Tuvix: The ongoing debate

Tuvix being scanned in SickbayTuvix – both the episode and the character – is one of the most divisive parts of the early seasons of Voyager. Did Janeway do the morally right thing by forcing Tuvix to separate back into Tuvok and Neelix? Should the transporter technology have been used to separate them yet create another Tuvix? Should the transporter records have been used to form new Tuvok and Neelix? Should Tuvix have been left to exist in his fused form? Janeway had many factors to consider in this decision—the families of both men, the emotional needs of both men, and the health needs of the fused man. While some fans may have agreed with Janeway’s decision, some fans may not have, and many more fans can consider both sides of the question to realize this was a very complex issue that could be debated for years.

As their separate beings of Tuvok and Neelix, both had families impacted by their unexpected fusion into Tuvix. Tuvok had a wife, four children, and a grandchild on Vulcan plus his very important bond with Janeway that went beyond captain and first officer to close friends, nearing the level of loyalty seen with Kirk and Spock. Neelix was in a romantic relationship with Kes and was still struggling with his fierce jealousy over Paris’ friendship with Kes. The audience may have been able to see how Kes was impacted by this unexpected fusion between her teacher and partner, but what about Tuvok’s family? How would it impact them to see him survive an unexpected journey into the Delta Quadrant, but now as part of another being that is not from the same species, and a species unknown in the Alpha Quadrant at that? Vulcan logic can only go so far, especially as Tuvix does not express the stoicism that is considered the standard of Vulcan behavior. Would this change in personality alienate Tuvix from Tuvok’s family and culture?

Janeway and Tuvix

This question about whether Tuvix could reintegrate into Tuvok’s Vulcan culture also opens up the debate about how being Tuvix would impact the emotional needs of both Tuvok and Neelix. Both characters were at odds throughout the early seasons. For example, various episodes show Neelix desperately trying to make Tuvok react to something or invading Tuvok’s personal boundaries. This included Neelix hugging Tuvok when Neelix was first beamed about Voyager, often touching Tuvok when it clearly made him uncomfortable, and trying to force Tuvok to display an emotion by touching Tuvok’s face to make it look like Tuvok is smiling. Tuvok’s response to this often takes the form of Tuvok bluntly retorting to Neelix’s efforts or eagerly leaving the galley when Janeway uses the comms.

Kes and Tuvix

Now as the fused Tuvix, neither can leave the other, they are always together, no way to avoid each other. Had Tuvix remained as one being, could a Jekyll and Hyde scenario have happened later on, where one personality tried to override the other? Then there is the question of socialization when the crew returns to the Alpha Quadrant. Could Tuvix overcome the social stigma of his emotions and live on Vulcan with Tuvok’s family and friends? What about Neelix being isolated from his own people? Even if the episode “Jetrel” implies the Talaxian population was dramatically affected by the Talaxian-Haakonian War and the Metreon Cascade, Neelix can still contact other Talaxians as long as they remain in the Delta Quadrant. In the Alpha Quadrant, Neelix would be the ultimate outsider, but as the fused Tuvix the isolation would be even worse as no one has ever seen a Talaxian before let alone treated them medically, besides the Doctor.

Tuvix’s unique biology was also a factor that had to be considered when deciding whether to separate the two or to keep them fused. Talaxians are not native to the Alpha Quadrant and The Doctor is the only medical professional from outside of the Delta Quadrant that has ever used a tricorder on Neelix or has any experience dealing with Talaxian biology. Also of concern is that Neelix has one of Kes’ lungs due to the Viidians stealing his own in the episode “Phage.” Add in the natural Vulcan biological event known as pon farr from Tuvok and there are several biological factors that make Tuvix an individual with unknown medical needs due to his unique biology. Throughout prior Trek series the audience has seen how some species from the Alpha Quadrant need to use assistive devices within the Alpha Quadrant itself, such as the Benzite’s breathing apparatus, Antedeans essentially freezing themselves for journeys, Elaysians using modified wheelchairs, and many more. With the very arid temperatures on Vulcan, would Tuvik need assistive devices too?

Janeway did separate Tuvix back into Tuvok and Neelix, but many fans have wondered if that was the most ethical decision or what alternatives would be the most ethical. Should Tuvok and Neelix have been forced to remain as Tuvix? Tuvix himself had to be wrestled into Sickbayby two security officers, The Doctor refused to separate Tuvix since that would essentially kill Tuvix, and Tuvix maderepeated pleas that he didn’t want to die? Other fans have proposed various alternatives—making a hologram Tuvix before separating him into Tuvok and Neelix, creating another Tuvix to then separate into Tuvok and Neelix, and the list continues on. There are many moral and ethical questions raised by many of these suggestions, as proven in the thread started by Jessie Gender about this very topic, so did the Voyager writers end up creating a Gordian knot for themselves?

Tuvix being grabbed by two security officers

I would personally argue that they should have followed the example from TNG’s episode “Unnatural Selection” where the crew had to use samples from Doctor Pulaski’s hairbrush in a transporter trace to reverse the effects of an illness that led to rapid aging. By collecting hair samples or the transporter patterns from their journey prior to Tuvix being created, Janeway would have been able to restore both Tuvok and Neelix to how they were while allowing Tuvik to exist as his own being. This would give Janeway the unique skills of all three and add a desperately needed crewmember to the team, especially important as Tuvix got along with almost everyone on the crew.

When Tuvok and Neelix were accidentally merged into Tuvix, many questions were raised—how will this impact their families, how will this impact their mental and physical health, what is the right thing to do if a way to separate them is found? The episode and character caused many viewers to ask themselves what they would have done in this situation and it is still a very rich topic that can be covered in so many ways.

 

 

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