|Papers & Essayes
|The Detective in 'Twin Peaks' by Andreas Blassmann
Maria Carrion remarks that "inevitably, Cooper's last dream brings us back to the first ... The circular ruins of fiction come to an end. And yet, it is an unreal end. Because, as we know, the labyrinth only has one end : the exit. For as long as we continue reading (in) the maze of TP ... the supposed termination of the series will be as fake as the image of Cooper in the mirror and the dubious identities that inhabit the town" (Carrion, 245).
In the end, it seems as though TP could maintain its character as a series, strechting final solutions and closure to infinity. The open ending matches the new detective's attempts to maintain a general openness. His merging with BOB could be read as the ultimate experience of the open seeker becoming one with his antagonist, i.e. the spiritual demon BOB, not the faked trickster Windom Earle.
In his openness, Cooper corresponds with the narratological structure of the entire series. One can read the series as an-open-ended story or, as I did in this thesis, in an "organic Romantic fashion, i.e., as a now perfectly closed story of Dale's arrival, initiation, troubling of the waters, capture by BOB in his 'death bag', and replacement by a shadow soul from the Black Lodge" (Dolan, , 43).
An alternate narrative explanation for Cooper's possession can be found in the follow-up film of TP, called "Twin Peaks – Fire Walk With Me". This motion picture represents David Lynch's interpretation of the place Twin Peaks entirely. Significantly, it tells the story of Laura's martydom, i.e. the seven days before her death, from her point of view. In many a scene of the movie we are taken inside of Laura's dreams. In this subconscious state she is, very much like Agent Cooper, able to enter the Red Room. In one instance, she even meets Annie Blackburne who tells her the unmistakable truth about Agent Cooper's destiny: 'The good Dale is in the Lodge and can't leave. Write it in your diary.'(Lavery, FWWM.28). Laura does so, and Cooper will find out. However, the circle does not end here. Solution is suspended, probably to an infinite point. One might think of Laura's first appearance during Cooper's visit in the Black Lodge. There she tells Cooper: 'I'll see you again in twenty-five years' (30.12). In the course of the TP narrative, it becomes clear that the Lodges open their gates in a temporal cycle of twenty-five years. It has also become evident that Cooper's Red Room dream is a vision of future events, events that will happen twenty-five years later in the Lodge.
Georg Seeßlen suggests that Cooper could be released when Laura whispers the solution into his ears once more, namely twenty-five years into the future (Seeßlen, 126). Maybe, the Red Room dream has not only been the solution for the murder mystery, but also a premonition of Cooper's destiny. Maybe, Cooper can escape from the Black Lodge in the future. Or maybe, the TP universe will finally collapse on itself, in account of all this temporal and spatial confusion.
We might conclude that TP keeps its infinite and open nature, despite the seemingly finite solution presented to us in the final installment of the show. According to Gregg Rickman, the general structure of TP represents a 'broken circle':
The TP cycle, then, is a detective saga that rather than moving forward in a straight line to a solution, continues layering on new mysteries ... Even though TP, series and film, can be seen to work as a circle which both opens and closes with the death of Laura Palmer and/or Cooper's descent into the Black Lodge, both the series and the film continuously spin off new mysteries. Rather than a closed circle TP might better be thought of as a 'broken circle' ... As such, the TP cycle is at once complete and forever incomplete, finished but capable –theoretically – of continuing forever. (Rickman, WIP, 20)The series' goal to continue the narrative (and the mystery of TP) forever will thus be successfully prevailed in the figure of BOB. Characters like Cooper and Windom Earle (slightly demented FBI agents who are not fit for an eternal struggle with a different metaphysical sphere) have to fail when it comes to a serious continuation of a series. An infinite series, it seems, can only be achieved through a reversal of established patterns. The inside becomes the outside, and vice versa. This is and has been TP's overall structure. For the narrative this means that the archaic spirit of the woods, BOB, has to enter the middle class world of Twin Peaks, whereas the new detective hero has to enter the unknown sphere of the supernatural realm that is not yet explored completely.
Cooper fails in saving the middle class, but maybe that has not been his mission in the first place. Cooper's openness identify him as a seeker and wanderer and, as such, he has to leave behind conventional patterns and familiar terrain. As a character, Cooper might be called postmodern, since he carries a lot of the attributes that fit into this categorization, at least according to Hassan's table: Cooper's character is "open", "playful", "performing", "participating", "indeterment", "schizophrenic" and, in the end, even "absent" (Hassan, 123-24).
Although the TP narrative seems to remove Cooper from the position of the new detective, his qualities as a quester still reverberate after the show is over, and his healthy schizophrenia has turned into the uncanny split self of BOB in the Black Lodge. In the end, Cooper might even reach his goal of unity and totality, although not in the middle class world of Twin Peaks, but in another abstract zone that goes beyond (an academic) definition.
On the textual level, the detective has been following the narrative of the question 'Who killed Laura Palmer?', a question that, in the course of the series turns out to be a red herring. Yet, the question that the series really poses (and the question that I partially pondered in this thesis) might be another one: It is the question of what the character of Agent Cooper is really trying to find : how he fits, or does not fit, into the traditional role of the classical detective figure, or as Maria M. Carrion puts it:
[Cooper] is searching for a murderer at a literal level, but he is also seeking an understanding of himself and his own literary traces which do not fit in a clean-cut, straightforward mold of an FBI-faithful serviceman, nor in a parody of the detective archetype. (Carrion, 242)Maria M. Carrion states that "the story Agent Cooper is trying to tell eventually turns into a seemingly pointless wander in search of the narrative driving force itself " (241). TP is playing with rules, formulas and patterns, trying to subvert them, but at the same time attempting to keep them up. Maybe an ultimate truth would lie in a completely new order. But in the end, neither the narrative, nor the detective in TP are able to present that kind of order. Instead, we are again left hanging with empty signs and without a meaningful or finite solution.