Welcome to Twin Peaks:/\/\ First-Watch Recap: Season 1: Ep. 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (Original airdate Thursday, May 10, 1990) — a review

Welcome to my First-Watch of the original 30 episodes of the 1990-91 television series Twin Peaks. Below are the bulletpointed notes I jotted down while watching the episode “Cooper’s Dreams.”

  • On this date in history, actress Susan Oliver passed away. She was a veteran actor and appeared in just about everything, including The Twilight Zone, The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle, and (here’s a Twin Peaks tie-in, sort of) The Fugitive. The reason she’s singled out by my own mental filter is because she was also Vina in the original Star Trek pilot “The Cage,” which was later repurposed as “The Menagerie,” as any Trekkie worth their dilithium knows. Perhaps you remember her in her guise as the green Orion slave girl.
  • See if this rings any bells. “Greta Garbo and Monroe, Dietrich and DiMaggio.” If you were frequenting the dance clubs on this date in 1990, or even just playing the radio, you were listening to Madonna’s “Vogue.” You also know that Rita Hayworth gave good face.
  • The in-story date is Wednesday, March 1.
  • At theGreat Northern Hotel, AGENT DALE COOPER is awakened at 4:28 AM by the raucous sounds of singing hotel guests. He dictates a message to DIANE to send him some ear plugs.
  • I made a note that Agent Cooper is wearing a white wife beater shirt in this scene. If the term “wife beater” offends you, you should know that the slang term for the strappy tee-shirt used to be “guinea tee” or “dago tee.” Still offended?
  • Cooper, dressed in his suit now, goes to the hotel’s restaurant. I didn’t notice what I assume is the restaurant’s name—THE SMOKE ROOM—on the wall until this episode. Or maybe it’s just the name of the room.
  • The server tells Agent Cooper that the singers are a business junket from Iceland who arrived around 3 AM. More foreign investors in BENJAMIN HORNE‘s Ghostwood Estates project, it seems.
  • AUDREY HORNE joins Agent Cooper at his table. She tells him that she got a job and thinks it’ll put her in the position to help in his investigation. She’s about to tell him that her job is at the perfume counter in Horne’s Department Store, but Cooper cuts her off. He says he only has time for coffee this morning and really must be going.
  • Why does he have time only for coffee? Didn’t the Icelandic Choir wake him at 4:28 AM? You would think he had time to burn. Maybe his inverted sit-ups took extra time this morning. Or maybe he was just avoiding a jailbait situation with Audrey.
  • As if he heard me, Agent Cooper asks Audrey how old she is. Audrey, who has demonstrated a penchant for non sequiturs herself, answers, “Eighteen.” Why is this relevant? I bet we’ll find out later.
  • Still at the hotel, we glimpse JERRY HORNE taking his leave of the Icelandic revelers. Jerry is a party guy. He enters his brother Benjamin Horne’s office, where Ben is smoking a huge stogie. Ben tells Jerry about all the complaints he’s been receiving over the noise the investors are making. Jerry says the Icelanders are crazy over the Ghostwood Estates project. Also, Jerry is in love with HEBA, who he describes as a giant ice queen.
  • Benjamin tells his brother, and the viewer, that they are holding a huge gala for the Icelanders tonight, setting up a future scene.
  • LELAND PALMER enters Benjamin’s office. He’s heard about the new investors and wants to help. He needs something to get his mind off his daughter’s murder. Ben tells him that he needs to take some time off. He encourages the distraught, grieving father to get away for a while, and take SARAH with him.
  • Cut to: Jacques Renault’s Apartment. SHERIFF HARRY TRUMAN tells Agent Cooper that JACQUES RENAULT is a Canadian national who had worked in the lumber fields here until he gained too much weight. That’s when he became the bartender at The Roadhouse.
  • Agent Cooper asks if there are any more donuts. Sheriff Harry sends DEPUTY ANDY BRENNAN to get more. Cooper admits that he didn’t get much sleep the previous night.
  • DR. WILL HAYWARD enters the scene and says the blood on the shirt came back Type AB-negative. Not LAURA PALMER‘s blood type. However, it does turn out to be the blood type of Jacques Renault.
  • You will recall that the bloody shirt, which belongs to LEO JOHNSON and even has his initials sewn into the collar, was planted at Jacques Renault’s apartment by BOBBY BRIGGS in order to implicate Leo in Laura Palmer’s death (at least, I think that was the plan: It’s murky). Bobby was nearly caught in the act by the police, who arrived at the apartment while Bobby was inside.
  • The assumption has always been that the blood belonged to Laura. The fact that it matches Renault’s blood type doesn’t mean it’s his blood. But, if it’s not, then whose is it? There’s been no discussion of DNA-typing yet, but there may not be since this was supposed to be 1989 (I assume, since this is Wednesday, March 1 — the previous occurrence of March 1 on a Wednesday was 1978).
  • Sheriff Harry says he sent DEPUTY HAWK to go get Jacques’s brother BERNARD RENAULT, but it looks like Bernie jumped bail.
  • He didn’t. Bernie’s dead. The last time we saw him was in the woods down by the river. He was wrapped up like deli takeout at Leo Johnson’s feet. Leo had taken the body with him for show-and-tell during a clandestine meeting with Benjamin Horne, who hired Leo to burn down Packard’s Sawmill in a few days.
  • I was confused as to why the men keep looking up at the ceiling until Agent Cooper pulls down another issue of Flesh World magazine that’s stuck there. Why was it on the ceiling? No one ever says.
  • Stuck inside the magazine is a letter containing a photograph of a bearded transvestite.
  • I can’t make this stuff up. David Lynch and Mark Frost can, but I can’t.
  • There’s a post office box number on the outside of the envelope. Agent Cooper bets that the box will be registered in Jacques Renault’s name.
  • Cooper points out the picture of Leo Johnson’s truck on the same page of the magazine bookmarked by the envelope. Since everyone’s already thinking Leo is somehow involved in all of this, no one really remarks on this or seems surprised by yet another example of Cooper’s superhuman powers of observation.
  • Cut to: the Johnson House. Bobby Briggs and SHELLY JOHNSON are having breakfast. Shelly looks freshly showered. Bobby drops a little exposition on the viewer, telling us that Shelly dropped out in the 11th grade to marry that loser Leo. This may be implying that Shelly is the same age as all of the other teenagers in our story. Let’s say, like Audrey Horne, eighteen-ish.
  • These two are still fantasizing over what they would do to Leo if he came home unexpectedly. Shelly has a chrome-plated pistol that she apparently keeps in the pocket of her robe. We’re reminded of this as Bobby pulls it out and pretends to be threatening Leo, Shelly’s husband, with the weapon.
  • Suddenly, a car door slams, startling the young lovers.
  • Oh, it’s only a sheriff’s deputy. Bobby tells Shelly to do exactly as they had planned.
  • It’s Deputy Andy at the door, doing what he does when he’s not making donut runs or accidentally discharging his service weapon, I suppose. Andy is looking for Leo Johnson. Shelly tells Andy that he’s on the road. But, she heard Leo arguing with his sketchy friend Jacques Renault the night he left. Andy’s ears perk up: This is a clue!
  • After the deputy leaves, Leo calls and asks if anyone’s been there looking for him. Shelly says no, come on home; You know how paranoid you get when you’re popping bennies.
  • “Bennies” are a slang term for the drug Benzedrine, a stimulant that gained popularity after being issued to soldiers in WWII and Vietnam. I think I heard my dad use the word, once, when he was AWOL and driving a cab at nights. I don’t think it was popular drug slang in 1990, though. It was more a ’60s or ’70s thing. Plus, Leo was smuggling cocaine, right? Why would he need Benzedrine, unless he was congested?
  • I think the purpose of this scene was to drive home the fact that Shelly and Bobby are planning to kill Leo.
  • Cut to: Big Ed’s Gas Farm. NORMA JENNINGS shows up to talk to BIG ED HURLEY. Big Ed says the coast is clear because his wife, NADINE HURLEY, is seeing a patent attorney in Fairvale about her invention, the silent drape runner, because, along with the eyepatch, drapes are Nadine’s defining character trait.
  • Norma tells Ed about her husband HANK JENNINGS‘s parole. It seems that neither of them has said anything to their respective spouses about leaving them. Further, it seems that neither is inclined to do so at the moment. Norma tells Big Ed not to call her, at least for a while. Then she says, “I love you, Ed,” and leaves the gas farm.
  • Cut to: Horne’s Department Store. This is a new setting, which calls for the introduction of a new character. Department store manager EMORY BATTIS (Don Amendolia) is interviewing his boss’s daughter, Audrey Horne, for a position at the store. She already has the job, of course, so the interview is a formality.
  • Turns out that Mr. Battis intends to put Miss Horne in the wrapping department. But, proving that she has her father’s head for shady business, Audrey has other plans. She tells Mr. Battis that he’s going to put her at the perfume counter and tell her father that she’s wrapping gifts like a good little drone. Or: she will rip her dress and tell her father that Mr. Battis made a pass at her. What a clever little manipulator Audrey is.
  • The scene moves to The Gazebo. A park, one would assume. Another new setting, but no new characters this time. This is a large ensemble cast and I’m getting the feeling that we’re trying to shoehorn in everyone. DONNA HAYWARD and JAMES HURLEY meet at the gazebo because James wants to make sure that there are no secrets between them. He’s serious about their love.
  • Donna, like the rest of us, had been told that James’s father died when he was 10 years old. Turns out, that wasn’t exactly true. He was a musician who abandoned James and his mother. Also, while his mother does in fact leave home a lot, it’s not just because she’s some fancy-smantchy writer. She is an alcoholic and a slut. She likes to leave town, get really drunk and have sex with a lot of guys. She sounds like fun. Can’t wait to meet her.
  • Now that there are no secrets between them (until the next time they’re written into the plot), Donna and James can reaffirm their commitment to help Laura by solving her murder.
  • We’re not finished at Jacques Renault’s Apartment yet. There’s a plate of donuts on the counter now. Agent Cooper sees a photo of a cabin with red drapes on the inside of a kitchen cabinet door. Red drapes, like the Red Room in Agent Cooper’s dream, you may recall.
  • Deputy Hawk comes in and confirms that the post office box was, indeed, in Jacques Renault’s name. He also brings more letters from the box.
  • You have to wonder if maybe Sheriff Harry is also the town judge, like Andy Taylor. Or maybe Twin Peaks law enforcement doesn’t have to concern themselves with procedural speedbumps such as warrants.
  • It turns out that Jacques was the Flesh World go-between for at least one person besides RONETTE PULASKI, our still-living but catatonic victim. If I were writing this story, I would have had our mysterious killer at least make an attempt on Ronette’s life by this point. Maybe that was the whole point of Deputy Hawk’s initial sighting of the one-armed man.
  • But, I digress— The other person with an ad in the magazine turns out to be Laura Palmer. Surprised? She was a busy girl, with a lot of energy. Her picture in the magazine has red drapes in the background. Cooper says they have to locate Jacques Renault’s cabin.
  • Yay! A field trip.
  • Meanwhile, at the Double R Diner, Donna Hayward and James Hurley meet with Laura’s doppleganger cousin, MADELEINE FERGUSON. They are trying to solicit Maddy’s help in their investigation into Laura’s murder. Laura had a secret hiding place, maybe somewhere in her bedroom. Donna and James think that there might be something hidden that could lead to Laura’s killer. Maddy agrees to help. She says she had a feeling Laura was in trouble the day before she died; that’s why she traveled to Twin Peaks. Seems like Maddy may have some of the same psychic gift as Laura and her mother.
  • As the three teenagers leave the diner, we pan over to the adjacent booth to find out that Norma’s parolee husband, Hank Jennings, is sitting there, and it’s obvious he overheard the entire conversation. Hank is now an active player in this game.
  • Norma Jennings and Shelly Johnson return from their planned spa day, with their hair all did. Norma seems surprised to find her husband there. Hank tells her that he intends to earn his way back into her heart and wants to know where he can start. Norma says he can start by washing dishes.
  • Shelly is watching some of our favorite show-within-a-show Invitation to Love on the television while Norma and Hank have their reunion. The plot of that soap opera seems no more convoluted than this one.
  • The Briggs family has gathered in Dr. Jacoby’s Office. DR. LAWRENCE JACOBY is there, of course. GARLAND and BETTY BRIGGS are concerned about their son’s recent behavior. Skipping school, fighting at The Roadhouse and at the funeral. BOBBY BRIGGS admits that he’s been drinking alcohol, but not taking drugs. His father has killed people, he says. That was during wartime, the elder Briggs explains to the doctor.
  • I’ve probably mentioned this before, but the actor playing Bobby is not very good. I’ll probably mention it again, unless he improves.
  • Dr. Jacoby tells Bobby’s parents that he’d like to speak with Bobby alone. This is the first time I really noticed that Dr. J’s glasses are tinted two different colors. Maybe that means something.
  • When they are alone, the psychiatrist tells Bobby to “cut the crap.” He wants to talk about Laura. Using information he no doubt gleaned from his sessions with Laura, he asks Bobby if he cried the first time he and Laura made love. He also asks if Laura laughed at him. Stunned by hearing this from the doctor, Bobby blurts out that Laura wanted to die. She told him so. She said people tried to be good, but they were actually sick and rotten, her most of all. She had a darkness inside of her. Bobby had the feeling she was harboring an awful secret.
  • Dr. Jacoby says Laura wanted to corrupt people. Bobby says she forced him to sell drugs, so that she could have them.
  • Meanwhile, in The Woods: Sheriff Harry, Agent Cooper, Deputy Hawk and Dr. Hayward are tramping through the forest. Deputy Hawk is acting like a tracker. They find a cabin, although Agent Cooper says it’s not the one they’re looking for.
  • They approach the cabin with their guns drawn
  • But, it’s The Log Lady’s Cabin. THE LOG LADY meets them at the door. She tells them that they’re two days late, then offers to serve them tea and cookies.
  • Their host mentions that her husband was a lumberman who had met the Devil. Cryptically, Sheriff Harry mentions this happened the day after the wedding. At the Log Lady’s urging, Agent Cooper finally asks her log what it saw on the night Laura Palmer was murdered.
  • The Log Lady says something about the darkness, laughing, owls flying, more laughing, two men, two girls, further up on the ridge . . .
  • The men go deeper into the woods and locate the cabin from the photo. Music is playing on a record player. The song is “Into the Night,” performed by Julee Cruise, with lyrics written by David Lynch. Someone (I think Cooper, although I didn’t indicate who in my notes) says: “There’s always music in the air.”
  • There are red drapes. Waldo the myna bird is there in a cage. While the men are there, the poker chip with the missing “J” piece rolls out of the cuckoo clock.
  • Cut to: Great Northern Hotel. Some time has passed. It’s time for the Icelander gala. We get a strange shot of JOSIE PACKARD sitting alone, smoking, in an unlit room at the hotel. What’s that all about?
  • CATHERINE MARTELL and her husband, PETE, enter the party. The event is being held in something called THE TIMBER ROOM according to the sign on the wall. Pete asks Catherine to go easy on the sauce tonight. Jerry Horne is nearby, flirting with the statuesque Heba. Leland Palmer comes without his wife.
  • Catherine pours some of her drink on Benjamin Horne’s shoe, in an obvious ploy to get his attention. Ben tells her to meet him in his office in two minutes.
  • Audrey Horne uses her secret passageway again to spy on her father with Catherine Martell. Catherine wants to know why Ben had a thousand-dollar One Eyed Jacks poker chip in his pants. She’s jealous that he went to a known brothel. The two begin making out. Catherine wants to go ahead and torch the sawmill, but Ben says he plans to give Josie Packard one last chance to settle before they go ahead with their plan.
  • Big band music begins to play during Jerry Horne’s speech about the Ghostwood Estates project and their Icelandic partners. Leland Palmer seems to be triggered by the music—maybe some sort of Manchurian Candidate posthypnotic suggestion—and he begins to cry and dance by himself. Benjamin Horne tells Catherine to dance with him. Then, he pulls his brother Jerry aside and tells him to get Dr. Jacoby and get Leland out of his life.
  • Watching all of this going down, Audrey Horne begins to cry as well. I’m not sure why.
  • Over at the Palmer House, Maddy Ferguson is sneaking around. She calls Donna Hayward and tells she found a cassette tape hidden in one of Laura’s bedposts, where she used to hide her cigarettes. She tells Donna to bring a tape recorder with her tomorrow.
  • Back at the Great Northern Hotel, Benjamin Horne meets with Josie Packard in the dark room we saw earlier. Josie has brought the fake set of accounts books to Ben. She says she found Catherine’s hiding place where he said it would be.
  • So, Benjamin and Josie are working together? I’m not sure I understand the angle on this. Ben says they are going forward with their plans “tomorrow night.”
  • Cut to: the Johnson House. Shelly Johnson’s spa day hairdo from earlier in the episode is gone and her hair looks the same as it did during the breakfast scene. Loose and slightly damp.
  • Leo Johnson arrives home and is getting gas cans. For the upcoming arson, I imagine. Suddenly, Hank Jennings, Norma’s husband, appears out of nowhere, attacks Leo and then warns the ponytailed man not to compete with him. He’s out of prison now, large and in charge.
  • Apparently, Hank was behind a lot of the local shenanigans before he was sent up the river. Something tells me he hasn’t been reformed.
  • Leo takes his frustrations out on Shelly when he comes inside the house, pushing her to the floor and telling her to get him a beer. She pulls her shiny little gun and fires. The ceiling light is swinging afterward, Psycho-style, but we don’t know if Leo was killed. I assume he was hit because he cried out.
  • Agent Cooper finally returns to the Great Northern Hotel, only to find the door to his room is ajar while the Icelanders are singing the way they were this morning. Audrey Horne is in his bed, apparently naked.
  • “Don’t make me leave,” she says, tearfully.
  • And so, this episode ends. Now we know why it was important for Audrey to be eighteen years old.

When this episode ended, I didn’t really feel like the murder investigation had actually progressed any, although a lot of stuff happened. Most of the new information came from sources outside of the investigation.

First, Benjamin Horne is also in cahoots with Josie Packard, it seems, which is a fact that’s difficult for me to wrap my brain around. If the sawmill belongs to Josie, why does she need the fake book or an arson to sell the property to Ben?

Also, we located the red-draped cabin, the myna bird, and the rest of the One Eyed Jacks poker chip. And, Agent Cooper finally interrogated the log. Well, okay . . .

From Bobby’s conversation with Dr. Jacoby, we learned that Laura Palmer may have had a death wish. In spite of all her good deeds in Twin Peaks, it seems she wasn’t really a good person.

Hank Jennings is home, and it seems he may be our Big Bad. He has to be more convincing in the role than Leo has been.

Donna, James, and Audrey—and, by association, Maddy Ferguson—have elevated their own status to the “meddling kids” category as they launch their own investigation into Laura’s murder.

About Maddy. This is a stray thought that just occurred to me. No, it didn’t come to me in a dream, Cooper-style, but it did occur while I was typing up my notes from “Cooper’s Dreams.” I referred to the dwarf from Cooper’s Red Room dream as an LP when I posted about it, with LP being an abbreviation for “little person,” of course. It has occurred to me that LP is also Laura Palmer’s initials. And the little person referred to the girl who looked like Laura in the dream as his cousin. Now, Laura’s lookalike cousin is a part of the story. Maybe a coincidence, and I’m not sure it means anything deeper in the story, except that the “cousin” in the dream knew who killed Laura and whispered it into Agent Cooper’s ear.

I may be overthinking this. I blame the series.

Only three-out-of-five stars for this episode. Lots of complications, little headway on solutions.

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