Ben’s brother Jerry returns from abroad, and we learn that they run a brothel in Canada called One Eyed Jacks. Cooper gets an anonymous note from Audrey that reads, “Jack with One Eye”. Bobby and Mike meet with Leo; they deal drugs for him. Cooper attempts to aid his investigation by using a mind-body deduction technique which involves throwing rocks at a bottle. The results seem to indicate that Leo is worth investigating. Josie finds that there are two different ledgers for the mill’s finances. Cooper has a strange dream featuring Laura, a dwarf, a one-armed man, and the long-haired man from Sarah’s vision. He awakens and calls the sheriff, telling him he knows who killed Laura.
This is the Twin Peaksiest episode of Twin Peaks there is. It might be the one with the most recognizable elements for non-fans. It’s where the show found its ideal calibrations of weirdness – of the funny, heartbreaking, and unsettling varieties.
Lynch is back in the director’s seat, and you can sort of tell from the length of the first shot, a quiet dinner scene at the Hornes’. The silence is eventually broken by the arrival of Ben’s brother Jerry. He’s brought back brie sandwiches from France, and the combination of his description and Ben’s reaction when he bites into one makes me want one of them very badly. You can tell Richard Beymer thoroughly enjoyed playing Ben.
Though this is one of my favourite episodes, all the best stuff is reserved for the last two-thirds. (The beginning is solid, too, though, partly due to Wendy Robie’s no-holds-barred portrayal of Nadine’s mania. When she tells Ed “You make me SICK!”, you really feel it.)
From that point, this turns into a veritable treasure trove of an episode, starting with Cooper’s Tibetan rock-throwing. I’m so familiar with this scene by now that it’s hard to remember what it was like to see it for the first time. I’m sure I was struck by how funny and original it is. The mood is light (“Damn good coffee! And HOT!”), but the music tells us to take Cooper seriously. And once again, the show points to Leo as a culprit.
The next scene is another winner, giving us a glimpse of Audrey’s vulnerability (and creating a little mystery) when she asks Donna if Laura ever mentioned Audrey’s father. The scene is scored by “Audrey’s Dance”, which she herself accurately praises as “too dreamy”. The whole episode makes exemplary use of Angelo Badalamenti’s score.
This is the episode that introduces possibly the best secondary character in the show’s history, the hilariously rude Albert Rosenfield. Half the fun here is how amused Cooper is by Albert’s belligerence, grinning as the forensic expert lets loose a colourful stream of insults.
For the weird-heartbreaking component, we have Leland Palmer dancing with a photo of his dead daughter to the cheery tune of “Pennsylvania 6-5000”, presumably a song they used to dance to. The pain causes Leland to groan louder and louder, until Sarah tries to stop him. The photo frame’s glass breaks, and both of them dissolve in sobs. The whole scene is mesmerizing and unbearably sad at the same time.
And then we come to the scene this episode is most remembered for – and rightly so. These are the elements that made Cooper’s dream especially unsettling to me:
- The way the light changes in Cooper’s room as he sleeps, followed immediately by a fast dolly-in motion, a music cue, and a cut to black.
- The sound of Sarah calling Laura’s name over and over, but slowed down.
- A short figure seen from the back shivering in an exaggerated, unnatural-looking way, making a sound like fluttering wings (for me, the most dream-like element of all).
- The one-armed-man, delivering puzzling lines in a convincingly demented voice.
- The tortured look on dream-Laura’s face as she says, “Sometimes my arms bend back.”
Decades later, I still remember watching this with awe, slack-jawed. When it ended, I realized I was gripping the arms of the chair I was sitting in, palms sweaty. Next came the disbelief that this… thing aired on network television. I don’t recall being into anything abstract beforehand. The moment I think opened my mind up to it was when we see a shadow of something float by on the red curtains (pictured at the top of this page). I don’t know why, but that moment gave me goosebumps. What makes the whole thing work is that no director understands dream logic better than David Lynch.
And then, Cooper wakes up, calls the sheriff, and tells him he knows who killed Laura Palmer. Followed shortly after with: “No, it CAN wait til morning.” Way to toy with the audience, Lynch/Frost! I could hardly wait to find out how that dream led to Cooper’s discovery.
- A ‘V’ of women emerging from a red curtain. I… I don’t have to say anything else, do I?
- Hawk tells Cooper about the one-armed man from the previous episode, and Cooper perks up immediately. To this day, I don’t know why either of them cared about this guy (though he would become significant very soon).
- “Leo needs a new pair of shoes!”
- If you ever need someone to draw you a pretty great circle, call Kyle MacLachlan.
- I don’t think the oven mitts Cooper asks Hawk to wear are just random weirdness. It’s so Hawk’s energy won’t transfer to the rocks, which I’m sure Cooper hand-picked himself.
- I have an irrational fondness for Dr Hayward’s line, “Remind me to stop at the hardware store to get those sixty-watt bulbs.”
- Cooper, giving the sheriff’s nose a squeeze: “Woink!”
- I’ve long wondered if Truman’s “Queer Street” remark was meant to be homophobic. I finally looked it up just now, and Wikipedia tells me it can “refer to the moment when a boxer or similar combatant is dazed from getting struck on the head but remains standing.”
- “You’ve got mink oil in your head.”
- Cooper’s awesome bed hair.
- If the pilot was The Crying Episode, this must be The Dancing Episode. Audrey, Leland, and the Man From Another Place all bust a move (though not with the unfettered joy that phrase implies).
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