Twin Peaks: The Destination is the Destination

“The journey is the destination” is the ultimate con. The destination is the destination. Twin Peaks is the story of a man fallen victim to this fallacy, packaged in a narrative disguising him as hero luring the audience into the same trap. Respect the journey. Drink full and descend. But more importantly, when you arrive, respect the destination. Or face the white of the eyes and the dark within.

Mrs. Reber / Chalfont and I at the Palmer/Chalfont/Tremond/Reber home in “Twin Peaks”

Our society has codes. Rape, murder, incest: evil. Sexual obsession: weak. Dedicating your life to accomplishing an impossible task to the point of self-sacrifice: heroic. Twin Peaks challenges these from its opening moments, and weighs in definitively as it comes to a close.

Dale Cooper and BOB are both incomplete male archetypes, drawn to Laura Palmer’s powerful feminine energy which they feel can complete them — same for Bobby, James, Leland, Dr. Jacoby, Harold… Coop plays the hero and BOB the villain because of societal codes. BOB’s uncontrolled compulsions lead directly to emotional and physical abuse, along with every sexual taboo around, while Coop’s lead to only indirectly harmful fool’s errands. The rest of the characters seeking the fantasy of completion from Laura are coded as weak due to their enslavement to sexual urges, which render them relatively harmless to others.

Coop, like these other men, is uncontrollably driven by his nature. That nature, unlike what the fans may want, is not heroism but seeking — his penchant for mystery is not a quirk but his defining characteristic, and he arrived to Twin Peaks with it already developed and calcified. He’s The Searchers’ Ethan Edwards, but while it’s left arguably ambiguous if Edwards should have returned Annie home, it’s crystal clear that Coop should not have returned Carrie Page “home.” His self-sacrifice is not innocuous and does not occur in a bubble. He takes others like Audrey (another seeker) down in his wake and ignoring the warnings is his downfall.

Twin Peaks is a story about duality. Everyone has it, managing it is the key to life. Coop refuses to do that. His final act, embodying Richard, shows him go through the full spectrum of himSelf. He invokes Mr. C tactics in the diner while ignoring the signs and pressing on his mission that he, in his gut, knows is ill purposed and ill fated. Our final image of the befuddled Coop asking “what year is this?” sees him resembling the weaker pieces of Dougie Jones. A strong, confident, morally-sound man momentarily experiences loss and self-doubt to degrees he’s never before understood. He’s dedicated 25 years of his life to a fruitless task.

Whether Coop is in a parallel universe, a time loop, a doppelganger or a tulpa does not matter. In any skin, time, place, Coop is a slave to his nature. His penchant for mystery is not realized through Laura Palmer’s murder case, it’s what he roams the universe seeking. Where else have we seen that behavior?

*******************************************************************

“Gotta Light” is a macro example by which to understand the Twin Peaks narrative. Garmonbozia (pain and sorrow) is evil’s sustenance, and evil Black Lodge entities descend where it flows plentifully. The Trinity Experiment’s nuclear explosion created a feeding frenzy.

Evil descended upon Twin Peaks following the slaughter of thousands of Native Nez Perce (Hawk’s ancestry). The glowing orb of Laura Palmer sent by the Fireman was a message. Laura, the emotional center of Twin Peaks, a harvesting ground for Garmonbozia, was to become a vital battleground.

BOB used and abused Laura for 18 years reaping her personal pain and sorrow, which over time became outweighed by her ability to cause the same in others. BOB wanted to shift from access to ownership, possess her to abuse others, exponentially increasing his Garmonbozia production and intake. The White Lodge didn’t let this happen, and Fire Walk With Me showed halting BOB’s Garmonbozia consumption, and therefore power.

This works through a variety of (likely) White Lodge emissaries playing their small part in a chess game that lasts decades and probably eternity. It could have been surmised earlier that The Fireman is the one moving the pieces on the White side (likely Judy/The Experiment on Black), but the end of Twin Peaks definitively reveals The Fireman to be more powerful than we believed, and always in control of the board.

*******************************************************************

There are two heroes in the story of Twin Peaks — Dale Cooper is not one of them. Coop and Mr. C are foils — the holy fool and holy monster respectively (flipping how Richard Brody used this to describe Dougie/Mr. C). The Fireman and Dougie are the heroes and evil is the villain, personified vaguely by Judy/The Experiment. Everyone else is a symbol and/or pawn in their game.

Coop achieves nothing in the entire narrative. For all of his talk about mind and body, he remains a positivist to the end. If only he watched Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus, he would have learned “you do not have to understand. You just have to believe.” He acts upon the Giant/Fireman’s messages only after they are proven in the real world, resulting in Maddie’s murder. He does not solve Laura’s and Maddie’s murders, he is given the solution. Coop apprehends Leland Palmer only to result in more power for BOB through possessing Coop himself, which leads to the Fireman having to fix a deeper threat — Mr. C’s search for Judy.

The Fireman always had everything under control. Coop was at best an agent of the White Lodge with an important role to play, at worst one with a white savior complex that made things very difficult for him and others. But alas Mr. C’s arc ends with him looking pathetic, having simply unknowingly spun wheels set up for him by the Fireman. Fireman gave Laura a new place in the world, but Coop, and the Twin Peaks audience, couldn’t get past the idea of Coop not being the central hero.

The Fireman’s warnings in the opening were parental:

  • “Listen to the sounds” = Understand where you are and who I am.
  • “It’s in our house now”=All is under control.
  • “It all cannot be said aloud now” = I can’t tell you everything explicitly.
  • “Remember 430. Richard and Linda. Two birds with one stone.” = Tools to identify when you’re off course.
  • “You are far away.” = You’re off course.

Coop succeeds in preventing Laura’s murder, but things don’t shake out as he expects. Not content with simply knowing she’s alive, Coop decides to venture to reunite Laura with her mother Sarah. This isn’t the way things are supposed to work. He restored Laura’s life, but he can never erase all of the abuse she endured. Bringing her back to the nexus of that suffering restores all of her most painful memories, reliving the trauma all over.

It’s notable who asks Coop to do this — Leland Palmer. These are two men with the same goal — they don’t want their stories to end (like Charlie told Audrey). Leland asks Coop to “find Laura” after Laura’s life has been restored somewhere else. Leland and Coop aren’t finding Laura to make her happy. They are at best following misguided morals (like Ethan Edwards) that she should return home. At worst, they are selfishly attempting to reinstate their relevance into a story of which their part has concluded.

The Fireman warned Coop, but once again he didn’t listen. Is he finally listening to Laura as the credits roll?

*******************************************************************

Dale Cooper is a parasite — a junkie for mystery. He has no real story of his own, so he roams the universe searching for mysteries to solve that can give him a purpose. He feels justified by his devotion and sacrifice, which are coded as heroic. BOB is a parasite as well. They are both drawn to Laura Palmer, for she is full of positive energy and has such a story. That story is not necessarily always happy, but it is full, and she is always alive. These men portrayed in Twin Peaks require the energy of others to become whatever it is they feel they must become, but they miss the point.

*******************************************************************

We’re never going to know what every scene and piece of Twin Peaks “means,” and we’re not meant to. It’s built for interpretation. But while we’re not meant to know what the minutiae means there are valuable takeaways from understanding what it all means.

If The Fireman and Dougie are heroes, what lessons do they provide? In a ridiculous retcon twist, these characters are mirrors. They both always have everything under control and are impassioned in their dedication to their people. They live to take care of their own. They don’t ask for credit, they allow those around them to receive that attention. They want for little, and rather seem to enjoy watching their people do the enjoying of the things. But they reap the rewards of being surrounded by constant positive energy and beautiful people, with the quiet contentedness of knowing they made it so.

Coop was obsessed with that which he could not change, and wasted his life. Dougie found happiness in the simple pleasures of life, and most importantly took care of his people, recognized and respected “home.” I don’t personally hate Dale Cooper, but the sad retcon of this story is that he represents a stubborn male archetype whom I do not want to become. Laura was a powerful soul, but a wandering soul. The concept of “home” wasn’t meant to fulfill her, but luckily she can carry her strength wherever she goes, even in the face of the conflict that will always be part of her story.

*******************************************************************

It’s not important if you agree or disagree with me on the particulars of this story. It’s important that you receive the messages of Twin Peaks, and turn them inwards in ways that are beneficial to your own life. For me, these lessons bear great meaning and take serious effect on how I will live my life and treat others around me. I am thankful for the entire life cycle of Twin Peaks that I have had the pleasure of living through, it’s the most important artwork of all time to me. It taught me how to handle a friend in trouble back in sixth grade, and it gave me peace with saying goodbye to my grandfather the day after saying goodbye to the Log Lady.

The journey has been wonderful. I made sure to make the most of it. Thank you David Lynch and Mark Frost, and everyone else who took part. I will welcome more Twin Peaks, but that does not matter. I have received more than I ever thought possible, and it has changed my life in ways I could never have expected. I appreciate all of you who worked on this wonderful story, and I will do my best from hereon out to honor it!

Agent Cooper and I at Showtime’s Twin Peaks world premiere at the DTLA’s Ace Theater
Laura Palmer and I at Showtime’s Twin Peaks world premiere at the DTLA’s Ace Theater
One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.