This Star Trek: Picard article contains spoilers.
The third season of Star Trek: Picard continues to be a reunion tour for ’90s Star Trek characters. We’ve already had most of the cast from The Next Generation (save for Guinan, Q, and Wesley Crusher, all of whom dropped by for Picard‘s far less enjoyable second season), and even secondary character Ro Laren shockingly appeared in episode 5, “Imposters.” We also have Worf, who technically can also represent Deep Space Nine, as well as the Changelings.
But what about Voyager? In addition to bringing Seven of Nine into the main cast, Picard finally gives Voyager its due with a cameo from Tim Russ as the Vulcan Tuvok. Remember Mr. Vulcan? He’s back! In Changeling form!
Tim Russ Returns as Captain Tuvok
While Voyager remains a divisive show among fans, most agree that Russ’ performance as Tuvok is one of the highlights. Over the seven seasons of Voyager, Tuvok established himself as the ultimate Vulcan, a devotee of his people’s emphasis on logic, free from the human temptations that plagued his most famous predecessor, Spock. Through Tuvok, we saw how Vulcans acknowledged their very real feelings while maintaining a commitment to logic, as the Voyager’s plight in the Delta Quadrant separated him from his wife T’Pel and his four children. Also, he had to deal with Neelix. A lot.
Voyager gave glimpses of Tuvok’s background, including an initial reluctance to join Starfleet and the frustrations that followed, even as he served on the USS Excelsior under Captain Sulu, helping to fly the ship apart during the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. But by the time of Voyager‘s premiere, he had become a true believer in the Federation, so steadfast that Janeway could assign him to infiltrate the Maquis without worrying that he would go the way of Ro.
So it’s no surprise that post-Voyager appearances have found Tuvok remaining committed to the Federation. In Lower Decks, we learned that now Tuvok was part of a secret investigation into an alleged conspiracy between Captain Freeman of the USS Cerritos and the Pakleds, using a mind-meld on a Pakled to discover her innocence. According to non-canonical novels and comics, Tuvok also once served with Picard on the USS Stargazer and eventually became a teacher at Starfleet Academy.
However, most non-canonical works emphasize Tuvok’s role as a security officer and master of espionage. The non-canon Titan novels find Tuvok working undercover on Romulus during the events of Nemesis, contacting Ambassador Spock and witnessing Shinzon’s attack on the Romulan Senate. In the The Fall book series, Tuvok joins forces with Ferengi Nog and William Riker’s doppelganger Thomas to investigate the assassination of the President of the Federation.
Tuvok the Changeling
As these stories reveal, the now-Captain Tuvok is an ideal person for Seven of Nine to contact in the latest episode of Picard, “Dominion,” despite her status as a fugitive. Tuvok would have knowledge of secret workings within the Federation and would be among the first to recognize the Changeling infiltration. However, as Seven learns, Tuvok made his discovery too late and is already in Changeling custody, if not worse, and has been long enough for the dissidents to gain crucial information about him.
Chatting with Collider, showrunner Terry Matalas explained why it was time to bring back Tuvok, even if it isn’t really the Vulcan we know and love: “He’s the perfect character to do it with because he is a Vulcan. And so, an is-he-or-isn’t-he is inherent in how he’s going to portray the character, and there’s something so juicy and delicious about the reveal being a smile for a Vulcan. And they had a very special relationship, Tuvok and Seven. And I love a Vulcan, and as someone who worked on Voyager back in the day, Tim Russ is just a wonderful human being. So it was just the perfect opportunity for that.”
Russ himself confirmed on Twitter that he appears in two episodes of Picard season 3, including “Dominion.” It remains to be seen when we’ll see Tuvok next and whether it’ll be the real one or the evil Changeling hunting Seven…
Hopefully, Tuvok is not dead. Hopefully, he’s planning a complex psy-op against his Changeling captors, peppering their interrogations with detailed descriptions about what it was like to be joined with Neelix as Tuvix, a horror that no mind can comprehend, solid or otherwise.
Star Trek: Picard season 3 streams Thursdays on Paramount+.