Star Trek: Voyager


3 stars.

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

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

— Tuvok and Suder

Review Text

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

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

Comment Section

94 comments on this post

    Tuvok killing Neelix was the best moment in Voyager up to this point.

    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".

    "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.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but how did the holographic characters have replicator credits to bet with in the first place?

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    @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!

    @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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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!

    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..."

    "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.

    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.

    >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.

    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?

    I was blown away by this episode. Cerebral and highrow indeed--more, please! Are Piller's other episodes commensurate with this one?


    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.

    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'

    Is it just me or is Tuvok ALWAYS frowning and angry, in EVERY episode? He seems to be perpetually "ticked off".

    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.

    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.

    "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?

    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.

    Oh, good old Trek... forcing its anti-death penalty propaganda on an episode.

    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.

    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.

    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?


    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.

    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.

    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.

    @ 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.

    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.

    @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.

    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.

    A who cares crew man kills another who cares crew man and the Vulcan guy has a meltdown. Who cares

    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.

    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)?

    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.

    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

    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?"

    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.

    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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Tuvok knows lots of Alpha Quadrant martial arts. I wonder if one of them is the lame Ambo-Jitzu from The Icarus Factor.

    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.

    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."'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.

    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?

    A disturbing and compelling episode -- not sure I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it but I have to respect it. Russ's performance is fantastic and the examination of violent/anti-social behavior is accurately portrayed (from what little I know of it). Great guest actor performance for Suder as well -- this is an intelligent episode and one Voyager should be proud of coming after "Threshold".

    The Suder character as a psychopath does send chills down the spine -- he's cold, heartless and those black contact lenses make him look totally deranged -- looks like Hannibal Lecter in "Silence of the Lambs". And the scenes with Tuvok talking to Suder while he's in the brig is very much reminiscent of that movie.

    And what does Voyager do with someone who deserves life in prison? Janeway again sticks hard and fast to Star Fleet principles -- no death penalty so she confines Suder to quarters with added security measures even if he is fine with being executed. But at least this is Janeway staying true to her character.

    Tuvok's performance as a Vulcan is very accurate for me. Like Odo he does a great job as an investigator. Thought it was pretty cool how Tuvok set up a holodeck program to be annoyed by Neelix as a test for himself -- and the viewer watches it thinking it's the real thing. But Tuvok unchained was awesome to watch -- the scene behind the forcefield didn't make me think of Spock with emotions as this was much darker, but seeing a good Vulcan portrayal of emotions is quite the welcomed sight.

    Doc's sarcastic/pragmatic way of dealing with things is fun to watch. Picardo's a joy to watch. At least him and Janeway become very skeptical about mind melds.

    Bit bogus in the ending with Tuvok being unable to complete the murder of Suder as being a sign of his recovery. How this is actually reasoned is bizarre -- perhaps the 1 weakness of the episode. But this comes after another good dialog between Suder and Tuvok about how the violence takes over the person.

    Solid 3 stars for "Meld" -- great acting performances / dialogs, an intelligent examination of the serial killer / violence phenomena, and a test of Janeway's character and support for her crewmember (Tuvok). This has a lot of what makes Star Trek so good, only that formula is applied to a dark social phenomena.

    It's exciting to see a Vulcan 'unmasked', especially one as closely-guarded as Tuvok. A great performance from Tim Russ, and from one of my favourite actors, Brad Dourif. If you haven't seen HBO's "Deadwood", it's a masterpiece, and Dourif is exceptional in it. And, for once, he doesn't play a psychopath, traitor, or murderer!

    I love the fact that Tuvok has a "Kill Neelix" hologram program, though I suspect it's part of the ship's general library for any crew member to use.

    A great one! Tim Russ is wonderful in it, as is our guest star. Agree that Russ is a standout as a Vulcan. Really good. Many wonderful moments, especially Tuvok and Janeway.

    I think the B plot was meant to mirror the A plot. Why is Paris always driven to break the rules, what's the appropriate punishment, and the like.

    It's Aug 2018, and I see the political discussions above didn't age too well. Nevertheless, I am hoping humanity will somehow achieve a Trekian future.

    A four star ep.

    2 stars

    Very boring

    I didn’t care for the Paris gambling subplot on its own it was filler. Only worthwhile tho g came from it playing into the Paris mini arc.

    The tuvok and suder story was equally dull. I thought in for an intriguing murder mystery. Nope. That was quickly dispensed with as Suder revealed he did it ten minutes in. The rest was about tuvok’s effects of his meld with suder. The histrionics and temper tantrum as I call it involving tuvok did absolutely nothing for me

    I’m disappointed because when I watched this episode I saw the following exchange:
    Tuvok: is it possible he’s psychotic?
    Doctor: call up the genetic records... no, it doesn’t show any tendencies towards Bipolar Disorder...

    Ok, as a person with Bipolar Disorder, I am NOT psychotic. This is very well known even in the 21st century. I’m offended that they had to put this in the show blantantly false discrimination towards mental illness.

    Bipolar doesn’t make you a murderer.

    That disgusted and disturbed me enough I didn’t care to watch the rest of the episode.


    Doc wasn't making your assertion. He was checking for one symptom.

    You should watch the rest of the episode.

    I have been involved, quite extensively, in an exploration of the unusual mental abilities of the Vulcans, particularly the mind-meld, and I just want to say that the episode "Meld" was one of the very best of the entire Voyager series. It was a beautiful and compelling tale that brought out to the fullest extent the benefits and the risks of this procedure, and the two protagonists did a superlative job in this regard. It is interesting to note that Tuvok, being all Vulcan, may not have been adequately protected against the risk of losing his control, and so when that happened he really blew his top---an incredible display by Tim Russ. They should have used him a lot more than they did. I also enjoyed---to the hilt---how he dispatched Neelix whom I saw as an insufferable nuisance! Incidentally, Tuvok would turn in another tour-de-force of a performance in the fifth-season episode "Infinite Regress" in which he would go all-out with the most powerful---and the most stressful---of all mind-melds, the Vulcan mind-fusion, to rescue Seven of Nine from a life-threatening predicament.

    I agree completely with the commenters saying that Tim Russ was underused - he had a solid grasp of his character from the beginning, and this episode demonstrates the depths and nuances that could be drawn out with intelligent writing. The smaller touches Russ committed to his performance really stand out as well - like how his hands were twitching and restless in the scene with Janeway immediately after the mindmeld, which provides a foundation of uncertainty to his suggestion of an execution. It isn't explicitly clear if that is something that Tuvok would ordinarily have believed appropriate, if it is an illogical gut reaction that he would have otherwise reasoned against, or if it's a residue of the violent thoughts Tuvok accepted from Suder during the meld.
    I also feel like Janeway taking a step forward when Tuvok warned her to not come any closer was very appropriate and in character - at her core, I think she had a Kirk-like arrogance and volatility, and her impulse was always to respond negatively against threats.
    There are lots of other smaller additions to this episode which stayed in my mind after watching it a couple of times, like the way the Doctor casually walks through the forcefield, or (as that other Voyager review blog pointed out) the artful direction where Tuvok sees the body (which is obscured), and a bar of line shines across his eyes. Lots of small technological details are emphasised: the type of spanner used by Suder to club Darwin, the interaction of holograms and forcefields, the manner in which Tuvok hacks through the force field with an electrical conduit (very in-character for a security officer), the cortical monitor that he sensitively detaches and deconstructs, etc.

    Teaser : **.5, 5%

    We begin back in Chez Sandrines with Harry, fully mammalian Tom, a few scattered Voyager extras and Ricky Lake. Tom wants to put stakes on their pool game, which Ricky notes is an obvious hustle. This tired bullshit eventually leads to Tom starting an “honest” betting pool amongst the crew (they bet in rations). The only bit I find amusing is that Tom tells Harry to write down the names of the gamblers on a PADD and he dutifully complies like the good bottom bitch he is.

    Meanwhile, Neelix is being his usual charming self. Pledging to Tuvok in the Mess Hall that he has chosen to make it “his duty” to get the Vulcan to smile before they reach the AQ. This is supposed to be really annoying, so I suppose we can call it successful characterisation. The scene does eventually land on an amusing note, with Neelix suggesting resurrecting an ancient Vulcan tradition on the Voyager: greased-up orgy night. I can get behind that.

    Tuvok is called away to Engineering by Torres, where we learn that a bloody corpse has been left in one of the Jeffries Tubes. People really need to learn to clean up after themselves.

    Act 1 : ***, 17%

    The EMH reports to Tuvok the findings of his autopsy. Lt Darwin (the corpse) was murdered, most likely by Ken Ham. In the readyroom, we learn that the only person on duty when Darwin was murdered was a man called Suder. This give Chakotay the willies.

    CHAKOTAY: Around us he was the quietest, most unassuming guy you'll ever meet. Typical Betazoid, Kept to himself...In combat there was something in his eyes...Sometimes I had to pull him back, stop him from going too far. And once or twice when I did he looked at me with those cold eyes and I just knew he was this far away from killing me.

    It doesn't have anything to do directly with this story, but it's good to see that the Maquis-integration issues (which as I've said, are the only viable way to explore the topic without veering off into absurdity) are not yet put to rest. Oh, I'm sorry, I'm supposed to say, “Why are there holodecks? Why haven't the Maquis mutinied? Voyager sucks.”

    So Tuvok calls Suder to his office to question him. Suder is of course being played by the reliably creepy-as-fuck Brad Dourif). Suder tries to turn Tuvok's suspicion around on him by accusing him of harbouring resentment towards the Maquis, but this is pretty useless with a Vulcan.

    TUVOK: I assure you, I have no feelings about the Maquis.
    SUDER: No, you just spied on us and were going to turn us all over to Starfleet.
    TUVOK: As hard as it may be for you to understand, that did not require any feelings on my part.

    Russ and Dourif have a rather unique and enjoyable chemistry. Both are playing characters who suppress their feelings but for very different reasons, and this lends an interesting subtext to their conversation. Well it turns out that, aside from establishing the creep factor, Tuvok's interview was pointless, as the EMH has used (non technobabble, amazingly) forensics to determine that Suder is the murderer.

    Tuvok confronts Suder with this news and he immediately confesses, describing in detail how he performed the murder. When Tuvok demands a motive, Suder's only reply is “I didn't like the way he looked at me.” [shudder]

    Act 2 : ***.5, 17%

    TUVOK: Crime must have a logical purpose.
    EMH: Ah yes, I see. How to close the case without understanding the logic of the crime. For a Vulcan, that would be a dilemma, wouldn't it?

    We establish that most of the former Maquis have genetic markers that point towards violence and aggression, again robbing the entire premise that the Maquis themselves have any logical reason for existing, and aren't just a bunch of temperamental children.

    EMH: I think you are trapped in your own Vulcan logic, Lieutenant. All of us have violent instincts. We have evolved from predators. Well, not me, of course, I've just been programmed by you predators. The question is, in a civilised world, can we suppress those instincts? Most of the time we can. Vulcans certainly can. You've got your violent feelings buried underneath centuries of control. But the rest of the humanoid races aren't always so skilled at self-discipline. Crewman Suder may have violent impulses that he just can't control.

    I think most of us can admit that we have shared Tuvok's frustration over this kind of explanation. Everything has to have a reason, doesn't it? So bothered by this is he that he visits Suder in the brig to try and pry some answers out of him. What's more frustrating is Suder's lack of emotion over the incident. Vulcans objectify other cultures (one of the few phrases from Enterprise I feel is worth adopting) and thus, whatever actions they take which have no logical purpose are inevitably the result of a lack of emotional discipline. If objectifiable emotions are not responsible for an otherwise illogical crime, how can Tuvok possibly accept this situation? What's great about this setup is that this premise gives Tuvok a visceral motivation for his actions well before he is actually robbed of emotional control. With Data, it was nearly always his quest to be more human that drove his experiments. Tuvok has no such aspirations, so this is quite clever. Further complicating matters is the fact that Suder has all but volunteered to be executed for his crime, something the Federation doesn't do. With few other options, Tuvok elects to meld with Suder to understand this mystery. He justifies this approach by mentioning that some of Tuvok's mental abilities would be (temporarily) transferred to Suder, which could only aid in silencing his own demons (c.f. “Sarek”).

    Act 3 : ***.5, 17%

    We pick up with Paris' daily sweepstakes rewarding no one, and him making off with his booking fee to enjoy a Neelix-free lunch.

    Anyway, Tuvok reports his findings to Janeway, noticeably agitated after the experience. They theorise that being cooped up on the Voyager with no regular outlet to unleash his anger is what likely drove Suder to this crime. So, they decide to coop him up indefinitely. In seriousness, I'm with Jammer on this point: executing him is barbaric and eternal confinement in his decorated cage is certainly a harsh enough punishment. SFDebris in his review suggested putting Suder in stasis, which seems very strange to me as it would mean he would sleep through his sentence. Seems much less harsh than imprisonment. Tuvok however, puts capital punishment on the table, which strikes Janeway as out of character. She wonders what side-effects may be lingering within her old friend, and orders him to mind his own needs in all this.

    So Tuvok heads back to the Mess Hall for more punishment from the Morale Officer. Ethan Phillips is extraordinarily talented at playing an insufferable irritant, going so far as to shove his finger in Tuvok's mouth to prompt a smile. Then he threatens to sing, which sends Tuvok into an homicidal rage and, waddaya know, Neelix is strangled to death. Of course, this is just a holodeck simulation, but as others have noted, it is incredibly macabre and darkly humorous to assign Neelix the role of one who could affect Tuvok in this way. You have to wonder in episodes like “Rise” if this memory didn't spring up.

    Act 4 : ****, 17%

    We again start out with the B plot, but this time Chakotay steps in to Sandrines to put the gambling act to an end. He puts Paris on report and mentions through his teeth that Janeway will be disappointed with him. There's undoubtedly some schadenfreude involved with Chakotay confirming his own long-held suspicion that Paris is a piece of shit.

    Meanwhile, Suder awakens in his cell to find Tuvok staring at him from behind the force field. Creepy is as creepy does. Suder is finding himself a bit more Tuvok-like in his objectification of his own emotions, which of course means the inverse is true of Tuvok. The Vulcan lays out the prescribed punishment for Suder, which of course in the enlightened Federation is rehabilitation; he will continue to study Vulcan discipline and be allowed the chance to exorcise his violent tendencies on the holodeck. Suder mentions that holo-violence isn't really satisfying, which of course makes one think of Worf and his Skeletor programme. In Worf's case, however, I think the programme is designed to be a work-out. Klingons have killer instincts, but they aren't blood-thirsty in the same way. Even for them, violence has to have a purpose. And Tuvok already knows first hand that holo-violence doesn't it cut it when it comes to these dark thoughts they now share.

    TUVOK: I have studied violence for over a hundred years.
    SUDER: Studying it and knowing it are two different things, aren't they. It's attractive, isn't it.
    TUVOK: Attractive?
    SUDER: Violence.
    TUVOK: On the contrary. I find it disturbing.

    The unique chemistry between the actors is again put to excellent use here. It's a common theme in Vulcan stories to explore the idea what makes us evolved humans is really just a concerted effort to suppress our natural instincts. In the Vulcans' case, the instincts are radically more intense, and thus the discipline must be radical to match. Seeing Tuvok so vulnerable to this beady-eyed Betazoid wonderfully disturbing. Suder wants to meld again, but Tuvok recognises that this is probably a bad idea. Feeling himself slip away, Tuvok retreats to his quarters, erects a force field and deletes his security codes.

    Act 5 : ***.5, 17%

    Janeway is summed to his quarters by the computer and she arrives to find the place completely trashed by the heaping mass of quiet rage which used to be her security chief. It's a very visceral little scene that relies almost entirely on the actors' delivery and the directing, with Tuvok crouched in the darkness and Janeway haloed in angelic light from the corridor.

    He's sedated and brought to the sickbay, where the EMH confirms that the meld has caused some problems (duh), due to some incompatibilities with the Betazoid telepathic centre in Suder, which is a soft touch that I like very much. There's a brief moment for Picardo to be his usual grumpy self over Vulcan arrogance, which is always welcome, but his only prescribed treatment is a kind of neural shock therapy.

    Tuvok is awakened. Again, I'm reminded of “Sarek” a bit; there's no more logical reason (ironically) for Tuvok to be awake for this procedure than there was for Picard after his meld, but it's a great excuse for some impressive acting. In his state, he takes the opportunity to berate Janeway for her choice of punishment regarding Suder. What's great about this is that this makes clear that the rationalisation for capital punishment is purely emotional and thus, unjustifiable:

    TUVOK: Admit it! Part of you feels as I do. Part of you wants him to die for what he did...He has killed and you know he deserves to die! On behalf of the victim's family, Captain, I beg you to reconsider. Give them the satisfaction of his execution.

    After the episode, Tuvok is sedated and left alone in the surgical bay. That night, unmonitored, he manages to break himself free from the Doctor's devices AND the force field. Nifty.

    And where does he go but straight to the brig to resume with Suder.

    SUDER: Have you come to kill me?
    TUVOK: To execute you for your crime.
    SUDER: To execute me. I see. And calling it that makes it more comfortable for you... Understand one thing, Tuvok. I can promise you this will not silent your demons. If you can't control the violence, the violence controls you. Be prepared to yield your entire being to it, to sacrifice your place in civilised life for you will no longer be a part of it, and there's no return.

    Tuvok attempts the meld again, which may kill them both it seems, but in the end Tuvok finds himself unable to go through with it, and collapses.

    There's a brief coda, where things are put back where they belong, Tuvok and Janeway make up, the EMH gets another quip and Suder is stored away for another day. A nice touch is Janeway replicating the gesture from “Twisted” that Tuvok used to demonstrate his affection for her (one of the few good moments of that trash pile).

    Episode as Functionary : ***.5, 10%

    Tim Russ is finally given a story that fires on all cylinders. We've got a bit of Tuvok the investigator, which were bright spots in several Season 1 stories; we've got Tuvok unhinged, which serves to show just how hard Russ is working every week to maintain that characteristic Vulcan cool; and we've got an effective message show wrapped up in a character piece. Piller's dialogue really sings when he's dealing with complex issues (as opposed to the pedestrian ones we've have often had to endure from him), and unlike last week, the familiar Voyager sets are shot in a way to make them feel fresh and engaging despite the bottleshow limitations in place. The B-story serves its purpose, but feels relatively benign in isolation, with some amusing tension arising between Chakotay and Paris. This finally feels like the show Voyager is capable of being.

    Final Score : ***.5


    “What's great about this is that this makes clear that the rationalisation for capital punishment is purely emotional and thus, unjustifiable”

    Why? We’re humans, not Vulcans, what makes emotions less valid than anything else?


    Emotions are perfectly valid for what they are, but the point is that they are fleeting. They change, usually, and even if they don't, they are completely subjective. Determining whether or not to end someone's life based on emotions is not only illogical, it's immoral.

    One of my favorite episodes. On every rewatch, it holds my attention completely and gets my mind working in ways most television cannot. I love it.

    Now, I disagree with its positions on what violence is, on how violence is irrational and consuming. Sometimes it's rational, sometimes it's not; some people can practice it daily and not get "addicted" to it, some people can't. It's still just television. Nothing in this episode connects violence to power in any meaningful way, or questions the role of instinct, utility, or dominance in social order. The philosophy at work here is radically oversimplified and gives too many people an unjustified superiority complex for looking at an entire dimension of human experience and saying no to it.

    But as an episode, it's fantastic. Brad Dourif is one of the top five guest stars in Voyager history, and Tim Russ gives a fantastic performance, no surprise given Russ' quality as an actor. Killing Neelix? Kind of satisfying to me, but evidently much more so for other people. I'm glad to see everyone enjoyed it so much. Pretty good for a TV quality social philosophy episode.

    There's something about dark and bad ass trek stories that always gets to me.

    4 Stars. Easy.

    PS. "I love the fact that Tuvok has a "Kill Neelix" hologram program, though I suspect it's part of the ship's general library for any crew member to use."
    Great comment XD

    I love this episode, Tom Russ is an incredible actor and ,as others have said, very underused in ST Voyager.

    After the meld you can actually see Tuvok beginning to lose his Vulcan control and when he finally does Tim Russ’s performance in his quarters and in the medical bay are first rate. Also the interaction between Russ and Dourif are excellent!

    On another note I couldn’t help thinking while watching Crazy Tuvok in this episode, remember the DS9 episode where Worf is forced to fight Jem H’adar warriors in single combat I that Dominion prison? Imagine Crazy Tuvok in that scenario......

    I enjoyed this one, the main guest star was believable and entertaining. I usually cringe in the "Vulcans gone bad episodes," but this one was better than most.

    Sorry, I have to disagree with the consensus. This episode was painfully boring. The premise that someone killed another crewmember because the way he looked at him is as implausible as the creatures at the end of Threshold.

    I was prepared to not like this as I was thinking this would be another standard "Trek" murder mystery, which they don't do well.

    But once the mystery was wrapped up in 15 minutes or less, we got this very good emotional journey with Tuvok.

    One of the best Voyager outings so far.

    By the way, I'm now watching these in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Somehow, it makes me even more appreciative of Trekdom to get my mind off things for an hour.

    Not a fan of this episode. Hollywood loves to portray murderers as robots that kill without reason...but in reality almost all murderers have very specific reasons. Usually it is a distorted sense of protection or justice.

    The truly psychotic who actually kill for no reason are extraordinary rare and would not have been as stable and eloquent as Suder was...they would have been disjointed, arrogant, and perhaps with a twisted sense of humour. The motive part of the story just seemed to cliche for me.

    Tuvoc going mad didn't work for me either. It was too one-dimensional, boring and predictable (like most going mad stories). Tim's acting wasn't top notch...he could have varied his cadence more, used more eye movement, vocal inflections, arm movement etc...even when emotional he came off as robotic. What bugged me was that Tuvoc was only suppressing violent emotions, when in reality vulcons suppress all emotions. Tuvoc losing control should have been more varied and not simply being turned into a robotic killer.

    This would be a four star for me. Tuvok getting emotions is of course contrived but the route taken to get to this scene is creatively done. I was surprised Voyager even talked about cold blooded murder let alone devote an episode exploring it. The whole episode feels dark and the scenes between Suder and Tuvok have a malicious undercurrent that feels just below the surface. The direction was effective throughout as well.

    Janeway in MELD: "An execution? You're not seriously suggesting we execute him? We are Starfleet officers."

    Janeway in TUVIX: "Starfleet who? I'll personally carry out the execution!"

    This is Janeway in a nutshell. She changes her morals constantly to fit the outcome she wants.


    Janeway in TUVIX: "Starfleet who? I'll personally carry out the execution!"

    This is Janeway in a nutshell. She changes her morals constantly to fit the outcome she wants."

    Not close to a fair argument. Janeway was saving 2 shipmates lives when she reversed the affects of a transporter accident.

    I find amusing that the murder weapon was a lightsaber.

    I wonder if this episode was partially inspired by the case of Russian serial murderer Andrei Chikatilo. Reportedly, after his arrest, he was interviewed for years by ONE psychologist, who (not surprisingly) later suffered a complete mental breakdown and lifelong PTSD. I've read it's part of the reason why psychologists who interview serial murderers are now routinely "switched out"--so they don't suffer damage to their own mental health by getting too involved with these individuals (similar to what happened with Tuvok).

    Also, I like the subtle touch that Tuvok seems receptive to executing Suter (to the point of almost arguing for it) within hours of melding with the latter. Suder's psychosis clearly had an immediate impact. That's great writing!

    This is, more properly, a re-hash of the third season Babylon 5 episode "Passing Through Gethsemane." But it's excellent stuff; Dourif always adds a certain flair, and Tim Russ gets to show off his dramatic chops here. (See also his brief post-torture scene in 'Basics Part II.') Shame he wasn't used more frequently or effectively throughout the series.

    Doing a rewatch of Voyager inspired by the pandemic just because it's the Star Trek show I've seen the least of (didn't have UPN until mid-way through). Tim Russ is so good whenever he gets anything to do. It's a shame it didn't happen more often and "Tuvok has emotions" isn't the kind of thing you can trot out all the time, but this was a fine showcase for him.

    I think it's an interesting episode politically.

    It presents the argument for capital punishment in a negative light, strongly implying it's just an expression of violent instincts rather than something rational. But it also clearly argues against a certain liberal view that doesn't really accept that some people are violent by nature and that gives little room for motiveless hostility as a driving factor in violent crime.

    Depending on your politics you'll find different parts of this more v less persuasive, but it's a lot more sophisticated than Star Trek political messaging normally gets.

    This episode always struck me as an attempt to ape the masterful, classic X-files episode, "Beyond the Sea," also starring Brad Dourif.

    And compared to that hour of television, "Meld" looks rather contrived. You know Brad Dourif's character is a mad man (X-files managed to subvert this; Brad was both psycho and hero), you know Tuvok is going to go crazy, you know he's going to lose a grip on his emotions (every Vulcan hero has done the same), you know he's going to turn into a murderous madman, and you know he's going to be brought back from the brink.

    On a scene-by-scene level - in terms of dialogue, performance and direction - it's a strong episode, but the actual arc of the episode is generic. I think I'd have preferred instead a straight-forward debate on capital punishment. Have Tuvoc arguing for killing the guy (he will murder again, we cannot divert ship resources indefinitely etc) and Janeway argue for life. Maybe they banish the guy to a planet and leave him there. Either way, "Vulcan losing his mind" seems an obvious trope to me, though admittedly it's only really happened a handful of times prior to this episode airing.

    Or better yet, take the premise more seriously of them sharing thoughts, and instead of Tuvok randomly going crazy because insanity is apparently contagious, instead have Tuvok see Sudor's point of view as actually being logical, so that Tuvok was unable to escape the logic that random killing is justifiable. Make the episode a moral logic puzzle, where Tuvok isn't trapped in a bad dream so much as a bad argument, that he can't solve until the end. And so long as the logic seems inescapable then we might get the makings of how someone devoted to pure logic might be a very dangerous person - what happens if logic suggests something immoral or unthinkable? But that's just my fantasy head canon talking, I've always wanted to see a Lawful Evil Vulcan story.

    You seem to be suggesting an episode in which a Vulcan rationalizes himself into becoming a kind of evil Machiavellian, a stance which Janeway will no doubt try to talk him out of.

    I love that idea, so long as all these debates take place around tables. My ideal Trek is always MORE GUYS DEBATING STUFF AROUND TABLES.

    Yeah, something like that. I always had this idea that a Vulcan could be really scary if their implacable and merciless adherence to logic produced radically different results than what a human would hope for. It's something DS9 mucked up royally with Field of Fire. It would be neat to see a 'crazy' Vulcan, where when it's asked what's wrong with him, the answer is 'nothing'. At least with Sudor, I guess the idea would be something like he had in his mind an insane logic that was technically irrefutable, and only a recourse to human emotion could 'disprove' it. The story I envision would be something like that. And yeah, more talking around tables.

    I always remembered this as being one of my preferred episodes of VOY, but it had been many years since I'd seen it. Watching it now, I've got to say that there's just something missing, like a hole in the energy and story. My best guess is that I just don't think Tuvok is able to hold my attention as the star of an episode. Russ has the stoneface down cold, but even back when VOY first aired I thought he wasn't expressive enough. Luckily he has Brad Dourif to send energy at the camera and keep his scenes afloat, but there doesn't seem to be any kind of interesting dynamic between these actors. Looking back, I'm not surprised that they de facto wrote Tuvok out of the show past S4. Seven was much better at the stone face with superior wit routine, among other things. They tried a few times with Tuvok, and maybe a couple were successful, but never great. He just doesn't give enough to inspire a writer IMO.

    Suder is a great character played perfectly by Dourif.

    Suder's Vulcan mode, where he starts inadvertently lecturing and counseling Tuvok is chilling AF. What works so well is that Suder is making a lot of sense here that's difficult to dispute. A meld really can be seen as a form of violence. See Undiscovered Country.

    It's also quite an interesting notion that mind melding with a diseased mind might actually be dangerous.

    It would have been interesting if Tuvok were permanently damaged to some degree, could have spiced up the character.

    Is there not interesting about the fact that they wrote Suder to be Betazoid and not human, though his species doesn't really bear on the episode? Like they don't want to depict a human psychopath on Star Trek (though an alien one is A-okay)?

    While the themes and issues are completely different, "Meld" is reminiscent of "Duet" in DS9. Both are "bottle shows" that concentrate on the dynamics between a regular and a guest actor in the confines of the ship or station as the case may be. It's interesting that these compact "like-a-play" episodes can produce such great results.

    This is a very good episode and one of "Voyager's" best, even if it has little to do with the premise of finding some means to get back to Sector 001 in something less than a few centuries.

    Well I seem to be the odd one out on this. I found it just plain boring. The implication that bipolar disorder could lead to murder was offensive, and for them not to recognize psychopathy when it was literally staring them in the face was unbelievable. Maybe my reaction is because of the advances in psychology in the last 30 years, but it really took me out of the show. Plus, there was really no plot. The case should have been closed as soon as they found the murder weapon right where he said it was.

    That's an example of why I was bored. I would have liked to see a 30-second scene of them finding the murder weapon, and definitely wanted to see all of the first mind meld. I would have appreciated more question as to whether the murderer really had changed.

    The ending seemed too pat for me, maybe too rushed. The murderer had no ill effects from that second mind meld? Whereas it apparently cured Tuvok? If I were Janeway, I'd have a hard time trusting him again.

    I do think the guest star did a great job acting psychopathic, and Tim Russ did pretty well with his difficult part. But I just kept wanting it to be over.

    I enjoyed the exploration of dark psyche in this episode. However, what wasn't properly conveyed was why Tuvok could not accept lack of a clear motive in this murder case. History is full of serial killers who simply kill compulsively. Why was Tuvok willing to go to such absurdly great lengths to find a motive when seemingly everyone else around him was content with not having one? Even the doctor gave a good explanation: the lack of control of primitive murdering instincts. All we get from Tuvok is, "I can't accept that." He's almost 100 years old and can't accept that people just murder each other for no reason?

    Once I was able to suspend disbelief about that, the episode was quite enjoyable. I agree with other commentators above though, that the magic reset button was inevitable and Tuvok returned to normal with seemingly no future consequences.

    Submit a comment

    ◄ Season Index