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Year of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

MALS: Interdisciplinary Studies

Directing Professor

Dr. Harry Stevens


On April 8, 1990, the groundbreaking show Twin Peaks premiered on the ABC television network, and over the course of its two season run the series received critical plaudits and a loyal cult following for its indelible blend of the humorous and the surreal wrapped in a noir-inspired mystery tinged with horror and the supernatural. Although the series was cancelled in 1991, the world of Twin Peaks lives on through a 1992 feature film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, and the 2017 Showtime series, Twin Peaks: The Return that expand the series’ characters, location, and mythology. Twin Peaks centers on the investigation into the murder of Laura Palmer, the high school homecoming queen and daughter of one of the town’s most prominent families. One of the most intriguing characters in the series is FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). He travels to Twin Peaks when a classmate of Laura’s also goes missing and he stays to investigate Laura’s murder. In many respects, Agent Cooper serves as a stand in for series creators David Lynch and Mark Frost, providing crucial exposition and directing the course of the investigation. His response when Laura’s killer is revealed and his desire to return to the case – and Laura Palmer – also reflect Lynch’s and Frost’s wish to keep the mystery going despite pressure from producers and the studio to identify the killer. This essay utilizes a close analysis of Agent Cooper’s character and selected scenes from Twin Peaks, Twin Peaks: Walk with Me, and Twin Peaks: The Return to explore the character as a stand in for Lynch and Frost.