Yesterday, Twin Peaks fans were overjoyed to learn that former series lead Kyle McLachlan had officially signed on to return to his classic character of Special Agent Dale Cooper. Of course, after the initial excitement faded, just as many fans were likely left with a single burning question: What version of Dale Cooper will we be getting in season 3? After all, the coffee and pie-loving investigator wasn’t exactly left in the best of states at the end of Twin Peaks’ second season finale.
Of course, the beauty of picking up a show 25 years later is the almost complete creative freedom it affords creators David Lynch and Mark Frost. So, join me won’t you, as we discuss some of the various possibilities for the Dale Cooper character going forward.
Warning: The paragraphs below contain major plot spoilers for the first two seasons of Twin Peaks. If you haven’t watched the show, and are planning to check out Showtime’s revival in 2016, you are hereby advised to click away from this article. Seriously, do it now.
Where Twin Peaks Season 2 Ended
Still here? Good. Those among us familiar with how season 2 of Twin Peaks ended will no doubt remember the harrowing psychological journey Dale Cooper embarked on after entering the mysterious, otherworldly building known as The Black Lodge. That journey ended with Cooper’s body being possessed by the spirit of the malevolent demonic entity known only as BOB, and his original self left hopelessly trapped inside the Lodge’s confines.
As revealed earlier in season 2, BOB had in fact been responsible for the death of town prom queen Laura Palmer, having possessed the body of her father Leland and forcing him to commit the heinous act. That BOB would end the series’ original run inhabiting Cooper is an almost poetic turn of fate, as it was the investigation of Laura’s murder that first brought the somewhat eccentric lawman to the outwardly quaint mountain town.
So, that’s where we left Cooper, but where will we find him in Twin Peaks season 3? That’s the million dollar question, as Lynch and Frost still have yet to reveal anything about the new season’s plot, outside of the fact that it will be set in present day. That said – assuming we get a story that expands upon the original continuity – Lynch and Frost will somehow have to explain what happened with BOB’s possession of Cooper.
Where Twin Peaks Season 3 Begins
BOB is a creature who thrives on chaos and bloodshed, and has been shown to have zero regard for the well-being of his human hosts. With BOB in control, Cooper could have very well gone on a killing spree of his own, one which he would no doubt be prosecuted for. Even if Cooper got the chair, BOB could always find a new host, and it may even please the demon to watch a newly-freed Cooper be held accountable for crimes he wasn’t mentally present for. With all that in mind, if BOB has been using Cooper as a skin suit for over two decades, there is almost zero chance that he hasn’t gotten up to his old blood thirsty tricks.
Of course, that’s assuming that BOB managed to retain control of Cooper for that entire period. After all, 25 years is a long time, especially in a fictional universe. If Lynch and Frost wish to return Twin Peaks to the status quo of Kyle McLachlan’s Agent Dale Cooper investigating a murder, the duo could always choose to begin season 3 with Cooper back to his old self, perhaps presenting viewers with an explanation of what happened in the intervening years to free him from BOB’s grasp. Flashbacks are nothing new to modern TV drama, and have proven to be an effective way of relaying a subplot without stranding the whole story in that same period.
If Lynch and Frost really wanted to go dark though, they could elect to make Cooper a psychologically damaged man, constantly afraid that one day he might once again lose control of his mind, body, and free will. Going back to Twin Peaks could begin the process of Cooper unraveling mentally, a progression which could – should Lynch and Frost find the possibility appealing – eventually lead to a deranged Cooper himself becoming the primary villain of the third season.
With all of the above conjecture out of the way, we’d be remiss if we neglected to mention one final possibility, one which would likely fail to satisfy damn near everyone. If Lynch and Frost are coming into this version of Twin Peaks with plans to make it more of a franchise reboot than a sequel, it’s entirely possible that they could just retcon the whole thing and reset Dale Cooper to a (slightly older) version of the man he began the pilot as.
This would free up Lynch and Frost to tell the exact story they wanted to tell, without worrying about previous character baggage. Unfortunately, it would also serve to irritate anyone tuning in with the hopes of finally getting answers as to what the hell was really going on in the last few minutes of the season 2 finale. It’s been 25 years. We deserve to know what happened to Annie.
Twin Peaks season 3 premieres on Showtime in 2016.