Twin Peaks 1×06: Cooper’s Dreams

[Review by Jay Yencich]

[Writer: Mark Frost | Director: Lesli Linka Glatter | Aired: 05/10/1990]

There’s something about the return to creator’s guidance after a layoff of a couple episodes. Not to degrade “Rest in Pain” or “The One-Armed Man” any, they’re fine episodes of the series if not television generally, but “Cooper’s Dreams” has a different feel watching it than other recent entries. The narrative is more taut and springy, the show more confident in its flagrant weirdness, more visually captivating on all levels.

I suppose that some of this is experience. Mark Frost had already been involved with about a fifth of Hill Street Blues before coming on as the lead writer for Twin Peaks. By contrast, Robert Engels was roughly forty, but only had a few undefined credits to his name in one series. Harley Peyton, for whom I have less biography, only had the screenplay for Less Than Zero to his credit. Hold on a second, Peyton met Engels and Frost through fantasy baseball? Let’s pause a moment while my heart explodes.

But then, to continue the diversion a moment, this is in keeping with the Lynchian modus operandi: To perceive a particular talent and then try to find use for it. Harry Goaz, famously, was cast as Andy Brennan after chauffeuring Lynch to a Roy Orbison memorial. Eric Da Re, though the son of two actors himself, had more experience in casting departments before becoming Leo Johnson. David Duchovny was probably still better known for his graduate studies in poetry at Yale (Academy of American Poets Prize winners, REPRESENT), Mädchen Amick had casting credits primarily in made-for-TV movies, and, where directors are concerned, Lesli Linka Glatter, who guided this entry, had seven minor credits to her name before taking on Twin Peaks. She has since gone on to direct episodes for The West Wing, ER, Mad Men, Homeland

If I’m homing in on a set of scenes to provide a core for this episode, I like the outdoor sequences of the fellows hiking through the woods and they places end up. The show has demonstrated that much of investigation is inglorious grunt work offset by coffee and pastries: Sorting through files, miscommunications between federal and local, lab work… Of course, it’s been well-established that no crime or medical drama would survive so much as a season if verisimilitude was its primary selling point. Hence, even when backgrounding is necessary, something different needs to happen now and then.

To have the band of investigators wandering in the woods imparts a quest narrative to the story, an insight they need to leave the limited confines of the station in order to understand. The raven, the bird’s-eye view of Snoqualmie Pass (I think this was shot near Rattlesnake Ledge, don’t quote me on that), all these little moves provoke a feeling of distance traveled, which in turn enhances our new view of our heroes, small against a landscape of big trees. They traverse fallen cedars and underbrush, Hawk leaving small marks as they pass, before arriving nervously at their destination. Which is not their destination, but instead Hawk’s intuition pointing them to the Log Lady’s cabin.

The boys are out of their element (in Doc’s case, out of breath too). They march along trepidatious, guns raised, until Margaret pops out from around the corner, unfazed, and scolds them for their delays. Observe now how quickly each individual lets his guard down, given the implication that none of them have been here before. For Hawk, the change is immediate. Whatever lingering traces of concern there might be disappear from his eyes and he is quickly at ease. Truman, who was more on guard, pointing his gun at the window, shifts to bemusement at Margaret being Margaret. Coop continues to furrow his brow, lingering at the back of the crowd to fidget and rearrange his pockets. Note how he doesn’t drop any of his equipment at the door either.

Margaret’s welcome is to-the-point, in contrast to her sometimes mystic statements, offering tea and cookies, but no cake. If there’s one scene in this episode or even the series at large that always draws a chuckle from me, it’s Hawk waving away Cooper’s attempt at a polite decline, to ask “What kind of cookies?” Our agent-in-charge only gets a few imploring looks to Truman in before Margaret cuts him down with a “Shut your eyes and you’ll burst into flame.”

Before we get to the tea though, let’s take a moment to appreciate Margaret’s cabin as a setting. You can try out all the usual adjectival modifiers on it, but nothing ever quite sticks, as it does and doesn’t live up to our received expectations of a cabin. There’s the rustic quality to those red milk jugs and wheelbarrow, the coziness of the low fence rimming the yard and the wood-fire stove, the somewhat archaic appearances of both the stove and the icebox, but the powerlines, lightbulbs in faux lanterns, and rather fine china tea set show that the amenities are willfully chosen. So too do aspects of the interior draw attention to their own creation and destruction, with the rounded but carefully fitted border, bookshelves pieced together with spare bits of windfall, the fireplace mantle of logs, the chair and table glued and glossed out of hewn timber (with the exception of Margaret’s chair), knit quilts and throw rugs everywhere, and yes, at least two fire extinguishers on hand.

Cooper, of course, is so off his game that his usually keen eyes don’t see much of anything we take in. The rockiness of his introduction only continues as he has his hand slapped away from the cookie plate and is told that it’s “[his] concern” that the group has arrived two days later than Margaret expected. The previous hierarchy of reactions plays out as Margaret enters with the anecdote of how her husband “met the devil,” how “fire is the devil hiding like a coward in the smoke.” Coop musters a polite, “Oh?”, Doc offers a slightly off-key leading remark about it having been the day after their wedding, Truman is silent, receptive, and Hawk adds, “the wood holds many spirits, doesn’t it Margaret?” Only then does she seem sufficiently convinced to permit the log be spoken to.

And what a log! She even has to pet and shush it when it recognizes the inauthenticity of Cooper’s intentions in asking! Remind it that she can do the talking! What follows is Frost’s own, and yet perfectly Lynch in its impressions: “Dark… laughing… the owls were flying… many things were blocked… laughing… two men… two girls… flashlights pass by… in the woods… over the bridge… the owls were near… the dark was pressing in on her… quiet then… later, footsteps… one man passed by… screams… far away… terrible… terrible… one voice…” “Man or girl?” “Girl… further up… over the ridge… the owls were silent…” For now, the race through reactions and the weight of each word is enough, but once we get to Fire Walk With Me, we’ll see these taken as directions and followed to a t.

These are all features that only Frost, as one sharing in the creative vision, can really commit to this early on. As we saw in recent episodes, there were attempts to give Cooper some depth, a potential dark past, but largely he came across as too proficient, too heroic in ways that the direction didn’t substantiate. Frost is willing to make his protagonist not suffer exactly, but be placed in an inferior position relative to his peers. Providing him with some fallibility means there’s more to be done with his character later on, shortcomings that could either be worked on or develop into more dire issues. Speculation would suggest that neither Peyton nor Engels might have had the authority to work with Cooper in this way, but the fact remains that Frost had the foresight.

Immediately, we are thrown back into the woods, talking and ducking around downed evergreens (rather clean breaks, from the looks). The fellows translate Margaret’s references for us, a fine unity of exposition and necessity, before we start to pick up on some distant notes courtesy of Julee Cruise, the second lineup shot, more shots of our pal Raven. The gents leave Doc outside to huff and enter the forensic free-for-all that is the interior. It’s a bit cute to me that, for a show so circuitous in its routes to the endgame, we find within moments: Waldo the mynah bird, traces of blood on a dirty industrial carpet, references to Cooper’s dream via red curtains, film, twine, and even that broken poker chip, as if to make it all as unambiguous as possible. Hell, there’s even a bullwhip sighting.

Nevertheless, the sum is atmospherically entrancing, reminding us both of the Red Room— without being too explicit, I might add— and being foreboding on its own merits as isolated, dark, used, but not kept up or lived in save for various escapades and gin-induced blackouts. All kinds of visual and auditory markers are there for us to understand this isn’t a happy place, and quite a different cabin from Margaret’s. Among other positives, this is also where Cooper is immediately in his comfort zone, using tweezers to maneuver the gramophone needle and donning gloves soon after while the others go pawing barehanded. And, given the foreshadowing at the end of “Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer” [1×03], how are we to interpret the fact that this is where Cooper comes into his own again? Sneaky, sneaky writing.

It’s close, so damned close to being all but perfect, but a few things are just a little off-kilter. For the life of me, I can’t summon a viable reason for Doc Hayward being such a screen presence other than to shrug and suggest nepotism. If Audrey can be indicted early on for attempting hooky on a school day, why shouldn’t we wonder about whether Doc has a practice to attend to after taking a working holiday to help with forensics? Why be in Jacques’ apartment other than for the bloody shirt that he can’t type remotely? Why follow along on the hike if he can’t physically keep up and narratively is an extra wheel, offering nothing that Hawk or Truman might not? None of this is offensive, I enjoy Warren Frost’s acting quite a lot throughout the series, it just strikes me as superfluous to an otherwise tight episode.

To split a shorter hair, what’s the deal with the raven? I mean, I like them, they’re good people and I’ve talked to a few on hikes, but the script is more concerned with owls. The raven itself, at least in Northwest mythology, is primarily identified as a trickster, figuring into the local Promethean myth among other legends. Are we then to look at the cabin happenings as more suspect? I don’t really think so. I don’t know what to make of it.

As the visual current has carried us so far, let’s talk about the other sequences that are basically eye candy through smart staging and direction. We’d previously been aware of Jacques’ apartment, with its clown painting on the wall, but getting some additional shots paints a better picture of his swinging bachelor lifestyle. For example, on the main table at the window, we can spot a half-eaten bowl of popcorn, shredded orange peel, fake glasses with googly eyes on springs, and a hookah or bong, some manner of waterpipe regardless. Party animal. Through these items, you can pretty well justify the absurdity of the magazine hiding in the light fixture, and the low camera angle, initially hinting that Cooper sees an item we don’t, helps to sell the whole thing. Ditto Doc and Coop seeing the photo of the “Georgia Peach” before passing it to Truman and the viewer.

Mind you, there’s a narrative purpose served by all of this as well. The dotted line trail needs to take us through the apartment, get Cooper a snack, confirm the suspicions on the blood type, bring Fleshworld and Leo’s truck back from their initial sightings, and connect all these things back to Laura and Ronette. The follow-up scene needs to additionally provide an impetus for getting the crew into the woods, via the P.O. box registration, the ads, and the drapes spotted in the cabin photograph pasted on the interior of the cabinet door. Astute viewers are capable of noticing many of these connections in advance of the police, and as the revelations themselves aren’t inherently of interest, the show coasts by providing us stuff to look at.

Many other scenes, while pleasant viewing, skew more towards narrative. Much as we’re meant to see in the Icelanders meet-and-greet, I think that it’s harder to come at without debuting our noisy Nordics properly. Their enthusiastic, foreign singing and a ruddy moon form our introduction, leading Coop to quickly gripe into his recorder about ceding control of one’s circumstances when away. The songs continue, possibly for hours, as Coop makes his way to the café. The excuse that gets him to skimp on breakfast is flimsy— why would he dawdle away a sleepless morning in bed?— and seems more geared towards getting him out of Audrey’s eager clutches. That said, their greetings are more natural and form better conversation between the two than we’ve heard in some time.

To counterpoint Cooper’s distaste for the racket, we see Jerry as full and eager participant in the revelry, as if to suggest “it takes all kinds.” Jerry learns a few choice phrases from the leader of the Icelandic junket and uncorks one when he bursts into Ben’s office. The chemistry between the two, as consummate capitalist and his dandy delegate, is as entertaining as it’s ever been. To draw the eyes to a few specific details, while the ears are occupied: Ben pushing the bag off his desk, the legbone poking out of the zipper compartment (does no one care about refrigeration?), Jerry swinging the leg like a baseball bat, sitting down and then immediately standing up to outline his latest amorous encounter. For dialogue, we may as well highlight what the globetrotting Jerry really thinks of the Local Yokels. As little levity can go untarnished in the show—for that matter, misery not made merriment of— we close with Leland wanting to assist, feeling disused, and deathly afraid as he clutches his head again and again, while the Brothers Horne are quick to cover his tracks.

Our follow-through in the Great Northern’s reception room uses its visuals more judiciously and sparingly. To have it dialed up all the way would only distract, were it without purpose. Thus, its cleverness comes restrained. The exterior shot of valet parking at the roundabout permits us to situate a silhouetted Josie as smoking in Ben’s office. Following the Martells through the double doors allows us to take in the scene as they might. An overhead shot of champagne raining down on Ben’s shoes provides the satisfaction of seeing it through his viewpoint. Having the camera peek around the corner at Audrey and observing about half of Ben/Catherine’s private meeting through the peephole gets us invested in the voyeurism. Seeing a wide shot of Leland in context gets us the reactions and denials from the extras, and the contrast between that and a close-up of the teary-eyed Audrey serves to help a viewer empathize with her more.

These technical flourishes would be flash and not much else were they not in the service of what is happening on a plot level, and fortunately we get a fair amount of that as well. The guest list check-off of “Catherine Martell and SPOUSE” is ice-cold and shows that even when she’s mad at Ben, Cathy won’t use Pete to provoke any jealousy. The sighting of Catherine and Ben together, at least in such passion, is likely new to Audrey, and while there are giggles between slaps, as we are meant to replicate, there’s a little choking up on her part that suggests, combined with certain subtexts (cf “The One-Armed Man” [1×05] and its reference to the Timber Baron Suite), that perhaps she was not aware of her father carrying on as such. The culmination of Leland and Pennsylvania 6-5000 playing one more time has the layering and immiscible combination of feelings I spoke of before in my “Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer” [1×03] review, to its great credit. We might also ask if, though Ben’s desire to “get Dr. Jacoby, get a net” is rather cruel, his means of diffusing the situation by making it look like part of a dance move doesn’t spare Leland some of the shame of breaking down in public.

Now that I look at the terrain I’ve covered here, I notice that while I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the beginning of the episode (Cooper waking, Jacques apartment) and near the end (the cabins, the reception), there’s a lot of material in the middle that’s gone unaddressed because it didn’t jibe with the visual course I was on. Remedying that without another few thousand words may be tricky, but I’ll give it a go.

The Bobby and Shelly scene, I like for the talk being “talk.” Even though they continue to sexualize the gun a bit while simultaneously using it to put on a false performance of intimidation, both, for all they claim they would do, share in their freak outs. Both jump as soon as they hear a car door slam, out of terror of having invoked whom they spoke of. Both abruptly break from the foreplay upon discovering that he was successfully summoned in telephone form. Sure, they got Andy, hook line and sinker, but he isn’t the craftiest fish in the lake. Meanwhile, the threat of having Leo made manifest leads Bobby to push the gun into Shelley’s hand, and helps to finally convince her to use it.

As supplementary evidence for Frost’s skill, the meeting of Norma and Ed seems to know how to do more with less. It has the feeling of the old commiseration of long-time confidantes, to joke about the patent attorney visit and “spending the millions,” to have the intimacy of needing to tell about Hank’s parole in person. The quick correction from “home” to “back” and Ed’s non-committal “okay” signals that the ups and downs have been ongoing, even before Norma presses him on whether he’s told Nadine anything yet, or if he’s “waiting for [her] to go first.”

“Nadine’s not well” appears to sum as much as needs to be said between the two; that much we can confirm on our own. The defeated attitudes and familiar frustrations resurface with that vague glimmer of “I love you” at the end. The dialogue isn’t supremely memorable, but it hardly needs to be under the circumstances. Thus, I’ll claim that it advances our understanding of their relationship and provides that vital foil to say that, while affairs are commonplace in the town, there’s also loyalty and mutual unfulfilled yearning, not just physical passion.

Let’s continue the romantic underpinnings, leapfrogging over Audrey to check in with Donna meeting James at the gazebo. James’ acting has been widely panned in the critical community and I’ve been of a similar opinion entering. As I’ve progressed with the reviews, however, I’ve begun to notice that, while his emoting tends to fall within rather constricted latitudes, the script doesn’t often give him much. Now, on watching this particular scene several times, I’ve developed a new theory.

Argument: James does not know how to be with other people. His father is not present, having abandoned them. He feels humiliation from his mother’s various liaisons with various men, even as he’s proud of her creative endeavors. Much of his screentime is him alone or possibly with Donna. Donna is implied to have other friends, who comfort her as Laura’s death is announced. Donna is, at other times, seen interacting with her family, seeking advice, sharing secrets. We see some of this in the “diet lasagna” conversation they have on the phone, but when James enters the diner to make that call, he’s on his own again.

If James has a friend in all of the town, we might say that it’s Joey, as their Bookhouse Boys collaborations brought Donna to him in “Northwest Passage” [1×01] and Bernie to the senior members in “Rest in Pain” [1×04], but Joey didn’t seem to know about James and Laura. It’s implied that Donna could be the only one who did. She seems to be his only lifeline into the rest of the happenings in the town.

Sure, James is self-sufficient, self-contained, capable on his own, but when confronted by possible resistance, distrust, or dislike in other people, he’s shaky, nervous, avoids eye contact. Most of us respond negatively to this because it’s in contrast with his biker exterior, which we would presume to be more confident, but this is, after all, a costume, and one conducive to helping him avoid the very social interactions he’s so poor at. Something to consider.

This could be said to shape other perspectives he has. As someone haunted by his own history, it’s natural for him to propose that Laura, of a no less mysterious and likely darker history, is now “out there, wandering like a restless spirit.” One might even buy into Maddy’s appearance as an omen, which only preoccupies everyone all the more with the Laura matter.

Speaking of, maybe we should skip ahead again and wrap with them. Maddy’s introduction to Donna at the Double-R doesn’t have a lot to beyond the Nancy Drew/Scooby Doo vibe that accompanies adolescents trying to solve mysteries (and a wish for Chris Mulkey, lurking in the background, to appear in a bad rubber mask later, cry foul at the “meddling kids”). Maddy doesn’t take long to be sold on it, and neither does the audience, so a few things to point out that aren’t said: James’ offer to get her a drink is a non-sequitur, not following from anything she says, which leads to the belief that he might be preoccupied by Maddy’s presence. Donna herself seems to notice this, but not enough to suss out what’s happening. Coffee, fries, and Cherry Coke are all abruptly abandoned on table.

Eavesdropping from the adjacent booth, Hank surely has no reason to attend to the teenaged prattle, but his earlier, peripheral presence now confirms his intentions and what he means to be doing. He’s lying in wait, ready to intercept Norma where she can’t avoid it. The beauty parlor plans come to fruition through fancy nails and beehives because that’s just how 50s Twin Peaks is. Yet, the whole thing doesn’t even register with Hank. He reiterates that he doesn’t expect a kiss (raising the bar already, are we?) and still needs to work his way back into her heart somehow, an offer that Norma doesn’t take without reservations. As he makes casual remarks on Shelley and Leo, his slyness is on display, as Hank likely knows he’ll be paying a visit to Leo later, wearing his leather jacket, for an encounter that’s mostly fist meets face.

This is also where they wedge in “Invitation to Love,” the metashow, and while brief, it adds significantly to the undercurrent of what is happening. Shelley was encouraged to use the gun earlier by Bobby, is now observing small talk between Norma and Hank which may belie the abusive aspects of their relationship, and sees on TV, the nebbish Chester pushed by a thuggish Montana, who is over-the-top, but basically a Leo surrogate. It’s the cumulative effect of all these that gets Shelley to shoot when Leo starts to shove her in the closing scenes.

Speaking of Shelley, I’ll utilize that as a clumsy segue to talking about one of her other halves. Family counseling with Dr. Jacoby is always a routine that sneaks up on me in re-watches. After the décor establishes our location, we get the panning back and forth between Garland and Mrs. Briggs explaining Bobby’s issues, rapid-fire. Shift to Jacoby, reclining feet up in his chair, “Are you using drugs Bobby?” Wide-angle shot with Bobby, similar body language on the couch, “Nope.” More points for the direction.

Humor grants us passage into the scene, but the content is dire, as two men who knew of Laura’s darker side confront each other with the knowledge. Consider what follows in contrast to the pilot’s claim via James that before her death, there was a renewed energy in Laura to counter her listless despair, “It was like she was Laura again!” What constitutes a Laura? On that point, Bobby and Jacoby would differ with James.

This is the first real substantiation of Jacoby’s earlier claim, to not being a good person. Bobby can blow off the “let’s cut the crap” as a trope relied on by frustrated authority figures, but when Jacoby violates some patient confidentiality with the “Did you cry?” inquiry, it all breaks down rather quickly, and so does he. While some of the dialogue (in the “Quotes” section, for reference) verges on melodrama, some might well be excused for the excess in emotion that accompanies one’s teenage years.

And what is to be done with this knowledge, for either man? Nothing. Jacoby leaves, having enacted (under good pretenses) some of the cruelty he accused Laura of, and Bobby lies there, sniffling, catching his breath, without moving. There’s no clear path on which to proceed armed with this new insight because Laura is dead. There is neither confirmation nor denial of the validity of her worldview. It merely is.

But proceed we must, backwards actually, to conclude with Audrey and thereby finish this review. I’ve passed over Audrey’s pseudo-interview repeatedly because analysis doesn’t uncover anything new here. It’s fun to look at Emory’s office as boyish in interests, what with all the car trophies and paraphernalia, which helps to sell Audrey’s emasculating of him, and his quick capitulation to her demands. It’s within reason that she’s pulled similar stunts in the past and his sober, “Yes, Ms. Horne” hints that he could be aware of such occurrences, but his encouraging, if fearful “please do” from earlier might imply he’s ignorant.

Regardless, it adds to our available characterization of Audrey. Just within this day, she’s fawning over Cooper and slightly flustered and heatbroken at his rejection of her offers of help, controlling of Emory, taking advantage of his position versus her own, mischievously sneaking away to spy on her father only to find more than she was equipped to handle, sobbing at the sight of Leland, and then breaking into Cooper’s room and hiding in his bed because that seems to be her means of seeking out a human connection.

There’s a lot more to the ending than that. The final minutes rush through teasers of Maddy in her striped pajamas and tiger booties calling Donna while Sarah, forlorn, screams “Leland?” in the background, Josie is revealed as having the real ledger and playing Catherine, along with Ben, Leo gets his gas, beat up by Hank, and then shot in the arm (with a reaction that we only interpret via Shelley, who keeps her eyes closed), and then Audrey comes along. Like the earlier evidence funhouse that was the Renault shack, the incessant hinting and revelations echoes with the show’s soap operatic roots. Still, we might claim that ending on Audrey was not sprung on us abruptly, but inevitable in the design and still surprising in the moment.

“Don’t make me leave. Please. Don’t make me leave.” An unexpected plea from someone who appears to be down to her birthday suit. Of course, Audrey has been mostly isolated throughout, as she is most episodes, and longest span of human contact she has is abusing poor Emory. Cooper, in contrast, has been around people all day doing field work and come back to his room and the floor’s interminable singing only to find someone already in his bed. The subplots may encourage us to think of the scene in terms of love, but that’s the wrong path, however tempting (shippers, hold your fire).

When clicking for some info on shooting locations, I came across a comment from Glatter that suggested the main theme of Twin Peaks is longing. After watching “Cooper’s Dreams,” hard to argue. The love dodecahedron is present and visible from many angles, with a few new entries for good measure, but there are less obvious angles worth mentioning. Among them, Margaret carrying on with her logs in her logging husband’s absence, the loneliness that might provoke the blind contact system operating at Fleshworld, the frequently frustrated desire to find one’s place in the world as represented by Audrey, and the more generalized striving for answers or new horizons that follows the search for the cabin.

It’s a very solid episode that comes just shy of greatness. In some ways, it feels less than its sum, because while I reflect fondly on scenes like Leland’s dance and the officers at Margaret’s cabin, I never feel bowled over by any one moment. The direction is complementary, but remains modest and rarely calls too much attention to itself. It’s sort of… god help me… a Lynch-pin (rimshot) that helps hold the series together. You can play with the hows and whys, but even as serious an event as Shelley shooting Leo comes over quiet.

If I were trying for adjectives here, I’d say “Cooper’s Dreams” is a very workmanlike piece. There’s a high level of craft involved at every stage that keeps it moving at a steady pace. Certain scenes even hold up well to intense scrutiny in how they were designed. There’s a extraneous bit here and there, but the end product demonstrates quite a bit of skill if you know how to look at it.


[Log Lady]

I play my part on life’s stage. I tell what I can to form the perfect answer, but that answer cannot come before all are ready to hear. So, I tell what I can to form the perfect answer. Sometimes my anger at the fire is evident. Sometimes, it is not anger, really. It may appear as such, but could it be a clue? The fire I speak of is not a kind fire.

Returning to Margaret after an episode which figured her so prominently risks certain redundancies, though I think that it stands on its own. It’s worth underscoring the notion that “perfect” in Margaret’s definition isn’t an effort to answer all questions or provide a unique clarity. Rather, “perfect” is provisional, apt and most suited to the circumstances. Margaret withholds her knowledge and doles it out selectively. Given their early encounters, one wonders if she would ever tell Cooper anything at all if not for the nudging of the locals. He’s certainly not often capable of crossing that threshold on his own.

Her remarks on “perfect answers” provide us with a great lens for looking at both these statements and those she makes in the cabin. She has every right to detest fire as being something that took her husband away from her, but as the wood stove indicates, there’s a measure of healthy respect in it. She acknowledgement of its uses, as in the rhetorical move of referring to the possibility of a “kind fire.”

“Fire is the devil hiding like a coward in the smoke.” We can see a distrust of fire as lurking behind the signs of its own existence. Wood on its own can look harmless, but as we see in the cabin, fire extinguishers ought to always be on hand. But then, Margaret’s comments would seem to belie certain resources she has available to her, a similar act of disguising. These of course serve to help preserve her, not damage what’s around her.

What I would think that Margaret is getting at is an awareness of the capacities of each individual. Just as with her personal effects, Margaret is very selective about the sorts of company she keeps and the people she is willing to talk to. Among those worthy of suspicion in her mind, Cooper. Not inherently because he’s an outsider, as she is frequently the one to initiate the conversation, but she sees a certain flammability within him which, as we can see, will figure rather prominently in the Black Lodge climax and his ignoring of her advice.



  • Cooper, being rather meticulous, comes off as a little control freaky in the opening scene. Reflecting on that, what torture it might be to not even have control over one’s body later…
  • Notes from viewing, re: the Georgia Peach, “Is this a Denise Bryson foreshadow? Sure, why not?”
  • Fake owl figuring on the top shelf behind Margaret as she makes the tea. Keep your friends close, and your enemies…



  • Writer Mark Frost is the uncle of Lucas Giolito, who was a first-round draft pick and 16th overall selection in the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN I WOULD FIND A WAY TO BRING BASEBALL BACK
  • Anyone curious about why all these businessmen seem to be Scandinavian, look up “friluftsliv.” I’ll wait.
  • Shelley talks about Leo being on bennies, i.e. benzedrine, but doesn’t seem too concerned about it and also it was made a prescription drug in 1959? Whatever, Leo has connections.
  • That gazebo. Oh my goodness how many things end up happening at that one gazebo.
  • Bobby was wearing a bowling league shirt while fooling around with Shelley in the previous episode. Now Jacoby appears to be wearing a bowling shirt while grilling Bobby in his offices.
  • Probably bears mentioning, but when Bobby is asked about his alcohol consumption, you could claim an error on the show’s part. “Everyone drinks,” sure, but the national drinking age had been upped to 21 in 1984, a few years prior to the show’s release, and had been 21 in Washington State since the late 19th century.
  • “… A socialist, who wants to be king!” But both Norway and Sweden are constitutional monarchies?
  • So she can hide cassette tapes in her bed post? Now I’m kind of curious to see just how Laura’s bed is designed.


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Ben has a log in his office, carved to read “BEN”
+ The transitions throughout the episode, but particularly in the first half. Magnifique.
+ I don’t think it fit with what I was talking about, but Jerry and Heppa provide some good fun, with his riff on “hubba hubba,” her “no, Yerry,” and the daring, “I want to cook for you.”
+ Possessed or not, Ray Wise can dance.
+ Seriously, Maddy, those jammies.

– Some weird door related shenanigans when Andy shows up at Leo’s. Bobby sees him out the back window, but then he’s at the front door? Uh… The whiteness outside also feels like it draws a bit much attention to this being a soundstage.
– Oh look snowy mountains and grey skies no wait we’re going to film this forest scene in California.
– I like Glatter’s little lineup shots, but on the Blu-Ray release, the second one looks very fake indeed.


* In Leland’s outburst in Ben’s office, one of the reasons he can’t comply with their suggestions about time off is that he’s “scared.” Note also that this is the same red and black and white jacket we’ve seen him in before.
* James’ remarks about secrets and his seeming naïveté towards them pretty well sets up his entire solo arc in season two.
* Bobby’s question about killing people would seem to follow from what he did in Fire Walk With Me and what was hinted at in the pilot.
* First meaningful reference to owls, courtesy of Margaret.
* “Shut your eyes and you’ll burst into flame” is one hell of a warning from Margaret. And who does burst into flames soon after realizing he was ignoring the wrong things within The Black Lodge? Our pal, Windom Earle.



4 thoughts on “Twin Peaks 1×06: Cooper’s Dreams”

  1. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on April 1, 2015.]

    Let me just say that as great as these reviews are, the one thing that continually impresses me is how you trace the different writers and directors of each episode to that episode’s specific attributes. It really adds to the sense that this series is one giant machine of interconnecting parts.

    Even if I’m not a huge fan of Lynch’s quirky style, these reviews are still terrifically insightful.


  2. [Note: guttersnipe posted this comment on April 2, 2015.]

    Corking review.

    I absolutely love your paragraph about the visuals during the Icelandic junket; it’s a tour-de-force of narrative economy and you’ve written it in the kind of style I would have done. I think I literally nodded as I was reading that part. Incidentally, I’ve been to both Iceland and Norway and I love how the show’s representatives don’t express the accent of either nation with much accuracy, they sound more like cartoonish Finns! Great fun to be had imitating both.

    I’m glad you queried the purpose of Doc Hayward joining the law enforcers on the expedition; every time I watch this episode I feel like I’ve missed a vital line which necessitated his presence. As for the raven, I don’t interpret a great deal of meaning to it beyond functioning as a visual signifier of Hawk’s presence and as his guide. As owls are unlikely to be seen in the daytime, perhaps the raven is to be read as simply taking over. I always smile at the dual lineup shots, somehow splendid and ridiculous at the same time. I tend to refer to these as the “Mount Rushmore shots”, even though they don’t really match the positions of the Presidents’ heads.

    Can’t get enough of the transition from what we believe to be non-diegetic sound in the form of Julee Cruise’s “Into the Night” to its tangible source as the boys enter the cabin as Cooper takes the needle off the record player. It reminds me of the scene in The Testament of Dr. Mabuse where his silhouette and recorded voice is mistaken for the real man: games with echolocation.

    I think your assessment of James is accurate, his biker persona is indeed a costume to mask his social anxiety. He’s kind of an inverse Audrey in that way: her persona is confrontational and requires her to bounce off other characters (goading Emory in this case), whereas his is to shield himself from the world (unless he can get some alone time with a pretty girl (or two)). He’s not built for the kind of darkness he invariably finds, and that makes me really feel for the guy. It also makes me wonder that if circumstances were different, wouldn’t he and Bobby be good friends provided they both let their guard down?

    The sexualisation of the handgun here is terrific. Passing between their hands as they roleplay has a remarkable carnal quality, and her later confrontation with a low-angled Leo has all the hallmarks of rape, before she turns the phallus on him. Her witnessing of the Invitation to Love scene in between these two acts makes for brilliant synergy, not to mention the Chekhov correlation. I also like how Montana is clearly a Leo surrogate, but looks more like Jerry.

    And if my libido ever needed reminding that I’m more into nerdy girls than cheerleader types, I only need to refer myself to Maddy’s dowdy pyjamas, tiger slippers and massive glasses. On paper it’s hardly pornographic, but in my mind…

    And dat pan across to Hank.


  3. [Note: Jay posted this comment on April 2, 2015.]

    Thanks Jeremy! 😀

    I think I picked it up from MikeJer actually; when we were watching BtVS and Angel, we’d often pause between episodes to talk about particular script or directorial hallmarks as we recognized them. I’m about as visual as I am narrative and probably would have gone into art if not for the fact that I lack technical skill and am partially colorblind, so talking about television in this way just makes sense to me. Of course, it’s easier to do with a smaller series that has more identifiable creative presences.

    There are so many moving pieces in a single episode of television or a movie. You first need to have a script for raw material, but then you have to have the actors to bring it to life and the kind of direction that makes everything line up and make sense. The past couple of episodes faltered a bit on direction, but I think everything connects beautifully in this one.


  4. [Note: Jay posted this comment on April 2, 2015.]

    “Corking,” ha! I lived in northern London briefly as a child and I still miss all those British-isms.

    I feel like I should know a little more about those Scandinavian accents given that I’m a quarter Norwegian. About as much as I got from the series’ treatment so far is that the lilting quality of “Is there something wrong, young pretty girl?” in the pilot sounded more Swedish to me.

    You’ve gone through a lot of my favorite scenes there in your commentary. The following of the music to the cabin is easily one of the best parts because there’s that moment, as you describe in it, where you don’t know if they hear it too or if it’s just background to the episode. I didn’t think I could do much more with it though, given that Cooper spells out the connection to the dreams right away.

    Really smart commentary on James being an inverse of Audrey too, although the connection between the two is that they both have this subsurface innocence that they’re trying to protect or conceal. I too have thought James and Bobby might connect if not for the fact that they’re both posturing so much of the time.

    I think that one other thing about the Shelley/Leo scene that bears mentioning is that it’s sort of a play off of the earlier soap-in-sock scene. Shelley is similarly backed into a corner and falls down on bits of building detritus, but in this case it’s more open behind her and not physically a corner of the house. Likewise, the drama of the shot is entirely off camera in both. One more credit to Glatter’s direction in this for thinking about setting up something like that.

    And that pan to Hank, of course. Combined with the musical cues, it makes him look bad even when he isn’t specifically doing anything bad. The knockout of Leo is cool too for his coming out of nowhere in the shot. Not a move we’d give too much thought to ordinarily, but still neat.


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