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A Frightful Denouement Unfolds in Twin Peaks

“The Last Evening”

So, here we are: the finale of the first season. Narrative-wise, there isn’t much I can say that I haven’t already. Instead, let’s just take a breath and look at the greater scope. Surely, not all that shines is gold. This is proven most true when looking at Laura Palmer, the central focus to this mystery. Throughout this season, unearthing the circumstances behind her murder has also meant unearthing foul, concealed affairs. Things that were initially obvious have proven complex, and thusly our expectations have been challenged and subverted. Even now, the plausible is to be taken with a grain of salt. Nothing can be taken for granted when seeking truth in a world roamed in light and dark.

Creators David Lynch and Mark Frost have been like wacky uncles to us. Through this series brimming with a style that has rippled throughout pop culture, they’ve taken us into unknown territory. Tonight, our two wacky uncles have taken us to a casino-brothel, where shit’s about to go down. Hold to your butts, to your cups of joe and to your donuts, lest your breath leave you gasping.

“Now just tell me. Tell me, why you sent me to Sparkwood and 21”

The episode kicks off with deep immersion in Dr. Jacoby’s heavily Hawaiian-themed office, as Donna and James enter. There are plenty of places to start looking. From looking at a collection of tiny umbrella cocktails garnishes, they conclude that Jacoby’s a bit of a weirdo. After a few awkward stumbles while searching, Donna comes upon a coconut, which she remembers being mentioned in Laura’s recording. Inside, they find the other half of Laura’s necklace and another tape. They got what they came for, so they ride off, much to a creeping Bobby’s satisfaction.

Meanwhile, creeping in the bushes, Dr. Jacoby observes “Laura”. He’s trying to figure out the reason of her presence in this particular location. His enthrallment keeps him from noticing a man in a black mask who proceeds to beat fuck out of him. This goes on while Donna and James arrive and leave with Maddy. Distraught and utterly helpless, the shrink can do nothing but seeing her leave, leaving no answers behind. As the scene draws to a close, we focus on Dr. Jacoby’s eye at the centre of his agony. A drum clashes like a heartbeat, slower every time. Will he turn the second body to be found in this town?

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“Bite the bullet, baby. Bite the bullet”

We now return to the place where we left off last episode. Ed’s still not having much luck at the roulette. Cooper, on the other hand, is Black Jacking the shit out of a nasty-looking Jacques Renault. Unbending poise galore, our hero shows him the chip the police found in his cabin. Jacques is evidently ticked off, yet denies knowing any Leo when Coop drops his name. He knows somebody’s in on him. Blackie witnesses this with indifference as she looks nonchalantly at the security monitors from her office. She summons Audrey, who is now “dressed for the job”.

The young woman sports the work lingerie fairly well, but is evidently not comfortable in it. It seems she may have chosen a role that’s a bit too dangerous. Nonetheless, she also monitors the situation outside by glancing at the screens. Blackie tells “Hester” that the owner is coming soon to “spend time” with all the new girls. This dreadfully includes Audrey, to nobody’s knowledge. Blackie sweeps a deck of cards on her desk and tells the young woman to pick one. She gets the Queen of Diamonds.

Outside, Hawk and Ed listen to the conversation recorded by Cooper’s concealed microphone. The agent and the card dealer are having a drink; Jacques knows Coop’s a card counter. There’s some candour going on here, which will inevitably lead to more personal questions. Dale starts by talking about how he and his brother were but pawns to Leo. This is already a bit of a taunt, but it gets better when Cooper quotes Waldo’s “Laura, Laura”. Now Jacques wants to get away, but this ninja called Dale keeps him from doing so. This is all a ploy to establish his persona as Leo’s business associate: the financer to his operation.

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He appears to have earned Jacques’ trust. He proposes a job for Renault, without Leo as a middle man for tonight. This catches his interest. He is to meet Leo’s “bank” at a water processing plant on Black Lake in two hours. Time comes to ask deeper questions under the guise of sheer curiosity. Jacques says that on the night they had the girls in the cabin, the bird seemed to like Laura. When she was tied, the bird landed on her shoulder and “love-pecked” her. She began screaming about the bird, so Leo took a chip and told Laura to bite it.

Jacques’ depravedly gleeful narrative makes for a particularly repugnant moment in the series. Even Cooper only barely manages to stomach it. With all settled, Jacques returns to the table, and Cooper communicates with the Boys through the microphone. Jacques will be their active asset to crack the case. However, the night is still young, which means it still can take a turn for the terrible. Audrey preparing herself in one of the rooms foreshadows an ordeal to undergo. At the same time, Leo finally gets to Shelly for vengeance. It’s a quick doom versus a slow one.

“You are under arrest… for the attempted murder of Ronette Pulaski and the murder of Laura Palmer.”

We saw the dapper half of the plan at the casino; now let’s look at the dirty one. Sheriff Truman and Deputy Andy wait at the processing plant where Jacques is expected tonight. Although not pertinent to the plan, Andy is still bummed because Lucy won’t talk to him (Cheer up, friendo). Anyway, Jacques arrives in time to be cornered by the police; sucker never had a chance. Sheriff Harry Truman approaches with purposeful step to say the words we’ve been waiting for. However, as soon as Truman turns around, Jacques breaks free and is about to shoot the sheriff… when the deputy shoots him in the shoulder. In times of crisis, Andy turns out to be unfalteringly competent.

Not all has been solved, however. At the Haywards’, the kids listen to the new cassette they retrieved. Laura speaks about dumbass diabetes-inducing James and a mystery man who arouses and scares her. We viewers know this man is most likely Leo. James, Donna and Maddy look particularly disturbed upon listening to this unknown side of Laura. Donna’s father walks in to tell her that he’s needed at the hospital. The tape ends, and a sense of relief falls upon the three. James concludes that Dr. Jacoby was actually trying to help Laura. Donna, however, still wonders how he obtained the necklace.

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“Goodbye”

At the Packard Mill, Leo looks hard at work with setting the mill on fire. As viewers, we ask ourselves what he did with his wife, but the scumbag is quick to answer. Since there are no train tracks nearby on which to tie Shelly, he settles with just burning her alive. I think it’s inappropriate to mix home life and work, but what do I know? Anyway, Leo sets a timed detonator near the oil tanks and leaves Shelly to think about Bobby’s grim fate. Mr. Plausibility’s heartbroken and he’s going to kill his wife over it, boo-hoo.

That marriage went bad pretty awfully, so let’s look at another one. At the Hurley’s, Nadine is dressed in a pretty satin dress and appears to prepare for a special occasion. She spreads a plaid blanket on the floor, as you do for a picnic. She then writes something on a piece of paper and puts it in an envelope on a silver tray. Next, she pours some water into a glass… and empties two canisters of yellow and pink pills into a bowl. Nadine, what the hell are you doing!? Finally, she pronounces a sad farewell in her solitude. This marriage didn’t do any better.

“Peter, somewhere under all that scar tissue, there’s the faintest flicker of what we used to feel for each other. I’m asking to feel that now.”

At the Blue Pine Lodge, Josie and Hank meet with a suitcase of money involved. The former looks ready to be done with it, but Hank feels he’s been shortchanged for his troubles. Upset, he subtly passes a bit of a threat to Josie, which she apparently dismisses. Nonetheless, we learn from Hank that she was involved in her husband’s demise. Josie’s certainly looking a bit of a femme fatale here, but she’s not in control. Hank wants more money as, in his eyes, the transaction isn’t done. Ominously, he forces a scared Josie into a bloody handshake with him, ensuring we’ll see more of him.

Meanwhile, at the Mill, Catherine’s freaking out as she frantically looks for the ledger. Pete walks into the office to see what’s going on. Blinds closed, they’re afforded the first moment of actual bonding throughout the whole of the series. Doom and despair sees to take its toll even on the coldest of people; sometimes they bring out fondness for the past. Cath and Pete did care for each other once upon a time in the youthful days of their marriage. She asks him, the one she knows as the one who stuck by her even at her most dreadful, for help. Pete hugs her tight, to which she can only roll her eyes for an unlikely sweet moment between the two.

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“He’s too stupid to lie.”

Boys will be Boys. At the Sheriff’s Department, Hawk, Andy and Ed talk about their triumph that night. With a round of applause, Andy’s shot is celebrated and he is then encouraged to take another one with Lucy. Mustering all of his courage, he approaches the girl he likes. Lucy’s not indifferent about him, and they engage in one of the most awkward-tender kisses I’ve ever seen. In utter candour, she reveals to him that she’s pregnant, to which Andy says nothing. This aggravates Lucy because god damn it, Andy. Whatever, she returns to the reception desk, where she receives a call from Bobby pretending to be Leo. He leaves a message for the Sheriff: check out James Hurley.

As for the other Boys, Trooper question Jacques at the hospital. He admits to having the girls in the cabin, and that they’ve been there before. It was Laura’s ideas to take the pictures for the magazine in there. Also, on that infamous night, Leo hit Jacques with a whiskey bottle, hence the bloody shirt. The blood loss made him pass out, and upon waking, he saw no sign of Leo or the girls. Thus, Jacques knows nothing about the train car when Laura died.

After the questioning, they talk with Dr. Hayward. He tells them that Dr. Jacoby will pull through; he got a heart attack from the assault. Donna’s dad tells them that Lawrence got a call from Laura, and that he indeed saw her. We know she’s actually Maddy, but Trooper don’t. Nonetheless, the arrow points to Leo, who seems to have one foot in every awful thing occurring so far.

“Please don’t go. Stay with me.”

At the Blue Pine Lodge’s library, Cath and Pete look for the ledger together. They’re making about as progress as every single group project I’ve ever partaken of. The phone rings and Catherine picks up: it’s Hank. He tells her that the lodger is at the mill. Before talking further, Cath gestures Pete to kindly fuck off to another room. She wants to talk terms but Hank says nothing else. We know this is a trap. For precaution’s sake, she takes a pistol along. Will it do any good?

After the call, Hank goes and chats with Norma at the diner. Conversation is rather uncomfortable, as you’d expect. Hank doesn’t give up, though; he seems to try to get close to his wife once more. He adheres to his “I can change” discourse, which we all know to be unreliable and often failure-bound. Norma doesn’t seem to buy it, regardless of her feelings for Ed. Still, she looks too afraid to escape him as he leans in for a kiss. After his scene with Josie, this moment rings with a slight hint of sexual violence.

What about Ed and Nadine, though? What awaits Ed at home after tonight’s thrill ride? He gets a sight of wife in that lovely dress, lying on the floor. He calls for her, but she doesn’t respond. Ed wastes no time and calls for an ambulance. Even if she claims no ownership to his heart, he can’t stomach losing her. The scene fades to black, with Nadine held close in Ed’s arms. We don’t know if she’ll make it. I guess this makes a hat trick of tormented marriages.

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“What kind of dangerous game have you been playing?”

Cooper and Truman finally arrive at the station. Lucy now forwards “Leo’s” message, written on a piece of paper, which Dale reads. She mentions that she heard a clock striking in the background, which she believes to be at Easter Park. Cooper tells Hawk to pull the surveillance off Leo’s house and set it in this new location. James enters to talk to the Sheriff, but Cooper – having read the message proper – takes the boy elsewhere. Enter Leland, who’s heard they got his daughter’s killer. Truman can’t disclose anything and Dr. Hayward advises Leland to return to his wife at home. Leland seems to have something else in mind, though.

In the conference room, James gives the tape found in Dr. Jacoby’s office to the Agent. Cooper tells James about Dr. Jacoby, and what he said about “Laura”. Truman walks in with a little white powdery something he found in the boy’s motorbike. Ah, James, you pie; you got played, just like Bobby wanted. We can only give him so much shit, as he hasn’t been the only one making dangerous moves tonight.

The Ghostwood Estates’ contract signing is taking place at One Eyed Jack’s. Knowing the festive Icelander investors, some manner of celebration is due. As the festive Icelander contract-signing man does his thing, which is signing contracts, the phone rings. It’s Hank, telling him it’s time to discard Leo Johnson; Ben gives the authorisation. Whatever this means, it can’t be good if Hank’s involved.

“She’s still my wife.”

So far, Bobby’s been pretty competent at the shady gigs he’s been up to. Yet he has gone without any comeuppance, which we could argue shouldn’t be too hefty. Tell that to Leo Johnson, who waits his arrival at Shelly’s that night. Bobby comes in, not knowing of the peril behind him. The young man doesn’t know Mr. Plausibility knows about him and Shelly, so Leo keeps plays along. It doesn’t last, though; Leo’s got a short fuse and little patience. Furthermore, Leo has an axe; need I say anything else? Actually, I do. Before Leo can bring this scenario to its natural conclusion, somebody shoots him: Hank. It’s kinda funny that Invitation to Love is on the telly right now. The telly hero shoots the baddie, Leo begins to die; not a coincidence, just neat.

But, what about Shelly? At the Mill, Catherine arrives with her gun at the ready. Shortly after she meets a bound and despairing Shelly, the timer goes off. Cath removes the gag and questions Shelly, but she doesn’t know what’s going on her end. She’s also too busy thinking to notice that the fire is spreading around them. Cold and calculating even now, eh? Eventually, Mrs. Martell frees Shelly, and both hasten to escape, but their advance is hindered. Will they make it in time?

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Meanwhile, at the hospital, a gloved hand smashes the fire alarm, prompting the staff’s evacuation. The man walks into Jacques Renault’s room and smothers him with a pillow; so long, fella. The camera reveals the man to be Leland, whose face is momentarily contorted into a pained sobbing expression. On the ceasing of the fire alarm, Laura’s father leaves the scene. Back at the Mill, Pete and the rest of the workers arrive. The old lumberjack works out that Catherine’s in there, so he goggles up and grabs an extinguisher. He braves in, calling for his wife.

“Close your eyes. This is such stuff that dreams are made of.”

We return to One Eyed Jack’s, with the contract signed and Ben’s scheme fulfilled. Blackie and Mr. Horne revel in victory, and to celebrate he asks to look at the “new girl”. He doesn’t know who the new girl actually is… but we do. A weird hunched seamstress lady finishes up Audrey’s Queen of Diamonds getup. At the knock on the door, she promptly scampers away. The door opens and Audrey sees her father’s reflection on the mirror, he approaches unaware, yet quite prepared. We don’t get to see what happens now.

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The night ends at the Great Northern Hotel. Cooper arrives quite exhausted, surely ready for a long night’s rest. He talks on his voice recorder to Diane, updating on the recent events. Leo’s the prime subject and he’ll be caught regardless of where he’s gone hiding. The Icelanders are gone, so the racket is gone; hooray. Cooper goes into his room and sees the note Audrey left for him. The phone rings; it’s Deputy Andy. There’s a knock on the door, and the Agent places the receiver beside the phone. We get to hear in the midst of static that they found Leo Johnson.

Agent Dale Cooper opens the door, expecting room service. Instead, he gets an unknown individual, who shoots him three times in the chest. The scene cuts to black, and we hear Cooper falling to the floor. Cue the credits sequence we get at the end of every episode to “Laura Palmer’s Theme”. This time, it feels different; the heroes have made great progress on the case, but we’re no closer to the truth. The fate of several characters is left uncertain. It’s a rather haunting cliffhanger, one of my favourites. Thus, ends Twin Peaks, season one.

It has been lovely rewatching these episodes. I sometimes get the feeling that a consistently good season is kind of a cosmic phenomenon. It’s rare and memorable; well, Twin Peaks is a rare and memorable series. Season two, however, is not a consistently good season. However, it introduces motifs and characters without which, Twin Peaks as a whole is inconceivable. In spite of the sketchy, it remains a beauty to watch.

Dear readers, I thus inform you that we won’t be reviewing the second season for a while to come. It’s been a pleasure and I thank you for reading. Make sure to drop by two weeks from now. Neat things are coming.


Images courtesy of CBS

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Devotee of coffee, whiskey and baleful sentiment. I also write a lot of things.

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