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Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me depicts the last seven days of Laura Palmer's life, leading up to the discovery of her corpse that begins the series.

Most of the action of FWWM seems consistent with what we learn about Laura and her circle of friends in seasons 1 & 2. For example, in the series, Shelly tells the FBI that she helped Laura with Wheels on Meals, and FWWM obliges with a scene where they do that together.

But one difference seems to stand out. My recollection is that in the TV series, Donna Hayward (played by Lara Flynn Boyle) was a "good girl" who, despite being Laura's best friend, wasn't involved in the darker aspects of her life, perhaps even unaware of them. But in FWWM (where she is played by Moira Kelly), Donna accompanies Laura on a trip to Canada, and both witnesses and takes part in Laura's drug use and prostitution. The climax of this scene comes when Ronnette Pulaski exclaims, "is that Donna Hayward?!", sending Laura into a frenzy.

So, IS that Donna Hayward? Did Lynch use the re-casting of the actress as an opportunity to turn Donna into a darker character? Or is my recollection of the TV show version of Donna wrong?

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    There are plenty of inconsistencies between the movie and the show (e.g. the Palmer house is completely different).
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 14:21
  • @BCdotWEB true, but to me that seems more cosmetic than something like this, which really casts a new light on Donna and her relationship with Laura
    – Kevin Troy
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 4:42

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Yes, it is the same Donna.

Donna is a bit naive girl, both in the movie and in the series. She idolises Laura and sees her as an amazing woman: after all, Laura is pretty, popular and does charity work. But at the same time, Laura is part of the "cool kids", while Donna is a bit of a nerdy outcast. So when she accompanies Laura to Canada in the FWWM movie, she thinks that by doing the same things as her idol (that is drugs and sex with strangers), she will be as "cool" as her. But then, in the last moment, Laura intervenes, later begging Donna to "not become like her".

Back in the series (which takes place after the movie and Laura's death), Donna is back to being her own "good and proper girl". She still doesn't know that Laura was a prostitute and treats the incident in Canada as a crazy party that she has been at with her bestie, rather than a visit to a brothel. This is hard to prove directly, as the "party" is (IIRC) never mentioned in the TV series.

So in chronological summary: Donna is a well-behaved young woman in the movie, except when going to the "party" (brothel) with Laura. After Laura's death, she is back to her old self, until she starts wearing Laura's sunglasses, which brings her "wilder" side.

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    Do you have any evidence from the show for that last paragraph?
    – magarnicle
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 0:19
  • @magarnicle Hmm, I don't think I can pull it directly from the show, but it is for example in the TvTropes site about Donna under "Girl next door" and "Not Herself" sections tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/TwinPeaksResidents.
    – Yasskier
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 21:45
  • I'm asking the impossible, really. There would have to be mention of the "party" in season 1, before the movie was made.
    – magarnicle
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 22:47
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    @magarnicle indeed, I don't believe that the "party" in Canada is mentioned in the TV show, but Donna is definitely a well-behaved girl, at least in the first season, until she starts to wear Laura's sunglasses, trying to look (and behave) more like Laura - something that her dead friend forbade her to do.+
    – Yasskier
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 23:11

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