TWIN PEAKS, Episode 7: Here Comes Mom with Milk and Cookies

Episode 7, aka “The Last Evening” – Season 1, Episode 7, Story 8 – Written by Mark Frost – Original Broadcast: May 23, 1990 – Agent Cooper closes the net on Jacques Renault. Jacques spills all kinds of beans. Leo burns down the Mill. Audrey finds out her dad owns One Eyed Jacks. Leland kills Jacques. Agent Cooper gets shot.

Hey, look, James and Donna do something useful!

Well, sort of. At Jacoby’s office, Donna discovers his fake coconut, and inside the coconut is the other half of Laura’s love pendant that she gave to James, as well as the missing audio tape from Laura’s secret stash. It’s not a huge revelation since we heard Jacoby listening to it earlier in the season but it’s important for James to hear that Laura thinks he’s sweet and dumb, and it establishes the presence and danger of the “mystery man” that Laura admits could kill her. It also brings to a conclusion (or a semi-conclusion, at least) the only really tedious plot in TWIN PEAKS: James and Donna’s ill-conceived “we knew Laura better than anyone” routine.

For James and Donna to truly be effective characters in an effective plot, I think they needed to be confronted with the very worst of Laura and they just never come face-to-face with this reality. Even after listening to the tape, they’re still only touching the edges of Laura’s wickedness. What do they learn that’s actually new? That Laura thought James was sweet but dumb? James is the guy who told his uncle Ed that Laura was “the one” a few short hours before making out with Donna in the woods and like a day or two before going over to Donna’s house for dinner with her folks. Did they learn that Laura was in to rough sex? Okay, that’s probably new but doesn’t exactly register as earth shattering news. Did they learn that Laura thought someone had maybe tried to kill her? Well, I mean, she’s dead, so no kidding. We can give them credit for finding the other half of Laura and James’ heart necklace, but that doesn’t force them to confront Laura’s darker nature.

For James and Donna’s subplot to have been worth it, I think we needed to see them discover something like Laura’s advertisement in Flesh World, or uncover that it was Laura who wanted Bobby to sell drugs, or that she was working at One Eyed Jacks. They needed to be confronted with the very worst of Laura, and then have to ask themselves whether they wanted to protect Laura’s memory or find her killer.

Watching the James and Donna relationship/investigation plot sputter like it has makes me wonder if Lynch and Frost had intended these characters to play a larger role in the show, but then changed their minds mid-stream when they realized there were other secondary characters (Audrey, Shelly, Dr. Jacoby) who emerged as more interesting options in the writing and filming stages of production.

By the end of this final episode of Season 1, Donna has been pushed to the side and James is confronted by an angry Cooper and a disappointed Harry. Bobby pretends to be Leo and phones the police station to tell them James has drugs in the tank of his bike. James arrives at the station to hand over Laura’s cassette tape and Cooper tells him in plain terms that he’s been too easy on James and he’s going to start expecting more of the young man. As he’s saying this, Harry comes in with the planted cocaine, and James looks very much the pretend tough guy he is; for me, this scene has the feel of an abrupt turn, as if the writers decided they needed to do something different with James and decided it was going to start right now.

I always remember James and Donna as being more integral to this show than they actually are, and I think they’re the one real misstep in David Lynch and Mark Frost’s plan for season one. They’re borderline parodies, akin to something like a romance comic come to life, and for all of their self-induced pathos, they really add very little to the show.

Episode 7 marks the end of the first season of TWIN PEAKS and David Lynch and Mark Frost do their best to let some plot threads come to a conclusion, while launching others in their place.

The center of the episode is the capture of Jacques Renault (played by Walter Olkewicz, who was on Wizards and Warriors, a show I remember fondly, even though I don’t remember much of it – I just remember liking it when I was a kid). As last episode ended, Cooper was playing blackjack and when the dealers switched off, Jacques became Cooper’s dealer. Here, Cooper buys the French-Canadian a drink and tells him that he’s the money man behind Leo’s operation. Jacques falls for it and agrees to mule something over the border for Cooper. When he gets to the American side to make the drop, Harry and his cops arrest him. Jacques gets one of the officers’ guns, and Andy shoots him in the shoulder, saving Harry’s life.

At the hospital, Cooper and Harry interrogate Jacques and he admits that he, Leo, Ronnette, and Laura were at the cabin and that Leo let the bird out of its cage when Laura was tied up. The bird, according to Jacques, had an unnatural love thing for Laura. Lest the mystery end right here, Jacques can’t tell the cops anything about the train car because he was knocked unconscious and awoke only after they were gone. Nor can he tell them anything of the mystery man.

Unfortunately, it’s the end of the line for Jacques because Leland Palmer finally does something other than cry and dance.

He sneaks into the hospital and suffocates Jacques to death, thinking he’s killing his daughter’s killer.

It’s nice to see Leland grow and pair and take some action, and action is the name of the game in Episode 7. Elsewhere, the whole “burn the Mill down” plot actually comes to a head as Leo carries out Ben Horne’s plan – and throws in a bonus for himself by tying up Shelly in the Mill in the hopes she gets killed in the process. It’s not a very smart plan, but then, Leo isn’t a very smart guy.

The most important character in this episode in many regards is Hank. Back from prison and re-establishing his place in town, Hank spends his days playing nice with Norma and his off-work time beating up Leo and scheming with Josie. We learn that Hank went to jail for killing Josie’s husband on her orders, and now he’s banking $90,000 for going to jail and not ratting her out. He lets her know that they’re partners for life, going so far as to form a blood pact with her.

Marriage is all over Episode 7, as well. Josie had her husband killed. Ben Horne cares so little for marriage his wife is barely a character in the show. Catherine is in so much trouble she asks Pete for help, and he’s only too happy to give it. Hank pretends to be one thing to Norma and an opposite thing in reality. Leo ties Shelly up so he can burn her alive.

Clearly, the message of TWIN PEAKS is that marriage is something sacred that we should all rush into because it promises nothing but happiness.

With some of these plots coming to an end – or at least some kind of resolution – new mysteries are laid out, including the mystery man that Laura mentions, the masked attacker that puts Jacoby in the hospital, and the identity of the person who shoots Cooper.

Oh, yeah, Cooper gets shot. Did I mention that?

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Audrey Horne all dolled up at One Eyed Jacks. It’s her first night on the job and she’s stuck waiting in a bedroom to spend some time with the club’s owner, because Blackie tells her the owner likes to spend time with all the new girls. So she waits and waits and waits, even though she’s seen Cooper out in the casino on a security camera, and as the episode nears it’s conclusion, the owner enters her room …

And it’s her dad.

But we’ll have to wait until next season for that conflict to come to a head.

All told, Episode 7 delivers plenty of action, plenty of folks getting shot (Jacques, Leo, Cooper), and plenty of new, or altered, mysteries. It’s a fitting end to a fantastic first season.

Previous TWIN PEAKS reactions: Pilot. Episode 1. Episode 2. Episode 3. Episode 4. Episode 5. Episode 6.

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