TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter)


“Fire, walk with me!”

— Leland/Bob (Ray Wise) in Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law”

Well, this is it.

This is the episode where the “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” storyline was finally resolved.  So, let’s jump right into it:

Following the haunting opening credits, the show opens with a shot of the dead body of Maddy Ferguson (Sheryl Lee), still wrapped in plastic.  A flashlight shines on her face.  It’s a very disturbing shot, for all the obvious reason.  It is perhaps not a coincidence that this episode was directed by Tim Hunter, who previously directed River’s Edge, an entire movie that revolves around a lifeless body that is dumped next to a river.

This fades into a shot of Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), Harry (Michael Ontkean), Albert (Miguel Ferrer), and Hawk (Michael Horse).  It’s the morning and they are walking through the woods.  It’s an interestingly framed shot and the fact that it’s done in slow motion gives it a dream-like feel.  It’s as if they’re four gunslingers walking towards some alien version of the O.K. Corral.

Albert is holding the letter “O” that was put underneath Maddy’s fingernail.  Albert tells them what they already know.  The same man who killed Laura also killed Maddy.  White strands of fur, perhaps from a rug, where also found on Maddy’s body.

Harry says that they need to call Maddy’s family.  “Leland should have their number…”

NO, HARRY, LELAND’S THE MURDERER!

Fortunately, Cooper speaks up.  He asks Harry to give him 24 hours so that Cooper can “finish this.”  Albert says that only Cooper knows where he’s going but that he needs to do whatever needs to be done “before this beast bites again.”  Albert has such a way with words.

Cut to a restaurant that I don’t think we’ve seen before.  Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) is sitting in a booth when James (James Marshall) comes to meet her.  Wait — are Donna and James meeting somewhere other than the Double R or the Roadhouse!?  Well, just stab Norma in the back, why don’t ya?

Anyway, James is all happy because he went for a drive on his motorcycle.  He then gives Donna a ring and says that he just feels that they should be together all the time.  Donna agrees but I have a feeling that this won’t last.

Meanwhile, at the Double R, Norma (Peggy Lipton) is probably wondering where Donna and James are.  She’s also having to deal with Vivian (Jane Greer), who is eating her food and being just as critical as ever.  Norma complains that nothing she does is ever good enough.  Vivian, who is pretty obvious M.T. Wentz, gives Norma advice on how to make the perfect omelette.

Andy (Harry Goaz) eats a slice of pie and keeps repeating “I am a lonely soul,” in French.  Donna and James walk up to him so I guess they were at the diner all the time.  That’s weird because that booth that they were sitting in earlier looked nothing like anything we’ve ever seen in the Double R before.  Anyway, they want to know what Andy’s talking about, like it’s any of their business.  Andy tells Donna that he’s repeating the words of Harold Smith’s suicide note and that, of course, reminds Donna that she’s essentially responsible for Harold killing himself.  Donna says that she needs to find Agent Cooper.

Apparently, she manages to do just that because, in the next scene, Donna is leading Cooper up to the house of Mrs. Tremond.  Fortunately, for all of us who had forgotten, Donna explains that Mrs. Tremond told her about Harold Smith and, also, that Mr. Tremond had a strange grandson who performed magic and said the same French phrase — J’ai une âme solitaire — that Harold used in his suicide note.  Donna says that the note had to be a message.

(Yes, Donna, the message was probably something like, “Someone who pretended to be my friend totally betrayed me and now I’m dead.”)

Reaching the Tremond House, Donna is shocked when the door is answered by a woman that she’s never seen before.  Yes, the woman is named Mrs. Tremond.  No, there is no old woman or little boy living in the house.  However, this Mrs. Tremond does have an envelope that was left in her mailbox on the day that Harold killed himself.  The envelope is addressed to Donna.

And what’s in the envelope?  A page from Laura’s secret diary!

Laura wrote that, on February 22nd, she had a strange dream.  She was sitting in a chair in a red room, with a small man (Michael Anderson) and an old man.  Laura wanted to tell the old man who BOB was but she couldn’t make herself understood.  Cooper realizes that he and Laura had the same dream!  Laura also wrote that BOB was only scared of one man, a man named MIKE.

On February 23rd, Laura wrote, “Tonight is the night that I die.  I know I have to because it’s the only way to keep BOB away from me.”

(If you’re not already totally disturbed by all this, just reminds yourself that Laura is writing about her father.)

Cooper goes to see MIKE (Al Strobel).  Doc Hayward (Warren Frost) is there, which is not surprising since Doc Hayward appears to be everywhere.  He explains that Gerard/MIKE is in pretty bad shape.  Cooper asks how he can find BOB.  MIKE says that Cooper must ask the Giant but he is not clear on just how exactly Cooper can find the Giant.  MIKE tells Cooper that 1) he has all the clues that he needs and 2) Cooper has “so much responsibility.”

Cooper steps out into one of the Great Northern hallways and sees the old waiter (Hank Worden) carrying a tray that has one glass of milk on it.  “I know about you,” the waiter says.  “That milk’ll cool down on you but it’s getting warmer now.”

“Getting warmer now,” Cooper repeats before heading over to Ben’s office.  Harry is in the process of searching Ben’s office and is super excited because he thinks that he’s found more evidence proving Ben’s guilt.   Both Harry and Cooper notice the white fox rug, which would seem to indicate that Maddy was in Ben’s office.

“He killed Maddy here!” Harry says.

As if by magic, Albert pops up and reveals that Maddy died the night before last, between 10 pm and midnight.  “That fits,” Harry said, “we didn’t take Ben in until after midnight…”

Cooper nods but you can tell he’s thinking, “Nope, the Giant would totally disagree with you on this point.”

At the Sheriff’s station, Andy approaches Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) and says he wants to talk about “his” child.  Not now, Andy!  I mean, I think you and Lucy are a cute couple and all but there’s some important stuff going on….

In the holding cell, Ben (Ricard Beymer) is visited by Catherine (Piper Laurie), who is still poorly disguised as a Japanese man.  (So, I guess anyone can just wander around the sheriff’s station whenever they feel like it?)  Not realizing that he’s talking to Catherine, Ben says that he cannot proceed on the Ghostwood Estates deal until he gets a better lawyer and gets out of prison.  Catherine then reveals her painted toenails and says that she intends to make the rest of Ben’s “pathetic existence” miserable.  Ben signs over the mill and Ghostwood Estates to Catherine, hoping that she’ll give him an alibi for the night Laura was murdered.  Catherine says she’ll consider it and then leaves.

(Silly Ben!  You should have signed over the Mill first and then held off on Ghostwood until after Catherine talked to the Sheriff.  Of course, if Twin Peaks took place today, DNA testing would have already gotten Ben out of jail.)

At the Palmer house, Leland (Ray Wise) greets Donna, who is dropping off a tape of a song that she and Maddy did with James.  Donna is wearing a pair of Laura’s old sunglasses.  She also lights a cigarette in the Palmer house.  Donna’s the best!

Anyway, Donna tells Leland about Laura’s secret diary.  Needless to say, Leland is disturbed by the news.  Suddenly, he gets a call from Maddy’s mother.  Maddy hasn’t shown up in Montana.  As Donna listens, Leland says that he took Maddy down to the bus station.

After hanging up, Leland pops a stick of gum in his mouth and announces that Maddy never made it home.  (“That gum you like is going to come back in style.”)  Anyway, Donna is worried but Leland tells her not to worry.  He goes over to a mirror and straightens his tie.  BOB (Frank Silva) stares back at him.

Leland goes to get a glass of lemonade.  When he returns, Donna is staring at all of the pictures of Laura on the mantle.  Leland walks up behind her and — AGCK! — strokes her hair.  He tells her that he knows the “cure for what ails you.”  He puts some cocktail music on the phonograph and, suddenly, we’re no longer seeing Leland.  Instead, we’re seeing BOB and he is pure nightmare fuel.  However, Donna still just sees Leland acting like goofy old Leland.

Leland starts to dance with Donna in the middle of the living room but suddenly, he yanks her close to him and violently embraces her.

The doorbell rings.  Leland goes to answer it, leaving a very shaken Donna.  Fortunately, it’s Harry at the door.  He explains that they need Leland’s help.  There’s been another murder.  Harry says he can’t go into specifics but he needs Leland to go with him.  Leland and Harry leave and Donna is able to make her escape.

Donna meets with James at the park.  (James rides up on his motorcycle and — well, I’ve defended James in the past but here, he just looks like kinda dorky.  Sorry, James.)  Donna tells James that Maddy’s dead.

“I gotta go,” James says, “Nothing matters.  Nothing we do matters.”

Having discovered ennui, James jumps on her motorcycle and leaves Donna behind.

Night rolls in.  Thunder.  Lightning.

At the otherwise deserted Roadhouse, Ben sits in a booth.  Cooper and Albert sit at the bar.  Everything important happens at the Roadhouse, apparently.

Leland, escorted by Harry and Ed (Everett McGill), enters.  After telling Leland that they are going to be meeting someone, perhaps the killer, Cooper has all the tables and chairs cleared off the floor.  While this goes in, Hawk enters with the catatonic Leo (Eric Da Re) and Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook).  Everyone who has been a serious suspect in the murder of Laura Palmer is now in the Roadhouse.

“Hail, hail,” Ben says, “the gang’s all here.”

Cooper then proceeds to do the Agatha Christie thing, announcing that the killer is someone in the room.  He talks about his duty as a member of the FBI.  He seeks simple answer to difficult questions.  (Don’t we all?) Dale says that, after employing all of his other deductive techniques, he is going to try to something new.  “For a lack of a better word,” he says, “magic.”

Suddenly, Major Briggs (Don S. Davis) shows up with the waiter.  Major Briggs says that he was on his way home when the waiter flagged him down and asked for a ride to the roadhouse.

The waiter gives Cooper a stick of gum.  Leland/BOB smiles and says, “I know that gum.  I used to chew it when I was a kid.”

(That’s an interesting line, for many reasons.  Last episode, Jerry wondered how he and Ben had grown up to be who they were.  Leland is now talking about the gum that he used to chew as a child, which presumably would be the same time that BOB was living next door to his summer house.  Throughout Twin Peaks, the innocence and hope of youth is contrasted with the dark secrets of adulthood.)

The waiter tells Leland that the gum is going to come back in style, which leads to several freeze frames.  Time has stopped for everyone but Cooper, who is now seeing the Man from Another Place dancing in the room with the red curtains.  Laura is whispering in Cooper’s ear but this time, he hears what she has to say.  “My father killed me.”  The Giant appears and hands the ring back to Cooper.  The Giant vanishes.

“Ben Horne!” Cooper announces, “I would like you to accompany me back to the station!  You might like to bring along Leland Palmer as your attorney.”

At the station, Ben is forcefully led to down to interrogation.  Leland/BOB follows behind them.  However, once they reach the interrogation room, Harry suddenly shoves Leland into the interrogation room, slamming and locking the door behind him.

Leland/BOB starts to howl like a wild animal while pounding on the walls.  Cooper tells Hawk to release Ben.

“Leland?” a stunned Ben says.

“That’s not Leland,” Cooper says.

Cooper then explains that Laura told him that Leland killed her in a dream.  Always the master of the understatement, Harry says, “We’re going to need stronger evidence than that.”  That’s okay.  Cooper’s sure that he can get a confession.

While Hawk aims a gun at Leland’s head, Cooper interrogates him.  It quickly becomes obvious that Leland is now totally possessed by BOB.  BOB taunts Cooper about something that happened in Pittsburgh and then says that Leland was a good ride but he’s too old and weak now.  BOB says that it’s time to “shuffle off to Buffalo…”

(The implication, throughout both the show and the feature film that followed, is that Leland — as BOB — had been molesting Laura since she was a child.  Since most child molesters were themselves molested as children, the suggestion that BOB used to live next door to Leland would suggest that BOB previously possessed someone who molested Leland.  Twin Peaks has such a reputation for being a “strange” show that I think people overlook just how disturbing its portrait of the “perfect” family truly was.)

Having gotten their confession, Harry, Cooper, and Hawk leave Leland alone in the interrogation room.

Meanwhile, Dick Tremayne (Ian Buchanan) shows up to see Andy and … no, I’m sorry.  I love Andy and Lucy and I enjoy Ian Buchanan’s performance as the hilariously shallow Dick but now is not that time for the baby subplot.  There’s some serious stuff going down with Leland/BOB right now…

(Lucy does say, “I’m going to keep my baby.”  Papa don’t preach…I’m in trouble now…papa don’t preach…)

Outside the interrogation room, Cooper reveals that 1) Ben had the wrong blood type and 2) both Leland and the Man from Another Place danced.  In other words, it’s a pretty good thing that they got that confession because I’m not sure dream dancing would hold up in court.

Uh-oh, Leland/BOB is shouting in the interrogation room.  It’s the fire walk with me poem!  That’s never good!

“I’LL CATCH YOU WITH MY DEATH BAG!” Leland/BOB shouts, “I WILL KILL AGAIN!”

Suddenly, the smoke detector goes off and the sprinklers come to life.  With water raining down upon him, Leland/BOB rams his head into the door, leaving a mix of blood, skin, and probably brains behind.

Harry and Cooper rush into the room, to discover Leland lying on the floor, dying.  Leland, who now seems to be Leland again, cries for his daughter and begs for forgiveness.  Leland says that he saw BOB in a dream and that he invited BOB in.  And when BOB “came inside” him, he made Leland kill Laura.  As Leland died, Cooper tells him that it’s time to walk down the narrow path and enter the light.  Leland says that he can see Laura and then dies.

(That may sound silly but I had tears in my eyes.  MacLachlan and Wise are brilliant in this episode.)

We cut to daylight.  Cooper, Harry, and Albert walk through the woods, where they run into Maj. Briggs.  Harry says that Leland was insane but Albert argues that people actually did see BOB in visions.

Maj. Briggs says, “Gentlemen, there is more in Heaven and Earth, than is dreamt of in our philosophy.”

Harry says he’s having a hard time believing that BOB existed.  Cooper asks — and this question gets to the heart of the David Lynch aesthetic — whether it’s any more comforting to believe that a man would, of his own free will, rape and murder his own daughter.

Major Briggs asks if it matter what causes evil.  Cooper says that it does.  “It’s our job to stop it.”

Albert suggests that BOB may have just been “the evil that men do.”

(Meanwhile, the spirit of Shakespeare looks up and says, “I sense that I am being quoted without attribution…”)

“Where’s BOB now?” Harry wonders.

Cut to an owl flying straight to the camera.  End with a freeze frame!

AGCK!

Seriously, that was a great episode.  I wonder how people reacted to it in 1990.  From what I’ve read, a lot of people stopped watching before this episode, which is a shame.

Well, Laura’s murder has been solved.  I guess the show’s over now.  Thanks for reading everyone and…

What?

Oh.  Apparently, the show did go on and we’ve got 13 more episodes to review.

So, join us tomorrow for another review!  And until then, why not check out the story so far:

Previous Entries in The TSL’s Look At Twin Peaks:

  1. Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
  2. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  3. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  4. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  5. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson
  6. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
  7. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  8. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  9. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
  10. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
  11. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  12. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland
  13. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary” (dir by Todd Holland) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  14. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.5 “The Orchid’s Curse” (dir by Graeme Clifford) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  15. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.6 “Demons” (dir by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  16. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.7 “Lonely Souls” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  17. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.8 “Drive With A Dead Girl” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman

What do you think, Cooper?

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6 responses to “TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter)

  1. Pingback: TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.10 “Dispute Between Brothers” (directed by Tina Rathbone) | Through the Shattered Lens

  2. Pingback: TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.11 “Masked Ball” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) | Through the Shattered Lens

  3. Pingback: TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.12 “The Black Widow” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) | Through the Shattered Lens

  4. Pingback: TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.13 “Checkmate” (directed by Todd Holland) | Through the Shattered Lens

  5. Pingback: TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.14 “Double Play” (directed by Uli Edel) | Through the Shattered Lens

  6. Pingback: TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.15 “Slaves and Masters” (dir by Diane Keaton) | Through the Shattered Lens

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