Dale Cooper. One of the finest pairings of letters and the name of perhaps the most wonderful character written for television.
An FBI agent arriving in the titular Twin Peaks — the fictitious town located in Washington — Cooper is a chipper, charismatic man with a heart of gold. He’s played by Kyle MacLachlan, a frequent collaborator of director David Lynch, who co-created “Twin Peaks” with Mark Frost.
The surrealist 1991 show turns the idyllic small town on its head by unearthing demons always present yet often ignored. Everything is peachy until the adored high schooler Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) is viciously killed, leaving the oddball group of residents with jaws dropped. Enter Special Agent Dale Cooper.
Cooper, who becomes embraced by the locals in no time, leads the murder investigation with his bizarre, prophetic dreams and peppy attitude. He has enough positivity to fuel the entire town — even probing into this gruesome crime can’t hinder it.
“Twin Peaks” and everything about it is quirky, from the array of donuts in nearly every shot of the police station to the town’s mystical aura. There’s nothing like being immersed in its reality, one that’s best watched in the evening for reasons I can’t find the words to explain.
Like most of Lynch’s work, “Twin Peaks” stays with you, for better or for worse, for months (I’d say years, but I only recently finished watching). It’s perfect, really. You name the emotion or genre — comedy, drama, soap-opera melodrama, romance, horror, sci-fi — and the show will provide you with it.
Although “Twin Peaks” got canceled after two seasons due to declining ratings, the world and its characters thankfully didn’t end there. It was followed by Lynch’s 1992 film “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” — which provides a critical understanding of Laura and her torment — and a 2017 revival season continuing the story 25 years later.
I love Dale Cooper so much that he (and, by association, Kyle MacLachlan) has begun taking some of the real estate from Timothée Chalamet, my other love. If you ask me, it’s not a betrayal but rather an occupation of the screen time that Timmy didn’t inhabit due to the pandemic-inflicted lack of blockbuster releases.
As Twin Peaks Sheriff Harry S. Truman best put it, “Agent Cooper is the finest lawman I’ve ever known. I’ve had nothing but respect for him since he arrived in Twin Peaks.”
Without further delay, here are some of the reasons to love Dale Cooper (with some spoilers):
His love affair with the fine delicacy that is cherry pie and black coffee.
He was first introduced to the town’s famous pies at the Lamplighter Inn and would later regularly order a slice — either cherry or huckleberry — at the Double R Diner.
His breakfast order: Coffee “black as midnight on a moonless night.”
Spoken like a true poet.
His decision to order a cup of hot chocolate to ensure a few “quality hours in the sack.”
This sentiment became ingrained in my psyche after watching a nightly episode of “Twin Peaks” so much so that I frequently began making myself a cup of hot chocolate.
His fine style.
Just google “Dale Cooper” and you’ll be met with a plethora of photos showcasing his love of a sharp black suit and clean, crisp trench coat.
His pure, unadulterated enthusiasm on display in the beginning phases of solving Laura Palmer’s murder.
Cooper’s method? Throwing rocks at a glass bottle, the idea for which came to him in a dream. The nearer to the bottle the rocks landed (or if it hits and shatters it), the more likely that person became a suspect.
His words of wisdom.
“Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen.”
His habit of sharing every painstaking detail of his day with his secretary Diane.
Although she’s not introduced until “The Return,” it’s evident Diane is a close companion of Cooper’s and it’s thoughtful how in-the-loop she remains.
His wide grin accompanied by two thumbs up.
This beautiful expression is on display throughout the show’s first two seasons. There is nothing more delightful, let me assure you.
His excitement at seeing ducks in the water.
Coop is a true lover of living life.
His response to a quick recuperation after getting shot three times.
“When the will is invoked, the recuperation power of the body is simply extraordinary.”
His grace and poise on display while handing in his gun and badge after being suspended from the FBI.
Imagine how proud he was after being reinstated several episodes later — unadulterated exhilaration (picture that wide grin I described earlier).
His pure and wholesome love for Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham).
It’s a love everyone deserves. There’s no way seeing him so happy doesn’t project onto the viewer.
His general, handsome self.
Doesn’t need an explanation.
Seasons one and two of “Twin Peaks” are streaming on Netflix and Hulu, while “Twin Peaks: The Return” is available to watch on Showtime.