Ultimate Binge Guide: Twin Peaks

So you want to binge-watch Twin Peaks?

So you want to binge-watch Twin Peaks?

What this show is all about: David Lynch's and Mark Frost’s drama series changed the TV landscape, breaking ground on how imaginative and daring shows can be.

Bonus: If that’s not enough of a reason to binge-watch, then consider that Twin Peaks is an engrossing drama that shines a light on the seedy underbelly of a seemingly innocent mill town. Simultaneously addictive and absurd, the early-90s show still holds up 25 years later.

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Here's what you're in for

Here's what you're in for

The numbers: As far as classic shows go, Twin Peaks is bite-sized for binging. There are just two seasons. The first season has only seven episodes each less than an hour. The pilot itself is just over 90 minutes. The second season, while having 22 episodes, still clocks in at only 50 minutes or so per episode. It's completely possible to blow through this series in just a few weeks if you're committed. And, oh, will you be committed! 

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Main cast of characters to care about: FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper

Main cast of characters to care about: FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper

FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle Maclachlan) comes to town to investigate the murder of homecoming Queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). His innocent, clean-cut look belies a deep interest in the spooky and supernatural.

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Main cast of characters to care about: Sarah Palmer

Main cast of characters to care about: Sarah Palmer

Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) is a skittish housewife and Laura's distraught mother. She also happens to deliver one of the most memorable TV performances ever.

Ever.

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Main cast of characters to care About: Donna Hayward

Main cast of characters to care About: Donna Hayward

Laura's bestie, Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle) is one of Special Agent Cooper's main sources of information as he digs into the case. Donna's boyfriend, the rebellious Bobby Briggs is also a key player, along with Donna's secret boyfriend, brooding biker James Hurley. 

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Main cast of characters to care about: Sheriff Harry S. Truman

Main cast of characters to care about: Sheriff Harry S. Truman

Cooper teams up with local law enforcement, introducing them to his unconventional methods. He becomes especially close to Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean). Truman leads a team that includes two deputies – lovable goofball Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz) and the fearless Tommy "Hawk" Hill (Michael Horse) – plus Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson), who's always on hand with donuts. 

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Heartbreak warning

Heartbreak warning

25-year-old spoiler alert! Laura Palmer is dead. That's how the whole series begins, so don't feel too bad. If you fail to heed the warning and fall in love with her anyway, you won't be alone. It turns out that falling in love with Laura Palmer is a common downfall for characters on Twin Peaks.

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Main cast of characters to care about: Audrey Horne

Main cast of characters to care about: Audrey Horne

High school bad girl Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) is the daughter of the one of the richest men in town, Ben Horne (Richard Beymer), and she challenges his authority whenever she can. Actually, she challenges every authority she faces. She takes quite a shining to the dashing FBI agent, Cooper, who strolls into town to investigate her classmate’s murder. In time, the always fashionable Audrey slowly but surely finds her own purpose, moving away from her rebellious beginnings.

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Side story to follow: The Log Lady

Side story to follow: The Log Lady

All you need to know about the Log Lady is that it's the log who's actually interesting. The log speaks to her, and the things it says could blow this whole mystery wide open. 
 
Awesome detail: bizarre, meaningful dream sequences

Awesome detail: bizarre, meaningful dream sequences

One of the hallmarks of Peaks is its strange, disturbing dream sequences. Cooper’s dreams, in particular, hide tantalizing clues to the fate of Laura Palmer. Twin Peaks makes a bold challenge to viewers: What if all those crazy dreams are real?!

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What to munch on

What to munch on

Binge watching Twin Peaks isn’t complete without plenty of coffee, donuts, and cherry pie, three foodstuffs that are so popular they may as well be recurring characters. Make Agent Cooper proud and hook yourself up with at least a damn fine cup of coffee.

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Pro-tip: Every episode featuring this guy is a must-watch

Pro-tip: Every episode featuring this guy is a must-watch

Every episode he's in also happens to be super creepy and slightly terrifying. We won't say who he is, but you've been warned. 

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Season 1 cheat sheet

Season 1 cheat sheet

The first season presents the mystery of “Who killed Laura Palmer?” and uncovers so much more in the process. Other town dramas include Josie Packard (Joan Chen) butting heads with her sister-in-law, Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie), over the Packard Mill; Ben Horne’s shady business deals; and a prostitution house with a very interesting theme.

Best episode: The pilot episode was a revolution in television. Working more like a movie than a standalone episode, the feature-length pilot kicks off with the discovery of Laura’s death. Agent Cooper heads to the small northwest town when another victim, Ronette Pulaski (Phoebe Augustine), is discovered alive but in a coma.

Scariest Moment: One of the most unsettling images of the first season is in the pilot episode. In grieving for her daughter, Sarah Palmer experiences a disturbing image of a long, gray-haired man scowling at her in her home. Who is this man? For a hint, see the previous slide.

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Season 2 cheat sheet

Season 2 cheat sheet

The second season delves further into the supernatural mysteries surrounding the town. More importantly, we all learn who Laura Palmer’s killer is!

 

Best episode: “Lonely Souls” finally reveals the identity of Laura Palmer’s killer. While you may figure out the outcome before this moment, just how it unfolds will blow your mind. This episode will have you feeling satisfied and disturbed, which is Twin Peaks at its best.


Bonus info: Showrunner David Lynch has a recurring role as FBI Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole. He's a quirky character, with a strange vocal cadence, cryptic coded language, and large hearing aids in both ears.

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Pro-tip: Don't touch that dial after the Season 2 premiere

Pro-tip: Don't touch that dial after the Season 2 premiere

Unlike every other episode’s credit sequence, the youngest Hayward sister, Gersten, showcases her talents on the keys during the closing credits of "May The Giant Be With You." What could it all mean? Perhaps it’s simply a palate cleanser from the horrifying nightmare sequence that ends the episode.

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The binge payoff

The binge payoff

In addition to being a murder mystery, Twin Peaks uncovers the secrets and darkness often lying right beneath a bright, virtuous surface. Whether it’s a double life involving drugs and prostitution, or an evil demon using someone as an unwitting host, there is always more to a person than first assumed.

While Twin Peaks features its fair share of creepy moments, the surreal aspect of the series also lends to moments of quirky humor. And Lynch's humor and horror pair surprisingly well with one another.