Seriable’s Mark Jones takes us back to Twin Peaks Episode 4 — “The One-Armed Man”
Episode 4 is a less delicious slice of pie than the previous episodes, as things don’t feel quite so dark or strange. While it starts to heat up at the end we first have to sit through a lot of scenes which flesh out the romantic entanglements between the series’ villains though there are some interesting bits as Cooper continues to follow the clues from his dreams.
The complexities of the relationships between the main characters deepen in this episode which sees Benjamin Horne, Katherine Martel, Josie Packard, Hank Jennings, Bobby Briggs, Leo Johnson all linked together in the same plot. It’s not only their plotting which is tied together but their love lives as well. Benjamin and Katherine are cheating on their significant others, Bobby Briggs is having an affair with Leo’s wife and Hank Jennings is married to Norma, who has been cheating on him with Big Ed.
While Norma and Shelley don’t fully realise the extent of their partners’ wrong doings they are both living through a similar situation, though Shelley is more resolved to leave Leo than Norma is Hank.
Some of the scenes can drag on a bit in this instalment, like the one between Shelley and Norma where they discuss their troubled relationships in the Double R, but they do serve a purpose. Although it’s not quite as thrilling as rocks being thrown at bottles or red rooms the plot is quite intricately woven and sets things up nicely for more interesting episodes later on. In a less interesting relationship development James meets Madeline for the first time, and is instantly attracted to her, struck by her resemblance to Laura, spelling trouble for him and Donna.
Though more time is spent on expanding the relationships of the likes of the Jennings, the Johnsons and Ben and Katherine it seems to be an episode of romantic revelations for everyone as Hawk and even Cooper bare their souls a little bit and hint at past relationships. For Hawk he recites something he wrote for a woman with a PHD from Brandeis university, for Cooper he hints at a past hurt which shows a chink in his armour that seems impervious to the advances of Audrey Horne. “No. I knew someone once who helped me to understand commitment, the responsibilities and the risks, who taught me the pain of a broken heart” Cooper responds when asked if he’s ever been married. We also see the beginning of relationship troubles between Andy and Lucy which is often amusing.
As the investigation progresses there are a few interesting scenes, like the interview with Dr. Jacoby where for some reason he’s doing magic tricks with two golf balls, but it’s really at the end that the episode becomes more intriguing. Not only do we see Bobby hatching his plan to frame Leo Johnson for Laura’s murder but Benjamin Horne putting his plan to burn down the mill into motion as well. Before this though Cooper and the gang manage track down Mike, the one-armed man, and Cooper follows the clue in his dream that Bob lived above a convenience store. This leads him to a vets surgery and it just so happens that a bird attacked Laura Palmer the night she died. It’s when sorting through the files obtained from the vet that another Cooper quotable is born (albeit a line carried over from the extended version of the pilot) worthy of Sherlock Holmes himself:
“Gentlemen, when two separate events occur simultaneously, pertaining to the same object of enquiry, we must always pay attention”
Bobby and Ben aren’t the only ones scheming in this episode as early on Audrey reveals her plan to help find out who killed Laura Palmer, and win the affections of Dale Cooper, to Donna in the girl’s bathroom at the High School. This involves convincing her father to give her a job so she can work at the perfume counter, where both Laura and Ronette Pulaski worked previously.
This leads to touching moment between Audrey and her father. By the end of her plea for a job in the family business which she says is to please him, Ben seems genuinely affected — though it’s all just part of her scheme to help Cooper.
Not all the groundwork being laid for the future in this instalment is in the dynamics between the characters as there are three notable introductions in this episode, Hank Jennings, Gordon Cole and Owls.
Previously mentioned but never before seen in person, Hank Jennings is Norma’s husband who has been sent to prison for manslaughter but is up for parole, not good news for Norma. Worse news is that he gets it and later on it turns out he’s well-connected to the seedy underbelly of Twin Peaks. It becomes clear that Hank Jennings is going to have a major part to play in coming events and that he has a connection with Josie, who seems scared when she finds a sketched picture of Hank’s Domino in her mail at the end. The significance of this domino is a mystery and is another example of an innocent object being imbued with a sinister presence.
Then we first hear Gordon Cole over the speakerphone to Cooper. Played by David Lynch himself, Cole will make more memorable appearances in later episodes but for now we’re just left with his loud nasally voice ringing in our ears.
Finally, there’s a shot of an owl looking down over Donna and James as they search for Laura’s necklace. While they haven’t been mentioned in any significant way at this point in the series, Owls have a bigger part to play later on, and this early appearance does seem to fit in with the later mythology.
At times straying maybe a bit too far into soap opera territory, Episode 4 has some enjoyable moments but lacks the momentum of previous episodes and that weird edge that makes Twin Peaks so special. That said, there’s some solid plotting at work and some nice comic touches.
8/10 Seriable Stars