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Twin Peaks season 3 finale explained (spoiler alert)

If you've ever wondered, here's what really happened.

The owls are not what they seem.

As I finished watching season 3 of Twin Peaks, being a fan for so many years, I felt empty and dissatisfied. So many side stories left unanswered — Audrey Horne’s story especially. And Dale Cooper’s failure to defeat Judy, the ultimate evil? Ouch!

A few days passed, and little by little, two questions started to form in my head:

  • What if David Lynch and Mark Frost actually gave us answers to everything?
  • What if each and every scene is crucial to the main plot?

And out of all the characters, it was the lovely Lucy Brennan who sparked my interest.

Here’s why:

In the finale, Lucy decided to accept the fact that there are two Coopers (one good, one bad) based on a brief telephone call with the real Dale Cooper. To me, this made no sense.

Bear in mind that Lucy has severe difficulties with the concept of how cell phones work (let alone the concept of doppelgängers) — but still she immediately picked up a gun (she’s not a violent person, mind you) to blow Mr C (the bad Cooper) away.

Was this just sloppy storytelling?

lucy brennan twin peaks
Lucy. With a vengeance.

As a character, Lucy would only use a gun to hurt someone if she knew that that person had severely hurt someone she loves. As a devote Lucy fan, I knew that that just had to be true.

If so, here’s the question that sparked my Twin Peaks theory:

  • What on Earth could Mr C have done to hurt Lucy that bad?

An actor to play a devoted son

Above all else, Lucy and her husband, Andy Brennan, love their son — Wally Brando. The third season of Twin Peaks did go to great lengths to illustrate this fact. Wally only made one appearance on the show, but gosh, what an appearance he made!

Wally, who shows up on his motorbike, is clearly inspired by Marlon Brando, which is quite the cliché for a Lynch/Frost character. 

For some reason, it’s important for Wally to pay his respects to Sheriff Truman in a mannerism that could only be described as an attempt at acting out a bad script.

Why, why, and why?

The fake photograph on Lucy’s desk

In one of Lucy’s earlier scenes in the third season, we see a photograph on her desk portraying her family.

twin peaks wally brando picture
Fake news.

Except it’s a family with poorly made cutouts of their heads, thus suggesting that something is seriously false about their family — something that Lucy and Andy apparently can’t deal with.

Now, we know that Mr C wreaked havoc in Dale Cooper’s absence, right?

What if Mr. C killed Lucy’s and Andy’s real son? However terrible this thought is to even consider, it does add up:

Lucy stopped evolving. Unable to cope, Lucy would repress her memories and find it even more difficult to evolve with the times. She did struggle to cope with technology from the start — but not understanding the concept of cell phones after 25 years of working as a receptionist?1

The bad acting. In an effort to help, the original Sheriff Truman hired an actor to play Lucy and Andy’s son. The narrative: Wally’s out and about experiencing amazing adventures and loving his parents very much — but still he’s being so weird and distant in their presence?

Time to clean out their dead son’s room. The second Sheriff Truman was then charged by the first Sheriff Truman to manage the situation, making sure that Wally paid his “parents” the occasional visit. The purpose of this particular meeting is to allow Lucy and Andy to clean out Wally’s room. Have they kept it as a shrine?

Sheriff Truman just shakes his head. “Wally” is therefore not Lucy and Andy’s real son, just an aspiring actor (and not a superb one) trying to earn a few extra bucks every now and then. Still, you can see how both Sheriff Truman and “Wally” are taken aback about the seriousness of the situation.

Deep down, Lucy knows; she’s no dimwit. Right after Lucy, almost instinctively, shot Mr C, she understands how cell phones work, indicating that she’s back to her senses with a functioning mind. Deep down, as a mother, she knows that her son is actually dead.

I watched the Wally scene again with this new theory in mind. And it convinced me:

Mr C killed Lucy and Andy’s real son

Now, suddenly, every line of dialogue in the Wally scene seems brimmed with unspeakable pain behind Lucy’s and Andy’s smiling faces. As I’m watching this scene again, it stands out as one of the darker scenes I’ve ever seen on television.

If the most “pointless” scene in season 3 of Twin Peaks carried such weight for the plot — what else had I missed?

And the scene beautifully foreshadows Lucy’s bold actions in taking out Mr C, the most central of the dark characters in the season.

If I had been so wrong about Wally Brando the first time I watched season 3, I sort of had to ask myself:

  • Had I been wrong about everything in Twin Peak’s season 3?

I had to go over it all again.

“What year is this?”

So, what did I think happened in the last episode? In the Twin Peaks season 3 finale, here’s what I, at first, thought went down:

Dale has a plan, but it isn’t to defeat Mr C. and send him back. As events unfold, Mr C will be shot by Lucy and the Guy with the Glove will punch out the BOB orb. Dale’s real mission in Twin Peaks is the key to his old room at The Great Northern; there, he plans to find the final piece of the puzzle and put his and Major Briggs’ original plan back into play.

Dale finds Philip Jeffries in his “non-existent” state and Jeffries opens a doorway in the infinite time loop. Cooper travels back in time to save Laura Palmer from being murdered, but something happens and she disappears. Cooper travels back, meets up with Diane, and together they travel, as per The Fireman’s cryptic instructions, to a portal. They go through the portal and in the alternate universe where they emerge, they find Laura with a memory loss.

Cooper ignores the murdered man on “Laura’s” sofa, maybe because he understands that everything Laura does is on him, too, or because he got a bigger fish to fry; the evil Judy residing within Sarah Palmer, Laura’s mom. Cooper takes Laura to Sarah’s house, potentially to make sure that Laura destroys Judy. But neither Sarah nor Judy is there. Bummer.

By saving Laura, Cooper created an alternate timeline, and now he’s forever stuck there while Judy is still in the original timeline. Cooper slowly realizes that he seems to have ended up in the wrong place by asking:

“What year is this?”

Game over. Judy wins. Laura screams in terror. The end.

But all of this is wrong, I think. Yes, this is wrong!

The Fireman’s ultimate scream weapon

I had to watch the Twin Peaks season 3 ending again:

At the very end of the finale, all the lights going out in the Palmer residence rather suggest that both Dale and Laura succeeded in fulfilling their story arcs — to kill Judy.

Right before Laura screams, there’s a faint call, almost sounding as if Sarah is shouting “Laura” from a far distance (which she also shouts in the first season prior to meeting BOB).

Whatever this cue makes Laura remember, it makes her scream at the top of her lungs, completely knocking out all the electricity in the house.

If Judy, in fact, was in the house, would this have killed Judy? 

Yes. Yes, it would!

Here’s why: Laura was the Fireman’s weapon sent to Earth to kill Judy.

twin peaks laura palmer screaming
Screaming is Laura’s weapon.

How does one kill Judy, the ultimate evil?

According to many fan forums, Judy is derived from jiào dé, which is Chinese for “to outshout.”

Maybe that’s why Laura’s been screaming throughout the series — it’s her weapon against the ultimate evil; all of her emotions compressed into one devastating blow.

Sound and sound waves are a recurring theme throughout the series. Maybe it’s the kinship between sound and electricity as wave forms that allow travels between worlds — and to be used as weapons?

We might be onto something here. Let’s dig deeper, shall we?

That bug in Sarah’s throat? Laura!

Did The Fireman foresee the coming of events and plant his weapon against Judy, i.e. Laura and her scream, on Earth?

It seems like he did. In the black-and-white episode, the Fireman did send a bug through time and that bug crawled down Sarah’s throat the year before Laura was born, remember?

And this is probably why evil forces had Laura killed in the first place; after all, she was mankind’s only weapon against Judy.

With Laura dead, The Fireman had to orchestrate an elaborate scheme to outmanoeuvre Judy and her minions while at the same time guiding Cooper back in time to retrieve Laura at the exact right time.

If this theory is true, then that’s pretty darn cool!

Laura is the dreamer of this dream

Ponder this:

Dale and Diane didn’t travel to another timeline, but rather into Laura’s dream.

Now, it has been suggested that the Laura that Cooper and Diane goes to find is an alternate timeline version of Laura, but that theory doesn’t add up.

First of all, that would be lazy storytelling and that’s not what Frost and Lynch are about.

Secondly, Laura clearly gets her memory back in the final scene which means that she is the real Laura, the Laura that Dale went back in time to save.

Two critical questions:

  • Who took the saved Laura out of Cooper’s hand that night in the woods, 25 years ago?
  • And why, then, hide Laura away in a dream to live out 25 shitty years?

In the forest scene, there’s a familiar sound right before Laura vanishes into thin air. It’s the same sound The Fireman plays to Dale while clearly instructing him, “remember this sound.”

Alas, the Fireman, Laura’s creator, was the one who took her away from Cooper right there in the forest.

Complicated? Yes. Lynchian? Yes.

Let’s analyse Laura and Dale’s joint journey again:

Laura gets murdered by evil forces in Twin Peaks. Cooper manages to disturb these evil forces to a degree, but he ends up being possessed by BOB turning him into Mr C. The Fireman “saved” Cooper by keeping his mind with him for the next 25 years.

After 25 years, the time comes to deal the finishing blow to Judy. The Fireman reinstates Cooper into a doppelgänger, Doug.

After being disorientated for a good bit, Dale is sent back in time to save Laura from being murdered.

But then, right there in the woods, Laura is taken away by the Fireman. Now, it’s her turn to be stashed away with a memory wipe for 25 years while everyone else’s life in Twin Peaks proceeds as if Laura’s body was never found.

This explains why the diner in Laura’s dream version of Twin Peaks has the original sign still:

Being “tucked away” for 25 years, Laura wouldn’t know about the diner’s franchise efforts, and thus wouldn’t know about the new sign. (We wouldn’t either if Lynch and Frost hadn’t shown us the story of Norma’s expansion plans.)

All of this must have been foreseen by the Fireman. Laura even told this to Cooper in a dream — “I’ll see you in 25 years.” Meaning: Cooper will get to see Laura again when he has saved her from being murdered and then, 25 years later, travels into her dream to meet with her.

Rather than solving her murder, it seems like Cooper succeeded in saving Laura Palmer’s life. Not bad, right?

“We are like the dreamer who dreams”

“Dreaming” is a familiar Twin Peaks concept and since they’re created by electric signals in our brains, it makes sense for them to be more easily accessible for spirits.

Is it plausible to even think that the Fireman would have the power to put Laura inside one a dream for 25 years?

Twin Peaks dream world
From Gordon’s dream. The woman is talking about Laura!

The café scene with Gordon Cole states it clearly:

“We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives inside the dream.”

Okay. Let’s go with the idea that Laura is the dreamer who lives inside her dream.

How 25 years passed in Laura’s dream

At the motel in Laura’s dream, when Dale wakes up alone and walks outside, the motel looks completely different. It looks as if 25 years had passed overnight.

And when he finally meets Laura, she’s 25 years older, too.

Now, let’s kill two birds (evils) with one stone (weapon).

The Fireman’s plan is audacious; have Dale travel back in time and find Laura (the stone), use her as a weapon against Judy (bird one), and close the portal in the Palmer residence to stop further evils to enter the real world (bird two).

But, and this is the tricky part, the Fireman needs Judy to follow Cooper and Diane through the electric portal — and into Laura’s dream that Judy doesn’t know exists.

This means that Cooper and Diane must lure Judy into Laura’s dream. 

How? Well, here’s how:

The Garmonbozia lure to trap Judy

At the motel in Laura’s dream, the night before the passage of 25 years, Dale and Diane has sex. Not passionate sex, but rather a dutiful and emotionally painful act, even.

And here’s the kicker:

Cooper and Diane must have sex with each other, even though it pains Cooper to ask this of Diane. She does care for Cooper deeply, but it’s also reasonable to assume that she was previously raped by Mr C. Having sex with Cooper would force her to relive that pain and Cooper, as someone who cares deeply for Diane, would share in her pain as they have sex with each other.

The Fireman’s idea is that their shared pain, in combination with sex, will lure Judy to follow them into Laura’s dream.

Why is this painful act so irresistible for Judy?

Because sex and pain is the ultimate nourishment for all dark forces in Twin Peaks, including Judy.

In the opening of the third season, we’re waiting to see a glimpse of the supernatural in a big glass box, but it isn’t until a couple has sex in front of it until a female shadow appears — and kills them.

Lodge spirits do feed on human fear and suffering; the negative energy is literally nourishment to them … and it’s called garmonbozia.

Garmonbozia is a golden substance that looks like creamed corn and it’s mentioned in this scene from Fire Walk with Me:

Phillip Jeffries doesn’t really know what year it is.

Sex and pain seems typically linked to negative energy in Lynchian storytelling:

Both Laura and Ronette Pulaski were raped, too. If Mr C raped Diane — was she his only victim of sexual assault?

This, of course, leads us to Audrey.

Waking up: Audrey’s comatose state

The idea of living inside dreams could also explain Audrey’s story line. We know that she survived the explosion at the bank, but that she ended up in a coma.

Let’s have a think about that for a second.

In the third season, we never actually get to see Audrey wake up from her coma. We only get to see her living somewhere strange where she is guarded by a gentle man named Charlie.

Perhaps Charlie is one of the Fireman’s “watchers” tasked with keeping an eye on Audrey? If so, Audrey’s entire season 3 storyline took place inside her own dream. Which, of course, would suggest that Audrey actually never woke up from the coma.

But what about Audrey’s son then, the mean-spirited brat Richard Horne? And this is where the darkness gives rise to more darkness:

  • What if Mr C raped Audrey while she was in a coma?
  • And what if she gave birth to her son, Richard, while still comatose?

If so, Audrey would still be living inside her own comatose state. A dream in which she’s gone just a little bit crazy — not unlikely given her family history.

Also, nothing in Audrey’s “reality” seems to suggest that she’s living in a real, modern world — nor does she seem even aware of ever having (or loosing) a son.

“Waking up” with Audrey Horne.

In her dream state, Audrey tries to get to the Roadhouse, a common portal in the world of Twin Peaks. She’s anxious and eager to get out of her state, but she, like Laura, must wait for 25 years before the Fireman’s timing is right.

At the Roadhouse, she needs to manifest garmonbozia to “break the spell” — her sexy dance, the bar fight, and her panic.

When she says to Charlie, which likely is her watcher commissioned by The Fireman, “Let me out of here!” she basically wants out of her comatose state.

And this is why Audrey in her final scene wakes up in a clinical environment wearing white — she’s just woke up at the hospital after being comatose for 25 years.

As it all comes together, there are still a few remaining questions about Laura that needs to be answered.

Who answered the door in Laura’s dream?

So, let’s leave Audrey and get back to the final scenes with Laura and Dale standing outside the Palmer residence inside Laura’s dream.

Judy is likely to have followed Cooper and Diane into the dream, a place “between two worlds”.

The woman who opens the door to Laura and Dale seems like just a random person. But two names are disclosed, Tremond and Chalfont. In Twin Peaks lore, those are not just random names; they are thought to be lodge spirits.

Maybe the Fireman had them take turns in guarding the portal — or to prevent Laura from going through and putting herself at risk? Perhaps they were “watchers” like Charlie who was tasked with stopping Audrey from going to the Roadhouse too soon?

I think that Mrs Tremond knew exactly who Laura and Dale were when she opened the door. And I think she knew, as per the Fireman’s instructions, that Judy would soon appear in the house and that their own sacrifice was nearing. After all, the good forces only had “one chance” for Laura’s scream weapon to do its job.

Except for Dale who still seems mostly confused. Why isn’t Cooper in tune with the exact details of The Fireman’s plan?

Well, the Fireman isn’t exactly known for speaking plainly. He’s a need-to-know type of guy. He probably just instructed Cooper to go through the portal, have sex with Diane, and take Laura to her house — all of which he did.

The alternate timeline: What happened in Twin Peaks when Laura disappeared in the forest?

If my theory is true, then what happened in the real-world Twin Peaks after Laura disappeared in the forest instead of being found murdered?

Well, Pete Martell didn’t find her laying dead and wrapped in plastic on the beach, but instead, Laura just vanished in the forest that night after her fight with James Hurley by his motorcycle.

So, Leland Palmer never murdered Laura.

Things would sure be “different”, as foreshadowed by Dale in his final visit to the Twin Peaks sheriff’s office. Not perfect, but a lot better without Judy — all thanks to Cooper, Laura, Major Briggs, and the Fireman.

If anything, my sincere hope is that Lucy and Andy’s real son is alive and well in the new version of Twin Peaks.

If two people ever deserved a good life, it’s Lucy and Andy!

The fate of Coop, Diane, and Laura

It seems as if the Fireman has placed doppelgängers for both Cooper and Diane in Laura’s dream. Diane already saw her doppelgänger outside the motel and somehow figured out their names — Linda and Richard.

The Fireman mentioned Linda and Richard to Cooper early on in season 3, so these doppelgängers are there as per the Fireman’s design.

Since Diane’s doppelgänger was waiting for her at the motel, it’s plausible that Diane went out to speak with “herself” later that night when Cooper was asleep.

It’s fair to assume that Diane’s doppelgänger instructed her to write a note to Cooper with The Fireman’s second clue.

Finally, will Cooper, Diane, and Laura with the aid of the Fireman ever be able to return to the real world?

Well, Dale doesn’t even know what year he’s in, nor that he’s inside Laura’s dream, nor that they just killed Judy and closed the portal. He’s been in and out of lodges, dreams, and time loops for two consecutive quarters of a century now; he’s understandably a bit confused.

However, I’m not too worried.

Audrey was able to get back to the real world from her dream. And the dreams, despite being Laura’s in this case, seems to be supervised by the Fireman.

Bringing it all together: The Lynch/Frost way

Lynch and Frost shows us that a story can be told without lazy shortcuts and without editing out all the idiosyncrasies of a narrative. Because those small idiosyncrasies are the interesting stuff, the stuff that truly matters.

After all, Lynch and Frost could’ve just brought Dale back in the first episode of season 3. But in this universe, traveling between worlds is no easy feat.

I understand now that not a single frame in Twin Peaks is out of place or superfluous — they all serve a central purpose for the plot.

 Bringing every little piece together — be patient, please.

.

Avatar of Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.org/
Jerry Silfwer, aka Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Communication Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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