Tuvok and Neelix find themselves the subject of yet another adventure when Tuvok finds himself changing his mind.  Originally broadcast on November 3, 1999 this is Riddles.

The Episode:

Captain’s Log Stardate 53263.2 Riddles

When Tuvok is attacked by a strange alien he is left stripped of his emotional self control and memories causing him to essentially become a new person.  Meanwhile Neelix and the rest of the crew desperately try to find a way to bring back the old Tuvok. 

The Story:

Returning from a mission together, Neelix and Tuvok encounter a strange cloaked alien that attacks Tuvok leaving him collapsed on the floor.  Returning to Voyager, Tuvok is stabilized but remains in a coma leaving Neelix concerned for his friend.  Janeway contacts some nearby aliens known as the Kestat, to see if they have any information on this strange attack and soon learn that it may have been the mysterious Ba’Neth.  Naroq, a Kestat investigator, informs the crew that the Ba’Neth are a strange race that are believed to steal technical data but there is some debate as to their very existence.   After scanning Tuvok, Naroq begins his investigation.

Meanwhile Neelix makes every attempt to get Tuvok out of his coma despite the Doctors insistence that he doesn’t need help.  Before long they find Tuvok awake but without his memories of who he is. The Doctor finds that Tuvok will need some time to ‘rebuild’ his brain so will need some help until then.  Neelix volunteers to watch out for the confused Vulcan and takes him on a tour of the ship. It is soon clear that Tuvok has a long way to recovery.

Seven and Naroq find a silhouette of the attacking alien and discover that they might be able to use Voyagers sensors to find the alien ships.  Working with Janeway in astrometrics,  Seven is able to update the deflector array only to discover several alien ships nearby.  They attack but, just before Voyager can scan them, they retreat beyond sensor range. 

As Janeway, Seven and Naroq work on a way to find the aliens, Tuvok begins to speak again but it is very childlike in nature.  It is soon clear that Tuvok has taken to Neelix as his protector insisting to never be out of the Talaxian’s sight.  In Janeway’s ready-room, Naroq begins to question Tuvok as to his knowledge about the aliens unique frequency but it is clear that the memories are just too painful for Tuvok.  Taking him to the mess hall, other crewmembers attempt to help by reminding him of who he is.  This takes a turn for the worse as Tuvok begins to get frustrated at not being the person he once was.

Neelix, finding himself at a loss as to how to help Tuvok, confides in Seven.  She soon encourages him to not to try and get the old Tuvok back but to help the new Tuvok find himself.  Neelix takes this to heart and visits Tuvok in Sickbay only to encourage this new Tuvok to not force himself to be what he can’t right now.  Tuvok informs that Talaxian that he is not interested in Logic or Kal-toh but wants to experience other things.  Neelix takes Tuvok to the mess hall where the two begin making deserts together.

Soon Tom and Harry begin trying out the various deserts and foods prepared by Tuvok when Janeway mentions the alien cloaking frequency to the Vulcan. Tuvok is disturbed by this but decorates a cake with an interesting design,  one that matches the very information Janeway is after.

 Using this frequency,  Janeway reveals the alien ships and a massive space station.  Soon she and Naroq negotiate with the Ba’Neth to get information on what they used against Tuvok.  The Doctor finds a cure for the Vulcan but Tuvok is resistant as he does not want to treat Neelix bad as he had before. Neelix assures Tuvok that, even though this new Tuvok is indeed much nicer, the ship needs the original Tuvok and Neelix still feels that they could be friends.  

After the operation, Neelix encounters Tuvok returned to his original state but soon finds that maybe something has changed in him when Tuvok, with a slight smile, answers a riddle Neelix told him earlier.  An Ensign is lost on a class L planet with only a calendar but manages to survive despite being in a hostile environment for a full year,  how did he do this?  Tuvok’s answer, in addition to eating all of the dates, she had a Sunday every week. 

Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:

I love the episodes that pair Tuvok and Neelix.  Outside of Spock and McCoy there is no better friendly rivalry in Star Trek history, so when Voyager gets a chance to explore this would-be friendship it usually results in something wonderful.

Tuvok and Neelix have been through a lot.  Not only was Tuvok the first crewmember to meet the Talaxian in person, but they have shared a loose rivalry throughout the series with the two playing off of each others personalities much like that of Felix and Oscar on the Odd Couple.  Not only have the two found each other at odd on a regular basis, they even shared a body once in the form of Tuvix so their bond is certainly a deep one.

The thing that makes this episode so endearing is how Neelix, even after facing near abuse by Tuvok, is more than willing to do everything he can to help his Vulcan friend.  While Tuvok typically shows nothing but contempt for his Talaxian friend, the fact that Neelix stops at nothing to help him is a testament to the former junk trader’s character. Neelix is a true friend through and through, someone who would be there for you no matter the threat.  He may be easily frightened or try to cook you some Leola root stew but he is a friend through and through. I almost wonder if Neelix remembers his time as part of Tuvix and this has given him a deeper insight into Tuvok’s real feelings, or maybe he’s just a nice guy.

Performance wise, this one is one of the finest for both Ethan Philips and Tim Russ.   While we know how good both of them are as actors, we don’t really get a chance to see them given a chance to stretch much on this series.  This episode frees these restraints allowing both actors to completely open up and show just how tremendous they both are.  While Ethan is fantastic as Neelix in every moment, it is Tim Russ that really stands out.   Russ as Tuvok rarely gets a chance to give an emotional performance and Riddles allows him to in so many wonderful ways.  Riddles gives him that chance showing a phenomenal character growth that, while it is not permeant, it manages to change his character ever so slightly giving Tuvok a little more humanity whether he likes it or not. It’s a shame that, as the normal Tuvok, Russ get’s little chance to show his range, but when he does get that chance it’s always something amazing.

Directed by none other than Roxann Dawson, Riddles is one of the most emotionally satisfying episodes of Voyager so far showing that, when the series tries, it can provide some significant moments without having to do much more than let their actors dive into their roles. This is a truly incredible story and one that goes down as one of the finest in the series, if not the franchise.

Gleanings and Cool Bits:

  • 0 photon torpedoes fired, -14 remaining.
  • 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -4 remaining
  • It seems Harry is still trying to perfect his Kal-Toh game…
  • We never see nor hear from either the Kesat or the Ba’Neth again.  I guess they kept doing whatever it was they were doing before Voyager passed through.

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: Dragon’s Teeth

For more reviews: check out the 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  1/13/2021

No Mr Neelix, we have had this conversation before, I will not merge with you again so that Tuvix can ‘come out to play’.

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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