counterpaul wrote:Laura transcends but Coop cannot. Coop remains stuck, convinced that he can "solve" the past--illuminate its mysteries and repair its traumas. The final line, "what year is it," is so profound because Coop has spent most of his life sleepwalking through his present, missing the life he's been given, in favor of attempting to construct a past that cannot be.
Sure, but then my gut reaction is that as an ending for Cooper, this second comeuppance adds little to his first, and this time its tragic outcome subsumes Laura's, who surely doesn't deserve it?
That's not a condemnation, but it's something I can't yet parse.
Well, first, I wouldn't call this ending a comeuppance at all. I find it deeply compassionate. Coop's face as he decides there's nothing more to ask Alice Tremond is so...Cooper. He's endlessly curious and endlessly certain that his curiosity can be satisfied if he could just ask the right question or find the right clue. He's not at all malicious here, he's just maybe barking up the wrong tree.
Second, I don't think Laura is subsumed at all. The ending of FWWM stands 100%. This is Coop's
Laura, here--the past he wants to repair, the trauma he wants to heal. Lynch told Laura's story, in which she heroically transcended her own trauma, but now she lingers as a powerful ghost in Cooper's story. This isn't a contradiction to me at all.
As far as Coop's progress since the end of Season 2, well, I would argue that while Coop's situation remains profoundly unresolved, I do think the ending of TPTR is a whole different animal than the ending of Season 2. TPTR is all about time.
The passage of time, and Coop's (and, by extension, the show's) relationship to its passage is no trivial thing. TPTR essentially tells the story of several lives that Coop might
have lived had he not basically sat them all out, and all of those lives weigh
In a way, he simultaneously lived all those lives and none of them. When he "wakes up," he knows the whole story. He remembers everything. He was Cooper, Dougie, and his Doppelganger all at once--they're all
his life. And they changed him, despite the fact that he lived them at a remove.
The Cooper we're left with at the end of The Return is a man just realizing that his life has passed him by. He wants it back--he wants to fix the past he botched--but that isn't possible. I'd like to think that Laura's scream might just be him at least starting to realize that fact, but then we get that image of him listening to her whisper, still trying to piece it all together.
Interestingly, you know it just occurred to me that the ending of The Return, way more than the ending of Season 2, stays remarkably true to the original, 25 years later "closed ending" of the pilot! Here's Coop, forever trying to hear what Laura is telling him so that he can piece the mystery together. Fascinating!
I keep thinking of Carrie/Laura's line: "In those days, I was too young to know better." I don't know if Coop quite
knows better yet, but I do feel like that line speaks to the difference between the end of Season 2 and the end of The Return, and The Return's entire raison d'etre in general.