Twin Peaks

Season 1 Episode 3

Episode Two "Zen, Or The Skill To Catch A Killer"

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Apr 19, 1990 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
202 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


Ben Horne's brother, Jerry, arrives in Twin Peaks; James and Donna decide to be together; Ben & Jerry travel to One Eyed Jacks and meet with it's madam, Blackie O'Reilly; Audrey leaves a clue for Cooper; Deputy Hawk finds a bloody towel near the crime scene; Cooper demonstrates a unique deductive technique; The cynical Special Agent Albert Rosenfield arrives to examine the body of Laura Palmer; Josie discovers Catherine has been keeping two ledgers; Leo takes his anger out on Shelly; Agent Cooper has a mysterious dream about the crime.


Watch Full Episode

Your Autoplay Preference: On | Off

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • I've got good news. That gum you like is going to come back in style.

    Wow. What an episode. This is the make-it or break-it moment for newcomers. You'll either boast a wide smile and start up Rest in Pain, or you'll throw your hands in the air and loudly shout, "What is this crap?"
  • Zen Or Skill to Catch a Killer

    The weakest episode to date, but still not bad. We finally got some supernatural occurences, but to say it was odd TV would be an understatement.
  • drawkcaB gnikaepS

    Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer sees Cooper using his own personal detective techniques to get to the bottom of Laura's murder and revealing to Sheriff Truman that strange dreams are influencing his work. Meanwhile, Shelly hides away after Leo's attack and Benjamin Horne's brother returns home.

    This episode is most memorable for the first of many uber-surreal moments in the series. The closing moments in Cooper's dream are some of the most terrifying scenes I've ever witnessed on TV. I don't know what it is but the Man from Another Place dancing around is just so surreal you can't help but be creeped out by it. David Lynch is a genius at this kind of stuff and the dialogue and sound movement is used to perfection throughout this moment. Michael J Anderson and Sheryl Lee really impress in the short amount of time they are seen but are both unbelievably sinister.

    One scene I really loved in this episode was when Cooper told his fellow officers of his technique of discovering those who should be questioned next. Kyle MacLachlan and, in particular, Kimmy Robertson are so good in this scene, with MacLachlan excellently playing Cooper's quirkiness with his detective skills but not making the whole situation seem ridiculous. It also pointed out to me how many of the cast of characters have forenames or surnames beginning with the letter "J", making it all the more difficult to work out who Laura was referring to in her diary.

    The subplots are also becoming more interesting. I was initially worried that Shelly Johnson wouldn't really fit into the series but this episode only made me like her more. Her treatment at the hands of abusive husband Leo is very believable and the various relationships she's involved with makes you much more concerned for her safety. The Catherine/Josie storyline is also getting more intriguing, with this episode revealing several twists and turns in both their characters, proving that neither is as innocent as they seem.

    The Horne family get some character development too, with Benjamin Horne's brother Jerry turning up and both of them visiting a creepy burlesque house called One-Eyed Jacks. Sherilyn Fenn doesn't appear much in this episode but her scene in the diner is visually amazing, with Audrey dancing around to the classic Twin Peaks' retro score.

    Though it started off slow, this episode ended with one of the greatest scenes I've ever seen on TV. Cooper's dream is surreal, terrifying and comedic, and the episode ends with a shocking cliffhanger, immediately making you tune in to the next episode.

    Director: David Lynch

    Writers: Mark Frost, David Lynch

    Rating: Amoreless
  • What's not to like about a backward talking, dancing midget in front of a red curtain?

    Seeing this show first on DVD (was only two years old when it premiered), I had to replay the last scene, with Cooper's dream. I've read about Lynch, his movies, and Twin Peaks, but this was my first real moment of awe and admiration for his talent. The scene moved things along greatly, to what I believe was a relatively slow starting episode. It was pure insanity, but unique, creative, and innovative. Immediately afterward, I inserted disc two. Just fascinating!moreless
  • Cooper begins laying out the abstract plan to unveil and capture the killer of Laura Palmer.

    It's a story 'bout a man named Coop. He likes the pie. He's gonna solve the crime with some freaky philosophy.

    This show is killer and was so ahead of its time that the audience could not keep up or comprehend. Through their arrogant demands on the network and the creative minds behind the show they destroyed it. "It is happening again." See ABC's Lost, another show about mystery and "magic" which the mass populous has latched onto and failed to understand.

    Hopefully the studio and creators will not allow such a mishap to occur again. Thank you for your time.moreless
Lara Flynn Boyle

Lara Flynn Boyle

Donna Marie Hayward

Dana Ashbrook

Dana Ashbrook

Bobby Briggs

Sherilyn Fenn

Sherilyn Fenn

Audrey Horne

Peggy Lipton

Peggy Lipton

Norma Jennings

Warren Frost

Warren Frost

Dr. William Hayward

Kyle MacLachlan

Kyle MacLachlan

Special Agent Dale Cooper

Victoria Catlin

Victoria Catlin

Blackie O'Reilly

Guest Star

Jan D'Arcy

Jan D'Arcy

Sylvia Horne

Guest Star

Robert Bauer

Robert Bauer

Johnny Horne

Guest Star

Grace Zabriskie

Grace Zabriskie

Sarah Palmer

Recurring Role

David Patrick Kelly

David Patrick Kelly

Jerry Horne

Recurring Role

Miguel Ferrer

Miguel Ferrer

Agent Albert Rosenfield

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • The song playing during the scene where Leland dances with the photograph of Laura is Pennsylvania 6-5000 by Glenn Miller.

    • In the Tibetan map scene, we can see that the letters R and T appear on the blackboard, although Cooper never mentions them. These letters refer to what was found beneath the fingernails of the two murder victims, Laura Palmer and Theresa Banks.

    • When Cooper turns the Tibetan map over, we see a blackboard with the letters R and T appearing, uncircled. The camera briefly cuts to Truman and company. When the camera returns to Cooper, the R and T are now circled in chalk yet Cooper has not yet picked up the chalk.

    • We have our first look at "Invitation To Love" the mock soap opera that will often be shown playing on character's televisions throughout the series. In this episode, Shelly sees the title card for "Invitation To Love" before switching off her television.

    • This episode takes place on: Saturday, February 25 - Sunday, February 26

    • In the scene where Albert Rosenfield arrives in Twin Peaks, we can see that Lucy is reading a book about Tibet. Earlier in the episode, Cooper has given a long speech about the country.

    • GOOF: Near the end of the episode, Catherine says to Pete: "What did that FBI man want today?". However, it is now Sunday night and Cooper visited with Pete the day before. This is a mistake in the editing. The scene was scripted to appear in the first act of the show (Which takes place on Saturday night).

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Leland Palmer: We have to dance for Laura!

    • The Man From Another Place: She's my cousin... but doesn't she look almost exactly like Laura Palmer?

    • Albert: What the hell kind of a two-bit operation are they running out of this tree house, Cooper?
      Cooper: Albert, this is Sheriff Truman.
      Albert: I have seen some slipshod backwater burgs, but this place takes the cake.

    • Audrey: Do you like coffee?
      Donna: Yeah, with cream and sugar.
      Audrey: Agent Cooper loves coffee.
      Donna: (smiling) Audrey!
      Audrey: But Agent Cooper likes his coffee black.

    • Cooper: Following a dream I had three years ago, I have become deeply moved by the plight of the Tibetan people, and have been filled with a desire to help them. I also awoke from the same dream realizing that I had subconsciously gained knowledge of a deductive technique, involving mind-body coordination operating hand-in-hand with the deepest level of intuition.

    • (Cooper takes a big sip of coffee and then quickly spits it out)
      Cooper: Damn good coffee! And hot!

    • Log Lady intro: Sometime ideas, like men, jump up and say 'hello'. They introduce themselves, these ideas, with words. Are they words? These ideas speak so strangely. All that we see in this world is based on someone's ideas. Some ideas are destructive, some are constructive. Some ideas can arrive in the form of a dream. I can say it again: some ideas arrive in the form of a dream.

    • The One Armed Man: Through the darkness of future's past, the magician longs to see. One chants out between two worlds... "Fire... walk with me." We lived among the people. I think you say, convenience store. We lived above it. I mean it like it is... like it sounds. I too have been touched by the devilish one. Tattoo on the left shoulder... Oh, but when I saw the face of God, I was changed. I took the entire arm off. My name is Mike. His name is Bob.

    • Man From Another Place: I've got good news. That gum you like is going to come back in style.

    • Cooper: (On the phone) Harry, it's Cooper. Meet me for breakfast, 7am in the hotel lobby... I know who killed Laura Palmer. No... it can wait till morning.

  • NOTES (7)

    • So intense was the interest in knowing who killed Laura Palmer, that people would go through the trash outside the studio looking for discarded script pages.

    • Be advised that the DVD commentary for this episode contains a spoiler as to the identity of Laura Palmer's killer.

    • The 'Red Curtain' scene is parodied in The Simpsons seventh season premiere 'Who Shot Mr Burns Part 2', when Lisa comes to Chief Wiggum in a dream to tell him how to progress in his investigation.

    • Instead of the usual closing credits shot of Laura's prom photo, this episode uses an overhead shot of the Man from Another Place dancing to his dreamy theme music.

    • The bizarre sounds and movements made by the Man From Another Place and Laura Palmer in Cooper's dream were achieved by having the actors speak and move backwords. Lynch then reversed the film so everything seemed to be moving forward.

    • Episode 2 was nominated for two Emmy Awards in 1990. One for Badalamenti's score, and one for Sherilyn Fenn.

    • A.K.A. "Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer"
      Rating: 13.1/21; Number 28 for the week.


    • The title is an allusion to Robert M. Pirsig's novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, itself a play on the title of the book Zen in the Art of Archery.

    • One Eyed Jack's
      A crude phallic reference in keeping with the nature of this particular establishment. The character of Bobby Peru in Lynch's Wild At Heart also uses this term with the same meaning.

    • Ben & Jerry
      Ben Horne's brother is named Jerry. Appropriate for two men obsessed with food, they share their names with famous high quality ice cream manufacturers.

    • "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"
      Ben Horne quotes most of Shakespeare's Sonnet #18.