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Twin Peaks Season 3 Finale Explained (Spoiler Alert)

If you've ever wondered, here's what really happened.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

The owls are not what they seem.

After watch­ing sea­son 3 of Twin Peaks, I felt empty and dis­sat­is­fied as a fan for many years. So many side stor­ies left unanswered — Audrey Horne’s story especially. 

And Dale Cooper’s fail­ure to defeat Judy, the ulti­mate evil? Ouch.

A few days passed, and little by little, two ques­tions star­ted to form in my head:

  • What if David Lynch and Mark Frost gave us answers to everything?
  • What if each scene is cru­cial to the main plot?

Let’s dive right in:

Lucy Brennan is No Dimwit”

And out of all the char­ac­ters, the lovely Lucy Brennan sparked my interest.

Here’s why:

In the finale, Lucy accepts that there are two Coopers (one good, one bad) based on a brief tele­phone call with the real Dale Cooper. To me, this made no sense.

Bear in mind that Lucy has severe dif­fi­culties with the concept of how cell phones work (let alone the idea of dop­pel­gängers) — but still, she imme­di­ately picked up a gun (she’s not a viol­ent per­son, mind you) to blow Mr C (the evil Cooper) away.

Lucy Brennan Twin Peaks Season 3
Lucy. With a vengeance.

Was this just sloppy storytelling?

As a char­ac­ter, Lucy would only use a gun to hurt someone if she knew that that per­son had severely hurt someone she loved. As a devoted Lucy fan, I knew that that just had to be true. She’s no dimwit.

If so, here’s the ques­tion that sparked my Twin Peaks theory:

  • What on Earth could Mr C have done to hurt Lucy that bad?

An Actor To Play a Devoted Son

Above all else, Lucy and her hus­band, Andy Brennan, love their son — Wally Brando. The third sea­son of Twin Peaks did go to great lengths to demon­strate their love. Wally only made one appear­ance on the show, but gosh, what an appear­ance he made!

Wally, who shows up on his motor­bike, is inspired by Marlon Brando, which is quite the cliché for a Lynch/​Frost character. 

For some reas­on, Wally must pay his respects to Sheriff Truman in a man­ner­ism that could only be described as an attempt at act­ing out a bad script. 

Why, why, and why?

The Fake Photograph on Lucy’s Desk

In one of Lucy’s earli­er scenes in the third sea­son, we see a pho­to­graph on her desk por­tray­ing her family.

Twin Peaks Wally Brando Picture 1
Fake news.
Twin Peaks Wally Brando Picture 2
Lousy Photoshop skills, anyone?

Except it’s a fam­ily with poorly made cutouts of their heads, thus sug­gest­ing that some­thing is ser­i­ously false about their fam­ily—some­thing that Lucy and Andy appar­ently can­’t deal with.

We know Mr C wreaked hav­oc in Dale Cooper’s absence, right? 

What if Mr C killed Lucy’s and Andy’s real son? However ter­rible this thought is even to con­sider, it does add up:

Lucy stopped evolving. Unable to cope, Lucy would repress her memor­ies and find it even more dif­fi­cult to evolve with the times. She did struggle to cope with tech­no­logy — she nev­er under­stood the concept of cell phones des­pite 25 years of work­ing as a receptionist.

The bad act­ing. To help, the ori­gin­al Sheriff Truman hired an act­or to play Lucy and Andy’s son. The nar­rat­ive: Wally’s out and about exper­i­en­cing amaz­ing adven­tures and lov­ing his par­ents very much — but still, he’s being so weird and dis­tant in their presence.

Time to clean out their dead son’s room. The first Sheriff Truman then charged the second Sheriff Truman to man­age the situ­ation, ensur­ing that Wally paid his “par­ents” the occa­sion­al vis­it. This meet­ing aims to allow Lucy and Andy to clean Wally’s room. Have they kept it as a shrine?

Sheriff Truman shakes his head. “Wally” is not Lucy and Andy’s nat­ur­al son, just an aspir­ing act­or (and not a superb one) try­ing to earn a few extra bucks now and then. But des­pite the awk­ward­ness, you can see how Sheriff Truman and “Wally” are taken aback by the ser­i­ous­ness of the situation.

Deep down, Lucy knows the truth. Right after Lucy shoots Mr C, she under­stands how cell phones work, indic­at­ing that she is back to her senses. And deep down, I sus­pect, she knows her son is dead.

I watched the Wally scene again with this new the­ory in mind. And it con­vinced me:

The Hypothesis: Mr C Killed Lucy and Andy’s Real Son

Suddenly, every line of dia­logue in the Wally scene seems brimmed with unspeak­able pain behind Lucy’s and Andy’s smil­ing faces. As I’m watch­ing this scene again, it stands out as one of the dark­er I’ve ever seen on television.

And the scene beau­ti­fully fore­shad­ows Lucy’s bold actions in tak­ing out Mr C, the most cent­ral of the dark char­ac­ters in the sea­son. 1The fan thread on Reddit has people sug­gest­ing that Wally Brando is an act­or, too. However, this the­ory isn’t well-received; most fans seem to find it too dark — but no one asks how the real Wally … Continue read­ing

If I had been so wrong about Wally Brando the first time I watched sea­son 3, I had to ask myself:

  • Had I been wrong about everything in Twin Peak’s sea­son 3?

I had to go over it all again.

What Year is This?”

So, what did I think happened in the last epis­ode? In the Twin Peaks sea­son 3 finale, here’s what I first thought went down:

Dale has a plan, but it isn’t to defeat Mr C. and send him back. As events unfold, Mr C will be shot by Lucy, and the Guy with the Glove will punch out the BOB orb. Dale’s real mis­sion in Twin Peaks is the key to his old room at The Great Northern; he plans to find the final piece of the puzzle and put his and Major Briggs’ ori­gin­al plan back into play.

Dale finds Philip Jeffries in his “non-exist­ent” state, and Jeffries opens a door­way in the infin­ite time loop. Cooper travels back in time to save Laura Palmer from being murdered, but some­thing hap­pens, and she dis­ap­pears. Cooper travels back, meets up with Diane, and they travel to a portal per The Fireman’s cryptic instruc­tions. They go through the portal, and in the altern­ate uni­verse where they emerge, they find Laura with memory loss.

Cooper ignores the murdered man on “Laura’s” sofa, maybe because he under­stands that everything Laura does is on him, too, or because he got a big­ger fish to fry; the evil Judy resid­ing with­in Sarah Palmer, Laura’s mom. Cooper takes Laura to Sarah’s house, poten­tially to make sure that Laura des­troys Judy. But neither Sarah nor Judy is there. Bummer.

By sav­ing Laura, Cooper cre­ated an altern­ate timeline, and now he’s forever stuck there while Judy is still in the ori­gin­al timeline. Cooper slowly real­ises that he seems to have ended up in the wrong place by asking:

What year is this?”

Game over. Judy wins. Laura screams in ter­ror. The end.

But this does­n’t seem right, I think. This is wrong!

Laura: The Fireman’s Scream Weapon

I had to watch the Twin Peaks sea­son 3 end­ing again:

At the end of the finale, all the lights going out in the Palmer res­id­ence sug­gest that both Dale and Laura suc­ceeded in ful­filling their story arcs — by killing Judy.

Right before Laura screams, there’s a faint call, almost sound­ing as if Sarah is shout­ing “Laura” from afar (which she also shouts in the first sea­son before meet­ing BOB). 

Whatever this cue makes Laura remem­ber, it makes her scream at the top of her lungs, com­pletely knock­ing out all the elec­tri­city in the house. 

If Judy was in the house, would this have killed Judy? 

Yes. Yes, it would!

Here’s why: Laura was the Fireman’s weapon sent to Earth to kill Judy.

Twin Peaks - Laura Palmer - Screaming - Scream Weapon
Screaming is Laura’s weapon.

How does one kill Judy, the ulti­mate evil? 

According to fan for­ums, Judy derives from jiào dé, Chinese for “to outshout.” 

Perhaps that’s why Laura’s been scream­ing through­out the series — it’s her weapon against the ulti­mate evil; all her emo­tions are com­pressed into one dev­ast­at­ing blow. 

Sound and sound waves are recur­ring themes through­out the series. Maybe the kin­ship between sound and elec­tri­city as wave­forms allows travel between worlds and be used as weapons?

We might be onto some­thing here. Let’s dig deep­er, shall we?

That Bug in Sarah’s Throat? Laura!

Did The Fireman fore­see the com­ing of events and plant his weapon against Judy, i.e. Laura and her scream, on Earth? 

It seems like he did. In the black-and-white epis­ode, when humans acci­dent­ally punched a hole through dimen­sions using nuc­le­ar bombs, the Fireman did send a bug, and that bug crawled down Sarah’s throat the year before Laura was born, remember?

Twin Peaks - Sarah Palmer - Frogmoth
Sarah Palmer’s frog-moth.

And this is prob­ably why evil forces had Laura killed in the first place; after all, she was human­kind’s only weapon against Judy. 

With Laura dead, The Fireman had to orches­trate an elab­or­ate scheme to out­man­oeuvre Judy and her min­ions while at the same time guid­ing Cooper back in time to retrieve Laura at the exact right time.

Remember, Laura is the Dreamer

Ponder this:

In the final epis­ode of sea­son 3, Dale and Diane did­n’t travel to anoth­er timeline but rather into Laura’s dream.

It has been sug­ges­ted that the Laura that Cooper and Diane go to find is an altern­ate-timeline ver­sion of Laura, but that the­ory does­n’t add up.

First, that would be lazy storytelling, and that’s not what Frost and Lynch are about. 

Secondly, Laura gets her memory back in the final scene, which means that she is the real Laura, the Laura that Dale went back in time to save.

Two crit­ic­al questions:

  • Who took Laura from Cooper’s hand that night in the woods 25 years ago?
  • And why, then, hide Laura away in a dream to live out 25 shitty years?

There’s a famil­i­ar sound before Laura van­ishes into thin air in the forest scene. It’s the same sound The Fireman plays to Dale while clearly instruct­ing him, “remem­ber this sound.” 

Alas, the Fireman, Laura’s cre­at­or, was the one who took her away from Cooper right there in the forest. 

Complicated? Yes. Lynchian? Yes.

Let’s ana­lyse Laura and Dale’s joint jour­ney again:

Laura gets murdered by evil forces in Twin Peaks. Cooper man­ages to dis­turb these evil forces, but he is pos­sessed by BOB, turn­ing him into Mr C. The Fireman “saved” Cooper by keep­ing his mind with him for 25 years. 

After 25 years, the time comes to deal the fin­ish­ing blow to Judy. The Fireman rein­states Cooper into a dop­pel­gänger, Doug.

After being dis­or­i­ent­ated for a while, Dale is sent back in time to save Laura from being murdered.

But then, right there in the woods, Laura is taken away by the Fireman. 

Now, it’s Laura’s turn to be stashed away with a memory wipe for 25 years while every­one else’s life in Twin Peaks pro­ceeds as if Laura’s body was nev­er found. It explains why the diner in Laura’s dream ver­sion of Twin Peaks has the ori­gin­al sign still: 

Being “tucked away” for 25 years, Laura would­n’t know about the diner­’s fran­chise efforts and thus would­n’t know about the new sign. (We would­n’t either if Lynch and Frost had­n’t shown us the story of Norma’s expan­sion plans.)

All of this must have been fore­seen by the Fireman. Laura even told Cooper in a dream, “I’ll see you in 25 years.” Meaning: Cooper will get to see Laura again when he has saved her from being murdered and then, 25 years later, travels into her dream to meet with her.

Rather than solv­ing her murder, it seems like Cooper suc­ceeded in sav­ing Laura Palmer’s life. Not bad, right?

We Are Like the Dreamer Who Dreams”

Dreaming” is a famil­i­ar Twin Peaks concept, and since elec­tric sig­nals in our brains cre­ate them, it makes sense for them to be more eas­ily access­ible to spirits.

Is it plaus­ible to even think that the Fireman would have the power to put Laura inside a dream for 25 years?

Twin Peaks - Season 3 - Another Monica Bellucci Dream
From Gordon’s dream: The woman (Monica Belluci) is talk­ing about Laura!

The café scene with Gordon Cole states it clearly:

We are like the dream­er who dreams and then lives inside the dream.”

Okay. Let’s go with the idea that Laura is the dream­er who lives inside her dream.

How 25 Years Passed in Laura’s Dream

When Dale wakes up alone and walks out­side at the motel in Laura’s dream, the motel looks com­pletely dif­fer­ent. It seems as if 25 years have passed overnight.

Twin Peaks Season 3 Finale Explained - Spoiler Alert
25 years older.

And when he finally meets Laura, she’s 25 years older, too.

Let’s kill two birds (evils) with one stone (weapon):

The Fireman’s plan is auda­cious; have Dale travel back in time and find Laura (the stone), use her as a weapon against Judy (bird one), and close the portal in the Palmer res­id­ence to stop fur­ther evils from enter­ing the real world (bird two). 

But, this is the tricky part; the Fireman needs Judy to fol­low Cooper and Diane through the elec­tric portal—and into Laura’s dream that Judy does­n’t know exists.

In short: Cooper and Diane must lure Judy into Laura’s dream. 

How? Well, here’s how:

The Garmonbozia Lure to Trap Judy

At the motel in Laura’s dream, the night before the pas­sage of 25 years, Dale and Diane have sex. Not pas­sion­ate sex, but rather a duti­ful and emo­tion­ally pain­ful act, even.

And here’s the kicker:

Cooper and Diane must have sex, even though it pains Cooper to ask this of Diane. She does care for Cooper deeply, but it’s also reas­on­able to assume that she was pre­vi­ously raped by Mr C. Having sex with Cooper would force her to relive that pain.

The Fireman’s idea is that their shared pain, in com­bin­a­tion with sex, will lure Judy to fol­low them into Laura’s dream. 

Why is this pain­ful act so irres­ist­ible for Judy?

Sex and pain are the ulti­mate nour­ish­ment for all dark forces in Twin Peaks, includ­ing Judy. 

In the third sea­son’s open­ing, we’re wait­ing to see a glimpse of the super­nat­ur­al in a big glass box, but it isn’t until a couple has sex in front of it that a female shad­ow appears — and kills them. 

Lodge spir­its feed on human fear and suf­fer­ing; the neg­at­ive energy nour­ishes them… and it’s called Garmonbozia.

Garmonbozia is a golden sub­stance that looks like creamed corn, and it’s men­tioned in this scene from Fire Walk with Me:

Phillip Jeffries does­n’t know what year it is.

Sex and pain seem typ­ic­ally linked to neg­at­ive energy in Lynchian storytelling:

Both Laura and Ronette Pulaski were raped, too. If Mr C raped Diane — was she his only vic­tim of sexu­al assault?

Which, of course, leads us to Audrey.

Waking Up: Audrey’s Comatose State

The idea of liv­ing inside dreams could also explain Audrey’s storyline. We know that she sur­vived the explo­sion at the bank but that she ended up in a coma.

Let’s think about that for a second.

We nev­er see Audrey wake up from her coma in the third sea­son. We only get to see her liv­ing some­where strange where Charlie guards her. 

Perhaps Charlie is one of the Fireman’s “watch­ers” tasked with keep­ing an eye on Audrey? If so, Audrey’s entire sea­son 3 storyline was inside her dream. Which, of course, would sug­gest that Audrey nev­er woke up from the coma.

But what about Audrey’s son then, the mean-spir­ited brat Richard Horne? And this is where the dark­ness gives rise to more darkness:

  • What if Mr C raped Audrey while she was in a coma?
  • And what if she gave birth to her son, Richard, while still unconscious?

If so, Audrey would still be dream­ing in her uncon­scious state. A dream in which she’s gone just a little bit crazy — not unlikely, giv­en her fam­ily history. 

Also, noth­ing in Audrey’s “real­ity” seems to sug­gest that she’s liv­ing in an authen­t­ic, mod­ern world — nor does she seem even aware of ever hav­ing (or los­ing) a son.

In her dream state, Audrey tries to get to the Roadhouse, a com­mon portal in the world of Twin Peaks. She’s anxious and eager to get out of her state, but she, like Laura, must wait for 25 years before the Fireman’s tim­ing is right.

At the Roadhouse, she must mani­fest Garmonbozia to “break the spell” — her sexy dance, the bar fight, and panic. 

When she says to Charlie, which likely is her watch­er com­mis­sioned by The Fireman, “Let me out of here!” she wants out of her comatose state. 

And this is why Audrey, in her final scene, wakes up in a clin­ic­al envir­on­ment wear­ing white — she’s just woken up at the hos­pit­al after being comatose for 25 years.

As it all comes togeth­er, a few remain­ing ques­tions about Laura still need to be answered. 

Who Answered the Door in Laura’s Dream?

So, let’s leave Audrey and return to the final scenes with Laura and Dale stand­ing out­side the Palmer res­id­ence inside Laura’s dream. 

Judy is likely to have fol­lowed Cooper and Diane into the dream, a place “between two worlds”.

The woman who opens the door to Laura and Dale ini­tially seems ran­dom. But two names are dis­closed, Mrs Tremond/​Chalfont. In Twin Peaks lore, those are not just ran­dom names; they are thought to belong to a gen­er­ous lodge spir­it. 2The woman who opens the door presents her­self as Alice Chalfont. There are plenty of clues to sug­gest that she’s Mrs Tremond. She has changed her body once before in the series; some might remem­ber … Continue read­ing

Mrs Tremond-Chalfont and Pierre Tremond - Twin Peaks
Mrs Tremond and her grand­son, Pierre Tremond.

Maybe the Fireman had Mrs Tremond/​Chalfont guard the portal or pre­vent Laura from return­ing through the portal dur­ing those 25 years? Perhaps they were “watch­ers” like Charlie, who was tasked with stop­ping Audrey from going to the Roadhouse too soon?

I think Mrs Tremond/​Chalfont knew who Laura and Dale were when she opened the door. And I think she knew, as per the Fireman’s instruc­tions, that Judy would soon appear in the house and that their sac­ri­fice was near­ing. After all, the good forces only had “one chance” for Laura’s scream weapon to do its job.

Except for Dale, who still seems con­fused. Why isn’t Cooper in tune with the exact details of The Fireman’s plan? 

Well, the Fireman isn’t pre­cisely known for speak­ing plainly. He’s a need-to-know type of char­ac­ter. He prob­ably just instruc­ted Cooper to go through the portal, have sex with Diane, and take Laura to her house — all of which he did.

What Happened in Twin Peaks When Laura Disappeared Instead of Being Found Murdered?

If my the­ory is true, what happened in Twin Peaks after Laura dis­ap­peared in the forest instead of being found murdered?

Dale Cooper - Twin Peaks - Season 3
Sorry Coop, you saved her, but Laura “had to go” that night.

Well, Pete Martell did­n’t find her lying dead and wrapped in plastic on the beach, but instead, Laura just van­ished in the forest that night after her fight with James Hurley. 

So, Leland Palmer nev­er murdered Laura in the altered timeline. 

Things would sure be “dif­fer­ent”, as fore­shad­owed by Dale in his final vis­it to the Twin Peaks sher­iff’s office. Not per­fect, but a lot bet­ter without Judy — all thanks to Cooper, Laura, Major Briggs, and The Fireman.

If any­thing, I sin­cerely hope that Lucy and Andy’s real son is alive and well in the new ver­sion of Twin Peaks.

If two people ever deserved a good life, it’s Lucy and Andy!

The Fate of Coop, Diane, and Laura

It seems as if the Fireman has placed dop­pel­gängers for both Cooper and Diane in Laura’s dream. Diane already saw her dop­pel­gänger out­side the motel and some­how figured out their names — Linda and Richard. 

The Fireman men­tioned Linda and Richard to Cooper early in sea­son 3, so these dop­pel­gängers are there per the Fireman’s design.

Since Diane’s dop­pel­gänger was wait­ing for her at the motel, it’s plaus­ible that Diane went out to speak with “her­self” later that night when Cooper was asleep. 

It’s fair to assume that Diane’s dop­pel­gänger instruc­ted her to write a note to Cooper with The Fireman’s second clue.

Finally, will Cooper, Diane, and Laura, with the aid of the Fireman, ever be able to return to the real world? 

Dale does­n’t even know what year he’s in, he’s inside Laura’s dream, or Layra just killed Judy and closed the portal. He’s been in and out of lodges, dreams, and time loops for two con­sec­ut­ive quar­ters of a cen­tury now — he’s under­stand­ably a bit confused. 

However, I’m not too worried.

Audrey was able to get back to the real world from her dream. And the dreams, des­pite being Laura’s in this case, seem to be super­vised by the Fireman.

Bringing It All Together: The Lynch/​Frost Way

Lynch and Frost show us that they can tell a story without edit­ing out all the pecu­li­ar­it­ies because those idio­syn­crasies are the stuff that matters.

After all, Lynch and Frost could’ve just brought Dale back in the first epis­ode of sea­son 3. But in this uni­verse, trav­el­ling between worlds is no easy feat. 

I under­stand now that not a single frame in Twin Peaks is out of place or super­flu­ous — they all serve a cent­ral pur­pose for the plot.

I’ll leave you with a few words by David Lynch himself:

Everybody has the­or­ies about what the show is about, which is great, and it would­n’t mat­ter if I explained my the­ory,” Lynch writes. “Things have har­mon­ics, and if you’re true to an idea as much as you can be, then the har­mon­ics will be there, and they’ll be truth­ful even though they may be abstract. You could come back in ten years and see it in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way, and you may see more in it — that poten­tial is there if you’ve been true to that ori­gin­al idea.”

Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please con­sider shar­ing my pub­lic rela­tions blog with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. If you have ques­tions (or want to retain my PR ser­vices), please con­tact me at jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

1 The fan thread on Reddit has people sug­gest­ing that Wally Brando is an act­or, too. However, this the­ory isn’t well-received; most fans seem to find it too dark — but no one asks how the real Wally would’ve died, then. On the point of dark­ness: Mr C wreaked hav­oc in Cooper’s absence, pos­sibly rap­ing and impreg­nat­ing a comatose Audrey Horne (and thus spawn­ing the dis­turbed Richard Jr) and pos­sibly rap­ing Diane. If that’s the level of dark­ness, mur­der­ing Lucy and Andy’s son sure would fit the bill. Mr C’s crimes were unspeak­able, so Lynch could’ve decided to only hint at them as a storytelling device.
2 The woman who opens the door presents her­self as Alice Chalfont. There are plenty of clues to sug­gest that she’s Mrs Tremond. She has changed her body once before in the series; some might remem­ber her appear­ance when she was liv­ing next door to the unfor­tu­nate Harold. And she has a habit of hav­ing her name inspired by those who lived in her house before; it also happened with the name Chalfont in Fat Trout Trailer Park. She is a lodge spir­it, but she was help­ful to Laura and refused “creamed corn” delivered by Donna’s Meals on Wheels. So, assum­ing she’s pre­pared to help Laura defeat Judy is reas­on­able. But we know her grand­son has a mean streak, so she pre­tends she does­n’t recog­nise Laura and Cooper.
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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