In the nineteenth episode of the third season ofÂ Voyager, Neelix and Tuvok are forced to work together again under distressing circumstances. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watchÂ Star Trek.Â
This was a solid episode, marked by two fantastic performances from Tim Russ and Ethan Phillips, but the story itself was pretty cool, too! LET US DISCUSS.
One thing Iâ€™ve enjoyed about watchingÂ Star TrekÂ is getting to experience all of the intriguing science fiction ideas along the way. I am kind of blown away by the savage brilliance of the Etanian Order, and I canâ€™t believe Iâ€™ve never seen anything like this before. Granted, I went into â€œRiseâ€ and assumed from the opening scenes that this was yet another episode where the Federation helps a culture deal with a terrible natural occurrence. BUT THATâ€™S THE WHOLE TRICK, ISNâ€™T IT? Everyone assumes the asteroids are just a freak moment in time, and instead?Â Theyâ€™re intentional.
Look, in terms of dastardly invasion plots, I gotta say that the Etanian Order appears to have come up with the evilest one. They fake natural disasters, wait until the population dies off or evacuates (OR A HORRIBLE COMBINATION OF THE TWO), then swoop in and claim the land as their own. That is fuckingÂ evil, yâ€™all. They murder and steal! As theirÂ thing. How can a people be so awful??? But you can see this kind of standard within Sklar, who poisoned Dr. Vatm and threw Tuvok off of the mag-lev ship. FROM VERY HIGH UP, I MIGHT ADD. (God, this whole episode was quietly powered byÂ nightmare fuel.) They murder to get what they want, and they feel entitled by it.
â€œRiseâ€ works just based on this story alone. I loved how well the end reveal of Sklarâ€™s betrayal explains Dr. Vatmâ€™s desperation. But let me be real: it is so much better because of the interpersonal conflict between Neelix and Tuvok.
The Odd Couple
Iâ€™m still of the mind that the Neelix/Kes split is fucking bizarre. That little interaction they had sick bay was so uncomfortable! Itâ€™s like they barely knew each other, as if Kes wasnâ€™t a major character who had had a years-long relationship with him. What gives? Why are they taking this route? It doesnâ€™t make sense to me! I suppose it wouldnâ€™t feel as glaring if â€œRiseâ€ werenâ€™t entirely about Neelixâ€™s relationship withÂ someone else. As it stands, we have no idea how the break-up has affected him at all, and I kept expecting this episode to address it in some way.
Thatâ€™s the only major flaw in this, though. Otherwise, itâ€™s a thrilling look at Neelixâ€™s relationship with Tuvok and why theyâ€™ve butted heads so much throughout the show. Initially, I thought this episode was just about Neelix proving himself to Tuvok, but thereâ€™s so much more depth than that. Instead, â€œRiseâ€ posits that Tuvok is not as unemotional as he says he is. Itâ€™s a great premise, and then we get to watch it unfold, and EVERYTHING IS SO ENTERTAINING. Throughout the episode, Neelix really does try his hardest under stressful circumstances, even if heÂ doesÂ do things that can be seen as annoying from Tuvokâ€™s point of view. Like lying about his experience with mag-lev containers. Or taking time to comfort others!
But since we focus more on Neelixâ€™s view than Tuvokâ€™s, we get to see why the things he does here are beneficial. Specifically, his conversations with Lillias areÂ notÂ distracting or unnecessary, as Tuvok later comes to learn. Personal motivation â€“ especially with a connection on an emotional level â€“ can be very necessary in the field. On top of that, Neelix may have lied about his experience with these ships, but heÂ didÂ get it working. Without Neelixâ€™s quick-thinking and improvisation, they most likely would have been stuck on the ground, and the Etanian Order would have succeeded in taking the planet from the Nevu.
All this comes to a head in an electrifying scene where Neelix finally confronts Tuvok about his condescension and sarcasm. It really helped that Lillias was there to validate Neelix, too; itâ€™s not often that thereâ€™s an outside perspective on Tuvokâ€™s behavior. Here, that wasÂ vitalÂ to getting him to examine his behavior. Because itâ€™s true! Tuvokâ€™s attitude belies how he feels about Neelix, and that sense of superiority washes over everything. Tuvok has been quick to mistrust Neelix and his instinct before, and he downright dismisses his emotional core. He does so with sarcasm lacing his words, too.
Does this mean that their relationship has fundamentally changed? Perhaps not; the final scene heavily implies that Tuvok canâ€™t really be altered. But itâ€™s a step in the right direction, at least in the sense that Tuvok has a better understanding of how emotion can be a positive attribute instead of an annoying one. â€œRiseâ€ is quite fulfilling to me because I love getting to witness growth thatâ€™s incremental but still meaningful, andÂ VoyagerÂ continues to give me a whole lot of it.
The video for â€œRiseâ€ can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– I am now on Patreon! There are various levels of support, from $1 up to whatever you want! You’ll get to read a private blog, extra reviews, and other such rewards. I POST A LOT OF CUTE PHOTOS, OKAY. Think of it like a private Tumblr blog that only SPECIAL PEOPLE get to read.
– I have updated my list of conventions and events for the remainder of the year and much of next year.Â Â Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often.Â My next Double Features for Mark Watches have been announced here.
-Â Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook!Â I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!