Warning: This post contains spoilers for Twin Peaks: The Return.
So, the folks over at Vulture got their hands on Mark Frost's latest Twin Peaks novel, this one called Twin Peaks: The Finale Dossier. Upon reading through the book, they came across a very interesting passage which seems to confirm a long-held fan theory about Twin Peaks: The Return's finale - namely, that by traveling back in time to save Laura Palmer from being murdered, our man Dale Cooper caused Laura to disappear forever from the originally-established Twin Peaks timeline.
Here's the passage in question, which is written from the point of view of Chrysta Bell's Agent Tammy Preston, who's in Twin Peaks to do some investigating of her own:
"You know what else I discovered, Chief, in that same article, a few sentences later? This:
“Agent Cooper had come to town for a few months earlier, to aid in the investigation into the disappearance, still unsolved, of local teenage beauty queen, Laura Palmer.”
Let me repeat that phrase for you: “still unsolved.” No mention of “murder,” “wrapped in plastic,” or “father arrested for shocking crime eventually dies in police custody of self-inflicted wounds.”
It’s right there on the front page: Laura Palmer did not die. So, fairly certain I’ve not misplaced my own mind, I go back and check the corresponding police records. They tell me this: Laura Palmer disappeared from Twin Peaks without a trace — on the very same night when, in the world we thought we knew, it used to be said she died — but the police never found the girl or, if she had been killed elsewhere, her body or made a single arrest."
In other words: thanks (?) to Agent Cooper, Laura Palmer simply disappeared from the town of Twin Peaks over two decades ago. She never made it into that boxcar, was never murdered, was never found wrapped in plastic on that stretch of beach by Pete Martell. What does that mean for the version of Laura later discovered by Cooper in Odessa, Texas? What happened in The Return's final moments? For now, there doesn't appear to be confirmation on either of those fronts, but at least now we know the "altered timeline" portion of that popular fan theory is legit (ed. note: for the record, this writer's kinda bummed that anything's been confirmed).
Of course, this being Twin Peaks, all we can really say is that this is the case...for now. Let's revisit the whole thing in another 25 years and see if things haven't changed. Please spend said years debating your own Twin Peaks: The Return fan theories in the comments below.