April 24, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Weekend Trek “Innocence”

Tuvok, stranded on an alien moon, watches over a trio of frightened children.

I think one of the things I appreciate most about how this series uses the Tuvok character is that the writers have, thus far, found a way to use him to explore aspects of Vulcan culture that somehow the original series never quite got around to.

And that, by itself, is rather daunting.

See, writer D.C. Fontana really worked hard to make the Vulcans, well, the Vulcans.  Most of the iconic Spock episodes and moments were written by her back in the 60s, and between her and Leonard Nimoy, there sure was a lot of thought that went into crafting Spock and the Vulcans as a whole as a unique race of people.  90s-era Star Trek made an effort to develop new alien races, and sure, the Klingons were on the bridge of the Enterprise from Day One, and Worf did for Klingons what Spock did for Vulcans, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room to explore even more with the Vulcans.

So far, Tuvok has been used as an investigator and advisor, not as the science officer that Spock was.  There’s something to be said about a Vulcan as the Security Chief, not a role one might expect a Vulcan to take at first blush, but at the same time, why wouldn’t a Vulcan make a good Security Chief?

But one other thing Tuvok is that Star Trek has arguably not done much with is a parent.  Yes, Sarek is a parent, but Spock is an adult when Sarek appeared for the first time.  What does it mean to a Vulcan with young children?

That’s more or less what happens here:  Tuvok and another crewman crash land on an alien moon while out scouting for supplies for the ship.  The other crewman dies, but Tuvok isn’t alone.  There are three small children there, also survivors of a crash, all scared out of their minds by some alien monster in a nearby cave.  Tuvok takes it upon himself to protect the kids while he works on the shuttle.  There are no life signs from the cave, and before the episode ends, two of the three kids have disappeared without a trace.

Meanwhile, Janeway meets with a somewhat reclusive alien race that, after an initial good contact, decide they want Voyager gone immediately.  Yes, there’s a connection to the moon Tuvok is on.  The children appear to be from the same species as the aliens Janeway met, and these are pretty unimpressive-looking aliens in that it looks like they got a triangle painted on their foreheads and the adults wear veils.  These are incredibly unimpressive-looking aliens, but the children are not allowed to leave.

So, there’s a lot to like here, and most of it deals with how Tuvok deals with children.  He’s not at first blush a good candidate for a babysitter, but he wasn’t a good candidate for head of security either, so why not?  How do Vulcans show their children love?  Tuvok is still a seemingly emotionless Vulcan, but he does sing a song for the kids to go to sleep to when they ask for a story.  Granted, his song is about a Vulcan who may or may not have found enlightenment, but at least he has a nice voice.

But then comes the twist ending, the sort that works in sci-fi as long as you don’t think too much about it:  the children are not children because these people age in reverse.  They’re a spiritual people, and they bring their elderly near death to this planet to die.  Normally, there are caretakers to make sure the old folks don’t get too confused, but they died in the crash.  Tuvok can’t take the remaining child away because, well, she doesn’t have much time left.  She does request Tuvok keep her company until her time comes, which he of course agrees to, because he reminds her of her grandson.

Something that maybe should have come up by now…

Anyway, I have some questions.  This isn’t the first alien race to age in reverse, but there’s always the question of how the life cycle works.  Are they born to an adult size and then gradually shrink as they age?  That would be, well, something.  Most stories like this don’t really go into that aspect.  The only two that really did off the top of my head were, oddly enough Mork & Mindy because for some reason Mork’s people also age backwards, and when he had a son, he did so by laying a giant egg (no word on how he did that), and then there’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button where the title character may not be an alien, but he was born an old man and aged backwards.  For that movie, he was an infant-sized old timer that gradually got younger and taller before shrinking back down to die of old age as an infant.

That’s just weird.

See, I had a nice insight into Vulcan parenting, and all that happened to distract me.