Twin Peaks, Season 2, Episode 8, “Drive with a Dead Girl”
Written by Scott Frost
Directed by Caleb Deschanel
Originally aired November 17, 1990 on ABC
“Diane, it’s 11:05 pm. I’m in my room at the Great Northern Hotel. There’s not a star in the sky tonight. Ben Horne is in custody. The trail narrows, Diane. I’m very close. But the last two steps are always the darkest and most difficult.”
Have you ever begged a secret out of someone? They let a tiny piece slip, and suddenly finding out the whole truth is the only thing that matters. You plead that they just tell you. You pick away at them, breaking them down, again and again, until it goes on too long for either of you and you can’t take it anymore, you just need to know and they need to tell you, right now. They sigh, dramatically. They pause. They tell you the truth. It isn’t at all what you expected, but now you know, you finally know. Now what?
After “Lonely Souls”, one of the most harrowing hours in television history, that is the question that haunts the remainder of the series. Now what? When your central mystery is answered in the middle of your second season, and not on your own schedule, where do you take your story? Showrunners David Lynch and Mark Frost would soon distance themselves from the series until the last few episodes, but for now the show goes for few plot developments, but plenty of character moments and chilling details. As Twin Peaks settles in for an air of aimlessness, it remains unparalleled in managing strong sequences and lasting images.
For example, the episode does not overplay its hand with BOB. He makes only two brief appearances when Leland looks into mirrors, always a reliable device for anything Lynchian. Indeed, the follow-up episode to the reveal does not dial back in its exploration of Leland/BOB and the horrible dynamic at play. As he goes about his everyday activities, there is something deeply eerie always on the periphery, as it becomes impossible to separate the man from the spirit within him. They are one and the same, and likely always have been. Leland is so horrifying in this episode because the mundane has become what is dangerous and discomforting, revealing to us that these evils could be hiding behind anyone. We are all haunted.
“As your lawyer, your brother, and your friend, I highly recommend that you get a better lawyer.”
Ray Wise gives this episode its power. His careful portrayal, maintaining an unsettling balance between friendly, jovial, and heartbroken, is brilliant in its execution of menacing pathos. He is Lucifer, spooky and ominous, waiting for his chance. Placed in front of Black Lodge-esque red curtains as he chuckles at Ben’s fate, Angelo Badalamenti’s score picks up on the music used in the Lodge, and we are uneasy. A knot gets caught in your stomach when he goes to the trunk of his car to get out a golf club and raises it, getting far too close for comfort to Cooper before Coop gets called away. This dark entity is dangerous and is walking around freely, always has been, right under the nose of our oblivious hero. Cooper’s ignorance is incredibly frustrating, but even worse is Harry’s certainty over Ben being Laura’s killer. “Cooper, I’ve backed you every step of the way,” Harry says after Cooper casts reasonable doubt on Ben, “But I’ve had enough of the mumbo jumbo. I’ve had enough of the dreams, the dwarves, the giants, Tibet, and the rest of the hocus pocus.” It is a surprisingly devastating moment between these two consistently close characters, who always have each other’s backs, supporting and cooperating. Cooper shows only minimal hurt, but also a characteristic determination to set the record straight without putting his friendship in jeopardy. “You’re right, Harry. This is your backyard and sometimes an outsider can forget that.”
The small moments are important too, perhaps more so than anything else. Pete visits Harry to talk about Josie, but they get sidetracked for a quiet minute, looking at a woodpecker through some binoculars, commenting on the species, sharing a pensive, well-meaning, good-natured, simple-minded pleasure. Or later, before they discover Maddy’s body and that it has happened again, when Audrey visits Cooper in his room. She’s concerned about what role her information played in having her father arrested, and wants him to know that she didn’t do anything with anyone while she was at One-Eyed Jack’s. She may be over-estimating things a bit, but it is played so straight, and comes off as achingly relatable and tenderly vulnerable. Amid the presence of the devil himself, one must hold on to these moments of salve.
Pie crusts and coffee grounds
- Log Lady intro: “Food is interesting. For instance, why do we need to eat? Why are we never satisfied with just the right amount of food to maintain good health and proper energy? We always seem to want more and more. When eating too much, the proper balance is disturbed and ill health follows. Of course, eating too little food throws the balance off in the opposite direction and there is the ill health coming at us again. Balance is the key. Balance is the key to many things. Do we understand balance? The word ‘balance’ has seven letters. Seven is difficult to balance, but not impossible if we are able to divide. There are, of course, the pros and cons of division.”
- “God, how you must hate us white people, after all we’ve done to you.” “Some of my best friends are white people.”
- Lucy’s sister and Norma’s mother show up. Neither do much of anything.
- Ben and Jerry share an extremely bizarre moment as they flashback together to what appears to be their sexual awakening in an extended blurry sequence of their friend/babysitter/someone dancing in their dark room with a flashlight.
- “Who’s Bob? I don’t know a Bob. Do we know a Bob?”