Here we are fellow Peakers…in this week’s installment of Twin Peaks Revisited, it’s the big reveal, as we find out the true identity of Killer BOB, and therefore finally find out the answer to who killed Laura Palmer. This episode is written by Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost, and directed by David Lynch, in what is possibly the series’ high point. I remind all new followers of these recaps that you can find all the previous Twin Peaks: Revisited columns right here and catch up. And this is, as always, a spoiler-free recap for anything that takes place after the particular episode we’re recapping.
Episode 15: “Lonely Souls” – Aired November 10th, 1990
It’s the morning after MIKE, the one-armed man, has told the police where BOB is hiding, and at the Sheriff’s station, Truman tells the officers that everything is set to go at the Great Northern. The one-armed man repeats his exact same description from the night before, of the “large house, made of wood, surrounded by trees, a house is filled with many rooms, each alike, but occupied by different souls night after night.” It seems that the crew at the station house have heard this several times by now on repeat, and are unfazed by it. Cooper sends Hawk to investigate the pages from the diary found near the train tracks, and the diary that Donna told them about at Harold Smith’s. Gordon Cole is leaving for secret business in Oregon, probably because he’s played by David Lynch, who is directing this episode and wanted to keep himself off camera for most of it.
At the Great Northern, there seems to be a convention of sailors staying at the hotel, all bouncing balls back and forth and making a ton of noise. The police are bringing everyone in the hotel, guests included, before MIKE, to see if one of these can be identified as the host body for BOB. As MIKE looks at each hotel guest and employee and says “No,” he ultimately has a seizure…. just as Ben Horne angrily interrupts them for disrupting his precious lobby.
Hawk arrives at Harold’s home, which is totally trashed from top to bottom. Hawk enters after knocking and not getting an answer, and finds Harold’s body is dangling from the rafters in his greenhouse.
At the Palmer house, we hear Louis Armstrong as he sings “What A Wonderful World” on an old vinyl disc on the Palmer’s record player. Maddy sits down with Leland and Sarah and tells them she feels it’s time to go back to her own life in Missoula, Montana, where she has a job and an apartment and a life of her own. Sarah doesn’t want her to leave, but Leland is more understanding “She has to think about herself now.” Both the Palmers give Maddy their blessing to leave, and Maddy promises to come back and visit often.
The police forensic team and officers investigate Harold’s home. On his body, he left a suicide note saying, in French, “I am a lonely soul.” Right after, Hawk finds Laura Palmer’s secret diary ripped to shreds. “Pay dirt!” says Cooper.
Bobby and Shelly sit at the table going over the bills, with Leo in his wheelchair sitting silently. It turns out that after all payments are made they only have $42 left over from Leo’s insurance money. Shelly tells Bobby to take the necklace he bought her back. “When am I going to feel glamorous enough to wear it? Giving Leo a bath or feeding him his oatmeal?” They can’t sell Leo’s truck, as the police have seized it. As the two argue, Leo suddenly yells from his wheelchair, and Shelly and Bobby both scream too. Leo then says the words “new shoes.” Bobby sends Shelly to find a receipt for a pair of Leo’s shoes she took to get cleaned.
In Ben Horne’s office, Audrey finally tells her father that she knows about One-Eyed Jack’s. “I know about Blackie, I know about Emory Battis, I know about Ronette…and I know about Laura.” She reminds him about Prudence and her little white mask. Ben realizes he’s been caught with his hand in the cookie jar by his own daughter. He confesses he’s owned One-Eyed Jack’s for five years, And that he knew that Laura worked there, and that yes…he did indeed sleep with her while she was there. When Audrey finally asks if he killed her, all Ben says is “I loved her” as he looks at Laura’s picture on his desk, and Laura’s theme swells.
Shelly returns to the diner and begins crying when she tells Norma that she has to quit her job to take care of Leo full time. Norma is totally understanding, and says that she’ll always have a place at the Double R whenever she’s ready. As the two hug it out, Nadine and Big Ed enter. Nadine still totally believes she is in high school, and Ed tries to get a confused Norma to play along. When she orders a chocolate shake, Nadine accidentally crushes it in her hands with her new found super strength, and spinning around in her seat with a hand covered in blood and whipped cream. Poor Ed just looks terrorized.
Bobby and his friend Mike (where’s he been all season??) enter the Johnson home. Bobby has Leo’s old boots and tries to get Leo to react to it, when he then finds a tape hidden in the heel of the boot. All Leo will says is “New shoes” over and over and spit up.
Cooper records for Diane while examining what remains of Laura Palmer’s secret diary, which has been reconstructed as best as possible. He says that in the diary, there are repeated references to a BOB, with descriptions of abuse and molestation since early adolescence. BOB is referred to as “a friend of her father’s.” Another entry says she will tell the world about Ben Horne one day. Just then, Audrey enters and tells Cooper that her father was indeed sleeping with Laura, and that Ben also owns One-Eyed Jack’s. Cooper asks Audrey not to repeat this to anyone. Cooper tells Harry that MIKE passed out just as Ben Horne entered the room. The evidence is all pointing to Ben as Laura’s killer, and now they need a warrant for his arrest.
In his office, Ben tells Mr. Tojamura that Jerry has investigated his company, and that they have approved his proposal. He is about to sign Tojamura’s contract when the police enter and request that Ben accompany them for questioning regarding the murder of Laura Palmer. “You can come quietly or we can drag you through your lobby in handcuffs.” Ben tells them to leave, and Hawk and Andy grab and cuff him.
It’s now night, and at the Palmer home, a record spins blankly on the player, and we see Sarah crawl down the stairs, moaning for Leland. Has someone attacked her? Is she drugged? We cut to the ceiling fan whirling ominously, just as it did in the pilot episode. Clearly, some really bad shit has gone down, or is about to.
At the station, The officers take Ben to a holding cell. We find that the Log Lady is already there, waiting for them. “We don’t know what will happen, or when. But there are owls in the Roadhouse.” Cooper says “Something IS happening, isn’t it Margaret?” Seemingly scared, she simply says “Yes.”
It’s dark now, and in the kitchen at the Martell home, Pete turns toward a sound in his house. Tojamura stalks him in the hallway and then kisses Pete on the lips. “Since the moment we met I have been strangely attracted to you.” Pete says he needs to get the hell outta there, and then Tojamura finally takes off his disguise: it’s Catherine,very much alive. “You look terrible” he says, crying tears of happiness as he realizes his wife is alive and well, and, for some reason, dressed as a Japanese man.
Sarah crawls through the house…and before she passes out for good, she has a vision of a white horse in the living room. Behind her, Leland adjusts his tie in the mirror, as if nothing strange is going on. The record player is still spinning the finished record, making an eerie noise on repeat.
Singer Julee Cruise performs on stage at the roadhouse. Donna and James sit at a booth, and Donna feels horribly guilty at the death of Harold. “He was hurt inside in a way that I couldn’t figure out.” James says the death of Harold Smith was not anybody’s fault, but Donna still feels guilt. “His whole world was in that house, and I violated that.” Just then, The Log Lady leads Cooper and Harry into the Roadhouse. James tells Donna that Maddy is leaving town, and Donna wonders why she hadn’t told her yet. We see sailors are drinking at the bar, and Bobby is there too. Suddenly the upbeat “Rockin Back Inside My Heart” transitions into the somber “The World Spins” and as it does, Cooper has a vision of the band disappearing, replaced by The Giant, who says, twice, “It is happening again.”
Back at the Palmer home, Leland smiles at himself in the mirror….and we see the face of BOB smiling back. As he hears Maddy coming home, he puts on a pair of latex gloves. Maddy shouts that something smells like it’s burning. As she enters the living room, sees Sarah on the floor, and a white hot light shines on her. She screams and flees at the sight of Leland/BOB. BOB/Leland then pulls her back into the room, chokes her, and begins to beat her mercilessly.
All the screams are slowed down, and both Leland and Maddy sound like wailing animals, and it’s terrifying. Then he picks her up and spins her around while continually changing form between being BOB and Leland, kissing her face and sobbing Laura’s name over and over. Finally, BOB takes full control, and says “Leland says that your’re going back…to Missoula, MONTANA!!” and then he violently smashes her head against a picture frame, killing Maddy and leaving her bloody and dying on the floor. Just then, he pushes a letter under her fingernail.
Back at the Roadhouse, Cooper and The Giant stare at each other. The Giant disappears and Julee Cruise and the band reappear. The senile room service waiter walks over to Cooper and says “I’m so sorry”. At this moment, a pall of sadness descends over everyone, as they intuit what has happened. Donna bursts into tears and James holds her. Bobby is also crying. Cooper looks around thoughtfully, realizing that something has happened, but he doesn’t know what. The episode fades out with Cooper looking on as his face fades into the red curtains.
The scene of Maddy’s murder was filmed with three different people, so the secret of who really killed Laura Palmer wouldn’t leak: Frank Silva as BOB, Ray Wise as Leland Palmer, and Richard Beymer as Benjamin Horne. Despite attempts to find it for various DVD releases over the years, the footage of Ben Horne killing Maddy is seemingly lost for all time.
How Frank Silva, a set dresser and not a professional actor, became BOB is the stuff of Twin Peaks legend. Originally just a set dresser for the pilot, he accidentally got locked in Laura Palmer’s bedroom set before shooting, and the thought of him trapped in the room inspired Lynch to shoot him crouched behind Laura’s bed, on a whim. Later, at the scene at the end of the pilot, when Sarah Palmer is chain smoking and jumps up while having a vision, we see the image of Frank Silva caught in the mirror behind her, on accident. Instead of re-shooting it, Lynch saw it as an omen, and realized that Frank Silva would be the show’s killer. It also inspired the idea of BOB’s image being seen in mirrors, which played heavily into this episode.
Why does a white horse appear to Sarah Palmer before Maddy’s murder? (it also appears before Laura’s murder in Fire Walk With Me.) This might be the most easily interpreted of Lynch’s visuals. After all, there is quote in the Book of Revelation that says “death rides a pale horse.”
The actual murder of Maddy scene is incredibly brutal, even by today’s network standards. Legend has it that ABC didn’t see a full cut of the episode till shortly before it aired, meaning there were no time for edits. Furious at Lynch for delivering such a violent episode, which they were sure would bring about the wrath of the FCC, and it’s said that Twin Peaks was more or less cancelled at that moment. After the next two episodes, the show was constantly preempted, and then moved around the schedule, killing whatever momentum it had.
Lynch never wanted to reveal who Laura’s killer was, and Mark Frost wanted to, but he wanted to play it out even longer. But the network insisted that the mystery be revealed, and Lynch reluctantly agreed. After the next two episodes, when this storyline is more or less fully resolved, both Lynch and Frost abandon the series for several episodes, and the show suffers greatly as a result.
When Leland/BOB rams Maddy’s head against the glass, and screams “You’re going back to Missoula…MONTANA!” it’s a reference to where David Lynch himself is from. In fact, his official bio lists none of his films, and merely says “Eagle Scout, Missoula, Montana.”
This is not only one of the greatest, if not the greatest episodes of Twin Peaks, but also in my opinion, quite possibly all of television. It also shows why David Lynch is crucial to the show overall, as only he can evoke the sense of dread mixed in with this incredible sincerity and sweetness that seems from a bygone era. The reveal of Laura’s killer, juxtaposed with all the characters in the Roadhouse, is just brilliantly composed and edited. As the killer is revealed to the audience, and Donna and Bobby start crying, it’s because in a sense, they always knew, and I feel we the audience always knew who killed Laura as well.
It simply had to be who it was; Laura Palmer’s behavior as described in the show, a young girl who acts out sexually in extreme ways, and then self-medicated with drugs, and tries to make up for her “bad behavior” by overcompensating by doing good deed after good deed (Meals on Wheels, taking care of Johnny Horne), are classic behavioral patterns from someone who has suffered systemic childhood sexual abuse. With this episode, the show takes on another dimension, and leaves an indelible mark on the viewer for all time. This is simply Twin Peaks, and David Lynch, at its finest.
Episode rating: 5 out of 5 burritos