Twin Peaks - Season 1, Episode 1 - Rotten Tomatoes

Pilot Episode



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Episode Info

Also known as "The Northwest Passage," the two-hour pilot episode of Twin Peaks originally aired April 8, 1990. The central plot of the series is set when Pete Martell (Jack Nance) finds the body of high school student Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) wrapped in plastic by the water at the Packard Sawmill dock. As the town slowly gets word of her murder, Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) from the FBI arrives in the Washington town of Twin Peaks to investigate. Assisted by Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean), Cooper retrieves Laura's secret diary and a videotape. At the morgue, Cooper discovers the letter "R" from under Laura's fingernail, evidence similar to the murder case of Theresa Banks a year ago. Meanwhile, at the Great Northern Hotel, Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) disrupts her father's business deal, causing the would-be investors to back out. Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) and Deputy Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz) locate the scene of the murder and find half of a gold heart necklace. Also, Laura's safe deposit box is opened, revealing a copy of Fleshworld magazine and about ten thousand dollars. Laura's boyfriend, Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook), who is having a secret affair with waitress Shelly Johnson (Madchen Amick), is brought in for questioning. Later on at the Roadhouse, Laura's other boyfriend, James Hurley (James Marshall), kisses Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle), Laura's best friend. This episode features Julee Cruise singing "Falling" and "The Nightingale" during the scenes at the Roadhouse. The American broadcast version ends with Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) having a vision about the other half of the heart necklace. The European release contains extra scenes and an alternate ending. The Twin Peaks pilot episode was not included on the 2001 Artisan Entertainment DVD release of Twin Peaks: The First Season due to rights restrictions.


Kyle MacLachlan
as Agent Dale Cooper
Michael Ontkean
as Sherrif Harry S. Truman
Dana Ashbrook
as Bobby Briggs
Richard Beymer
as Benjamin Horne
Lara Flynn Boyle
as Donna Hayward
Michael Horse
as Deputy Hawke
Eric Da Re
as Leo Johnson
Sherilyn Fenn
as Audrey Horne
Peggy Lipton
as Norma Jennings
James Marshall
as James Hurley
Ray Wise
as Leland Palmer
Sheryl Lee
as Laura Palmer
Harry Goaz
as Deputy Andy Brennan
View All

Pilot Episode Photos

Critic reviews for Pilot Episode

Big in the 90s was the trend where teenagers would start spontaneously start crying and running around screaming right before the transference of bad news.

May 19, 2017 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The music is very distinct and original. If anyone were to play any of this music out of context, it would immediately make you think of the show.

August 21, 2018 | Full Review…

This first episode does an astonishing job of establishing a labyrinthine nexus of characters, and pacing each of their storylines beautifully.

June 13, 2017 | Full Review…

Cooper's precision will be challenged by the increasingly supernatural mystery. He is the most appropriate avatar for Twin Peaks, modulating continually between a peculiar humor and the plain peculiar.

May 31, 2017 | Full Review…

Twin Peaks does an exceptionally good job of establishing its characters as well as their secrets and indeed their motivations, taken or not taken, for killing Laura, or at least wanting her dead.

May 19, 2017 | Full Review…

If you haven't watched the pilot in a while, know this: It's still about as effective an opening salvo as TV has ever produced.

May 19, 2017 | Full Review…

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