By Joanna Elm, TV Guide, September 8, 1990

PDF File
Download as PDF

Twin Peaks fans have endured a long. suspenseful summer. The producers of ABC's cult serial failed to unravel its central mystery - who killed Laura Palmer? - in the May 23 season finale. and ever since. Peaks freaks have been reexamining the clues. aided by reruns now airing.

Summer has also brought us some fresh Peaks developments. The show picked up 14 Emmy nominations: a special episode bridging the first and second seasons was planned–then scuttled: and Laura Palmer's diaries are being published this month.

But what about Laura's murder? Well. a resolution of sorts is promised for the Sept. 30. two-hour season opener. So TV GUIDE asked four master storytellers who they believe the killer is. what they like–or dislike–about the series so far. and how they'd write it.

Four top authors solve the Twin Peaks mystery

Andrew M. Greely
His 1990 bestseller, The Cardinal Virtues, is a sequal to his 1961 blockbuster, The Cardinal Sins. Of his 19 novels, 15 have been bestsellers.

I'd say the killer is the psychiatrist. Dr. Lawrence Jacoby. because he's most like Waldo. the Clifton Webb character who was the killer in the 1944 movie. "Laura." In Twin Peaks. Laura was driving Jacoby crazy. He was attracted both by her innocence and by her evil. One giveaway clue is the terrible look on his face when he sees Laura on the videotape.

A similar clue is the look on Madeleine's face when James Hurley and Donna play back the audio tape they stole from Jacoby's office [on which Laura is heard talking to the doctor]. It makes me think that Madeleine. Laura's cousin. is really Laura. and that. as in the movie. the killer murdered the wrong girl.

I also think it's the real Laura who shot Agent Cooper because she believed he was getting too close to solving the murder. I did play with the notion that the killer could. be Pete Martell [the foreman at the Packard Sawmill who actually found Laura's body washed up on the beach]. But it would be a total reversal of his character. and I think that if he was the murderous type he surely would have killed his wife [Catherine Martell. the power-obsessed manager of the mill] by now.

I feel they really have to wrap up the murder mystery in the first episode of the new season. Of course. Agent Cooper survives–maybe it wasn't Laura but Ben Horne who shot him. because he blames Cooper for driving his daughter. Audrey. to One-Eyed Jacks. the brothel casino.

One thing I must say about Twin Peaks–it has an extraordinary number of high-school seniors who are gorgeous, certainly not like most highschool seniors I've ever known.

Jackie Collins
Her 13th novel, Lady Boss, is due in October. An NBC miniseries, Jackie Colllns' Lucky/Chances, based on two previous bestsellers, airs Oct. 7-9. One hundred million copies of her 12 bestsellers have been sold in 32 countries.

The killer is not going to be anyone obvious. so my choice is Andy [Sheriff Truman's deputy], because he appears to be the least likely. If they were going for the obvious it would have to be Laura's father, Leland Palmer. He's such a whiner and so hysterical that you can see his guilt coming out.

My second obvious suspect is Audrey Horne because she's always been jealous of Laura.

I think they really have to tell the audience who did it at the start of the new season because it's not going to be popular with a mass audience unless they start coming up with answers. But they should find another murder victim when the killer is identified – just to raise some doubt.

If I were writing the show in the second season. I'd have fewer characters: about eight major characters. four couples. Agent Cooper would stay in Twin Peaks. He's the whole show. Of course he survives the shooting. It's obvious he wears a bullet-proof vest because he eats so much he needs one to hold in his stomach. I think Audrey probably shot him because he spurned her in bed. However, in the second season he could develop a relationship with her when he realizes that she cares for him a great deal – and that she can tie a knot in a cherry stem with her tongue. He'll decide to reform her. As an FBI agent he'll have to go out of town and that would give Audrey the opportunity to get into all kinds of trouble.

I'd also do more with the Norma Jennings character. I like her storyline with her husband out of jail. I would have Hank Jennings win the lottery or come into money so that they become the new rich couple in town.

I also like Bobby Briggs because of his looks. but he has to remain "on the edge." Maybe he should have an affair with Norma if she gets rich. That would make for a good suspenseful romance.

I'd get rid of Nadine. She's too nutty, and her character never really paid off. Also, I didn't care for the sawmill plot line. In a way, the show is style over substance. If someone gave me the choice of watching Knots Landing or Twin Peaks I would opt for Knots. The casting is brilliant, but the show is somehow like nouvelle cuisine–you can't really sink your teeth into it.

Tony Hillerman
His latest novel, Coyote Waits, is a current bestseller. His previous two bestsellers were A Thief of Time and Talking God. More than one million paperback copies of his novels are in print.

I'm inclined to pick someone as unlikely as Laura's father, Leland Palmer, as her killer. Given the kind of girl we now know Laura was, and what a neurotic guy Leland is, it's possible that he could have bumped her off in a rage after he found out she was working at One-Eyed Jacks.

Frankly, I'm not sure the show's writers know who the killer is. By normal standards the series is sloppy and inconsistent. Twin Peaks sets things up and then does nothing with them. Iike the reference to the letters ''R" and ''J.'' which Cooper digs out from under the fingernails of Laura and the previous murder victim whose death he had investigated before his arrival in Twin Peaks. And they seem to have forgotten the coma victim, Ronette, Cooper is inconsistent, too. One minute he's Sherlock Holmes, the next he's into dreams and throwing rocks at bottles.

Peaks is also full of in-jokes that don't mean anything to most viewers. That's adolescent and shows an arrogant disregard for the audience. If you take out the dog-food commercials, you take out most of the intellectual content of this show.

You'd almost have to start over with it. If I was writing for Peaks, I would have them do a proper autopsy on Laura. There was no reference to fingerprints or dental work, for example. Through those I would have them find out that the dead girl isn't really Laura but her cousin Madeleine, who was killed by the real Laura after Madeleine found out about Laura's sordid life.

I'd also do more with Agent Cooper and his conflict with Albert, the genius forensic expert. And I'd make Nadine Hurley another murder victim. I'd also have devoted an episode to the relationship between Leo Johnson and his wife, Shelly, and have her really brutalize him to show what should happen to men who beat up on women.

I really lost interest after the episode that finished with Cooper waking up from his dream and saying he knew who the killer was. The next week there was no real follow-up. It reminded me of those Saturday matinees where Flash Gordon and heroes like him were left on the brink of death, and the next week they were back in a new adventure. Well, I'm not 11 years old anymore.

Iris Rainer Dart
Her bestseller Beaches was made Into a feature film starring Bette Midler. Her latest novel, Mommy & Me, due out at the end of the year, has been picked up by NBC for a miniseries.

I'm a lousy person to ask because I always used to lose at Clue. but I like the idea that Madeleine is the one whose dead and Laura was the one who killed her. Laura wanted to come back as Madeleine so she could start afresh and escape her tainted past. There's a loophole, however. How could Laura go home and stand to see her parents so tormented over her murder?

Donna Hayward could also be the killer because she's a character you'd least suspect. After all, she is in love with James, and there was that little speech she made to her mother when she was talking about Laura's murder: "It's so horrible, but I feel so happy.

Her entire family is so straight and wholesome that there's just got to be more to them.

Laura's father, Leland, is also suspicious because he's so crazed now. It's possible he did it because he couldn't bear the thought of her sordid life.

In the second season I'd like to see more of the romance between Sheriff Truman and Josie Packard and more of Lucy. She's so adorable. Every time she's got a scene. the show lightens up. She balances things a little because everybody else is so loony. I would also work on Agent Cooper's storyline. I'd like to know more about hts past, and about the women in his past, and to see him have a grown-up relationship on the show. Not with Audrey, but perhaps with Norma Jennings, since so far everybody seems to be breaking her heart [Hank, her husband, has been in jail, and Ed Hurley, her lover, is married to Nadine]. She's so attractive, she's a smart businesswoman and she also makes great cherry pie.

I'd drop Nadine. I think she's over the top. So is Ben Horne, although his hotel is probably a juicy neighborhood for future storylines. As we learned from Dynasty, the business world is a very fruitful source of plot twists.

What I've liked most about the show is the humor in characters like the Log Lady and Andy, the deputy who cries. I also like the eerie touches: Waldo the myna bird's blood spilling onto the doughnuts after he was shot and the traffic lights swinging in the wind.