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TWIN PEAKS Revisited: Episode Five – “The One Armed Man”

Welcome to the fifth installment of Twin Peaks: Revisited! This week, we’re recapping and reviewing episode five of the season one, “The One Armed Man.” New revelations are made, and Agent Cooper begins to inch closer to the heart of the mystery. If you haven’t read our recaps for the previous three episodes, you can find them here, here, here and here. It’s still early enough to catch up.

There won’t be any major spoilers in these recaps for any future episodes, so Twin Peaks newbies, this is a safe place. And if you’re new to the show and still wondering which character is which with this giant cast, what the actor’s name is, etc., as always I refer you to this link and this one, which have the old CD soundtrack scans that contain the entire season one cast and who plays them.

Episode 5: “The One Armed Man” – Aired May 3rd, 1990

Episode five opens in the Palmer home, where Sarah Palmer is giving a description of the man she saw in her vision to the police, who are sketching it out. She also tells them about the vision she had at the end of the pilot episode, of a gloved hand digging Laura’s half heart necklace out from under a rock. Donna Hayward, who’s at the Palmer house for some reason, realizes that Sarah had a vision of someone taking the same necklace she and James buried. Could it be the killer?

In the conference room at the Sheriff’s station, Agent Cooper is questioning Dr. Jacoby, who is just sitting there doing magic tricks and evading every question thrown at him, under the pretense of “doctor/patient confidentiality.” Cooper asks if he was one of the three men Laura had sex with the night she died to which Jacoby rather defeatedly says no. “Laura had secrets…and around these secrets she built a fortress, that in my six months seeing her, I wasn’t able to penetrate. And for which I consider myself an abject failure.” Jacoby gives Cooper one tidbit, though: the night after Laura’s murder, he followed a man Laura had spoken to him about, a man who drove a red corvette. Cooper instantly knows this to be Leo Johnson.

Cooper’s supervisor Gordon Cole calls, and lets Cooper know that according to Albert Rosenfield’s analysis, the bite marks on Laura’s shoulder were bird bites. He also relays Albert’s desire to to file criminal charges against Sheriff Truman for punching him out the day before. But Cooper won’t hear of it, and assures Harry, “The last thing you need to worry about is some city slicker I brought into your town relieving himself upstream.” Andy comes in with the sketch of the man Sarah Palmer saw in her vision, and Coop confirms it’s the man from his dream–the killer named BOB.

Deputy Hawk has finally tracked the mysterious one-armed man outside an out-of-the-way motel (where Ben Horne and Catherine Martell also happen to be carrying on their affair). Josie Packard has staked out the motel as well, taking pictures of Ben and Catherine. Andy, ever the klutz, drops his gun outside the hotel and it goes off, although no one is hurt. Coop and Truman bust into one of the rooms and find the one-armed man in a towel, shocked out his mind. In the adjacent room, Ben goes to take a shower, and Catherine finds a poker chip from One Eyed Jack’s that fell out of Ben’s pocket.

The police question the one-armed man, whose real name turns out to be Phillip Gerard, and shows him the sketch of BOB, but he claims to have never seen that man in his life. When Cooper asks him if he has a friend named Bob, he replies that Bob Lyedecker is his best friend in the world, and he’s “just about the best darn vet in these parts.” He’d been visiting the hospital the past few days to visit his friend, who was assaulted in a local bar fight. Mr. Gerard explains he lost his arm in a car crash, and that he’s a traveling shoe salesman. Cooper then continues to press, asking him if his missing arm had a tattoo. (The version of the one-armed man in his dream had a tat that said “Fire Walk With Me.”) Gerard breaks down crying, admitting that his tattoo simply said “Mom.” At this point, you know Coop has got to feel like a total jerk.

At Twin Peaks High School, Audrey brazenly walks into the girls bathroom doing her best 1940s femme fatale impersonation. Smoking a cigarette, she tells Donna, “I’ve been doing some research…in real life, there is no algebra.” Audrey confesses to Donna that she’s going to try to help Donna figure out who killed Laura, as a way to impress Agent Cooper, who she hopes will sweep her off her feet “and take her to a life of mystery and international intrigue.” She tells Donna that she knows that her brother’s psychiatrist, Dr. Jacoby, had been treating Laura secretly, and that she suspects that Laura was working as a prostitute at One Eyed Jacks. She reveals that both Ronette Pulaski and Laura both worked at the perfume counter at her dad’s department store, and that’s where she was going to start doing her digging.

Norma Jennings arrives at her husband’s parole hearing. It turns out that Hank has been in jail for a year and half for killing a vagrant on a vehicular manslaughter conviction. Norma tells the parole board she’d give Hank a job at the Double R Diner and a certain amount of stability, seeing as they are still husband and wife. She couldn’t sound less enthusiastic about this, but she goes through the motions anyway.

Cooper and Truman go to the Lydeckers’ Animal Clinic, which apparently treats just about every animal in existence (there’s  an iguana and a llama in the lobby who doesn’t seem to like Coop very much). Cooper has a hunch that the bird who attacked Laura Palmer “is a client of this office.” They confiscate all the files from the clinic and take it back to the station.

Bobby and Shelly are making out in Shelly’s kitchen, when Bobby starts going off about James Hurley seeing Laura behind his back (uh, pot calling the kettle black just a bit there Bobby?). Bobby  is wearing a bowling shirt for some reason, which, thanks to the miracles of HD, I can now see has the name “Dick” embroidered on the front. (Nice touch.) Shelly reveals to him that Leo is out with his friend Jacques, who Bobby of course knows as a fellow drug dealer. He asks Shelly for the bloody shirt she found in Leo’s truck, and says, “Leo isn’t gonna be a problem for us anymore.” Shelly then shows off the gun she bought to protect herself from Leo, and by “show off” I mean she takes the gun and seductively rubs it across her breasts.

Speaking of firearms, after Deputy Andy’s gun mishap earlier that morning, Coop and Truman take Andy to the pistol range, where Coop gets perfect marks, and Andy…well, as Coop puts it, “Andy, what we need is practice and lots of it.” Truman then asks Coop if he’s ever been married, to which he replies no, but that he he’s learned about “the pain of a broken heart” before firing a bunch of perfect shots into a target. Hawk then proceeds to share a poem he wrote about his girlfriend, Diane Shapiro, PhD. It’s a nice little moment that gives Hawk some backstory and character, beyond just “bad ass native tracker guy.” I kind wish we had met his girlfriend in the show. (Spoiler: we never do.)

Shelly and Norma share a nice moment together at the Double R where they bond over their similarly crappy romantic situations: “We’ve got two men apiece, and no idea what to do with any of the four of them.” Right about then, James walks in and goes all “deer in the headlights” when he sees Laura’s identical cousin Maddy. “Did you know Laura well?” she asks James. “I thought I did.” Norma get a phone call that confirms that her husband is indeed being paroled. She looks like someone ran over her cat.

Audrey begins her plan to discover the connection between One Eyed Jacks and her father’s department store. She goes visiting her father in his office (who is rocking an amazingly tacky ’80s track suit on a stationary bike) and lays it on thick, about how she wants to change her life, and make amends with her him for being such an ungrateful daughter. She needs to learn the family business after all, since her older brother isn’t going to be the one to take over one day. It’s all BS, but she needs to find a way to get into her father’s good graces, and asks him to give her a job at his store so she can learn the business from the absolute bottom. Ben buys Audrey’s act, and gives his daughter a hug, before heading off to a “business meeting.”

At the police station, the crew is pulling an all-nighter, as the Lydecker Clinic files aren’t arranged by animal species, but by the animal’s names. While everyone’s going through the files, the Sheriff’s station gets a call from Cooper’s boss again, and he says that the fragment found in Laura’s stomach is a poker chip (one more connection to One Eyed Jack’s) and that the bird bites came from a myna bird. At that moment, Andy discovers in the Lydecker files that Jacques Renault owns a myna bird named Waldo. This is Cooper’s cue. He and the police raid Jacques’ apartment looking to arrest him, but he’s gone, having skipped town to go across the border to Canada. But Bobby Briggs has broken into Jacques’ place already, and left Leo’s bloody shirt right there for the police to find, tying these two felons together, and potentially linking them to Laura’s murder, in an effort to get rid of his Leo problem.

We then cut to Benjamin Horne’s “business meeting” by the river, where he meets up with our favorite pony-tailed felon Leo Johnson. Horne pays him a large sum of money to burn down the Packard Mill in three days time to make it look like arson and insurance fraud.  This is where we find out that Benjamin Horne is the bank behind the local drug trafficking, and that Leo has taken care of the Renault brothers. He made sure Jacques stays in Canada, and as for Bernard, Leo just killed poor Bernie.

Donna and James then head out to the spot in the woods where they buried the necklace, only to find it gone, just as Mrs. Palmer saw in her vision. “Shouldn’t we go to the police with this?” James asks, in one of the smartest suggestions he makes throughout the course of the entire series. “The police didn’t love Laura…nobody loved her but us”, says Donna. (Note to Donna: It’s the job of the police to solve crimes; whether or not they loved the victim is irrelevant.)

The episode ends at the Packard home, where Pete asks Josie to be his fishing partner at some kind of local competition. It’s clear that Pete loves Josie just as much as Harry does, sister-in-law or not, and his school boy crush on her is adorable. Later, the phone rings, and it’s Norma’s husband Hank, letting Josie know that he’s getting out of jail. “Catch ya later” he says, revealing a previously unknown connection between these two characters, and our first indication that sweet and innocent Josie Packard is actually neither of these things.

Episode Trivia:

-This episode was directed by Tim Hunter, who had previously directed the feature film River’s Edge starring a young Keanu Reeves and Blue Velvet  star Dennis Hopper. Interestingly enough, that movie centered around a murder among a group of high school kids.

-The voice of Gordon Cole, Cooper’s boss at the FBI, is played by series co-creator David Lynch.

-When Ben Horne goes to take a shower after his tryst with Catherine, he says, “I’m going to give Little Elvis a bath.” “Little Elvis” is how the Elvis Presley referred to his penis. As a way of getting that line past network censors, they had actor Richard Beymer hold a small Elvis doll in his hand as he said the line. It worked.

Final Verdict:

All of the season one episodes are particularly strong and well crafted. However, if one is to be fair, then episode five is maybe the weakest of the season, if for no other reason than those episode offers the least amount of story momentum going forward of all the first season episodes. Still, it remains a great chapter regardless, it just so happens that this episode feels a little bit more like what one would expect from a regular nighttime soap opera of that time, even with that llama and the iguana in the lobby.

Rating: 3 out of 5 burritos 

3 burritos

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  1. Joel Bocko says:

    I always liked this episode quite a bit and felt it was underrated. At one point it was my favorite non-Lynch of season 1 although now I prefer either episode 5 or 6. But I think it’s stronger than episodes 1 and 3, maybe even than episode 7.
    It’s true there aren’t any huge breakthroughs (especially compared to upcoming episodes) but on the other hand we’re initiating multiple investigations. Audrey is getting ready to explore One Eyed Jack’s, Donna and James are bringing Maddy into the fold, and Cooper is starting to do something other than just meet the townspeople. It feels like now that Laura is inthe ground, the free-floating guilt and grief can start to get transmuted Ito plot action.
    I also really like Tim Hunter’s direction (which is a bit surprising because I don’t care for his style in his later episodes both of which – especially the first – seem to be fan favorites). He’s one of the more stylistically adventurous directors on the show and though later this will manifest itself in way too many canted angles in this episode it yields a nice mix of creative compositions and effectively restrained stagings. The episode strikes a great balance between relaxation and excitement.
    I also quite like Bob Engels’ first script for Twin Peaks which has a very Howard Hawks vibe; he’s good at depicting camaraderie (and rivalry) of both the male and female variety. Speaking of which, it’s a pity we don’t get to see more Donna-Audrey scenes in the show. There’s a great tense chemistry between them but I guess offscreen drama played its part in keeping the characters separate. Too bad.

  2. keddren says:

    Well, damn.  Now I need to marathon Twin Peaks this weekend.  Good thing Monday is a holiday.