The TWIN PEAKS Episode Guide: Episode 2 — ZEN, OR THE SKILLS TO CATCH A KILLER

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Written by Mark Frost & David Lynch, Directed by David Lynch

Airdate April 19th, 1990

Lynch returns to both write and direct the series’ second episode, but fans shouldn’t get too used to the idea. This will be the last time he directs in season 1, and the last time he’s credited on a script for the entire series. He next returns behind the camera for the first episode of season2, which is also the only other time he’s credited as a writer, but in that instance he only contributed to the story, while it was Frost who wrote the actual script. All that said, it’s this episode where TWIN PEAKS really becomes TWIN PEAKS, setting the tone and trail the rest of the series would follow. If you need to catch up on what went down in episode one, click here.

We start episode 2 at the dysfunctional Horne family dinner as it’s interrupted by the arrival of Ben’s globetrotting younger brother Jerry who’s home from France and bearing brie-and-butter baguettes that are so delectable Ben excuses himself mid-meal with a sarcastic “Always a pleasure” to the fam. As the Brothers Horne gorge themselves, Ben brings Jerry (yes, yes, like the ice cream) up to speed on the murder of Laura Palmer and the retreat of the Norwegians before he could convince them to invest in the Ghostwood Estates development project. This completely bums Jerry out until Ben promises to cheer him up with a trip across the Canadian border to One Eyed Jacks, where there’s a new girl “freshly scented from the perfume counter.” This, besides being super-gross, is an allusion to the perfume counter at Horne’s department store, which we learned about last episode because it’s where Ronette Pulaski had an afterschool job. This would seem to insinuate that this One Eyed Jacks place has a connection to Ben.
Meanwhile across town at the Hayward house, Donna and James are finishing up that first dinner with the ‘rents. At long last the old folks head up to bed, leaving the two new lovebirds all alone on the couch.

It might be love brewing at the Haywards’, but when Ben and Jerry arrive at One Eyed Jacks, it’s a similar but distinctly different emotion on their minds. The place is very obviously a brothel. They meet with Blackie, who manages the place and dresses like she’s a backup dancer for Prince circa-PURPLE RAIN. She presents them with the new girl, a pretty young thing on her very first night of work. Ben wins prima nocta privileges over his brother and adjourns with the girl to the boudoir, further cementing his general scuzziness.

Upon returning to his room at The Great Northern at the end of the day, Special Agent Dale Cooper gets acall from Deputy Hawk updating him on the interview with Ronette’s parents. Hawk also mentions the one-armed man he saw, and this in particular piques Coop’s interest. The call is followed by a knock on his door. When he opens it there’s no one to be seen, but a perfume-scented note has been left for him. All it says, in sensual script, is “Jack with One Eye.” A hint of music suggests the sender is Audrey. And I get that she’s trying to be cryptic, but, I mean, seems to me if you’re going to go that far, you just go all the way, but what do I know?

Bobby and Mike Nelson are walking through the woods with a bag and a switchblade. They find a deflated football, cut it open, and there’s cocaine inside. They’re expecting this, but they’re expecting more of it. Cue Leo Johnson, who steps from the shadows to inform them they’re only getting half the promised product because they still owe him half the promised money. Bobby sees someone in the woods behind Leo but Leo is insistent on wanting his cash so won’t be distracted. Bobby explains they have the cash, that’s not the problem, the problem is that the cash is in Laura’s safety deposit box, and, well, she’d dead. This is another thing that Leo doesn’t care about, all he cares about is how “Leo needs a new pair of shoes.” He goes on to insinuate he knows his wife Shelley has been stepping out on him, which makes Bobby especially nervous as he’s the one she’s been stepping out with. Leo chases them off then tosses the deflated football an amazing distance with amazing accuracy at their car.

Coming home with greasy hands, Big Ed accidentally destroys the prototype of Nadine’s completely silent drape runners. This displeases her, to say the least. The fractures in their marriage are revealed, as are the fractures in Nadine’s psyche. She also appears to possess above-average strength – for a gorilla – as demonstrated by the destruction of a rowing machine.

Bobby pops by Shelley’s the next day when Leo is out and sees the bruises she has from the soap-assault. She’s scared, she wants to slow things down between them, but Bobby’s not having it, it seems he truly loves Shelley, and he vows to protect her. They seal it with a kiss. As my wife, a first-time viewer, noted, Bobby must be one hell of a kisser because he’s gripping Shelley by one of the bruises on her face and she’s not even wincing. I hadn’t noticed this, but now I’ve noticed my wife seems to have a thing for Bobby Briggs.
In the woods by the Sheriff’s station, Coop has gathered Truman, Deputies Hawk and Andy, as well as receptionist Lucy for a demonstration of a Tibetan “deductive technique involving mind-body coordination operating hand-in-hand with the deepest levels of intuition” and which Coop says he acquired in a dream some years ago. He then takes up a stone from a bucket of them Hawk holds with oven mitts – or “kitchen mittens” as Coop calls them – and has Truman read aloud one at a time the name of everyone in town whose name starts with a J, as referenced in Laura’s final diary entry: “Nervous about meeting J tonight.” After Truman reads each name, Coop repeats it and throws a rock at a glass bottle some distance away by which Andy is standing. The stone misses on James and Josie, knocks but doesn’t break the bottle on Dr. Jacoby, misses again on both Johnny Horne (Audrey’s brother) and Norma Jennings, and ricochets off a tree to hit Andy square in the forehead upon mention of Shelley Johnson. The next name on the list is Jack with One Eye, which Truman describes as a casino up north, so it’s taken off the list with an assertion from Coop that they need to pay this place a visit soon. That leaves the last name on the list, Leo Johnson. The stone shatters the bottle.

Audrey stops in at the Double R for some coffee after church. The Haywards are there having some pie and Donna excuses herself to go say hello. Naturally the girls talk about Laura and how sad all that is, then about how kinda dreamy that FBI fella is, then Audrey asks if Donna ever heard Laura talk about her father, Ben Horne. Donna can’t recall anything. So then Audrey stands up and slow dances with herself to the music on the jukebox like she’s three hours into a mushroom trip.

Agent Albert Rosenfeld descends upon the Sheriff’s station like a grumpy force of nature. He’s the best forensics expert Coop has ever known, but he’s also a bit rough around the edges and lacking in the social niceties. Albert quickly proves both these things to be egregiously true, and while the former is helpful, Truman tries to nip the latter in the bud with some good, old-fashioned, tried-and-true teeth threatening.

When Ed at last returns home after giving Nadine some space, she’s an emotional 180 degrees from where he left her. Seems that in the process of destroying her prototype, he dripped some grease on it as well. This was just the innovation she needed. Her drape runners are now 100% completely silent, and she is now 100% completely nuts.
The Martells are readying themselves for bed. When Catherine goes into the powder room, Pete sneaks a key to Josie, who’s waiting outside the door. Catherine doesn’t see him, but perhaps senses the deceit. The key, it turns out, opens Catherine’s hidden safe behind a bookcase in which there are two ledgers for the mill, one real, and one fudged to hide illegalities and paint a picture of a thriving business.

Leland Palmer is at home playing some records, crying, screaming, and dancing like a lunatic with a picture of his daughter for a partner. When Sarah tries to stop him, the picture breaks and Leland drops to his knees, sobbing uncontrollably, and all Sarah can do is demand of no one to know “what is going on in this house?” That’s a real good question.

As he retires for the evening, Agent Cooper has a dream. He’s an older man in a curiously decorated room. The floors are a chevron design and every wall is a thick, rich red curtain. The dream starts as a series of images. A little man in a red suit with his back to Coop. Sarah Palmer running down the stairs of her house. Laura on the morgue slab, blue-lipped. The one-armed man from the hospital manifests to read a poem: “Through the darkness future past/the magician longs to see/One chance out between two worlds/Fire walk with me.” One-y then describes living with someone in an apartment above a convenience store, and being touched by the devil via a tattoo he got rid of by hacking off his own arm. He says his name is Mike. He says the other’s name, the one he lived with, is BOB. Cooper sees this BOB, and it’s the same figure Sarah saw lurking by her couch in the last episode. BOB can sense Coop, and promises not only to catch him with his “death bag,” but that he will kill again. There’s a ring of 12 candles around a mound of dirt like the one discovered in the train car with the half of Laura’s heart necklace atop it, then Old Coop is back in the room and Laura is there as well. The little man, the Man From Another Place, is talking oddly. Laura touches her nose in a coke-snorting gesture. The Man From Another Place takes a seat and tells Coop “That gum you like is going to come back in style,” then refers to the woman next to him as his cousin, “But doesn’t she look almost exactly like Laura Palmer?” Not-Laura offers that sometimes her arms bend back. The Man From Another Place says she’s full of secrets, and where they’re from the birds sing a pretty song and there’s always music in the air. Then, as if to prove it, music manifests and the Man From Another Place dances for them. Not-Laura crosses to Coop, kisses him, and whispers something in his ear. The dream ends. Coop wakes, immediately calls Truman, and tells him he knows who killed Laura Palmer.

On the technical side of things, Lynch really puts a seal on the visual style he’s going for in episode 2, and despite being only four-hours old, TWIN PEAKS now has a definitive aesthetic personality. The real coup de grace of episode 2, though, is the last eight minutes, our first trip into the red-curtained waiting room, and our first real introduction – along with the Tibetan Rock Throw – to the mystical side of TWIN PEAKS.

From a narrative standpoint, the red room wasn’t originally written into the series, it was an add-on to the European version of the pilot which was presented as a standalone film and therefore needed some closure. But Lynch so loved the look of the set and the implications it opened the narrative to, that he incorporated it starting here. One possible way to note this distinction – that the red room wasn’t intended to be in the series – is the fact that the floor this time around and this time around only is dirty to the point of being shades of brown, not the iconic black-and-white design we all remember. It’s funny that the first visual most people think of when they think of TWIN PEAKS, the scenes that really set it apart from conventional television, were never written in to the original story. Just goes to show you a script is never finished until the scene is in the can.

Overall, the sequence plays like a hallucinogenic nightmare and is pure Lynchian in every aspect: the fades, the strobing lights, the production design and characterization – its intentional misguidedness is meant to pique our curiosity while confounding our imaginations and thus demanding explanation, which means we’re likely to stick around until we get it.

From a production standpoint, this was some pretty complicated stuff to shoot. The characters’ movements and speech are presumed to have been shot normally then reversed, but this isn’t the case. Actors were required to move backwards and had that footage reversed, and as for the speech, the dialogue was recorded and reversed, then presented to the actors to phonetically learn that way. The lines they speak in the scene are as they said them, the only added effect is a slight reverb. Michael J. Anderson, the Man From Another Place – who incidentally is the only TWIN PEAKS character to speak in this fashion throughout the entire season – has said the easiest way for him to learn this was to disregard the words’ meanings and simply mimic their phonemes, or units of sound, which wound up creating that off-kilter inflection.

As I said at the beginning, episode 2 is really where TWIN PEAKS becomes TWIN PEAKS. What was already an unconventional, dark and quirky murder mystery here now broadens – again, as mentioned – into the metaphysical with the introduction of Cooper’s interest and indeed reliance upon Eastern mysticism in his deductive skillset, and then blows up completely with the last act in the red room. By the end of episode 2, the gloves were off, the window was open, and the rules had been thrown out it. Whatever audiences thought they were getting, they now realized they were getting something totally beyond that, and in fact totally beyond anything network television had ever even dreamed of doing with a straight face. Audiences understood now that there was more than one mystery in Twin Peaks, and there were going be to layers and levels, dimensions, even, to all of them that were going to cause the overarching narrative of TWIN PEAKS to deviate from anything we could expect or anticipate, thus placing us completely in the hands of its creators.

I assume television writing is a college-level course at this point, and if so I hope they’re teaching the first four hours of TWIN PEAKS as a perfect example of how to expertly unleash 20+ characters and their secrets on an audience at the same time, because this pacing and unfurling is masterful, and unparalleled until you get to something like LOST, which still took longer to establish itself. With only two episodes behind it, TWIN PEAKS was firmly established, if on uncertain ground, and for the moment at least, no one in the country could look away.

Next week – EPISODE THREE: “REST IN PAIN”

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