During an away mission on a planet where Lt. Tuvok and Neelix are looking for flower samples to collect, they are transported back to the ship after their mission is completed. Unfortunately, instead of two people beaming back on board Voyager, there is only one appearing in the teleporter room...a strange humanoid combination of both Vulcan and Talaxian. The Doctor discovers that both Tuvok and Neelix have somehow merged together while they were in transport, and the agent of this merging was one of the plant samples that they were bringing back to Voyager with them.
While the Doctor tries to find a way to undo the merging, the new individual formed from the merging who calls himself Tuvix gets used to the dual roles and memories that he possesses of his "parents". Unfortunately, when the Doctor finally finds the way to undo the merging, Tuvix objects against the procedure, equating it to murder of a new life form. But because the crew wanted Tuvok and Neelix back to the way they were before the merging, Captain Janeway acts against what Tuvix wants and initiates the unmerging procedure herself, restoring Tuvok and Neelix to their normal separate selves.
This episode provides examples of:
- The Ace: Tuvix is a better cook, tactical officer, crew-mate, pool player, and conversationalist than his precursors. He's so good at everything, it's surprising Janeway didn't use her Captain's prerogative to keep him alive instead.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Tuvix resorts to pleading to the bridge crew for his life, but they remain silent.
- Anywhere but Their Lips: Tuvix kisses Kes on the cheek, though uncomfortably close to her mouth.
- Bait-and-Switch: Tuvix takes charge of Tactical and orders Voyager to be dropped out of warp, making it appear that he's going to take radical action to save his life. At that point however, Janeway comes out of her Ready Room and orders Tuvix to report to Sickbay. After a futile attempt to rally support or fight off Security, Tuvix accepts his fate with resignation.
- Better as Friends: Tuvix gets put in the Friendzone by Kes.
- Bittersweet Ending: A particularly infamous one, and easily one of the most brutal decisions Janeway has had to make thus far. Tuvix is solemnly unmerged out of existence and we get Neelix and Tuvok back, but as Janeway walks out of Sick Bay, she's clearly distraught with her actions.
- The Chains of CommandingJaneway: We've just been discussing the unfortunate predicament that we're all facing, and I thought it was important to get your perspective before making a decision.
Tuvix: Are you suggesting that this is your decision to make?
Janeway: I am the Captain of this ship.
Tuvix: Begging your pardon, Captain, it's my life. Isn't it my decision?
Janeway: Aren't there two other lives to consider here? What about Tuvok and Neelix? Two voices that we can't hear right now. As Captain, I must be their voice.
- Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Janeway raises Tuvok and Neelix, and the people who love them, to convince Tuvix to die. Tuvix gives this trope, paraphrasing The Merchant of Venice in the process, saying he regards Tuvok and Neelix as his parents.Tuvix: Look at me, Captain. When I'm happy, I laugh. When I'm sad, I cry. When I stub my toe, I yell out in pain. I'm flesh and blood, and I...have the right to live!
- Does This Remind You of Anything?? A twofer:
- Particularly with his statement that he thinks of Tuvok and Neelix as his parents, the decision whether or not to split Tuvix could be seen as a metaphor for abortion.
- At the same time, it's the Trolley Problem, in space. In the classic thought experiment, a malfunctioning trolley is heading for two (or more) people who are tied to the tracks, who will certainly die if the trolley hits them. It can be diverted to a secondary track by pulling a lever, but there is one person tied to that track, who will likewise die if struck by the trolley. Assuming it's not possible either to stop the trolley or to untie any of the people, do you pull the lever, and directly cause the death of one person, or do nothing, and allow two to die? In the episode, Neelix and Tuvok are the two people tied to the main track, while Tuvix is the one on the secondary track. Janeway decides to pull the lever.
- Friend Versus Lover: A sci-fi version. Neelix was Kes' lover and Tuvok was her mentor. Now Tuvix is a friend who wants to be her lover. Kes is understandably upset, especially when she's forced to choose between bringing back her lover at the expense of her new friend's life.
- Fusion Dance: Tuvok + Neelix = Tuvix. An interesting variation as he is presented as a composite character, but Tuvix doesn't assert himself as a Mental Fusion so much as a new being unto himself. The result is that this trope gets played with and deconstructed as the episode goes on, culminating in perhaps Voyager's most morbid ending.
- I Don't Want to Die: Janeway asks Tuvix to consider what Tuvok or Neelix would do. Tuvix agrees they would sacrifice their own lives, but even if his decision seems cowardly, Tuvix says he has as much right to live as anyone else.
- If You Won't, I Will: The Doctor refuses to separate Tuvix because, well, he's a doctor, and doctors do no harm. Janeway immediately takes on the dubious honor herself, even though she isn't the least bit happy to do it.
- Layman's Terms: Separating Tuvix is like unmaking a cake after you've mixed the flour, eggs and water.
- And then baked it!
- Loafing in Full Costume: Averted with Janeway in a pink nightie.
- Moment Killer: Harry Kim is playing a beautiful clarinet piece when the Doctor interrupts. Doc does it again when Kes is finally making an overture toward Tuvix.
- Moral Myopia: Tuvix has this, claiming that separating him would be destroying his life while keeping him intact would not be the end of Tuvok's and Neelix' life, even though it's obvious that he's neither of them and can't just lead both their lives.
- Janeway as well, arguing to Tuvix that Tuvok and Neelix would sacrifice their lives for another to convince him do the same, yet it never occurs to her they would therefore not wish to regain their existence at expense of Tuvix.
- Montage: Janeway makes an entry into her Captain's Log, explaining what an Ace Tuvix is.
- No Sense of Personal Space: Tuvix — played for laughs with Janeway and the Doctor, but not with Kes.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Kes loses her Plucky Girl demeanor. She can't mourn the loss of Neelix and Tuvok, because they're right there in the form of Tuvix.
- Portmanteau: Their newest crewmember decides to call himself...Neevok! No, how about Tuvix.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: Averted; this is clearly meant to be a controversial decision, rather than Janeway just being right.
- Reset Button: Tuvok and Neelix have to come back because, well, they're main cast members. In-show, however, pushing this particular reset button involves a very hard decision, which The Captain ultimately decides to take upon herself, and the show doesn't shy away one bit from depicting how difficult it is.
- Rule of Threes: Kes gets two hugs from Janeway and one from a restored Neelix.
- Sadistic Choice
- Tuvix argues that Janeway is, in-effect, executing him. However if Tuvix survives, it can only be at the expense of Tuvok and Neelix.
- Tuvix goes to Kes and asks her to convince Janeway to relent. As this would mean the effective demise of Neelix, she can't do so.
- Shoot the Dog: When the Doctor refuses to 'kill' Tuvix, Janeway does the job herself.
- Teleporter Accident: Merge two people and a plant together (Neelix and Tuvok) into one distinct being. Then unmerge them through the power of mad science! In a funny bit of Fridge Logic, the plant they were with never gets unmerged, so Neelix and/or Tuvok is part plant from this point on in the series.
- Tempting Fate
- Tuvok says, "I am who I am, Mister Neelix. It is impossible for me to be more or less like myself." Neelix asks if it isn't possible to both work and have fun at the same time. Tuvix ensues.
- Kes tells Tuvix that she wants them to be friends, but it's going to take time to adjust. Tuvix replies "I'm not going anywhere." Right on cue, the Doctor contacts him to reveal that he's found a way to separate him.
- When the Doctor finds a cure, he assures Tuvix that he's anticipated every variable. Except, Tuvix points out, the possibility that he wouldn't want to be restored.
- That's an Order!: Janeway quietly asks Tuvix to accompany her to Sickbay. When he refuses, she has Security come to the Bridge to drag him there by force if necessary.
- Tragic One-Shot Character: Tuvix, and how.
- We Are as Mayflies: Tuvix argues that it could be years before Neelix is restored, if he ever is, and for Kes that could be a lifetime.
- Wham LineThe Doctor: I assure you, Mr. Tuvix. There's nothing to worry about. We've accounted for every variable.
Tuvix: Except one. I don't want to die.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?Janeway: It's funny. If we'd had the ability to separate Tuvok and Neelix the moment Tuvix came aboard, I wouldn't have hesitated.
Chakotay: Of course not.
Janeway: But now, in the past few weeks, he's begun to make a life for himself on this ship. He's taken on responsibilities, made friends...
Chakotay: I count myself as one of them.
Janeway: So at what point, did he become an individual and not a transporter accident?
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- When Tuvix confesses his love for Kes, she's shocked and asks him to consider Tuvok's wife, to whom he has always been faithful.
- Janeway cops a lot of flak among fans for her decision, but no-one else comes to Tuvix's support either when he pleads to Kes, and later the entire bridge crew, for help.Tuvix: Commander, are you going to stand by and do nothing while she commits murder? Mister Ayala. Yes, Lieutenant Paris, you. DOESN'T ANYONE SEE THAT THIS IS WRONG?
- The Doctor refuses to perform the procedure, citing 'do no harm' when Tuvix refuses to consent to the procedure, but he also doesn't attempt to stop Janeway either. That one is a bit justified as Janeway could have simply turned the Doctor's program off had he intervened against her orders.
- The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Janeway's stoic expression as she 'kills' Tuvix. It drops for a moment after Tuvok and Neelix are restored, then Janeway is shown girding herself to be The Captain again.
- Your Favourite: Tuvix makes Trellan crepes for Kes (shouldn't that be Jimbalian fudge cake?)