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Tuvix (episode)

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"Tuvix"
VOY, Episode 2x24
Production number: 140
First aired: 6 May 1996
39th of 168 produced in VOY
39th of 168 released in VOY
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 168 released in VOY Remastered  
415th of 728 released in all
Tuvix
Teleplay By
Kenneth Biller

Story By
Andrew Shepard Price & Mark Gaberman

Directed By
Cliff Bole
49655.2 (2372)
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After a transporter malfunction, Tuvok and Neelix are merged into a single being. In the search for a way to restore them to their original forms, a moral dilemma is faced as the new being does not want to be terminated.

Summary

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Teaser

After the USS Voyager detects a variety of flower that may prove to be a useful nutritional supplement, the Captain sends Lieutenant Tuvok and Neelix to collect plant specimens, including a local breed of orchid, to bring back to the ship. While on the planet, the two have a debate about enjoying nature and having fun, to which Tuvok replies "We are not here to have fun. We are here to collect samples."

Back on the ship, Captain Kathryn Janeway is informed by Chakotay that there is some trouble with the transporter, specifically a "Minor glitch in the molecular imaging scanners," which B'Elanna Torres says will be fixed by Ensign Kim in "a few minutes."

As they return, a transporter malfunction causes only one pattern to materialize. The organism appears to be similar to both Neelix and Tuvok; wearing clothing that is the color of a Starfleet Uniform, but the texture of Neelix's shirt.

Act One

Upon finding this unidentified lifeform on the transporter pad, Kim calls for security, intruder alert. He asks Tuvix to identify himself, and he responds that "I am Lt. Tuvok... and I am Neelix," appearing most confused. Tuvix suggests that they go to Sickbay, where The Doctor identifies that it is indeed a merger of Tuvok and Neelix, as well as the orchids collected on the surface of the planet.

Kes, under The Doctor's suggestion, takes Tuvix to the science lab, where Tuvix recognizes that Kes is having difficulty with the situation due to her close personal relationship with Neelix, and her close tutelage under Tuvok. Kes questions Tuvix as part of the procedure, whereupon Tuvix tells Kes that he seems to have the memories of both men, but a single consciousness. He then realizes that he will need a name, and after deciding against Neevok, settles on Tuvix. As instinct, Tuvix refers to Kes as "Sweetie", a name Neelix often called her; this is something that clearly brought discomfort to both Tuvix and Kes.

Act Two

The crew discusses the transporter accident that created Mr. Tuvix, but they can not find the reason for the malfunction. Tuvix suggests symbiogenesis, a process where instead of pollination of mating, lifeforms can merge with a second species, using Andorian amoeba as an example.

Possessing both Tuvok's Vulcan logic and Neelix's charming personality and sense of humor, Tuvix easily integrates with the crew and becomes a valuable member. As an individual bestowed with the personalities and qualities of both Tuvok and Neelix, he is not only a capable security officer but also becomes a better chef. However, for many crew members, especially those close to Tuvok and Neelix, the loss of their friends and peers is not as easily accepted. Kes, in particular, is experiencing much grief over the loss of Neelix.

Act Three

When attempting to find the reason behind the transporter malfunction, it turns out that one of the orchids that they were transporting from the surface with them was the catalyst for their merging. Using lysosomal enzymes, the plant was able to symbiotically scramble both of them, merging them into one organism. The crew attempts the same with various plant combinations, and comes up with a variety of exotic and wonderful creations. Nevertheless, all attempts to undo the change are met with catastrophe.

Tuvix begins to realize that he may be this way for months, even years, and the possibility that the condition is irreversible.

Act Four

Kes stops by the Captain's quarters to talk about her feelings regarding the situation. The Captain points out that the feelings Kes is having about the loss of Neelix are similar to the feelings the entire crew has been having about being stranded in the Delta Quadrant.

After two weeks, the crew adjusts to Tuvix.

After much research however, The Doctor is finally able to reverse the process by radioactively labeling one half of Tuvix's genome, so the transporter can separate the two individuals. Everyone is very hopeful and excited about the prospects of having Tuvok and Neelix back, except for one person: in all their efforts and joy over being able to bring back the two, the one thing the crew has not taken into account is that Tuvix does not want to die, thus sacrificing his life to bring back the two crew members.

Act Five

Captain Janeway – who must speak for Tuvok and Neelix who are not there to speak for themselves - now faces a moral dilemma: bring back two crew members who have loved ones waiting for them or sacrifice a man who has become a much liked and trusted friend over the past few weeks, rather than merely a transporter accident. She attempts to convince Tuvix to undergo the procedure, telling him that both Tuvok and Neelix would give up their lives to save another. Despite this, Tuvix is still completely unwilling to undergo it arguing that while Tuvok and Neelix are gone, he is already there and he just wants the right to live.

Later, Tuvix goes to Kes and pleads with her to speak to Captain Janeway in support of allowing him to live. Kes then goes to Captain Janeway and tells her what Tuvix asked of her. Janeway is angry that Tuvix put Kes in the middle of the debate, but Kes tells her that she was in the middle from the beginning. She also says that, despite what Tuvix asked of her, she is unable to support him and wants him to undergo the procedure too. However she is distraught, as she knows Tuvix has done nothing wrong but is desperate to get Tuvok and Neelix back. She then breaks down in tears, guilt-stricken as Captain Janeway tries to comfort her.

After much soul searching and painful deliberation, she decides that Tuvix has to undergo the procedure. She orders him to report to sickbay but Tuvix refuses, stating that this was nothing more than an execution. He attempts to get someone on the bridge to defend him, but no-one is willing to. He then attempts to make a run for it when Security arrives to escort him. Seeing that he has no choice, he agrees to go sickbay but tells everyone they'll have to live with the consequences.

When arriving at sickbay, The Doctor informs the captain that he will not perform the procedure. As a physician he has pledged to do no harm, and will not perform a procedure that is essentially murder especially as Tuvix is explicitly refusing to undergo it. Therefore, Janeway is left with the task of having to perform the procedure herself. She is successful: Tuvix is gone and Tuvok and Neelix are both finally restored.

While Kes is overjoyed to have both her partner and mentor back, Janeway simply acknowledges the two and leaves, knowing that she will need to live with the moral consequences of her actions.

Log Entries

  • Captain's log, stardate 49655.2. Our sensors have located a variety of flower which may prove to be a valuable nutritional supplement. I have sent Mister Neelix and Mister Tuvok to collect samples.
  • Chief Medical Officer's log, supplemental. Extensive microcellular scans on the merged humanoid have thus far yielded no clue as to either a cause or a method of separation.
  • Captain's log, stardate 49678.4. It's been two weeks since the transporter accident that created Mister Tuvix. And while it's still not entirely clear that he's with us permanently, he's certainly been doing his best to settle in. The crew seems to be growing accustomed to his presence, and he's proving to be a very able tactical officer who isn't afraid to express his opinions. While he's forging relationships with many of the officers, he seems to be keeping a respectful distance from Kes, allowing her to adjust to the circumstances on her own terms. As for my relationship with Tuvix, I've found him to be an able adviser, who skillfully uses humor to make his points. And although I feel a bit guilty saying it, his cooking is better than Neelix's. My taste buds are definitely happy to have him around.

Memorable Quotes

"A name... I can see why The Doctor's finding it so difficult to choose one... why don't you call me... Neevok? Wait... this is better... how about Tuvix!"

- Tuvix


"... I've been poked and prodded in organs I didn't even know I had!"

- Tuvix on The Doctor's examination


"Do you mind telling me what's going on here, crewman?"
"We're making dinner."
"I see. Alright, everybody out!"
"On whose authority?"
"Chief of security or Head Chef, take your pick. Out, out, out!"

- Tuvix and Hogan, upon arrival in the mess hall


"We've created a monster."

- Tom Paris, on Tuvix winning four games of pool


"I don't want to die."

- Tuvix, on being seperated into Tuvok and Neelix again


"Sex!"
"I beg your pardon?"

- Tuvix and Janeway


"At what point did he become an individual, and not a transporter accident?"

- Janeway

Background Information

Title, Story and Script

  • Working titles that this episode had are "Untitled Tuvok/Neelix", "One" and "Symbiogenesis". [1] In fact, the episode was known by the latter working title throughout the installment's development and production. (Star Trek Monthly issue 16)
  • Despite appreciating the usual output of the freelance writers who contributed the story for this episode, staff writer Kenneth Biller thought this episode's earliest version was too comical. "The guys who wrote the story, Andrew Price and Mark Gaberman, are really smart and have a lot of fun, high-concept ideas," Biller commented. "Their story leaned a bit too heavily on the slapstick elements, however." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5)
  • Ken Biller then took over responsibility for the episode. "I ended up taking it over and completely rewriting it," he said. "It was [a] tricky episode, because it could devolve into something farcical. It is another one of those semi-hokey sci-fi premises, sort of the opposite of what I got in 'Faces' [....] We wanted to do something a little more serious and philosophical [than the original plot] and it began to emerge as we talked about it that there was something interesting there once you got past the hokiness of the set up. It started out as a joke. What do you call the guy? Neelok? Tuvix? It almost felt like a '60s sit-com. Brannon [Braga] and I even [came] up with a little theme song. So the trick was to see if we could actually make something compelling out of it." Thus, the writers experimented with the notion of making Tuvix greater than either Tuvok or Neelix alone and asked themselves what would happen if the Voyager crew found a way to return Tuvix's two constituent parts. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5)
  • Initially, the episode would have ended with Tuvix realizing, through some event or the reaction of the crew, that, for the greater good, he had to submit to the procedure of being split apart. "For a while that was the idea," recalled Ken Biller, "But then we began to talk about it and consider what if he really wanted to survive and he doesn't want to die and be killed. Michael [Piller] posed that question to me so I give Michael a lot of credit." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5)
  • Ken Biller then aimed to dramatize Janeway's dilemma at the episode's climax as much as he could. He explained, "I hoped to create tension at the end where it would be difficult for anyone watching to know what the right thing to do was [....] I wanted to keep asking the audience, just keep poking at the audience. There isn't an answer [....] It was an opportunity to show [Janeway] making the really tough decisions which captains are faced with." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5)
  • The episode's final script draft was submitted on 2 February 1996. [2]
  • Tuvix actor Tom Wright was unsure if he could discern a moral in the episode's plot. "Not one that I can really pick out immediately [....] There isn't any moralizing," Wright observed. "It's just a story about a character, and you follow that character during the time he is alive. You watch the birth and the life and the death of one character in one episode, and there is no struggle between good and evil. It's purely a no-win situation." When asked if he thought Tuvix should be spared the separation at the episode's conclusion, Wright stated, "I think it was inevitable that he would be separated. There would be no drama without that separation. So, I completely agree that he should have been separated." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #13)

Cast and Characters

  • Neelix actor Ethan Phillips was originally considered for the role of Tuvix. Director Cliff Bole was pleased, however, that this casting idea was ultimately not given the go-ahead. "It was better to just kind of get a little different take on the character," Bole said. "Ethan is so identifiable. He might have had a problem trying to give Tuvix the elements of Tuvok's character." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #15)
  • When Tom Wright received a call from his agent about the available role of Tuvix, Wright was immediately eager to take the part. "I felt that it would be unique to create a totally different character," he said, "that had never been created on Star Trek before." (Star Trek Monthly issue 20, p. 58) Wright had never seen Star Trek: Voyager before but knew Ethan Phillips and Tuvok actor Tim Russ personally, having often auditioned for the same roles as Russ and previously acted in a play with Phillips. Required to audition for the character, Wright felt his best course of action would be to play a combination of the personalities and styles of those two Voyager cast members. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #13) The audition won him the role of this episode's title character. Cliff Bole recalled, "I picked him because I had seen a lot of the work he has done." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #15) After Wright was cast as Tuvix, the staff of Voyager sent him a few video tapes of past episodes from the series. The actor noted, "From those, I decided which aspects of each character to put into the part." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #13)
  • While creating such a composite character, Tom Wright was continually unsure exactly how his performance would end up. This was because the role of Tuvix in this particular installment took Wright into unfamiliar territory. He recalled, "Every now and then a character, situation or work experience forces you outside of your strength, and you have to perform in an area that is a little bit unknown. I did a lot of that in 'Tuvix', so I was completely unsure of how it would turn out. I'm very confident of my ability as an actor, but in this particular circumstance I wasn't sure how it would all pay off." (Star Trek Monthly issue 20, p. 58)
  • Another problem that Tom Wright encountered while working on this episode was that he had little or no help from Voyager's writers and producers. "I wish I could have felt a little more support from the top end," Wright admitted. "I take it very seriously when someone hands me a character and says, 'Tom, we want you to play this role.' I don't consider that role to be my total universe, subject only to my jurisdiction and discretion. I believe acting is a collaborative form. I think that when people write a role and they create a character, they've got a specific thing in mind, and I like to know what that is." (Star Trek Monthly issue 20, p. 58) Wright also remarked, "When you're playing a character like Tuvix, which is very difficult to perform because you're taking two well-known characters and blending them into one, and you're essentially firing arrows in the dark at a very small target, you need support and guidance [....] I'm not asking anyone to hold my hand, because I've been acting for [more than 25] years. It was just a cumulative thing. And it was curious to me, because I've worked with everyone from Francis Ford Coppola to John Sayles; all types of people, and I've seen many different ships in the water. I wasn't quite sure why some things were being done the way they were." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #13)
  • Another challenge that Tom Wright was presented with was dealing with the episode's technobabble. "If you're not used to that type of language being written and delivered in a very specific manner, it can throw you. It took me a few days to really get it down," the actor admitted. "I asked Bobby [Robert Duncan McNeill], 'How do you do this?' He gave me a few tips and helped me out." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #13)
  • In summation, Tom Wright described this episode as "a demanding work experience." (Star Trek Monthly issue 20, p. 59) However, Wright was prepared to deal with such difficulties. "There were bumps and potholes in my Star Trek experience," he remarked, "and I think that goes along with any work." Ultimately, the experience of working on this episode wasn't an entirely negative one for Wright; he noted, "It wasn't like I had a horrible time." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #13)
  • Despite the difficulties, Tom Wright was aware that he had to make Tuvix a likable character, to accentuate the importance of the character's "death" at the episode's conclusion. "I knew the character's warmth had to be present at all times," the actor stated, "so that over the course of the show, the rest of the characters would warm up to him. And the reason it becomes so difficult [for Janeway to separate Tuvix at the end] is that they've all grown attached to him. They've all taken a certain amount of delight in this new individual." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #13)
  • One aspect of this episode that Tom Wright enjoyed was working with Kes actress Jennifer Lien. "Working with Jennifer was one of the greatest things about working on that show," Wright enthused. "I think she's very talented and I really like how she works as an actress. We also just had a lot of fun. She was really easy to work with and we had just a real good time in those scenes." (Star Trek Monthly issue 20, p. 59) Wright also said, "My scenes with Jennifer were my favorites because I really liked her. She was fun to work with, and we had a lot of laughs [....] Jennifer has a long emotional history with her character, and I'm just stepping into mine. We're called upon to play fairly romantic and emotionally packed scenes together. And when you step into that territory with someone that you know has never been there before, it can be a trying process. But Jennifer was a 10." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue 13)
  • Jeri Taylor was very pleased with Tom Wright's performance as Tuvix in this episode. "The remarkable thing," Taylor stated, "is that we found an actor who lets you actually buy this wacky premise because you can believe this actor as Tuvok and you can buy him as Neelix." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
  • However, director Cliff Bole believed that Tom Wright, despite being a talented actor, was overly challenged by the role of Tuvix. The director explained, "Tom is a good actor, and [...] he prides himself on being Shakespearean. But he got overmatched with the part. Star Trek is not an ad-lib format. They are very strict about their words. Tom does have the ability to do a little winging, and I think he thought he could do that." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #15)
  • At the end of Star Trek: Voyager's third season, Ethan Phillips cited this episode as one of several whose scripts excited him because, by reading each one, he discovered something new about his regular character of Neelix (other such episodes being "Investigations", "Fair Trade" and "Rise"). (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 62)
  • A scene that actor Robert Picardo found notable was the one wherein his character of The Doctor, citing the Hippocratic Oath, refuses to comply with Janeway ordering him to be the person responsible for separating Tuvix into Tuvok and Neelix. Referring to Janeway and The Doctor, the actor commented that the scene was "an interesting moment for both characters." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #10)
  • A certain line of dialogue from this episode that Janeway actress Kate Mulgrew struggled with saying was, "At what point did he become an individual and not a transporter accident?" Mulgrew later referred to this line as "a dandy" and Torres actress Roxann Dawson, shocked by contemplating the difficulty involved in voicing the question, exclaimed, "Oh, that's the worst." (Starlog, issue #231, p. 50)
  • Cliff Bole was highly pleased with Kate Mulgrew's performance in the episode's penultimate shot. "That last shot I did with Kate, as she's walking into the camera, she told the whole story in her face. She gave a great performance. I only asked for a few things; she brought that look and emotion to work with her." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #15)

Makeup

  • Yet another challenge that Tom Wright had to deal with, during this episode's production, was the makeup for Tuvix, although the actor had past experience that helped him endure the prosthetics. "I had these contact lenses in and I couldn't see anything," Wright laughed. "But it wasn't really that hard. I did Creepshow 2 and Tales From the Crypt, so at least I was familiar with having to work with makeup." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #13)
  • One of the reasons why Cliff Bole believed that Tom Wright struggled with his role here was due to the arduous preparatory process of applying the makeup before he was ready to be filmed. "That has happened more times than anything I can think of in all the Star Trek shows I've done," Bole remarked. "I run into it with really competent actors who come in and they read for the part and nail it, and then, Bang!, you paste that stuff on their face. They feel it all day long and they're not used to it, and that subtracts from their performance and their ability to concentrate. By the time you get into the second day, they're beat! That had a lot to do with Tom's case." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #15)

Reception and Aftermath

  • Cliff Bole was ultimately happy with the episode's final form. "We didn't have troubles, really, just developments as we went along in the process of getting the show. It was well-accepted and liked by the producers, and I agree." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #15)
  • Michael Piller cited this episode (together with the earlier second season installment "Lifesigns") as an example of "some marvelous material" that showed that, by this point, Ken Biller had become "the poet laureate of Star Trek fourth season," even though this episode was in the second season of the fourth live-action Star Trek series. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 77)
  • This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 5.6 million homes, and an 8% share. [3]
  • Janeway's dilemma at the end of this episode proved to be controversial. Ken Biller commented, "Different people had different points of view about it [....] I got a lot of mail about it. People were really moved. It provoked a lot of discussion about what Janeway had to do." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5) In fact, according to the unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 120), this episode was by far the most debated installment from Voyager's first five seasons, especially on the Internet, over Janeway's decision to separate Tuvix back into Tuvok and Neelix.
  • The makeup that Tom Wright wore for his appearance in this episode limited the amount of feedback he received, regarding the role of Tuvix, simply because people didn't know he had played that part. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #13) Nevertheless, he was still often recognized for having appeared in this episode. (Star Trek Monthly issue 20, p. 59) "It has generated some interest and that's good," he stated. "I've heard from a few people. Every now and then, I'll trot out that I was Tuvix, and people are pretty excited about it." Wright was also aware of the episode's popularity and suspected that part of why it was so popular was due to its lack of moralizing. "That might be one of the reasons people tend to like the episode so much," he supposed. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #13)
  • Cinefantastique rated this episode 3 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 105)
  • Star Trek Monthly scored this episode 4 out of 5 stars, defined as "Trill-powered viewing". (Star Trek Monthly issue 20, p. 58)
  • The book Delta Quadrant (p. 120) gives this installment a rating of 8 out of 10.
  • Following this episode, Tom Wright hoped to play the character of Tuvix again. "I'm sorry to see Tuvix go," the performer admitted. "Anything can happen in the world of fiction, though. Tuvix could reappear, and if he did, I would be only too glad to step back into that role because it was a fun one." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #13) Wright also related, "I think that in all fairness, if I were to play Tuvix again, it would be a lot easier simply because I'd know what I'd be walking into." (Star Trek Monthly issue 20, p. 59)
  • While writing the third season Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Similitude", Manny Coto tried to avoid making that installment too much like this one. ("Similitude" audio commentary, ENT Season 3 DVD)

Continuity

  • In common with many episodes before it, this episode was criticized as being derivative of other episodes in the Star Trek canon, including TOS: "The Enemy Within". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
  • Ethan Phillips believed that, despite some intimations of a possible romantic relationship between Paris and Kes earlier in the series, this episode proved that any such possibility would not actually happen. Regarding the potentiality of the romance, Phillips declared, "Absolutely not! After 'Tuvix', where she just couldn't live without me, it's obvious Kes loves Neelix, loves him deeply and richly and needs him." (Starlog, issue #231, p. 51)
  • Voyager's science laboratory is seen for the first time in this episode.

Video and DVD releases

Links and References

Starring

Also Starring

Guest Stars

Co-Stars

Uncredited Co-Stars

References

airponics bay; Andorian amoeba, annular confinement beam; Ayala; Barium; biobed; biochemical analysis; biochemistry; biofilter; bio-spectral analysis; botanical science; chloroplast; consciousness; cytoplasmic protein; Delta Quadrant; DNA, egg; enzyme; execution; flour; funeral dirge; gastrointestinal disorder; holodeck; isotope probe; Johnson, Mark; Jupiter Station; logic; lysosomal enzyme; mating; medical tricorder; medical transporter; microcellular organism; microcellular scan; molecular imaging scanner; monster; multiple personality disorder; mushroom; Numerian Inquisition; Ocampan prayer taper; orchid; pollination; pool; protein; proximity detector; psychological profile; radiation; radioisotope; single-celled organism; spatula; surgical targeting scanner; Swinn; symbiogenesis; T'Pel; Talaxian; taste bud; tea; Trellan crepe; turbolift; water; weather; Vulcan; X-ray

External link


Previous episode:
"The Thaw"
Star Trek: Voyager
Season 2
Next episode:
"Resolutions"
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