GOTTA MAP ?
So there is a graphic alright. And quite a beast it has become in its final installment, but how it came to be is the story about the little boy who lived down memory lane and was faced with a force very difficult to comprehend: the force of Twin Peaks – The Return. It all started around part 8. It was this momentous update on the established Twin Peaks lore with its whole new kaleidoscope of known and not-yet-known spaces (notably still without explicitly addressing any one of them) that got me thinking: How does it all connect ?
And foolishly enough, I demanded answers. Because I knew it wouldn’t get any easier to follow along without an outline of, let’s call it, a map of “extradimensional“ spaces in the big game to build up on. So what did I do like whenever I feel lost ? I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper.
Click on the map to get a wider version of the map and be able to zoom on it
THE MAGICIAN LONGS TO SEE
I have always been a very visual person and, even though I don’t do it for a living, I like anything which helps making a complex thing universally understandable by clear-cut iconography, mapping out and symbols easy to grasp at first sight. And I like to use shapes, (out)lines and colors that are still fun to look at. However, at the very first instant there was no thought of ever making anything of this public. I only wanted to help myself understand. And the desire became more urgent as parts 9 and 10 went on to add more vital info with Briggs’ note and Hastings’ account of their encounter with the Major in yet another dimension.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE GRAPHIC
The result of my first attempt to visualize the possible new concept of the Black and White Lodges, spaces like the purple world (or, as discussed by borrowing Kenneth Grant’s term, the “Mauve Zone“), Naido’s space container, non-exist-ent, the “Zone“ and other interdimensional portals looked like this :
I know it’s neat. In fact, it’s nothing but a scribble in my notebook. But my written take on the nature of the different realms took up enough space for me to decide to post it to my favorite subreddit r/twinpeaks (which I can’t praise enough for having fed me with tons of the hive mind’s additional ideas and inspiration on a daily basis). Here it is.
You will notice that, of course, my reading of all these places and connections evolved as the story went along. What seemed most intriguing to me at this point was Major Briggs’ quest for the White Lodge and his hibernation in the Zone, respective of what was bound to happen at the ominous Jack Rabbit’s Palace.
This is where things started to get kind of messy. And I’m not only talking about my next scribble. Trying to incorporate what we already saw in part 3, I made a new sketch (I think it was done during a train ride and surely looks like it) opposing the Lodges, but placing them in the “all that is“ (or can be) world of the Mauve Zone, filled with little electrical gateway-containers like Naido’s. The center circle, representing Twin Peaks and the world around it as our dimension, is filled with portal “holes“ created by the bomb like Swiss cheese, one of them being the artificially created glass box in New York.
The next version was a further variation of layout, using more than 3 colors for the first time and trying to highlight key characters of the grand plan and their agendas/paths in a very simplistic manner. And, let me say it here regarding this and everything which followed: From the very start, all this has only ever been based on my personal best guesses, trying to use as straightforward as possible logic combined with what seemed to be the broadest consensus of theories in the fandom that somehow made the most sense to me and, in many cases, aligned with my own intuitions. So I will never claim my version of agendas, places and events is anything like “the truth“, but I will say I did invest a lot of thinking back and forth, and the visualization, as intended, did help me deepen my own understanding as I went along with the task. Where things are vague, I often tried to leave it ambiguous in the graphic. (Note: In the following version, I was still assuming that the “station“ Bobby talks about being near Jack Rabbit’s Palace could also be the U.S. Air Force base in Spokane, though I always leaned more towards the Listening Post just for its relevance, even if it doesn’t line up well with biographical intel on Bobby’s age when they moved to Twin Peaks and his father began working at LPA all the time).
At this point I was starting to realize it wasn’t going to get less complicated and what I really wanted was to turn all this visual information into a “living map“ which would be able to keep evolving, not so unlike the one Hawk presents to Truman. It always had to be up to date! And this meant there was no way around a digital version.
IT’S A LIVING MAP
The idea of a digital representation was not too far-fetched, since a fellow Redditor, a digital artist who PMed me after my first scribble, had suggested me to turn my paperwork into a digital version of his own. Since he never really followed up, I had to do it myself, for which I am now very grateful. So, not being a total noob with Photoshop myself, I purchased a new copy and started to get more and more intrigued with the idea of presenting the metaphysical spaces alongside all the physical ones in a … well, kind of four-dimensional map. This made me use the USA as the obvious main backdrop for all physical places and portals – being both physical and metaphysical –, since this was where the big story was set (besides Buenos Aires and later the only mentioned London, which came up/were added later). The metaphysical scope had to be rendered by making it protrude from a globe floating in (Mauve) space, much like seeing it from the Fireman’s perspective. Hence, anything which would not be able to be pinned down to a physical location would be more or less freely placed (or sorted by laws of a somewhat simplified broader narrative concept) outside the geographical map, like the Lodges etc. Having a physical map of places and events then led to the necessity of “connecting the dots“, which in turn led to giving the whos, whats and hows … and thus, I added key characters, their pathways and, as far as we could deduce them, their probable agendas in the plot. To make it look nicer, I would use little icons and symbols for clarity (and fun) wherever I could. Okay … hmm, wait. There is still this ugly empty space on the right … not much happening in the East. Great! I'll fill it with a text box explaining the greater narrative with some background on the assumed nature of the spaces, Briggs’ journey, what is going on with the main McGuffin, the coordinates (the hype about them both on the Hastings website and on Ruth’s arm was buzzing, so I integrated the numbers), plus some guidance on how to read all of this. I added quotes and references like from the Log Lady’s lines on the left next to the Twin Peaks section to support my rendering of the basics from Briggs’ note and Hawk’s map. Nice. And half as messy :
By the way … There is a black dot on the top right next to the Twin Peaks logo. Before anyone thinks this is Audrey’s mole as she looks into the mirror, proving the whole plot is actually her dream … stop it! It’s just a layer with a black location spot I forgot to delete. Sorry.
Note also that I was still unsure about the portal the cops would probably find at Jack Rabbit’s Palace. Assuming it had to be linked to the fire on Hawk’s map, which was either good or bad depending on your intention, I found it possible the portal could lead to either the Black or the White Lodge, hence the ambiguous symbol with the evil avatar to be revealed as Judy in between. But what would have made it different to Glastonbury Grove then? You’ll see that in later versions, I readjusted the waiting room as more likely a Black Lodge-affiliated portal, which would be a real contrast to the presumed White Lodge one we’re going to find at JRP. I’m still not sure they “are“ per se spaces of the Black and White Lodge, but maybe the nature of each spot makes it more attuned to the one or the other, so that each of the opposing forces can mainly use “their“ spot for their purposes: serving as an antechamber for any kind of exchange with earthly beings.
The next version is quite a step ahead. It was given to me by God. I mean, the Fireman. No, I’m kidding. But the chance to start working on it one week early was given to me by whoever was responsible for the accident at Sky Atlantic Germany because it’s a post-part 14 one. Yay! So this meant I was already able to integrate the essential visit at JRP into it, the events on the “Farm“ (from 13, which was upped later the same day as 14 was taken down) and then I waited one more week to add the events from the “Dutchman“ in 15. It made sense to create a path for Mr. C as well at this point. And an additional text box was required for the approach to the Town of twin Peaks and Jack Rabbit’s Palace.
Yet another update, with a few more corrections and additions, some of them motivated by suggestions I got on Reddit, added the approaching FBI gang (which required making Diane stand out as a bit of an extra), the London portal, the Buenos Aires gadget plus another text box focusing on the converging plot elements as we got closer and closer to Twin Peaks. I published it in preparation for the expected showdown in the town :
Now, all I expected was a few more fillers to wrap up the plot elements set up this far in an epic showdown. So, as predicted, Cooper woke up, made his way to town as well as Mr. C, and the cops didn’t return to JRP, but instead Bob and Mr. C were defeated at the Sheriff station. Perfect. There’s going to be another green text box next to the existing one on the bottom left as planned.
As it turned out, I was happy to have some extra space on the bottom right too.
Part of the trauma after experiencing the unexpected extra finale of 18 was the agony of not knowing how on earth to wrap this extravaganza of an epilogue/non-sequitur setup into a neat portion of an infographic. Maybe a giant WTF sign? And I’m only half-joking. At least that last part was otherworldly enough to outsource it at least partially outside the geographical map, creating a transgression from the green Twin Peaks section to the nebula of multiple timelines and realities in the extradimensional area.
So … like all of us, I needed time to digest. The meager outcome of the following two weeks was another therapeutical sketch :
And then I had a few days off and I knew I had to start somewhere. So at least one additional timeline/alternate reality was created along the path of the eternal loop of time Cooper enters in the Great Northern basement. This first crossing sends him on a mission he chose for himself, but it’s like an eternal trial and error he can’t escape easily until he learns something very important about himself (that is my reading of the core lesson to be learned). In the graphic, I decided to render each version of altered – or alternate – reality as a world of its own, coming up with a number of 3 different versions of Twin Peaks represented by changes of the iconic colors of the logo: 1) the one from 1989, but altered by Laura being ripped out of her destiny as we know it, 2) the one in which Dale exits the Black Lodge 25 years later as if none of season 3 ever happened, being welcome by some version of Diane, and 3) the one located in Judy’s world Dale/Richard takes Laura/Carrie to, with a changed Double R and the Tremonds living in the Palmer house. I am in no position to know whether these really are three different worlds, but it seemed an appropriate way still unspecific enough to render this in a graphic of this kind.
So in 1) Dale rescues Laura, although she eludes him before he can bring her “home“ to the White Lodge (which maybe is at the same time the Palmer house infiltrated by Judy possessing Sarah’s soul?). In probably yet another timeline without the doppelgänger shenanigans, Cooper exits the Black Lodge after 25 years, is received by Diane and they head for Laura and Judy in the alternate dimension of Odessa. They apparently leave their old identities behind, and Dale/Richard also finds a different identity of Laura’s. The final scene in that version of Twin Peaks prompted me to include an icon for the Palmer house both in the “old“ and new version (the unofficial and official one?) of the town, implying Sarah’s/the place’s possession. Plus, as Diane’s character gained more relevance towards the end, I included a detailed rendering of her backstory as well. Add corrections in the text boxes where appropriate in hindsight, give it a subtle illustration of the doppelgängers’ faces taken from the DVD cover, brew some coffee and let it save this 200ish-layer Photoshop file … :-) ALL.
MAKE SENSE OF IT
So, after all is said and done … is there a “best“ way to read this ? Without over-explaining the visual clues I gave, let me offer some insight :
I guess it is needless to say that this graphic is intended as a tool for giving some kind of structure to the more plot-driven parts of TPTR, offering additional background where appropriate. As such, it is easier to read if you're already anchored in the story to some degree in order to get a better picture (literally) of what happened in retrospect. Something to always get back to whenever you lose orientation.
As with any visual representation or guide, some amount of simplification is required, which is both an aim and a limitation in itself. So anything like certain aspects about the true nature of the Lodges and portals, as well as the beings attached to them, may still be up for speculation. Also, some of the both more tangential and more straightforward storylines (like most of what’s happening in Las Vegas or with the classic Twin Peaks characters in the town), was omitted because it’s either not part of any kind of travel, too obvious, too complex, not enough rooted in the big story, better explained in a text box, or a combination of these factors. Knowing this graphic is made to add structure and not cause further confusion, and given the confines of mere space, it is mainly about everything linked to the quest of the two Coopers. Other vignettes like Audrey’s fate, what exactly went on with Dougie 1, DougieCoop and Dougie 2 etc. are better left to discussion in written form.
As to where to start and where to end, I can only say: follow the numbers. We start at the mythology of the big spaces as a timeless backdrop (1a–c), look at the fatal event in time which messed everything up (2a, b), and from there we move on to the setup of the current story reaching back into the legacy of Major Briggs, his subsequent fate after season 2 and how it connects with the two Coopers, Bill Hastings and Ruth Davenport (2c–5).
This is where we get to a more linear reading following the narration of the final act about the two Coopers’ way to Twin Peaks, with everything and everyone following, up to the showdown and endings of parts 17 & 18 (6–10). This is accompanied by the green boxes corresponding to the green backdrop of the magnified Twin Peaks section on the map. (10, Dale Cooper’s mission, of course, to be seen mainly outside of these strict confines, but still always leading back to Twin Peaks in all its realities.)
You may have noticed that my use of colors and symbols is not coincidental. Most obviously, the white and black for the Lodges and gold for orbs or seeds, containing something like life to spring from them. Red is Mr. C’s color and in general the tint of aggression, while everything green is linked to Twin Peaks and blue signals anything pointing to a Blue Rose connection. Brown is the FBI, as I somehow linked this color to them going from the atmosphere/set design of the hotel rooms we saw them sitting in most of the time. Recurring shapes are no coincidence either. A good example is the one of the bell as seen on screen: The Fireman’s palace (including the alarm bell machine thing), Jack Rabbit’s Palace, tin kettle Jeffries and the symbol for Naido’s container, a vertical plug representing both electricity, two exits as well as some kind of connection to the Fireman’s realm, existing (as far as we can safely say that) in the same world. I think that this shape always represents some kind of good intention, so Jeffries at the Dutchman’s could just as much be an infiltration of this evil space by good as Judy’s possible influence reaching into the White Lodge is in turn. Both are in each other’s houses now.
Anything else I’d love everyone to figure out for themselves, since, as we know: Explanation is the root of all evil. It is supposed to be studied and pondered upon, much like the show itself.
AROUND THE DINNER TABLE…
… the conversation has been more lively than I could have imagined. So now that this thing is, to quote Mr. Lynch, “out in the world“, I’ve been overwhelmed with the response. Thinking the creators would perhaps like my take on their oeuvre as well, I was bold enough to share it with them in a Tweet. And let me just say: Mark gave two thumbs. And then it kind of became viral within hours. A big, warm THANK YOU to everyone who shared, liked and reacted to it in some way. You’ve made my heart so full.
And it didn’t stop there. So now, we have an English and a German version (the latter a result of my home country and my own small FaceBook community “The German Cave“), plus a Russian one which popped up some day on vk.com, translated by an avid and diligent fan. I’m truly impressed. And, last, but definitely not least, one day Roland approached me and asked for an article he could share on Lynchland. Merci !
So where do we go from here ? T-shirts ? Posters ? A holographic version ? I don’t know. But watch this space. I promise: If season 4 ever manifests in our reality, it will create an orb which will possess me again and prompt me to make another one. Meanwhile …
Lots of love.
Omar I. Obazda