Twin Peaks Newbie Recap: “Pilot”
"It's big, it's heavy, it's wood!"
Before we start, allow me to thank CBS Home Entertainment who sent me a beautiful copy of Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery blu-ray to review…
… over five months ago. Needless to say, it’s on sale now! *tugs at collar* Also, I totally forgot about taking screencaps for the purpose of this recap so I pulled images from elsewhere online. The blu-ray itself looks magnificent and almost makes you forget the series aired in the early 90s.
So… we’ve had Battlestar Galactica newbie recaps, Avatar the Last Airbender newbie recaps, and Sailor Moon newbie recaps. But what’s another popular series Jill hasn’t seen? Ah yes, Twin Peaks. In my case, I was too young when it first aired/my parents and brothers weren’t watching it so it wasn’t until later in life I started getting the “You haven’t seen Twin Peaks?!?!?” comments. It was on Netflix as of late but since I knew the blu-ray was set to be release I figured the timing was right. That said, I knew absolutely nothing about the show except it started with the murder of Laura Palmer, something about a log lady, and people really liking pie and coffee. And with that…
— Jill Pantozzi (@JillPantozzi) January 15, 2015
As the pilot began I remembered I had the theme song to Twin Peaks on the Pure Moods , Vol. 1 CD back in the day. Ahh, memories. The scene is set with a beautiful landscape of Washington and a woman with the most fabulous hair I’d never be able to pull off. A man named Pete finds a body on the shore and called Sheriff Harry to investigate with Dr. Hayward and even before officer Andy starts to sob furiously it’s clear this is not the type of thing that normally happens around here.
We move onto the home of the victim, Laura Palmer. Her mother calling for her from downstairs before realizing she’s missing and frantically placing phone calls to Bobby’s (her boyfriend?) parents. They tell her to call the school, he’s likely at football practice, except he’s not. Up at the Great Northern Hotel, a place I absolutely want to visit immediately, we see some Norwegians getting a sales pitch from two suits. The deal is stalled as the Sheriff arrives to inform one of the suits, Leland Palmer, of his daughter’s death, which mom Sarah also hears about while on the phone with her husband.
Sidebar: Seeing as how my first watch of Gilmore Girls just ended and that’s fresh in my mind, I’ve already spotted two Gilmore Girls actresses in Audrey and Shelly.
We catch up with Bobby, obviously the town stud, at a diner where he says he’s going to give Shelly a ride but what he really means is a riiiiiiide.
He’s actually dating Laura and Shelly. But Shelly is dating someone else. Oh, you kids! At the school, where the children dress like they’re from the 50s, news is finally spreading about Laura’s death. Audrey… doesn’t give a shit, but two other students, Donna and James, are clearly distraught. James, it should be noted, also has a smoldering look that could melt the ice caps.
It’s here I find out Aunt Em from Return to Oz (Piper Laurie) has a role on the show, and that another girl has gone missing. Except she’s found really quickly and she’s not in good shape. Enter Agent Dale Cooper.
It was up until this part I was starting to get a little concerned. Nothing so far had given me any indication why Twin Peaks was such a fan favorite but Kyle MacLachlan quickly turned it around for me. Good lord in heaven, what a character. Speaking of which…
At the hospital, Agent Cooper and Sheriff… Harry S. Truman OMG… check in on the second girl, Ronette Pulaski (who is no help to their case in her state). They head to the morgue to see Laura but are intercepted by the psychologist her parents didn’t know she was seeing. A psychologist wearing a hula girl tie in which you can lift her skirt.
Moving on. Agent Cooper, who has been leaving notes for himself and his assistant (?) Diane on a tape recorder when he isn’t busy commenting about how awesome the nature is in Twin Peaks, does an inspection on Laura’s body and finds a teeny-tiny piece of paper with an “R” on it under one of her fingernails and it was around there I had to close my eyes because eurgh nail stuff creeps me out. Anyway, this confirms suspicions he had that Laura’s case was connected to another.
The police pick up Bobby on suspicion of murder and he’s being all sassy about it and blah, blah, blah I loved her etc. They bring him in for questioning after searching Laura’s room (without gloves, mind you) and finding a few pieces of evidence to work with – a diary, a safety deposit box key, what’s probably cocaine, and a home video.
After pressing Bobby for just a few minutes, Agent Cooper types to the Sheriff on his super high-tech calculator (?) “He did not do it.” Even so, he has a little fun showing Bobby the home video which has Laura and Donna being filmed by a third party he presumes is Laura’s other boyfriend (her too??). They let Bobby go but thanks to a reflection of a motorcycle in Laura’s eye on the tape, they know to look for a biker.
Back at the hotel, Audrey is being a brat for some reason and spills the beans about the murder to the Norwegians, who then scurry off. The police find Laura’s crime scene complete with a bloody hammer, a strategically placed half of a heart necklace, and a note written in blood which reads “fire walk with me.”
In Laura’s safety deposit box they find $10,000 and a porno mag with a picture of Ronette circled. We cut back to Shelly and her husband Leo who threatens to kill her upon finding a different brand of cigarettes in their house than the ones she normally smokes. And then we cut to gas station owner Ed taking a phone call from the other diner waitress and JESUS H. CHRIST IS ANYONE IN THIS TOWN FAITHFUL TO THEIR SIGNIFICANT OTHERS?
There’s a bunch of bad blood between Josie Packard, the woman from the beginning with the fab hair, and her sister-in-law Aunt Em over the death and susequent passing on of the Packard Mill to Josie after his death from a boating accident six years back. We learn all of this and more (including Benjamin Horn, Audrey’s father wanting the Packard land) at a town meeting called to let folks know about the incidents and a curfew for those under 18 and OH MY GOD LOG LADY!
Ok, so then I find out Donna’s parents are Dr. Hayward and a woman in a wheelchair named Eileen. Donna also has a sister named Harriet who I think might just be the form my Patronus takes.
Harriet agrees to cover for Donna who wants to sneak out and find Biker James, who has the other half of the heart the police found, so she can warn him. Bobby and Mike (who is Donna’s boyfriend) show up at her house just after she’s gone but figure they know where she’s headed. To the biker bar!
However, Agent Cooper and the Sheriff are already staking out the bar which may just be the most interesting depiction of a biker bar I’ve ever seen. Though as soon as Donna shows up, a fight breaks out, so it is your typical biker bar after all, I guess. Mike and Bobby are arrested by backup while Agent Cooper and the Sheriff follow Donna who has since taken off with another biker to meet up with James.
And then Donna and James meet and make out and oh my, this is the strangest soap opera I’ve ever watched. James also fills us in a bit on Laura’s state of mind her last night alive. He says she was acting quite unlike herself but it’s not much to go on. The two agree to bury James’ half of the necklace where they stand and then the police catch up with them and throw him in a cell opposite Mike and Bobby.
We end with a lovely donut spread for the law enforcement folks but cut to Laura’s mom having some sort of dream/vision of an unknown person digging James’ necklace back up. She screams. Aaaaaaand scene.
Oh wait, I forgot the Sheriff and Josie Packard are also screwing.
Hey, at least they’re both single.
- I keep expecting Mulder and Scully to show up.
- There were a lot of characters introduced here, it was a lot to take in/keep up with.
- Now I see what everyone has been talking about for so long.
- Not binge-watching this series is going to be really, really, really hard.
- I want to move to Washington.
- Normally we close comments on newbie recaps but I’m just gonna say screw it. I know some readers are starting the series for themselves and plan to follow along so I’d like to be able to have the discussion here. I don’t see a reason for anyone to post spoilers for future episodes but I ask that you please don’t.
- The boyfriend is watching along with me, also for the first time, and had a brilliant idea which probably can’t be executed successfully. He suggested I record my notes for the episode like Agent Cooper records his and post that instead of a written. I like the idea a lot but for how jumbled my thoughts are along the way, I don’t think it’s doable.
- Our newbie recaps normally cover two episodes at a time. I’ll be continuing in that vein unless it becomes too time consuming.