ScreenSpy - big news from the small screen
Don't Miss

TV REVIEW: Twisted Circles The Drain in “The Son Also Falls”

By on March 12, 2014
Pictured (L-R): Avan Jogia as Danny Desai, Kylie Bunbury as Lacey Porter -- Photo by: ABC FAMILY/Ron Tom

Pictured (L-R): Avan Jogia as Danny Desai, Kylie Bunbury as Lacey Porter -- Photo by: ABC FAMILY/Ron Tom

We need to talk about Twisted. This show has fluctuated with effective delivery for close to 10 episodes. Sometimes it gets it right, sometimes there’s a little bit of a hit or miss. While this week wasn’t a total loss, “The Son Also Falls” sees the series losing a solid grasp of how to be interesting and do it well.

It’s not that everything isn’t working. There were some bright spots in the noise. Quite frankly the issue is all in execution. It’s narrative priority, narrowing character development for some, and a hodge podge of plot developments that are eating up valuable screen time.

The episode sees Danny again beating himself up over killing his father. To add to this, he buys a grade for his American history test. Not only does it cross a moral line, but it raises suspicions with Lacey when she sees how well he did. Lacey’s suspicions don’t end there though, and after a conversation with Jo she finally confronts him head on about his secret.

Meanwhile, Jo is running against Andie for class president, noticing the tension growing between her parents, developing a potential romance with Charlie, and battling off Danny’s feelings for her. Rico spends the episode vehemently campaigning for Andie out of resentment for Jo spreading her wings. Kyle and Tess struggle to work things out regarding last week’s bombshell, and Karen lends a helping hand to newcomer, Whitney.

The most immediate issue occurs at the beginning of the episode when Danny spills to Karen what he and Jo actually did. I raised the issue before about overkilling this guilt arc. I say with dismay that they did in fact overkill it. To put it plainly, Danny sounds like a broken record. So much so that his mother is moved to lift herself off of their couch and tell him what we’ve all been thinking: we’re glad you killed Vikram!

He was a cheater, a thief, a liar, and let his child go away to juvie for a crime he committed. The fact that Danny would be so overtaken by the guilt of killing him, after carrying the stigma and emotional trauma of taking the fall for Tara’s death, is kind of mind boggling? And not in the good way. Before we reach that point, however, we see Danny attempt to compensate for his guilt by “buying his own happiness.” He’s dodging the real issue of course and should probably just go see a counselor, but instead he’s getting bracelets for Lacey, buying a history test grade and professing his love for Jo.

That last one ends up being the reason behind Danny and Lacey’s break up. However, it was so out of left field that the foundations of a Danny and Jo relationship come into question not just for Jo, but for the viewers. Does he really care about Jo that way or is he just having a break down? It’s sad in a way because the narrative – in relation to the Danny and Lacey relationship – spent no time building or properly nurturing that romantic relationship between them. It  feels more like a throwaway to once again “up” the drama.

What the fall out between Danny and Lacey also emphasized is how the relationship arc between them hasn’t worked out well for her in the larger scheme of things. Yes, they are dating and yes it was wonderful seeing Lacey’s turn around to help him, but the more she goes on about the secret Danny’s hiding the more obvious it becomes that she doesn’t have anything else to do. We are offered one moment between her and Jo in the hallway as they put up posters and it was nice despite the awkward “Danny” tension.

Pictured: Brianne Howey -- Photo by: ABC FAMILY/Ron Tom

Pictured: Brianne Howey — Photo by: ABC FAMILY/Ron Tom

So why aren’t we seeing more of this between them? If they are in fact friends as Lacey claimed before homecoming. The introduction of Whitney, who’s arrival only seems to — once again — up the melodrama, might offer Lacey something else to do with her plot time since she’s broken up with Danny. Her role in the story though remains unclear making her at this point pretty uninteresting. To be fair to the new girl though, Charlie and Jack didn’t start out so interesting either so she may grow into the narrative. Jack and Charlie certainly have.

While Danny and Lacey seem to circle the drain, Jo has kept quite busy. She has a blossoming relationship with Charlie, she came out of her shell and ran for class president, her family turmoil seems to have receded (though it was one of the most interesting parts of this episode), and now she’s got the one thing she wanted for half a season – Danny’s heart. Except she doesn’t want it anymore. I’m not entirely sure if I can blame her. Sometimes Jo’s reactions come off as overblown in the writing, but under the hyper-dramatic and constant soap opera plot line cutaway transitions this show is now giving us, I think I need some space too.

The reason behind Charlie’s presence, as well as Kyle and Tess’s relationship woes are the most consistent and intriguing things on this show right now. Tess and Kyle’s tension is some of the most natural and organic dramatic action on the show — if you ignore the weird “other child” aspect of the plotline. (Why did this happen?) Meanwhile, Charlie continues to increase our interest in his presence. With Jo he shares something Danny may or may not have told him while in juvie, and as we watch the fall out of this moment we realize that it’s the most genuinely interesting twist Twisted has delivered since its return. Why? Because it plays right back into the hand of whether people can trust Danny.

Each week the show adds another bombshell to its shelf of plot twists, but as they pile on it seems like the show disservices its own narrative more and more. The twist on twist works theoretically to elevate stakes and drama, but all it is really doing here is clogging the story. With that said, there’s so much going on that any immediate plot line addresses will seem abrupt, further de-legitimizing their presence and necessity to begin with. Perhaps if this show slowed down a bit and took some time to really tend to each of its storylines equally, we might be able to get out of this “Bold and the Beautiful” spiral Twisted has turned into.

15 Comments

  1. Carrie

    March 12, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Great review. I’m glad you mentioned everything that has turned me off from the show. It’s crazy to see how it can get so vehemently bad week after week. I’ll let it die its pending death, hopefully the writers and producers on this show will never get to bring any of their craft to light again.

  2. Eve

    March 12, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    I feel like the second half of this show has been written by someone who doesn’t know these characters, has no conception of plot and narrative development and has failed at screenwriting 101. So many things have been disjointed and nothing flows in a way that makes sense. My major beef right now is that there have been zero hints that Danny might have feelings for Jo uptil now, but suddenly Lacey, feeling overwhelmed at Danny’s secret being about protecting Jo, tells him he has been in love with Jo all along and now both Danny and the audience are supposed to believe its true?? So Lacey has lost her entire life (friends, non existent family, boyfriend) to be with Danny, and now she’s turned into a sidekick? I’m just completely over this show. I have given it chance after chance after chance but I can’t even pretend to like it anymore.

  3. Jennifer

    March 13, 2014 at 5:20 am

    This second half of the season does not match the first and that’s far from being a compliment. I can’t recall the last time I saw a show go downhill so fast.

    -Abbey highlighted most of the problems. The guilt storyline overstayed its welcome long ago. In theory it could have and should have been compelling, at least for Danny, but the execution has been mediocre at best.
    -There is no longer a big central mystery, certainly not one that’s worth dissecting or theorizing about.
    -Lacey’s lack of importance in the narrative as an individual is criminal.
    -Absolutely everything about the love triangle. Something else that could have been compelling had the writers any talent. In the first half of the season we see Danny and Lacey developing feelings for one another. It wasn’t as developed as it should have been but their chemistry certainly sold it and made their scenes worthwhile. Yet this second half seems to be retconing all of the above in order to force a Danny and Jo romance in the most contrived way possible.

    I fear there is no saving this show at this point which i’m genuinely sad about because it had so much potential.

  4. Virna

    March 13, 2014 at 5:37 am

    Thank you. Your review is spot on. I may or may not watch the series anymore but I will read your reviews.

  5. Elena

    March 13, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Um, wait, when did Danny ever profess his love for Jo? That never happened, did it??

    • Abbey White

      March 13, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      If I recall correctly, it was after he and Lacey broke up. Danny ran to Jo’s then talks to her in her room. There he professes that he has feelings for her. Jo gets upset with him because he’s done it after she has stated she wants space, and presumably after she’s just gotten over him.

      • Di

        March 13, 2014 at 9:37 pm

        Abbey that’s not what happened. Danny only repeated what Lacey said. But it was obviously implied, why else would he be there telling her this? Not to mention he leaned in towards her as if to kiss her. Just terrible.

        • Abbey White

          March 13, 2014 at 10:22 pm

          Thank you for the clarification. I’m not entirely sure what that scene was trying to do in terms of the potential Jo and Danny relationship, so I believe I just took the implication as a profession even if he was regurgitating what Lacey had said. It’s clear though that while the scene “happened,” viewers have different ways of interpreting it — including whether he was going in for a kiss. I’ve seen people debate that and I’d have to watch again to see for myself.

          • Olive

            March 14, 2014 at 3:26 am

            I think the scene where Danny runs to talk to Jo was purposefully meant to be ambiguous in how viewers might interpret his actions. Did he really have a change of heart because Lacey pointed out his connection to Jo? Was he there to tell Jo he has feelings for her or to make it clear he didn’t? Did he return to Jo as manipulative Danny, hoping to regain Jo’s loyalty/support by implying he feels for her how she has been feeling for him? Its the #JoIsTheOne that has most viewers believing he now suddenly thinks he loves Jo. Otherwise, that scene was not so clear cut.

          • Abbey White

            March 16, 2014 at 12:17 am

            Ambiguous is great because it leads us back to the “Can we trust Danny?” plotline that was driving this show during 1A. The problem is that it’s so ambiguous viewers are left to scratch their heads (or pull their hair out), instead of feeling excited about the season’s best plot turn. I can only assume that the hashtags are meant to coincide with narrative development and so that hashtag is what the story wants us to feel or believe.

            I do question Danny returning to Jo to regain her loyalty. He never really lost that. All she said was that she needed space and after everything that’s happened — including sharing details about a murder she was an accomplice to (without telling her first) — I’d ask for some space as well. Danny didn’t even realize the trap Charlie had masterfully set for him until he got to Jo’s and she shared what the juvie cellmate had spilled earlier that evening.

            Which leads me back to Danny either believing he has feelings or actually having them for Jo. The issue here is with the triangle execution. They never spent enough time building the friendship between them (particularly Lacey and Jo) so what we get are “teams” of sorts instead of legitimate empathetic pulls for each relationship, and Danny having to choose between them. The triangle would be far less frustrating and tedious if I felt like there were stakes for (and thus an investment in) the Lacey/Jo relationship.

  6. Olive

    March 13, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    So many great points in this review — thank you! This show doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind whether to be a murder mystery ala PLL or a teen triangle-laden melodrama ala Gossip Girl. Instead its a soapy mix of the two with the strengths of neither.

    I do actually understand Danny’s immense guilt over killing his father (even accidentally, even if he was a bad guy) because alas, now he is a murderer for real. And its his own father, who he hoped actually loved him at one point. But for a half season thats only 8 or 9 episodes long, I agree much too much time has been spent on delivering the angsty line “I killed my father” in various ways to different people.

    Another serious issue is the respective screen time and development between the two leading ladies. Jo has been allowed tons of development, as her character has parents, a best friend, extra curricular interests, many many monologues, and the adoration of the entire cast. Lacey, well, has had a fraction of any of that. I don’t understand Lacey’s purpose on the show, unless its to be a plot device for an eventual epic pairing between Danny and Jo. Which would be pathetically absurd as a ridiculous waste of a lead character who is/was genuinely the more interesting of the two.

    Thank goodness for Avan Jogia who carries this show, delivering solid performances each episode even despite the mediocre lines and contrived plot twists he is forced to work with. Also a shout-out to Denise Richards and Kylie Bunbury who are both definitive scene stealers – they shine with what they are given as well.

    • Abbey White

      March 13, 2014 at 8:30 pm

      I totally agree about where Danny’s guilt comes from and do believe that it is valid… to a point. I mentioned in a review of an earlier episode that I thought this was a great place to go. We spent 11 episodes being alarmingly charmed by him, not knowing whether he was a sociopath or misunderstood kid. This new plotline provided us with a wonderful opportunity to remove his social stigma and watch him grow into a strong, empathetic teen protagonist. This would also be a great way to move this show into the vein of a series like “One Tree Hill,” which I believe is important to the show’s staying power as you can only work off of a mystery for so long.

      On the flipside, I feared the writing might overkill it and I believe that’s what we have here (though I mention the Charlie plot twist has the potential to make things interesting again if they go in a certain direction with it). Right now watching Danny can at times be frustrating, and it’s largely because Danny has been a multi-note character. The “guilt” drives him so much currently that he can’t even fluctuate emotionally. On a scale from 1 to 10 he remains at a steady 8, which works against the character and the actor.

      • Olive

        March 14, 2014 at 3:29 am

        I agree we’re missing the multi-layered Danny. And Charlie seems like he could be a worthy nemesis if they handle it well. And if only there were some connection to Lacey, who has been sidelined with the Whitney story, seemingly 100% removed from the main plot.

  7. Nita

    March 13, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Just say no to the Po’s Jo Show! The ratings for this show have been on a permanent nosedive ever since 1b when each episode began focusing more and more on Jo (cannot go more then 1 1/2 minutes without her popping up). I smell a cancellation!

  8. Miranda

    March 15, 2014 at 12:52 am

    Thanks for the review. This show has been nothing, but a disappointment. I’m so over it!