Tuvok adopts three adorable goth children.
“Innocence” is not a masterpiece, but, as I watched it for the second time ever, I found myself really enjoying it. It’s the Tuvok Renaissance, after all — and it just feels so good to get out of the claustrophobic spaceship sets and into the wide, open spaces of a different soundstage.
It’s not a competition, but Tuvok is by far the best Vulcan dad
(It’s definitely a competition.)
One of the interesting and significant achievements of ’90s Trek is that, in a franchise brimming with inadequate, absent or otherwise problematic fathers, the two best dads in the series are both black men: Benjamin Sisko and Tuvok. I don’t think this was intentional, but it’s praiseworthy regardless.
Occasionally in Discovery fandom, we see people going, “Well, of course Sarek’s not a great dad — no Vulcan could be!”
To which I say, EXCUSE ME, BUT THIS IS SHOCKING TUVOK ERASURE.
Here, he does Sarek proud: on meeting three scared orphans, he promptly adopts them. And then he goes one better, by actually nurturing them.
Ways Tuvok is the best Vulcan dad:
- learns to adapt to the foibles of non-Vulcan children
- acknowledges their fears but gives them skills to cope
- accepts hugs
- sings charming Vulcan lullabies with 348 verses about seeking enlightenment
- played the lute for his children when they couldn’t sleep
- goes into caves to investigate child-stealing monsters
- protects tiny children who are actually aliens aging backwards and coming to the end of their natural life
- HE’S JUST SO KIND OKAY
- EXASPERATED BUT KIND
ALSO: “My attachment to my children cannot be described as an emotion. They are a part of my identity, and I am… incomplete without them.”
(On the one hand, sure, dude, definitely not an emotion. On the other hand, that phrasing gives me a lot of emotions, which I shall not embarrass Tuvok by expressing.)
Ways Tuvok is maybe not a perfect Vulcan dad:
- look, he did decide that it was logical to arm a small child with a phaser
- I realise that there were Circumstances
- but, you know
Congratulations on integrating your A and B plots, show!
See? It’s not hard!
While Tuvok is babysitting, Janeway is SUPER DUPER KEEN to make first contact with the local aliens (and their valuable mineral deposits). But the aliens are isolationist — without, for once, being outright fascist — and are a tiny bit cross that Tuvok has crashed a shuttle into their sacred moon.
The Drayans aren’t going to win any prizes for Most Interesting Aliens Around, but they have dimension. First Prelate Alcia isn’t a ranting xenophobe — she is both a true believer in the value of her people’s isolation, and curious about other cultures. This makes for an interesting tension, and a nice parallel to Janeway’s own internal conflict: genuine desire to learn more about the Drayans, and equally significant need to get on their good side so they can access Drayan mineral wealth.
This is ultimately a story with no villains, just sincere misunderstandings. And I like that! It’s a pleasant change of pace, and it’s particularly nice to have a female planetary leader for a change.
Sooooo aging backwards, eh?
The twist here is that Tuvok’s adorable goth children are in fact elderly Drayans, returning to this moon (the source of all life in their solar system, according to their mythology) to die.
This is the bit which has always tripped me up — I tend to overthink the logistics of giving birth to a fully-sized adult. Or do Drayans hatch from eggs? Are they woven on LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMS? I just wanna know!
- The forest set isn’t terribly realistic — they never are — but we do get a glorious shot of an alien sky, with the Drayan planet hanging overhead, and I can forgive a lot for that.
- The Drayans are costumed in your standard Star Trek robes, but with mesh over their faces. It’s nifty! I just wish the children had been costumed similarly, instead of just wearing the same sort of brightly coloured onesies that all Trek children wear.
- Janeway and Chakotay have a very flirty conversation about first contact debacles, if that’s something you’re interested in…
A solid character study for Tuvok. Three out of five cave monsters.