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Riddles (episode)

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Tuvok loses his memory along with his Vulcan emotional self-control when he is attacked by mysterious aliens.


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"Ambassador's log, stardate 53263.2. Though helpful during my negotiations on the Kesat homeworld, Commander Tuvok certainly hasn't been the most sociable of travel companions."

Returning home to USS Voyager in the Delta Flyer, Neelix and Tuvok have been left in each other's company. While Tuvok tries to work quietly, Neelix tries to keep them both entertained, irritating the Vulcan (although naturally he tries not to show it). Eventually, Tuvok agrees to try to answer a riddle set by Neelix which concerns an ensign who is able to survive while stranded on a planet for a year with no resources other than a calendar. However Tuvok is not amused when the answer turns out to be a simple play on words – the ensign survives by eating the "dates" from the calendar. Retreating to the aft section, Tuvok encounters a cloaked alien intruder downloading files from the Delta Flyer's computer core. As he attempts to detect the cloaking frequency, Tuvok is subjected to a neuroleptic blast from the cloaked alien. Neelix hails Voyager and signals a mayday.

Neelix and Tuvok are picked up by Voyager and Tuvok is taken to sickbay where he lies in a deep coma. Despite Tuvok's history of casual disregard for him, Neelix undertakes a campaign to help Tuvok recover. With no other leads as to who may have attacked Tuvok, Captain Janeway decides to ask the Kesat if they know anything. They send Naroq, an investigator who believes Tuvok was attacked by the Ba'neth, an extremely xenophobic species that are widely believed not to exist and often attempt to steal tactical data from passing species (explaining why it was downloading files from the Delta Flyer).

Later Seven of Nine and Naroq find residual particles in the aft of the Delta Flyer. Using technology developed by Naroq, they illuminate a silhouette of the attacker. Janeway theorizes that the technology can be adapted to Voyager's sensors to reveal the alien race's ships.

Back in sickbay, The Doctor informs Janeway that Tuvok has regained consciousness but is a little disoriented. The Doctor explains that Tuvok has lost his memory as a result of the encounter with the alien on the shuttlecraft and that his brain is in the process of rebuilding itself – which may take time. Neelix decides to take Tuvok on a tour of the ship in hopes that it will jog his memory. Neelix and Tuvok go to the bridge where the severity of Tuvok's condition is revealed. Tuvok is dazed and incapable of vocalization or understanding his whereabouts. Neelix then takes Tuvok to his quarters.

Back on the bridge, Janeway works with Seven as she works from astrometrics to integrate the scanning technique into the deflector array. When the changes come online, several alien ships are revealed in proximity to Voyager. The ships attack Voyager and retreat before Voyager can determine their cloaking frequency with its sensors.

Tuvok begins to have rudimentary conversations with Neelix in his quarters. Tuvok's recent affliction shows a stark contrast with the past: he treats Neelix as his protector and friend. When Neelix and Tuvok go to Janeway's ready room to meet Voyager's alien colleague, Tuvok is unable to remember the needed frequency. Janeway offers to have a meal with Tuvok, but Tuvok states that he would prefer to stay with Neelix.

Tuvok and Neelix go to the mess hall, where Harry Kim tries to re-acquaint Tuvok with kal-toh, but Tuvok, failing the contest, angrily states that he doesn't like the game any more. When they return to sickbay, Tuvok expresses his frustration with his lost former self and the talents lost with it. Tuvok has a violent outburst and The Doctor, seeing that Neelix's presence in sickbay is upsetting him, orders the Talaxian to leave.

As Neelix sits sadly in an empty mess hall, he is joined by Seven of Nine, who is still trying to decode the riddle of the cloaking frequency. Neelix has a riddle of his own: "When is a Vulcan no longer a Vulcan?". As the two talk, Seven tells Neelix that what Neelix has been doing is trying to get the old Tuvok back, when in fact what he should be doing is concentrate on the new individual that he has become. Neelix realizes what she is saying, and leaves reinvigorated.

Later, Neelix and Tuvok meet in sickbay where they have a lengthy conversation about Tuvok's treatment of Neelix to date. Tuvok gives Neelix a flower he made of wax in order to make up for his angry outburst earlier in sickbay. Tuvok has a difficult time understanding why he and Neelix were not previously good friends. Neelix jokes about the sometime rigid seriousness of the "old Tuvok" and both have a good laugh. Tuvok decides that he is not interested in logic exercises, meditation and kal-toh, but would rather do something else. So Neelix takes him to the mess hall where Tom Paris and Harry Kim test the many delicious dishes, particularly desserts, that Tuvok has been working on.

Pistachio cake

The secret is in the frosting

Janeway prompts Tuvok to try to recall the much-needed cloaking frequency. Tuvok resists, but when he presents the cake he has been adding frosting to, Janeway notices that the pattern atop the cake is the missing frequency.

"Captain's log, supplemental. The computer has analyzed Tuvok's diagram and identified the Ba'neth cloaking frequency. We've narrowed the search to a handful of systems."

Now that Janeway is equipped with the tactical information she needs, she is able to make contact with the alien species that attacked Tuvok. They negotiate to trade tactical information on Voyager's previous alien encounters for information on the weapon used on Tuvok. The aliens refuse but Voyager's alien colleague offers the equipment he used to break their cloak in exchange for the information. Both sides agree.

Neelix goes to Tuvok's quarters to inform him that The Doctor has come up with a treatment for Tuvok's condition. Tuvok reacts poorly to this news and says that he would rather have fun with Neelix than return to his previous state. Neelix charmingly reveals his understanding of Tuvok. "You won't call it fun... you'll call it 'deriving satisfaction.' But it's basically the same thing." Tuvok affectionately tells Neelix that he has really enjoyed his company. Neelix shows appreciation and consoles Tuvok, but tells him that he thinks it best if Tuvok returned to his tactical officer position, where he is needed.

After the procedure, Neelix runs into Tuvok in the mess hall, who is his usual cold, logical, distant self and, as expected, dodges Neelix's questions about how he is feeling. Neelix tells Tuvok that he is preparing a dinner in his honor and asks him if he would like to prepare one of his favorite desserts. Tuvok replies that he has much more important things to do than engage in the preparation of nutritionally-deficient foods. As a slightly despondent Neelix gets up to leave, Tuvok says that, after giving more thought to the riddle concerning the ensign stuck on the planet, he has concluded that the ensign could have also survived by eating the "sunda(y)es". A much-amused Neelix notes that while the answer is clever, it isn't really very logical. Tuvok, who seems a bit surprised at himself, agrees with a very slight smile.

Memorable quotesEdit

"The Vulcan brain – a puzzle wrapped inside an enigma housed inside a cranium."

- The Doctor

"Don't worry, Captain. Tuvok will be back to his old self before you can say 'live long and prosper'."

- Neelix, to Janeway

"You said I was supposed to stimulate his senses."
"I said stimulate them, Mr. Neelix, not annihilate them."

- Neelix and The Doctor, about playing a recording of monotonous Vulcan monk chants in an effort to help Tuvok recover

"I want to be able to have fun... with you!"

- Tuvok, to Neelix

"... If I stay here and try to talk to Tuvok, I may be able to provoke some sort of response?"
"If anyone can provoke Tuvok, Mr. Neelix, it's you."

- Neelix and The Doctor

"The object of the game is to turn this jumble of rods into a perfect sphere. We take turns positioning our pieces. Whoever gets the shape to appear first, wins."
"I like the way it looks now."

- Harry Kim and Tuvok, about playing kal-toh

Background informationEdit

  • Roxann Dawson (B'Elanna Torres) does not appear in this episode. However, she did enjoy Tuvok actor Tim Russ's performance herein. "Tim [Russ] was so fabulous [as Tuvok in 'Riddles']," she remarked. (Star Trek Magazine issue 180,  p. 25)
  • Neelix actor Ethan Phillips cited this episode among five "Best of Neelix" installments. Explaining what he believed were the assets in this episode's depiction of Neelix, Phillips remarked, "Again, it showed a great nurturing quality in Neelix and also, for lack of a better word, his humanity." (Star Trek Magazine issue 179,  p. 77)
  • This installment was the first Star Trek production directed by Roxann Dawson. She later noted, "That was my first stab at trying to figure out how to do it, how I do it." She found directing the episode was a "wonderful" experience. Although Dawson was obviously familiar with the cast and crew of Voyager when she helmed this installment, she was meanwhile unaware of how to adapt to various circumstances which might arise. "I didn't have that [know-how] when I did 'Riddles,' nor did I need it, because of that unique situation [....] I came to it with a strong vision [...] and did things I might've stopped myself from doing if I'd had more experience," she said, with a laugh. (Star Trek Magazine issue 180, pp. 24 & 25)
  • Roxann Dawson was also glad to find that Director of Photography Marvin V. Rush was highly supportive in helping her realize her vision for how the episode should be. "Marvin is very much a rebel. So when I came up with ideas for certain shots," she recalled, "he didn't say 'No.' We went out there and [shot the episode]." (Star Trek Magazine issue 180, pp. 24 & 25)
  • Roxann Dawson held "Riddles" in high esteem, thinking it had "a really good script." In 2015, she enthused, "I'm still very proud of that episode. Number one, it was very well written [....] I'm very proud of my instinctual work on that show [...] [and] the choices I made." (Star Trek Magazine issue 180, pp. 24 & 25)
  • This episode mirrors the events in "Tuvix" that involved Neelix and Tuvok becoming symbiogenetically joined as one entity. Tuvok's flair for cooking is reminiscent of Tuvix's cooking abilities, which the crew felt were better than those of Neelix. Tuvok's unwillingness to go through with the medical procedure that will restore him to his former self also mirrors Tuvix's reluctance to return to his former individual selves.

Video and DVD releasesEdit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest star Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stand-ins Edit


Ba'neth; Ba'neth outpost; Ba'neth starship; Borg Collective; calendar; champagne; chant; class L; Clash on the Fire Plains; cloaking device; cloaking frequency; cortical stimulator; date; deflector array; Delta Flyer; direct cortical stimulation; Federation; fettran sauce; Grid 216; hive mind; hot spring; holodeck; incense; isotope; jazz; Jimbalian fudge cake; kal-toh; Kesat; Kesat homeworld; Kesat Security; Kesatian ale; logic; Mister Vulcan; monk; neuroleptic shock; neurostatic pulse; paranoia; pastry chef; peppermint coulis; pera-cream sauce; photolytic converter; photonic warhead; pistachio cake; proto-Vulcan; riddle; Riddle ensign; Risa; Species, Starship, or Anomaly?; Starfleet Academy; sundae; Sunday; sweet leola root tart; synaptizine; tactical database; tea; Temple of T'Panit; tentacle; Tera nut soufflé; terawatt; tractor emitter; tricorder; veridium; Vulcans; wikki fruit sundae; xenophobia

External linkEdit

Previous episode:
Star Trek: Voyager
Season 6
Next episode:
"Dragon's Teeth"

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