Tuvok must come to terms with the harsh light of day in the episode that originally aired on February 3, 1999. This is Gravity.
Captain’s Log Stardate 52438.9 Gravity
Tuvok, Paris and The Doctor are stranded on a planet that exists in the middle of a gravity well. With hardly any hope of rescue, they must learn to live there with the dangerous locals.
After a flashback where a young Tuvok struggles with his emotions, Paris encounters an alien woman scavenging the crashed remains of his shuttle. After stealing his medkit, the woman is accosted by other aliens only to be rescued by Tuvok. Identifying herself as Noss, we soon learn that Tuvok, Paris and The Doctor have crash landed on this planet but the Doctor is offline due to his mobile Emitter being damaged. Soon they are able to fix the Doctor who learns that Noss has been on this planet for some time and does not believe anyone can escape.
After some time the group begin working well together, learning to eat the local fauna and getting to know one another. They use the Doctor sparingly to save on energy and as the months pass they begin to realize that they may never see their friends again. The group continue to work for a way off the planet and it soon becomes clear that Tuvok and Noss have feelings for one another but Tuvok refuses to act on them. Tuvok has flashbacks of his youth where he continues to struggle with his emotions. He is warned that he must control them or they will control him.
As the group struggle to survive, Voyager searches for the shuttle and encounter aliens that are similar to the aggressive aliens on the planet. They inform Janeway that no one has ever returned from the anomaly where the shuttle was lost and, in fact, they plan to close the rift that has taken their ships. Voyager now has less than 24 hours to save their lost friends or never see them again.
It soon becomes clear that time is warped inside the gravitational anomaly with hours passing for voyager and months passing for the lost crew. Paris and Tuvok continue to try to survive with Tuvok getting injured and then clearly falling in love with Noss, unable to allow himself to give in to his emotions.
To cut a long story short, Voyager manages to rescue the lost crew with only moments to spare and Tuvok finally shows Noss how he feels by mind melting with her. Tuvok struggles with his feelings for Noss as she leaves the ship finding that he still has to work to control his emotions.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I really don’t know how to feel about this episode. It is a solid story but at the same time feels like nothing but a rehash of overused plot-lines. We have seen the stranded crew story line over and over, as well as the Vulcan struggling with his emotions one, we’ve even seen the ‘lone alien scavenger’ story as recent as Star Trek Beyond, heck, we have even seen the time dilation story-line several times before. So, while combining them all gives us a good adventure, this episode feels like an amalgam of basic plot lines that are not very well masked.
I hate to say this because it is a pretty decent story giving Tuvok some great background and insight into his past while also allowing the awesome Lori Petty to join in an episode. If you don’t know Lori Petty, you just haven’t been paying attention. Petty is one of the most underappreciated actors of her time and, even today, does a fabulous job in any roll she takes on. From playing Tank Girl, appearing on Orange is the New Black as Lolly, to even voicing Patty Mayonnaise on the animated series Dug, Lori Petty is a gem and was frankly underused in this entry. If anything, I would have loved for her character to stick around for a while maybe even providing the navigation guidance that Neelix was never quite able to give.
The other aspect that is almost completely glossed over is how their lengthy stay on the planet would have affected Tuvok, Paris and The Doctor. While the Doctor would have not had as much of an issue, Tuvok and Paris would have had a difficult time acclimating to life back on Voyager after having been gone for months if not longer, from their perspective at least. This was a tremendous opportunity to really dive into this that was barely even touched on.
Interestingly this episode has a very interesting parallels with a book by AC Crispin entitled Yesterday’s Son. In the book, Spock finds that he has a son in the past from a romance he had while lost in time thanks to the Guardian of Forever. While there is no son for Tuvok, we do see Spock struggling with his emotions and his feeling of love for the woman from the past. I have to wonder if the writers of this episode were not at least inspired by this book.
Overall, a decent survival story featuring Paris and Tuvok that never seems to get off the ground. As I have found time and again…the theme for this series continues to be more and more missed opportunities. Not a bad episode, but nothing to write home about.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, -3 remaining.
- 1 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -4 remaining
- We learn that the Doctor’s Mobile Emitter might have a finite power source…what finite is exactly is never determined.
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: Bliss
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Late To The Game 12/2/2020
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.
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