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I’ve never been a fan of Star Trek: Voyager. It’s Star Trek, so it can’t be all bad, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s the weakest entry in the franchise. Star Trek used to be a morality play first, and bells and whistles second. Some of the later series have lost sight of that at times, and so have some fans, which is they’re loss as far as I’m concerned. However, I recently rediscovered season 2, episode 24, Tuvix, and it may very well be the most Star Trek of Star Trek episodes ever.
I’m assuming that the reader knows something about the series, though you need not know the series to understand the moral dilemma in play. Tuvok and Neelix are merged into a single person due to a transporter mishap. The resulting person, who calls himself, Tuvix, is initially more than willing to have himself separated, but the technology wasn’t there at the time. Two weeks (or so) later, Harry and the Doctor figure out how to do it, but by that point Tuvix has changed his mind (minds?). When Tuvix is told that there’s a “solution” to his “problem,” he essentially responds that he doesn’t want to be executed, and at one point refers to it as murder. He’s developed friendships and has smoothly resumed his professional responsibilities as tactical officer while occasionally cooking for the crew. In fact, there’s a synergy. It’s clear that he’s a better tactical officer and chef then he was before (though one might expect that he can’t do the work of two men).
Seriously, these are the spoilers.
Nevertheless, when Janeway makes the decision to separate him back into Tuvok and Neelix, the major players in the show: Paris, Chakotay, Kes, and Harry are all in agreement. There’s a logic to that sentiment; you can’t replace a relationship years in the making with a new guy who showed up two weeks ago. However, that doesn’t remove the underlying moral dilemma.
My personal view is that the separation was appropriate. Tuvix defended his right to live in part by arguing that Tuvok and Neelix were still alive in a sense by existing within him. That one fell on deaf ears for me, as you could turn that argument around on him. Once separated, Tuvix would exist in the same sense within the reformed Tuvok and Neelix. I think what puts me over the edge is that I feel like we’re choosing two lives over one, as Tuvok and Neelix still exist in my view. They’re essentially in prison.
But you can’t ignore the fact that Tuvix is, in all ways that we understand, a unique person with his own thoughts, feelings, and relationships, no less a person perhaps than a so-called “test tube baby,” but certainly as much as an android like Data, a life form created by technology rather than biology. Even within two weeks, he’s grown as a personality. Whether or not you think he should have been separated, this decision shouldn’t be easy. I was disappointed with how happy everyone (except Janeway and the Doctor) seemed to be when the separation was complete. To my knowledge, this episode was never brought up again later in the series. That’s a shame. I wish that a later episode of Voyager had required Janeway to reexamine her decision, perhaps giving her an analogous scenario where she went in the opposite direction. The fact that it didn’t is yet more reason to view the writing in Voyager as the weakest link in the franchise.
Tuvix is currently available to stream on Paramount+, Netflix, and Hulu (at least in the United States). Give it a watch.
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