"Episode 14", also known as "Lonely Souls",[nb 1] is the seventh episode of the second season of the American mystery television series Twin Peaks. The episode was written by series co-creator Mark Frost and directed by series co-creator David Lynch. It features series regulars Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Ray Wise and Richard Beymer; and guest stars Frank Silva as Killer Bob, Hank Worden as The Waiter, Julee Cruise as Singer, and David Lynch as Gordon Cole.
Twin Peaks centers on the investigation into the murder of schoolgirl Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) in the small rural town in Washington state after which the series is named. In this episode, during the ongoing investigation into Laura's death, FBI special agent Dale Cooper (MacLachlan) and Sheriff Truman (Ontkean) continue to search for her killer, the demon Bob, who has possessed a human host. Aided by Mike (Al Strobel), Cooper and Truman arrest Benjamin Horne (Beymer), believing him to be inhabited by Bob. Later that night, Cooper is warned by The Giant (Carel Struycken) that "it is happening again", while Bob's real host, Leland Palmer (Wise), murders Madeline Ferguson (Lee).
"Episode 14" was first broadcast on November 10, 1990, on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and was watched by an audience of 17.2 million households in the United States, about 20 percent of the available audience. The episode was well received, garnering positive reviews after its initial broadcast and in subsequent years, but it has been criticized for unduly prolonging the revelation of Laura's killer. Academic readings of the entry have highlighted the theme of duality and use of cinematography in the revelation scene.
The small fictional town of Twin Peaks, Washington, has been shocked by the murder of schoolgirl Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) and the attempted murder of her friend Ronette Pulaski (Phoebe Augustine). FBI special agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) has been sent to the town to investigate, and has come to the realization that the killer was possessed by a demonic entity—Killer Bob (Frank Silva). Mike (Al Strobel), a similar spirit, has spoken to Cooper and his FBI superior, Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole (David Lynch), explaining the nature of their existence.
Meanwhile, Madeline "Maddy" Ferguson (Lee), Laura's cousin, has arrived in Twin Peaks from Missoula, Montana, and helps Laura's friends Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle) and James Hurley (James Marshall) investigate the killing. Donna finds Harold Smith (Lenny Von Dohlen), one of Laura's friends to whom she had given a secret diary, and Donna and Maddy attempt to steal it from him.
It is morning. Agent Cooper, Chief Gordon Cole, Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean), Deputy Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz), Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse), and Philip Gerard, who is possessed by Mike, are drinking coffee in the lobby of the Sheriff's Station. Truman informs that preparations have been made for them at The Great Northern. Mike repeats his description of Bob's current location. Truman tells Hawk to search Harold Smith's apartment. Cooper tells Hawk to look for Laura Palmer's secret diary. Cole bids all farewell and leaves for Bend, Oregon.
Cooper, Doctor Hayward (Warren Frost), Brennan, and Gerard / Mike are in the lobby of The Great Northern hotel attempting to find Bob's human host. The hotel is hosting a contingent of sailors who are bouncing rubber balls in the hotel lobby. Mike is seated while hotel guests are brought to him one by one for "inspection." One after another, Mike turns each away. An angry Benjamin Horne (Richard Beymer) enters the lobby demanding to know what is going on. Just then, Gerard enters a fit and collapses while grasping at his missing arm.
Meanwhile, Deputy Hawk visits the residence of Harold Smith and finds him hanging dead amongst his orchids. Maddy announces to Laura's parents Leland (Ray Wise) and Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) that she is leaving Twin Peaks to return to her home in Missoula, Montana. Cooper, Truman, and a police team arrive at Smith's residence. They discover the torn-up remains of Laura Palmer's secret diary and a suicide note that reads, "J'ai une âme solitaire." Cooper translates, "I am a lonely soul."
Elsewhere, Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) and Shelly Johnson (Mädchen Amick) discuss their financial concerns regarding Shelly's catatonic husband Leo (Eric Da Re). Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) confronts her father Ben over his ownership of the casino and brothel One Eyed Jacks. When Audrey asks him whether he killed Laura Palmer, he denies it but confesses that he and Laura had a sexual relationship and that he loved her. Later, Shelly arrives for work at the Double R Diner and informs Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton) that she has to quit to care for Leo full-time. Ed Hurley (Everett McGill) and his wife Nadine, who is experiencing amnesia and adrenaline-induced strength, enter the diner. Nadine, believing she is eighteen years old and still in high school, speaks to Norma as though a stranger. Norma and Ed play along with Nadine's psychosis. At the Johnson residence, Bobby Briggs and Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger) break open the heel of Leo Johnson's boot, discovering a microcassette hidden within.
Cooper examines the remains of Laura's secret diary at the police station, finding repeated references to Bob, and mention of ongoing sexual abuse. Laura wrote that Bob was a friend of her father, and in another entry wrote, "Someday I'm going to tell the world about Ben Horne." Audrey then enters and tells Cooper about Ben and Laura's affair. After she leaves, Cooper reminds Sheriff Truman of The Giant's message, "Without chemicals, he points". Cooper states that Mike manifests when his human host, Philip Gerard, is not medicated, and that Mike fainted that morning just as a certain person approached him. Cooper tells Sheriff Truman they need a warrant for the arrest of Benjamin Horne.
Later that evening, Benjamin Horne is meeting with Mr. Tojamura at The Great Northern. Mr. Tojamura gives Horne a check for $5 million to purchase the lands of the Packard Sawmill. Immediately after accepting this check, Sheriff Truman, Deputy Hawk, and Agent Cooper enter and arrest Horne for murder. Horne attempts to flee but is caught and handcuffed. At the Palmer home, Sarah Palmer crawls down the stairs, crying to Leland for help. A phonograph is spinning in the background, its needle skipping in the groove at the end of the record.
After jailing Horne at the Sheriff's Station, Cooper and Truman encounter the Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson), who tells Cooper, "...there are owls in The Roadhouse." Cooper replies, "Something is happening, isn't it, Margaret?" The moon is full, partially obscured by a dark and cloudy sky.
At the Packard residence, Pete Martell (Jack Nance) is fixing himself a midnight snack. He encounters Mr. Tojamura in the dark, who roughly embraces and kisses him, causing Pete to drop and shatter his plate. In a high dudgeon, Pete orders Tojamura to leave. Tojamura reveals that he is in fact Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie) in disguise. The two embrace as Pete emotionally dissolves.
Sarah Palmer crawls into her living room. She sees a vision of a pale white horse then passes out. Leland Palmer is fixing his tie in the mirror, ignoring his wife.
Cooper, Truman, and The Log Lady visit The Roadhouse, which is filled with sailors. Donna and James are seated together discussing Harold's death and Maddy's departure from Twin Peaks. Bobby Briggs is seated at the bar next to the old waiter (Hank Worden) from The Great Northern. While a singer and band perform, Cooper has a vision of The Giant standing alone on stage. The Giant tells Cooper, "It is happening again." He repeats this ominous warning.
At the Palmer home, Leland smiles at himself in the mirror. Bob stares back at him from the reflection and cackles madly. Maddy comes downstairs complaining of a burning smell and sees Sarah passed out on the floor. She sees Leland who is smiling at her, wearing latex gloves. Maddy then sees Bob appear in Leland's place. She screams and attempts to flee. Leland chases Maddy up the stairs, drags her to the living room, strangles, punches, taunts, and chases her. He corners her and punches her until she is catatonic. He dances with and cries over her limp body, calling her "Laura." He then screams, "Leland says you're going back to Missoula, Montana!" as he rams her head into a glass picture frame, the words "Missoula, Montana" written in the lower corner of the scenic picture. Maddy collapses, bloodied and dead. Leland places a cutout of the letter "O" under the nail of her left ring finger.
Cooper's vision of The Giant ends, replaced by the singer and band. The old waiter walks over to Cooper and says, "I'm so sorry." Donna begins to cry. James comforts her as the band repeats a melancholy refrain.
"Episode 14" was written by series co-creator Mark Frost, who had written six previous episodes and directed the first season finale, "Episode 7". Frost co-wrote three further installments—"Episode 16", "Episode 26" and "Episode 29". This episode was directed by Lynch, the fifth such episode of Twin Peaks; he later directed "Episode 29", the series' finale. It was rated TV-14 in the United States during its original television broadcast; it was later re-rated to TV-PG. Lynch has later stated that he feels he was able to show more on screen in the episode than he expected the network's standards and practicies office to allow. He credits this to the unusual imagery used, adding "if it's not quite standard it sneaks through, but it could be that the 'not quite standard' things make it even more terrifying and disturbing".
The cast of Twin Peaks did not know who would be revealed as Palmer's killer for some time. Wise had hoped his character Leland would not be the eventual murderer; as the parent of a young girl he was disturbed by the idea of portraying a man who had murdered his daughter. Wise was called to a meeting with Lynch, Frost, Sheryl Lee and Richard Beymer, during which Lynch told those assembled that Leland Palmer was the killer: while addressing Wise, Lynch said "Ray, it was you, it was always you". However, Wise felt that the end result was "beautiful", and that it left him and his character "satisfied and redeemed". Before this meeting, the only people to know the killer's identity were Frost, Lynch, and Lynch's daughter Jennifer, who had been given the information so she could author the 1990 tie-in novel The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer.
Lynch has mentioned that he tried to avoid thinking about the morality of the narrative, or how it would be received by censors or critics, feeling that if he allowed that worry to affect him it would ultimately drive him to create something that made him uncomfortable, preferring instead to simply produce the episode he wanted to and be prepared to defend it if necessary. He has also compared the search for Laura's killer to the central narrative of the 1960s television series The Fugitive, which featured an ongoing search for a one-armed man. Contrasting the two, Lynch stated "each week, you know, they [the writers for The Fugitive] hardly ever dealt with that. And that's the beautiful thing. You keep wondering, 'When will he find this guy and set everything straight?' But then you knew it would be the end".
The climactic murder of Madeline Ferguson in the episode features extensive use of jump cuts to portray Leland Palmer's spirit possession, switching rapidly between actors Ray Wise and Frank Silva. The scene is unusually long for a murder on television, lasting over four minutes. Some of its elements, including the insertion of a paper letter under Ferguson's fingernail and the use of jump cuts to events in the Roadhouse bar, are intended to echo similar aspects of "Pilot".
Erica Sheen and Annette Davison, in their book The Cinema of David Lynch: American Dreams, Nightmare Visions, have drawn attention to the use of mise en scène early in the episode. A scene featuring Ferguson, Leland and Sarah Palmer sitting in the Palmers' living room pans across the family's "bric-à-brac". This technique draws attention to the painting with which Ferguson will be assaulted, and it highlights the similarity between Ferguson and Palmer by focusing on "the famous homecoming queen shot" of Palmer while Ferguson's face is visible. Sheen and Davison argued that the scene highlights the "emotional claustrophobia" felt by Ferguson, and that the set surrounding her was deliberately assembled to create this feeling.
The revelation scene, in which Bob is shown to have inhabited Leland Palmer, has been noted for its sense of duality, a common theme throughout Twin Peaks. In Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks, David Lavery wrote that upon The Giant's appearance to Dale Cooper, "The Giant has transmuted the public place into something private". Lavery added that the murder scene is "in the living room, the public within the private". He summarised that the ambiguity between the public perception and the private perception—"the outer and the inner"—"reverberates" throughout the scene. In his view, Maddy Ferguson was Laura Palmer's "double" and Leland is "doubled" by Bob. However, Lavery referred to the duality of Leland and Bob as a "subjective formation" and added that the use of jump cuts "could be Maddy's view of Leland just as much as Leland's view of himself".
This scene has also been noted by critic Sue Lafky from the Journal of Film and Video as one of several in the series that suggest incest and necrophilia. She speculated that "Leland/Bob may have raped the dead or dying Maddie", comparing this to the "necrophilic fantasies" that Laura Palmer's corpse evokes, and Ben Horne's unwitting brush with incest when he encounters his daughter Audrey at a brothel. Earlier in the episode it is revealed that Laura had been subject to sexual abuse by BOB, and implicitly Leland, which was further explored in the 1992 prequel movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.
"Episode 14" first aired on the ABC network on November 10, 1990. The initial broadcast was viewed by 17.2 million households in the United States, making it the fifty-first most-viewed broadcast episode for the week. These viewing figures represented 20 percent of the available audience and 10.4 percent of all households in the country. This represented a significant rise in viewing figures compared to the preceding episode, "Episode 13", which was seen by 11.3 million households. However, the following episode, "Episode 15", suffered a drop in viewing figures, attracting 13.3 million households.
The episode was well received critically. Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper noted that fans and critics had begun to lose interest in the series by this point, but felt that "even at its most strained and obtuse, [Twin Peaks] displays more imagination and effort than almost everything else in TV land". He added that viewers may have been put off by the series' frame of time, explaining that only two weeks of narrative time had elapsed since "Pilot", a slow pace contrasted with the "fast-forward, instant payoff philosophy of most television". AllRovi's Andrea LeVasseur described the installment as "pivotal", noting that it "answers some of the series' long-running questions".
Writing for The A.V. Club, Keith Phipps rated the episode an "A", adding "it's not like there's any shortage of action". He felt that the effects used in the episode were effective and frightening while still seeming low-key. In his view, the episode's blending of surrealism and horror was similar to scenes from Lynch's 2001 film Mulholland Drive. Phipps described the climactic murder as "one of the most disturbing moments in the Lynch filmography", adding that it was a recurring Lynchian theme to represent the end of innocence as an actual death. IGN's Matt Fowler included the murder at number 16 in a list of the "Top 20 Creepiest Moments on TV", describing it as "nightmare fuel". Fowler felt the depiction of the killing was "savage" and unusually long for a television scene; however, he added that the rampant speculation as to the identity of the killer meant that whoever it was revealed to have been, it would be "somewhat expected".
Keith Uhlich, writing for Slant Magazine, described the episode as "quintessential Lynch, perhaps his finest work", noting that the climactic murder scene was more powerful because of its necessary use of implication and suggestion. However, Uhlich felt that the installment was "a tough act to follow", arguing that the only subsequent installments that competed with it were the series' finale and the 1992 psychological thriller film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, which is based on Twin Peaks. DVD Talk's Jamie S. Rich described the installment as "a violent, disturbing revelation". Rich felt that the entry's supernatural elements assured the audience that there was "a grander scheme to the Laura Palmer story", elevating the series' long-running murder plot beyond "just a random night partying with drug dealers gone wrong".
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