Twin Peaks

Season 1 Episode 1

Pilot "Northwest Passage"

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Apr 08, 1990 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
278 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


The small northwest town of Twin Peaks, Washington is shaken up when the body of the Homecoming Queen, Laura Palmer, is discovered washed up on a riverbank, wrapped in plastic. FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper is called in when Ronnette Pulaski, who attended the same high school as Laura, is found wandering on a bridge before lapsing into a coma. Cooper believes there is a connection between Laura's death and the death of another girl named Theresa Banks that happened a year earlier. Cooper discovers a small piece of paper with the letter "R" on it shoved under Laura's fingernail. He reveals to Sheriff Truman that under the nail of Theresa Banks he found a "T." There's little doubt the same killer has stuck again. Meanwhile, the rebellious Audrey Horne ruins a business deal for her father Benjamin; Twin Peaks sheriff Harry S. Truman arrests Laura's boyfriend Bobby, who is secretly seeing a married woman named Shelly; Laura's best friend Donna and secret boyfriend James discover a mutual attraction; and Laura's mother has a terrifying vision.


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  • She's dead. Wrapped in plastic.

    Ridiculously melodramatic, downright bizarre, and yet undeniably intriguing. Most newcomers will stick around for more, but for those turned off by its deliberately strange appeal, it should be noted that this episode mainly sums up the entire feel of the series. If you do not get a kick out of its style here, then you simply might not be able to buy into anything Twin Peaks has to offer.
  • Pilot

    The pilot was not an all-time great episode like TV Guide lists it, but it was a very enjoyable and promising start to the cult classic. Some good offbeat humor, and while they did throw a lot of characters at us in a hurry, they did a strong job developing them too.
  • Don't understand how the pilot was that good...

    1) Just watched the pilot, and yes, I plan on continuing the series.

    2) I don't understand what made it that good.

    It was definitely melodramatic, to the point of being hard to take seriously... even accounting for the typical early 90's over-acting, and antiquated camera work. And, while it did well to give us a variety of storylines and characters, it often felt jumbled and ended up having to hold your hand through predictable lead-ins to the next scene.moreless
  • The pilot episode of Twin Peaks was unlike anything I've ever seen, and is easily the best pilot episode I've ever seen in my life.

    Twin Peaks was an odd show, yes? Well, this audience member is probably not its most likely fan; I'm 18 now, and I was 2 when Twin Peaks first aired.

    Naturally, the show evaded me. 16 years later, however, and I read about the show's impact and influence with growing anxiety about what I've missed. I own all the great shows; Alias, Buffy, the Simpsons, Nip/Tuck, Angel, Veronica Mars, etc. However, I owned nothing antiquated or influential.

    Fast forward through yonks of boring shopping stories, and I just spent a drunken night and a hungover morning watching the Pilot Episode of Twin Peaks. It was complex, it was stunning, it was even hilarious- it was all I wanted and expected it to be, yet it went beyond that. This is when you know a show is good. It crosses every genre, handling each one effortlessly and feeling relentlessly well-planned and directed.

    Each character was unique yet deep, and each action felt explained. Laura Palmer's death just had a huge ripple affect on the town, its people and their actions. Its quite amazing how immense it all feels.

    Then, the music triples this feeling. The soundtrack is unsettling and as varied as the mood of the program itself. Its perfect.

    My own natural curiousities and frustration has taught me that "Bob", a malevolent entity is the killer of Laura Palmer. Due to no season 2 to watch, I'm looking forward to having my questions about this unanswered.

    Not knowing how Laura Palmer died exactly is a bonus, however. I love having my questions unanswered, and Twin Peaks has renewed this feeling.

    One episode in, and I'm hooked. The pilot is perfect.moreless
  • Agent Cooper comes to town to investigate the murder of Laura Palmer.

    Very exciting series pilot! It introduces us to the main situations and characters, pulling us in and making us want more! Like any good mystery, it leaves us with more questions than answers and so many hanging storylines and threads. Agent Cooper is an amazing character, so silly and yet so smart! I love the Lynchian eerie feeling to the series. Baldamenti is wonderful at capturing the feel of the scene with music. It's brilliant to set the series in such an odd ball, out of the way town. Does anyone wish they could go down to the local coffee shop for some pie and coffee? ;-)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

Troy Evans

Troy Evans

George Wolchezk

Guest Star

John Boylan

John Boylan

Dwayne Milford

Guest Star

Rodney Harvey

Rodney Harvey

Biker Scotty

Guest Star

Wendy Robie

Wendy Robie

Nadine Hurley

Recurring Role

Charlotte Stewart

Charlotte Stewart

Betty Briggs

Recurring Role

Catherine E. Coulson

Catherine E. Coulson

Log Lady

Recurring Role

Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (9)

    • IMPROVS: When Agent Cooper initially examines Laura's corpse with Sheriff Truman and a medical assistant, the room's fluorescent lamp is buzzing & flickering due to a real-life malfunction. David Lynch loved the eerie effect and kept it in, giving the assistant an extra line about the light's "bad transformer". When Cooper asks the assistant to please leave later in the scene, the line is misheard by the minor actor who instead replies "Jim"(his real-life name). Cooper awkwardly restates his request and the assistant then responds appropriately...pleasing Lynch with yet another unscripted gaff.

    • Laura Palmer's homecoming photo that is used in this episode and throughout the series is actress Sheryl Lee's actual prom photo.

    • When Sheriff Truman and Agent Cooper see Donna and James drive by on the motorcycle, the Sheriff flips on the truck's emergency lights. The scene then cuts to the truck pulling out onto the road in pursuit of the motorcycle and the lights are no longer on. In the next scene we see the truck on the road and the lights are now on again.

    • The population of Twin Peaks is 51,201 due to a production goof in the creation of the welcome sign. Originally it was to going 5,120 inhabitants.

    • This episode takes place on: Friday, February 24, 1989

    • Agent Cooper mentions an agent named "Sam" who doesn't seem to be on the ball. In the Twin Peaks movie, Fire Walk with Me, we're introduced to Special Agent Sam Stanley, a goofy specialist who investigates the murder of Theresa Banks.

    • GOOF: In the opening titles, Catherine Martell's first name is spelled as "Katherine"

    • GOOF: In the end credits, the character played by Kimmy Robertson is listed as "Lucy Morgan," despite being identified as "Lucy Moran" in the episode.

    • In the final scene, where Sarah Palmer has an upsetting vision, look in the mirror behind her. You can briefly make out the reflection of Set Decorator Frank Silva. When this was called to Lynch's attention on the set, he was overjoyed and shouted "PERFECT!" This is how Frank Silva was chosen to play the character of Killer Bob.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Agent Cooper: Who's the lady with the log?
      Sheriff Truman: We call her the Log Lady.
      Log Lady: Shhhhhhh!

    • Cooper: Diane, 7:30 am, February twenty-fourth. Entering town of Twin Peaks. Five miles south of the Canadian border, twelve miles west of the state line. Never seen so many trees in my life. As W.C. Fields would say, I'd rather be here than Philadelphia. It's fifty-four degrees on a slightly overcast day. Weatherman said rain. If you could get paid that kind of money for being wrong sixty percent of the time it'd beat working. Mileage is 79,345, gauge is on reserve, I'm riding on fumes here, I've got to tank up when I get into town. Remind me to tell you how much that is. Lunch was $6.31 at the Lamplighter Inn. That's on Highway Two near Lewis Fork. That was a tuna fish sandwich on whole wheat, a slice of cherry pie and a cup of coffee. Damn good food. Diane, if you ever get up this way, that cherry pie is worth a stop.

    • Shelly: What kept you, Heidi? Seconds on knockwurst this morning?
      Heidi: I couldn't get my car started.
      Shelly: Too busy jump starting the old man, huh?

    • Norma: I thought the only time you cared about, Bobby, was making time.

    • Bobby: Norma, I'll see you in my dreams.
      Norma: Not if I see you first.

    • Log Lady Intro: Welcome to Twin Peaks. My name is Margaret Lanterman. I live in Twin Peaks. I am known as the Log Lady. There is a story behind that. There are many stories in Twin Peaks--some of them are sad, some funny. Some of them are stories of madness, of violence. Some are ordinary. Yet they all have about them a sense of mystery--the mystery of life.

      Sometimes, the mystery of death. The mystery of the woods. The woods surrounding Twin Peaks.

      To introduce this story, let me just say it encompasses the all-- it is beyond the "fire", though few would know that meaning. It is a story o many, but begins with one--and I knew her.

      The one leading to the many is Laura Palmer. Laura is the one.

    • Pete: She's dead. Wrapped in plastic.

  • NOTES (10)

    • The episode won 2 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Costume Design for a Series and Outstanding Editing for a Series - Single Camera Production.

    • Due to a contractual obligation, Lynch was forced to shoot an alternate ending to the pilot, which wrapped up the story quickly. Released on video in Europe (and a few years later in the US) this version ends with the One Armed Man contacting Cooper. He brings him to meet Killer Bob, who confesses to the crime. Bob is slain by the One Armed Man. Twenty-five years later, Cooper finds himself in a red room with Laura Palmer and a little man. Much of this footage was re-edited and used to great effect in Episode Two in a dream sequence.

    • This two hour special originally aired as the ABC Sunday Night Movie.

    • The original title for the pilot movie (and for the series as a whole) was Northwest Passage. It was later changed to Twin Peaks.

    • When Twin Peaks was rerun on the Bravo cable network in 1993, David Lynch wrote new introductions for each episode that were performed by Catherine Coulson as The Log Lady.

    • The Pilot episode, with the "European" ending, was exhibited in some countries in cinemas. It played in a number of film festivals including the Seminci.

    • The pilot features an extended opening title sequence, with more shots of the Packard Mill then usual. All the "Guest Starring," writing, producing, editing and directing credits also run during the main title sequnce. The title font is also slightly different then what will be used in the series.

    • The pilot episode was nominated for eight Emmy Awards in 1990, including best drama, best writing, best directing, best production design, best actor (MacLachlan), best director, and best supporting actress (Fenn). Duwayne Dunham won the Emmy for best editing and Patrica Norris won for best costume design for this episode.

    • In this episode, Julee Crusie sings "Falling" and "The Nightingale." All the original songs in Twin Peaks have music by Angelo Badalamenti and lyrics by David Lynch.

    • Rating: 21.7/33; Number 1 for the night, number 5 for the week.