Star Trek: Voyager (1996): S02E24 – Tuvix


Introduction

“Tuvix” is the 40th episode (24th in the second season) of the science fiction television program Star Trek: Voyager

This episode tells the story of Tuvok and Neelix being merged into a unique third character named Tuvix.

The episode was substantially rewritten from its original incarnation as a lighthearted story to a more sombre tale with serious moral and ethical implications. Tom Wright guest stars as Tuvix to lend more credence to a unique new character that consists of equal parts Tuvok and Neelix. Both director Cliff Bole and Wright himself had reservations about the latter’s take on the character, and despite a perceived lack of support, Wright still praised the Voyager cast and crew. Both the story and performances of “Tuvix” were lauded by the production team and critics alike.

Researchers and critics found “Tuvix” teeming with technical and philosophical content, including thematic ties to other episodes in the Star Trek canon, real-world logical and metaphysical ramifications, and scientific concessions for the story. “Tuvix” was well received by fans and television critics, earning approval ratings between 75-80%; the Tuvix character and Janeway’s forced separation of the same were particularly polarising among the episode’s audience and distinguishes the episode for the copious feedback it generated.

Outline

On stardate 49655.2, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok (Tim Russ) and Neelix (Ethan Phillips) are sent to collect botanical samples from a Class-M planet. When beamed back aboard Voyager, the two men and the Orchidaceae they collected are merged at the molecular level to become a single lifeform which names himself Tuvix (Wright). After ruling out transporter malfunction, the crew discovers that when demolecularised in the matter stream, the genetic material of the alien orchids acted as a symbiogenetic catalyst and is the culprit for the combination of the two crewmembers. Unfortunately, the process cannot be reversed, and Tuvix is accepted as a member of the crew with the rank of lieutenant, functioning as chief tactical officer in Tuvok’s stead.

Kes (Jennifer Lien) reacts poorly to Tuvix as his existence deprives her of both Tuvok and Neelix, her mentor and boyfriend respectively. Her displeasure lessens over the course of the episode, but never completely goes away. Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) accepts Tuvix in his role as an excellent chief tactical officer and “an able adviser, who skilfully uses humour to make his points”. Tuvix himself, having the combined memories and personalities of his constituents, melds the previously intractable qualities of both and improves upon them, flexing either muscle as the situation requires: “Chief of security or head chef, take your pick!”

Two weeks after the accident, the Doctor (Robert Picardo) develops a contemporary equivalent to barium sulfate (BaSO4) radiocontrasting using a custom radioisotope with which he can identify the disparate DNAs of the two original crewmen and use the transporter to disentangle the two. Tuvix denounces the procedure however. He argues that he has rights and that he doesn’t want to die, for to restore the two lost crewmen would require his execution. After discussing the situation with Commander Chakotay (Robert Beltran), Kes, and Tuvix himself, Janeway ultimately decides to proceed with the separation, acting in absentia to protect the rights of the two original men. Tuvix makes a final emotive plea for support from the crew, but finds no supporters. After the Doctor refuses to take Tuvix’s life in compliance with the medical precept of doing no harm, Janeway performs the procedure herself and succeeds in restoring both Tuvok and Neelix.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Kenneth Biller.
  • Writer(s): Andrew Shepard Price and Mark Gaberman.
  • Release Date: 06 May 1996.
  • Running Time: 45 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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