Would you like to see my new irons?
Before we get started, some of you might be confused about who the hell I am and what the hell this is doing here. It looks kinda random, I’ll admit, especially as season 2 episode 8 is pretty much smack dab in the middle of Twin Peaks’ original run. Well, this column just moved here this week (along with me) as a part of FSR’s acquisition of One Perfect Shot. We’re going through the whole series to-date as well as Fire Walk With Me, all in an effort to get as many people as possible caught up with the show before it’s long-long-awaited third season debuts next year on Showtime. The head Honcho here has been gracious enough to allow me to continue my obsessed ramblings, so from now on each Tuesday there will be another episode guide. If you want to catch up, you can check out all my posts til now right here. And if you’ve come over from One Perfect Shot to Film School Rejects for the first time, welcome. Nice new digs, right?
Okay, let’s get into this.
EPISODE 15: “DRIVE WITH A DEAD GIRL”
Written by Scott Frost, Directed by Caleb Deschanel
Airdate November 17th, 1990
In Twin Peaks’ opening credits, Piper Laurie has always been billed last. While she had been absent from the last few episodes, given episode 14’s more minor revelation she’s returned to the credits, billed as playing both Catherine Martell and Mr. Tojamura. “Fumio Yamaguchi,” who had been previously billed as playing Tojamura, is now gone.
The episode opens right back at the Palmer house, but it’s the next morning now. Leland is chipping golf balls in the same living room where only hours ago he viciously murdered Maddy. Donna and James show up to say goodbye to Maddy, but Leland tells them she’s already left, he dropped her at the bus station himself. He says she was disappointed they didn’t come by last night like they were supposed to, although given what went down there last night, I think we all can agree it’s probably for the best they didn’t show up. Leland gets called away by Sarah – who is now alert, fine, and seemingly oblivious about everything that has transpired – leaving Donna and James alone with the dozens upon dozens of golf balls scattered around the room. They think it’s funny. It isn’t funny, it’s a deviant mind occupying itself between kills. When Leland looks at himself in the mirror after showing them out, it’s BOB he sees. He then heads out himself, making sure to take his golf bag with him. Maddy’s corpse is stuffed inside, wrapped in plastic. Leland drops his niece in the trunk. It’s such a nice day out, he decides to drive to work with the top down so that spring breeze can tickle his stark white hair.
Ben Horne is still sitting in jail under suspicion of Laura’s murder. His brother Jerry shows up. Since Ben’s regular lawyer, Leland, is himself under indictment for murder (Jacques Renault’s), Jerry will be handling Ben’s legal defense himself, which for some reason Ben’s fine with. First order of business, Jerry needs to know where Ben was the night Laura died? We recall that Jerry doesn’t appear in Twin Peaks until episode 2 because he was out of the country when the murder occurred, in France specifically, eating multiple brie and butter baguettes per day. Ben says Catherine is his alibi, they were together that fated night, but he still thinks she’s dead, so that will be tough to prove. The brothers get distracted by the cell’s bunk beds, which reminds Jerry of their first room together, and specifically of watching their babysitter Louise Dombrowski dancing on the hook rug with a flashlight. An extended memory sequence follows in which the girl dances sultrily in their lurid shared memory. Fun fact: though she’s silhouetted and her face is never seen, Louise Dombrowski is played by Emily Fincher, sister to David, who directs movies, some of which you might be obsessed with.
Lucy shows up to work with her sister Gwen and Gwen’s infant son in tow.
Coop and Truman are at The Great Northern when they come across Leland dancing in the lobby. He apparently hasn’t heard about Ben’s arrest. Harry breaks it to him. This news is especially distressing because it means Jacques wasn’t the culprit and therefore Leland killed the wrong man, but Leland steels his emotions and resolves to let the law handle things this time. As he walks away, his crying turns to malicious snickering, BOB rejoicing in the framing of another for his crime. Cooper almost catches him, but BOB is a clever chameleon. Cooper still senses a strange wind, though, even if he can’t tell from where it’s blowing. BOB dances himself out.
Ben’s blood is being drawn by Doc Hayward for purposes of trying to match it to that found at the crime scene. Cooper meanwhile shows Ben Laura’s secret diary and tells him how it documents everything about One Eyed Jacks and Ben’s involvement. Coop reads the line about Laura yearning to reveal who Ben really is, and tries to use it to leverage a confession. Ben and Laura were lovers, is Coop’s thinking, but she became a threat to all he had and had to be eliminated. Ben is greatly offended by this suggestion. Jerry takes a moment with his client; he tells Ben the case against him is too good, he’s going to need a better lawyer.
Bobby is listening to the microcassette he found in the heel of Leo’s repaired boots. It’s the conversation from last season between Leo and Ben arranging for the mill to be burned down. This pleases Bobby, as Ben Horne’s a great person to blackmail, what with all that money he’s got.
Norma’s mother Vivian (Jane Greer) surprises her by showing up at the diner out of the clear blue (or The Past, if you know Ms. Greer’s filmography). She’s there to introduce her new husband, Ernie Niles, a “financial analyst” who dresses like a used car salesman in 1975. The relationship between Norma and her mother seems a little strained, and when mom reveals herself to be more than a little nitpicky and superficial, we can see why. As if all this wasn’t enough, Norma’s still a little distracted because of the impending arrival of mysterious food critic M. T. Wentz. Mom and Ernie leave her be and go to check in at The Great Northern. In collecting Ernie’s financial newspaper, Norma finds the sports page hidden inside, all marked up with betting notes. So then Ernie is a gambler, which isn’t quite the same thing as an analyst. More importantly, he hasn’t been in Twin Peaks/on Twin Peaks five minutes and he’s already proven himself deceitful and duplicitous.
At The Great Northern under a nurse’s care, MIKE/Phillip Gerard the one-armed man comes to because he can sense that BOB is close. He asks the nurse for a glass of water, and for some reason instead of just ducking into the bathroom, she has to leave the entire hotel room to get it. When the deputy steps into to check on things, MIKE bashes him over the head and escapes out the window.
Hank returns to the diner after disappearing for two days without a word. Norma’s understandably pissed. Hank tries to explain it away by saying his past is always trying to catch up to him or some other such bullshit, but somehow it works. Hank then notices Norma’s mom. Vivian seems to like him more than her own daughter, despite the whole prison-stint thing. Vivian invites the two of them to dinner at The Great Northern with her and Ernie. Norma’s not too stoked at the prospect but Hank is and accepts for them both.
At the Sheriff’s station, Truman and Pete engage in some birdwatching before Pete breaks the news that Josie has gone. Truman of course already knows this. Pete then gets something off his chest: he loved Josie. Truman can’t blame him for that, he totally gets it. He mentions meeting her assistant, but Pete doesn’t know of any assistant. When Truman describes the man, Pete recognizes him as Jonathan, the fella Josie said was her cousin. This confusion of identity, along with the haste of Josie’s departure, gives Pete a bad feeling, and it’s one Truman shares. Coop comes in with the news that Gerard is missing. He and the Sheriff depart immediately. At the same moment, Andy returns and sees Lucy watering the plants with an infant in her arms. It’s her sister’s, but he doesn’t know this, and faints because he thinks it’s hers. Pete meanwhile sneaks back to the holding cells to have a boisterous laugh at the expense of Ben Horne, and to deliver a taped message from Catherine, who is not dead, and who knows she is his alibi for the night Laura Palmer died, though she might be confused as to just when they were together. That is, unless he helps jog her memory in his favor by signing the mill back over to her, along with the Ghostwood Estates development. He can keep the hotel, she says, but it’s a pittance comparted to what she’s taking. She’ll be sending a representative by with contracts in the next 24 hours, and she suggests he sign them. Pete, ever the willing cuckold, is loving this humiliation. Ben realizes he’s been played. Outplayed. Pillows are destroyed.
Leland/BOB is driving and swerving gaily all over the road with Maddy still in the trunk. After running Truman and Coop onto the shoulder, they pull him over. He says he was just on his way to the country club to try out a new pair of irons and must have gotten distracted thinking about Ben and Laura. He says he remembered something about the night his daughter died, says he was working late that night with Ben at The Great Northern when Ben got a phone call around 10 o’clock that made him pretty angry; Leland can’t remember the details, only that Ben mentioned something about “a dairy.” That doesn’t make any sense until Coop suggests it might have been “a diary.” Now BOB’s just straight-up toying with Coop. When Harry gets called back to the cruiser by Lucy on the radio, BOB asks Coop if he’d like to see those new irons. Coop isn’t too curious but is politely obliging. BOB gets out of the car and opens the trunk. Cooper gets within mere feet of Maddy’s body, but then Truman calls to him: Hawk’s found Gerard. It almost looks like BOB is going to bash Coop’s head in with his golf club right there in the middle of the road, in broad daylight with the Sheriff watching, but the Agent jogs away before anything can happen. The implication is clear, though: BOB isn’t afraid of anything or anyone and is willing to murder them all indiscriminately.
When he’s conscious again, Andy tells Lucy – despite her sister’s interference – that his sperms are operational, but they weren’t before. This is why he reacted the way he did, because he didn’t think it was possible he could get her pregnant. But now that everything has been proven to be in working condition, he thinks he’s the father of her baby-to-be. Lucy isn’t exactly as happy as he is, because unlike him she knows about her dalliance with Dick Tremayne.
Coop and Truman have MIKE sniffing around Ben for traces of BOB. This isn’t him, MIKE declares, but he knows him, he’s been very close to him. Truman charges Ben with Laura’s murder regardless. Coop asks for an aside, he doesn’t think Ben killed Laura, he thinks Ben should be released. Truman has been a good sport through all the hocus pocus Coop’s come up with until now, but there’s solid evidence against Ben and it’s Harry’s responsibility to Laura, the Palmers, and everyone else in Twin Peaks to pay attention to that. Coop completely agrees and backs off. But the seed of doubt has been sewn.
At dinner, despite Vivian’s minor complaints about the food, everything seems to be playing out in a civil fashion. Norma and Vivian excuse themselves and go to the little girls’ room, leaving Hank and Ernie alone together for the first time. As it turns out, they know each other from prison where Ernie’s nickname was “The Professor.” Hank wants to know what his angle is with Vivian. Ernie says there’s no angle, he’s trying to go straight. He is in fact a financial analyst, albeit crooked (he robbed a Savings and Loan), but that’s all behind him, he says. Hank senses an opportunity for blackmail, as Vivian has no idea about Ernie’s past. He starts applying the pressure immediately.
Cherry pie and milk before bed for Coop, but a knock at the door interrupts him. It’s Audrey. She wants to know if they arrested her father. He tells her they did. She wants to know if Coop thinks he did it. Coop says only that’s not for him to decide. She wants to know if the information she uncovered helped arrest her father. In part, yes. While they’re clearing the air, she wants Coop to know that when she was being held at One Eyed Jacks she was never with anyone in “that way.” She wants him to know, in essence, that she is still pure and sexually untainted should he want to avail himself of her love. Before he can respond, Coop’s phone rings. Whoever it is, it’s important, he has to go immediately, and tells Audrey she must go too, back to her room, and she should lock her door. He won’t say anything else. He does however take his gun when he leaves.
Police cars crowd the side of the road, their lights swirling red and blue and piercing the darkness with urgency. Truman and Cooper march with purpose through the trees to the rocky shore below the falls where another body has washed up wrapped in plastic. Truman pulls the sheeting away from a face. It’s Maddy.
Emotionally, this is a tough episode. Leland/BOB is in peak form and it is a gut-punch of a performance by Ray Wise, who has always been on-point but between this episode and the next he reveals himself as perhaps the strongest actor in the cast. The range of emotions and the scant time he has to transition between them is mesmerizing to watch.
The script for this episode comes from Scott Frost, Mark’s brother and the author of The Autobiography of F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes. It’s one of two episodes he’ll write, and definitely the better one. With the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer “solved,” Frost takes the investigation to strange new heights (or depths), as for the first time in Twin Peaks history we know more than the authorities about what’s going on.
On the directing side of things, Caleb Deschanel returned for his second episode, and brought with him some excellent framing, particularly the scene in which Cooper almost catches Leland/BOB snickering after being told of Ben’s arrest. The distant and dropped focus between characters is emblematic of the blurred truth between them as well.
As mentioned, this first episode post-killer-reveal manages to keep the mystery alive and even broadens its scope, despite it being for the most part solved. We all know who did what, but what we don’t know, what we can’t even conceive of at this point, is how it will all come to light and if it can ever be resolved. Leland/BOB is now a ticking time bomb, he could do anything – maybe literally – and it’s tough to figure how he’s going to be outed, especially with such a strong case against Ben. Outside of this central storyline, only a couple of additional plots are advanced this episode, which is a nice change of pace after the last several in which there was a lot of information on a lot of fronts being tossed around. Even the addition of the Vivian/Ernie storyline doesn’t feel new as much as it feels like another aspect of Hank’s general shadiness, which is still unfurling now that it’s out in the free light of day again.
Twin Peaks will never again be as focused as it is this episode and the next, and while that isn’t all negative – it allows for deeper delvings into supporting characters and the town itself, what the show was always about – there is a twisted sense of nostalgia at play here, as well as a definite sense of closure, or at least “closure” as Twin Peaks defines it. While I myself am more fascinated by the ideas of the second half of the series, the writer in me is in constant awe of the way the first half unfurls, especially knowing the pressure Lynch, Frost et al were under from the studio to make things more mainstream. There’s never been a mystery like the murder of Laura Palmer, from its reveal to its details to its ultimately unimaginable origins, and the way in which it was told, the way the clues were produced and followed, the way it was subverted at every turn by a plethora of red herrings, is nothing short of masterful and should be studied by anyone who aims to write television or any other sort of mystery.
BETWEEN TWO WORLDS: Perspectives on Twin Peaks
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