|Tuvok fails to understand Suder's violent nature.|
I am at a loss for words. Every so often a piece of television comes along that just knocks your socks off, and this is one of them. An episode that I missed on my run through the series on syndication, Meld is a masterpiece of acting chops from Tuvok's Tim Russ, who shows with great gusto just how subtle and brilliant of an actor he is when you look behind the grey face of his Vulcan control. It also introduced the captivating character of Lon Suder, a violent offender who has a fascinating repartée with Tuvok both in this episode and in the season finale.
There's been a murder aboard Voyager, and the only suspect is Lon Suder, a calm and quiet man with freaky big eyes. He initially denies it, but when his guilt is proved he calmly confesses and recites the details of his crime. Tuvok is puzzled at his lack of a motive, and in his Vulcan stubbornness he refuses to accept it. He chooses to mind-meld with Suder, sharing his mind with his. As a result, he understands that Suder is a naturally violent individual. While Suder's experience allowed him to utilize some of Tuvok's self-control while in the Brig, Tuvok goes on a downward spiral as his natural violent instincts work their way up, culminating in a scene in which, during treatment to help him get back to normal, he goes on an emotive rant against Janeway, Kes and The Doctor. He goes to face Suder and execute him for his crimes, but Suder warns him that the violence will never stop if he lets it in, and he is partially able to control himself enough not to commit the act.
Tuvok's journey into what his race would consider madness is handled wonderfully by Tim Russ, starting with the subtlest of changes in the intonation of his voice and his body language. Even the pronounciation of certain words slowly factored into Tuvok's more and more emotive state, especially in the speech scene in which his ability to supress emotion is removed entirely and he doesn't just kick back and portray a human, but instead acts like someone just granted the ability to feel emotion and express all of their hidden desires and opinions. The way he picks on each of the people in the room individually and attempts to null them psychologically was stunning to witness and it's one of my favourite scenes in all of Voyager. And, talking of my favourite scenes, there's also a fantastic sequence where Tuvok lets out some of his rage by strangling Neelix on the holodeck, which is one of the most satisfying things I can imagine doing. (He's that bad, I'm sorry.)
|If this ain't a creepy motherfucker I don't know what is.|
After two weeks of bullshit, Voyager totally confounded me by delivering 45 minutes of character development and exploration that left me wondering what the hell had happened. How can you have a piece of television so good so soon after an episode where two characters turn into lizards and have kids together? It's always cool to see characteristically straightlaced Vulcan characters have emotional rampages, but the way that this episode so subtley took us through it from his perspective makes it one of the best episodes in the damn show.
NEXT WEEK: B'elanna makes up for a massive cock-up as she disarms a bomb in Dreadnought.