"Twin Peaks" Pilot (TV Episode 1990) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • When beautiful, young Laura Palmer is found brutally savaged, murdered, and wrapped in plastic, the death of the Twin Peaks Homecoming Queen is big news in the small town. As the news spreads, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper travels to the Northern Washington State town to solve this and other related cases.

  • FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, a mystical loner and eccentric nature lover, comes to the small Washington state town of Twin Peaks to investigate the brutal murder of a young high school girl named Laura Palmer and soon becomes entangled in most of the town's problems and situations.

  • The residents of Twin Peaks reel in shock when high school homecoming queen Laura Palmer is found murdered, prompting an investigation involving the FBI. Agent Dale Cooper arrives and soon comes into contact with the various townsfolk, including an adulterous saw mill owner, an eye-patch-wearing housewife obsessed with drapes and a mysterious log lady.

  • Undercurrents of passion, greed, jealousy and intrigue surface in a seemingly respectable town when a high school homecoming queen is found murdered.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Twin Peaks is a small town of 51,201 inhabitants. Pete Martell (Jack Nance) leaves home to go fishing. Before he arrives to his destination, he notices a bundle of plastic in the riverside. Immediately, he phones Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) through the nosy phone operator, Lucy Morgan (Kimmy Robertson). Harry is the sheriff of the town, and he immediately tends to the crime. There, the photographer, deputy Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz) is crying while taking the photos of the corpse so the coroner has to take charge of the task. When they finally turn the body over, they see it's seventeen-year-old Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee).

    Back at home, Laura's mother, Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) is calling out for Laura, but of course she's not there. Sarah phones several people asking for her whereabouts. Harry visits Laura's father, Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) who is trying to sell property to some foreign visitors. Sarah realises that "her baby", as she calls Laura, is dead when Leland says that Harry is looking for him.

    At the local café, Double R, Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton) teases a co-worker who is being picked up by her secret lover. When the couple leave together they see a police car in the opposite direction. They both feel terrified when they watch the huge lorry. Back at the police station, Leland has to identify the body of his dead child.

    Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) arrives to high school acting all cocky. He is Laura's boyfriend and is immediately summoned to be questioned. Laura's classmates react in different ways to her death: Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle) cries sincerely but Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) seems not to care much. Bobby is the main suspect as he didn't go to football practice that day, and nobody saw Laura after Bobby left her. The principal announces through the loudspeakers to all the high school that Laura is dead and ask students to come forward if they know what Laura did after classes yesterday. Bobby says that he loved her, and that he's innocent.

    Laura's diary is found. The mother remembers Laura talking on the phone, but she can't be sure of what time it was. Another girl hasn't come back home. Katherine Martell (Piper Laurie) doesn't want Jocelyn Packard (Joan Chen) to stop the sawmill for the day because of the death of Laura and the disappearance of Pulaski's daughter. Pete finally obeys Jocelyn. That other girl Ronnette "Rony" Pulaski (Phoebe Augustine) appears half-naked, walking numbly with the remains of rope around her wrists. She looks horrible.

    Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) arrives to Twin Peaks. He is a weird character who is amazed by the corns of the land and is constantly talking to some "Diane" in his speakerphone -- or is that a tape recorder (it is unclear). The coroner hasn't prepared the report on the second girl, who is at hospital from exposure. The girl is not responding at all, so Cooper watches her fingernails closely. A psychiatrist, Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) doesn't want Cooper or Truman to tell Laura's parents that she was watching him. Cooper finds something deep under one of Laura's fingernails. It is a very small square letter "R."

    Big Ed Hurley (Everett McGill) shows Donna a handwritten note saying "Meet me at the roadhouse after 9:30". Donna was Laura's best friend. Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger) wants Donna only to console him. Cooper read Laura's diary: there is a person with a "J" mentioned. The last day Laura wrote about a key to a deposit box within an envelope and pasted that key into the diary. The envelope had some white powder on it. Cooper says that it's a reference to cocaine, but Harry says that Laura wasn't that kind of girl. Cooper shows a video found at Laura's room. Bobby says that he quarrelled with Laura, but he didn't kill her. Laura appears in the video exhilarating, happy, half-dancing. Bobby says that he doesn't know who she was seeing. Cooper replies that he didn't love her anyway.

    Audrey is really pissed off for all the attention to Laura, even in her death. She interrupts the symposium for the sale of property, and everybody looks at her. Bobby is furious and he blames some mysterious biker, and he threatens to bust open that biker's head. Bobby is released by his rich parents. Laura and Donna had gone on a picnic on their own, but somebody had to take the pictures. Donna says it was a female backpacker. Cooper thinks that Donna is protecting the mysterious "J". In the recording of Laura, in one of her eyes, there is a reflection of part of a Harley Davidson motorbike which Cooper has found out. Meanwhile, Audrey is happy because she has spoilt the business of her father Benjamin Horne.

    Cooper and Truman find half of a necklace with a gold heart, some bloody remains and a scrap of paper in which it was written with blood "Fire Walk with Me". James Hurley (James Marshall) looks at the other half of a gold heart necklace similar to that. At the deposit box, Cooper and Truman find 10,000 dollars and the magazine Flesh World . Ronnette Pulaski and the lorry from which the two coffee goers were afraid of also appears in the magazine.

    Leo Johnson (Eric DaRe) is jealous of Shelley Johnson (Mädchen Amick) because of some different-branded cigarette butts. Cooper and Truman give a public speech. Dwayne Milford (John Boylan) stummers in the mic. Cooper says that Laura was the second and Ronnette the third victim of a killer who he has been trying to catch. Meanwhile, he recommends a curfew to everybody younger than 18. Donna wants to leave home anyway and her sister Harriet (Jessica Wallenfels) will cover up for her. However, as Mike and Bobby come looking for Donna, her father realises she's not there. Both youngsters go to look for Donna to the roadhouse, while Dr. Will Hayward (Warren Frost), Donna's father, calls the police.

    At the Roadhouse motel bar, Twin Peaks theme song is sung. Donna arrives. Mike and Bobby are waiting there for her. Mike frightens Donna, who gets hysterical. A bar brawl ensues, and the Biker takes Donna away from there. Donna tells James Hurley (James Marshall) that the police are looking for him. Laura said to James that she was really different to what everybody thought of her. She was afraid of somebody. Donna says that she knew Laura better than she thought, and she kisses James passionately. Donna advises James to give back the other half of the golden necklace. James and Donna bury the other half together and put a stone on top of everything. James takes Donna home. Cooper and Truman had been following James and he now stops him. When Donna says that James didn't do anything, Cooper says that she is right. In spite of that, James is put into prison, where Mike and Bobby have been imprisoned - thankfully in another cell. Donna's father doesn't tell Donna off, because he knows she did what she did for a very good reason.

    Cooper asks Truman for some advice concerning an inexpensive motel, as he is going to stay around for a while. Jocelyn kisses Truman passionately and Katherine tells somebody on the phone.

    Laura's mother wakes up from a nightmare. At that very same moment, the other half of Laura's necklace is taken from under the stone.

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