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Twin Peaks: The Return – A Chronological Timeline

For the past two months I have obsessively watched and rewatched every episode of the still in-progress new season of Twin Peaks. I have seen each of the nine episodes so far either four or five times in full. I have also skimmed back through all of the episodes and watched them in pieces for the sole purpose of creating a chronological timeline to determine exactly when each scene is taking place. Before the new limited series began airing this past May, many fans speculated that the show would be taking place in the year 2014 – in order for Laura Palmer’s promise to Agent Cooper in the Season Two finale (“I’ll see you again in 25 years”) to literally become true. As appealing as that notion might be, a close reading of the show – and Mark Frost’s accompanying Secret History of Twin Peaks novel – reveals that nearly all of the action of the new season actually takes place in September and October of 2016. (When I write “nearly all,” I am barring the major flashbacks to 1945 and 1956 New Mexico in Part Eight and the “extra-dimensional” scenes scattered throughout the season that may be seen as taking place “outside of time.”)

The first tip off that Twin Peaks: The Return begins in September of 2016 comes from The Secret History of Twin Peaks. Frost’s novel begins with a memo written by FBI Deputy Director Gordon Cole (the beloved hard-of-hearing character played by David Lynch on the show) to Special Agent Tammy Preston (a new character played by singer Chrysta Bell) asking her to analyze a secret “dossier” that was recovered from a crime scene in July of 2016. This memo is dated 8/4/2016 and is followed by a notarized response from Preston dated 8/28/16. At the conclusion of Frost’s novel, after Preston has read and annotated the dossier and discovered that its mysterious “compiler” is none other than Major Garland Briggs, there is another notarized statement from her that she doesn’t know “what happened to either Major Briggs or Agent Cooper at this point.” It is not logical that Preston would make this claim in 2016 if the events of the new season had taken place two years previously: Preston, after all, learns a great deal about both Briggs and Cooper (and what happened to them in the 25 years between Seasons Two and Three) in Twin Peaks: The Return.

More evidence comes from the show itself: Bill Hastings’ driver’s license, which can be clearly seen in Part One: My log has a message for you, shows that his birthday is August 15, 1973. In Part Nine: This is the chair, during an instant-classic interrogation scene that is simultaneously both genuinely tragic and genuinely hilarious, Hastings tells Agent Preston that he is 43-years-old, indicating the show takes place after August 15, 2016. It is also during this scene that Hastings, at Preston’s request, writes the day’s date as “9/29,” which, if one counts the days backwards through each episode of the season, means that Bill was arrested on Saturday, September 24. Indeed, when Bill is first interrogated by Buckhorn cop Dave Macklay in Part One, he is asked to account for his whereabouts over the past “three or fours days.” After mentioning that he had been at work on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Bill, a high school principal, tells Dave that he had been at home “all day today,” indicating that Bill was arrested on a Saturday.

Contrary to rampant online speculation, Twin Peaks: The Return has so far followed a surprisingly linear chronological timeline. The only times when there appear to be either flash-forwards or flashbacks are either at the very end or the very beginning of certain episodes. This makes sense given that Lynch has stated he had no clue how he was going to “break up” his 18-hour movie into hour-long segments until he and his editors actually started cutting it. The decision to give the series a sense of structural symmetry by ending most episodes with musical performances at the Roadhouse means that Lynch occasionally flashes forward to a nighttime scene at the Roadhouse before “back-tracking” to the afternoon of the same day in the episode that immediately follows. For whatever it might be worth, I hope some of you find this timeline useful:

twin-peaks-episode-1

Part One: My log has a message for you.
Cooper and ??????? in black-and-white room – ?
Day One: Wednesday, September 21

Jacoby receives shovels in Twin Peaks – Day
Sam watches glass box in NYC – Night

Day Two: Thursday, September 22
Ben and Jerry Horne and Beverly at the Great Northern – Day
Insurance salesman and Lucy in Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Mr. C goes to Beulah’s in South Dakota – Night
Sam and Tracy watch glass box and are killed in NYC – Night

Day Three: Friday, September 23
Buckhorn police discover corpses of Ruth Davenport and Garland Briggs – Day
Log Lady calls Hawk in Twin Peaks – Night

Day Four: Saturday, September 24
Constance and Macklay in Buckhorn police station – Day
Bill Hastings is arrested in Buckhorn – Day
Hawk, Andy and Lucy in Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Hastings is interrogated in Buckhorn police station (and says it’s Saturday) – Day
Macklay searches Bill’s car in Buckhorn – Day

Part Two: The stars turn and a time presents itself.
Day Four: Saturday, September 24 (Cont’d)

Phyllis visits Bill in the Buckhorn jail – Night
Duncan and Roger in Las Vegas – Night
Mr. C, Darya, Ray and Jack in a South Dakota diner – Night
Hawk at Glastonbury Grove in Twin Peaks – Night
Agent Cooper w/ Laura, MIKE and the Evolution of the Arm in the Red Room – ?

Day Five: Sunday, September 25
Mr. C gets a new car from Jack in S.D. – Day
Mr. C kills Darya in a S.D. motel – Night
Agent Cooper, Leland, MIKE and the Evolution of the Arm in the Red Room – ?
Agent Cooper visits glass box / Sam and Tracy are killed – FLASHBACK to Day Two: Thursday night
Sarah Palmer watches television at home – Night
The Chromatics play the Roadhouse – Night

Part Three: Call for help.
Agent Cooper, Naido and “American Girl” in purple purgatory – ?
Day Six: Monday, September 26

Mr. C crashes car in Black Hills of S.D. – Day
Dougie and Jade in Las Vegas – Day
Drugged Out Mother and Son in Las Vegas – Day
Cops find Mr. C in Black Hills – Day
Hawk, Andy and Lucy in Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Dr. Jacoby spray-paints shovels in Twin Peaks – Day
Jade drops Cooper off at Silver Mustang Casino in Vegas – Day
Gordon, Tammy and Albert in Philadelphia – Day
The Broken Blossoms play the Roadhouse – Night

Part Four: …brings back some memories.
Day Seven: Monday, September 26 (Cont’d)

Cooper at the Silver Mustang Casino – Night
Cooper gets a ride from casino to Dougie’s home in Las Vegas – Night
Gordon Cole meets w/ Denise Bryson in Philadelphia – Night
Sheriff Truman, Andy, Lucy, Bobby and Wally Brando at Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Night

Day Eight: Tuesday, September 27
Cooper has breakfast with Janey-E and Sonny Jim – Morning
Constance and Macklay in Buckhorn – Morning
Gordon, Albert and Tammy drive from airport to Yankton jail – Day
Gordon, Albert and Tammy question Mr. C in jail – Day
Gordon, Albert and Tammy talk at a South Dakota airport – Dusk
Au Revoir Simone plays at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks- Night

Part Five: Case files.
Part Five begins by backtracking to show us characters that were entirely absent from Part Four
Lorraine talks to hitmen in Vegas – FLASHBACK to evening of Monday, September 26 (it only makes sense that this conversation would follow the missed hit earlier that day)

Day Eight: Tuesday, September 27 (Cont’d)
Constance and Macklay in the Buckhorn morgue – Morning
Mr. C gets breakfast in jail in Yankton – Morning
Steven’s job interview with Mike Nelson in Twin Peaks – Morning
Sheriff Truman and Doris at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Morning
Janey-E gives Cooper a ride to work in Las Vegas – Morning (this scene has to follow the breakfast scene in Part Four)
Cooper attends work meeting in Las Vegas – Morning
Mitchum brothers beat up the Supervisor of the Silver Mustang Casino in Las Vegas – Day
Car thieves attempt to steal Dougie’s car in Rancho Rosa in Las Vegas – Day
Jade mails Great Northern key from Las Vegas to Twin Peaks – Day
Becky asks Shelly for money in RR Diner in Twin Peaks – Day
Cooper gets off work at Lucky 7 in Las Vegas at 5:30pm – Dusk
Hawk and Andy at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Night
Dr. Jacoby’s internet infomercial at 7:00pm – Night
Lt. Knox and Col. Davis at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA – Night
Trouble plays at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks – Night
Tammy studies fingerprints in Philadelphia – Night
Mr. C makes a phone call from Yankton jail – Night
Cooper caresses shoes of statue outside Lucky 7 office in Vegas – Night

Part Six: Don’t die.
Day Eight: Tuesday, September 27 (Cont’d)

Police give Cooper a ride from Lucky 7 office to Dougie’s home in Las Vegas – Night
Albert approaches Diane at Max Von’s Bar in Philadelphia – Night

Day Nine: Wednesday, September 28
Red and Richard meet at a Twin Peaks warehouse – Morning
Carl and Mickey get a ride from the New Fat Trout Trailer Park into Twin Peaks – Morning
Miriam at the RR Diner in Twin Peaks – Morning
Carl witnesses hit and run in Twin Peaks – Morning
Duncan Todd receives message from Mr. C in Las Vegas – Morning
Dougie’s car is towed away from Rancho Rosa in Las Vegas – Morning (This may be a flashback to Tuesday, September 27.)
Ike the Spike receives hit orders in Las Vegas motel – Morning
Cooper meets Bushnell at Lucky 7 in Las Vegas – Morning
Janey-E meets loansharks in park in Las Vegas – Day
Ike the Spike kills Lorraine in her office in Las Vegas – Day
Red cleans truck in Twin Peaks – Day
Hawk finds Laura’s missing diary pages in Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Doris visits Sheriff Truman at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Flash-forward to Sharon Van Etten plays at the Roadhouse – Night

Part Seven: There’s a body all right.
Day Nine Wednesday, September 28 (Cont’d):

Jerry, lost in the woods in Twin Peaks, calls Ben at the Great Northern – Day
Hawk meets Sheriff Truman at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Sheriff Truman calls Harry from the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Andy meets Farmer at 2:30pm in Twin Peaks – Day (Andy’s watch says it’s the 10th – could be a FLASH-FORWARD to October 10)
Sheriff Truman Skypes with Doc Hayward from the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Lt. Knox meet Macklay at Buckhorn police station – Day
Lt. Knox, Macklay and Constance in the Buckhorn morgue – Day
Gordon and Albert at FBI headquarters in Philadelphia – Day
Gordon and Albert visit Diane at home in Philadelphia – Day
Gordon, Albert, Tammy and Diane fly to Yankton – Day
Diane interviews Mr. C in Yankton prison – Day
Diane talks to Gordon outside of the Yankton prison – Day
Mr. C talks to prison guard in Yankton prison – Day
Andy waits for farmer in Twin Peaks at 5:05pm – Day
Mr. C meets Warden Murphy – Day
Las Vegas police interview Cooper at Lucky 7 office in Las Vegas – Day
Cooper fends off Ike the Spike outside Lucky 7 office in Las Vegas – Dusk
Las Vegas police interview witnesses outside Lucky 7 office – Night
Ben and Beverly at the Great Northern in Twin Peaks – Night
Beverly and Tom at home in Twin Peaks – Night
Jean-Michel Renault at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks – Night
Mr. C and Ray leave Yankton prison – Night
Bing looks for Billy at the RR Diner in Twin Peaks – Night

Part Eight: Gotta light?
Day Nine: Wednesday, September 28 (Cont’d):

Ray shoots Cooper in rural South Dakota – Night
The Nine Inch Nails perform at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks – Night
Flashbacks to New Mexico in 1945 & 1956

Part Nine: This is the chair.
Day 10: Thursday, September 29:

Mr. C walks to a South Dakota farm – Morning
Gordon, Tammy, Diane and Albert fly from Yankton to Buckhorn – Day
Mr. C, Hutch and Chantal on a South Dakota farm – Day
Fusco brothers, Bushnell Mullins, Cooper and Janey-E in Las Vegas police dept. – Day
Fuscos arrest Ike the Spike in Las Vegas motel – Day
Andy and Lucy at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Twin Peaks police visit Betty Briggs – Day
Philadelphia FBI agents visit Buckhorn morgue – Day
Jerry Horne wrestles with his foot in the woods of Twin Peaks – Day
Sheriff Truman, Bobby and Hawk at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Tammy interrogates Bill in a Buckhorn jail – Day
Ben Horne and Beverly in the Great Northern – Night
Hudson Mohawke and Au Revoir Simone perform at the Roadhouse – Night

Part 10: Laura is the one.
Unusually, the first seven scenes of this episode appear to skim back through the same day as the previous episode before moving on to Friday.
Day 10: Thursday, September 29 (Cont’d):
Red kills Miriam in her Twin Peaks trailer – Day (Miriam says she mailed a letter to Sheriff Truman “today” and we see it arrive later in the episode – on Friday.)
Steven and Becky at the Fat Trout Trailer Park in Twin Peaks – Day
The Mitchum brothers and Candie at home in Las Vegas – Day
Janey-E takes Cooper to the Doctor in Las Vegas (Janey-E is wearing the same clothes she wore at the police station in Part 9.)
The Mitchum brothers watch T.V. (The extended weather forecast tells us it’s Thursday then there is a story about Ike’s arrest, which a news anchor says happened “today.”)
Janey-E and Cooper having sex in their Las Vegas home – Night
Nadine watches Jacoby’s video blog from her Twin Peaks drapery store – Night

Day 11: Friday, September 30
Janey-E drives Sonny Jim to school and Cooper to work in Vegas – Morning
Jerry is lost in the woods of Twin Peaks – Day
Deputy Chad intercepts the mail at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Richard Horne robs Sylvia Horne at her Twin Peaks home – Day
Anthony Sinclair visits Duncan Todd’s Las Vegas office – Night
Albert has a dinner date with Constance in Buckhorn – Night (FLASHBACK to Thursday, September 29)
Anthony Sinclair visits the Mitchum brothers at the Silver Mustang Casino – Night
The Mitchum brothers at home – Night
Albert and Tammy visit Gordon in his Buckhorn hotel room – Night (FLASHBACK to Thursday, September 29 – Albert references Diane receiving the “Around the dinner table” text that morning)
Ben Horne take a call from Sylvia at the Great Northern Hotel – Night
The Log Lady calls Hawk at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Night
Rebekah Del Rio performs at the Roadhouse – Night

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About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

5 responses to “Twin Peaks: The Return – A Chronological Timeline

  • Georg Mayer

    This is great, thank you.

    One comment – at the start of episode 3, Cooper enters the glass box whilst the couple is outside, talking about coffee. We know the couple and that scene (outside the glass-box-room) already from episode 1. Therefore I guess it is save to assume that Cooper exits the lodge earlier than you indicate and the events in this scene are not linear.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Thanks, Georg! Yes, I agree that the scene involving Agent Cooper in the glass box is one of the very few instances where the show deviates from a linear structure, If you look at my description of “Day 5” you’ll notice that I indicated it is a flashback to the previous Thursday: “Agent Cooper visits glass box / Sam and Tracy are killed – FLASHBACK to Day Two: Thursday night”

  • Summerisle

    Part 10
    Albert and Tammy visit Gordon in his Buckhorn hotel room the same day Diane received the text on her phone. It’s not Friday September 30 but Thursday September 29. In fact, it’s possible that only a few scenes are Friday. Maybe only “Janey-E drives Sonny Jim to school and Cooper to work in Vegas – Morning”

    • michaelgloversmith

      Good call about Albert and Tammy visiting Gordon on Thursday. I just rewatched and noticed Albert says she got the text that morning. I still think Richard’s murder of Miriam and Chad intercepting Miriam’s letter occur on separate days. Even in a small town it should take a day for a letter to arrive via post.

      • jorkeljo

        I lived in a small town growing up. If the mail item is dropped off in the morning BEFORE sorting, then it’s very possible that the mail could be in that day’s delivery batch that afternoon.

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