The City of Absurdity Papers & Essayes
The Detective in 'Twin Peaks'  by Andreas Blassmann

3.2. Serial Killer vs. Serial Detective

Nickerson states that "once Cooper relinquishes his status as an outsider ... he and the entire show are pulled seaward by the narrative undertow of Earle's revenge plot" (275). This narrative development also leads to a curious interweaving of temporal layers:

Earle's narrative is one that connects the past to the future ... in ways that are diseased, but not disorganized... That current is one that pulls the events of the past through the present, sweeping both past and present into the future. The world of the last nine episodes of the show is such that one expects to find one's past before one; in the sense that Earle's plot is a revengeful return of the repressed, Twin Peaks is a gothic place. (ibid.)

In addition to the confusion of time, it appears as though the Earle character would also pull the series and the Cooper character back into a more conservative formulaic pattern. The new ZEN detective's method are now restricted and have to adapt to Earle's conventional revenge plot. In his ambition to 'finish' the game, and thus a plot that has its roots in the past, Earle resembles the classical detective's endeavour to achieve closure. In his will to take revenge, he resembles the Gothic villain who forces Cooper to take on the role of the clueless Gothic hero. Pressed into a conventional scheme like that, Cooper loses his edge as a character. His wackiness and his quirks, which where essential for his inner division between the 'consuming and the resolvent', get lost along the way of the Earle revenge plot. Furthermore, Cooper's curiosity for a metaphysical merging with the dead female victim is turned into a much more common love affair with the former nun Annie Blackburne, who is supposed to resemble Cooper's true love Caroline Earle.

Earle, the representative of the patriarchal order and a synecdoche of common genre patterns, i.e. the classical detective story or the Gothic novel, forces Cooper back into a traditional pattern, which weakens the detective. Cooper cannot function within his own methodological frame anymore, i.e. to be a serial detective with spiritual and esoteric freedom. Interestingly, Earle is also a character who needs to leave the frame of the concealed story. Earle disrupts and dis-mantles the detective-fiction narrative because "his murders don't remain in a retrievable or recuperative past because they are only understandable as parts of a chain of events that stretch into the future as well as into the past" (Nickerson, 274).

Earle appears to be a figure that personifies a schizoid narrational split, i.e. the urge to keep the story going forever and, at the same time, the desire to find a finite solution for his revenge plot. We will find that Earle, similar to Cooper, is focusing on a 'bigger game', namely a plotline that I introduced in chapter 2.4. The quest for the Black and the White lodge will dominate the last segment of TP, an episode that will bring all of the discussed plot elements back together.

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