Neelix and Tuvok 4EVAR!! (kidding...but my sister is not)
The details are here, courtesy of Memory Alpha. Suffice to say, Neelix is a better man than I would be having to deal with someone as arrogant and egotistical as Mr. Vulcan.
First...a few spur-of-the-moment reactions to various moments in this episode...a new style I'm trying out when the episode has enough such moments to warrant it.
Voyager stumbles across a planet under siege by at least one large meteor. Now, I remember a few TNG and Voyager episodes where the Captain PASSIONATELY argued that the Prime Directive sometimes meant bad things would happen to good civilizations because we didn't have the right to decide for the rest of the quadrant the evolutionary destiny of a species. Yet our first response here is to blow that meteor sky high? Um...not that I'm not happy to see us saving lives when we can, but why is OK here and not in Time and Again? Or the TNG episode Pen Pals? Or the Enterprise episode Dear Doctor?
Their ambassador tells us they tried blowing one up yesterday and it also broke into large pieces that still damaged the planet. So...how come Voyager is the only thing shooting at this meteor? If they can shoot at meteors from the ground, wouldn't a coordinated assault work better? Also...Voyager used one targetted photon torpedo to achieve an incomplete (but substantial) victory over the rock. Why not plan to use ten photons and a full spread of phaser fire next time around? Or...since the thing is on a collision course but is still millions of miles away, why not fly out to it and try to use your tractor beam to move it off its collision course? Or shoot the crap out of it way out there and then tractor the remains out of the line of fire? Just saying...
Also...why did Voyager send tiny shuttles into the planet's turbulent atmosphere to get knocked around? Why not take the ship down into the ionosphere where a transport from the surface would be possible? Isn't that the safer approach?
So here's a question that applies to many Star Trek episodes. When Torres says she has COMPLETED her metallurgical analysis of the fragment they beamed aboard; so why does she act surprised when she lists off the components. Did she just see the "task complete" status update on her PADD and then run off to tell everyone that she managed to do a simple task that a first year academy cadet could have handled? "I did it! I did it, Mommy Cathy!!!" This happens in every sci fi TV show I've ever seen. "I found traces of argon, methane, CO2...and naaaah...that can't be right...trilithium resin!!!!" Um...you did the study...you should know what the PADD says, stupid.
Tuvok is a dick. Sorry...he just is. Neelix takes longer than five seconds to figure out where the control system on an ALIEN mag-lev carriage is and Tuvok questions his honesty. The fact that Neelix actually wasn't telling the truth entirely is immaterial. It's not a TALAXIAN carriage, now is it, Mr. Vulcan? It's totally foreign...give him a second to figure things out and stop breathing down his neck about trying to improve the morale of the survivors...the people you might NEED to help you escape in a pinch. Dick. You don't deserve the admiration and respect that Neelix heaps on you on a daily basis, just hoping you'll show him even the tiniest sign that you think of him a a valued member of the crew. I know Neelix gets ahead of himself and his enthusiasm causes him to get in over his head and make stupid mistakes. I get that this can be a problem. I even get that Neelix's refusal to accept that Tuvok's culture doesn't include excessive emotional displays and respect his desire for logical discourse and solitude can be REEEEEALLY annoying sometimes. But for crying out loud...he's saving your ass right now and you still treat him like he's a booger on your shoe.
Aaaaand...Neelix finally blows up and tells him off and sticks up for himself. It's about damned time. I'd have kicked Tuvok in the balls two years ago.
OMG - best Star Trek action line EVER other than "Assimilate this!"
AMBASSADOR: What of Dr. Vadm? Where is Mr. Sklar?How did Neelix get the best action line in Voyager franchise history??
NEELIX: Dr. Vadim is dead, sir. And Mr. Sclar...(winks at Tuvok)...returned to the surface.
Oh...and how the hell did Voyager beam Neelix, the survivor girl and Tuvok aboard in the middle of a pitched battle with an alien ship? You cannot beam through the shields! It's an important plot point so many times that I've lost count...and yet, when the script fairy needs them to be safely home and to deliver the codes to blow that alien ship to hell, there they are. And this is a stupid mistake that isn't necessary to resolve anything! Just have Neelix or Tuvok transmit the data on the alien ship to Voyager using the comm. system on the carriage (they're bound to have something), let Voyager shoot it into retreat and then beam them back for the denouement. Easy.
And...one more time...why exactly are we intervening in an alien war maneuver? That whole Prime Directive thing only applies occasionally? Don't get me wrong...I like punching bullies in the mouth, but I just boggle at how the writers totally missed this when they're so painfully aware of it most of the time. And BTW...how did we become friends with these people in the first place. What...we were flying by and happened to see a meteor heading for a populated planet and it was instant love? Two lines in the script would solve my problem with this...
CHAKOTAY: Captain, are we certain we want to risk lives on a rescue operation here? We just met these people...See how easy that was? The PD does not apply when two warp-capable civilizations make a trade deal...and many of the show's strangest plot holes wouldn't have been there in that situation. No fuss...no muss.
JANEWAY: If we want to get our hands on that (insert needed compound or engine part or energy source etc) like they promised in exchange for our help, we've got to get to the bottom of this once and for all.
At any rate, despite the errors in the script, I give this one a lot of credit. Tuvok may have mastered logic, but the original idea behind Vulcans was not that they did not have or experience emotions, but that they did not express them or allow them to guide decisions. Spock, on many an occasion, used his gut instinct - the notion that gut instincts are not based on logic is...illogical. :) They're a part of our survival skill - baked into our biology. Tuvok may be good at many things...but he's not a very good Vulcan. He's filled with arrogance (most illogical) and personal disdain for Neelix (OK...I can understand finding him annoying, but I had a friend in college who was a lot like Neelix and when push came to shove, I was still able to recognize that he was a good guy trying his best to fit in and belong). This episode not only (correctly, IMHO) asserts that Tuvok has a problem needing to get the last word and needs to learn how to motivate non-Vulcans; it also helps us appreciate Neelix's survival skills. When he actually knows what he's doing, his gigantic heart and will to live are an invaluable asset.
For Braga (not doing a mindfuck episode), this one ain't so bad. It's full of plot holes and wasted opportunities, but it does the job.
Ethan Phillips really carries this one. The alien characters frequently seem wooden and/or zany, but Phillips and one-off costar Lisa Kaminir (Lillias) worked very well together.
Neelix does a lot for Voyager just by being the genuine, enthusiastic persistent person he is...it's nice to see that acknowledged.