(written from a Production point of view)
|VOY, Episode 5x13|
Production number: 205
First aired: 3 February 1999
|←||104th of 168 produced in VOY||→|
|←||106th of 168 released in VOY||→|
|←||552nd of 728 released in all||→|
| Teleplay By|
Nick Sagan & Bryan Fuller
Jimmy Diggs and Bryan Fuller & Nick Sagan
Tom Paris and Tuvok's shuttle crashes on a deserted planet within a temporally-distorted area of space, stranding the two with an alien woman who falls in love with Tuvok.
In a flashback, an adolescent Vulcan has entered remedial emotional control training under the guidance of a Vulcan Master. The boy tells the master he does not want to be there, and the master tells him that he is a prisoner of nothing but his emotions – he may leave if he wishes to. The boy admits he has nowhere else to go, since he has been banished from his home, and he has lost his seat at his school. The boy then angrily wonders why he must deny feelings if he was born with them. The master tells him that his emotions can be a powerful tool, but that he must learn to control them. The boy vows to question everything he is told, and the master tells him he would not be a worthy pupil otherwise. He then tells him, "Sit down, Tuvok."
On a barren, desert planet, a female alien dressed in protective clothing uses a sonic device to hunt large spiders that live under rocks. She hears a loud noise, and looks up to see a descent trail and uses binoculars to see that a USS Voyager shuttle has crash-landed. She goes to the crash site to scavenge the wreckage, and is interrupted by Tom Paris. She threatens him with a weapon and steals the medkit he is carrying, along with some other supplies.
The female alien starts to head back to her own crashed vessel, but is ambushed by aliens. Tuvok rescues her from them, then introduces himself. She identifies herself as Noss, and he helps her back to the shuttle.
On the shuttle, Paris is trying to contact Voyager, but his signal is bounced back every time by the distortion that pulled them in. Tuvok enters with Noss, and Paris treats her injuries with the medkit she "borrowed". Tuvok gives her some food, and Paris tells him that the shuttle is damaged beyond repair, and that the system they are in is stuck in a pocket of subspace. The Doctor is with them, but his mobile emitter was damaged in the crash and he is off-line. Noss senses approaching danger outside the shuttle, and Tuvok scans with his tricorder, detecting thirteen approaching aliens of the same species that attacked Noss. He tells Paris to gather as many supplies as he can carry, and that they will relocate to Noss' ship, since she has apparently been able to survive for quite a while and clearly has more secure shelter.
The three of them make their way to Noss' much larger ship, which also apparently crash-landed on the planet. Tuvok discovers that Noss has been able to erect a force field around the ship, but although it is secure shelter, the ship is otherwise unsalvageable. Paris manages to repair The Doctor's mobile emitter and reactivates him, startling Noss. Fortunately, The Doctor is able to communicate with Noss using the universal translator that is integrated into his program, and he has a brief conversation with her. He learns that she has been here for fourteen seasons, and has seen many ships come down, but none have ever gone back up again.
After having apparently been on the planet for quite a while, Paris is trying (unsuccessfully) to hunt spiders. Noss gives him another lesson. Paris laments that he doesn't know what's worse, hunting them or eating them. On Noss' ship, The Doctor learns that his program should be kept off-line as much as possible, to preserve his mobile emitter as a source of power. Noss and Paris return, and Noss tells Tuvok the hunt was good, apparently having been with the two of them long enough to begin to understand their language.
Noss and Tuvok bond while cooking a meal, and she asks him to describe his life on Voyager. Later, during the meal, Paris regales Noss with stories of his long courtship of B'Elanna Torres. Tom realizes that Noss has become romantically attracted to Tuvok, and tells him that he should try a relationship with Noss since it is unlikely he will ever see his wife again. Tuvok is clearly offended, although he obviously doesn't show it.
Later, after dark, Tuvok is re-calibrating their distress beacon, and Paris apologizes for his prior bluntness. He tells Tuvok that he has seen the way Noss looks at Tuvok, and tells him that he has seen that Tuvok looks at Noss "like someone who wishes he wasn't Vulcan".
In another flashback, the young Tuvok tells the master he wishes he hadn't been born Vulcan. The master accuses Tuvok of self-pity. Young Tuvok reveals that the reason he lost control of his emotions was that he was attracted to a daughter of a Terrelian diplomat named Jara, who is a student at his school. The master asks Tuvok what would be his reaction if the master had received a letter telling him that Jara was in love with someone else. Young Tuvok says he would immediately challenge his romantic rival, whereupon the master tells him he has received no such letter, and that young Tuvok must enter training to learn to control his emotions, especially love, or they will consume him.
On Voyager, Captain Janeway and the rest of the crew are searching for the lost shuttle, which has apparently been lost for only a few hours from their perspective. The ship gets caught in a gravimetric shear, or "subspace sinkhole". They barely manage to escape the vortex, and they realize what happened to them obviously happened to the shuttle. Scanning the vortex in astrometrics, they realize that the shuttle has been lost apparently for months from the perspective of the shuttle crew, and that their multi-spatial probe is the only way to contact their missing crew members. Suddenly, an alien vessel crewed by the same species that attacked Noss the first time appears and tries to tractor Voyager away from the anomaly. The captain of the alien ship – Supervisor Yost – informs Voyager that they have lost eleven ships to the anomaly, and that they have decided to close the rift in less than a day rather than lose any more ships to it.
The probe is launched, and it detects the distress beacon and reports back that a temporal differential means that every hour that passes on Voyager could mean weeks or months have passed on the planet. And, for more bad news, the increasing gravitational stress in the rift means that the entire system inside the sinkhole will be crushed.
Paris returns from an expedition to another area of the planet with a badly-injured Tuvok. The re-activated Doctor treats his injuries and assures Noss that he will be fine. She is clearly relieved. The Doctor tells Paris that he should remain on-line until Tuvok is recovered. While Tuvok is healing, Noss tends to him and her attraction to him grows. She kisses him but he pushes her away. Noss, very unhappy, asks him if he feels anything for her, but he tells her he feels nothing but respect and appreciation for her. He cannot give her anything more. She replies "You cannot, or you will not?!" She then berates him, asking why he is always so logical. She insults him in her own language, and storms out.
On Voyager, the crew has found a way to use the multi-spatial probe as a comm signal and a transporter relay. The problem is that that the aliens are ready to seal the rift, and Voyager has limited time to rescue their stranded crewmates.
On the planet, Tuvok is meditating, and an agitated Paris berates him for breaking Noss' heart and causing her to threaten to leave, because it is too painful for her to be around Tuvok. Tuvok tells Paris that Noss is under the influence of unfettered emotions. Paris tells Tuvok that not everyone has the ability to "fetter" his emotions the way Tuvok can, and that Noss is in love with him. If Tuvok can't return her love, at least try to let her down easy. Tuvok tells Paris that there is no easy way to recover from infatuation, having learned this from his own painful personal experience as a young man (with Jara). Tuvok tells Paris that if he can't control his emotions, they will control him. Suddenly, the vortex that brought them where they are begins to experience distortions, caused by the alien vessel closing the rift.
On Voyager, the crew realizes that they have only 29 minutes to rescue Paris and Tuvok before the rift is closed forever, and that they need to get them within a two-meter radius of their distress beacon. Janeway sends a message, which Paris, Noss, and Tuvok are able to speed up to their time frame. Based on Voyager's calculated temporal displacement ratio of 0.4744 seconds per minute, they determine that they must wait over two days to get to the designated coordinates. However, more aliens have begun to gather to attack their position.
On the planet, the aliens have begun to set photon grenades against the force field. Noss leaves the ship to repair the field generator, telling Tuvok that risking two lives would be illogical. Voyager has less than two minutes to beam them out before the rift is closed.
Two of the aliens continue to attack the force field while Noss struggles to keep it up. They manage to disengage it, and she drops one of them with her weapon, but the other one gets to her and attacks.
On Voyager, they have only fifteen seconds to rescue their crew.
On the planet, one of the aliens is about to deliver a killing blow to Noss, when Tuvok appears and shoots him. He then helps Noss back to their shelter, telling her he could not leave her behind.
On Voyager: nine, eight, seven...
On the planet, an alien breaks into the ship. Paris fights him off, and Tuvok shoots him. The four of them gather around the distress beacon.
On Voyager: four, three, two, "Initalize transport sequence. Energize."
On the planet, the four are beamed up in the nick of time.
Voyager has traveled to Noss' homeworld, and Tuvok must say goodbye to her, while experiencing discomfort at her departure. Paris catches up to him and tells him he is impressed with how he has been able to hide how much of romantic he really is. Left alone in the transporter room, Tuvok initiates a mind meld with Noss to convey to her the extent of his emotions towards her. She leaves, understanding how much he truly cares for her. Later, Tuvok meditates in his quarters.
In a final flashback, the adolescent Tuvok has learned to control his emotions, and has learned to be guided by the IDIC philosophy. The Vulcan master tells him his training is now complete, and that he is prepared to return to the world, and that he will control his emotions – they will not control him. Tuvok is... grateful.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. It's been over an hour since the shuttle disappeared from sensors."
- "Commander Tuvok, personal log. Stardate 52438.9. We are en route to Noss' homeworld. As I prepare to say goodbye, I find myself experiencing a certain discomfort."
"Either the universal translator is offline, or I hit my head harder than I thought."
- - Tom Paris
"First day in town and I've already been mugged!"
- - Tom Paris
"I'm a doctor, not a battery."
"Only until you are needed."
"Make way for the mighty hunters."
"If Mr. Paris's hunting ability is anything to go by, maybe we should take him offline."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Doc."
- - The Doctor, Tuvok and Tom Paris
"You know something? I always thought that beneath that cold, Vulcan exterior lay a... even colder, Vulcan interior. But now, I'm convinced you're a hopeless romantic."
"There is no need to insult me, Mister Paris."
- - Tom Paris and Tuvok
Story and Script
- The development of this episode began simply, with a phrase. Story and teleplay co-writer Nick Sagan recalled, "The genesis of 'Gravity' was the phrase, 'emotion creates its own logic.' We just chucked that around, saying, 'What does that mean? What could that be?' And out of it came that episode."  Sagan also implied that he found the phrase to be "just something that really tantalizes."  Kenneth Biller offered, "'Gravity' changed a lot from the original conception, to what it ultimately became, which was this exploration of a man who couldn't love." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 45)
- The mind meld wherein Tuvok communicates, to Noss, his unspoken feelings for her was suggested by Tuvok actor Tim Russ himself. He later remembered the thought process: "Whereas this character is not going to give her a hug and kiss, why don't we just do a mind meld here? And let's just make it silent [....] So, we decided, 'Well, let's put a mind meld here, at the very end, and then she'll be able to see what was going on, what I felt, and what I could and could not express, and why. She'd get that all in one, you know, one snap.'" (VOY Season 2 DVD, "Voyager Time Capsule: Tuvok")
Cast and Characters
- Tim Russ was pleased with the results of his suggestion to include a mind meld in this episode. "It worked out very nicely for the end," he noted. (VOY Season 2 DVD, "Voyager Time Capsule: Tuvok") Russ was also impressed with the episode in general. "'Gravity' was a really big show [....] I was very happy with it," he stated. "It was an enlightening episode for the character, a chance to peek back at his past, and see him as a child, see what he went through at that age and the kind of legacy that he left behind. It was a very eye-opening show." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 39) Russ also cited this as his third favorite episode from the entirety of Star Trek: Voyager (coming a "close third" behind "Meld" and "Riddles"). 
- Paris actor Robert Duncan McNeill likewise had a very positive opinion of this episode, including how it allowed him to work with Tim Russ. "We got to have all the subtle, fun jokes with each other," McNeill observed. "I thought it was particularly well-written." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 53)
- Both Tim Russ and Robert Duncan McNeill were pleased with the actress who played Noss. "I thought our guest star, Lori Petty, was great," McNeill said. Russ commented, "Lori Petty [...] did a fine job." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, pp. 53 & 39)
Production and Visual Effects
- This was the first of eleven Star Trek episodes that Terry Windell worked on as a director.
- The filming location used for the desert scenery of the planet's surface had previously been seen as the surface of Tyree in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Shadows and Symbols". According to the unauthorized reference books Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 326) and Delta Quadrant (p. 284), this area was actually Star Trek's oft-used filming location of Vasquez Rocks. Regarding the site's placement, Ken Biller said only, "The location was out in the desert." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 45) Tim Russ offered more information about the locale, saying that the shooting company were "on location for two days" and that the site was "out in Palmdale, in the high desert." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 39) Both he and Robert Duncan McNeill thoroughly enjoyed the location shoot. Russ reminisced, "It was fabulous [....] It was actually pleasant." McNeill agreed, "It was great to be out on location." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, pp. 39 & 53)
- Also according to Delta Quadrant (p. 284), Noss' ship was constructed from "pieces of stock sets."
- The force field generator Noss attempts to repair was evidently a reuse of the cloaking device prop seen in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Pegasus".
- Both Ken Biller and Tim Russ were highly impressed with the making of this outing. Biller enthused, "Terry Windell did a great job directing it. I thought it looked like a feature." Russ commented, "I thought it was shot well, and the opticals came together nicely." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, pp. 45 & 39)
- According to Voyager's information, the temporal differential ratio between the ship and the away team was 0.4744 seconds per minute. Using this ratio based on Earth time-frames, Noss has been stranded on the planet for approximately forty days, assuming the term season is used for years.
- Given Tuvok's birth year of 2264, his flashbacks are likely set in the late 2270s, between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
- This episode marks the final appearance of the type 6 shuttlecraft on the series.
- Tuvok mentions that, as of 2375, Voyager has a crew complement of 152.
Reception and Aftermath
- Ken Biller was pleased with this installment in general, especially liking what it reveals about the character of Tuvok. He remarked, "Ultimately I think it was a really good episode, to see Tuvok's training, and what happened to him, and to explore the fact that it's not that Vulcans can't feel emotion, it's that they have as a culture, society, trained themselves not to. There is certain tragedy in that." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 45)
- Nick Sagan was also satisfied with this episode. The fact that he worked on the outing with Bryan Fuller later caused him to be assigned to collaborate with Fuller on the subsequent fifth season installment "Course: Oblivion". 
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 5.7, 5 July 1999
- As part of the VOY Season 5 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Ensign Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
Special guest star
47; antigraviton; battery; bilak par; binoculars; carrier wave; class D; Delta Flyer; distress beacon; EM displacement; field generator; force field; gravimetric distortion; gravimetric disturbance; gravimetric shear; G-type star; gravity well; IDIC; helium; hydrogen; inaprovaline; isodyne; Jara; Kol-Ut-Shan; logic; medkit; medical tricorder; multispatial probe; optronic relay; photon grenade; plasma; pon farr; red alert; Renovation Team Nova; resonator coil; shield polarity; shon-ha'lock; spider; star system; subdural hematoma; subspace; subspace sinkhole; T'Pel; temporal differential; Terrelian; tractor beam; tricorder; type 6 shuttlecraft; universal translator; Vulcans; Vulcan (planet); Vulcan nerve pinch; Vulcan mind meld; warp field
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