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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Twin Peaks: The Past Dictates the Future Twin Peaks
"The Past Dictates the Future"
Season Three, Part 17
Written by Mark Frost & David Lynch
Directed by David Lynch
Original air date: September 3, 2017


Gordon discloses previously classified information about Cooper to his cohorts; Jerry finally makes a connection; Mr. C is redirected; Cooper arrives in Twin Peaks; temporal transmutations ensue.


Read the episode summary at the Twin Peaks wiki


Didja Know?


This episode is dedicated to the memory of Jack Nance, who played Pete Martell in the original series and who appears in flashbacks to Episode 0A: "Wrapped in Plastic" in this episode. He died in 1996.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode


Gordon Cole

Albert Rosenfield

Agent Tammy Preston

Major Briggs (spirit form only)

Judy (mentioned only)

Agent Cooper

Ray Monroe (mentioned only, deceased)

Phillip Jeffries

Mr. C

Agent Headley

Douglas Jones (mentioned only, discorporated)

Bushnell Mullins

Bradley Mitchum

Rodney Mitchum


drunk (unnamed)

Deputy Chad Broxford

James Hurley

Freddie Sykes

Ben Horne

Jerry Horne (mentioned only)

Sergeant Williams


Deputy Andy

Lucy Brennan

Sheriff Frank Truman






BOB (seemingly destroyed in this episode)

Bobby Briggs

Diane Evans


Jumping Man

Laura Palmer

Leland Palmer (in flashback only)

Deputy Cliff Howard (mentioned only, deceased)

Donna Hayward (mentioned only)

Leo Johnson (in flashback only, deceased)

Ronette Pulaski (in flashback only)

Jacques Renault (in flashback only, deceased)

Josie Packard (in flashback only, deceased)

Pete Martell (in flashback only, deceased)

Catherine Martell (in flashback only)

Sarah Palmer 



Didja Notice?


At the beginning of the episode, Gordon is holding a Smith & Wesson Model 19 revolver. As he fondles the gun, he admits to Albert he "couldn't do it." He is referring to shooting Diane (actually a tulpa of her) when she tried to kill him in the previous episode, Part 16: "No Knock, No Doorbell". Luckily, Albert and Tammy took care of it for him.


At 1:57 on the Blu-ray, a bottle of Chateau Bellvue wine is seen in the FBI hotel room. There are several different wineries that sell by the name Chateau Bellvue around the world. I have not been able to find one that has the same label design seen here, so it may be a prop bottle.


Gordon reveals some information to Albert and Tammy about a plan he had made with Major Briggs and Agent Cooper 25 years ago to lead them to Judy and that Cooper had said at the time he was trying to kill two birds with one stone. The Fireman had used the phrase "two birds with one stone" with Cooper in Part 1: "My Log Has a Message for You", so the Fireman may have been clueing Cooper in that he can help him with his plan. It's not clear at the end of the season exactly what Cooper meant by killing two birds with one stone, but it seemingly must have to do with saving Laura Palmer and also leading them to Judy.


Gordon reveals that Cooper had told him that if he, Cooper, disappeared, he should do everything he could to find him. The fact that Ray Monroe, henchman to Mr. C, was actually an informant for the FBI, suggests that Gordon was trying to find Coop and knew about the existence of Mr. C long before the evil double's incarceration at Yankton.


After telling Albert and Tammy about the plan, Gordon confesses he doesn't know if the plan is unfolding properly because they should have heard by now from Cooper. If he's referring to the 25-year absence of Cooper, then, yeah, Gordon should probably have given up on the plan by now. But, the fact that he's bringing it up now may suggest he somehow knows of the 25-year captivity of Cooper inside the Lodge and that he should have returned to Earth by now and contacted them.


The note from Cooper that Mullins reads to Gordon states, "It is 2:53 in Las Vegas and that adds up to a ten, the number of completion." In some numerology systems, 10 is considered the number of completion.


When Gordon ends his phone call with Mullins, he closes with, "And that makes two of us." I think he is referring to Mullins' last statement that he is Dougie's boss. Both men are Dougie's/Cooper's boss at two different jobs at this time.


After learning that Dougie is Cooper and the circumstances of Dougie/Cooper's electrocution and subsequent time in a coma at a Las Vegas hospital, Gordon says, "A Blue Rose case, most definitely," possibly indicating that Blue Rose cases are, in fact, ones that have to do with a double/tulpa, as speculated in the study of Part 14: "We Are Like the Dreamer".


At 9:20 on the Blu-ray, Freddie seems to be looking toward the drunk in the other cell as the drunk mimics the sounds made by Naido. This may indicate that the drunk is a real person and not some entity invisible to all but Chad as speculated in the studies of previous episodes starting with Part 14: "We Are Like the Dreamer". However, James does not seem to react to the man. Notice also that while the drunk mimics a line spoken by Freddie, he does not mimic James. If Freddie is able to see him, why? Is it the supernatural connection of Freddie's green glove?


    Ben Horne receives a call from the Jackson Hole, Wyoming police department telling him that his brother Jerry has showed up with no clothes. Jackson Hole is a valley in Wyoming; the town there is actually just called Jackson.

    How did Jerry wind up all the way in Jackson Hole after going for a hike in the woods around Twin Peaks? Why is he missing his clothes? Did Jerry pass through some kind of doorway in the woods related to the White/Black Lodges? Did he meet anyone during the passage?


The house seen on the theater screen in the White Lodge (?) at 12:56 on the Blu-ray is the Palmer house.


The Fireman makes a swiping gesture with his right hand that changes the image on the theater screen, almost like swiping through images on an iPhone or tablet device!


At 13:27 on the Blu-ray, a large number of the bell-shaped electrical contraptions are seen through the glass doors of a room next to the theater screen room.


In her jail cell, Naido suddenly wakes up and makes upset noises, crawling around on her bed, distressed when Mr. C is transported from the White Lodge to the parking lot of the sheriff's station.


Andy's station wagon is a Ford LTD Country Squire.


At 16:33 on the Blu-ray, we see that Deputy Chad has a key to the jail cells hidden in the heel of his right boot. The boot does not appear to be Circle Brand.


Sheriff Truman and his deputies appear to wield Smith & Wesson Model 19 revolvers, including Chad, who steals one from the weapons locker after letting himself out of his cell.


At 22:10 on the Blu-ray, Mr. C pulls an IMI Jericho 941 F pistol on Sheriff Truman, but Lucy shoots Mr. C down first with a Smith & Wesson Model 67 revolver; it's not clear where Lucy got the pistol from.


Mr. C gets a shot off at Truman before he is struck by Lucy's bullet. Notice at 22:11 on the Blu-ray that Truman's hat lifts a couple inches off his head; Mr. C must has hit the hat without hitting Truman, though no holes are seen in the hat afterward.


After hearing the gunshots upstairs, Andy tells the incarcerated prisoners he needs to bring them all up there now (apparently according to his vision from the White Lodge). He brings all but the unconscious and dangerous Chad, of course, and the unnamed drunk, suggesting the drunk is not really there physically, but only visible to a few.


Agent Cooper and his Mitchum entourage arrive at the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Station in a 2015 Cadillac Escalade ESV.


Cooper knows who Freddie is, though no one in the material world has told him about the young man with the green glove. Minutes later, he also knows that Sheriff Truman was in possession of the room 315 key from the Great Northern, saying, "Major Briggs told me Sheriff Truman would have it." Did he also learn about Freddie's power from the major? Notice also that as soon as the BOB orb hears Freddie's name, he begins to attack him, as if he also is aware of the threat Freddie poses to him.


At 28:04 on the Blu-ray, the BOB orb says to Freddie, "Catch you with my death bag." BOB said the same thing in Cooper's dream in Episode 2: "Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer".


After seeing Naido, Cooper's face becomes superimposed on all scenes from 30:23-36:02 (though the image fades away mostly from 33:36-34:18 while Cooper and Diane kiss and share in the afterglow). The superimposed face possibly suggests that the world as we're seeing it now is part of Cooper's dream...that Cooper is the proverbial dreamer. Did seeing Naido (who soon transforms into the real Diane) trigger a realization (or memory) that he is the dreamer? Why does the image of Cooper's face fade away during the kiss? Is it suggesting that love makes the dream reality? At 34:39, Cooper's superimposed face even tells us, "We live inside a dream," (this same phrase was spoken by Phillip Jeffries in Fire Walk With Me).


Gordon, Albert, and Tammy arrive at the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Station in a 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe.


Cooper seems to warn his friends at the sheriff's station, "...there are some things that will change," adding, "the past dictates the future". This seems to be a warning that the past/present is about to be altered. Hawk nods, seemingly understanding what Cooper is telling them.


When Naido transforms into Diane, she and Cooper share a passionate kiss, implying they had an intimate relationship before his disappearance in 1989.


The clock on the wall of Sheriff Truman's office is a General Electric model. Note that it is 2:53 in the afternoon, the same time seen and spoken of in earlier episodes this season.


At 34:39 on the Blu-ray, an ominous whooshing sound is heard by everyone in Sheriff Truman's office. It seems as if Cooper and Gordon may have some inkling of what's about to happen, as Cooper shouts, "Gordon!" and Gordon shouts, "Coop!" Suddenly, the scene shifts to Cooper, Diane, and Gordon walking in the dark through the basement of the Great Northern to the door from behind which comes the humming sound, while the ominous whooshing noise fades out. It seems as if the trio has suddenly been transported from Truman's office to the Great Northern, yet they walk calmly as if it's natural for them to be there, as if they arrived in a normal manner. Has some time passed where they drove over to the hotel and gained access to the basement? Or did they actually get instantaneously transported there as it seems? The transition seems to have a dream-like quality of its own, where the dreamer just accepts a sudden change in surroundings without question.


At 35:46 on the Blu-ray, notice that the electrical transformers in the basement of the Great Northern have a similar bell shape as the odd contraptions in the White Lodge.



The scene in the Great Northern's basement is reminiscent of the scene in the hospital basement in Cooper's dream in Episode 2: "Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer".
Great Northern basement hospital basement
Great Northern basement (brightened for clarity) Hospital basement from Cooper's dream
(Episode 2: "Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer")


Why would Cooper's old room 315 key fit the door in the basement? Normally, only a master key would fit any door in a particular building and surely a temporary hotel tenant would not be given such a key.


When Cooper walks through the door in the Great Northern basement he encounters Mike, who once again chants his familiar "Fire Walk With Me" poem from Episode 2: "Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer"


I only just noticed it in this episode, though a similar scene occurs in Part 15: "There's Some Fear in Letting Go", that the trunks of the trees in the woods superimposed as Cooper and Mike walk towards the stairs leading to the Dutchman's Lodge bear a resemblance to the convolutions of the red curtains in the Black Lodge.
the woods corridor the curtain corridor
The woods corridor The curtain corridor
(from Episode 29: "Beyond Life and Death")


After Cooper and Mike ascend the stairs to the Dutchman's Lodge, the Jumping Man (the man with the mask) is seen descending the stairs in stuttered "jump-starts". What is the significance of this juxtaposition? Could Cooper and the Jumping Man be one-and-the-same in some sense? Recall that Leland/BOB, waiter/Giant, Gerard/Mike were all one-and-the-same in a way in the original series.


At 40:30 on the Blu-ray, Cooper somehow recognizes the steam-emitting machine as Phillip Jeffries.


    Cooper gives Jeffries the date of February 23, 1989. This is the day before Laura Palmer's death (she was murdered in the early hours of February 24 of that year). Jeffries seems to relate it to locating Judy. 

    Upon hearing the date, Jeffries says, "I'll find it for ya." Pause. "It's slippery in here." What does he mean by "slippery"? Is it a reference to changing timelines, making it somewhat difficult for him to know what occurred on a certain date?


Jeffries tells Cooper it's good to see him again. When does he think they met? In Fire Walk With Me they did meet at the Philadelphia office in 1988, but Jeffries seemed to be under the impression then that Cooper was actually his evil doppelganger. Has Jeffries simply learned better since then?


Jeffries tells Cooper to say to Gordon "He'll remember the unofficial version." What is the "unofficial version"? Is it the "original" events in Twin Peaks, before Cooper prevented the murder of Laura Palmer (as Cooper does by the end of this episode)? In The Final Dossier, Agent Preston writes that her own thoughts about the Twin Peaks events are starting to get fuzzy and indistinct, suggesting that everyone may be forgetting the original timeline of the series. So why would Gordon still remember them (if that is what Jeffries is suggesting)? What is special about Gordon?


After incongruously telling Cooper, "This is where you'll find Judy," he then adds, "There may be someone. Did you ask me this?" It almost seems as if Jeffries is confused about where he is in time, possibly mistaking Mr. C's question of "Who is Judy?" (from Part 15: "There's Some Fear in Letting Go") for Cooper's statements now.


The image that appears in Jeffries' steam at 41:50 on the Blu-ray is the Owl Cave symbol. It then morphs into a double-diamond symbol and into a figure-eight. A figure-eight is a sort-of vertical version of the infinity symbol, which refers to time. The 8-symbol flips itself vertically, possibly implying a parallel timeline. After this, Jeffries tells Cooper "You can go in now," implying that Jeffries has set a "gateway" to February 23, 1989 for Cooper to enter, as, indeed, Cooper does, leading to his preventing the murder of Laura Palmer.


After Jeffries tells Cooper, "You can go in now," he then says, "Remember," and Mike adds, "Electricity." Are the two warning him that time travel between the spiritual world and Earth can only take place in a time where electricity is in industrial use? This would correspond to the beginning of the Second Industrial Revolution, roughly around 1870. Lynch is fond of incorporating industrial mechanisms and sounds in many of his works.


Most of the scenes from 43:20-48:45 are from Fire Walk With Me, except for the scenes in which Cooper appears and those seen from his vantage point.


At 44:56 on the Blu-ray, Laura screams at seeing Cooper hiding in the woods where she and James have stopped on the road. She made this same exact scream at this moment in Fire Walk With Me, yet, presumably Cooper was not present then to alter the timeline and prevent her murder at BOB's hands. So, why did she scream in Fire Walk With Me? What did she see if it wasn't Cooper? Was she seeing a sort of shade of Cooper, a ghost of what might come if the timeline should be altered (as finally occurs in this episode)?


After running away from James, Laura runs into Cooper in the woods and she wonders who he is, saying, "I've seen you in a dream." In Fire Walk With Me she had a dream in which Cooper warned her not to take the Owl Cave ring.


Many of the shots from 50:22-52:32 are direct shots or modified shots from Episode 0A: "Wrapped in Plastic".


"Insect" sound is heard when Laura vanishes, like the sound on the phonograph in Part 1: "My Log Has a Message for You"


As Sarah smashes the photo frame of Laura's portrait, notice that it keeps trying to reassemble itself as she smashes the glass.


Some fans believe that the young Laura Palmer who takes Cooper's hand in the altered Fire Walk With Me timeline is actress Francesca Eastwood, who has a somewhat similar look to original actress Sheryl Lee. Eastwood is credited only as Texas Waitress Kristi at Judy's Coffee Shop in the following episode, Part 18: "What is Your Name?" Francesca Eastwood as Texas Waitress Kristi
  Francesca Eastwood as Texas Waitress Kristi


At the end of the episode, Julee Cruise performs her song "The World Spins", presumably at the Roadhouse, though it's not clear. She also performed this song in the original series in Episode 14: "Lonely Souls". Cruise was seemingly upset on her Facebook page at the time about the truncated version of her performance that appears here.


Unanswered Questions


Was BOB destroyed by Freddie's gloved fist as it seems? The shattered debris of the BOB orb ascends through the ceiling of the sheriff's station...what happened to it?


Cooper goes back in time to 1989 and seemingly prevents Laura Palmer's murder. Why does Laura then disappear from his grasp at the end of the episode? In The Final Dossier, it seems that Laura "disappeared" in 1989, no body ever found. What happened to her?


Memorable Dialog


you've gone soft.mp3

discovery of an entity.mp3

a plan.mp3

two birds with one stone.mp3

we should have heard by now from our dear Dale Cooper.mp3

that's strange even for Cooper.mp3

look who's here.mp3

since before Wally was born.mp3

I understand cellular phones now.mp3

catch you with my death bag.mp3

what's going on around here?.mp3

your father was well aware.mp3

many years ago.mp3

the past dictates the future.mp3

give my regards to Harry.mp3

we live inside a dream.mp3

I hope I see all of you again.mp3

see you at the curtain call.mp3

through the darkness of future past.mp3

the unofficial version.mp3 


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