So why am I writing about Dale Cooper again rather than Carrie Page in a White Lodge witness protection program? Because about six hours after I published my last column it dawned on me there was a way I could actually put all the Agent Cooper scenes into a chronological order based around his Lodge trial, and maybe even pull off a happy ending for him. However likely or unlikely, this was worth continued exploration.
Fire Walk With Me has our most balanced Cooper
The first time chronologically when we see Dale Cooper is his appearance in Fire Walk With Me. In that movie we get a colder Kyle MacLachlan and a colder Dale Cooper, one more in keeping with the My Life, My Tapes version of the character. Though he’s still influenced easily by dreams, he seems mostly analytical, and fairly disconnected compared to his Seasons 1 and 2 self. Thanks to MacLachlan’s active combat against being typecast as Cooper, he investigates the missing Chet Desmond and that’s about it, so we weren’t allowed much of a glimpse of this Cooper, but it’s quite likely the only time in all of Twin Peaks when we’ve seen the whole combined Cooper. Though because this happened before his Lodge trial, he was also a Cooper who had yet to shovel himself out of his sh*t. Combined, yes, but fully integrated? Not so much. Yet.
Cooper arrives in Twin Peaks and charms the hell out of us
There is a solid case to be made that the Dale Cooper we saw entering Twin Peaks was the Good Dale Cooper, arriving in Twin Peaks and precipitating his Lodge trial. This good half of his being goes into the Lodge to confront the bad half of his being. For ease of use, and because it’s a reasonable enough supposition, let’s say Dale was split in two at the exact moment Laura Palmer dreamed of Dale in the Red Room in the weeks before she died.
The series version of Cooper could easily be the Good Dale. He’s kind of Dougie-like if you think about it. Chatty as sh*t by comparison, but an extremely positive force in everyone’s lives who interact with him. Andy gets the gumption to learn to shoot and saves Harry. Harry himself is presented with solved crimes through no traditional investigation, not to mention quite the prototypical bromance of all time. Lucy started some self improvement of her own and started reading up on Tibet. And Audrey evolves from a self-centered ice queen into an investigator and then into someone who wants to actually help her fellow humanity.
Sure, Josie just makes her own bed in the sh*t and chooses not to shovel herself from it, hence wooden drawer pull limbo, but even Catherine Martell’s experienced a good turn in that her business rivals either dropped dead like Thomas Eckhardt, or turned over a new leaf like Ben Horne, not to mention she was saved from the script that tagged her at the bank scene around the explosion. I know that had to do with Piper Laurie just not being available, but that’s the kind of happy accidents the show constantly experienced when Cooper arrived in town.
Just as the once-nasty Mitchums are redeemed, even Ben Horne begins to redeem himself after the result of Audrey’s investigation and rescue, both hinging on Dale’s arrival. Jean Renault’s right about him, in that the people who live in the sh*t were unable to roost in it once Dale arrived. Very Dougie.
Annie Blackburn’s the only one who isn’t at least helped at all by Cooper’s presence, but I suspect we’ll learn something about her in The Final Dossier—being released this Tuesday—that resembles Lindsay Stamhuis’ evergreen article Who’s Annie.
At this point the Good Dale hasn’t quite achieved the state of No-Mind that Dougie appears to be in, but he does a pretty good job only seeing the world only with love and compassion.
The Black Lodge switcheroo
The Good Dale goes into the Lodge. His shadow, DoppelCooper, comes out. We know this story. We felt the heartbreak. The part we weren’t allowed to see, though there is much evidence implying its validity, is that Dale was able to speak to people while he was in the Lodge and solidify plans against DoppelCooper. His primary contacts appear to be Diane and the Fireman, though he was likely in communication with the Major and Gordon as well. And probably Jeffries but who can say for sure?
Dale’s Doppelganger (fueled by BOB’s unending appetite) creates an empire while he possibly feels the repercussions of RichardCooper from later on (I suggest you read my last column where I explain how Richard is actually Dale confronting his Doppelganger at long last after missing the window of opportunity for this showdown in the sheriff’s station), and Dale is inside the Lodge coming up with a plan to stop the Doppelganger.
The first thing Dale does is wait for his term of 25 years—brought on by the soul acquisition he allows BOB in Episode 29—to expire. The second thing he does is reenter the world with a little help.
Dougie Jones and the unlikely haven of Las Vegas
Immediately upon his transfer from the Lodge, Cooper is trapped inside the Dougie Jones persona and a seeming state of constant No-Mind. In my article about Dougie and his apparent lack of action, I write how in No-Mind state there are no thoughts, no beliefs, no anger, no fear, no notion of anything at all. There is merely reaction. There is detachment from everything including material possessions, even family. No-mind is not against direct intuition or awakening to something transcendent. In fact, in this state you are pure just like “God.” Duality (Good/bad, light/dark etc.) doesn’t exist and you can see everything only with love and compassion. As CooperDougie, Dale is getting a rinse, a recalibration, and is absorbing energy and his humanity. He’s also learning how to use a body again, experiencing constant kindness from strangers, and his freshness is very much enlightened being territory.
And when Dale comes out of this Dougie state, Cooper thanks everyone around him graciously, understands everything that has come before in his CooperDougie time, and he’s back on his mission because he knows what’s next. And I think that’s continuing his deal, flushing the bad out of everyone and everything, up to and including Jow Dai.
Reentering the Lodge
Proving again this is a companion piece to my last article, Coop goes back in the Lodge. Time stutters and next thing we see he’s boarding the Dutchman/entering the convenience store, and then after his conversation he enters the Lodge through the Owl Symbol-based infinity loop.
Once in the Lodge, Dale goes back to his first days as Good Cooper (which I remind you I’m proposing it’s from the moment when still-alive Laura dreamed he was in the Lodge) and went moment by moment through his life making more Good Cooper-like decisions. His first decision, rescuing Laura Palmer from her death, was a dumb move, and he may or may not realize this as he’s transported back into the Lodge, but it begins a trend of choosing nearly the opposite choice from what he’d done the first time through.
Next we have Cooper and Diane crossing under electrical cables in the Lodge, (which I’ll call a dimension of the Lodge since they’re definitely inside it and there are no curtains present as there are every other time there is an exit or entrance to or from the Lodge), and after this moment of Part 18, Cooper is trapped inside the Richard persona much as he was trapped inside the Dougie persona. The “Dougie” mannerisms that RichardCooper exhibits could very well actually be Dale mannerisms as he tries to force his way through RichardCooper.
So let’s recap: He 1) saved Laura Palmer, 2) entered the Lodge, 3) reentered the “world” in likely the same way as he entered into another Cooper. Except this time he does it into DoppelCooper at the earlier moments when DoppelCooper has freshly entered the world. 1, 2 and 3 are in exactly the same order as we know they happened, but having completely inverse outcomes down to which Cooper Dale supplants.
With that logic, I will assume step 4 goes exactly the same, step by step through DoppelCooper’s life, with much more Cooper-like choices made even though he’ll still need to walk through each literal situation DoppelCooper did.
And why again do I think this is happening in the Lodge rather than an alternate reality? Because a Lodge trial is entering the Black Lodge and confronting your shadow self. Again per my last article I’m still making the case that this is the showdown here between Dale and Doppel. So it’s in the Lodge, per the premise Hawk shared with Dale in Season 2. That’s good enough for me.
And in case you need a reminder that I’m not trying to describe the be-all end-all take on Cooper, I’ll take a moment to share this paraphrased quote from Counter Esperanto’s Karl Eckler: “The only way you can be wrong about Twin Peaks is by saying I have the only right answer.” This is an exploration, not some here’s-why-I’m-right nonsense.
Anyway. We’re in the Lodge. Dale is confronting Doppel, step by step through the choices DoppelCooper made as he was living his 25 years in the world.
Dale will eventually make it to the end of DoppelCooper’s tenure in the real world, which means this reclaiming of his soul will have come to an end. I suspect, much like how Dougie acquired allies from the Mitchums to Bushnell Mullins, that his “criminal” empire would be serving him as happily and unquestioning as Chantal and Hutch, but, again like the Mitchums who initially beat their staff before our eyes, his new empire would be much more positive a situation. His underlings would not be wary of RichardCooper, they would deep in their souls want to help him achieve his goals. I believe they’d put themselves on the line willingly, kind of like how Mullins asked no questions and gave “Dougie” his gun immediately when asked.
I still think RichardCooper’s Lodge reality is influencing DoppelCooper’s actions, and vice versa
I believe Cooper’s subversion of DoppelCooper’s life as RichardCooper may appear as random reflections in the world as DoppelCooper is living his original 25 years, (again mentioning and expanding on my last column) such as naming himself Richard, naming Richard Horne after himself, and, this is a new one, even building that glass box whether or not it made sense to be built for DoppelCooper’s criminal empire. He may have done it because the Lodge reflection of his life by that point had become Dale’s so in-hand that Dale’s RichardCooper steps have now begun to force DoppelCooper to create a glass box that Cooper (while inside Richard) would already know full well is necessary to Cooper’s arrival in Las Vegas in Part 3. These are sweeping suppositions, I understand, but again, this is only an exploration of a premise.
DoppelCooper eventually being forced to follow in RichardCooper’s footsteps would also explain why DoppelCooper put up no fight when he was redirected into the Sheriff’s Station. This possibly even explains how he has no discernible reason for why he’s looking for Jow Dai. It’s reasonable to think he doesn’t actually know, that he’s just compelled to do so.
What will RichardCooper be doing in the Lodge while the Woodsmen are exorcising BOB from DoppelCooper in Part 17? I suspect he is readying himself to leave the mortal coil, shedding his own Richardness, that part of himself, that shadow side of him being unused for such a long long time. And because his shadow self has basically been atrophied, by years of Cooper-like choices rather than Doppel/BOB-like choices, that Theosophic astral matter from the shadow is able to fall away, much as DoppelCooper seemingly falls dead from a simple bullet. At once, DoppelCooper was disengaged by Dale Cooper in the Lodge, and by the purest most giving soul in Twin Peaks, Lucy Moran (remember, she bought Andy the simple pleasure of a chair that Andy wanted rather than the one she wanted).
So let’s recap again: Dale 1) saves Laura, 2) enters the Lodge, 3) enters a Cooper aspect, and 4) lives as that aspect as long as it takes to learn about himself and human nature. And, 5) he returns to the Lodge. In DoppelCooper’s state, his shadow self returns as an empty husk, ready to become nothing and Dougie is born once more as a tulpa to head to Las Vegas for a genuinely happy ending. And what of the Dale who’s shed RichardCooper at long last? Does he also have a similarly happy ending to his Lodge trial?
Does Dale become Dougie in the end too?
In my previously mentioned Dougie-related article I mention the Masons’ concept of an Ascended Master, that is essentially the fate of Major Briggs revealed in Part 17. As The Return foreshadows situations in unlikely places, I expect this is what happens to Dale Cooper at the end of his time as Richard. Once he completes the righting of his wrongs piece by piece and moment by moment, I could believe an ascended state of astral consciousness could be achieved, especially knowing Frost’s penchant for Theosophy-steeped Twin Peaks Lore. I think an ascended Cooper would be a happy ending indeed.
Though this is also Lynch’s project and Buddhism is based in the same roots as Theosophy, but relates more with cycles and reincarnations. If you go with anything J.C. Hotchkiss said in her latest article (Part three of Reincarnation and the Return) you can see how the Theosophic shedding of baser astral matter could also fit well into the concept of Bardo (once awareness is freed from the body, it creates its own reality as one would experience a dream), and therefore the evolution of Dale in the Lodge could be in a form not unlike reincarnation. As a reflection of the creation of Dougie Two in our world, we could be presented with an evolution of Dale Cooper into the No Mind state once and for all. A completely different kind of happy ending, but a good one rooted constantly in love and compassion. Not a bad way to go if you ask me.
And in case you’re wondering, I really will be tackling Carrie Page as Laura Palmer in a White Lodge witness protection program next. In fact, it’s already started. What will be interesting to me (and hopefully you as well) is how my original plan for that column fits with this expanded premise I’ve just written to you. We’ll discover how it all shakes out together, hopefully in a couple days. Cross your fingers for me.