Twin Peaks 1.4-1.6

1.4 Rest in Pain

“I’m a terrible person, Agent Cooper. I pretend that I’m not, but I am.”

Some FBI agents come to examine Laura’s body and there’s quickly a culture clash between the agents and the townsfolk. Albert (Miguel Ferrer) is more what would be expected from the stereotypical FBI character: self-serous and arrogant, exuding an air of superiority. His snarky sense of humor a cynical coping mechanism for the evils he sees in the world. He wants to investigate the body more, but the townsfolks want to bury her. Cooper sides with the town. He says that he believes that the town still has the decency to see value in a human life, something the agency might have lost.

On the other hand, Bobby sees the death of Laura as a condemnation of the entire town. Everyone knew something was wrong with Laura, but failed to do anything about it. Their passivity is a condemnation of this illusion of good and decency because they’re unwilling battle evil, they simply pretend it doesn’t exist. And Bobby is certainly right, even if the scene is quick to remind us how morally compromised he is as he swears to kill James in the same scene.

Even amid all this evil, amid all the madness and brokenness of the town, Twin Peaks finds beauty. After the tussle in the morgue, Cooper places Laura’s arm back in place. Even as a dead cadaver, there’s an undeniable beauty. Ed’s mad wife Nadine (Wendy Robie) talks about how she knew they were destined to be together as he holds her in a moment of tenderness. Dr. Palmer rocks back and forth leaning his forehead against the mad Johnny. Leland clings to the coffin of his daughter, unable to let go. It’s heightened to the point of being absurd, but there’s something sad and beautiful about it even if it’s laced with madness.

But perhaps things aren’t as mad as they seem. Everyone in the town is quick to accept Cooper’s strange dream as holding some weight. In Twin Peaks, dreams, signs and omens seem as valid as everyday reality. Harry speaks of something that might make sense of this assumption: he’s member of a secret society that fights some ever-shifting evil in the woods. It’s the first time a character in the show explicitly acknowledges anything supernatural.

1.5 The One-Armed Man

“Agent Cooper, the problems of our entire society are of a sexual nature.”

Audrey Horne is a strange one. She exudes the air of a femme fatale, but it’s clear that she still has the dreams and desires of a child. She and Cooper started up an interesting rapport in the last episode. He’s no fool and can see she’s not nearly as innocent and pure of heart as she pretends to be. Even though he playfully teases her for her obvious affection, she still has a delusion that she can make Cooper her man and that he’ll whisk her out of this town. She therefore launches a ploy to go undercover and take the job Laura had in her father’s store.

There’s a great sequence this episode where Cooper and the police officers do some target practice while talking about women troubles. There’s a humor to the scene, not so much in the rage of gunplay vs. the woes of romance, but just in that there’s passion and intent in the conversation and the shooting in the scene seems almost incidental, as if the real reason to go shooting was to talk and not to practice shooting at all.

The threads of corporate corruption gain a bit more clarity in this episode. Several different people, namely Sam Horne, are at work to try to get the mill to go under so they can buy up the land. Somehow, Hank (Chris Mulkey), a convict about to be out on parole, is caught up in this game as well. Even in a small town, corporate greed runs deep and looms large.

1.6 Cooper’s Dream

“Come on, then. My log does not judge.”

One of the delights of Twin Peaks is its particular sense of humor. The show is filled with all sorts of odd little asides. This episode, it’s the Icelandic visitors that sing heartily all hours of the night, preventing Cooper from sleeping. He often seems unperturbed by anything he faces, but even noisy neighbors can get to Cooper. It gives him an edge of humanity that keeps him down to earth.

Bobby’s scene with Dr. Palmer digs deeper into the tensions of good and evil running throughout the show. He talks about how Laura thought people tried to be good, but something deep inside them was trying to be evil, and each time you do something evil, it’s harder to come back to that point of wanting to do good. Palmer supposes Laura corrupted those around her because she saw herself as corrupt. Bobby admits she’s the one who got him into selling drugs. While the deeper we go we find out the more lives Laura touched, we also discover that she has hurt and abused many people in her life as well.

Cooper and the police crew end up out at Margaret’s (Catherine Coulson) cabin. She’s the log lady and she has some words of wisdom for Cooper. She says that here the owls can’t see them, she also imparts what her log saw on the night Laura was murdered. So far, the show has not questioned the veracity of the insane characters. It accepts the dreamlike reality of the medium, that somehow there is validity to claims that should seem like madness, that there is logic to the unreasonable. In some ways, this gets to the dreamlike quality of the metaphysical ponderings the show is building and also the way the film/television medium is able to take what should be illogical and turn it into something coherent and understandable.

© 2014 James Blake Ewing