Second Union

Second Union

STAR TREK REWIND: “Meld”

“I can promise you this will not silent your demons. If you can’t control the violence, the violence controls you. Be prepared to yield your entire being to it, to sacrifice your place in civilized life for you will no longer be a part of it, and there’s no return.”

There’s a joke on Family Guy about how you know who the bad guy is going to be on any given episode of Law & Order by looking at the “Special Guest” credit. Sometimes it’s such a left-field credit (as with Brad Dourif in this episode), it makes it difficult to not be surprised when it is eventually revealed. We never saw Dourif on the show before, and here he is! As a Bajoran, and one of Chakotay’s Maquis crew. His name is Suder. When suspicion over the death of a crewman in Engineering points to Suder, Chakotay tells investigator Tuvok there was something about him that always made him uneasy. Of course! He’s Brad Dourif!

It’s not a great case for Chakotay when he has a genuine, bonafide psychopath on his crew, and really he could’ve warned everybody. B’Elanna (Roxanne Dawson) tells Tuvok the Maquis don’t review resumes. They needed all the help they could get to fight the Cardassians. After a little poking and prodding (with some forensic assistance from The Doctor), Suder confesses to the crime, but even more disturbing is that he had no reason to do what he did. This doesn’t sit well with Tuvok who, like Spock in “The Galileo Seven” cannot bridge the gap between logic and irrationality. I see it as a serious design flaw where Vulcans are concerned.

Tuvok decides he wants to get inside Suder’s head by way of a mind-meld, a technique first shown to us in the Star Trek episode, “Dagger of the Mind,” wherein Spock has to unravel the mystery of the Tantalus Colony and the neural neutralizer. There doesn’t seem to be any inherent danger in that episode, but here, Tuvok will not rest until he understands the motivation behind Suder’s action. More importantly, he wants to steady (or calm) Suder’s diseased mind. He sets up a regimen of mental disciplines, holodeck time, meditation, and rote activities designed to keep Suder occupied.

Tuvok, unfortunately, becomes agitated. He experiences violent hallucinations and channels a darker self once suppressed with the help of his own mental discipline. There’s a kind of unintentionally hilarious bit in Tuvok’s hallucination where he strangles Neelix, as Neelix grunts, “Mr. Vulcan, you’re choking me!” Some portion of Suder’s unbalanced mind has crept into Tuvok. Fearing for the safety of the ship and crew, Tuvok seals himself off from the rest of the ship. He removes his security access and puts a force field around his quarters. Janeway wants The Doctor to examine him. Tuvok advises her to sedate him before he is taken to sickbay.

The Doctor recommends lifting all the emotional barriers in Tuvok’s mind in order to effectively “reset” his brain. Tim Russ is exceptional (and frightening, as frightening as Dourif) in this episode. He’s an emotional house of cards, not understanding his predicament or the mercy bestowed on Suder by not executing him for his crime. He even volunteers to kill Suder himself. Of course, most stories require some level of stupidity on the part of the crew, so they leave Tuvok unattended in the sickbay, where he figures out how to defeat the force field and makes his way to Suder, who he intends to kill.

We get into the sticky territory of “justice versus vengeance.” If you ask me, they’re almost one-in-the-same. I would be more concerned with whether or not Tuvok enjoys harboring murderous impulses. The amoral shift in his character in the sickbay when his emotional defenses are lowered is indicative enough for me to believe Tuvok would have an inherently sociopathic, violent nature if he did not suppress his emotions. That’s disturbing in and of itself. He executes a violent mind-meld with Suder, but is unable to kill him. I suppose that’s a good thing, but The Doctor (Robert Picardo) gets the best line of dialogue in the episode: “You’re on your way back to being normal, although I’m not sure how the word ‘normal’ applies to a species that suppresses all their emotions.” I couldn’t have said it better.

Star Trek Rewind explores the Star Trek universe. From Archer to Janeway, Kirk to Picard, and Georgiou to Sisko — boldly read what no one has read before!

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