The Dreamer of Twin Peaks

I am dead, yet I live.

With eyes closed, you’re lying on your back. You hear a voice break through the silence. It sparks an image in your mind.

This is the story of Twin Peaks, the unsolved mystery involving the death of Laura Palmer in a small town in Washington state. “She’s dead. Wrapped in plastic.” is how it begins. Laura Palmer’s story leads you into an ever-increasing cast of characters from various realms. Some of them talk backwards so captions are provided.

“We all live inside a dream,” moans Phillip Jeffries in the Fire Walk with Me movie. There are dream references all through Twin Peaks.

In Gordon Cole’s Monica Bellucci dream, Bellucci says, “We are like the dreamer who dreams and lives inside the dream. But who is the dreamer?”

Dale Cooper’s giant superimposed head of revelation says at the sheriff’s station, “We live inside a dream.” The clock stops at 2:53 and everything changes.

Creators David Lynch and Mark Frost introduced us to more questions than answers. There is no definitive answer. Trying to figure it all out is part of the fun for many fans. Let’s just consider for a moment that maybe there is a backstory regarding the dreamer and that the backstory ties at least some of the hanging threads together… Here’s my theory. —Spoiler Alert!!! —

The dreamer is hospitalized and on life support.  The central issue of Twin Peaks is whether to continue life support (electricity) or turn it off. 

It’s all about electricity.

Insurance and money to continue life support are recurring issues throughout Twin Peaks.

The theme of love vs. fear permeates every story told.

The dreamer was rescued from a fire by The Fireman. She doesn’t know who she is or where she is. She just wants to go home.

The character Nadine Hurley is inspired by a nurse.  As she opens the privacy curtain around the patient’s bed, she complains about how much noise it makes.  She can lift the patient, so she is imagined as having superhuman strength. 

Margaret Lanterman also represents a nurse.  She keeps up with the patient’s vital signs in a written record, the log. 

Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer in the red room.

Dale Cooper represents her primary physician, Richard.  Early in the Twin Peaks timeline, he hopes for the patient’s recovery and wants to continue life support. 

Diane represents his assistant, Linda. Naido is one aspect of Diane held at bay for a time by The Fireman.

Gordon Cole is also a physician.  The patient tries to communicate with him but he cannot hear her.

The Great Northern Hotel is the hospital.

The Ghostwood project is a cemetery and asylum.

James Hurley is a security guard at the hospital.

The dreamer’s mind is living through all the characters in the dream, All the stories contrast the love that keeps life support going with the fear of electricity being turned off.

Love powers the white lodge while the black lodge is powered by fear.

The woodsmen are hospital electricians and carpenters.  It is highly disruptive when they make repairs in the patient’s room and the patient is afraid of them because they control the electricity.

Above the convenience store: The jumping man, woodsmen, The Arm, BOB, and Garmonbozia.

The electrician’s workshop is equipped with a non-conductive formica table. The workshop is probably located on the floor above the hospital gift shop, but the dreamer may have misunderstood directions she overheard.

The dreamer is sustained by a feeding tube.  She imagines the food is creamed corn that smells like scorched motor oil. She gives it a name, Garmonbozia.

The red room is a waiting room down the hall.  The patient hears conversations taking place there but they are garbled.  Sometimes she imagines she is in the waiting room but something happens in her room and she is pulled away.

In the waiting room

The dreamer is aware of other patients brought to the hospital, victims of accidents, shootings, violence and illness.  As she hears their stories, they become a part of her dream.

I think she feels a special connection to the schizophrenic shoe salesman, Phillip Gerard and his amputated arm. When the arm says, “I sound like this,” it makes the sound of a CT scan.

People come and go throughout the day.  They talk about their lives and fuel the dream.  A question as simple as, “Has anybody seen Billy?” can lead to tangents.

There’s a soap opera playing on a TV within her hearing.

The dreamer imagines herself primarily as Laura Palmer.  She is actually Carrie Page, the missing page of Laura Palmer’s diary.

Early in the Twin Peaks timeline, Leland, who represents the patient’s father, agrees to removal of life support. She imagines he is overtaken by an evil force, BOB. We see him molest, torture and kill her.

Her mother, represented by Sarah, originally opposes removal of life support and is filled with grief, but as time progresses she is also overtaken by an evil force, Judy, the Mother of All Abominations.

Let’s not talk about Judy!

As Mr. C, Cooper’s evil doppelganger, her doctor has been overtaken by the force that once influenced her father, but there is still a kind and loving part of him, Dougie Jones, who is weakened by his assistant Diane’s influence.

The drugged out mother that shouted “1-1-9” and her son are the real Janey-E and Sonny Jim. Diane created another wife and son to detain Dougie/Coop.

Diane has black lodge cred. She has given rise to the dreamer’s greatest fear. She has convinced Sarah that the patient will never recover.

As the dreamer’s fear increases, the patient imagines herself in Odessa, Texas.  There’s a potty chair next to her front door and a dead man on the couch in her apartment. Both are things you might find in a hospital room.

She is actually in New York, in an intensive care room that feels like a glass box, and there’s always someone watching. Nurses monitor their patients through a glass window in intensive care wards.

The glass box

Diane ultimately prevails and the order to remove life support is signed at 2:53.

The order is executed pursuant to Chapter 430 of Family Medical Law in New York which allows a nurse practitioner, Diane, well Linda really, to counsel family members regarding these matters.

Having convinced Sarah to sign orders for removal of life support, and persuaded Cooper to carry out the orders, Diane/Linda leaves. Cooper/Richard stays with Laura/Carrie.

Cooper/Richard and Laura/Carrie at the Palmer House from Twin Peaks: The Return.

Fear prevails. Reality is interfering with the dream. The dreamer wonders,”What year is this?”

“Laura?”

The electricity is turned off at the end of Part 18 of Twin Peaks: The Return.

OK, maybe I’ve just spent too much time in hospitals, but this interpretation of the dream occurred to me and I thought I’d share.

About Max Shores 88 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 MaxShores.com.