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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Twin Peaks: Coma Twin Peaks
Episode 9: "Coma"
TV episode
Written by Harley Peyton
Directed by David Lynch
Original air date: October 6, 1990

Page last updated 1/6/2022


Cooper receives bad news about his former partner and the Giant returns; Ronette awakens from her coma; the log gives Major Briggs some advice; Maddy has another, more frightening, vision.


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 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 DVD and Blu-ray collections of the series.


The scene looks the same as the intro for Episode 8A: "May the Giant Be With You", but the burlap sack on the table has changed shape and is a little closer to her. And notice that the edge of the teapot handle is just barely peeking out on the right-hand side of the screen.


The first two paragraphs of the Log Lady's remarks refer to the similarity of things on all scales. The orbits of planets around stars and moons around planets (macro) in a star system look like the orbits of electrons around the nucleus (protons and neutrons) of an atom (micro). As above, so below. The human body is made up of atoms. Might the star systems make up the body of a bigger being (the universe)? What we do and think and feel affects the atoms inside us and what the atoms inside us do affects us and our thoughts and feelings. If we ourselves are part of a larger atom inside a bigger being, do our actions, thoughts, and feelings effect the universal being? Does that bigger, universal being affect us?


The Log Lady asks, "What really is creamed corn? Is it a symbol for something else?" In Fire Walk With Me, creamed corn is a physical symbol in our world for garmonbozia...pain and sorrow which some denizens of the Black Lodge feed upon. In this episode, Mrs. Tremond's grandson performs a magic trick in which he makes creamed corn disappear from his grandmother's plate.


"As above, so below. The human being finds himself, or herself, in
the middle. There is as much space outside the human, proportionately,
as inside.

"Stars, moons, and planets remind us of protons, neutrons, and
electrons. Is there a bigger being walking with all the stars
within? Does our thinking affect what goes on outside us, and
what goes on inside us? I think it does.

"Where does creamed corn figure into the workings of the universe?
What really
is creamed corn? Is it a symbol for something else?"


what is creamed corn?.wav




Didja Notice?


This episode opens on the morning of Saturday, March 4, 1989 and ends that night.


At breakfast in the Timber Room with Albert, Cooper refers to Tibet as the Land of Snow. This is a common nickname in the region for the country of Tibet.


Cooper goes on to say that Buddhism arrived in Tibet in the 5th Century AD. This is more-or-less correct, though there is some dispute as to the actual century that should be considered the beginning of Tibetan Buddhism. He goes on to say, "The first Tibetan king to be touched by the Dharma was King Hathatha Rignamputsan. He and succeeding kings were collectively known as the Happy Generations. Now some historians place them in the Water Snake Year, 213 AD. Others in the year of the water ox 173 AD." He must be speaking of King Thothori Nyantsen, for he and his successors were known as the happy generations (and some even the very happy generations!). His descriptions of 213 and 173 AD as "water snake year" and "water ox year" are correct on the Chinese calendar.


Albert tells Cooper he performed the autopsy on Jacques Renault and lists the man's stomach contents as "beer cans, a Maryland license plate, half a bicycle tire, a goat and a small wooden puppet, goes by the name of Pinocchio." He is making a joke by comparing the obese Jacques to a shark or whale, both known for the strange objects that have been found in their stomachs when caught, killed, and cut open. The reference to the puppet called Pinocchio is to the 1883 children's' novel Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, in which the living puppet is swallowed by a whale.


This episode is the first mention in the TV series of Agent Cooper's former partner, Windom Earle, when Albert informs him that the former agent has escaped what sounds like an asylum he was placed in (as also stated in The Autobiography of F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper). Earle goes on to become a major presence in the second half of the season.


At 5:44 on the Blu-ray, Mrs. Tremond is seen to live in unit #1 in the same complex of cabins Harold Smith (#2) lives in.


Mrs. Tremond's grandson, Pierre, is played by Austin Jack Lynch, David Lynch's son.


Mrs. Tremond tells Donna that her grandson is studying magic, and he seems to make the creamed corn on the plate disappear and appear in his hands, then disappear again. If he is studying magic, then he is a magician. Recall the poem spoken by the One-Armed Man in Cooper's dream in Episode 2: "Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer" and it's reference to a magician:


Through the darkness of future past,

the magician longs to see,

one chance out between two, walk with me.


As Donna is about to leave the Tremond residence, Pierre says, "J’ai une ame solitaire." This roughly translates from French to "I am a lonely soul." In Episode 14: "Lonely Souls", Harold Smith leaves the same phrase on his suicide note. What connection, if any, there is between Harold and Pierre is unknown; it may be that Pierre is quoting something Harold has said or thinks about himself.


Cooper shows Ronette police sketches of Leo and BOB. But why a sketch of Leo? Shouldn't the sheriff's office have a photograph of him on file? After all, he does already have a criminal record.


Based on the colored bars visible on the right-hand side of the package, the bag of marshmallows held up by Ben at 16:20 on the Blu-ray appears to be Kraft brand Jet-Puffed Marshmallows.


At the RR Diner, Major Briggs keeps looking at the door. Seemingly, he is looking at Andy making a mess of the tape as he posts the one-sheet "Have You Seen This Man?" sketch of BOB on the door. But maybe he is actually sensing that someone important is about to walk in. And shortly, in walks the Log Lady, who gives Briggs a message from the log to "deliver the message".


At 19:36 on the Blu-ray, notice that Lucy wears a ring that only goes down to her second knuckle on the middle finger of her left hand.


At 20:12 on the Blu-ray, notice that the pattern on Lucy's sweater is reminiscent of the full Owl Cave symbol, first seen in Episode 25: "On the Wings of Love". Recall that Donna's sweater in Episode 1: "Traces to Nowhere" has a pattern similar to the Owl Cave ring symbol.
Lucy's sweater Owl Cave full symbol Donna's sweater Owl Cave ring
Lucy's sweater Full Owl Cave symbol (from Garmonblogzia) Donna's sweater Owl Cave ring


Andy tells Lucy he volunteered when the Tacoma sperm bank was looking for donors. "It's my civic duty and I like whales." Andy seems to be confusing sperm whales as having something to do with human sperm!


At 21:40 on the Blu-ray, notice that a small football trophy sits on Sheriff Truman's desk. Twin Peaks: An Access Guide to the Town reveals that Truman was one of Twin Peaks High School's star football players in his youth. The Secret History of Twin Peaks also touches on the team.


What looks to be an Apple Macintosh computer is seen on a table to the right in the scene above in Truman's office. In Episode 10: "The Man Behind Glass", an identical one is seen behind Lucy at the reception desk.


At 21:46 on the Blu-ray, notice that a couple of fishing poles are leaning up in the corner of Truman's office.


Although we don't see the signature, if you watch closely as Hank signs his weekly parole sheet, it looks like he just signs an "H."!


Unless he somehow knew from some other agency, Cooper seems to sense that Harry and Hank used to be friends.


Truman reveals that Hank used to be a Bookhouse Boy.


At 24:07 on the Blu-ray, Jerry is flapping Josie's insurance policy as if it were a bird with wings.


During their brief phone conversation with Einar, Ben and Jerry say a few Icelandic words, blis and kor die blesser. I've been unable to translate these.


At 27:07 on the Blu-ray, we can see that Jerry is wearing a very large and unusual pin on the lapel of his jacket. What is it?

Jerry Horne's lapel pin


    At 28:54 on the Blu-ray, Lucy receives a phone call at the sheriff's station. We don't hear the person on the other end, but from Lucy's words we know they are asking to speak to Sheriff Truman but they won't give their name. Lucy says she can't connect the caller to the sheriff unless they give their name. Finally, Lucy has to hang up on the caller. Who was it? What did they want with Sheriff Truman? It's never answered in the episode or subsequent episodes. My best guess would be that it was Jonathan, the Chinese man representing Thomas Eckhardt with Josie, who seems to have some concerns about her relationship with the sheriff in later episodes, so he might have been calling to warn him away from her.

    The September 9, 2015 episode of the Twin Peaks Unwrapped podcast has the hosts speculating the the mysterious caller is the mysterious unnamed man who breaks into the calls with Lucy at the sheriff's station in the audio recordings of the 1-900 hotline messages fans of the series could call into during the first half of the second season when the episodes originally aired in 1990.


Battis tells Audrey that Laura had only worked at One-Eyed Jacks for one weekend. She was thrown out for using drugs.


At 33:02 on the Blu-ray, some typical Twin Peaks music plays over the scene (the piece called "Audrey's Dance" on the season one Twin Peaks album) and, seconds later, we realize it is music playing on the car radio when Shelly changes the station to something else! The music she changes it to is called "Drug Deal Blues" on the season two album.


In the scene above, Bobby mentions they're in his dad's Continental. This refers to the Lincoln Continental luxury car model made by Ford Motor Company


At 36:13 on the Blu-ray, notice that the door of Cooper's hotel room has a deadbolt lock visible on it, but the door handle itself does not have a latch!

Hotel room door


Major Briggs tells Cooper that part of his many duties is the maintenance of deep space monitors aimed at galaxies beyond our own. These would normally be very large radio telescopes, like the ones at the Very Large Array on the Plains of San Augustin, New Mexico or the giant radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. So, where are the radio telescopes maintained by Major Briggs? Are they in the vicinity of Twin Peaks? If so, wouldn't they be noticeable to the local population? Perhaps it is at the Unguin Field Observatory, mentioned in a heavily redacted letter that appears in Twin Peaks: An Access Guide to the Town. The Secret History of Twin Peaks reveals that the main facility for this secret project is located on Blue Pine Mountain, but are the radio telescope dishes located there as well? redacted letter


At 42:25 on the Blu-ray, notice that a picture or mirror is hanging in the hallway of the Hayward home, but there's nothing but a gray panel in it! Maybe it's supposed to represent a mirror from a distance, but it doesn't look like a real one in this relatively close shot.

wall hanging


As BOB climbs over the couch in the Hayward living room in Maddy's vision, the flower vase on the coffee table changes its rotational position a few times as the shots cut back and forth.


At 44:14 on the Blu-ray, notice that a man's hand sticks in from the right of frame as Ronette lies writhing on her hospital bed. And as the shot blurs out just a few seconds later, it looks like two hands are seen. They are presumably BOB's (Leland's?) as they place the letter "B" under her fingernail, as discovered in the following episode, Episode 10: "The Man Behind Glass". But how would Leland have been able to get into Ronette's hospital room if she was supposedly under guard at the time? Did BOB possess one of the guards or nurses to do the deed? And why does BOB place a letter under the fingernail of a girl he hasn't killed? Is it meant to lure Cooper closer?


In Cooper's vision during the Giant's visit, the image of an owl appears over the face of BOB. The vision of BOB is the one of him hiding at the foot of Laura's bed that Sarah Palmer had in Episode 1: "Traces to Nowhere". The owl superimposition presumably represents that BOB is one of the owls, as in the Giant's warning, "The owls are not what they seem."


At the end of the episode, Audrey phones Cooper's room from One-Eyed Jacks, telling him she's going to come home now. Notice she is back to wearing her "Twin Peaks" clothes of sweater, skirt, and saddle shoes.


Memorable Dialog


stomach contents.wav

Windom Earle.wav

flew the coop.wav

do you see creamed corn.wav

I requested no creamed corn.wav

Jai une ame solitaire.wav

my log has something to tell you.wav

deliver the message.wav

I'm sterile.wav

is this real.wav

former partner.wav

deep space monitors.wav

space garbage.wav

the owls are not what they seem.wav



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