Cooper Defeated? - The Strategic Situation In Twin Peaks The Return (TPTR)
Phew!! I've been trying to register on this forum for some days now - it now turns out that all I needed was a better browser.
I have only just discovered this forum & think it looks like a friendly place. I hope you don't mind if I start off with a posting that discusses what I sought out a forum for; the result of my latest rewatching of TPTR and my thoughts on it.
The first time I watched TPTR, I think the most pressing problem I had with the ending is that it seems that Cooper has been defeated; that the structure of TPTR has been a Greek Tragedy in which Cooper is being punished for the hubris of trying to undo the very point of Twin Peaks - the murder of Laura Palmer.
On the recent rewatch, my conclusions changed. A useful approach is to look at how the strategic situation changes through to Part 18. Clearly some characters are "outflanking" others, and then those characters are being "outflanked" in turn. There are two principal points that make me think that Cooper actually wins at the end:
- One, when Cooper rescues Laura Palmer from death in the past, Sarah Palmer screams in frustration and smashes the famous photograph over and over. This coincides with Laura in the past disappearing.
- Two, the Tremond/Chalfonts have pretty consistently shown themselves the FRIENDS of Laura Palmer, not her enemies. In the old series, they tip off Donna to the existence of the Secret Diary next door; in the movie they are actually the entities that tip off Laura as to the human identity of BOB.
I think the strategic situation of TPTR should actually be read as follows.
In Part 8, the invention of nuclear weapons fills the world, and therefore the ancient Evil One JUDY with unusual levels of fear (Garmonbozia). No doubt already bloated with two World Wars, by 1956 Cold War fears start to disagree with JUDY's digestion and she vomits out Garmonbozia upon the earth, each kernel of which is a Black Lodge creature. She sends out the Woodsmen to create the Convenience Store to house the Creatures in a manner befitting the year 1956.
In response, the eleven year dormant Frog-Moth, the seed of Laura Palmer, awakes, and enters the mouth of a young Sarah Palmer, no doubt to lay dormant a further eleven years before being born. I believe the invasion of the Woodsmen in her town was to snuff out the promise of Laura; fortunate indeed, therefore, that the Fireman had actually created the Frog-Moth many years before. Perhaps the Woodsmen went through the town checking on all the sleeping children like the Pharaoh's men in Goshen. But Laura Palmer was not yet born.
Many years later, Mr C leaves the Black Lodge, as he has many times before. Mr C wishes to control JUDY (he does not know her name yet, only the JUDY-Spot symbol) and invade the White Lodge. He has already on previous occasions kidnapped three witnesses to his true nature; Garland Briggs, Diane Evans and Audrey Horne. He stuffs them in a kind of Annex to the White Lodge which he has created himself. The two women are both disguised and in a limbo state. Then he sets up the Glass Box to meet JUDY.
Decades of torture in the Annex have failed to break Major Briggs; in frustration Mr C pals up with Philip Jeffries, who has become immensely powerful in the Lodge World, able to send people back and forth in spacetime as well as to the Lodges. Mr C plans to obtain coordinates from Jeffries via Ray Monroe. Mr C then creates Dougie using his Lodge tulpa skills. He creates a Diane tulpa as well to do his bidding. While he is doing this Briggs manages to swallow Dougie's ring while Mr C is not looking.
The idea of Mr C is that Dougie will go back to the Black Lodge instead of him, permitting him far longer to range around looking for JUDY and the White Lodge. In this, at least, he succeeds; and the Black Lodge is startled that Dougie exists at all; Dale Cooper comes back to the world in a zombie state, due to "clashing" with Dougie's exit.
Meanwhile Hastings does his experiment and meets Maj Briggs. Maj Briggs has survived torture partly because he only knows the White Lodge entrance as a certain number of paces from Jack Rabbit Palace, and (perhaps) has deliberately avoided memorising the actual coordinates due to this very possibility. Now he needs the precise coordinates to escape the Annex. When Hastings gives them to him, Briggs's head floats off and joins the White Lodge, free at last, and able incidentally to counteract Mr C. Ms Davenport writes down the (correct) coordinates on her arm. But Briggs sees her doing this.
Meanwhile Mr C wanders around the earth as if he has tricked everyone and is about to become a great power. However, Mr C is completely taken in. JUDY and the Fireman are the ones actually in command, and Mr C a mere pawn. This is why BOTH coordinate actions against Mr C. Briefly, JUDY has given Mr C to think that the Glass Box will permit the entrapment of her and her bending to his will. Meanwhile Jeffries, in collusion with the Fireman and Garland, has given Mr C to think that merely going to the correct coordinates will give Mr C free reign to take over the White Lodge.
In actuality, JUDY uses the Doppelganger of the Arm to divert Dale Cooper through the Glass Box just before the couple engage in sexual activity in front of it. This is all she needs. JUDY follows on immediately behind Dale (notice she is thumping on the Annex??), kills the two lovers who gave her birth, and rushes off to infect Sarah Palmer. She somehow foresees Dale bringing Laura Palmer back to Twin Peaks for her to devour, you see, and killing Laura at last will permit her to have free reign without her influence.
Meanwhile, Jeffries is in collusion with the Fireman from the start. He has told Darya, Ray and the other dude to murder Mr C ASAP; he has also given false coordinates to Ray leading to an electric trap. He never had any intention of letting Mr C into the White Lodge. Mr C, stupidly, can't quite believe Jeffries has tricked him; therefore he visits him again, gets the same coordinates again, and now trusts them more.
However, he now has three sets of coordinates; the two from Jeffries are identical. He uses Richard Horne to test out the Jeffries coordinates. Mr C is pissed to find that the Jeffries coordinates are both a trap, and that therefore Jeffries HAS been acting against him all along. But he trusts the third coordinates, from Davenport/Maj Briggs, enough to visit these coordinates himself.
The third coordinates, leading to what I like to call Brennan Grove, are indeed correct. But Briggs has hastily warned the Fireman, who has constructed a trap in the White Lodge around the place where Mr C is expected to emerge. That is why you see Mr C's head briefly in a cage in White Lodge with Maj Briggs's smug face opposite. Then there is a sort of divert mechanism, depositing Mr C in front of the Sherriff's office at Twin Peaks.
Mr C must be fairly stupid, because he STILL doesn't understand that he is tricked, and walks into the Sheriff's Station, thinking this might be the way into the Lodge. Fortuitously the White Lodge is also able to wake Dale Cooper in time, and has F Sykes on the spot already. Mr C, and therefore BOB, are there outwitted and killed. The White Lodge has already delivered the genuine Diane to the Station; she wakes and is reunited with Dale.
There is, however, a second bird to be killed with the one stone; before leaving the Black Lodge, Cooper already conceived the idea of saving Laura from being murdered in 1989! He and Diane therefore go to Jeffries, have him send Dale back in time, and Dale saves Laura. Now, is this good or bad? I think it is good. Dale wins. The fact that Laura disappears is a GOOD thing.
This is the important point; Dale Cooper DOES NOT KNOW that Sarah Palmer is now JUDY. Perhaps he is as slow on the uptake as Mr C. JUDY was EXPECTING Dale to take Laura back to 2014 and hand her over to be devoured. But the Tremond/Chalfont faction are wise. Cooper thinks he has messed up - look at the confusion on his face; actually it is the best possible outcome. JUDY/Sarah Palmer smashes Laura's portrait in rage and frustration; Laura is well out of JUDY's reach, at least for now.
Dale and Diane attempt to follow further instructions to find Laura (Laura's whisper, I think). They know their identities will be confused and perhaps their memories mixed up once they drive past those power lines. But it is a portal into yet another reality, where Laura has been crammed, just as Diane was once crammed into the Annex.
When they pass through, Dale and Diane inexplicably feel the urge to engage in sexual activity just as the couple did in Part 1. This permits JUDY into the world again to influence the situation by confusing Dale and Diane's identities and memories (and Laura's identity and memory) to prevent Dale and Diane from continuing their mission.
In the case of Diane, she is successfully got rid of and wanders the earth confused. However, Dale, after drifting from reality a bit, remembers Laura's whisper. He finds Judy's Diner, tracks down "Carrie Page" and takes her to Twin Peaks. Dale STILL intends to hand Laura over to Sarah Palmer, not knowing that she is JUDY. Again, bit clueless. In this reality, therefore, the Tremond/Chalfont faction "squat" in the Palmer house, determined not to permit Sarah Palmer ever to have lived in it.
Dale, not comprehending that Laura has just been saved at last, is utterly bemused. Carrie suddenly becomes Laura again (just as Naido became Diane again); her memories come flooding back, and...
Now, I think the above covers the strategic situation of TPTR & a useful way to navigate the plotting. In fact, the more I think of it, the less of a mind-screw the series is. I personally think it is pretty undeniable that TPTR DOES have a happy ending, even if Dale is utterly confused. The very first thing for Dale now would be to go back to Philip Jeffries and have a bit of a chat. I suspect he is the one that can best understand what just happened.
Thanks for your time, hope to post again really soon.
I just wanted to say this is a fantastic post and I thank you for finding the time to put your thoughts into words!
I like a lot of what you've written. It makes a lot of sense. Particularly the Dale being confused even if he was successful in his mission.
This is my first post on the forum - new member - and I must say this is a wonderful text. So many new things pointed out and old placed in a perfect structure. Great analysis mate!