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Star Trek Voyager: Rise

"I've been assigned to Lt. Tuvok's team, and no matter what I do, I can't seem to please him."

Neelix and Tuvok find themselves trapped on an endangered planet while trying to help the Bumpy Foreheaded Aliens of the Week.

I've said a few times that there isn't a Tuvok episode I don't like, but this one is probably the one I get the least excited about. Like a lot of other episodes that come fairly late in a long season of a show – Voyager did 26-episode seasons, so it was a lot – there's nothing desperately wrong with it, it's just a bit dull in places.

The best scenes here are those between Neelix and Tuvok. These two characters are so different, putting them together pretty much always leads to good drama, which is of course why they're paired up so often (sometimes literally!).

Although wrapped in descriptions of Vulcans and Talaxians, the core of Neelix and Tuvok's conflict feels very genuine and recognisable. Neelix is a people person and a people pleaser. He's extroverted, outgoing, and he needs human(/Talaxian) contact. He's very open with his emotions and his affections. Tuvok is quiet, reserved, and introverted. He doesn't like open displays of emotion, which make him uncomfortable, and he prefers close relationships with a small number of people (Kes, Janeway) to large gatherings.

Neelix's frequent attempts to get Tuvok to engage in social activities that make him feel extremely uncomfortable naturally irritates Tuvok – but Tuvok's refusal to give any indication that he likes or even respects Neelix is incredibly frustrating to Neelix. This tense relationship is easily and immediately relatable to plenty of people, so it's lovely to see it addressed so openly here. Neelix's desperate plea to Tuvok to listen to him is passionate and moving – and of course, since he's not Starfleet, he refuses to simply be ordered by a ranking officer and insists on following his gut instinct where most other characters wouldn't, which is fun.

The Planet of the Week story is fine, but less interesting. The idea of an elevator that goes into space is pretty cool, and the bad guys' modus operandi is kind of a cool concept as well (they fake a natural disaster and swoop in after everyone's evacuated). But none of the guest characters are all that compelling – the conflict between Tuvok and Neelix is far more interesting than anything else that's going on. Which is fine, really, as of course it's our regular characters we really care about – it just makes the story as a whole a bit forgettable.

Bits and pieces

 - Kes is back in her pixie outfit in this episode's opening scenes, and Neelix's work outfit actually looks a bit like her blue catsuit from the previous episode. Maybe the episodes were supposed to air in a different order, and she picked up the catsuit fashion from Neelix here!

 - Neelix has been studying engineering with Torres, presumably still trying to find a new role for himself now that they've left the regions of space he knows.

 - Tuvok gets to be a proper action star in this episode. The bit where he starts to explain how physically strong he is, and then demonstrates by overwhelming someone while barely breaking a sweat, is pretty awesome. His surviving being thrown off the space elevator and crawling back like the Thing from The Twilight Zone's 'Nightmare at 20,000 Feet' is even cooler.

 - Shuttlecraft count: Another one bites the dust. Tuvok is nearly as good at crashing shuttlecrafts as Chakotay.
Shuttlecraft lost: 5
Shuttlecraft count: -3


Doctor: Vulcans are notoriously difficult to impress. Mr Tuvok seldom acknowledges my brilliance.

Neelix (on his late family): I still see each of them, every night. Before I go to sleep I recall their faces, and share something about my day with each of them. Neelix is such a tragic character; this made me well up.

Tuvok: I am looking for Mr Neelix's "instinct". Perhaps it will be marked.

Neelix: It's strange, but I really like him. I only wish the feeling were mutual.

Sklar: Mr Tuvok returned to the surface. That's cold!

Neelix: Mr Sklar... returned to the surface.

A perfectly fine episode with some nice Tuvok and Neelix scenes, but over-shadowed by some of the more memorable episodes from this season. Two and a half our of four space elevators.

Juliette Harrisson is a storyteller, freelance writer, Classicist and Trekkie. She runs the podcast Creepy Classics, re-telling and discussing ancient, medieval and early modern ghost stories. She tweets @ClassicalJG

1 comment:

  1. In case I've never mentioned it before, I love your shuttlecraft count. :)


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