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TWIN PEAKS Revisited: Episode 12 ‘Laura’s Secret Diary’

This has been a bittersweet week for Twin Peaks fans, as news came down that David Lynch has quit the new Showtime version of the series, leaving its future very much up in the air. But, it was also the 25th anniversary of the show, causing fans everywhere to celebrate its legacy. And even if there’s no new season, we’ll always have the classic series, which we celebrate here every week in Twin Peaks Revisited. And this week, we revisit the 12th episode, and the fourth of season two, directed by Todd Holland and co-written by Mark Frost. 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.

Episode 12: “Laura’s Secret Diary” – Aired October 20th, 1990

The episode opens with a long, slow pull out of what appears to be a tunnel, while we hear a haunting voice of a young girl saying “Daddy” over and over, along with distant screams. We see that the tunnel is actually the holes in the ceiling tiles on a room in the Sheriff’s station interrogation room, where Harry Truman then interrogates Leland Palmer about his visit to the hospital the night Jacques Renault died. Leland confesses to Harry that he believed that Jacques killed Laura because he had been arrested. “Have you ever experienced absolute loss? It’s deep down inside, every cell screams, and you can hear nothing else…yes, I killed him” Leland says, a mix of pure anger and total sadness…this is a powerhouse acting moment from Ray Wise right here, one of his best in the whole series.

Walking down the hallway, Dr. Hayward tells Cooper that no parent should ever have to bury their child, at which point Cooper stops him right there in the hallway and asks him if he approves of murder. Taken aback, the Doc simply says no, and Coop walks away, slightly perturbed. Andy asks Dr. Hayward about “his sperms,” and an exasperated Dr. Hayward gives him a tube to fill, and a brown paper bag, and tells him he’ll wait in the car while Andy goes ahead and takes care of business. On his way to the bathroom, Andy bumps into Lucy, while carrying a copy of Fleshworld. Lucy seems pretty offended, although it is kind of offensive that he’s using evidence in a murder case to get off with when you think about it. But hey, it’s 1990, it wasn’t like Andy could take his iPhone with him and scroll through naughty pics he took of Lucy.

Harry tells Cooper that the judge will arrive that day, a man named Clinton Sternwood, who travels the circuit in a Winnebego. The Sheriff then tells Coop that the county records show no one by the name of Robertson living in the white house next to the Palmer property up at Pearl Lakes as per Leland’s childhood memory, but they do have a current address for the last occupants. As Andy comes out of the bathroom, he drops his tube which rolls down the hallway and under a chair. And exasperated Andy goes under one of the chairs to retrieve “his sperms.” Coop sees Andy’s shoes sticking out from under the chair, Cooper asks about his boots, which it turns out he bought from Phillip Gerard, the one-armed man. They also match the boots found in Leo Johnson’s house that he used to hide drugs. Coop realizes this is a sign, they must find the one-armed man.

At the Great Northern, an excitable young female employee that we’ve never seen before (and will never see again) proceeds to anxiously tell Ben Horne that the famous travel writer M. T. Wentz will be visiting Twin Peaks. His review could make or break any location, and he travels incognito and always uses cash. Ben tells her that he wants hourly updates from registration on his upcoming visit. Meanwhile, Jean Renault is waiting in Ben’s office, where he proceeds to show Ben the video of the bound and gagged Audrey, who is being held for ransom. Ben is furious, and Jean quickly explains that he is just the messenger, and that One Eyed Jacks is being run by pickpockets and fools. He offers his assistance. He explains that he wants Agent Cooper specifically to bring the ransom in cash. He tells Ben to expect a call at noon the next day.

Donna picks up a tray of food from the RR Diner for her Meals on Wheels run, when Hank Jennings compliments her, but in his usual douchey way, he asks just why she should look so good for “bedpans and shut-ins”. Donna gives him some attitude and just says “you wouldn’t get it” and saunters off. Norma then tells Hank about the M. T. Wentz visit, which she’s been tipped off to. Hank is very excited (or is at least acting like he is) and leaves to pick up flowers, tablecloths, and candles to spruce up the place. He tells her to ask Big Ed to recommend their diner to any unfamiliar travelers. Awkward.

Donna and Harold Smith drink wine in their makeshift indoor picnic at Harold’s home, and toast to Laura “in our hearts and memories locked”. Harold reads from Laura’s diary, and the passage is particularly disturbing, as it involves Laura describing how she fantasizes about “big, big men who will take her into their control” When Donna suggests giving the diary to the police, Harlod reacts very negatively to this, saying he’s read the diary from cover to cover, and there are no solutions in its pages. Donna, of course, remains skeptical. Because even Donna’s not that naive.

Cooper watches Audrey’s video in Ben’s office. Ben says that Cooper and Audrey have a special relationship, and asks Cooper to deliver the money. Cooper doesn’t trust Ben Horne as far as he can throw him, but he knows he has to play along to ensure Audrey’s safety. He agrees to help, despite the fact that it could cost him his job in the FBI.

Josie finally returns home to Twin Peaks, carrying a ton of shopping bags, and she apologizes to Pete for disappearing so suddenly days before. She fakes concern for the seemingly dead Catherine, and though Pete tells her that Catherine died in the fire, they still haven’t found the body, and says they’ll have the service in a few days regardless. “I’m just not sure just what we’ll be burying…”

Over at One Eyed Jack’s, Emory Battis violently drags the drugged-up Audrey into Blackie’s office, where Jean Renault waits. Audrey, barely coherent from the heroin, tells Jean that Emory had been hitting her. Jean tells her that she’ll be fine as long as she is with Jean, and he’ll never mistreat her, and she’s in no danger. As Emory starts babbling on, he falls to the floor, having been shot; Jean murdered Emory right in front of Audrey, who then breaks down into uncontrollable sobs. Seems the life of adventure and international intrigue she enlisted in to impress Agent Cooper wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

At the Sheriff’s station, Andy approaches Lucy realizing that they need to talk, who then screams at Andy asking if he doesn’t prefer the company of his porno magazines. Cooper walks in on the whole Andy/Lucy drama, and finally asks Lucy to come clean about the whole thing. She explains that she and Andy used to go out. “That much I gathered” Coop says. They dated for a year and half, until she noticed things about him…”he never exercises, he never washes his car and doesn’t even own a sports coat!!” Realizing she needed some “me time” she started dating Dick Tremayne, who she says was asinine, but at least he was different. When Cooper asks her just what she wants, she blurts out she has no idea what she wants. As Lucy storms off, Cooper then asks Harry confidentially for the use of one of the Bookhouse Boys, their very best man, for a special mission. Coop knows that crossing over into Canada for a rescue mission is illegal, and doesn’t want to implicate the local Twin Peaks police department. Harry agrees to the request.

An overweight, bearded stranger in a cowboy hat enters the RR, and Norma does her best to make the restaurant seem fancier, assuming the man is M.T. Wents. While he’s in the bathroom, Hank steals the strangers wallet from his jacket (On top of everything else, seems Hank is apparently also a klepto.) Truns out he’s not M.T. Wentz, but Daryl Lodwick, the local D.A. come to town for Leland’s hearing.

Maddy and Donna are also in a booth at the diner. Donna insists that she is not angry over Maddy’s supposed relationship with James, but if she’s not, she’s not very convincing at not being angry at all, being sullen and moody as she smokes away, and asks Maddy for her help retrieving Laura’s secret diary from Harold. “If Laura did have a secret diary, and Harold’s got it…I’m gonna get it with or without you…..tell that to James.”

Harry meets Josie at her living room, where she shows off her sexy new dress to Harry, hopefully in an effort to distract him from his questions about her involvement in the mill fire and Catherine’s death. She says she left town because she was afraid. She puts on the whole angry and hurt act for Harry because of his suspicions, and soon she has him back in the palm of her hand. She has Harry tear her new dress and “take her” and at the same time, a creepy Asian man watches the two have sex through the window. Ew, pervy much?

There’s now a huge storm going on outside, as Judge Sternwood enters the station house. He gives Lucy a hug, and just as Harry enters, he can tell he’s got troubles of the female kind (that would be an understatement) Harry introduces Cooper to the judge, who asks “How do you find our little corner of this world?” Coop describes it as Heaven. “this week, Heaven includes multiple homicides, arson, and the attempt on the life of Federal Agent.” Coop responds frankly, “Well, Heaven is a large and interesting place sir.”

Dick Tremayne shows up and offers Lucy enough cash to “take care of her little problem” which, of course, is code for getting an abortion. Totally offended, she asks Dick to leave or she’ll scream and to never speak to her for as long as he lives, but when he leaves “use both sets of door when you do, the second one sticks sometimes.” Leland enters the conference room, where the judge talks to Leland and offers his condolences for the death of Laura. Having known Leland for years, He then tells Leland that “when these frail shadows we inhabit have quit the stage, we’ll meet again, and they will raise a glass together in Valhalla.” The prosecutor has not arrived, so Leland agrees to spend then night in jail. Sternwood’s sexy young law clerk Syd picks him up to take him to the Winnebago.

Ben greets contestants for a beauty contest at the Great Northern lobby (oddly comforting to see his concern for his kidnapped daughter hasn’t made him less of a horn dog.) The hotel clerk checks in a mysterious stranger, a Japanese man named “Mr. Tojumora”, with long hair and a thick accent. Clearly this is someone in a disguise, so she assumes it’s M.T. Wentz.

Josie introduces the creepy Asian man who was watching her and Harry get it on to Pete as her “cousin Jonathan.” When Pete leaves the room, Jonathan tells Josie that with sale of the mill and her collection of the insurance money, her business  in Twin Peaks is almost done, and she’s expected back in Hong Kong, at the request of someone named Mr. Eckhardt. She tells Jonathan that they might have a problem with Hank Jennings, who now seems to want even more money for the contract killing of her husband Andrew, and is threatening to make trouble for her.

Cooper goes to the Roadhouse to meet the Bookhouse Boy he requested Harry send to rescue Audrey, and it turns out to be Harry himself. Harry asks if they’re in any particular hurry, and Coop says “Harry, let me buy you a beer.” Umm, Audrey is kidnapped by crazy brothel people, I’d say you’re in a hurry Coop. Jeez.

It’s night now at the Double R, long past closing time, and “cousin Jonathan” has broken in, and lays the smakdown on Hank Jennings (who, apparently, sleeps at the Double R? That’s not weird or anything) Hank tries to pull some lame ass karate moves on Jonathan, but he whoops him good, and lets him know that next, if he continues to cause trouble for Josie, he won’t get off with just an ass kickin’.

Episode Trivia

The actor who plays Judge Sternwood is named Royal Dano, a veteran character actor who starred in dozens of westerns. Disney park fans would know him best as the voice of the animatronic Abraham Lincoln in the theme park attraction Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, which is still at Disneyland to this day.

The character of “Mr. Tojumura” was credited as actor Fumio Yamaguchi, a renowned Japanese actor known for his role in the films of Akira Kurusowa. And if you buy that story, I got a bridge to sell you.

This is Joan Chen’s first episode in season two, having not appeared at all in the first three episodes of the season.

One of the co-writers on this episode was Jerry Stahl, the former TV writer who wrote the memoir Permanent Midnight, about being a TV writer while struggling with a heroin addiction, which later became a movie starring Ben Stiller. Stahl was a major drug addict, and this script was written at the height of his addiction. Supposedly the scipt he turned in had blood all over it. Needless to say, it was the last script he ever did for the show.

Final Verdict

This is another decent but not great episode of the show, elevated by being smack dab int he middle of the show’s best and most interesting arc. Some of the stuff in it is great-Ray Wise’s confession as Leland Palmer in the interrogation room, Audrey’s total collapse into tears in One Eyed Jack’s, and everything with Micheal Parks as Jean Renault. But there’s some standard TV stuff thrown in here too, like the overly excitable concierge at the Great Northern and the sitcomy antics of Deputy Andy. because of that, this episode places right down the middle.

Episode rating: 3 out of 5 burritos

3 burritos


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