Star Trek: Voyager’s Cast Is Still Split Over ‘Tuvix,’ Nearly 30 Years Later

Star Trek: Voyager’s Cast Is Still Split Over ‘Tuvix,’ Nearly 30 Years Later

In a few months, one of the most infamous episodes of Star Trek ever made will turn 28, a title that manages to whip Trekkies up into a frenzy worthy of a courtroom drama in just a single portmanteau: “Tuvix.” Perhaps one of the most stinging indictments of Voyager’s episodic nature, there’s good reasons it’s still so hotly debated—even by its own stars.

Speaking on a recent livestream to benefit the Hollywood Food Coalition (via TrekMovie), Voyager regulars Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris), Tim Russ (Tuvok), Garrett Wang (Harry Kim), and Ethan Phillips (Neelix) were joined by Voyager writer Lisa Klink and Tom Wright, the titular Tuvix himself—the product of a transporter accident that merged Tuvok and Neelix into an entirely new sentient being—to discuss the decision that still has people talking nearly three decades after it first aired: the moment Captain Janeway decides that Tuvok and Neelix must be restored to their individual selves, and that therefore Tuvix must die.

TREK Talks 3

Part of what makes “Tuvix” such a controversial moral dilemma—other than the fact that, as a largely episodically structured series, Voyager never gets the chance to revisit the emotional and ethical impact of Janeway’s decision on herself, or any of the crew—is that there isn’t really that much of a moral debate once Janeway has made her choice clear. Everyone kind of admits to Tuvix’s face, with their silence or with their support, that they want him dead to get their friends back, save for Voyager’s holographic doctor, and even his moral objection largely goes ignored. That doesn’t mean that the stars themselves were all quite on board with it.

“I watched it again today and watching Janeway have to make this decision and the way she has to do it in such a kind of cold manner, I felt like it kind of hurt her character—I’ll be honest—a little bit,” McNeill said of the episode. “I think she had to earn her way back from this episode.” The actor further suggested that an alternate option should’ve seen Tuvix himself make the decision to sacrifice his life for Tuvok and Neelix, an idea that, according to Klink, was floated in the writer’s room, but was nixed because the team “wanted to put Janeway in a really difficult position.”

“It’s much more dramatically interesting if she has to make that really, really difficult call than if he did heroically sacrifice himself,” Klink added. “You want to torture your characters as much as possible.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, having played Janeway’s confidant over the course of Voyager, Tim Russ was unequivocally on her side. “The captain’s responsibility is to her crew. That’s what the captain’s responsibility is. And [Janeway is] the only one on the ship that can make the decision,” Russ noted. “[Tuvix] cannot reproduce as a species. I believe that point is made [in the show], there is no other of his kind… he’s an anomaly, whereas the crewpeople that he has replaced already have a family, we have lives.”

Most surprisingly however? Tuvix himself is pretty okay with how it went down, all things considered. “Speaking as the character, every entity alive is hardwired to want to survive. So that’s going to be Tuvix’s default thinking. But myself as an actor, I saw that he had to go,” Wright said. “There wasn’t enough justification for losing two entities for the sake of one.”

“People ask how I felt about it. The reason I had any feeling at all is because I absolutely loved the character,” he continued. “I know both [Ethan and] Tim separately from the show. So to be able to have those two people as as back pocket resources with the creation of this character was, to me, invaluable. There’s an artistic side of me that really would love to keep keep on playing that character for forever and ever. But the practical side of an entire ball of wax dictates something different.”

Practical or otherwise, it’s still kind of fascinating to see just how impactful “Tuvix” is, all these years later. Star Trek’s morality play aspect has been embedded into the franchise from almost the very beginning, and “Tuvix” exposes just how crucial a balance there needs to be in telling those kinds of stories, an essence of ambiguity, to keep their ideas open to interpretation or discussion. When things are so controversially cut and dry, you get the legacy of “Tuvix,” for better or worse.

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