Twisted Untwists A Few Secrets In “Dead Men Tell Big Tales”
Twisted‘s winter premiere “Dead Men Tell Big Tales” spent a hefty amount of time unraveling the summer’s biggest secret, then swapping it out for another one.
The episode picked up where the season 1A finale left off, with Danny on the run. What unfolded was this sort of reveal vomit that seemed like it was supposed to up the stakes of everything. It certainly made things exponentially more dramatic, resulting in Danny and Jo actually killing someone.
Yep, you heard right. Danny’s father, Vikram, was his first kill because Danny didn’t kill Tara. Vikram did. Not to say that this reveal isn’t a twist, but it wasn’t shocking and the timing kind of undermined the mystery the series had set up in the pilot. This show was working off of a Pretty Little Liars premise, with the mysterious and potentially sociopathic Danny turning the town into an awkward and dangerous circus. You’d logically assume the series would’ve milked that until the end of its first season, at least. Especially when the darker version of Danny was such an enticing part of the storyline.
Yet here we are. Twisted‘s now got a (re)dead Vikram, and a (still)dead Tara and Regina. Two of those murders the town believes Danny committed – though he didn’t – while the other he actually did commit, but it was out of self defense. Oh, and the only person he has to vouch for him on that is a girl who recently admitted to the entirety of the town that she has a crush on him. Enter Jo, who was perhaps the episode’s most confounding character.
Where the series started with Jo last summer and where it started with her last night are two wildly different places. We began with a down to earth tomboy who had optimism and hope spilling out of her pores. What we now have is a jaded, melo-dramatic teenager who interrupts adult conversations to declare that she’s tired of trying to figure out what Danny is thinking. In the next scene we find out her outburst is actually about her sleeping with a guy to get back at Danny. But now she doesn’t feel so good about it, and as a result she’ll probably never even tell Danny because she’s so embarrassed. Note to self: don’t ever do jealousy sex because it appears to just be a lose-lose.
There’s an even more glaring issue with this moment though in that the entire show is supposed to be about what Danny is thinking. “Dead Men Tell Big Tales” did a pretty excellent job of spending time with Karen as she worked out the reality of her son potentially being a killer, in addition to her finding out – like Danny – that Vikram is still alive. We see Karen and Kyle actually spend quite a bit of non-manipulative, non- passive aggressive time together dealing with this fact. It did wonders for both characters, making them both more realistic and enjoyable to watch.
As for Danny’s headspace? We got this simple “He’s still alive!” and “I want to kill him because I went to jail for him!” back and forth, while Jo had time to be super angry everywhere and work out a bad first time. (Did they even mention the fact that Lacey and Danny had a tape of them publicly passed around the entire school?) Anyways, there wasn’t enough genuine time spent on Danny dealing with his father’s betrayal. Most of his reactions and the ultimate “argument” with Vik felt like they were written to elevate the dramatic tension, and not to work out and further develop his characterization.
You could actually say this for most of the episode. The reveals were supposed to be mind-blowing, but half of that battle in writing is how you handle the fall out. It felt largely forced and over the top. Especially that fight between Danny and Vikram at the end. (Both actors pulled out stellar performances with the writing they were given. Hint: It read like a daytime soap.)
The show did have quite a few less tense moments, particularly between Danny, Lacey and Rico. When Jo threatened the first time to turn Danny in, he went to an unlikely source for help. This provided us with an opportunity to really see Rico outside of his relationship with Jo. It was also an opportunity to spend more time with Lacey, who is apparently the only one that still cares about catching Regina’s murderer.
Yes, there was a lot of stuff going down, but Jo wasn’t interested in sharing what info Lacey had with her father, Rico wanted out of his scooby-gang contract, and Danny was too busy dealing with a father that framed him. So here was Lacey, helping keep Danny safe/housed, telling lies for him, going to Chief Masterson with vital information, and full on dedicating herself to clearing her friend’s name and finding Regina’s real killer. She also had quite a few adorable awkward moments, expanding our understanding of her character’s personality as well.
Ultimately, it was nice to see everyone at some point working together in the premiere. Ensembles can be a lot of fun when done right, and with the acting talent in this show, it should certainly be used more often. With that said, the return felt convoluted and crowded with reveals crammed into every corner. This might not be so odd had the show not taken an entire summer season to painstakingly tease all of this. Perhaps the show has decided to go in the more “teen drama” direction? If so, that’s too bad. It had a solid, exciting premise that perhaps they couldn’t have milked for 4 seasons, but certainly more than eleven episodes.
Twisted airs Tuesdays at 9:00 – 10:00 pm ET/PT on ABC Family.