Sunday, November 1, 2015

Character Insight No. 166: Best of Tuvok

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe. An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here 

Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we continue the "Best Of" series with a look at the best episodes featuring Tuvok, from Voyager. 

(Tuvok, not his normal expression, courtesy the IronCladWords Blog)

Tuvok serves as the chief tactical officer and security officer aboard Voyager, and he is Janeway's original right-hand man, even after the Maquis join the crew and Chakotay takes over as first officer in the Delta Quadrant. The first Vulcan regular crew member since Spock had big shoes to fill, but we get to see a different character arc of a full-blooded Vulcan still struggling with some internal conflict and emotional control at times. Let's take a look at some of his best episodes.

In the Season 7 episode Repression, Tuvok discovers that he was discovered as a Starfleet undercover operative while he was with the Maquis by another Maquis who experimented with Tuvok using mind control. This mind control is triggered again seven years later by a subliminal message in a letter from his son, and this is one of Tuvok's internal flashbacks which helps him figure out the problem.

Tuvok: [flashback] What do you want? 
Teero: You. You're the perfect subject. 
Tuvok: For what? 
Teero: I'm a student of the mind. Yours is remarkable - disciplined, orderly. On the surface, that is. Beneath - boiling emotions, repressed violence. In a sense, you're two different men. One I could never hope to manipulate. But the other... 
Tuvok: I have been trained to resist mind control. 
Teero: That's the rational, logical part of you at work. But I want to reach your inner fire - your spirit. 

Other episodes like Season 3's Flashback focus on Tuvok's unsuccessful first stint in Starfleet. We see his struggles back then with dealing with non-Vulcans in the way he deals with being an ensign on Captain Sulu's Excelsior crew.

Captain Hikaru Sulu: Outstanding! I may have to give you a promotion. 
Tuvok: That was not my motivation, Captain. I am not attempting to curry favor with you in any way. 
Captain Hikaru Sulu: [laughing] Mr Tuvok, if you're going to remain on my ship, you're gonna have to learn how to appreciate a joke. And don't tell me Vulcans don't have a sense of humor, because I know better. 
Tuvok: I will... work on it, sir. 

Through Tuvok's character pieces in Voyager, we also learn small further bits about how Vulcans treat everyday items like emotions of family life, as seen in this short quote from the Season 2 episode Innocence.

Elani: [referring to Tuvok's children] If Vulcans don't feel anything, does that mean you don't love them? 
Lieutenant Tuvok: My attachment to my children cannot be described as an emotion. They are part of my identity. And I am... incomplete without them. 

Likely the best Tuvok episode of all time is the Season 2 episode Meld, in which Tuvok decides to mind meld with a Betazoid crewman Lon Suder who had murdered another person on board. This mind meld causes Suder's violent tendencies to transfer to Tuvok, who struggles to control them including during frustrating conversations with his foil Neelix.

Lieutenant Tuvok: Morale is irrelevant to a Vulcan. 
Neelix: Oh, please, there's no one on this ship requires my services more than you do. I will not rest until I see you smile. 
Lieutenant Tuvok: Then you will not rest. 

Other top episodes include the series finale Endgame as well as those focusing on Tuvok's odd couple relationship with Neelix, which we recently covered in Neelix's Best Of segment, including Riddles and Tuvix

Until next time, embrace the logic of good character development.  


Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy.

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