Saturday, October 8, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Riddles"

“Riddles” offers us another look at the antithesis of the Doctor/Seven friendship--that of Tuvok/Neelix. There is supposed to be some level of humor in their relationship in the sitcom motif of a lovable, but goofy character who likes an old grump. Even though said grump treats him badly for the audience’s entertainment, he does, deep down, like the goof. We do not get that at all with took and Neelix. Tuvok is a complete jerk at all times. Neelix has, as the series has progressed become less of a jerk and more of an annoyance, but regardless, it is difficult to like either character. Ergo, it is difficult to care about their relationship.

The lack of sympathy for their relationship is the reason episodes centered on the two of them do not work, even when there is an attempt made to bond the two of them. “Riddles” is one such attempt. The longsuffering Neelix, who has a fondness for Tuvok , devotes himself to rehabilitating took after an accident. Tuvok appears to develop a genuine affection for him, but when the inevitable Magic Reset Button is pressed, everything goes back to Tuvok being a jerk. While Neelix is annoying, he deserves some gratitude for helping took during his lowest point. He certainly retains memories of everything Neelix did for him. The end is is unusually cruel. So much so that I--unbelievably--sympathize with Neelix.

The worst part about it is “Riddles” is so formulaic and predictable that the relationship between took and Neelix is the only potential value in the episode. The two of them are on an away mission when Tuvok is attacked by invisible aliens. He suffers brain damage because of the weapon used. With the help of an alien criminal investigator, who is the only one who believes these aliens even exist, the crew tracks down the aliens. We already know they are going to locate the aliens and they possess a cure that will instantly reverse the damage done to Tuvok. So what we have is the effort by Neelix to help Tuvok adjust to his new Regarding Henry status.

I hasten to throw in the investigator, narrow, is clearly based on Fox Mulder. His government does not believe these aliens exist and refuse to investigate. He believes, even though there is no cogent proof of them, and his crusade has stymied his career. In the end, he is so satisfied to have discovered they do exist, he is willing to give up all traces of proof in exchange for them helping took. Conveniently for the plot, narrow’s personal crusade is all that matters to him. This B-story is merely there to break up the story of Tuvok’s rehabilitation while leading us to the restoration of took which would render the A-story moot if no lasting changes in the took/Neelix relationship occur.

As has already been established, they did not. It is true that Tuvok, in a childlike state, bonds with Neelix as he struggles to deal with what he has lost about himself while adapting to what he can do with himself now. Tuvok is far more comfortable with his emotions. He finds friendship, creativity, and fun more important than the rigid logic of his past self. Most importantly, he likes being Neelix’s friend. When the time comes to be restored to his old self, he does not want to be, but Neelix convinces him otherwise. I suppose the return to status quo could be interpreted as tragic for Neelix--I do sympathize with him--but it goes overboard with Tuvok’s ingratitude. How about a new respect for Neelix? Is that too much to ask? Some thing to make the last hour worthwhile?

Alas, there is nothing. I will give Tim Russ a lot of credit. He does not get to stretch his acting muscles much as Tuvok. Here he gets to play took as a frustrated child learning to live his life again. By exploring his emotions rather than suppressing them, he has to chance to loosen up and light up at having fun. It is a stark difference than anything he has been able to do in the series thus far. If nothing else, the novelty is amusing. But nothing else is. The episode telegraphs its ending from the very beginning and does nothing to make the journey to that obvious ending worth taking.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment