Star Trek: Voyager

"Innocence"

2 stars

Air date: 4/8/1996
Teleplay by Lisa Klink
Story by Anthony Williams
Directed by James L. Conway

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"We could just skip pre-flight altogether."
"Definitely not recommended, but sometimes necessary."
"I'll remember that."

— Paris and Janeway demonstrating haste

Nutshell: A nice ending, but it hardly warrants the bland, plodding, and often-forced bulk of the episode.

When Tuvok crash-lands his shuttle on a moon (#1 Voyager cliche of the season) and his away team partner dies (an unimportant character we've never seen before who dies a dramatically pointless death), Tuvok encounters three children on the moon's surface who have also apparently crash-landed a shuttle. The children are from a xenophobic race known as the Drayans, and they're alone and scared. They believe that an entity known as the "Morrok" is going to kill them as soon as nightfall arrives. The Morrok has already caused the other children from their shuttle to vanish, they explain. So in response to the frightened kids' exasperating pleas, Tuvok accepts the role of protecting them.

But there's more (there had better be). As it happens, Janeway and the Voyager are making first contact with the Drayan officials, who haven't been in contact with anyone off their world for decades. Hopefully there can be a friendly, peaceful exchange of information such that Voyager will be permitted to mine materials from the Drayans' moons that are necessary to fuel the warp core.

Naturally, these two plot angles are connected. The episode slowly builds upon its plot until all is resolved in the closing five minutes of the episode, in which everything else in the story becomes clear. This last scene is a good one. Unfortunately, it hardly justifies the episode's first 40 minutes.

The way "Innocence's" plot quickly resolves itself is reminiscent of DS9's "Whispers," which also took 40 minutes of puzzling setup and turned it into a coherent story in its closing minutes. But there's a difference between the two episodes in that "Whispers" was interesting throughout. "Innocence," on the other hand, features lots and lots of pedestrian filler with little substance worthy of scrutiny. The show is tedious, repetitive, and boring—inducing a fair amount of clock-watching.

"Innocence" supplies never-ending scenes of the children doing obligatory child-like things. Often, the goal is obviously "cute" comedy (I know, I know—the Vulcan has to "baby-sit" emotional non-Vulcan children), but the scenes feel so worn out and predictable that they aren't funny or cute—they're just silly scenes that grate the nerves. The show supplies us with not one, not two, but three scenes of kids hugging Tuvok. Then there's also the scene that features Tuvok literally singing the kids a lullaby by a campfire so they'll fall asleep. In a word: yawn. In another word: gag. I'm not saying that I'm against cuteness (though I'll have to admit it's not a reason why I watch Star Trek), so much as that I found this particular attempt at being cute to be quite vexing instead.

Aside from the forays in cuteness, the plot takes way too long to progress. Consider, for example, when the children tell Tuvok that the Morrok is coming for them. It's obvious that the children are at least partially correct about their imminent doom, yet Tuvok continuously dismisses their feelings as imagination and fear getting the best of them—until two of the three children mysteriously disappear. This being the Star Trek universe (and, further, the Delta Quadrant) where anything can happen, shouldn't Tuvok have been a little more open to the possibilities, especially since he knows nothing about their culture?

Meanwhile, the writers waste most of the first act on a tour of the Voyager Janeway gives to Alcia (Marnie McPhail), the Drayan diplomat, and her aides. The tour is cut short, however, when Alcia learns of Tuvok's shuttle crash on the moon, which turns out to be a sacred haven for Drayans. She's appalled by the desecration of the sacred grounds, regrets having ever made contact with the outside universe, and orders Janeway to leave. But Janeway refuses to leave without her missing officer, and a series of misunderstandings has the Voyager and Drayans in a forced conflict where they're all but shooting at each other.

Since Janeway is left with no option but to team up with Paris and pilot a shuttle down to the moon herself (due to #2 cliche of the season: that the transporters can't beam through the interference), the Drayans send a shuttle after Janeway to prevent her from landing on the moon. By this time, Tuvok has repaired his shuttle and is preparing to take Tressa, the one remaining child (Tiffany Taubman), back to Voyager with him. The episode seems to be headed for a disjointed collision of plot angles, but, fortunately, a decent conclusion steps in to save some grace.

The closing reveals that the Drayans have a reversed life cycle, in which they turn into children as they grow older. The moon is a sacred place where the children go to live their final days and die. Surprisingly, this ending is the best that could possibly have come out of "Innocence." The episode ends with a mutual understanding between Janeway and the Drayans, when a hostile end to the conflict seemed imminent. The Drayans permit Tuvok to accompany Tressa in her final hours of life, which manages to exhibit some emotional power.

But like I said, this doesn't redeem the rest of the episode. The ending, while nice, demonstrates how unmotivated the rest of the show is. If you think about it, the story is just a series of forced character reactions and narrative cheats that don't allow the characters to realize what is happening until the audience does. Why, for example, doesn't Alcia just explain to Janeway that Drayans have reversed life cycles compared to humans? Well, simply because if she did, the episode would be over and the conflict resolved. Rather than doing that, the show simply turns the characters into brainless pawns forced by the script into performing thoughtless actions. Thanks, but no thanks.

I can see what the writers were going for here, but with all the pointless filler and retrospective contrivances, it just doesn't work at all.

Previous episode: Deadlock
Next episode: The Thaw

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48 comments on this review

Actor's Perspective
Sat, Feb 21, 2009, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
I certainly see your point, but this is the only Voyager episode in my memory that explored Tuvok's potential for heroic problem solving all on his own. I was a huge Tim Russ fan when this series was running - he seemed to be the only actor who could pull off the true spirit of "Vulcanism" a la Nimoy and Mark Lenard - yet I was constantly disappointed with what the writers did with his character. To be sure, there is a place for episodes where "the Vulcan goes crazy" and where someone, usually Nelix, cries out, "damn your green-blooded logic," and is proved right. But the cool-headed wryness that was Nimoy's trademark could have been claimed by Russ as well - this episode, particularly the lullaby scene, is proof of that. I, for one, did not yawn.
Jonathan
Sun, Nov 29, 2009, 6:21am (UTC -5)
I must agree with the other comment there. I thought this was an excellent episode - partly because of the clever and interesting ending, and partly because the standard trope of xenophobic aliens is made a little more interesting (these aliens are actually given reasons for being xenophobic, and despite their xenophobia don't just say "Leave this sector now" and start shooting like most of the others). But the main reason for liking this episode is the insight it gives us into Tuvok, partly through really good writing and partly through Tim Russ' barnstorming performance.

See, on paper Tuvok is a very two-dimensional character. He's a Vulcan, he doesn't have emotions, he's logical. He doesn't even have the interesting twist that Spock did of being half-human. But this episode shows why he's interesting nevertheless. Tuvok's description of what love means to him, of how he misses his children, of how Vulcans seek to control their emotions rather than lack them altogether - all combine to give him a lot of depth and make him a very sympathetic character. The writing of these scenes struck me as very good, conveying much in a few lines, and Russ inhabits the character so perfectly that he really conveys his personality. And, yes, the idea of the Vulcan having to babysit very non-Vulcan kids is a bit cutesy, but I thought it worked.

As I recall, in later series Tuvok gets very under-used and spends most episodes doing nothing but give damage reports. That's a shame since, as this episode shows, he has a lot more depth than you might expect.
Mal
Wed, Jan 20, 2010, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
What a difference 14 years makes.

Jammer, go back and watch the episode now - now that you're older - and see if you don't agree with the two comments above that this episode (well, the Tuvok part of this episode) was in fact something special: kids that may have seemed annoying to us when we were 14 years younger, today come across as remarkably well behaved (and, dare i say it, lovable); Tim Russ' performance is nuanced and compelling (Kate Mulgrew's is *not*); and just about the only boring part of the hour is the diplomatic tour of the ship.

Not exactly 3.5 star "Deathwish" or "Resistance" caliber, but certainly better than the 2.5 star-rated "Prototype" and "Dreadnaught" outings.
navamske
Sat, Aug 7, 2010, 9:10pm (UTC -5)
"Why, for example, doesn't Alcia just explain to Janeway that Drayans have reversed life cycles compared to humans?"

Probably because she lacks the frame of reference that we human viewers have and would no more think of pointing out that her species' life progresses in this manner than it would occur to Janeway to mention that humans' (and other Alpha Quadrant hunanoids') lives progress and conclude in the way that they do.
Elliott
Tue, Nov 30, 2010, 8:16pm (UTC -5)
There are two purposes to this episode; one is the character exploration of Tuvok, which you have acknowledged, but it also had the purpose of exploring life at the end of life. What makes the ending so moving is the retrospect upon the previous scenes which Jammer dismisses as boring. The fact that the children annoy Tuvok and depend on him and are seemingly illogically afraid of the Morok, which of course is their own death, is poignant and tragic when viewed from the perspective of the elderly reverting to a state of childhood. What I liked the most was how Tuvok's kindness and tenderness to the children at all points stems from his logical mind at work, demonstrating just how powerful the idea of Vulcans is. The only thing which I found rather perplexing is why when the children die, they simply evaporate rather than become embryonic corpses (I know, maybe that was too gross for prime time). It's easy to dismiss this least successful of Voyager's seven seasons, but episodes like these remind one of how good the show could be even in the early days.
john
Mon, Feb 28, 2011, 11:06am (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed this episode. It should have more starts
Matthias
Mon, Aug 22, 2011, 7:15am (UTC -5)
I agree there was some good Tuvok in there but it still dragged on forever. And Tuvok did a pretty terrible job of watching those kids considering two were able to wander into that cave even though he was working like two meters from the campfire.

The shuttle inadvertently landing on a sacred moon raises the issue that it's not very polite to just put boots on the ground wherever you like in an inhabited system without asking for permission.
Nathan
Sun, Oct 30, 2011, 6:01pm (UTC -5)
You'd think they wouldn't act like normal kids from other species - certainly with how the remaining kid talks about her grandson at the way end. It's like the writers wrote the majority of the episode before deciding how to end it, rather than having the kids actually act like old people with experience but perhaps a failing memory.
Jhoh
Tue, Dec 4, 2012, 9:53pm (UTC -5)
I think 2 stars is too fair to this one. This episode stunk. Just more typical early Voyager, bland and pointless, with another dumb twist at the end.
Mad
Sat, Jan 5, 2013, 1:03pm (UTC -5)
Ridiculously moronic ending. I still think it was just bullshit those aliens made up and Voyager sent that girl to her death.
Lt. Yarko
Thu, Jun 13, 2013, 10:41am (UTC -5)
Interesting idea at the end. Crappy set-up. I wish they had either done a smart episode about a reversed life span or a good episode about Tuvok helping some children. This seemed like two episodes at odds with each other - oh and throw in the obligatory solar interference and senselessly unreasonable and unfriendly aliens.

I agree that Tuvok was unrealistically dismissive of the kids' fear of the monster. Also, I felt cheated that the kids act like kids the entire time but then right at the end their immaturity is explained by saying that they are sort of senile, but then the last kid suddenly remembers her grandchildren. Eh. Lame.
Jack
Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 4:12pm (UTC -5)
The whole aging backwards concept is simply too absurd to entertain. Half a star.
Jack
Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
And the hard-heaadedness of the aliens (A Trek staple) made no sense here. If the moon is so sacred that n one shoud lbe there, they sdhould have let them go and retreive Tuvok rather than let him stay on the moon who knows how long.
Jons
Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 5:42pm (UTC -5)
I liked that episode! I really like when Star Trek explores Alien cultures - it's actually my favourite thing about this show. And it's especially nice when they *try* to portray an Alien culture and life as actually different from that of humans, instead of making them humans with two horns on their head and Japanese kimonos.

I'm not saying it worked 100%, but I loved the ending (which would have worked better without the mention of the grandson which was silly). But I'd say 4 stars. It's an episode I'll remember (like the one with the dead sent to asteroids, for example) - instead of most "fight or flight" and "omg catastrophe" episodes which all look the same.
inline79
Sat, Nov 23, 2013, 10:48am (UTC -5)
I wasn't a Tim Russ fan on the first run of Voyager. Now, after 15 years of other life experiences, I really appreciate his talent and what he brought to Vulcans.

Perhaps Jammer should also revisit this one now that he has a kid, maybe learn that Vulcan lullaby. ;)
Corey
Wed, Feb 26, 2014, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
To me, it was the FX work in the second half that spoiled things. I liked the twist ending and didn't find the kids too annoying. The climax packed an emotional punch, though I admit the direction throughout was cheesy (too much bad camera work and bad set design).
HolographicAndrew
Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 8:21am (UTC -5)
I agree that this episode is worth a second look. My immediate thought after seeing this episode for the first time, is that I enjoyed it more than TNG's Darmok. Both episodes are about misunderstanding another alien's culture.

I found Tuvok's interaction really touching in this episode, not tired at all. And usually kids acting gets pretty annoying, but they were actually good in this one.

Sure the reverse aging is silly, but no more so than the alien's language in Darmok. It just worked for me and to me it was a solid hour of Trek.
Yanks
Mon, Aug 10, 2015, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
I'm also not as hard on this one as some.

Loved all the interactions between Tuvok and the children. Loved how they didn't listen all the time! :-)

As to the ending, I thought of it as a (and I might not have the correct word here) analogy to the human aging process. Humans become more and more dependent as old age creeps in, in many cases require care just like a child does. So, while this might have been explained a little clearer, like at what age do these aliens begin to "reverse age" and how quickly does it happen? I thought the concept was pretty unique.

I also thought the ending was touching as Tuvok takes the hand of the last remaining child and walks her to the cave.

Nice story and it gave us some insight into Tuvok too.

I'll go 3 stars here.
Shannon
Sun, Nov 15, 2015, 5:40pm (UTC -5)
Completely disagree with you, Jammer. This was a great episode, one of the better Tuvok pieces in the whole Voyager canon. I loved that it was a bit of a mystery until the last 5 minutes, and the writers were careful to avoid the gratuituous phaser fire between the shuttles. Great character piece, and a very touching ending. 3.5 stars easily!
James
Mon, Nov 23, 2015, 12:25pm (UTC -5)
Gonna go with Lt. Yarko on this one. Interesting concept, poor execution. Would've been better to spend more time on the concept of reverse aging instead of creating a mystery that relies on incompetence. By the end of the episode, Alcia explicitly proves that she knows the crew of Voyager age differently... so why didn't she point that out earlier when Tuvok told Janeway about the endangered children?

Much like with Star Trek Generations, this episode has such a huge plot hole it seems like the writers gave less thought and more irrational emotion to it.
MartinB
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 1:32am (UTC -5)
As others said, the SFX let this one down;

Paris and Janeway's Type-9 shuttle leaving the shuttlebay was considerably scaled up. This is Voyager's smallest shuttle type, yet it barely clears the space doors? Compare this to "Nightingale" for example, where several of these shuttles are seen around Voyager and a lot smaller and hence properly scaled. Even worse, is the same shot is reused for both the Delta Flyer and Baxial leaving Voyager, insinuating they're all the same size, which is impossible (as is how the DF, Baxial, the shuttles and random guest alien vessels all fit into Voyager all).

Bennett's death stuck me as odd. Just the lay he was laying relative to the shuttle made it seem like he either fell out of the shuttle as it came down (which he can't have as the shuttle is intact enough to return to space later) or he walked out after the crash and only then realized he had a broken back and fell over.

Also, Tuvok puts Bennett's body into stasis to "preserve the body". But wouldn't it have made more sense to put him in stasis BEFORE he died and preserve his life?
Diamond Dave
Thu, Jan 14, 2016, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
Put me in the not great category. It's a slow burner that never really catches light, and as cute as the kids are they don't really engage until that very last scene, which is indeed something of a heart-string tugger.

But having the alien race swing so violently from helpful to antagonistic to helpful again, with no real reason other than plot contrivance undermines the whole thing. 2 stars.
trekstar
Thu, Jan 14, 2016, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
The more i watch Voyager on "Netflix" the more i love it. This episode..um...not so much. I like the idea of aging backwards, AND i like seeing Tuvok away from the crew...his character is way too "uppity" when around his shipmates. i would HATE this guy if i worked with him. Sooooo...we have an interesting story...but the writers seem lazy on this one. Stupid, painfully annoying child dialogue....and then the "Morrok's?"...a knockoff of "Time Machine's Morlocks." It could have been a great story, but it's just too cheesy for me. Can't blame the writer's too much though, this episode was made during the time "Full House" was popular. ......." YOU GOT IT DUDE!" Ugh!
Brett
Tue, May 24, 2016, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
Reverse aging just doesn't work. How do you give birth to an old person?
Megan
Tue, Jul 19, 2016, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
Just rewatched this episode on Netflix and I have some mixed feelings. I like the ending as well as the focus on Tuvok's character and the insight into Vulcan parenting. But the setup was a mess. From the beginning of the episode Voyager is in contact with the Drayans, who are aware that Voyager has sent out scouting parties to survey the surrounding moons. If this particular moon is so sacred why did the Drayans not warn them not to expore it? Based on experience we know Janeway and Tuvok would never violate that kind of warning so presumably they had no clue. I like the episode for the unique concept but the setup is definitely lacking in logic.
mephyve
Sat, Aug 20, 2016, 11:59am (UTC -5)
Another crew man "Who Cares" dies. he even acknowledges that he's a who cares as he breathes his last, lol.
I was hoping for something grand, all I got was blah. Benjamin Buttons indeed
mephyve
Sat, Aug 20, 2016, 12:13pm (UTC -5)
I agree with you jammer and i'm seeing this in my adult age. to say that the aliens had no reason to disclose their de aging process is ludicrous, especially when one of the aliens actually acknowledged that their aging process is reversed. Nobody told her that, she already knew. A little heads up would have solved all unpleasantness. Waste of time.
dreamlife613
Sun, Sep 11, 2016, 2:12am (UTC -5)
I like Tuvok; he's probably my favorite Voyager character next to Janeway (so far) so I was happy to see him get a spotlight episode. His calm demeanor is comforting, and when presented with frightened children, he was able to convey that there is an alternative to being coddled that can get them through their ordeal. The twist, that the children were actually in their 90s and nearing the end of their lifecycle was pretty neat. The fact that they were experiencing a sort of old age dementia, which is why they couldn't explain their aging process to Tuvok, was a pretty believable explanation, too.

As other commenters point out, it is not believable or acceptable that the aliens could not explain this to Janeway. It would have made more sense to not have them meeting and touring Voyager, with ample opportunities to divulge this information and save a lot of misunderstanding.

Still, it was an enjoyable episode with an unexpected plot twist.
Paul Allen
Sat, Dec 3, 2016, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
Holy crap, those kids were annoying.
Paul Allen
Sat, Dec 3, 2016, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
and seriously, you wouldn't kip in the shuttle at night??
Yanks
Mon, Dec 5, 2016, 8:45am (UTC -5)
@ Brett
Tue, May 24, 2016, 6:08pm (UTC -6)
Reverse aging just doesn't work. How do you give birth to an old person?
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I never got the impression that they are born "old". I think they are born like any other species, they just regress at some older age. I wish we could have known at what age this begins.
SteveRage
Sat, Mar 18, 2017, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, I agree with a lot of the comments on this one - undermarked by Jammer. I was ready to hate this ep, but a fantastic performance by Tim Russ and an engaging plot kept me tuned in. Any show that features children and doesn't annoy me is off to a good start. And I liked Tuvok's singing, didn't make me yawn - 3 stars
Linda
Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 11:20pm (UTC -5)
I was also reminded of "Time Machine's Morlocks" early on, which made me stick around to see if the episode would end in a similar way. Like others, I found the ending satisfying. I can understand that the Drayans would be reluctant to tell the details of an intimate ritual before it became necessary.
Marcos Bento
Fri, May 5, 2017, 11:26pm (UTC -5)
I saw this episode recently (2017) and I think it aged well. It looks particularly better to someone who saw Benjamin Button before. Innocence makes more sense than Benjamin Button, despite the beekeepers.
Rahul
Wed, May 10, 2017, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
It's funny but the ending really saved this episode for me. Part of my agrees with Jammer's review, part of me doesn't. I think he's too harsh on the plodding nature of it -- I think it gives a good chance to see a different side of Tuvok who portrays a Vulcan with terrific integrity (much better than T'Pol or any of the other Vulcans on ENT).
I think the writers did a good job in tying the 2 stories together -- obviously many episodes have an A & B plot but this one nicely ties them together. The ending is well done and adds a good twist (reverse aging) -- so many endings in Trek come off as weak, disappointing etc.
I don't think the 2 cliches Jammer mentions (crash landing on moon, can't use transporters) are a problem at all - I think they're perfectly reasonable.
With Tuvok spending the kid's final night with her and a peaceful agreement arrived at somewhat naturally after seeing the misunderstanding, the ending works well enough for me.
I'd give it 2.5/4 stars. Good but not great story - maybe a little slow to develop.
grumpy_otter
Thu, Jun 29, 2017, 9:09am (UTC -5)
I enjoy this episode very much--for most of the reasons detailed by other commenters above--especially the tissue-box moment when Alcia tells Tuvok that he's done a good job helping the children. That moment of different species finding respect for one another is very moving.

One thing I also really liked were the first-contact moments, including the tour of the ship. I suppose it would seem boring to some--I just found the Drayans so interesting that I enjoyed seeing them getting to know the Voyagers.

What I didn't like about it was how cloying Janeway and Chakotay and the Doctor were in their interactions during the tour. It reminded me of meeting people who have no sense of social boundaries and act like overly-enthusiastic puppies jumping on you. If this is truly how first-contact situations are taught in Star Fleet, they need a new set of guidelines.

First, take it slow. Listen to what the new visitors say--don't just wait for them to stop talking so you can jump in with YOUR words.

Second, ask them what they'd like to see on the ship. Don't just drag them off to see the giant explosive combustion machine.

The whole tour was like going to my grandchildren's home. They grab my hand and drag me off to see whatever projects they've been working on. That's wonderful when you're Memaw and happy they are delighted to see you, but for adults meeting a new species, I found it a bit cringe-worthy.

But overall I like this episode very much--I thought Tuvok and the kids were adorable and I loved his lullaby. Solid 3 stars for me.
William B
Mon, Sep 18, 2017, 5:11pm (UTC -5)
I ended up enjoying the interactions between Tuvok and the "children" and I found the episode to be understated but not boring. That there's the implication at the episode's end that the girl actually "knew" that she was an old woman at the end of her life cycle is a little frustrating, but I'll take it as a sign of senility (i.e. that once she's reminded, she "knows" it, but she had to be reminded forcefully). The episode is pretty moving as an old-age allegory, of how people approaching death lose more and more of their faculties until they are left facing the world with the same fear and helplessness as children, with only the possibility of having a "parent" (/child) provide them with comfort as they approach the Great Unknown (or Great Nothing, depending) giving them the strength to endure it. It also presents a kind of existential dilemma, wherein Tuvok initially puts everything he can into helping to protect the children with the idea that the protection will allow them to go on to have happy lives, and at the end he seems to recognize -- perhaps for the first time, because he's still middle-aged -- that the goal of helping is sometimes not for the future but for the present, not to give skills that will keep the monsters away but to give solace for the moment of the monster's arrival. The children actors were good and I think it tells us a lot about how Tuvok does deal with his own children, without us having the opportunity to see them. And it is particularly poignant when (SPOILER) thinking of what we learn about Tuvok's possible future in Endgame. The ending is particularly moving. The isolationist alien stuff is kind of old hat and I feel like most of the Voyager material could have been excised. But it doesn't hurt the episode that much, really. It's not a great show but I did enjoy it. A low 3 stars.
Skubbo
Thu, Oct 12, 2017, 11:29am (UTC -5)
Another episode based on the fact that nothing works. Sensors don't work. Can't transport. Communications don't work. Can't fly a shuttle down without crashing or nearly crashing.

Please Voyager stop doing that. It's not even Star Trek when none of the futuristic gizmos can do anything.

And if I wanted to see Tuvok babysit a bunch of 90 year old senile children, I'd...well I wouldn't do anything, because I don't want to see it. It's partly boring and partly annoying.

Plus the fact as many people said, why wouldn't the aliens have just told them 'Hey we live backwards and that moon is sacred to us because that's where we go when we are ready to die as forgetful little kids' and resolve the whole situation?

And it's pretty ridiculous that Tuvok and later Janeway was ready to kidnap what they thought was one of the kids, without the slightest clue what was going on. Other than that the kid was scared of some monster that they couldn't find.

bad episode. 1 star.
John Harmon
Wed, Nov 1, 2017, 11:20am (UTC -5)
I think your mileage on this episode depends on how much you're invested in Tuvok as a character.

I think he's a great character. He's a wonderful reminder of why Vulcans are so awesome. This episode was about Tuvok taking care of those kids and how much it made him miss own children. I found it quite heartbreaking. And hearing him sing? I loved it. I don't believe we've ever heard a Vulcan sing before.

I also loved him trying to teach the kids Vulcan meditation techniques. You could tell he was heartbroken, but hiding it as any good Vulcan would. Those kids were stand-ins for his own.

I thought the ending was a good twist and I loved that Tuvok held her hand as he helped her walk into the afterlife.

Maybe it's because I'm watching this episode for the first time as a nearly 30 year old, or maybe I'm just a big softie, but I found this episode lovely. Wonderful character work for Tuvok.
Eli
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 2:52am (UTC -5)
I'm with the supporters of this episode. This is a well written story that successfully develops Tuvok's character and presents a conflict with two legitimate sides. I would like to see more Star Trek episodes in which both the humans and the aliens have understandable and complex points of view. I can think of too many episode where the aliens are presented as villains and not given sufficient complexity. Also, I like Tuvok as a character a great deal. Perhaps, he should have been the focus of more stories. It's nice to see him the focus here.
Ruth
Thu, Nov 23, 2017, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
I love this episode. Tuvok is one of my favourite characters and I like the child actors in this ep, especially Tressa.

I just watched it again and I’ve seen it before. WIth twist endings like this, sometimes it’s fake and they spring it on you out of nowhere. But not in this. Right from the beginning, the “children” are clearly describing what the woman at the end describes, and it’s only because we (reasonably) assume they are children from their appearance that we don’t realise they’re old. The first things they say is that their parents are all dead - but they don’t seem particularly upset about that as they would have hoped to outlive them - and that the attendants are dead, but that the attendants are not their parents. There’s more but that stood out to me as it’s the first things they tell Tuvok about their situation.

I agree with everyone who thinks it’s ridiculous that the woman didn’t tell Voyager about their aging, particularly when she was talking to Tuvok and he asserted that he was protecting Tressa. If she could say at the end that we age the other way around, she had to have known it when she was speaking with Tuvok. It’s silly. And she apparently takes a long time to realise Tuvok was trying to help the “children” and doing very good job of it. They had failed! The shuttle crashed and two “children” died alone, presumably terrified. The two who die when Tuvok is working presumably went to their deaths happy and content, and we know Tressa did. But why did it take so long to send more attendants? Janeway wasn’t checking in on Tuvok’s shuttle that often but she had no reason to, they weren’t on an important mission with vulnerable people.

I really like seeing Tuvok as a father here. He obviously deeply misses his children though of course he denies it. His lullaby was nice too
CJE
Sat, Mar 10, 2018, 6:43am (UTC -5)
Anything that takes Tuvok out of his comfort zone adds depth to him, and these are the only times we really get to know him. It was nice to see his paternal, empathetic side. Unfortunately, this episode is slightly ruined for me by cliché "fanatical xenophobic irrational aliens-of-the-week" whose only role is to obstruct the protagonists.
Springy
Mon, Aug 27, 2018, 1:00am (UTC -5)
I liked getting to see more of Tuvok and learning more about him. Wasn't bored at all.

Not a great ep, but a good showing overall.
Startrekwatcher
Wed, Dec 12, 2018, 1:19am (UTC -5)
2.5 stars

Not great but decent in spots especially the plot involving tuvok and the kids. The drayans were okay as aliens nothing outstanding or fresh but fair enough that I didn’t mind them. More interesting was the scenes with tuvok and the mysteey of what was going on with the kids. I don’t care how biologically realistic it may be i liked the idea of a species aging in reverse

I also thought tuvok had a good showing and the interactions were Vulcan but sweet too
Trish
Sat, Mar 23, 2019, 10:46pm (UTC -5)
It would be interesting if there were a way to know whether there is any correlation between liking this episode and having at some point actually faced one's own death, or accompanied someone else on that journey.

The idea of it as a time when we become like children facing an unknown "monster" and wondering if having more "faith" would bring peace has a depth that may not be appreciated by those who have not (yet) been there.

Unless the Morrock happens to come very suddenly for you, I think you will someday understand.
Elliott
Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 11:18am (UTC -5)
Teaser : **.5, 5%

One of the Voyager's shuttles has crashed (OMG!). While the gold-shirted pilot whom we've never met is critically injured, the other occupant, Tuvok, is just fine. The extra actually puts in a pretty convincing little performance as he dies, but no time for that; a little girl who looks suspiciously like Lulu Hogg from “Cold Fire”) emerges from the forrest, spying on Tuvok and his dead friend. It should be noted that emotionless Tuvok chose to offer some emotional solace to ensign Dead Meat as he watched him expire. Tuvok understands emotions remarkably well. I couldn't help but smile when the girl tried to escape after he caught her:

TRESSA: Let me go!
TUVOK: Will you run if I do?

It's all so matter of fact. The girl, Terrace or whatever, says her parents are dead and that her ship crashed here. Those two facts are unrelated, but Tuvok has no particular reason to assume they aren't. I really do love when Tuvok gets to be exceedingly Vulcan. Terrace asks why he is preserving Ensign Dead Meat's body for burial. A human would probably scoff at the question, amazed that a person wouldn't implicitly understand the custom of funeral rites, but Tuvok treats every question equally, with no indignation, frustration or impatience to get in the way. It is revealed that there are two other children stuck on this moon with Terrace and Arnold Schwarzenvulcan here. One by one, like a scene from “Barney,” they run up to Tuvok and embrace him. Oh boy! How, wacky!

Act 1 : **.5, 17%

Well, the Voyager is both fully repaired and functional, but also in dire need for some minerals. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Janeway has sent shuttle scouts to some moons around a planet of Druids or something. Obviously, this is what Tuvok and Ensign Emmy Nomination were up to when they crashed. Janeway and Chakotay swap stories about first contact foibles. Janeway mentions that she always envied the Captain's prerogative to meet aliens for the first time, slotting in nicely to her arc about being a science officer at heart, and not-quite-a-captain in practice. Chakotay says that he accidentally propositioned a delegate when he was a young officer. The interaction is amiable and just interesting enough to pass my threshold of entertainment.

Anyway, the Druids are beamed aboard, described as xenophobes who have made an exception to their traditional custom out of curiosity about these travellers from across the galaxy. Alcia, the Druid leader, greets them with a “blessing,” which prompts Commander Spirit Walker to respond with what I'm going to hope is an actual Indian language of some kind, demonstrating that humans too can be superstitious morons if decorum demands.

During a tour of the Engine Room, Alcia condescends a bit to Janeway regarding her appreciation for advanced tech. It seems the Druids here had their own Alixa (hmm...I wonder if that's intentional...) who won over their whole society and convinced them to give up technology on an agenda-specific basis. Overall, this stuff is pretty dry and annoying, let's go back to Tuvok-the-babysitter.

Generally, I have very mixed feelings about these interactions. On the one hand, these kids are fucking irritating, both in how they're written and performed. But what really charms me is the way Tuvok respects and nurtures them. One might say he treats these children no differently than he would anyone else, probably because the gradient between how emotionally immature and intellectually deficient adult and child non-Vulcans are barely registers to him. Life among non-Vulcans is an exercise in patience.

The children warn him that they cannot remain on the moon at night:

ELANI: We can't be here when it's night.
CORIN: That's when the Morrok comes.
TUVOK: Is that some species of animal?
TRESSA: The Morrok is what takes you when you die.

Act 2 : ***, 17%

The tour of the Voyager continues. Janeway expounds upon Federation values and Starfleet's mission as they enter the Sickbay. After some nonsense, we get something character-adjacent for the EMH:

JANEWAY: You may be even more interested to learn that this man isn't really a biological lifeform. He's a computer generated holographic projection.
ALCIA: My people believe that physical matter is only an illusion. The body is not the true self, only a representation.
JANEWAY: One of our greatest philosophers, Plato, wrote that what we see around us are only poor shadows of ideal objects which exist on a higher plane.

Alcia doesn't actually understand Platonic thought as she confuses what Janeway calls a “higher plane” for spiritual silliness, but we can blame Janeway for misrepresenting him. At any rate, Kim calls down to inform them that Alcia has a call which she takes in the Doctor's office. Is someone going to show her how computers work or will she just mediate or whatever until the knowledge rains down upon her like mana?

Janeway starts to think about how to pivot this pleasant tour into negotiating for minerals (the same, it might be noted, they were looking for in “Tattoo.” After all, the warp coils may have been fused to the point of inoperability last week, but they still need that polyferranide. Yeah.) Ah, but Alcia emerges to inform her that there has been an emergency, that they have to leave and that the Voyager should go on its way.

Tuvok pursues a line of deduction with the children, trying to determine what this Morrok is and why the children are so afraid of it. But Tuvok is also a father and has experience teaching children how to suppress their emotions. I'll put this out there now: I'm a left-wing gay commie upstart bastard, but I find many of the “leftie” approaches to parenting eye-roll inducing to say the least. Who knows? Maybe when I'm a father, I'll turn into jello-soup and let them walk all over me, but as a teacher, I have always found that children respond best to being respected as full persons whose emotions need to be put in their place. Emotions are important and obviously, we aren't Vulcans, but relying upon them as a guide is self-evidently foolish and I think children can, on a subconscious level at least, recognise that they are more productive/fulfilled when they can learn to interact with their world logically.

ELANI: Do you live your whole life without feeling anything?
TUVOK: More accurately, we strive to control our feelings.
TRESSA: You don't get scared, ever?
TUVOK: No.

Some of the patented 90s Kids bein' Kids stuff that follows does grate the nerves, but Tim Russ manages to hold the hole thing together better than the material should allow. Eventually, we get the question about how an emotionless father can love his children. The response is a low-key echo of what we saw in “Sarek” and “Unification”:

TUVOK: My attachment to my children cannot be described as an emotion. They are part of my identity, and I am incomplete without them.

The meditation instruction is interrupted by the approach of a Druid vessel. Oddly, the children are afraid of their own people, citing the fact that the Druids sent these children here specifically, it seems, to be consumed by the Morrok.

Act 3 : ***, 17%

Hedging his bets, Tuvok consents to hide the children from the Druid search parties. After they avoid detection (in a scene which tries and fails to feel tense), the children explain that they have been sent to this moon, as children are, to complete a final ritual and be killed by the Morrok. Their sacred texts suggest the children should be at peace with this custom. Based on what we saw on the Voyager, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that the Druids are some sort of backwards cult, whose superstitions lead them to kill their own children, as illogical as this would seem. Tuvok determines to return the children to the Voyager until he can figure out what's actually going on, and we get another group hug. Yay....

The Voyager tracks Tuvok's overdue shuttle to the moon where a Druid vessel is already in orbit and ignoring hails. Alcia herself finally responds to berate Janeway for desecrating their sacred whatever. Janeway tells Torres to make the transporters work, damn it, because it would be better not to piss off the Druids further by setting down a shuttle. Oh? Does she actually think that there's a chance in hell Alcia will give her the polyferranide after this, or have the Plot Gods demanded a sacrifice in blood?

On the moon, the Druids have abandoned the shuttle crash—because this desecration of their sacred whatever can just remain here, right? The presence of Ensign Two Days From Retirement in a statis field doesn't indicate that the other crewman might return for him? God these people are dumb. Anyway, the kids are still kvetching about the Morrok, so Tuvok consents to sing them to sleep. This is a nice callback to “Persistence of Vision,” where the establishment of Tuvok's musical abilities provided an all too brief peek into his relationship with his family.

“Still unfulfilled, he journeyed home
Told stories of the lessons learned
And gained true wisdom by the giving.”

I'm a sucker for ironic song lyrics.

The children fall asleep peacefully, but only one of them awakens in the morning, the other two having somehow vanished during the night.

Act 4 : **, 17%

Tuvok leaves Tressa alone and armed in the ever more-repaired shuttle while he investigates the cave for clues. Within, he discovers the other children's clothes—several sets in fact, not just the two of the kids he had been caring for. He returns to Tressa to deliver the bad new (another hug). Tressa is quite certain that she will be the next to die.

A little later, Tuvok is finally able to make contact with the Voyager in orbit:

JANEWAY: We read you, Tuvok. Are you all right?
TUVOK [on viewscreen]: Yes, Captain, but Ensign Bennet is dead.
JANEWAY: We know.

[and we don't give a fuck] It's at this point that a big opportunity is wasted. Tuvok, having accepted that Tressa's claim that her people are trying to kill her, intends to get her off the moon and to safety. This decision has prompted Janeway to abandon her stance that they should respect the Druids' customs and laws (WHY?) and help Tuvok escape. If Janeway were solely intent on protecting her crew regardless of the infractions against these aliens, she wouldn't have waited 'til now to launch a rescue, and if she were determined to keep the peace no matter what, she would have ordered Tuvok, reluctantly, to leave the girl behind and take the shuttle home. Tuvok would naturally not abandon Tressa, meaning we'd have Tuvok violating orders and sacrificing his good standing with his captain and best friend in order to protect a child, something whose logic is rather nebulous, tying this whole thing back into the theme of the episode. But instead, the consistency in Janeway's character is sabotaged in order to make Tuvok's decision easier and rush the ending. Too bad.

Instead of that interesting stuff, we get a scene where Janeway and Paris make a “cold launch” of a second shuttle.

“Hey Mister Paris, the last time you and I were alone in a shuttle together, things got interesting.”
“Captain?”
“If I learned anything as a science officer, it's that sometimes, you've got to make room for a little pointless fun in the midst of dire missions. Now take your pants off!”

Act 5 : **, 17%

Tuvok manages to launch his shuttle while Janeway's approaches the surface. Druids are closing in on all sides. Oh NO!!!! Anyway, Alcia makes contact with Tuvok—I guess now they can scan accurately enough to determine that one of their kids is aboard his shuttle even though they haven't been able to get a fix on them for days. Okay...

ALCIA [on monitor]: You're holding one of our children. I want to speak to her.
TUVOK: She believes you intend to kill her. Is that true?
ALCIA [on monitor]: The child is confused. I only want to help her.
TRESSA: You want me to die.

For drama's sake, or whatever, Alcia isn't at all more specific about what she means, she just insists that Tressa leaving this moon is unacceptable because GOD or something. Demonstrating even more logical behaviour, Alcia determines that the best way to protect the sacred cargo that must not be desecrated is to shoot at it. Brilliant!

Anyway, all parties converge on the surface, Tuvok's shuttle being forced to land. We FINALLY get the big reveal that the Druids age Benjamin Button-style. The resolution to the plot is really fucking stupid, but Tuvok manages to rescue things somewhat:

TRESSA: You said you would protect me.
TUVOK: I cannot protect you from the natural conclusion of life, nor would I try. Vulcans consider death to be the completion of a journey. There is nothing to fear.

The episode ends on a somber note as Tuvok and Tressa enter the cave together as the sun sets so she can complete her journey, fearlessly.

Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%

This episode fluctuates wildly from quite good to absurdly bad. The plot itself is really, really forced and I was reminded many times of “Heroes and Demons,” where the crew had to be dumbed down in order for the story to unfold. At least here, it's mostly the aliens who behave like idiots instead of our regulars, but I remain disappointed by the way Janeway was written, lacking the kind of sturdy development we've seen from her most of the rest of the season.

But then there were several sublime moments around Tuvok, the lullaby being the highlight. Tim Russ really gets to show his mastery of the Vulcan portrayal which never even hints at being emotional (the way early Data and Spock often did), but is still engaging and dynamic throughout. I very much liked how logic led to catharsis here; Tuvok made the most sensible decisions at every step with the information he had been provided at the time. When it became clear what was really going on with the children and their dying, he immediately pivoted to helping Tressa accept her inevitable death, and this reversal feels fully consistent with his relationship with her throughout the episode because there is no emotion clouding his judgement. Obliquely, we see how good a father Tuvok must be, despite our preconceptions about the role love is supposed to play in parenting, and this further informs our understanding of the Vulcan culture. This isn't a great episode overall, but it is a great Tuvok vehicle, and for that reason alone, I recommend it.

Final Score : **.5
Jackson
Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 5:17pm (UTC -5)
Ugh.

Even in a Trekverse where warp travel and time travel are possible, I can't accept the biological ridiculousness of the "aging backward" concept...starting out old and fully realized and growing smaller and somehow less withered and "spent" as you age, on both the macro- and the micro-, or cellular level.

Did Mork and Mindy invent this concept, or is it even older than that?

Anyway, I find it at least as offensive as what Jammer calls "Fun with DNA".
Dougie
Sat, Mar 30, 2019, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
I’d always struggled with Tim’s singing. Makes me shiver. Thanks Elliott wish I could follow you or you had a section for these.

Would you consider Author! Author! From S7?

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