In the first 34 minutes of this episode, one girl is found dead by the edge of a lake. After we’ve seen the whole town process this, another girl, unable to speak, enters town across a railroad bridge that crosses state lines. That brings in the FBI.
Why Agent Cooper might be hard to identify with: We don’t meet him until 34 minutes into the pilot! After that, he seems a little tetched.
- He described his lunch into his ever-present tape recorder: “Tuna fish sandwich, slice of cherry pie and a cup of coffee: Damn good food! Diane, if you ever get up here, that cherry pie is worth a stop.” He also says, “I’ve to find out what kind of trees these are. They’re really something.”
- His recorder is his talisman and it allows him to externalize his thoughts.
- He’s tone deaf, which always indicates a strong personality (stronger than the tone in the room). He’s talking about the dead girl and the girl found alive, but he can’t hide his excitement about the trees while he’s talking about them. When Truman tries to bring him back to the gravity of the situation, Cooper still gets a big smile when he says, “We’ve got a lot to talk about.”
- Not much. He’s enjoying himself immensely. I guess you feel a little bit for him in that he has to put up with the local hicks. The light in the autopsy room is flickering.
- He takes charge right away. “You’ll be working for me.”
- He knows what he’s looking for, knowing to examine the girls’ fingernails. He’s a total badass when he shoves the tweezers way up into the fingernail to pull out a typed letter “R”. This is a super-cop.
Like Luke Skywalker, a late-entering protagonist! It's a daring move but it pays off. The late-entering protagonist works in both because in neither case is the story just about the main character, it's about the rich, textured world in which they operate. Only by clearly establishing that world on its own terms, without the hero hanging around making it all about him, does the world have sufficient reality. You also see this in the Gormenghast series, if I recall correctly. What are some other stories with late-arriving protagonists?
I can't think of any longer than those two. I think Rick appears 9 minutes into Casablanca. T'Challa shows up 7 minutes into Black Panther.
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