In contrast to the previous episode’s elegiac tone, “The One-Armed Man” is a heated affair. Several plotlines kick into gear, and the lives of the town’s residents begin to intersect.
Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) spends most of the episode following up on the leads from his dream. He meets up with the eponymous one-armed man, who turns out to be a shoe salesman named Philip Gerard (Al Strobel). He also has Andy (Harry Goaz) sketch the man Sarah (Grace Zabriskie) saw in her vision, who turns out to look just like the other man in Cooper’s dream. The dream turned out to have been more literal than we had assumed.
Elsewhere, Catherine (Laurie Piper) schemes with Ben (Richard Beymer) to burn down the mill and frame Josie (Joan Chen) for insurance fraud. This subplot isn’t the most interesting, but the performances are entertaining enough to sell it for now.
The show draws a parallel between the lives of Shelly (Madchen Amick) and Norma (Peggy Lipton). Both are married to abusive and criminal men, and their bond seems to be built on that fact. Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) attempts to help Shelly out by planting evidence to incriminate Leo (Eric da Re), but Norma has no such person to help her with her devious husband Hank (Chris Mulkey). Hank concludes the episode by making a threatening phone call to Josie and ominously licking a domino.
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Next week, we’re diving deeper into Cooper’s head with the fifth episode of Season 1, “Cooper’s Dreams.”