Twin Peaks, Season 2, Episode 10, “Dispute Between Brothers”
Written by Tricia Brock
Directed by Tina Rathborne
Originally aired December 8, 1990 on ABC
“Harry, I’m really gonna miss this place.”
Dale Cooper belongs in Twin Peaks. This may seem like an obvious statement, but it appears to be a more complicated issue in this episode. As the writers struggled to figure out where to go from here, they realized that Cooper had no real reason to stay in town anymore. About half our time is spent watching him say goodbye to everyone and prepare to head out, only to be interrupted as he finds out that he is being suspended from the FBI and must stay put. Clearly, the writers just needed a reason, any reason, to keep him in Twin Peaks.
Granted, this can be understood as a suggestion that Cooper will be made to stay in Twin Peaks by any means necessary, even a superfluous callback to a relatively forgotten plot point from episodes past, but that would surely be giving too much credit. With the threat of BOB still pulsating, it seems strange that Cooper would just get up and leave. Whether or not he “belongs” here, it certainly would make more sense for him to make the choice to stay until he solves this mystery for good, rather than have him forced to stay by a meaningless and trivial suspension. The Cooper we have come to know would not abandon Twin Peaks with this menace still present and lurking.
“There are things dark and heinous in this world. Things too horrible to tell our children.”
It also renders much of the episode empty, as the mildly affecting goodbyes feel like cheap shots at emotion, only to be cast aside. Mildly affecting is still pretty significant when these characters are so well-developed and the viewers are so invested. “Andy, your bravery is only exceeded by the size of your heart. A rare combination indeed,” Cooper tells him, and Andy is understandably left speechless. Earlier, Cooper fills in Audrey on his past, how he feels responsible for his lover’s death (“She died in my arms.”) and how he swore to never get involved with anyone who’s part of a case after that. Kyle MacLachlan sells the scene, even though it’s written awkwardly, making him come off more standoffish than is characteristic.
The writing throughout this episode, in fact, feels as though it was for any standard character, not for Dale Cooper, but MacLachlan’s performance, as always, is good enough to keep it grounded and impactful. This section also leads to one of the pair’s best exchanges of the series, so it’s not all bad. “I like you, Audrey, and I care for you. I’ll always consider you my friend,” Cooper says. “Friendship is the foundation of any lasting relationship,” she responds, recalling what he once said. “It’s nice to be quoted accurately.” After she tells him that she’ll be grown up soon and he better watch out, she finishes with, “You know, there’s only one problem with you. You’re perfect.” It is sweet, achingly relatable, and one of their tenderest moments in the series.
“It is some men’s fate to face great darkness. We each choose how to react. If the choice is fear, then we become vulnerable to the darkness.”
We spend the rest of the episode checking in on different characters and parts of storylines, with varying degrees of interest. It turns out that the whiny RCMP officer upset with Cooper for crossing into Canada happens to be in cahoots with Jean Renault. Shrug emoji. Super Nadine continues to run amok. Norma’s mother reveals that she is the food critic who gave the Double R a bad review. It’s all very meandering, but Twin Peaks knows how to rope you back in, as it shows in the final scene with Cooper and Major Briggs. Sitting by the fire, Cooper goes off to take a leak, only to come running when Briggs yells for him. He finds Briggs gone and a blinding light in the woods, a shot that would later inspire the pilot for The X-Files. There has always been something a little off about Briggs, and in an episode that doesn’t give us much to work with, his disappearance is the most intriguing thing to cling onto. When the two old men start fighting at the Palmer house at the beginning of the episode, and Harry calms them down by saying “Remember where you are and why we’re here,” it’s telling that no one really has an answer.
Pie crusts and coffee grounds
- Log Lady intro: Complications set in — yes, complications. How many times have we heard: ‘it’s simple’. Nothing is simple. We live in a world where nothing is simple. Each day, just when we think we have a handle on things, suddenly some new element is introduced and everything is complicated once again. What is the secret? What is the secret to simplicity, to the pure and simple life? Are our appetites, our desires undermining us? Is the cart in front of the horse?
- I’m only this harsh on the episode because the series is capable of so much more, even at this point.
- This episode was written and directed by two women, Tricia Brock and Tina Rathborne, respectively, a feat rare enough today, let alone in 1990.
- Another great moment comes when Harry presents Cooper with a Bookhouse Boys badge. “We all agreed. You’re one of us now.” “Harry,” Coop replies, “I am honoured beyond my ability to express myself.”
- Sorry to reiterate, but I really love that scene between Cooper and Audrey. They have one of the strongest relationships in the series, one that was never fully explored for somewhat understandable reasons, so it’s nice to have them connect on such a level.
- “There’s nothing quite like urinating out in the open air.”