In this week’s installment of Twin Peaks Revisited, we begin the post-Laura Palmer episodes, or as most people refer to them, “the crappy part of the show.” Although this episode does begin the series’ fast descent into mediocrity, there is still a lot to like in this chapter, most of it dealing with wrap up from the big Laura arc. This episode was written by Tricia Brock, a newcomer to the writing staff, and directed by Tina Rathborne, who had previously directed the excellent funeral episode in Season One. As always, I remind all new followers of these recaps that you can find all the previous Twin Peaks: Revisited columns right here and catch up. And this is, as always, a spoiler-free recap for anything that takes place after the particular episode we’re recapping.
Episode 18: “Dispute Between Brothers” – Aired December 8, 1990
The episode opens inside the Palmer home, with an onscreen caption which reads “Three days later.” This marks the first time more than a single day has passed on the show since the pilot. Dr. Hayward is checking on Sarah Palmer, who is refusing any medication to get through her husband’s funeral, saying she needs to be present, body and spirit, not just for Leland but for Laura as well.
Cooper tries to comfort Sarah about Leland’s death, and the revelation that he murdered (not to mention molested) their daughter for years, by hammering home the point to her that Leland fell prey to dark forces as a child, and that he did not commit the crimes, at least “not the Leland that you knew.” Sarah knows Cooper is talking about BOB, whom she saw in visions. Cooper even stresses to Sarah that BOB had drugged her to keep Leland’s actions a secret, but he also tells her about the moment that Leland died, and how, free of BOB, he saw Laura waiting for him on the other side, and that he believes she forgave him.
The episode skips Leland’s funeral and just heads to the wake afterward at the Palmer home, and we see food being spread out on the table. Almost the entire town has gathered for Leland’s wake, with Ben Horne notably absent. It seems odd that the entire town has gathered to fondly remember a rapist/child molester and murderer, but I can maybe swallow that they’re there for the sake of Sarah Palmer. We see Nadine, still in full teenager mode, looking at her own reflection in her buckled shoes, and asks Ed if he thinks boys are looking up her dress through her shoes. Poor Ed sure has a handful to deal with.
Sarah chats with Eileen Hayward and Audrey, and she remembers a happy moment between Laura and Donna when they were still kids, fighting back tears. “I need to remembers all of this” she says. Donna tells Big Ed that James thinks the town’s devastation is all his fault (ugh, everything isn’t about you James) but Ed tells her James will eventually return. Dr. Jacoby has returned from Hawaii where he was recuperating from his heart attack, and Cooper says he might take a few weeks’ vacation, and spend them in town. Major Briggs uses the opportunity to invite Coop to an evening of night fishing. The ancient and doddering Mayor Milford is also there, and gets into a fight with his brother Dougie, who runs the local paper, over Dougie’s engagement to a 19 year old girl.
At Twin Peaks High School, Ed and Dr. Jacoby ask the high school principal to let Nadine attend classes, as Jacoby thinks it could only help with her current psychosis. Back at the Great Northern, Cooper is packing his bags. Audrey walks in, and asks if he’s leaving for good. “So you just come in and save my life and break my heart?” Coop reiterates that not only is she a high school girl, but she was involved in a case he was working on. “Someone must have hurt you really badly once.” She says. “No. Someone was hurt by me. And I’ll never let that happen again.”
Coop then tells Audrey the whole story; “She was a material witness to a federal crime, my partner Windom Earle and I were supposed to protect her. When the attempt on her life was finally made, I wasn’t ready, because I loved her. She died in my arms. I was badly injured, and my partner lost his mind.” Audrey is left speechless at Coop’s big revelation. “I like you Audrey, and I’ll always care about you, and consider you my friend,” he says. Audrey then walks out of the room and says “one of these days I’m gonna be grown up and on my own, and you better watch out.”
Bobby is trying on one of Leo’s suits, getting ready to meet with Ben Horne, in an effort to blackmail him into a job with the tape he found in Leo’s shoe of Ben plotting the mill fire. An exhausted Shelly asks for Bobby to take her out of the house. Bobby reassures her that if he gets the job, he will take good care of her, and they’re “on easy street.”
Catherine surprises Harry in his office. Harry says “Excuse me, but aren’t you dead?” Catherine, in an uncharacteristically spiritual moment, says she believes an angel saved her life. She says the night of the mill fire, she was afraid for the first time in her life. She dragged herself through the night, until chancing upon her old summer cabin in the woods she and her family used. She says only a guardian angel could have led her there. She ate canned food and waited for her assassin for days. “What made you come back?” asks Harry. “I ran out of tuna fish,” deadpans Catherine.
Dick Tremayne visits Lucy at the station. He says he’s signed up for the Happy Helping Hand big brother program for under privileged boys, ready to show Lucy he can be a good parent. Andy butts in and says they should all be friends, and Lucy looks like she’s about to kiss him. Hawk gets on Andy’s case for him for trying to be nice to Dick, but he says that moral behavior is the key to Lucy’s heart.
As Cooper bids Harry farewell, Harry gives him a special lure for his fishing trip, “a green butt skunk” and a Bookhouse Boys badge, letting him know that he’s one of them for life. “Harry, I’m honored beyond my ability to express myself.” Just as Cooper bids farewell to Hawk, Andy, and Lucy, a Canadian Mountie escorts FBI Special Agent Roger Hardy into the station house. Hardy tells Cooper he is being suspended from the FBI.
Back in Harry’s office, Dale Cooper being told he is under suspension for misfeasance, “the unlawful expression of an act that is in and of itself good and lawful”-the rescue of Audrey Horne from One Eyed Jacks in Canada. Roger explains that he is in Internal Affairs for the FBI and says there are allegations against his behavior in Canada, and his methods.
Bobby waits outside Ben’s office for his meeting. Audrey saunters in and makes fun of him in his suit, then uses her power over her father and gets him in the office. As soon as she leaves though, two bodyguards drag Bobby out at Ben’s request. Bobby says he owes her one for trying, and she says he can take her out for an ice cream. “Cup or cone?” he asks. After giving it some thought, Audrey says “Cone. I like to lick.” Ugh. I’m so not into this Bobby/Audrey thing they’re attempting.
Agent Roger Hardy interrogates Cooper about the arrest and death of Jacques Renault, then about the rescue of Audrey Horne. The Canadian Mountie reveals that he had been setting up a sting operation for six months at One Eyed Jacks, and all that was blown when Coop and Harry rescued Audrey, and that the cocaine from the sting operation is now missing. Roger says that the DEA has been brought in to investigate, and that Cooper has 24 hours to assemble a defense. Roger has Cooper surrender his gun and badge, putting Coop on indefinite leave. Roger and the Mountie then ask Sheriff Truman for his cooperation. Harry remains loyal to Coop, and says that Cooper is the finest lawman he’s ever known, and lets them know that he will not assist in his prosecution in any way, shape, or form.
Nadine then tries out for the cheerleading squad at Twin Peaks High, and then decides to toss a male cheerleader 20 feet in the air, all while yelling “corkscrew!!”, because reasons. And just like that, Twin Peaks has turned into a bad sitcom with the snap of a finger.
Over at Shelly’s, she’s brushing Leo’s teeth when Bobby calls, and he lies and says that the meeting with Ben Horne went well to save face. Exasperated after having to take care of a Leo the vegetable 24/7, (ugh, meaning she has to change his diapers too) Shelly asks to put Leo in a nursing home. While Shelly talks to Bobby on the phone, she notices that Leo moved his wheelchair.
At the Double R, Norma is upset that she’s gotten a bad review from MT Wents, the traveling food critic that supposedly came to town a few episodes back, feeling her business might be ruined. It turns out her own mother Vivian is the secret reviewer, making her feel ten times worse about everything. She tells Vivian to leave the diner, and stay out of her life for good. As if Norma’s situation wasn’t bad enough, on top of everything else, her mother turns out to be a terrible human. Poor Norma.
We cut to One Eyed Jack’s, where Hank and Vivian’s husband Ernie are roughhousing after a night of debauchery. Ernie says he won’t steal his wife’s money for any kind of scheme, just as Jean Renault walks in and interrupts them. Jean met Hank the night Audrey was rescued from One Eyed Jack’s, but having a DA’s badge (which he stole) saved his life, and has since got in cahoots with Jean Renault. Renault then explains that he needs $125k immediately. Ernie then unconvincingly boasts that he has connections in the drug trafficking world. The Mountie from earlier shows up with a briefcase full of cocaine, and it turns out he’s crooked and part of some scheme to get revenge on Cooper that Renault has cooked up. The Mountie then takes a package of the cocaine to plant in Cooper’s car.
It’s late at night, and Harry is awakened from his sleep (is this the first time we ever see Harry’s place? It looks like a room at the Great Northern, and probably is the same set.) He sees a shadow creeping outside his window, and when he goes to check it out, Josie falls into his door when he opens it. She looks filthy and is crying, and then Truman begins to kiss her (maybe clean her up and see if she’s OK first, Harry?)
At their campfire, after their night of fishing, Cooper talks frankly with Major Briggs about BOB, and whether or not he really exists. He wonders if BOB is still out there, looking for a new victim to inhabit. Briggs uses this opportunity to ask if Cooper has heard of a place called the White Lodge. Cooper says he hasn’t, and as he speaks, we see that something is stalking them in the woods. He excuses himself to urinate, and as an owl hoots and stares down at Cooper, a bright light flashes in the forest, we see the shape of a male figure and Major Briggs yells out Cooper’s name and disappears.
This is the last time we see the Palmer home in the show, and we don’t see Sarah Palmer again until the very last episode of the series. In fact, the show goes almost out of its way to not mention the Palmers again till almost the end of the series, despite the fact that Laura’s photo still plays under the closing credits of each episode.
This episode is also almost the last time we get nearly the full main cast together in one episode, minus the now deceased Leland and Maddy (who, as usual, appear in photographs) James, the Log Lady, and Jerry Horne. The episode also mark the return of actor John Boylan, who plays Mayor Dwayne Milford, who hasn’t been seen since the pilot episode.
Although Cooper and Audrey’s relationship status hits a brick wall in this episode, it wasn’t always this way. The big story going into this portion of the show was supposed to be Cooper and Audrey becoming romantically involved, but Kyle MacLachlan refused to play it. The official reasons being that he felt Coop made his feelings clear about Coop’s stance on getting involved with a high school girl in Season One. The RUMORED reason? At the time, Kyle MacLachlan was dating Lara Flynn Boyle, who plays Donna. Apparently, she didn’t much care for the idea of her boyfriend getting tons of romantic screen time with Sherilyn Fenn, and was said to put pressure on him to ask Lynch and Frost to kill the Audrey/Cooper romance. MacLachlan won out, and the fans lost.
Ah, what could have been. Maybe in 2016? Audrey definitely isn’t in high school anymore. Fingers crossed…
This episode is the beginning of Twin Peaks downward spiral into mediocrity, but it’s not a total loss. In fact, a lot of it is pretty good. The opening scenes between Cooper and Sarah Palmer are great, as are the scenes with Cooper and Major Briggs, and Coop’s farewell to the crew at the Sheriff’s station is emotional. Much of this episode is a denouement on the whole Laura Palmer saga, and those scenes work really well.
But it’s very weird that no one is talking about the circumstances behind Laura’s death. One is to assume the whole town knows her father killed her, and yet no one is talking about it. Sure, I get not talking about it to poor Sarah Palmer out of respect, but not even to each other? It’s such a weird choice to just have everyone in town ignore this huge reveal.
The whole FBI investigation into Dale Cooper feels like what it is, a forced way to keep him in Twin Peaks even though he should be leaving. The Lucy/Andy/Dick story feels like it was brought to a proper conclusion in the last episode, and anything they do now just feels like they are spinning their wheels just to give those actors something to do.
The biggest problem is that there isn’t a compelling A-plot anymore, and all we have left are B-plots like Nadine’s insanity and Bobby and Shelly hoping Leo never wakes up. Lynch and Frost needed to use this episode to come out swinging with another great mystery right out of the gate, but both had basically abandoned the show at this point, neither of the show’s creators wanting to resolve the Laura Palmer story when they did. While this episode is basically just ok, it does have some rather good moments to balance things out, and the next few episodes are basically terrible, making this one look a lot less bad in comparison.
Episode rating: 3 out of 5 burritos