Agent Cooper begins his rites of initiation; Audrey is a psychopomp…
With the speculation that season three of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks may be airing as soon as this May we’re going to double-down with our weekly Twin Peaks reviews to makes sure we close out just in time for our season three review and recaps that will follow each new episode that will air on Showtime later this year. Which just means more cherry pie and coffee for every review, so enjoy!
Episode 1; Written by David Lynch & Mark Frost
Directed by: Duwayne Dunham
Episode 2; Written by: David Lynch & Mark Frost
Directed by: David Lynch
Serving as the first proper episode after the pilot was filmed nearly a year prior, Lynch and Frost waste no time in establishing main character, Special Agent Dale Cooper, as the charismatic lead. Neither do they pull punches in highlighting the eccentricities that would come to define his character. Opening the series hanging upside down, Cooper is employing the oft-used narrative device, his hand-recorder in which he dictates a running monologue to his never-seen assistant “Diane”; openly pondering who killed JFK.
In the Great Northern hotel’s mess hall, Cooper is the midst of ordering a hearty breakfast when he gets tongue-tied over “grapefruits, as long as those grapefruits are… freshly squeezed” when the daughter of the hotel’s owner, Ben Horne slinks to his table. Thus entered, Audrey Horne, one of the 90’s first television heartthrobs. Audrey drifts from scene to scene, head listlessly bobbing off of her shoulder to the score of sleepy jazz, as if she were made of smoke, some noir psychopomp with an agenda known only to her.
The devastation of Laura’s death continues to ripple throughout the town, with both of her parents and Dr. Hayward still in numb disbelief. While maudlin at times, it is rewarding to see a series patient enough to sit with grief long enough for it to register as real. We begin to crack away at the Homecoming Queen perception of Laura as we learn through an autopsy that Laura had sex, willingly or otherwise, with three men the night of her death as well being heavily involved with cocaine.
Cocaine that she and Bobby were getting off of Leo Johnson, husband to the diner waitress, Shelly. Turns out that Bobby, Bobby’s friend, Mike, and Laura owe Leo $20,000 with half of it being locked away in Laura’s safety deposit safe at the bank. With her dead, and no access to the other ten grand, Mike and Bobby are bug-eyed and gulping during their meeting in the woods with shotgun-toting Leo. But not to worry, Leo only beats women.
After being forced to do his laundry, Shelly discovers a blood-soaked shirt of Leo’s. On impulse, Shelly hides the shirt before leaving for work. This serves as an excuse for Leo to assault her with a bar of soap in a sock while surf rock plays on the radio. Seeing this, Bobby vows to Shelly (remember, their each other’s side pieces) that Leo will be a “dead man” if he hurts her again. Noble sentiments, but a lot for Bobby to chew on when he’s already involved with Leo’s drug running and down 10K.
Meanwhile, Laura’s other beau, James Hurley, is having his first date(?) with Laura’s best friend Donna Hayward. I’m not judging, but Laura’s body is literally not even in the ground at this point and he’s already meeting her parents. This is excruciating. While Laura Flynn Boyle does the most she can with often-overwrought lines, much of the drama that is James and Donna is glacial. James Marshall, who plays James Hurley, delivers one of the worst line deliveries I have ever heard during a flashback scene with Laura in this episode. It’s so bad I don’t even want to repeat here.
Later, Cooper will briefly interrogate James, but gets no answer as to where the other half of the necklace he shared with Laura has gone to, the other half to the necklace found at the scene of her murder. Cut to: Dr. Lawrence Jacoby, town psychologist. Modeled after Terrence McKenna, Jacoby is a new-age quack who can cut through people more clearly than his psychobabble suggests.
Episode 1 ends with Jacoby listening to the tapes Laura recorded for him, as per his suggestion during the course of his treatment of her. He listens with fond remembrance, sobbing as he clutches at the other half of the heart pendant; confirming that it was his gloved hand seen in the final frames of the pilot episode. While confirming nothing on its own, it is not a good look for the doctor and has to at least lean heavy against several doctor/patient boundaries.
Out canvassing the locals, Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman talk with Josie Packard, who lives with Catherine and Pete Martel. The triumvirate run the local sawmill, which is the lifeblood of Twin Peaks. Having married into the family business shortly before her late husband died mysteriously, Josie is hated by Catherine; from whom Josie has usurped the family business. What I don’t understand is why they insist on living together if they’re both financially independent as well? Either way, Sheriff Truman is secretly seeing Josie and Cooper calls him on it immediately.
On the topic of “seeing secretly”- Catherine Martel is having an affair from her bumbling husband with Ben Horne. Together, the two are colluding to burn the mill down, blame it own Josie, and collect on the insurance. This also plays into Ben’s hands in his effort to procure the lands for his Ghostwood Estates land development deal that he almost sold a band of Norwegians on before his daughter, Audrey, sabotaged their meeting. I know, this sounds like an entirely additional show in a show, but it tracks- sort of.
Ben is not in this alone. During the tensest family dinner ever, Ben’s brother, Jerry- yes, Ben and Jerry- arrives from his latest jet-setting adventure. Jerry Horne is a fantastic and larger than life addition to the cast of Twin Peaks and his comical, cartoonishly conniving yet charming demeanor played wonderfully against his older sibling’s cerebral sliminess. Given a fun affectation, Jerry is a foodie. His scenes will usually find him eating something which never fails to prove an awe-inspiring event for him. Here, it is a brie baguette, which somehow kept through customs.
Bummed that their deal with the Norwegians fell through, Jerry is consoled when Ben offers to take him for a trip to One Eyed Jack’s, a seedy casino and brothel just north of the border. Given the VIP treatment upon arriving, the brothers flip a coin for the newest addition to the brothel’s stables like the true creeps they are. Incidentally, Cooper gets a anonymous note slipped under his door advising him to look into the “Jack with one eye” that same night. Like the Roadhouse bar, One Eyed Jacks is a nucleus of plot development that will come into fuller significance later.
We see the addition of quite a few colorful characters, including FBI agent, Albert Rosenfield. Played Miguel Ferrer, Albert is a no-nonsense, mile-a-minute-mouth agent that plays a wonderful counter to Cooper’s magnanimity.
Allowed more scene time is Big Ed’s crazy wife, Nadine. Sporting an eye patch and obsessed with creating the world’s first absolutely silent drape runners, Nadine is such a particular kind of crazy. Actress, Wendy Robie, really hones in here. The wide-eyed toothy grin she gives Big Ed while opening and shutting the drapes in pure ecstasy really says everything about the character.
When local eccentric, the Log Lady, offers to share a clue about Laura’s murder to Cooper, his unwillingness to ask her log what it saw underlines this early stage of initiation along Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Quest that Cooper is still upon. He denies the leap of faith needed to begin his odyssey into the unknown and therefore wisdom offered is denied him. Played as a kook at first, Margaret “Log Lady” Lanterman holds a quiet sagacity. Often speaking in curious stanzas, the Log Lady plays a subversive oracle for those willing to listen.
Later, Cooper confides to the rest of the Twin Peaks police department of a powerful dream he experienced involving Tibet and the Dali Lama. This dream influences him to go out to the woods and chuck rocks at a bottle while the Sheriff reads off townspeople and their connection to Laura. If Cooper strikes the bottle while the name is being read, they must have killed Laura. Something to the effect of mind and body working in perfect union. Simple, right?
While I doubt an arrest warrant would have been issues no matter how many bottles burst, Cooper used the exercise as a way to consider the case in a lateral fashion, employing new perspectives and leaning heavily on intuition. This is his open and declared act of faith and first step along a path of enlightenment. It is also a clever device to refresh the audience on who all the principle cast are while acting out a fun scene that saw Deputy Andy cracked in the head with a rock and Agent Cooper’s character develop further.
This act of faith in acknowledging one dream pays off in the reward of another prophetic dream later that night for Agent Cooper. In what would prove the most iconic set design of any series throughout the nineties, Agent Cooper’s dream finds him sitting in a red draped room with a black and white chevron patterned floor.
Describing what was to be known as the “red room” could only serve to do it a grave injustice. The final scene of episode 2 of Twin Peaks is something any fan of motion picture has to experience. Intercut with cryptic passages from a one-armed man and Bob, the same grisly man that Laura’s mother had a vision of earlier in the episode where he crouched menacingly behind the rails of Laura’s bed, the two speak of possession and a “devilish one”.
Cooper then finds himself in the Red Room, aged, watching a strange dwarf in an all-red suit dance to lounge jazz. The dwarf’s motions are clipped, performed in reverse and played backward. The same effect is done to his speech, which underlines the otherness from where the dwarf’s words may be coming. With the dwarf is a version of Laura, immaculate and dressed in funeral blacks. She offers vague clues to her own death. To which the dwarf can only nod and smile, adding, “she’s filled with secrets.”
Much of the symbolic translation of this dream plays out throughout the series, but Cooper will elaborate on it further as soon as the opening scene of the following episode. Here, he awakes with an insane cowlick that has to be at least half a foot high and dials Sheriff Truman in the middle of the night declaring that he knows who killed Laura Palmer. He does, however, insist that “yes, it can wait until morning” before hanging up while staring off into space clicking his fingers in rhythm to same jazz that scored his prophetic dream.
His leap of faith has been rewarded. We can see in his eyes, as the episode closes, he is beginning a path into the unknown.
“Damn fine cup of coffee!” –Agent Cooper
“Leo needs a new pair of shoes.” –Leo Johnson
“Do your palms ever itch?” –Audrey Horne
“There was a fish… in the percolator.” –Pete Martel
“Catch you, with my death bag.” –Bob
“Through the dark and future past, the magician longs to see, one chance out between two worlds- fire, walk with me.” –One Armed Man
“My name is Mike. His name is Bob.” –One Armed Man
“That gum you like is coming back in style.” -Dwarf
NEW CHARACTERS: expect a lot less after this initial episode…
Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn): Sultry femme fatale; mischievous
Ben Horne (Richard Beymer): Mover and shaker, having affair with Catherine Martel; creep
Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly): Brother to mover and shaker; creep
Big Ed Hurley (Everett McGill): Uncle to James Hurley, owns gas station; married to Nadine, affair with Norma
Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie): One eyed. Crazy. Married to Big Ed; has a mood swing issue
Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton): Runs the Double R diner. Married to prisoner Hank Jennings; having an affair with Big Ed
Shelly Johnson (Madchen Amick): Waitress at the Double R diner. Abused wife of Leo Johnson; having affair with Bobby Briggs
Leo Johnson (Eric DaRe): Abusive husband to Shelly Johnson; trucker and drug runner
Dr. Hayward (Warren Frost): Town doctor, Donna’s father; old fashioned
Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn): new age Psychologist with a creep factor; Hawaii motif
Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) FBI agent; a jerk
Log Lady (Catherine Coulson): Carries a log; speaks in stanza
Josie Packard (Joan Chen): Asian ex-wife to Andrew Packard, inherited Packard Saw Mill, hated by Andrew’s sister and current housemate, Catherine Packard; seeing Sheriff Truman
Cathrine Packard (Piper Laurie): Tough as nail married to Pete Martel; hates Josie, having affair with Ben Horne
Pete Martel (Jack Nance): Catherine’s good natured bumbling husband
One Armed Man (Al Strobel): “My name is Mike,
Bob (Frank Silva): “His name is Bob.”
-The blood that Laura’s father smears on the picture of Laura during a mental breakdown was the actor’s own unintended blood.
-Michael Anderson, who played the dwarf, came in knowing how to speak backward and taught the rest of the cast how to do so as well
-David Lynch’s vision for the iconic dream at the end of episode 2 came to him in a moment of clarity, claiming to have touched the hood of a hot car and received the image of the red, black and white room in totality in his mind’s eye.