Review: Star Trek Lower Decks 'Twovix' Is Vindication for Janeway, a Love Letter to Voyager
If you’re not familiar with Voyager’s episode “Tuvix” you’ve missed out on one of the longest running debates among Star Trek fans. Personally, I think Janeway made the right decision. Afterall, if you squint and look at it at just the right angle, the Tuvix issue can be seen as a bit of a modern sci-fi trolley problem. However “Twovix” goes full trolley problem, and even ends up validating this author’s view of Janeway’s supposed misdeed.
In “Twovix” Ensign Bradward Boimler is hoping for a promotion, promised one by the Cerritos’ first Ransom if nothing goes wrong. Predictably, a whole lot of things go (hilariously) wrong. The USS Cerritos is tasked with escorting the decommissioned starship Voyager. I really like it when a spin-off has you catch up with old characters, and seeing the USS Voyager again felt good. And obviously, Lower Decks will not pass up the opportunity to prodigiously reference Voyager.
Overall, there are a lot here that Voyager fans might get a kick out of, including some cuts that can be considered moderately deep. The Clown (portrayed originally by Michael McKeen) makes an appearance, along with Janeway’s Irish holodeck, er, lover. Even Doctor Chaotica makes an appearance with the appropriate retro black and white projector filter that Tom Paris loved so much. But the entire plot revolves around the moral dilemma from Voyager Season 2 Episode 24 “Tuvix.”
I always was under the impression that Janeway was in the right in “Tuvix.” That's the episode where Tuvok and Neelix and an orchid they were carrying get turned into a single entity that calls itself Tuvix. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a bit of a trolley problem type scenario, but with a military spin. She lost two members of her crew – one of them being one of her most trusted and capable officer. To destroy this “new” entity for sake of crew effectiveness was essential. I mean, Tuvix had no commitment to loyalty, and he wasn’t even a Starfleet officer – despite what his memories were. That isn’t even considering Tuvok’s family. A Starfleet officer would be willing to make the sacrifice for his crew, and Tuvix was not – being forcefully separated while begging for his life. Sure, Janeway was coldhearted, but it was what had to be done. And “Twovix” validates that a tiny bit.
In “Twovix” that same scenario plays out in a completely different way. When Chief Medical Officer Doctor T’ana and Chief Engineer Billups get “Tuvix’d” they form a new entity calling itself “T’illups.” Captain Freeman doesn’t know how to solve the problem, so she wants to see “how Janeway did it.” And Janeway's method turns out to be horrifying. Obviously, T’illups wants nothing to do with this, and begins “Tuvixing” other crew members to rise up against their potential murderers.
In typical Lower Decks fashion, old Star Trek storylines are examined with some fun being made. In this case, the Tuvix “problem” is set to 11 as Vulcan lower decks crewmember T’Lynn solves their version of the problem by combining ALL of the already combined crewmembers into a large mass. Of course, they all get separated, and it’s a happy ending. However, I’m a little bummed that the moral/immoral action was taken by a Vulcan, and not by one of the main crewmembers. Maybe it’s the writers’ themselves commenting on how Janeway’s solution was the “logical” one. I might be stretching a bit.
“Twovix” is certainly a love letter to Voyager fans. And even though I’m not the biggest fan of Voyager, I loved it. The closing scene had a bit of poignancy for me and possibly for other fans of Voyager that felt a little let-down by that show’s abrupt ending. Seeing USS Voyager finally home, on earth, was something I’ve waited over 27 years to see.
Lower Decks continues its trend of heartfelt and clever storytelling, while still exploiting its format to maximum effect. Lower Decks led the way for modern Trek to shine the way it has, and I’m looking forward to what looks to be a great season.