Maybe It Doesn’t Matter What We Call It – Thoughts on Judy as a Metaphor

Now listen to me. For 25 years, I’ve kept something from you, Albert.  Before he disappeared, Major Briggs shared with me and Cooper his discovery of an entity, an extreme negative force called in olden times, Jowday.  Over time, it’s become, Judy.  Major Briggs, Cooper and I put together a plan that could lead us to Judy.  And then, something happened to Major Briggs.  And something happened to Cooper.  Philip Jeffries, who doesn’t really exist anymore, at least not in the normal sense, told me a long time ago he was on to this entry, and he disappeared.  Now the last thing Cooper told me was, if I disappear, like the others, do everything you can to find me.  I’m trying to kill two birds with one stone.

With these words, David Lynch, via his proxy Gordon Cole, kicked off the 2-part finale with one of the most egregious retcons of Season 3.  In Laura Is Not The Messiah, I worried that they would reveal Judy to be Major Briggs, the fan favorite theory at the time.  As usual though, the masters played with our expectations and took things in a completely unexpected 90 degree turn.  Keeping an open mind, this “extreme negative force” version of Judy could be the one Jeffries was babbling about in his brief Philadelphia appearance.  Though it’s still a little weird that in that same scene he says “Judy is positive about this” in regards to what he is about to tell them.  Maybe Judy isn’t such a negative entity after all?

So Judy is now the Big Bad of the season. She is potentially the “mother” that American Girl spoke of.  She is potentially Experiment from Part 8 and/or Experiment Model from Parts 1 and 2.  She is potentially the dark thing that is hiding out inside Sarah Palmer’s head.  She is potentially Babalon, the Mother of Abominations, from The Secret History of Twin Peaks.

Let me first say that I think a lot of fan theories try a bit too hard to connect all of these dots, with little to no evidence that they all must to refer to the same entity. If Experiment or Experiment Model were Judy, why not just list them as “????” in the credits, same as was done with the Fireman?  To my way of thinking, these names are clues, they mean something.  I’m not at all convinced that either of these entities are Judy.  Experiment Model may be American Girl’s “mother”, pursuing the Good Cooper through NYC and the Mauve Zone, but that doesn’t tie it to Judy.  In fact, when Experiment Model was first seen, many of us connected it to the description of the creature Richard Nixon shows to Dougie Milford and Jackie Gleason in The Secret History, which was one of the Roswell aliens.  There are far more clues tying Sarah Palmer to the Jumping Man, each having been seen in the visage of the other.  Experiment could be Babalon, having seemingly “birthed” a stream of abominations, but again, even these connections are tenuous, and neither necessarily link to Judy.  As with the introduction of tulpas this season and the ensuing “tupla-mania” that gripped the fan base for the latter half of the season, not everyone is a tulpa, and not every negative entity is a “Judy”.

It’s interesting that Bad Cooper, as Cooper’s doppelgänger, seems to have all of the memories of his good counterpart, yet his knowledge of Judy is apparently deficient. The meeting where Cooper, Gordon and Briggs laid out their plan that would lead them to Judy was held before Cooper disappeared, i.e. before he split off his shadow self.  Bad Cooper might not have the memories of Judy, but perhaps he did inherit the drive to find Judy from Good Cooper.  When he goes to see Jeffries and asks who Judy is and what she wants from him, it’s one of the few times we see Bad Cooper’s courage falter.  Jeffries teases that he’s already met Judy, but Jeffries is also lying to Bad Cooper with just about every word coming out of his spout, so I’d advise we take that with a grain of salt.

As with anything in this show, there may be, and likely are, multiple meanings. Judy may be an “entity”, but Judy may also working on another level as a metaphor.  Probably the number one fan favorite theory about Judy going right now is that the name is derived not from “Jowday”, as presented in the closed captions, but rather from “Jiāo Dài”, meaning “to explain” in Mandarin Chinese [1].  The rabid Lynch fans like this idea because they believe that David Lynch hates all form of explanation and considers it the greatest evil (or at least an extreme negative force). Of course, another translation at the bottom of that list is “recording tape” – so maybe Dale’s handy dandy tape recorder, and by extension maybe Diane, is the greatest evil.  Ha.

Getting back to considering Judy as a metaphor though, I think we ought to be looking for that meaning within the overarching messages of this season.  If Judy is the Big Bad of this season, what is this season showing us to be “bad” then?

One theory that has recently surfaced that I like quite a bit (though it’s still got its problems) is “The Three Coopers” [2]. One of the premises of this theory is that Bad Cooper is oriented towards the future, Good Cooper is oriented to the past, and Cooper-as-Dougie is oriented in the present moment.  I might question just how pure the orientation of the other two Coopers was toward the future and past, but certainly Cooper-as-Dougie was the pinnacle of “living in the moment”.  I’d propose that perhaps the effect of The Arm’s doppelgänger making Good Cooper “non-exist-ent” was to wipe out both his past and his future.  As Dougie, Good Cooper occasionally made brief connections with his past memories, but they were fleeting at best.  And his ability to think ahead and plan for the future was, well, nonexistent.  He was a nearly perfect blank slate.

This was probably intended to harm Good Cooper, but it ended up being a boon. In this catatonic state, Good Cooper was able to make right all of the wrongs committed by the original Dougie Jones tulpa.  He fixed the Jones’ financial situation and repaired their failing marriage.  At work, he revealed the insurance scam, saving Anthony’s soul and resulting in financial rewards for both Mullins and the Mitchum brothers.  Everyone’s lives were made better for their interaction with Dougie.  The old lady slot addict got her life back.  Janey-E got a car that was not cheap and terrible.  Frank found out he loved green tea lattes.  The list goes on and on.

Much of the rest of the season was also oriented around this theme of living in the moment, as an abject lesson that was often times forced upon the viewer. The Roadhouse scenes in particular, have now been revealed by Lynch to be nothing more than little vignettes into the lives of other people in Twin Peaks [3].  There is no deeper meaning behind them.  Each is just a snapshot in time, like a painted picture.  Even some of what we thought were main characters and main story lines were like this.  Red, the Farmer, Beverly’s sick husband Tom – we are never going to know more about these characters than we do currently (Mark Frost’s second book notwithstanding, but don’t hold your breath).  They provided an aesthetic, some interesting colors on the palette.  They were meant to be enjoyed in the moment, and as a moment.  The “sweeping scenes” too are trying to teach us to let go, relax, and just take a breather from all this thinking and get out of your head (although ironically, many found these moments took them out of the scene and deposited them directly in their head, wondering why Lynch was doing this to them and when it would end).

All of this is, of course, one of the goals of Transcendental Meditation (TM) [4], which David Lynch is a big proponent of. TM is a technique for fostering mindfulness and learning to live in the present moment.  Only the present moment actually exists in the here and now.  The past and the future only exist (in the normal sense) in our minds.  How interesting then to consider these ideas against some of the pillars of Twin Peaks, such as “through the darkness of future past”, “is it future or is it past?” and now “the past dictates the future”.  The past and the future directly bring about suffering, in the form of regret (living in the past) and worry (living in the future).  These negative forces can take over our minds and our lives, causing very real pain and suffering, a.k.a. garmonbozia.

In this regard, Good Cooper can be viewed as headed to the past to find Judy.  As he dials in 1989, Jeffries tells him this is where he will find Judy.  Bad Cooper can be viewed as headed to the future to find Judy.  Events are unfolding that he planned ahead for nearly 20 years ago.  Both of their journeys end badly, or certainly seem to anyway.  Whereas the new Dougie Jones tulpa is rewarded with one of the few happy endings presented in this season.

Prior to Season 3, BOB was understood to be a spirit, one of several Lodge spirits that “rule man and nature” as Hawk explains. Per the trading cards, he has existed “as long as man has been on earth” [5].  The Secret History seemed to confirm these ideas, hinting at the first interaction of white men with the Lodge spirits during the Lewis and Clark expedition, and a longer history with the Indian tribes of the region.  In his exposition, Gordon likewise infers that Judy has existed since “olden times”. If Jeffries is now to be understood as pursuing Judy at the time of his disappearance, attending Convenience Store meetings of the Lodge entities as part of his investigations, then we can infer that Judy is also a Lodge entity.  Maybe one of the more powerful ones, more on the level of The Fireman than BOB, but still operating as a spirit ruling man and nature.

After Leland’s death, Albert described BOB metaphorically as “the evil that men do”. So let me suggest, to bend his words a bit, that in light of the themes of Season 3, maybe that’s all Judy is, the regret and worry that men (and women) do.  Maybe it doesn’t matter what we call it.



While doing a little bit of last minute research on this article, I ran across this post on Reddit by u/ulfurinn, [S3E18] “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil…”.  In it, he posits another metaphorical interpretation of Judy that I like, which is also based on an interpretation of one of the possible themes of Season 3.  It’s short, so I’ll just include the full text of it here without comment, as another point of view:

“…is for good men to do nothing.”

S2 posited that Bob may simply be the evil that men do. In this case, its Mother may very well be the indifference of bystanders.

And if all of this has been Laura’s dream, it would make perfect sense for her to put Sarah’s face on it, as she’s always quietly allowed the abuse to go on.


Notes / References:

  1. Chinese English Pinyin Dictionary – “jiao dai” (
  2. “Twin Peaks: The Three Coopers Theory” (YouTube, PJG Productions):
  3. Talking to David Lynch about Twin Peaks: The Return (Entertainment Weekly):
  4. How Generations Meditate On Mindfulness (Forbes):
  5. Twin Peaks Star Pics Card #58 (LynchNet):

Written by Brien Allen

Brien Allen is the last of the original crazy people who responded to this nutjob on Facebook wanting to start an online blog prior to Twin Peaks S3. Some of his other favorite shows have been Vr.5, Buffy, Lost, Stargate: Universe, The OA, and Counterpart. He's an OG BBSer, Trekkie, Blue Blaze Irregular, and former semi-professional improviser. He is also a staunch defender of putting two spaces after a period, but has been told to shut up and color.


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