VOY: S2E16: “Meld”

In which Tuvok studies the greats – Olivier, Hopkins, Shatner. 

"The depths of my distaste for this situation would register on long-range sensors."

“The depths of my distaste for this situation would register on long-range sensors.”

Once again at sublight, Voyager is apparently not eager to have everyone transform into lizards. Paris and Kim are playing pool, and Paris is probably hustling Kim for replicator rations. Or possibly just trying to teach Harry to be a little less gullible. They start a betting pool for the radiogenic particle count for the day. Torres, meanwhile, is on duty fixing the engines. Neelix is bothering Tuvok on this, the ‘commencement of the Kal’rek season.’ Kal’rek is a holiday of atonement and solitude, and Neelix is determined to fix it up. He insists on throwing a Vulcan Lent Party. By bringing back an ancient Vulcan oil-wrestling sex festival from before the era of Surak. Think Ostara, not Easter.

Tragically, Tuvok’s blessed escape from someone trying to undo the very fundamentals of his belief system is only because Torres found a dead guy in the engines. So just your typical day aboard Voyager, then. He was covered in plasma burns, apparently from a failed relay, but the Doctor quickly shuts down Tuvok’s amateurish theory. For shame, security officer and undercover agent Tuvok, for shame. The Doctor points out a contusion formed from a whack on the back of the head, clearly indicating that Crewman Frank Darwin was murdered. The investigation begins.

Right out of the gate, Chakotay’s guy turns on the best suspect, Lon Suder, for being can’t-put-your-finger-on-it creepy. He liked killing Cardassians a little too much. Also, Betazoid guy, who wasn’t in it to protect his family or settle a claim. Outside of battle he was a ‘quiet, unassuming guy.’ There’s nothing ominous about that at all.

Suder’s a little defensive at being the first one to be called in, plus all the bad feelings between the Maquis and Tuvok aren’t making things any easier. There’s some circumstantial evidence that he may be lying – his console was logged out when he said he was working. If it was a crime of passion he might have logged out during the argument, but you’d expect him to be more shook up. If he’s a creeptastic killer, you’d expect him to anticipate the console logs and not log out. So a rational person would strongly entertain the idea that the logs were altered to set him up.

"Nyeah, I did it, copper. I did it and I'm glad. GLAD, d'ya hear me?!"

“Nyeah, I did it, copper. I did it and I’m glad. GLAD, d’ya hear me?!”

The Doctor has found non-victim DNA inside the head wound with the help of some custom nanites, which show betazoid DNA. Suder is advised of his right to remain silent, but he actually looks pretty shocked before confessing to bashing Darwin in the head with a five-pound wrench. He claims no motive except for ‘he looked at me funny.’

The Doctor verifies the murder weapon, but the lack of motive is bothering Tuvok. A crime with no motive lacks logic, and there’s no markers of bipolar disorder or psychosis, which are apparently the same thing. Grr. There are signs of an increased aggression in the personality, but nothing outside the norm for the rest of the Maquis crew. Tuvok won’t let it rest until he figures out the motive, while the Doctor gives the Outsider’s perspective on humanoids and their violent-predator habits.

Suder is insistent he did it, and points out that if he were in the Captains’ chair, he’d order an execution, but that’s not something the Federation does. It begs the question, what should they do, stranded 70,000 light-years from the nearest penal and rehabilitation colony. Tuvok offers a solution – mind melding with Suder would help him suss out Suder’s motive, and also might transfer some of Tuvok’s discipline over to Suder to help him behave like a civilized person. Suder tacitly consents to the procedure, and into the mindscape we go.

Narratively, it’s unclear whether we’re now reliving memories as we cut to Paris reading off the radiogenic particle count, which nobody has won and which Paris is making bank off of by playing the book. Tuvok gives his report to Janeway – no motive found except for a lot of pent-up violence. Because Suder can’t visit the holodeck, since it’s being run as a french tavern constantly, I guess.

To deal with him, they can’t keep him in the brig for 70 years, and they can’t give him to anyone else to imprison, and Suder expects and is ready to be executed. Janway refuses, because Rehabilitation. Tuvok objects to putting him in his quarters under maximum-security lockdown, because apparently there’s logic in making your life difficult just to punish someone for a thing they did in the past that they arguably had no control over. I still don’t think Tuvok is a very good Vulcan. That might also be after-effects from the Meld, though. Suder is more calm and collected, while Tuvok is apparently making emotional appeals to justify his push for execution.

"And that's why they call me 'One-hand' Neelix."

“And that’s why they call me ‘One-hand’ Neelix.”

Tuvok refuses to take some time off, and he’s also dumb enough to go hang out in the mess hall. Now, I’m not one to victim-blame, but if you’re aware of having just mind melded with a sociopath and then go hang out in the literally most annoying place on the ship, you’ve got to bear a little of the legal responsibility when you start choking said most-annoying-person-you-know to death. As a matter of fact, this was a holodeck program, where Tuvok could indulge in a little theraputic murder-fantasy. While the French Tavern program is running. So Suder totally had the option.

The next winner of the Radiogenic Particle Sweepstakes is nobody, because Chakotay’s shutting it down, confiscating the pot, and putting Paris on report. Tensions mount, blame is being thrown, and Suder is awake once he senses Tuvok back near his cell. Suder is now using some Vulcan techniques to suppress his barbaric impulses. Tuvok does suggest the holotherapty, but Suder has in the past found it.. inadequate. He also suggests future-ECT, or other treatments. But now Suder is inside Tuvok’s head, giving him an honestly pretty nifty Lectar-speech, after which Tuvok relieves himself of duty and locks himself in his quarters.

So of course Janeway goes into his smashed-up room without backup so they can hash it out. Tuvok’s been counting ways of killing people using only various singular body parts, so they tranq him before beaming him to sick bay. Apparently the Vulcan mind meld isn’t compatible with the Betazoid telepathy, and the therapy involves immersion in primal pre-Surak Vulcan brutality. It’s a great idea to do this with him in the middle of a whole lot of delicate and essential equipment.

We’re all very surprised when Tuvok has a temper tantrum and tells Janeway exactly how dumb she’s being, and slowly eroding at the morality she’s been holding on to since we got to this quadrant. He even offers to do the killing himself if only they’ll release the force field, and then knocks himself out against the force field. The question is, now, whether Good Tuvok can win this classic battle between his rational and barbaric halves.

You know, if I were Barbaric Tuvok, I'd probably take those simulators off just to screw with Civilized Tuvok's treatment.

You know, if I were Barbaric Tuvok, I’d probably take those simulators off just to screw with Civilized Tuvok’s treatment.

Tuvok’s being left alone in sick bay now, to complete his therapy, without one of those fancy fields to hold him in place. He does rip the stimulators off his temples, then proceeds to use his Starfleet Jury-Rigging Elective to just go nuts on the place and break out Suder. Well, to execute him, as is Only Just and Logical. Suder argues the other way, but Tuvok is resolute. Or psychotic. At a certain level, the motivation doesn’t matter, and Tuvok seems to be trying to rip the mind out of Suder, but it seems to work in reverse.

But hey the good news is that when Suder survived, he called security to save Tuvok. What stopped Tuvok was his Inner Good Guy getting swole, and he’ll probably be fine.

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