Welcome to Twin Peaks:/\/\ First-Watch Recap: Season 1: Ep. 1.7 “Realization Time” (Original airdate Thursday, May 17, 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 “Realization Time.”

  • On this date in history, the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of diseases. That was progressive of them.
  • The day before this episode aired—Wednesday, May 16—both Sammy Davis Jr. and Jim Henson passed away.
  • The day after, the Mel Gibson/Goldie Hawn film Bird on a Wire opened in the theaters. The consensus of the critcs, the audience, and myself is that the film sucked. It would go on to earn around $140 million, however, so what do we know?
  • Along with “Vogue” and “Nothing Compares 2 U,” you were listening to “Hold On,” by the band Wilson Phillips if you had the radio on during this week. It would hold on to become the #1 single for all of 1990.
  • The episode “Realization Time” was directed by Caleb Deschanel. You may know him because he was a six-time Academy Award nominee for cinematography. Or, because his wife, Mary Jo, plays the wheelchair-bound Eileen Hayward on this same television series.
  • Or, because he and Mary Jo had two daughters named Emily and Zooey.
  • We begin this episode immediately following the end of the previous one, which makes it the evening of Wednesday, March 1.
  • It opens with a lingering shot of the moon, which I mention only because I made a comment in an earlier post that I wasn’t fact-checking this series no matter how many times we bust down doors without warrants.
  • You can’t deny your inner-nerd. The moon in this shot, which is a first-quarter or possibly even a waxing-gibbous moon, is completely wrong for March 1, 1989. Maybe it’s stock footage, or just the phase the moon was in when the episode was actually filmed.
  • FYI: the moon should have been a waxing crescent.
  • The in-universe explanation that I will accept is that all of the action in this series occurs on an alternate plane of reality, which explains Agent Cooper’s Zen detective skills and all the jazz music in juke boxes.
  • We’re back at the Great Northern Hotel, and we get a scene where AGENT DALE COOPER gently rejects the naked-in-the-bed advances of high school student AUDREY HORNE. The agent tells the 18-year-old (it was important in the previous episode that she be a legal adult—for this scene, I suspect) that she is “beautiful, intelligent and desirable,” but what she needs right now is a friend. He tells her that he’s going downstairs to order two malteds and some French fries while she gets dressed and then joins him to talk about her problems, even if it takes all night.
  • Audrey mentions, casually, that LAURA PALMER had a lot of secrets. The agent says it’s his job to find that out.
  • Keep in mind that Agent Cooper didn’t get much sleep the previous night because of all the Icelander partying. He’s not going to get much sleep tonight either, it’s become apparent. I’m beginning to understand why he’s as passionate about coffee as Laura Palmer was about cocaine.
  • Cut to: the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station, the next morning. If you’re playing along at home, that would be Thursday, March 2. Dispatcher/receptionist LUCY MORAN is still not speaking to DEPUTY ANDY BRENNAN. He doesn’t know why, like a typical male, and neither do we, like typical viewers kept in the dark.
  • Lucy gives Andy the deep-freeze brush-off while she takes a private phone call. It’s from her doctor’s office and the news she receives seems to upset her.
  • This is Soap Opera Foreshadowing 101. Phone calls with news that the viewer doesn’t get to hear. If Lucy coughed during the scene, it would mean that she’s going to die a few episodes later. She didn’t cough, so she’s probably pregnant. Deputy Andy probably demonstrates the same skill with a condom that he does with a service revolver.
  • Agent Cooper walks into the station, tooting his wooden whistle again. He tells Lucy that he heard she was out sick yesterday, and she says she’s feeling much better today.
  • Agent Cooper meets SHERIFF HARRY S. TRUMAN and DR. WILL HAYWARD in the conference room. WALDO the myna bird is there in his cage, and Dr. Hayward is reading about mynas in a book. Supposedly, the myna bird can mimic human speech. So far, Waldo hasn’t been in the mood to speak yet. He’s probably waiting for a more dramatic moment.
  • Agent Cooper shares the personal information that he doesn’t like birds. Maybe the great evil darkness that stalks the woods will turn out to be a monstrous mutated bird. That would make this confessional moment relevant.
  • Or, maybe I’m just writing the script to a different show.
  • DEPUTY HAWK arrives with forensic reports for Agent Cooper. No one, including the sheriff himself, seems to have a problem with bypassing the sheriff during this investigation. We know that Sheriff Harry isn’t always so laid-back, since he didn’t hesitate to threaten a different federal agent, and, in fact, punched the same one in the face. But, he never demonstrates a violent nature in any other circumstance. That makes him a dangerous man. Or an inconsistently written one.
  • The forensic information? Oh, you’re interested in clues. The reports confirm that JACQUES RENAULT had three guests to his cabin: Laura Palmer, RONETTE PULASKI, and LEO JOHNSON.
  • The only photograph on an undeveloped roll of film found in Renault’s cabin was of Waldo the myna bird on someone’s naked shoulder. Agent Cooper says, with characteristic certainty, that it is Laura Palmer’s shoulder.
  • Cooper has the brilliant idea of leaving a voice-activated microcassette recorder by Waldo’s cage so that they won’t miss anything the bird says after they leave.
  • An aside: I used to carry a microcassette recorder just like this one in 1990. While I was working, I’d record notes for myself. I was a douche bag. It worked great, though I’d have to listen to the tapes later to retrieve the notes, which I would then jot down. The entire system was eventually replaced by a lower-tech but more efficient process of a tiny notepad and a pen.
  • Turns out that forensics also confirmed that the plastic fragment found in Laura’s stomach was a match to the $1000 One Eyed Jacks poker chip that rolled out of Jacques Renault’s cuckoo clock. Agent Cooper says he thinks a little field work is in order. When the sheriff mentions that tiny detail about jurisdiction, considering that One Eyed Jacks is in Canada, Cooper says it’ll be a good job for THE BOOKHOUSE BOYS.
  • Cut to: Exterior. The Johnson House. BOBBY BRIGGS pulls into the driveway, but doesn’t know that the irrepressible Leo Johnson is watching him through binoculars. Maybe the actor was auditioning to be in the next Star Wars movie. (You see, looking at things through binoculars is a Star Wars trope. Pop culture references that you feel you have to explain are always the best.)
  • Wait a minute? Didn’t SHELLY JOHNSON shoot Leo near the end of the last episode? It looks like his left arm is bandaged. Maybe she just winged him.
  • Shelly Johnson meets Bobby at the door and tells him that she shot Leo. Bobby tells her that he’s going to deal with both Leo and James. I don’t know why he feels he needs to mention James to Shelly. She can’t possibly care about the guy who was fooling around with Bobby’s other girlfriend.
  • Leo Johnson spends a moment sighting down his house through a scoped rifle. But, he hears Lucy Moran on the police band talking about Waldo the myna bird. This makes Leo get into his pickup truck and drive away in a hurry.
  • Cut to: a location I didn’t bother to write down. Possibly the Palmer House or the Hayward House. JAMES HURLEY, DONNA HAYWARD and MADDY FERGUSON are listening to the tape Maddy had found hidden in Laura’s bedroom.
  • On the tape, Laura says, “Why is it so easy to make men like me? And I don’t even have to try very hard.”
  • An empty cassette tape case is dated February 23, which was the date Laura went missing and got killed. Our meddling kids decide to hatch a plan to break into DR. LAWRENCE JACOBY‘s office and find the missing tape. I missed the part where the evidence pointed to the tape being in Jacoby’s office. Maybe because all of the tapes were directed at the psychiatrist. Why were the tape and its cassette case separated? Why am I continuing to ask questions?
  • At Horne’s Department Store, Audrey Horne proves that she’s as good at selling perfume as she is at seducing FBI agents. Of course, she’s there to investigate a murder. When store manager EMORY BATTIS asks to speak with Audrey’s co-worker JENNY (Lisa Ann Cabasa) in private, Audrey distracts a stockroom person long enough for her to sneak into the manager’s office, where she hides so that she can eavesdrop on the conversation.
  • The store manager is recognizing Jenny for doing a good job. He gives her a silver unicorn. He gives Jenny a card and tells her to call the BLACK ROSE (by whom he means BLACKIE O’REILLY, I assume, the owner/madam at One Eyed Jacks).
  • After Battis and Jenny leave the office, Audrey looks through the manager’s dayplanner, where he has listed a lot of girls names, including Ronette Pulaski, but, curiously, no Laura. At least, not that I saw. Audrey also helps herself to a silver unicorn. Rewarding herself, no doubt, for a job well done.
  • Cut to: the Double R Diner, where HANK JENNINGS is talking to Shelly Johnson. Recent prison parolee Hank gets Shelly to admit that BIG ED HURLEY has been helping out his wife, NORMA JENNINGS, a lot while he’s been away.
  • Sheriff Harry and Agent Cooper come into the diner. The sheriff reminds Hank that he’s out on parole, a reminder that was probably unnecessary and, perhaps, borderline harassment. I’m not taking up for Hank. He’s apparently a Bad Guy, unless he’s working undercover for the Good Guys, which would be a surprising development, although I can’t say entirely unexpected now.
  • Shelly asks the men if they would like coffee. The sheriff says they need to be going, but Agent Cooper, who was up talking all night with Audrey, says they’ll take some coffee. He goes on to drop some additional wisdom on his Watson, the sheriff. Cooper tells Harry to give himself a present every day. Today’s present: two cups of good, hot, black coffee.
  • Cut to: Horne’s Department Store. Audrey Horne tricks Jenny into giving her the number for the Black Rose, pretending she’s received a unicorn and an offer to go to One Eyeds Jacks as well.
  • At the Hurley House, NADINE HURLEY is sitting on the couch, eating bon bons and watching “Invitation to Love” on television. Big Ed Hurley comes in and consoles his wife, whose silent drape runner invention has been rejected by the patent attorney she went to see. She had already planned to buy a new television, and a boat.
  • At the Blue Pine Lodge, Sheriff Harry is talking to PETE MARTELL. Is there a fish involved? You betcha. Pete is showing off a mounted fish he just got back from Tim and Tom’s Taxidermy.
  • Wait a minute. Where is Agent Cooper? In the sheriff’s previous scene, he seemed to be in a hurry for both he and Cooper to go somewhere, but there’s no Cooper in this scene.
  • JOSIE PACKARD enters the scene and kisses the sheriff. She’s evasive when Sheriff Harry asks her, again, about being at the Timber Falls Motel. She finally admits that she was there to take photographs of BENJAMIN HORNE and CATHERINE MARTELL, who were at the motel together. Josie claims she was getting proof for Harry.
  • She also claims to have overheard a conversation between Ben and Catherine about an accident, a fire, at Angel’s Mill. Her mill. She says she’s not going to let this happen. Harry says he’s not going to let it happen either.
  • Just to jog my memory a bit, let’s review, shall we? We already had a scene in which we were shown that Josie was somehow in cahoots with Benjamin Horne. She stole the fake set of books for Ben after he told her where to find it.
  • And what’s this Angel’s Mill stuff? I thought the name of the sawmill was Packard’s Sawmill. Are we even talking about the same place? The plot is thickening but not becoming any clearer.
  • At the Great Northern Hotel, Agent Cooper meets Sheriff Harry and Big Ed Hurley at the restaurant. Cooper is wearing a tux and carrying $10,000 in FBI money. Big Ed excuses himself so that Cooper and Harry can talk in private.
  • Sheriff Harry says that Josie just found out about Benjamin Horne and Catherine Martell seeing each other on the sly, something that’s been going on for years. It seems that the sheriff already knew about it. Harry tells Cooper about Josie’s fear that they’re going to burn down the mill and somehow get rid of her, too. Cooper asks Harry how well he knows Josie. The sheriff says he knows that he loves her, and Cooper says that’s good enough for him.
  • We get a shot of Audrey Horne using the phone at what I assume is the front desk of the hotel, she leaves a message with someone to tell Agent Cooper that she called. I’m not sure who she would be talking to. Maybe Lucy at the sheriff’s station.
  • At the Blue Pine Lodge, Catherine Martell is visited by insurance agent NEFF about a life insurance policy that Benjamin Horne and Josie Packard got on her behalf, a policy that goes into effect that night. Neff initially says they forgot to get her signature on one page, but later admits that he lied about that. He just wanted to make sure she was aware what was going on. Catherine lies right back and claims that she knew. But, she wants to get her attorney to look it over before she gets it back to him.
  • Afterward, Catherine finds that the fake set of books is missing from her secret hiding place. Now she knows that Ben and Josie are in cahoots.
  • “Cahoots” is from the French “cahute,” meaning a cabin or a poor hut. It seemed fitting to use the word in a story brimming with cabins, French names like Jacques Renault, and people in cahoots.
  • Back to the Great Northern Hotel. Audrey Horne slips a note under Agent Cooper’s door just as a new guest, an Asian man, is going into his room next door.
  • Is it racist for me to assume that the only other Asian character I’ve seen in this series is somehow linked to Josie Packard? That they may even be, for lack of a better term, in cahoots?
  • At the Sheriff’s Station, Agent Cooper has a briefcase full of sitcom-esque disguises. Cooper is being wired with a hidden microphone while Big Ed Hurley and Deputy Hawk are looking at the disguises.
  • In the nearby conference room, on a table full of donuts, Waldo the myna bird begins to talk. “Laura,” he says. Then, suddenly, a shot rings out, shattering the glass on a framed picture on the far wall.
  • We cut to an exterior shot of Leo Johnson running to his pickup truck with a rifle in his hand. Where has Leo been during the time between this morning when he heard the radio call about the bird and now, when he apparently assassinated the bird? And, why are we even worried about a bird talking, when a living potential witness named Ronette Pulaski is in the hospital?
  • Back to the conference room. There’s Myna bird blood all over the donuts. Yuck.
  • Sheriff Harry, Agent Cooper, Deputy Hawk and Big Ed Hurley all rush into the conference room. “Who shot Waldo?” the sheriff asks.
  • Cooper plays the microcassette tape. This is what they hear: “Laura . . . Laura. . .Don’t go there . . . Hurting me . . . Hurting me . . . Stop it.” And: “Leo, No!”
  • Quoth the Myna, Nevermore.
  • Later, at One Eyed Jacks, Agent Cooper and Big Ed Hurley are approached by Blackie O’Reilly. Some inane banter ensues, with Cooper introducing them as Barney and Fred. Big Ed slips up and admits he owns a gas station before telling Blackie that he’s also an oral surgeon.
  • My wife’s neurosurgeon owns an automobile tire shop. It could happen.
  • Cooper and Big Ed make it into the small casino room, but there’s no Jacques Renault yet.
  • At the Palmer House, Maddy Ferguson creeps down the stairs, carrying a brown paper bag. She’s seen by LELAND PALMER, who is sitting in the dark, being all suspicious. By which I mean, he seems suspicious and is suspicious of Maddy. This is the only screen time Ray Wise gets in this episode. No Sarah Palmer this time.
  • Cut to: the Gazebo. Maddy Ferguson shows up wearing a blond wig (perhaps a wig over a wig?). James Hurley and Donna Hayward are there, and Donna is carrying a camera. Something is afoot.
  • Over at the Great Northern Hotel, Benjamin Horne and JERRY HORNE are with the Icelandic investors. There is singing, as expected. Jerry, who is a party guy, says the Icelanders absolutely worship trees. Ben wants to know when they’re going to sign off on the Ghostwood Estates deal. Jerry says that they are poised with pens in hands, but they want to finalize the deal at One Eyed Jacks. Of course, Jerry is the one who told the investors about the brothel/casino. Ben tells his brother to get all their visitors back in the van.
  • Benjamin Horne then makes a phone call to Josie Packard. He wants to know if “she” is there. I assume he’s talking about Catherine Martell. Apparently, she’s not. Ben reminds Josie that they need her at the sawmill. Everything’s set to go down tonight.
  • The shot shifts to the Blue Pine Lodge, where Josie is standing with the phone. There’s a man standing there with her, wearing a leather jacket. My first thought was that it would turn out to be the Asian man who was checking into the hotel room next to Agent Cooper’s. It’s not: It’s Hank Jennings.
  • Please excuse my casual racism.
  • I still don’t know the significance of the double-three domino tile. You remember, the one Hank was shown sucking on when he called Josie. The one he sent her a picture of.
  • Back at One Eyed Jacks, Audrey Horne finally meets Blackie O’Reilly. Agent Cooper and Big Ed are still around somewhere, I think. Audrey attempts to use the alias “Hester Prynne,” but Blackie was also forced to read The Scarlet Letter in school, so she sees through this. When asked why Blackie should even consider giving her a job, Audrey takes the cherry out of Blackie’s cocktail and proceeds to tie a knot in the stem with her tongue. Blackie is impressed enough to offer her a contract on the spot.
  • I’m less impressed with this bar trick. Twenty years ago or so, the wife of one of my coworkers could also do this trick, and the coworker was proud enough of this fact that he would have her show it off. I guess it’s meant to imply that a woman is very talented with her tongue.
  • I get that it’s supposed to imply something sexual, but I’m just not sure what. There’s nothing attached to me that I would want tied in a knot.
  • No surprise here, but Agent Cooper is also an accomplished gambler. Add that to his list of superpowers. He’s playing blackjack when Jacques Renault finally shows up as a dealer.
  • In Dr. Jacoby’s Office, the weird doctor is watching “Invitation to Love,” the only television series ever broadcast in Twin Peaks.
  • We briefly cut to a pay phone, with James Hurley, Donna Hayward and Maddy Ferguson. Acting like Laura, Maddy calls Dr. Jacoby and tells him to go to his front door, where there is something waiting for him.
  • With gun in hand, Dr. J goes to the door and finds a manilla envelope containing a VHS tape. He pops the tape in a VCR and sees Maddy-as-Laura holding a newspaper so that it would appear that she is still alive. Maddy tells the doctor to meet her at Sparkwood & 21 in 10 minutes.
  • Maddy is convinced that the doctor bought her performance.
  • Meanwhile, Bobby Briggs is lurking in the trees. As James and Donna leave, so does Bobby, leaving Maddy alone.
  • Dr. Jacoby watches the videotape again and recognizes the gazebo in the shot. There’s apparently only one in this town of more than fifty thousand residents.
  • It seems like James and Donna are at Dr. Jacoby’s office even before he’s had time to leave. Bobby Briggs is there as well, still lurking in the foliage. When James and Donna go inside Jacoby’s office, Bobby places a bag of something—cocaine, probably—in the gas tank of James’s motorcycle. Bobby is a passive-agressive villain, always planting bloody shirts and bags of stuff.
  • Cut to: the Gazebo. Here, we get a POV shot of someone else lurking, and spying on Maddy Ferguson. Dr. Jacoby, maybe? Someone else? A cameraman with a handheld?
  • And here’s where the episode ends.

With only a smidgen of sarcasm intended: What was actually realized in this episode entitled “Realization Time”? It is the penultimate episode of the season. If our seasonal story arc is “Who killed Laura Palmer?” then we seem no closer to answering that question than we were several episodes back.

Looking back through my notes, I think the only character who realized anything in this episode was Catherine Martell. She realized that Benjamin Horne and Josie Packard were conspiring against her, taking out a life insurance on her behind her back.

What else? Waldo the myna bird realized that snitches get stitches when Leo Johnson shot him.

I don’t think I’ve realized anything. I don’t even know why Lucy Moran has been giving Deputy Andy Brennan the silent treatment. In fact, I’m fairly certain that none of the story questions raised so far have been answered. I don’t understand the domino or “Fire. Walk with me.” I’m in the dark about Bob and Mike the One-Armed Man. Why is Ronette Pulaski alive and Laura Palmer dead? In a world where we’re threatened by talking birds, why hasn’t Ronette been killed? What does burning down Packard’s Sawmill (or Angel’s Mill, apparently you can call it whatever you want) accomplish?

Oh . . . There’s so much more.

I’m committed to watching all of this series. Maybe not the movie or the later, cable continuation, but the original 30 episodes. I’m beginning to believe, however, that this series’s enduring popularity may owe much more to style than substance. The series may still prove me wrong: There’s time.

The final episode of the season must be a doozie.

This one gets only 3-out-of-5 stars from me, though. Tons of sound and fury, signifying nothing, it seems.

Join me next episode to find out if it gets any less frustrating.

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