The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

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mtwentz
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The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

Postby mtwentz » Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:10 am

I don't believe there's been a thread completely devoted to this topic, but it's bothered me that a lot of posters hear did not feel Mr. C was threatening or frightening enough. One of the criticisms I have heard is that after he kills Daria, there's not much he does that makes us fear him or view Mr. C as a threat. I have to respectfully disagree.

The point of Mr. C is not to show him leaving a large body count; the point of Mr. C is to show Cooper's shadow self as a cruel opposite to Coop's Boy Scout like demeanor; and everything is building up to the final confrontation in the Sherrif's station. If the Mr. C portrayal has worked for you, that entire scene is filled with tension so thick you can cut it with a knife. If Mr. C fell flat for you, then maybe there's little to no tension at all.

I felt the Mr. C portrayal was very effective. First he is shown that he is physically capable by the way he takes care of the guard at Buella's hideout. Then he shows his ruthlessness by coldly dispatching with Phyllis, then later Jack (offscreen) and Daria. At this point, you may or may not believe he decapitated The Major, though ultimately it appears the Woodsmen killed both the Major and Ruth.

Though Mr. C does not kill anyone again until the arm wrestling match, there are scenes in the prison that create even more dread around his character, no need to list them all here. In my view, all of this is enough to establish Mr. C as someone dangerous, almost unstoppable. Of course, when Ray gets the better of him, we do realize he is not beyond making mistakes, but the Woodsmen reviving him let us know that even if he is taken down, he cannot be easily dispatched.

My own feeling is that the menace I feel from Mr. C is comparable to that I felt from the assassin in No Country for Old Men, though I would definitely give an edge to Javier Bardem's character. I don't think anyone can beat that; but I thought Mr. C came pretty close. Mr. C being tricked by Ray, and his dependence on Woodsmen, may make him slightly less of a menace. But certainly he was above and beyond the Windom Earle character. Mr. C is played as cold and calculating, not as over the top out of control crazy.

I would be curious to see what the dugpa consensus is on Mr. C, whether he worked, didn't work, or was somewhere in between for you.
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Re: The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

Postby Henrys Hair » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:06 am

Interesting topic MT Wentz. Personally, I was somewhere in between. Mr C seemed terrifying in the first half - the way he toyed with Daria without even appearing to enjoy toying with her seemed especially cold-blooded and the slow morph into Bob in the prison cell was perhaps the most chilling special effect in the series.

Then in the second half he lost a lot of his menace for me. In the arm-wrestling scene and his fight with Richard Horne I found myself rooting for Mr C as if he was the good guy (I get that this might have been the intention but if it was it didn't work as well for me in blurring the good/bad line as, say, Leland in the original run, who somehow managed to seem like one of the good guys even when he was revealed to be an absolute monster - or at least hosting an absolute monster). On first viewing, a friend and I both wondered if the woodsmen had extracted Bob from Mr C as he appeared much less evil after their visit. The search for co-ordinates didn't quite seem gripping enough either to add a great sense of menace. The menace only really returned, for me anyway, when Mr C turned up at the Sheriff station and by then it was a bit late to recapture the presence of the early scenes.
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Re: The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:32 am

Interesting question. I found him most menacing in the early scenes you mentioned — Buella’s, the jail scenes. As the series progressed, I found him to be more a tragicomic figure. Which is not necessarily mutually exclusive with menace: I find Frank Booth in Blue Velvet to be by turns hysterically funny, heartbreakingly tragic, and one of the scariest screen creations ever, sometimes all three at the same time. In the case of Mr. C, though, it became obvious midway through the series that, just like “classic Cooper,” he was way in over his head due to his obsession with trying to find his way to the center of the mystery. While this could have made him increasingly desperate and thus scary, the choice L/F made was to show him wandering/driving around America in a series of scenes I relate to best as a filmic realization of a dream where you’re constantly trying to find something that is abstract and always out of reach. He’s not in control of the situation most of the time, but also isn’t unhinged or OUT of control in a really scary way (a la Frank Booth). While MacLachlan’s performance in the scenes with Frank/Andy/et. al. is undeniably creepy, there is also a goofy absurdity about the whole situation which Forster in particular elevates, and it’s a bit harder to take Mr. C seriously as a threat in that moment given that the Fireman and Garland’s floating head just essentially did the equivalent of the old Looney Tunes “He went that-a-way, George” routine to him. As you say, the creepiness comes largely from the contrast with the way we expect “our” Cooper to behave, particulary in the sheriff’s station scenes...but not because I believed anyone was in real danger of his actions in those moments. I actually find P18 Richard/Cooper creepier than Mr. C, because it IS actually the “real” Cooper, and that characterization casts a shadow backward over the show making Mr. C himself more menacing in retrospect. “Richard” reminds us that Mr. C IS part of Cooper, not an evil clone, and everything that he did (including the rapes of Audrey and Diane) came from some dark impulse in himself. The real menace, then, comes not from what Mr. C does, but from the reminder he gives us about what Cooper — and maybe all of us — are capable of if we let our darkest impulses into the driver’s seat.
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Re: The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

Postby Soolsma » Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:51 pm

Mr. C himself is not very menacing to me. Perhaps the most menacing thing about him is the fact that BOB is with him. In that way, what freaked me out most about the Daria scene was the fact that there was a mirror present in that room. At that moment, the s2 finale was most fresh in my mind, and I could not keep my eyes of that mirror to see if I might catch a glimpse of something. (also some of the Sarah scenes had a nicely placed mirror, which kept me mesmerized). The prison mirror scene also had me on the edge of my seat. No, he never quite worked for me in the way that he was very cold and determined. This is very opposed to the more maniacally behaving Mr C. we saw cackling with BOB in the lodge, or squeezing his toothpaste out. In a way, I always expected season 3 to take him more in that direction; having the skills and intelligence of good 'ol Coop, but also a properly possessed nutcase, akin to Leland. I would have loved to see him crawling over furniture, make weird dance moves, or secretly laugh when no one is looking.

A moment that did work quite well for me is him appearing in the room to shoot Phyllis. I guess most of the other scenes where at most eerie, but never really menacing. I think the prison interview with the FBI crew is a good example of that. The hold he had over Diane also had some definite creepiness to it, but I think that should be attributed to the acting on Dern's part.

And yeah, part 18 Coop scares me more than Mr. C. I guess it's the internal duality that makes it work, something that's obviously absent if you simple split your character in two (or four, whatever). Here I'll note again how it bugs me that Coop and Mr. C never had a proper confrontation.
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Re: The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

Postby Soolsma » Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:21 am

Actually, I'm quite curious what others make of the differences and similarities between ep. 29's (+TMP's) DoppelCoop and S3's mr. C.
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Re: The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

Postby mtwentz » Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:42 pm

Soolsma wrote:Actually, I'm quite curious what others make of the differences and similarities between ep. 29's (+TMP's) DoppelCoop and S3's mr. C.

The Mr. c in EP 29 is more like Windim Earle. The Season 3 Mr. C is more like Jean Renault :-)
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Re: The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

Postby Soolsma » Mon Jan 07, 2019 2:28 pm

And is that because Mr. C and BOB are still getting used to their vehicle causing this mad tantrum that could not be withheld; or because Lynch simply made a big shift in how he perceived Mr. C? After all, except for the urge to brush his teeth and the squeezing of the toothpaste (Frost, Peyton, Engels), most of the maniac stuff was added in/improvised by Lynch himself. This while I think we know that Lynch back then already made up his mind about this being something other than the classical possession story.

I slightly suspect that Lynch's choice to have Mr. C keep his cool the entire way through S3, might have been a decision that was made late in the production process. Just like Kyle revealed there was some more of good 'ol Coop (I presume in Dougie) in the original script, but Lynch later decided against and only kept the slightest hint of it

{edit question mark}
Last edited by Soolsma on Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Mon Jan 07, 2019 3:22 pm

Soolsma wrote:Actually, I'm quite curious what others make of the differences and similarities between ep. 29's (+TMP's) DoppelCoop and S3's mr. C.


I think it’s part of a general shift in tone for Cooper’s character overall, away from his more giddy impulses toward something more stoic, which began as early as FWWM.

The two main theories I’ve read are that Mr. C’s mirthlessness is a result of the passage of time and the effects of aging, and that he gave up the part of himself containing his sense of wonder/enjoyment when he splintered Dougie off. I like the latter theory for plot/mythology reasons and the former for thematic reasons, and there’s no reason it can’t be both.
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Re: The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

Postby Cappy » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:52 pm

Soolsma wrote:Actually, I'm quite curious what others make of the differences and similarities between ep. 29's (+TMP's) DoppelCoop and S3's mr. C.


Not sure, but the ep. 29 version seems more in line with the depiction of BOB possession's in Leland, whereas S3 Mr. C seems like a whole different thing. It's interesting to note that the solemn DoppelCoop shown in the Missing Pieces seems to have more in common with Mr. C.

I'm guessing that behind the scenes, there was a shift in Lynch/Frost's thinking about what BOB was, at least in relation to Cooper. But on screen, I can kinda rationalize it as Mr. C somehow sublimating or repressing BOB into a giant, malovelent kidney stone, as opposed to the weak willed Leland Palmer, who was totally controlled by the long haired demon. I mean, we never see Mr. C engaging in the cultivation of garmonbozia a la BOB in FWWM, so it's almost like he has a will all of his own. This might be due to Coop's high psychic aptitude, in conjunction with his rigorous FBI training, plus whatever yogic or zen disciplines he has studied. Leland was totally controlled by BOB, but Cooper can hold him in, somehow channeling his evil into super strength, technomancy, and who knows what other kinds of super powers.

That's how I reconcile the difference, anyway.
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Re: The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

Postby IcedOver » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:50 pm

When watching the show originally, one of the biggest pain points for me was the complete lack of development of this character - no clue given as to what he feels and why he wants whatever he wants. This could have been remedied by having a quick dialogue with Richard on the drive (and also would have added something to Richard). I STILL have not done a full rewatch, but in going back to various scenes, it's clear that he, like most other characters, is presented as having had a life or existence outside the bounds of what we're shown, for 25 years. Perhaps what marks this as a pretty realistic work is that we're not shown characters' whole arcs and lives and behaviors within the show, just this portion. That may be making excuses, but I think it is present somewhat. Mr. C has been a badass for years, and you can tell in a scene like the one with the warden in his office that he has a plan and connections.
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Re: The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

Postby Kilmoore » Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:10 am

IcedOver wrote:When watching the show originally, one of the biggest pain points for me was the complete lack of development of this character - no clue given as to what he feels and why he wants whatever he wants.

Agreed. He is shown to have built connections, but from what we see of him on screen, he just wanders around. He gets caught by the lodge calling him while driving, which looks like a real amateur mistake. He doesn't know what he's after as he doesn't who Judy is, he gets easily tricked by some caller pretending to be Jeffries, and ends up walking into a trap and being of no real threat to anyone that matters.

After 25 years of waiting to know what a possessed Cooper would be like, that was pretty much the biggest disappointment possible.
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Re: The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

Postby eyeboogers » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:16 pm

Kilmoore wrote: he just wanders around. He gets caught by the lodge calling him while driving, which looks like a real amateur mistake.

I think you misunderstood what happened during that desert drive. Mr.C knew exactly when and where he would need to be at 2.53. Remember that you see that same stretch of desert in a much later episode.
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Re: The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

Postby Coffee » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:09 pm

I think that BOB needs to come to the surface more with Leland, to push him toward committing an evil deed - Leland may be right in the edge, and BOB just knocks him over, ensuring he commits whatever evil is in his mind. With Mr. C, BOB is along for the ride, there’s not much reason for him to come to the surface, as Mr. C commits evil deeds without hesitation.
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Re: The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

Postby kitty666cats » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:27 am

I subscribe to the train of thought that Mr. C sacrificed a part of himself creating Dougie, losing his cackling gleeful manic side and becoming more cold and emotionless.
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Re: The Great 'Mr. C' Debate

Postby eyeboogers » Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:28 pm

kitty666cats wrote:I subscribe to the train of thought that Mr. C sacrificed a part of himself creating Dougie, losing his cackling gleeful manic side and becoming more cold and emotionless.


Which also seems to happen with Cooper after another Dougie is created.

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