After seven months of mystery, the cat is out of the bag and the killer of Laura Palmer finally stands revealed on the show. In this week’s installment of Twin Peaks Revisited, we visit the episode where we the audience knows who the killer is, but it’s still a mystery to most of the characters on the show. I remind all new followers of these recaps that you can find all the previous Twin Peaks: Revisited columns right here and catch up. And this is, as always, a spoiler-free recap for anything that takes place after the particular episode we’re recapping.
Episode 16: “Drive With A Dead Girl” – Aired November 17th, 1990
The episode opens with a fixed shot of the Palmer residence from the outside at night, as we hear the screams of Maddy’s murder by Leland from the episode before. As the scene turns to day, we see as Leland putts golf balls off a green in the living room, as if a horrific crime hadn’t just occurred there.
Donna and James stop by, hoping to catch Maddy before she leaves, in order to say goodbye. Leland tells them they just missed her, and he dropped her off at the bus station. Sarah calls him upstairs and asks him to remember to sign them up for Glenn Miller Night at the club (clearly Sarah remembers nothing from the night before, making it evident that Leland drugged her to keep his actions secret.) Leland returns and tells James and Donna that maybe they can write Maddy a letter. As Leland adjusts his tie in the mirror, we see as BOB stares back at him. It’s clear that BOB is in full control now, and Leland is just the vessel. As he’s about to leave, Leland packs his club into his golf bag, and we see that’s where he’s hidden Maddy’s body. He throws it in the trunk, puts the top down on his convertible, and drives away like it’s any old day.
Meanwhile, Ben Horne is in jail for Laura’s murder, and as he brushes his teeth his brother Jerry enters to try to get him released. Jerry, who it turns out is a lawyer apparently, says he’ll be handling Ben’s case personally, as Leland is under suspicion of murder himself for Jacques Renault’s death. When Jerry asks if he did it, Ben says he was actually with Catherine Martell the night of Laura’s death. Their alibi has been “roasted,” Jerry says, leaving them in a bit of pickle. As they try to figure their next move, Jerry finds himself sitting on the top bunk in the cell, reminding them both of when they were kids, and they begin to think back to their babysitter Louise Dombrowski, and there’s a flashback of her dancing in their room with a flashlight when they were little boys. “Lord, what’s become of us?” says Jerry.
Lucy returns from vacation with her sister Gwen, and Gwen’s newborn baby boy, to the station. Gwen is like a more annoying, pushier Lucy clone. When she meets Hawk she actually says, “Wow, how you must hate us white people after all we’ve done to you.” Hawk simply responds with “some of my best friends are white people” and shrugs it off. Hawk really should be sheriff, if only for all the crap he puts up with at the station.
Cooper makes a recording to Diane about MIKE, the one-armed man, as he walks through the Great Northern with Truman. “In another time, another culture, he might have been a seer, a shaman priest. In our world, he’s a shoe salesman and lives among the shadows.” Coop notices Leland dancing around the lobby with his golf club, and you can tell that Coop feels something is off about him (well, more off than usual). Harry tells Leland that they’ve arrested Ben for Laura’s murder. Leland fakes surprise, and then satisfied with his performance, he leaves to laugh in the hallway. Cooper follows him and asks Leland to let him know if he remembers anything unusual about Ben’s behavior the night of Laura’s death. As soon as Harry and Cooper are out of sight, Leland resumes his dancing and maniacal laughing.
Back in Ben’s jail cell, Dr. Hayward prepares to administer a blood test for him. Jerry begins to protests Ben’s treatment and asks that Ben be released or charged. Cooper then recites Jerry’s horrible track record practicing law, and all the states where he has been banned from practicing. Cooper then shows Laura’s secret diary to Ben and mentions the part where Laura threatens to expose Ben for who he “really is” one day. Ben tells Cooper he’s way out of line and begins to get agitated. Ben and Jerry talk privately, and Jerry recommends he get a better lawyer than himself because the evidence towards Ben is looking pretty severe.
Bobby listens to the tape he found in Leo’s boot, and sees that Leo recording his meeting with Ben where he hires him to burn down the saw mill. He realizes that Leo made the tape to blackmail Ben Horne, and now Bobby realizes he is in the position to do the same. He makes a copy of the tape to take to Ben. Realizing that Leo being at home didn’t bring in the money they wanted, he’s looking to get rich quick by blackmailing Ben Horne (guess he didn’t get the memo that Ben was arrested for his girlfriend’s murder.)
At the Double R, Norma’s mother, Vivian, visits her at the diner and eats a bite off a customer’s plate. She introduces Norma to her new husband, Ernie Niles, a slimy dude with a bad toupee and gold chains. Norma doesn’t seem terribly happy to see her mother. Hank enters the diner, making apologies to Norma for being late. She says he is 48 hours late, and she doesn’t want to hear his litany of bullshit excuses. Vivian is helping in the back but overhears the whole argument. Hank tries to explain his situation, and the idea that there are people from his past who pose a threat to him, and Norma eases up on him a little. Vivian greets Hank, and it’s clear she likes him more than her own daughter does. They all agree to have dinner together at the Great Northern.
The one armed man wakes up and asks his nurse for a glass of water. As she goes to fetch it for him, an officer walks in to check on him, and Gerard beats him over the head, then escapes out a window continuing his search for BOB.
Pete visits Harry at the station, just as Harry is watching a woodpecker through his binoculars outside. Pete tells Harry that Josie is gone. Pete cries, and tells Harry that he loved Josie. Instead of jealousy, Harry just says, “I loved her too.” Harry then tells Pete how he saw her leave with her assistant “Mr. Lee” who Pete instantly realizes is her “cousin” Jonathan. Before they can go on too much about how Josie lied to both of them, Cooper walks in and reports that Gerard is missing, and had knocked the deputy out. Andy enters the station, only to find Lucy watering the plants and carrying the baby. Somehow thinking Lucy’s had his baby in the three days it’s been since he’s seen her, Andy passes out.
Pete visits Ben in his jail cell. He plays a tape of Catherine’s voice, where she reveals to Ben that she is alive and didn’t die in the fire as he’d planned. In the recording, she taunts him and mocks him, and she says she will testify on his behalf in exchange for his signing over the Ghostwood Estates project to her. “She’ll consider letting him keep his precious hotel.” Ben throws around the furniture in his cell in a fit of rage.
Leland drives in his convertible, singing showtunes and swerving around the road. Cooper and Harry pull him over. Leland says he remembers that he and Ben were working late the night Laura died, and that Ben stepped out of the room to have an angry phone conversation about a “derry.” Cooper the guesses that he must mean a diary. Harry answers Lucy on the police radio. Leland offers to show Cooper his new clubs, and pulls out his golf clubs in a way that look like he’s about to clock Coop with them. Harry says that they have found Gerard, so they both leave. Leland adjusts his rear view mirror and BOB smiles back at him.
Gwen is going on and on about herself while Lucy tends to Andy’s head, which is all banged up from hitting the floor after he fainted. Andy tells Lucy about his new sperm test, but Gwen keeps interruptingthe conversation. Finally Both Andy and Lucy tell her to just please shut up, and she goes away. Lucy does not confirm that Andy is the father, realizing it could be Dick Tremayne just as easily as Andy.
Coop and Truman have MIKE the one-armed man in the same room as Ben Horne. He literally starts sniffing around him, and says that Ben is not BOB. Jerry insists that they either charge Ben or let him go. Ben throws a fit, so Truman officially charges Ben with the murder of Laura Palmer. Cooper pulls Harry aside, and tells him that he does not think Ben killed Laura. Harry says he does not want any more mumbo jumbo; “I’ve gone along with the visions, the dwarfs, the giants, but we’ve got real evidence against Ben Horne, and it’s my job to lock him up.” Coop realizes that Harry is right and allows him to charge Ben, even though he knows Ben isn’t BOB.
Norma, Hank, Vivian, and Ernie are finishing dinner at the Great Northern dining room. Norma and Vivian leave for the bathroom, and while they’re gone, Hank and Ernie talk to one another about how they already knew each other from prison. Ernie talks about he met Vivian at a Republican fundraiser, and that she wants him to handle all her investments from now on. Ernie says he’s clean now, and that Vivian does not know his history in the big house. Hank asks to meet with Ernie later. The women come back, and Hank and Ernie go on acting as if they just met, and Hank toasts to the newlyweds.
Cooper makes a recording to Diane saying he’s close to finding the killer, but he doesn’t think it’s Ben Horne. He grabs his gun to answer a knock at the door (after having been shot, he’s never going to open a door again without asking “who’s there?) and finds Audrey on the other side. She asks if her father did it, and if what she told Cooper is what put him away. Coop says only in part. She says that her father ashamed of her, and all she ever wanted was for him to love her. She then tell Coop that while she was undercover at One Eyed Jacks, she never, ever did anything sexual with anyone, but before she can finish, Cooper stops her, letting her know none of that matters. Cooper answers the phone. Shaken by the news he’s obviously just heard, he leaves, and tells Audrey to go to her room and lock the door. The police have found Maddy Ferguson’s body wrapped in plastic and washed up on the beach, just like Laura’s.
In Ben and Jerry’s flashback to their childhood babysitter doing the flashlight dance, her face is obscured but appears to be Sherilyn Fenn. In actuality, it is Emily Fincher, future movie director David Fincher’s sister.
This episode marks the second time actress Sheryl Lee plays a dead body wrapped in plastic. The first time was in the pilot episode as Laura, creating that iconic image. She’d do it one more time for the prequel film Fire Walk With Me.
The writer on this episode is Scott Frost, creator Mark Frost’s brother. Their father Warren Frost plays Doc Hayward. Scott Frost would later writer the book The Autobiography of Agent Cooper: My Life, My Tapes, much as David Lynch’s daughter Jennifer wrote The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. The director for the episode is Caleb Deschanel, who’s wife is Mary Jo Deschanel, who plays Donna’s mother Eileen. Hayward. Twin Peaks was obviously a family affair.
This episode only suffers in that the previous episode, which Lynch directed and revealed the killer’s identity, was such an emotional powerhouse, and arguably the best in the whole series. It’s frustrating to know who the killer is and not have Cooper and the police see if for themselves, which is a slight drawback.
But there’s a lot of positives about this episode, chief among them Ray Wise in full tilt evil mode. Until now, we’ve seen him as the grieving father, then all crazy in denial, and now we see him fully immersed in the evil that is BOB, and Ray Wise is terrifying in the part. There are other great touches to this episode, such a Ben and Jerry’s childhood flashback, Audrey’s moment with Coop at the end, and singer/actress Kathleen Wilhoite’s performance as the annoying Gwen. (the lack of too much James and Donna nonsense is welcome as well.) This episode only suffers in comparison to Lynch’s masterpiece the week before.
Episode rating: 4 out of 5 burritos