“Heaven is a large and interesting place, sir.”
— Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) in Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary”
I have to admit that I initially got really excited when I saw who had directed Laura’s Secret Diary.
That’s largely because I misread the name and I briefly thought that the episode was directed by the veteran horror director, Tom Holland. I happen to be friends on Facebook with Tom Holland and I immediately started to try to figure out the least intrusive way to ask him about his experience directing for Twin Peaks… But no, on second glance, it turned out that the director of this episode was Todd Holland. Todd Holland is another veteran director, though he’s best known for directing sitcoms.
Speaking of credits, this episode is credited to four different writers. Along with Twin Peaks mainstays Mark Frost, Harley Peyton, and Robert Engels, credit is also given to Jerry Stahl. Like Holland, Stahl worked on several sitcoms but he’s probably best known for his memoir, Permanent Midnight, in which he wrote about his experiences as a drug addict in Hollywood. Permanent Midnight was later turned into a movie, starring Ben Stiller as Stahl. (Of course, before all that, Stahl wrote the script for an odd sci-fi film called Cafe Flesh, a movie that many consider to be one of the best pornographic films of all time.) As quoted in Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks, Mark Frost says that Stahl wrote the initial script for Laura’s Secret Diary but the script was a “an absolute car wreck… He turned in a completely incomprehensible, unusable, incomplete script a few days late and as I recall there were blood stains on it.” Stahl’s script was rewritten by Frost, Peyton, and Engels.
How did they do? Well, let’s take a look at Laura’s Secret Diary!
As always, we start with the opening credits, attempting to lull us into the town’s false sense of security. What’s interesting is that, with each subsequent viewing of the opening credits, those shots of Twin Peaks and the woods and the waterfall become more and more ominous. Since the series started, we’ve learned a lot about goes on in those woods. We know what’s lurking underneath the surface.
The show begins with a disturbing image, one that feels extremely Lynchian even if it was directed by Todd Holland. We start with an extreme closeup of … well, we don’t know what we’re looking at it. It appears to be a white surface that is covered with dark holes but, only as the camera pulls away, do we realize that we’re looking at the wall of the police station’s interrogation room. On the soundtrack, we hear screams and a distorted voice repeating the words, “Daddy!” over and over again.
(As unsettling as this may be, it’s even more disturbing if you know what’s going to happen in the next few episodes. Twin Peaks is one of the few shows that is even more unsettling in retrospect.)
We then see that Leland (Ray Wise) is staring at the wall while Harry (Michael Ontkean) and Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) attempt to talk to him about the death of Jacques Renault. Leland confesses to the murder, crying as he does so. As always, Doc Hayward (Warren Frost) is standing in the background, watching. Doc Hayward is always watching in the background, almost enough to make me wonder if he’s real or if he’s just a dream character, a symbol of old-fashioned decency who has been fantasized into existence by the beleaguered citizens of Twin Peaks.
After Leland’s confession, Hayward and Cooper talk. When Hayward expresses some sympathy for Leland, Cooper snaps, “Do you approve of murder, doctor?” (This is our first clue that Cooper’s going to spend most of this episode not acting like his usual friendly self.) Cooper then storms off, probably leaving Hayward to wonder just what exactly he did wrong. However, Hayward doesn’t have long to wonder because suddenly, he’s got Andy (Harry Goaz) to deal with.
Andy is concerned that he “flunked” his “sperm test” and wants another shot. Doc Hayward gives him a specimen jar and tells him to put it in a brown paper bag once he’s done with it. “I’ll be in the car,” Hayward says. Andy goes off with the jar and a copy of Flesh World (and I think it might be the same copy of Flesh World that contained Laura and Ronette’s personal ads). Of course, he happens to run into Lucy (Kimmy Robertson), who is none too happy to see her ex-boyfriend heading to the men’s room with a pornographic magazine. “Hmmphf!” Lucy says.
While this drama unfolds, Harry informs Cooper that the judge will be arriving that afternoon. His name is Clinton Sternwood. He travels the circuit in a Winnebago. The district attorney is also coming. His name is Darryl Lodwick. Also, it turns out that no one named Robertson ever rented the house next to the Palmers’ summer cabin. The house is currently rented to a family named Kalispell. I’m assuming that it must be Funny Name Day in Twin Peaks.
Andy wanders by and, being Andy, he accidentally drops his specimen jar and it rolls underneath a chair in the waiting room. As Andy tries to retrieve it, Cooper sees that Andy is wearing the same brand of boots that they found at Leo Johnson’s house. Cooper asks about the boots and Andy thinks he’s asking about sperm and hilarity ensues. Anyway, it turns out that Andy bought the boots from the One-Armed Man, who is apparently still missing.
At the Great Northern, a frantic employee runs up to Ben Horne (Richard Beymer).
“Mr. Horne!” she says.
“Walk and talk,” Ben says and…
Wait a minute! WALK AND TALK!? AARON SORKIN, YOU’VE JUST BEEN RIPPING OFF TWIN PEAKS!
But anyway, the employee informs Ben that she’s heard a rumor that M.T. Wentz is coming to Twin Peaks. Well, of course, he is. It’s Funny Name Day, after all. But apparently, M.T. Wentz is some sort of famous travel writer. No one knows what Wentz looks like but a favorable Wentz review could put the Great Northern on the map.
Ben steps into his office and finds Jean Renault (Michael Parks) waiting for him. Oh my God! M.T. Wentz is Jean Renault!? No, actually, it turns out that Jean is just there to show Ben a video tape of Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn) being held hostage. Renault wants money and he wants Dale Cooper to serve as the delivery man.
At the Double R Diner, Hank (Chris Mulkey) tells Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) that she looks pretty today and Donna says, “Thanks,” and considers that Hank is just as troubled as James Hurley but he doesn’t cry as much. However, Hank ruins his chances by making fun of the people on Donna’s Meals on Wheels route. “You wouldn’t understand,” Donna tells him.
Norma (Peggy Lipton) tells Hank that she’s just heard that M.T. Wentz is in town. Hank has no idea who that is. Apparently, they don’t read restaurant reviews in prison. Norma explains that a good review from M.T. Wentz could being a lot of business to the Double R, especially if it appears in a “Seattle paper.” Apparently, Norma is hoping to corner the vegan hipster market.
Though Hank doesn’t know who M.T. Wentz is, he still grabs a hundred dollar bill from the register and then leaves to buy flowers and other stuff that could make the Double R look worthy of a good review. He also tells Norma to call Big Ed. Big Ed can help clean the place up! Norma nods. It’s not as if Big Ed ever has anything else to do.
Meanwhile, Donna is having lunch with Harold Smith (Lenny Von Dohlen) and it must be said that Harold is probably on the cuter end of the recluse scale. Donna has to be happy that she didn’t get stuck with some sort of Howard Hughes-type with uncut finger nails and empty Kleenex boxes on his feet. Harold offers to read something from Laura’s secret diary. Donna says sure.
Harold reads a passage where Laura talks about how much she loves Donna. Laura worried that Donna wouldn’t be her friend if she knew “what my insides are really like.” Donna starts to cry and Harold apologizes. Donna says its okay but she wonders if maybe they should give the diary to the sheriff.
“No,” Harold says, “I’ve read this from cover to cover. There are no solutions.”
(Harold wasn’t the only person who read Laura’s diary from cover to cover. The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer was written by Jennifer Lynch and published shortly before the start of the second season. I’ve ordered a copy from Amazon and I’ll read it as soon as it arrives. Maybe if y’all are really nice to me, I’ll even write a review of it.)
Harold explains that people tells him their stories and he places them in a larger context. “Friends and lovers,” Harold says, even though there don’t seem to be any around. “Maybe you’ll be come one,” Harold says, as the creepy meter goes off the charts.
Meanwhile, at the Great Northern, Ben tells Cooper that Audrey has been kidnapped. Cooper is upset that Ben has circumvented “normal channels” and has contacted him directly. Uhmmm … is it just me or is Cooper kind of being a dick in this episode? This definitely does not seem to be the same Dale Cooper who has been present in every other episode of the show. It’s almost as if the script for this show was written by an outside writer who 1) hadn’t ever really watched Twin Peaks and 2) was struggling with personal issues of his own.
Meanwhile, at the Martell House, Josie (Joan Chen) has returned from Seattle. Oh my God, could Josie be M.T. Wentz!? IT WOULD EXPLAIN SO MUCH! But anyway, Josie tells Pete (Jack Nance) that she’s sorry about the mill burning down and that she’s happy that Catherine was around to take care of things. Pete mentions that Catherine died in the fire. Josie and Catherine share a hug, even as Pete explains that they still haven’t found Catherine’s body but they’re still going to have a service.
“I don’t know what, exactly, we’ll be burying,” Pete says…
Wait! If they haven’t found Catherine’s body, then she’s probably still alive! Maybe Catherine is actually M.T. Wentz…
At One-Eyed Jacks, Emory (Don Amendolia) leads Audrey into an office where a displeased Jean is waiting. Emory says that “Ms. Horne was a very bad girl, refusing to take her medicine.” When Jean realizes that Emory has been hitting Audrey, Jean shoots him. Good for Jean!
At the police station, Andy tries to approach Lucy but Lucy’s like, “Go talk to your magazines!” and she starts waving a big pair of scissors at him. At that point, Cooper walks into the station and tells Andy to go get some air. Cooper’s not in a good mood. He doesn’t have time for all of this. (In the past, Cooper would have made time but, in this episode, Dale Cooper is suddenly a raging jerk.) After Andy leaves, Cooper orders Lucy to explain what’s bothering her.
Lucy complains that Andy doesn’t work out, doesn’t wash his car, and doesn’t own a sports coat. That’s why she dumped Andy and started going out with Dick Tremayne. Tremayne owns a lot of coats, Lucy explains. Cooper asks Lucy if she knows what she wants. “I don’t know!” Lucy wails before running off.
Having ruined Lucy’s life, Cooper tells Harry that, even though he can’t give any specific details, he needs one of the Book House Boys. “The best one,” Cooper says. (In other words, not James.) “I’ll set it up,” Harry says, “9:30 at the Roadhouse.”
(Why do I have a feeling that Cooper’s going to show up at the Roadhouse and find Doc Hayward waiting for him? Actually, the Book House Boys are starting to remind me of the Brets from Flight of the Conchords.)
That night, at the nearly deserted Double R Diner, Norma and Hank watch as a fat man with a beard (Ritch Brinkley) walks in. “That must be him!” Norma says. The fat man orders a cheeseburger and then heads to the bathroom. Hank, proving the he really doesn’t understand how parole works, steals the man’s wallet while he’s gone. Hank quickly discovers that the bearded man is not M.T. Wentz. Instead, he’s Darryl Lodwick, the district attorney. Hank might want to return that wallet.
At another booth, Donna and Maddy (Sheryl Lee) talk. Maddy tries to apologize while Donna smokes a cigarette and glares at her. She wants to steal the diary from Harold’s house. She’ll do it with or without Maddy’s help.
As it rains outside, Harry goes to the Martell house and sees Josie. Josie tries to distract him by modeling a sexy black dress that she bought in Seattle. Being a paragon of truth and justice, Harry refuses to be distracted. He demands to know if Josie set the fire at the mill. “How could you!?” Josie responds. Josie and Harry end up making love on a couch while a mysterious Asian man watches from outside.
(M.T. Wentz, maybe?)
At the police station, as lightning flashes outside and thunder rumbles, Lucy drinks a cup of coffee. Judge Sternwood (played by Royal Dano, a veteran Western character actor) shows up at the station, followed by Harry and Cooper.
Sternwood asks how Cooper is finding Twin Peaks.
“Heaven, sir,” Cooper replies.
“Well, this week, heaven includes arson, multiple homicides, and an attempt on the life of a federal agent,” Sternwood replies.
“Heaven is a large and interesting place, sir,” Cooper says, a line which immediately made me think of Eraserhead and that radiator woman singing that, “In Heaven, everything is fine.”
Judge Sternwood and Cooper walk off and Lucy finally thinks that she can relax and drink her coffee. Suddenly, here comes Dick Tremayne (Ian Buchanan). Now, I have to say that, of all the new characters who showed up during the second season, Dick Tremayne is probably my favorite. He’s just such a salesman. Of course, he’s a jerk, too. But Ian Buchanan gives such a lively performance.
Dick says that he hasn’t slept. He hasn’t eaten. He’s been a fool. Dick has realized that he must do the right thing and that means … giving Lucy $650 for an abortion. Lucy kicks him out of the station and then locks herself in Harry’s office, loudly sobbing.
Andy escorts Leland to his meeting with the judge, only briefly stopping when he hears the distraught Lucy cry out, “OH DICK! WAS IT JUST YOUR ASCOT?!”
Judge Sternwood talks to Leland, saying that he knows Leland to be a decent man and a good attorney. Sternwood says that procedures must be observed but promises to raise a glass with Leland in Valhalla. Since Lodwick is still at the diner, the Judge decides to hold off on determining bail until the morning. Leland says that’s fine and that everyone’s being very nice to him in jail.
After Leland is escorted out, the Judge tells Harry and Cooper that they all have very difficult jobs. Maybe not as difficult as M.T. Wentz’s job but difficult nonetheless.
At the Great Northern, Ben is talking to the Lumber Queen semi-finalists while the mysterious Asian man stares at him. Ben and the Asian Man bow towards each other. The Asian man is checking into the hotel. He says that he only pays in cash and that he’s from Seattle. Oh my God, could it be M.T. Wentz!? That’s certainly what the desk clerk thinks…
Except, of course, we know that it’s not M.T. Wentz. It’s pretty obvious that the Asian man is actually Catherine Martell in disguise. It doesn’t matter how much makeup she wear or how much she lowers her voice, Piper Laurie is Piper Laurie.
At the Martell House, Josie’s cousin, Jonathan (Mark Takano), has arrives. Josie introduces him to Pete. Pete goes off to get coffee and suddenly, Jonathan sneers and says he doesn’t know how Josie survived living in Twin Peaks. Jonathan says they have to get back to Hong Kong. “Are there any complications?” Jonathan asks.
(Oh, there’s always a few. It’s Twin Peaks!)
Meanwhile, at the Roadhouse, Dale waits for the arrival of the best Book House Boy. Now, I have to admit that I was expecting either Hank or maybe M.T. Wentz to come walking through the door. Instead, it’s Harry!
“Are we in any particular hurry?” Harry asks.
“Harry, let me buy you a beer,” Dale says.
Sure, Cooper, why not? I mean, hey, IT’S NOT LIKE AUDREY’S BEEN KIDNAPPED WHILE TRYING TO HELP YOU OUT OR ANYTHING!
Seriously, what’s going on with Dale in this episode?
At the Double R, Hank (who apparently lives in the diner) is woken up by someone knocking on the front door. When Hank goes to answer the door, he is attacked by Jonathan. Jonathan knocks him to the floor and then says, “Blood brother. Next time, I take your head off.”
And this rather frustrating and uneven episode of Twin Peaks comes to an end.
It’s hard to know what to make of Laura’s Secret Diary. There were parts that I really liked, like the opening shot in the interrogation room and some of the humor between Andy, Lucy, and Dick. But, at the same time, you’ve got Dale acting totally out-of-character, the strangely unresolved M.T. Wentz thing, and it’s hard not to feel that Audrey Being Kidnapped is a storyline that should have been resolved in two episodes, as opposed to being dragged out for as long as it was. Audrey is too important a character to spend the first half of season 2 in a daze.
Tomorrow’s episode — The Orchid’s Kiss!
(That sounds like the title of one of the paperbacks that my sister would select for Artwork of the Day, doesn’t it?)
Previous Entries in The TSL’s Look At Twin Peaks:
- Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
- TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland