TuvixBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 2:11 PM GMT
See Also: 'Tuvix' Episode Guide
A transporter accident merges Tuvok and Neelix into one person. Research reveals that a flower capable of parthenogenesis on the planet they were investigating caused the fusion, but the Doctor can't undo it. After an initial period of adjusting to having two distinct backgrounds in his head, Tuvix begins to fit in with the crew. He's a better cook than Neelix, and less rigid than the Vulcan in dealing with his crewmates. He's very popular with everyone except Kes, who misses both her boyfriend and her mentor and doesn't know how to respond to his desire for a romantic relationship with her.
Then the Doctor announces that he believes he can isolate Tuvok's and Neelix's DNA and reverse the process which united them, bringing the two lost crewmembers back. The only problem is that this will destroy Tuvix...who does not want to die. Janeway makes a unilateral decision to restore the lives of Tuvok and Neelix, and performs the operation herself when the Doctor refuses to take part in Tuvix's execution. The transport is successful.
This episode made me as angry as any Trek episode ever has, yet I thought it was fascinating. I despised Janeway - I hope Chakotay leads a mutiny within a matter of hours, now that we know what kind of autocrat she really is. I suspect that if Kirk or Picard were faced with this dilemma, they would institute a hearing like the one from "Measure of a Man" to determine whether Data had rights as a sentient being or not. The writers of Voyager don't seem to have any moral values, so I guess it shouldn't come as any surprise that they didn't explore them.
Janeway makes the decision to kill Tuvix herself, without stopping to investigate Talaxian or Vulcan beliefs about when life begins and ends, without discussing the dilemma with other senior officers or even one of her blasted holograms, without even taking into account the fact that Tuvix IS Tuvok and Neelix and can presumably speak for their wishes about whether they would want to remain joined or be separated. The only person whose advice she seeks is Kes's, and Kes has as much bias in wanting her lover back as Janeway has in seeking the return of her oldest friend. She's a goddamn dictator, and given the way she's acted this season in "Alliances" and "Investigations," she doesn't deserve her command.
That said...the ethical dilemmas brought up by this episode were terrific. I actually liked Tuvix better than I ever liked either of the indivual characters - Tim Wright's performance was stellar, a brilliant blending of both characters' most recognizable traits. I got a good laugh when he exclaimed "Sex!" when Janeway asked what everyone thought had caused the merger, and I liked his interactions with the Doctor and Kes, nice subtle chemistry.
The science seemed muddled, and I really want to know why the first transport merged the two men's clothing while the second left them both dressed in Starfleet uniforms. But that's a nit in what could have been a brilliant opportunity to discuss the ethics of cloning, abortion (since Tuvix was in effect the "child" of Neelix and Tuvok who had to die to save the parents' lives), and capital punishment. However, the script really dropped the ball, choosing to emphasize Janeway's authority over the real meat of the story. Great idea, rotten execution, and now the captain looks unfit for command.
Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.