Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

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Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

Postby wowdavidwow » Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:27 pm

I appreciate the variety of different interpretations that people have shared about Twin Peaks: The Return. In my opinion, the interpretations suggesting that all or most of the series occurs within a dream seem to fit better than interpretations featuring convoluted alternate timelines and pocket dimensions. Lynch used the “entire story within a dream” approach liberally in his past works. Presenting a story from within the mind of a character (ex: Diane Selwyn, Fred Madison, Susan Blue) is a uniquely intimate way to portray that character. Twin Peaks has many overt references to existence within a dream. Some of those references are “Isn’t it too dreamy?” (Audrey); “I’m having the most beautiful dream and the most terrible nightmare…” (Donna); “We live inside a dream!” (Jeffries); “Dreams sometimes harken a truth.” (Audrey); “We are like the dreamer who dreams, and then lives inside the dream.” (Monica Bellucci); and “We live inside a dream.” (Cooper).

If TPTR occurs within a dream, I believe the top candidate to be the dreamer is Cooper. I liked the TPTR interpretation by Brooke Burgess called TWIN PEAKS: The Return Theory - COOPER NEVER LEFT THE LODGE. Please watch his Youtube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmU6N8DSVag). Brooke connected Cooper’s situation with the Buddhist concept of bardo, an intermediate state between death and rebirth. According to dictionary.com, “bardo” literally means “between two” or “gap.” Two peak-like structures would naturally create a gap area between the two structures.

My Twin Peaks theory is an extension of Brooke Burgess’s theory. I believe that Cooper died (or is dying) after he was shot in the doorway of his hotel room during Season 1 Episode 7. His dream begins as he lay dying. The title of this episode is actually The Last Evening. Could that be a reference to Cooper’s last evening? According to my theory, everything that occurs in TPS2, FWWM, and TPTR happens within Cooper’s dreaming mind as he lay dying.

Please note that I believe that many elements of my “Cooper died in Season 1” interpretation were not originally intended, especially when Lynch was not involved with TP production. However, I think that this interpretation currently can apply Occam’s razor to the entire series. Few assumptions are needed except (1) Cooper, a Buddhist, is experiencing the bardo realm; and (2) Cooper died during Season 1 Episode 7. After those two assumptions, other details seem to fall into place without science fiction-esque conceits. Lynch and Frost allegedly never wanted Laura’s killer to be revealed. If “reality” ends after Season 1, Laura’s killer was never actually revealed. A world of possible questions and solutions are born. Is Leland innocent? Season 2 Episode 29’s, “I did not kill anybody.” may have portrayed Cooper’s doubt about Leland’s being the murderer.

Over the next several paragraphs, I’d like to list some other details that seem to fall into place if Cooper died during Season 1 Episode 7. Please feel free to send me your thoughts.

Judy is Josie. The explanation can really be that simple. Their names even sound similar. Josie was either using an alias (Judy) when she met Jeffries in Seattle or Cooper’s mind swapped “Josie” with “Judy.” Remember that Cooper’s dreaming/dying mind assumed that Josie is the person who shot him. Maybe she was. Maybe she wasn’t. The point is that Cooper believes that Josie shot him, and his mind’s defense mechanisms prevent Cooper from understanding that he is in fact dead. In other words, he is struggling to understand the concept of Judy because he is struggling to admit that he was killed. Throughout TPTR, the concept of Judy is the most elusive, seemingly incomprehensible goal that both Mr. C and (Part 18’s) Cooper attempt to understand. During Part 15, Mr. C asked Jeffries (but actually himself), “Why didn’t you want to talk about Judy?” Jeffries told him, “You’ve already met Judy.” Mr. C (literally and figuratively “in the dark”) is dumbfounded when he said, “What do you mean I’ve met Judy?” And then suddenly, a phone started ringing, just like the ringing phone in Cooper’s hotel room seconds before he got shot by “Judy.”

While not explicitly referencing the name “Judy,” a few scenes in TPTR reference the shape on the Ace of Spades card, appropriately known as the death card. Mr. C is looking to understand the nature of his own death. Regarding the symbol, Hawk told Frank, “You don’t ever want to know about that.” Could that be Cooper’s mind telling himself, “You don’t ever want to know that you are dead.”? Besides finding Judy, Mr. C’s concerns include, “Did they say why they want me dead?” and “How much do they want me dead?”

The climax of TPTR is arguably when Cooper uses the 315 key. Everything in the series has been building up to this moment. His mind is very close to understanding the nature of his death and the nature of “Judy.” After getting as close as he possibly could by passing through the doorway (the exact location of his death), the storylines of all 17 episodes of TPTR are suddenly ended. As Cooper passes through the door, Lynch used a slow motion effect potentially reminiscent of the 315 door opening in TPS1E7. Cooper’s dream ends (à la Diane Selwyn) and Cooper’s new dream begins. In this new dream, Cooper maintains some of the same concerns, particularly a resolution to Laura’s murder and an understanding of the elusive Judy. The transition between dreams feels like a transition between nightly dreams, and could also be how bardo is experienced.

During Season 1, Cooper becomes familiar with Laura’s diary, literally a book that belonged to a dead person. This detail could be an intentional reference to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, a book that explains the concept of bardo. Furthermore, a Reddit user called RockXLight pointed out that the phonograph sound repeated throughout TPTR may in fact be the sound of Laura’s diary. Please check out his or her analysis at https://www.reddit.com/r/twinpeaks/comments/6ybfpw/s3e4_i_believe_i_know_what_the_sound_heard_over/. When the Fireman says “Listen to the sounds.” he could be pointing us towards the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which in turn is pointing us towards bardo. Furthermore, the sound of the Laura’s diary key may also be referencing Cooper’s 315 key, which I believe is supposed to unlock his understanding of his deathly predicament. The “key” to understanding is another concept straight out of Diane Selwyn’s dream. As others have already pointed out, Carrie “Page” may be a reference to Laura’s missing diary page. In TPS2E9, Donna actually reads aloud a (or the?) missing page from Laura’s diary. If Cooper imagined this scene, he may have fabricated the idea that Laura willingly accepted her own death because he is struggling to accept his own death. Cooper’s dreaming mind seems to be stuck on undoing Laura’s death, but he may actually be psychologically displacing the desire to save himself onto Laura.

Sarah: In TPTR Sarah Palmer is portrayed as a woman attracted to violence and harboring violent spirits within her face. She seems angry and hurt. If Cooper is dreaming all of TPS2, FWWM, and TPTR, his subconscious mind may be blaming Sarah for her parental negligence. Sarah and Leland may be the epitome of bad parents for Cooper, whether or not Leland raped and killed Laura. Remember that just before he was shot, Cooper’s conscious mind thought that Leo was the killer. He said this into his tape recorder. If “reality” ends after TPS1E7, Cooper’s subconscious mind eventually discovered Leland’s guilt. His subconscious mind may actually be biased and we know that Cooper is very capable of imagining elaborate scenarios. I believe that the biblical plague-like frog bug from TPTR P8 is supposed to resemble the Jumping Man from FWWM. I can’t explain exactly what the Jumping Man is, but Cooper’s mind seems to be associating this wild, primal spirit with Sarah, a woman attracted to violent nature documentaries, violent boxing matches, and (as Cooper’s subconscious mind suspects) a violent husband.

Cooper’s mind seems to be absolutely stuck on the concept of bad parenting. The Drugged-out Mother, Hit and Run Mom, the gun-owning minivan family, Frank’s suicidal son, Lady Slot-Addict’s son, Shelly’s romantic example for Becky, Richard Horne, and many more characters are reminders that Cooper is strongly bothered by the widespread failure of parents. Before he died, Cooper was obsessed with the death of Laura (a teenage girl), and would have had strong subconscious criticisms about both Laura’s parents. According to (Cooper’s mind’s version of) Albert, half the high school girls in America were sexually-active and using drugs. Cooper may be blaming their parents. I believe that TPTR features parental neglect as dreaming Cooper’s general deep-seated concern. I’m not surprised that Sarah is painted in such a bad light.

Audrey and Diane: During Season 1, Cooper prevented himself from having a relationship with Audrey because of inhibitions about her age and her involvement in his investigation. Similarly, we can reasonably assume that Cooper prevented himself from having a relationship with Diane because she was his coworker. In TPTR, Cooper’s subconscious mind created Mr. C, a representation of Cooper’s unchecked libido. When Cooper eventually does dream of Audrey, he imagines her life in the future with an unattractive, uncaring husband, a partner he deems unworthy of Audrey, especially compared to himself. The very first appearance of Audrey in TPTR portrays her standing in front of “Books by T. S. Eliot.” The Wikipedia entry on Eliot’s The Waste Land states, “The Fire Sermon, the third section, offers a philosophical meditation in relation to the imagery of death and views of self-denial in juxtaposition influenced by Augustine of Hippo and eastern religions.” As other people have posted, Audrey’s scenes contain concerns she might have had in the early 1990’s (i.e. finishing homework). Could Cooper be worried that Audrey is accusing him of “You’re such a milk toast!”? Audrey’s “I want to stay and I want to go.” could mean many different things to the dying mind of Cooper. Could this be his indecisiveness about passing to the next stage of rebirth? Audrey said she feels “like I’m somebody else” (TPTR P13) because she is actually Cooper’s dreaming mind.

Annie: Annie does not exist in the reality of Season 1. She may simply be Cooper’s subconscious wish fulfillment of an ideal romantic partner. This would explain Annie’s omission in Frost’s TSHOTP. In reality, Norma has no sister and her mother could have died in 1984. Annie is overtly associated with Caroline Earle. Assuming that Windom Earle does exist in Season 1’s reality, Cooper feels guilty on two fronts. Firstly, he did not prevent Caroline’s death. Secondly, he betrayed his mentor by sleeping with Windom’s wife. Windom’s kidnapping of Annie seems incredibly convenient. It is not a stretch to assume that Cooper’s mind is conflating Caroline’s situation with Annie’s. If Windom’s fascination with the Dugpas and the Black Lodge felt farfetched to you, perhaps that story wasn’t real. As he lay dying, Cooper could be subconsciously attempting to resolve his relationship with former mentor by casting him into a situation in Twin Peaks.

The Box in NYC: Sam Colby (the guy hired to watch the box) may represent Cooper’s younger self during the period he had an affair with Caroline Earle. Sam even shares Cooper’s love of coffee. The background in the NYC room features a bonsai tree, perhaps symbolic of Windom’s spying on the scene. As he lay dying, Cooper may be feeling guilty about his affair with Caroline. He imagines that the couple’s sexual activity summons a deadly punishment.

Janey-E: Part of Cooper’s mind probably wondered how his life would be if he left law enforcement. If he hadn’t followed his dream to become an FBI agent, Cooper might have had a cozy suburban life with a wife and son. However, he knows that he would yearn for the badge, and that he would feel pulled back to his true calling.

Trinity Test: As an employee of the United States government, Cooper may have had serious ethical misgivings about his country’s use of nuclear weapons. TPTR P8 could stem from this concern. That part also referenced a child’s loss of innocence, a concern Cooper would have had in spades (no pun intended) during the Laura Palmer investigation.

ZZ Top: The strangely specific choice to highlight Sharp Dressed Man by ZZ Top could be specifically pointing to the fact that Cooper was killed while wearing a tuxedo.

Miscellaneous details: Many of TPTR’s details seem to echo completely separate details within the series. Names and situations are juggled, just as they are during nightly dreams. For example, Beverley’s sick husband seems to echo Frank Truman’s sick brother. Furthermore, could Cooper be subconsciously imposing cancer on Harry S. Truman for sharing a name with the man who ordered two nuclear bombs to be dropped on Japan? And could the sick girl in TPTR P11 be another reference to the effect of radiation poisoning? Speaking of this scene, the transition between Bobby’s anxiety about the gun-owning minivan family and the extra anxious “Woman in Car” seems like the type of emotional match cut prevalent in nightly dreams.

I realize that Josie was explicitly revealed as the person who shot Cooper during Season 2. However, I don’t believe that this detail ruins my theory though because that revelation was so underplayed. Cooper’s dreaming mind could have initially admitted this detail to itself before it fabricated the defense mechanism of the elusive Judy to keep the truth hidden.

My theory can remove the supernatural elements of Twin Peaks. It returns the Waiting Room scenes and all associated characters to psychological fabrications of Cooper’s mind, probably Lynch’s original intention.When asked about Season 2, Lynch explicitly stated, “The second season sucked.” Could TPTR be his way of undoing Season 2? I believe that the best aspect of my theory is that it re-opens the question “Who killed Laura Palmer.” After ABC executive Bob Iger mandated that Lynch and Frost reveal Laura’s killer, Lynch stated that “It was like we had a little goose that kept laying golden eggs and then we were asked to take that little goose and snip its head off.” According to my theory, Lynch’s decapitated golden goose can have its head re-attached. Lynch and Frost can “return” the series to their version of Twin Peaks.

TPTR P18 ends with Cooper being utterly confused. As Brooke Burgess suggested in his Youtube video, Cooper was unsuccessful in coming to terms with the nature of his presence in the bardo realm. The image of Laura whispering into Cooper’s ear suggests that she could be saying something like “Try again.” or “Save yourself instead.” or “Bring on a Season 4.”
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Re: Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

Postby writersblock » Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:36 am

I like the theory. And I hate the theory!
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Re: Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

Postby PsychoFox » Mon Oct 09, 2017 5:25 am

Other quotes:

Maddy to Leland: "All I did was to come to a funeral. And it's like I fell into a dream"
Donna to Harold: "Maybe our dreams are real"
Bobby to Norma: "I'll see you in my dreams"
Audrey to Donna: "Maybe he'll realize that I am the woman of his dreams"
Nadine to Norma: "Isn't he juste the dreamiest ?"
Maddy to Sarah: "I had the strangest dream last night"
Cooper to Albert: "Do you know where dreams come frome ?"
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Re: Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

Postby pinballmars » Mon Oct 09, 2017 5:41 am

Jerry Horne: "Is this real, Ben? Or some strange and twisted dream?"
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Re: Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

Postby Novalis » Mon Oct 09, 2017 5:59 am

Looks like someone got here first but I'll still post this bit of dialogue anyway:

Code: Select all

            COOPER
    Do you know where dreams come from, Harry?

            TRUMAN
    Not specifically.

            COOPER
        (very happy)
    Acetylcholine neurons fire high voltage impulses into the
    forebrain. The impulses become pictures, the pictures
    become your dream. But no one knows why we choose
    these particular pictures.



(Twin Peaks Season 1 Episode 3: 'Rest in Pain'; http://www.lynchnet.com/tp/tp03.html)

I like this snippet of dialogue because it suggests that, from the writer's point of view, the reveal that some sequence (however long or short) turns out to have been a dream does not rob it of motivation or consequence. The idea that the images dreamt are chosen through some mysterious process of selection imputes agency on some level to the dreamer. While I don't fully endorse those interpretations of Lynch's other works that attempt to explain them by reducing certain parts to dreams (generally I think there is more than this going on and typically certain elements muddy the distinction between dream and waking reality), it's inarguably the case that the theme of dreaming is very consistent throughout.
As a matter of fact, 'Chalfont' was the name of the people that rented this space before. Two Chalfonts. Weird, huh?
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Re: Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

Postby Doctor S » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:15 am

I don't mean to be pedantic and perhaps I'm just being dumb and don't understand: but if what we are seeing is a dream of someone in 1990, why is TPTR filled with technology including Skype and cell phones that Cooper could never have had any exposure to?

Sorry if I'm completely missing something.
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Re: Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

Postby wowdavidwow » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:27 am

Doctor S wrote:I don't mean to be pedantic and perhaps I'm just being dumb and don't understand: but if what we are seeing is a dream of someone in 1990, why is TPTR filled with technology including Skype and cell phones that Cooper could never have had any exposure to?

Sorry if I'm completely missing something.


Doctor S, that is a valid point, but I don't think it rules out any dream theories though. In 1990 Cooper's mind would have known about the concepts of video conferencing and mobile phones. On a more general level, you can think of Twin Peaks: The Return as an artistic approximation (by Lynch and Frost) of Cooper's dream. If dreams are high voltage impulses, any depiction of a dream would have to be an approximation. The dressings of modern logos and references to "Skype" could be how the show approximates thoughts about stuff from the future.

I can think of quite a few instances during TPTR in which the show plays with the concept of "high tech" as a novelty from the future. Frank Truman's Skype station rose from within his desk like something from a Jetsons episode. By the way, Dale Cooper would have been 8 years old when the Jetsons hit American television. Mr. C's anti-tracing app and some of the other computer interfaces look a little like they were dreamed up by somebody from 25 years ago. Also, Cooper may be attributing the difficulty of understanding the concept of cell phones to Lucy, who Cooper may consider too simpleminded for the technology of the 21st century.
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Re: Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

Postby Doctor S » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:42 am

That's a great point about Lucy's issue with cell phones. I'll have to think about it, but this response makes a lot of sense.
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Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

Postby yaxomoxay » Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:21 pm

I don’t really buy the “dream” as a “dream” theory.
To me it’s more about states of consciousness. Events trigger a reaction which brings us to a different state of consciousness. That’s why cell phones and Skype are available. We, the dreamers, are in a state of consciousness were Skype exist etc, however one other event brings us to a different conscious reality, which is still our reality. This is why we are in a dream within a dream. It’s folding on itself, like TP’s time which doesn’t really add up. That to me also explains why things are malleable, and why Cooper can relieve Laura from her murder, while not relieving her from her murder (she ends up in the lodge anyway). By removing Laura from the murder scene she is not saved, she’s merely removed from a state of consciousness, a state of reality. When Coop extends his hand to Laura, Leland is still well alive; he - Bob/Leland - will still roam the Earth and possibly kill Laura later on. By removing Laura’s murder as we know it from that plane of consciousness, Cooper also alters other people’s states, such as Pete which will not be triggered to go to his different ‘state’; he goes fishing, his life goes on without any change to it. However, from the point of view of Cooper, removing Laura from the murder is a major event, a major alteration of his conscious existence. He can’t coexist for a long time which such an altered consciousness, he doesn’t belong in it. That explains Richard, to me at least. It would also explains a bit why Lucy seems on a different planet. It’s because she is, until a major event triggers her. It also explains to me why it seems that people are living in a different world than other people; the Roadhouse conversations, Audrey, etc.


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Re: Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

Postby wowdavidwow » Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:02 pm

By the way, I used the term "dream" loosely. Dreaming could be what your mind does on a nightly basis or what your mind does after your body has been shot.
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Re: Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

Postby wowdavidwow » Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:32 pm

If Josie did shoot Cooper during Season 1 Episode 7, do you think she could have been wearing dark sunglasses?
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Re: Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

Postby Rhodes » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:29 am

@Wowdavidwow: this is some incredible work!

I am not saying that your theory is the defenitive theory, because the beauty of Lynch is that he works on so many levels and that different theories can co-exist effortlessly.

However, I think you make some very interesting and strong cases. I was wondering myself why Josie was shown in episode 17. This scene could have very easily been cut. Just the dissapearing plastic bag would have sufficed.

Well done!
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Re: Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

Postby Saturn's child » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:35 am

I adore this theory; thank you very kindly for posting at length on it wowdavidwow.
I've added this interpretation as another lens through which to experience the Return (& Peaks in general) on re-watches. It doesn't concern me overly much as to whether this is what the creators intended, but I must admit the fact that this angle re-instates the mystery of 'Who killed Laura Palmer?' is somewhat compelling.

Not sure if I have anything to add at the moment (though I may add to this thread after some reflection); actually, off the top of my head, if senor droolcup is the last person Coops sees before he dies (/enters his death-dream), it makes sense that Coop would attach a god-like importance to him.. It's also interesting that Josie's scene is still shown in the flashback to the opening moments of the Pilot, despite the fact it could've easily been edited out & achieve the same purpose.

EDIT: Rhodes also brought up this last point I see!
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Re: Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

Postby Rik Renault » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:02 pm

I think Josie is shown in the flashback because it's iconically the first shot of Twin Peaks. It wouldn't have the same impact if it started with the second ever shot of Twin Peaks. This is the sequence in which we were introduced to Twin Peaks and we see how it could all have gone differently.

I think this theory robs the series of so much purpose and agency, and it really doesn't feel like a good fit. Of course there are loads of mentions of dreams throughout the series because Lynch, but Audrey saying 'isn't [this music] too dreamy?' doesn't remotely support the idea that Cooper died in S1E7.

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Re: Understanding When the Dream Began Can Explain Twin Peaks: The Return

Postby yaxomoxay » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:18 pm

Rik Renault wrote:I think Josie is shown in the flashback because it's iconically the first shot of Twin Peaks. It wouldn't have the same impact if it started with the second ever shot of Twin Peaks. This is the sequence in which we were introduced to Twin Peaks and we see how it could all have gone differently.

I think this theory robs the series of so much purpose and agency, and it really doesn't feel like a good fit. Of course there are loads of mentions of dreams throughout the series because Lynch, but Audrey saying 'isn't [this music] too dreamy?' doesn't remotely support the idea that Cooper died in S1E7.

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I agree with you.


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