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Star Trek: Voyager – Gravity (Review)

Gravity is a powerful story, all the more effective for its relative simplicity.

Tuvok has been one of the most overlooked and ignored regular cast members on Star Trek: Voyager. The later seasons tend to neglect Harry Kim and Chakotay, but they had been given considerable focus in the earlier years of the show. Chakotay had been a major focus in The Cloud, State of Flux, Cathexis, Initiations, Tattoo, Manoeuvres and Basics, Part I. Kim had taken centre stage in Emanations, Prime Factors, Non Sequitur and The Thaw. In contrast, Tuvok remained relatively anonymous, more of a supporting player than a narrative focal point.

Vulcan on a ledge.

In hindsight, this appears a rather strange choice. Tuvok is the first full-blooded Vulcan character to appear as a regular on a Star Trek show. Spock is easily the most iconic character in the franchise, to the point that he would be the torchbearer for the JJ Abrams reboot and his family still haunts Star Trek: Discovery. As such, having a fully Vulcan character should have led to all manner of interesting stories. After all, Tuvok was introduced in Caretaker as a spy working undercover in the Maquis. There should have been a lot of material to mine in the set-up.

However, for most of the run of Voyager, Tuvok seemed cast in a supporting role. He was the investigator in episodes where the crew were falsely accused, as Paris was in Ex Post Facto or Torres was in Random Thoughts. He was a reliable sounding board for other characters, as with Kes in Cold Fire or Neelix in Rise or Seven of Nine in The Raven. He was even effectively employed as a mind-controlled monster in episodes like Cathexis and Repression. Tellingly, most of the handful of episodes focusing on Tuvok focus on events where he is not himself; Tuvix, Riddles.

Vulcan love slave.

This is a shame, as there is a lot of fertile ground to explore within Vulcan psychology. Logic is never as clean or simple as Spock made it sound. Existence is full of logical contradictions and inconsistencies. The two best Tuvok-centric episodes of Voyager tend to focus on these inconsistencies. Meld is an episode in which Tuvok asks questions for which there can be no answer, and in which his insistence that the universe is an ordered and logical structure pushes him to some very dark places. Gravity explores the long-standing myth that Vulcans are emotionless.

Gravity is a surprisingly influential episode of Voyager, an episode that explores the implications of an idea which the larger Star Trek franchise had taken for granted for more than thirty years. It is an episode that feels unique in the larger context of Voyager, one build as much around character as action. It is story about love and repression, one rooted very much in who Tuvok is. It might just be one of the best Vulcan-centric stories in the franchise.

Tuvok lightens up.

As with any long-running franchise, Star Trek has cultivated a mythology around itself. The franchise has become iconic and ubiquitous, an instantly identifiable aspect of American popular culture. Kirk and Spock are characters recognised across the world. A significant percentage of the American population understands what a “Klingon” is. Catchphrases like “live long and prosper” might not have the same impact as “may the force be with you”, but they have a reach that extends beyond the ratings of individual episodes.

Along the way, the franchise has build up a fair amount of mythology. There are certain aspects of Star Trek that are taken for granted, and accepted without question. People assume that the words “beam me up, Scotty” were spoken on the original show, when they never were. Fans insist that Vulcans never lie, when Spock has been known to bend (and even break) the truth when the occasion demanded it. Fans were outraged when Star Trek: Enterprise had the tenacity to present Vulcans in an unflattering light, glossing over episodes like Amok Time or Journey to Babel.

Just deserts.

However, one of the more persistent pieces of Star Trek mythology is the idea that Vulcans do not have emotions, that they are completely lacking in feelings and are effectively organic robots with pointy ears. David Gerrold summarised this approach to the Vulcans in The World of Star Trek:

The Vulcan culture finally rejected its savage heritage – rejected it so thoroughly that they rejected anything that smacked of it as well. Wars are emotional experiences that stem from individuals and groups of individuals and nations acting irrationally, reacting with their adrenals instead of their brains. In rejecting war and savagery, Vulcans were forced to also reject emotions.

Just as Freedom and Opportunity are the spoken goals of most Earth cultures, so did Rationality and Logic become keystones of the Vulcan culture. Vulcans carefully bred emotions out of themselves. They conditioned themselves and their children to be logical. They consciously altered the direction of their evolution.

This feels very much like an attempt at revisionism from the production team, much like the revisionism that Gene Roddenberry attempted with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It was a clear attempt to ignore the actual content of earlier episodes in favour of a blanket official statement.

It came from above.

After all, the original Star Trek repeatedly suggested that Vulcans were far more emotional than Spock would ever acknowledge, as Kirk and McCoy would repeatedly tease him. Even leaving aside Spock’s emotional outbursts in episodes like The Naked Now or This Side of Paradise, accepting that those might be the product of his repressed human half, the Vulcans featured on the original Star Trek demonstrated heightened emotional states. To pick one example, Stonn seems pretty emotional when T’Pring picks Kirk as her champion in Amok Time.

More than that, it is very clear that Sarek is a highly emotional individual. In Journey to Babel, it is revealed that Sarek cut himself off from Spock in response to the latter’s decision to join Starfleet. That is an emotional, rather than a rational, response. Even on the Enterprise, Sarek seems offended by his son’s presence. More than that, Sarek is quite overtly racist in the way that he talks about the Tellarites, leading to a bizarre situation where Bounty would go out of its way to make Sarek’s observation about the species accurate in order to downplay the casual racism of it.

Heated debate.

It is clear that Vulcans do have emotions, they just tend to repress them rather than acknowledge them. The tendency has been to think of Vulcans as something akin to the Fruedian “superego”, an entire species that rises about the emotional fray in order to make rational and dispassionate decisions based on the information to hand. Given Gene Roddenberry’s refactoring of the franchise into something approaching a moral philosophy, it makes sense that this reductive interpretation of the Vulcan psyche would soak through into popular culture.

The characters on the early seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation often felt like Vulcans. Roddenberry famously banned conflict among the primary cast on the spin-off, leading to the most professional workplace in the history of television. However, in the early episodes of the series, the characters could seem too aloof and too disconnected, too mechanical in nature. It could fairly be argued that the series began to come into its own when the production team allowed Picard to acknowledge his emotions in episodes like Sarek or Family.

Objects in emotion.

After all, the notion that rational or logical thought can be (or should be) divorced from emotion is a hotly contested psychological theory. This fetishisation of rationality began in the late fifties, and would go unchallenged for decades. Only recently have scientists and psychologists acknowledged emotions are impossible to separate from thought:

Ever since Plato, scholars have drawn a clear distinction between thinking and feeling. Cognitive psychology tended to reinforce this divide: emotions were seen as interfering with cognition; they were the antagonists of reason. Now, building on more than a decade of mounting work, researchers have discovered that it is impossible to understand how we think without understanding how we feel.

“Because we subscribed to this false ideal of rational, logical thought, we diminished the importance of everything else,” said Marvin Minsky, a professor at MIT and pioneer of artificial intelligence. “Seeing our emotions as distinct from thinking was really quite disastrous.”

Perhaps this emphasis on rationality was rooted in the fact that many of the researchers and writers working in the field were male, and that the theory was gendered in the same way that some discussions of science-fiction tend to be gendered. Emotions are seen as inherently feminine, and male-dominated arenas tend to react against them.

“How can you be so cold on a planet so hot?”

As such, there is something fascinating in exploring the idea of Vulcans as emotionally repressed rather than simply unemotional. After all, the very idea of Amok Time is that storing up all of that emotion leads to a situation where Vulcans need to release the metaphorical safety valve at least once every seven years or risk causing severe harm to themselves and others. Tellingly, Amok Time also suggests that that this emotional safety valve is released through either sec or violence, highly emotional activities.

This suggests a level of nuance and intrigue to the Vulcans, something that extends the species beyond a two-dimensional archetype. It is very similar to the development of other memorable Star Trek aliens like the Klingons or the Ferengi. It is very easy to create an alien species that is built from one core idea, to suggest that the Klingons are “violent” or that the Ferengi are “greedy.” However, it takes more than just an analogy to make an alien species work as a concept. Star Trek features countless failed high-concept aliens from the Kazon to the Son’a to the Suliban.

Poking holes in it all.

The best Star Trek aliens are rendered in a way that makes them compelling and intriguing. Klingon culture is not engaging because they are stock “space warrior guys”, it is interesting because of the inherent contradiction that exists at the heart of their culture. Episodes like Heart of Glory, Sins of the Father, The Way of the Warrior, Tacking into the Wind and Judgment cleverly play up the contrast between the image that Klingon culture projects of itself and the reality. The same is true of the contradictions in Ferengi culture suggested by The Jem’Hadar.

Revealing a similar contradiction within the Vulcan psyche adds a layer of nuance to the iconic Star Trek aliens. Many actors on the franchise have struggled to convincingly portray Vulcan characters, with quite a few performers playing the iconic aliens as green-blooded drones. The best actors understand that there is always something happening beneath the cold exterior. Gary Graham did excellent work as Soval on Enterprise, in large part because he understood that subtle undercurrent of emotion in episodes like The Forge.

I spi(der) dinner.

Tim Russ acknowledged that this was always a challenge for an actor playing a Vulcan:

Playing the Vulcan character, everything is done very subtly. It’s all about what’s going on under the surface with the Vulcan characters, it’s not on the top … that’s what that whole character is about. Their history is spent basically learning ways in which they control their emotions, so everything is controlled, everything is pushed down as far as any kind of drama or reactions or human-type nature.

The best actors to don the pointy ears suggest vast reservoirs of feeling underneath a calm surface.

Master his emotions.

Gravity is an episode built around this idea. The episode repeatedly stresses that Vulcans do feel emotions, they just learn to suppress them. “You are surprised to hear a Vulcan master admit to having emotions?” the Vulcan Master teases young!Tuvok in flashback. “Emotions can be a powerful tool. To deny their existence is illogical.” At the very, Vulcans must understand emotions. Tuvok was able to go undercover as a Maquis spy. T’Pring could manipulate Kirk and Spock in Amok Time. Sarek could negotiate with emotional species in Journey to Babel.

However, Gravity goes even further than that. Vulcans do not just acknowledge emotions, they are affected by them. After a heated exchange, Paris tries to clear the air. “Listen,” he states. “What I said in there, about your wife? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” Tuvok brushes it aside. “I have no feelings for you to hurt.” Paris gets real for a moment with his work colleague. “I think you do,” Paris responds. “You work hard to bury them, but they’re there.” The big question in Gravity is whether Tuvok is lying to Paris and Noss, or to himself.

All for Noss.

It is surprising that it has taken the franchise so long to tell a story like this, to explore what it means to be a Vulcan in such a way. Spock was first identified as “part Vulcanian” in Mudd’s Women, meaning that Vulcans predate other iconic Star Trek aliens like the Romulans or the Klingons. However, Vulcan culture has largely been left unexplored beyond quick glimpses of ritual and mysticism in stories like Amok Time, The Motion Picture or Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

However, it is also surprising that Voyager should be the series to tell this sort of story. After all, Voyager never really developed its alien species. The Kazon were never as fully formed as the Klingons, the Vidiians never as fleshed out as the Jem’Hadar, the Hirogen never as explored as the Ferengi. Voyager tended to treat these civilisations in a superficial manner. Perhaps this superficiality reflected the overarching narrative of the show. Maybe Voyager never invested too much time or energy in its aliens because the crew would just move on the following week.

A prosperous career.

More than that, Voyager was a show that very rarely invested in characterisation, even for its major characters. Captain Janeway arguably lacked consistent characterisation across the seven-year run of the show, shifting from a by-the-book commanding officer in stories like Prime Factors and State of Flux to a more gung-ho seat-of-her-pants leader in stories like Night or Infinite Regress. Was Janeway a scientist, a diplomat, or a loose cannon? Voyager never seemed to have a proper answer.

As a rule, Voyager episodes tended to be driven by plot rather than character, more focused on the things that were happening rather than the characters to whom they were happening. Many Voyager episodes often descended into a series of crazy “… and then…” plot developments instead of exploring how the events impacted and informed the characters caught in their midst. This storytelling process could lead to disjointed adventures like Alter Ego or Demon, episodes that seem to burn through several episodes’ worth of story in the space of forty-five minutes.

Tuvok ‘n’ roll.

Writer Nick Sagan took the pitch that would become Gravity, and found himself drawn to one central aspect of that idea:

In terms of writing for television, or specifically, for Star Trek, I really think it comes down to the concept. There are so many episodes that have been done before, and you’re trying to break new ground. What I’ve learned is to try to think in abstract terms, even if it’s something close to another Star Trek idea… what is the new, fresh spin on it? What is something that we’ve never seen before? It doesn’t have to be a character or a plot, like with Gravity, it was “emotion creates its own logic”… just something that really tantalises, because if it tantalises you, it probably tantalises the audience.

It is such a simple idea, but it is an idea that has so much potential and intrigue, something that gets at a facet of the Star Trek mythos that has been suggested, but never explored.

It doesn’t scan.

After all, it is very clear that Tuvok loves his family. He seems to genuinely miss his wife and his children, as evidenced by the impact of T’Pel appearance in stories like Persistence of Vision and Bliss, as well as his response to news of his grandchild’s birth in Hunters. Tuvok’s family is not a logical arrangement, it is not a social unit borne out of convenience. It is a family built upon an emotional attachment that exists. When Tuvok eventually goes through the pon’farr in Body and Soul, he does so with a holographic representation of the woman that he loves.

Gravity explores this contrast between the idea of Tuvok as an emotionally detached individual and as a man capable of love. It is a powerful and compelling paradox, recalling the emotion tug-of-war at the heart of so many classic costume dramas; the battle of repressed emotion and sexuality, an unspoken and unspeakable attraction. “I’ve seen the way you look at her,” Paris admits to Tuvok of Noss. Tuvok shrugs it off. “What way is that?” Paris responds, “Like someone who wishes he wasn’t Vulcan.” Expectations and appearances take a heavy toll.

Guy talk.

There is something very pure and very innocent in the dynamic between Tuvok and Noss, playing into sense of repressed romance. There is a recurring conflict in Gravity, between what the characters cannot say, and what they will not say. “I am sorry,” Tuvok warns Noss at one point. “I cannot return your affection.” Noss understands what is being said, even beyond the words that Tuvok has chosen. She inquires, “You cannot, or you will not?” Tuvok answers, “A minor distinction.” It might be a minor distinction, but it is an important one.

Tuvok is defined by what he will not say, what he cannot admit to himself or to anybody else. Paris repeatedly confronts Tuvok about their situation, and Tuvok repeatedly refuses to even acknowledge the complicated emotional situation that is developing. When Paris tries to figure out what happened between Tuvok and Noss, Tuvok shuts him down. “Our conversation was private.” When Paris wonders what made Tuvok so repressed, Tuvok advises him, “I have no intention of continuing this conversation any further.”

Food for thought.

Tuvok’s unwillingness to express himself is thematically juxtaposed with Noss’ struggle to find the right words. With the universal translator broken, Noss is forced to learn English to express herself. She speaks in broken English, often searching for the right word and shoe-horning in a clumsy fit to get her point across. One early exchange is revealing. As Paris talks about Torres, Noss responds, “You must really… baiya jouton?” The EMH translates, “Love her very much.” Despite literally not speaking English, Noss still expresses herself better than Tuvok.

There is an endearing earnestness to the dynamic between Tuvok and Noss. Without a common language, Noss still finds a way to communicate what is truly important. As Tuvok tells her about Voyager, she presses, “Tell me about you there.” Tuvok responds, “I am the Chief Tactical Officer.” Noss asks, “What else?” Tuvok doesn’t understand. “Can you be more specific?” Noss struggles for words. “Your duties. Where you sleep. What you eat. Music. Friends.” Tuvok is puzzled. “Why is any of that relevant?” Noss knows exactly what she means. “Because it is you.”

To be or Noss to be.

That is one of the most compelling and beautifully expressions of romance in the fifty-year history of the franchise. It is a beautiful distillation of what it means to have a romantic interest in someone, to the point where even the most mundane details of their day-to-day life are compelling by association. It is a small moment that effortlessly captures the curiosity of such romance, the intrigue and the excitement. More than that, all of it comes from a character who is speaking in broken English to a stranger she has only known for a few days.

As with Counterpoint earlier in the season, Gravity is an episode that is built very well from the ground up. It has an interesting premise, a character-driven focus, a superb guest performance, and a number of very clever ideas that are never allowed to eclipse the core appeal of the story being told. A lesser episode would make a bigger deal of the time dilatation inside the anomaly of the week, using it as a slingshot to some bolder high-concept story about time. Blink of an Eye would recycle the premise for a more concept-driven episode, but Gravity is never distracted by it.

Getting into one another’s heads.

All of the elements in Gravity just come together very well. As Tim Russ explained to Cinefantastique, it was a story when all of the elements seemed to align almost perfectly:


“Gravity was a really big show. We had to go on location for two days. We rarely ever go on location, not more than maybe a couple of times a year. It was fabulous. We were out in Palmdale, in the high desert, and it was actually pleasant. Lori Petty is a very good actress, and did a fine job. Robert Duncan McNeill and I have worked together quite a bit in the last couple of years, and it’s always a lot of fun, because we do a lot of cutting up.”

Russ continued, “I thought it was shot well, and the opticals came together nicely. I was very happy with it. It was an enlightening episode for the character, a chance to peek back at his past, and see him as a child, see what he went through at that age and the kind of legacy that he left behind. It was a very eye-opening show.”

These stories are relatively rare on Voyager, largely down to a combination of the troubled production and the recurring structural weaknesses of the series. However, Gravity flows perfectly.

Hold up!

In some ways, Gravity counts among the most influential episodes of Voyager. Its exploration of Vulcan psychology has an outsized impact. A lot of the characterisation of Spock in Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness builds upon ideas suggested in Gravity. Like the adolescent Tuvok who features in Gravity, the rebooted version of Spock is presented as a highly emotional young Vulcan whose tendency towards passion causes severe problems for his family and his future.

More than that, both Star Trek and Into Darkness make a point to emphasis fact that Vulcans do feel emotions, underneath it all. Early in Star Trek, Spock asks his father why he would choose to marry a human woman. “Marrying your mother was logical,” Sarek responds. Later in the movie, as Spock finds himself in crisis, Sarek revisits that conversation. “You asked me once why I married your mother. I married her because I loved her.” It is a very simple answer, but also very effective.

Will Tuvok cave under the pressure?

Similarly, the relationship between Spock and Uhura runs into difficulty in Into Darkness when Uhura struggles with Spock’s inability to express his feelings, claiming that he does not care. Spock responds, “Nyota, you mistake my choice not to feel as a reflection of my not caring. Well, I assure you, the truth is precisely the opposite.” The suggestion is that Spock simply cares too much, that his emotions run deep and exert their own gravity upon his character. While this obviously builds on the work of Leonard Nimoy, it feels very much of a piece with Gravity.

It should be noted that even the background plot of Gravity would evolve into a franchise favourite. The Star Trek franchise had always been fond of stranding characters on strange and hostile worlds, dating back to episodes like The Galileo Seven or Metamorphosis. In many ways, Gravity is a continuation of that particular plot trend. The episode is a spiritual successor to other classic “shuttlepod down” stories like Parturition, Innocence, Rise or Nemesis. However, it also seems to represent something of a pivot point.

A rocky road to friendship.

Gravity is a story about characters who find themselves thrown into a hostile and almost Darwinist environment in which the strong prey on the weak. Noss steals supplies from Paris, and is then ambushed by two other aliens. “They were attempting to rob her,” Tuvok explains. Paris deadpans, “Seems to be a local pastime.” The Starfleet officers encounter a culture of violence, in which people have learned to fend for themselves. Noss has “been alone for many years”, maybe as many as “fourteen seasons.” That time alone has forced her to prey on those weaker than her.

However, Noss is redeemed by the protagonists. She is introduced as a bandit robbing medical supplies from the shuttle, but the climax of the episode finds her risking her own life so that her friends might return home. There is a sense that the values of the Federation are infectious and appealing, that being around Tuvok and Paris (and the EMH) is enough to empower Noss to become a better person – maybe even to be the person that she was before this tragedy happened, stranding her alone on this hostile world.

Don’t force(field) it.

This would becomes a recurring theme in later Star Trek stories. Voyager revisits it in The Void, when the ship finds itself thrown into a hostile environment and is forced to assemble a mutually beneficial alliance between those communities that have found themselves trapped in the same situation. Janeway effectively builds herself a miniature Delta Quadrant version of the Federation from bands of scavengers and predators. Gravity does not feature the same level of alliance-building or enabling, but it is very much a factor.

Similarly, the plot of Star Trek Beyond owes something to Gravity. Once again, the primary characters find themselves stranded on a hostile planet surrounded by predators who operate according to Darwinian logic. Beyond is much more specific in the cues that it borrows from Gravity. Montgomery Scott comes face-to-face with an orphaned young woman who speaks broken English, who has been forced to do violent things to protect herself and the shelter that she has built. She helps the crew escape, and they take her with them.

Only his pride has been injured. And his body.

It is strange to think of this fifth-season episode of Voyager having such a large impact on the future direction of the franchise. Gravity is hardly the most beloved or most high-profile of fifth season entries. It lacks the sense of scale that defined Timeless or Dark Frontier, Part I and Dark Frontier, Part II. It lacks the sense of import that defines Equinox, Part I. Lori Petty is a pretty impressive guest star, but she is probably less recognisable than Jason Alexander in Think Tank.

The fact that Gravity seems to foreshadow so much of what will come is a testament to how well constructed it is as an episode of television. It is an episode that demonstrates the potential of the Voyager ensemble, proving that it is possible to tell compelling character-driven narratives centred on cast members who have been largely overlooked and ignored. Timeless proved that there was at least one interesting story to be built around Harry Kim. Gravity illustrates how intriguing Tuvok might be, were he allowed to develop.

“Do you smell what the rocks are cooking?”

Even the supporting cast is used well in Gravity. Tuvok is trapped on the planet surface with Paris, which provides a dynamic that works surprisingly well. Robert Duncan McNeill expressed a fondness for that pairing in an interview with Cinefantastique:

I love working with Tim. One of my favorite combinations, in terms of characters, is Tuvok and Paris. I just think they are hilarious. They are such opposites, and they can dig at each other in such a light, fun way, I think they make a great team. We got to have all the subtle, fun jokes with each other. I thought it was particularly well-written, and I thought our guest star, Lori Petty, was great. It was great to be out on location. When you get on location, you feel you are making a real movie.


Indeed, Gravity would not work near as well if the writers had substituted Robert Beltran or Garrett Wang into that supporting role with Tim Russ. Roxann Dawson might have provided an interesting edge, but it would have been a very different dynamic than the one that exists between Russ and McNeill.

“Now, let’s never speak of this again.”

The combination of Tuvok and Paris has become on of the more subtly effective team-ups among the Voyager ensemble. The two worked undercover together in Future’s End, Part I and Future’s End, Part II, before writing a holonovel together in Worst Case Scenario. Even their smaller scenes together work well in Extreme Risk or Bride of Chaotica! Tuvok is a much more compelling foil for Paris than Kim. Paris is a much more interesting contrast for Tuvok than Neelix.

There are any number of reasons why this pairing works so well. Russ and McNeill bounce off one another with a great deal of skill, bringing out the best in one another. The characters also mirror one another very effectively. Both Tuvok and Paris exist apart from both the Starfleet and the Maquis crew. Paris was a Starfleet dropout who joined the Maquis and quickly got himself arrested. Tuvok was a Starfleet officer who infiltrated the Maquis in order to turn them over to the authorities. Tuvok is cold and rational, while Paris is characterised as highly emotional.

His torrid Torres love affair.

On any other television show, the production team would have acknowledged that these two characters worked well together and made a point to develop a relationship between them. This is how the writers working on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine tended to approach long-form characterisation, bouncing actors off screen partners in an effort to properly calibrate the characters and the dynamics to build an engaging ensemble. A lot of the character dynamics on Deep Space Nine were improvised, drawn from the actors’ performances and strengths.

Voyager never seemed to pay that much attention to their cast. While Deep Space Nine spent three full seasons trying to figure out how to make Julian Bashir and Jadzia Dax work, Voyager gave up on Chakotay and Harry Kim after only two years. Voyager should have figured out that Tuvok and Paris played well together much earlier in the run, but it does not matter. Voyager never had any interest in developing its characters to play to the strengths of the cast. The strangely compelling interplay between Tuvok and Paris would remain a background detail.

A long time again, in a galaxy just outside this sinkhole.

In some respects, then, the gravity well feels like an appropriate metaphor for Voyager as a television show. It is a phenomenon that compresses time. Characters remain stuck inside for what feels like an eternity, with no real movement or development. As much as Voyager was a show charting a linear course back to the safety of the Alpha Quadrant, there was never a sense of momentum. After all, there was never any sense of the passage of time and the growth that comes with that.

Many of the characters on Voyager seemed to fall into their own quantum sinkholes, with their own distorted sense of time. Tom Paris might have a relatively complete character arc from Caretaker to Endgame, but what about Harry Kim? Paris could be demoted to ensign and promoted to lieutenant, while Kim was still standing in place. Time moved faster for some characters than for others, affording opportunities for development and change. Gravity finally offers Tuvok such a chance. Unfortunately, he has to fall out of the universe in order to grasp it.

On its last legs.

Still, Gravity is an impressive accomplishment, even if the franchise would not deliver on its potential until long after Voyager had ended.

8 Responses

  1. Hey, I recognize the costume on Tank Girl. It’s the same worn by the female plant workers in “Workforce”.

  2. Quite the impressive ‘thesis’, not only of the episode, but the full series… as both a film student & 28 year vet of the biz, this is quite fairly appreciated, & further fulfilling having grown up with all the Trek series & films, as well as even having participated in some of the Trek franchise…
    That said, it must certainly be noted that with such a very compellingly, fully fleshed out ‘disertatative review’, further worthy mention of the very distinguished actor Joseph Ruskin’s Vulcan Master portrayal was somewhat overlooked; some decently worthy analysis was given, but overlooked the appropriate notation of this very unique & iconic actor’s reappearance in the series, as was indeed noted in a tribute statement by the Screen Actors Guild upon his passing at the end of ’13: “One of only a handful of actors brought back for successive entries in the “Star Trek” franchise, he appeared in the original series, three of the four successor series, the feature film “Star Trek: Insurrection,” and two Star Trek video games.”
    …All due respect that this was essentially an episode review, but having gone to such extensive lengths of analysis, this was most certainly a worthy highlight to be included.
    …most Trekkies would most likely agree, yet logically well done otherwise👌🏽🎬

  3. “Unfortunately, he has to fall out of the universe in order to grasp it.” – Good line!

    Thanks for this insightful review. Never caught this episode to be as good as it was on my rewatch, and my higher than before appreciation for this show was in no small measure aided by your favorable reading of the episode. Having aged a bit and found “Eastern spirituality” in a broad sense much more interesting and compelling than 20 years ago I really could watch this show in a different way than before. It might be true that this was one of the pivotal episodes to change the notion or sentiment of Vulcans “genetically” unemotional.

    I am quite astonished how good Voyager actually was at times. I tended to follow the ciritcal fan’s average downgrading of it in recent years, but come to think of it or to see it all again, I am quite impressed about the overall quality of it. Maybe I am blinded by nostalgia – I am not sure…

    • Yep. There are some circles of online fandom that think I’m unduly harsh about Voyager, and I do rake it over the coals when it deserves it. But I think it’s clear from this run of four episodes that I loved Voyager as much as anything when it was its best self. And Gravity (along with Counterpoint) is very much Voyager‘s best self.

  4. This is easily one of the top 5 Voyager episodes in my book.

    The ending seals it though. So nice to see Tuvok get a decent episode for once. The dialogue between young Tuvok and the Vulcan master is also fairly well done for Trek. It’s a pity we didn’t see more of this kind of stuff, more cultural development for races, and characters like Tuvok.

    This episode is often overlooked by Voyager vans for the more flashy shooty action ones.

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