Marie Gilbert Visits Twin Peaks: The Pilot


I confess. I didn’t watch “Twin Peaks” when it premiered on ABC in 1990. I have no excuse except that life got in the way. “Twin Peaks,” created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, focused on the murder of a young girl, Laura Palmer. Thanks to its creators, “Twin Peaks” became the flagship for groundbreaking television. This year when Andy Burns, Editor-In-Chief of Biff Bam Pop!, published his book Wrapped in Plastic: Twin Peaks, I was curious as to why he loved this series so much. He wisely suggested that I read his book which is not only for diehard fans of the show, but for newbies like me who’d never seen the series. I’ve started watching the show on Netflix. Do I like it? Grab yourself a cup of damn good coffee and find out.


The Body

While the theme song written by composer Angelo Badalamenti plays in the background, Pete Martell (Jack Nance), who works at the Packard Saw Mill, gives his wife, Catherine (Piper Laurie) a kiss before heading out for a relaxing day of fishing. He finds something on the beach.

Laura’s Parents

Unaware that her daughter is missing, Sarah prepares breakfast. When Sarah can’t find Laura, she calls Laura’s boyfriend. Betty Briggs tells Sarah that Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) is at football practice. Was Laura with him? Sarah calls her husband, Leland (Ray Wise), who is with his business partner, Ben Horne (Richard Beymer). Richard played Tony on West Side Story. They are closing a deal on land they don’t own to visiting Norwegians.

Lucy Moran, (Kimmy Robertson) the dispatcher for the Twin Peaks Police Station, receives the call that sends Sheriff Harry Truman (Michael Ontkean) and his deputies to investigate the dead girl wrapped in plastic. Now it’s up to the sheriff and his two deputies Hawk and Andy to find out how she died. Andy is crying uncontrollably; a hint to his personality. He does this at every crime scene. Dr. Hayward recognizes the girl. It’s Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee).


Leland is speaking with his frantic wife, when the sheriff walks in with the news. Leland had to identify the body of his seventeen year old daughter; he is inconsolable. While Sheriff Harry speaks with Sarah, Deputy Hawk and Leland search Laura’s room. They find a diary. Andy tells Harry that another girl is missing. Ronette Pulaski is found later that day, badly beaten, raped and in a catatonic state.

Laura’s Friends

Not only did Bobby miss football practice, but according to the coach Bobby’s been late for the past two weeks He’s having an affair with a very married waitress at the Double R Diner. Shelly Johnson’s (Madchen Amick) husband, Leo, is abusive and a crook.


At school, we meet some of Laura’s school chums, Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle), James Hurley (James Marshall) and Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn). The Principal makes the announcement that Laura is dead and Bobby is arrested by the sheriff. Audrey is one of my favorite characters. She does everything possible to muck up her father’s business plans with the Norwegians. She plays dumb sex kitten, but she’s one smart bunny.

Big Ed

Ed Hurley is (Everett McGill) James Hurley’s uncle and the owner of a gas station. His wife Nadine (Wendy Robie) wears an eye patch and is obsessive about drapes; quiet drapes. Ed has a lover, Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton) owner of the Double R Diner and wife to jailbird Hank Jennings. James leaves a note for Donna with Ed; meet him at the Roadhouse.

Packard Saw Mill

There is palpable hostility between Josie Packard (Joan Chen) and Catherine Martell who fight over the running of the mill. The mill is losing money. Josie was married to Catherine’s brother. She’s not happy that Josie inherited the business after her husband’s death.

Agent Cooper

It isn’t until Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachian) arrives on the scene, that you realize that this isn’t your average weekly serial drama. Speaking to the unknown Diane on his recorder, Cooper talks weather, location, trees, cherry pie and coffee. He’s meeting with Sheriff Truman about the crime. The camera’s long shot between the meeting of Cooper and Truman is mentioned in Andy’s book; another clue into Lynch’s directing techniques.


Cooper tells Truman that the Feds are now in charge. On the way to the morgue, they bump into one of the wackier characters on the show. Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn), who you may remember from West Side Story, is a psychiatrist. Laura was his patient. Cooper finds evidence under Laura’s fingernail. Cooper has seen this. The letter R is printed on the speck of paper. They read the diary found in Laura’s bedroom and find a key to a safety deposit box.

A crying Deputy Andy locates the area where Ronette and possibly Laura were raped. One of the clues is half a gold heart on a chain and a note with the words, Fire dance with me. Cooper questions Bobby. They have a video of Laura and Donna dancing. Was Laura seeing someone else? Cooper is one smart agent. He may babble on about coffee, trees and pie, but he knows his shit and he knows who filmed the girls by something reflected in Laura’s eyes. Lucy overhears Bobby and Mike planning to find the biker.


Cooper and Truman head over to the Roadhouse where a fight breaks out. James and Donna bury the other half of the heart and decide to do their own investigation to find Laura’s killer. James Hurley is arrested along with Bobby and Mike.


When we meet Laura, she is dead. We don’t know much about her, but there are many clues: We know Laura was cheating on Bobby with James; that she and Donna were BFF’s; that she had a safe deposit box that contained a porno magazine which featured an ad for Ronette. There was also ten thousand dollars inside that box. What the hell was Laura into?


I can see why Andy Burns feels that “Twin Peaks” was one of the most influential shows in television history. Nothing was done like this show before. Even the music for the series is different. It’s hip, cool and sets the mood for what’s taking place on the screen.


Even though the subject matter is dark, it also has comedic moments like the dear head on the table, Nadine playing with her curtains, Cooper’s obsessive interest in Douglas Fir trees, coffee and cherry pie and, the rows and rows of donuts set out for the sheriff’s and his deputies.

At the end of the pilot, Cooper has checked in at the Great Northern Hotel. Sheriff Truman is spending the night with Josie. And, someone digs up the heart that James and Donna have buried. The game is on!

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