Twisted is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a weird show. It's centered around a pre-pubescent murderer recently released from juvenile hall, a fifteen year old boy named Danny Desai who claims he did what he did for a reason he can't reveal. He also claims he has nothing to do with the girl who was murdered on his first night back in Green Grove-- but how, then, does he have the necklace she was wearing the night she died? The show plays with the ambiguity of Danny's character as the people around him, many of whom desperately want to love him, try to figure out if he's worthy of that love-- or if he's just a sociopath manipulating them into defending him.
It would be more poignant if the rest of the show wasn't quite so tone-deaf; it plays a grief-counseling session for laughs, never letting us catch even a glimpse of the raw emotion that usually accompanies untimely loss. This would be less of an issue if the murdered girl, Regina, hadn't been quite so unlikeable in her few scenes as a living girl-- and if her best friend wasn't one of the main characters. It's never clear why Lacey loved Regina so much. It's easier to understand why Jo so insistently defends Danny: she misses the days when they were close, when he was innocent, and her life was simpler.
Last night's episode was full of time-honored tv tropes: an event the entire town attends, a fancy dance, a tomboy in a nice dress trying to get a boy to notice her. It was in many way a typical teen drama-- Rico likes Jo, Jo likes Danny, Danny ilkes Lacey, Lacey totally kissed Danny-- except for the scenes where adult authority figures, the police chief and mayor, tried to bully and threaten a fifteen year old boy, attempting to make him ashamed to come out in public. It's understandable that the town's adults would be wary of Danny, especially after there's reason to suspect him of a second murder, but it's hard to watch Chief Masterson, Jo's father, explaining to him in an official capacity that it just isn't appropriate to come out and celebrate with the rest of the town. The weirdness of the moment underscores the all-too-real results of suspicion and paranoia, the way they so easily best kindness and compassion. The show never addresses the fact that Danny is dark-skinned in a largely white town explicitly, but it's hard not to draw certain parallels to other, similar incidents in recent modern history.
The episode ends with a Jo, Danny and Lacey back together again, their youthful trio reunited to investigate a mysterious letter sent to Regina days before she died. It's a little hard to believe that Lacey wouldn't turn the letter over to the police-- she claims she doesn't want to sully Regina's memory if the letter's veiled threats turn out to be unrelated to her death-- but then again, these are teenagers we're dealing with, so we can let the lack of logic slide. It gives us something new to look forward to next week-- the hope that we'll get a little farther away from romantic drama, and onto the meat of the matter: if Danny didn't kill Regina, who did? If Danny did kill her, what does it mean that it's hard not to like him, to keep watching him, in all of his complicated, ambiguous charm?