May 9, 2017

Twin Peaks: Season 1 Episode 4

It is 3 May 1990 and time for another episode of Twin Peaks.

The Twin Peaks police successfully track down the one-armed man from Agent Cooper's (Kyle MacLachlan) dream. In addition it becomes clear that the mysterious crazed man seen in Cooper's dream and the visions of Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriski) is indeed the one person. Suspicion grows around Leo Johnson (Eric Da Rae) and Jacques Renault (Walter Olkewicz).

There is quite a bit of work done in this episode to tie the events of Cooper's episode 2 dream back into the main narrative of the show. For one thing, the mysterious one-armed man seen in Cooper's dream and spotted sneaking around the hospital by Hawk (Michael Horse) is actually tracked down and questioned by the police. His name is Phillip Gerard, a travelling shoe salesman who does not seem to have anything to do with Laura's murder at all. The name is a reference to the 1960s TV drama The Fugitive, which featured both a US Marshal named Phil Gerard and a one-armed man.

More evidence comes back from Albert, via a telephone call with Cooper's supervisor Gordon Cole (voiced by co-creator David Lynch). Laura was bitten by a some kind of bird the night she died, and ingested part of a poker chip from the One Eyed Jack's brothel north of the border. It's a weird sort of half-hearted attempt to make a proper mystery out of Laura's murder, except all of the clues seems so disparate and random that they do not really make any sense. I sympathise with the viewers back in 1990 desperately trying to make sense of it all.

Audrey Horne (Sherilynn Fenn) decides to impress Cooper by trying to solve Laura's murder herself, beginning with trying to get a job at the same perfume counter where she worked with fellow victim Ronette Pulaski. Fenn's slinky, retro-styled performance, her outstanding costuming, and the scripts' knowing flirtatious protrayal of her character are all rapidly making Audrey one of my favourite characters.

Sadly the rest of the episode feels a little underwhelming. James (James Marshall) and Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) decide to try and solve Laura's murder themselves. Norma (Peggy Lipton) reluctantly promises to give her paroled husband Hank (Chris Mulkey) a job in the diner. Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) conspires to frame Leo (Eric Da Rae) with the bloody shirt found by Shelley (Madchen Amick). Meanwhile Benjamin Horne (Richard Beymer) is paying Leo to burn down the Packard sawmill, and Josie Packard (Joan Chen) turns out to know Norma's suspicious-looking paroled husband. It is all soap opera-styled drama, running in circles but not actually going anywhere of note. This is almost certainly the weakest episode of the series so far.

Writer Robert Engels would go on to write another 10 episodes of Twin Peaks, as well as co-write the screenplay to Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me with David Lynch. Director Tim Hunter was probably best known for directing the 1986 independent film River's Edge, but would go on to direct extensively for American television.

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