By Cheryl Lee Latter
One thing that jumps out when rewatching Season One of Twin Peaks is Ben’s impatience and frustration with Audrey, whilst claiming to love Laura, a girl every bit as precocious and troubled as his own daughter.
It is a bit incongruous with Ben’s S1 character to claim to love the murdered girl, as he doesn’t show much affection or consideration for anyone. There is no indication that he and Laura had an actual relationship. But does Ben have any real distinction between love and lust?
Adding the Secret Diary into the mix always puts more of a sinister slant on Ben, who adored Laura from a young age, even buying her a pony when she was 12, and having Sarah and Leland keep that a secret. Audrey was well aware of how much her father favoured Leland’s daughter over her.
Apparently, Ben doted on Laura her whole life, and started sleeping with her when she was 15. This is a detail I prefer not to know. This a side of Ben’s character his fans chose not to acknowledge, and understandably so. Poor Laura was used to buying affection in this way, although even if she hadn’t, Ben possibly would have continued to care for her anyway.
Laura and Audrey were similar in more ways than they realised, despite being so vastly different on the surface. Audrey saw Laura as the beautiful girl who had it all, who everyone loved, even Ben. Laura seemed to have a life filled with sunshine and affection. To the lonely Audrey, Laura had everything that she herself wanted.
Meanwhile, to Laura, Audrey was rich in every way. Her life seemed simple and uncomplicated, with everything just handed to her. She had all the freedom that money could offer.
Neither girl realized that the other was just as troubled and isolated as they were. We never saw these two interact, yet we know they had friction. It’s sad they never found common ground between them, and therefore real friendship.
From the first episodes of the show, Audrey showed glimmers of her father’s arrogance. Her bold manipulation of Emory Batiss and Blackie, and the fearlessness with which she headed to One Eyed Jack’s to solve the mystery and prove herself to Cooper, were typical of the Horne attitude that everything will go their way, just because they want it to be so.
The Horne home life was a difficult one, and highly dysfunctional. Audrey’s apparent disdain for her father, and the attempts to sabotage the business, were clearly a cry for attention. When he truly needed her, Audrey was the one who was right by his side, trying to save the business, and to bring him back from his Civil War breakdown. There was love there, after all.
By S3 the family was in tatters, but with Ben still expected to clean up Richard’s mess. Even when trying to live a wholesome life, crime and trouble still find him.
Perhaps taking responsibility for Richard was his way of atoning for his own past crimes, his failure to help Laura, or his way of finally making up to a daughter who was now who-knows-where, and more lost than ever before.