By Pamela Tarajcak
Bobby and Shelly. Bobby and Laura. Laura and James. James and Donna. Norma and Ed. Audrey and Coop. Coop and Annie. Shelly and Gordon. Janey-E and Coop’s Dougie. Lucy and Andy. These are the couples who are usually in competition as the best couple in Twin Peaks. However, no one really ever puts the real best couple in the running at all. They’re never considered nor are they ever on top of any list. The best couple of Twin Peaks is Major Garland and Mrs. Betty Briggs.
Many of the above couples have their basis in or involve cheating, Bobby and Shelly, Laura and James (remember, Laura was technically still with Bobby at the time), Norma and Ed. They’re innately relationships that start or continue on the basis of lies, deceit, and trickery. Many of the relationships above are also toxic, Bobby and Laura, James and Donna who fed off each other’s worst instincts. Some are set up for failure from the very beginning, Audrey and Coop (though we did feel that fire, she was still in high school), and Shelly and Gordon, Janey-E and Coop’s Dougie. Some could have worked. Coop and Annie if problems didn’t get in the way. The only ones that came close to the ideal were Lucy and Andy. At the beginning, however, they were far from it, untrusting of each other, unclear of the path they wanted the relationship to take. It was a very “on-again-off-again” relationship until they finally committed after the Miss Twin Peaks debacle. Then in Season 3, they had become a truly stable and wonderful couple who supported each other and did sweet things for each other.
That said, the reason why the Major and Betty are the best couple is that they did stay faithful to each other. Not only did they stay faithful to each other but had an adorable intimacy that most of the other married couples in Twin Peaks lacked. They snuggled with one another, sometimes in public. They spent quality time together. Therefore, they kept their marriage constantly fresh and new by having a very communicative and almost telepathic intimacy. This is shown throughout the series.
When we first meet the couple, it is blatantly obvious that they are the couple that have something different about them that the other couples lacked. We have Nadine and Ed’s combative and adulterous union. We have the ice of the Martell marriage. We have the dysfunction of many of the other unions across Twin Peaks. But when we meet Garland and Betty, they have a physical intimacy that is truly lovely to behold. Just the simple way that Betty stands behind Garland while he’s reading the paper. They share the paper reading in the morning. Neither gets the paper first. They probably wait for the other to get up and read it together. There is that equality.
Throughout season 1 it is proven they like spending time together. They join together for dinner and they go to the funeral together. It is very unlike the family dinner that we see in the Horne residence, where there’s everyone sullenly and silently in their corners. The family dinner the Briggs have is around an intimate square table. No one sits at the head of this table because there is no head. Both Betty and Garland are equals in the marriage. Neither sits at the head of the table nor at the more servile position at the foot. When Major Briggs sent Bobby’s cigarette flying, Betty didn’t freak out like Sylvia did at Jerry’s interruption of dinner or the frequent troubled dinners at the Palmer house. She was calm at his outburst, probably knowing that these outbursts were so, so rare. She also knew that she had to “be there” for her son which was more important. The pre-funeral scene showed again, that Betty and Garland are generally placid people who deal with things calmly. More importantly, they seek therapy together when they are at the end of their ropes. Unlike many other troubled Twin Peaks couples who cover their troubles in a veneer of lies or outward perfection. When there’s trouble in the family, they seek out help and utilize it.
In Season 2, the next time we hear of the couple’s marriage it’s when Betty talks to Coop and Harry when Garland had disappeared. Betty is calm. For such a classified job, it seems that Garland has told Betty quite a bit. That means that they trust each other. There are absolutely no secrets between the two of them. It also seems that Garland has disappeared for work related things before. It doesn’t worry Betty as she knows that his job is very, very important. Not only that, she knows him. It doesn’t preclude difficulties in the separation or in the marriage, “And there’s no manual for it. There’s certainly no manual to be married to it.” But they didn’t let the difficulties overwhelm them to the point where the difficulties overshadowed the joy of the marital state.
When they reunite after a few days, they are intimate. They cannot keep their hands off each other. They are intimate in ways that other Twin Peaks marriages are not. Granted the only couples we see reunite after a long separation in the original series are the Martells/Packards (both couples) and one thought the other was dead, so I guess that’s no comparison. It is telling that they are not afraid of the physical side of relationships. Their marriage still has intimacy about them.
A few days later, when sitting at the Double RR diner, the Major and Betty are again cuddling. They are also not afraid of being intimate with each other in public either.
The next time, and unfortunately the last time, we see them together is in the Missing Pieces scene where they are in their living room. Garland is reading the Bible and Betty is cross-stitching. It is wonderful that they enjoy spending time with each other and not doing their own activities in the house. Reading is such a solitary activity, that the fact that Garland is reading aloud to Betty means that he wants to share his activities with her.
Sharing, caring, intimacy, love, respect, openness, communication, equality that’s what makes the Briggs couple an outstanding couple on the show. They are truly the best couple in Twin Peaks history.