EPISODE 4 – “THE ONE-ARMED MAN”
Written by Robert Engels, Directed by Tim Hunter
Airdate May 3rd, 1990
We rejoin the town of Twin Peaks at the home of Leland and Sarah Palmer, where Sheriff Truman has Sarah sitting down with Deputy Andy, who’s apparently a sketch artist as well, and describing the man she saw when Donna came to visit in episode two – even though it was just a vision – who we know as the man Coop saw in his dream and who was named by the One-Armed Man as BOB. Donna’s there, as is Cousin Maddy. Leland somewhat sardonically mentions that Sarah had another vision the night after Laura died, this one about a necklace. Sarah describes essentially what is the last scene of episode one when Dr. Jacoby took James’ half of the heart necklace from where James and Donna buried it in Ghostwood Forest. Donna of course recognizes this tableau as more than a mere vision, but keeps this information to herself, for James’ sake.
When he returns to the station, Truman grabs Coop and they go to have a conversation with Dr. Jacoby, while in the lobby Andy and Lucy reveal they’re in a romantic relationship, albeit one that at present is best described as “rocky.” Coop has questions for the good psychiatrist, but Jacoby has that pesky confidentiality clause standing in the way. He’ll concede nothing but that Laura was a troubled young lady, so much so she was beyond the scope of his professional help. The only real new nugget of info he drops is that the night after Laura died he followed a man she had spoken to him about, a man who drove a red Corvette, but lost track of him out on a mill road. This interview ends when Lucy breaks in on the intercom with a call for Coop from a one Gordon Cole. After dismissing Jacoby and before taking the call, Coop confirms with Truman that Leo Johnson drives a red Corvette like the one mentioned. Truman also informs Coop that an APB has gone out for Jacques Renault. As for the call, Coop says only that Cole is his supervisor, then picks up the line. Cole (performed by David Lynch himself) is calling for two reasons: the first is to discuss further forensic findings – the fibers of twine in Laura’s arms were from a common brand, the fibers in her wrists were not; also, the marks on her shoulder Albert called scratches are actually bite marks, as from a bird. The second reason Cole is calling is to discuss the physical altercation between Albert and Truman, a.k.a. when Harry slugged him last episode for being an asshole. Coop goes to bat for Harry though, and asserts Albert got what was coming to him, and that puts a plug in the matter for now. Andy brings in the sketch Sarah provided, and Coop confirms it’s the same man he saw in his dream, BOB, and further confirms he’s not surprised her vision and his dream are linked. Then, as if all this wasn’t enough, Deputy Hawk calls in and says he’s found the One-Armed Man. Busy morning in Twin Peaks.
Meanwhile at their seedy Love Inn on the outskirts of town, Catherine is regaling Ben with the story of Josie’s foiled ledger exposure, while unbeknownst to her Josie is outside staking the place out with a camera. Catherine and Ben in post-coital conversation reveal their ultimate plan is to burn down the mill, frame Josie for it, collect a boatload of insurance money, and open the Ghostwood Forest land Josie owns to Ben’s development plans. As nothing in Twin Peaks is ever really a coincidence, this is the same motel to which Hawk has followed the One-Armed Man, whose last name he learned from the desk agent is Gerard. The authorities raid Gerard’s room and find him indeed one-armed, indeed the man Coop saw in his dream, and fresh out of the shower. Ben and Catherine hear this commotion but don’t fret, at least Ben doesn’t. He heads into the bathroom to “wash his little Elvis,” not noticing the poker chip from One Eyed Jacks that’s fallen from his pocket. Catherine, on the other hand, notices it with ire.
Gerard is interrogated and says he doesn’t know the man in the sketch but he does have a friend named Bob, a veterinarian who was assaulted outside a bar and is currently in a coma at the same hospital where Ronette Pulaski is, which is why Hawk would have seen him there. Truman confirms the assault is real and Gerard’s telling the truth. Furthermore, Gerard, whose first name is Phillip but whose middle name is Michael, has no criminal record or warrants out for his arrest. He claims he lost his arm in a car accident, not by cutting it off himself, as Mike told Coop in Coop’s dream. Coop has but one last question: did the lost arm have a tattoo? It did, but Gerard is hesitant to elaborate. Coop pushes. Gerard breaks into tears: the tattoo said MOM. Nothing gained from this jaunt to the motel then, except that Truman learns from Hawk that Josie had been on a stakeout of some sort when Hawk arrived.
In the little girls’ room at Twin Peaks High School, Donna’s checking her look in the mirror while Audrey’s puffing a quick butt and scheming. She admits to her crush on Coop and figures the best way to his heart is through solving Laura’s murder, and for that she wants Donna’s help. She knows Laura and James were seeing each other behind Bobby’s back, and she knows about Laura’s problem with the nose candy. Furthermore, she shares how she learned from eavesdropping on her folks and Dr. Jacoby before the funeral that Laura was a patient of the good doctor’s. This is the first thing Donna didn’t know. Donna also didn’t know that Laura worked at One Eyed Jacks, which Audrey can’t prove as of yet, but if she can, if they can that is, it’s bound to lead somewhere big. Audrey says they can start with the fact that Laura and Ronette both worked at the same place: the perfume counter at her dad’s store.
Norma goes to prison to meet with her husband Hank before his parole hearing. Theirs is a chilly encounter. He gives the usual “I’ve changed” spiel to try and win her help with the board. It works. Norma tells the board she can give Hank a job if he’s released, as well as a place to live; he is her husband, after all.
On the way back from the motel, Coop and Truman stop at the vet clinic run by Gerard’s friend Bob. It’s next to a convenience store (which reminds Coop of another part of his dream, where Mike said he and BOB lived, “above a convenience store”) and Coop sends Andy inside for twine while he and Truman stop in the clinic, meet a llama, and get the receptionist to verify that the BOB of the sketch isn’t the Bob of the clinic. When Andy returns with the twine, it’s the same common brand that was used to bind Laura’s arms. Because of this, Coop deduces that the bird who bit the girl must be a client of this clinic.
Shelly and Booby are making out at Shelly’s place. This is risky, but she says Leo’s out hanging with his buddy Jacques Renault and isn’t due back anytime soon. The news of this particular duo freaks Bobby out. He lies and tells Shelly he “found out” Leo is running coke across the Canadian border and selling it at the high school. He adds how he thinks Laura might have been involved. All these sketchy revelations cause Shelly to show Bobby the bloody shirt she stole from Leo’s laundry; she knows it’s his shirt because it has his initials sewn into the collar. This pleases Bobby greatly. He takes the shirt and makes Shelly swear she never saw it. Leo won’t be a problem for them anymore, he says.
Truman and Coop return to the station with the veterinarian’s files and start Lucy going through them looking for bird owners. The guys go down to the gun range to get more comfortable with their pieces, inspired in part by Andy mishandling his weapon back at the motel. After the group discusses Andy’s Lucy troubles, Coop reveals that he once knew a women who taught him the responsibility and bliss of commitment, and who also taught him what a broken heart was. He then unloads six kill shots into a paper target. Some hard feelings there, seems like.
Shelly’s late to work and in a mood thanks to her shitty husband. She confides in Norma about Leo’s abusive behavior because she knows a) Norma’s been in a similar situation in the past with Hank, and b) she too has a side-piece she loves more than her husband, namely Big Ed. James shows up to ring Donna on the payphone. For our younger readers, those are phones strategically placed around public places that you had to put coins into before they would work, and you could only call on them, not post to Facebook or catch Pokemon. I know. Lame. James concludes his call and nearly shits himself when he runs into Maddy for the first time. She’s the spitting image of Laura, you’ll recall. They chit-chat, which consists mostly of her talking and him staring really obviously, then she splits. Meanwhile Norma gets the call: Hank’s been paroled. He’s coming home.
Ben’s in his office on the phone with brother Jerry in Iceland, where the latter has found possible new investors for the Ghostwood Estates development, when Audrey appears. She wants to know if her father is ashamed of her. He’s not, he just wants to be able to depend on her. She says he can, and expresses an interest in the family business, suggests she start working in it, says she’s even willing to start at the bottom, like, say, at the department store? Maybe at, I don’t know, wild stab here, the perfume counter? She’s a crafty girl, that Audrey. Despite the fact that he’s funneling hookers through that particular position, Ben agrees. He’s a sick, sick man underneath it all. A phone call interrupts this Tinder tender father/daughter moment, and whoever it is, Ben wants to meet them down by the river in half an hour. That’s never good.
Coop, Truman and Andy are discovering that the veterinarian files are endless, even with the birds separated. There are just too many breeds of the feathered friends. Serendipitously, Cole calls back to say he’s faxing over info on the plastic fragment found in Laura’s stomach during her autopsy, and oh yeah, the bird that clawed her was either a parrot or a mynah bird, if that helps. Hawk brings in the fax from Cole: the plastic fragment is a piece of poker chip from One Eyed Jacks. Right on the heels of this, Andy finds the file on Waldo. Waldo is a mynah bird. Owned by Jacques Renault.
Authorities descend upon Renault’s apartment. They knock, announce themselves, but Jacques isn’t in there. Bobby Briggs, however is, and he scoots out the window before the door gets kicked in, but not before planting Leo’s bloody shirt for Coop to find, monogramed collar and all.
As for Leo, he’s down by the river as Ben requested. Ben is hiring him to burn down the mill, on Hank’s recommendation, but he’s concerned and condescending about Leo’s drug business, he wonders if arson is out of the man’s league. Leo updates his resume by revealing he’s expanded his empire by killing the younger Renault, Bernard, banishing Jacques to Canada, and running their operation himself. Ben accepts these augmentations to Leo’s criminal prowess and grants him the job: he wants the arson to go down in three days.
Elsewhere in the woods, Donna and James return to where they buried his half of Laura’s heart necklace, prompted by Sarah’s vision of it being stolen. Sure enough, it’s gone. An owl hoots. Donna and James make out. Pick your moment, kids.
The episode closes with Josie getting a call from Truman. He can’t rendezvous with her tonight, but he wants to know why she was at the motel that afternoon, who she was staking out. She evades his questions. After making Pete a sandwich, she goes through the day’s mail and finds an envelope containing a very nice drawing of a domino. Then the phone rings again. It’s the artist. Hank Jennings. He says he’ll catch her later. Whaaaaa?
Continuing the trend of working with great independent directors of the day, this episode was handed over to Tim Hunter, who at the time was famous for co-writing OVER THE EDGE, Matt Dillon’s film debut, and directing RIVER’S EDGE with Keanu Reeves, Crispin Glover, and Dennis Hopper, which won Best Picture at the 1986 Independent Spirit Awards. If you’ve seen either of these excellent films, you know that Hunter is no stranger to the dark narratives that can be spun from teenagers in small towns. If you haven’t seen either of these excellent films, you should fix that as soon as possible. Since TWIN PEAKS, of which he directed three episodes, Hunter has gone on to become one of the most sought-after and prolific television directors in the business, with credits on nearly every major drama since the early 90’s including (deep breath) HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET, CHICAGO HOPE, CSI:NY, CARNIVALE, HOUSE M.D., DEADWOOD, BREAKING BAD, MAD MEN, SONS OF ANARCHY, DEXTER, NIP/TUCK, GLEE, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, HANNIBAL, GOTHAM, and THE BLACKLIST. But he honed his chops right here in TWIN PEAKS, where this episode he pays visual homage to two films very influential to show co-creator David Lynch: Hitchcock’s VERTIGO and Bergman’s PERSONA, the former with quick zooms and the latter with an alignment of character’s faces. Worth noting that the character name “Madeleine Ferguson” comes from VERTIGO – “Madeline” is the first character played by Kim Novak, and “Ferguson” is the last name of Jimmy Stewart’s character. More on that here.
The episode’s writer is Robert Engels, who I mentioned briefly last week. Along with Mark Frost and Harley Peyton, Engels would contribute to more TWIN PEAKS scripts than anyone, and he and Peyton served as the translators, so to speak, of the overarching narrative Frost and Lynch had designed. It was Engels who co-wrote FIRE WALK WITH ME with Lynch, as well as a trio of episodes for ON THE AIR, the other, even shorter-lived TV series from Frost and Lynch.
This episode, to me, is all about expanding the other, more minor relationships of the show: Norma and Hank, Lucy and Andy, Bobby and Shelly, Leo and Jacques. This is also where the series first starts to shine a light onto the other (natural) mysteries of Twin Peaks: the drug game, the land grab, the prostitution funneling, and whatever Hank’s up to. The story was branching out from the trunk of Laura’s murder and sowing the seeds that would outlast the solution to that crime, telling us quite plainly, whether we chose to listen or not, that the show was about the town, not the murder, and there’s was more than one thing worth watching in Twin Peaks.
Next week – EPISODE FIVE: “COOPER’S DREAMS”
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