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Twin Peaks: Dispute Between Brothers

“We can get this little melodrama over with.”

This episode, which originally aired just one week after the Laura Palmer murder was solved, should establish the new rules for this post-Laura show. It doesn’t entirely succeed. If I were watching back then, I’m not sure I would have stuck with it. With the killer literally underground, what else do we need?

This is my third time watching Twin Peaks over the course of 10 years. Even though I have the benefit of knowing that this show will end on a strong note, I can’t help but feel that Twin Peaks flails aimlessly for a few episodes. I’m deadly bored by Nadine’s high-school troubles, Norma’s plotline with her mother (although Peggy Lipton acts the heck out of it), and Donna’s confusion over James’s desertion.

Twin Peaks is a soap opera, with all of the caricatures, flat acting, and melodrama appropriate to that genre. I can delight in its send-up of soaps while still being interested in its mysteries and characters. But not, to be honest, all of the characters. Dale Cooper, Harry Truman, Major Briggs: those are the folks I love, and they’re also the ones grappling with the mythology that I think is so interesting. The rest of the characters are just cardboard cut-outs in scenes I’m tempted to fast-forward through.

So, for me, this episode is all time-wasting until the last five minutes, in which two important things happen: Josie returns—big deal for Harry!—and Major Briggs takes Cooper night-fishing in the woods.

In the second-season premiere, “May the Giant be With You,” Major Briggs spoke eloquently about a vision he had that was like “the mind revealing itself to itself.” In that vision, he saw a radiant white house. Being there was “a reunion with the deepest wellsprings of my being” that left him filled with optimism and a renewed connection with his wayward son Bobby.

In this episode, Cooper and the Major speak about the “powerful forces of evil” and whether or not Bob really exists. According to the Major, when faced with the powerful forces of darkness, we must go without fear. To fear is to become vulnerable. The Major’s knowledge of how fear and good fit together seem tied to his vision, since he asks Cooper if he has heard of the White Lodge.

But that’s all we know for now, since Cooper felt the “call of nature” before the Major could tell him about it. By the time Cooper returned, the Major had disappeared into a flash of X-Filesish light that revealed (to us, if not Coop), a shrouded figure:

It’s hard to know what to do with this information, and that’s the point: this is a horror(ish) cliffhanger meant to keep us wondering what’s going on in Twin Peaks. The next episode answers a lot of these questions, and I’ll have a lot more to say about the White Lodge in the next review. Right now, all we can say for sure is that something important is still happening, and that something has to do with the question Harry left us with in the previous episode: Where is Bob now?

Clues, Questions, and Answers:

• Where is Bob now?
• Where is Major Briggs now?
• Who was the shrouded figure?
• Will Coop be okay?
• Could we see up Nadine’s dress?

Other Things that are Still Happening (a new weekly feature):

• Shelly is struggling with Bobby’s distance, and Bobby appears to have kindled a relationship with Audrey. Leo, meanwhile, is moving around under his own power.

• Katherine has returned, as we knew, and has unmasked herself with a funny story of running out of tuna fish.

• Harry handled that with his usual aplomb, as he did the sudden Internal Affairs interest in the raid on One-Eyed Jack’s.

• Fun twist: the Mountie works for One-Eyed Jack’s. Never trust a man in a silly hat, that’s what I always say.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. Your reviews, sir, are amazing. I'm first watching it and these are really helpfull.

  2. Great review, Josie! I agree with everything you said. I did stick with the show back in 1991, but episodes like this one didn't make it easy. In the previous episodes the show took us down a very deep rabbit hole: a murder mystery turned into a series of eerie (and fascinating) supernatural events. Although there are some loose ends--and more supernatural events to come--it is difficult to look at the mundane events of the town in the same way...

    The wacky, and sometimes nasty, people of Twin Peaks and their story arcs worked well as diversions from the main plot line of "Who killed Laura Palmer?"--but can they carry the show on their own? The answer is a pretty definitive "No." We have discovered that the town isn't such a nice place after all, which did fit into the overall theme of "darkness within" exemplified by Laura Palmer herself. But now, after plumbing the depths of BOB we are not very interested in returning to the 'ordinary' nasty arcs of Twin Peaks--and the wacky arcs aren't that compelling either...

    At this point, I don't think there is a story arc I really care about--other than what happened to BOB. I guess I'd rather stay in the rabbit hole. Perhaps that's because I (vaguely) know what's going to happen in the other arcs--which I didn't know in 1991. Maybe I did care more about the other arcs back then because they were unresolved, but the only arc that matters after 25 years is the supernatural one. That's the arc that sticks with me (and perhaps most viewers). I guess there is a reason why soap operas are never shown as re-runs--it is the unresolved tension of the plot lines that keeps people interested, even though people do bond with the characters...

    When I'm watching the original series, I'm always looking for clues that relate to the supernatural arc--which is precisely the arc that was never resolved, and therefore the tension remains. It will be interesting to see if the supernatural arc will remain interesting once it is resolved, assuming it is resolved in the The Return...


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