Lost in the Movies: Andrew Packard (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #69)

Andrew Packard (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #69)

The TWIN PEAKS Character Series surveys one hundred ten characters from the series Twin Peaks (1990-91 on ABC and 2017 on Showtime as The Return), the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992), and The Missing Pieces (2014), a collection of deleted scenes from that film. The series will be rebooted in 2023 to reflect the third season (and patrons will have immediate access to each entry a month before it goes public), but this entry will remain intact. There will be spoilers.

Andrew, far from presiding over the town he helped build, hides from the world to conduct a private revenge scheme and unlock a puzzle box.

Thursday, March 16, 1989
Catherine Martell, standing imperiously in her office in the Blue Pine Lodge, turns to see Andrew Packard emerging from a darkened corridor. The old patriarch, presumed dead in an explosive boating accident years ago, assures his sister that "everything is going exactly as we planned." They relish the thought of Thomas Eckhardt arriving in Twin Peaks to retrieve Josie Packard, Andrew's "widow."

Sunday, March 19, 1989
Catherine presents Andrew to her shocked husband Pete Martell. She explains that he faked his death after learning of Eckhardt's plot to kill him (planned for six years). Andrew explains his and Eckhardt's relationship: "[We] were business partners. I knew lumber, he knew Hong Kong. We made a lot of money. Had some fun. Then I got the better of him in a piece of business. And he tried to stab me in the back." He also explains that Josie worked for Eckhardt and they expect him to come back for her "like a rat for cheese."

Tuesday, March 21, 1989
Andrew presents his wife and brother-in-law with breakfast and the two men laugh uproariously at how Pete plated the pancakes, using eggs and bacon to form a comical face. Catherine is not amused. Pete leaves, and the siblings discuss business - Andrew has spoken with investors and a meeting is scheduled in Paris. Josie, forced by Catherine to dress and work as a maid, arrives with a bundle of sticks, passing out when she sees and hears her "deceased" husband. Andrew and Catherine find this greatly amusing. That evening, Andrew drinks champagne with a distraught Josie. He was furious when he first realized she tried to kill him; now, however, he understands that Eckhardt manipulated her. She tries to make herself appear a victim in agreement, but Andrew reminds her that she never actually returned his love. He advises her to go back to Eckhardt in order to escape imminent arrest. Despite telling Josie that Eckhardt doesn't know he's alive, Andrew shows himself to his old rival that very night, awaiting Eckhardt in an elevator. The Hong Kong businessman is perturbed, especially when Andrew tells him that Josie tipped him off about the murder plot. He also needles Eckhardt by mentioning Josie's romance with a local sheriff (Eckhardt gruffly claims to have dealt with this betrayal). Andrew warns him to be careful and as a still-stunned Eckhardt disembarks, Andrew closes the door behind him.

Saturday, March 25, 1989
Days later, Andrew is back from Paris. Josie and Eckhardt are both dead (facts which seem to neither disturb nor excite him) and Eckhardt's assistant left behind a departing gift, a mysterious black box decorated with pictographs. After some cursory discussion of business (the path is cleared for a golf course right next to the Great Northern, despite business rival Ben Horne's resistance), the siblings focus on the box. Andrew cracks the code by pressing buttons associated with his birthday, Eckhardt's birthday, and the day the gift arrived. Inside this box is another one, which Andrew makes quick work of: smashing it open with a rolling pin, he reveals a smaller steel box within.

Sunday, March 26, 1989
Andrew and Pete struggle with this final box, squeezing it inside a vise without any luck. An infuriated Andrew shoots the box three times with his pistol and blows a hole right through it. They discover a key inside, with a little tag, and Catherine places it inside a cake saver until they know what to do with it. That night Andrew sneaks into the living room and switches out the real key for another. However, Pete catches him in the act.

Monday, March 27, 1989
The next morning, Pete and Andrew visit the Twin Peaks Savings and Loan. Aged clerk Dell Mibbler very slowly escorts them to the safe where they are confronted by a young woman who has handcuffed herself to the gate. Andrew admires her verve: "Waste no time arguing what a good man should be. Be one. Marcus Aurelius." He then proceeds right past her as she pushes back the door in accommodating fashion. When Mibbler finally finds the specific box, an excited Andrew opens it up to discover a bomb with a note attached: "Got you Andrew love, Thomas." Andrew has just enough time to react with horror as the bomb explodes, destroying him while a flurry of bills floats down from the sky above the shattered bank.

Characters Andrew interacts with onscreen…

Catherine Martell

Pete Martell

Josie Packard

Thomas Eckhardt (his killer)

Audrey Horne

Impressions of TWIN PEAKS through Andrew
Andrew Packard is certainly one of the central figures of the town. From a socioeconomic standpoint, one could argue he was the central figure for much of the twentieth century, and indeed someone does argue that: in the pilot, long before we've ever met him, Sheriff Harry Truman says "Andrew practically built this town." We are reminded of this throughout the first season every time we see the Packard Saw Mill, perhaps the town's most important business, which bears his name. How ironic, then, that when we finally meet Andrew he occupies two geographical extremes: hidden away in the corners of his own home and globetrotting to seal international business deals. As a steward of the town, he is guilty of malignant neglect at best and hostile intent at worst. We only see him in public twice, both times to address a deeply personal, even whimsical, need. I half-jokingly noted on Twitter than Andrew is a sterling example of the turn toward neoliberalism in the late twentieth century: after years of providing jobs and patronage to his community (albeit in his own self-interest, and in a top-down manner), Andrew becomes obsessed with global finance and individual pursuits while his industry literally burns to the ground and his town is thrown into chaos. Ben is perhaps the more obvious example of the eighties' rampant capitalism, but in a way Andrew is a more damning specimen: less obviously seedy, even more deadly. As for Twin Peaks the show, Andrew - like his sister - emphasizes its "nighttime soap" genre quality in several ways. His status and bearing present the series, at least the scenes he's in, as yet another portrait of the scheming upper classes like Dynasty or Dallas...or even Invitation to Love! And the gimmicky plot twist that introduces him - character you thought was dead isn't, surprise! - is a classic soap trope. His May/December relationship with Josie, with its betrayal and desire, also fits this form (while the complicated revenge plot he enacts carries shades of noir too). Andrew is amusing and charming, but one can't really call his character comedic; there is not a hint of supernatural horror in his storyline; and since we almost never see him interact with the community there is no sense of the rustic landscape or collective spirit of Twin Peaks. Hence, while he may be its most notable representative in theory, in practice there's very little Twin Peaks in Andrew Packard.

Andrew’s journey
Andrew's grand entrance is a bit underwhelming, one of the series' least impressive cliffhangers. (He literally just turns away from Catherine and stares into space like, "That's it. Go ahead, fade to black.") The character comes alive much more when we see him interacting with Pete: the chemistry sparkles between Andrew's jolly hauteur and Pete's simple delight. It's never quite clear how we should think about Andrew, and the climactic episode of the Josie/Eckhardt arc exemplifies this ambiguity. In any given moment, he appears blunt but eloquent, righteously judgmental of those who betrayed him yet benevolent enough to leave them to each other. Of course, he's actually setting them against each other with wicked manipulation. Is this justified, given their own actions? Other clues poke out here and there to subtly remind us that Andrew is not a good guy. When Eckhardt mentions "taking care" of Harry, Packard simply chuckles and never warns the sheriff. His involvement with the Packard Mill machinations implies his knowledge of the arson that destroyed his business and his many employees' livelihoods. With the Josie plot over, Andrew's attention is completely absorbed by the mystery box, and he seems more petty than ever. Due to this as well as his late appearance in the series, when the bank goes ka-boom it's hard to feel much pity for Andrew. Pete is a tragic goner, and we fear for Audrey nearby, but we can't help but sense Andrew got what he deserved. In a way, he's the reverse of Catherine: she's a cold-hearted villainess whom we grow to slowly admire as she tackles her challenges without apology; he's an appealing, patrician rogue whose flaws fester in shadow, a cold heart revealed only when we step back and see what he is, and isn't, doing.

Actor: Dan O'Herlihy
O'Herlihy may be the first Oscar nominee in this character series, a finalist for Best Actor of 1954 as the lead character in Luis Bunuel's adaptation of The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. (Bunuel's producers wanted him to cast Orson Welles, but their screening of Macbeth backfired when the director chose Welles' co-star O'Herlihy instead). With hundreds of credits on stage, radio, cinema screen, and television (including twenty-six episodes of the sixties show The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters), O'Herlihy's career stretches fifty years from a small part as one of Jean Simmons' brothers in Hungry Hill to an appearance as Joseph Kennedy (another dynastic patrician!) in the TV movie The Rat Pack. Other highlights include Fail Safe, Halloween III, and The Dead. O'Herlihy is buried under thick layers of makeup as the alien pilot Grig in The Last Starfighter and appears alongside other Twin Peaks alums Ray Wise and Miguel Ferrar in RoboCop. His son Gavin plays Mountie Preston King in Twin Peaks, debuting one episode earlier than the elder O'Herlihy. (film pictured: The Last Starfighter, 1984)

Episode 18 (German title: "Masked Ball")

Episode 21 (German title: "Double Play")

*Episode 23 (German title: "The Condemned Woman" - best episode)

Episode 26 (German title: "Variations on Relations")

Episode 28 (fan title: "Miss Twin Peaks")

Episode 29 (German title: "Beyond Life and Death")

Andrew is written twice by Barry Pullman, once by Scott Frost, and three times by Harley Peyton and Robert Engels in collaboration (with Mark Frost joining them for the finale). He is directed by Duwayne Dunham, Uli Edel, Lesli Linka Glatter, Stephen Gyllenhaal, and David Lynch. Andrew's scenes in the finale mark a sharp contrast with his earlier appearances, thanks to Lynch's direction. Even with imaginative filmmakers at the helm, the Packard scenes tend to be shot very conventionally, befitting the soap melodrama content (though there is a jarring cut to a mounted goat's head in Gyllenhaal's episode). However, even the most forgettable part of the whole Lynch episode, when Andrew removes the key from the cakesaver, has a different atmosphere than any previous moment with Andrew. The moody music, the dim lighting, even the mixing of the dialogue has a quality that's immediately apparent but hard to put one's finger on. It feels "live" in a way, less like we are watching reality filtered through a gauzy romanticized view: the effect is both more documentary-like and more theatrical. And of course the bank scene, with its painfully extended long takes and distanced wide shots with a wide-angle lens, feels even more startlingly offbeat. I'll have plenty of opportunities to discuss this later but here is one of the first entries where this difference really, really jumped out at me.

Andrew is onscreen for roughly sixteen minutes. He is in nine scenes in six episodes taking place over a week and a half. He's featured the most in episode 23, when he conspires against Josie and Eckhardt. His primary location is the Blue Pine Lodge (the Packard residence). He shares the most screentime with Pete, although Catherine is very close behind. He is one of the top ten characters of episode 23 as well as the series finale.

Best Scene
Episode 29: Andrew and Pete slowly wander into a weathered, majestic vault to reveal a long-awaited surprise, but they won't have long to appreciate it.

Best Line
“Look closer, Thomas. I'm aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!”

Additional Observations

• My favorite quote was used to great effect by John Bernardy in his hilarious interview with the Sparkwood and 21 podcast. If you jump to 50:50 in that link, he offers a theory about Andrew's activities in the Packard house, assuming that he was hiding there the whole time. John actually provided me the text (he was reading a feedback letter he'd written), but I'd recommend you try the clip first because his delivery is so hysterical. (The text is also featured on his brand new Twin Peaks blog, which you should also check out.)
"My goofball idea for how that fish showed up in the percolator in Season One: it was Andrew Packard, sneaking around behind the scenes like Leslie Linka Glatter's hunchback seamstress character. As he puts the fish in the percolator he mutters quietly and gleefully to no one 'I'm aliiiiive'.
When the two ledgers turn into one ledger and the other goes missing, it was Andrew in the middle of the night.
Mink oil on Catherine's bed? After that argument we see between Pete and Catherine, every time since it's been Andrew doing it. He dips his fingers in Pete's bottle and flicks it gleefully all over her bed every time Catherine is on a rendezvous with Ben.
Oh--and that mysterious man in the woods who Leo tells Mike and Bobby not to worry about? That was Andrew, too. Listen closely and you can hear it muffled by the ski mask: 'I'm aliiiiiiive'"
• Aside from Laura, Andrew is one of the most-discussed unseen characters in Twin Peaks' first season. He's mentioned in the pilot, of course, as a town father, and in episode 1 when Cooper and Harry visit Josie they talk about his death. Josie suggests, in several of her rendezvous with Cooper, that Catherine and Ben may have killed Andrew, and in the season one finale, Hank confirms that Josie hired him set up the "accident." We first see a picture of him in season two, on Catherine's desk, a few minutes before he reappears, when she confronts Josie about her involvement in her brother's death.

• We get a bit more of Andrew's communal spirit in the 1991 spin-off book Welcome to Twin Peaks: Access Guide to the Town, a collaboration between the writing staff of the show and Richard Saul Wurman and his researchers (Wurman is a fascinating figure who not only wrote hundreds of Access Guides but invented the TED Talks; make sure you check out his interview on Twin Peaks Unwrapped). A dedication from Andrew's will opens the book, declaring that some of his wealth should be used to fund "the production and distribution of a book extolling and promulgating the many virtues and points of interest of our beloved community." It also requests that Wurman himself - "a man of hardy industry and responsible fiscal management" - be assigned as editor-in-chief, making him perhaps Twin Peaks' only contributer to appear within its world as himself! Andrew goes on to declare, "I like to think of every last man, woman and child in Twin Peaks as a member of my family," going on to praise "civic pride and sense of community ... [and] God's great bounty of life," a far cry from the selfish financier we meet on the series (but then, he always did put up a good front). The book dates Andrew's life from 1926 to 1987, adding humorously "and 1926 -" ...suggesting that the authors aren't really sure what his mortal status is. (A few pages later the book claims Andrew disappeared in 1988, and decades later Frost's historical book will stick with 1987 as his boating accident, but hover between 1911 and 1912 for his year of birth.)

• In the Access Guide, we are told that Andrew took over the lumber mill in 1948 from his father Ezekial, modernizing the cutting by incorporating the chain saw in the fifties and computerizing the machinery in the seventies. We are also provided with a history of the Packard family, most of which I'll save for Catherine's entry. We do learn the Packards are Catholics, which might suggest French-Canadian origin although in fact they migrated from Boston in the nineteenth century (the name is of English derivation).

• Mark Frost's The Secret History of Twin Peaks, while changing some details (such as Andrew's age), also builds on the Access Guide's Packard family history, while providing new personal details about Andrew. We first meet him through a newspaper account of a grinning adolescent boy in a Boy Scout uniform - Andrew, at age sixteen. He is in a troop led by Dwayne Milford, to be elected mayor many decades later, and they discover large footprints in the woods after hearing some strange noises. There is an account from his diary following the news stories, which suggests the article was censored and offers further details (not just about the mysterious encounter, but also personal drama involving Dwayne and Dougie which begins to set up the latter's character as the central figure of the book).

• A section of the book, collected by the mysterious Archivist but presumed to be researched and written by FBI Agent Dale Cooper, details Andrew's marriage with Josie and the intrigue surrounding the explosion of his boat. It is speculated that Andrew probably journeyed to Hong Kong after his "death" to figure out Eckhardt's involvement; then he and Catherine patiently waited for Josie to make a move before making theirs. There's a handwritten note from Harry explaining how Andrew manipulated Josie and Eckhardt (problematically, there is no indication on the show that Andrew has revealed himself to Harry; indeed, there's every reason to believe he hasn't). At one point, Cooper writes of Andrew's faked death, "Since we know human remains were found at the scene, a body was clearly in the boat at the time of the blast. One has to surmise that role was played by a bum or drifter whom Andrew drugged or killed and stashed in the boat the night before. Someone who wouldn't be missed; Andrew got all of it dead right." Given the tangled nature of the book and particularly this section (which contradicts some of the dates on the series), it's hard to know how seriously we should consider this within the official narrative. Are the contradictions evidence of an intentional hoax, an authorial slip-up, an alternate reality? That said, if we do take this passage at face value it confirms once and for all that Andrew Packard was a terrible person.

• Update 2023: This entry was written in 2017, before the third season, and did not need to be revised as Andrew did not re-appear. Only the description/intro at the top and the ranking were updated. In the original character series, Andrew was ranked #47, between the Log Lady and Ernie.

SHOWTIME: No, O'Herlihy is not on the cast list for 2017. He passed away in 2005. The Secret History confirms the obvious: Andrew died in the bank blast. There's not much left to speculate about his character, but I do wonder how his legacy - and its tangled relationship with Catherine Martell's and Ben Horne's various business maneuvers - continued to impact the town. What does the local economy of Twin Peaks look like in the twenty-first century? Is it completely dominated by tourism - was there ever even an attempt to rebuild the sawmill? Is the town in sharp decline or, if it has prospered, has it been gentrified, with many of the original working- and middle-class residents squeezed out? If Andrew abandoned the town he helped build, if the decisions in the last years of his life contributed to its downfall, is he one of its destroyers as well as one of its leading lights?

Next (active on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 at 8am): "Hutch" and Chantal Hutchens
Previous (active on Monday, February 24, 2023 at 8am): Carl Rodd

To read advance entries every week...

(When the series resumes publicly, all new or revised entries will be published at least a month in advance for patrons.)

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