Second Union

Second Union


“Doesn’t anyone see that this is WRONG?!”

First off, I need to preface this review by saying I had no idea the subject of “Tuvix” was going to cause controversy. The original write-up was published in March of 2019, and it wasn’t as if readers took issue with my theories or the review itself. It’s just that it caused readers to argue amongst themselves. One Facebook group administrator even saw fit to suspend me for three days. I’ve always tried to quell the panic. It’s just an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. It’s not a nuclear bomb. It’s not the end of the world.

“Tuvix” is an extremely uncomfortable episode to watch. We see people we’ve known for two years, understood their feelings and their fears, and we watch them become strangers; soulless entities entitled to their own comfort and nothing else. Part of that comfort is knowing Tuvok is Tuvok, and Neelix is Neelix. In an unsettling transporter error, Tuvok and Neelix are merged together to form one creature, dubbed Tuvix, as a result of taking a rare hybrid orchid with them back to the ship.

Tuvix is an interesting creature, ingratiating and somewhat annoying and aggressively nice like Neelix, but pragmatic and informed like Tuvok. The makeup and costume design is startling, a literal and visual combination of the two characters. Tom Wright is wonderful in combining these two personalities. Where “Tuvix” loses me is the almost instantaneous reactions from the crew and Kes. These aren’t the people you know. These are complete strangers, eyeing you from a distance, even though they should know you.

There should be some familiarity, even as Tuvix proves his worth. He has the combined knowledge and cordiality of Tuvok and Neelix. He has security expertise. He can cook better than Neelix. He could be the perfect man for Kes, yet she puts him in the “friend zone” almost immediately. When the Doctor figures out a way to split Tuvix back into two people, only Tuvix (and then later, the Doctor) protests. There’s a little bit of hand-wringing involved, but Janeway and the crew all agree to break out the proverbial carving knife. This is a cold and calculating decision that leaves me puzzled.

If the behavior of the characters isn’t enough to disturb me, it has to be Tuvix’s plea for life. Considering you had two characters fused into one creature, that creature now exists as a separate entity, and should thus be afforded the same basic rights as any entity. Tuvix begs for his life and indicts all who support the bifurcation as murderers. Tuvix is right for himself, but wrong for the show. This reverse “Enemy Within” combines two characters in a fascinating exercise, but the writers drop the ball in the final act.

My daughter told me she thought it would have been better if this were played out in a story arc, and I agreed. Perhaps if Tuvix had been given more time to develop, he would’ve understood the need to bring back Tuvok and Neelix. Stronger writing in later seasons would’ve corrected these oversights. Only the Doctor is spared this strange characterization. He pleads for the life of Tuvix because he observes his Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm.”

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