Star Trek: Voyager Icon Returns And He May Already Be Dead
Tim Russ of Star Trek: Voyager fame returns in this week's episode of Star Trek: Picard. Instead of playing Tuvok, he plays a Changeling disguised as Tuvok, and we don't know what happened to the genuine article.
This week’s episode of Star Trek: Picard doesn’t waste any time giving us a cameo from a fan-favorite actor. Star Trek: Voyager‘s Tim Russ appears in the opening scene of “Dominion,” but by the end of the scene we learn he isn’t playing the Vulcan Tuvok. Instead, a Changeling has assumed Tuvok’s form, and for the time being we don’t know what the shapeshifting alien has done with the Voyager hero.
“Dominion” opens with the U.S.S. Titan hiding in a scrapyard in the Chin’Toka system. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) talks to who we believe is Captain Tuvok (he has four pips on his collar) on the viewscreen while the rest of the bridge crew does what they can to find out if it’s really Tuvok or a Changeling. After he correctly responds to Seven’s reference to their Star Trek: Voyager games of Kal-toh, Seven initially seems relieved. But further prodding proves he actually is one of the shapeshifting Founders.
The Changeling suggests the Vulcan he’s replaced isn’t dead, but that he isn’t particularly comfortable either: “All I can tell you is, when we are done with him, when we are done with all of you, death will come as a relief.” Of course, the Changeling could be lying and Tuvok could, in fact, be dead, but it seems unlikely the folks behind the scenes would agree to killing off a fan-favorite character like Tuvok off-screen (this isn’t X-Men: The Last Stand, it’s Star Trek!).
It seems likely Tim Russ’ character isn’t the only Star Trek: Voyager hero who’s been replaced by a Changeling either. Before realizing the fake Tuvok’s true nature, Seven mentions trying and failing, for example, to get ahold of Kate Mulgrew‘s Kathryn Janeway.
The more telling line of dialogue comes from Geordi (LeVar Burton). After the false Tuvok is revealed and La Forge just barely manages to stop him from tracking the Titan’s location, he turns to Picard (Patrick Stewart) and says, “Admiral, we can’t keep doing this.” It suggests Tuvok is only one of many allies they’ve tried to contact — probably from Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and TNG — who have proven to be Changelings wanting to hunt them.
While he’s known best for his time as the Vulcan chief security officer Tuvok in Star Trek: Voyager, Tim Russ actually appeared quite a few times in the franchise before landing his signature role. In Deep Space Nine‘s “Invasive Procedures” he played a Klingon crook, in TNG‘s “Starship Mine” he was one of a number of criminals trying to rob the Enterprise, and he was a bridge officer in 1994’s Star Trek: Generations. He also is one of the only actors who got to play his Voyager character in Deep Space Nine (kind of) — he had a guest appearance as the Mirror Universe version of Tuvok in “Through the Looking Glass.”
We don’t know exactly when Tuvok’s fate will be revealed, but it’s bound to be sometime in the final three episodes of Star Trek: Picard streaming over the next three weeks. You can stream the rest of the series right now on Paramount+.