Star Trek: Picard Season 3's Latest Cameo Is A Real Kick In The Rear For Voyager Fans

This post contains spoilers for season 3, episode 7 of "Star Trek: Picard."

The raison d'être of the third season of "Star Trek: Picard" has been its much-touted reunion of seven members from the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" cast. That the season is on its seventh episode and the fact that the entire cast has yet to be gathered in one room only reveals the showrunners' utmost restraint. Given the events of the last few episodes, however, one can rest assured that the actual reunion is coming soon. 

Despite the restraint on display, the new season of "Picard" has nonetheless whetted Trekkies' appetite for cameos, reunions, and other fun in-jokes and nostalgic references. In the timeline of "Picard," multiple notable "Star Trek" characters are still alive and thriving, and some viewers may have their fingers crossed for appearances from some of their favorites. The presence of Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) as a "Picard" regular has given many fans of "Star Trek: Voyager" reason to hope. Previously a regular on "Voyager," Seven has every reason to reach out to one of her old Voyager crewmates for help. 

Which she does in "Dominion," the newest "Picard" episode. After Capt. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) is kidnapped by the evil Changeling Vadic (Amanda Plummer), Seven checks in with an old friend to get some information on the crime. The old friend in question is none other than Tuvok (Tim Russ), the former security chief of the U.S.S. Voyager. The two banter and trade old stories about playing kal-toh, a puzzle game. All the while, Seven and the crew of the Titan are scanning Tuvok's voice and vetting whether or not he might be a spy in disguise. With Changelings having infiltrated the Federation, one can't be too careful. 

Briefly, "Voyager" fans get their reunion. 


That's not Tuvok!

Tuvok is asked a pointed question about his past, and he whiffs it. Seven recognizes the duplicity and Tuvok, an emotionless Vulcan, cracks a wicked smile. He is not Tuvok after all, but a Changeling spy posing as Tuvok! The Changeling announces that the Titan is pretty much up the creek, and their destruction is nigh. The Changeling also appears briefly as a sick-looking Capt. Riker just to taunt Picard (Patrick Stewart) who is also on the bridge. Musical sting, the Titan is all alone. Trust no one, Mr. Mulder. 

The Tuvok cameo is, of course, the showrunners of "Picard" cleverly weaponizing the show's promised nostalgia. As Trekkies have been assured, "Picard" will indeed eventually be punctuated by saccharine moments of reunion hugs, but not every cameo will be warm or meaningful. The sudden and unexpected appearance of Tuvok may give "Voyager" fans a moment of nostalgic warmth, but that rug is quickly yanked away in favor of a twist in the plot. Nostalgia is all well in good in small doses, so putting a dash of bitters into one of said doses is a welcome change of pace. "Voyager" fans will get a pit in their stomach rather than a bromide. Well done. 

Of course, Tuvok's appearance will have some Trekkies wondering where he and the rest of the Voyager crew may have been since the end of "Voyager" a few decades previous. It turns out several of them, including Tuvok, have made a few brief appearances on other recent "Star Trek" shows. Indeed, Tuvok's appearance as a starship captain may contradict what was previously said about him only a few seasons ago. 

Tuvok's career change

In the "Star Trek: Lower Decks" episode "Grounded" (August 25, 2022), Capt. Freeman (Dawnn Wells) had been accused of a war crime. The episode followed the four central "Lower Decks" characters as they attempted to exonerate their captain through some halfway-shady means. At the end of the episode, it was revealed that Starfleet had been working to exonerate Capt. Freeman the whole time, and Tuvok, seen only very briefly and speaking no dialogue, was revealed to be a vital part of the investigation. 

As he appears on "Lower Decks," Tuvok is wearing his familiar gold security uniform and is involved in a Starfleet security matter. It seems in the few years since the end of "Voyager," Tuvok merely continued to work in the Federation's security division. 

"Picard" takes place some 20 years after "Voyager," and while it may be possible that Tuvok would eventually change career tracks, don a red uniform, and become a starship captain, it seems a little inconsistent for the character. Surely, after remaining in security after the events of "Voyager" would imply that Tuvok was working his way up a different career ladder. 

It's worth remembering, however, that Vulcans are incredibly long-lived, and can take multiple decades off work to reflect. Indeed, as revealed in the "Voyager" episode "Flashback" (September 11, 1996), Tuvok was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Excelsior with Capt. Sulu (George Takei) some 80 years previous. In that episode, Tuvok wore grey, denoting he was a junior science officer, and not in security. Throughout "Voyager," a timeline of Tuvok's life began to form, and it was revealed he also took a 50-year gap in his Starfleet career. 

Either there's a plot inconsistency, or Tuvok swapped career paths. It was more likely the latter.