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