As with every Star Trek series, and really most TV shows, Star Trek: Voyager had its ups and downs, with some episodes being considered classics for the entire sci-fi franchise, and others… well, not so much (I’m looking at you, “Threshold”). However, as far as the most discussed Voyager episodes, ranking near the top of the list, if not in the #1 spot, is the controversial “Tuvix,” which saw Tim Russ’ Tuvok and Ethan Phillips’ Neelix being merged into the title character. This tale was even channeled in a recent episode of The Flash, and Russ recently talked about just how much he’s asked about “Tuvix,” as well as shared his definitive take on the ending.
“Tuvix” came up while Tim Russ was chatting with The Ready Room host Will Wheaton about (SPOILER ALERT) his appearance in the latest Star Trek: Picard episode, “Dominion,” as a Changeling disguised as Tuvok. Starting off, Russ recalled a specific moment that exemplified just how often Star Trek: Voyager fans have brought up “Tuvix” to him:
I was just recently up at Griffith Observatory. I've been an astronomer for a long, long time, and I was up there with the astronomy group at the time, the telescopes up there, and as I was just unloading my car with the gear, the guy that was security, sort of managing the parking and the traffic and stuff like that, was working for observatory, as I walking away he said, ‘You're Tuvok on Star Trek. My favorite episode was 'Tuvix.’ Just out of the blue, that's what he said. I have been approached, especially in the last two or three years, consistently, everyone asks me about that episode. ‘Tuvix’ is the most, I think out of all of our shows, one of the most controversial shows we've done in seven years of Voyager. They ask me about that show, that episode.
For those who’ve never seen “Tuvix,” which aired on May 6, 1996 towards the end of Season 2, the character, played by Tom Wright, comes into existence when Tuvok and Neelix are beamed back up to Voyager while carrying a plant sample from a class-M planet they were exploring. Eventually The Doctor discovers a way to separate the two crew members back into separate beings, but Tuvix argues for his existence and says that bringing Tuvok and Neelix back would be the equivalent of executing him. Kate Mulgrew’s Captain Kathryn Janeway (who’s currently a character on Star Trek: Prodigy) ultimately decides to carry out the procedure herself after Robert Picardo’s Doctor refuses to do so. Nearly three decades later, Star Trek fans continue to discuss the ethical and moral implications presented in the episode, with some agreeing with what Janeway did, and others believing Tuvix should have remained alive.
Tim Russ acknowledged the difficult subject matter presented in “Tuvix” during his conversation with Wil Wheaton, noting that this is one of those Star Trek stories where the captain has to make a decision where “there’s no winning” because there are “these scales that are almost perfect.” In his opinion though, Russ believes Janeway made the right call, explaining:
And they ask me all the time, ‘Which decision would you make, or do you think was was the right decision?’ And I tell them, ‘Yeah. It was the right decision.’ I can say it from my perspective… the character is a father and he has children, and he is going to go on and survive and live and and reproduce. The Tuvix character cannot, and it's only one of a species, and that's it. And Neelix's character is also part of her crew, and she has responsibility to them. So she has to make that decision. This was an accident, and she has to rectify it. And that's it, and a lot of people, sometimes they don't agree with that. But that episode, people are very passionate about having made that decision, and I always tell them, I said, ‘The very last shot in that entire episode is Kate walking down the hall when she leaves the medical bay and we've been returned. She walks out the door and she doesn't say a word, but you can see it on her face. She's absolutely devastated, by what she had to do.’ And that again is a lesson, because in people's real lives, they may be faced with that situation where they have to make a very difficult decision.
We’re only two years away from the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: Voyager’s premiere, and though “Tuvix” is one of its most controversial stories, it’s nonetheless impressive that it’s still discussed so passionately within the fanbase. Looking back to Tim Russ, he starred in Voyager for the entirety of its run, and while Star Trek: Picard marked his first time reprising Tuvok on screen in over two decades, he has voiced the character in some video/computer games, as well as played the Mirror Universe version of him in the Deep Space Nine episode “Through the Looking Glass.” Russ has also recently starred opposite Cherry Jones in an episode of Poker Face (which Peacock subscribers can watch) and voiced Lucius Fox in the animated DC movie Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham.
For those now interested in watching “Tuvix” for the first time or viewing it again, it can be streamed with a Paramount+ subscription, as Star Trek: Voyager is easily accessible on the platform with the rest of the Star Trek TV shows. Don’t forget to use our 2023 TV schedule to see what shows are currently airing or will debut/kick off new seasons soon.