Agent Cooper’s mission crystallizes; Hank Jennings sucks dominos…
Written: Harley Peyton
Director: Tim Rathbone
Written: Robert Engels
Director: Tim Hunter
Episode 3 is the first not to be either written or directed by showrunners David Lynch or Mark Frost. Pleasantly, with much of the stylistic noir tone firmly established with the pilot and episodes one and two, we’re able to focus on plot progression; getting Lynch and Frost’s plates to spin.
Audrey Horne catches Agent Cooper as he enjoys a hearty breakfast at the Great Northern and offers up valuable information- Laura and the other victim, Ronette Pulaski, both worked at the cosmetic counter at her father’s department store. It’s not incriminating in the least, but when two coincidences collide… Well, we’ll get to that axiom in good time.
Continuing the role of a spiritual guide, Audrey passes from scene to scene, smoking and swaying listlessly to jazz, seen only when she wants to be; eavesdropping when she doesn’t. It is not without parallel that she is literally beneath the surface as she spies on her family while between the walls. Here, she witnesses the ugly, contentious, petty, bitter, and all-too-true reality of her pristine family that is hidden from the rest of the town.
Audrey is far too intelligent, beautiful, and dynamic for the suffocating limits of her small town. her mischief comes not from malice but boredom. It should then come as no surprise to find her so enamored with the charming, handsome outsider. To Audrey, Cooper is a conduit to the outside world, a larger world full of mysteries, love, and dangers to which she seeks to escape. To that end, Cooper is her escape, her lifeboat away from the doldrums of suburbia.
While a degree of puppy love cannot be denied, Audrey helps Cooper not to win his affections but his respect. More than anything, she seeks the validation that she is an adult. To achieve this, Audrey has become something of a junior detective, and she’s actually quite good at it. As if spying through a wall to learn Dr. Jacoby treated Laura, putting the pieces together that Laura and Ronette both worked the perfume counter, and leading Cooper to One Eyed Jack’s wasn’t enough, Audrey is also able to convince her father to get her a job at his department store so she can investigate deeper.
Her father works his own angles. Romancing Catherine Martel, Ben has convinced her to set the sawmill ablaze while pinning it on Josie, which will free up the land for his Ghostwood Estates deal. While canoodling in a hotel room, the two seem to set the plan in motion. Leo Johnson is later shown to be the firebug Ben has conscripted to light the match. Leo is quite the entrepreneur. In addition to arson for hire, Leo also moved in on the cocaine trade coming into Twin Peaks by killing Bernard Reneau and convincing his brother, Jacques to stay north of the border. While Leo might be the new top man peddling Peruvian nose candy, he still has outstanding debts to collect. Mike and Bobby were Leo’s pushers but after leaving Laura with $10,000, trapped in her safety deposit box they’ve got some explaining to do when they meet a shotgun totting Leo in the woods; a place I would never agree to meet that dude.
But back to that breakfast of Cooper’s. Sheriff Truman and his secretary, Lucy Moran, meet with Cooper after he wakes in the middle of the night declaring he knew who killed Laura Palmer. In a way, Cooper sets the plot of the entire series in a subtly redefined context. “My dream is a code waiting to be broken. Break the code, solve the crime.” He goes on to explain the dream to the Sheriff and Lucy. This could be a tedious expository scene of what we already knew, however, Cooper offers insight into aspects of the dream we witnessed him experience at the end of the last episode that we, as outsiders, were not privy to.
The one-armed man, Mike, which Deputy Hawk saw in real life walking through the hospital, features in the dream. Mike explains, he and the grizzled, Bob, who Sarah Palmer saw in a vision, were both killers. He had a tattoo of the phrase “fire, walk with me” on his arm- the same passage found at the scene of the murder. Mike had a change of heart and cut that arm off at the shoulder before shooting Bob. The dream then jumped to strange red draped room.
As Cooper puts it, “…then, it was twenty-five years later.” In an eerie parallel, it was also twenty-five years after the end of the series when it was announced that Agent Cooper and the rest of the cast would return on Showtime. Here, Cooper sits in audience of a red-suited dwarf and a black-gowned Laura Palmer. Only, it isn’t Laura. As the dwarf explains, she is actually Laura’s cousin “but doesn’t she look just like her?” This is interesting, playing on the concept of the overt and covert, the second reality lying just beneath the surface.
Then, Laura saunters to Cooper, plants a kiss on his lips and whispers the name of her killer into his ear. Of course, he couldn’t remember the name when he awoke- we wouldn’t have much of a show otherwise. Cooper believes that the cryptic elements of the dream are clues to be sorted, and once he does so the name of the killer will present itself.
Despite his own vision quest, there are other, more empirical, FBI agents conducting the investigation as well. Forensic expert, Albert Rosenfield, is in a heated argument with Dr. Haywood, at the morgue. Haywood wants the body to lay to rest, Albert insists that there are still numerous examinations to perform on the body before they bury it. While Albert is portrayed as the foil in this scene, he has a job to do and it is not unreasonable to allow a forensic expert to examine a murder victim, in fact, they should be encouraging his efforts.
Stranger still, Cooper sides with the townsfolk against his brother in black. After Sheriff Truman decks Albert with the most telegraphed left hand on television, Cooper not only ignores the action, but later tells Albert that he had it coming. Even when Cooper’s superior, Gordon Cole, voiced by David Lynch, calls he offers a fiery defense of Sheriff Truman’s actions. This is three times in an episode Cooper has chosen the new world over the old world he has come from. He is going native and further immersing himself into the odyssey of enlightenment.
Proving his loyalty, Cooper is rewarded with the next step in his enlightenment much like the revelatory dreams he was privy to only after offering a leap of faith. Here, it is initiation. Truman, Hawk and Big Ed meet Cooper at the Double R diner and talk in clandestine terms. Thus we are introduced to the Bookhouse Boys, something of a Knights Templar for the town of Twin Peaks. They even have their own secret signal and headquarters.
“There’s a sort of evil out there. Something very, very strange in these old woods. Call it want you want- a darkness, a presence. It takes many forms, but it’s been out there for as long as anyone can remember and we’ve always been here to fight it.”
“Men before us, men before them, more after we’re gone.”
“A secret society.”
Bobby Briggs, Laura’s former boyfriend, is a human Face/Off film. He has the face of a young John Travolta and the acting instincts of a methed up Nick Cage. His explosive overreactions are intended to portray his defensiveness, his angst, and his misdirected sorrow but it is so over the top, much like Laura’s mother’s grieving, that it plays comical and odd. At the funeral Bobby continues to shout and act like an ass but here he offers pained truth. Despite all the kind words about Laura, she had a dark, cynical, damaged side. This forced blindness to who she was, the gilding of Laura Palmer is exactly what led to her downfall because no one was willing to acknowledge the uncomfortable reality Laura lived within. His words are damning, perhaps even cruel, but they are true, too.
Bobby’s outburst notwithstanding, leave it to Laura’s other boy toy, James Hurley, to up the ante by starting a fist fight during the funeral. The scene erupts into chaos with Laura’s father leaping onto the casket while the winch lowers it into the grave. Again, this could be an absolutely gutting scene if not so absurd at the same time. It stops short of comical if for no other reason that Ray Wise’s supurb acting, portraying Leyland Palmer with such unabashed and pitiable sorrow.
Later, when Leyland stumbles through the Great Northern’s reception area, desperate for someone to dance with while sobbing uncontrollably, Cooper and Deputy Hawk offer to take him home. The small whimpering way he repeats “Home?” as if to ask what is “home” now that my family has been broken is absolutely gutting.
We’re introduced to a soap-opera that many of the townsfolk happen to have on their televisions in the background of scenes. Invitation to Love is a meta-commentary on the show itself; a hyper-dramatized rendition of a scandalous love affair with twins, guys with eye patches and backstabbing. Sound familiar? Often, the scenes in Invitation to Love play out in Twin Peaks as well. The twin referenced on the soap opera materializes in Leyland Palmer’s living room in the form of Laura’s cousin, Madeline Ferguson, come to stay with the family during the funeral. Played by the same actress who portrayed Laura Palmer, Lynch considered her too prized to only act as a cadaver and wrote the role exclusively for her. Make of it what you will, but the line in the dream referencing Laura’s cousin cannot be ignored.
The next morning, Deputy Andy sketches a description of the man Sarah Palmer saw in her vision. Here, Leyland acts uncharacteristically cold and dismissive of his wife’s grief, openly mocking her. Cooper confirms that the man in the sketch is the same man in his dream, Bob. The new agenda for Cooper is the apprehension of this man. Despite being one heck of a sketch artist, Andy is getting a cold shoulder from his girlfriend, Lucy. This lack of affection is distracting him. As they close in on the one-armed man at a motel, Andy carelessly drops his gun and it discharges. Somehow they still get the drop on the one-armed man who, despite his persona in the dream, is a feckless humble shoe salesman.
The team does learn that this version of Mike does, in fact, have a friend named Bob. Although, this Bob is a veterinarian. In the dream, Mike says he and Bob lived above a convenience store. Guess what’s above this Bob’s veterinarian clinic? You guessed it. Coupled with the fact that Albert was able to determine that the scratch marks on Laura’s shoulders were from a small bird and that the twine purchased from the store is the exact match of that used to bind Laura, it would appear there on a bit of a roll. The team eventually discovers that Jacques Reneau had a mynah bird who is a patient at that vet. Knowing that the Reneaus are involved in the drug trade, a drug Laura was involved with, they decide to pay Jacques a house call.
Before they can get to Jacques, Bobby Briggs decides to go all Littlefinger when Shelly shows him Leo’s bloody shirt, which he in turn plants at Jacques, which in turn will tie Leo to Jacques when the hammer falls. While showing Bobby the bloody shirt, Shelly also divulges she purchased a handgun for protection against Leo. I’m thinking she should just move while he’s out on the road… When asked if she knows how to use something like that, Shelly answers by rubbing the barrel of the gun against her chest and up to her neck. So, no, Shelly and Bobby are both really stupid kids.
Since Leo already scared Jacques out of town, no one is home to greet Cooper and Truman when they arrive but they do find the bloody shirt with Leo’s name embroidered in it. Not to mention an issue of Flesh World (basically an escort service before the internet) in which we find a picture advertisement of Laura posed before the same red drapes Cooper saw in his dream. They also find receipts for enough gasoline to heat a log cabin, the same cabin Jacques brother, Bernard, mentioned that Jacques owns as well. The pieces seem to be coming together.
Meanwhile, in love triangle #447281B, Hank Jennings, husband to Norma who runs the Double R diner, is preparing for a critical parole hearing. The writers waste no time portraying Hank as a easy smiling sociopath who will tell you anything you need to hear. As far as I’m concerned, never trust anyone who buttons the top button of their dress shirt without a tie. Clearly, they’re up to no good. Also, probably not a good look to menacingly rub a domino between your fingers when you’re talking to the parole board; it’s just creepy. Thankfully for Hank, Norma puts in a reluctant good word and offers him a job at the diner when he is released.
A picture of the same domino was sent to Josie Packard in the mail. She opens it the exact moment Hank happens to place a call to her; the magic of television, aye? Seems the two are in some sort of cahoots and this only further complicates Josie’s character who was also spying on Ben and Catherine’s dalliance in fear that they are planning her demise. When she confides this to her lovestruck beau, sheriff Truman, she spins him like a top, setting him up to be the gallant knight to protect her while all the while blind to the actual schemes she has going on. What those schemes are, we just have to wait a little while longer.
As for loose ends, James stares blankly at people like Jack Nicholson at the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He and Donna agree to keep certain details regarding Laura to themselves as they work out the case with the thin justification, “This is for us, this is about us.” Which seems wildly selfish for someone who claims to be the best friend of a murder victim. Cooper interviews Dr. Jacoby and despite both men employing alternative methods in their professions, Jacoby is one of the few Twin Peakers for which Cooper exhibits open disdain. And as always, Nadine, Ed’s wife is still super cray-cray.
Madeline Ferguson (Sheryl Lee): Laura’s cousin from Missoula; are they really going for identical cousins here?
Hank Jennings (Chris Mulkey): Norma’s ex-con husband; creeper and domino fetishist
Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson): Sheriff’s Department secretary; lovably ditzy & dating Deputy Andy
Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse): Native American deputy; kind of wincingly pigeonholed as a tracker and spiritual man
Garland Briggs (Don Davis): Bobby’s father; stoic air force man who must read the thesaurus before bed
Betty Briggs (Charlotte Stewart): Bobby’s mother; not much of a character
“Nothing beats the taste sensation when maple syrup collides with ham.” –Cooper
“The problem of our entire society are of a sexual nature.” Dr. Jacoby
“This must be where pies go when they die.” –Cooper
“Newsflash: the little lady had a habit.” –Albert
“Afraid? AFRAID?! I’m going to turn it UPSIDE DOWN!!!” –Bobby
“I do not fools gladly and fools with badges never.” –Albert
The alpaca that snorts in the face of Agent Cooper while they are at the vet was unscripted.
Tim Hunter is the only director David Lynch allowed to use a Dutch angle shot in the series.
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Robin Adam is a fiction writer and messy painter. With a background in journalism and psychology they’ve researched UFOs, Bigfoot, and other unsolved mysteries which have featured in PressureLife. They know more about Twilight Zone and R.E.M. than is actually useful. Robin Adam has created Smear and Splatter Studio, a line of original paintings, art prints and apparel. They also produce Strange City Digest, an independent arts and fiction digest with contributors from around the world. To check out Strange City Digest, visit: Facebook and Instagram @strangecitydigest Keep up with Robin and their ongoing projects, including Smear and Splatter Studio art and apparel, on Facebook and Instagram @smearandsplatter // email: email@example.com