Episodes 17 & 18 of ‘Twin Peaks: the Return’ are meant to be watched in sync

With Twin Peaks it seems everything—every line, every action—has at least two different, often contradictory, interpretations. It’s this quality of bothness that novelist David Foster Wallace writes about in his essay on David Lynch, citing this steadfast refusal of Lynch’s art to provide easy answers to desperate questions (or often any answers at all) as one of the reasons his work—specifically Fire Walk With Me— garners such polarizing responses.

The finale of Twin Peaks: The Return was certainly no different. It had bothness in spades, & accordingly, the responses have been varied. Some fans feel Lynch had actual contempt for the Twin Peaks audience, & wanted to leave them feeling psychically defeated by denying them answers to pretty much every single one of the many questions built up by the end. Others saw the ending as a poetic, if depressing, comment on this very bothness that Wallace pointed out: the story never resolves. Cooper can’t save Laura; the cycle of abuse is inescapable.

There is reason to believe in a third option (not only the roughly 40,000 different fan theories & interpretations that have been published since the finale aired). Herein I will suggest my own opinion, based on a unique reading of the material, that the ending is in fact of the happy variety: Cooper wins. Having said that, the way the events are depicted works like a puzzle with its pieces all out of place. Using a little bit of that intuition Agent Cooper so often employs allows the viewer to lock the pieces in place. A rearranging of the events of final two episodes gives the viewer a more satisfyingly optimistic conclusion, albeit one that does not resolve in the traditional way of most television. It requires some work on the part of the audience—not a strange concept in avant-garde art—to properly formulate.

(Note: I am not claiming this theory as the end-all be-all answer to everything. It doesn’t even address the role Audrey Horne plays in all of this. It’s one persons opinion, but arrived at by way of a unique method of engaging with the material, albeit one we find more than persuasive. All conclusions reached are necessarily tentative. A Blue Rose Case Most Definitely.)

Opening scene: “David Lynch Keeps His Head”

According to FBI Director Gordon Cole in the opening moments of part 17 of Twin Peaks: The Return, the last thing Agent Dale Cooper told Gordon before he disappeared was that he was “trying to kill two birds with one stone.” Keeping in mind the multiple levels of interpretation this show invites, & that the person relaying this comment by Cooper about birds & stones is none other than David Lynch himself, the director, & also that the final two episodes of Twin Peaks were released on the same night, we submit that there is a meta-textual layer to this comment crying out for recognition.

Applying a little of this meta-textual logic the show employs regularly & with droll humor (like when Cooper tries to go out of electrical socket 3 in part 3, but instead has to leave through socket 15, & eventually returns to himself in part 15, a strange acknowledgement by the show of the structure of the show in OUR world, rather than the world of the show) to this two-birds-with-one-stone comment made by Lynch-playing-Cole, it makes sense that we may then read this as meaning the two parts are meant to be seen as a pair—two birds, one stone. Two parts, one finale. “Kill” them both by watching them both at the same time.

I urge the reader to do this themselves, as primary experience is always the best teacher, especially when it comes to areas like ‘sync.’ Find copies of the episodes, open the files both at the same time (Quicktime lets you do this), & just watch them synced up—it’s not hard to do. Use the opening credits to calibrate the timing, & adjust the volume on both files so that you can hear dialogue from both even when it’s overlapping, or use subtitles. If it’s just not possible for you for whatever reason, read on anyway. We’re going to break it down in some detail.

But before you read further, get familiar with yrevglad’s inspiring theory posted on r/TwinPeaks. Major shout-out to yrevglad for inspiring this inquiry. I am essentially borrowing your theory & expanding on it & perhaps confirming it with my own speculations derived from this sync exercise.

Quoting yrevglad’s TL;DR:

when naido turns into diane it’s diane returning from the richard/linda timeline, and cooper realizes they’ve already won and time is short because the timeline is about to reset. this is the true “finale” moment of The Return.

The true final moment then, according to yrevglad, is the moment in the Sheriff’s office after BOB has been defeated & Mr. C’s body returned to the Black Lodge. It comes as Cooper’s omniscient, timeless self overlays the frame at the moment in which he connects with Naido who is replaced by the true form of Diane. His corporeal form says his goodbyes to the people & town of Twin Peaks. He knows the timeline is about to reset: he’s going to go back in time to stop BOB from killing Laura… but once he does that, the timeline will change entirely & Cooper will never have a reason to come to Twin Peaks in the first place.

This means that the timelines of the two episodes are overlapping—though I would refer to the Richard/Linda ‘zone’ as an overlapping dimension rather than timeline. I believe it to be a ‘pocket dimension’ or parallel dimension as described on Bill Hastings’ The Search For The Zone website. In fact, the R/L zone is OUR OWN dimension that is overlapping with the show. I’ll explain why later.

In the beginning of part 18, when Cooper leaves the Black Lodge into Glastonbury Grove after re-enacting the same series of events we saw him go through in the part 1. In retrospect, MIKE’s repeated line “Is it future, or is it past?” takes on a whole new meaning here, as the viewer is directly confronted with the question of whether what we are now seeing follows the scene inside the Sheriff station, as it’s presented, or if it actually precedes it in time. In any case, an interesting juxtaposition appears when viewed in sync with part 17. Cooper leaves through the red drapes & finds Diane waiting for him.

First appearance of Naido in p.17 conjoins with first appearance of Diane in p.18

When Diane appears on screen, down in part 18, so too does Naido appear in her jail cell. The scene continues as Cooper & Diane begin to converse. As they do, Naido wakes up & begins her otherwordly chattering, while ‘The Drunk’, who I believe to be ‘Billy’ due to the Road House conversation stating that Billy had shown up acting totally insane with blood pouring out of his mouth, does his mocking imitation of her chatter, driving Chad up a wall.

The chatter between Naido & Billy mirrors the ‘chatter’ between Coop and Diane. We know Naido is Diane… but is Billy actually Cooper? He may be somehow imprisoned in that form the way Diane is imprisoned inside Naido. If Billy is actually Agent Cooper, it would make sense why Audrey Horne is so enamored with his whereabouts! Note also that Billy’s parroting of whatever he hears mirrors Dougie’s parroting of whatever words he hears. These are the only two characters who engage in this type of mimicry. Also worth noting that Billy disappears as soon as Cooper makes his phone call to Sheriff Truman announcing his arrival. When Freddie busts open the jail cell to stop Chad from shooting Andy, both Chad & Billy are never heard from again. I don’t know if there’s any fire here, but I certainly sense some smoke.

Later, as Mr. C approaches the portal to the White Lodge in the woods outside Twin Peaks, Cooper and Diane approach the portal to the ‘other side.’ “Think about it, Cooper,” says Diane in 18, as Mr. C contemplates the journey he himself is about to take in 17.

Mr. C is taken into the White Lodge & then transported to the parking lot of the Sheriff’s station. As he is being electrically transported out of one dimension, Diane & Cooper are electrically transported into another dimension.

Diane and Cooper then ‘cross over,’ & wind up at a seedy motel, apparently with the intent of gettin’ it on in the occult tradition of sexual magick. If you’ve read Frost’s Secret History of Twin Peaks, you know that the history of occultist Jack Parsons is intricately entwined with the mythology of the show. Parsons performed a magickal ritual in the desert which may or may not have opened a portal allowing the entry of BOB/Judy into our realm. He summoned the mythical Whore of Babylon, & when he returned home, he found red-headed bombshell actress Marjorie Cameron waiting at his door. Here is a picture of Marjorie Cameron, juxtaposed with the Diane we know as the ‘real’ Diane:

The candy-red hair is most obvious, but the geisha-esque fashion sense gives it away. Is it possible that Cooper & Diane’s own magickal ritual was intended to counteract Parsons’ Babylon Working, which, it would seem, may have been the original instigator of the entry of Judy/BOB into the world? The female orgasm has been identified by occultists like Kenneth Grant to be, in effect, a portal-opening cosmic event, so it’s no surprise that the sex scene between them is concentrated solely on Diane—she is the conduit between worlds, & her climax completes the ritual. It’s worth noting that Cameron appeared to Parsons only after he completed his ritual; in part 18, Diane instead disappears after completion. If Parsons opened a portal, were Cooper & Diane the ones who closed it?

To get back to the sync, when Cooper & Diane are in the midst of it, while The Platters’ song “My Prayer” rings out, sung by a David Lynch doppelganger, over in episode 17 we get the most intense action yet from both Naido & Billy. Naido continues to chatter away, seeming to sense the arrival of Mr. C., while Billy begins aggressively tearing off his bandages & probing into the wound on his face. A parallel might be drawn between Billy thrusting his finger into his wound with Cooper’s own thrusting—or rather, Cooper’s allowing Diane to do the work of thrusting in their intercourse. Rather than a male-dominated sex act (similar to Billy’s poking & prodding), this is act is controlled entirely by the female, to the point where Diane covers Cooper’s face to almost erase him from the equation altogether. Regardless, the parallel action is striking when seen in motion.

“When the twilight is gone, you come into my heart…”

A perfect sync occurs when the sex scene concludes by fading to black. At the climax of their intercourse is the moment when Lucy fatally shoots Mr. C. The music of The Platters swells and then recedes, and in the intervening blacked out frame and accompanying silence, we get Lucy’s enigmatic line, “Andy! I understand cellular phones now!”

“Andy! I understand cellular phones now!”

As soon as she utters the line, we fade in on Cooper (or Richard) waking up in the motel room. Does Lucy’s line in p.17 have something to do with the concurrent progression of events in p.18? A cellular phone allows communication through radio waves, while the analog phones Lucy knows work via electrical transmission. The comings & goings of the Lodge inhabitants transmit through electricity, like the phones (Mr. C is transported out of the convenience store through a rotary phone)… did Cooper & Diane figure out a way to shift dimensions without the use of electricity? Just some idle speculation there; let’s keep it moving.

The scene continues as Cooper makes his triumphant return to the Twin Peaks Sheriff station just in time to see the Dirty Bearded Men performing their resurrection ritual on the body of Mr. C. The body opens up and from it emerges BOB in its apparently most primal form, the same form we saw emerging from the ‘nose’ of Judy in part 8: a floating ball of death. In 18, Cooper/Richard has left the hotel room to find he’s in a different hotel, and gets in his car, which he finds to also be different. The camera slow pans as he drives out of the parking lot & lingers for a typically Lynchian, weirdly excessive amount of time. Juxtaposing the two parts may reveal the logic behind this shot:

The BLACK BOB-ball mirrors the WHITE parking-lot light

The camera movement ceases when this WHITE ball (a lightbulb ‘floating’ atop a lamppost) hits the center-top portion of the frame, & it hangs there long after Cooper has driven out of sight. Simultaneously, we see Cooper & the rest of the team witness the floating BLACK ball of death that is BOB. What do we take from this? That, perhaps, with the Richard/Linda universe we are seeing a different dimension altogether, one that BOB does not inhabit, only Judy? One that is more influenced by the White Lodge than the Black? More idle speculation; there are no easy answers here.

However, supporting this thesis, at exactly 26:02 on this file, we cut away from the lightbulb to the GREEN sign of Odessa, a real town in our real world with a accurate population of 99,940. At the very same time as this cut, in 17 we hear Freddie yell ‘oy!’, & his GREEN magical glove (bestowed on him by the Fireman) is lit up by the electrical lightning sparks emanating from the BOB-ball:

Freddie’s GREEN glove matches the GREEN Odessa sign

The 18 scene continues as monotonously as much of the episode does, as Cooper drives through Odessa. While in 18 he sits & blankly stares, in 17 the Battle has just begun, Cooper’s face is expressive, showing concern & a willingness to inspire Freddie to fulfill his destiny. As soon as Cooper in 18 sees & drives by the sign for Judy’s Cafe, the BOB-ball makes his first vicious attack on Freddie as the soundtrack squeals & screeches in terror. The soundtrack for 17 transposed to 18 makes this scene all the more frightening: it feels as though Cooper has entered a truly demonic realm, that is, Judy’s Diner.

EAT at Judy’s… as BOB seems about to consume the audience

Cooper enters Judy’s not at all like himself. He doesn’t smile or flirt, nor does he relish the taste of the coffee. The only vestige of the Cooper we know emerges when he tells the cowboys to stop harassing the waitress. Once they threaten him, he dispatches them with the implacable force of Mr. C., though not fatally, all of which indicates that this Dale is somehow a mixture of the two poles of the Cooper personas we’ve come to know over the course of Twin Peaks. He’s neither the 100% pure boy-scout Special Agent Dale Cooper, nor is he the 100% evil psychopath that is Mr. C. He’s both. This is another clue that the world of Richard & Linda is in fact our world. The real world. The world in which you are reading these words right now.

At 29:31, after Cooper has told the Cowboy to drop his gun for the second time, the Cowboy does so just as in 17 we hear the Owl Ring drop to the floor of the Black Lodge, signaling Mr. C’s re-assimilation. It’s a nice little sync moment, if nothing else.

The Ring drops just as the Cowboy drops his gun

The scene progresses: a recurring theme is that the slow development of events in part 18 is mirrored by important plot developments in part 17. While Coop/Richard fumbles around with the french-fry basket, Cooper notices the presence of Naido in the room, and suddenly the frame is overlayed with a massive image of Cooper’s face staring straight at YOU, the viewer. According to yrevglad’s theory, these are the final moments of the story that we are calling Twin Peaks. Cooper’s omniscient vision is a result of the success of his mission & the defeat of Judy. The completion of his mission has evolved his being, much like what happened to Major Briggs once his mission was complete (passing off the mission to his ‘replacement’ Agent Cooper). Cooper’s floating head mirrors Briggs’ floating head. My guess is that Cooper will soon be another denizen of the White Lodge, reuniting with Briggs for a 4th dimensional camping trip. Cooper says “the past dictates the future,” just as, in part 18, Coop/Richard drops the guns into the hot oil. The weapons of a temporal war (BOB-bomb, Judy, aka ‘The Experiment’) are being annihilated.

The scene continues. When Naido comes up to Cooper and they touch hands, in 18 the Cowboys say, “what the fuck just happened?” almost in response to the action of Naido/Coop. Naido’s face opens, revealing the floor of the Lodge, followed by the appearance of an ambiguous floating appendage… that I take to be JUDY itself, returned to confinement inside the Black Lodge, and/or transformed or assimilated by Diane. Compare it to the shot of Judy emanating from the glass box in part 1:

Is that you Judy?

This floating appendage-thing then reveals half of Diane’s face, & then Naido suddenly returns totally to form of the real Diane. Yrevglad contends that this is Diane returning from the alternate dimension where she is Linda, the dimension the two of them entered in this moment’s future, where Judy is hiding: OUR dimension. I might add that perhaps Diane’s disappearance involved an assimilation of Judy, or allowing Judy to assimilate her, so that she could either help to destroy Judy from the inside or somehow influence the behavior of Judy in the alt-dimension. This may have been the ultimate goal of the sex ritual, as recall that the sexual activity between the two young people in part 1 was what attracted Judy to them in the first place. Perhaps Cooper & Diane traveled into Judy’s realm (our world) to attract its attention. Diane’s disappearance may indicate that she was assimilated into Judy as intended.

In part 18 at this same time, Cooper is shown driving up to the house of Carrie Paige, aka Laura Palmer, the ‘fifth element’ you might say, an insert by the White Lodge to counteract & ultimately destroy the entity Judy.

Cooper’s school-boy smile at the sight of Diane is more than just his joy at seeing his long-lost love after 25 years; it’s his sudden understanding that the mission has been completed, & all will soon be set right. Their romantic reunion is cut short when they both notice that the clock has stopped in the moments before hitting 2:53PM. In part 18 at this exact same moment is just after Carrie Paige has opened the door to Cooper. “Did you find him?” she says. No, but HE has found HER. The moment Cooper finds Laura in Judy’s world (our world), is the moment he prevails. Cooper asks, “you’re saying you’re NOT Laura Palmer?” and Carrie responds, “Laura WHO? No, I’m not her.” At this moment, in part 17, Cooper’s spectral head announces… “We live inside a dream.” In 18, Cooper follows with “What’s your name?” In 17, Cooper then says rather robotically, “I hope I see all of you again.” In 18, Carrie then says, “Carrie Paige.” When Cooper tells her that her mother’s name is Sarah, ‘Carrie’ changes her tone of voice… she says “S-sarah?” in the higher-pitched tone of voice used by Laura in the original series, abandoning slightly the Texas accent used by Carrie. Her false identity is already breaking down as she follows that up by saying, “what is going on?” indicating that she is feeling something strange.

Soon reality itself seems to disintegrate. A shift occurs as the lights darken and we see the holy trio of Cooper, Diane, and Cole together in the basement of the Sheriff’s station. Cooper’s final line to Diane and Gordon as he enters the doorway to meet Mike to go see Philip Jefferies and go back in time—”see you at the curtain call”—counts as another meta-reference to the show-as-fiction. In 17, Cooper opens the door and meets Mike, who recites the familiar poem in forwards speech. As soon as he finishes the line (“Fire walk with me”), in 18, Carrie reappears to ask “do I need a coat?” An interesting hot/cold parallel. “Bring one if you have one,” Coop answers. She will be heading somewhere away from the fire, thankfully.

In another bit of interesting synchronistic inter-episode action, as Cooper and Mike head up the stairs to see Jeffries, Carrie asks Cooper if he’s really an FBI agent. He shows her his badge to confirm, and then Carrie delivers the humorous line, “at least we’re getting out of this fuckin’ town of Odessa.” Seconds after she finishes that line in part 18, the shot dissolves to the familiar dark road ahead as, mid-dissolve, in part 17, we’re assaulted with an electrical-seizure sequence of the Jumping Man scuttling back down the stairs, just as Coop and Mike have entered. As Coop and Carrie are just leaving, Coop and Mike are just entering:

The ensuing drive back to ‘Twin Peaks’ in part 18, long and tedious as it is, parallels Cooper’s much more exciting journey back in time in part 17. This is another example of the episode-pairing telling the viewer where to pay attention. As little or nothing is happening in one episode, something bigger is happening in the other. As the events of the night Laura Palmer was murdered are re-enacted, seen this time from the perspective of time-travelling Dale Cooper, Carrie sits in the car, eyes close, reminiscing about her ‘life’ in Odessa. “Odessa. I tried to keep a clean house. Keep everything organized. It’s a long way… in those days I was too young to know any better.” When the two parts are watched in sync, it can easily be read as Carrie, eyes closed, is in fact slowly regaining cognizance of her life as Laura Palmer, just as Cooper is going back in time to ‘save’ her.

“It’s a long way…” says Carrie, as Cooper goes ‘a long way’ back in time…
“I was too young to know any better…” says Carrie as her final night with James is re-enacted, almost as if she’s remembering it herself

As Cooper and Carrie are shown getting gas, taking a leak—not the most exciting thing to watch—the fateful final night between James and Laura is re-enacted, with the added twist of explaining Laura’s previously inexplicable scream as her catching a glimpse of Cooper hiding in the bushes.

“Your Laura disappeared…. it’s just me now.” the juxtaposition of Sheryl Lee’s youthful face above with that of her older self below is enough to send a chill down a spine or two… Lynch playing with time as an active element, etched into the very faces of our beloved stars

As the re-enactment of memory continues, Cooper and Carrie enter Twin Peaks, or, more accurately, the actual city in which Twin Peaks was filmed, a fact sussed out by the many intrepid investigators on the ’net: the Double R’s sign is all wrong. There is no shot of the iconic ‘Welcome to Twin Peaks’ sign. The real owner of the Palmer residence opens the door instead of Sarah. Their journey started in Odessa, TX, a real town. This is our world now.

“I think you want to take me home now,” says Laura to James with a sideways glance, as Carrie gives Cooper a sideways glance as he is in the process of taking her home.

The syncs keep hitting, hard and fast, as we approach the end. After Laura abandons James at the intersection of Starkwood and 21, she runs off into the woods to meet up with Leo and the gang. But this time she is intercepted by Cooper, Agent of the White Lodge. At the same time that Laura stumbles onto Cooper in the woods, in part 18, Cooper has held out his hand to Carrie (as he will also do momentarily to Laura in part 17), to lead her up to the Palmer house:

“Who are you…? Do I know you? Wait… I’ve seen you in a dream.

The strains of “Laura’s Theme” begin to ring out as Laura recognizes Cooper from her dream, but in this sync-up they are also ringing out as Cooper and Carrie slowly approach the Palmer residence. But make no mistake, no matter what dimension we are in, no matter who answers that door, this is house that Judy built. As we have posited already, the world they ARE in now together as Richard and Carrie is the REAL world, OUR world, the world in which the Palmer house is owned by a Mrs. Tremond, a non-actor who Lynch hired to answer the door. Mrs. Tremond does a fine job of non-acting, which I know in my heart of hearts was intentional on the part of Lynch. Mrs. Tremond is meant to be a ‘normal’ person, a person of our own world, a non-actor. But this is still the house that Judy built. In other words, Mrs. Tremond with her flat and oddly unaffected cordiality to a stranger in the middle of the night, her spectral husband, and the entire world in which she, and we all live, the world in which fictional characters Special Agent Dale Cooper and his soulmate Diane Evans enacted a magickal ritual to enter into, is and always will be a false projection of Judy, aka Jiao Dai, aka Yahweh, aka the DEMIURGE of Gnostic infamy.

Cooper questions Mrs. Tremond to learn that they purchased the house from a Mrs. Chalfont. Both of these names are and have been recognized as the names used by the Old Woman and her son (who looks like a mini-David Lynch) who gives Laura the picture that serves as a gateway from the Convenience Store into Laura’s bedroom (yikes). These names are the only clue Cooper, and we the audience, need to understand what is happening. As soon as Mrs. Tremond opens the door, in episode 17 we are transported back to the beginning of the series, to an image of Laura’s body, “wrapped in plastic.” As the questioning continues, her body flickers out of existence. The past has been reformed. With the recent defeat of BOB and the impending defeat of Judy, it’s quite possible to imagine that the Palmer family no longer exists as it was. BOB and JUDY are timeless entities, and so their destruction means that their influence on the timeline has been erased irrevocably. Judy isn’t around to spit BOB into our world, and so BOB doesn’t possess Leland. Judy’s frog-bug doesn’t crawl down young Sarah Palmer’s throat. Perhaps Sarah develops a relationship with her male friend we see her walking with in part 8. Perhaps she and Leland never meet at all.

This climactic walk in part 18 up the steps to the site of Laura’s abuse and torment, and then back down again, set to the strains of “Laura’s Theme” ringing out in episode 17, is the triumphant moment of integration. There is no ridiculous showdown between a superhero and villain, there is only the simple confrontation and subsequent integration of her trauma.

The next big sync comes at the exact moment that Mrs. Tremond says goodnight and closes the door. The moment that she closes the door in part 18, over in part 17 is the moment when we cut away from the flashback, left with the final image of Pete Martell finally getting to cast his line without care on that “goin’ fishin’” morning that went so terribly awry 25 years ago. In part 17, we cut directly from that image to back inside the Palmer house, whose door was just shut on us in part 18! The familiar school picture of Laura is visible, and the only sounds we hear are of otherworldly moans from a Judy-infested Sarah Palmer.

Cooper and Carrie head back down the steps in part 18 while otherworldly moans emanate from the Palmer house in part 17

In part 17, the scene of Sarah Palmer howling inside her house ends with an disturbing sequence of her frantically stabbing at Laura’s picture with the bottom of a broken liquor bottle. Her frantic stabs and howls are unnerving. But a key question presents itself when seeing this from the perspective of part 17 only. That is, WHEN does the scene of Sarah Palmer/Judy smashing Laura’s picture occur? We are shown it at the very end of part 17 AFTER Cooper has led Laura away from her doom, AFTER we see the opening moments of season 1 re-enacted without the dead body “wrapped in plastic.” But why would we see her after all of that if the timeline had changed and Laura was still alive? Shouldn’t we be seeing a happy Sarah Palmer reunited with her daughter?

No, not at all. Because the missing puzzle piece materializes when you watch both of these parts as one. This final scene of the Judy-possessed Sarah Palmer is taking place in the Richard & Linda dimension. As soon as Mrs. Tremond closes the door in part 18, we cut to inside the house whose door was just closed to us, in part 17. Mrs. Tremond, and the whole world she inhabits, which is, in fact, OUR WORLD, is a false projection. This is still Judy’s house. As Cooper and ‘Carrie’ walk down the stairs and wander a bit in the street, confused… inside the house, Judy is losing its shit. It knows the end is near, and the only thing it can do is to frantically, uselessly attack an effigy of Laura in as violent a manner as it attacked the young couple in the beginning, and as violently as BOB attacked Freddie, with violent sharp slashes.

Coop/Laura walk away from the house as Judy howls from within

The final, final moments proceed as such. In part 18, Cooper and Carrie/Laura stand in the street, staring at the house, as in part 17, Judy attacks the picture of Laura, knowing its end is near. As soon as Sarah/Judy appears in the frame, stumbling around, Cooper starts stumbling forward, and utters that line, “what year is this?” This somehow triggers Laura, and she hears the voice of Sarah howling her name. This is Laura hearing the sound of Judy’s freak-out in episode 17, the previous episode, where as until that moment she and Cooper had only sensed it. The timing could not be more perfect, and I have no doubt in my mind that this was intentionally done by Lynch and Frost in the editing room. Sarah viciously stabs at the picture of Laura, and towards the end the film footage begins to stutter, fracture, and reverse, as though she were about to flicker out of existence altogether. The shot cuts to black. As soon as the cut to black in part 17 occurs, Laura hears the sound of Judy in the house and unleashes an unearthly scream. It is the purity of her recognition of the presence of Judy in this world that ultimately destroys it.

As soon as Laura’s scream blows out the electrical circuitry in Judy’s house, effectively destroying Judy, it cuts to black, a scream that echoes through time and space, and the episode ends. But as soon as part 18 ends, as her scream is ringing out, in episode 17, we are treated to a return. Specifically we return to Cooper leading Laura out of the woods, the very same scene with which part 18 began.

We go through that scene again as the credits to part 18 roll, overlayed on that eternal moment of Laura whispering into Cooper’s ear in a dream. As soon as the credits to part 18 finish, that video closes itself (or restarts, depending on your video player settings), at the exact moment part 17 dissolves from Cooper in the woods—having just lost Laura into the alternate Judy dimension—to the sounds of Julee Cruise performing at the Road House her heartwrenchingly beautiful song “The World Spins.”

This is the True End of Twin Peaks: The Return. It’s simply that it’s an ending that also serves as a beginning, the beginning of an eternal loop in which the combined forces of White Lodge Agents Cooper, Laura Palmer, Major Briggs, and the Fireman, have trapped the negative entity Judy into an eternal recurrence of total annihilation.

All season long we wondered why Julee Cruise hadn’t performed at the Road House, until I realized that, of course, they were saving her for the ending. And save her they did. This is also why part 17 is shown to be ‘In Memory of Jack Nance,” whose Pete Martell embodies the true spirit of the town of Twin Peaks, the sense that Good always prevails, no matter what. We can’t lose. We’ve already won.

Halley’s comet’s come and gone
The things I touch are made of stone
Falling through this night alone
Love
Don’t go away
Come back this way
Come back and stay
Forever and ever
The world spins
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