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 are discussing the sixth and seventh eps in the series this week. Next week: the season one finale! 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:
Two donuts, one sugar cookie, a cup of tea and several cups of hot black coffee. "Harry, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don't plan it. Don't wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men's store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot black coffee. Man, that is the stuff. Nothing like a good cup of black coffee." Words to live by, ladies and gentlemen.
We open Episode 6 (later titled "Cooper's Dreams") with a grumpy Coop who has suffered a restless night due to the noisy Icelandics, of whom Jerry Horne has become so enamored - in particular the statuesque Heba, who gifted him with a giant rack of lamb. Coop is at first short with Audrey, but upon learning that she’s 18 (is that right? I think she's fibbing, but I don’t recall for sure), he gets a little friendlier. Until, that is, she shows up naked in his bedroom, at which point he turns into his Kindest Coop Ever and gently rebuffs her advances while boosting her self-esteem, buying her a malt and promising to listen to her stupid high school problems. (Okay, Audrey’s problems are legit, but still, who wants to listen to a high school girl complain all night? I wouldn't even offer to do that when I was a high school girl.)
Despite his lack of sleep, Cooper remains an astute enough detective, with the help of Harry and Hawk, to uncover several new clues. He discovers Jacques Renault’s blood on Leo Johnson’s shirt (type AB negative), a new copy of Flesh World magazine carrying a picture of Leo’s truck and another pic of Laura’s legs next to the same red drapes from Coop’s dream, and weird letters to Ronette including a picture of a bearded dude in a negligee. These are sufficient clues - well, disregarding the bearded man in lingerie - to lead them to the cabin where Laura and Ronette were held captive.
But first, they run into the Log Lady (named Margaret, evidently, although I prefer Log Lady) who offers them tea, sugar cookies and knowledge. Cooper still inexplicably harbors some baditude about the Log Lady, but he eventually asks her log what it knows and gets a mostly useful and sort of coherent answer:
Dark. Laughing. The owls were flying. Many things were blocked. Laughing. Two men, two girls. Flashlights, in the woods, pass by over the ridge. The owls were near. The dark was pressing in on her. Quiet then. A gentle wind. Later, footsteps. One man passed by. Screams far away. Terrible, terrible. One voice.
Coop and Co. ascertain that the two men are Jacques and Leo, the two girls are Ronette and Laura, and the later man is ?? (You know who, right?)
After tea time, Hawk, Harry, Cooper and, for some reason, Doc Hayward, who just looks really tired and keeps being asked to stay outside, find the infamous red-draped cabin in which they discover Jacques’ parrot Waldo, presumably the same one that scratched up Laura’s shoulder. (“The birds sing a pretty song.”) A record player plays music on a loop, a lovely song sung by someone who sounds an awful lot like Laura Palmer. (“And there’s always music in the air.”) They also find dried blood, a video recorder and a One Eyed Jacks chip missing a J - the same plastic J found in Laura’s stomach last week.
Shelly and Bobby also have a busy week, plotting Leo’s death or arrest with equal enthusiasm. Bobby encourages Shelly to tell Deputy Andy that on the night of Laura’s death, she heard Leo and Jacques arguing about Laura before driving off together. Shelly gets a hideous makeover with Norma and Hank shows an inordinate amount of interest in the fact that she’s Leo’s wife. We find out why later when Hank beats up Leo because Leo was evidently supposed to mind Hank’s cocaine store, not start up his own franchise. Leo takes out his humiliation on Shelly, who shoots him! Which seems exciting until you realize in the next episode that absolutely nothing comes of it.
We learn during an appointment between Bobby and Dr. Jacoby that Bobby’s one of those guys who cries after sex, and while I don’t condone Laura’s laughing at him for it, I also pretty much don’t blame her. But Bobby and Jacoby do blame Laura for corrupting Bobby - Laura, who felt compelled to corrupt everyone because she had such darkness inside her. Bobby tells Jacoby,
Every time she tried to make the world a better place, something terrible came up inside her and pulled her back down into hell, and took her deeper and deeper into the blackest nightmare. Each time it got harder to go back up to the light.
Laura forced Bobby to start selling coke so she could snort it, and Bobby cries after this confession too, which is far more understandable and moving than the sex crying.
Josie should ostensibly grow more interesting when we discover that she’s been working with Benjamin Horne, who is double-crossing Catherine Martell in a plot to murder her so Josie can get the insurance money and Benjamin can...split it with her? This plot is fuzzy, and anyway, Josie’s still boring. Literally nothing makes that woman interesting. Catherine Martell, on the other hand, continues to grow more and more delightful, slapping Ben three times and pouring champagne on his shoes. I love that magnificent old bitch.
Meanwhile, in other delightful news, Audrey threatens to accuse the manager of Horne’s Department Store of rape unless he lets her work at the perfume counter, but don’t feel sorry for that guy because he’s a creep.
Finally [enter keyboard shortcut]: Leland sobs, dances.
In Episode 7 ("Realization Time"), we learn that Leo was pretty much just grazed by Shelly’s bullet, and he does some post-bullet spying to learn about her and Bobby, so that’s about to get scary! (For Bobby, not for Sam Strange, who thinks Leo Johnson is a wimp.) Also, Lucy is angry at Andy for knocking her up, which isn’t particularly fair to Andy, who is still in the dark. But pregnant ladies be crazy!
Most of the clues revealed in Ep 7 are discovered by characters other than Cooper for a change. Audrey cherry stem-ties her way into a job at One Eyed Jacks, meaning that we’ll get to see her in some truly tragic lingerie before too long. Maddy, Donna and James discover Laura’s tapes to Jacoby and trick Jacoby into thinking Laura is still alive in order to learn what he knows, which is almost definitely nothing, but you Scoobs keep at it! Bobby sees Maddy in a blonde wig and freaks, because every single plot impetus on this show continues to be “____ overhears” or “____ accidentally sees.” And Catherine learns of the insurance policy Ben and Josie took out on her and of the missing cooked ledger, so get ready for the hell-fury of that particular scorned woman.
But Coop does some solid sleuthing along with the Bookhouse Boys, heading to One Eyed Jacks (on the bureau’s dime!) looking like a motherfucking BOSS in a well-fitted tux and a nice pair of specs. He makes Big Ed look hilarious in a curly wig and mustache, but Ed manages to rock it anyway. And Hank may be shacking up with Ed’s true love, but Ed’s wig looks better than Hank’s real hair any day of the week and twice on Sundays.
Coop’s other sleuthing success comes from his foresight in tape-recording Waldo the Witness Parrot, in which Waldo whimpers creepily, “Laura. Laura. Don’t go there. Hurting me, hurting me. Stop it, Leo. Stop it.” Then Leo shoots the bird and gets blood and feathers all over the Twin Peaks Sheriff Department donut buffet, which really bums me out.
Finally, Bobby hides a bag of coke in James’ gas tank, so we’ll see where that leads us next week.
I was saddened by the blood splatter on the donuts as well. Even if they don’t look particularly tasty (they also look small), having to throw away donuts because they have Waldo blood on them is just a major bummer. I say this because right now all I have at my disposal is a pack of baby carrots and would much rather be eating a donut. In fact, food wasting is a theme here - Maddy orders a cherry coke and then doesn’t even seem to take a sip.
Wasn’t feeling these two episodes as much as the previous five. Most serials tend to flounder a bit as they build toward the finale, as they spend a lot of time getting everyone into place for the big climax(es) but I figured this show wouldn't be a victim of that, given that they were dealing with a pitiful eight-episode season and were presumably building to something big only a few hours after introducing us to the world. Guess I can find out right now if I wanted, but if this was 1990 and I had to wait a week... it wouldn't be a big issue, as these didn't really grab me as most second-to-last episodes of the season tend to do.
The Maddy subplot also isn't sitting well with me. I know of Lynch's obsession with duality and such, but I just can't get around someone's cousin being a dead ringer. Sort of undermines the role of the parents, no? And yeah, enough Leland crying. To be fair it's only been five or six days since he found out his daughter was murdered and thus he'd obviously still be grieving, but so far I fail to see its usefulness beyond giving Ray Wise something to do. This one at least had the payoff of everyone mimicking his sad dance, so maybe the writers were getting just as bored with it as I was.
Speaking of Wise and look-alikes - anyone else think he looks more like Benjamin’s brother than David Patrick Kelly (Jerry Horne)? As much as I love Kelly (his response to the idea of assembling all of the town’s “best and brightest” was easily the highlight of these two episodes for me), I love Wise more, and can't help but wonder how much more fun it'd be to see Ray Wise hitting on Icelandic women and praising sandwiches.
I tell you what. I’m starting to get Twin Fatigued. Brian makes a good point about the poor seasonal pacing going on here. Both of these episodes feel like wheel spinning when they should be ramping up to something. Instead the season’s penultimate cliffhanger involves a recently neutered Bobby shoving (a 21st Century college education worth of) cocaine into James’ motorcycle gas tank while Dr. Heywood Jablowme drives off to maybe find not-Laura. Riveting stuff.
Cooper kind of reveals his bitchy side as a bad night’s sleep turns him into one surprisingly grumpy special agent. You do NOT want to party around this guy. On top of that: I’m beginning to get the idea that Audrey has the hots for Cooper. The alarming part is, I’m beginning to get the idea Cooper has the hots for Audrey as well. I can’t blame either of them, but when Coop teenage cock-blocks himself, you can almost hear him cursing his badge. It’s a bit unsavory. But then, we’ve already kind of established that Cooper isn’t as nailed down character-wise as he first appears. Even this far along, it seems we have a more concrete idea of what he should and shouldn’t do than the show does.
I’m not the biggest Hank fan (his humble schtick sucks just a tad bit more than the phony tough guy persona he puts on whenever he’s the last character to leave a room), but I find myself interested in the idea that he and Harry used to be best buds and Hank was even once a Bookhouse Boy. It’s adds an interesting dynamic to both characters. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really go anywhere, and I spend more of my attention during their interactions noticing how Harry dresses more like a plumber or a painter than a cop. (Also, does anyone get a Walt/Skyler vibe from Hank and Norma?)
Harry also bugs me because he’s hooked up with Josie. I’m with Meredith when it comes to this character, especially regarding this whole Josie/Catherine/Ben Horne thing that I can’t follow and don’t much care about anyway. (There’s one bit in “Realization Time” I love where Pete’s talking to Harry about his stuffed fish and exits the scene with the line “Size isn’t everything” just as Josie enters. It’s funny because Asian women have such notoriously small wieners.) I sincerely hope whatever it is they’re up to (don’t really remember) resolves itself soon because her constant sad-face bugs me. At least Catherine looks like she has some balls.
Well now, I’m not going to talk about Waldo. In fact, we’re not gonna talk about Waldo at all, we’re gonna keep him out of it, except to say I’ve seen a lot of gory stuff on TV, but that bird’s blood dripping on a bunch of donuts kind of makes me want to throw up. Despite that, I do love how Cooper flat out dislikes birds. I also like how Coop continues to play the straight man when it comes to the stupid Log Lady. But that doesn’t have anything to do with Waldo.
Finally: There are a lot of crows in these two episodes, as well as some strangely deliberate multi-character profile shots that didn’t seem to indicate much. And how much longer do you think it will be before Harry finally deputizes Dr. Hayward? Does he even see actual patients?
Oh Catherine Martell has balls. She has ALL the balls.
I didn’t find myself as underwhelmed by these episodes as you guys did. Of course, the first five episodes are hard to beat - they’re some of the most classic hours of television of all time - but I thought Eps 6 and 7 did a great job of delaying the mystery while mostly maintaining the tension. After all, stuff happens: the Bookhouse Boys find the cabin in the woods, we finally learn what the Log Lady’s log saw, and that Waldo scene obviously stuck with all of us. Poor tiny donuts.
So while it’s true that very few episodes of Twin Peaks measure up to the first few, and that’s a problem, it’s also true that very few episodes of anything measure up to the first few episodes of Twin Peaks. Subsequent episodes aren’t flawless, but I still find them wonderfully compelling and unusual. I just start to value other aspects more than the mystery: the quirk, the humor, the soap operatics, how handsome Dale Cooper looks in a tux, what have you.
I’m not bothered by Cooper’s exchange with Audrey in his room. I think he lets her down gently while treating her like an adult, which is really the only way he could have handled that situation without alienating her or, well, having sex with her. Yeah, I think he’s attracted to her, but she’s 18 and he’s not a robot. If he acted on his attraction, there would be a problem, but I feel Coop has behaved honorably so far.
Brian, I’ve always thought that Benjamin Horne and Leland Palmer resemble each other to a disconcerting degree, but I’ve never thought about how great it would be to see Ray Wise eating giant baguette sandwiches and swooning over Heba. That would be so good.
Yes, lots of crows, lots of crows.
You’re right in a way, Meredith. These episodes aren’t actually bad. They just don’t make much of a mark individually. When we first started this journey, I watched the whole first season in pretty much one go. Each week, I rewatch the pertinent episodes. The further we go, the less I can remember the episodes individually. This isn’t really a show for “it’s the episode where so and so does such and such” identifiers, which probably doesn’t affect it when you’re just watching but hurts my ability to do really genius recaps. Like the best recaps you’ve ever read.
We do seem to be getting closer to some answers. The tricky thing is we have two or three paths going. We have all the Police/FBI investigations, which often provide Twin Peaks’ best scenes. We then have Audrey’s slow infiltration of One Eyed Jacks, which seemingly will only bring in information Cooper has already eclipsed. And finally there’s the James, Donna, Maddy super nerd squad, who seem to be perpetually barking up the wrong tree. I just do not care much about Dr. Jacoby’s involvement with Laura. With Leo and Jacques Renault’s very real, seedy connections to Laura, who wants to spend time with a horny old quack?
I have to say, I’m really looking forward to things wrapping up and moving to a new show era, even if it’s an era most frown upon.
I still don’t know anything about season 2 beyond the fact that it has polarized people. Twenty years later, OG fans still sigh and mention something about James’ character as if it were last season. Hell, I’ve already moved on from the second shitty season of Friday Night Lights. If twenty years from now it’s still a sore spot for me, I’m going to feel silly.
And yeah, it’s not that these are BAD episodes - they just don’t offer as much excitement or intrigue as the others, and spend more time on subplots that personally don’t interest me much (yet?), such as the Iceland people. I could have watched Bobby and his family in therapy for half the episode, but instead we get side characters hitting on new characters. Or go nowhere subplots, like Shelly shooting Leo, which had about as much effect as Lila destroying her dad’s car dealership on Friday Night Lights.
Speaking of Shelly, I agree that her makeover was hideous. Between that and Sheryl Lee’s garish, frumpy sweater, these episodes were not great in that department either. At least you got Coop in his tuxedo!
On to the finale!
Some questions to leave you with, dear readers:
1) Do you feel like the first season of Twin Peaks is running out of momentum, or are you happy with the pacing so far?
2) How do you feel about Coop and Audrey's relationship? Is the way he interacts with her appropriate or unsavory?
3) What's the deal with the crows? And owls? And parrot?
4) Newbies: let's hear your theories!
NEXT WEEK: we're only going to cover the one-hour finale before diving in to the two-hour premiere of Season Two the following week!
Some comment etiquette: many people are visiting Twin Peaks for the first time with us, so please mark all series-spoilery comments appropriately.