Voyager encounters an inversion field which twists and distorts the ship's hull.
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Kes is walking purposefully through the ship and eventually enters Sandrine's on the holodeck. Uncharacteristically, the lights are off and no one seems to be present. Then most of the senior staff come out of hiding, including The Doctor; they are throwing her a surprise party for her second birthday. On the bridge, Tuvok is receiving a report from Ensign Kim on the tasks he has completed. Tuvok calls him on trying to leave his post early in order to go to the holodeck, which Kim admits to, but Tuvok then assigns him to checking conduits in the holodeck systems as a reprieve. Before he can leave, however, an odd spatial anomaly is detected that they cannot identify.
Back on the holodeck, Neelix reveals the cake he made for Kes' birthday and Captain Janeway and Torres explain the wish-making tradition with the candles. Tom Paris presents Kes with a locket as a present, annoying Neelix. On the bridge, Kim and Tuvok quickly discover that the energy field has enveloped USS Voyager and they cannot escape. Tuvok then attempts to contact the captain, but halfway through his description of the incident, the Comm system distorts.
Torres has opened an access hatch to try to figure out what's wrong with the comm system because the reverberating communication from Tuvok is repeating, but it soon stops on its own. Janeway knows there's a problem, so she orders all of the crew back to their stations. On the bridge, Tuvok sends Kim to find the captain due to the obvious malfunction with the comm system.
Everyone quickly runs into issues with orientation. Janeway, Paris, and Chakotay try to verbally get the turbolift to go to the bridge and end up on deck four. Attempting to manually navigate the turbolift lands them in engineering. Kes and Neelix, walking to Kes' quarters, find the quarters of someone else where they believe hers should be, and also notice multiple sets of quarters on the same level that should be on different decks. B'Elanna, walking to engineering, instead ends up in the mess hall. Kim runs into a crewman who is also lost and tells him to try to report to his duty station. B'Elanna then runs into the same crewman in a transporter room, both of them having become disoriented again. Even the Doctor cannot relocate back to sickbay electronically. Kim walks in on him attempting to fend off advances from Sandrine and agrees to try to help with relocating his program. Eventually, everyone ends up back at the holodeck.
The crew deduces that the ship is being reconfigured by the phenomenon Kim described and Janeway assigns tasks; Paris will go with Torres to engineering since they managed to end up there when they were trying to go to the bridge, and then they'll try to transport onto the bridge. Janeway and Kim will try to get to the bridge via Jefferies tubes that should lead right to it. Chakotay says he will use his tricorder to try mapping out the current layout of the ship, and Neelix volunteers to go with him. Kes remains in the holodeck to try to help The Doctor relocate (and fend off Sandrine).
Paris and Torres successfully end up in engineering and being modifying the transporter, only encountering a slight issue when Torres tries to go through an access door and walks in on a crewman just out of the shower. Chakotay and Neelix encounter mild confusion when they seem to be doubling back on themselves. Neelix engages him in a conversation about jealousy before they run into Tuvok, who was looking for the captain and became similarly disoriented. After running into Tuvok, Neelix wanders off and disappears. Kim and Janeway are crawling through the Jefferies tube, though Kim mentions they have been doing so for much longer than they should have to. Janeway takes the opportunity to compliment Kim on his performance on their mission so far. They find what they believe is the access hatch, but when they open it, Janeway comes into contact with the anomaly.
Kim pulls Janeway out of the anomaly and she seems okay, but then becomes delirious. Chakotay and Tuvok continue trying to map out their path. They have a disagreement regarding how to proceed through the corridors, and Chakotay says they should just split up to cover more ground. Then, despite heading in nearly opposite directions, they run into each other at the next intersection, at which point Chakotay theorizes that the ship is constantly reconfiguring itself.
The Doctor, meanwhile, is still unable to transfer back to sickbay and has thoroughly annoyed the other holodeck characters. B'Elanna and Paris finish the modifications to allow them to transport to the bridge, but when they initialize it, they end up back on the holodeck again. Then Kim comes in with the captain and tells them of how she came into contact with the anomaly. The doctor and Kes take over her care.
When Chakotay and Tuvok arrive back at the holodeck, Kim suggests they pool all of their tricorder data to develop a map of the ship. Once complete, it reveals that Voyager appears to be imploding. Tuvok reveals that if his calculations are correct, the anomaly will crush the entire ship in a little over an hour.
Chakotay asks for solutions. B'Elanna says she can try to almost overload the warp core to generate a shock pulse. Tuvok suggests having someone go to the navigational controls and manually initiate Voyager's thrusters to move them out of the anomaly. Chakotay goes with B'Elanna's plan and when Tuvok begins to object, Chakotay vehemently overrides him and asserts his command.
B'Elanna and Harry successfully initiate the shock pulse, but it doesn't seem to have an effect on the anomaly. Then B'Elanna and Harry notice that the anomaly has enveloped engineering and is moving faster than before. They rush back to the holodeck and inform everyone that their plan failed. Chakotay says they should try Tuvok's, but then Tuvok points out they can't; the anomaly has already reached the holodeck.
B'Elanna tries containing the anomaly with a holodeck force-field, but the anomaly breaks right through it. She begins suggesting alternatives, but Tuvok impresses upon everyone to do nothing. He points out they have tried all sensible actions, and they do not know that contact with the anomaly is fatal. Janeway bolts up and shouts what the crew thinks is gibberish (though she is actually saying "It's talking to me, do nothing!") at that point. Chakotay agrees with Tuvok and gets B'Elanna to go along with it as well. Chakotay and Torres try to reach their spirit guides while Kim and Paris reflect on their pasts. Everyone waits while the anomaly overruns them.
Afterward, everyone seems to be fine, including the captain, who says she believed the anomaly was trying to communicate. They all (successfully) go to the bridge and B'Elanna reports that 20 million gigaquads of information was uploaded to their computers, while their computer database was copied. Janeway guesses it may have been the only way the lifeform had to communicate. As the crew reflect, Neelix arrives on the bridge with Kes's birthday cake and the crew resume their celebrations.
"What are you still doing on the holodeck? Besides playing doctor, that is."
- - Harry Kim, to The Doctor
"Jealousy's about the fear of losing someone we love. There's no pain greater than that."
- - Chakotay
"This is infuriating."
- - The Doctor on being stuck in Chez Sandrine
"I don't suppose anyone here knows the way to the bridge?"
- - Tom Paris
- - The Doctor, to Sandrine
"Commander, I would imagine you've had some experience with women."
- - Neelix and Chakotay
"If he won't play pool with you and he won't make love to me, then as far as I'm concerned, he can mop the floors."
"Do you see these hands? These are surgeon's hands, created by the most sophisticated computer-imaging technology available. They do not play games and they do not mop floors!"
"Then you are fired! I will find a new bartender."
"I really wish you would!"
- - Sandrine about The Doctor, and The Doctor himself
"This isn't engineering."
- - Torres, while in Voyager's mess hall
"Nothing makes us more vulnerable than when we love someone. We can be hurt very easily but I've always believed that what you get when you love someone is greater than what you risk."
- - Chakotay
- - Neelix
"Tell me something, Tuvok: what does your logic tell you about navigating a maze that is constantly changing shape?"
- - Chakotay
"It's talking to me, do nothing!"
- - Kathryn Janeway, in a twisted form of english to the officers present on the holodeck right after Tuvok elaborates his theory about doing nothing ( timestamp: 37:35 )
Story Development and Production
- This episode was written and produced as the penultimate episode of Star Trek: Voyager's first season. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
- The episode was once known as "Out". 
- The quick pacing and piecemeal nature of this episode meant that five extra scenes had to be written into it, after the rest of the episode had been shot, in order to fill out the episode's duration. (Star Trek Monthly issue 5, p. 10) Another method utilized to add enough time onto the episode was looping of additional dialogue. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 79) According to the unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 60), the installment underran by eight minutes and the small character scenes that were added included at least some of the flirtatious banter when Sandrine is attempting to chat The Doctor up. Executive producer Jeri Taylor commented, "With something as extremely short as 'Twisted' we were forced, by the structure of the story, to add all these sequences in the corridors [....] What we ended up with were these endless wandering the corridors scenes and they just contributed to a general lethargy of pace, slowed the whole thing down, and weighted it rather than buoyed it." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 83)
- The episode's final draft script was submitted on 21 April 1995. 
- This episode is a bottle show. (Cinefantastique, issue 112, Vol 27 #4/5; Beyond the Final Frontier, p. 285) In fact, it was a budget-saving episode produced at a time when the series was running out of financial resources. (Delta Quadrant, p. 60)
Cast and Characters
- The moment of the teaser in which Tuvok allows Kim to go to Kes' birthday party made dramatic sense to actor Tim Russ. He commented, "I think it's going to be inevitable that [Tuvok is] going to develop more relationships with the crew [...] because he's isolated out there with everyone else [...] and I think what you're going to see is that his understanding of the way human beings are is going to be more profound as well as his effort to be more understanding. He'll make gestures to try and communicate, like when he lets Kim go to the birthday party by telling him, 'Well, I imagine you could inspect the conduits in the holodeck,' without saying 'You're allowed to go.' We know what he means, and that's the kind of thing that I'm talking about. He understands that this means a great deal to this person, even though Tuvok could care less about it. But he understands that this is something important to Kim and he's trying to communicate and work with them on a level other than that of being military." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
- However, Tim Russ also struggled with a line of dialogue from this episode. Shortly after completing work on this installment, the actor explained, "There's a line in an episode we just finished, 'I've always respected the Captain's decisions.' And that line was difficult to say." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, page 61)
- Of Torres' debates with Tuvok in this episode, actress Roxann Dawson stated, "In 'Twisted,' she's really at odds with Tuvok and his rational ways of thinking. It's a good challenge for her." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
- This episode was the second of two, from the first season and a half of Star Trek: Voyager, that required pioneering large-scale CGI usage, the other episode being "Elogium". From a visual effects standpoint, this episode, supervised by David Stipes, was a time-consuming show. The distortion wave's effects on Voyager itself and its interiors were manipulated in three-dimensional models created especially for this episode. (Star Trek: Communicator, issue #105, p. 56-57) Visual effects producer Dan Curry later stated, "David Stipes was visual effects supervisor on that episode and we used a lot of computer technology and other technologies to manipulate how things looked. With the pool table and some of the floors and walls surfacing, we were just able to take those and put them in some of the super-high-tech widgets that we use to manipulate and distort the image, so it looked like it was doing that. In earlier times, that would have been extremely difficult." (Red Alert: Visual Effects Season 2, VOY Season 2 DVD special features) Visual effects company Amblin Imaging was involved in creating the CGI used in the pool hall. (Star Trek Monthly issue 31, p. 30)
- The scene wherein one of Janeway's arms is affected by the distortion wave, while she is in a Jefferies tube, involved effects created by Digital Magic. The visual effects shots in this scene are mainly from two perspectives: one of the shots shows Janeway's left arm being affected, as seen from her perspective, and three shots are of a side view of Janeway with her left arm outstretched, the limb seeming abnormally elongated. To create the lone shot, Janeway's left arm was filmed while backdropped by a blue screen. At least two temporary composite versions of this shot were created, both versions dated 16 June 1995. The first version features minimal misting and the second version features no misting whatsoever, showing only the digitally-inserted backdrop of the twisting Jefferies tube. The final version of the shot has more accentuated misting than either of the two early composites. The shots from the side view of Janeway's upper body also involved the creation of two different versions, the second of which was dated 19 June 1995. In the first version, no effect of the distortion wave is seen on Janeway's face. However, the second version incorporates a degree of facial distortion, so that Janeway's face twists and ripples in much the same way as the Jefferies tube does. The version that was included in the episode is the first of the two composites. (Red Alert: Visual Effects Season 2, VOY Season 2 DVD special features)
- The sequences of this episode that are set in Chez Sandrine required an unusual amount of accordion music, although the same sort of music was also generally profuse in episodes that involve the holographic French setting. After working on this episode, composer Jay Chattaway commented, "On Voyager, one of the big items has been the accordion player in the Bistro. Dennis [McCarthy] and I have each done three accordion sessions, coming close to exhausting the French style of accordion music. My last Voyager show of the season [this episode] had 12 minutes of accordion music in it." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, p. 50)
Continuity and Trivia
- According to Tim Russ, the reason he struggled with his problematic line of dialogue was that he believed the line was in contradiction with the earlier-produced first season installment "Prime Factors". He recalled, "[The] line was difficult to say when, in fact, we know he [...] violated protocols [in 'Prime Factors'] by taking matters into his own hands." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, page 61)
- Neelix's feelings of jealousy concerning Tom Paris and his friendship towards Kes appears again after "Phage".
- Although Neelix refers to his own jealousy here as a "puss hog", a holographic version of Neelix uses the same term to refer to an illusory Kazon in "Projections".
- When Janeway wakes up in the holodeck for the first time, she perceives what the Doctor is saying to her as nonsense. However, his statement is actually reversed speech that says, "I can't analyze her neural pathways."
First Airing and Reception
- This installment was one of four that, despite having been written and produced at the end of the first season, were held back by UPN to air in the second season, the other episodes being (in production order) "Projections", "Elogium" and "The 37's". Although this episode had been the third of the four to be produced, the episode was ultimately the last of the four to air, due to the fact that the production team considered this episode to be the worst of the lot. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
- 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 had to be rewritten and reshot. As a result, the episode ended up with a notorious reputation. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 79)
- In 2012, Robert Picardo cited this episode as his least favorite from all of the Star Trek: Voyager segments. 
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 5.6 million homes, and a 9% share. 
- Cinefantastique gave this installment 1 and a half out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 82)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 62) scored the episode 6 out of 10.
- Michael Piller felt that this episode did some character damage that he would attempt to correct with the episode that ultimately aired next, "Parturition". He recalled, "After 'Twisted,' I was terribly concerned about Neelix. I was afraid we were going to destroy this character if we made him the buffoon of the ship. If all he is is comic relief, we're in trouble. The jealousy he was showing toward Kes was becoming irritating, so we wanted to put that to bed quickly." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) In fact, the final broadcast order seems to lessen Neelix' jealousy; if this episode had aired as originally intended, it would have been the second installment in a row (following "Elogium") in which Neelix acts jealous about the relationship between Paris and Kes.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 1.10, catalogue number VHR 4010, 2 January 1996.
- CIC Video released the four season 1 "hold-over" episodes in their production order, as part of the first season release. This is the first episode in Volume 1.10, which continues with "The 37's". Volume 2.1 begins with "Initiations".
- As part of the VOY Season 2 DVD collection.
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Biggs-Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Jennifer Lien as Kes
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
- Julie Jiang as an operations division lieutenant j.g.
- Louis Ortiz as Culhane
- Richard Sarstedt as William McKenzie
- Unknown actress as a command division ensign
- John Tampoya as Kashimuro Nozawa
accelerometer relay; Ayala; bear; birthday; cake; Celsius; crew quarters; Delta Quadrant; dilithium matrix; distortion ring; Earth; electromagnetic radiation; emergency access conduit; force field; gigaquad; gymnasium; hallucination; Hargrove; holodeck; inversion field; Jimbalian fudge; Kashimuro Nozawa; Kyoto; l'maki nut; locket; logic; maze; megapascal; mess hall; microfracture; navigational array; Nicoletti, Susan; Paris 3; pool; punch; pus hog; replicator ration; Sandrine's; shock pulse; spatial implosion; spirit guide; subatomic particle shower; tricorder; turbolift; warp core; warp field
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