Twin Peaks, Ep. 1.07, “Realization Time” hypnotically ties narratives and cherry stems together

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Twin Peaks, Season 1, Episode 7, “Realization Time”
Written by Harley Peyton
Directed by Caleb Deschanel
Aired May 17, 1990 on ABC

What’s up, Doc? Just a few words before I go to sleep. I feel like I’m going to dream tonight. Big bad ones, you know? The kind you like. It’s easier talking into the recorder. I guess I feel I can say anything. All my secrets. The naked ones. I know you like those, Doc. I know you like me too. That’ll be my little secret, okay? Just like your coconut. Why is it so easy to make men like me? And I don’t even have to try very hard. Maybe, if it was harder…” — Laura Palmer

With the sheer breadth of stories being told on an average episode of Twin Peaks, it’s startling to take a step back and realize that each episode only covers a period of 24 hours. While not as slavishly devoted to calling attention to its timeframe in the way The Killing or 24 was, Twin Peaks is a show focused on the day-to-day of the town, beginning each episode with the prerequisite cup of coffee and ending on the wind blowing through the deserted streets and forest. The basic nature of that structure only makes it more remarkable to consider how much happens in a single day, and how good the writers are at keeping the momentum of each plot going as the season progresses.

And at the end of the first week of the investigation, all of the town’s various schemes and secrets are starting to fuse together. “Realization Time” is an episode that rewards fans who have followed the show obsessively, paying off a series of random conspiracy threads and delivering some of the most emotionally resonant moments since the pilot. With only one episode left in the season, Twin Peaks is operating at the height of its power, leaving viewers intrigued, horrified, aroused, and amused in equal measure. The Log Lady alluded to a fire in “Cooper’s Dreams,” and the smoke is starting to become visible.

In terms of fires to put out, there’s a big one from the end of “Cooper’s Dreams,” where Cooper entered his room to find a naked Audrey begging to stay. While Cooper was at something of a weak point after the discombobulating events of the previous day, that weakness doesn’t translate to taking advantage of an emotional high school girl. Kyle MacLachlan takes the earnestness of Cooper’s pie and coffee appreciation and applies it wonderfully to a serious conversation as he lets Audrey down easy, defending his choice and reaffirming his friendship. It’s a beautiful moment for both, one that utilizes the chemistry between the actors without forcing them into a relationship that would feel like a betrayal of character for either of them.

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Audrey’s secrets are secondary to Laura’s though, and the breaks continue to come for the department. Through a combination of authentic police work and dreamlike intuition, events have finally been strung together: Laura’s murder, One-Eyed Jacks, and the cocaine smuggling are all part of the same criminal web, with Jacques Renault and Leo Johnson at the center of it. The energy level is palpable in the scenes at the police station—Lucy’s continued cold shoulder to Andy aside—and people seem almost relaxed as they attempt to coax Waldo to mimic whatever he heard at the Renault cabin. It’s a particularly Twin Peaks detail to have a bird be the key witness in Laura’s murder, and an amusing twist for Cooper to finally put his tape recorder to a non-Diane use.

If Waldo the witness is Twin Peaks at its most whimsical, Waldo the murder victim is the show at its most horrific. Leo, skulking around the outskirts of town like the wounded animal he is, picks up Lucy’s mention of a witness on his radio and dispatches the bird with his rifle. The buildup to that moment is the tensest the show’s felt yet, the camera panning across the room’s details to emphasize the rain through the window, the first few words from Waldo cut off with a deafening bang. It’s the most unsettling moment since Cooper’s dream in the third episode, a moment of brutality where the victim doesn’t need to be human to stun the room into silence—silence being the key factor here, as the Angelo Badalamenti score is almost unnecessary to create the mood in this case. All that’s left for the lawmen and the audience is a dead bird’s voice, echoing a dead girl via a tape recorder, as blood slowly glazes the doughnuts underneath.

Speaking of a dead girl’s voice, “Realization Time” also pushes play on the tape that Maddie found in Laura’s hiding place, and the effect is every bit as numbing as Waldo’s mimicry. Director Caleb Deschanel (husband of Mary Jo Deschanel, who plays Mrs. Hayward) does excellent work as Donna, Maddie, and James are framed by the dining room doorframe, once again mute as Laura wryly talks about secrets and seduction. Hearing that voice proves all the suspicions they had about their late friend and cousin, and the moment is as sickening for the viewer as it is for the trio. It’s the best moment this side of the story has had, finally creating some genuine stakes rather than overdone romance.

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The stakes also see them pursuing their highest level of activity, daring to bait Dr. Jacoby in an effort to find the tape from the night Laura died. If Twin Peaks hinted at Maddie’s resemblance to Laura before it couldn’t be more overt now, as she literally steps into her cousin’s identity and adopts the sultry tones from the recordings. (A move that leaves James dumbfounded and Donna wary, which is about as close to interesting as the two have been in weeks.) Here Sheryl Lee proves that David Lynch was right to keep her around, as the moment where she slips between the two is a marvelous shift from one persona to the next, voice and posture shifting in a moment. The resemblance is still so great that it’s absurdly stupid when James and Donna leave her there, idling as Bobby and a mystery figure watch her from the bushes. In Laura’s clothes and hair, Maddie’s now haunting Twin Peaks as much as her cousin’s memory is—the only difference being, Laura’s past the point of harm.

Dangerous plans are the order of the day for the teenagers of Twin Peaks, as Audrey responds to Cooper’s rejection by throwing herself deeper into her own investigation. Here another long-running suspicion is confirmed: Horne’s Department Store is funneling girls to One-Eyed Jacks, working as hostesses, waitresses, or the creepily loaded term of “hospitality girl.” Assertive Audrey is always the most captivating flavor of Audrey, and there’s a lively caper atmosphere to her actions in the department store as she spies on Emory and uses her intel to coax Blackie’s contact information out of her coworker. If she seemed like a little girl in her earlier interaction with Cooper, here she’s stepped out of the saddle shoes and back to the role of femme fatale, seemingly possessed of a new confidence even without Cooper’s affections.

One need look no further for a demonstration of that confidence than in her scene with Blackie, a moment as iconic for the character as her slow dance back in episode three. When it looks like the older woman sees through her high school English literature charade, Audrey pulls out a secret talent—certainly one of the secrets she couldn’t tell Cooper—and knots a cherry stem together with her tongue. The sexiest moments in Twin Peaks are always the ones that are suggestive rather than overt, and the look in her eyes afterward is so loaded with meaning it’s impossible to see Blackie not taking this young ingenue in.

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However, Audrey would be less eager to go undercover if she knew just how many people who know her real name were convening on One-Eyed Jacks. Here is where the long game of Twin Peaks comes into play, three narratives converging on a single location without any awareness on anyone’s part of the other two. Cooper and Big Ed are there to scope out Jacques under the guise of oral surgeons from the Tri-Cities, with a Bookhouse Boys surveillance van just out of sight. And the Hornes’ deal with the Icelanders is turning into an increasingly circus-like affair, demanding to have a signing party at the casino. One chance meeting is all it will take to blow up every plan, a sense of dread made even more palpable by the uncertain timing of when any of the Hornes will show up.

Running may not be an option for anyone, as the episode also goes the distance to make sure that things aren’t any quieter back on the American side of the border. Besides Leo skulking around, Catherine is now fully aware that Ben and Josie are in cahoots behind her back, a back now pressed against the wall with a $1 million insurance policy in the event of her death. Bobby is well aware of the danger he’s in, but continues on his plan to discredit James with a bag of cocaine in the gas tank. And in the shadows, a strange figure watches Maddie and waits. The more mysteries Twin Peaks solves, the more it introduces, and the end result is more than enough fuel for the finale.

Pie crusts and coffee grounds:

  • Log Lady intro: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Yet there are those who open many eyes. Eyes are the mirror of the soul, someone has said. So we look closely at the eyes to see the nature of the soul. Sometimes when we see the eyes—those horrible times when we see the eyes, eyes that… that have no soul—then we know a darkness, then we wonder: where is the beauty? There is none if the eyes are soulless.”
  • Who Killed Laura Palmer? Laura’s latest tape makes Jacoby look fairly guilty, and Leo’s execution of Waldo is the action of a man with something to hide. But given the level of duplicity Josie and Ben have proven themselves capable of in recent days, it’d be foolish to write them off at this point.
  • This Week On Invitation To Love: Chet finds the strength to shoot Montana—to Nadine’s muted delight—and apparently free Jared from confinement. Yet in the next broadcast he’s very much alive, and engaged in a threatening chat with Jade that has more than a few overtones of Hank’s interactions with Norma and Josie. (Also, a Horne’s display proves the show has its own tie-in perfume. If only it had a fruity quality to it, Audrey might have made that sale after all.)
  • Plenty of nomenclature humor here, as Cooper and Big Ed adopt the aliases of Fred and Barney at the casino, and we get a scene of Ben and Jerry eating ice cream. (Jerry: “Needs more pecan.”)
  • Interesting divide in Sheriff Harry’s intuition this episode. He’s immediately on his guard about Hank’s return to society, yet he accepts Josie’s version of events without question and brushes off Cooper’s reservations. One wonders how he’d react on seeing the two holding their clandestine meeting.
  • Harry discloses to Cooper that the Ben/Catherine affair is common knowledge in Twin Peaks. No wonder Pete always seems so miffed and Mrs. Horne so tense in their respective spouses’ presence.
  • “Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair or two cups of good hot black coffee. Like this.”
  • “There may be a few Ts left to cross.”
  • “I read The Scarlet Letter in high school, just like you did.”

Next week: “The Last Evening” delivers a first season finale full of intrigue, arson, gunfights, and—just maybe—the answer to the question of who killed Laura Palmer.

 




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