Sunday, June 26, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Twisted"

Oh, dear--a high concept episode written by Kenneth Biller. That cannot be good, and rest assured, it is not. I waver on whether the idea of a spatial anomaly altering the ship’s design, thereby trapping the crew in a maze, is a good idea in the first place, but I am certain the unintentionally funny manner in which the crew constantly gets lost wandering the corridor’s certainly is a bad idea. Speed up the camera and add “I’m a Believer,” and you have a lost episode of The Monkees.

That is not even the worst part of the story execution. I am confident the powers that be knew this script was not working well, so they added in a lot of personal conflict which comes across as juvenile, junior high level sniping jealousy over a girl and being passed over for a promotion. when you believe you have 63 minutes to live, such bruised feelings really ought to be cast aside, particularly when one of the participants is a supposedly emotionless Vulcan.

The episode begins with a surprise party being thrown for Kes. Tom uses two weeks worth of replicator rations to make her a gift, so Neelix flips out. Before we can speculate whether he is going to smack her around, or just lock Kes in a closet as punishment, the ship gets pulled into a spatial distortion which twists it into a constantly changing maze. For the next 35 excruciating minutes, the main cast wanders through the corridors getting lost and sniping at each other.

No exaggeration. They literally do nothing but this until Torres gets a techno babble idea and finds her way to engineering to try it. It only makes things worse--big surprise, that--and the trapped crew resigns themselves to a painful death being contorted into oblivion. Too darn merciful for them, if you ask me.

Here is the dynamics of it. Everyone but Tuvok and Harry are at the partyy in the holodeck. Harry is itching to go to the party, but the spatial distortional engulfs the ship right then, so Tuvok cans the idea. Everyone in the holodeck, unaware of what is going on because communications are down, split up to go their separate ways. They spend two acts constantly getting lost before gathering back again in the holodeck, this time with Harry having found/lost his way there, too. Two acts is way too much time to establish the problem without going overboard, but there you go.

The second time they split up, they are still wandering about, but the emphasis is on angst. Neelix offers to go with Chakotay because of his famed tracking skills. You can literally see how thrilled Chakotay is. It is just an excuse so Neelix can get advice about jealousy from him. With fifty some odd minutes left to live, Chakotay reallt stops to counsel him over Kes and Tom. He manages to lose neelix when the famed tracker gets lost, but just to prove there is balance in the universe, he runs into Tuvok. The two of them clash over the course of action to take, then admit it is motivated by anger that Chakotay was chosen as first officer. It is good to know in the shadow of Death, they are thinking about the big issues. At least Janeway, who gets caught in the distortion itself, is unconscious for most of the episode.

With all options exhausted, they all brace themselves for the worst. The turns out to be…nothing. Janeway suddenly sits up and spouts a line of gibberish as the spatial distortion passes by,, and that is it. It was actually an intelligent life form studying them. It even left data about itself in the computer for them to study once it left. The only danger the crew was ever in was when Torres did something stupid and nearly blew the ship up.

Oh, yeah--the Janeway speaking in tongues bit is existentially hilarious. It reminds me of the day I learned way no one goes to the luncheon to annual welcome new students to Regent University hosted by the Divinity students. The Pentecostal Divinity students. The charismatic Pentecostal Divinity students. Try having a nice, quiet meal after everyone in the room just babbled incoherently, but in earnest, during the blessing.

“Twisted” is awful on all levels. There is never any real danger. The crew acts petty in their disputes and are otherwise made to look dumb by wandering about confused virtually the entire episode. Practically every point of drama, from the reactions yo being lost, to the personal conflicts, and Janeway finding that old time religion come are terribly absurd under the circumstances. Skip this one for the sake of you own sanity.

Rating: * (out of 5)

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