“Tuvix” Season 2, Episode 24
This episode is an exploration of the old adage “when life gives you lemons” what do you do? Tuvok and Neelix were combined into one being during a transporter accident. Arguably this caused the death of our two crew-mates. The new being created, who called himself Tuvix, contained whispers of Tuvok and Neelix, but was really his own person.
For several weeks the doctor tried to find a way to reverse the accident. By the time a reversal procedure was found, Tuvix has found a place among the crew. He has accepted Tuvok’s security responsibilities and he cooked better than Neelix. Tuvix is his own person with friends and an identity different and distinct from those who are apart of him.
All of a sudden, what was a light hearted episode where we got to watch bits of our favorite characters shine through in Mr. Tuvix, suddenly takes a sharp turn towards the somber. When Captain Janeway informs Tuvix that the doctor has found a way to reverse the process he immediately responds, “I don’t want to die.” Powerful.
Janeway is now burdened with the decision of whether to kill one man to save two. Tuvok, her normal advisor in difficult matters such as this, is unavailable. The only person we see who attempts to advocate to the captain on behalf of either side is Kes: she wants Neelix back.
The conclusion of this episode is gut wrenching. In her ready room Janeway suddenly stands, takes a deep breath, and walks towards the bridge. We know she has made a decision. We even know what decision she makes as Tuvok and Neelix are in future episodes. I did not, however, begrudge her the next conversation she was going to have informing Tuvix that he was about to die.
In a desperate plea for his life Tuvix begins running about the bridge appealing to anyone who will listen that this is wrong. He is going to die to bring back two people of whom nature has all ready claimed the lives. He recognizes his attempts are futile. Security is summoned and Janeway escorts Tuvix to sickbay.
The music playing in the background is close to a funeral dirge. Not typically what you would think of when we are about to see the return of two of our heros. Upon entering sickbay the doctor says that he will not perform the procedure as he will not take the life of a person against his will. The task, once again, falls to Janeway. Watching her complete the separation is painful. When Tuvok and Neelix appear before us the only person who cheers is Kes. Janeway looks over to the two men says, “Mr. Tuvok. Mr. Neelix.” and then she walks out of the room on shaky legs. When the door closes behind her she looks like she is going to be sick. I think I would too.
Kate Mulgrew’s acting in this episode was incredible. I really felt the severity and painful nature of her decision. She did not falter, though. Janeway is every bit a captain. Did she have the right to decide who lives and who dies? I think the decision she made was the right one. I do not, however, envy her the execution of that choice.