Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Twisted"

*

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.

Previous episode: Non Sequitur
Next episode: Parturition

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29 comments on this review

Rob in Michigan - Sun, Sep 21, 2008 - 5:45pm (USA Central)
There are only two extremely short scenes that I found at all worth watching on this one: one was Tuvok ever so slightly moving his hand closer to Janeway's shoulder as they were facing their possible end and two: I liked Chakotay telling Torres that sometimes you have to just let go and let things happen... again as they were facing their possible deaths.
Chris - Wed, Sep 24, 2008 - 10:43am (USA Central)
I normally agree with the majority of your reviews, but I just don't understand your problem with this particular episode. I think comparing it to DS9's Fascination is a huge exaggeration.

First, the ending. You said the episode doesn't seem to care about explaining the mass data transmitted to Voyager, and that the show has no real consequences. How many "Crew encounters a strange alien entity" plots in Star Trek have major consequences on the characters? And why did you give a pass to TNG's "Time Squared" for leaving the space tornado's origin a mystery and even the following Voyager episode "Persistence of Vision" where the alien was revealed and then vanished with no explanation of who or what he was. Neither episode had long-lasting effects or a sufficient explanation of the entity's intentions, yet "Twisted" is made out to be lazy rather than mysterious.

I think there were some nice character moments in this episode - Doctor comforting Kes, Paris and Kim discussing how they were afraid, Tuvok's hand moving towards Janeway, Chakotay having to calm Torres (it's clear as I watch this season that they were planning to go somewhere with a Chakotay/Torres relationship) and even Neelix's paranoia of Paris was finally somewhat justified by the extravagant gift he bought Kes.

I don't think it's unreasonable to believe that there has been an underlying tension between Chakotay and Tuvok - Starfleet/Maquis relations were touched on in "Learning Curve" (though the concept as a whole was sorely underutilised overall throughout the seasons) and given Tuvok's relationship with Janeway, I don't see it as too much of a stretch that we haven't seen this before. We are dealing with a Vulcan who doesn't let petty jealousies get the better of him.

What I realy enjoy about this episode is the crew's eventual submission to the entity. If this were TNG, Geordi and Data would be working to the last possible second to solve the problem. But here we see the Voyager crew utterly defeated, and having no choice but to let the alien overwhelm them.

It's not a perfect episode by any means. Neelix's "Cake, anyone?" is right up there with the later seasons' "I'll give you my report in the morning". But like I said, there were some nice if brief character moments (whether they were capitalised on later in the season or not), which puts this far beyond "Fascination" - the latter being a completely contrived attempt at comedy with only the O'Brien's problems and Sisko getting decked by Bariel as the redeeming elements.
Bob - Tue, Dec 30, 2008 - 6:09pm (USA Central)
One star? Normally I agree with your reviews, but I don't here. There's some excellent character interaction, and the revelation that this anomaly was a lifeform (or lifeforms) simply exploring was interesting. It was also nice to see the crew fail for once, rather than do a last minute save like most trek crews usually do.

I agree it would have been nice to give us more details on what was in the data, and to have Nelix killed off in this episode. Overall though, I would have given it at least 2.5 stars. Maybe three.
Fido - Thu, Jan 8, 2009 - 5:02pm (USA Central)
Sorry Jammer...but...WHAT?

I consider this to be one of my favourite episodes. I loved it. I love these 'messing with reality' stories...they're always so interesting (at least to me).

:)
Brendan - Tue, Jun 16, 2009 - 1:42am (USA Central)
Worst episode of Voyager ever. (Threshold doesn't count as an episode).

The first act is okay, but the rest is the most horrendously written garbage ever to appear in a star trek episode.
NickM - Thu, Oct 1, 2009 - 10:47am (USA Central)
Jammer,

While not a great episode, I would give it two stars because I thought, like others have stated, there was some good character interaction, even development. I also liked the scene as the ring is getting closer and closer, they accept the fate and there are no false heroics or hystrical admissions, just resignation and acceptance. As for the maze portion and wandering around, my teen step-son was watching and it had him engrossed, so I count that as a positive, he wants to see more Trek because this mystery had him thinking.
Nic - Thu, Oct 15, 2009 - 9:40am (USA Central)
I would also give it two stars, for the character moments and the ending which presented (for once) a life form that had no hostile intentions. Also, as is was meant to be the penultimate episode of the first season, I think something like this is to be expected; penultimate episodes often tend to have a lighter tone.
Will - Fri, Dec 25, 2009 - 6:07pm (USA Central)
Ugh, yet another spatial anomaly villain courtesy of the Biller. Apalling episode. I thought they'd got rid of them in the first season.
Jake - Sun, Apr 11, 2010 - 11:45am (USA Central)
As sfdebris noted in his review of this episode, the moment when everyone regroups in the holodeck before doing the Scooby-Doo pair offs begins with all the tables arranged like the ones in the observation lounge.
I just crack up at the thought of Janeway going, "OK, let's figure out what's going on, but, first, let's rearrange the tables so we can sit in a circle like we usually do."
I also agree with Chris that Neelix's reaction to Paris's gift was more justified than his past & future responses but it, sadly, doesn't change the fact that Neelix is an ugly moron who should be thrown out the nearest airlock.
navamske - Sat, Jul 31, 2010 - 7:04pm (USA Central)
"Meanwhile, the scene where a delusionary [sic] Captain Janeway sits up and begins shrieking gibberish is so hokey that it's unintentionally hilarious."

Actually, it's not gibberish. She says, "It's talking to me -- do nothing!" (This is right after Tuvok says they should give up -- i.e., do nothing -- and Chakotay and Torres are disagreeing.)
Carbetarian - Thu, Apr 14, 2011 - 8:36pm (USA Central)
I'm with Jammer on this one. This episode is a fail, period, end of story.

It gets one star from me only because I laughed so hard at Janeway's random freak out in the holodeck. That part was so ridiculous, it was actually sort of fantastic.
Matthias - Mon, Aug 15, 2011 - 9:22am (USA Central)
I'm a sucker for some sci-fi horror hijinks so I quite enjoyed the nightmarish scenario of an ever shifting labyrinth of a starship. I'm quite prepared to three-star this one on the basis of just that and Baxter's explanation of why he didn't notice the gym getting freezing cold.

The crew just giving up was kind of hard to take because as a viewer that sort of thing just slaps you out of your suspension of disbelief because you immediately know everything is going to be fine. Maybe if it'd been the final episode that sort of thing could provide some tension but now it's just a self-spoiler.
Jeff O'Connor - Sun, Sep 4, 2011 - 3:52pm (USA Central)
Eh, I loved the climax too damn much to give this episode a single star. Most of the rest of the episode is fairly weak but damn if I didn't feel my heartstrings getting pulled a bit when the bulk of the main cast all gathered to await their potential end.
Jeffrey Bedard - Mon, Dec 12, 2011 - 7:49am (USA Central)
The one thing I've never understood about any of these anomaly based episodes is why the ship never flies over, under or around them. Voyager had more than enough room to continue on course and avoid the distortion ring, but they fly through these things and get trapped, affected, encased, etc. Obviously, if the ship doesn't get trapped there's no episode that week, but I agree with you that VOYAGER as a series and we as viewers would have lost nothing had "Twisted" never been filmed.
Milica - Thu, Jul 26, 2012 - 8:49am (USA Central)
I absolutely disagree with this review. I loved the episode - it showed us few Star Trek episodes have - situations in which whatever you do it is not enough, you keep ending up where you starting feeling very frustrated (both literally and metaphorically and a situation in which the crew just lets go - I do not remember seeing this on Star Trek ever. Usually, however grim the situation is, the crew somehow in the most unlikely of situations saves itself. This is the first time we see them face death and knowing there is nothing they can do about it. It is a very deep moment.
Graham - Fri, Aug 3, 2012 - 2:36pm (USA Central)
Wow, can't believe the amount of people defending this episode. Just finished watching it for the first time and, boy, what a stinker. The premise itself was fine, but the whole 3rd act was just terrible. Both Janeway's comment to Kim and the Tuvok/Chakotay confrontation both just left me scratching my head. Where did they come from, and how were they at all relevant to what was happening? It's like the writers gave up about halfway through the script and just started stuffing in useless dialogue to fill time. Don't even get me started on the ending. Just a worthless episode all around!
Simon - Tue, Apr 30, 2013 - 2:00pm (USA Central)
Great review
Elliott - Tue, Apr 30, 2013 - 5:45pm (USA Central)
I have a serious question for anyone who would like to answer it;

Why is this episode better than "Threshold"? I would submit that this is the worst episode of VOY's run. It's pointless, implausible, poorly executed and BORING!

I know no one actually likes this episodes, but really, "Threshold," for all its weirdness, is a notch more entertaining than this!
Fido - Wed, May 1, 2013 - 4:05am (USA Central)
Hi Elliott,

I can only speak for myself on this - but I enjoyed the idea of the ship layout getting moved around. I thought the execution of this was handled quite well. I will admit that there were some boring scenes in this episode, but I did like some of the more personal dialogue between characters (mostly Neelix and Chakotay).

There were also some things that didn't make sense. Janeway being affected by the entity didn't really add anything. Although, Tuvok almost putting his hand on Janeway at the end and then retracting it was a very cool moment.
The idea that they are facing this doom and gloom situation only for it to be a form of communication is an awesome idea.

Threshold, on the other hand, had an interesting premise. Again, the idea of there being negative consequences to breaking warp 10 is cool...unfortunately, turning into a lizard...really, really wasn't cool. It was a waste of a good idea.

Twisted is definitely not the worst episode, in my opinion. Neither is Threshold. Nightingale would get that honour from me.
Braga raped and killed a girl named Trek - Thu, May 23, 2013 - 4:49pm (USA Central)
This crap spackle is but one ingredient in the comfort food for smooth brains that is Voyager. Eat up, fatties.
Michael - Sun, Jun 9, 2013 - 12:01pm (USA Central)
This is one of my favorite episodes, too. It contains a scene that stayed with me from the time I first saw Voyager almost two decades ago, adverted to by Michigan Rob above: Tuvok putting his hand near the incapacitated Janeway as they are about to be engulfed by the anomaly. I found that one single act to be incredibly warm, moving, and poignant. It cemented Tuvok as my role model, a giant of a man as far as both logic and loyalty. For that alone I commend this episode.

I'll agree with Jammer on one thing: Janeway babbling incoherently had me doubled over!!


@Elliott: You find this episode, inter alia, "implausible." And, pray tell, which of the other ~150 shows IS plausible :) And then tell me which of them is NOT pointless! As I said elsewhere, this is not a National Geographic documentary. It's mindless, sci-fi entertainment. There's quite a bit of "sci" and a lot of "fi" in this episode, so it pretty much DOES serve its purpose. If you want something "pointfull" or plausible, try Tomorrow's World :)
Lt. Yarko - Tue, Jun 11, 2013 - 10:41am (USA Central)
Fly above or below the ring, goofballs. This kind of thing pops up in trek way too often. How does it get from writer all the way through to production without ANYONE noticing? Khan must be running every part of production for these series.
inline79 - Fri, Sep 6, 2013 - 5:21pm (USA Central)
I had a LOL moment when Janeway asks Chakotay if he's OK with Neelix going with him. I almost detected a groan, or at least a nod to the floor. heh.

Anyways, this was a good episode... if Voyager were a 30 minute show. They should have just cut 22 minutes of fluff and shown us clips from the first season, or played us music or something!
ljdarten - Thu, Feb 27, 2014 - 8:51pm (USA Central)
My only problem with this episode was how the heck does a spatial anomaly randomly reconnect hallways and other access points cleanly?
DLPB - Mon, Mar 3, 2014 - 7:33am (USA Central)
If you ignore the silly premise of this episode, and the fact Kate Muldrew sounds like she is having an orgasm at one point, it's actually a pretty entertaining episode. The show needed more character interactions like this, but sadly, they did away with the whole Federation v Marquis angle early on.
Amanda - Sat, Mar 8, 2014 - 7:37am (USA Central)
I like the character interaction but it stops there. The twisting ship thing was something I couldn't find plausible. But there could be something far beyond my comprehension in science that could make this happen. It reminded me of the barreon sweep (sp?) in TNG only without the real danger that they die if they touch it. (ie Janeway was caught in it she didn't)


Amanda - Sat, Mar 8, 2014 - 7:40am (USA Central)
DLPB> ha, if I am not mistaken, we could probably add Mulgrew orgasmic over acting effect to a drinking game. I've smirked a few times over the seasons.
DPC - Thu, Apr 24, 2014 - 5:22pm (USA Central)
They could have called this one "Non Sequitur" because it made no sense.

The cliche of "spatial/dimensional anomaly" being the cause of the ship being turned into a labyrinth would have been better than a space critter that swallowed the ship, made space bend in impossible ways, crush the hull (yet it clearly didn't), made people act slow, gave Janeway the big-O, et cetera, only to have the very end reveal the twist (no pun intended) that ruined the whole episode... complete with magical data exchange between both 'vessels'... really?

Kudos, in a way, for trying to do something other than a spatial distortion, but it just doesn't work. But at least they kept the big revelation to the very end... which seems a trifle unfair, now that I'm thinking about it, but if it were revealed earlier I would have changed the channel...
HolographicAndrew - Mon, Jul 21, 2014 - 10:38am (USA Central)
Like others have said, this is one of my favorite episodes in the first two seasons. The ending was touching, the doctor on the holodeck was funny, and the tuvok/chakotay confrontation was more interesting than anything in the past couple episodes. This episode was creepy and memorable.

Yeah the premise is silly if you start going "wait how does it connect the ship.. etc etc." but you can do the same thing with almost every trek plot. This particular review seems a bit jaded to me. If this were an episode of TNG I would rank it up there with Remember Me and Time Squared.

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