Star Trek: Voyager
Air date: 10/2/1995
Teleplay by Kenneth Biller
Story by Arnold Rudnick & Rich Hosek
Directed by Kim Friedman
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"Tell me something, Tuvok. What does your logic tell you about navigating a maze that's constantly changing shape?" — Chakotay
Nutshell: Very poorly done all around. But if "boring" were a virtue, this episode would be a real winner.
Uninteresting mysteries arise on the Voyager when it becomes trapped in yet another spatial anomaly which begins to threaten the ship by slowly crushing it with its bizarre properties.
Forgive the cynicism, but this episode is nothing short of a total failure, definitely Voyager's worst outing to date, quite possibly descending below the level of DS9's ridiculous "Fascination" last season. I guess they got one thing right about this episode—they aired it the same week as the outstanding DS9 season premiere—a day when we don't really have to care all that much about Voyager and its laborious tech storytelling.
An example of the level of thought "Twisted" has to offer: When the ship comes in contact with the anomaly in question, it surrounds them. However, Ensign Kim is quick to note that it surrounds them like a ring, preventing their escape. Excuse me, but in space there are three dimensions, which means that if you are surrounded by a ring, all you have to do is go in the "up" direction to escape. Only a sphere surrounding them would really trap the ship. Talk about limited two-dimensional thinking.
Sure, that may sound a bit nitpicky, but when all you are given in an episode is a barrage of technobabble, there isn't much to do but try to seek plot in the bogus conceptual aspects. Unfortunately, that's all "Twisted" has to offer—an excess in incredibly boring, implausible plotting that presses on as if we genuinely care what all the fancy sci-fi terms mean.
The plot centers around the fact that the distortion ring (or whatever it's called) physically alters the layout of the ship so that the crew members walk around Voyager trying to get to their posts but instead wind up walking in circles and ending up back on the holodeck. That might have been okay for the story's starting idea, but unfortunately, that's all there basically is to the episode. We're treated to four long, repetitive acts of watching various crew members search through a maze that keeps changing configuration. It's about as much fun as trying to fill in a crossword puzzle with no clues.
When Torres finally comes up with a possible solution which may risk destroying the ship in the process, a completely forced and poorly conceived conflict arises between Tuvok and Chakotay regarding the choice for a course of action. Sequentially, Torres' procedure is applied in a completely overacted and very badly directed scene which features both her and Kim excitedly yelling out the procedure's progress indications at the top of their lungs.
The plot alone is a mess. But, in addition, the episode's characterizations make no sense at all. Janeway makes a comment to Kim about how proud she is of him and how he has exceeded her expectations of him. Amiable words, but what prompted them in the middle of the scene in the Jeffries tube? For that matter, where does this sudden conflict between Tuvok and Chakotay come from, considering it's been some nine months since Janeway promoted former-Maquis Chakotay into the position of first officer? Shouldn't we have seen this before? Then there's Torres, whose character runs awry in excessive behavior when she first acts impatient and angry at the situation, then sits down and pouts when things don't go her way. Meanwhile, the scene where a delusionary Captain Janeway sits up and begins shrieking gibberish is so hokey that it's unintentionally hilarious.
The opening and closing aren't of much respectability either. Kes' birthday party in the holodeck is strictly standard fluff, but the whole scene falls flat, while the closing scene in which Neelix comes onto the bridge and says, "Cake, anyone?" ranks as one of the most genuinely annoying "things are back to normal" tack-ons in recent memory.
And what about the mysterious mass of data that the anomaly places in the Voyager's database? Is it really an alien communique? The episode doesn't seem to care in the slightest, so I guess we shouldn't either. And since this encounter ultimately means nothing to us nor the characters and has no real consequences, the show travels nowhere from beginning to end—it's merely a long, pointless Reset Button Plot.
"Twisted" is a hands-down loser. Kim Friedman, who is generally a very capable director (she has helmed several successful DS9 and Voyager shows, like "The Wire," "The Jem'Hadar," and "Jetrel" for starters), has nothing here but a disastrous mess of an episode. I guess that's just proof that sometimes there's only so much a director can do with the given material.