Part 1 0f 2 --- The Summary

"Gravity" opens with an obvious flashback to Tuvok’s youth, then fast forwards to a desolate planet in the Delta Quadrant, with few inhabitants and strange food sources. We quickly learn that Tom and Tuvok, aboard on of the endless supply of shuttlecraft provided on Voyager, have been pulled through a magnetic sinkhole into a crash landing on this planet. The strong magnetic force fields furthermore prevent them from making contact with Voyager.

One of the other unfortunate victims of this magnetic siren song wanders upon Tom in their downed craft and relieves him of most of their remaining useable supplies. Tom is beginning to think that it’s Friday the 13th, part 47. The thief is quickly set upon by still more desert thugs, but Tuvok comes to the rescue. He drags his prisoner back to the downed craft and the bedraggled Tom, and they literally unmask the culprit to find a female with a very sweet high soprano voice who speaks with a scrambled voice. Bummer! The universal translator seems to have been blown away by those dratted magnetic fields, too. But in the ever-ready deus ex machina of the Star Trek world --- viola! --- we materialize the EMH who just happens to be able to translate. His databank vocabulary allows for more friendly introductions that the "Me Tuvok, you ????" that Tuvok attempted as a pick-up line. Meanwhile, the bad guys from earlier are making noises outside. The rescued damsel, who we now know is named Noss, asks the Voyager lads to follow her home.

Her "home", yet another stranded vessel, looks like a Malibu beach house compared to the downed shuttlecraft. Tom’s look conveys the "nice pad" response for all of them. The music and a fade allow us to understand that time is passing, and they are becoming quite a little nuclear family. Tom has even taken up hunting the local delicacy, spiders that could pass as snow crabs. Noss proves that she’s still the #1 hunter, though. The magnetic field does strain their energy supplies, and, just to make sure he’s available when they next need a miracle, Tom tells the poor doc that he’s going into hibernation until further notice --- energy drains, and all that. (Ed note: In reality, Doc couldn’t be worked into the story line that follows.)

As time goes by (hmmm... do I hear a song here?) it is obvious that Noss has developed quite a thing for the tall silent type; Tuvok in particular. Tom Paris, everyone’s favorite busybody, eagerly relates his observations to the romantically obtuse Vulcan, and urges the older man to make a move on the only sweet young thing around. Tuvok reminds Paris that he *is* a married man; no can do. Tom, ever the uncommitted, counters with the fact that they are probably stuck here for the rest of their lives and that his lovely T’Pel has probably gotten on with her life, too. (Oh, smooth move, Paris; you really know how to cheer a guy!) Besides, at this rate, Voyager has deserted them and is probably another 300 light years down that starry highway towards home.

A hazy screen and dark cave tell us that we have been whirled back in Tuvok’s life again, and we see him as an Angry Young Man, full of angst and desire for a woman he’s been told he can’t have. His tutor tells him that love produces many other emotions, all of which must be controlled before they destroy him.

So what’s been going on aboard Voyager all this while? Have they even noticed their missing officers? Well, yeah... but by Voyager’s account, they’ve been missing an hour at the most. The good captain has noted a gravimetric shear in the area surrounding the planet and is trying to solve the problem when she is hailed by Yet Another Wrinkled Faced DQ traveler, a Mr. Yost, who informs her that the electromagnetic rift sucks in unsuspecting ships like a giant Hoover; his people have lost 11 ships to the anomaly. Now, they have an EM solder iron, and in 24 hours, they’re going to seal that rip tighter than a childproof medicine bottle cap.

Well, Mama Janeway doesn’t like the idea of deserting her boys on this unfriendly planet, so she rounds up the women to save their men. She, B’Elanna and Seven (uh, oh... I had to type it, didn’t I?) quickly design a sensor probe to shoot through the rift, to try to get some info on the boys. The probe sends back the info that the guys are very much alive, but that the magnetic field has also created a temporal differential. Seems like the away team thinks they’ve been on shore leave for almost 3 months. (You can tell B’Elanna is wondering how much trouble Tom has gotten into in that time period.) And now it looks like gravity is hurrying up the process --- rift or no rift, the planet and its inhabitants will become part of a teeny black hole.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... er, planetside, Tuvok has been badly injured. Tom and the Doc mend the injuries, but recoup is needed for the healing to complete. Noss becomes a nurse, and lovingly tends her Favorite Vulcan. It’s also true confession time and she succumbs to those lush pouting lips. Even in his weakened state, Tuvok remains strong, rebuffing the kiss and Noss’ pleas. A saddened, spurned woman leaves the room.

And all this while, in real time, the alien ship has begun its seamstress work with the rift ahead of schedule. The meter is running...

Tuvok, in a form a penance for even allowing Noss to get close to him, secludes himself in meditation. The Man Who Knows Women, Tom, barges in demands to know what Tuvok has done to her! (????) Tuvok confesses his early encounter with the emotion of love and why he now scorns it.

A communication finally makes it from Voyager to the downed team, and they become aware of the temporal difference for the first time. Time is now of the essence, as they prepare for Voyager to attempt a transport before the planet becomes one heavy marble.

Ah, but not to be forgotten, the Merry Marauders of the Desert appear yet again, throwing a big monkey wrench into their schedule. Deciding to make the ultimate sacrifice for her friends, Noss runs out of the shelter, trying to hold off the baddies single handedly, allowing the Voyager team the time to be saved by their ship. This proves to be too much for Tuvok, and a wee crack in his emotional facade forces him to go after her. Of course, she is injured, and his guilt allows him to admit that he could not leave her behind.

A calvary-to-the-rescue transport beam captures the four figures and pulls them back to Voyager, the rift is closed, and the system collapses.

Transport operator Harry Kim looks askance at the images reappearing in front of him, with a weary Tuvok holding the injured Noss. Tuvok merely states that she is "a friend". Yeah, sure Harry thinks; where have I heard that one before? (Nudge, nudge; wink, wink!)

Crisis du jour is over, and Noss is being taken back to her home planet. A send-off party of the senior crew meets in the transporter room, as friendly farewells are passed around. Finally, the ever-sensitive Tom Paris scurries every one out of the room except Tuvok and Noss, to allow them a bittersweet good-bye scene. In the loving way of all Vulcans, Tuvok says his farewell in the form of that warm embrace, a Vulcan mind meld. An angelic expression comes over Noss’ face as she says, "I understand; thank you."

Fade to Tuvok in his quarters, in a replay of a similar scene from "The Gift". Saying good-bye is tough for the old man. But we are reminded that he, of all people, can handle it, as in the final scene, he as a young man leaves his tutor being told that "Grief, fear and especially love will never threaten you again."

Or will they?

Part 2 of 2 --- The Review

First off --- what is with this arachnophilia of the writers? Last week, we have Queen Arachnia and her collar of webs, and this week, we are presented with spiders replacing leola root as a pantry staple; what’s hte universe coming to?

Okay. Now that’s off my implant-free chest. On with the review.

"Gravity" -- was this title selected for (1) the cosmological dilemma of all the characters or (2) a description of the persona of our man, Tuvok.

Ah, what a happy/sad state this story has produced in Cilla! Her very favorite Voyager characters, Tuvok and the Doctor, are allowed to shine without any (well, only a wee bit) of interference from the butt-crack queen. Cilla would love to do a Mary Sue in the Noss role; Cilla could *certainly* change Tuvok; just give her the chance!

But I digress. Philosophical inconsistencies aside (more on that later), the performances by Tim Russ and Robert Duncan McNeill were nothing short of stupendous. Only Garrett Wang, in "Timeless", has given this caliber of performance on Voyager this year. Their characterizations almost made us forget that for the second week (episode) in a row that the southern California desert mountain area was used as an "off Voyager" planet site. The character of Noss was also very well done, even though in the first scene with her, I thought that we were back in "Star Wars" and she was one of the scavenging sandpeople. With this scene following the Luke Skywalker/Obi Won Kinobi similarity between the young Tuvok and his master. Also --- kudos to Lori Petty as Noss, and the wonderfully cast young man who portrayed the young Tuvok (terrific physical match!)

With all the flashbacks in this episode, Cilla is reminded of an episode from TOS, "All Our Yesterdays", in which Spock is likewise confronted with a planetside forbidden love, with a temporal differential. (For those of you who need a refreshing of the ep --- Spock and Bones find themselves 10,000s of years back in time, and Spock reverts to pre-nonemotional times, finding physical pleasure with an ice age beauty played by Mariette Hartley.) The constant battle with time, on top of the battle for Tuvok’s "honor", wore me out. As much as I hate to admit it, Tuvok has presented us with a much-needed model for today’s world: a person who honors promises and pledges made, and keeps those commitments.

Tuvok, in his deepest being, recognizes and reveres love. He has never been completely washed of its effects. He loves T’Pel, and, in different ways, he has also loved Kes and now, Noss. The farewell mindmelds that he has had with these two ladies has left him with an appreciation far beyond what mere mortals will ever know. Cilla noticed that in the next to last scene in this episode, when Tuvok is meditating, that there are TWO candles in his window, in contrast to the one we saw at the end of "The Gift": one for Kes and one for Noss? That’s what I would like to think.

If only the emotionally immature Tom Paris would learn from his friend, rather than lecture him to go for the pleasure of the moment. I was really rather put off by his constant badgering of Tuvok to go with the flow and respond to Noss’ confession of love. Yet, when Tuvok replays the scene to Tom regarding his relationship with B’Elanna, Tom still can’t utter the "L" word. Tom, oh Tom --- you are the hopeless one!

It was interesting that the rescuers aboard Voyager were the women (and I have to include you-know-who in this group. But, it wouldn’t be right unless TPTB include her as a hero nowadays; P~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~) Mama Kate seems to able to do everything, and is impatient with anyone else’s efforts. The Chakman is truly relegated to eye candy status this week; did he do anything of consequence? Even Harry seemed to be of more value. Oh, yes... I forgot. The Chakkers is there as filler for all the fanfic authors. (Although Cilla has noticed a trend in fanfic lately to kill off either him or the Captain. Is this foreshadowing? Only Brannon Brag knows for sure...)

This episode allowed us to admire the physiques of Tuvok and Tom. Say --- just how many layers of clothing are there in a SF uniform? As I count ‘em there is a jacket, then a turtleneck, a short-sleeved jersey and finally a tanktop. Presumably the women also wear a SF issue bra (all but the Borg babe.... unless SF does boob implants...). Anyway, that’s a mighty bit of layering. I guess the thermostat aboard starships is kept low to keep the bills in check.

This review has been a little rambling, due to Cilla’s drooling over Tuvok and having to stop every so often to wipe off the keyboard. And, because of this, she’s giving the episode a big 8 out of 9. Just because of Tuvok. And honor. And being thankful that there virtuous, ethical men out there, somewhere in time and the universe.