Last week we officially ended our 5 week Show Club for Twin Peaks here at TVEnthusiast. So, I thought it only appropriate that this week’s Top 10 Tuesday represent the best episodes of the iconic series from David Lynch and Mark Frost. If you are interested in our coverage of Twin Peaks you can find week 0 here, week 1 here, week 2 here, week 3 here, week 4 here, and week 5 here. Before we get started, I would like to clarify the confusion on episode titles. Officially Twin Peaks counted its Pilot episode outside of the others, so the official Episode 1 is actually the second episode of the series. As such, I have presented all 3 episode monikers, the chronological season/episode markers (such as S01E02, which means the second episode of season 1), the original numerical titles, and the renamed titles for the dvd release. So without further ado, our 10 top list of Twin Peaks episodes.
10. S01E08 – Episode 7 – The Last Evening
The season 1 finale, which was written and directed by series co-creator Mark Frost, finished many of the side plots of the first season while offering cryptic fates to several characters. Most notably, FBI Agent Dale Cooper was shot in his hotel room by an unknown (at the time) figure. Leo was shot by Hank on Ben’s orders with Bobby as an unknown witness and consequential survivor of Leo’s attack on him with an axe at the time. Also, Leland killed the man he felt was responsible for his daughter’s murder.
09 . S02E05 – Episode 12 – The Orchid’s Curse
This Season 2 episode was actually one of the weaker episodes of the season’s first half. That says a lot about that part of season 2 as the episode ranked in our top 10 list. Much of the action of the episode involved Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman’s raid on One Eyed Jacks, the Canadian Casino and Brother owned by Twin Peaks businessman Ben Horne. The Raid saw the successful rescue of Ben’s daughter Audrey by Cooper. The episode also featured the first appearance of the Twin Peaks courthouse (the bar) where Leland Palmer’s court hearing began for the killing of who he thought was his daughter’s killer. There was also an attempt by Donna and Maddy to steal Laura Palmer’s secret diary from an agoraphobic man.
08. S01E04 – Episode 3 – Rest in Pain
3 key events marked the 4th episode of Twin Peaks. First was the funeral of Laura Palmer, which was capped off by an unconsolable Leland Palmer jumping on his daughter’s casket. Then Sheriff Truman introduced Agent Cooper to the Bookhouse Boys, a secret society of Twin Peaks residents that fight off the evil in the woods. Lastly, Laura’s near identical (and played by the same actress) cousin Maddy came to town to help her aunt and uncle deal with their tragic loss. Episode 3 had a great balance of mystery, surprise, and absurd comedy.
07. S02E02 – Episode 9 – Coma
In this episode of Twin Peaks, Donna planned to learn about her friend Laura’s circumstances before her death by taking on her meals on wheels volunteer position. During her first stop she meets an elderly woman, and her grandson who is apparently learning magic. The encounter is strange, with hints at the supernatural, as the strange grandson performs an impossible impromptu trick. The grandmother then gave Donna a lead about her neighbor, an agoraphobic man who was also on laura’s route. This episode also featured Audrey’s increasingly dangerous exploration of Laura’s role at One Eyed Jacks as an escort, and Cooper learning that his insane and murderous former partner Windom Earle has escaped from a mental institution.
06. S01E03 – Episode 2 – Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer
Episode 2 of Twin Peaks was, in my opinion, the first great episode of the series. We were introduced to the eccentricities of Agent Cooper’s investigation methods, which included a lecture about Tibet, and its occupation by China. Cooper the rocks at a bottle while being read the names of suspects, he used the results of these throws to narrow down suspects based on his subconscious reaction to their name and relation to Laura. One of these rocks ended up smacking Deputy Andy in the head after rebounding off a tree. This episode also featured the debut of 2 characters, hilarious foodie socialite Jerry Horne (Ben’s brother), and Cooper’s colleague, the smartass Agent Albert Rosenfield. The episode ended with a brilliantly surreal dream sequence involving Cooper, Laura, and a dancing dwarf in a red curtained room.
05. S02E22 – Episode 29 – Beyond Life and Death
The series finale, directed by auteur David Lynch (along with many of the other episodes on this list), was a marvelous return to form for the series, which has been struggling with mediocrity in the second half of it’s second season. The finale left us with 2 major cliffhangers. Andrew, and Pete opened a safety deposit box containing a bomb, which exploded, leaving us guessing at their eventual fate, more striking was Audrey’s presence at the bank, and her own fate. The bigger cliffhanger involved Cooper’s surreal journey into the mysterious Black Lodge. We discovered that the Black Lodge was the location of Cooper’s dream from Episode 2. In the Black Lodge he conversed with the dwarf, the giant, Laura, Maddy, Caroline Earle, and Leland Palmer. Eventually he offered his soul to Windom in exchange for the safety of his current love interest Annie. Bob, however, had other plans, as he ripped Windom’s soul from his body. Cooper woke up in his hotel room, surrounded by his friends, he asked about Annie and was assured she was alright. he then excused himself to the bathroom, where we learned that He was now possessed by Bob. Did I mention this was the last episode of the series?
04. S02E09 – Episode 16 – Arbitrary Law
Episode 16 was, for many, the true series finale. The episode saw to the conclusion of the Laura Palmer story which birthed the series. Leland had previously become known as a host for Bob, and the rapist/murderer of his daughter through Bob’s will. This episode, however, threw all pretense out the window, as Bob fully revealed himself within Leland to all who would come before him. Cooper figured out the identity of Bob through pages of Laura’s secret diary, which had been mailed to Donna. Through these pages, along with previous evidence, Cooper deduced that Leland raped and murdered his daughter under the will of Bob. Leland had been possessed as a child by the evil spirit. Tragically, Leland died in custody after his body was left by Bob, leaving him the briefest moments to tell his story to Cooper before he passed. Bob (in Leland) seemed to panic when the sprinkler system in the Sheriff’s station was triggered by Dick’s cigarette. It is possible that water is Bob’s weakness, but the issue was never again addressed in the series.
03. S02E08 – Episode 15 – Drive with a Dead Girl
The episode that preceded the last on our list was largely a fun romp following a dark and disturbing moment. Ben learned that Catherine was still alive, and was holding his alibi for the death of Laura Palmer hostage. Pete delivered the message to Ben in the form of an audio recording. The funniest moments of the episode involved Jerry acting as his brother Ben’s attorney, a role he performed quite poorly. Though the greatest strength of the episode came from Leland’s story. Drive with a Dead Girl got its name from Maddy’s carcass stuffed in Leland Palmer’s golf bag in the back of his car, as he joyously swerved across the roads of Twin Peaks, singing and smiling. The material was dark, but also quite funny, as we got a look at the murderous joy of Bob’s day to day existence. Leland/Bob’s eccentricity also shed a creepy light on Leland’s previous odd behavior.
02. S02E01 – Episode 8 – May the Giant be with You
The opening to the season 2 premiere of Twin Peaks is perhaps my favorite moment in the entire series. I rolled with laughter as the serious matter of Cooper’s shooting was turned into a gag. Lying on the floor, dying from a gunshot wound to the gut, Cooper sees his hopes for rescue dashed by a senile Bellhop’s complete inability to read the situation. If nothing else, I think all TV fans should watch the opening scene of this episode. Not only was it funny, but it quickly turned into a cryptic and mysterious moment as a giant faded into the room speaking prophecies to Cooper and taking his ring. Aside from Cooper, this episode featured a huge shift in leland’s character. After murdering the man he felt was responsible for his daughter’s death, Leland came downstairs the next morning all smiles, singing and dancing, and hair that has turned completely white overnight. Looking back, we can see this as the point in which Bob completely overtook Leland. Perhaps committing murder on his own accord weakened his soul, allowing Bob to take it over.
01. S02E07 – Episode 14 – Lonely Souls
At the top of our list, is the mesmerizing Episode 14, in which Leland is revealed to in fact be the vessel for Bob as he murders his niece Maddy. Putting that aside (for now), Lonely Souls presented us with the last red herring for Laura’s Murderer as all signs seemed to point towards the Horne family patriarch, Ben. Even Ben’s daughter Audrey turned over evidence that lead to this conclusion. Meanwhile. Mr. Tojamura, the strange Japanese businessmen began to aggressively make advances towards Pete. We found out to some surprise and hilarity, that Tojamura was, in fact, Pete’s thought to be dead wife Catherine in disguise. None of us in the TVE Show Club saw it coming, but that was nothing compared to the big surprise of the night, the Leland/Bob reveal. The Log Lady visited Cooper, saying there were owls in the Roadhouse. Owls had become a common theme in the series, with Cooper being previously warned they they are not what they appear to be. The scene at the Roadhouse was hauntingly beautiful, a band took the stage for a moody and emotional song as the residents of Twin Peaks watched, suddenly Cooper is taken out of the moment when he has a vision of the giant interrupting the performance and telling him that it is happening again. The scene was intercut with the grisly murder of Maddy at Leland’s hands as we saw him flashing between himself and Bob, who we now know resided within him. Once Maddy had died, a sadness seemed to instantly wash over the people at the Roadhouse. “I’m sorry” said the waiter to Agent Dale Cooper.
That finishes off our top 10 list of Twin Peaks episodes. Did you watch Twin Peaks with us? Had you seen the series before? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Tell us in our comments, and stay tuned to TVEnthusiast for more coverage of Twin Peaks (which returns on Showtime in 2016, 25 years after its conclusion) and all of your favorite shows.