For the Adherent of Pop Culture
Adventures of Jack Burton ] Battlestar Galactica ] Buckaroo Banzai ] Cliffhangers! ] Earth 2 ] The Expendables ] Firefly/Serenity ] The Fly ] Galaxy Quest ] Indiana Jones ] Jurassic Park ] Land of the Lost ] Lost in Space ] The Matrix ] The Mummy/The Scorpion King ] The Prisoner ] Sapphire & Steel ] Snake Plissken Chronicles ] Star Trek ] Terminator ] The Thing ] Total Recall ] Tron ] Twin Peaks ] UFO ] V the series ] Valley of the Dinosaurs ] Waterworld ] PopApostle Home ] Links ] Privacy ]

Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Twin Peaks: Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer Twin Peaks
Episode 2: "Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer"
TV episode
Written by Mark Frost and David Lynch
Directed by David Lynch
Originally aired April 19, 1990

Page last updated 1/5/2022


Cooper employs an unusual deductive technique; the FBI forensics team arrives; Bobby and Mike meet Leo in the woods.


Read the episode transcription at


Didja Know?


For the titles of the Twin Peaks TV episodes, I have taken the unique approach of using both the episode numbers, which were the only titles given the scripts by series creators David Lynch and Mark Frost, and the translated German titles of the episodes that were assigned when the series aired in that country. Frequent readers of PopApostle know I like the aesthetic of actual episode titles, but I also wanted to honor the simple numbering used by Lynch and Frost, hence the expanded titles presented in these studies.


Notes from the Log Lady intros


When cable channel Bravo obtained the rights to air reruns of the Twin Peaks in 1993, David Lynch directed all-new introductions to each episode featuring the Log Lady, portrayed by original actress Catherine E. Coulson. These intros also appear as options on the Blu-ray and Blu-ray collections of the series.


Sometimes 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.


some ideas.wav


Didja Notice?


This episode opens on the night of Saturday, February 25 and goes through the night of Sunday the 26th (1989).


During the Horne family's dinner, if you listen closely, it sounds as if Johnny's grunting sounds may be him humming the musical piece from the show called, on the Twin Peaks soundtrack album, "Love Theme from Twin Peaks".


As the episode opens, Ben Horne's brother, Jerry, has just returned from Paris. What was he doing there?


Presumably, the two Horne brothers were named by Frost and Lynch for the ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's.


Through a mouthful of sandwich, Ben tells Jerry it reminds him of "Jeanne and Jenny down by the river." This must be a childhood or teenage memory of the brothers meeting up with two girls in their youth.


Looking forward to a visit to One-Eyed Jacks, Jerry says, "All work and no play makes Ben and Jerry dull boys." This is his own personal revision to the well-known proverb "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," which first appeared in James Howell's 1659 book, Proverbs in English, Italian, French and Spanish.


The boat that takes Ben and Jerry across the lake (Black Lake) to One-Eyed Jacks in British Columbia, Canada has an unusual variant of the U.S. flag flying at the back. For a long time I was not able to identify the origin of this flag, but Brent Jones recently wrote to me with the identification: it is the U.S. Yacht Ensign, an optional flag that may be displayed by any American recreational vessel. (Thanks, Brent!)
Boat flag U.S. Yacht Ensign
Flag on Ben's boat U.S. Yacht Ensign (image from


Notice that the boat scene is sped up, as if the film is running at near 2x speed.


One-Eyed Jacks is established here as being a casino and brothel, which are legal and regulated in Canada. The name is appropriate, as it refers to both gambling (the one-eyed jacks in a standard playing card deck) and sex ("One-Eyed Jack" is a euphemism for "penis"). The logo of One-Eyed Jack's to the right is probably the jack of hearts since the "J" is red (the other one-eyed jack in a deck being a black spade) and "hearts" is also more in keeping with the amorous nature of the sexual aspects of the club. One-Eyed Jack's logo


At 8:03 on the Blu-ray, notice that the chandelier above the pool table at One-Eyed Jacks is made out of deer antlers.


The poem Ben begins to recite as he coddles Blackie is one of William Shakespeare's sonnets, Sonnet 18. The full sonnet is below:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


At 12:04 on the Blu-ray, Agent Cooper enters his hotel room and blows on the whistle he finished in Episode 1: "Traces to Nowhere".


If Audrey wanted to help Cooper anonymously with a potential clue about the Laura Palmer case, why didn't she just write "One-Eyed Jacks" on the note she slips under his hotel room door instead of "Jack with One Eye"?


Bobby's Firebird Trans Am has the license plate is 468 BLA.


At 14:58 on the Blu-ray, during Mike and Bobby's meeting in the woods with Leo, a dark figure is seen hiding behind a tree, observing. It's implied that the figure is with Leo. Notice that the man appears to be wearing a ski mask over his face. It's never revealed who this figure was, though Mark Frost later stated that a scene was written but not used that revealed it to be Ben Horne, who was Leo's boss in drug-running. Ben is later seen to meet with Leo by the river in Episode 4: "The One-Armed Man".


Leo cryptically tells Mike and Bobby he needs a new pair of shoes. Leo's shoes become something of a running bit throughout the series.


Ironically, Leo is complaining about his wife cheating on him with an unknown somebody to Bobby...and Bobby is the one she's cheating on him with!


At the end of their meeting in the woods, Leo tells Bobby and Mike to "go out for a pass" and, as they run from him, he throws the football out of the woods towards them, hitting the hood of Bobby's car. But we've seen that there are many pine trees between Leo in the woods and where the car is parked; it doesn't seem likely he would be able to throw the ball any distance at all with all the tall trees and their branches in the way. This may be an intentional introduction of a surreal (i.e. dream-like) moment to the scene. Many such instances appear in the course of the series. It could be that the "reality" of Twin Peaks is actually the recurring dream of a larger entity; in Fire Walk With Me, Agent Phillip Jeffries tells Gordon Cole, "We live inside a dream." A dream reality could explain the unrealistic/surreal moments and time alterations seen throughout stories set in the Twin Peaks universe.


At 18:03 on the Blu-ray, one of Nadine's figurines in her display nook is a woman with a patch over one eye, just like Nadine herself. (This same figurine is seen in Episode 3: "Rest in Pain" as well.)


At 18:22 on the Blu-ray, the blob of grease that Big Ed had just dripped onto one of Nadine's drape runners seconds before is suddenly gone.


This episode is our first exposure to Nadine's super strength, as evidenced by her bending the metal bars of her rowing exercise machine.


This episode is also our first glimpse of Invitation to Love, the TV show within the TV show. Invitation to Love is a soap opera watched by many of the characters we see in Twin Peaks. Events in the soap opera are seen to have a similarity to what is happening in Twin Peaks at the time.


At Cooper's rock throw "Tibetan method" deductive technique demonstration, Andy is again seen wearing his gun holster backwards as he did in Episode 0A: "Wrapped in Plastic".


Cooper's description of the 20th Century history of Tibet, with China largely in control and the Dalai Lama in exile, is accurate. The Dalai Lama is the head monk of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, and nominally the leader of Tibet.


Cooper says he had a dream about Tibet "three years ago", which made him deeply moved about the plight of the Tibetan people. His dream then, would have been in 1986.


At 24:12 on the Blu-ray, the singular "R" and "T" on the chalkboard are circled when they weren't just seconds before. A scene was cut in which Cooper explained that the "R" and "T" are the letters found under the fingernails of the dead bodies of Laura Palmer and Teresa Banks, and that's when he circled them. This is the first we learn (or would have!) that "T" was the letter found under Teresa Banks' fingernail.


    When Cooper throws the rock at the glass bottle in his Tibetan method of uncovering who the "J" is in Laura's diary entry of "nervous about meeting J tonight", the rock hits the bottle when thrown for the name of Dr. Lawrence Jacoby, but does not break. Cooper notes that the fact that the bottle did not break is important. So, what exactly does it mean? The bottle is later struck and breaks when thrown for the name of Leo Johnson, presumably indicating that he was the "J" she meant, and we later learn she did meet with him that night, the night she was murdered. So, what does Jacoby have to do with it at all? There is no indication during the course of the series that he met her that night (though she did record and send a tape for him that day). Nothing untoward happens when Cooper throws the rock for James Hurley, though he was Laura's secret boyfriend and she did meet him that night.

   But why is Leo Johnson on the list at all? At this point, there is no indication that he has any connection to Laura at all, so why would Cooper place him on the list? 


When Cooper throws the rock at the bottle for the name of Shelly Johnson, it hits a tree and ricochets off, hitting Deputy Andy. Is there any significance to this? Neither Shelly nor Andy met Laura that night or had anything to do with her murder. Maybe the fact that Shelly is Leo's wife and has his last name of Johnson was a minor influence on the deductive technique in this instance?


Donna is again wearing her "Owl Cave" symbol sweater at the RR Diner, as she did in the previous episode (Episode 1: "Traces to Nowhere").


The music that Audrey plays and dances to on the juke box at the RR Diner is called simply "Audrey's Dance" on the Twin Peaks soundtrack album.


At 31:34 on the Blu-ray, a seafood place can be seen across the street through the window of the RR.


At 32:38 on the Blu-ray, notice that Lucy is reading up on Tibet.


This episode reveals that Pete and Catherine have separate bedrooms, despite being married. There is also no indication in the series that they ever had children.


Catherine asks Pete about Agent Cooper's visit that morning. But it was actually yesterday morning in the timeline when that visit occurred! This scene was probably shot for the previous episode (Episode 1: "Traces to Nowhere"), when that visit occurred, was cut, and then used here.


Explaining the bad coffee he unintentionally served to Cooper and Truman during their visit, Pete tells Catherine he had a problem with a fish that took a liking to his percolator (again in Episode 1: "Traces to Nowhere"). His tone seems to suggest he suspects her of having placed it there!


At 38:15 on the Blu-ray, a picture of a young Laura not usually seen is visible on an end table as Leland is messing with the record player.

Young Laura


The song Leland plays on the record player is "Pennsylvania 6-5000", a 1940 jazz song by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra. The song is named for the phone number of the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City, where Glenn Miller often played its Cafe Rouge.


The smearing of Leland's own blood on the photo of Laura may be an indication of his own role in the murder of his daughter. 


Cooper's Dream


[This part of the study discusses Cooper's dream as it appears in the actual episode. Following it, you will find the discussion of the "extended version" of Cooper's dream from the European Twin Peaks pilot video release, from which this episode's dream was culled.]


The "poem" spoken by the One-Armed Man goes as follows:


Through the darkness of future past,

the magician longs to see,

one chance out between two, walk with me.


Some versions of the poem replace "chance" with "chants", but the original script of this episode uses "chance". The phrase "fire walk with me" was found written in blood on a scrap of paper in the train car, the scene of Laura's murder in Episode 0B: "Northwest Passage". The phrase also becomes the title of the Twin Peaks movie in 1992 (Fire Walk With Me).


The One-Armed Man, Mike, tells Cooper, "I too have been touched by the devilish one," referring to BOB. When he says "I too", he implies one or more others having been touched by BOB. To whom is he referring? Cooper? After all, we're in his dream. Was Cooper touched by BOB at some point in the past? Or is Mike able to see the future, where we will see at the end of the second season, that BOB has either possessed or replaced Cooper. Another possibility is that Mike is referring to Leland, though Cooper does not know about that yet.


Here, BOB is wearing a denim vest. It appears it is actually a denim jacket with the arms cut off (his shirt also has the arms cut off). In later appearances, he wears a full denim jacket.


At 42:21 on the Blu-ray, BOB is also seen to have a tattoo on his left shoulder (like Mike did). We don't get a close look, but it appears to be the phrase "Fire walk with me". (This seems to be confirmed in Cooper's description of the tattoo in Episode 3: "Rest in Pain"; he also adds that both Mike and BOB have the same tattoo.)

BOB's tattoo


The portions of the dream where Cooper appears older are revealed to be "25 years later" by Cooper in Episode 3: "Rest in Pain" and in the extended version of the dream.

25 years later


What are the three lapel pins Cooper wears in the dream "25 years later"? Is anyone able to identify them? (Update: PopApostle reader Will N. points out that the middle of the two pins appears to be an insignia pin for a US Army Ordnance Corps Officer. And he notes the bottom "bar" pin is military as well, possibly a Bronze Star Medal lapel pin. There's glare on the bar pin, so it's hard to tell if there is a blue vertical stripe in the middle as in the Bronze Star pin.) Why would Cooper be wearing the military pins? There is no evidence he was a member of the military at any time in his past.
Cooper's lapel pins US Army Ordnance Corps Officer pin Bronze Star lapel pin
Cooper's lapel pins US Army Ordnance Corps Officer pin Bronze Star lapel pin


In the dream, Laura touches the right side of her nose with her finger as she looks at Cooper. What is the significance of this signal? Some fans have thought it was related to the secret hand signal of the Bookhouse Boys, introduced in Episode 3: "Rest in Pain", though that signal is a touch to the right temple. In American Sign Language, a touch to the right side of the nose by the right index finger means simply "nose". Perhaps Lynch and Frost are making a play on words here, substituting "nose" for "knows". After this motion by Laura, the Dwarf begins speaking; maybe Laura was indicating that the Dwarf knows things and Cooper should listen.


In the closing credits, the dwarf is referred to as the Man From Another Place. It is interesting to note that in Fire Walk With Me, the dwarf tells Cooper, "I am the arm," implying he is the arm that Mike removed from Philip Gerard to rid himself of the tattoo. And the script of that movie refers to the dwarf as "the Man From Another Place (Mike)" during Agent Jeffries' description of the meeting above the convenience store! So, it would seem that the dwarf is Mike!


At 44:04 on the Blu-ray, a floating shadow moves across the red drapes behind the seated dwarf and Laura. It may be an owl, a bird that becomes significant in later episodes. The original script describes it only as "the shadow of a bird".


The dwarf tells Cooper, "That gum you like is going to come back in style." This seems to be a reference to season two's Episode 16:_"Arbitrary Law", in which Leland remarks that his favorite gum is back (Beeman's).


The dwarf describes the "Laura" sitting next to him as " cousin, but doesn't she look almost exactly like Laura Palmer?" This has generally been read as a reference to Laura's look-alike cousin Madeleine Ferguson, who shows up in the next episode (Episode 3: "Rest in Pain"). It may also be a reference to the evil doppelgangers from the Black Lodge that are discussed in season two (and seen in the final episode). In the original script for this episode, captions refer to her only as WOMAN. Another theory that was common at the time the show first aired, was that Maddie was the one who was actually murdered and Laura was now masquerading as her own cousin! This does not seem to be borne out in later episodes, though it's not impossible that it is the case.


When Cooper asks the woman if she is Laura Palmer, she says, "I feel like I know her, but sometimes my arms bend back." Her phrase "my arms bend back" is later interpreted by Cooper as Laura having her arms tied behind her the night of her murder. But is Cooper's interpretation correct? It is interesting to note that the word "religion" is believed by scholars to stem from the Latin word ligare, which means "to bind back". Combined with the Latin word re, meaning "again", "religion" is taken to mean "to reconnect" (with God). When dream Laura says her arms bend back, is she saying something more meaningful about Laura? Like the difference between the "bad girl" and "good girl" Laura? Or referring to the essence of Laura's good spirit hinted at in the "third season" of Twin Peaks? Does "bind back" mean "reconnecting to God"? Recall that Mike, former ally of BOB, said he "saw the face of God" (reconnected?) and was changed, now attempting to stop BOB.


The dwarf tells Cooper, "Where we're from, the birds sing a pretty song and there's always music in the air." His phrase "there's always music in the air" is later interpreted by Cooper as a reference to the record that is found playing over-and-over in Jacques Renault's cabin in the woods, where Laura and Ronette had sex with Jacques and Leo the night of Laura's murder.


After Laura whispers who killed her into Cooper's ear in the dream, he awakens and immediately phones Sheriff Truman, telling him to meet him for breakfast at the Great Northern at 7 in the morning, "I know who killed Laura, it can wait till morning." But, as it turns out, no it can't, because Cooper has forgotten who it was by then (in Episode 3: "Rest in Pain"). It's a rare slip-up by Cooper, who should have known better, especially as dream memories are notoriously short-lived; he should have at least written it down. Later (in Episode 16:_"Arbitrary Law"), we will learn that Laura had whispered, "My father killed me."


The music from Cooper's dream is still playing, with a muffled sound, when Cooper awakens and calls Sheriff Truman. Is it just meant to be interpreted as Cooper playing the tune over in his head? He does snap his fingers to the tune after hanging up the phone. Or is it meant to suggest the music is actually still playing somewhere? Notice that additional music, the music setting the actual "live" scene playing out in Cooper's hotel room, begins to play over the "muffled" dream music...both scores playing at once. In addition, the closing credits of this episode replace the usual Laura Palmer photo and theme with the Dwarf dancing to the dream music, again possibly suggesting that the music and dance are still taking place elsewhere.


Memorable Dream Dialog


fire, walk with me.wav

his name is BOB.wav

I promise, I will kill again.wav

let's rock.wav

that gum you like is going to come back in style.wav 


Cooper's Dream (Extended Version)


[This part of the study discusses the "extended version" of Cooper's dream as it appeared as the ending of the European Twin Peaks pilot video release, from which this episode's dream was culled. In the following episode (Episode 3: "Rest in Pain"), it's obvious that this extended version is what Cooper really dreamed, for he mentions aspects of it that were not seen in the shorter episode version. Considering the time-travel/alternate-timelines aspect of the Twin Peaks universe that may be inferred from study of the enitire TP oeuvre, one might also consider the "European pilot video" to be an alternate timeline that took place before the mainstream timeline we follow through most of the series.]


The scene of Sarah's vision of seeing BOB kneeling at the foot of Laura's bed features shots of an hysterical Sarah that were used at the end of Episode 0B: "Northwest Passage" to indicate her vision of a gloved hand (Dr. Jacoby's) unburying the locket in the woods (including the face of Killer BOB seen in the mirror hanging behind her, as discussed in the study of that episode).


At home at Lucy's, Lucy is playing paddleball and Andy is attempting to play "Taps" on a trumpet. Also notice that, for some reason, Andy's right pant-leg is rolled up above his knee. "Taps" is a musical piece that is often played at funerals, perhaps here suggesting Andy's sadness over the murder of Laura.

Andy plays "Taps"


When Leland calls Lucy at home in an attempt to reach Sheriff Truman to tell him about his wife's sudden vision of the man at the foot of the bed, she has to tell Andy to stop playing trumpet so she can hear. Notice while she does so, she is also repeatedly tapping her paddleball board loudly over the transceiver of the phone in her hand, probably causing Leland to pull his receiver away from his ear!


Lucy tells Leland that Hawk is their police sketch artist, and Cooper mentions this about his dream in Episode 3: "Rest in Pain", but in Episode 4: "The One-Armed Man", it is Andy who is the sketch artist.


Cooper's hotel room looks slightly different here than it does in episodes of the series, e.g. the rifle above his bed is not hanging on deer hooves, the bedside lamp does not have a clock built in, etc. This might be interpreted as the difference between reality and the dream version of a particular location.


When Mike calls Cooper in his hotel room, Mike is on a pay phone at the hospital. On the wall next to the phone is a scrawled number that appears to be 206-409-2477. The area code indicates the number is for Seattle, WA; the name above it possibly says "Tom".


During the phone call, Mike tells Cooper he knows about the "stiches with the red thread" in the Teresa Banks case. This is not mentioned again in the series.


Cooper awakens from a dream within a dream when Mike's phone call comes through. He is actually still in his dream. He makes a recorder entry to Diane, noting it is 2:24 a.m.


As Cooper, Truman, and Andy meet with Mike at the hospital morgue, Mike tells them not to turn on the overhead lights because "...the fluorescents don't work. I think a transformer's bad." And Cooper responds, "We know that." Cooper and Truman witnessed the flickering overhead lights there in Episode 0A: "Wrapped in Plastic". Again, as suggested in that study, this may be indicative of the presence of a spirit from the Black Lodge (in this case, Mike himself), as they seem to travel via electricity and cause similar disruptions in the 1992 follow-up film to the series, Fire Walk With Me.


BOB half-sings:


   Heads up, tails up,

   Running to you scallywag!

   Night falls, morning calls!

   Catch you with my death bag!


    The term "scallywag" was used by conservative white Southerners to describe other white Southerners who supported the Northern policies of racial integration, etc. that went against what was considered the region's cultural norm in the decades after the U.S. Civil War. BOB seems to be referring to Mike with the term, possibly due to Mike having seen "the face of God" and turning against BOB, attempting to stop his killings of humans.


After shooting BOB, Mike himself appears to be dying as well. As he slowly collapses, he asks Cooper and Truman, "Have you got a nickel?" The reference is left unexplained. It may refer to the practice in some cultures of placing coins over the eyes of the dead before burial, or the occasional reported use of a coin to seal a gunshot or puncture wound to temporarily halt or slow bleeding. 


In the shortened episode version, the screen is cropped so as not to show a couple of filming errors. Here in the extended dream, when the dwarf gets up from his chair and starts dancing, he moves towards the edge of the set and we can see on the right-hand side of the screen where the red curtains end! Then, after Laura whispers to Cooper and we see the dwarf dancing again, a piece of masking tape can be seen on the floor, used to denote the actor's mark or barrier.
Curtain's edge actor's mark


Memorable Dream Dialog (Extended Version)


strict attention.wav

is Mike with you?.wav

catch you with my death bag.wav 


Memorable Dialog


I'm depressed.wav

freshly scented.wav

all work and no play.wav

I didn't come here to lose my shirt.wav

two double scotch on the rocks.wav

Leo needs a new pair of shoes.wav

Laura was a wild girl.wav

Ed, you make me sick.wav

Invitation to Love.wav

damn good coffee.wav

the country called Tibet.wav

Agent Cooper loves coffee.wav

isn't it too dreamy?.wav

Albert and his team are here.wav

nobody's perfect.wav

welcome to amateur hour.wav

cotton balls.wav

I know who killed Laura Palmer.wav 


Back to Twin Peaks Episode Studies