Welcome to Twin Peaks:/\/\ First-Watch Recap: Season 1: Ep. 1.8 “The Last Evening” (Original airdate Wednesday, May 23, 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 “The Last Evening.”

  • On this date in history, some viewers may have missed this episode because the finale was shown on Wednesday night instead of its usual Thursday slot. I’m not certain why.
  • Two days prior, on Monday, May 21, the series finale of Newhart aired. It was all just a dream. I wonder if that’s how this series is going to end?
  • Also on May 21, David Lynch’s Wild at Heart won the Palm d’Or in Cannes.
  • Two days after this episode aired, on Friday, May 25, Back to the Future III was released. That’s the one with trains, cowboys and Mary Steenburgen.
  • This season finale episode was written and directed by series co-creator Mark Frost.
  • The in-story date is still Thursday, March 2, as the episode begins.
  • JAMES HURLEY and DONNA HAYWARD have just broken into Dr. Jacoby’s Office. Inside, they find a weird collection of cocktail umbrellas, which are labelled. Donna also finds the good doc’s strange coconut, which LAURA PALMER had mentioned on her recorded tape. The coconut conceals the half-heart necklace and another cassette tape.
  • With their little bit of breaking-and-entering completed, James and Donna get on the motorcycle together and take off. BOBBY BRIGGS is watching from the shadows. You might recall that he stuffed a bag of something, probably cocaine, in the bike’s gas tank while they were inside the psychiatrist’s office/home.
  • Cut to: The Gazebo. DR. LAWRENCE JACOBY is sneaking up on MADELEINE FERGUSON, who is disguised as Laura. Or, and this is pure speculation at this point, may be the real Laura and the dead girl was Maddy. That would be a real soap opera development.
  • Before Dr. J can reach Maddy, some unknown assailant in a leather jacket and balaclava attacks him. Donna and James return as Dr. J is losing consciousness, or perhaps dying. The felonious teenagers pick up Maddy and leave.
  • Up at One Eyed Jacks, across the border where the FBI and Twin Peaks police have no jurisdiction whatsoever, BIG ED HURLEY is still losing the gambling money fronted by the FBI, while AGENT DALE COOPER is still winning at blackjack.
  • One of the casino girls whispers in Agent Cooper’s ear. He tells her maybe later, then tips JACQUES RENAULT the $1000 poker chip with the missing piece that rolled out of the cuckoo clock in Renault’s secret sex cabin. Agent Cooper tells the porcine Renault that he’s a friend of LEO JOHNSON. “Who’s Leo?” Renault says.
  • Still at One Eyed Jacks, in Blackie’s Office, we find BLACKIE O’RIELLY dealing herself a hand of Solataire or else doing a tarot reading. AUDREY HORNE enters the office. The 18-year-old is dressed in lingerie. Blackie, the brothel madam, has Audrey do a quick turn and pronounces her “very nice,” and tells her to come closer.
  • As Audrey gets closer to Blackie, she notices Agent Cooper on the security camera feed.
  • Blackie tells Audrey that it’s a good night for her to break in. The owner is coming by later and likes to spend time with all the new girls.
  • Blackie fans out the cards and tells Audrey to pick one. She chooses the Queen of Diamonds.
  • Outside of One Eyed Jacks, in the Police Van, Big Ed and SHERIFF HARRY S. TRUMAN are listening to the miked Agent Cooper.
  • Cooper claims to be the one financing Leo Johnson. He says he has ten grand for Jacques for a job tonight across the border. He’s cutting out Leo. Cooper tells Jacques to meet him at the water processing plant on Black Lake in two hours.
  • Agent Cooper also tells Jacques that Leo didn’t tell him the whole story about the poker chip. He asks Jacques what happened. Jacques says it was that crazy bird, WALDO, which acted like it was in love with Laura or something. The bird said her name all the time. They were all pretty high. Partying. Jacques, Leo, Laura and RONETTE PULASKI. Leo let Waldo out of his cage. The bird landed on Laura’s shoulder. Laura was all tied up, you see. She liked that rough stuff. The myna bird began pecking on her shoulder. Leo put the poker chip between Laura’s teeth because she was screaming about the bird. “Bite the bullet, baby!” Leo told her. “Bite the bullet!”
  • Elsewhere, Audrey Horne waits alone in a room, looking at herself in the mirror.
  • At the Johnson House, SHELLY JOHNSON washes her hair at the kitchen sink, with her shiny handgun on the counter next to her. Leo grabs her from behind. She shot him an episode or two ago, and he’s probably still miffed about that.
  • At the Water Processing Plant on Black Lake, Sheriff Harry and DEPUTY ANDY BRENNAN are on stakeout. I would assume that a couple of hours have passed. Jacques Renault shows up and gets busted, arrested for the attempted murder of Ronette Pulaski and the murder of Laura Palmer.
  • Jacques somehow gets the arresting officer’s gun and is about to shoot Sheriff Harry when Deputy Andy shoots Jacques instead, proving that he is now competent.
  • At the Hayward House, Donna, James and Maddy listen to the coconut tape. On the recording, Laura says that her mystery man has tried to kill her a couple of times, but she got off on it. Isn’t sex weird? This guy lights her F-I-R-E, as in red Corvette.
  • DR. WILL HAYWARD comes in and says he has to leave for an emergency at the hospital.
  • James tells Maddy he’s sorry she had to hear Laura’s tape. Maddy says she’s okay. James offers his opinion that Dr. Jacoby didn’t kill Laura. He was trying to help her.
  • “Then how did he get the necklace?” Donna Hayward asks.
  • Cut to: the Packard Sawmill. Leo Johnson is preparing to commit arson. It looks like he plans to kill his wife Shelly as well. She’s tied up in the drying shed. He sets a timer on some device for one hour. As an exit line, he tells his wife that Bobby Briggs will be dead also.
  • Meanwhile, at the Hurley House, NADINE HURLEY writes a suicide note, pours some water, lays out enough pills to choke a horse and says, to no one, “Goodbye.”
  • Cut to: the Blue Pine Lodge. HANK JENNINGS is there getting money from JOSIE PACKARD. 90 grand. He says, after serving prison time, it doesn’t seem like enough now. He implies, heavily, that he was somehow involved in the death of ANDREW PACKARD, Josie’s late husband. Hank does the blood-brother handshake thing with Josie, after cutting both of them with his knife. He says that they are now partners for life.
  • Back at Packard Sawmill, CATHERINE MARTELL is ransacking an office looking for the ledger that Josie Packard and BENJAMIN HORNE stole from her. Her husband, PETE MARTELL comes in. We just heard the whistle blow, so I’m not sure if that means it’s five o’clock or later. It should be much later, I think. Time seems a bit wonky in Twin Peaks.
  • Catherine and Pete bicker, as usual. Catherine accuses her husband of helping Josie pull something. Catherine admits that she’s in trouble and he’s the only one she can turn to. Pete embraces his wife, but you can tell from Catherine’s expression that she’s still using him.
  • At the Sheriff’s Station, DEPUTY HAWK and Big Ed are bragging about Deputy Andy’s bravery in the water plant gunfight. Deputy Andy goes to LUCY MORAN, the dispatcher/receptionist. Deputy Andy kisses her. Lucy tells him that she’s pregnant.
  • If you could see me, you’d notice I was raising my hand. I called that one, last episode I think.
  • Andy is stunned. Now we know why Lucy has seemed so standoffish the past few episodes. She was waiting for doctor’s confirmation that she was pregnant, and probably feeling some resentment towards the man who helped get her that way. Deputy Andy wanders off in a daze.
  • Bobby Briggs calls the sheriff’s station, pretending to be Leo Johnson. He leaves a message telling Sheriff Harry to check out James Hurley, because he’s an “easy rider.”
  • He’s either accusing James of being Peter Fonda or a drug smuggler.
  • At Calhoun Memorial Hospital, Sheriff Harry and Agent Cooper interrogate Jacques Renault in his hospital bed. Jacques claims that the Flesh World photos had been Laura’s idea. Another check in the “Laura was a freak” column.
  • Jacques also shares his version of that “last evening.” At some point during the partying, Leo Johnson struck Jacques with a whiskey bottle, cutting him. Jacques used Leo’s shirt to stop the bleeding. Then Jacques became sick, went outside and passed out. He woke up lying on the ground. Leo and the girls were gone.
  • Sheriff Harry asks about the train car, and Jacques says he knows nothing about that. Leo’s car was gone and Jacques had to walk fifteen miles to his house.
  • In another room at the hospital, Dr. Jacoby is in bed. Dr. Will Hayward tells Agent Cooper and Sheriff Harry about the supposed call from Laura Palmer. He says that Dr. J claims to have seen her at the Gazebo.
  • Cut to: Blue Pine Lodge. Pete and Catherine Martell are still looking for the ledger book. Pete finds an old yearbook and reminisces about an old girlfriend. Hank Jennings calls Catherine and tells her what she’s looking for is at the mill. Drying shed #3 near the north gate.
  • Catherine sends her husband out of the room and asks Hank what he wants. What are his terms? Hank says he’ll let her know. Catherine gets a gun from the desk before she heads out.
  • At the Double R Diner, Hank Jennings is telling his wife NORMA JENNINGS about his life in prison. He’s trying to sweet talk her.
  • Cut to: Hurley House. Big Ed comes in and finds Nadine lying on the floor. He calls for an ambulance.
  • Meanwhile, at the Sheriff’s Station, Lucy gives Sheriff Harry the message from “Leo Johnson.” When she was on the phone, she says, she heard the clock striking at Easter Park.
  • LELAND PALMER shows up, asking if it’s true that they found the killer. Dr. Hayward encourages Leland to go home to be with SARAH PALMER, his wife, even though we haven’t seen her in a few episodes.
  • Leland leaves, but he says the word “hospital,” so I don’t think he’s heading home.
  • James Hurley arrives and gives Agent Cooper the Laura audiotape. Cooper keeps James busy while Sheriff Harry leaves the room for a minute. The agent lets James know that Dr. Jacoby is in the hospital after suffering a heart attack. Sheriff Harry comes back in with the bag of cocaine from James’s gas tank.
  • Back to the Great White North and One Eyed Jacks. Benjamin Horne is with the Icelandic investors, signing papers.
  • Hank Jennings calls and tells Ben that it’s “time to black flag that little firebug.” He’s planning to make a house call on Leo Johnson. Ben tells him to proceed.
  • Cut to: the endless remodelling project that is the Johnson House. Bobby Briggs comes into the house, looking for Shelly. Leo Johnson is behind the door as he enters. Leo attacks with an ax, but Hank Jennings shoots Leo through the window.
  • Leo may or may not be dead after this. In either case, he’s left watching Invitation to Love.
  • At Packard Sawmill, Catherine Martell enters drying shed #3. She finds Shelly Johnson tied up. The incendiary device goes off. Catherine cuts Shelly’s ropes and the women attempt to leave while the place is going up in flames.
  • Cut to: Calhoun Memorial Hospital. Leland Palmer pulls the fire alarm, goes to Jacques Renault’s room and smothers him with a pillow. Yes, that happened.
  • Back to Packard Sawmill. Pete Martell arrives. He sees Catherine’s car and asks someone if she’s still inside. Then, showing great bravery, Pete busts into the fiery building to attempt to rescue his wife.
  • Cut to: One Eyed Jacks. Blackie O’Reilly lights Benjamin Horne’s cigar in celebration of the Ghostwood papers being signed. Of course, Ben is the owner of the brothel and wants to see the “new girl.”
  • The seamstress is putting the finishing touches on Audrey Horne’s dress as Daddy is coming down the hall for her. Eww.
  • At the Great Northern Hotel, his day finally done, Agent Cooper heads for his room, dictating his message for Diane. He says that they have one suspect in custody, and that Leo Johnson won’t be able to escape the dragnet they’ve thrown up for him much longer. He goes into his room, sees the note from Audrey Horne. He calls room service for a glass of milk.
  • When Agent Cooper goes to the door, there’s someone whose face we don’t see there, holding a gun. Cooper gets shot. Three times.
  • Unless I missed a sunrise, this is now early Friday morning, March 3.
  • And with this new development, the episode, and the first season, is over.

At least now we know who killed Laura Palmer, right?

No. No, we don’t. We’ve got the story about Laura’s last evening from Jacques Renault, who wouldn’t exactly be called a reliable source. It makes Leo Johnson look guilty. But, as the season ends, both Jacques and Leo seem to be dead.

They’re not the only ones. Other possible “dead” characters include Catherine Martell, Josie Packard, Nadine Hurley, and even Pete Martell after his heroic dash into the burning building. My guess, however, is that all of these characters will be alive for the next season. Dr. Lawrence Jacoby is in the hospital after suffering a beat down and a heart attack, but I doubt he’s dead either. No one’s seen Sarah Palmer for a while, so her status is unknown. James Hurley may or may not be arrested for possession. Agent Cooper has been shot three times at point-blank range, so I’m sure he’s okay as well.

What about Ronette Pulaski? Still in a coma? In true soap opera fashion, she’ll probably have a dramatic revival the next season and tell a completely different story.

Speaking of story. What story are we telling, exactly? “Who killed Laura Palmer?” doesn’t seem to be what this is really about. We’ve got drug smuggling, shady land deals, arson, everybody sleeping around, and a “Who shot JR?”-type cliffhanger.

Plus, what about Bob and the One-Armed Man, the improbably named Phillip Gerard?

This show is excellent at asking questions. David Lynch and Mark Frost were already playing masterfully with Mystery Boxes during a time when J.J. Abrams was just getting started.

I’ve committed to watching the twenty-two episodes that make up Season 2, but I’m beginning to sense that there’s no real plan here. Style does seem to be more important than substance. Since I know there was a movie and a later continuation of the series, I doubt all of the questions will be answered in Season 2.

As a season finale, this episode was a bit weak for me. The “Who shot Dale Cooper?” cliffhanger was a cheap trick to keep the viewer interested until the next season. Otherwise, nothing really happened in the episode, and nothing was resolved.

With some disappointment, I’m giving this episode two-out-of-five stars.

I realize that this is the worst score I’ve given during this season, and it is in many ways a cumulative one. As a whole, I’d give the first season three-out-of-five stars or a low grade-B. But, that’s just my opinion today, one born of disappointment.

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