Arbitrary Law is the 9th episode of the 2nd season of Twin Peaks, and the 16th episode of the series as a whole.
Morning - Albert, Cooper, Truman and Hawk are walking outdoors along a path in the woods. Albert says that Maddy was murdered by the same man who killed Laura, there was an “O” under Maddy’s ring fingernail, and she had strands from the fur of a stuffed white fox in her right hand. Cooper tells Truman not to make phone calls reporting Maddy’s murder - he wants 24 hours to finish the case. Albert advises Cooper to follow his vision quest before there’s another killing. Hawk tells Cooper he’s on the path and to follow it.
At the Double RR Donna and James chat over coffee. James gives Donna a ring. Norma and Vivian quarrel over Norma’s omelets. Andy tries to say “J’ai une âme solitaire” and Donna overhears him; when she asks him about it, Andy tells her about Harold Smith’s suicide note. Donna leaves to find Cooper.
As Donna, Cooper, and Andy approach Mrs. Tremond’s apartment Donna tells Cooper about Mrs. Tremond’s telling her about Harold and her grandson’s saying the same words as in Harold’s note. When they knock on the door a middle-aged woman answers. She identifies herself as Mrs.Tremond and tells Donna she could not have seen her mother because she’d been dead for three years. She also has no children. When the woman learns Donna’s name she gives her an envelope that she found in her mail the day after Harold’s death; it’s addressed to Donna in Harold’s handwriting. The envelope contains a page torn from Laura’ diary. An entry for February 22 describes a dream Laura had that seems identical to Cooper’s dream about the dwarf. She writes that she has to stop Bob, Bob’s afraid of only one man, Mike, and Laura wonders if the old man in her dream was Mike. On February 23 Laura wrote, “Tonight is the night that I die - it’s the only way to keep Bob away from me.” Cooper remarks that Laura and he had the same dream. He tells Andy to take Donna home, while Cooper goes to see Gerrard.
Cooper talks to Mike while Dr. Hayward urges that Gerrard be given his drug. Cooper urges Mike to tell him how to unlock the dream. Mike tells him that when he and Bob were killing together there was a perfect relationship, appetite, satisfaction, a golden circle. Cooper says he gave his ring to the Giant. Mike says the Giant can help find Bob, but Cooper must ask him first. As Cooper leaves he encounters the old waiter, who carries a glass of milk and says, “I know about you. That milk will cool down on you, but it’s getting warmer now.” He gives the thumbs-up sign to Cooper.
In Ben’s office Truman tells Cooper about finding a record of the telephone call Leland reported, a call to Laura Palmer’s number. He notes the stuffed white fox and concludes that Maddy was here. Albert reports that Maddy died the night before last between 10PM and midnight and Truman says that fits, “we didn’t take Ben until after midnight,” an apparent error by Truman. Albert gives Cooper the results of Ben Horne’s blood test.
In the Sheriff’s station a workman adjusts the sensitivity of the sprinkler system while Andy tells Lucy he wants to talk about their baby. Lucy tells him she’s not certain if the baby is his or Dick’s. Andy calls Tremayne and tells him they need to talk. Tojamura visits Ben’s cell with papers for him to sign. Ben says he cannot deliver on the Ghostwood contract and Tojamura asks for the return of the $5 million. As Ben explains about Jerry’s looking for a better lawyer, Tojamura extends a bare, pedicured foot through the bars and Ben recognizes her as Catherine. Catherine calls him slimy rat bastard and says she intends to make his life hell. Ben asks her to tell Truman about his being with her the night of Laura’s murder. He signs Ghostwood and the mill over to her and she starts to leave. She tells him she’ll consider telling the sheriff, that “we’ve spent our entire adult lives lying to each other. Why spoil it with the truth now?”
Leland greets Donna, who has come to deliver a tape of the song she, Maddy, and James recorded, so that Leland may mail it to Maddy. He recognizes Laura’s sunglasses and becomes agitated. She tells him about the discovery of Laura’s secret diary. Leland gets a phone call from Beth, who reports that Maddy never came home. When Donna becomes upset, Leland suggests lemonade.
Donna is startled when Leland returns with the lemonade. He puts on a phonograph record of “J’attendrai” and asks Donna to dance with him. We see flashes of BOB as thunder is heard. Leland grabs Donna but the doorbell rings. Leland admits Truman who tells him he needs Leland’s help because there’s been another murder. Crying, Donna walks through the woods. James drives upon his motorcycle. Donna tells him that Maddy’s been killed. James says they could have helped her. He says this is no good. Donna asks him not to leave. He says nothing they do matters. He leaves. Donna cries.
A thunderstorm is in progress. Ben is in a booth at the Roadhouse. Cooper and Albert are at the bar. Truman brings Leland in. Ed Hurley joins them. Cooper tells them to clear a space in the center of the room. Cooper summarizes the investigation and his techniques. He says he needs magic. There’s an awkward moment. Cooper says someone is missing. The clock strikes 3pm and Major Brigs enters with the old waiter, who had flagged him down. The waiter gives Cooper a stick of gum. Leland recognizes the gum from his childhood. The waiter says, “that gum you like is going to come back in style.” Cooper recalls his dream. Laura whispers, “My father killed me.” to Cooper. The Giant appears and drops Cooper’s ring to the floor. Cooper puts a stick of gum in his mouth , picks up the ring, and tells Ben Horne to accompany him to the sheriff’s office, with Leland as Ben’s attorney. As they leave, Cooper flashes the thumbs-up sign to the waiter.
They arrive at the sheriff’s station at 3:56 pm. Cooper tells them to take Ben Horne into an interrogation room. Leland says he wants to begin bail proceedings, but Cooper puts him off, then whispers something to Truman. When they open the door of the interrogation room, they push Leland inside and lock the door. Leland starts to hoot and slams himself against the walls. Cooper tells Hawk to take Ben upstairs and release him. Ben says, “Leland?” Hawk says that’s not Leland. When Cooper explains to Truman what Laura told him in her dream, Truman remarks that he needs hard evidence. Cooper suggests a confession. They cuff Leland in a chair. Hawk keeps a gun aimed at him. Truman reads him his rights. Leland laughs and says, “I suppose you want to ask him some questions.” When Cooper asks if he killed Laura Palmer, Leland hoots and says, “that’s a yes.” He admits killing Maddy because he has a “thing for knives, just like what happened to you in Pittsburgh. He describes Leland as a good vehicle, but says it’s time to shuffle off. When Cooper asks if Leland knows what “you’ve” done, he tells Cooper to watch Leland remember, but not for long, when he goes. Truman says that’s enough for him and they leave Leland alone. Dick Tremayne arrives and Lucy takes him into the Sheriff’s conference room, where Andy is. She tells them she’s going to keep her baby and will depend on a post-natal blood test to determine who the father is. Dick’s cigarette smoke rises toward the smoke detector. Outside the interrogation room Cooper says Ben Horne’s blood type was wrong.
He points out that the action of the dwarf in his dream, dancing, pointed to Leland’s compulsive dancing. The man next door was Robertson - Mike said the people Bob inhabited where his children - son of Robert, the name being spelled under the fingernails. Leland killed Laura because she was on to him, as he learned from her diary. Leland placed the call to Laura from Ben’s office. Cooper suggests Leland killed Maddy because she reminded him of Laura. Leland recites the poem and screams the last line, “Fire walk with me.” The sprinkler system goes off. Leland/Bob goes ballistic. He hoots and beats his head against the door. They open it and find Leland on the floor. Cooper kneels beside Leland and takes him in his arms. Before he dies Leland remembers that he killed Laura. He says they wanted Laura but she fought them. She wouldn’t let them in so they killed her. Cooper comforts Leland and tells him the time has come to seek the path...to enter the light. Leland says he sees Laura in the light. He dies.
The next morning Cooper, Truman, and Albert encounter Major Briggs on the path in the woods. Truman remarks that Leland was completely insane. Albert says people saw Bob in visions. When Truman says he has trouble believing, Cooper asks if it’s easier to believe a man would rape and murder his own daughter. “Is that any more comforting?” Briggs asks if it matters what the cause is and Cooper replies, “Yes. It’s our job to stop it.” Albert suggests "Maybe that's all BOB is, the evil that men do" and that it may not matter what they call it. Truman agrees and says that if BOB were real, he’s gotten away, “Where is he now?”
The camera tracks passed a wrecked car into and along a ravine until an owl flies directly at the camera.
- Timeline: Saturday, March 11th
- Original Air Date: December 1, 1990
- Official Episode Number: #2009
- Nielson Rating: 72nd 7.9/15
- Directed By: Tim Hunter
- Written By: Mark Frost, Harley Peyton and Robert Engels
- Kyle MacLachlan ... Special Agent Dale Cooper
- Michael Ontkean ... Sheriff Harry S. Truman
- Mädchen Amick ... Shelly Johnson
- Dana Ashbrook ... Bobby Briggs
- Richard Beymer ... Benjamin Horne
- Lara Flynn Boyle ... Donna Hayward
- Sherilyn Fenn ... Audrey Horne
- Warren Frost ... Dr. Will Hayward
- Peggy Lipton ... Norma Jennings
- James Marshall ... James Hurley
- Everett McGill ... Big Ed Hurley
- Jack Nance ... Pete Martell
- Kimmy Robertson ... Lucy Moran
- Ray Wise ... Leland Palmer
- Piper Laurie ... Mr. Tojamura / Catherine Martell
- Joan Chen ... Jocelyn Packard
- Eric DaRe ... Leo Johnson
- Harry Goaz ... Deputy Andy Brennan
- Michael Horse ... Deputy Tommy 'Hawk' Hill
- Sheryl Lee ... Madeleine Ferguson / Laura Palmer
- Miguel Ferrer ... FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield
- Ian Buchanan ... Dick Tremayne
- Jane Greer ... Vivian Smythe Niles
- Don S. Davis ... Major Garland Briggs (as Don Davis)
- Al Strobel ... Phillip Michael Gerard
- Michael J. Anderson ... Man from Another Place
- Clive Rosengren ... Mr. Zipper
- Frank Silva ... BOB
- Carel Struycken ... The Giant
- Mae Williams ... Mrs. Tremond #2
- Hank Worden ... The Elderly and Senile Room Service Waiter