While returning from a diplomatic mission with Neelix, Tuvok is attacked by an unknown weapon that causes severe neurological damage. The Kesat investigator, whose species had recently closed dealings with Voyager
, claims it's the work of the Ba'Neth, a shadowy, xenophobic race obsessed with protecting their anonymity. His government denies their existence, but they're real, all right; their weapon has forced Tuvok's brain to rewire itself from a totally Blank Slate
Contains examples of:
- Absentee Actor: B'Elanna doesn't appear, as Roxann Dawson was busy in the director's chair.
- Agent Mulder: Naroq is convinced the Ba'Neth exist, despite his government's claim to the contrary.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: Why Tuvok doesn't want to reverse his brain damage, partially.
- Bittersweet Ending: Tuvok is his old curmudgeonly self again, and doesn't remember what it was to be Fun Personified... or does he?
- Brick Joke: At the beginning of the episode, Neelix tells Tuvok a riddle about an ensign who survived by eating dates from his calendar, which Tuvok finds absurd. At the very end, possibly as a sign that his experience has had a lasting impact on him, he suggests an alternate solution to the riddle: in addition to the dates, he also could have eaten the Sundays (sundaes).
Neelix: That's a very clever answer, Mr. Vulcan. But it's not very logical, is it?
Tuvok: No...it's not.
- Broken Aesop: Neelix is encouraged to not try and make Tuvok back into the Vulcan he was before, but encourage him to see what he can become after his accident. The resulting Reset Button returns Tuvok to his old personality, making him who he was before. So "encourage him to embrace and accept the changes from his traumatic injury, and he'll be returned to who he was before."
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Naroq admits to being eccentric and not well regarded by his colleagues — but he's absolutely right about the Ba'Neth being real. And dangerous.
- Call-Back: The game of kal-toh makes a reappearance, among other things meant to aid in Tuvok's rehabilitation.
- Cryptically Unhelpful Answer: When they're studying the shuttle and Naroq's scanner goes off, Janeway asks what it is. Naroq replies that it's, "The sound of history being made."
Janeway: Less poetry, Mr. Naroq, more facts.
- "Eureka!" Moment: Tuvok remembers the Ba'Neth's cloaking frequency and draws it using his pastry bag!
- Fun Personified: The other reason why Tuvok doesn't want to reverse his brain damage; he derives such joy from life which he never did as himself.
- Growing Up Sucks: After receiving a blast of Laser-Guided Amnesia, Tuvok is essentially rendered back to a baby. He rapidly matures over the course of the episode, going from a babbling infant to a tantrum-throwing toddler to a slightly angsty preteen. By the time he's old enough to realize what going back to "normal" means, this trope is in full effect—Tuvok wants to play and have fun with Neelix forever instead of becoming his old, fully-grown self.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Naroq doesn't sacrifice his life to save Tuvok, but he does surrender his technology to the Ba'Neth, and in doing so permanently gives up his credibility.
- Tuvok himself pulls a variant when he remarks that he likes his new, happy, fun-loving self. He doesn't want to go back to being the cold and emotionless tactical officer from before. Neelix explains that the ship needs that officer, though, and so Fun!Tuvok is gone for good.
- Idiot Savant: Despite Tuvok losing his brilliant mind and logical abilities, he does cook amazing dessert now, surprisingly... which leads to the "Eureka!" Moment above!
- Invisibility Cloak: The Ba'Neth one uses veridium isotopes, whatever those are.
- Mama Bear: Janeway is admirable in her protection of Tuvok while he is rehabilitating.
- Manchild: Tuvok is reduced to this after he's attacked.
- Mind Rape: Perhaps the Ba'Neth's weapons can be called this, although according to the doctor they would usually outright kill victims; Tuvok's mind just happens to be stronger than most.
- No Sense of Personal Space: Naroq hovers over Tuvok a lot and gets in his face while questioning him, annoying Janeway and Neelix.
- Not Himself: Poor Tuvok's forgotten what it means to be Vulcan; fortunately, he's Fun Personified! Unfortunately, it doesn't last.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Tuvok is terrified of alien attacks? Doesn't like kal-toh? Throws a tantrum when he's presented with who he was? Yep, a Manchild all right.
- Papa Wolf: Neelix comes into his own as a staunch protector of his best friend Tuvok.
- The Paranoiac: The Ba'Neth as a whole, which explains the Invisibility Cloak and zapping anyone who stumbles upon them.
- Punctuation Shaker: The hostile aliens are the Ba'Neth.
- A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: The Doctor refer to the Vulcan brain as "a puzzle wrapped inside an enigma housed inside a cranium."
- See the Invisible: Naroq's equipment is meant to do this with the Ba'Neth. It successfully reveals a shadowy image of where one stood inside the Flyer, and then exposes an entire fleet and their Space Station.
- Status Quo Is God: All but stated by Neelix as to why Tuvok needs to be healed.
- Urban Legend: Most Kesat consider the Ba'Neth to be this, with Naroq being one of the few believers. Turns out he's right.