Seriable’s Mark Jones reviews Twin Peaks Episode 1 — “Traces To Nowhere”
The first episode of Twin Peaks after the pilot starts off in Dale Cooper‘s room in the Great Northern Hotel. As the camera slowly pans across his room we learn that Dale Cooper is starting his day at 6.18am, and once again the FBI’s finest is introduced as a quirky character as we see him hanging upside down recording another message for Diane on his Dictaphone.
These tape recorded messages provide an insight not only into the story but into Dale’s mind as well and in this instance he asks what Marilyn Monroe’s connection to the Kennedy’s was and who really shot JFK. At first this seems unimportant but it’s been said that Marilyn Monroe’s story was an inspiration for Twin Peaks and their certainly seems to be some similarities between Laura’s death and the film star’s. The fact that he also brings up JFK’s killer hints that we may never know who really killed Laura.
This is only the start of the mystery though and the Dictaphone is used to make the audience reflect and think about what’s going on. What’s going on is more or less what was going on in the pilot. Dale and Harry are still interviewing people who have a connection with Laura’s murder while the relationship’s between the secondary characters are expanded on.
Despite the coffee fuelled chirpiness of Dale Cooper he can’t stop things from getting darker still in this episode as Doctor Haywood informs him and Harry of the details of Laura Palmer‘s death, including the fact that she had sexual relations with three people in the last twelve hours before she died. Add to this her drug addiction and connection with the wife beating Leo Johnson and Twin Peaks starts to look a lot less like an idyllic small town. Benjamin Horne is fleshed out in this episode as a businessman with few morals and a turbulent family life. Audrey Horne explains to Dale in the dining room that her brother is 27 and in the third grade because “he has emotional problems” and that “it runs in the family”.
Like the pilot there’s plenty that’s hinted at in this episode but which will be revealed fully at a later date. We once again see the unarmed man, who when Hawk pursues him he seems to be heading to the morgue, and the ‘Bookhouse Boys’ are mentioned for the first time. As well as this we learn of Nadine‘s obsession with creating silent drape runners and that in addition to wearing an eyepatch she’s a bit crazy. Bob also makes his first appearance outside of the pilot and a couple of important names are dropped which will soon come into play including Albert Rosenfield and Jacques Renault.
The performances are strong across the board and it becomes clear that James is deliberately drawn as being flat an uninteresting, as Laura says in her message to Jacoby “James is sweet, but he’s so dull”. The younger characters in the series almost come across as if they’ve stepped out of the 1950s, especially Bobby and Mike, but their problem with the nice but dull James hints at a darker side especially when Bobby quips “too bad we can only kill him once”, not to forget that it was suggested in the pilot that he has already killed someone.
In terms of depth Audrey Horne seems to be the most interesting person in Laura’s age group and with her turbulent family life, odd behaviour and crush on Agent Cooper. There’s something in the way she delivers her lines such as “do your palms ever itch?” that fits right in with Twin Peak’s dreamy atmosphere. It’s Donna’s line when talking to her mother that best sums up the mood so far though when she says “it’s like I’m having the most beautiful dream… and the most terrible nightmare, all at once.”
Angelo Badalamenti’s score is used to great effect with ‘Laura’s’ theme underscoring the interrogation of James as well as the scene where Ben tells Audrey to turn her music down, which just so happens to be part of the shows score. This isn’t the first time that Twin Peaks will reference itself and rather than taking the viewer out of the moment helps to make things fell more disconcerting.
In this episode there are two characters the viewer’s attention is drawn to as suspects, Leo Johnson and Dr Jacoby. It’s after Dr Haywood asks “who would do a thing like that” that it cuts to the side of Leo Johnson’s van in a scene where Shelley discovers Leo’s blood soaked shirt. Then at the end of the episode we see Dr Jacoby listening to a message from Laura Palmer while opening a coconut where he has hidden the necklace that Donna and James buried the night before. Even with these hints/possible red herrings it’s clear the nothing is cut and dried as there are plenty of people with motive to rape or murder Laura.
Again this episode delivers on the memorable scenes and not only do we have Dale proclaiming for the first time “this is a damn fine cup of coffee” but the funny if surreal moment where Pete informs Cooper and the Sheriff that there was a fish in the coffee percolator. These moments are great as they never really get explained, they just happen. We’re even treated to a shot of the coffee covered fish later on but how it got into the percolator is anyone’s guess.
There’s also the scene where Dale properly meets the Log Lady for the first time, who storms off when he hesitates after her to offer to ask the log a question. At this point she seems like just another crazy character to inject a bit of comedy on the sidelines but the significance of logs and the woods in Twin Peaks has yet to be fully explored.
Like the pilot there’s not a lot that doesn’t work about this episode and throughout there’s a sense that character’s motives and relationships are still being established.
Episode 1 is definitely on a par with the pilot and is gripping throughout: 8/10 Seriable Stars.