Star Trek: Voyager

"Meld"

3 stars

Air date: 2/5/1996
Teleplay by Michael Piller
Story by Michael Sussman
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Do you know what a mind meld is?"
"It's...that Vulcan thing where you grab someone's head."

— Tuvok and Suder

Nutshell: It's the inevitable "Tuvok gets emotions" episode, and it has a surprising amount of depth and a wonderful guest character.

When a crew member is murdered, Tuvok finds himself in over his head in an argument of logic versus emotion as he discovers the perpetrator has no motive or remorse—only the simple explanation that the arbitrary killing was the only option available in his mind. In a search for answers, Tuvok mind melds with the killer, only to cause his own dark side to emerge.

Well, I knew it had to happen eventually: the "Tuvok exhibits emotions" show. Face it—it's something that Tim Russ and the writers have probably been looking forward to since the onset of the series. After all, TOS had its fair share of "Spock exhibits emotions" episodes. And weren't they always something we enjoyed seeing? I'm surprised Voyager went an entire year before finally breaking down and giving this to us.

Whether you see Tuvok losing control of his emotions as completely gratuitous or not, "Meld" is an effective bottle show, featuring an admirable performance by Tim Russ and a reasonably compelling story, courtesy of resident cerebral scripter Michael Piller, from a story by Michael Sussman.

The plot centers around Tuvok's attempts to dissect the circumstances surrounding an unprovoked murder performed by Crewman Suder (Brad Dourif): a quiet, disturbed Betazoid from Chakotay's Maquis crew with a history of repressed violence and antisocial behavior.

If not stranded in the Delta Quadrant, Suder would probably be a case study. He's quiet and soft-spoken, and one day out of the blue he beats a man to death simply because he didn't like the way the man looked at him. After the killing, he covers it up and doesn't give it another thought. However, he doesn't cover his tracks well enough, and when the body is discovered, it takes Tuvok very little time to piece the clues together and arrest him.

But this murder puzzles Tuvok's logic to no end. Suder fully admits to the deed once he realizes he isn't going to get away with it. He does not, however, have any feelings of the matter, nor does he have a reason for what he did. Tuvok is not willing to leave it at this. He's curiously troubled, and wants to understand why someone would do something like this for no apparent reason.

In essence, "Meld" asks: Why does a killer kill? If for no other tangible reason, what does a person seek to gain by murdering? It's a fascinating question, I'll have to admit—and serial killer analysis is something not very often seen on Star Trek. "Meld" does a respectable job of bringing up this issue and exploring it through the Suder character, and Tuvok's frustrated perplexity over this cold-blooded killer is both an interesting and appropriate idea. Cliff Bole's direction is very good, featuring some use of shadows that accentuate the dark mood in scenes between Tuvok and Suder.

The results of Tuvok's mind meld with Suder proves entertaining and effective, even if not completely justified. While I don't quite understand why a mind meld would have such a profound effect on a Vulcan (Tuvok's virtually instantaneous transformation from his usual self into a person with even less control than Suder remains a little bit hazy to me), I do like the manner in which the episode shows Tuvok's inability to cope with the experience.

First of all (and, personally, my favorite scene), there's the holographic simulation where Tuvok strangles Neelix to death. It's simultaneously unexpected, disturbing, and hilarious in a macabre kind of way. (Haven't we all wanted to strangle Neelix on occasion when he gets annoying?)

Then there's the scene where Tuvok goes to see Suder, only to find Suder is suddenly less at the mercy of emotional impulses than he is. Here Tuvok is the victim of a classic irony: The lunatic begins appearing more sane than the psychologist.

There's also a very well-played scene where Janeway goes to Tuvok's self-destroyed quarters to find out why her security officer has isolated himself from the ship. (Naturally, it's for everybody else's protection.) Tuvok sits quietly in the corner of his room, covered in sweat, looking like a proximity bomb that could go off with the slightest provocation. Tuvok's unforgettable line, "Captain, please do not come any closer," is said and then repeated with such a calm, unemotional urgency that Janeway seems almost foolish (or really bold) to take the one more step to get within conversational distance.

Then, of course, there's the culmination in sickbay, where the Doctor puts Tuvok behind a force field and subjects him to some "therapy" to reverse the effects of the mind meld. This therapy involves temporarily disabling the part of Tuvok's brain responsible for inhibiting his emotions. The result is basically a "Tuvok uncensored," who condescends to everybody and treats Janeway with surprising disrespect. Sure, this therapy angle is no more than an excuse to give Tuvok emotions for a while, but the ends justify the means. Here Russ delivers the goods with a sense of lunacy but without going completely over-the-top, playing Tuvok as an angry, intelligent person who isn't afraid to tell everybody else what's on his mind—no matter what they're likely to think of what he says.

The episode's finale features Tuvok's choice of whether or not to use uncondoned vigilante justice on Suder for his crime. Suder turns out to be a surprisingly dimensional character, brought to life with Dourig's compelling presence. He really sounds like a guy speaking from experience on violent impulses; he understands Tuvok's dilemma, and knows that the demons within will not be silenced by just one murder.

This is somewhat highbrow storytelling. "Meld" has a number of effective subtexts in the issues of violence and antisocial behavior. There's also the relevant question of what to do with a murderer among the crew (although a polemical statement concerning capital punishment seems preachy and is introduced without the necessary depth). Giving Tuvok emotions was the easy, superficial part. But "Meld" also has the shining moments of depth.

Personally, I think that incarcerating Suder in his quarters for what he did is a fairly adequate punishment. He'd be a man isolated with no purpose. I doubt there's much more you can take away from a person.

By the way (I almost forgot), "Meld" also has a completely pedestrian B-story involving Paris running a gambling pool using replicator rations. This is the show's most notable weakness—just forgettable filler that sits there and shrugs. Chakotay shutting down the pool and putting Paris on report has an unfortunate "who cares" effect. Let's not dwell on it, though. The show more than makes up for it.

Previous episode: Threshold
Next episode: Dreadnought

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54 comments on this review

mlk
Sun, Dec 16, 2007, 6:23pm (UTC -6)
Tuvok killing Neelix was the best moment in Voyager up to this point.
David Forrest
Mon, Mar 10, 2008, 12:15pm (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this episode and enjoyed your review. I agree with a majority of it in that I liked how they solved the murder fairly quickly and then it "Why did he do it?" I thought it was fascinating to see on Star Trek, that Suder killed just "because he looked at him the wrong way". Brad Dourif was excellent as the guest star and it was defintely an enjoyable hour.

As for the filler B-part, I do like how the writers were attempting to set the stage for Paris's "leaving the ship".
Anthony2816
Thu, Jul 3, 2008, 1:55am (UTC -6)
"Tuvok killing Neelix was the best moment in Voyager up to this point."

The only way it could have been better would be if it hadn't been a simulation.
mr. E
Sun, Jun 14, 2009, 10:18pm (UTC -6)
Maybe I'm missing something, but how did the holographic characters have replicator credits to bet with in the first place?
Will
Mon, Jan 4, 2010, 12:55pm (UTC -6)
The sad part is, this story gets reused as "Random Thoughts". Still, at least Tuvok gets to stand in the limelight for once, shame it was one of the last times.
Ken
Tue, Feb 8, 2011, 2:25pm (UTC -6)
I have mixed feelings about the episode. It's great to see Tuvok go through all of these changes and get emotional. It really adds a lot to his character. Tim Russ does a really great job throughout the whole episode.

The "death" of Neelix is an exceptional scene, because I think many of the audience members want to see Neelix dead. Maybe it's our own violent impulses that the story is trying to tell us about that are being confirmed within us through this scene ;)

On the other hand, I just found myself not caring about the plot. Who is this unknown Maquis that's been on the ship for the last 1.5 years? He's just a convenient crew member to use a plot device. I've never seen him, even in the background.

Beyond that, this Maquis murdered someone, we found out who did it, and it was all wrapped up fairly quickly. Beyond that, the plot is fairly uninteresting.

There's no really interesting climax here. We know Tuvok is going to be reset. So he didn't give in to the violence... big deal? It didn't do anything for me.

It's also disappointing to watch an episode with some promise only to have a lack-luster ending. And in this case, the premise of the story is not believable either - due to the convenient guest star we've never seen before (who I think members of the crew would have noticed or talked about in 1.5 years of traveling in space).

Ultimately, bad beginnings and bad endings make bad episodes.
Destructor
Sun, Mar 20, 2011, 7:44pm (UTC -6)
I saw this for the second time yesterday and I think it's an amazing episode- probably the best work Voyager has done to date. It's not just a decent episode, it's actually a very deep study into violence and justice, where they come from, how they are inter-related. Amazing work from Dourif, Russ and Mulgrew, and it all ties together in a very interesting, intelligent way.

Regarding Ken's comment, it seemed that Suder worked on a different shift, so it's certainly possible we'd not have seen him in the 11 months the ship has been in the DQ.
Ken
Sun, Apr 10, 2011, 5:04pm (UTC -6)
I suppose he could work on a different shift, but that's rationalizing things.

There were still many times B'Elanna would work throughout the night or on different shifts and we would not see him.

It's really not as if we haven't seen different shifts on this show - we have.
Carbetarian
Fri, Apr 22, 2011, 5:02pm (UTC -6)
@Ken I think you're nitpicking a little too hard here. I believe it was established in the 37s that Voyager has a crew of 150. Realistically speaking, we aren't going to see all of them. That Voyager would seem to go on to have a crew closer to 1,000 and about 50 shuttle crafts to burn by the end of the show's run though is, for me, a more pertinent matter to nitpick about. Feel free to tear that one apart as much as you want.

Anyway, third me in for praising the scene where Neelix gets throttled! Every episode should have a scene like that. In fact, Neelix should have been like Kenny on South Park. Every week he dies a new death! They could have had some scenes like this:

*Janeway, Chakotay and Tuvok stand in cargo bay 2*

Janeyway: What are we going to do about this wacky spatial anomaly that's threatening our ship this week?

Chakotay: Well, I was thinking we just kind of do whatever we did the first 50 times this happened.

Tuvok: Logic dictates that we should consider not flying into spatial anomalies all together in the future. How about that? Amiright?

*enter Neelix*

Neelix: Well hello there Captain, Chuckles, Mr. Vulcan! I brought you all some leftover pieces of my Jabalian Omelets from breakfast! Can't think without sustenance after all-

Chakotay: Captain, Tuvok - QUICK, GRAB HOLD OF SOMETHING STRONG!

*Cargo bay door opens, Neelix is sucked out into space*

Chakotay: WHOOPS! My finger must have slipped...


Or how about this...

*Janeway, the doctor, Neelix and Kes are all in sickbay*

The doctor: I've been working on a new cortical supplement that would vastly improve the crew's brain power.

Janeway: That's great! How does it work?

Kes: I've convinced Neelix to be our first test subject.

Neelix: Anything for you, my sweet.

The Doctor: Yes, and as Neelix is the dumbest person currently on board the ship, he also stands the most to gain by this working.

Janeway: Agreed. Let's try it.

*the doctor injects Neelix in his temples, Neelix immediately drops dead*

The Doctor: Oh well, needs work.

*end scene*


Anyway, in all seriousness, this was a good episode. Three stars from me too!
V
Tue, Jan 10, 2012, 11:59pm (UTC -6)
@carbetarian I've never laughed so hard in so long! That was heck of funny. All star trek should at least do 1 comedic episode per season. Your suggestionwould work if they do it using a Frame Story/metanarrative strategy.
Justin
Tue, Mar 13, 2012, 9:17pm (UTC -6)
This is the kind of story that was just begging to be told. The character of Tuvok has some interesting built-in contradictions. He is Vulcan - born and bred to prefer non-violent solutions, yet he is Voyager's Security/Tactical officer. Quite often violence is his job - applied logically, of course. Unfortunately, this is one of the only times they really explore how much it takes for a Vulcan to suppress their inherent violent tendencies. The psychological study of a serial killer is the perfect outlet for that exploration. I give this episode 3 & 1/2 stars.
Paul York
Wed, May 9, 2012, 12:41am (UTC -6)
The violence in Vulcans and their suppression of it for the sake of having civilization is a metaphor for the superego's suppression (repression) of the id in human psychology. Freud shed light on this long ago. The Klingon is pure id, but the superego comes out in his concern for honour - another metaphor for the human condition. I thought this was one of the best episodes insofar as it explored violence and the battle for good and evil within all of us. It was nothing short of brilliant, in fact. Suder's commentary was very incisive: the idea that once acted on, violence takes over -- very true. Violence is at the heart of our society in many ways (structural violence against animals, war, prejudice), but the inclination to good is also present in us -- an eternal battle within, reflected in our laws and customs and traditions. All of us are capable of murder but few act on it because of laws, and because of "the moral law within" that tells us it is wrong. This question was explored through Tuvok's plight, which was exacerbated by the isolation of Voyager in the Delta Quadrant, far from Starfleet's justice system.
duhknees
Thu, Jun 14, 2012, 8:59am (UTC -6)
Ditto, Paul. The discussion of the irony of capital punishment being an act of vengeance was worth the lukewarm B story. And Dourif is a great actor who's been underused since his part in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. No background extra could have pulled that off.
Lt. Yarko
Wed, Jun 12, 2013, 2:25am (UTC -6)
LOL @ Carbetarian

*Neelix walks into Tom Paris' darkened holodeck bar*

Neelix: Tom? Harry? Is anyone here?

Entire Crew: (jumping out from hiding places) Surprise!

Neelix: (surprised and smiling) Hey! Well!

*Entire crew screams, runs forward, and beats Neelix with various blunt objects until he is a bloody pile of unrecognizable flesh*

Chakotay: WHOOPS!
ian
Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 11:49pm (UTC -6)
Tuvok really seems to be a poor excuse for a Vulcan compared to the few others seen.

But his being unsure about the motive for murder actually resembles part of the story from TOS "Journey To Babel." Spock also is confused by seeming random acts of murder until the Andorian ambassador says quite simply "Forget logic and concentarte on motivations of passion or gain, THOSE are reasons for murder..."
ProgHead777
Thu, Aug 1, 2013, 11:47pm (UTC -6)
"Tuvok really seems to be a poor excuse for a Vulcan compared to the few others seen."

Shut yo mouth, son! Tim Russ' depiction of Tuvok is, in my opinion, the second best rendition of the Vulcan archetype after Leonard Nimoy himself. Voyager was surely a severely flawed series in many ways, but I've never heard anyone accuse Tim Russ' Tuvok as one of the major contributing factors. Until now.
T'Paul
Fri, Sep 6, 2013, 4:14pm (UTC -6)
I fully agree with ProgHead... I think that other than Nimoy, Russ is THE Vulcan.

He perfectly conveys the ancient struggle that Vulcans endure to supress their emotion, but unlike T'Pol, does it with humor, irony, wit, mystery.

For me he saved the Vulcans from the savaging they got in later trek series.
Petrus
Wed, Oct 9, 2013, 11:11am (UTC -6)
>I fully agree with ProgHead... I think that other >than Nimoy, Russ is THE Vulcan.

While I agree that Russ' performance was fantastic, I've truthfully always viewed Tuvok as an outcast, where Vulcans are concerned. We pretty much find that out in "Gravity."

Tuvok, vocationally and temperamentally speaking, is a warrior, in a society which completely abhors violence. Granted, Spock and several other Vulcans went through a certain amount of self-deception where their own emotions were concerned, but I never saw any of them express anywhere near the degree of internal conflict that Tuvok does. He *hates* being Vulcan, if he would only be honest with himself; it makes him miserable.

If he hadn't been married, then after Voyager got home, part of me would have advocated having Janeway recommend to him, that he move to Romulus. I think he would have been *much* happier as one of them.
inline79
Mon, Oct 21, 2013, 3:27pm (UTC -6)
I'm sure I saw this one when it was first run but only now, seeing it again after the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, do I appreciate just how fortunately Voyager was to have Brad Dourif guest star. For me, "Wormtongue" steals the show away from Tim Russ and, in another "Voyager First", I might even suggest that Suder poisons Tuvok much like Wormtongue poisons Theoden. Coincidence?
SlackerInc
Tue, Nov 26, 2013, 11:13pm (UTC -6)
I was blown away by this episode. Cerebral and highrow indeed--more, please! Are Piller's other episodes commensurate with this one?
Elliott
Wed, Nov 27, 2013, 12:47am (UTC -6)
@SlackerInc

Piller was definitely an asset to the franchise and was responsible for "Best of Both Worlds", without which, both DS9 and Voyager (and late TNG, for better or worse) would be unrecognisable. That said, he definitely had his slump episodes on all three series for which he wrote : "Rascals", "If Wishes Were Horses" and "Ex Post Facto" all come to mind. He also did great work (besides BoBW) for those three series including "Yesterday's Enterprise", "First Contact" (the episodes), "Whispers", "Death Wish" and "Meld", which you mentioned.
Adam
Fri, Dec 13, 2013, 2:23am (UTC -6)
They should have kept Dourif around for longer, in a recurring role. He was awesome as Suder. Shame they killed him off in 'Basics Part 2'
Corey
Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 6:16pm (UTC -6)
Is it just me or is Tuvok ALWAYS frowning and angry, in EVERY episode? He seems to be perpetually "ticked off".
HolographicAndrew
Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 2:50am (UTC -6)
Totally agree with this positive review. The scene with tuvok going out of control on Janeway blew me away.

This has to be one of the best episodes up to this point in the series, not to mention one of the best vulcan centered episodes.
Vylora
Thu, Aug 21, 2014, 12:57pm (UTC -6)
Absolutely intriguing and probing episode that utilizes the two characters inner struggles with violent tendencies in a conceptually brilliant way. The interplay between Suder and Tuvok where they slowly "mirror" each other is nothing short of fantastic. Questions of rehabilitation versus punishment; vengeance versus justice; when it comes to the individual is it truly black and white in every case? Or is it another gray area like most things in life? Philosophically speaking, this is one of the most unique episodes of Star Trek as it's presented here. A lot of credit to the writers is due.

I really can't see any fault with this one. Some very meaty dialogue in many scenes, great directing, standout performances, and an attention-grabbing premise. I disagree with Jammers nitpick about the ease of which Tuvok's mental disciplines were shattered. Suder is a Betazoid.

There was a comment above on how the episode fails because there's crew members involved that have never appeared on screen. Really? There's over 150 people on the ship at this point. All with varying shifts in their respective departments. I guess you would have to discount a lot of other ST episodes that involve crew members you've never seen. I make it a habit to not say anything on older comments, but I found this particular one rather...silly. No offense.

The B story for me is a non-issue. It simply is what it is and there's not enough of it to interfere, for better or worse, with the main plot.

This is one of my favorite episodes of Voyager and is also the first one to hit it out of the ballpark. Not phenomenal but extremely well done. Kudos.

4 stars.
navamske
Sun, Sep 28, 2014, 7:14pm (UTC -6)
"Haven't we all wanted to strangle Neelix on occasion when he gets annoying?"

Did you ever see the episode where they almost get off the island but Gilligan screws it up?
eddie
Fri, Feb 13, 2015, 8:12pm (UTC -6)
i really like this one. one of the best voyager episodes... I wish they had kept the guest character longer. having a serial killer psycho type locked up in one of the rooms of voyager is actually kinda cool. Remember when Neelix tell the Borg kids the story of the nebula alien in the cargo bay. Can you imagine how scary it would be for the borg kids and naomi wildman growing up in the ship and knowing that there is a killer in room 237. They totally needed an episode where the kids dared each other to walk by and touch the locked door to Suder's room.
DLPB
Sat, Apr 18, 2015, 2:31am (UTC -6)
Oh, good old Trek... forcing its anti-death penalty propaganda on an episode.
DLPB
Sat, Apr 18, 2015, 2:44am (UTC -6)
Although I really enjoyed Russ' acting and script while not having emotions. That was well done and at least the writers didn't make the Vulcan culture conform to trendy liberalism.
Yanks
Wed, Jul 29, 2015, 10:52am (UTC -6)
BEst line of the episode:

"TUVOK: It would be safer for the crew if I were to remain in these quarters. I remind you, I am trained in the martial arts of many Alpha quadrant cultures. Sitting here, attempting to meditate, I have counted the number of ways I know of killing someone using just a finger, a hand, a foot. I had reached ninety four when you entered."

I'm reading ahead while rewatching Voyager.

I'll be back in a couple weeks with my cut.
Yanks
Tue, Aug 4, 2015, 10:55am (UTC -6)
Easy 4 star episode here. Not sure how Jammer can knock it down to 3.

Outstanding performances all around!

Interesting thought... didn't Janeway rule in favor of Q (Quinn) in 'Death Wish' - knowing full well what his intentions were if he was granted asylum away from the Q Continuum?

...but no "execution" for our mentally unstable Betazoid huh? ... even if he desires it with a sound mind?

Interesting.

I just love this episode.

Tuvok just can't come to grips with a murder with no motive, well a motive that is acceptable to him...

Brad Dourif was phenomenal here, as he was in many other sci-fi bit parts. Bravo! He plays an outstanding mental case. (see the character "Brother Edward" in BAB5)

Just watched this last night and loved it as much as the first time I saw it. I remember the first time I saw it I actually thought Tuvok schwacked Neelix :-) That scene made he think of Data choking out the Borg drone.

Then Janeway forgiving her friend and fellow officer at the end was classic.

"TUVOK: Captain, I must apologize for my inappropriate behavior.
JANEWAY: I'm just glad we have you back, Mister Tuvok.
TUVOK: I was most insulting to you.
JANEWAY: Don't worry about it. I've been insulted before.
TUVOK: I hope you understand that I have always had the greatest respect for you as a Captain, and consider you a friend.
JANEWAY: That means a great deal to me. Enough said. Get some rest. Tuvok. No more mind melds without my permission. Understood?"

Especially Betazoids :-)

Again, easy 4 star episode for me.
FromHolland
Sun, Sep 6, 2015, 5:56am (UTC -6)
One of the best Voyager episodes.
45 RPM
Tue, Oct 20, 2015, 10:08am (UTC -6)
I don't understand why Tim Russ was so underutilized on the show. I thought he and Robert Picardo were the standouts. Picardo at least got the recognition he deserved but Russ seems to remain an unsung hero. His portrayal of a Vulcan was easily on par with Leonard Nimoy but with a bit more logic applied to his judgements (tho to be honest Spock was half human).

He also remained the most consistent on the show from start to finish. Sometimes in season 7 everyone seemed to just go thru the motions (the aforementioned two being the exception, as well as Jeri Ryan). And whenever he was actually given screen time he easily stole the scenes he was in. I felt he actually had more presence than even Avery Brooks, and that's saying a lot. He would have been a fine addition to the Next Gen crew. At least the doctor got a little screen time with Enterprise.
Del_Duio
Tue, Oct 20, 2015, 10:31am (UTC -6)
^^ Couldn't agree more! ^^
Yanks
Tue, Oct 20, 2015, 11:28am (UTC -6)
45 RPM,

Tim Russ can act circles around Avery Brooks.
Lt. Yarko
Fri, Dec 4, 2015, 11:17am (UTC -6)
LOL @ DLPB! "Trendy liberalism?" You're kidding, right? The original series was probably the most liberal show on TV back in the 60s. If one is gonna watch Trek, one is gonna see liberalism. I don't know how any conservative can watch any Trek episode what with all the “trendy liberalism” of women doing man work, non-whites in positions of leadership, and trying to reason with one's enemies before attacking them with armies. “Trendy liberalism.” Now that is funny.

Anywho, I didn't comment on this before, but watching this episode again made me realize that there is no way in hell that the question of why a person seems to kill for no reason wouldn't have been asked and dealt with by the universe long before Voyager got sucked into the delta quad. Vulcans have been around a long time and would have mind-melded with psychopaths long before this. Even today, we know that people who seem to kill for no reason have some kind of psycho/emotional/social brain problem that gives them more violent impulses than normal, difficulty controlling those impulses, and, in some cases, a lack of ability to feel bad about their violent acts. Our only questions now are how does a person get that way (nature or nurture or both), and can we repair it and/or stop it from happening? I still like the episode a lot, but it does seem unreasonable that any of this would happen at this point in history.
Luke
Sun, Dec 6, 2015, 9:33am (UTC -6)
@ Lt. Yarko - "I don't know how any conservative can watch any Trek episode what with all the “trendy liberalism” of women doing man work, non-whites in positions of leadership, and trying to reason with one's enemies before attacking them with armies."

It might be because conservatives don't actually have a problem with those things. They did, after all, nominate a woman as their vice-presidential candidate back in 2008 (like her or not, she was, after all, a woman). They also currently have 22 women in the U.S. House of Representatives and 6 in the Senate (how could they have been elected if conservatives don't like women doing "man work"?).

Also, the current crop of Republican presidential candidates contains people like Ben Carson (a black man), Ted Cruz (a man with Hispanic ancestry), Carly Fiorina (a woman), Marco Rubio (a Hispanic man) and Bobby Jindal (a man with Indian ancestry). Jeb Bush is married to a Hispanic woman. For a while the numbers 2 and 3 candidates were Carson and Fiorina. As of now it looks like the numbers 2 and 3 are Cruz and Rubio. But, apparently, that all proves that conservatives hate having "non-whites [or women] in positions of leadership"?

Also, correct me if I'm wrong here, but I seem to remember not too very long ago Obama wanting to attack Syria in order to topple the Assad government and the opposition that forced him not to came from the right, most notably from Rand Paul.

What I don't know is how anybody can be a fan of Star Trek with it's overarching message of tolerance and understanding and be unwilling to offer it to people on the other side of the political spectrum.
Robert
Sun, Dec 6, 2015, 9:26pm (UTC -6)
Not getting into this political discussion but yes 50 years ago in the climate that bred TOS those were things that would have made conservatives of the time uneasy.

Do conservatives of today oppress women and practice racism? That's a really, really complicated question that would be horrible to answer and even if you did it would pretend that there is only one kind of conservative.

But back then? Before I was born? Ya, Uhura was a very liberal creation.
Robert
Sun, Dec 6, 2015, 9:37pm (UTC -6)
@Luke - I just really wanted to point out that Yarko was talking about TOS in the 60s being liberal for having those things and you're talking about Republicans in 2008/2015... which is post Berman Trek... Let alone TOS. I just don't want to give the impression of disagreeing with you because I don't. My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station. IDIC and all that good stuff. If anything conservative Trek fans must be relatively open minded... a lot of it does lean left. It takes a open minded person to be able to enjoy entertainment that doesn't align with them.
Diamond Dave
Mon, Jan 11, 2016, 1:07pm (UTC -6)
A strong episode, back with superb performances from Tim Russ and Brad Dourif (I remember him doing a spectacularly creepy turn on The X-Files around this time and he doesn't disappoint here either). There's always something to enjoy when Vulcan's lose their shit, and I will defy anyone to say that Tuvok strangling Neelix is not a highlight of the series so far.

Of course the set up is a giant contrivance, you have to wonder what drove Tuvok to get so involved, and the B-story is a nothing. So solid rather than spectacular - 3 stars.
Luka
Wed, Aug 3, 2016, 11:03am (UTC -6)
Release the force fieeeeeeld!
mephyve
Sat, Aug 20, 2016, 6:04am (UTC -6)
A who cares crew man kills another who cares crew man and the Vulcan guy has a meltdown. Who cares
dreamlife613
Fri, Aug 26, 2016, 1:49am (UTC -6)
Tuvok is one of the most likable characters on the Voyager crew, so I was glad to see him be the star of an episode for a change. I'm not as familiar with Star Trek lore as the others here, so this episode felt fresh for me. Tuvok and his Vulcan lack of emotion were mentioned before, but I never realized that Vulcans actually suppress their emotions until B'Elanna mentioned it a couple episodes back. That is fascinating of itself, but when Tuvok mind melds and ends up capable of letting out his darker emotions, things get really interesting. While it would have been easy (and lazy) to just have Tuvok become an uninhibited, crazy jerk for the hour, I am glad the writers stayed close to his true character. He didn't drastically change his morals, they only intensified. He became determined to have Suder pay for the crime of murder. This is not inconsistent with Tuvok's stated mindset before he was influenced by the mind meld.

Bonus: Neelix getting murdered by Tuvok, lol. The fact that Tuvok created a special holosuite program where Neelix becomes more and more annoying to the point where the only option is to strangle him is amusing on so many different levels.
Mikey
Tue, Oct 25, 2016, 9:11am (UTC -6)
I'm quite surprised that no-one here has commented on the fact that the dead crewman is named "Darwin". Is his name a reference to the butcher job they did with evolution in the previous episode (Threshold)?
Quincy
Mon, Jan 2, 2017, 12:20pm (UTC -6)
The Doctor lampshades out loud almost everything I felt about this episode:

"Vulcan mind melds. Utter foolishness. Anybody with an ounce of sense wouldn't share his brain with someone else. Would you? I certainly wouldn't. And of course, when something goes wrong, and believe me it does more often than they'd like to admit, the first thing they call out is DOCTOR!" - The Doctor, to Captain Janeway

It was completely illogical for Tuvok to even suggest a mind meld with a psychopath, especially for so flimsy a reason as he wonders why irrational creatures commit irrational acts. Just ask the doctor to explain psychopathy to him.

This flaw in the premise of the episode basically torpedoed the whole experience for me. The only thing to enjoy in the episode were the performances from Tovok and the psychopath. I love seeing nut job Tuvok berate Janeway as much as the next man. However, this glaring hole in the plot was inescapable. All they had to do is give a good reason for the mind meld. Perhaps the psychopath sabotaged the ship in an escape attempt and Tuvok absolutely needed critical information on how this was done with no time to spare. ANYTHING would've been better than oh, I'm really curious about why violent amoral psychopaths with known neurological empathy deficiencies kill people so I want to invite one to become a part of me for the rest of my life, because... you know... that's how mind melds work, as has been explained to us all throughout Star Trek history. (Spock-McCoy, Sarek-Picard, really?!? )

It was quite frankly a ridiculous motivation, given the KNOWN consequences.
RandomThoughts
Fri, Jan 6, 2017, 9:34pm (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone

I really liked this episode, as it showcased the acting talents of Tim Russ and Brad Dourif. I sometimes wonder how TNG would have been different if Tim had come in first, instead of second, behind LeVar Burton. I really do like LeVar, but it's fun to think about. He did have some name recognition from Roots after all, and that series showed some of his range (I think) but I don't believe we'd have been steered wrong if Tim had been there instead.

It's something how a great actor like Brad was typecast, at least for a while, as a serial killer (or close to it), for a while. As was mentioned before, he was in an X-Files episode where he was one and was about to get his comeuppance (Beyond the Sea), then as Brother Edward in Babylon 5 (where he was a killer who was sentenced to "Death of Personality", and was made a priest/friar (Passing Through Gethsemane, great episode, highly recommended)), and then this episode where he again played a killer. I think Chatokay's description of him as someone who was This Close to killing him when he made him stand down, is a great description of what Brad is able to convey with his acting. Some people just have great eyes, and can show a great deal with just a twitch or narrowing of them. Heh, and I thought he was perfect in Lord of the Rings (extended version or nothing!). At least they (minor spoiler) brought him back later in Voyager. If you get the chance, watch those two episodes from the other series, you don't have to really know anything about those series to enjoy those two episodes. My humble opinion. :)

I believe I've come to the conclusion that sometimes, I just have to watch the actors portrayals and enjoy them, rather than worry too much about how they add to the overall series. I really do like long story arcs, even if they can be Excruciating while waiting for the eventual climax. For series that don't have as many arcs, with stories that seem to reset, I have found myself really watching the performers. My recent re-watch of all things Trek has me looking at things with a different eye, and TNG's Half a Life came to mind. I left my comments there a bit ago on the acting, in my humble opinion of course.

Have a great day Everyone... RT
Ildaf
Sat, Jan 28, 2017, 3:12pm (UTC -6)
@Quincy
While it is illogical from Doctor point of view (risky and unorthodox treatment) and to viewers. I dont see that it's illogical coming from Tuvok point of view.

Tuvok as Vulcan always undermine the logic and reason behind everything that goes around him. So i can relate for him not being able to see the reason (motive), give him trouble and unease feeling that he feel the need to resolve it.
For him it's only logical to do mind meld so he can understand the motive.

====

This is a real gems, and its rare on Voyager. The stories are deep and executed very well.

Outstanding performance from Brad Douriff and Tim Russ also doint great.
Suder : "We both now that I'm prepared to die, but are you prepared to kill?"

[Spoiler]
The B stories involving Paris is annoy me at first as it's totally unrelated. But since it's revealed in later episodes that this is part of the plan to uncover the spy/traitor on Voyager, I come to appreciate that.
Coming from Voyager who's notorious for having minimal to no continuity, planting this B stories for later episodes to be resolved is really good.
[/Spoiler]

To top it off, we got that hillarious scene Tuvok choking Neelix to death.. :D

I dont see anyless than maximum 4 star for this episode
Samantha Bradley
Sat, Feb 25, 2017, 3:58pm (UTC -6)
I just watched this episode for the first time and I thought the main part was awesome. About Suder, what I got was: You know Deanna Troi lost her empathic powers only temporarily. Now imagine the Betazoid who never had any empathic powers, who perpetually sees other beings (including, even, himself) as flat, with no dimension whatsoever. (This is what I get when asked if he had any feelings on the matter, Suder says, "Nothing.")

Being as such, I think that for Tuvok to have experienced the extra impact of the meld (struggling even more than usual for a Vulcan to suppress those violent thoughts), Ensign Suder had to have just enough telepathic ability to imprint (or trade) that violent tendency for more self-control. Also, thinking about Suder's punishment makes me think that executing him would have been too easy, so just keep him in isolation under armed guard would be more of a real punishment for him.
SteveRage
Tue, Mar 14, 2017, 10:39am (UTC -6)
Yeah, this is undermarked.

Fantastic episode, fantastic performances. And the Paris/Chakotay thread dismissed by Jammer forms part of the longer arc. And the fact Jammer didn't notice or realise that shows how well he was worked.

Maximum I think - 4 stars.
Dark Kirk
Mon, May 29, 2017, 9:18pm (UTC -6)
I don't remember any words of caution in Star Trek before about mind melds. It was interesting but the sudden change in canon annoyed me. I like the comments that the justification for the mind meld was weak.

Best and most chilling moment for me: when Russ/Tuvok threatens the Doctor, saying you are not indestructible hologram; a few well-chosen commands to the computer would eliminate the Doctor.
Dave
Thu, Sep 21, 2017, 12:27am (UTC -6)
Tuvok knows lots of Alpha Quadrant martial arts. I wonder if one of them is the lame Ambo-Jitzu from The Icarus Factor.
Skolter
Thu, Oct 5, 2017, 11:50pm (UTC -6)
The actual plot of this episode is sort of silly, but it's well done. I like it.

It's kind of odd that one of the better Voyager episodes follows what is pretty much the worst one.

3 stars.
Dusty
Tue, Oct 24, 2017, 1:47am (UTC -6)
Anything would have been an improvement after the hilariously awful 'Threshold'...but if any Voyager episode is legitimately great and thought-provoking on its own merits, it's 'Meld'. Tim Russ and Brad Dourif carry the episode with great skill, leading the audience into a study of the spontaneous, cold-blooded violence that can and does occur in life--particularly with people like Lon Suder, who is portrayed as a textbook sociopath. And even though I don't hate Neelix, I can imagine how irritating he would be if I were Tuvok, so I did take some sick pleasure in watching the strangling scene. As usual, Janeway did something to drive me insane: stubbornly continuing to advance on a homicidal, barely rational Tuvok in his room even though he warns her to stay away. But Janeway's character never made sense before, so why would it start now?

The overwhelming tension of the main story is periodically broken by the mildly amusing but inconsequential subplot, where Chakotay cracks down on a rather harmless office pool in the holodeck because, to paraphrase him, "StarFleet would have a problem with that." Dude...you're STRANDED! In the middle of the Delta Quadrant! If you're lucky enough to get back to Earth someday, do you honestly think HQ is going to care that some of your crew members gambled with replicator rations?! Why would any commander in Chakotay's position be so concerned about this? This is just another example of Voyager not being true to its premise. It pays lip service to the whole "lost indefinitely in space" thing, but the crew don't behave like it, the ship doesn't look like it, and the writers don't want to deal with it. (Ron Moore hit the nail right on the head.)

Those caveats aside, I really like this episode. It underscores the great potential of Tuvok's character and adds an interesting new wrinkle to the Vulcan mind-meld. It's one of the show's finest hours and worthy of three and a half stars.
Sid
Wed, Oct 25, 2017, 1:20pm (UTC -6)
I re-watched this one twice in the last week. The premise is great and both Dourif and Russ give solid performances. I would have liked to see more of Suder prior and more of the rest of the crew in general since it is one lone Federation ship with a relatively sparse crew. The filler in this episode could have been scripted to feature another crew member we'd see later down the warp trail.

Oh, and imagine if Tuvok had assaulted the real Neelix? Or if Neelix had discovered Tuvok's desire to kill him?

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