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By  · Published on September 6th, 2016


Written and Directed by Mark Frost
Airdate May 23rd, 1990

Rarely has so much anticipation been directed at a season finale. Everyone in the world assumed this was the night we were going to learn the identity of Laura Palmer’s killer. What we got instead was so much more interesting, and opened so many new doors, one of them perhaps fatally. But I’m getting way ahead of myself.

The finale beings in Dr. Jacoby’s office, right where we left off. Donna and James have broken in and are trying to find other audio tapes made by Laura. Among the doctor’s more interesting possessions is a collection of cocktail umbrellas tagged with dates and such vague identifiers as “I first laid eyes on whimsy.” Eventually they find the missing tape in a coconut along with the half a heart necklace that they buried way back in the pilot. They flee, but not undetected; Bobby is hiding in the shadows, watching them.

Meanwhile at the park by the gazebo, Jacoby is lurking about and feeling double-crossed because “Laura” tried to send him to the wrong address. When he catches full sight of her, though, this anger melts into overwhelmed emotion, so much so he doesn’t even notice the dark, obscured figure with a rock who sneaks up and starts beating him. Jacoby, however seems more concerned with getting to “Laura,” but neither he nor his assailant can, because Donna and James return to the park then all three of them leave. So instead, Jacoby has a heart attack in the grass.

The Bookhouse Boys’ undercover operation at One Eyed Jacks continues. Coop is playing blackjack at Jacques Renault’s table – and winning. He tips Jacques the chip with the missing fragment (which was discovered in Laura’s stomach during her autopsy) and explains he’s a friend of Leo’s. Jacques plays dumb at first, but not so dumb he doesn’t accept the chip and Coop’s invitation for a drink. Elsewhere in the club, Audrey, a.k.a Hester Prynne, is all dolled up in skimpy lingerie for her first night undercover as a hooker. While Blackie looks her over approvingly, Audrey notices Coop on the security monitor. Blackie distracts her by saying it’s a good night to “break her in” because the owner is coming by and he likes to “spend some time” with the new girls. Everything in quotes in that last sentence means banging. Audrey asks who the owner is, but no-names is a house rule. Back having that drink, Coop is trying to pass himself off as a superior of Leo’s in the drug trade, his financier. He says he knows about the night with Laura. Jacques admits to being with the girls in so many words, and Coop flashes a wad of cash meant to entice Jacques to return to the States for a job (and a pair of handcuffs). Jacques takes the bait and Coop sets up a meet for a couple of hours later. Before they part, Coop amends his earlier statement, says he knows all about that night with Laura but for one thing, how the chip got broken: Jacques says that bird – Waldo – was always saying Laura’s name, like he loved her, and that night when they were all high and participating in group bondage sexual activities, the bird got loose and landed on Laura’s shoulder, started pecking her, love pecks, Jacques says, and this inspired Leo to take the chip and stick it in Laura’s mouth as he’s fornicating with her and telling her to, and this is a quote, “bite the bullet, baby, bite the bullet.” It’s comical to Jacques but not to Coop, who does his best to maintain his cover. Especially because via a wire he’s wearing, this is all being recorded by Hawk and Ed outside in a van. This confession explains almost everything about Laura’s forensic state – the bite marks, the ligature marks, the plastic fragment in her stomach – and places her with Leo, Jacques and Ronette the night she died. The only thing it doesn’t explain how she died, and at whose specific hand.

Shelly’s home alone washing her hair in the sink. At her right hand is the pistol, just in case. Predictably, the shampoo runs down her forehead and into her eyes. As she reaches for the towel, she can’t see it’s being slowly pulled out of her reach. She realizes too late what’s happening and reaches for the pistol, but Leo slaps it away first. He offers the typical abusive-douchebag epithet of “You made me do this!” then absconds with her.

Truman and Andy are at the meet-spot Coop set up awaiting word Jacques is headed their way. They get it. He shows. They flip on the lights and roll on him. They manage to arrest him without incident for the attempted murder of Ronette and the murder of Laura, and it seems like it’s going to be a clean nab but as he’s being cuffed, Jacques gets an officer’s gun and aims it at Truman. Before he can shoot, however, Andy calmly and accurately disarms and drops him with a bullet to the shoulder. Badass.

Donna, James and Maddy listen to the tape found in Jacoby’s coconut. It’s the same one Dr. J listened to at the end of episode one wherein Laura talks about how sweet but dumb James is, how she was getting tired of him, and about the mystery man she’s been mentioning in their sessions. She says if she told Jacoby the man’s name the good doctor could get hurt. She thinks this man has tried to kill her a few times and remarks oddly that she gets off on it. Sex is weird, she further elaborates, but this mystery man lights her fire. The only possible clue she reveals as to this guy’s identity is a red corvette. Like Leo’s. That’s all there is, but it’s enough to convince the trio that Jacoby didn’t kill Laura, though they still don’t how he got his hands on the necklace they buried.

Leo has taken Shelly to the mill, which he’s been contracted by Ben Horne to burn down. Leo’s thinking is, couple birds, same stone, so he binds his wife to a post inside and gags her for good measure. Leo loves him some bondage, I tell you what. He then reveals an incendiary device and sets its timer for an hour from now in order to give Shelly time to think about what she’s done, and to live with the knowledge of Bobby’s impending murder at Leo’s hands.

Nadine is wearing a prom dress and sealing a letter in an envelope. She has a bottle of water and a pretty dish full of two types of pills. The intimation is, depressed over the rejection of her silent drape runner patent, she’s decided to send herself to that big cotton ball in the sky.

At the Packard place, Hank is accepting money from Josie, money she’s owed him since before he went to prison. There’s an agreement in place between them but he wants to renegotiate the deal. The (kinda confusing) gist is, Josie paid Hank $90,000 to kill her husband Andrew, then commit vehicular manslaughter on a vagrant and go away for the lesser crime to avoid being implicated in the greater one, which was staged to look like a boat accident. Like I said, confusing. Hank killed Andrew because Josie paid him to, basically. Now, seeing as he’s the one who went to jail, and he’s the one who knows her secret, he’s thinking his compensation should be greater. Josie stands firm, though, and Hank doesn’t push it, but he does pronounce them partners for life and seals this with a creepy blood oath. He leaves and she, trance-like, smears their comingled blood across her lips, either completely unaware or unconcerned that she’s living during the apex of the AIDS epidemic.

Catherine is in her office at the mill trying in vain to find the real account ledger. She confronts Pete, but he says he knows nothing about it. She pleads, plays up the love they used to share, that though soured was still real once upon a time. A summer’s indiscretion, she calls their romantic origin, and decades later there they are. It’s a touching glimpse into their relationship, if fraudulent on Catherine’s part. She tells him she’s in trouble and he’s the only hope she has. It works because Pete is the ultimate softie and willing to believe in the good in people even when there isn’t any.

At the station, Andy’s being championed in retellings of his heroic feat at the arrest of Jacques Renault. Everyone’s impressed, including Lucy. He takes advantage of this break in the clouds to try and repair the coldness between them. It works like gangbusters and they smooch like only Lucy and Andy can. While pausing to come up for air, Lucy reveals her frigidity was caused by the fact that she’s presently pregnant. Andy reacts by saying nothing and leaving, which causes Lucy’s coldness to returns chillier than ever. The scene ends with a call supposedly from Bobby posing as Leo leaving a message for the Sheriff to check out James Hurley because “he’s a real easy rider.”

Jacques, in the hospital now on account of his gunshot wound, is being questioned by Coop and Truman. They want to know, on the record, if he took Laura and Ronette to his cabin the night in question. He admits he did, and that it wasn’t the first time; the cabin is where the Flesh World photos were taken. He says that night he and Leo fought over drunken nothings that ended when Jacques got hit in the head by a whisky bottle, which caused him to bleed profusely. He says he used Leo’s shirt to soak up the blood, then staggered outside and passed out. When he woke up, Leo and the girls were gone. He claims he doesn’t know anything about the train car, says he finished the night by coming down the hill to find Leo’s car gone, so walked home. Weighing all this, Coop and Truman figure Leo is Laura’s sole killer, and he’s on the lam. Turns out Jacoby survived his cardiac arrest, and Doc Hayward describes to Coop everything the other doctor said about seeing Laura at the park before his assault.

Pete and Catherine are tearing up their house searching for the ledger. In the midst of this, Catherine takes an “anonymous” call telling her the ledger is at a specific spot inside the mill. It’s Hank making the call on behalf of Ben and Josie. Catherine goes, but not without a gun.

Off the phone, Hank tries to charm Norma with jokes about prison beds. He’s laying on the reformed- and penitent-husband shtick pretty thick, but she’s letting him. He’s thinking about their future, the many ways he can make up his many transgressions. He seals this promise with a kiss that leaves her unsettled.

Big Ed comes home to find Nadine overdosed in her prom dress. He calls 911.

Coop, Truman and Doc Hayward return to the station to start the hunt for Leo when Lucy gives them the message presumably left for them by Leo about James. Lucy dabbles in a little sleuthing of her own when she adds she could hear a clock tolling in the background of the call, like the one at Easter Park. Coop moves surveillance from Leo and Shelly’s house to the park. James shows up with news to share and Coop – who’s read the message from “Leo” – steers him into a conference room while handing off the message to Truman. Truman reads it and starts for the parking lot but can’t get out of the building before Leland Palmer is in his face asking to know if it’s true what he’s heard, that they have Laura’s killer in custody. Truman will only say that they have a suspect, and splits. Doc Hayward tells Leland he should go home, be with Sarah, and Leland agrees but asks slyly if Doc is going back to the hospital, correctly intuiting his presence at the station. Doc says he isn’t, but that’s all Leland needs to know: his daughter’s killer is at the hospital.

James gives Coop the coconut tape. He says the killer is all but named on it: they’re looking for a guy with a red corvette. Coop breaks the news of Dr. Jacoby’s health scare and wants to know what kind of dangerous game James has been playing? That’s when Truman comes in and drops on the table the bag of cocaine Bobby planted in James’ motorcycle’s gas tank. Nice EASY RIDER reference, Bobby. James has some explaining to do.

Back at One Eyed Jacks, Ben Horne finally gets the Icelanders to sign the investment papers for the Ghostwood Estates development project. He then gets a brief call from Hank updating him on the hunt for Leo. Ben advises him to proceed.

Bobby meanwhile is lurking around Leo and Shelly’s place looking for her but comes across the man of the house instead. Leo goes after him with an axe and knocks the boy into a corner but gets shot through the window – just how he shot Waldo – before he can deliver a fatal blow. Bobby raises up enough to see it was Hank who shot Leo, but not enough that Hank can see him. Leo isn’t dead, but he isn’t in good shape. Bobby leaves him like this as the latest episode of INVITATION TO LOVE plays in the background.

The clock is ticking down on the bomb at the mill and Shelly’s still tied up. Catherine shows up looking for her ledger and finds the girl just as the timer goes off and the fire is ignited. Catherine cuts Shelly loose and the two of them run for it as the mill is engulfed in flames.

At the hospital, Leland sneaks around and sets off the fire alarm to give himself some privacy with Jacques Renault, the man he believes killed Laura. He uses this precious time to smother the man to death with a pillow.

The mill is burning to the ground and people have arrived on the scene. Pete notices Catherine’s car is in the parking lot but there’s no sign of her among the crowd so he runs inside the conflagration to try and save her.
Ben and the Icelanders decide to celebrate their new deal by banging some high class escorts. Ben himself is especially eager to visit with the new girl. Blackie has her all ready for him. Audrey’s getting a playing card she selected from Blackie’s deck earlier, the queen of diamonds, stitched onto her lingerie. That’s when the knock comes and Ben lets himself in. He can’t see her, but she recognizes the voice of her father. Worst. Case. Scenario. On, like, half a dozen fronts. This begs the question: what was her best-case scenario?

Coop is returning to his room after a long night, updating Diane about the one suspect in custody and the one still at large. He notes with glee the lack of noise connoting the Icelanders’ absence; he’s anticipating a good night’s sleep. In his room there’s another note from Audrey under his door, telling him about the perfume counter connection to One Eyed Jacks and her intention to investigate, but before he can read it, the phone rings. The call is garbled, Coop can’t understand it. There’s a knock at the door. Coop sets the phone down to answer it, as he’s expecting room service with a glass of warm milk. The call clears up, it’s Andy saying that Leo’s been found shot. And it isn’t room service at the door, but an unseen gunman who shoots Coop in three times in the chest. There’s your cliffhanger.

This was the first and only episode of the series directed by co-creator Mark Frost, and it turns out he’s somewhat playful behind the camera. There are a few sight gags – like Hank positioning himself so it appears a set of antlers mounted on the wall are coming out of his head – and some daring visuals – like Doc Jacoby’s eye transitioning into a spinning roulette wheel – that make the episode distinct, as well as some shots like the one pictured above that tingle with noir. Frost directed only two other times, once before TWIN PEAKS, an episode of HILL STREET BLUES, and once immediately after, the 1992 political drama STORYVILLE with James Spader. Frost also wrote the episode, which is why it’s so good at being not exactly what people were hoping for – a hard and fast resolution – but rather the intimation of that plus a whole lot of new, equally intriguing stuff to chew on. Is Coop dead? Who shot him? Is it the same person who killed Laura? Is it the same person who assaulted Dr. Jacoby? Or someone entirely different? In terms of cliffhangers, it’s a pretty stellar one – up there with Who Shot JR?, which influenced this, and Who Shot Mr. Burns, which was influenced by this – but that’s just one of the many ledges Frost leaves us on. There’s the burning mill with Catherine, Shelly, and Pete inside. There’s the shooting of Leo – which means he couldn’t have shot Coop – by Hank. And of course there’s the unwitting incest brewing at One Eyed Jacks between Ben and Audrey. And these are just the subplots.

In terms of the Laura Palmer case, it seems like it’s been narrowed down to Leo Johnson as the sole killer, because as Coop notes, Jacques Renault is too dumb to lie. Leland gets a little (mistaken) vindication, and from that we get an indication as to the depths of his mental deterioration. His killing Jacques might have been emotion-based and fueled by madness, but the method by which he gained access to Jacques and his sudden emotional shift when that access became threatened by returning personnel indicates more than mere madness, it indicates an awareness of deed, intent, purpose, which makes Leland not a blindly-grieving father, but a murderous avenging angel.

It would be another four months before TWIN PEAKS returned, a thing the cast and crew learned only a few days before the season one finale aired, and in that intervening time the hype and interest surrounding the show would only blossom thanks in very large part to the release of the book THE SECRET DIARY OF LAURA PALMER (“as seen by” Jennifer Lynch, David’s daughter and the director of BOXING HELENA, SURVEILLANCE, and CHAINED), and in small part to the increased visibility of its stars, namely Kyle MacLachlan, who hosted the series premiere of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE the night before the second season of TWIN PEAKS premiered. The world was waiting to see what happened next, not realizing they were on the precipice of the oddest arc television had (has?) ever seen, one that would provide a resolution, yes, but in the process of doing so would also open another door on a place both wonderful and strange.

Next week – EPISODE EIGHT: “MAY THE GIANT BE WITH YOU” – The Season Two Premiere

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