get a repeat of the same scene we just saw however this time Laura doesn’t show up and Cooper follows MIKE to meet with The Arm (Just one indication that this is a loop). This is where Cooper learns about 253 “time and time again” and then he tries to leave the lodge into Glastonbury Grove but is blocked. He approaches a seated Leland Palmer from the left and seems confused by his request for Cooper to “find Laura”. This is an indication that as time works differently in the lodge the two timelines have already started to blend (within the lodge at least). With the help of The Arm’s doppelgänger, Mr C (Cooper’s doppelgänger) is able to trick Cooper and throws him into the nonexistent before he could swap places with Mr C.
Cooper is then transported through the glass box in New York into the nonexistent where he happens upon various locations in the Purple Sea. After going through a number of rooms encountering Naido and the American girl he travels through the portal with the number “3” on it and trades places with Dougie Jones. Now for the sake of simplicity I won’t go into what happens whilst Cooper is in the life of Dougie Jones through episodes 3 to 15 but just know that the Cooper that went through that portal is the same Cooper who wakes up after his coma.
One interesting thing to note here is that Cooper enters Dougie Jones’ body through a wall socket in Part 3 and then Cooper is supposedly awoken again when he electrocutes himself via a wall socket in Part 15. Note the numbers 3 and 15 are the same numbers we see on the two interchanging sockets in the hearth room. This could mean something within the universe itself or it could be some clever foreshadowing by Lynch.
Now one thing we know is that when Cooper wakes from his coma he is at 100% and seems to know everything about Richard, Linda, 2 birds with 1 stone, and has all of the knowledge of what is going to happen in Sheriff Truman’s office. So this means that either during his coma he learned all of this information or he learnt it prior to being trapped in the lodge. I believe it is a combination of both, part of my reasoning comes from Gordon Cole’s conversation with Albert and Tammy at the beginning of Part 17.
Here Cole reveals that Briggs briefed Cooper and himself on a plan that would lead them to Joudy. Now I have no idea how this conversation could have taken place in the timeline of season 2 but if we acknowledge it happened some time off screen then this might be where Cooper gained his information about the events in Truman’s office from Briggs. If this isn’t where he gained that information then it would be during his brief coma around the time he has a meeting with the Fireman.
Thus, I believe the opening scene of the season where Cooper visits The Fireman chronologically takes place at this time during his coma. It would explain why he knows this information when he wakes up and would also put him in the Fireman’s house where Briggs could have briefed him on the Truman’s office events (if this wasn’t done beforehand).
One detail many people have been having trouble piecing together is the fact that in the telling of his story to Albert and Tammy, Cole mentions that Cooper informed him that he was trying to “kill 2 birds with 1 stone” before entering the lodge in 1989, but we see him learn this information from the Fireman when he is much older. I believe these are two different “2 birds with 1 stone” scenarios. When Cooper tells this to Cole in 1989 he is talking about entering the lodge to A: Save Annie Blackburn, and B: Put an end to Windom Earle…… 2 birds….. 1 stone. When the Fireman relays this information to Cooper he is talking about entering the alternate reality to A: Save Laura Palmer, and B: Put an end to Joudy’s control. (More on this later).
So continuing with Dale Cooper’s journey, he then makes his way to Truman’s office where a tonne of shit goes down including Lucy killing Mr C and Freddie destroying the BOB orb. Cooper sends Mr C back to the lodge where he burns, then Cooper obtains the room 315 key (another appearance of the numbers 3 and 15). Diane appears out of Naido and claims she remembers everything. The clock hits 2:53 (“remember 253”) and then to the surprise of both Cooper and Cole the lights in the station go out. Now from Tammy’s recollection of events in The Final Dossier we learn about some confusing shit that means one of two things that I will detail below.
We learn from her description of Cole’s experience that day that once the lights went out Cole and Cooper apparated to the basement of the Great Northern Hotel and then after a brief exchange Cooper vanished down a long corridor. Cole was then left standing in a boiler room with the Horne brothers (who weirdly weren’t even at the sheriff’s station). We also know that by the time Cole made his way back to the sheriff’s station Diane had also disappeared without anyone else noticing.
If you recall how the events unfolded in Part 17 Cooper, Cole, AND Diane all apparated to the basement of the Great Northern Hotel. As Tammy mentioned, a brief exchange does happen but in Part 17 Diane is also present for this exchange. Tammy also mentions that Diane disappeared without anyone in the sheriff’s station noticing, including Cole. But if Cole was in the basement with Diane you’d assume that he’d notice Diane disappeared…. but he never mentioned her presence to Tammy. So to me this can be interpreted one of two ways:
1. So this could indicate that the sequence where Cooper, Cole, and Diane are in the basement of the Great Northern is taking place in the new “unofficial” timeline after the events in Truman’s office in THAT timeline. This would mean we are seeing a different Cooper, different Cole, and a different Diane to those in the previous scene.
2. Or perhaps it simply comes down to the fact that at this point in the dossier Tammy’s memory of the events was becoming foggy leading to some details being missed. Meaning that as per her description, Diane did disappear but she disappeared from Cole after the exchange with Cooper and before he appeared with the Horne brothers. In order to make the most sense out of this theory I am going to consider that this is the best explanation for the discrepancies in The Final Dossier.
Sticking with this Cooper, he goes through the door in the Great Northern basement informing Diane that he’ll see her at the curtain call and follows MIKE to meet with Phillip Jeffries. Jeffries shows Cooper the way to February 23rd, 1989 where he time travels back and saves Laura from being murdered by BOB. He makes his way to the portal leading to the Fireman’s house but Joudy, sensing a disturbance in the force rips Laura out of this timeline causing a tear creating what is known as the ‘unofficial’ timeline where Laura went missing as oppose to dying.
Interestingly, the scream and sound effects heard when Laura disappears from Cooper’s hand are the exact same sound bites as when she disappears from the lodge in Part 1. This perfectly indicates how in the lodge time works independently of everything else, Laura disappears in 1989 and concurrently disappears from the lodge 25 years later.
Cooper doesn’t seem to know what happened to her as this specific detail probably wasn’t given to him by the Fireman. And this is I believe the last point in the series where we see the Cooper from the ‘official’ timeline, we don’t know what happens to him at this point. But the fact that Twin Peaks is riddled by loops we could assume this Cooper just goes through everything again. Many alternative or similar theories believe that the last time we see this official cooper is either as the lights go out in the sheriff’s station or as he is walking towards the camera with Diane and Cole, but I believe this moment is the one that makes the most sense.
Also, if you recall the sequence in the sheriff’s department where there is a superimposed image of Cooper’s face on the screen I believe this is a future version of this official Cooper remembering these events. This face could be taken from just after the moment he saves Laura or some other time down the track.
Dale Cooper – Unofficial Timeline
Now I will be following the journey of ANOTHER Special Agent Dale Cooper through what I’ll be calling the ‘unofficial’ timeline or the ‘Laura missing’ timeline. (This is not the same Dale Cooper I have been following up to this point).
So here’s a bit of context first. In this timeline every event that occurred before February 23rd, 1989 still happened exactly how it is understood to have happened in the official version. Now after this event there are some changes but not many drastic ones, Dale Cooper still comes to Twin Peaks and his investigation unfolds more or less as it did in the original series, although here as Laura went missing there was no body found. Another change is that Leland Palmer committed suicide one year after Laura’s disappearance (hence his appearance in the lodge in season 3), this would indicate that some time after Laura disappeared, BOB left Leland’s body and retreated back to the lodge. Cooper’s investigation continued with the same end goal, he ended up stuck in the lodge with his doppelgänger out in the real world. He escapes 25 years later, goes to the sheriff’s department, defeats Mr C, travels down to the Great Northern basement, and goes back in time (further indicating there is a massive loop going on).
That brings us to where we first see this Cooper on screen, going through the loop Agent Cooper goes through Laura disappears from his hand, only this time we see a red glow on his face as he turns to the left and is ripped back into the red room. Once again he follows MIKE to meet The Arm, however this time instead of having Cooper remember 253 he asks whether it is “the story of the little girl who lived down the lane”. Following this question we get a reminder of the scene in Part 1 where Laura whispers into Cooper’s ear before disappearing. He then approaches Leland sitting in his chair but does so here from the right and doesn’t seem as confused by the request to “find Laura”. Unlike the previous time we saw this sequence unfold Cooper is able to leave the lodge unhindered and he appears in Glastonbury Grove where Diane is waiting for him (being in another timeline this isn’t the same Diane we see in the sheriff’s station).
What is interesting here is that it appears as though Cooper has left the lodge into a year some time in the past. Whether it is still February 23rd, 1989, slightly before, or slightly after, he is definitely not in the time period that the rest of season 3 is set. When they drive off down the highway they are very obviously in an older car model now as no specific date is specified it’s safe to assume we are still in the year 1989. They drive 430 miles to a set of powerlines where at this point they cross over into an alternate dimension. It’s important to note that in this dimension it is still 1989… the year has not yet changed.
Another interesting detail is that the powerlines located at the 430 mile mark are eerily in the shape of the Joudy symbol seen on Mr C’s playing card early in the season. We know electricity is heavily connected to the supernatural beings that roam the Twin Peaks universe so the fact that Joudy is connected to this force is absolutely no surprise.
Dale Cooper – Alternate Reality
Now still following the Dale Cooper from the ‘unofficial’ timeline we spend the remainder of the season in an alternate reality, this is where shit goes bonkers and everything comes to a head.
One thing you notice is that instantly once crossing over, both Cooper and Diane are different people yet they still appear to be their old selves for the most part. Where they arrive is in a 1989 version of Odessa, in a reality that has been built by Joudy but I believe that at this point Joudy is unaware of their presence in this world. So when Cooper and Diane check into the motel they know what they have to do and that is to have sex. This is the most unsettling sex scene in history, Diane is clearly in pain as she is trying not to relive the memory of her rape and some of Cooper’s evil doppelgänger personality is coming through. But the purpose of this act is I believe to either summon Joudy to this reality or to indicate to Joudy that they have arrived. Either way I believe this act is strongly linked to Joudy in one way or another.
My reasoning for this link comes from the moment Joudy is summoned into the glass box in New York as a result of the young couple engaging in sexual activity. Also in a recent Reddit AMA, Mark Frost responded to the possibility that sex summons Joudy with a “Hmmm… maybe”. It’s not a yes but it’s certainly not a no and in the Twin Peaks world a maybe is most of the time as good as we’re going to get.
When Cooper wakes up, Diane is gone, fully consumed by this alternate reality she loses a grip on her past self, believes she is Linda, writes a letter addressed to Richard (Cooper) and leaves, not to be seen again. Cooper on the other hand, upon reading the letter is still confused by the names Richard and Linda indicating he hasn’t completely become lost in the Richard persona. Now when Cooper exits the motel room it is clear that the time period is now much more modern, seemingly in line with the time period of season 3 and if we are sticking with the ’25 years later’ theme of the season we can assume this is 2014 or around about there. On his way to tracking down Laura who now believes herself to be Carrie Page there are a lot of familiar names and assets from previous Twin Peaks content.
This is why I believe Joudy is 100% the one who has formed this alternate reality and not the Fireman or any other being. So upon having sex, the time period is drastically changed as is evident by the new design of the hotel and the new car Cooper is driving. This is Joudy’s doing as in order to throw Cooper off his trail of finding Laura she has changed the time period hoping he won’t be able to track her down. It is also clear Joudy is the one who created this world as it is littered with imagery specific to Joudy and other Twin Peaks references. There is the diner named “Judy’s”, the white horse out the front, the tree and lamp post at the motel representing The Arm, the white horse in Carrie’s house, the horseshoe necklace on Carrie’s neck, the names of Mrs Chalfont and Tremond, the #6 utility pole. All of these additions to this world are familiar yet different proving that Joudy built this world out of the supernatural assets she’s familiar with.
So Cooper tracks down Carrie who doesn’t have any knowledge of Laura Palmer but shows some signs of remembering when Sarah Palmer is mentioned. This indicates it is definitely the Laura who disappeared from 1989 but she has been made to not remember who she really is. And this proves to me that this alternate reality is built around the fact that Laura (A supernatural being capable of cancelling out Joudy) doesn’t know who she is. This links in with the last scene of the season in which Cooper and Carrie pay a visit to the Palmer household with no obvious results. At this point Cooper doesn’t know why his plan hasn’t worked, or maybe he wasn’t briefed on this point. Then the moment comes where Carrie hears the sound of Sarah Palmer calling Laura’s name from the first episode of Season 1. It is in this moment that Carrie remembers everything and lets out an ear-piercing scream, and as a result of her memories being returned to her this breaks the fabric of this alternate reality as all the lights go out….. Laura is saved and Joudy is thwarted.
Or that’s one way of interpreting the significance of that ending, we have no idea what happens beyond that point so whether Joudy won or Cooper won it’s all up to how you understand the events to have happened, and that’s what I love about it. It’s impossible of knowing for certain as we don’t have all of the information, depending on how you fill in the gaps you can come up with hundreds of fun theories that may or may not be true. For instance, throughout the credits of this episode we get the footage of Laura whispering into Cooper’s ear as she did in Part 1, this could be a nice shot that Lynch wanted during the final credits, or it might indicate that after the lights go out, they both end up back in the lodge where the loop continues. Either way, we may never know the answer and I’m oddly ok with that.
Joudy – Her Journey Through This Season
This is a special little added portion of my theory where I want to explore exactly where Joudy has been throughout this entire season. She is a major figure in this Twin Peaks universe yet we don’t have many specific details about who she is, what she wants, and where she is for the majority of this show. So I wanted to run through the Joudy connections I haven’t mentioned in the above paragraphs and try to tie up everything regarding this character in one hit, to the best that I can.
To understand this a little easier it should be known that as Joudy is an interdimensional being I believe there is only one Joudy active across all timelines and alternate dimensions…. aka there aren’t three versions of Joudy all running amok.
After all of the stuff that happens with Joudy before Twin Peaks we know that Phillip Jeffries was in search of Joudy as far back as 1986 where he was able to jump through time and space. He did so a number of times and we know he was in search of Joudy in Argentina at one point, the same location where he learnt of the true spelling of her name (Joudy). But the next time we see Joudy in what may be her natural form is when she appears in the glass box in New York, and other than that point, she doesn’t make any other appearances in her natural form (aside from the Part 8 flashback). But where she does make most of her appearances is whilst she is possessing Sarah Palmer. As is mentioned in The Final Dossier, Sarah Palmer is the little girl we see swallow the frogmoth creature, a creature I believe is a vessel that will allow Joudy to possess her at one point in time. This creature I believe is directly linked to Joudy as in the radio quote of Part 8 a horse is mentioned, and as the credits of that episode begin to role the sound of a horse neighing can be heard.
Now the Sarah Palmer we see in every scene throughout this season is the Sarah Palmer possessed by Joudy. The whole time she is watching nature documentaries, buying alcohol from the store, and killing a trucker in a bar it is more or less all the result of Joudy residing in her body. Now what we are led to believe in season 3 is that all of these scenes with Sarah Palmer take place in the ‘official’ timeline, but in fact, thanks to what we learn in The Final Dossier we know that all of the scenes we see of Sarah Palmer are taking place in the ‘unofficial’ timeline where Laura went missing. This means even the scene where Hawk pays her a visit is from that timeline, and it makes sense. We don’t see Sarah interacting with any other characters in a manner that would dispute this fact. Now the question arises, when did Joudy first possess Sarah Palmer in this timeline? One thing about this timeline we know is that Leland committed suicide one year after Laura’s disappearance and this sent Sarah down the track of severe alcohol abuse.
So I believe with the little information we have, that Joudy began possessing Sarah after Leland’s suicide. We don’t know whether Joudy possessed Sarah in the ‘official’ timeline or not but I believe her possession is limited to the ‘unofficial’ timeline.
The most important Sarah Palmer scene we get is when she grabs Laura’s portrait and begins to smash the glass as the frame glitches back and forth in time briefly. The placement of this scene adjacent to Cooper saving Laura Palmer is an obvious indication that the stabbing of this frame is Joudy ripping Laura out of that timeline. We also see that when Laura disappears from the lodge the curtains ripple and move revealing a white horse in a dark void….. again referencing Joudy’s connection to the event. And then as I mentioned earlier Joudy goes on to create the alternate reality and is ultimately defeated? victorious? who knows?…..
The number of theories surrounding the events of season 3 is through the roof and where every theory is different, not many theories are wrong. Based on the information I have been able to dissect from season 3 this is one of my theories about the implications of season 3 on the wider Twin Peaks universe. Even with some of the revelations discovered in The Final Dossier it is virtually impossible to pin down an explanation that works 100% from start to finish. There are elements of this theory that are more or less definitive but there is still a tonne that is a matter of interpretation and that is what is fun about what Lynch and Frost have created here. There are so many details to cover that even though I have gone very deep into explaining this theory there are a number of smaller details I’ve most definitely forgotten to mention, but I feel like I’ve managed to capture the main elements of my theory in this piece.
So what about you. What do you think of this potential explanation of events and what is your interpretation of the events of season 3?
Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series is now available in some parts of the world DVD and Blu-Ray, however the Australian release date has not yet been confirmed. It is currently streaming on Stan.