N. Needleman wrote:I see theories which are all very compelling, but I just don't see any substantive evidence that Cooper erased the original timeline. I think people who do that are assuming Lynch/Frost are taking a very conventional approach to time travel and changing history - that once it's done everything snaps into place in the future, like in a million other TV shows and movies.
But Lynch and Frost clearly do not do that in 18: After Cooper saves Laura he still meets Diane in Glastonberry Grove, just as they'd planned to do before he changed the past. How could any of that have happened to see to it that he and Diane meet there if the original timeline does not exist, and is not waiting for him to return to with part of his mission complete?
With that plus the subsequent sequence of events (Janey-E and Sonny Jim, etc.), the road voyage across the barrier, I think it is very very clear that Cooper and Diane go from one world (the original timeline) to another (the changed timeline). The other is warped and strange, and Cooper does not find what he expects to (i.e. Laura alive and whole, Sarah in the house).
The answer here is simple and messy: Lynch and Frost do not treat the effects of time travel the same as other shows, and thus not with perfect logic. In their story Cooper and Diane have to literally drive through the border to cross into a new timeline. That's how they wanted to do it. Done.
Seconded. As I have written before, I don't see why Laura being saved by Cooper (thus surviving and being "abducted" to the Richard-Linda-Carrie-Judy-Zone) would necessitate her not dying (thus "starting" the original plotline). In a lynchean narrative, both can be true.
And others have noted that the freshly created Dougie-Tulpa is sent to the original "timeline" (I'm still not inclined to call it that) after it would have been erased/overwritten, according to those theories.
Furthermore, I dispute the time travel theorem altogether: When Cooper enters the FWWM-scene, he enters from above the convenience store (logde space, where time is "slippery") into a point in a looping time (as implied by the closed "8" symbol); he does not go "back" in the same sense Marty McFly does, but merely steps in and out of the lodges.
That being said, I do enjoy reading elaborate theories. And as long as they help their authors and some of their readers understand the ending a bit better, they do what they're supposed to do.
It's just that for every Lynch film, I have had more success in my pursuit of understanding them by taking a straightforward, less elaborate approach. And with The Return's part 18, it appears to be the same.