Twin Peaks Ep. 1: “Pilot”

I definitely get the comparisons to The Killing and Broadchurch. In fact, the US remake of Broadchurch might as well be a new Twin Peaks. It’s the same slow progression, and focus on the part where in small towns everyone knows everyone, which means you know a killer! Back when all shows had main title sequences, you were supposed to, as a writer, deconstruct the sequence to figure out what the show was trying to tell you. This one is saying “this is a mill town and we’re too cheap to license music.” They’re sharpening the saw blades, set to a nice ballad.

Josie applies makeup in a mirror while Pete announces he’s going fishing, leaving her alone in the house with Catherine. Of course, he doesn’t get too far, because Laura’s body has washed up on the shore right outside his house. Pete calls Lucy to let her know. I love Lucy. Taking five minutes to describe a phone she can point to sounds like something I might do. She transfers the call to the Sheriff so he can rush right out to the beach with Deputy Andy. Andy breaks down crying and the Sheriff asks him, “Is this going to happen every damn time?” How often exactly do they get murders?

We cut from the Sheriff and Doctor identifying the body (because everyone knows everyone) to Laura’s Mom trying to get her up for school and finding her room empty. The show manages to make an extended shot of a ceiling fan ominous, which is impressive. Laura’s Mom starts the panicked phone calls, trying to figure out where she is. She’s not with her boyfriend, who is also missing (but has been late to football practice a lot lately, so no one thinks much of it).

Laura’s Dad and Audrey’s Dad are giving a presentation to Norwegians to get them to invest and it’s exactly as boring as you’d expect. Laura’s Dad is called away by Laura’s Mom to confirm Laura’s not with him either. And this is how you transfer a phone call! “I’m transferring to that phone” and done.

I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why the Sheriff would go to where Dad’s having a business meeting and inform him there instead of going to the victim’s house to tell Mom. Even in terms of story, it doesn’t make sense. But there’s this weird thing where anytime someone hears “something’s happened” they immediately jump to “Laura Palmer’s dead.” Like they all knew it was just a matter of time with that girl. I’m also struck by how cell phones would not change this story that much. Everyone seems to be near a phone at any given time. Anyway, if anyone was giving me news like that I’d need them to spell it out. Just a cop showing up, hat in hand, would not be enough. Especially if I only heard it happening over the phone, like Laura’s Mom does. She spends a lot of time screaming, but considering what happens later, I think it’s important that we understand she is genuinely shocked.

We pick up Bobby at the diner, hitting on all the waitresses. Bobby’s such a slut. He gives Shelly a ride home, but Norma immediately picks up those vibes. Shelly is pretty sure she’s clueless, so she makes out with Bobby in his car still parked in front of the diner, to be sure. Shelly practically force-feeds Bobby from a flask while he’s driving, because she has a death wish. Also, Bobby, that is the incorrect use of “pocket rocket.” You are supposed to be her “pocket rocket,” not vice versa. But probably you would not say that with pride.

Laura’s Dad insists on seeing her body, so we can appreciate the “dead-person” job the makeup team did. Good job, makeup team.

Lara Flynn Boyle looks exactly like Winona Ryder. Audrey and Lara Flynn Boyle are at their school lockers. Audrey changes into red pumps because she is a naughty girl. I don’t understand this slow jazz snare drum and top hat score. It’s whenever they show Audrey, because she’s bad, but also when the cops appear and sometimes when James is being all emo. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the score. It’s like the composer was feeling neglected. Bobby has finally arrived at school, so he’s being called to the principal’s office and they all act like this isn’t a daily occurrence. Although getting interrogated by deputies in the middle of the library without a parent present probably isn’t daily. Weekly, maybe. The Sheriff explains that Laura’s dead and makes sure Bobby’s been mirandized, but it still takes Bobby a minute to catch on. The principal makes an announcement and dismisses all classes for the day and it’s actually quite touching.

The Sheriff is talking with Laura’s Mom, who is totally useless until the doctor drugs her, but fortunately she’s not a suspect and they only need basic stuff like “what time did you see her?” so legally it’s not that big of a deal. They get called away by a guy at the mill whose daughter is also missing.

Funny how we’re supposed to think that the well-dressed, made up and beautiful Josie (who doesn’t have much of an accent but says “push the plug” instead of “pull the plug”) is going to do something evil, but instead the script gets flipped and she’s the one being compassionate. She’s shutting down the mill, but because there’s been a tragedy and she’s sending everyone home. Now, there’s still an argument over whether she’s being a good businesswoman, but she’s not the one randomly firing people on her way out the door. That’s Catherine. But the missing girl won’t be missing for long because she’s walking on a railroad bridge looking like death warmed over.

It’s Emo Boy! He’s on his Emo Bike! Using his super Emo powers to spread his deep and abiding sadness–

Holy crap, Kyle McLachlan hasn’t aged a day in 24 years! We spend a lot of time finding out that even though he looks extremely straight-laced, he is quirky and talks to his imaginary friend/assistant “Diane.” After his monologue in the car, he meets the Sheriff at the hospital. He first establishes that he’s the alpha dog, then asks about the local trees and the coroner’s report. These are not related. They go to see Ronette and the Sheriff says there’s no connection to Laura, which is probably why he called in the FBI. Selective intelligence, you know. This town is too small for the hospital to have a CT scan? But they have a psychiatrist and the cops blow him off ASAP instead of asking him questions. Really? I’d be getting him into a room then and there. I know he’s wearing unreasonably large earplugs. Just make sure he doesn’t wear them on the stand. Sigh, fine, dismiss the major source of information just because he acts like a total creeper. They get to the morgue where the lights are performing a handy epilepsy test. Is it just me or does Agent Cooper reach WAY WAY into Laura’s finger there for that evidence? I was thinking maybe this was a bizarre way of making sure she was really dead. It’s a teeny-tiny folded-up letter “R.” Which, a serial killer can’t possibly intend for police to find something like that, could he?

Lara Flynn Boyle stops by the garage looking for Emo-Boy, but not only is he not there, but Mike, Bobby’s friend, stops by to be inappropriately aggressive asking Lara Flynn Boyle to come help Bobby.

Agent Cooper and the Sheriff go over the evidence the deputies took from Laura’s room. I love breaking open the diary. I’d been thinking, “really, a pissy little lock on a book is enough to foil the police?” but it’s not too much for the FBI! They find a key covered in cocaine inside. The Sheriff insists that’s not possible, because “you didn’t know Laura.” He says it as if it could possibly be appropriate for him to know that well this teenage girl he’s not related to.

Andy calls in to say they found the murder site, and he cries because it’s so awful but to us it just looks like a train.

Agent Cooper and the Sheriff interview Bobby, who answers every question by insisting he didn’t kill her. They show him a video of Laura and Lara playing around and tell him she must have been cheating on him because someone else shot the video. Bobby acts awfully surprised for someone we just saw making out with Shelly. Agent Cooper can tell Bobby didn’t do it because Bobby’s an idiot, but he makes him extra-sad because Bobby is an awful idiot and deserves it.

Audrey is evil and her mom’s a pushover. She spills coffee all over important papers the way a four-year-old does, daring you to stop them. Likely, Audrey is evil because her mom’s a pushover. The music tells us we’re supposed to think this is funny, but I mostly find it sad. She wanders into the meeting with the Norwegians and describes Laura’s dead body in graphic detail, because this is something she finds funny. I’d also find it boring except that it leads to the Best Scene Ever in Television, coming soon.

Bobby has figured out that Emo-Boy is somehow involved in all of this and announces he’s going to smash his head, because they’re securely in a police station.

But first, it’s the very first CSI effect! Agent Cooper is asking Lara Flynn Boyle who made the videotape they found in Laura’s room. They zoom in on the videotape, using a standard remote control, and see the reflection of a motorcycle in the reflection of a girl’s pupil. They were ahead of their time! And to prove they were correct, we see Emo-Boy hanging out with his motorcycle in the place where the tape was made.

And here is the aforementioned Best Scene Ever in Television: the Norwegians are leaving, and the whole thing is scored with a tuba and a woman who yells “the Norwegians are leaving!” the way children in school plays yell “the British are coming!” and punctuating it by ringing her little bell. The Norwegians are leaving! Ding! The Norwegians are leaving! Ding! The Norwegians are leaving! Ding! The Norwegians are leaving! Ding! The Norwegians are leaving! Ding! The Norwegians are leaving! Ding! The Norwegians are leaving! Ding!

Agent Cooper and the Sheriff check out the train/murder site. There’s lots of blood, half a necklace, and a piece of paper that says “Fire Walk with Me.” If only they knew that was a movie they could watch that would solve the whole thing.

Emo-Boy has the other half of the necklace on the top of his mountain. DUN!

So that’s Audrey having tea, right? With her mom? So that wasn’t her mom before? She just felt entitled to torture someone she’s not related to? And nobody cares about her disabled brother upstairs hurting himself? Assholes.

Agent Cooper and the Sheriff find the safe deposit box at the bank. The conference room the bank puts them in has a mounted deer head on the table, largely to differentiate it from the conference room at the Sheriff’s station. (I’m guessing it’s the same set.) There’s a sexy magazine in the safety deposit box, but apparently this magazine puts up sexy pictures of girls and then random, grainy pictures from their hometown next to it. Because if there’s anything sexier than a scantily clad underage girl, it’s seeing where an abused woman in her town lives! There’s also about $10,000.

Shelly’s husband Leo is clearly controlling and jealous. He goes through her cigarette butts comparing brands. Some skills have been lost to time.

Norma makes plans to meet with the guy from the garage, Ed, because they are also having an affair. Is anyone in this town faithful?

There’s a town meeting, so the Sheriff can explain to Agent Cooper who everyone is. “We call her the Log Lady.” She needs a spinoff. Also, in a town like this, everyone would know her real name too. There’s a guy in my hometown who everyone calls “The Flashlight Man,” and is apparently deaf. There used to be an insane asylum in town, but it was closed by the state and the residents were turned out onto the street. A fair number are still there, including The Flashlight Man. One of my aunts was trying to get me to hunt him down and talk to him after I learned sign language, but I really could not see that working out in my favor. So I never did stalk the crazy homeless man armed with a large flashlight. Missed opportunities, I know. Ooh, the Sheriff is talking. I wish all speeches started this way. “Is this thing on?… Here’s Agent Cooper!” Do we really need better introductions than that? Agent Cooper announces that Laura was killed by a serial killer, who may be someone from town. He suggests a curfew for teenagers, like small towns don’t already have those. My hometown did.

The doctor tells his wife about the case and the necklace they found at the scene. Turns out they’re Lara Flynn Boyle’s parents, so not only is he telling his wife so they can pressure their daughter to comply with the police, but so she can overhear them and sneak out. I think Harriet, the sister, was written younger than the actress they ended up getting, but I like her. She has every intention of covering for her sister as long as that doesn’t involve direct questions or anyone looking in her general direction. “Dad, I’m going to tell it to you, and I’m going to tell it to you straight.” She also needs a spinoff.

Mike shows up to talk to/threaten Lara Flynn Boyle, but the doctor asks if they’re drinking and driving. Mike’s all, “yeah, we’re sad!” In case you wondered, that “teens drunk driving” thing would not play that way on network television today. Standards and Practices would have something to say about it. On Jericho, the writers were working on a plotline involving a teenager who was left alone when the bombs went off and hosted drinking parties at her house. S&P gave the note that if we showed someone underage drinking there had to be serious consequences (raped, injured, killed) in the same episode. Otherwise it would play as endorsement. She would not have been allowed to drive off and then do rather well in a bar fight, like Mike and Bobby do.

So, does Lucy work 24 hours a day? I sure hope she’s getting overtime. And is the Roadhouse that tiny little pink house with all the bikes out front or that white ice cream shoppe-looking place? Don’t give me two different establishing shots, Show! Ed and Norma have their date, where they discuss how Norma’s husband is in jail for manslaughter. Bobby and Mike show up just before Lara Flynn Boyle, but Agent Cooper and the Sheriff, on stakeout, watch the whole thing. Mike pretty immediately assaults Lara Flynn Boyle, so Ed steps in to defend her and then everyone just starts throwing punches. And seriously, Bobby and Mike do way better in that fight than they should. I guess they couldn’t afford more than a couple stunt guys. Shame. The New-Age band that keeps playing over the whole thing is a nice touch.

It’s Emo Boy! Careful, Lara Flynn Boyle! He’ll get his Emo all over you! He thinks he’ll be arrested for Laura’s murder because he doesn’t have an alibi. So, so emo. The best part of this scene is when he says Bobby admitted to killing a guy. Like anyone should take seriously anything that Bobby says. Emo Boy is not sorry for kissing his dead girlfriend’s best friend the day after her death. Lara Flynn Boyle helps him bury Laura’s necklace where no one will ever find it – right where they’re standing and the sirens are getting closer. Emo Boy will probably outgrow his emo-ness and become a real person. Sure, he’ll go through a Rust Cohle phase, but he’ll mostly likely outgrow it sophomore year of college. This does put him leagues ahead of Bobby and Mike, because it’s much harder to outgrow stupid.

Agent Cooper and the Sheriff catch up to Emo Boy and Lara Flynn Boyle and promptly arrest Emo Boy. Also in a holding cell are Mike and Bobby, who try to act tough and menacing even though there’s no possible way for them to reach him. They actually resort to barking at him, like this is a thing real tough guys do and not little boys.

Lucy sets up a lot of donuts every night. How much do they pay her? And how many people actually work there? We’ve only seen the Sheriff and Deputy Crying. Agent Cooper finally gets around to asking about a place to stay. I’ve been on the sheriff end of this conversation with Agent Cooper, where you give him the answer but he’s not done explaining the question, so you have to wait and then repeat the answer. I’m really surprised that scene didn’t end with Lucy on the speakerphone volunteering to call the Inn to get Agent Cooper that rate. I know the sheriff told her not to listen in. That’s why it would be funny.

And the Sheriff is sleeping with Josie. He’s not married and she’s a widow, but I still think it counts as an affair because they clearly don’t want people to know. Catherine does, though.

And then, just like how everyone knew Laura Palmer was dead without being told, Mom seems to know someone’s tampering with evidence even though she doesn’t know the evidence exists. A hand is digging up the necklace Emo Boy and Lara Flynn Boyle just buried, intercut with Laura’s mom screaming.

And that’s the episode! So far it’s not quite as quirky as I was promised, but I’m interested to see where this goes. There’s definitely some enjoyable camp, especially in the acting categories and remembering 1990 fashion. The perms! The pegged pants! The blouses buttoned up to the neck on women! Can’t wait to see where this goes.

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About Generation Coax

I am an aspiring TV writer, amateur photographer, and craft hobbyist.
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One Response to Twin Peaks Ep. 1: “Pilot”

  1. Pingback: Twin Peaks Recaps: The Recap | Generation Coax

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