“We are like the Dreamer, who dreams and lives inside the dream. But who is the dreamer?”
Is this the line that launched a thousand theories, and burnt the thoughts of what Twin Peaks is–Sweet David,…. Oops started going all Christopher Marlowe in here, sorry.
And thus the debate started. Who, like Bobby Ewing and Tommy Westphall, dreamed Twin Peaks into existence? After all, that world, Twin Peaks, is way too strange and wonderful to exist in our own reality. So someone had to dream it. It had to be all imagined. I mean, it says it right there. However there is no dreamer; Twin Peaks is real (well as real as a Television/Film series can be). The presence of the Hurley-Jennings storyline as a whole, other storylines that detract from the centrality of the “chosen dreamer,” and, oddly enough, Albert Rosenfield as a character all prove it.
First, let’s go through who the hypothesis of the dreamer is and when possible they are dreaming this. Dale Cooper is dreaming this up to atone for Caroline or some aspect of his past. Dale Cooper is dreaming this on the floor of the Great Northern after getting shot. Dale is dreaming this in the Red Room–if Season 3 solely constitutes the dream and everything before is actually reality. Laura is dreaming up Seasons 1-3 to dream about how she is almost worshiped by her community after her murder. She is dreaming it in her bed in FWWM in order to cope with her father’s abuse and her dream is a dream of finding the perfect person to gain justice for her. Richard Cooper is dreaming this because he is a failed FBI agent (or not even an Agent at all) trying to cope with his failure at rescuing someone or his obsessions with Carrie Page. Carrie Page is dreaming of this as a way to cope with her terrible life. Let’s go through each of these personages and use the three components above to poke holes in how they cannot be the dreamer.
Dale Cooper can not be the dreamer.
The Hurley-Jennings storyline is something in which Dale is rather peripherally involved. He does not exchange a single word with Nadine. If Dale was the dreamer, he is just the sort to meddle in every aspect of the story. He would need to rescue Ed or Norma from the rocks and hard places of their impossible relationship to get a happy ending. Moreover, if Dale was the dreamer and manipulating all the aspects of the dream to his satisfaction, he would have had Hank, after getting beaten up by Nadine, immediately agree to the divorce instead of creating that mean ultimatum of granting the divorce if only Norma perjures herself. Specifically thinking that Dale is dreaming in the Black Lodge post Episode 29, when he entered the Lodge, Nadine still had not regained her memory. So if Dale was dreaming only Season 3 up, would not Nadine still be stuck in “High School” and dating Mike Nelson, and Ed and Norma allowed to be together forever? By the same token, why would he create such a rake like Walter? Nevertheless, this storyline kind of existed on its own. It ran on its own steam. It was not particularly reliant on any other plotline, except maybe the Packard-Martell versus Horne story because of Hank’s involvement. Most of the Packard-Martell plots were also running on it’s own steam. Neither were really dependent on the aspects of the story to which Cooper was intimately connected.1
In regards to other storylines, Dale would not have dreamed up the Evelyn Marsh storyline. He probably would have much preferred in his dream that James stay in Twin Peaks and get together with Donna. Remember Dale wants to rescue everyone or have everyone’s story end happily. This definitely did not end happily. Also again, this is yet another story where Cooper is not connected to. He doesn’t even exchange words with a single person in this story except James and Donna. This assumes though, that the Dreamer would be able to have contact and interact with each and every character in the story. Therefore, Cooper cannot be the dreamer because there are some characters he does not even talk to. He doesn’t talk to: Sylvia Horne, Johnny Horne, Heidi, Maddie (surprisingly), Harriet Hayward, Gersten Hayward, Eileen Hayward, most characters from Buckhorn in Season 3, the new generation of Peaks citizens, Thomas Eckhard, Vivian Smythe, Andrew Packard, Nicky the orphan, Dick Tremayne (again surprisingly), and many more. So many characters that he supposedly created and, yet, with whom he did not have a single moment of conversation.
Dale worked with Albert. Those two were friends. Dale has no stake in the Hurley-Jennings plot, but, surely, he has a stake in Albert’s existence. He’s needed Albert. However, Cooper is not a logician. Cooper runs purely on instinct and imagination. In many ways, Albert intrudes in this dream of instinct and imagination with pure logic. His Sense, to steal from an Austen title, intrudes on Dale’s and in turn Twin Peaks’ pure Sensibility. Would a boy who decided to test how much sleep deprivation it would take to drive a person mad by testing the theory on himself create an Albert? No, because Albert, to satisfy curiosity, would find the answer in book and library research.
Richard is a man of action. A man too driven to do his job. A man too focused. Here is how he is not the dreamer.
Richard would not have extraneous detail in his dream. Twin Peaks is full of extraneous details. Again, the Hurley-Jennings storyline is extraneous to the rest of the plot. It lays outside the storyline. If the whole deal was to rescue his imagined Laura who stood in for his regret, then the Hurley-Jennings relationship has nothing to do with the main storyline of Laura and Richard trying to be the saving Dale. The man who does not enjoy his coffee, the man who does what he did at Judy’s diner, would not create extraneous details (a detail surrounded in a Diner, to boot) in his dream. His dream, even his subconscious dream, would be too focused.
Additionally, there are too many extraneous “Traces to Nowhere” in Twin Peaks for it to be Richard’s dream. Evelyn, Little Nicky, the Mill (the entire Packard-Martell-Eckhart plotline in general), even New Mexico, are all extraneous to Richard’s dream redemption quest for himself as Dale. If Richard is to Dale as Diane is to Betty, Betty’s story is smaller and all related even the seemingly unrelated stories add to Diane’s disastrous life inverted. If Richard is to Dale as Fred is to Pete, Pete’s story is too small, there is no extraneous details in Lost Highway. Twin Peaks is way too wide of a story to be a dream.
But then wouldn’t Albert be an ideal character for Richard to have at his side? Someone Richard as Cooper would love? Not exactly. Though Albert is focused. He is not violent. Remember, he is the man who makes a conscious decision every single day to be a pacifist. He has the strange and difficult path of being a pacifist lawman. Richard is innately more akin to Mr. C to have anything to do with the likes of Albert. An Albert, if created, would just get in the way of Dale’s desires.
Laura’s the dreamer then. She can’t cope with her abuse, so she makes up a dream. Or she can’t cope with the brutal finality of her murder, so she creates someone who could save her and a perfect situation in which he can save her.
Again, the Hurley-Jennings relationship bring this to fruition. In the Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, Laura barely mentions this relationship in her diary, in her recollections of things and people she finds most important to her. She mentions not wanting to turn crazy as Nadine. She also mentions feeling sorry for Norma about Hank. If she was the dreamer, she would get Hank out of the picture as he was by the end of Season Two. Though with the darkness inherent with Laura, she would also create more heartache in this pentagon as opposed to Dale. Then again, this love pentagon, as beloved as it is in the fandom and how much we cheered over “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” is a story in the periphery of Laura’s. And the camera spends way too much time dwelling with the Hurleys and the Jennings.
Again, there are plenty of other stories that Laura probably would have not cared about creating in her head. The Dick, Lucy, and Andy story is a periphery story to Laura’s too. Not saying that it’s not enjoyable (this author loves it), but Laura had very little truck with the creation of this story. Moreover, bringing back what was said about Dale and his contact with the creatures of his own dream, there are also many people that Laura had no truck with in her real life. People in her town, who are in the show, who she never had a relationship with, these three characters among them. She also doesn’t have any provable contact with Hawk, Any Season 3 character (which raises the question, would Laura have dreamt up Las Vegas? If so what would be the point?), Evelyn, Nicky, Annie, John Justice Wheeler. So again, why would she create people who would not affect her story or her story’s outcome? Moreover, for someone who considered Audrey a “frenemy” like we would say in the Twenty-first Century, why would she create such a wonderful beaux for her as John Justice Wheeler? Laura, unlike Dale, was not above karmic justice.
Then there’s Albert. Laura simply would not create an Albert. If Dale was the creation brought into town to save her or solve her murder, wouldn’t all the rest of the Blue Rose Task Force have to be her creation too? Albert is entirely too sophisticated for Laura to create. He also isn’t exactly her image of a hero, or at least a hero’s side-kick. She would want her hero to be a pure soul. “The problem with you is you’re perfect.” said Audrey about Dale. So if Laura created Dale to be her perfect, charming hero, then Albert, who knows he is far away not perfect, who has “trouble with the social niceties” having “the general air of unpleasantness” is too real for this image. He’s too deeply real. She is also very desperate for her secrets to be kept, Albert tears the veil away from those secrets by his forensic analysis.
Again, this one holds no truck. We know next to nothing about Carrie’s life, but we can assume that Twin Peaks would not be the dream she has in mind.
She seems a little self-centered and self-involved. She hardly knows of the world outside of Odessa, even asking if Twin Peaks, Washington was DC not State. Hence dreaming about an area that is not even known to her geography is inherently ridiculous. Therefore, the Hurley-Jennings storyline is yet again too peripheral to the Laura story where Carrie can imagine herself as the tortured princess. She would not care what those four (five if you count Mike Nelson) would get up to.
The story of Twin Peaks, does begin with the “One” of Laura but it expands further and further out, too far out for someone to have created as a dream to live in. It’s too wide of a story for a frankly uneducated waitress from Odessa to have made up in her head.
Which brings us to Albert. Carrie is an uneducated waitress. Creating an urbane, highly educated Yale man who would be there to help her dream self’s murder get solved, would be beyond her ability to create.
So none of the four of these persons or characters created Twin Peaks because there are certain parts of the story and characters that wouldn’t connect with them. Though, if you told me that it was the other way around and that from the destruction of the Bob rock to the final scream was the dream, then I would have to agree with you and I sort of do in my two part Analysis of 17 and 18. But what of other characters, could it be someone else’s dream, Audrey’s? Jeffries? Desmond’s?
I don’t think it is for similar reasons. The Jennings-Hurley storyline is too periphery for any of the commonly accepted dreamer candidates. There are too many storylines for one or more of them to feel extraneous for any character. Twin Peaks is too wide. And no one (except yours truly) would want to dream up an Albert who truly is too real of a character to be a dream creation. Hopefully this poked holes that Twin Peaks Seasons 1-3 are a dream, because it doesn’t make sense as one.
- Of one note: This could probably be the reason why viewers and Cooper are shocked that Cooper’s almost assassin was Josie, because Cooper was almost not paying attention to her, so she had no legitimate reason to really shoot him. She was freaking out for no reason.