Star Trek Voyager Torture: Tuvix (Season 2 Episode 40)

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After taking a much needed mental break from Voyager I went back to it. Plus, Chris was off in New York fighting crime so it was a wonderful few weeks… while it lasted.

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Not a great start to an episode.

Now I guess this episode is fairly notorious and I can tell why. Neelix and Tuvok are combined into one being. I’m mpt going to do an exact point by point breakdown of this episode because there’s not a lot to it. I basically broke it down already, however the ending is what really deserves an examination.

The episode begins with Tuvok and Neelix on a planet looking at plants, because that’s important. Neelix is being an annoying asshole like usual and Tuvok literally has the best line in the series so far, “Do you think you could possibly behave a little less like yourself?”

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Kill it! Kill it with fire!

When they’re beamed up, that’s when the fun begins. Both Neelix and Tuvok are merged into one new creature and surprisingly it doesn’t look like Chet from Weird Science (hey kids, Old People references!). It’s a “perfect” blend of both one of the best characters of Voyager and the absolutely worst character in all of Star Trek. I say “perfect” because this new being, Tuvix as he calls himself, is so off-putting. It’s like his face and head is too big. It’s this uncanny valley between what is acceptable as an alien design and “Kill it with fire!” Oh and it’s super dumb that his costume is a mixture of Neelix’s and Tuvok’s. Not like a mess of clothes, but a perfect blending. Okay, right.

This oddly disturbing, yet harmless mixture learns that they can’t separate him into his two halves. He has both the memories of Neelix and Tuvok so he can still be a worthwhile member of the crew. So he goes about doing Tuvok’s job.

A couple weeks pass by where people befriend him. Still, he hasn’t had much contact with Kes. He still loves her, because he has Neelix feelings, but he’s spurned by her because basically she feels like he’s another person and she also feels bad for Tuvok’s wife.

The Doctor finally figures out how to separate the two. However, there’s a catch. Tuvix doesn’t want to do it. He’s become his own person. Moral dilemma. Janeway basically argues that his life is at the cost of two other lives. So by “killing” Tuvix, his life would basically be a sacrifice for the other two. The needs of the many and all of that.

I will give kudos to the writers for not making Tuvix a huge asshole. All too often Voyager will make it easier to side with Janeway by giving you an out. “Well, it’s okay they did that because the person/alien/whatever was a jerk.” This time though, Tuvix is a genuinely nice person and you really feel for him.

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“Thanks for the advice, Captain. I will betray Tuvix at the worst possible moment!”

And when he doesn’t want to die, Janeway has to decide if they are going to force him to undergo the procedure. He asks Kes to speak to Janeway on his behalf. Kes goes to Janeway and says she actually wants Neelix back and Janeway says that he shouldn’t have gotten her involved. Oh really Janeway? He doesn’t want to die so he turns to someone that he loves to try to save his life. How selfish of him!

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So now the episode gets fucking dark. Janeway approaches Tuvix at his station and asks to speak with him in private. He’s naturally on edge and wants her to just get out with it in front of everyone. Her decision has been made, he’s going to get the procedure. He pleads with everyone, tries to run away, security restrains him and he’s basically led to Sick Bay.

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This made me feel real good.

The Doctor refuses to do the procedure, because in his mind he views it as killing someone. Janeway somehow knows every detail of the procedure and how to perform it, so she goes ahead and does it.

Tuvok and Neelix are back and Janeway feels bad. Cut to black!

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At least she didn’t self destruct the ship.

Okay, so I’m really of a mixed opinion on this one. I like it because they didn’t pull the rug from under us and come up with some bullshit where all three of them could live somehow. It was a moral dilemma with a difficult choice.

What I absolutely hate about it is how they don’t really explore it, especially after the fact. How do they live with this decision? How will it effect them going forward? Wouldn’t the crew be really divided by this? Shouldn’t at least one of them become a strong advocate for Tuvix’s rights as a sentient being? Shouldn’t there at least been a trial of some sort to judge this and bring up all these different issues? Instead, they all turn their backs to him. I really lose any amount of respect for people like Paris or Chakotay.

Overall, I feel like this episode was a success. It does make you feel uncomfortable and think, though it’s at the expense of the characters we are supposed to like on an ongoing basis. And something this horrible should have long term consequences, which won’t play out in the long run like it would on shows where the reset button isn’t hit every week. Just like Kim isn’t struggling with the idea of being a replacement, my guess is that Janeway won’t be having nightmares over this decision or other crewmembers questioning her decisions later on based upon this one. It’s a really nice effort, but ultimately it needs more exploration to be truly effective.

Least Annoying Characters:

The Doctor

Most Torturous Moment:

Watching the entire crew turn their backs on Tuvix.

Chris Art Accuracy:

While not exactly what happened in the episode, this picture captures the spirit of the event. Also I just remind everyone that Chris has not seen the episode. Tuvix’s head is doofy in a hilarious way, but man he nailed that costume.

Torture Score: 3 out of 5 Neelixes

3 of 5 Neelix

  • Chris Piers

    Holy crap. Seeing the screenshots from the episode that you included make me surprised how I got several aspects correct. This is part of the fun of doing these with you.

  • Wes Grogan

    It’s a nice little bonus feature. It’s sweet, sweet icing on a beautiful chocolate cake (while watching a show that is infamous for its crapitude).