Voyager 3.14 Alter Ego

Subtitle: Tuvok swipes right

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Summary: Tuvok befriends a hologram…who traps Voyager in a nebula when he doesn’t return her affection

Grade: C+

Etc. This is quiet episode, and not a lot happens. The stakes exist – the engines stop working, the plasma bursts could destroy the whole ship – but only as a by-product of the unexpected bond between Tuvok and Marayna.

Isolation is an appropriately recurring theme on Voyager and I love to see it explored with Tuvok. Vulcans are isolationist in general, and as we saw in Flashback, Tuvok is even more so. He considered Kolinahr, and keeps to himself on the ship. He is close to Janeway, but even there we don’t often see them socializing separate from work. And of course he maintains emotional distance at all times, that’s why Harry approaches him in the first place.

“Harry falls in love with a hologram” is somewhat predictable. Voyager is such a tiny community, I’m sure at least half the crew have considered dating a hologram – and given their CMO is one, it’s not even that ridiculous. I wish that was addressed here, but the Doctor appears only once, to make out with multiple anonymous hula girls (ugh). Instead we just get Harry being embarrassed for a list of reasons, mainly that he fell in love with a computer program/secret alien, but she wanted Tuvok instead. Harry and Tuvok’s final scene is sweet but it doesn’t make up for all the sulking Harry does the rest of the time.

And then there’s Neelix’s Luau and the whole resort program in general, which I just. Don’t like. Neelix and the writers get a cookie for the line “I’ve done a great deal of ethnographic research on the Polynesian cultures on Earth.” It shows an attempt at making it a cultural celebration. But all of the holocharacters made/cast to look Polynesian are mute. They hand out leis and drinks, dance and kiss, and later attack the away team, and have exactly zero personality. They are extras and they are meant to fade into the background and in the context of the episode they don’t even exist, I get it! But Maryana, the co-lead guest star, is tall and blonde and white and it stands out.

As does the disparity between the costumes men and women wear. It’s resort wear, I get it! It could be much worse, I know! But why is Kes’s only appearance in a swimsuit?

Harry/Maryana/Tuvok isn’t the only love triangle in the episode, we also get Tom/B’Elanna/Vorik. But nothing comes of it – in this episode. I know Vorik and B’Elanna is set up for an upcoming episode, but why start it in an episode where Tuvok flirts with a relationship if you’re not going to use that at all? I’m not opposed to hanging threads but as with the Doctor above, it feels like a missed opportunity.

I like Maryana and I like Tuvok and Maryana. The performances are good and the theme of wanting to be alone but not lonely is interesting, especially in the context of duty and physical isolation and creating a persona in an imaginary environment in order to find friends. This episode brings up a lot of interesting ideas, with a lot of analogues to our reality, and doesn’t do much with any of them. I’m disappointed.

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