Star Trek: Voyager


2 stars.

Air date: 11/3/1999
Teleplay by Robert J. Doherty
Story by Andre Bormanis
Directed by Roxann Dawson

"When is a Vulcan no longer a Vulcan?"
"When his genetic code is sufficiently altered."

— Neelix and Seven (deadpan humor, Voyager style)

Review Text

(Note: This episode was re-rated from 2.5 to 2 stars when the season recap was written.)

Nutshell: An agreeable hour, but the premise deserves deeper treatment. As is, it can't transcend being an exercise.

An episode like the amiable but frustrating "Riddles" reminds me how torn I am between trying to accept what Voyager is and scrutinizing it for what it could be. Where must I draw the line in accepting that nothing of significance on this series will ever be allowed to have an impact that isn't automatically reset to zero? Perhaps more urgent concerning the hour at hand: Are the events that stand alone here engaging enough to make me overlook the use of the Voyager Reset Button?

I guess the answer to that last question is, "Well, not quite." "Riddles" has its good moments, but the more I think about this show, the more I realize that all it really consists of is moments—moments that stand alone and don't add up to mean much of anything on a bigger scale.

The episode is the first Tuvok/Neelix vehicle in quite some time—perhaps even since the awful "Rise" from season three. As a Tuvok/Neelix show, it's above average overall (although I admit that's not saying much). The story begins on the Delta Flyer with Tuvok and Neelix alone on one of those shuttle missions where the primary objective is to have two characters alone on a shuttle mission. Neelix still calls Tuvok "Mr. Vulcan," which has always annoyed me plenty, but I suppose acknowledging past characterization is a good thing. Tuvok still barely tolerates Neelix's non-stop blathering, occasionally voicing a flat, Tuvokian request for silence.

Been here and done this—but in "Riddles" the writers put a new spin on the Tuvok/Neelix relationship when Tuvok is zapped by an alien weapon, leaving him severely brain damaged and with memory loss. Doc is able to save his life, but the question is whether Tuvok will recover and reclaim who he was. Neelix becomes the guy to help rehabilitate Tuvok by re-familiarizing him with the previously familiar.

There's also a B-story here involving the crew's attempts to track down the mysterious aliens who attacked Tuvok. With the help of a representative from the Kesat society, named Naroq (Mark Moses), the crew begins a special-technology-assisted search for these mysterious aliens, called the Ba'neth, who apparently go to great lengths to hide themselves from other space travelers. The Kesat on the whole do not even believe the Ba'neth exist; Naroq comes across as a sort of Kesat equivalent of "Spooky Mulder"—he's on a crusade to prove the existence of the Ba'neth to a society that doesn't want to acknowledge the possibility.

What's strange is that the Routine Alien Subplot is actually one of the potentially least routine of its type in some time—in concept, at least. The Ba'neth could've made for a genuinely intriguing storyline—they're a mysterious, invisible society that is well-envisioned through some nifty special effects that maintain an interesting obscurity—but, alas, they're not used in very interesting ways, and turn out to be the usual xenophobes. Nine times out of 10 I'll say "who cares" regarding the alien subplot and welcome emphasis on the character story. Unfortunately, this is Case #10, where the aliens could've been a superior plot of their own. It's a shame that we see so little of them and their motives, and that this subplot chews its way along the typical lines because of the maintained emphasis on Tuvok/Neelix.

So ultimately, and not surprisingly, "Riddles" lives or dies on the strength of the Tuvok/Neelix plot. In short, while there's some decent material here, it's just not on par with the situation's potential. Ostensibly, the story is about Tuvok's battle to reclaim who he is, and then later to accept what he has become. But it doesn't demonstrate these intentions in ways that are particularly fresh. There's a scene between Neelix and Seven that appropriately uses some character history ... but to me it seems the lesson to be learned here (that of molding someone into what they can be rather than what they're unlikely to reclaim) is a pretty obvious lesson that Neelix should've learned on his own. And why is it all lessons are seemingly learned in quiet, empty, darkened rooms, anyway?

If you're on board just to see Tuvok exhibit weird, un-Vulcan-like behavior, then you'll get your money's worth. Tuvok essentially turns into a child because of his brain damage—a sort of "Flowers for Algernon" in reverse—leading to scenes where he reacts in fear, anger, and frustration for what he has lost. And, of course, a scene where he bakes cakes. Seeing an un-Tuvok-like performance by Tim Russ is an interesting experience; you realize just how perfectly controlled, pragmatic, and intentionally flat Tuvok's voice generally is, and how much range Russ milks from the Vulcan confines. Here you see facets of Russ you typically never do (although his intensity in "Meld" from several years back was far more compelling than the child-like antics here). But the story could've gone so much further than it does. I was hoping for a real challenge for Tuvok that would somehow expose the nuts and bolts of who he is.

As it is, the nature of the plot deactivates/reactivates his personality too simplistically, flipping it like a light switch. The eventual restoration of Tuvok to his normal self is entirely too cut-and-dried, without much hint that any of the experience has really affected him. The normal-and-restored Tuvok is so far removed from the damaged Tuvok that we can't see that there's been any noteworthy net change (or even realization) in the final analysis ... and that hurts. "Barge of the Dead" might not be explicitly followed up, but at least it had a sense of B'Elanna's progress and realization. Here, it's hard to see "Riddles" as much more than a pointless exercise.

Naturally, I must point out that anyone with any doubt that Tuvok would make a full recovery by episode's end has not clued into the very obvious established Voyager pattern that Nothing May Have Any Consequences. Perhaps the real tragedy is that I've become so used to the Voyager formula that I already knew how "Riddles" was going to end 20 minutes into the show. Tracking down the Ba'neth would obviously lead to a magical cure that would restore Tuvok to his normal self. While the details of the plot work for the most part, I can't say they're particularly discussion-worthy.

On the whole, "Riddles" isn't bad or misguided—it's just that the events are ho-hum when they should be genuinely involving. Pretty much every scene here had an aura of pleasant reasonableness to it, but also an aura of predictability.

What I did like about this episode was the sympathy it reveals for Neelix. Here's a guy who just wants to be friends with Tuvok, but Tuvok just won't have it. Neelix pushes hard at a guy who by definition cannot be pushed in such ways. After the brain damage we are able to see Neelix connect with Tuvok, and it's under a situation where Tuvok can return the feelings. It's nice seeing Neelix as a helpful person whose motive is not simply to bid annoyingly for Tuvok's attention.

But the episode is never able to escape its own preset "reset to zero" destination. We realize everything will be so neatly fixed by the end, and the story is never able to completely break free from that liability. The final scene is subtle. Too subtle. Tuvok makes a joke that brings a new insight to the episode's opening pun, and we wonder if maybe this experience has somewhat changed him. But the question I'm asking is why the writers seem to think Tuvok can't have friends without a switch in his brain being flipped. Vulcans do have emotions, even if they don't typically express them. The way Tuvok seems to ignore Neelix in the final scene is painful—as I'm sure it's intended to be—but I don't really buy it. Tuvok obviously remembers everything that happened, yet he doesn't acknowledge what Neelix did for him, which I don't think is the right choice by the writers. We need some evidence that this meant something for Tuvok—and I don't think his final pun is nearly enough, especially given the ambivalent-at-best reaction Tuvok has to his own joke.

Since we'll doubtlessly never hear about any of this again, I'm guessing we'll never really know what it's supposed to mean. The writers make most of the show pretty obvious, so why go subtle on us at the last minute? I suppose we can chalk it up to the mystery of the Vulcan mind. Still, I just get the feeling that even the normal-and-emotion-free Tuvok should have more depth and emotional latitude than he's allowed to have here. I know he's capable, but the writers don't seem to.

Next week: Voyager is drawn into an alien conflict. That's a pretty impressive trailer with intense visuals and quite a hook—even with the return of the Big Words™.

Previous episode: Alice
Next episode: Dragon's Teeth

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Comment Section

111 comments on this post

    I would have given this one 3 stars. While I agree that we all knew the reset was coming, I truly enjoyed the new Tuvok discovering jazz, and games, and pastry, and crafts ("It's not good" had such a great face to go with it).

    I liked it also because Neelix was not annoying. His response to Tuvok's "illness" and his dedication to finding out what the new Tuvok COULD accomplish really moved me.

    Every once in a while we get a reminder that Tim Russ is more than a one-note actor--this was one such episode, and I liked it.

    I actually really liked this one. Tim Russ got to show new levels of the character...and the touching moments between Neelix and Tuvok were very moving. The moment when Tuvok tells Neelix he doesn't want to revert back to his old self because they'll stop being friends...if that doesn't pull on your're a statue.

    This was a really good episode, 3.5 stars, I'd say. There was slightly too much Tuvok (and Tuvok-Neelix) drama but even those scenes were not too static or saccharine. The "sci" facet of the show was entertaining and provocative.

    The only annoying thing was toward the end when the time came to restore the old Tuvok and he didn't want to be changed. It's the same jaded politically-correct human-rightsy theme that's been done ad nauseam already and now recycled yet again. I'd personally have almost preferred to see Tuvok do splits on a trampoline to this.

    Tuvix 2.0 Released!

    - Kept Tuvok and Neelix physically separate
    - Made the treatment decision more politically correct following calls to have Janeway tried for murder in v1.0
    - Made it more obvious that you'd have to be brain damaged to enjoy being around Neelix

    (I actually quite liked it. It had some good honest moments. It's a better episode if you try to "forget" that there won't be consequences, even if it would've been awesome to keep him as he was and develop that over the remainder of the series)

    strangely affecting episode; nicely done...makes me wonder though, after watching Tim Russ here, if Vulcans are actually emotionally mature. They suppress and suppress and it seems when they do release emotions somehow, it's unusually despondent and/or amazingly childlike.

    3 stars for sure for me.

    Certain characters need to be reset. Tuvok, Seven and the Doctor (to some extent) add the much needed down to earth approach, and counter the mush that spouts from the other characters.

    Excellent points. As always, your reviews are insightful and thought-provoking.

    I agree that this episode offers an interesting characterization of Neelix. Usually his cheery persistence grates on my nerves, but here we see genuine goodwill.

    Though it's true that Tuvok's problem is ultimately so neatly shrunk and dessicated that it would make the Ferengi proud, Neelix's situation at the end is left more open-ended.

    I think it brings up an interesting question: who does Neelix--friend to all, confidant to all, gently teased by all--really turn to for support?

    Aside from the (let's face it) never remotely convincing relationship between him and Kes, Neelix doesn't seem to have that one "special relationship" that most of the other crewmen do (see: Janeway/Chakotay, Tom/B'Elanna, Tom/Harry Kim, Seven/Janeway).

    In "Mortal Coil" we saw Neelix lose the foundation for his continual confidence; how has he regained it? Or has he even?

    Such a social being, Neelix is a source of support for many. But who is his support?

    This is one of those times that I thought Jammer was too hard. I enjoyed this a lot. There are many episodes in which the use of the Voyager reset switch is a legitimate criticism, but I don't think this is one of them. Nor does knowing the obvious outcome prevent one from enjoying this. Great character moments from Neelix here. I will, however, concede that Tuvok should have acknowledged Neelix's help and at least said thank you in some awkward fashion.

    I just saw this one...honestly I nearly cried. I thought this was a GREAT story. I loved how Neelix and Tuvok bonded...and I realized Tim Russ' range as an actor...He does incredibly well with such sparse material seeing this makes me want to see more of his acting...I give this one 3 maybe 3.5 stars...

    This episode REALLY needed Tuvok to say "thank you" to Neelix at the end and continue the unique friendship. I got so tired of the reset to where Tuvok 'tolerated' Neelix. If I were Neelix, that would piss me off. The writers really had an opportunity to show that friendship and bonds come in a all shapes and sizes.

    That line at the end got me, caused a combination of getting misty-eyed and laughing out loud. I didn't think another tolerable Neelix episode would ever happen.

    I guess I'm a sucker for a good friendship story, and this one gets me, especially the part where Neelix is willing to sacrifice the friendship because he knows it's the right thing to do for Tuvok. Normally I can't stand Neelix, especially the way he pesters Tuvok when he knows it's only going to annoy him. As an introvert myself, he's like a super-extrovert who keeps asking, "So what are you thinking? Is something wrong?" because I haven't spoken in the last 10 seconds.

    But here he wasn't pestering Tuvok for his own sake, at least not after a while. He was genuinely trying to help him and do what was best for him. He enjoyed the fact that Tuvok finally liked him, but that wasn't his reason. Everything Jammer said about the Reset Button is true, but with a good enough story, I don't really care. And I thought the idea of a race so reclusive that their neighbors think they're a myth had potential, though they didn't do much with it except spout technobabble.

    As for the ending, I thought Tuvok *had* changed more than he was showing, but that didn't mean he wanted Neelix popping by to listen to jazz together every evening. So he came up with the smallest gesture possible, to let Neelix know that he did remember and that it did all mean something to him, but that it didn't mean he wanted to be buddies. If he'd given any more of a thank-you, Neelix might not have been able to control himself.

    Why did Tuvok wanting to stay with Neelix negate the possibility of the lunch, instead of lettign Neelix eat too...was Janeway adamant that it only be her and Tuvok, or nothing at all?

    Neelix: "When is a Vulcan no longer a Vulcan?"

    Seven: "When his genetic code has been sufficiently altered"

    Loved that line...

    for a character episode i liked this. how can Tim Russ show his range when his character is mono-everything. you need to find some way to alter him.

    once again Jammer is on his Reset rants. you would thinkd DS9 came BEFORE TNG and TOS. lol

    my favorite series is Law&Order and they are BUILT on resets, for the most part.

    over 100 episodes into Voyager.....

    oh well.

    i give it 2.5/3 stars.

    It's just too bad that a little residual affection for Neelix couldn't have been left over. I mean a little more than a desire to expand the riddle's answer.

    I understand Jammer wanting story arcs to give more depth and character development but that's not what Voyager was ever about. Let it go.

    As far as this particular episode, I was infuriated by Janeway's lack of emotion for Tuvok's predicament. This Vulcan is supposed to be a long time colleague and close friend, yet all she was concerned about was whether or not he could give them the cloaking frequency codes. Even when Neelix says (in an unnecessary attempt to reassure the Captain) that they will get Tuvok' back to the way he was, Janeway merely glances back over her shoulder before walking out of sick bay. The writers just neglected a key relationship (Janeway/Tuvok) in this storyline.

    I for one agree with Jammer. There were a lot of nice isolated moments in this episode, but they don't end up meaning anything, and that's a shame. It would have been interesting to see Tuvok re-learn his former skills throughout the course of the season rather than be magically zapped back to his old self.

    Irrelevant sidenote: apparently the characters (and thus, the writers) don't know the difference between a frequency and a wavelength.

    This episode fails where Gravity succeeded. The latter was a much better character study of Tuvok than people give it credit for. Jammer's correct - Tuvok may be a Vulcan, but his character is written far too restrictively. Just because he's logical and doesn't express emotion shouldn't mean he's rude, inflexible, unable to articulate thanks etc. For 7 years they wrote him as a robot when they shouldn't have, and it's a real shame.

    I totally agree with Jammer that the ending was too subtle. Tuvok should've thanked Neelix at the end, just as others above commented. It wouldn't have had to be emotional; in fact, I think it would've been more poignant to have an unemotional Tuvok simply say: "Mr. Neelix, I must express my gratitude for your assistance while I was incapacitated." I definitely see where the writers were going, but I think that being more direct would've had a deeper payoff.

    I also have to hand it to Ethan Phillips in this episode. I got the sense several times that Phillips wanted to portray Neelix as feeling guilty over Tuvok's attack. When Tuvok became despondent in sickbay, Phillips' facial expressions made me think there would be a follow-up scene where Neelix just let it all out, saying that, because his unwillingness to let Tuvok have his peace and quiet led Tuvok away from helm control and right into his attacker's grasp. I actually thought that scene would be with Seven of Nine, but alas. What a missed opportunity to add rare depth to this character.

    I'd given it 3.5 if they never made Tuvix. Been done but now with a PC approach.

    I'd given it 3.5 if they never made Tuvix. Been done but now with a PC approach.

    Interesting argument, with a flat, uninteresting execution.

    I am not a traditional hater of Neelix, although not a lover either. But I have to say that in this episode he is in fact insupportable to watch. Every single joke he tries, fails to be funny. Even single touching line fails to be touching. Every single cute silliness fails to be cute, succeeding only in being silly. To make things worse, Tim Russ delivers mostly an uninspired, cartoonish acting.

    Yeah, the main story is not bad. The idea of a species that was never seen is inspired (but wasted). The attempt to bring Tuvok and Neelix closer is commendable (and sort of works). The deeper issue of what sustains a friendly relationship could have been interesting, but was not pushed forward enough.

    To summarize, the whole execution just does not stand. It is actually frustrating. Besides, holly Trek, what was that cake thing? Starfleet should certainly include bakers in all ships from now on. And what about the listening-jazz scene? Once again it looks like Trek is not ashamed to establish that there is no other music styles in the next three centuries, not to mention outside US. You know, the future is shiny...

    In the end, an average-ish episode. With a finally touching last scene.

    I've disagreed with you before on ratings, but here I'm genuinely surprised at your low rating. To be fair, the Reset Button was expected and used once again.

    But this is still one of my favorite episodes of Voyager. And it managed the salvage the heretofore disastrous Neelix/Tuvok dynamic in what for me was a completely unexpected way.

    Tuvok HATES Neelix. With the passion of a thousand suns that only a Vulcan can feel - and suppress.

    Which leads to the double tragedy of this episode - and I'm a sucker for tragedy. The direct one, dealing with brain damage, is more poignant than you give it credit for. Yes, it should be obvious that damaged Tuvok should be taught to become what he can be, not what he was. Yet this is a lesson that people in the real world never manage to learn until something FORCES them to understand the person they knew will never be the same again.

    It's an obvious lesson - but it's one that has to be learned, over and over again, so one I absolutely do not fault the script for. (Though I suppose you could argue that Trek mores are supposed to be advanced enough this would be the default Trekkian response.)

    And while the primary Tuvok plot was good enough as an allegory to brain damage in our world, the Reset Button is forgiven by me precisely because it's the Reset that provides the real emotional punch of the episode.

    Neelix LIKES Tuvok, and damaged Tuvok likes him back, yet Neelix must accept the death of this relationship for the good of his friend. That's powerfully sad, and yet something that can only be cheered on by Neelix himself.

    A complex emotional resonance that the Reset gives us.

    Tuvok HATES Neelix, yet repaired Tuvok owes Neelix an unpayable debt for Neelix's dedication to him during his recovery. And he has the memory of his gratitude for Neelix, and more, his dependence on him.

    But repaired Tuvok still HATES Neelix. It quite frankly hurts him to admit any attachment to Neelix at all. Yet he is compelled to do so to the extent he can because of the unpayable debt. And so he maintains tremendous guilt for his revocation of their temporary friendship - yet proves he will humiliate himself to please Neelix (even if only a tiny bit) out of gratitude.

    It's incredibly powerful stuff. Full of exceptional characterization (all the more remarkable since it ably incorporates the previous badly-written dynamic). And while I agree with you that the aliens could have been interesting & some Voyager cliches are present, as with some of your DS9 reviews, I have to say the sheer weight of the episode forgives what would otherwise be flaws.

    MisterFred nailed it. Very powerful. And they both still carry the Tuvix memories. Quite a connection there. Hate and guilt. Still, Tuvok does dance as Neelix leaves in Homestead-I'm surprised he didn't carry Neelix's bag to the Transporter Room for him. I'd be equally surprised if Neelix's departure didn't throw Tuvok into a Pon Farr.....(no relation to Jamie) (=
    Tuvok DESPISED Neelix! Whew!!

    "Then how will you know... how much I enjoy being with you?"

    What a great and memorable bromance episode. That scene made me tear up a little bit in a manly way. Tim Russ was really awesome in this one.

    It's amazing how much people complain about "unbearable PC BS" to the point that the complaining itself becomes unbearable BS.

    Well, the answer to that is simple, Garth: Don't do crappy PC to begin with.

    What I didn't like about this episode is that it completely negates the reason Tuvok and Vulcans in general have for suppress their emotions. Vulcan emotions are intense and passionate, many times more than humans. Their emotions are suppress not out of choice but necessity. When Tuvok lets his hair down, so to speak, he is more of less like any normal human. Side from his rampage in sick bay, he has pretty good control over his emotions. I don't know if this was some left over Vulcan discipline from his true self but I expected him to be an emotional mess much like he was in Meld. He should have been dangerous. If anything, this should have been an episode focused on Nelix understanding why Tuvok needs to suppress his emotions.

    I couldn't disagree more with this review. This episode certainly deserves 3-4 stars. Of course it was expected for Tuvok to be restored at the end of the episode, but this fact did not detract from its overall emotional impact. It was wonderful to see another side of Tuvok, and his bonding with Neelix (in non-annoying mode, no less) was superbly performed by both actors. Like other posters above I teared up when "new" Tuvok uttered the line "how will you know how much I enjoy being with you?", as well as Neelix's line "I'm really going to miss him."

    While it would have been nice to see Tuvok express more direct gratitude at the end of the episode, this was subtly done as Tuvok offered the non-logical response to Neelix's original riddle. I think this was Tuvok's way of letting Neelix know that, despite the restoration of the "old" Tuvok, that he did appreciate Neelix for what he was, even if his "logical" self precluded him from expressing it as often as he would like.

    All in all, a touching episode definitely worthy of recommendation.

    The reset button may be clearly built-in but the episode was still enjoyable and worthwhile and contributed to the characters.

    Loved this episode, unexpected good VOY entry. It's true that this show will continue to press the reset button, but at this point it seems better to accept that from a show like this. VOY was never like DS9 oe BSG where there is any continuous character development, but that's never been the intent. It's more like X-Files where you just enjoy entries for what they are, and enjoy stories for what they can do within the format. Even if you know that Tuvok will be his old self at the end watching him and Neelix go through the journey was still really good I thought. 3/4

    Not entirely successful, but for the most part a surprisingly low key and emotionally engaging episode. It's Neelix that gets the best of the story, and his concern for Tuvok is genuinely endearing. Indeed, in finally making a connection with Tuvok, this is something of a highlight in Neelix's story.

    Despite some really strong moments - the dessert scene in particular is a joy - Tuvok is perhaps just a little too much a whiny kid to really hit home. And the alien chase is nothing more than standard. 3 stars overall.

    I accept that pseudo-scientific contrivances are part of the glue that holds these Voyager episodes together, but was I only one bothered by how they derived the much-needed cloak frequency from the cake diagram? No amount of computer analysis will allow you to quantify anything unless you label your axes, Mr.Vulcan! I don't usually nitpick at this level but it just seemed so basic...

    I found this episode touching especially because of Seven's insight that helps Nelix help Tuvoc. When we accept people where they are, everything works better. I think that Nelix did change as a result of Mortal Coil and that change has quietly been acted out since then. He is really annoying only with Tuvoc and I think it might have been a passive/aggressive response to Tuvok's behavior towards him. Finally, I think the last scene was esquistely and beautifully subtle. An episode I look forward to watching again.

    I'm really tired of hearing the "reset button" thing. Shall we list all the DS9 reset button occurrences?

    It's a part of TV, not just trek or Voyager.

    What, did you think Tuvok was going to stay unVulcan?

    As Harry says later in the series, "It's all about the journey".

    A couple moments that stick with me from this one.

    Seven helping Neelix.

    Tuvok's line: "I have much more important things to do than engage in the preparation of nutritionally deficient foods." ... lol

    And Tuvok solving the riddle at the end.

    Great? No, but I didn't want to strangle Neelix and Tim Russ gave a satisfactory performance. I prefer him as the normal Tuvok though.

    3 stars from me.

    @Yanks - Not totally fair. Jammer is not asking for him to stay broken.

    "We realize everything will be so neatly fixed by the end, and the story is never able to completely break free from that liability. The final scene is subtle. Too subtle. Tuvok makes a joke that brings a new insight to the episode's opening pun, and we wonder if maybe this experience has somewhat changed him. But the question I'm asking is why the writers seem to think Tuvok can't have friends without a switch in his brain being flipped. Vulcans do have emotions, even if they don't typically express them. The way Tuvok seems to ignore Neelix in the final scene is painful—as I'm sure it's intended to be—but I don't really buy it. Tuvok obviously remembers everything that happened, yet he doesn't acknowledge what Neelix did for him, which I don't think is the right choice by the writers. "

    You should be tired of hearing about Voyager's reset button, but not because Voyager hit it too often, but because Voyager hit it too hard.

    DS9 gets the same crap when it hits the button too hard too (see EVERYBODY complaining about how Hard Time is never referenced again).

    Poor Ensign Kim stays green no matter his experiences. He might as well be living in ground hog day. And when they actually do make a change (Kes and Neelix broke up, OMG) it doesn't even always make sense. Tuvok doesn't change at all in 7 years. Neelix doesn't really either (you'd expect him to be a little different after the masterful Mortal Coil, but no). Future incarnations of Voyager showed him in a security uniform! Alternate timelines on Voyager were always more interesting than what we actually got. Chakotay gets a nice arc in season 2, doesn't really change much after that and then just is a background decoration.

    Forget about DS9's wonderful character development, let's just look at TNG. Sure, some characters do stagnate... but show me ONE character on Voyager outside of the Kirk/Spock/Bones triumvirate of Janeway/Seven/Doc that has development that compares to what Worf goes through on TNG. Or Picard. Or Data. Or heck, even Ro!

    Look at the relationships on TNG. Sure, Picard and Crusher weren't allowed to seal the deal because change was bad, but they still worked that over in enough ways that it developed. Same for Riker/Troi. But beyond that... the friendships were nice. Geordi/Data. Troi/Worf. Worf/Picard. Paris/Kim looked good for a little while and then nada. They were built up to be O'Brien and Bashir 2.0 but it didn't happen. Kim and Torres seemed to have a nice friendship. But a lot of relationships were reversed, stagnated or went too far and the writers got scared. Like Janeway/Chakotay.

    DS9 had such little touches that added to every character's unique relationship with every other character. Nobody wanted Tuvok to stay un-Vulcanized. But would it have been too much to ask for this to have permanently changed his relationship with Tuvok? On VOY it would be too much to ask, yes.

    "Chakotay gets a nice arc in season 2, doesn't really change much after that and then just is a background decoration. "

    This isn't even just a fan opinion, but is in fact the stated position of Robert Beltran himself. He hated how little the writers did with his character and chaffed under the lack of interesting material to work with. When your actors are pissed it's pretty clear you're doing something wrong.

    Contrast with DS9, where the rebellion from the actors tended to come as a result of big changes suggested by the producers, where the cast would feel free to chime in and contribute to the process at times. Some of the changes, such as the Kira/Odo romance, which were lobbied against by the actors turned out to make them very pleased it had happened. But either way the producers knew they had to take risks in order to keep the story progressing. Risk-averse seems to have been Voyager's MO from day one. Like the child who won't jump in the pool that first time, you miss out on years of swimming and splashing around.

    Oddly, I don't mind Tuvok not changing that much in the series overall. I think that the show should have used Tim Russ much more, certainly, but Tuvok is a Starfleet officer, a Vulcan, working for his mentor, and we see him over seven years of a century-plus lifespan, on the tail end of it. It makes sense that his personality would be somewhat set. I have not rewatched the show and will not make statements about how Tuvok's development or lack thereof actually works on screen, but conceptually he is the character who seems most likely to remain a rock in this situation. I'm not defending this episode specifically, mind.

    In addition to what Robert says, I think that part of what distinguishes Voyager from TOS or TNG, which also had a model of characterization where people did not change significantly (with some exceptions in TNG and in the TOS films) is that TOS/TNG are about professionals who are doing the job they want, having adventures and solving problems (be they technical, philosophical, personal, ...). This is not to say that there were no changes OR that the story couldn't have been enhanced by more changes. But it basically makes sense that people who have their dream job on the flagship can devote most of their energies to solving the interesting problems they encounter without feeling the need to fundamentally shake up their own lives or worldviews, especially since besides Chekov we mostly meet them once their career is mostly established. They are not necessarily happy with everything in their lives, but they are doing what they expected to do and have the full support of the Federation infrastructure, their surviving families for the handful of people who have loving families, etc.

    On Voyager, I mean, no one was supposed to be there. Kim wants to be in Starfleet but he didn't want to be in the middle of nowhere, and starts off the green ensign (never to be seen again). The Maquis didn't want to be on a Starfleet ship, Paris was a criminal, people didn't expect to be in the positions they are in, Kes spends a third of her life with aliens totally unlike her own people who have considerable time to kill that she doesn't, Neelix abandons everyone he knows, etc. That some people take to this new situation as it gives them an opportunity to step up -- like Paris, who would not have been able to redeem his reputation as well elsewhere -- makes sense. But still, the show quickly establishes a new status quo which is so ad hoc (in-universe) that we would expect it to be unstable and it...isn't. It is odd. I know there was pressure not to change the show too much from the suits, but why did they choose an opening set-up that put characters in a position they would not like and which most people would adapt to by attempting to change or adjust their behaviour or worldview to accommodate being cut off from everything they had expected their life would be?

    Sorry I meant working for the person Tuvok has mentored, not that Janeway is his mentor (she's a child).

    I'm ok with Tuvok not changing as a person, that's not totally what I meant. But give a quick think. Aside from his adversarial comedic relationship with Neelix.... what relationships changed with Tuvok after S3?

    His relationship with Kes was great character development. Character development doesn't always mean that you change who you are, it could just mean that stuff happens to you that isn't ignored. Tuvok's final scene with the candle after Kes leaves is all it takes to really show how she affects him. Their relationship was excellent.

    Even something simple like having Harry and Tuvok play Kaltoh together was nice. They just needed more of that. After Odo and Garak's outing together in S3 their relationship was never the same. Their dialogue always seemed to remember that they were a little bit more to each other. It was amazing how they always were able to layer little stuff like that in.

    Take this for instance :

    CHAKOTAY: Can I ask you to be honest with me, Lieutenant?
    TUVOK: As a Vulcan, I am at all times honest, Commander.
    CHAKOTAY: That's not exactly true. You lied to me when you passed yourself off as a Maquis to get on my crew.
    TUVOK: I was honest to my own convictions within the defined parameters of my mission.
    CHAKOTAY: You damned Vulcans and your defined parameters. That's easy for you.
    TUVOK: On the contrary. The demands on a Vulcan's character are extraordinarily difficult. Do not mistake composure for ease. How may I be honest with you today?
    CHAKOTAY: I'd just like to know, from someone else who pulled the wool over my eyes, was I particularly naive? Was I not paying enough attention? What the hell was it that let all you spies get by me?
    TUVOK: Like all humans, you depend on feelings and instincts to guide you, and they invariably let you down. But particularly naive? No, Commander, and I've always considered your attention span to be adequate.
    CHAKOTAY: Did you ever see anything about Seska that make you suspicious?
    TUVOK: No. She quite expertly pulled the wool over my eyes as well.
    CHAKOTAY: Well, that makes me feel a little better. Thanks.
    TUVOK: Curious.
    CHAKOTAY: What?
    TUVOK: That my failure, added to your own, should improve your feelings.
    CHAKOTAY: Misery loves company, Tuvok.

    That was an amazing conversation! Those two characters had a troubled history. Tuvok was passed up as first officer for a criminal and Chakotay was betrayed by Tuvok. These frenemies had a really interesting vibe in the early seasons. I can't really remember a good conversation they had after S2, but I'd have liked to see something happen here.

    People like me wouldn't complain about Voyager if it was bad. It was actually very good, it just always had glimmers of great below the surface that people seemed to scared to mine.

    Robert, et all...

    I don't believe the final scene is to subtle at all.... hence why I don't like the bashing reset cop-out here. (and a lot of other places)

    It isn't subtle, it's Tuvok! Neelix KNEW this before Tuvok went in to get fixed! He was IN CHARACTER!

    "Because this crew needs its tactical officer on the bridge. And I wouldn't be a very good friend if I ignored that just so that you'd be nicer to me. " -- Neelix.

    I've always thought Neelix's obsession with Tuvok "being nice" was a little over the top. It made Neelix seem childish.

    What relationships changed with Spock in the 3 years of TOS? (outside of the big 3) ... nothing. He played the harp once with Uhura singing and spoke of love under the influence of something (I can't remember what now). He stayed in character. Spock.

    B'Elanna and Tom had "character development" .... you know why Harry didn't as much? ... he wasn't good enough of an actor. They just didn't write for Wang.

    You know why Chuckles didn't "get more"? ... because Beltran couldn't even be bothered to memorize his lines. He actually taped them to his little console on the bridge. He pissed them off, so they wrote him out.

    It is what it is... folks wank saying Voyager need "more" character development, and at the same time DS9 when frellin overboard with the notion. They DESTROYED characters in the name of "character development".


    "How may I be honest with you today? "

    ... best Tuvok line of the day :-)

    @Yanks - B'Elanna and Tom had "character development" - Agreed! Their character development was a highlight.

    And I wasn't personally saying the end scene was too subtle, I quoted Jammer. I was saying that complaining about the reset is not the same as saying he should have stayed brain damaged.

    My own personal thoughts on the episode are that is was excellent. I don't fault Hard Time as an episode because future episodes dropped the ball with followup and I won't here either. I did not think the joke at the end was too subtle. I liked this episode a lot. I'm just sorry that they don't really followup on Neelix/Tuvok being closer because of this until Homestead... which I do think shows that they are closer.

    NEELIX: I couldn't lead those people, Mister Tuvok. I'm not a fighter. I'm just a cook who sometimes imagines himself to be a diplomat.
    TUVOK: On the contrary, Mister Neelix. You are much more than that. You are perhaps the most resourceful individual I have ever known.
    NEELIX: I always thought you just tolerated me.
    TUVOK: You do have some annoying habits. However, during your time on Voyager you've developed many valuable skills. Skills that would serve you well if you ever decided to assume a leadership role.
    NEELIX: You really think so?
    TUVOK: Let me be clear. I'm not urging you to do anything. I'm simply telling you that I believe that you are more than capable.

    I just wish that it didn't take 2 scenes and Neelix leaving Voyager to show this kind of affection again.

    "I just wish that it didn't take 2 scenes and Neelix leaving Voyager to show this kind of affection again. "

    Sorry, that should read 2 SEASONS.

    I think Yanks is right that it was hard to work with some of the actors on Voyager. But then again do the writers of all the scripts have direct contact with the actors as they rehearse or do filming? Surely the actors didn't get on the bad side of literally anyone who ever wrote a script for the show, and I somehow doubt Berman wrote all potential writers a memo instructing them to blackball Kim and Chakotay from serious stories. No, I think that in addition to the actors being weak the writers felt uninspired by their role on the show and just didn't come up with anything for them. And that, at the end of the day, is on the producers, both for how they wrote the characters, and for the casting as well.

    If your actors are too weak to hold their own then you should have the guts to replace them. Or if the studio has forbidden you to change the cast in any way then the next best thing would be to man up and take those actors under your wing and try to foster them in some way. Granted, Beltran and Wang weren't as young as Cirroc Lofton in DS9 and it's not as easy to take an adult who's already trained and try to train them yourself. But nevertheless, if your crew and cast are supposed to be a family then the family has to take care of itself and nourish the members who are weak.

    As it stood the series seemed more to me like survival of the fittest, where characters whose actors stood out got most of the stuff to do and the others became scenery. As I recall it seemed like the Doctor, Janeway, Seven, and sometimes Tuvok got the most episodes, with Paris and B'elanna having a middling amount, and Chakotay and Kim having the least. Neelix seems to shift over the course of the show, where early on he was taken seriously as a character and as the audience got wise to the fact that he was terminally annoying he was shunted off to be more of a comical silly character who got few episodes.

    Maybe I'm remember wrong, but that's how it came across to me.


    "I just wish that it didn't take 2 scenes and Neelix leaving Voyager to show this kind of affection again."

    I don't think it would have been so moving had we seen more of it. The few scenes we got between Tuvok and Neelix other than the always enjoyable comedic ones, were really powerful.

    Peter G.,

    The acting woes in Voyager weren't really that bad. Jennifer had her issues, as did Wang, but overall, they were MUCH better than the DS9 main cast. Good lord, if acting talent was a factor in keeping the character, Sisko should have been killed off. Lofton I thought did a fine job.

    But that said, Kate, Jeri, Robert got the lions share after Jeri arrived... it's pretty clear they were the best actors. I personally wish B'Elanna would have got more. I'm sure her pregnancy had something to do with that. She was always good. Tom? Eh.... kind of milk-toast.

    "The acting woes in Voyager weren't really that bad. Jennifer had her issues, as did Wang, but overall, they were MUCH better than the DS9 main cast."

    Uh...agree to disagree, I guess. I would have thought even the recurring characters on DS9 alone (Martok, Garak, Weyoun, Dukat) would break this argument wide open, but I even think that most of the main cast of DS9 are consummate pros who blow most TV casts out of the water. I get that Avery Brooks divides the fans so lets leave that one up in the air, but the others provide scenes that are stunning in their own right even bereft of fancy plots or special effects. I don't see anyone on Voyager as being an Odo or an O'Brien, and no one who packs the punch of a Kira (notwithstanding that some people apparently don't like to see crying on TV [I guess they don't like Lost, either]).

    But hey, to each his own.

    My main complaint about Voyager was that it consistently failed to do much with the talent it did have. I really liked Kate Mulgrew on the show and was repeatedly sad that she was made to look either simple-minded or else even fascistic. The issue was the scripting, not the actress. The Doc is the only character they really jumped on and ran with, and it shows since he seem to be by far the most memorable member of the cast to people who discuss the show.

    @Robert, I hear you about Tuvok. I just wanted to speak up a little for the case for him not changing too much over the course of the series generally. There was something of a Neelix/Tuvok arc over the series, teased out in a few isolated episodes, some of which were better than others, and which could have been more effective if there wasn't as much of a hard reset on their dynamic after each "growth" period. I think what's frustrating is not so much that things get reset as that we have kind of the same story repeating itself (Kim is green; Neelix wants Tuvok to be his friend; B'Elanna is conflicted about her Klingonness--though the last one is generally handled better and with more variation) as if we hadn't been through it before.

    Re the actors (and this ep in particular): I think Tim Russ and Ethan Phillips are very good actors, but I feel like it was hard for the writing staff to figure out what kind of stories to do with Tuvok, and Phillips unfortunately was stuck with a hyper-annoying character. Possibly Phillips could have found a way to spin early Neelix in a way that made him not annoying, but I think it would be hard; eventually they started writing Neelix in a less nails-on-chalkboard way, but by that point his position as one of the less central characters was pretty established and not really shaken up. I agree with Peter G. that the producers/writers probably could have found something more significant to do for Wang and Beltran if they were going to stay in the cast. I almost wonder if giving them Timeless, the show's 100th episode, was a kind of sop to them for not giving them much else by that point in the show.

    Do you think the writing was necessarily tailored to acting ability? I am always a poor judge of acting - it has to be *really* bad for me to notice - but I had sort of assumed that the writers just found it easier to write for certain characters.

    If I look at the basic premise behind each character, I'd probably say that, acting issues aside, Kim is the least interesting on paper and Chakotay just might be the second least interesting. Janeway carries a certain inherent interest as the Captain. Doc and Seven are non-humans exploring their human sides, while Tuvok is the non-human who's perfectly happy being non-human and stands out from the rest of the crew in personality. Tom and B'Elanna both have somewhat roguish, abrasive personalities. Kes and Neelix were both from Delta Quadrant cultures.

    What exactly is Harry Kim's selling point as a character - that he's young? Not exactly the stuff of groundbreaking drama there. Chakotay had a little more potential as the rebel leader having to adapt to life as a Starfleet First Officer, but they probably burned through most of that material early and didn't really know what do with him after that. So I could see why they might find it difficult to write interesting stories for either of them after a while. Not saying that justifies it, just that it might have been a factor.

    Peter G,

    That's why I said "main cast" not supporting cast. The supporting cast (re-occurring characters) carried DS9 for the first 3 years. Hey, I'm not a DS9 hater by any means. I love it, own it and have binge watched it probably 5 times :-)

    William B,

    Neelix was REALLY annoying when Kes was there.... at least (IMO) his character improved drastically after she left and we didn't have to take a shower after some Kes/Neelix romance stuff. I would say a good adjective for Ethan is "professional". He kinds of bleeds over into his character. Never complained (rubber mask and all), always cheering folks up... overall great guy/person.

    Regarding how writers wrote for characters on Voyager, and who got arcs and who didn't get much for whatever reason, I think a look at an anecdote Ron Moore (who I'm aware after BSG's ending isn't everyone's favorite) shared about his short, failed time on Voyager would be of interest.

    Basically, while writing Barge of the Dead, he went to the producers for background info and context on B'Elanna's character, essentially how should he write her, and the producers came back with "Write her however you want." They didn't care.

    Seems as long as the characters served the plot of that week it didn't matter, as long as they followed the basic, unchanging archetypes. That's why Harry was still a green ensign after seven years.

    Maybe the head writers would take a script and try to align the character to what was established, yet still fit them into the plot of the week, but that'd be dang sloppy. Main series characters shouldn't serve the plot. Plot should effect them or come from them, not characterization coming from plot.

    Sure they had some token bit of dialogue that hinted at some depth, but it was all just really so shallow because at this point Star Trek was a pay-check for the producers more than anything. It's a wonder there was any character progression at all. If they didn't care, why should I? Way I see it anyhow.


    I remember that anecdote from when Moore talked about his brief stint on Voyager. My recollection is that he was asking about what was already "established" about her character and was told not to worry about the past too much.

    B'Elanna is a good example, though, in that even with a somewhat scattered approach to characterization, there's more to work with in the premise of who she is than there is with some of the other characters. She's ex-Maquis, half-Klingon but relatively disconnected from that side of her ancestry, known to be short-tempered at times, and didn't initially expect to find herself with as much responsibility as she has on Voyager. I'm guessing Moore had an easier time developing the idea for "Barge of the Dead" for B'Elanna than if he'd set out to develop a similar story for Harry Kim.

    Like I said, I don't have a strong opinion about acting quality - just throwing out one non-acting-reason why Harry might have gotten less attention than B'Elanna, and why the episodes that did focus on him sometimes seemed strained and contrived (e.g. "Favorite Son"). His character's basic premise isn't that interesting, and they never did much to give him depth, so there isn't much to focus on unless you force him to the center of an externally imposed plot.

    I had the same feeling as Jammer. Tuvok is mentally delayed for a while, there's a nice friendship going on with Neelix. Then they somehow manage to reverse severe brain damage completely- no residual effects, no memory loss, nothing. He's back 100%. Then we find the depths of his newfound friendship with Neelix are just lost. He's never any nicer to him, more protective of him, or anything. And Tuvok never makes dessert again.
    It just seems like a potential for something that never materializes. Tuvok reverts back to the stone man, not needing or relying on anybody.

    A hospital show ugh. Will Tuvok be ok? Will we care how he recovers? bah (*)

    What I appreciate about this episode is what a terrific job it does of illustrating why Neelix is one of my favorite Trek characters. He's the kind of guy who can't stand not being everybody's friend, not because he wants attention, but rather because he's got a genuinely big heart. His nearly indefatigable efforts to help rehabilitate a character who has only ever rebuffed his attempts at establishing friendship (not always without reason, of course) warms the heart.

    @ David Pirtle: at last we meet. I'm sure we're the only two Neelix-lovers out there. So many people hate this guy and I've never understood why. He's such a genuine, caring person - what's not to like?

    @Mikey&David - S1/S2 Neelix was a bit rough (Jetrel aside, Ethan did a helluva job in that one). Comic relief that wasn't funny. A relationship who's main feature was jealousy, a "feud" that often brough Paris down to his crappy level and a denseness that often made him feel like he was doing more harm than good in a lot of situations.

    That said... while I truly don't like many of the changes made after S2/S3, that's when they rebooted Neelix into something a lot better and I feel like a large portion of the viewers just never forgave for those early years.

    "Fair Trade" is really where I began to see his character in a new light, "Mortal Coil" is a personal favorite and he had some really great roles in "Riddles", "Once Upon A Time" and "Homestead". His relationships with Naomi, Seven, the Borg Kids, Janeway, etc. towards the end years really make him the "heart" of the show in a way that I think was originally intended but executed poorly in the early years.

    But anything post "Fair Trade" with Neelix in it I generally feel works better than before it for me.

    Count me in as another Neelix fan. Took a long while, the first few seasons he was a horrible character, but once Kes was gone his character really started to come into it's own.

    Loved Riddles, but like many others was irritated that they never actually made a change to Tuvox's demeanor towards Neelix. Neelix really goes above and beyond to care for Tuvox and you can see that it is honest compassion and care and all they do is have Tuvox make a crappy joke at the end?

    Great episode that really expanded on Tuvok's and Neelix's characters, easily worth three stars (maybe three and a half) in my opinion. My only disappointment is that Tuvok was indeed fixed at the end; it would have been cool if he remained how he was for at least a few episodes.

    2 stars? Not a great fan of Neelix, but I thought this one was quite sweet. 3 stars, easy.

    This episode felt more like Tuvix than Rise to me, at least from Tuvok's perspective. Critical event leads to a change in his personality, there is adaptation after growing pains, there is the scene where a cure is available but he likes who he is now and doesn't want to go back, and then the rest button gets hit. The only improvement is that they come up with an argument that allows Tuvok to accept the fix, instead of having a tortured debate about his rights under his new persona before Janeway "murders" him to get the original Tuvok back.

    As for the final scene, I recall that Tuvok as an adolescent was someone with intense passions who needed a lot of discipline to overcome them. He won't surrender that easily. We're used to seeing Spock with his emotions a bit closer to the surface, but he's half human. For Tuvok, a moment like this is as big a departure for him as Spock finding Kirk alive at the end of Amok Time. The payoff doesn't feel as good for human viewers, true, but that may mean the flaw is in having a Vulcan main character in the first place, because those kind of restrictions are built into the character.

    His character was certainly stronger than T'Pol, who was lying like a rug throughout Enterprise and whose overall character development was a mess.

    I'm late to the party, but I always like Neelix. I'm not sure why so many hate him. I really enjoyed this episode. It was on BBC America a couple of days ago. It's very touching AFAIC.

    This one resonated with me, due to my own experience with my mother after her having a stroke, causing some brain damage, and having to re-learn how to walk, talk, and act normal again. It takes a long time, but it would be nice if it could be done in a 45 minute episode with some magical technology. Had it been more real to life, Tuvok would still have some residual problems for the rest of his life.

    I can't believe what I am about say: Neelix (and Ethan Phillips) was the star of this episode..

    Why is this episode not held in as much, if not more, disdain as "Tuvix"? In that episode, Janeway was said to have "murdered" Tuvix. Here, in "Riddles", a new person is created at the expense of a previous crewmember. That person develops a personality which he comes to appreciate and does not want to revert back to what he was before. But the senior members decide they need their tactical officer, so he undergoes the procedure.

    If anything, "Riddles" is morally worse than "Tuvix" because here the procedure only leads to one crewmember being "rescued".

    If you can’t see the distinction between those 2 situations, Janeway as Lakshmi, you might wanna report to Sick Bay yourself.

    Don’t fret, it’ll just be a routine checkup. 8^D

    A routine and forgettable episode, though not terrible. Two stars is about right. The moments that worked were fleeting and surrounded by Voyager cliches. There were some nice details though, such as the friendly alien Naroq (although there had to also be typical hardheaded xenophobic aliens to balance him out I suppose) and the simple fact that it was nice to see Tuvok and Neelix's friendship fleshed out for the first time in a while. This episode contributes to "Homestead" next season carrying more emotional weight than it would have otherwise.

    Some nice moments with Neelix's concern for Tuvok, but the episode is entirely too predictable with no lasting consequences -- that "reset button" Jammer talks about as we know Tuvok will be 100% back to normal by the end of the show -- and he literally is. There isn't much here other than getting to see a very different style of acting from Tim Russ, which is good but a bit hard to explain for me.

    So Tuvok's brain is damaged and he basically turns into a child -- but he's an excellent pastry chef and hates all the Vulcan logic games and just wants to have fun. So this is somewhat arbitrary to me. Why the prolific pastry chef? Just so he could put the cloaking code in cake icing? He becomes reliant on Neelix for friendship, but after all is said and done doesn't seem to acknowledge any change in their relationship. The eating Sundays of the calendar (teaser riddle) hardly marks any change, for me.

    As for the invisible aliens, they don't turn out to be much -- slightly more interesting than the standard carboard humanoid bad guy aliens from a technical standpoint. As for Naroq -- I don't get why he all of a sudden says he'll give his detection technology to these invisible aliens. Kind of convenient as they then give away their technology and Doc can find a cure for Mr. Vulcan. No fuss, no muss. But it's just nowhere near good enough.

    As for the riddle aspect -- how to get back logic. Here's something that should have been explored more deeply - like what it means, it's benefits. Neelix would be the wrong person to explain this however. But it was interesting to hear 7 tell Neelix about Janeway never giving up on her.

    A low 2 stars for "Riddles" -- I think this episode plays it too safe. It's meant as a feel good story with Neelix and Tuvok put in an arbitrary situation with zero lasting consequences. It has its moments but they get tiring as Tuvok basically acts out as some kind of brat. This seems to be the kind of middling episode that happens too frequently on VOY.

    I hated this episode. Why? Because Neelix -- hands-down, the most annoying character in any incarnation of Star Trek -- figured prominently in it.

    One gets the sense that had Damaged Tuvok not decided to become a pastry chef, the Voyager crew would never have learned the Ba'Neth cloaking frequency. If it was something that could be represented graphically, why didn't they just give Tuvok a pencil (or the twenty-fouth-century equivalent) and a pad of paper?

    “Seeing an un-Tuvok-like performance by Tim Russ is an interesting experience; you realize just how perfectly controlled, pragmatic, and intentionally flat Tuvok's voice generally is, and how much range Russ milks from the Vulcan confines. ”

    And for that alone that’s a 3+ episode.
    Plus Neelix is not irritating for a change. Simply amazing :)

    But there are only 52 Sundays in the calendar. They would not be enough to keep the crewman well fed for a year. Sorry, Tuvok, Neelix wins.

    Do the people complaining about "PC" even know what the fuck they're talking about?

    On the evidence of here, they never explain what they're talking about.

    I don’t read Jammer’s reviews - or any responses - till I’ve seen an episode. I’m always curious to see what his rating is. It really doesn’t matter to me what critics think, as I’m capable of responding to a creative artifact and making up my own mind. But I generally find Jammer’s reviews balanced and reasonably fair - making allowances for his inexplicable aesthetic prejudices (and sometimes the sheer momentum of his affection for one series and his animus toward another).

    His reviews generally at least touch on all or most of the general themes I caught, and sometimes he points out something I’d missed, or has an enlightening perspective. And the reviews are “multi-phasic,” in that they attend to most aspects of an episode: premise(s), script, dialog, plot, characterization and development, tropes and conventions, symbolism/metaphors/subtext/social commentary, deeper moral, ethical, or philosophical import, acting quality, production quality, effects, costumes and prosthetics, pacing, music...

    Very few of the respondents here cover that much ground - most of us specializing in the two or three elements we focus on, and some of us grinding the narrowest of asinine axes.

    All that said, I generally either more or less agree with his overall assessments, or at least understand where he’s coming from. All of which may explain (at least to me) my befuddlement when our judgments of an episode diverge wildly. This episode is a case in point: I was fully expecting to see a solid 3.5 or even 4 - as I was appalled to see (as examples) 4 stars for Barge of the Dead, and 2.5 for Alice (too high).

    But then I remember we must have very different perspectives; he wrote these reviews in his 20s, as a college student, no doubt with a touch of intellectual hubris. I’m in my 60s, feel like I’ve had my intellectual pride beat out of me over the years, and have become more forgiving and less demanding of others along the way. I wonder how Jammer would rate these episodes now, from his more mature perspective.

    I really think this episode is an example of Voyager (in Tom Paris terms) firing evenly, robustly, and smoothly on all cylinders. It’s a rather quiet episode, well-paced and consistently engaging. Characterization is spot-on for everyone, Tuvok and Neelix are written intelligently and sensitively, Russ and Phillips nail their roles effectively (and affectively), and new character dynamics emerge naturally.

    Russ plays the damaged patient perfectly, with mannerisms, postures, expressions, speech, and affect that read both tenderly and movingly real to anyone who has seen people go through such experiences. And the ever-supportive, well-intentioned Neelix nails the truly empathetic and responsive caregiver, becoming the only member of the crew to insist on providing the “human” touch for a prickly character, even when he is discouraged from - or at best patronized for - doing so. Doc finally tolerates Neelix’s homely ministrations as much to humor him (and get him out of the way) as from any confidence Neelix might do any good.

    And as much as the rest of the crew depends on Tuvok, respects him, or sometimes values his strength and insight, they’re all content to wait for medical science to provide a miracle cure - partially so they can get the cloaking frequency from him. It’s not clear that they CARE for Tuvok the person as much as they recognize they NEED their Vulcan tactical/science appliance.

    Only Neelix, the one guy on board Tuvok least respects and enjoys, cares for him personally with touch, voice, and sensory experience when Tuvok is comatose and useless to the others. Only Neelix (with advice from Seven as DISpassionate as it is COMpassionate) takes the conscious but broken and childlike Tuvok as he finds him, where he is, rather than pushing him to recover to his old self. When Tuvok is frustrated with himself and near despair, aware of his own cognitive and developmental disorders, it’s Neelix who has the patience, insight, and compassion to encourage him to become this new personality which has emerged.

    I found it all both realistic and moving, and very much appreciated this interplay and the mutual insight between these odd-couple characters. Yeah, it reminds us of Tuvix, but for my taste it’s more real and better done.

    Neelix’s bittersweet support of Tuvok undergoing full restoration to his customary personality carried radical ambivalence, pathos, and more than a little self-sacrifice. He all but knew he would lose this new friend with all his unexpected potential, but also knew not only that part of Tuvok would always feel the loss of his original nature - but that Tuvok was vitally important to the survival of Voyager, which needed his Vulcan logic and strength more than his newly poetic Vulcan soul.

    In this sense, Neelix sacrifices his new friend for the good of the many; it’s ironic that touchy-feely Neelix makes a very Vulcan decision, while the Vulcan submits to it only when given the Vulcan-irrelevant promise that Neelix would still be his friend afterward. Everyone on board owes Neelix a heavy debt of gratitude for his warmth, compassion, insight - and, ultimately - clear view of necessity and steely resolve.

    I get that Neelix has sometimes been badly written, seems frivolous, and could be annoying. But I’m with the posters above in considering him the heart of the ship, and indispensable.

    I may be pre-disposed to this sentiment, as he reminds me in essential ways of my maternal grandfather. He wasn’t annoying, but he was soft-spoken, kind to all, considerate, emotionally perceptive in an unassuming way, gentle, humble, and patient. He also had unexpected strength and endurance of character, great physical and emotional courage, and an unbreakable will which was flexible only in means, never in ends.

    After his stroke, and for the 8 years it took his body to run down, he was unfailingly polite when we visited the nursing home - while wringing his hands in despair that he didn’t know who we were, just that he was supposed to know.

    So I guess the episode caught me there too, as some of broken-Tuvok’s behavior and mannerisms also reminded me of him.

    But that’s only the prominent, character plot. I also thought the subplot with the “xenophobic” aliens was very well done, in an understated way, with less conflict and less technobabble than usual.

    I found the cloaked, tentacled aliens more cautious, secretive, and defensive than hard-headed or bellicose. Yes they surreptitiously gathered intel on unknown ships passing through - but certainly no more invasively than Voyager has often done. A case can be made that there was no intention to hurt Tuvok, that had he not caught the alien in the act, he would not have been fired on. And if the culture that knows them best can consider them mythical - but for one rogue Mulder who has documented all of 12 incidents - they can’t be much of a threat.

    I like that they remain mysterious; it seems to me that interstellar spacefaring humans (should there ever be such a thing) will have far more similarly inconclusive encounters than shootemup space battles with violent foreheaded humanoid bipeds.

    I guess I consider the Neelix-Tuvok material the cake here, and the alien encounter the icing. The yummy sprinkles would be the completely altruistic Naroq, who is consistently straightforward about his motives and agenda, with never a hint of subterfuge or betrayal - and whose somewhat self-sacrificial gesture at the end brings about a win-win-win resolution for three species.

    The plot doesn’t dwell on it, but - as he gave up his cloak-busting tech - it would seem his deepest motivations were indeed exploration and intellectual curiosity, not military dominance. Presumably he goes home with enough images, hard data, and sensor logs to prove that the shadowy species exists, and establish at least something about them. Whether the rest of his society can be satisfied with that, or whether they turn his research against the mystery race, we can’t know.

    But that’s science. Explorers never have much control over society’s use of their discoveries.

    So, overall, a humane and generally harmonious episode featuring creatures of goodwill, working in good faith through tragic circumstances. Seems about as Trek as it gets.

    But OK, I could have done with a little bigger cherry on top of the cake at the very end. The writers might have let Tuvok remember and acknowledge more of the emotional journey he and Neelix had made. Not anything too dramatically overt, but a half-smile, a wink, something. As I’m watching through in order, I can’t conclude there’s a hard reset at the end of Riddle; I can still hope future character dynamics between these two will incorporate something of this episode’s rapprochement.

    I am grateful, though, for “Sundays/Sundaes.” The homophonic verbal logic may indicate Tuvok 3.0 retains some of the creative spark of Tuvok 2.0.

    AND I can entertain the notion that “Sundays” COULD mean that on one day a week, Tuvok might bake some confections with his buddy Neelix.

    Ehh, stuff I wanted to mention but forgot.

    I suppose it’s inherent in my comments, but I meant to specifically mention how refreshing it was to get an interesting non-humanoid alien species AND a non-hostile humanoid race in the same DQ episode. Provides some dimension.

    And that apparently Jammer is immune to the pathos of Vulcans dutifully returning to the stern discipline of logic after brief vacations in the more expansive domain of freer emotional expression. He gave TOS’s This Side of Paradise a similarly damning rating - the first ST episode that unexpectedly brought me to tears. In it Spock somewhat grimly submits again to his duties and responsibilities after experiencing a liberating range of emotions. His line “For the first time in my life I was happy” wipes me out every time.

    An enjoyable episode - 7/10. I agree with those who say the fact that it's a reset episode makes it a tragedy because Neelix loses a friend.

    The translation of Sunday/Sundae wouldn't be a pun in Talaxian or Vulcan. So unless Tuvok and Neelix learned English, this wouldn't work. Similarly in VOY 5x22 (Someone to Watch Over Me) Paris' joke about the psychologist telling the hologram "you're projecting" wouldn't make sense in an alien language.

    Voyager stumbling into another species version of an X-file. Great 'sode.

    Nice to see Russ play against type but I have to agree that it's lacking some real substance. It's also a shame considering how well the O'Brien/Bashir relationship evolves on DS9 that they couldn't do something similar with these two, especially after all they've been through together. Not unpleasant and a decent use of Neelix, but there ain't much to write home about either.

    Did anyone else think this needed more exploration ofbthe ubique new alien species..that to me was the main or only flaw here..i agre with jammer there..make it a two part episode maybe..didnt anyone else want to leanr more about a unique nonhulanoid species..

    @ MisterFred, I agree, this episode was quite enjoyable for all the reasons you outline.

    A very solid three-star outing. And frankly, the rare exploration of friendship makes "Riddles" a genuine gem. The episode is sweet and affecting in a way that DS9's "Ascent" never really managed between Odo and Quark. Tim Russ and Ethan Phillips have a genuine warmth that takes you back decades to Bones and Spock.

    @ Proteus, I really appreciate your perspective. And I wonder if @ Jammer was just too young at the time to really enjoy this hour of Star Trek?

    If @ Jammer went back now, two decades later, and watched "Riddles" again, would he be able to enjoy it at the three-star level it really is? I certainly hope so.

    I do understand @ Jammer's frustration with the Rest Button. The producers missed a huge opportunity to change the direction in which Tim Russ played Tuvok for the rest of the show. They could have taken this as an excuse to bring just a little bit more emotion into the character, the way the half-human side of Spock allowed him to almost crack a smile, at least with the twinkle of his eyes. But then again, the producers fucked Voyager up so many times, what is one more missed opportunity?

    But that is no reason to take away from "Riddles" itself.

    Time to re-score this hour at * * * (out of four).

    I found this to actually be a pretty moving episode. Witnessing Tuvok emasculated and "de-personed" as he was tugged at my heartstrings, but only because Tuvok is one of the few characters (indeed, probably the only one) I care about and have some amount of affinity toward. If it had've been pretty much anyone else? SNOOZERS!

    Also, surprisingly, Neelix came off very positive here. He showed warmth and affection toward Tuvok without being his usual irritating self. That made the whole thing work so much the better.

    This one is a winner because of Russ’s great acting, and his and Phillips’ acting. 3 stars.

    Could have been better. Less of the “find and deal with the aliens” plot- who cares?

    Also, I don’t think the name “Tuvix” is spoken once in the episode, a dreadful omission considering how much dramatic meat that could have provided. Tuvok and Neelix could have come to terms with that experience in ways they probably hadn’t.

    And this Tuvok might well accuse Janeway of murder for splitting Tuvix, and Neelix would have been interesting standing there whether he agreed with Tuvok, agreed with Janeway, or was torn himself.

    To clarify slightly, it’s possible Tuvok fully remembers his experiences as Tuvix deeply misses them, and wished Janeway hadn’t separated Tuvix. He sure as hell wouldn’t bring it up in his normal state of mind, but he definitely would in this state.

    Aside from the potential murder angle, Tuvok might believe that she took something from him and deeply hurt him. Given that he would be “fixed” by the end of the episode, Janeway would remain saddled with this knowledge. It would be similar to the (not bad) actual ending, with Neelix wondering if Tuvok still liked him, but quite a bit thornier.

    Tuvok here, "I would prefer to hear the life history of my breakfast."

    Ethan & Tim really shine in this episode. Sometimes performances do outshine the script/teleplay.

    Suggestion to critics: Focus on all elements including and also aside from Trek-lore to determine how much we enjoy the episode. The soundtrack is fantastic, the directing is fantastic, the true lull here was in the teleplay format. I think we can all agree on that.

    This was an excellent episode, should be a 3.5 on the scale here. The only issue is it wasn't long enough and had to wrap up by hour's end. On this I agree--I wish this had been a longer episode. But what we got was beautiful. One of the more emotional episodes of Voyager, and entirely successful. It totally works, even the actual ending. The last scene in the cafeteria/mess hall seems to take place some time after the scene of Tuvok lying on the Doctor's table. At least 24hrs goes by before the Dr clears him for duty. I'd like to have gotten one more scene of Tuvok and Neelix, as Tuvok is transitioning back before that final scene of Neelix and totally-back-to-normal Tuvok. But otherwise this was still a great episode! Even the dumb joke about calendar dates that Tuvok offers the alternate punchline for at the end is legit kinda clever. This deserves a higher rating. It stands entirely on its own. Nice directing by B'lanna too!

    A perfect episode in every way. In the top 3 Voyager episodes ever. Poignant without being over the top and genuinely moving. I teared up on at least 3 occasions.

    A truly beautiful episode about friendship and what is often unspoken. Tuvok solving the riddle at the end was his way to show Neelix that his friend is still there. A master stroke by the writers.


    This year, my mom, a 70 year old cancer patient, went into a delirium after her chemo treatment nearly killed her. She woke up after a week of sleeping and delirious fits having lost the ability to feed herself, go to the bathroom, walk.

    Over the past month she has regained her ability to feed herself and can open packages, and stand, slightly.

    However what has gone and not come back is her memory.
    She cannot hold a conversation for long. She cannot remember new information for longer than a day. She is fully convinced she is living in the 1980's, in her 30's, before she gave birth to me. She knows I am her son but she doesn't know who I am. She speaks to me about things I never did or said, or someone she used to know did. She speaks as if relatives long dead were just meeting with her, and cries each time when she finds out they're dead.

    It's unknown if this will change and if she will recover her memory.

    However, she has her mannerisms. She is nice. And she feels good and not as deathly ill as she was on chemo. We must now figure out how to rehab her and get her home, and work to recover a life for her. I figure she spent years taking care of me when I did not know how to walk, talk, or take care of myself. It's my turn now.

    This episode summarizes so much of what the past month has been like. It has an important message. You cannot make someone who they used to be sometimes, but you can always try to help them be who they can be today.

    Top 10 Trek for me.

    I seem to have a second sense of when Jammer's going to blow it. Good to see the commenters nailing this review the wall.

    Two things I'll add:

    This isn't a Tuvok episode, per se. It's a Neelix episode. From beginning to end, the emotional arc starts and ends with Neelix's experience of Tuvok's dilemma. We gain some insight into what makes Tuvok tick, but not at the expense of how Neelix is reacting to those insights. "Reset button" is a thing, but not this episode. It's not as important for Tuvok to not be made whole as it is for him to be made whole at Neelix's expense and sacrifice. I would expect their relationship to go back to status quo (you can't keep pulling the heartstrings; "Tuvok, I just can't quit you!"). I don't need to be reminded of what Neelix gave up or that Tuvok acknowledges it in his uniquely Vulcan way. I have their last scene for that. And it was wonderful.

    Also, the sub-plot was a metaphor for Vulcans in general and Tuvok specifically hiding their emotions from others (explicitly referred to by Tuvok; "How will you know I like you?"). The Ba'neth are hiding their true selves from other races.

    Other races/humans that know Tuvok accept his lack of displayed emotions, almost as if they are a myth. The Kesat believe that the Ba'neth are a myth.

    Except there's Neelix. He believes in Tuvok's ability to express emotions more than anyone else on Voyager. In fact, he's quite dogged about exposing them, just as Naroq is. Unlike his people, Naroq believes in the Ba'neth and is quite dogged in exposing them. And like Neelix bringing Tuvok back from the brink, Naroq found a way to find the Ba'Neth. And just like Neelix, Naroq was strong enough in character to let the thing he most wanted go; possibly forever.

    It's all intertwined. It's semi-brilliant. And it's Voyager. Go figure. Loved it.

    "If anyone can provoke Tuvok, Mr Neelix, it's you."

    I didn’t like the end. I was hoping when Tuvok said “Sundays” that he was saying those were his free days and they could spend time together baking or talking. I thought he was going to thank him for everything he did for him as well. I was so disappointed that it was just an answer to the riddle.
    I remember in Deep Space Nine, it made me finally like Bashir when he developed his friendship with Miles O’Brien, and I was hoping maybe this would be the beginning of a Tuvok and Neelix friendship. Maybe the fans would like Neelix more? Anyway it looks like this will never be mentioned again.
    It had some nice moments in it though.

    >Seeing an un-Tuvok-like performance by Tim Russ is an interesting experience; you realize just how perfectly controlled, pragmatic, and intentionally flat Tuvok's voice generally is...

    Totally agree, he is my favourite Vulcan. I think they messed up with T'pol, she seemed to be less flat than Tuvok, granted some of that can be attributed to her drug addiction but still.


    I think you're missing the point, the episode is a tragedy because Neelix gains a friend in damaged Tuvok, but has to sacrifice that friendship in order for Voyager to get it's tactical officer back. The reset needs to happen.

    I think this episode is watchable, thats the best way I can describe it. I didn't hate it, but it wasn't a particularly entertaining hour either.

    I would have given this one three stars. It's moving.

    Regarding Tuvok's inability to acknowledge his emotional experiences after the brain damage is repaired, I get the sense that Tuvok was designed to be more Vulcan than Spock. This makes sense given that Tuvok is full Vulcan, whereas Spock was half Vulcan, half human. So he's a more challenging character to write for and play.

    There’s some nice stuff here, really great performance from Ethan Philips

    Otherwise this is basically just a shittier more obtuse version of Tuvix

    Wow, I’m evidently in the extreme minority here, but I hated this episode. HATED it.

    As a vehicle for neelix, I understand why people might like it. It definitely shows him at his best. But the entire set up for that is at the expense of tuvok, both as an individual character and more broadly as a Vulcan.

    I take the idea that tuvok would be better off if he cut his emotions loose and just “had fun” to be deeply insulting to nerdy introverts everywhere. Fun, more than any other experience we have, is in the eye of the beholder. I find sports and roller coasters fun, but I also find reading about scientific discoveries fun. I make no judgments about what one enjoys or how they go about enjoying it. So the idea that tuvok is missing out on some major part of life because he’s not enjoying life the way neelix thinks he ought to is annoying to me. Just like all the commenters above are most likely engaging here for some kind of unconventional satisfaction, I don’t find fault with tuvok’s dedication to intellectual pursuits and logic puzzles. I don’t believe that anyone here would be improved by brain damage.

    I also find the depiction of Vulcans as incapable of basic respect or friendship to be a major under-sell of them as a sci-fi concept. The idea that tuvok wouldn’t acknowledge neelix at the end and simply say “thank you” isn’t a logical(ha!) extrapolation of tuvok’s character, it’s a pure writers choice intended to force their point. There’s nothing inherently non-vulcan about saying “thanks.”

    The whole episode feels bereft of sincerity.

    Doesn't anyone els. Wish we had seen and learned MORE MORE ABIUT THE B'ANETH!! They were one of the most UNIQUE and ORIGINAL ALIEN lifeforms Viyaber came up with..that's houldve been a TWO LARTER like Dragon's Teeth should have been or at least do another episode about the Baneth and maubr their unique planets abs unique physiology ..WHY WHY DIDN'T THEY?? For instance instead of some clichéd gas creature in The Haunting of Feck Twelve that episode could've been about the Banerh or some unique cosmology they ride through space or a follow up to the Bameth or instead of dumb episodes like Spirit Folk or Tsunkatsae replace those stinkers with a follow up to Riddles wirh a cool SCI fi episode where we see the Baneth have a plaent thst is slightly out of phase and in a distorted magnetic field thst keeps it hidden..but we have toe xpmore their space for some reason..doesn't anyone think thst would've been a better episode than we got in Season 6..

    Tim Russ is so wonderful in this and it's a real shame he wasn't given more Tuvok-centric episodes.

    Just a nice story! ☆☆☆

    OMG, come on! 2 stars?? The Trek “bromance” is a major trope. It is seldom done well and when it is, it really works. this is a story about friendship! Compared to half the action drivel on this show; this is charming and re-watchable

    Would a Talaxian or Vulcan even k ow what date fruits are?

    I've never been more disappointed in a Jammer review. Sure, sometimes I like them more than him (more often *less* than him), but this one blows my mind.

    I was thinking about "The Inner Light" and "Far Beyond the Stars," my favorite TNG and DS9 episodes, respectively, and how they both made me tear up. So, I figured that was the metric for Voyager's best episode as I set out for a re-watch of the series. After over 5 seasons of some of the worst Trek I've ever seen (and I've seen it all!), there was no way this show was going make my eyes start leaking. So I was pleasantly surprised by this episode. Just thinking about the end is making me misty.

    Yes, the reset button sucks. Yes, these characters should have already bonded after "Tuvix" 4 seasons ago. And yes, it makes no sense for the "morale officer" to drag the enfeebled chief tactical officer around the ship for the entire crew to see.

    But this may still be the best episode of Voyager. Definitely top 5.

    @Gary @ eveeyone else..AHHH NO DO any of you guys agree we NEEDED TO SEE THE BA'NETH AGAIN....wither make this a TWO OR THREE PARTER or flow up.and BRING THE BA'NETH and the VAADWAUR BACK USING TJE SUBSPACE CORRIDORS so ce they were some of the most ORIGINAL and imaginative aliens the show ever introduced. Instead of using the BORG so much...anyone else wanted this ??

    I find this episode a little depressing. It reminds me of people with mental health problems. I can only look forward to the time when that will be cured (but not in the sci-fi reset of the show)

    >It reminds me of people with mental health

    Just a small correction. What Tuvoc had was neurological and I think as progress is made, we'll see the conditions we today call psychological or mental health, become rebranded as neurological in the future as we figure out the real causes.

    It makes me think of how patients with Multiple Sclerosis were treated in the past before the MRI was invented, they were labelled as having hysterical paralysis and treated as if their illness was psychological.

    If only I could borrow a medical tri-corder from 24th century Trek, just think of how many millions of patients I could help save from being labelled as psychologically ill.


    Thank you for the correction. Only under God's Kingdom government (when it rules over the earth) will "No resident say, "I am sick'" (Isaiah 33:24)

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