Twin Peaks: Pilot   Rewatch 
July 29, 2014 9:51 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

When the body of high school student Laura Palmer is discovered wrapped in plastic on a riverbank, the town of Twin Peaks reacts in horror. Special agent Dale Cooper of the FBI is called in to investigate. Although sleepy and idyllic at first glance, the town begins to reveal its dark secrets, as a large cast of memorable characters plot and scheme amid the turmoil caused by Laura's death.

Scheduling: My plan is to post re-watch threads twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. We'll be capping off the two season run with a rewatch of the controversial film, Fire Walk With Me, which serves as a prequel to the events of the series.

Spoilers: As discussed in this MeTa post, spoilers are to be expected since this is a rewatch, however it may be best to avoid openly discussing the central mystery of the show. For people new to the series, spoilers aren't really a huge deal since this is a character based show, and it's hard to spoil the storylines (apart from that one thing).

Watching: Availabe for streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and for free on Hulu with ads and on CBS's site. As a word of warning, CBS's stream doesn't start with the pilot, which is what this thread is regarding.

Today is also the release date for the much anticipated collectors set, "The Entire Mystery", which features a boatload of additional content.

Background Stuff: Twin Peaks has been a popular topic of conversation on the Blue. Some other supplementary stuff include fan sites like A Guide to Twin Peaks and Welcome to Twin Peaks.
posted by codacorolla (32 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
So... is Amanda Palmer related to Laura?
posted by sammyo at 2:24 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just got done watching it, which will mark my fifth time through the series.

It's great, as always. I really like how it flits between the two genres of murder mystery and soap opera, while managing to be something completely different than both. It's also interesting how Coop is taking on a job that we typically associate with hyper-rationality (Sherlock Holmes, for example) but he's doing it in a pretty irrational, and downright mystical way.

In terms of narrative, the way that in an hour and a half the show sets up so many compelling story lines, which are mostly all played through in some form or another, is masterful.
posted by codacorolla at 4:09 PM on July 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've seen the pilot way too many times to have much new to say about it, but Twin Peaks is my favorite show, period (weird considering I've never managed to watch most of Season 2 yet! This will be my first time through) and I think these are some of the finest 2 hours television has ever seen. It's amazing how fully-formed the entire vision is right from the very beginning. Some of the best quirks and lines of the show are also present in this pilot. There are certain images that aren't even pivotal moments that nevertheless are burned in my mind forever. Ronette Pulaski walking dazed across the Reinig Bridge, or something as seemingly trivial as a recurring shot of stairs and a ceiling fan in the Palmer home. The cliffhanger of the gloved hand digging into the soil where the heart necklace is buried. The interstitial shots of traffic lights and douglas firs swaying in the wind.

I'm always struck by the weird sense of time and place that this show evokes. If there are markers indicating that the show takes place in present day 1992, I can't really think of any. There's a Cap'n Crunch knockoff cereal box in the Palmer kitchen, but that could be from the 60's. No one really dresses like the 90's, the cars are all vintage, some of the characters seem like 50's greasers, there's an old diner vibe. It's like the town of Twin Peaks is living inside of a vaccuum where the past 30-40 years never occurred. Even the film shot feels like it has a brown-ish vintage filter over everything. I can't think of that distinctive sepia color palette anywhere else in 90's television. And then there's the sense of space the show carves out. The woods are clearly some kind of mystical Other place (the Log Lady says as much during her intro - are people watching those?).

One thing I noticed on this watching - the very first lines of the entire show are Pete Martell saying "gone fishin'." I always think first lines have a special kind of meaning, and Lynch is nothing if not a thoughtful screenwriter. So what does that mean in the context of the show we're about to watch? I think it's a signal that we're in for lots of red herrings, and we're all going fishing so to speak. Seeing what we can pull out of the individual stories and larger mystery the show presents to us. That and we're in for something pretty bizarre, god help us.
posted by naju at 10:04 PM on July 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


I knew next to nothing about this show when I first caught the pilot on TV one day but I remember being instantly mezmerized by the opening credits. A few minutes in, when the camera slowly pans along the legnth of Leland's coiled telephone cord as he's figuring out what's happened, for some reason that was the moment I knew I'd be watching the whole series. Looking forward to this!
posted by STFUDonnie at 5:03 AM on July 30, 2014


The Palmer's protrected grieving, represented early on by Grace Zabriske's almost grand guignol screaming and kater by Leland's swing dance fugues, is probably the closest television has ever gotten to representing how close orofound grief comes to madness.

I also like the show's use of deputy Andy's weeping, which manages to be both comedic and terrible. The image of him sobbing outside the train car where the two girls were assaulted does a remarkable job of conveying the horror of the story we're watching.

I attended an art show inspired by Twin Peaks a few years ago, and it seemed, in part, to be a fan re-editing of the show to highlight the stuff we like and edit out the stuff we don't -- most of the second season was ignores by the artists, but so were a variety of characters who are important in the first season. Chris Mulkey, who plays a really prominent role, had almost no presence. James, and his biker bar, The Road house, was absent as well, which surprised me, as a 1950s biker bar featuring Julee Cruise singing the show's theme song seems about as Lynch as you can get, and one of my favorite things to do when rewatching this show is to narrate out loud what I think is going on in James' head, which, we're repeatedly informed, is almost nothing.

On this viewing, I am starting to see Bobby as a much more sympathetic character, and starting to see a lot of his actions as being motivated by a genuine love and concern for Shelly. He does everything wrong and lets his pettier emotions take control, almost constantly. But Major Briggs has a vision later in the series of a better Bobby, and I am starting to see hints of that.

The character I wish they had done more with is Donna's sister Harriet ("I'm going to tell you, and I'm going to tell you straight.") oh, and the kid who break dances out of a scene in the background early on.
posted by maxsparber at 5:48 AM on July 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


On my last re-watch I thought I'd stay especially attentive and figure out what the deal is with the fish in the percolator. I still have no idea. Catherine is gaslighting Pete for the hell of it?
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:56 AM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think Pete may make a comment to that effect fo Catherine.
posted by maxsparber at 7:08 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


one of my favorite things to do when rewatching this show is to narrate out loud what I think is going on in James' head, which, we're repeatedly informed, is almost nothing.

To quote Lucy, "It has that open air sound, you know, like wind blowing through trees."
posted by codacorolla at 9:14 AM on July 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


Regarding the fish in the percolator, I think it's possible that it's Catherine playing a prank on Pete. But it's always struck me as there being something fishy beneath the normal coffee and pie exterior of the town.
posted by codacorolla at 9:15 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wait did we watch the Pilot or Episode 1?

I almost forgot this was happening but I started watching the X Files a few days ago and just last night happened to land on the episode that Michael Horse was on and was like oh yeah.

Anyway, I watched the pilot last night, this will be my 3rd time through the series, and I have nothing interesting to contribute right now.
posted by phunniemee at 9:15 AM on July 30, 2014


The pilot, but the site isn't really set up to accommodate that numbering.
posted by codacorolla at 9:43 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is the fish in the percolator part in the pilot?
posted by phunniemee at 10:41 AM on July 30, 2014


I mean, I was eating my weight in cinnamon toast crunch last night while watching but I don't think I was *that* distracted.
posted by phunniemee at 10:42 AM on July 30, 2014


I admit I posted on this thread even though my last viewing was a few months ago. Maybe I got the fish/percolator timing wrong. If it's not in the pilot, it's at least very early on.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:00 AM on July 30, 2014


On a trip to Seattle a few years ago I was so happy to see Mt. Si and the famous cafe in person. (Sadly we didn't have time to stop for coffee and a slice of cherry pie.)
posted by dnash at 11:19 AM on July 30, 2014


Yep, the fishy coffee is in the next ep. I watched the two back to back, so they kind of ran together for me.

This show also makes me want to eat a huge breakfast, have two donuts for a snack, and then top off lunch with a slice of pie. I guess all that hanging upside down is really, really good exercise.
posted by codacorolla at 11:46 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Gone fishin'" suggests to me that maybe you'll come back with something, maybe you won't, but either way, you're going to be sitting there for a while.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:23 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Since I was violently ill for most of last night and this morning, I just got around to rewatching the pilot a few minutes ago.

I forget how many times I've actually gone through Twin Peaks (Twice? Three times? My life is a blur.), but at any rate this is going to be my first full rewatch since I got the Gold Box DVDs for Christmas ca. 2006-07. Amazingly enough, there's a few things that I'd forgotten about the show that all came flooding back just now, such as:
  • The weird mix of smoldering sexpot and Amelie-esque naif that Sherilyn Fenn gives off in her initial scenes as Audrey Horne. I'm thinking specifically of the scene where she punctures the receptionist's coffee cup with a pencil, giggling like a loon the whole time. I'd always remembered Audrey as being one of the more "normal" characters on the show, but rewatching it now sort of reminded me of Rita (MISTER F!) from Arrested Development. Does Audrey's quirk get dialed back in the rest of series proper, or am I just remembering things wrong?
  • The random disembodied deer head on the desk, which might have started the creepy antler-motif that's gotten trendy again in True Detective and Hannibal. Of course, here the sole justification for even having it in the scene is the throwaway line: "Oh, it fell down." Sometimes no reason is the best reason.
  • A lot of ink's been spilled about Agent Cooper being this pure Cloudcuckoolander sleuth who resorts to goofy Zen mysticism in place of normal deductive technique, but I thought his MO in the pilot was pretty much straight-line logic (assessing obvious physical evidence, questioning/tailing the obvious suspects) with a dash of hunch-following (yanking the "R" out of Laura's fingernail). I know the kooky Tibet/bottle scene is coming up first thing next episode, but I thought it was worth mentioning that Coop doesn't operate solely on magical thinking.
  • Bobby Briggs more or less amounts to a pile of floppy hair and teeth, with two eyeballs sticking out of it. I don't recall the mystery about him supposedly killing someone being addressed in the show. Does this come up in Fire Walk With Me?
  • Cooper's tangent about needing an affordable motel room strikes me as something that Lynch might have actually said out loud, and Kyle McLachlan simply repeated verbatim. The overall cadence and intensity sounds a lot like Lynch's normal cut-and-dried conversational tone, based on interviews I've seen.
  • Crackpot theory of the week: Does anyone else wonder if one of the base components of Stephen Colbert's "Stephen Colbert" character is Agent Dale Cooper?
maxsparber: "one of my favorite things to do when rewatching this show is to narrate out loud what I think is going on in James' head, which, we're repeatedly informed, is almost nothing." [emphasis mine -- SI]

Yes. In so many ways, James Hurley was the Jon Snow of his time.

The character I wish they had done more with is Donna's sister Harriet ("I'm going to tell you, and I'm going to tell you straight.") "

I know, right? I'd just turned 13 when the show premiered; Although I still credit the one-two punch of Donna (that hair!) and Audrey (those sweaters!) with jump-starting my adolescent libido, I will admit to ultimately having the bigger (and more age-appropriate) crush on Harriet, for her quick wit and way with words. Wikipedia says that Harriet only appeared twice in the entire series, which says something about how memorable she was as a character.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:07 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


That's a good point on Dale. He's written as a competent detective who also happens to have a connection to the mystical. Though, considering other stuff that happens in the series, that's not a strange leap to make in this world.

On this rewatch I've also found myself really liking Bobby. He's a bit of an asshole, and he does some bad things, but his overall motivation is fairly sympathetic. He also treats Shelly (mostly) well, and is trying to get her out of an abusive relationship to one of the worst people on the show. That seems like pure soap opera to me. Having a character who vacillates back and forth between hero and heel depending on the situation.

RE: Audrey, I feel like she becomes much more of a full character as the show goes on. The way that Lynch treats women in his stories is complicated, but in Peaks I feel like they have a great deal of agency and also spend time doing stuff that isn't directly related to a man, even though eventually there's a lot of white knights riding in on horseback.
posted by codacorolla at 6:23 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


One thing I noticed on this watching - the very first lines of the entire show are Pete Martell saying "gone fishin'."

I think it's also interesting that after the opening credits, the first person we see in the entire show is Josie Packard painting her lips while staring pensively in the mirror, which I've never quite been able to parse. Maybe it's a tonal thing, putting that noir femme-fatale imagery right up front, and using Joan Chen's exotic, semi-androgynous beauty to suggest that this isn't just a night-time drama about a sleepy logging town, but something a bit more off the beaten path.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:49 PM on July 30, 2014


What is that terrible Handmaid's Tale dress Josie is wearing in the percolator scene. Good lord. All the colors in the show are relatively muted and then boom, inexplicably garish nun dress.
posted by phunniemee at 6:52 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


The weird mix of smoldering sexpot and Amelie-esque naif that Sherilyn Fenn gives off in her initial scenes as Audrey Horne. I'm thinking specifically of the scene where she punctures the receptionist's coffee cup with a pencil, giggling like a loon the whole time.

She's spoiled and bored to the point of psychopathology, but it functions to push her toward being the incompetent girl detective she is for the rest od the series.

The random disembodied deer head on the desk, which might have started the creepy antler-motif that's gotten trendy again in True Detective and Hannibal. Of course, here the sole justification for even having it in the scene is the throwaway line: "Oh, it fell down." Sometimes no reason is the best reason.

Keep your eye open for randon deer heads. I'm pretty sure I have spotted one in a hospital room in one scene.
posted by maxsparber at 8:22 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Things seem to be falling apart in general... the light in the autopsy room... the falling deer head... I also kept noticing how much attention is given to Lucy patching calls through in bizarrely long sequences... is there some wider significance to any of this?
posted by naju at 8:31 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's my understanding that the light reslly was just flickering in the room, ans that the extra in that scene just got confused when spoken to and so said his name, and that Lynch liked it and kept it in. But when we finally get to Fire Walk With Me, there's a town called Deer Meadow that is like the nightmarish, trashy cousin of Twin Peaks, and everything there really is falling apart, so I think Lynch sort of clung to those accidents to represent a creeping collapse that echoes the evil that's pushing it's way into the town.
posted by maxsparber at 8:35 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


phunniemee: "What is that terrible Handmaid's Tale dress Josie is wearing in the percolator scene. Good lord. All the colors in the show are relatively muted and then boom, inexplicably garish nun dress."

At the risk of getting ahead of the pilot episode discussion, I chalk all of Josie's clothing choices up to the fact that's she an ostensibly modern, cosmopolitan woman stuck in a time-warped small town, making her basically a fish in the percolator out of water here. IIRC, a ton of late '80s/early '90s high fashion looked kind of like that, lots of blocky-looking silhouettes and solid primary-ish colors, which made the wearer look like they were an extra on Star Trek.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:59 PM on July 30, 2014


Audrey has always been my favorite character in the show. Or at least in the top two. I think her whole life she's been desperate for attention- her father has always been consumed by his business and other shady dealings, her mother doesn't seem to be engaged with the family at all. Laura likely contributed to Audrey feeling ignored- as the daughter of her father's business partner, they probably spent a lot of time together growing up. Laura's natural ability to consume the spotlight would only make Audrey feel more ignored, even more so when Laura started tutoring Johnny.

Audrey is only beginning to engage with sexuality at the beginning of the series- smoking at school and changing into her red heels are part of this. Her pouting at the smörgåsbord shows that she's beginning to understand how to use sex as a tool, for now just to cause mischief, but later on she'll use it as a trojan horse when she plays amateur detective (which is way down the line, sorry for jumping ahead).

Anyway, I find her character fascinating, as her actions all seem to draw from this need for attention, this need to be loved and accepted. Sherilyn Fenn really nails it in her performance. I was sad to see her pretty much drop off the radar after Twin Peaks (and her bit part in Wild At Heart).


Bobby Briggs more or less amounts to a pile of floppy hair and teeth, with two eyeballs sticking out of it. I don't recall the mystery about him supposedly killing someone being addressed in the show. Does this come up in Fire Walk With Me?


I think Bobby is far more complex than people give him credit for. He's spent so much of his life as #1 (captain of the football team, homecoming king for example) that he's probably realized how it's all a sham. I think under all the tough guy posturing, he really does love Shelly, and he'd much rather be with her, a married high school dropout, than be in the relationship with Laura that everyone expects him to be. (I may be wrong about this, but I thought that Bobby and Laura started dating because they were voted homecoming king and queen) However he's too afraid to give up his public persona entirely, as that is where his power comes from.

His hypocritical anger at James for being Laura's other man seems to be mostly Bobby keeping up appearances. It seems he's most hellbent on destroying James only while Mike (that is, his friend Mike, not one-armed Mike) is still a large part of the story. I can't remember exactly, but I think Bobby kept his relationship with Shelly a secret from Mike. In order to keep his public image intact then, Bobby plots with Mike to take revenge on James. When Mike drops out of the picture for a while (somewhere in season one, and does not reappear until mid-season two) Bobby seems to forget about James entirely.

The plot point of Bobby killing someone happens in Fire Walk With Me. It's a spot where we see the real Bobby, scared and confused, who we'll see again in the series at Jacoby's office.

A major theme in most of David Lynch's work is that external appearances often hide some darker secret. In Twin Peaks, I think Lynch also wants to show that sometimes people would be happier if they would shed their fake outward appearance and embrace what they really are. That's the main point of the relationships of Josie and Harry and (especially) Norma and Ed. We see flashes of it with Bobby- he can be genuinely sweet to Shelly, however his fear of losing power leads him to do awful, manipulative things to her as well (we'll see this in season 2).


Things seem to be falling apart in general... the light in the autopsy room... the falling deer head... I also kept noticing how much attention is given to Lucy patching calls through in bizarrely long sequences... is there some wider significance to any of this?

That's a great observation. So much of the town is falling apart after its center has been murdered. So many spokes were connected to that hub.

There's a joke that only makes sense after watching the whole series and Fire Walk with me: Perhaps the only bright spot to come from Laura's murder is that it has cleaned up the foul mouths of Twin Peaks. When Laura died, the word "fuck" died with her.
posted by Dr-Baa at 7:45 AM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


On a trip to Seattle a few years ago I was so happy to see Mt. Si and the famous cafe in person. (Sadly we didn't have time to stop for coffee and a slice of cherry pie.)

My wife and I honeymooned in Washington this spring. We spent part of the trip visiting various locations from Twin Peaks. We stopped at Ronette's bridge (sadly closed due to arson), stayed at the Salish lodge and snapped pictures of Snoqualmie falls, etc. What's funny was that the only place we visited that played up its involvement with Twin Peaks - Twede's Cafe - was the WORST place we visited the entire trip. The coffee was bland, and the cherry pie was some Sysco-style packaged pie heated in a microwave. The service was just plain bad, and the bill came to $30 for two coffees and slices of pie! At least they had some neat memorabilia hanging on the walls, like autographed pictures and shirts, and the entire set of Twin Peaks trading cards.
posted by Dr-Baa at 8:05 AM on July 31, 2014


Dr-Baa: "Sherilyn Fenn really nails it in her performance. I was sad to see her pretty much drop off the radar after Twin Peaks (and her bit part in Wild At Heart)."

If anybody remembers the short-lived 2000s WB series Birds Of Prey, which was an early attempt at doing a Batman series without Batman, (Hey kids! Be sure to tune in for Gotham, coming to FOX this fall!) one of the main big bads of the show was Dr. Harleen Quinzel aka Harley Quinn, played by Ferris Bueller's Mia Sara.

Anyway, in the unaired (and as far as I know, unleaked) pilot episode, Harley was played by Sherilyn Fenn, who was mysteriously recast before the series was picked up. Although the show was pretty terrible, I can't imagine that Fenn could have been anything other than fantastic in the part.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:41 AM on July 31, 2014


Here's my favorite fan theory: Audrey Horn is the link that connects Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart, and Mulholland Drive. I call it the Fenn diagram:

According to Sherilyn Fenn, she and Lynch talked about a spin-off series from Twin Peaks: "David was talking about 'Mulholland Drive', he talked about like 'Audrey goes to Hollywood'. She's driving along Mulholland in this convertible car... But it didn't end up happening."

No, what wound up happening is that Fenn was cast in a cameo in Wild at Heart as a schoolgirl suffering a traumatic head injury in the immediate aftermath of a car crash.

So who does end up driving along Mulholland Drive in a convertible car? Rita, an amnesiac from a car crash.

I'm not saying these should be interpreted as directly linked, but instead that they are sort of thematic sequels to each other. But I do like to imagine that Mulholland Drive is about Audrey Horn in its own way. She was a great character, and she still pops up now and then. She was in Psych, as an example.
posted by maxsparber at 11:20 AM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


That Psych episode is great. I love the attention to details in it- like that the murder victim's name is an anagram of Laura Palmer.

I really like your Audrey Horn theory. I was working on a Robocop/West Side Story/Mod Squad/Twin Peaks conspiracy theory for a while.

By the way, have you guys watched the "international pilot" that's included on the new set? I remember back in the VHS days that was the only version at the rental store. Talk about "I mean it like it is, like it sounds".... anticlimactic to say the least.
posted by Dr-Baa at 11:50 AM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think it's also interesting that after the opening credits, the first person we see in the entire show is Josie Packard painting her lips while staring pensively in the mirror, which I've never quite been able to parse.

I'm not sure if it's the fact it's Josie that's important, but that she is reflected in a mirror. The first shot is an indicator that Twin Peaks is about duality.

And without spoiling it, the last image of the series contains a mirror, too. Rounding off the idea of duality - and what we see on the surface isn't necessarily the truth of what is underneath.
posted by crossoverman at 7:35 PM on August 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


just catching up on my rewatch now, and loving that I am noticing new details I had missed all the other times I watched the show - like the creepy thing that Dr Jacobi does with his tie when he talks about Laura.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:23 PM on June 11, 2017


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