By Cheryl Lee Latter
Did Cooper ever really love Caroline Earle?
Windom Earle was a good father figure to Cooper, and a good role model. When difficulties arose in his career and his marriage, no doubt due to his declining sanity, Cooper stepped in to help.
It may be inevitable that these two lonely souls would find comfort with each other, and that Dale’s loyalty to his mentor would be tested.
It is easy to assume that this betrayal, Windom’s violent reaction, and Caroline’s death, is what truly sent Windom over the edge and set him on a mission to destroy Cooper.
However, Caroline’s previous abduction was also orchestrated by her husband. Windom was a psychopath, and was spiraling long before Cooper set his sights on his wife.
The chances are that just being in Windom Earle’s vicinity at the moment he snapped was enough to make Cooper a lifelong target.
Cooper didn’t cause Caroline’s death, but he didn’t stop it either. He let his guard down for the possibility of love, just as he did years later with Annie, and in the face of the same danger. Love was the only thing that was a consistent failure in his life.
All the women he encountered in the Lodge were the women he failed to rescue. Did he think that by going back and saving Laura, he could amend for this?
Cooper entered the Red Room with a lot of emotional baggage. He had spent years haunted by the memory of Caroline and the nature of her death.
Caroline represented all the damsels in distress that needed him to save them, and she reminded him of a better time, when he was less flawed in his own eyes.
Perhaps he was simply in love with the idea of her, and the ghost of her. Maybe he clung to what they had because that was a time when his life was still a success and he was climbing the career ladder of his dreams.
Was Caroline the love of his life or just his biggest failure?