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Trek Tuesday: Twisted
November 5, 2013Posted by on
Star Trek: Voyager is such a strange series. It had lots of potential, but much of it was wasted and many episodes were fairly befuddling. Probably one of the most bizarre installments was an early episode titled “Twisted”. Friend of The Culture Cast, Brian Hajik, and I were talking about this the other day prompting me to revisit the episode.
In “Twisted”, Voyager encounters an anomaly in space which causes the ship the literally twisted itself to the point that decks are being merged together thereby navigating through the show is nearly impossible. While trying to resolve the problem, the crew, stuck in the holodeck, begins to butt heads as every plan they come up with fails. Eventually, they decide to do nothing and they pass through the anomaly. Once through, everything reverts itself, and we learn the anomaly is actually alive and this was its way of communicating.
On the surface, this sounds like a fairly high-concept story, but simple enough to allow for some character development. This can usually be the case for “bottle shows” (which “Twisted” most certainly is). But the episode never rises above being average at best. There are a lot of scenes in which all we get are our cast members are just walking around the ship lost. It really drags the first half of the episode down (making things worse when the situation, and therefore the same dialogue, is repeated again and again).
Other times, we have several out-of-character or just simply bizarre moments. For starters, there is a sequence where Captain Janeway and Ensign Kim are crawling through a tube-like area so they can hopefully reach the bridge. During this, they are discussing the technical nature of what is going on. Out of nowhere, Janeway turns to Kim and says that he’s been a bright spot on this mission. What is she talking about here? While it is not unusual for Janeway to say such things, it comes completely out of nowhere. Additionally, there is no context for this comment to be made. Nothing prior in the episode dealt with Kim or his role on the ship. None. The line doesn’t make any sense.
That isn’t the only strange thing with the characters. Later in the episode, tensions begin to really grow as the crew cannot figure out a way from this jam. At least I think that is what is going on. They begin to bicker and yell. But why? And how come it happens so quickly like flipping a light switch. The development to build this up doesn’t happen. Chakotay and B’Elanna start shouting over anything Tuvok has to say. The rest are just sitting there doing nothing. Again, there is no context for any of this to happen.
The writing here is so poor, I have no idea what happened. Then I learned.
Everyone – cast, crew, writers, network – hated this episode. Nothing came together with it from their point-of-view. It was one of the four episodes produced in the first season, but held back to season two, and it was the last one to air of that bunch. The reason it was the last one was because it almost didn’t air.
Yes, you read that right. “Twisted” could have been a lost Star Trek episode.
There were several production problems. Supposedly, the first draft of the script was completely incomprehensible, and needed to be rewritten by series co-creator Michael Piller. Following that, the director of the episode allegedly couldn’t understand what was going on. And, even more troublesome, the episode ran extremely short (various accounts say it was anywhere from five to eight minutes short). This meant that extra scenes needed to be added (enter the wandering hallway scenes referenced above) and reshoots needed to be done after the episode had already wrapped. This could explain the out-of-character moments and they were likely padding to extend the episode to the needed length.
The episode was such a disappointment that UPN almost didn’t put it on the airwaves. Given the vast amount of bad Star Trek episodes, it truly is a mind-boggling concept. I guess one wouldn’t realize the strangeness of the episode when watching it the first time through. But if you go back and re-watch it after knowing all the behind-the-scenes problems, you can completely see where things were going wrong and how things seemed largely out-of-place. Go back and watch “Twisted” with this new knowledge like I did. It’s great, and gives you a whole new insight to the episode.