Argumentative Essay Example

What I Thought of Twin Peaks: The Return

Twin Peaks may be one the most mystifying American TV series ever. I don't want to pay lip service without saying something intelligent, so I'd say that I see it as the X-Files of a past when the X-Files series was yet to be. Of course that Twin Peaks is much more than that. And I'm going to prove to the best of my abilities the depth of its more earth-bound, and therefore more humane, take on the unexplained.

I wrote the core of this essay, the argument section, before checking out any of the interpretations published by others. It was going to be an article. When I had written more than 2000 words, the article structure stopped working. Because of that, I decided to write it in an essay format.

I watched seasons one and two of Twin Peaks from late in 2010 and/or 2011, and maybe 2012. I watched The Return very casually, during a span of around five months in early to late 2018. I never read anything on Twin Peaks before writing this essay. Only the occasional short peek (rather than sustained lurk) into online communities of the show.

When I started writing this essay, I peeked into the books about Twin Peaks a few times. I must have read from five of them. Something in the order of twenty pages in total. I didn’t use anything of what I read in those books to substantiate my assumptions. I also briefly visited some of the sites on the web.

What I wanted to express wouldn’t be helped by all the additional canon information of the books and sites. That could radically change the meaning I was getting from having watched only the three seasons of the series.

 twin peaks season 2

Thesis

At the end of Twin Peaks season 2, Cooper traveled to the Black Lodge and his material body was killed by Laura Palmer's Black Lodge tulpa, in one version of the waiting room.

I think that The Return continues the story-lines of the first two seasons, in a vestigial manner. To me, it was quite a deep story about astral planes, soul transplant, and spiritual evolution.

The main astral plane involved in the story is Jowday, a magical realm powerful within a radius of 430 miles from its core.

The Black Lodge and White Lodge operate both inside and outside Jowday’s area of power. Also in the normal waking reality and other realities like the astral planes not tainted by Jowday. Also, they can access the psyche of alive persons and their dreams.

Sometime between 1991 and 2016, Laura Palmer was able to escape the Black Lodge, and improve her situation living as an astral person outside of the Jowday realm. In an astral version of Odessa, Texas.

The last episode shows Cooper’s new existence as a free astral person. His waking to free astral life, after his quarter-century hibernation in the Black Lodge.

If I had to compare my interpretation to previous works, I’d say that the subject is similar to Waking Life (Linklater, 2001), The Fountain (Aronofsky, 2006), and What Dreams May Come (Ward, 1998). Also to The Truman Show (Weir, 1998) to a lesser extent.  I'm sorry for those other works of this type that came before, like This is Not a Movie (Rubio, 2011), that I'm not hundred-percent sure yet, and can't add to this short list.


My Interpretation of Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)


The Black Lodge 

The Black Lodge is a place and a society in an astral plane called Judy/Jowday. A magical realm created by native American sorcerers, corrupted medicine men of the past. The black lodgers were compared to Tibetan dugpas in one of the final chapters of Twin Peaks season 2.

The ones who created it and everyone else that joined or fell under its suzerainty are of (or end up developing) a negative personal nature. They feed on a substance called garmonbozia, that is produced by the suffering of others.

The souls in it may or may not be dead or dreaming people. But they most probably are. I understand the Black Lodge, the place, as all the scenes that happen in the rooms of red curtains adjacent to the waiting room.  In turn, the Black Lodge’s place exists in a bigger, evil realm, Judy or Jowday.

The Black Lodge the group or society. All the characters that appear in the scenes of the waiting room, and rooms connected to it. Except for the White Lodge's double agents, like The Man from Another Place, and Mike. Also, all the other unnamed characters (e.g., the woodsmen) that cross into the physical plane in The Return.


An Astral Unraveling of Cooper’s Soul?

twin peaks season 2 

Cooper entered the Black Lodge through a portal that opened in a certain place during certain planetary conjunction at the end of season 2.

The most important thing that happens in his final visit to the Black Lodge is scene with the the tulpa that looks like Laura. For me, the scene after Cooper meets the tulpa is the key to what that happened to him.

It’s horrifying to realize this meaning: after running away from the tulpa, Cooper appears in one of the red rooms, bleeding. I think that at that moment, he was simply killed. 

That’s, to me, the meaning of his enthrallment in the Black Lodge for a quarter century. His physical body was killed in the astral realm where the black lodgers exist, Judy/Jowday.

To me, this is a fact, due to the existence of, first Bad Dale which is BOB using Cooper’s body (BOB-as-Cooper/Mr C.), and the persistence of the rest of Cooper. To me, this symbolizes the decomposition of Cooper’s being.

The Black Lodge's tulpa of Laura stabs Dale in the dark room. This produces a paradox since he is visiting an immaterial place wearing his mortal coil, not through astral projection/unfoldment, or through a dream. To have his physical body mortally wounded while in an astral dimension kills him, but not completely.

His astral body, mind, and spirit survive, but BOB steals his physical body. BOB escapes the Black Lodge into material reality. After that, BOB's quest became living at his leisure somewhere outside of Jowday, far from the Black Lodge.


The Inverted Fingertips

 The physical body of Dale Cooper is not anymore what it was. The inverted fingerprints of BOB-as-Cooper, are a way to show the change.

What separated from Cooper when he was killed wasn’t his mortal coil proper. It was something else. From the point of view of Hindu metaphysics, it was Cooper’s both astral and physical bodies.

BOB’s gross, reality-violating, inter-dimensional manipulations may have something to do with the fingertip's anomaly.

When persons or entities that aren’t supposed to meddle with the fabric of time and space, like BOB does, do it, random aberrations of reality occur. Like in the Philadelphia Experiment.

The final scene of season 2 meant this to me. When Cooper was awakened in bed by Harry Truman and Donna’s father, BOB had stolen his physical body, but Cooper astral’s body was still attached to it.

This is hinted at by the “How’s Annie?” question. BOB realizes that Cooper’s astral body is still with the physical one because he asks Sheriff Truman for Annie.

I’ll take the Hindu concept of the soul to make sense of that. The planes are between parenthesis.

 

Causal Body: To Evolve With: Ideals/Abstract Thoughts (Higher Mental)
Mental Body: To Think With: Ideas/Concrete Thoughts (Lower Mental)

Astral Body (Subtle): To Feel With: Emotions/Desires (Astral)

Physical Body (Gross): To Act With: Sensorial Reactions/Actions (Physical)

 

Cooper shows feelings asking for Annie. Something that is done through the astral body. That’s what makes BOB realize that Cooper’s astral body is still attached to the physical one. BOB-as-Cooper excuses himself and goes to the bathroom.

In the bathroom, he knocks his head against the mirror repeatedly, making fun of the question that Cooper through his astral body asked Harry.

twin peaks season 2

The black lodgers, especially BOB, are masters of the astral. The meaning I thought was that knocking his head against the mirror repeatedly, BOB is pushing Cooper’s astral body out the Cooper's body. Out of the physical plane. Back to the Black Lodge, where the rest (mind and spirit) of Cooper’s soul is.


Douglas Jones

 

twin peaks: the return

What happens to Douglas Jones is that he’s injected with what’s left of Cooper’s soul (his astral, mental and causal bodies). The rest of Dougie’s being is transplanted to a golden seed by the white lodgers through the agency of Mike.

The meaning of the “someone has manufactured you for a purpose” statement by Mike. To me that means that the past, present, and future of physical reality were doctored by both the White and Black Lodges.

To me, manufactured means that Dougie’s life was watched and controlled as to fulfill all requirements to allow for his body to be used by Cooper. That Dougie was some kind of Truman Burbank of the Twin Peaks universe. The meaning of Dougie wearing the ring is that he was earmarked to fulfill the purpose of lending his physical body to Cooper for a while.

Dougie is kept in the golden seed for most of the series. It takes the remaining of the series for what’s left of Cooper (who’s borrowing Dougie’s body) to relearn to behave in the physical plane. To me, Dougie was simply a person with very similar genetic makeup as to look as Cooper’s twin brother. That’s why he was chosen and manufactured.

For example, one aspect of his manufacture would be that he is a man that patronizes prostitutes. He was made that way for the moment when the swapping of souls occurred. For it to be in an out of sight place.

What happens in the end, and how I got this interpretation, are the events of the last three episodes.

I see Cooper acting through the body of Dougie as a person more astral than material. Cooper’s disappearance a quarter century before was meant to be final. But there was a catch: the escape of BOB in his physical body.

Cooper died in the dark room of the Black Lodge and wasn’t meant to return. Still, the escape of BOB into waking reality made for a hell of an unfinished business.

When the last episode begins, the story forks. Dougie’s soul is returned to him. The events that unfold after Mike and Cooper meet Jeffries unfold in the past and in Judy/Jowday’s realm. Except for the scenes of Sarah stabbing Laura’s portrait and Dougie’s return to his loved ones.


The Physical Twin Peaks of 2016

 

twin peaks: the return



Everything relating to the Black Lodge is astral. To me, every part of the story related to it feels, in some way, astral. BOB, probably one of the original Native American sorcerers that created the Black Lodge, I see him as having the qualities of demon, astral entity and ghost all rolled into one. BOB using Cooper's body has been living freely in the physical plane for a quarter century.

When Good Cooper finally gains full consciousness, in the last three episodes. He returns to Twin Peaks he can’t but act an astral resolution to the story, his story.

I think that the people of Twin Peaks, their remembrance of Cooper, (and the uncertainty about his fate) is what pulls him back to Twin Peaks. This is all very conveniently set up early when the Log Lady calls Hawk.

But the external quest of all the other characters contrasts with Cooper’s and Laura’s internal quests, as I understood them.

Both of them stood hibernating in non-linear time, in the Judy realm, while the rest of the world moved on. It’s shocking to experience the meeting of the two realities as shown in the Sheriff Office’s scene.

After the demise of BOB-as-Coop, Cooper gets in the train of thought of twenty-five years prior. He asks sheriff Frank Truman for the key of room 315’s, at the Great Northern Hotel.

It can’t be plainer to see. Major Garland Briggs told him that Sheriff Truman will give the key to him. Garland had ties with the White Lodge, also operating in the Jowday dimension. Garland had a vantage point of view, and a basic power to manipulate linear time from outside of it.

Garland Briggs was able to escape the Judy dimension with the help of Bill and Ruth. But the black lodgers got him as soon as he returned and decapitated him. That’s why his body was the body of a forty years old Garland, not seventy.

Following Garland instructions, Cooper and Diane go to a neglected version of the Great Northern and enter the room. In room 315 Cooper meets Mike, who says a magical rhyme to him. They phase somewhere else and meet Phillip Jeffries.

Only later I realized that Jeffries is the doorkeeper to a means (Magical? Technological?) for dimensional and time travels.

I guess Jeffries was sucked into the realm where the Black Lodge exists: Judy/Jowday. But he achieved a way to house his consciousness by means of technology in an interstitial place between physical reality and Jowday.

Cooper asks Phillip for the date February 23, 1989. Jeffries casually says that he was working on Judy and if Cooper had asked. Not Cooper nor Mike reply anything, other than ambiguous head nods by Mike.

Jeffries then says to send greetings to Gordon, that he’ll remember the official version. Jeffries informs Cooper that his time jump is ready.

I think that Jeffries’s comment about the official version meant the real version of the story. What happened in the physical world during the twenty-five years gap between Twin Peaks season 2 and Twin Peaks: The Return. Not the version of Jowday/The Lodge/Dead Cooper, the astral one.


February 23rd, 1989

 

twin peaks: the return

 

Cooper saves Laura from her fate in the time-line of the Twin Peaks season 1 and 2. This change of the past spawns a new time-line. One in which Laura Palmer’s body was never found. One in which she simply vanished. Part of Cooper’s unfinished business is completed now. He worked out one of his life most important missions. He solved Laura’s case saving her from being murdered altogether.

To me, this also means that Cooper came to terms with his ghost. The trauma of having lost her pre-Twin Peaks girlfriend tragically.

He used Dougie’s body to, first, travel to the past and save Laura, and then to deal with BOB-as-Cooper. Something that he does with the help of another “manufactured” physical reality person, Freddie.

Back in the waiting room, it’s time to return the body to Dougie. After this happens. Cooper walks through the red rooms and finds Leland Palmer.

Leland tells him to find Laura. Leland is asking from the point of view of someone unrelated to the time-line that Cooper created when he saved her from being murdered. To do something for the Laura stuck between worlds, the version of Laura that was killed. Cooper exits the Black Lodge to...  the astral counterpart of the spot in Ghostwood National Forest where the entrance to the black lodge sometimes appears.

 

Outside of Jowday's Jurisdiction

 

twin peaks: the return

 

The Fireman told Cooper to remember Richard and Linda and 430. In mile 430, Cooper stops the car. I see this point, as the transition from the Jowday astral, to a normal astral plane.

I read it like this. In Hawk’s old Indian map the fire that can be equated with electricity is code for the astral realms. The mixture of black corn with it means a tainted astral realm (Jowday) where the mind-forms of evil sorcerers are the basis for reality. Kind of a manipulated dream/astral matrix, if you will.

Cooper spends the night in a motel with Diane, in the astral realm not tainted by Jowday. When he wakes up, he finds a note in the nightstand. He looks perplexed by the unrelated nature of it. It’s addressed to a Richard, from a Linda, a thing mentioned episode one of The Return.

These were two keywords that The Fireman planted in him. For Cooper to be triggered by the names Richard and Linda. For him to remember that he was now a free astral awareness, acting an astral drama against a negative astral plane manipulated by an old evil. Also, for him to understand Laura’s decision of giving up her previous identity.

The motel that Cooper exists is different from the one in which they passed the night. Also the car is a different car.

This is because the non-tainted astral realm where he is now is not something fixed, but a fluctuating, thought-created reality. The Fireman needed to trigger him, for Cooper to remember he wasn't in the real world, but in a astral plane outside of of the Black Lodge dominion.


The Coffee Shop

 

twin peaks: the return

 

Cooper drives by an astral version of Odessa, Texas. He sees a coffee shop called Judy. This location is a crucial astral backdrop that will help Cooper in his inner journey. He parks and enters it. To me, the coffee shop symbolizes a sort of astral half-way house. It’s meant for those that escaped the Jowday realm. To keep in touch and help each other to transition to existence in astral realms free from Jowday.

Out of the blue, he asks the waiter if there’s another waitress working in the shop, she tells him yes. Cooper saves the waitress from the harassment of a gang of three cowboys. To me, the cowboys were Jowday agents.

Everything seems normal, except for the bizarre thing he does with the guns of the troublemakers after subduing them. That, for me, was another clue about the different nature of the place where the events were happening. This is an astral plane, not physical, thus different laws. Maybe just by doing that, Cooper made them disappear, neutralizing their danger.

 


Carrie/Laura

 

twin peaks: the return

 

Then Cooper travels to the house of the other waitress. She looks like an older Laura Palmer. She doesn't respond to Cooper's question in a conclusive manner. Finally Cooper convinces her to go with him back to Twin Peaks. She makes Cooper enter the house. Then she asks for a minute to get ready to leave.

There’s a corpse with a bullet in the head in the living room. This is a nod to the book The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer.

Cooper doesn’t seem to care. This to me symbolizes the grade of detachment of an evolved soul bent on an inner personal journey. He understood the cryptic teachings of Mike and The Fireman. Also, the carelessness of Carrie, when she lets an FBI agent enter her house, where she’s keeping a murder victim’s corpse, means something to me. The laws of waking reality don’t seem to apply here.

Consequently, both the logic and behavior of the astral persons are very different to what we are used to in waking/alive reality.

Both know that they are living an astral existence. A reality in which form is just clay to be modeled by the astral persons at their leisure. Something without any other consequence other than that, an appearance.


The Astral Twin Peaks of 2016

 

twin peaks: the return

 

When they arrive at the astral reflection of 2016 Twin Peaks, Carrie doesn’t seem to remember anything. They arrive at Laura Palmer’s house.

They walk to the door, and Cooper knocks it. Alice Tremond receives them. Cooper asks for Sarah Palmer. The woman says no one by that name lives there.

Then Cooper asks about the house. He is told that a Mrs. Chalfont sold it to them. Then Cooper asks Alice if they know from whom did Mrs. Chalfont buy it. Alice replies that they, she and her partner, don’t know.

Carrie and Cooper leave. Once they reach the road Cooper stops. He turns around and watches the house. Carrie watches him. Cooper asks, “What year is this?”

Carrie takes a look at the house, and she hears her mother calling her. Then she screams. When she does it, the lights go out, first the house’s and then total blackness.

 

Alice Tremond


To me, Alice is Mrs. Tremond/Chalfont living in the astral Twin Peaks of 2016. This needed a serious recap. Mrs. Chalfont/Tremond and her grandson Pierre where spirits of the White Lodge acting as double agents. They could appear as normal people. Their mission was delivering overt and subtle messages to the characters of Twin Peaks season 2.

Could it have been that because Mrs. Tremond and her grandson helped Laura greatly, that the White Lodge awarded her with the astral reflection of the Palmer house?

Nobody of its original occupants could inhabit the astral version of the house. Leland was still stuck in the Black Lodge. Sarah was still alive, and Laura was existing as an astral woman outside Jowday’s radius of influence, in an astral version of Texas.

Alice Tremond knew who they were. Her denial and brushing them off unceremoniously meant that, once again, she was working on their interest. That they didn’t have anything to do going back to (astral) Twin Peaks after a quarter century. Back to a place still under Jowday’s power.

 

Final Thoughts

 

Cooper’s question about the year meant to me that not just Laura had moved on. Everyone else had, even the astral counterpart of Twin Peaks.

What about Laura’s scream and voluntary darkening of the house and then whole scene? It means to me her disappointment at being lowered back to something she had already worked out of her system.

Laura, as Carrie, had lived in a free astral plane for years. She was far more advanced than Cooper in spiritual evolution. Due to Cooper’s disadvantage of having his physical body stolen by BOB and being deprived of all hope of escape from the Black Lodge and Jowday until BOB was dealt with.

At some point in time, Laura must have achieved whatever she needed to escape the Black Lodge first, and then Jowday.

But Cooper was only then, in 2016, freed from it. He needed her to work out the last remaining portion of his Twin Peaks karma. Their existence after that, I rather not speculate about it.

Something that isn’t explained happened at the end of season 2. When it ends and one is left with the impression that Cooper was stuck in the lodge.

Like I wrote in previous sections, what I think happened, but shown very ambiguously, is that Cooper was killed. Stabbed with something by the tulpa.

twin peaks: season 2

Soon after the tulpa scene, when Cooper walks to another room and realizes he’s bleeding, we meet BOB-as-Cooper/Mr C. for the first time. I think that maybe Mr C. represents the material body of Cooper once he lost it.

In the Black Lodge, in season 2, after Cooper was killed. When Bad Dale and BOB laugh evilly together, it’s just BOB animating the body before going all the way and possessing it. BOB-as-Coop, possessing Dale’s body, escaped at the end of season 2. But the other three-quarters of Cooper’s being were stuck in the Black Lodge for twenty-five years, unable to move on.

In the coffee shop, the White Lodge facilitates Cooper with a means to come to terms with his state. They send him to meet another astral person who escaped the Black Lodge. The soul that once was Laura Palmer. Carrie has Laura’s soul, continuing her existence as an astral woman, but having moved on from her previous identity. But a question emerges.

Why does she, even having transitioned to a free astral realm, didn't move on, like Cooper? After all, notwithstanding that she was connected to BOB, nothing like what BOB did with Cooper happened to her.

I guess it’s because the soul of the Laura Palmer in the time-line in which she was murdered, had a destiny that was disrupted by her murder.

It’s creepy to think this. It's believed that those that suffer an unnatural death are stuck in interstitial astral realms similar to the planes we visit in dreams.

In the astral Odessa, she was burning up all the karmic dross from her life as Laura. Living as a free astral woman for an indeterminate quantity of time. Probably until the year Laura Palmer would have lived if she wasn’t murdered.

 

 

Other Theses

Alex Fulton

An out-of-the-box, unexpected approach. In around 6000 words he calls attention to a hidden synergy between the two last episodes. To how an integrated meaning can be culled from such experience.

But unless this was intentionally planned by Mark Frost and David Lynch it’s too far-fetched to me. If it wasn't intentional, the definition of Alex Fulton’s interpretation would be, the matrixing or pareidolic approach.

It was a cheap approach, like watching The Wizard of Oz muted, with The Dark Side of The Moon as the soundtrack. Side note: I did something like this once, but it was just for fun. I watched Hitlerjunge Quex (Steinhoff, 1932) muted, with a record by Utah Saints on random, in the background. Believe me on this, it made all the sense, and I’m confident to say that my interpretation was a take on the Nazi’s obsession with technology.

But to do something like this, I don’t think it has much value because it invents its own method of interpretation. Instead of trying to make sense using established schools or systems of thought. To pick a random reading out of a desperate need to find meaning, while lacking solid knowledge schemes in which to fit the said meaning.

In contrast, I chose Hinduism to make sense of it. Others picked a Buddhist approach, informed by the Tibetan Book of The Dead and the bardo stages.

I read superficially the interpretations that align it with the bardo stages of the Tibetan Book of the dead. They made way more sense than any of the secular ones I chose for the refutations section of this essay.

Of the four articles that I chose to read, to compare the understanding of others with mine’s, this one is the only one that appears to be better thought-out.

Now my question, what about the persons who watched it on Netflix? You can’t load Netflix in two browsers in the same computer and watch two movies at the same time. At least not without some kind of proxy, or VPN or similar kludge.


Dom Nero

I don’t agree that in any moment of Twin Peaks: The Return Cooper is “finally freed”, he’s freed of his enthrallment to the Black Lodge. Even if after mile 430 he is further freed, in leaving Jowday's zone of influence, if there’s something he is not is free.

To me the events after the time jump are plain. How Dougie’s body is returned to him, and the things that happen after that aren’t “implausible.” They aren’t somebody with a modest knowledge of the architecture of the cosmos like me.

At the end of his think piece, he misses the point entirely. That “whoever you are and your past stay with you forever.”

For astral persons that died violently, it is already hard to realize that they are dead. Even if they do it, they might spend ages in astral realms, creating their own realities.

Dom Nero couldn’t specify, the location of the Palmer house in episode 18. That he doesn’t know where the characters are (an astral realm tainted by Jowday), doesn’t mean that it should be that way.

You can let your interpretation be an abstract ambiguity. But if you see a pattern, as I did, why not going the whole way without exhausting all ideas. Hopefully, he will someday update his think piece into a more conclusive essay.

 

Richard Brody

Maybe the objective of this article was writing a take on the meaning of the ending of Twin Peaks: The Return but in an open-ended, speculative way.

To me is not much more than a fluffed concealment of his lack of capacity to focus on what he promises in the title. Instead, he gives us a general review of the whole series with several tangents I see as unrelated. Like his rant on violence.

If you can go past the walls of text, and read the whole article you will find out something. You’ll see how he weaves the story components that he chose into a vaguely making-sense scheme, but the words he uses are gross generalizations and not very concise or objective.

“Supernatural transformation”, “Evil Twin”, “Awakening”, “Kind of a walking-trance”, really?

Richard Brody’s open-ended article lost me with his take on Laura Palmer scream. “Was a relieving of repressed traumas outside of a therapeutic framework.”

 

Zach Scharf

The problem with Zach Scharf’s take is that he personalizes Judy. The greater evil behind the Black Lodge is not seen as a realm. This creates a void that makes explaining the another-dimensional concepts of the story much harder.

I don't agree with what he wrote, that “Carrie is Laura taken somewhere else by Judy”. I think that after 25 years Laura had enough contact with the Black and White Lodgers to learn how to, at the very least, escape the Black Lodge.

Also, Judy doesn't “eliminate Laura from the time-line”. What happens is that Cooper saves her, this causes a modification of the time-line in which she wasn’t killed.

 

 

Conclusion

 

twin peaks: the return

 

I always liked the idea of interpreting David Lynch, but never thought I’d actually do it and share it with others. I saw it as a very daunting task, and a fool’s errand at the same time. But the ending of The Return was something too overwhelming for me to let it pass. That ending felt in such a way, that only after 3500 words I felt that I had, somewhat, translated to words what the ending made me think.

I confess that I didn't understand much for most of the series. It all made sense to me in the last two episodes. I wouldn’t impose this interpretation on anyone, and wouldn't care about seeing it refuted by others, like I did. I just thought it’d be cool to share it.

© 2018 Wensley Evolo

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