Let us now praise Audrey Horne. When we were first introduced to the pretty high school senior played by Sherilyn Fenn, she seemed to be perfectly in sync with the weirdness of her town: disengaged, offbeat, self-contained. (Her first scene was killer. Bored in class, she responds to her name being called during roll by putting air quotes around her answer: “Here.”) Yet, as the first season progresses, Audrey starts to grow, gradually altering our opinion. We look back on that first episode and observe that she was practically the only one in town who wasn’t devastated by Laura Palmer’s death. At first, we assumed this was because of some rivalry between the two, or perhaps it was simply a function or Audrey’s ironic remove, a way for her to put air quotes around the whole idea of “grief.” Yet the more we find out about Laura and the more we find out about Audrey, the more we side with the latter. Although Audrey (mostly) keeps her own counsel, she has a certain honesty and pluck that puts her ahead of those around her.
When we last left Audrey in episode six, Agent Cooper had discovered her naked in his bed. As I mentioned in the last post, this is a direct lift from Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep when Philip Marlowe returns home to his apartment to find a naked Carmen Sternwood in his bed. In one of the book’s most famous passages, he throws her out of his apartment and then rips his bed apart. At the time of its publication, the scene seemed to exemplify Marlowe’s moral rigor, his knight’s code, but as time has gone on the scene seems more and more to demonstrate what a misogynist prude Raymond Chandler was. (The scene, of course, could illustrate both points.) Agent Cooper finds a happy medium between having sex with the troubled girl in her bed and throwing her down the hall. He talks to her, tells her he can’t sleep with her, that he’s bound to a higher standard of ethics.
Audrey: So, do you want me to leave or what?
Cooper: What I want and what I need are two different things, Audrey.
What’s interesting here is to wonder why Audrey climbed into his bed in the first place. Yes, there’s always been an attraction between them, but Audrey isn’t a flighty kid throwing herself at an older man. She’s after something—protection in this town of violence and secrets, and a partner in her own investigation into Laura’s death.
While Cooper, Big Ed, and Sheriff Truman plan to go undercover to the Canadian brothel One-Eyed Jack’s to try and locate a casino dealer named Jacques Renault who they believe was with Laura Palmer the night she was murdered, Audrey launches her own undercover operation at the brothel by getting a job there as a prostitute. This last development is almost wickedly funny in the way that it toys with Audrey’s “amateur girl detective” heroics. When she’s not sneaking through the secret passageways around her father’s lodge and spying on conversations through peepholes, she’s tying cherry stems in knots with her tongue to prove to a junkie madam that she’d make a good sex worker. Nancy Drew was a lightweight.
The rest of the episode moves several other pieces into place for the season finale. We discover that Shelley did not kill her abusive husband Leo; he just wounded him. Leo discovers that Shelley and Bobby have been having an affair, but he has to run off and assassinate Jacques Renault’s talking bird because it implicates him in Laura’s murder.
Elsewhere, we find Josie Packard and Benjamin Horne (Audrey’s ne’er-do-well father) plotting to burn down the sawmill for the insurance money, double-crossing Catherine Martell who thinks that she and Horne are planning the burn the place down for the same reason. But then it turns out that Josie is in cahoots with the recently returned Hank Jennings. We’re not sure yet what they’re planning, but it’s looking like a triple-cross.
Meanwhile, Donna, James and Laura’s lookalike cousin Maddy hatch a plan to entrap Dr. Jacoby, whom they believe was involved in Laura’s murder. Maddy contacts him to lure him away from his house (which they suspect holds incriminating evidence in the form of a cassette tape with Laura’s voice). This leads to an amazing scene where Donna, James, and Maddy-as-Laura are being watched by Bobby as some new, unknown presence is watching Bobby.
The tornadic intensity of plot twists here, mixed with the oft-kilter characters and unceasing revelation of new schemes-within-schemes makes Twin Peaks a show that never moves in a straight line. Maybe that’s why I love Audrey Horne so much. In this crazy world, she is damn near the only constant person we can count on.
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