Voyager rewatch 2.06 – “Twisted”

Kes has the worst second birthday ever. It’s not great for the audience, either.

There are some truly wonderful, brilliant episodes of Voyager.

“Twisted” is not one of them.

It has an interesting premise: an encounter with a space thingo causes Voyager to become an impenetrable maze, but the twist is that this is no random space thingo encounter, but first contact with an entity they cannot begin to understand.

The execution … well.

In some ways, it reminds me of “The Cloud” — a low-key, slightly silly plotline which provides an opportunity for characterisation. And the interminable scenes of characters wandering around corridors does give us a chance to see some fresh character combinations, some of which work better than others.

For example…

Paris and Torres bicker, but gently, and work well together. They’re going to make a beautiful part-Klingon baby in a few seasons.

On the other hand, Neelix and Chakotay … well, Neelix thinks Chakotay is handsome, which is nice, but this subplot is just more nonsense about jealousy.

We still need to talk about Neelix

He is particularly odious this week, and that’s really saying something when his last appearance was in “Elogium”. He tries to restrain himself from having a conniption about the locket Tom gives Kes for her birthday, but then becomes paranoid because she … knows where people’s quarters are.

Mate, she has an eidetic memory.

None of this is cute. He’s escalated from being paranoid about Kes’s interactions with one single man, to worrying that she has friends at all. Some of the people he worries about — Nicoletti, for example — are women, and since this is Berman-era Star Trek, there’s no chance anyone was even imagining Kes might be queer.

Isolation is a tactic used by abusers. Neelix may not be able to control his feelings, but his behaviour is terrible. This is an ugly storyline, and best forgotten. Luckily it will be over in another week.

People who aren’t Neelix

The final scenes — where every attempt to deal with the space thingo has failed, and the main cast are trapped in the holodeck, depending on the remote possibility that it won’t actually harm them permanently — have a lot of potential. B’Elanna struggles with inaction. Tuvok seizes his opportunity to be pissy at Chakotay. Chakotay … contacts his animal guide? Racist pan pipes appear? He holds hands with B’Elanna?

What this episode needed was more pissy Tuvok, and less of just about everyone else.

Hey, it’s that guy!

A previously peripheral guest star — Tom Virtue as Crewman Baxter — just keeps popping up in this scene. Unexpectedly, he doesn’t die. Luckily, he also never comes back. I’m sure Virtue is a lovely bloke, but his line readings are … not great.

It’s not just me!

Who thinks “Twisted” is a stinker, that is. According to Memory Alpha:

Prior to this episode’s initial airing, rumors circulated – largely based on convention comments from Robert Duncan McNeill and Robert Picardo – that this episode was so bad, it would never be aired. Prognosticators speculated for months leading up to the episode’s first broadcast. Some suggestions were that the installment was an incomprehensible script by supervising producer Brannon Braga, that the episode had been entirely rewritten by executive producer Michael Piller, that director Kim Friedman had been unable to understand the story, and that large portions of the episode had to be rewritten and reshot. As a result, the episode ended up with a notorious reputation.

(source)

How much truth is there to this? Well, Braga and Piller don’t have writing credits, but there were last minute additions when it turned out that the episode ran a whole eight minutes short. So I’m inclined to take this specific set of claims with a pinch of salt, but it is a hot mess of an episode, and Picardo, for one, has been pretty open about it being one of his least favourites.

Other things

  • I think of this particular period of Voyager — early-to-mid season 2, though “Twisted” was filmed back in season 1 — as an experimental time. A Chakotay/Torres relationship, for example, will come up again briefly in the near future, then the possibility will be dropped.
  • Kes was not in her usual wig — this was a touch longer, and more even in length. And, I think, a shade darker than normal.
  • Harry and Tom’s confessions of fear at the end: man, rewatching Voyager with slash goggles really adds something.
  • The scenes where the Doctor is sexually harassed by the holographic Sandrine were among the padding added to fill in those extra eight minutes. A blank screen would have been equally rewarding.

In conclusion

You can do better things with your time. Zero flirtatious holographic Frenchwomen out of five.

 

 

Author: Liz Barr

Words written. Opinions expressed.

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