“Tuvix,” the 24th episode of Voyager’s second season, is one of the most hotly-debated installments in Trek history, and one of the darkest hours for Captain Janeway. After a transporter accident involving a rare breed of orchid melds Tuvok and Neelix into a new, single lifeform, Janeway must decide whether to save two crewmen — even if it means killing a man who is literally begging for his life. Among fans, the debate ranges across such deep topics as philosophy and ethics, making it truly an example of the kind of story that Trek is, ultimately, all about.
But never mind any of that, let’s play God!
That’s right, we’re firing up the transporter pad, cracking open a case of symbiogenic orchids, and seeing what happens if we squish together some of the most contentious pairings in Trek history.
1. McCoy + Spock = McSpock
First off, we’re asking The Original Series’ own Leonard “Bones” McCoy and Mr. Spock to stand over here on the transporter, pay no attention to that flower over there, and flipping the switch to “energize” while cackling like a mad scientist.
In truth, we’re not going to see much here that we haven’t seen before: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock already gave us an inkling of what it looks like if Spock’s consciousness joined with McCoy’s. While Tuvok and Neelix found a newfound equilibrium as Tuvix, making peace with the disparate elements of their personality, a McCoy/Spock merging would be far more contentious. McSpock would be immediately wracked with irritable self-loathing, and would almost certainly sprint to Sickbay as quickly as possible to find out what color their blood was.
Kirk would hurry to untangle the two, not simply to get back his two best friends in their true forms, but also because McSpock would be engaging in self-on-self arguments that would make the Gollum/Smeagol debates in The Two Towers look like amateur hour. And unlike Tuvix, McSpock would be overjoyed to step back onto the pad to embrace oblivion.
2. Charles “Trip” Tucker III + T’Pol = T’Rip
While we’re doing Vulcan pairings, let’s see if the NX-01’s primitive cargo transporters can meld Enterprise’s contentious will-they-won’t-they romance. While obviously T’Rip would initially say that the Vulcan Science Directorate has determined that such mergers are not possible, eventually they’d come to terms with their new form. Merging our southern-fried engineer with our catsuited science officer would have some downsides — nobody to slather decontamination gel on that hard-to-reach spot between your shoulder blades, for example — but shippers could rejoice in the knowledge that in the merging, Trip and T’Pol would finally know how they feel about one another, with nowhere to hide from those feelings.
When Phlox inevitably untangles the two of them using something gross and alive from his medicine cabinet, they’d split off again with a newfound appreciation for one another.
3. Quark + Odo = Quodo
Well, Odo arrested Quark for smuggling rare orchids, and when they went to beam back to Deep Space Nine, the orchid’s symbiogenic properties merged to create Quodo. No matter what happens in the process one thing is certain: the guest star playing Quodo is definitely spending seven, eight hours minimum in the makeup chair getting the full Westmore.
Odo’s more-rigid, forceful personality would probably win out at first, forcing Quodo down to Security to confess to every single crime Quark ever committed. But Quark is a survivor, slippery and insidious, and over time his personality would press to the forefront. Pretty soon, Quodo would be using his shapeshifting powers to show off the fullest, poutiest earlobes Ferenginar had ever seen, and looking into ways his morphogenic abilities could be used for fun and profit.
Essentially, Quodo would combine Odo’s keen intellect with Quark’s genial sleaziness in a way that would result in the greatest criminal mastermind of an era, and Bashir had better figure out how to untangle them before they take over the quadrant.
4. Data + Pulaski = Oh Dear God I’m Sorry
With Doctor Pulaski, the writers on Star Trek: The Next Generation attempted to bring back the friendly jibes and back-and-forth bickering that worked so well for McCoy and Spock. It never really played the same, because while you could tell Spock enjoyed sassing Bones, Data was incapable of any such emotion, so mostly you just felt bad for him.
Not as bad as you’ll feel about putting him and Doctor Pulaski on the transporter pad with a symbiogenic orchid, though. Data’s positronic net and poly-alloy construction isn’t something you can just go and merge with Pulaski’s 5 ½ feet of Polish snarkiness. The resultant pile of pulsating flesh and blinking circuits would, at best, live only long enough to beg for death. In the words of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, “What we got back didn’t live long… fortunately.”
Alternatively, this would make a reasonably-credible origin story for the Borg.
5. William Riker + Thomas Riker = Riker^2
In one of Trek’s other most-famous transporter accidents, Will Riker was accidentally duplicated by a bifurcated transporter beam, leaving behind an exact replica with all the same memories, skills, and majestic facial hair. In an effort to prove himself to be his own man, Thomas Riker ended up following a darker path, joining the Maquis and ultimately trying to steal the Defiant.
Obviously, allowing Thomas to go running around besmirching the Riker name was a mistake, so we’ll drop a symbiogenic orchid into his hands and put him back where he belongs: inside Will Riker.
Merging the split Rikers back into one Riker turns out to be a mistake, however. The resulting Riker may look the same as always, but somehow the merging had an exponential effect on his sexual magnetism. His beard now radiates an unstoppable seductive aura, making him a force as powerful as any Q. It’ll take every doctor and scientist the Federation has to split him back in twain, but they’ll struggle to remember exactly why they’d want to go and do a thing like that.
6. Sylvia Tilly + Mirror Georgiou = The End Of Us All
You can’t really get more opposite than Discovery’s Ensign Tilly and Phillipa Georgiou, Empress of the Mirror Universe. Whereas Tilly is a sunny and positive force for good aboard the Federation’s most-classified spaceship, Mirror Georgiou straight-up eats people sometimes on special occasions (I tried to look up whether it still counts as cannibalism if the person you’re eating is an alien rather than a human and I’m pretty sure I’m on a watchlist now).
That’s what makes them such a dangerous pairing, however. Combining Tilly’s scientific brilliance and can-do attitude with Georgiou’s ruthless amorality and suddenly you’ve jumped from “I won’t let anything stop me” to “flay the skin from all those who stand in my way.”
Luckily, if Dr. Culber can untangle the whole Ash Tyler / Voq mess, he can absolutely untangle Georgilly - assuming they let him get close enough to do it.
7. Liquidator Brunt + Shran + Weyoun = Jeffrey Combs
Well, now you’ve done it: putting all these guys on the transporter pad with the orchid at the same time has broken the fourth wall, merging several of Trek’s most-notable characters to create one very confused, hysterical (and talented!) character actor.
Once your gathered medical professionals are through saying things like “Oh, hey, it’s that guy!” “The guy from that thing!” they will hopefully be able to separate these beloved players back into their component parts, restoring the fabric of the universe to where it belongs.
Really there’s no end of the fun if you’ve got a crate of symbiogenic orchids and few moral qualms. Do you want to combine Janeway, Picard, and Sisko to create an ubercaptain with an overriding fondness for hot beverages? Maybe combine Nicholas Locarno with Tom Paris to see if anything is different?
Alternatively, who would YOU like to step on the transporter pad with? Would you like Worf’s courage and affinity for high-fiber beverages? Maybe you’d like to merge with Michael Burnham’s indomitable spirit and excellent hair. Luckily, if you want to absorb your favorite character’s qualities into yourself, you don’t need a symbiogenic orchid to do it — all you need to do is watch.
Sean Kelly (he/him) is a freelance writer based in St. Louis. He occasionally gets depressed that he’ll never know what raktajino tastes like.
Star Trek: Discovery streams on Paramount+ in the United States, airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada, and on Netflix in 190 countries.