Meld is a beautiful episode: Tim Russ has the opportunity to get out of the rigid canons imposed by the interpretation of a Vulcan and proves that he was the right choice for the character of Tuvok. Not that we haven’t seen angry Vulcans before, huh! Let’s say that, in line with Roddenberry’s thoughts, this episode reaffirms that the path to evolution towards a higher being doesn’t pass through suppressing emotions, which sooner or later find a way out (it has happened a thousand times to Spock in The Original Series and, more recently, even to his father in the beautiful episode Sarek, Season 3 of The Next Generation).
And why does Tuvok lose control? Because a member of the crew is murdered and thanks to the Doctor’s good work it’s quickly discovered that the person responsible is the ex-maquis Lon Suder, that is none other than Brad Dourif. And since he’s Brad Dourif (he was in Someone Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975, Child’s Play, 1988, and he was the mad doctor in Alien: Resurrection, 1997, just to mention a few things on his CV) his character is a psychopath who acted for no reason – a kind of Hannibal Lecter. Tuvok finds this explanation unacceptable and therefore looks for another reason by making a mind meld with Suder. The meld ends up completely destabilizing him (fun fact: the first appearance of the mind meld is in Dagger of the Mind, ninth episode of the first season of The Original Series).
The episode contains many well made scenes such as the one in which Janeway goes into Tuvok’s room and finds it destroyed by his fury and he politely asks her not to come near him because he doesn’t know what could happen, and the scene in the infirmary where Tuvok gets extremely angry with the Doctor and the captain. Well written, well made, and well shot, all of which make this episode one of the best of the second season. Although… I think the problem is always the same here: even if well made, this series doesn’t seem to be able to break away from the heavy legacy of TOS, TNG, DS9 and the various Star Trek films that have already explored almost all the themes touched by Star Trek: Voyager. Let’s face it: VOY has not yet given us anything particularly new, which is particularly strange since we are on the other side of the Universe, so theoretically there’s no limit to what could happen! And yet we’re always here with Federation-like starships, Klingons, ehm, sorry, Kazons, and Vulcans losing control. Well made, yes, but nothing that gets me too excited! Ciao!
PS: What about the conflict between Tom Paris and Chakotay? Already in Prototype, Chakotay appeared to be more worried about the possible loss of a shuttle than for that of Paris, and here Chakotay is very rough with the blond pilot (and rightly so) for his betting business which goes even beyond what Quark could do on DS9!
PPS: The Delta Flyers podcast shout out: Here’s the usual haiku written by Garrett Wang to summarize the contents of Meld: Suder kills Darwin – Tuvok mind melds with Suder – Bad Mister Vulcan. Simply perfect! And McNeill responded with a great limerick, of course!
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