Obviously, there was no chance that Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman were going to solve the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer in “Episode 1”, but they did hit a surprising number of walls in Twin Peaks‘ first post-pilot hour. Although we learned more about Laura and her last days, the focus of the episode was on the broader landscape of the show’s main characters, or should we say “main suspects.” Yes, the harsh glare of suspicion was cast on many different people in this episode, but did any of them kill Laura, or are we being led down a garden path?
With Laura Palmer, we have a young woman of extremes it seems. Through various interviews we learn that Laura was a tutor helping Jocelyn Packard perfect her English, and that she helped Norma deliver the meals on wheels; Mrs. Palmer clearly has these angelic visions of Laura, but that may just be how a mother expresses her grief and loss. What James reveals in his interrogation with Cooper with Truman is that there was something very wrong with Laura, she was doing cocaine, and on the night of her murder she was on edge and refused to talk about it. In Laura’s last meeting with Jocelyn, she told Mrs Packard that. “I think I understand how you feel about your husband’s death.” It almost seems like Laura was two people…
One resolved mystery was the $10,000 in Laura’s safe deposit box, and it turns out it belonged to Bobby. Apparently Bobby and Mike had some kind of $20,000 deal with Leo Johnson, with Bobby paying half to Leo and giving the other half to Laura to put in her box for safekeeping. Is it unreasonable to suspect that Bobby’s deal with Leo is drug related? Does it make sense that we might tie together the Leo connection to the murder, Laura’s cocaine problem, her attraction to James over Bobby, Bobby’s cheating with Leo’s wife Shelly, and Laura’s odd behaviour in the days and hours leading up to her death?
One thing’s for certain, Leo is not someone you want to mess with, least of all if you’re married to him. It’s easy to see why Shelly might prefer the company of a high school smart alec jock like Bobby, because Leo treats Shelly more like Cinderella than his beloved wife. It makes you wonder what Shelly was thinking when she found a blood covered shirt in Leo’s laundry bag, did she hide it out of some reflexive action to be the good wife, or is she saving it as a “get out of this horrible marriage free” card? Another question: was it worth it? She had to know that stowing away one of Leo’s shirts was bound to get her a punishment, though she seem surprised that Leo would go for the prison house staple of a bar of soap in a sock.
Leo’s certainly a one-dimensional character, which is why I find it unlikely, despite the overwhelming evidence, that he’s Laura’s killer. A blood-covered shirt, the vagabond’s life of a trucker, dalliances in criminality and a violent streak do not necessarily make him a killer, but they certainly make him look like one. It wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that Leo has nothing to do with Laura’s murder, but on the other hand it wouldn’t surprise me if he had some part in it either. One thing’s for sure, Leo’s got something to hide beyond the fact that he’s Twin Peak’s resident wife-beater.
Elsewhere, we learned about some literal strange bedfellows as Catherine Martell’s dislike for her dead brother’s widow has apparently driven her to a vile combination of carnal delights and mutually advantageous sabotage with Benjamin Horne. Catherine taunts Jocelyn with the fact that shutting down the mill for the day to mourn Laura cost them $87,000 and then tells Horne that “a few more local tragedies” like that, and the widow Packard will bankrupt the business herself without Horne lifting a finger. It still bothers me the placement of Laura’s body more or less on the Packard’s front door. Might someone be trying to put a scare in Jocelyn by killing her tutor and leaving her gift wrapped outside her door? It seems like Jocelyn Packard is a pretty big piece of this, and not just because she’s dating the sheriff.
Here’s an interesting question: what does Audrey Horne have on her father? It must be something because she’s clearly not worried about his wrath in admitting that she cost him the big Norwegian deal, and more than that she mocked him for it. “Oh daddy, I’m so afraid,” she says like a girl with nothing to lose. But if her father is the slimy, anything-for-a-buck kind of weaselly 90s businessman he’s been made out to be, then why so passive Ben about your teenage daughter screwing around and sabotaging his business interests?
Maybe that has something to do with what the log saw. The Log Lady says that her log will have something to say one day on the case at hand, but neither Cooper nor Truman is prepared yet resort to interrogated wood to get answers. The day may come, I suppose. Perhaps the log knows who the mysterious man at the hospital was, the one that Deputy Hawk saw go into the morgue. In other weirdness, why did Dr. Jacoby have Laura make tapes for him of her talking, and was this therapeutic, or something less than professional? And while we’re asking questions of the Doctor, why did he take James half of Laura’s necklace buried in the woods? How did he even know it was there? And if Mrs. Palmer’s vision of Dr. Jacoby finding the necklace was real, what does her seeing this man’s face mean?
The Jacoby angle adds a new dimension to the goings on of Laura in the days, maybe even weeks, leading up to her death. More than that, there was the apparent budding romance between her friends Donna and James, even though Laura told James that he was someone she thought she could love. It seemed a bit of a surprise to Donna that she and James were becoming a couple, especially since there seemed to be a lot of feeling in James for Laura, but it must be a real thing if Donna asked James to come to dinner and meet the parents. Perhaps Laura’s knowledge of this romantic connection between her two friends is something that will come out via Jacoby’s tape collection.
One thing’s for sure, James may not be on the police radar for being involved in the death of Laura Palmer, but he’s still in a lot of trouble. Both Bobby and Mike are looking for a fight for the way he’s seemingly moved in on both their girlfriends, but they seem to be focused on the wrong thing. Aren’t they worried about what Leo’s going to do to them when they find out they don’t have the other half of his payment? For now it seems like the only people truly concerned that a killer’s on the loose are the local sheriff and his new FBI agent pal from out of town. So is there going to another victim, or do they know something we don’t?