Seriable’s Mark Jones reviews Twin Peaks Episode 14 — Lonely Souls
Episode 14 of Twin Peaks opens with one of my personal favourite scenes of the series which sees the boys gathered in the Sheriff’s office drinking coffee, everyone’s there including Mike and Gordon Cole.
They’re having a regular conversation when Mike chimes in with his speech about how Bob is hiding in a “large house made of wood… filled with many rooms each alike”. The sounds of the office fade into the background, Mike’s voice starts resonating with its eerie power and Angelo Badalementi’s atmospheric score rises up to create an immediate sense that something strange is happening. Then Mike finishes what he’s saying and everything returns to normal. This is an example of Twin Peak‘s sense of humour at its best, contrasting the strange with the mundane, and it eases the audience into one of the more disturbing days in Twin Peaks.
We don’t get long to savour the moment and pretty soon Cooper and the boys are off to the Great Northern Hotel to find Bob. To the backdrop of a group of sailors distractingly bouncing balls, each of the guests at the hotel are brought before the one armed man. Before the culprit is discovered, though, he has a fit in a distressing scene where he’s curled up screaming on the floor, which happens to coincide with the arrival of Benjamin Horne. It doesn’t quite reach the Lynchian levels of discomfort we’ve seen before but it’s a powerful moment nonetheless.
The opening scene is about as funny as this episode gets, apart from Nadine and Ed‘s visit to the Diner where she accidentally causes her chocolate milkshake to explode as she grips it, and for the most part gets progressively darker. After Mike’s fit at the Great Northern, the action cuts to Harold‘s house where Hawk discovers he has hung himself; his legs rather grimly seen dangling through his greenhouse window. The fragments of Laura’s secret diary are discovered and the suicide note “Jais une ame solitaire,” which was alluded to in an earlier episode.
After saying her goodbyes to James in the last episode, and her uncle and aunt in this one, Maddy also meets her untimely demise at the hands of the inhabited Leland. Suitably gruesome and as disturbing as anything that’s been seen in Twin Peaks before, her exit is a sad one and brings home the horrific nature of Bob. Her death is preceded by Sarah Palmer crawling down the stairs and having a vision of a white horse in the Palmer’s living room. Once again our attention is drawn to the ceiling fan, a piece of oddly sinister imagery that hasn’t had as much of a starring role since the first season.
Using a combination of effects which overlaid Bob’s face on Leland‘s and shots which cut between the killer and the bereaved father, the audience sees for the first time Bob as the inhabiting spirit. At this point there’s little doubt now about how Laura died and the implications of what this could mean start to grow. The side effects of the mystery’s answer will be more detrimental to the show later on, but for this and the next few episodes it makes for thrillingly dark and disturbing TV. It’s sad to see Leland possessed, although it’s hard to think of anyone else who Bob might have controlled that would have had a more powerful effect.
The murder scene reaches its climax as Leland yells out “you’re going back to Missoula Montana!” slamming Maddy’s head against the wall. It’s hard to fault Ray Wise’s performance which, in some respects, is much more disturbing than seeing Bob himself. When Leland is the demon’s puppet the transformation is complete, and though Wise has expressed his disappointment in the revelation of Leland as the killer in interviews, it never stopped him from putting in some stunning performances.
While Bob/Leland is busy murdering Maddy, Cooper and Harry have an encounter with the Log Lady who mysteriously appears to tell them something is happening — however her and her log don’t know where or when. She also tells them there are owls at the Roadhouse, so that’s where they head next. In another fantastically atmospheric sequence Cooper, Harry and the Log Lady are tensely watching Julee Cruise performing “Rocking Back Inside My Heart” and “The World Spins”, two fifties inspired numbers which combined with Lynch’s Lyrics, Badalamenti’s score and Julee Cruise’s voice manage to become something much more powerful. The music sets the tone perfectly and during the performance Cooper has a vision of the Giant, replacing the singer on the stage, telling him that it’s happening again. After the vision is gone, the elderly waiter who found Cooper on the floor of his hotel room pats him on the shoulder and tells him he’s sorry.
Even James and Donna‘s conversation during these numbers seems more interesting than it normally would, and though we don’t hear how it ends we do see how it ends and Donna is clearly upset. Despite all the sadness there’s hope, and while Bob is busy having his fun the appearance of the giant, and even the white horse, suggest there’s a force for light as well as dark at work in Twin Peaks, even if it appears the darkness is winning.
Cooper is too late and Bob’s deed is done, killing Maddy and placing his trademark letter under her fingernail. She was never the most interesting character but Maddy’s presence in Twin Peaks was important if only to serve as kind of a ghost of Laura, reminding people of what they’d missed, and what they’d done.
Apart from the reveal of Leland as the murderer, there’s a lighter and almost as shocking revelation in this episode, the true identity of Mr Tajamura. It turns out it was Katherine Martell in disguise the whole time, and the first time I saw the series I had no idea. For anyone who had been spoiled before watching this episode the impact would have been less, but Tajamura embracing Pete in the middle of the night in his home is quite something if you’re not expecting it. A combination of some impressive make-up and superior acting skills on the part of Piper Laurie it’s a truly great moment and signals even more trouble for Ben, who is in jail for the arrest of Laura Palmer while Pete gets the shock of his life.
It becomes much more apparent in this episode that we are fast approaching the conclusion to the mystery of Laura’s murder but, as with Episode 13, despite the feeling of things being forced to happen faster, it’s still an excellent piece of television. While there are some other intriguing developments, such as the tape found in Leo’s boot, it’s the darker scenes and unrivalled atmosphere of the giant’s appearance at the Roadhouse that make this one of the Twin Peak‘s most memorable episodes.
9/10 Seriable Stars