Lost in the Movies: Eileen Hayward (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #39)

Eileen Hayward (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #39)

Yesterday morning, due to a scheduling mishap, this entry went up "empty," bumping the actual entry for Phillip Gerard. I fixed the problem within a few hours, but today this goes up with a delay, the longest and hopefully last delay of the series. At least I still made it up on the correct day! Apologies for the confusion.

*A revised entry will be published separately in 2023 for an updated character series (which will be collected here). This is the original entry written before The Return.

The TWIN PEAKS Character Series surveys eighty-two characters from the series Twin Peaks (1990-91) and the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) as well as The Missing Pieces (2014), a collection of deleted scenes from that film. A new character study will appear every weekday morning until the premiere of Showtime's new season of Twin Peaks on May 21, 2017. There will be spoilers for the original series and film.

Eileen is a bedrock of attentive comfort in Twin Peaks, until even she is revealed to be hiding something.

Friday, February 17, 1989
Eileen Hayward guides her wheelchair into the family living room, a plate of muffins on her lap. Pulling up next to the couch she presents the snacks to her teenage daughter Donna and Donna's best friend Laura Palmer, who seems unhappy. Eileen's husband, Dr. William "Doc" Hayward, fumbles with a prescription before Donna whispers something in his ear. Then he smiles and says the paper actually holds a secret message for Laura: "The angels have returned, and when you see the one that's meant to help you, you will weep with joy." Laura is quite moved by this message and Eileen smiles warmly at the happy scene. They are interrupted when Laura's father calls the house, telling her to come back for dinner, and Laura is sullen again as she kisses the Haywards goodbye. When she and Donna depart the room, Eileen and Doc are left alone. They exchange knowing looks, and a distinct atmosphere of sorrow fills the space between them.

Friday, February 24, 1989
A week later, Eileen and Doc sit across from one another in front of the fireplace, holding hands and looking into one another's eyes. Doc describes a difficult day spent with the Palmers, who are grieving the loss of Laura that morning. She was brutally murdered, and while Doc can't share too much information he does tell Eileen that the police found a video of Laura and Donna dancing at a picnic; it is unknown who took the video.

Saturday, February 25, 1989
The following morning/early afternoon, Donna finally wakes up and comes downstairs. Last night she snuck out past curfew, was discovered by the police, and is now wanted for questioning. However, Eileen tells her that the sheriff called and rescheduled their interview for the following morning. Donna explains her confused feelings: she is obviously grieving her best friend, but she's also realized she is in love with Laura's secret boyfriend James Hurley. "It's like I'm having the most beautiful dream and the most terrible nightmare all at once," Donna offers as her mother comforts her. That evening, Donna brings James over to meet the parents. Although the boy is polite, their conversation is stilted and both Doc and Eileen seem a tad uncomfortable when they say goodnight to James and leave him on the couch with their daughter.

Sunday, February 26, 1989
After church, the Haywards head to the RR Diner. There Eileen spots her daughter's classmate Audrey Horne, who was also at church, inserting some coins in the jukebox. Donna excuses herself and a few minutes later Eileen looks up in disbelief to see Audrey swaying languidly in the middle of the diner, eyes closed, palms spread. Eileen nods toward the strange sight, and her husband turns around to witness the commotion.

Friday, March 3, 1989
The following weekend, the Haywards welcome the Palmers into their home for a semi-formal gathering, "the Hayward Supper Club." Eileen announces that "Gersten has some very good news and we're all very proud of her," and with that the youngest Hayward, dressed as a fairy princess for a school play, announces her scholastic and extracurricular accomplishments and sits at the piano to play classical music as an accompaniment for the evening's festivities. Harriet, Eileen's middle daughter, dedicates a poem to Laura and hugs the Palmers. Dinner is served, Gersten keeps playing, and Eileen listens as Leland explains how his mood has lifted since his hair turned white overnight. Sarah shoots Eileen a few weary looks. Leland then leaps from his seat, declares that he feels like singing and, as Gersten hammers away at the piano, Eileen watches this old family friend launch into a manic version of "Get Happy," until he collapses to the floor and must be revived by Doc.

Wednesday, March 15, 1989
A dozen days later, Leland has died. Eileen attempts to soothe a grieving Sarah at his wake. She recalls how the community came together for her own mother's funeral - "There must have been a hundred people." And she listens sympathetically as Sarah recalls a tender moment between Donna and Laura, how they gathered together one night at a sleepover and vowed they would be best friends forever. "I think it was a kind of bond against..." Sarah can't quite finish the sentence, so Eileen does for her: "...death." Sarah trembles and insists that she wants to remember everything.

Wednesday, March 22, 1989
A week later, as spring dawns on Twin Peaks, Doc and Eileen return home from a shopping trip (Eileen even carries flowers in her lap). Donna greets them, smiling and drinking a Coke, and casually mentions that an old friend of Doc's dropped by for a visit. Gerald Craig, a colleague from medical school, chatted with Donna on his way to a conference in Spokane. Doc and Eileen both look concerned: Gerald died years ago in a rafting accident. When Eileen tries the phone number he left behind, she reaches a cemetery. Doc warns Donna this man is dangerous and she must not let him in if he returns. Later, another man appears at the Hayward door but Eileen recognizes this one. Ben Horne, the wealthiest man in town and owner of the Great Northern Hotel, takes her hand and whispers in her ear without fully entering the house.

Thursday, March 23, 1989
The next morning, Eileen visits the Great Northern. Ben meets her in the hallway and then rolls her into his office. There they discuss the past in vague terms; Eileen insists "she must never know" and tries to return letters from Ben after holding them for twenty years. She asks why he is "ripping apart old wounds" now and he insists that he is trying to become a better person, but he quickly lapses into longing caresses: "You should have been the best thing that ever happened to me. I haven't held you since that night." She shoves him off and insists that he stay away from her family.

Friday, March 24, 1989
At dinner, Donna is cold and biting toward her parents: she knows something is going on between Ben and Eileen, but both Hayward parents avoid her questions and claim that Ben is helping out with a charity. Donna says she's going to enter the Miss Twin Peaks contest and hopes she can travel far away with the scholarship money if she wins. Eileen is upset by Donna's vitriol.

Saturday, March 25, 1989
Eileen receives a phone call from Deputy Hawk Hill, who says he urgently needs to speak with Donna. Eileen can't find her daughter and shouts around the house until she hears her response from another room.

Sunday, March 26, 1989
Eileen and Doc are excited to see their daughter all dressed up for the Miss Twin Peaks event that evening; Eileen asks her to share her speech. But Donna can't be swayed from her mission - she asks one more time for the truth about Ben. When Eileen refuses ("You're young, you don't know the limitations"), a furious Donna warns them that whatever happens is their own fault. That night, Eileen and Ben, intruding on the Haywards once again, watch as Donna comes downstairs with a suitcase. Donna weeps: "Who are my real parents anyway?" Downcast, Eileen tries to reach her but is mostly limited to observing the situation as it unravels even further. Doc arrives home, holds Donna in his arms, yells at Ben, and finally attacks him, slamming his head into the fireplace and knocking him to the ground with a bloody gash in his head. Eileen rolls her chair forward into the living room along with her daughter and Ben's wife, all watching helplessly as the violence foreshadowed a month earlier, in this very room, finally bursts forth.

Characters Eileen interacts with onscreen…

Doc Hayward

Donna Hayward

Laura Palmer

James Hurley

Sarah Palmer

Ben Horne

Impressions of TWIN PEAKS through Eileen
Now that we are inside the top forty, more than halfway through the series, allow me to pause before diving directly into Eileen's own experiences. So far, our exploration of Twin Peaks divides neatly into several spheres, with characters tending to exist mostly inside one or another. There's the social Twin Peaks, exemplified by the Great Northern or the diner (both briefly visited by Eileen, yielding strange encounters with the Horne family). These are public, shared spaces where relationships overlap and secrets usually remain hidden. The procedural Twin Peaks, centered around the sheriff's station but branching off into various crime scenes or suspects' homes, yields the more worldly of these secrets. Meanwhile the spiritual Twin Peaks, rising to prominence with our recent entry on Gerard, hangs on to most of the deeper mysteries. Then there's the natural Twin Peaks - the most iconic vision of the town with its trees, mountains, and meadows. Although, to be honest, we haven't seen too much of this yet, perhaps because its presence on the show derives mostly from establishing shots and moody segues, with the bulk of the series shot on sets. Finally, and this brings us to Eileen, we have the domestic Twin Peaks.

The home presents itself as the most protected arena, offering escape from the exhausting bustle of the public, the tough confrontations of the law, the harrowing visions of the spiritual, and the inhuman grandeur of nature. For David Lynch, however, the home is both a cozy refuge (he compares it to a nest that can become claustrophobic) and - more deeply - "a place where things can go wrong." And do they ever in Twin Peaks. Like so many Twin Peaks mothers/wives - Mrs. Horne, Mrs. Briggs, Mrs. Palmer - Mrs. Hayward stays at home while a husband engages professionally with the town's mysteries and an adolescent child discovers excitement and heartbreak in the wider world. In Eileen's particular case, a physical disability further limits her mobility. Yet Eileen is ultimately more active and involved than those first two figures, and even to an extent more so than Sarah. This will be explained below, in the "journey" section; Eileen demonstrates, in a way few previous entries have, how Twin Peaks' characters become enveloped in traumatic themes initially witnessed from afar.

Eileen's character study provides our first major gateway into the Hayward household. This is an important, hugely underrated location in the Twin Peaks mythos. It's the place the Palmer household should have been, a warm family environment where the sorrows of the town can brew and produce a more bittersweet flavor. This is where Doc can relax and meditate on a traumatic day, where Donna attempts to digest her complicated emotions, where Donna and James try to forge an innocent romance from the ashes of violent tragedy, where Laura is poignantly memorialized, where the Palmers try to rejoin the community, and finally where Leland's horrific revelation is transmuted into a calm, respectable gathering of the townspeople. And of course, both before and after these memorable moments, the Hayward home is where Laura's story most effectively joins up with the the larger communal narrative, in a scene excised from Fire Walk With Me which nonetheless beats like the hidden heart of the entire Twin Peaks story. Eileen is present for all of these scenes, an often silent presence guiding her guests into a place of wistful peace through both reflection and escape.

However, there are also more troubling scenes in the Hayward house when Eileen isn't present. These range from relatively mild rebellion/experimentation - Donna chatting about sex with Laura, sneaking out a window, or necking (and possibly more) with her new boyfriend - to far more dangerous events (two invasions, Windom Earle and BOB, one physical but superficially benign, the other mental but viscerally terrifying). Eventually, even when Eileen is there to protect it, the Hayward household cannot weather Twin Peaks' storm; indeed, Eileen herself is at the center of the turmoil that eventually engulfs the family. Tellingly, this descent into anxiety doesn't derive from an unexpected assault on domestic bliss, but a long-brewing secret, hidden within the walls of the home itself. Perhaps no characters in Twin Peaks better represent Twin Peaks' attitude toward the domestic than the happy, healthy, yet ultimately vulnerable Hayward clan.

Eileen’s journey
As with several recent characters, Eileen's involvement with the series neatly splits into two halves. Like Lana, she is more passive in the first half, more active in the second, although unlike Lana she not the center of drama in her earlier scenes. Whether one starts with the pilot or The Missing Pieces, Eileen and her home exist as a refuge, for Laura, Doc, Donna, and the Palmers. She speaks softly, smiles wanly, watches as others sing, dance, or collapse around her. This thread isn't really about progression, but if it has a climax, that moment arrives at Leland's wake when Eileen takes it upon herself to share and soothe Sarah's pain. This is even more evident in the larger context of the scene; most of the townspeople don't discuss Leland at all and are caught up in their own personal dramas or comedies. When Sarah says, "I want to remember all of this," it's like a passing of the torch (especially since Sarah herself essentially disappears from the series at this exact moment).

The next time we see Eileen, her home is transforming into a locus of danger rather than an escape from it. Windom Earle's disguised visit to Donna (posing as Doc Hayward's old buddy), which can look like a non sequitur in Twin Peaks' big picture, emerges as a potent transitional point when we focus on Eileen's arc. The existential terror of a dead man visiting their home (the phone call to the cemetery is an especially deft touch) provides the perfect pretext for Ben's return into Eileen's lives and the more earthbound turmoil it will produce. From now on, every time we see Eileen she is dealing with that storyline and its implications. This arc unravels everything that was initially established: Eileen's close, honest relationship with Donna splinters into acrimony and distrust; the loving Hayward marriage is unveiled as a sad mutual pact of denial; Eileen herself, the glue that holds them all together, is used as a wedge to drive them all apart.

There is poetic symmetry too in the Hayward melodrama's echoes of the Palmer tragedy. Eileen stands to lose her own daughter just as she watched the Palmers lose theirs, to a self-conscious rejection rather than murder. Her husband violently attacks someone else, possibly killing them in a similar fashion to how Leland killed Maddy (smashed into the wall, falling backward on the floor with a massive head wound). The loving mother carries guilty secrets which strain her relationship to Donna and while initially the threat to their home is presented as an almost uncanny intruder (BOB for the Palmers, Windom for the Haywards), eventually the source of this threat is presented as much within as without. Eileen Hayward experiences all the tensions of Twin Peaks in that very first (or last) scene with Laura, and they haunt her entire journey from beginning to circular end.

Actress: Mary Jo Deschanel
If the above face looks familiar (and the name itself wasn't already a clue), that's because Deschanel is the mother of Zooey and Emily, popular film/TV actresses and current leads on New Girl and Bones, respectively. She is also married to Caleb Deschanel, an accomplished cinematographer and director (who worked on Twin Peaks). Before she was a Deschanel, her name was Mary Jo Kennedy and she popped up in guest spots on late sixties television shows. After more than a decade without screen work (either spent on the stage or away from acting altogether - I can't determine), the-now-Deschanel landed the prominent role of John Glenn's wife in The Right Stuff, shot by her husband. She acted sporadically in television throughout the eighties and nineties, returning to the big screen after seventeen years as the mother of Heath Ledger's wife in the highly revisionist Revolutionary War action film The Patriot (starring Mel Gibson). Since then she has mixed TV and film roles, although more recently she has focused on theater. In 2014, she showed up on the red carpet for the premiere of The Missing Pieces, sharing her reflections on the show in a video interview. (personal photo pictured, circa 1960s - shared online by her daughter)

The Pilot

Episode 1 (German title: "Traces to Nowhere")

Episode 2 (German title: "Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer")

Episode 8 (German title: "May the Giant Be With You")

Episode 17 (German title: "Dispute Between Brothers")

Episode 24 (German title: "Wounds and Scars")

*Episode 25 (German title: "On the Wings of Love" - best episode)

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

Episode 27 (German title: "The Path to the Black Lodge") - voice is heard offscreen

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

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

Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (collection of deleted scenes from the film)

Eileen was written by Mark Frost and David Lynch three times, with Mark Frost going on to pen one solo script, one collaboration with Harley Peyton, and one collaboration with both Harley Peyton and Robert Engels. Harley Peyton and Robert Engels collaborated on two of her other scripts, Barry Pullman wrote two, and Tricia Brock wrote one. David Lynch and Robert Engels co-wrote her deleted scene from Fire Walk With Me. Eileen was directed by David Lynch for the film and in five episodes - tying the Log Lady's record for most Lynch-directed episodes so far. She was also directed by Duwayne Dunham (twice), Tina Rathborne, James Foley, Jonathan Sanger, Stephen Gyllenhaal (in a voice-only performance), and Tim Hunter. Unfortunately, her husband Caleb Deschanel directed several hours of Twin Peaks, but was never able to work with her!

Eileen is onscreen for roughly twenty-three minutes (including her presence in stretches where her activity or even appearance are limited). She is in sixteen scenes in eleven episodes (plus the deleted scenes collection from the feature film), taking place over five weeks. She's featured the most in episode 8, the Hayward Supper Club. Her primary location is the Hayward home (only two scenes take place outside of there). She shares the most screentime with Donna. Eileen is the last character in this series to never place in the top ten of any episode.

Best Scene
Episode 1: Eileen provides a sympathetic ear and sensitive feedback to her confused teenage daughter in the scene that most ably articulates the Twin Peaks spirit.

Best Line
“I want you to know that I put seven whole huckleberries in each muffin.”

Eileen Offscreen

Episode 25: When Donna arrives at the Great Northern, she looks for Audrey. After revealing that Audrey's father is talking to her mother, Donna gets Audrey to help her spy on them through a secret passage. They miss most of the conversation but overhear the last bit about "not telling her." Later, Donna asks her father about Ben's relationship with Eileen; this is the first time she brings it up and the midst of Doc's smooth denials, a messenger arrives at the door with a mysterious bouquet of flowers for Eileen.

Episode 27: When Eileen receives the phone call from Hawk, Donna is upstairs looking through old photo albums. She finds a birth certificate with her mother's name but not her father's as well as old snapshots from the seventies of Eileen, Doc, and Ben partying together. During a routine checkup at the Great Northern, Doc tells Ben to "stay away from Eileen."

Episode 28: Backstage at the Miss Twin Peaks pageant, Donna confronts Ben. She lists all the evidence she's discovered and asks him what's going on. Before he can finish his sentence ("Donna, your mother and I...") she interrupts with the obvious conclusion, "Oh God. You're my father," and runs away from him.

Spin-Offs/Deleted Scenes/Additional Observations

• Eileen is mentioned just a few times in Jennifer Lynch's The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, most memorably when she teases Laura about sleepwalking and mistaking a stove for a washing machine.

• In deleted dialogue from episode 1, Donna and Eileen air some suspicions about Bobby ("I've been waiting for something like this about Bobby," Eileen confesses, and Donna says she and Laura made a pact to get away from both Bobby and Mike).

• The diner scene is not in the script for episode 2. Instead the Haywards are leaving church when they run into Audrey. Doc is pushing Eileen toward a handicapped ramp, and they invite Audrey to have a Softie Freeze with them.

• The "Hayward Supper Club" doesn't really exist in episode 8. We enter the scene after dinner as Eileen promises Leland a good dessert and then moves to the kitchen with Sarah to do the dishes. When they return, they witness Leland's impromptu song (Sarah accompanies him at the piano; only the adults are present in this version of the scene).

• The episode 17 script makes it clear that the night Laura made her pact with Donna was actually the night of Eileen's mother's funeral ("Eileen reacts - feeling bad for bringing this up.")

• A deleted passage from episode 24 also links two separate moments: the Windom Earle discovery and Ben's visit are continuous. Eileen has just sent Donna upstairs for her father's yearbook when Ben arrives. This underscores the connection between the two scenes even more.

• The episode 25 script features a deleted shot of Eileen disembarking from a van with a ramp at the Great Northern.

• The Haywards attend Twin Peaks Episcopal Church, in case you were wondering. This is revealed by the Access Guide, which also lists the Hornes as members of the congregation (nicely linking up to episode 2). Confusingly, their pastor is the same Rev. Clarence Brocklehurst who presided over Laura's funeral, despite the fact that the Palmers are Lutherans. (We're really in the weeds now.)

• If you look closely, Eileen has three slightly different wheelchairs - with different colors and sizes of stripe under the armrests: one with a thick blue stripe in The Missing Pieces, one with a small, straight red stripe in the pilot, and one with a colorful white/orange/yellow diagonal stripe (alongside some stickers) for all of the regular episodes of the series.

• The cause of Eileen's disability is never revealed. In the old photos she appears to be standing up, so her condition apparently wasn't lifelong. Deschanel has expressed curiosity about her character's past (though I can't find the anecdote at present and have no idea why she considered this a possibility, Deschanel once pondered whether Eileen had a psychological, rather than physical, dependency on the wheelchair). Deschanel pressed Lynch and Frost for answers which, of course, they declined to provide! There were intimations, however, that all would eventually be revealed...needless to say, the show's fate determined otherwise.

SHOWTIME: No, Deschanel is not on the cast list for 2017. It's uncertain if we'll hear anything more about her character's past, either the injury/illness the actress wondered about or, more pertinent to the storyline of Twin Peaks, the nature of her relationship with Ben. Considering Ben's own propensities, and the consistency of sexual violence on the show, there has been speculation that Ben raped Eileen; some have also wondered whether the secret has anything to do with Donna's parentage, since it's never stated, only presumed. This storyline is often dismissed, but given its thematic relevance and the cliffhanger of its "ending," I personally would like to get some sense - even if it's vague - of where things went afterwards. The Haywards look to be a very poignant clan in the coming series. More than half of them, including the Hayward who was one of the stars of the show, won't be present. Did Eileen pass away? Did she and Doc separate? The Haywards were the most settled family on Twin Peaks for a long time, and now they are the ones whose fate I wonder about the most.

Yesterday: Phillip Gerard

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