It’s a love triangle when Harry and Tuvok(!?) find themselves all infatuated with a holodeck character who might not be exactly who she claims to be.  Originally broadcast on January 15, 1997 this is Alter Ego.

The Episode:

Captain’s Log Stardate 50460.3 Alter Ego

Tuvok and Harry Kim both fall for a holodeck character who seems to be much more than just a program.

The Story:

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As Voyager investigates an Inversion Nebula on their journey in the Nekrit Expanse, it is clear that Ensign Kim is quite distracted.  His distraction comes to clarity when Kim discusses his problem with Tuvok.  The young Ensign wishes to remove his emotions as Harry has fallen in love with a holodeck character.

Agreeing to meet this holodeck character, Tuvok and Harry head to the holodeck only to run into Neelix who reminds them of that evenings luau.  Tuvok and Harry soon engage Marayna in conversation where the Vulcan surmises that Kim is simply smitten with the woman, a condition that can only end in tragedy.  Tuvok recommends that Harry cease his pursuit as soon as possible. Soon they are called to the bridge where they witness the Inversion Nebula undergo a strange resistance to a strand burn, preventing the entire Nebula from burning up.  Afterwards, Janeway encourages the bridge crew to attend the Luau that evening.

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Learning that Harry has no intention to attend the Luau, Paris heads to the Ensign’s quarters.  There Tom teases his friend about his love affair with Marayna finally convincing the young man to give in and enjoy himself.  Arriving at the festivities, Harry finds himself upset when he finds Tuvok and Marayna playing Kal-Toh together.  Believing Tuvok to be interested in the holo-character himself, Harry rushes off leaving the party. After the Luau, Tuvok and Marayna continue their conversations and it soon becomes even more obvious that this program is more than she seems.

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They soon discover that the Nebula is protected by a dampening field preventing it’s collapse.  Assigning Kim to find a way to reproduce the dampening field for their own use, Janeway orders the ship to continue their journey. Soon, however, they find the engines refuse to start.  For some reason the helm is being blocked and Torres tries to get Harry to forget Marayna by employing his assistance.  Soon it is clear that this distraction is not working and Kim leaves to pay a visit to his holographic love.  Arriving at the resort, he is shocked to, once again, find Marayna playing Kal-Toh with Tuvok.  Challenging Tuvok as to why he is there, the two find themselves in an argument. Tuvok, attempting to help, deletes Marayna from the computer but the damage is done.

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Back on the bridge, the ship is still stuck in place but B’Elanna manages to get the aft thrusters operating.  Tuvok heads to his quarters only to find Marayna utilizing the Doctor’s Mobile emitter and playing Kal-Toh.  She informs Tuvok that, although she was deleted, she knew that Tuvok wanted to get to know her better.  Indicating that she could no longer be alone, Tuvok sounds a red alert.  Frustrated, she threatens to use her systems access to keep him from leaving but vanishes the moment security arrives.

Now worried that one of the holodeck characters have gone sentient, Janeway and her team begin to try to find a solution.  Siting events that took place on the Enterprise D, they determine that she is the one responsible for preventing the ship from moving. In their conversations they soon realize that their proximity to the nebula started this and Janeway orders Tuvok, Torres and Paris to the holodeck to convince Marayna to release control of the ship.

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Arriving, they find themselves back at the Luau and Torres discovers a subspace signal coming from an outside source.  Just as she makes the discovery, the holodeck characters attack attempting to kill the intruding officers. Disabling the system, the crew-members rush to the Bridge where they find the ship moving into the Nebula.  It seems that the real Marayna is not on the ship but somewhere nearby.  They are soon contacted by this being who demands Tuvok come to the Holodeck alone or she will destroy the ship.

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Tuvok complies and finds Marayna waiting for him.  As Marayna and Tuvok discuss the situation, Torres finds the source of the signal and transports Tuvok to the alien ship.  There he finds the real Marayna who informs Tuvok that she has the power to destroy Voyager using her nebula.  It seems she has been stationed on this ship for many years as she cares for the Nebula. She has been in isolation for years soon finding herself lonely devoid of contact with others for some time.  To occupy her time she has taken to spy on passing ships and was shocked to find a way to interact with others.  She has found herself infatuated with Tuvok and begs him to remain with her. While Tuvok did enjoy their time together, he informs her that he can not stay with her thanks to his family and mission.  She comes to understand his reasoning and agrees to free Voyager from her grasp.  Tuvok returns to Voyager after suggesting that Marayna find someone else to take her place for a while.  She needs others, whether she knows it or not.

In the end Tuvok takes his own advice and asks Ensign Kim to learn Kal-Toh. The Vulcan apologizes to Kim for his lack of consideration for the Ensign’s feelings. Harry accepts Tuvok’s offer and the two begin their game.

Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:

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Do Vulcan’s have emotions?  The short answer to this is yes.  Despite the belief that Vulcan’s have NO emotion, Vulcans actually have rather intense emotions that they keep under control through centuries of practice and care.  We have seen these emotions from Tuvok before, remember his mind meld with Lon Suder?, but what we haven’t really seen is Tuvok’s loneliness.  Sure, it’s been touched on, moments have come and gone when his wife or kids have been mentioned and we got a glimpse of his sense of loss, but we never really got to understand just how alone this Vulcan was.  Until now.

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While this story seems to be somewhat about Harry Kim and his short love affair with a holo-character, the story is truly about Tuvok and his acceptance of his solitary life.  While it has been established that other Vulcans serve on Voyager, especially with the introduction of Ensign Vorik, Tuvok remains alone somewhat by choice and somewhat by fate.  From what we have learned of this enigmatic Vulcan, early in his career he found himself at odds with humanity and their radical nature.  This self revelation even caused him to retreat back to Vulcan in the hopes to purge all emotion from himself.  There he met T’Pel and soon fathered several sons and a daughter.

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Imagine though, going from one extreme to another and finally, in his own Vulcan way, finding a peace in family unity only to, once again, be swept away from all you knew.  This is where we find Tuvok and in the two and a half years we have watched his life, it seems his Armor of Logic is starting to crack.  It is abundantly clear that Tuvok needs people as much as he is needed and, while he has done an admirable job maintaining that distance, due to these events, our stoic Lieutenant will be seen making an effort to, dare I say it, make friends.

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While the episode does focus on Tuvok, we do get more development from the heartbroken eternal loner Harry Kim as well.  Having all but given up on his return to Libby, especially after finding himself in an alternate timeline where he never joined Voyager, Harry has really been struggling with his love life.  Although Tom keeps promising a double date with the Delaney Sisters, Kim finds himself falling time and again for the wrong women, only enhancing his particular lovesick nature.  While he, once again, fails to get the girl, he does make a friend in the end.

Overall, this episode is a wonderful exploration of Tuvok and his longing for companionship.  This is a man who, as far as he is concerned, has no real peers on the ship but must find a way to develop a kinship just to be able to survive.  Tim Russ does an exquisite job with this character and it is always fun to get a Tuvok-centric episode, especially one that will have ramifications down the road.

Gleanings and Cool Bits:

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  • 0 photon torpedoes fired, 28 remaining.
  • 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, 5 remaining.
  • We do get the first hint of Vorik and his infatuation with Torres.  In fact, we also get a few glimpses of another budding relationship as well…but I will let you wait on that one.
  • We never see nor hear from Marayna or her people again.
  • This episode marks the first appearance of the Vulcan game Kal-Toh, a game that will make it’s return time and again.

Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review,  I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday!  Next Review: Coda

more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.

As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!

Late To The Game  8/7/2020

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Ensign Kim, just because we played Kal-Toh together does not mean I am interested in a relationship with you.

Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available.  Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.

Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made production intended for recreational use.  No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”

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