Twin Peaks: The Return – Cooper Goes Home

Twin Peaks: The Return ended recently on Showtime in a way that left viewers baffled. Frankly, the ending made many viewers mad. It seemed to portray Special Agent Dale Cooper as a bitter shell of himself, lost and helpless in another dimension. His efforts across the decades appear to have failed and left the town of Twin Peaks in disarray. We were left hanging. Some people just got disgusted and gave up. Others have pondered and discussed and developed their own theories.

Much has been written about the ending. It will probably be discussed for decades. The discussions in my home have led to an interpretation that amounts to a happy ending which I would like to share. If you haven’t seen all of Twin Peaks: The Return stop reading this now and return here if you feel lost after viewing the entire presentation.

The first two seasons of Twin Peaks followed by the movie Fire Walk with Me introduced us to quirky characters, sinister and evil characters, and the influence of shadow people from another dimension called dugpas. Duplicate human beings called doppelgangers also exist and evil spirits can inhabit people.

The third season, called Twin Peaks: The Return, released 27 years later but primarily depicting a time 25 years later, introduced many more strange, evil, and generally messed up characters. It also acquainted us with surreal dimensions to which one can travel accompanied by the sounds of sparks and electricity buzzing. A major plot point is the introduction of tulpas, people manufactured for a purpose. Dougie Jones, a tulpa manufactured essentially to hold a place and being helped through life by Phillip Gerard/Mike and the Evolution of the Arm, was a major character.

Two Birds with One Stone
Cooper’s mission was ambiguously described as “Two Birds with One Stone.” The birds were Bob and Judy. Laura was created by the Fireman to eliminate Bob and Judy. Bob was drawn to Laura and inhabited her father, Leland, while trying to move into her. When Laura put on the owl cave ring, Bob could not inhabit her. In rage, he killed her.

In season 3, Cooper had to find Laura. Ultimately, he went back into the past and prevented her murder. She ends up living as Carrie Page in an alternate dimension, working as a waitress at Judy’s restaurant in Odessa, Texas. Bob inhabited Cooper’s doppelganger and Judy inhabited Laura’s mother, Sarah.

Cooper prevents Laura’s murder twice in season 3. Each time, she is whisked away as we hear the Fireman’s sounds.

Life in the town of Twin Peaks resets. Pete Martel doesn’t find Laura Palmer’s body wrapped in plastic. He gets to go fishing.

In the final episode, Cooper is moving from one dimension to another in a manner similar to that experienced by Phillip Jeffries in the Fire Walk with Me movie. He enters a one story motel but when he exits the room, the motel has two stories. He gets in a car, different from the one he drove there, and drives away. Perhaps Cooper is destined to become a tea pot at the Dutchman’s someday.

He continues trying to save Laura to combat Judy and everything he does affects life in Twin Peaks. That is why Twin Peaks is so bizarre. Things are just not right there as depicted in the 3rd season.

James is not cool. Audrey is in a mental hospital and Bobby is a sheriff’s deputy. We saw Bobby murder a sheriff’s deputy in Fire Walk with Me. It just doesn’t make sense for him to now be a deputy 25 years later.

Cooper’s goal was to go home and it would take something very special to complete his mission so he could go home.

The Glass Box
Early in season 3 we see the strange glass box in New York. Sam and Tracey have sex and summon Judy to the box. (Sex majick was a part of Jack Parson’s method for summoning the Mother of Abominations who we now know as Judy.) Later we see Cooper’s evil doppelganger trapped in a box by the Fireman and transported from the portal near Jack Rabbit’s Palace to the sheriff’s station parking lot.

I believe that Cooper’s tulpa, Richard and Diane’s tulpa, Linda entered a large box created by the Fireman when they traveled 430 miles. Richard and Linda had ritual sex to summon Judy. Linda left having fulfilled her role and Richard continued on the mission ultimately finding Laura in Odessa. In this dimension, Laura remembered nothing about her past.

When Richard/Cooper takes Carrie/Laura to her childhood home in Twin Peaks, Sarah Palmer no longer lives there. The owners of the home are named Tremond and they bought the house from a Mrs. Chalfont. These are names we know are associated with the convenience store, Bob, the Woodsmen, garmonbozia, and electricity.

Richard/Cooper and Carrie/Laura walk back toward the car confused. As Carrie/Laura remembers more and more of her past, she hears her mother’s voice calling from the house. She finally remembers everything and screams. The garmonbozia produced by her pain causes the box to disintegrate. Judy is eliminated but Carrie/Laura and Richard/Cooper are also eliminated and no longer exist. Not a happy ending, right? Evil is defeated for the moment but the heroes of the story sacrifice themselves.

Laura was the one. Her purpose was to defeat evil. She fulfilled her purpose. But we saw Cooper save her twice. There is still another Laura somewhere. Did Cooper die?

Manufactured for a Purpose

No, Cooper did not die. He returned to life with Janey-E and Sonny Jim! We only saw the “real” Agent Cooper for a few minutes following Dougie waking from the coma. After he said goodbye to Janey-E and Sonny Jim, he launched a chain of events where his tulpa (and a Diane tulpa — remember Diane was watching her tulpa outside the motel) lured Judy into the box.

Richard was created using the Dougie golden seed and a lock of Cooper’s hair. He was uniquely equipped to complete the mission. It was like sending a drone into a building to detonate a bomb.

Cooper completed the mission but did not die. Dougie Jones was Cooper’s escape hatch. It was a plan, perhaps devised by the Fireman and whispered into Cooper’s ear in the red waiting room by Laura Palmer.

The Fireman’s words at the beginning of season 3 were a reminder of the plan. Dougie was a place-mark holding an opening to ultimately be filled by Special Agent Dale Cooper after Richard and Linda succeed in trapping Judy and destroying her.

Listen to the sounds.
Remember 4-3-0.
Richard and Linda.
Two birds with one stone.

Is it Future, or is it Past?

That’s the current theory from the Shores home where we think Cooper has earned the right to retire, at least for a while. Bob and Judy are not creating havoc and causing pain and suffering.

Everything is fine now in Twin Peaks. Laura Palmer never died. Cooper solved a major Blue Rose case and eliminated the bad guys.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your theory.

This whole experience, including feelings of confusion, anger, sadness, joy and the excitement of an engaging mind exercise is a gift that Mark Frost and David Lynch have given their audience. I’m grateful.

About Max Shores 89 Articles
I'm a media producer at the University of Alabama. This is where I play with stuff in my spare time. You can find out about my work at