Welcome back to TV Timewarp, in which we spend Wednesdays revisiting each episode of a late, beloved series. Join us as we journey back in TV time to examine Twin Peaks, the wonderfully weird, cerebral murder mystery and quirky townie exercise from David Lynch and Mark Frost. Twin Peaks aired on ABC from 1990-91. You can follow our recently completed Firefly TV Timewarp here.
Brian Collins, Sam Strange and I will be covering two episodes a week, and this week we're discussing the fourth and fifth eps in the series. Follow along the entire series here. You can watch with us by streaming Twin Peaks on Netflix or Amazon Instant Watch. We're going to keep this baby spoiler-free, so if you're watching Twin Peaks for the first time, fear not.
And I'd like to start every installment with some crucial information...
What Special Agent Dale Cooper Ate This Week:
He didn’t eat anything in Episode 5! He must have been so hungry! Or maybe he was still full from Episode 4: “Short stack of griddle cakes, melted butter, lightly heated, maple syrup, slice of ham. Nothing beats the taste sensation when maple syrup” *claps* “collides with ham.” Later, a “slice of huckleberry pie, heated, vanilla ice cream on the side, coffee.” I love the earnest solemnity with which he tells Sheriff Truman, “I would love a piece of pie,” and his enthusiasm is rewarded by what appears to be a very satisfying bite. “This must be where pies go when they die.”
Episodes 1.04 and 1.05 (later titled “Rest In Peace” and “The One-Armed Man,” respectively) do an excellent job of following up the series highlight “Zen, Or The Skill To Catch A Killer” without trying to top it. After all, the third episode features both the incomparable Tibetan method and Cooper’s first and most memorable dream, scenes that reveal clues which Coop and Truman follow up on with great efficiency in subsequent episodes. This week's eps are still super quirky and fun without trying to out-crazy backwards talking dwarfs and Deputy Hawk in oven mits.
“Rest in Peace” opens with Cooper having no qualms about doing a little light flirting with high school seductress Audrey Horne in order to get some intel. She tells him a bit about One-Eyed Jacks and that Laura worked the perfume counter with Ronette Pulaski, and then he excuses her to talk official police business with Sheriff Truman and Lucy. This mostly consists of his describing in great detail his dream of the night before, insisting that his “dream is a code waiting to be broken. Break the code, solve the crime.” When he tells them that Not Laura whispered the killer’s name in his ear, it results in my favorite exchange of the episode. Truman: “What was it?” Cooper: “I don’t remember.” Truman: “Damn.” Lucy: “Damn.”
The lovely Albert Rosenfield, Sultan of Sentiment, returns to shake shit up, screaming at the bereaved Dr. Hayward, trying to drill Laura’s skull before her funeral, and well and truly earning a solid right hook from Sheriff Truman. Despite his bruised ego and face, Albert sulkily reports that Laura’s toxicology reports came back positive (duh), that she’d been scratched and punctured on the shoulder by a parrot, and that a gambling chip from One-Eyed Jacks (from which only the letter “J” can be discerned) was in her stomach. Also her arms were tied behind her with twine, the same twine used on Ronette Pulaski. (“Sometimes my arms bend back.”)
When Albert tries to report Harry’s misconduct, Coop proves that he’s fully on the side of the little folk, defending Harry and looking into local real estate at what he assumes “will be a very reasonable price.” It’s interesting that Coop extols the virtues of Twin Peaks residents, praising their “decency, honor and dignity” considering the seedy underbelly to which he’s already been privy.
The fact that Cooper, despite being witness to the staggering duplicity of Twin Peaks, maintains his faith in the goodness of the town, is one of the reasons he is so uniquely suited to investigate its mysteries. He remains open to the paranormal enigma of the town, he observes and acknowledges the evil that lies within, but he still believes that the town deserves saving.
It’s why Cooper fits in so well with the men protecting the town behind the scenes. He meets up with Truman, Ed (whom he instantly ascertains is in love with Norma) and Hawk at the Double R, where Truman says that Twin Peaks is a long way from the rest of the world, and that the price they pay for all of the good things is that, “There’s a sort of evil out there. Something very strange in these old woods. Call it what you want - a darkness, a presence. It takes many forms but it’s been out there for as long as anybody can remember. But we’ve always been here to fight it.” ‘We’ refers to the Bookhouse Boys, a secret society consisting of Truman, Ed, Hawk, James and James’ friend Joey Paulson, the squirrelly looking kid who hustled Donna out of the Road House in the pilot.
Because the darkness behind the light of Twin Peaks is possibly supernatural in nature, the Bookhouse Boys don’t exactly use traditional police methods. They’ve got Bernard Renault tied up in the Bookhouse to grill him about his drug running operation with his brother Jacques, the Road House bartender who drugged Big Ed in the pilot. Bernard doesn’t give anyone up, but he still gets his ass killed by Leo Johnson, who appears to be working with Jacques for Benjamin Horne.
The climax of “Rest In Peace” takes place at Laura’s funeral, a scene that offers the perfect combination of heart-breaking, comedic and unsettling as Bobby shows his first believable display of emotion, blaming himself and everyone else in town for not saving Laura when she was in trouble. Leland throws himself on the coffin and sobs as Sarah screams, “Don’t ruin this too!” I need a keyboard macro for “Leland sobs; Sarah screams.” Also for “Bobby and James fight,” because that happens at the funeral too.
We also meet Laura’s identical cousin Maddy Ferguson, played by Sheryl Lee (who also plays Laura). She has dark hair and glasses and she bugs her eyes out to a disquieting degree, but yeah, she’s Laura, all right. (“She’s my cousin, but doesn’t she look almost exactly like Laura Palmer?”) Her arrival comforts Leland and unsettles James. Doubles!
Shelly proves herself to be kind of an asshole by mocking Leland’s pain later at the diner, but considering she’s terrified of Leo, I might give her a pass. She’s hiding a gun under a loose board along with his bloody shirt, a gun that she wants Bobby to teach her how to use. Norma comforts her, invites her to a spa day and behaves in a generally wonderful manner. “Look at us. Two men a piece and we don’t know what to do with any of the four of them.”
We learn that Big Ed and Norma used to date in high school, and that poor Nadine was “just a little nobody, just a little brown mouse” who has always loved Ed in her crazy ass way. As much as I pity Nadine and love how weird she is, I can’t exactly blame Ed for preferring sweet, beautiful, serene Norma. Norma’s husband Hank gets out on parole to Norma’s composed dismay, and it turns out that Hank has a connection to Josie Packard as well. He sends her a sketch of a double-three domino he’s always sucking on and she wigs. Josie’s pretty much always wigging because she thinks Catherine Martell and Benjamin Horne want to murder her, when really all they want to do is frame her for arson.
The next episode offers a bit more levity and considerably less info dumping. In “The One-Armed Man,” we finally officially meet Phillip Michael Gerard, who looks an awful lot like the One-Armed Man named Mike from Coop’s dream. He has a best friend named Bob (not BOB), who is a local veterinarian whose office is above a convenience store. (“How do you say, convenience store? We lived above it.”) Dr. Bob treats a parrot owned by Jacques Renault, so that random little dream-clue certainly went somewhere. Dr. Bob also treats a llama, which probably bears no weight on the investigation but is worth mentioning. Gerard once had a tattoo on his missing arm, but rather than reading “Fire Walk With Me,” he insists through sobs that it read “Mom.” We’re not sure what that means yet.
Sarah’s incessant wails and visions are given some weight when she describes BOB to Deputy Hawk, who draws a sketch that looks exactly like the BOB from Coop’s dream. Coop avoids this exchange so as not to affect Sarah’s visions, as he’s “a strong sender.” Sarah also describes her vision about the necklace, which sends Donna and James to the necklace’s burial place only to discover that it’s been stolen (by Jacoby, who intimates several more times that he was in love with Laura. We get it, Jacoby.) Jacoby also talks about a red Corvette Laura mentioned - a car owned by Leo Johnson.
Audrey manipulates her father into giving her a job at the perfume counter, and he seems grossly enthusiastic at the prospect. Why does she do this? Well, Audrey and Donna are conspiring to solve Laura’s murder - Donna because she wants to avenge Laura’s death, Audrey because she wants to get in Special Agent Dale Cooper’s neatly starched pants. Get in line, sister!
Although I want to get in Coop’s pants slightly less after he maintains that Lucy’s inexplicable and sudden anger at Andy is for no logical cause. I mean, he happens to be right in Lucy’s case, but I don’t like his reasoning: “In the grand design, women were definitely drawn from a separate set of blueprints.” And then I want to jump right back in his pants when he shoots a perfect face into the hanging silhouette at the gun range. “I put four through the eyes and one through each nostril.”
Lucy, Leland and Shelly each separately watch "An Invitation To Love," my favorite fake soap opera ever that diverts every citizen of Twin Peaks at some point during the show. "Invitation to Love" features such characters as Chet (“Poor Chet.”), Lancaster, Montana, Emerald and Jade, who are twin sisters in love with the same man. Doubles!
Finally, Deputy Hawk is extra awesome in both episodes, first by telling Cooper what he believes about souls - he believes in several, the waking soul that “gives life to mind and body” and the dream soul that “wanders to faraway places, the land of the dead.” And later he recites a poem he wrote for his girlfriend Diane (different Diane - doubles!): “One woman can make you fly like an eagle; another can give you the strength of a lion. But only one in the cycle of life can fill your heart with wonder and the wisdom that you have known a singular joy.” Oh Hawk. You may be a casually racist cliché, but I love you.
I’ve watched this episode twice in the last two weeks and I never once got the idea that Leo Johnson killed Bernard Renault. Am I just spectacularly dense or what? I remember him tied up, stonewalling the Bookhouse Boys, but that’s it. As if this show weren't confusing enough already.
Speaking of the Bookhouse Boys, the spooky side of Twin Peaks gets a lot of attention, but the idea that all these badasses kind of know how weird their town is and utilize vigilantism to deal with their extra problems is pretty cool. Unfortunately, their drug smuggling woes leave a bit to be desired. When I hear Truman’s spiel to Cooper, I want them to have secret APBs out on backwards talking little people and tainted packages of Garmonbozia. Catching French Canadian drug runners is disappointingly pedestrian for Twin Peaks. On the other hand... the Renault Brothers are pretty goddamn repulsive. I’d sic the MIB on them.
I’m with you Meredith on disliking that line from Coop. At times it seems Lynch and Frost didn’t have this character as thoroughly figured out as it often looks. His broad strokes are pretty unique and understood, but this “Women, ammiright?” thing along with this hesitation towards the Log Lady last week seems totally at odds with the character as we understand him. And it’s not like this is some sly commentary on the character’s heroism by the creators. It’s just strange writing. The bad kind.
That we’re only now at Laura’s funeral highlights how much this first season feels less like a television show and more like a limited mini-series. That Twin Peaks will eventually have to lose this propulsion may explain why so many people lost interest in the show as it continued. Here, however, we’re still in the good stuff. And like Meredith pointed out... what a funeral scene. Leland falling into the casket is completely heartbreaking, but just as I’m about to sniffle, Sarah screams that line at him: “Don’t ruin this too!” and I guffaw instead. That’s the brilliance of this show, I suppose. Whenever someone cries, it’s tough to know how to read it. See: The One-Armed Man after he admits his tattoo read “Mom.”
Regarding the funeral, there’s something really strange about the way we cut from it to Shelly later recreating Leland’s strange act of sorrow for laughs. One of the bits I like about the whole Laura Palmer thing is how the whole town avers her importance when the reality is far more realistic: not everyone cares. Shelly’s not my favorite character, but I respect that the show doesn’t bend over backwards to make Laura Palmer such a huge part of everyone’s life. She already had like eight or nine extracurricular activities already, on top of school, prostitution and a drug habit.
And since Meredith is so hot for Coop this week, I’ll go ahead and admit to my perverse crush on Maddy, though I offer no explanation.
So I’m the only one who sighed (noticed?) that the One-Armed Man was named Gerard? I figured Twin Peaks was above silly references, but I guess I can let it slide, as if there’s ever a TV show that made it far on what seemed like a very limited premise, it’s The Fugitive.
I should note at this point I’m in all new territory - I had never made it this far in my previous attempts to watch the show. Thanks, you two!
Shelly’s behavior was kind of weird throughout; in addition to mocking a grieving dad (real nice), she was also much more carefree with Bobby than before - didn’t she used to wait until Leo was out of town to entertain her lover? Now she’s having him over when Leo's just off hanging out? And her attitude when Bobby tries to leave (after the shirt discovery) is more like a Femme Fatale than the abused woman looking for an escape she seemed before. It’s an issue when you have a show where each episode takes place only a day after the previous one - what's happened in the past two days that would make Shelly less afraid of Leo?
On the other hand, Albert was even more awesome here. He still had his jerk attitude, but the stuff he discovered from his limited time with the body was impressive, and I love his little dig at the end (“A couple more days with the body and who knows what I might have come up with”). I suspect he’d be able to solve the case, frankly. I had to cheat and look at the IMDb page to see if he comes back (SPOILER), needless to say I’m happy he does.
I admit, I DID feel bad for poor Nadine when she’s telling Ed about how she always loved him and basically had to wait until Norma was out of the picture. It’s just so depressing because Ed’s thinking “Can’t wait to go see Norma. Hope her husband doesn’t get out of jail.” Still, Ed seems to be the least weird guy in town, so he’s gotta have something.
Someone - please tell me that the random tennis players (who seem to be wearing opposing outfits - the guy’s shirt matches his partner’s pants and vice versa) we watch for a few seconds near the end of “The One-Armed Man” are never seen again. I would be so sad if the show was actually setting up new characters. I’d like to be comforted knowing that it was merely the most delightfully odd thing on the show yet.
Oh, and my crush is still Lucy. I love that she recapped "An Invitation To Love" in full instead of telling Truman what was happening in the station, even if it was an obvious gag the second he asked. I’m also pretty sure the soap is narrated by Don LaFontaine, aka the movie trailer guy - but my (not very extensive) google search couldn’t confirm it. Sounds like him anyway.
I legitimately cannot believe I’ve never made that Gerard connection, considering Twin Peaks is one of my favorite shows and The Fugitive is one of my favorite movies (seriously). I feel kind of stymied by this discovery - although in my defense, if Twin Peaks’ dogged detective had been the one named Gerard, I would have gotten it in an instant.
Yeah, it’s a weird week for Shelly, and Coop’s one-off misogyny doesn’t sit right. Few characters on this show display utmost continuity, and Brian’s crush Lucy is one of them. I love Kimmy Robertson, and her recital of the mired plotlines on "Invitation to Love" and her simple, dismayed parroting of “Damn” at the Great Northern are two high points of these eps. Poor Chet. You have fine taste, Collins. You, on the other hand, Strange...
Sam - yep, Leo kills Bernard. In the scene where he meets with Benjamin Horne in the woods, there’s a body rolled up in a cloth on the ground, and Leo indicates he offed him for getting caught by the Bookhouse Boys. Horne: “Do we know if the late Bernard gave you up?” Leo: “I told him that if he ever did, I’d kill him.” Horne: “Well, did he?” Leo: “No, but he shouldn’t have trusted me. Like I said, Bernie wasn’t too bright.”
And agreed on both counts, gentlemen: Albert is a curmudgeonly genius, and the Bookhouse Boys are pretty rad, if not entirely effective.
Finally, Brian, I’m happy to announce that the tennis players are just random background delights, never to be heard from again.
Man, I can’t believe I missed that whole exchange not once but twice. It’s really a shame. Not just because it means I’m getting more oblivious but also because Bernard Renault was sort of an awesomely abject creepo in his one scene. It’s the accent. Few things are more horrid in this world than greasy French Canadians (apologies to all you French Canadian freaks out there). It sucks that he’s gone. I think maybe it sucks worse that he was killed by a wimp like Leo.
I forgot to mention Hank as yet another negative inclusion into the Twin Peaks cast of characters. I’m sure he has his defenders (I’m sure even Josie Packard probably has to have one or two very lonely super-fans) but I can’t stand him. One of my problems with Twin Peaks is half the ‘dangerous’ characters don’t feel all that threatening to me. Leo’s a good example of this. Hank is another. BOB, the Renaults and some parties yet unseen do not have this problem.
But while Hank bugs me, we also get the first ‘appearance’ of you-know-who as Gordon, which is way worth any Hank irritations. We don’t actually see Gordon, but we do get to hear him over the phone arguing with Cooper about Albert. My favorite character, you guys!
And speaking of Albert, I have to feel for the guy. Sure he’s a dick, but confronted with someone like Andy every time he nears the police station, it’s no wonder he holds the entirety of Twin Peaks in contempt. When the town (and Cooper) cock-blocks his one time shot at examining Laura’s body over mere sentimentality, you kind of understand why he’s so impatient with idiots. Brian’s right. Another day with the body and Albert probably would have solved the whole show and maybe even The Killing while he was at it.
I don’t have much more to add here other than to point out how happy I was to see Chris Mulkey in the cast as Hank. Big fan of his; he was the lead on a short-lived but terrific FOX sitcom called Bakersfield PD (along with Gus Fring!), and also popped up on Friday Night Lights for a bit as Coach Taylor’s replacement, and thus was one of the few good things about that show’s second season.
Also, I’m curious... did Angelo Badalamenti only compose like four themes for the show? Maybe my ears aren’t good enough to detect differences, but it seems like it’s just the same ones playing through. Then again if the song choices include the obnoxious “Pennsylvania 6-5000” I’m perfectly okay with the repetition of score.
Some questions to leave you with, dear readers:
1) I heart Coop, Brian lurves Lucy and Sam digs Maddie. So who's your crush on the show? (la.donna.pietra, we all know yours is Bobby.)
2) Do you find Hank and Leo menacing or wimpy?
3) Do you think some characters' (Shelly, Cooper) lack of continuity on the show is intentional, and if so, to what purpose? Or is it just bad writing?
4) Have you seen any other of Coop's dream hints pop up this week?
Tune back in next Wednesday as we cover episodes 1.06 ("Cooper's Dreams") and 1.07 ("Realization Time"). Find out what Special Agent Dale Cooper eats next!
Some comment etiquette: many people are visiting Twin Peaks for the first time with us, so please mark all series-spoilery comments appropriately.