On September 30, 1990, ABC’s “Twin Peaks” opened its second season by finally answering the question that fans had asked since the show’s debut, six months earlier: Who killed Laura Palmer?
The answer: Bob.
This, of course, gave the fans a new question to obsess over: Who the hell is Bob?
ABC aired “May the Giant Be With You,” the two-hour season opener, as a Sunday night movie.
In the final scene, Laura’s friend Ronette Pulaski (Phoebe Augustine), who had been in a coma since the night of the murder, jolts awake – screaming – as she remembers witnessing Laura’s brutal killing at Bob’s hands.
At this point during “Twin Peaks’” run, fans didn’t know much about creepy, long-haired Bob (Frank Silva); he had previously appeared in just three episodes, each time as part of another character’s vision or dream.
Silva, a set decorator, was a member of the “Twin Peaks” crew; when his image accidentally showed up in a mirror during the pilot’s filming, director David Lynch got the idea for creating the character of Bob and cast Silva in the role.
As the show’s second season progressed, more information about Bob came to light, including the crucial fact that he was a demonic spirit who possessed other peoples’ bodies.
“May the Giant Be With You” was seen in 11.4 million homes – a little more than half the number that tuned into “Twin Peaks’” debut in April 1990.
The season premiere, which Lynch directed, ranked 41st in the weekly ratings, finishing behind competing movies on CBS and NBC and Fox’s “Married with Children.”
The episode’s big revelation that Bob killed Laura left critics feeling duped.
“[W]e got what we deserved. An answer to the undying ‘Who Killed Laura Palmer’ question, but one that mystifies, not satisfies,” wrote USA Today’s Matt Roush.
Ed Siegal’s critique in the Boston Globe was harsher: “Now we know who killed Laura Palmer. … More to the point, we know who killed ‘Twin Peaks.’ It was David Lynch.”
Also on TV
On September 30, 1990, ABC also aired “Life Goes On,” “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and “America’s Funniest People.” CBS broadcast “60 Minutes,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “The Face of Fear,” a TV-movie thriller starring Lee Horsley and Pam Dawber. Fox showed comedies “True Colors,” “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose,” “In Living Color,” “Get a Life” and “Married with Children;” introduced a sixth (!) comedy, Howie Mandel’s “Good Grief;” and offered legal drama “Against the Grain.” NBC’s lineup: musical series “Hull High,” medical anthology “Lifestories” and “Perry Mason: The Case of the Defiant Daughter.”
During the week of September 30, 1990, the number ones were Stephen King’s “Four Past Midnight” (novel), Nelson’s “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection” (song) and “Pacific Heights” (movie). In Washington, Congress considered cutting aid to the rebels in Afghanistan.
Captions: “Twin Peaks” stars, from top, Sheryl Lee, Lara Flynn Boyle and Peggy Lipton on TV Guide’s September 8, 1990, cover (top, photo by Mario Casilli); ABC’s advertisement for the season premiere in the magazine’s September 29, 1990, issue.