It’s Tim Russ’ birthday and we’re celebrating by giving you three Star Trek: Voyager episodes to watch that feature his character Tuvok.
Tim Russ is an iconic actor from Star Trek: Voyager. A Vulcan in the truest form, Tuvok didn’t have Spock’s “warmth” or Saavik’s “explosive emotions”. He was true to his core of a Vulcan, which in earnest, is the first time Star Trek gave fans a full-on Vulcan on the series. Spock was only half Vulcan and in the original writing for Star Trek II: Wrath of Kahn, the idea was for Saavik to be half-Romulan, hence her infamous temper tantrum after the failing the Kobayashi Maru.
So Tuvok was really the first Vulcan we got to see every week on a television series that was pure, 100% Vulcan. And he was a treat.
His straight-man routine next to Neelix’s perpetual optimism is still one of my favorite things about the series, and for all the Neelix hate out there, I will proudly admit that in the episode he left the ship I shed a tear. All Neelix wanted for the entire episode, and for the entire series really, was to see Tuvok “let loose” and in this particular case, dance.
So how does Tuvok show his love for his friend Neelix? By moving his foot backward and forwards in a small gesture of friendship to his departing friend. Tuvok was great and there are a lot of really good Tuvok episodes to watch today, but these are the three we’re going with.
Three episodes of Star Trek: Voyager to watch on Tim Russ’ birthday
Season 6, Episode 6: “Riddles”
Riddles is a great one because it’s Tuvok and Neelix at their peak. Tuvok basically loses his identity and doesn’t know how to behave like he used to. So Neelix and he bond throughout the experience, leading to the first and only time I can remember where Tuvok smiles when he’s fully aware of who he is. It’s a wonderful ending to an episode built around friendship.
Season 2, Episode 16: “Meld”
What happens when you mind-meld with a psychopath? Well…bad things apparently. One of the criminally underused characters on the show was Lon Suder, a Betazoid with psychopathic tendencies who came aboard Voyager as part of the Maquis. Throughout the last half of season two and the start of season three, his violent tendencies were a major part of the story, and in “Meld”, he and Tuvok attempted a mind meld to see if it would cure Suder of his rage, but it didn’t. It instead affected Tuvok and turned him from his rather stoic self into something else. It’s a marvelous episode and both Russ and Brad Dourif (Suder) stole the show.
Season 2, Episode 22: “Innocence”
A personal favorite of mine is “Innocence”. It’s an episode where Tuvok crash lands on a moon and finds three children abandoned there and left to die. Now, in reality, it’s a death ritual by the Drayans, who send down their most elderly to the planet to be ushered off into the next life; that’s right, these are Benjamin Button children. Tuvok doesn’t know this and instead takes it upon himself to try to protect them but they get taken one by one. Eventually, Tuvok is forced to deal with the death of the last “child”, which coincides with his own emotional upheaval over his own children being so far away. It’s a truly touching episode, especially at the end when Tuvok nearly breaks and shows emotion.