They're damn fine!
The third season of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s cult supernatural soap opera has just finished, leaving us hungry for more. There might never be a season 4, but it did leave us with some unforgettable moments. In a show filled with memorable, hilarious, tragic, and terrifying scenes, choosing our favourite was no easy task. But after a lot of coffee, donuts, and deliberation—and a few scenes it pained us to leave out—here are our favourite Twin Peaks moments from all three seasons of the TV series and the movie Fire Walk With Me. There will, of course, be spoilers. Let’s rock.
19. Cooper and the llama
The episode: season 1, episode 5 - The One-Armed Man
The moment: Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman visit the Lydecker Veterinary Clinic to chase a lead. As they discuss the case in the waiting room, a woman squeezes between them with a llama in tow. The animal stops and stares at Cooper, who pauses mid-conversation to stare back. It snorts indignantly then continues on its way, and Cooper acts like nothing happened.
Why it’s damn fine: One of the funniest moments in the show, and apparently completely unscripted. Kyle MacLachlan (Cooper) brilliantly rolls with the llama’s rude interruption as Michael Ontkean (Truman) tries to keep a straight face, turning what could have been a fairly uneventful scene into a memorable one. Some of the best Twin Peaks moments, particularly in episodes directed by David Lynch, were the result of happy accidents like this.
18. Leland sings Get Happy
The episode: season 2, episode 1 - May the Giant Be With You
The moment: At a dinner party hosted by the Haywards, Leland Palmer entertains the guests with an enthusiastic rendition of Get Happy accompanied by Gersten Hayward on piano. It starts well, and everyone is amused by his performance. But then his singing suddenly speeds up and becomes worryingly manic until he collapses on the floor.
Why it’s damn fine: Leland’s grief is manifested in a number of darkly amusing ways throughout the show, usually involving singing and dancing. Apart from his hair suddenly turning bright white, you almost believe he’s over Laura’s death at the beginning of season 2. But then the anguish hits him like a tidal wave at the dinner party and you realise that, deep down, he’s still a broken man. The scene is as hilarious as it is sinister, which is a perfect description of Twin Peaks itself. No other show mixes the two so well.
17. Arm wrestling
The episode: season 3, part 13
The moment: Evil Cooper arrives in Montana, at a place known in the criminal underworld as The Farm. He’s there to squeeze some coordinates out of former associate Ray Monroe—who is actually a paid FBI informant—but finds himself confronted by a gang of extremely unsavoury characters. But, this being the weird world of Twin Peaks, the gang’s leader challenges Coop to an arm wrestling match. And if he he wins—the very idea of which makes the gang snort with laughter—he’ll become their leader. But little does the leader know, the doppelgänger has incredible strength thanks to his Black Lodge origins. He toys with his opponent before gruesomely breaking his arm.
Why it’s damn fine: Kyle MacLachlan is incredible as Evil Cooper, to the point where you often forget it’s the same dude playing the bumbling Dougie Jones. And this scene is one of the black-eyed doppelgänger’s finest moments, showing just how utterly cruel he can be. Most of the time this character is driven and single-minded, but here he takes some time to play with his opponent, effortlessly swinging his arm back and forth as he struggles to fight back. And the scene ends on a violent note with Cooper snapping the guy’s arm then killing him with a single, powerful punch. Why is this gang so into arm wrestling anyway? You’ll have to ask David Lynch.
16. Lil the dancer
The movie: Fire Walk With Me
The moment: FBI agents Chet Desmond and Sam Stanley arrive in Oregon to investigate the murder of Teresa Banks, another of BOB’s victims. Their boss Gordon Cole (played by David Lynch himself) introduces them to Lil, a woman he describes as “his mother’s sister’s girl.” She has red hair, wears a red dress with a blue rose pinned to it, and acts in a bizarre manner. Stanley is confused, but Desmond watches her carefully, knowing that it’s an elaborate form of code used by Cole to brief his agents on especially sensitive cases.
Why it’s damn fine: Lil’s peculiar performance reveals the details of the case, which Desmond explains to Stanley. The sour look on her face means they’ll run into problems with the local sheriff. She walks in place, meaning there’ll be a lot of legwork involved. And as for the blue rose, Desmond won’t say. But it’s suggested that it represents a case with a mysterious or supernatural element. This scene is classic David Lynch. Surreal, visually striking, and strangely unsettling. It also deepens the mystery, suggesting Cole may have knowledge of the Black Lodge’s involvement in Banks’ murder.
15. How's Annie?
The episode: season 2, episode 22 - Beyond Life and Death
The moment: After his ordeal in the Black Lodge (more on that later), Cooper wakes up in his room at the Great Northern. Truman and Will Hayward have been watching over him, and he asks them how Annie is. Truman reassures him that she’s in the hospital and will be fine. Cooper gets out of bed and announces that he has to brush his teeth, disappearing into the bathroom. He squeezes an entire tube of toothpaste into the sink then violently smashes his head against the mirror, revealing the grinning reflection of BOB. “How’s Annie?” he repeats in a deranged voice, and the credits roll.
Why it’s damn fine: Until this point, Cooper has been untouchable. A stalwart force for good in Twin Peaks. But this moment proves, in one of TV’s cruellest cliffhangers, that nobody is immune to BOB’s demonic influence. In an earlier episode Hawk tells Cooper that if someone passes through the Black Lodge with ‘imperfect courage’, it will annihilate their soul. And that seems to be what led to Cooper being possessed. His concern for Annie, and fear of what Windom Earle would do to her, were his downfall. A genuinely terrifying scene that’s been haunting fans of the series, and of Cooper, for years.
14. Sarah Palmer bites back
The episode: season 3, part 14
The moment: Sarah Palmer is in a dark place in The Return. And we see the extent of that darkness when she encounters a pushy guy in a bar. Sarah just wants to drink in peace, but the trucker won’t stop harassing her, forcing her to reveal her true self. She pulls her face away revealing a dark, foggy void, in which we see a scary grinning face. Then she bites a huge, bloody chunk out of the trucker’s neck, killing him. The barman runs over to investigate, but Sarah feigns ignorance. Is Sarah possessed by something? Perhaps Judy? It was never explained, and we’ll probably never get a definitive answer.
Why it’s damn fine: Since the original series it’s been hinted at that Sarah has some connection to the dark forces of Twin Peaks, and this confirms it in the most horrible way. It’s a brilliantly gruesome scene, and the trucker is so repulsive that you find yourself cheering Sarah on as she devours his neck. Until this scene we just assume Sarah is struggling to cope with the death of Laura and Leland, but this shows us that there’s something a lot more disturbing going on in the old Palmer house.
13. Welcome to Deer Meadow
The movie: Fire Walk With Me
The moment: Chet Desmond and Sam Stanley arrive in Deer Meadow, the Oregon town where drifter Teresa Banks lived before she was killed. They meet the belligerent local sheriff, who seems reluctant to help their investigation. They view her body at the local ‘morgue’, which is little more than a shed. Then they stop at a dingy eatery called Hap’s Diner for dinner and are served by a rude waitress called Irene. “You want to hear about our specials?” she asks sarcastically. “We don’t have any.” It’s a bleak town with an uneasy atmosphere, and the residents have nothing but contempt for the FBI.
Why it’s damn fine: Deer Meadow is David Lynch at his mischievous best. Fans went into Fire Walk With Me expecting to revisit Twin Peaks, then found themselves in a grim mirror image of it. Deer Meadow is everything Twin Peaks isn’t. The diner is cold and unwelcoming. Sheriff Cable and Desmond’s bitter relationship is the polar opposite of Cooper and Truman’s warm friendship. And no one cares that Teresa Banks was killed, in stark contrast to the mass outpouring of grief over Laura’s murder. It’s a distorted reflection of Twin Peaks through a dirty, broken mirror, and singer/songwriter Chris Isaak is fantastic as the tough, straight-talking Agent Desmond.
12. The Tibetan method
The episode: season 1, episode 3 - Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer
The moment: In the woods, Cooper uses a strange deductive technique—which apparently came to him in a dream about the plight of the people of Tibet—to try and identify Laura’s killer. Her diary mentions “meeting J tonight”, and Cooper asks Lucy to read out a list of everyone in town with the letter J in their name one by one. As each name is read out he throws a rock at a glass bottle balanced on a log. He misses them all, but when Lucy says the name Leo Johnson he hits the bottle perfectly, smashing it to pieces.
Why it’s damn fine: Cooper’s enthusiasm, eccentricity, and curious spirituality are just a few of the traits that make him such a beloved character, and this scene has it all. He’s a gifted detective, and finds plenty of clues the old-fashioned way, but this exercise shows that he’s willing to try less orthodox methods. The bewildered faces of Truman, Andy, Hawk, and Lucy only add to the comical brilliance of the scene. When Cooper hits the bottle Lucy leaps excitedly into the air and squeals, which was unscripted. MacLachlan really did smash it, and Kimmy Robertson’s reaction is genuine.
11. Big Ed and Norma’s happy ending
The episode: season 3, part 15
The moment: The rocky on-and-off romance between high school sweethearts Ed Hurley and Norma Jennings has been a running plot thread in Twin Peaks since the very first episode. Which makes the moment in season 3 where, to the delight of fans, they finally decide to get married a special one. As the appropriately titled ‘I've Been Loving You Too Long’ by Otis Redding plays in the Double R, Big Ed proposes and Norma gladly accepts, having just dumped her uptight corporate stooge of a boyfriend.
Why it’s damn fine: The third season of Twin Peaks is overwhelmingly bleak, with very little in the way of closure or happy endings. But this scene is the exception, giving us a little taste of the warmth that was felt more strongly in the original series. But most of all, it’s just nice to see Big Ed and Norma finally get together after all the hurdles that have been thrown at them.
10. Major Briggs' vision
The episode: season 2, episode 1 - May the Giant Be With You
The moment: Bobby Briggs’ relationship with his father, Garland Briggs, is a difficult one. The Major rarely opens up to his son and seems emotionally distant, until an encounter in the Double R. He describes a vision he had in his sleep where he’s standing on the veranda of a vast, gleaming palazzo. He hears a knock at the door and sees Bobby standing there, who’s living a life of “deep harmony and joy”. They embrace, and the Major wakes up with an overwhelming feeling of optimism about his future. It’s a beautiful, poetic monologue, and the scene ends with a stunned Bobby trying to process the sudden outburst of emotion and trying not to cry.
Why it’s damn fine: Until now, Major Briggs seemed like a typical uptight military man. But Twin Peaks is a show that constantly plays with your expectations, and here we learn that beneath that perfectly-pressed uniform lies an emotional soul. The late Don S. Davis delivers the monologue perfectly, retaining enough of Briggs’ careful, disciplined demeanour to make it not feel massively out of character. We also see the vulnerable side of the usually brash and confident Bobby here, who drops the tough guy act as his father unexpectedly opens up to him. A memorable, heartfelt scene that instantly gives two characters a depth we didn’t know they had.