Twin Peaks S01 E01: Traces to Nowhere


In the pilot of “Twin Peaks” we were given the facts: there was a murder, there may have been witnesses, there are several suspects and the FBI has joined the investigation. But, nothing is as it seems and there are plots within plots. Will Agent Cooper be able to solve the crime?  Let’s check in at Room 315 at Great Northern Hotel.

Agent Cooper

We find Cooper (Kyle MacLachan) hanging upside down from the rafters as he leaves another detailed report for the mysterious Diane on his recorder. The topic of his report deals with everything from the pleasantries of the hotel service to who killed JFK. The one thing we know from the start is that Agent Cooper loves coffee and pie. On this episode Cooper meets Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn). Her dad owns the hotel. It’s obvious that there is a mutual connection between the two, but Cooper has to be careful. Audrey is jail bait.


Audrey tells Cooper that Laura tutored her brother Johnny who is 27 and in the third grade. She mentions that emotional problems run in the family. This is a freaking understatement! Audrey is a free spirit and well aware of her sexual persona. Unfortunately for our little sex kitten, she’s in big trouble with daddy dearest for scaring the Norwegians away. Ben Horne may think he’s a powerful man, but like every other father on this planet, he can’t control his little girl.

I have to keep reminding myself that this is a drama. When Cooper stops at the jail to talk to Sheriff Truman (Michael Ontkean) we’re quick to note that the entire police department is addicted to donuts. Cooper wants to question James Hurley (James Marshall). Did Laura confide in James about her relationship with Bobby? Cooper shoots out his itinerary for the day while Truman chokes down his donut. This is when we and Truman realize that his position on this case is more like that of Dr. Watson. But, hey that’s okay because I’ve always considered Dr. Watson the unsung hero of the Sherlock Holmes stories; the calming voice of reason.


Dr. Hayward (Warren Frost) has the autopsy results and it’s nasty. Laura was tortured, her death caused by loss of blood. They’re not sure who made the bite marks on her shoulders and tongue, but there is evidence that at least three men had sex with her. Dr. Hayward thinks the same men attacked Ronette. So, who killed Laura?

We get a clue on a possible suspect when Shelly is doing the wash and finds a bloody shirt belonging to Leo.  She hides it before going to work. Leo is a cruel man, who in this episode uses a bar of soap inside a sock to beat up Shelly (Madchen Amick). The obvious fact on this show is that the men call the shots. Shelley is a victim of domestic violence. Donna’s boyfriend orders her around, and I’m pretty sure that Bobby was no prince charming with Laura. Think about when this show was filmed. In the 1990’s there weren’t as many support groups as we have today, or the stringent laws for domestic abuse and this is why Leo feels so righteous in his beating of Shelly. Leo would not have survive the day, if he lived in South Philly. We don’t play those games and, he would probably wind up buried next to Jimmy Hoffa.


Cooper is a profiler. He just doesn’t know it. After asking a few questions, he already knows that James was in love with Laura and, that Laura and James used cocaine. How he figured that James might have the other half of the heart is amazing. The more I watch Cooper in action, the more he reminds me of Adrian Monk. Cooper is meticulous in his investigation, picking up clues that others don’t notice and, like Monk, Cooper’s brilliant deductions are sometimes eclipsed by his quirkiness.

There is a connection between Leo, Bobby and Mike and it has to do with drugs. Bobby owes Leo ten thousand dollars, but it’s in Laura’s safe deposit box. Cooper releases Bobby and Mike from jail, but not before telling them to keep away from James.  Bobby Briggs is every bit the bad boy, James Dean, street rebel persona. Unfortunately, his father Major Garland Briggs has no idea what his son is into.


This episode also introduces one of my favorite characters of the series. Cooper talks on the phone to the fast talking, quick witted and sarcastic FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer). Albert needs to do forensic tests before Laura is buried.

Big Ed has a clue for Harry. Jacque Renault may have drugged his drink. Ed is part of Sheriff Truman’s secret posse. Ed is a cool guy, but his wife, Nadine is crazy. Does she know that Ed and Norma are seeing each other? This is something you’ll notice about “Twin Peaks.” Everyone is cheating on their spouses. In fact, Catherine Martell is cheating on Pete with Ben Horne. Catherine and Ben are planning on destroying the mill via fire.


I don’t know what to think of Josie. She plays the poor helpless widow who is left to run her dead husband’s mill, but I think she knows more than she’s letting on. Cooper, always on the ball, surmises that there is some hanky panky going on between Josie and Harry.

While Donna is visiting the Palmers, Sarah sees a strange man hiding next to the sofa. She is the only one who sees him. Deputy Hawk is interviewing Ronette’s parents and learns that she was working at the perfume counter in Ben Horne’s department store after school.


Log Lady

You never know when the next comedic moment will show up. We meet the Log Lady on this episode. The Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson) tells Cooper that her log saw something the night that Laura died. When Cooper hesitates to interview the log, Log Lady leaves in a huff. I love the Log Lady. She sure as hell would fit in with my wacky family.


While Donna and her family entertain Bobby, Dr. Jacoby is listening to Laura’s tapes and, we learn, he dug up the other half of the missing gold heart. Was weirdo Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) also in love with Laura and, if everyone loved Laura, then who killed her?


One thing is for sure, the money and the magazine found in the safe deposit box, are important clues. Maybe, Agent Cooper should question the log.

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