Rise is an episode totally dedicated to the difficult relationship between the Vulcan Tuvok and the Talaxian Neelix (I don’t think I’ve ever written it, but Ethan Phillips always does a great job with his character!). Since the beginning of the series the two have always clashed a bit, with the first who cannot stand the exuberance of the second, and the Talaxian who cannot understand the lack of emotions of the Vulcan and teases him at every step by addressing him as “Mr. Vulcan…“.
The story to further develop the relationship between the two is more or less serviceable, with an initial twist that I had understood already before the introductory credits and a final twist that was easy to understand well before the last act. Anyway, the story does its job and gives us some great Tuvok-Neelix moments and advances their friendship (which the Vulcan certainly wouldn’t define as such).
This story starts with a series of meteorites hitting a planet hosting the colonies of a population (the Nezus) that Janeway is helping (the Nezu ambassador, Alan Oppenheimer, is on board the ship). After half-destroying one of these meteorites, the captain sends three shuttles to the surface and it wouldn’t be Star Trek: Voyager if at least one weren’t lost! It’s the one with Tuvok and Neelix who are accompanied by the ambassador’s aide, Sklar (Kelly Connell). In order to return to Voyager, Tuvok is forced to rely on Neelix and his courageous plan which involves the use of a spacecraft on a 300 km high support of which the Talaxian claims to have great experience…
And from there onwards there are numerous comparisons between the Vulcan logic and Neelix’s talent to improvise his every move, continuing to demonstrate the latter’s usefulness as regards survival in hostile conditions! Not only is he useful, but he’s also an extremely positive character, I really like him a lot. Neelix is one of these people who would try to cooperate with someone who just threatened him at knife point. This happens with Lisa Kaminir’s character, Lilias, in my eyes it makes him a great character.
Not to mention Tuvok, who, having no pride to hurt, is always ready to acknowledge when the ideas and actions of others have turned out to be better than his. In short, Rise is a nice episode completely centered on the characters, so I’m willing to pass over the very predictable plot, the umpteenth lost shuttle, and the umpteenth teleportation aboard the Voyager with the shields up during a space battle (actually, this makes me mad because it’s really easy to notice, not because I’m particularly fond of technobabbles). Ciao!
PS: The Delta Flyers podcast shout out: this was a truly fantastic episode of the podcast. Robert Duncan McNeill and Garrett Wang were joined by Tim Russ and Ethan Phillips as guests! It was wonderful to hear them interact, to discover that for years after the end of the series the four of them plus Bob Picardo and Robert Beltran were meeting once a month to have dinner together. Also, their conversation shed light on the end of the story between Neelix and Kes: Phillips revealed that they had shot a six-pages script scene in which they acknowledged the end of the relationship, but (probably for reasons of time) it never aired!
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