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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Twin Peaks: Dispute Between Brothers Twin Peaks
Episode 17: "Dispute Between Brothers"
TV episode
Written by Tricia Brock
Directed by Tina Rathborne
Original air date: December 8, 1990


The town mourns at Leland’s wake; Nadine goes back to high school; Catherine makes her presence known; Cooper says goodbye.


Read the episode script at


Didja Know?


For the titles of the Twin Peaks TV episodes, I have taken the unique approach of using both the episode numbers, which were the only titles given the scripts by series creators David Lynch and Mark Frost, and the translated German titles of the episodes that were assigned when the series aired in that country. Frequent readers of PopApostle know I like the aesthetic of actual episode titles, but I also wanted to honor the simple numbering used by Lynch and Frost, hence the expanded titles presented in these studies.


This episode introduces Dougie Milford, publisher of the town newspaper the Twin Peaks Post, and brother of Mayor Milford. He dies only two episodes later, but plays a very important role, revealed posthumously, in The Secret History of Twin Peaks.


The role of Agent Hardy is played by Clarence Williams III, who co-starred with fellow TP cast member Peggy Lipton (Norma) in the 1968-1973 crime series The Mod Squad.


The role of Canadian Mountie Preston King is played by Gavan O'Herlihy, the son of Dan O'Herlihy, who plays Andrew Packard starting in the following episode, Episode 18: "Masked Ball".


Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode


Laura Palmer (mentioned only, deceased)
Leland Palmer (mentioned only, deceased)
Sarah Palmer
Dr. Hayward
Agent Cooper
Nadine Hurley (née Butler)
Hank Jennings
Norma Jennings
Ed Hurley
Mrs. Hayward
Audrey Horne
Donna Hayward

James Hurley

Major Briggs

Mayor Milford

Dougie Milford

Pete Martell

Lana Budding

Assistant Principal Greege

Bobby Briggs

Leo Johnson

Shelly Johnson

Catherine Martell

Dick Tremayne

Lucy Moran

Deputy Andy

Deputy Hawk

Mountie Preston King

Agent Roger Hardy

Jean Renault

Samantha (Ben Horne's secretary)

Vivian Niles (aka M.T. Wentz)
Ernie Niles

BOB (mentioned only)

Dweller on the Threshold (?)




Notes from the Log Lady intros


When cable channel Bravo obtained the rights to air reruns of Twin Peaks in 1993, David Lynch directed all-new introductions to each episode featuring the Log Lady, portrayed by original actress Catherine E. Coulson. These intros also appear as options on the DVD and Blu-ray collections of the series.


The Log Lady is wearing another new outfit in this 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?"


Didja Notice?


This episode opens three days after the previous one, Episode 16: "Arbitrary Law", ended, making it Tuesday, March 14, 1989.


Cooper, trying to soothe Sarah Palmer, tells her that Leland was not responsible for the crimes he committed, it was the work of something dark and heinous that had possessed him since he was an innocent boy. He then says that the man who did it is gone forever. But he doesn't know that. In fact, BOB does return later in the season (though he does seem to be out of Sarah's life).


    Speaking of Leland's crimes, what was the town told about his death? What official statements did the Sheriff's Department and FBI make? Do the townsfolk know Leland raped and killed his own daughter? Killed his niece? Killed Teresa Banks? Assaulted Ronnette Pulaski? If so, do they have any idea of BOB's possession of Leland? Would there be such a large turnout at his wake if they knew?

    If the townsfolk were told that Leland was the killer, Ronette would have to contradict them wouldn't she? She seemingly saw the killer as BOB, as revealed in her horrifying flashback in Episode 8B: "Answers in Dreams" and her recognition of the sketch of BOB in Episode 9: "Coma".


The wake for Leland Palmer appears to take place at the Hayward house.


When Major Briggs remarks that Dr. Jacoby appears to be fully restored from his recent setback, Jacoby affirms, "Nothing beats the restorative powers of Hanalei Bay." In Episode 10: "The Man Behind Glass", we learned that Dr. Jacoby and his wife Eolani have a home in Hanalei, Hawaii.


During the wake, notice that Ed and Donna seemingly keep going back to their same positions behind the buffet table as the confrontation shot of Dwayne and Dougie Milford is cut into segments to pace the scene.


Pete refers to the romance between Dougie and his young fiancé as "one of those January-December sort of deals". He is referring to a "May-December romance", a romance between two people of widely different ages. Either Pete is misstating the term here or is intentionally exaggerating it for humorous effect, implying that Dougie is extremely old and his fiancé extremely young (he says she is still in her teens and Dougie is "a 110").


Dwayne snorts to his brother that Lana is "cursed". Some Twin Peaks fans later thought she might be some kind of succubus, due to her seeming ability to seduce (or at least enchant) any man.


Doc Hayward says that the Milford brothers' feud is rumored to have started over an old flame and rumble seat over 50 years ago.


Doc Hayward says Dougie's marriage to Lana will be his fifth. The Secret History of Twin Peaks indicates that, though he was a womanizer, he was never actually married.


At 11:42 on the Blu-ray we can see from the placard on the office door that Ed and Dr. Jacoby are speaking to the assistant principal of the high school about admitting Nadine to school again. (According to the script, the assistant principal's name is Greege.)


The assistant principal indicates that Nadine is 35 years old.


Audrey tells Cooper, "Friendship is the foundation of any lasting relationship," and Cooper responds, "It's nice to be quoted accurately," indicating that he originally said it to her. This probably occurred during their conversation after he found her in his bed at the Great Northern in Episode 5: "Cooper's Dreams".


When Truman walks into his office to find Catherine sitting there, notice he is carrying the brown paper sack he will later give to Cooper.


Catherine indicates that her family had a cabin up by Pearl Lakes.


Dick Tremayne refers to Lucy's unborn baby as "our bambino". "Bambino" is the masculine Italian word for "baby".


Dick tells Lucy he has enlisted himself in the Happy Helping Hand program as a part-time big brother to some adorable homeless waif. "Happy Helping Hand" appears to be a fictitious program, but similar to the real world Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.


Andy reveals he comes from a very large family.


As Cooper prepares to head out on his fishing trip, he tells Truman that Major Briggs has said there is a frying pan full of steelhead trout out there with his name on them. Steelhead trout are, in fact, known to dwell in the Columbia River, which runs past Twin Peaks on the map found in Twin Peaks: An Access Guide to the Town. The steelhead is also the official state fish of Washington.


As a gift for his fishing trip, Truman gives Cooper a fly called a green butt skunk. This is actually one of the most popular lures to use in the American northwest when fishing for steelhead trout.


As Cooper calls the troops to attention as he's about to say goodbye at the sheriff's station, notice he blows the whistle he whittled way back in Episode 0B: "Northwest Passage".


When Cooper says goodbye to his friends at the sheriff's station, notice that when he tells Lucy she better invite him to her wedding, "whoever the lucky man might be," he casts a significant look at Andy.


During the interrogation of Cooper by Hardy and King in the conference room, notice that Hardy's glasses on the table keep changing position from shot-to-shot.


As Cooper is excused from the conference room and Sheriff Truman is asked to come in for questioning, notice that Truman gives Cooper the Bookhouse Boys hand signal to quietly show he's got Cooper's back.


Truman tells Hardy that Agent Cooper is the finest lawman he's ever known. He said something similar to Coop himself in Episode 13: "Demons", "You're the best lawman I've ever seen, Cooper."


As Shelly is on the phone with Bobby at 35:04 on the Blu-ray, notice that a piece of the kitchen's mushroom wallpaper has been torn away from the wall behind her, revealing more wallpaper beneath. It's hard to tell the pattern of the underlying wallpaper...cartoonish chickens? And how/why did a piece of the mushroom wallpaper get torn away? (I guess this is also noticeable in some earlier episodes, I just never noticed myself until now!)

chicken wallpaper


During cheerleader tryouts, Nadine states her last name to be Butler. It must be her maiden name.


At 34:37 on the Blu-ray, the picture posted next to the phone at the Johnson house is no longer of a poodle...but it's hard to tell what it is.


Why was Bobby so late to call Shelly after his aborted meeting with Ben Horne? He is seen offering to buy Audrey an ice cream cone...Audrey indicates she "likes to lick." Did Bobby and Audrey have a "private" rendezvous afterwards?


As Vivian approaches Norma at the RR, notice in the background that Cooper and Truman can just barely be seen exiting in the background for no apparent reason in the story. The script shows a scene was cut where the two discuss Cooper's planning his defense in the FBI internal affairs case.


Vivian indicates she is secretly the travel critic M.T. Wentz, telling Norma, "C'est moi." This is French for "it's me."


Ernie indicates that he's wired in with Columbian and Bolivian "industries". This is, of course, a reference to drug cartels.


In this episode, we get our first glimpse of Truman's cabin, but just the bedroom.


In camp during their night fishing trip, as Cooper and Major Briggs converse and roast marshmallows over the campfire, at 43:51 on the Blu-ray, notice that Briggs' marshmallow catches fire, but in the next shot it appears to be completely uncooked!


At 46:03 on the Blu-ray, notice that the tin plates sitting next to the campfire have the skeletal remains of the fish Cooper and Briggs caught and ate.


At the campfire, Major Briggs asks Cooper if he's ever heard of the White Lodge. This is the first mention of the White Lodge in the series. In the following episode, Episode 18: "Masked Ball", Hawk tells Cooper a bit about the White Lodge and its shadow-self, the Black Lodge. Twin Peaks' co-creator Mark Frost has said that the occult book Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune (1890-1946) was the source of the White and Black Lodges and the dugpas mentioned by Windom Earle later in Episode 27: "The Path to the Black Lodge", though the novel The Devil's Guard by Talbot Mundy is also a source of those topics used for the show. Aleister Crowley's 1929 novel Moonchild also refers to magicians of White and Black lodges.


Who or what is the hooded figure seen in the light and mist as Major Briggs is taken away from the campsite at the end of the episode? Is it the Dweller on the Threshold spoken of by Hawk in the next episode, Episode 18: "Masked Ball"? In Episode 27: "The Path to the Black Lodge", Briggs refers to it as a "guardian".

Dweller on the Threshold


Memorable Dialog


today I bury my husband.wav

things dark and heinous.wav

not the Leland that you knew.wav

she forgave him.wav


one of those January-December sort of deals.wav

I'm really gonna miss this place.wav

so this is it.wav

someone was hurt by me.wav

Friendship is the foundation of any lasting relationship.wav

you better watch out.wav

there's only one problem with you.wav

guardian angels.wav

frying pan full of steelhead trout.wav

a green butt skunk.wav

you're one of us.wav

may the wind be always at your back.wav

your bravery is only exceeded by the size of your heart.wav

whoever the lucky man might be.wav

suspension from the FBI.wav

bring in a fly swatter.wav

I like to lick.wav

the finest lawman I've ever known.wav

have you ever heard of the White Lodge?.wav

there's nothing quite like urinating out in the open air.wav 


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