Benjamin Horne employs Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) – father of Laura – as his attorney. Leland advises Ben in all his business holdings, which include The Great Northern Hotel, and Horne’s Department Store. The discovery of Laura’s connection to Ben Horne – both as tutor to his son, Johnny (Robert Bauer), and as an assistant at his perfume counter – combined with an anonymous tip, leads Agent Cooper to look into a casino and brothel named One-Eyed Jacks, just across the border to the north of Twin Peaks.
This aspect of the investigation also attracts the attention of Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) – who’s the daughter of Ben. Teenage Audrey has a crush on Agent Cooper, and decides to help him in his work by infiltrating the casino/brothel. Here, an entirely new layer of criminality is uncovered. For all its Saw Mill employment and institutions of local hospitality, it’s the drug trade of Twin Peaks that is the true engine driving the local economy. It permeates every level of the community – from the richest business people, to the poorest labourers. This being the case, once we reach this layer of plot, the town is best understood through the operations of the Renault Brothers.
Bernard, Jacques, and Jean Renault are a trio of French-Canadian siblings who are seemingly at the heart of the organized crime that constantly simmers just below the surface of the town. Bernard (Clay Wilcox) is the youngest, and most vigilant of the brothers – warning Jacques (Walter Olkewicz) that the police are trying to track him down. Bernard is the first of the brothers to die – shot dead by Leo Johnson, after Bernard is seen being questioned about his brothers. As a business partner of Jacques, Leo is attempting to protect his own interests. Jacques is eventually tracked down working as a croupier at One Eyed Jacks, and is arrested on suspicion of being involved in the murder of Laura Palmer. This is due to a large swathe of physical and circumstantial evidence placing him and Leo Johnson with her on the night she died. When Jacques is shot while Agent Cooper is arresting him, he’s suffocated in hospital by Leland Palmer.
It’s Jean Renault (Michael Parks) that proves to be the most significant of the brothers in terms of the narrative of the show, however. He’s the oldest, and most ruthless of the siblings, and arrives in season 2 with a deep and abiding hatred of Agent Cooper, whom he blames for the deaths of his brothers. It’s this hatred that gives rise to a scene, in Episode 20, titled “Checkmate,” in which Jean Renault holds Agent Cooper hostage, and explains in the simplest of terms, the nature of the town from a criminal point of view.
“Before you came here, Twin Peaks was a simple place. My brothers dealt drugs to the teenagers and the truck drivers, One Eyed Jacks welcomed the business man and the tourists, and the quiet people lived their quiet life. Then, a pretty girl died, and you arrived, and everything changed. My brother Bernard, shot, and left to die in the woods. A grieving father smothered my remaining brother with a pillow. Kidnapping. Death. Suddenly, the quiet people, they are quiet no more. Suddenly, the simple dream became a nightmare. So, if you die, maybe you will be the last to die. Maybe you brought the nightmare with you and, maybe, the nightmare will die with you.”
This is key to our understanding of how the town of Twin Peaks functions, and how each of the characters plays their part. While Jean Renault is only concerned with the maintenance of his position of power in the local structure of organized crime, he touches upon a fact that takes us into the deepest narrative layer of all. Cooper has indeed brought a nightmare to town with him – but it’s the nightmare of his own past.