Twin Peaks Finale ‘Explained’: Discussion & Theories About What Happened

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Now that the Twin Peaks finale has aired, we’re left with a lot more questions than answers. This wasn’t exactly what many fans wanted, but it’s what we’re left with, so let’s dive right in. This recap and review of the Twin Peaks finale is going to focus mostly on the big questions that came up during Part 18, along with fans’ theories and explanations for what happened. So join us for this debrief, and then leave your own thoughts in the comments below, so we can all talk about the episodes together.

This post will have spoilers through the Twin Peaks finale. 


We Got the Resolution We Wanted in Part 17

Episode 17 gave us the resolution we wanted. Freddy all along was meant to fight BOB. I always suspected he would play a role, although I had thought he would beat Mr. C in arm wrestling. I was just a little off on that one! First Lucy shot Mr. C, then Freddy defeated Mr. C. It wasn’t easy. In the end, we learned that The Giant had a plan all along to stop Mr. C from completing his plan.

What was Mr. C’s plan? We know it had something to do with “Mother” (whom fans now know is called Judy.) This dark entity that we’ve been theorizing about still exists in the universe, even though Mr. C is gone.

We also learned that Naido really was Diane in a strange form. It’s unclear why Diane looked so strange and could only be unlocked by Cooper. Interestingly, if you spell Naido backwards, it’s O Dian. Probably stands for Original Diane as opposed to her doppelgänger. She saved Cooper in the Mauve Room, but he didn’t realize who she was at the time.


We Learned About Judy (Whom Fans Called “Mother”)

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We also learned that the evil entity that controls everything has a name: Judy. Fans have long referred to her as “Mother.” She’s likely the creature who was trying to get into Naido’s Mauve room when she and Cooper were there. She’s likely the entity that “vomited”/birthed BOB in Episode 8.

Some fans thought “Mother” was the entity inhabiting Sarah Palmer, although she may actually be the entity who birthed that bug creature rather than actually being the creature. Fans also thought “Mother” was the demon who entered the glass box and ate the faces off that couple. If she’s not that actual entity, she’s at least the one controlling it.

Here’s what Gordon told Albert about Judy tonight:

For 25 years, I’ve kept something from you, Albert. Before he disappeared, Major Briggs shared with me and Cooper his discovery of an entity: an extreme negative force called in olden times “jowday.” Over time, it’s become “Judy.” Major Briggs, Cooper, and I put together a plan that could lead us to Judy. And then something happened to Major Briggs. And something happened to Cooper. Phillip Jeffries, who doesn’t really exist anymore—at least not in a normal sense—told me a long time ago he was on to this entity. And he disappeared. Now the last thing Cooper told me was, ‘If I disappear like the others, do everything you can to find me. I’m trying to kill two birds with one stone.’ And now this thing of two Coopers. And recently, a paid informant named Ray Monroe sent a cryptic message indicating that the Cooper we met at prison is looking for coordinates—coordinates from a certain Major Briggs.

Judy is the entity who ultimately needs to be taken out.


And Then Everything Changed

After we got the resolution we wanted, everything changed. The loose ends that fans wanted tied up were left dangling and entirely new mysteries were introduced.

First, I have to wonder… When did Cooper and Diane have this big love connection? Have they been communicating in the spirit world these last 25 years? Because that’s really the only way that their reunion makes any sense. Twenty five years ago, Cooper’s feelings for Diane were platonic. First, he was in love with his partner’s wife. And then he was in love with Annie. Diane wasn’t in the picture romantically at all. So their sudden love connection was a bit jarring to me. Did it feel that way to you?

In all honesty, I felt a lot more emotion for Cooper’s scenes with Janey-E than I did for his scenes with Diane. I was rooting for him to go back to Janey-E, not send his doppelgänger there.

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Cooper Rescued Laura & Didn’t Rescue Laura

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Cooper went to visit Jeffries The Bell/Kettle Device and gave him the date that Laura Palmer was murdered. Jeffries then pulled up the symbol that we’ve been referring to as “Mother’s Symbol” and converted it into an infinity symbol. And then he used that to transport Cooper back in time.

So does this mean that the Owl Symbol (aka Mother’s symbol) on the ring and on the map and in many other places in the show has been an indicator of time travel this whole time? Is that why Hawk said that Truman didn’t want to know what the symbol meant?

Well, Cooper went back in time and was able to stop Laura from being murdered. Josie wasn’t interrupted by the news of Laura’s murder and Pete had a regular fishing day rather than finding her body. But Cooper wasn’t able to take Laura to the destination he intended. Instead, that electricity sound that indicates “Mother” (or Judy, as we now know her) could be heard and Laura disappeared.

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So Laura wasn’t murdered, but she still disappeared in this timeline. Things changed, but they didn’t change completely. Where she went is still up for debate. We got some hints. Cooper flashed to the Black Lodge after Laura screamed, reliving a few conversations. Mike asked him “Is it future or is it past?” And the Arm/Tree talked to him again, saying: “Is it the story of the little girl who lived down the lane? Is it?” Interestingly, this is exactly the question that Audrey asked Charlie at one point.


Mile 430

At Mile 430, everything changed. Cooper and Diane talked about how they had no idea what was going to happen at Mile 430 and debated driving through that portion of the highway. They had one last kiss, because they didn’t know how they would feel or what the world would be like on the other side.

It seems that they entered an alternate timeline or universe when they passed 430 miles. Since we had just seen Coop going back in time and stopping Laura Palmer from being murdered, we can assume that he changed time somehow. Then he left the Black Lodge and Diane was there to greet him. I’m not sure why they weren’t immediately in a different universe at that point. But for some reason, they got to choose whether they wanted things to change or not.

Then, they passed through Mile 430 and daytime changed to night. They went to an old-timey motel while driving an old-timey car. When Cooper woke up, he read a letter where Diane explained that she left because she didn’t recognize him anymore. He had a different car and was in a different hotel. (And their names were Richard and Linda, not Cooper and Diane — what?!)

I’m going to guess that Cooper changed when they passed the 430 mark, but Diane didn’t. She couldn’t stand to see her Coop gone, so she just left, knowing she’d never get him back. (However, you have to wonder about Diane seeing her doppelgänger at the motel. I’m thinking that’s telling us the motel was at some intersection between different timelines.)

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Cooper Is Richard and He’s Not the Same Anymore

We had our Cooper back for two episodes: Part 16 and Part 17. Once they passed Mile 430, I’m convinced that Cooper wasn’t Cooper anymore. Here’s why.

  • At Judy’s, Cooper wasn’t excited about the coffee at all. That is not Cooper.
  • He wasn’t nice to the waitress at Judy’s, which is very un-Coop.
  • When he defended himself against the men and then dumped the guns in the oil, his actions and facial expressions were reminiscent of Mr. C, not Dale Cooper.
  • His automatic reaction to defend himself was more like Dougie with Ike rather than Cooper.
  • When he held up his badge at the Palmer house, he wasn’t acting like Cooper. He was too unsure.

Beyond that, apparently in this universe, Cooper’s name is Richard and Diane’s name is Linda. The Giant/Fireman told Cooper in Episode 1: “Richard and Linda. Two birds, one stone.” And that’s part of what Cooper had told Cole to remember if he disappeared — that he was trying to kill two birds with one stone.

Why did the Fireman tell him about Richard and Linda, and tell him to remember 430? Perhaps because Cooper needed to remember that he must pass 430 and couldn’t NOT do that. When the time came, Cooper must drive to the 430 mark and not be tempted otherwise. This would be similar to how Andy unquestioningly does whatever the Fireman tells him, just like Freddy does too. Cooper didn’t hesitate at 430, he just went forward despite Diane wondering if they should.

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Laura Palmer is Now Carrie Paige and Doesn’t Remember Her Identity

Why doesn’t Laura Palmer know who she is or who her parents are? She now lives in Odessa, just killed a man, and leaves with Cooper to go to Twin Peaks. Once there, they learn that Sarah Palmer is no longer living in her home — in fact, the Palmers never lived there. Instead, the home is owned by Alice Tremond, and the family that owned the home before was Mrs. Chalfont.

Guess who those names belong to? The spirit woman that Laura Palmer used to visit for Meals on Wheels was named Tremond. And when she lived in the trailer park that Chet visited in Fire Walk With Me, she went by the name of Chalfont. We also saw her in the convenience store, hanging out with the other spirits. Oh, and she’s the one who gave Laura the painting that has made so many appearances in this season.

There might be a clue in Laura Palmer’s name too. She goes by Carrie Paige now. Ben Horne’s assistant’s name was Beverly Paige. Meanwhile, Cooper is now “Richard,” which was the name of his now deceased son (technically, Mr. C’s son.) Perhaps Laura and Cooper somehow jumped ahead in time into the bodies of descendants in their family trees. Or maybe that’s just crazy talk and my brain has been far too affected by this show.


Theory 1: Laura Palmer Was Adopted

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Ok, we can start out with the simplest theory: Cooper’s in an alternate timeline where Laura Palmer was adopted. This is why she didn’t recognize her name or her parents’ names. The Giant/Fireman was the one who took her from Cooper and deposited her somewhere else, where she was adopted as a baby. This doesn’t account for the scream at the end (which was prompted by memories of Sarah calling out for Laura) or Cooper’s question about the year, but it could mean that the Palmers’ lives changed too and they never did buy that house.


Theory 2: Cooper Really Messed Up the Timeline

Another theory is that Cooper did something in trying to rescue Laura that messed things up, bad. This theory is a little vague, but it imagines that maybe it was Judy who took Laura, not the Fireman, when she disappeared while following Cooper away from where she’d be murdered. Maybe Judy wiped Laura’s memory of who she was. Maybe Cooper and Laura are in a weird spirit world where nothing is what it seems, and that’s why the “spirit woman” owns Laura Palmer’s old house. Maybe Laura screamed because she’s just starting to remember the truth.

Now Cooper doesn’t have to escape the Red Room or Dougie’s brain, he has to escape this weird spirit universe. If this is the case, I’d imagine this “meta world” was created just to keep Laura and Cooper trapped so Judy could wreak havoc in the real world through Sarah Palmer, without hindrance from the goodness that the Fireman put inside Laura.


Theory 3: Cooper Moved Forward or Back in Time

Another theory is that Cooper still messed things up, but differently. He and Laura were deposited either into the past or the future. That’s why he asks “What Year Is It?” at the end. And Laura screams because she’s starting to remember where she should be.

I’m less inclined to believe they moved into the past, although it’s a tempting theory. It would explain why the owner of the house has no idea who Sarah Palmer is: she and her family haven’t moved into that house yet.

But the Valero gas station that Cooper and Diane stopped at gives us a clue about the year. There was a reason for that scene. According to Wikipedia, Valero was first created in 1980 and took over natural gas operations. It began refining in 1984. It appears that Valero didn’t actually start running service stations until 2000. So they’d have to be at least in the year 2000, it appears.

It’s possible they might have moved into the future, however, but there are reasons to think they’re not too far ahead in time for that either. His car doesn’t look very futuristic, the gas station doesn’t appear too futuristic either. It couldn’t be a huge time jump, could it? But if they did jump ahead in time, this would fit with that “descendants” theory from earlier in this article.

What do you think?


Theory 4: This Is All in Cooper’s Head

If this theory is true, then it would explain all the threads that aren’t being tied up. It would explain why this finale would be acceptable even without a Season 4. Perhaps Cooper’s real identity is Richard. Richard is in the real world and he’s been caught in a dream. Maybe it’s a dream inhabited by spirits like BOB and MIKE. This would explain why everything is so surreal. It could explain a lot.

Richard has some Cooper in him, but he also seems to have some Mr. C in him, too. Maybe he’s dreaming or maybe he just went crazy (a la Ben Horne in Season 2.) Or maybe he’s in a coma himself. Either way, he’s imagined all of Twin Peaks. And when he crossed 430, that was his decision to re-enter the real world and deal with reality. (Just like Audrey had to decide in her “dream” to wake up before she really could see reality too.)

(Maybe Richard and Audrey know each other in “real life” and are both avoiding reality because of a shared trauma.)

This would explain the weird “who is the dreamer?” dream that Gordon Cole had. It would explain why Cooper tells his friends he hopes to see them again (he hopes they are real and not just his imagination.) It would explain why Laura Palmer is real but she is not Laura and did not live in that house.

The only thing it wouldn’t explain was Laura’s scream, unless Cooper is imagining that too.

Interestingly, fans came up with this theory during the original series too. Looper reported that fans once had a theory that it was Cooper who killed Windom Earle’s wife Caroline, not Windom Earle, and in a fit of guilt and insanity Cooper created the Twin Peaks universe in his head in order to escape that guilt.

In many ways, this theory is the least satisfying of them all, but it’s also the one that would tie everything together the best.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.