When Tuvok is attacked by a cloaked alien, the resultant brain damage causes him to both lose his memories and undergo a complete change in personality. Neelix takes this new Tuvok under his wing, and the two become fast friends, but locked away in Tuvok’s memories is the very information needed to track down his attackers.
Okay, let’s start with getting the silliest thing about this episode out of the way – the mystery of the aliens who attacked Tuvok is solved when he ices the likeness of a waveform onto a cake. Without any kind of scale, units, or idea of accuracy, the Voyager computer is able to analyse this and discover the cloaking frequency of Tuvok’s attackers. Even for Star Trek, this is pushing it.
That aside, though, I actually enjoy Riddles. For one thing, it’s one of the few episodes featuring Neelix where the furry Talaxian isn’t unbearable. For once, Neelix takes responsibility without basically shoving his way into the spotlight, or making it all about him, and that’s refreshing.
It’s also a chance for Tim Russ to do something a little different – freed from the confines of his Vulcan logic, but without the angst of Meld, he portrays a more relaxed, fun loving character. I loved all the stages of Tuvok’s journey, from his frustration at all the skills and memories he had lost, to his exploration of new avenues and new possibilities, and finally, his fear of losing his new self. I’m always fascinated by stories of people whose personalities change entirely after brain trauma, and this episode does a thorough exploration of the emotional journey of such a person. Of course, the status quo returns by the end of the episode, but not without an ever so slightly lessening of Tuvok’s relentless rigidity.
Points of Note
- Like Tuvix before him, the brain-damaged Tuvok shows a flair for cooking – especially desserts. I have to admit to craving a selection of desserts whilst watching this episode.
- My occasional viewing companion has pointed out that, given that it’s meant to be an ancient Vulcan game, the technology needed to play kal-toh seems distinctly futuristic. How was it played in the old days before computers and holographic projections?
- Jimbalian fudge cake, that birthday cake of choice aboard Voyager, is one of the desserts prepared by Tuvok in this episode.
- This is the first time we get to hear Vulcan music. It may also be the last.
Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 16
Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 10
Number of times the entire crew gets enslaved or kicked off the ship: 3
Number of times a version of Voyager gets destroyed: 5
Summary – Riddles: The icing on the cake.