10. Cooper’s Dreams (Season 1)
This is the first Twin Peaks episode directed by Lesli Linka Glatter, and it gives us a solid understanding of the various characters (in)directly connected to Laura and her family. We get more insight into extramarital affairs (Ed/Norma, Shelley/Bobby) and the dubious dealings between Benjamin Horne and Catherine Martell, who plan to burn down the sawmill. Laura’s cousin Maddy has come to town to keep Leland and Sarah company, and Donna and James ask her to help find Laura’s secret diary. Bobby and his family attend a counseling session with Dr. Jacoby; Bobby is reluctant to open up at first but finally breaks down and admits to believing Laura wanted to die. Truman, Cooper, Hawk and Dr. Hayward share tea and biscuits with the Log Lady, and the Log guides Cooper and his team to a wooden lodge where they find further leads. After hearing a particular tune at the Great Northern, Leland breaks down and begins to dance, his moves very much resembling those of The Man from Another Place.
9. Coma (Season 2)
Cooper is still recovering from having been shot, but is hell-bent on getting back to work. Over breakfast, Albert fills him in on all the latest developments including the evidence surrounding Jacques Renault’s murder, the arson at the mill and Windom Earle’s escape from the looney bin. Donna goes on her first Meals on Wheels round and finds herself in the home of Mrs. Tremond and her grandson (played by David Lynch’s son, Austin Jack Lynch). The boy performs a magic trick, making the creamed corn on his grandmother’s meal tray appear in his hands, before eerily stating, “J’ai une âme solitaire.” Audrey is still at One Eyed Jacks and manages to get more answers about Laura’s role at the club from a fetishist client. The Log Lady instructs Major Briggs to “Deliver the Message,” which he does after filtering out a bunch of “space garbage,” until he hears Cooper’s name being repeated over and over again. Maddy, Donna and James share a kitschy moment that is interrupted by Donna’s fit of jealousy. When Maddy is left alone for a moment, she has a freaky vision of BOB climbing over the couch and towards her—one of the all-time greatest BOB scenes!
8. Miss Twin Peaks (Season 2)
Following a whole string of episodes entirely too focused on the soap opera/hausfrau romance approach (think James’ storyline), the penultimate episode finally revisits the cryptic characteristics of Lynch’s artistic vision. Only the episode is not directed by the man himself, but by Stephen Gyllenhaal, who managed to center his focus on details in a manner that Lynch must have applauded. The episode opens withA Windom Earle, his teeth blackened with what looks like oil, informing the captured Leo of a new game. Major Briggs managed to escape his fate of being a pawn in Earle’s game and is taken to the police station when he is found stumbling out of the woods. His incoherent babbling and a chalk board full of ambiguous clues lead Cooper and Truman to conclude that the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will open the door to the Black Lodge—which can only be entered with the aid of fear and love. They’re also able to determine Earle’s final move in the chess game, which leads them to the Miss Twin Peakspageant, where Audrey, Donna, Shelley and Annie are contestants. But the festivities turn into obscure chaos when, in a confusion of strobe-lights, the crowned Miss Twin Peaks is attacked and dragged off stage.
7. The Last Evening (Season 1)
The final episode of the first seasons left us riddled with questions and begging for answers that all seem to go up in flames. We get to see the flamboyantly Hawaiian setting of Dr. Jacoby’s office when hobby detectives Donna, James and Maddy (disguised as Laura) break in to find Laura’s tape. The clues they find are suspicious enough to tie him to Laura’s murder, but before anything can be done with the new evidence, Jacoby is attacked by a stranger and suffers a heart attack. While Cooper and Ed are undercover at One Eyed Jacks, all kinds of dodgy business is going down between Josie and Hank, Norma’s crook of a husband. After their findings at One Eyed Jack’s, Cooper realizes that Leo knows more than he has let on—but before they can get to him, he ties his wife Shelley up at the Mill, setting an explosive device to blow everything up. When Cooper returns to the hotel that night, he’s just about to get ready for a nice meal before bedtime when he is disturbed by a knock on the door. Upon opening it, he’s shot three times…
6. Northwest Passage (Pilot)
When the body of Laura Palmer is discovered on a riverbank in the small town of Twin Peaks, the entire community finds itself shaken. Laura was the daughter of Leland and Sarah Palmer and a friend to many; the reasoning behind this inexplicable murder is still impossible to grasp. The preliminary investigations reveal a tiny note with the letter “R” under Laura’s fingernail, which attracts the attention of out-of-towner, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, who has drawn a connection to the murder of Teresa Banks some years earlier. The letter “T” was found under Banks’ nail. The whodunits and the scenic backdrop aside, the Twin Peaks pilot episode lured its audience in with a unique and daring format, best described as crime drama-meets-soap opera. During the filming process, on-set mishaps and technical malfunctions set the tone and, in part, the storyline for what is now a show with cult status. BOB’s face in the mirror at the end of the pilot was not actually part of the script—it was just set decorator Frank Silva appearing at the wrong place, at a perfect time.
5. Arbitrary Law (Season 2)
Harold leaves behind two pages of Laura’s diary, which describe the very same Red Room dream Cooper had. After conferring with Gerard about the clues he’s collected, he exits the room and runs into The Waiter, who tells him he’s “getting warmer now.” Cooper gathers all his suspects at The Roundhouse where The Waiter offers him the final clue to help him conclude who the killer is: the gum he likes has finally come back in style. In the station’s interrogation room, BOB takes over Leland and forces him to commit suicide after admitting to having killed Laura and Maddy. As he lay dying, Leland has a lucid moment and realizes what he’s done. An emotional scene ensues, showing Cooper gently guiding Leland towards the light. Albert concludes that BOB is “the evil that men do.”
4. Lonely Souls (Season 2)
Harold Smith has committed suicide and leaves a note reading “J’ai une ame solitaire.” Cooper and Sheriff invite Gerard to The Great Northern in the hopes of him identifying BOB’s host. For a moment, everything seems to point at Benjamin Horne, but once he’s arrested and Cooper’s investigations lead him to The Roadhouse, he’s faced with another vision of The Giant. Taking the place of the band formerly playing on stage, The Giant looks right at Cooper and says, “It is happening again.” At the same time, Sarah cries for Leland’s help as the needle on the record player starts skipping menacingly. She crawls down the stairs and onto the living room carpet where she has a vision of a white horse. Leland ignores his wife’s pleas as he fixes his tie in the mirror. His reflection is the hungry face of BOB, ready to kill again. Maddy comes down the stairs unnerved by a burning smell and is met by a wickedly smiling Leland.
3. Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer (Season 1)
Following the two-hour pilot in which the many characters of Twin Peaks and their connections are introduced, “Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer” delves deeper into the peculiar investigation techniques of Agent Dale Cooper. Merging aspects of the Tibetan practice of mindfulness and the subconscious messages relayed by dreams, Cooper gathers his colleagues to partake in a mind boggling investigation method which ends up pointing them to Leo Johnson. The episode closes with Cooper calling Sheriff Truman to tell him that he knows who the murderer is, following a dream in which The Man from Another Place, MIKE and BOB appear. The dream sequence and Cooper’s approach to the investigation are clearly Lynchian touches, mixing his renowned understanding of humor, mystery and sound to accentuate the viewers’ perceptions throughout the scene.
2. May the Giant be with You (Season 2)
Cooper lies bleeding on the floor of his hotel room after being shot by a masked man. The Waiter enters his room and fails to call for medical assistance, but does offer Cooper several winks and a thumbs-up. Shortly after The Waiter exits, The Giant appears, offering Cooper three clues: “There is a man in a smiling bag. The owls are not what they seem. Without chemicals he points.” Meanwhile, Donna starts wearing Laura’s sunglasses and suddenly seems to take on Laura’s darkly sensuous, femme fatal attitude. Leland wakes up with a shock of white hair and has brought the music back into his life, singing incessantly. Lynch boasts amazing, spine-tingling camera work in the opening to Ronette’s dream sequence, with the hallway and its crackling lights acting as a quiet, sinister moment in preparation of the images to come.
1. Beyond Life and Death (Season 2)
This episode is a true Lynchian classic, easily on par with the ghoulish atmosphere, bizarre characters and of course the haunting music of Mulholland Drive. If you paid attention to all the breadcrumbs Lynch left out in order to lead you to “the opening of a gateway,” you now come to understand the very essence of the Black Lodge and its inhabitants. Under the Sycamore trees, past the red curtains and on the white and black zigzagged floors of the Red Room, Cooper joins his other worldly acquaintances. In what seems to be a welcoming reunion of sorts, they introduce themselves as one and the same. But as the “Waiting Room” is flooded with strobe lights and Cooper is confronted with the evil spirited doppelgängers of Laura, Leland and even himself, he realizes he has entered the Black Lodge with imperfect courage, allowing BOB to penetrate his troubled soul. When Windom Earle appears and offers Cooper Annie’s life in return for his soul, he does so without hesitation. As the Black Lodge lights up in a warm glow and disappears, it’s not clear which of the two Coopers has exited the underworld. But as he awakens in the Great Northern Hotel and gets up to use the bathroom, the mirror reflects the face of BOB. Cooper cracks his head open against the mirror and with an ominous laugh, he keeps repeating, “How’s Annie?” Iconic.
Roxanne Sancto is a freelance journalist for Paste and The New Heroes & Pioneers. She’s the author of The Tuesday Series & co-author of The Pink Boots. She can usually be found covered in paint stains.