Star Trek: Voyager
Originally Broadcast May 6th, 1996
Reviewed by Christina Luckings
‘Captain’s Log, Stardate 49655.2. Our sensors have located a variety of flower which may prove to be a valuable nutritional supplement. I have sent Mr. Neelix and Mr. Tuvok to collect samples.’
Voyager’s resident plant lovers are enjoying the sunshine and fresh air of a planet. Neelix is his usual ebullient self, to the point of trying to get Tuvok to sing along with him to the most cheerful song in the Vulcan database – a funeral dirge called ‘Oh starless night of boundless black’. Tuvok is his usual dispassionate self, and refuses to be drawn.
Down in the transporter room, Kim and Hogan are trying to sort out a glitch in the molecular imaging scanners. They think they have it fixed, and begin to transport the away team back, but instead of two people and a container of samples, they get just one person instead. A dark, tall, somewhat Talaxian looking being with pointed ears and eyebrows, wearing a Starfleet uniform with patterned gold shoulders. He identifies himself as both Neelix and Tuvok, and goes to sickbay, which is the logical thing to do.
The EMH confirms what the transporter records told Hogan, that this being is an amalgam of Tuvok and Neelix, fused at the molecular level, and with the orchids somehow mixed in. He recognises everyone, and has the memories of both men, and he smiles gently at Kes as she stares at this unfamiliar yet familiar face. With security guards posted, just in case, Janeway orders a second team to go down to the planet by shuttlecraft to collect more orchids, while Kes conducts tests on the newcomer and the EMH studies the genetic data.
In the science lab, Kes runs the tests while asking questions such as – are there two separate minds inside you. The answer is no, only one consciousness. Then she asks him for a name, and after suggesting and dismissing Neevok, he decides on Tuvix. When he calls her ‘sweeting’, Neelix’s term of endearment for her, she is shocked and slightly repulsed. He apologies.
‘Chief Medical Officer’s Log, supplemental. Extensive microcellular scans on the merged humanoid have thus far yielded no clues to either a cause or a method of separation.’
Twenty four hours later, the EMH has more than enough data to be going on with, and informs the Captain that Tuvix is both healthy and sane, and that as he possesses both Tuvok’s irritating sense of intellectual superiority and Neelix’s annoying ebullience, he would be grateful if she would assign him duties elsewhere. Tuvix is keen to return to tactical, but Janeway is not ready to have him on the bridge just yet. Instead she invites him to the daily noon briefing session.
Torres and Kim give their findings that it was a perfectly routine beam-out with correctly operating equipment. Kes found nothing unusual in the orchids Chakotay brought back in the shuttle. They are at a loss to explain what happened. Then Tuvix speaks up. Sex. Janeway is shocked at the sound of the word, but Tuvix goes on to explain his thoughts. Kes had mentioned the orchids possessed lysosomal enzymes, which Tuvok’s research suggests could be evidence of a rare reproductive process called symbiogenesis. Andorian amoeba use it, merging with other single-celled animals to create a third unique species. While Tuvok and Neelix and the orchids were in the transporter matter stream, they were in a state of molecular flux, and so the enzymes were able to do their work. It is the best theory Janeway has heard so far, and tells Paris to return to the planet for yet more samples. He’ll depart at 0600, after night has passed at the location.
Tuvix is waiting for Kes in the corridor, to invite her to dinner. It is Wednesday, when Neelix always makes Trellian crepes for her, and why break with tradition just because of a transporter accident? She accepts and they walk into the mess hall to a scene of utter chaos. Swinn’s eggs are burning and Hogan can’t find a spatula. Tuvix immediately takes charge, on the authority of the chief of security or head chef, whichever you prefer. Kim and Paris look up but say nothing. Kes giggles.
In an empty kitchen sometime later, Kes admits that the crepes were less spicy than usual, which let the flavour of the mushrooms come through. Tuvix has tidied up the galley, despairing over Neelix’s disorganisation, then he takes her hands in his, telling her how lost Neelix would be without her. Confused and embarrassed, Kes makes her excuses and leaves.
At least one day later, Tuvix has changed his patterned clothes for standard Starfleet uniform, and is on the bridge, informing the Captain that he has solved a glitch in the proximity detectors thanks to a hunch he had. Kim calls him down to the transporter room for the tests. Janeway and Chakotay are both impressed by the way he is fitting in so quickly. On the planet surface, Torres and Paris have brought a collection of plants from Kes’s airponic garden with them, to allow the symbiogenetic orchid to work it’s magic on via the transporters. They put one chrysanthemum, one clematis and one orchid into a sample container, Kim beams it up, then gazes at a single plant on the transporter platform.
After 100 tries as separating single plants back into three, the EMH has to admit defeat. Tuvix likens the complexity of the situation to trying to turn a cake back into flour, eggs and water after it has been baked. He doesn’t seem too upset that he could be like this forever, although the EMH says that he will continue to try and find a way of reversing the condition, he is not optimistic. He feels as if he has lost two patients. Janeway goes to inform the crew, while Kes tries to take in just what this means.
Kes is burning prayer tapers for Tuvok and Neelix in her quarters when Tuvix comes to talk. The two most important men in her life on Voyager have gone, to be replaced by him, a stranger. Tuvix has a dilemma. He carries both Tuvok’s love for T’Pel and Neelix’s love for Kes inside him. If it takes the EMH years to find a way to bring them both back again, that could be the whole of Kes’s lifetime. He wants her to know that he is here for her. She asks him to leave, but before he does, he kisses her gently on the cheek.
Late that night, Kes goes to see the Captain in her quarters. Kathryn is having difficulty sleeping, and is reading some of Tuvok’s old letters to her from when he was assigned to Jupiter Station. Kes tells her about Tuvix’s visit, about his protestation of love for her, and wants to know how she copes with being separated from her loved ones, not knowing if she will ever see them again. Kathryn gets choked up as she explains how sometimes she is optimistic about getting home, but then sometimes, after dreaming about Mark, she gets so depressed at the thought that she might never see him again. Should she give up on Neelix, asks Kes. I can’t tell you that, is the reply. Give yourself time. Relieved, Kes leaves Kathryn to her letters again.
‘Captain’s Log, Stardate 49678.4. It’s been two weeks since the transporter accident that created Mr. Tuvix. And, while it’s still not entirely clear that he’s with us permanently, he’s certainly been doing his best to settle in. The crew seems to be growing accustomed to his presence, and he’s proving to be a very able tactical officer who isn’t afraid to express his opinions. While he’s forging relationships with many of the officers, he seems to be keeping a respectful distance from Kes, allowing her to adjust to the circumstances on her own terms. As for my relationship with Tuvix, I’ve found him to be an able advisor who skilfully uses humour to make his points. And although I feel a bit guilty saying it, his cooking is better than Neelix’s. My taste buds are definitely happy to have him around.’
Harry is practising his clarinet when the EMH calls with a question. If he could attach a radioisotope to specific strands of DNA, could the surgical transporters be reprogrammed to lock onto only them? Probably, Harry replies, then realising that this is about Tuvix, he hurries out to the sickbay. In Sandrine’s Tuvix is soundly beating Chakotay at pool when Kes comes in and gestures with a nod of her head that she wishes to speak with him. At a table, she apologises for her distance recently, but tells him that she wants to be friends, and maybe have that friendship grow. Although this isn’t quite what Tuvix wants to hear, it is better than nothing, so he assures her that he isn’t going anywhere. Then the EMH summons him to sickbay.
Kim and the EMH explain to Janeway, Kes and Tuvix that they have come up with a variation on the baryon drink used the in twentieth century to make the lining of the intestine visible to x-rays. This isotope will attach itself to the DNA of one of the merged species but not the other, making it possible to separate them. They have tested their theory on a merged flower, and it worked perfectly. Janeway smiles, and Kes says that it is wonderful, but there is one problem. Tuvix does not want to die.
In the briefing room, Captain Janeway muses over her dilemma with Chakotay. At what point over the past two weeks did Tuvix cease to be a transporter accident and become a person? The subject of their conversation arrives, and Chakotay leaves. She explains that she wants to get his input before making a decision on whether or not to sanction the separation. Tuvix does not think that it is her decision to make. He is a living individual, guiltless of any crime, with all the requisite responses and emotions that make up any person. She has no right to order his execution. The Captain counters with the argument that allowing him to continue would be like killing Neelix and Tuvok, two people who cannot speak for themselves at present. Tuvix does not accept this. They are his parents, but he is not willing to sacrifice himself for them. He has the will to live of two men, and the right to live.
Knowing that it is not looking good for him, that Janeway has already stated that she wants Tuvok and Neelix back, Tuvix heads off to the mess hall where Kes is having a meal. He pleads with her to intercede with the Captain, thinking that she has transferred her love for Neelix to him. Kes looks sad and says nothing. She goes to see Janeway in her ready room, and explains what has happened. Distressed, she confesses that she feels so guilty for saying this, that Tuvix doesn’t deserve to die, but she wants Neelix and Tuvok back. Kathryn takes sobbing young woman in her arms to comfort her. He should never have put her in the middle like this.
Tuvix walks onto the bridge, and relieves the Ensign at tactical, who does not move until Chakotay nods. Every one is waiting for the Captain to announce her decision, but Tuvix is still the tactical officer until then, the first officer points out. Captain Janeway emerges from her ready room and asks to speak to Tuvix alone. She has reached her decision. Afraid, Tuvix insists that she says her piece in public, and refuses to accompany her to sickbay. She calls security, who arrive just as he makes a last desperate appeal to the rest of the bridge crew to stand up for him, but gets no answer. Knowing there is no means of escape, he piles one final load of guilt on his audience, and tells them that he forgives them.
In sickbay, the EMH goes through the Hippocratic Oath, stating that a physician must do no harm, and that he cannot perform the separation against Tuvix’s will. Captain Janeway is bound by no such code of ethics, and knows exactly how the procedure has to be done. Kim hands her the isotope, she injects it then sets up the surgical transporters and energises. Within moments, instead of one Starfleet officer sitting on the biobed, there are two, and Kes rushes over to kiss Neelix. Janeway tells the pair that it is good to have them back, but her face is downcast, and she walks straight out of sickbay, knowing that she will have to live with this decision for the rest of her life.
I think you can get an inkling of how I feel about this story from some of the descriptions I have used in the story narrative. There is an awful lot of emotion going on here, from the grief of loss to the guilt of accomplices to the joy of reunion. It’s not a unique premise in Trek, but thanks to Tom Wright’s performance, it is powerfully handled here. Allowing events to be spread over weeks, not hours, we see the acceptance of the presence of Tuvix on Voyager, not the least Kes’s acceptance of him as a potential substitute for her lover and her mentor. Eventually. But not yet. Janeway too misses Tuvok more than she likes to admit, reading his old letters as if he were a boyfriend, not a work colleague. We also finally get some insight into Janeway the woman, separated from her fiancé, and how she must fight not to let her personal feelings get in the way of her duty as Captain.
I loved the way Tuvix’s inner emotions were carefully mirrored on the actor’s face. The disappointment when Kes talked about friendship, when he had hoped to step straight into Neelix’s slippers, the optimism when she held his hands. As for the final act, the expression on Janeway’s face as she marches out into the corridor, trying hard to hold it all together… you could believe that she is about to burst into tears immediately she steps out of camera shot.
And talking of cameras – the final bridge scene as Tuvix makes his appeal for support has just that air of swirling desperation to reflect the inner turmoil that must be going on in every one else.
But you know that there is no reprieve. For a start, Russ and Philips have contracts and title billing. I wonder if either of their characters will have memories of Tuvix’s brief existence in future episodes?