Star Trek: Voyager

"Thirty Days"

***

Air date: 12/9/1998
Teleplay by Kenneth Biller
Story by Scott Miller
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"My quarters. 0700. That's an order, ensign." — Torres to Paris, a dinner invitation (Can you say "sexual harassment"? And wouldn't 0700 be breakfast?)

Nutshell: A good, albeit not earth-shattering, character study of Tom Paris.

Just what exactly did happen between Tom and his father? How did their relationship become such a mess? Now, more than ever, I'm wondering what that letter sent from Tom's father back in "Message in a Bottle" actually said.

In the opening moments of "Thirty Days," Janeway demotes Paris to ensign and sentences him to 30 days in the brig. Why? Well, that's what the episode is all about.

But more so, this episode is about Tom Paris and what goes on inside that head of his. Unlike last season's dismal "Vis A Vis," this Paris outing feels more like something consistent with character growth rather than an aimless rehash of old Paris themes.

Granted, there's a lot here that is classic Paris fare—a guy looking for a cause, butting heads with authority, letting his feelings take control of the situation, and so forth. What's refreshing about "Thirty Days" is that the story uses the Paris of yesterday and melds him with the Paris of today, resulting in a Paris that seems plausible; he's a man looking for meaning while also looking at his past as a source of both wisdom and warning.

The story takes the right approach in being told in flashback, as Tom sits in the brig and records a letter to his father. ("Hey, Dad, I'm in jail again," he begins.) As the retelling unfolds, we see how Tom finds himself taken in by a cause in a way that probably surprised even him.

It all begins with a big ocean floating in space, which turns out to be a pretty neat concept. Bigger than the Atlantic and Pacific combined, it's essentially a giant sphere of water orbiting a star. It's maintained by technology at its center, which holds it together in a single mass. The problem: This technology is starting to fail, causing the ocean to disperse into space. The ocean's settlers, called the Moneans, ask Voyager for help in finding how to repair the damage before the ocean becomes seriously endangered.

Tom jumps at the opportunity. He has always been fascinated by the water (a newly conjured character trait, admittedly, but one that seems appropriate for him nonetheless), even though his father made sure he followed the Starfleet path.

Well, as luck would have it, with a few modifications the Delta Flyer also makes a good submarine. So Paris volunteers to lead a mission—along with Harry, Seven, and a Monean named Riga (Willie Garson)—to dive to the depths of which the Moneans have been unable to reach with their underwater crafts. The away team hopes to study the technology that keeps the ocean intact and come up with a solution to the problem.

Selling a setting always helps; as such, "Thirty Days" benefits from some nifty underwater special effects. The Moneans have submerged cities and power facilities, which have been well realized by the series' visual effects teams. The idea of an "all-ocean planet" is a fairly good one; even if the people we meet in the Delta Quadrant are still lacking in the awe category, at least the places they live cash in on the aspects of some "cool, different stuff." I can live with that.

After a brief survey adventure (including the brief but neat visuals of an underwater creature attack), the submarine team returns to Voyager with bad news—the Moneans' own use of technology is what is causing the ocean's field to dissipate. If something serious isn't done to correct the problem, the ocean will be gone within a matter of a few years.

The ecological implications here are pretty obvious, but sensible. While I generally don't respond much to messages like "ruining oceans with unsafe technology is bad," I do appreciate the notion of a bureaucracy that refuses to see the big picture; it strikes me as realistic. Bureaucracies tend to ignore the grim, hard facts if an expensive course of action needs to be taken as a result of facing that grim truth. As the Monean official (Benjamin Livingston) so adeptly puts it, his governments' first course of action upon hearing such news is likely to be "calling for my head!"

Bureaucracy, alas, is what appears to be winning out here, and Riga is convinced that the Monean government will probably do nothing until the problem is much more immediate and apparent—at which point, of course, it would be far too late to do anything to salvage the situation. Janeway is thanked by the Monean administrators and handed her proverbial hat.

Paris is furious. So he and Riga, against Janeway's direct orders, steal the Delta Flyer in an attempt to sabotage one of the underwater generators, forcing the Moneans to face the situation immediately. The action surrounding these events is nicely executed. It's not every day, in other words, that one of Janeway's bridge officers embarks on a rogue mission that forces her to open fire on him.

While the plot isn't something wondrous, I did think it worked well on the level of "simple and sensible." It's a series of events where the decisions behind those events become the real meat. For example, what about the implications of these overt acts of treachery? Janeway nearly had to destroy the Delta Flyer to stop Tom from interfering in a government that ordered no further interference. How can Janeway respond to something like this? What do you do when one of your typically good officers suddenly does something so severe that can't be ignored? Janeway's solution seems like the only possible one under the circumstances. (Of course, seeing that such disobedience is possible, one can't help but wonder if the crew is generally just a little too perfect given Voyager's isolation, but that's a whole other story, and I'm not going to start in.) In any case, it's nice to see Tom's actions have actual consequences (rather than stupid ones, as was the case with the "Paris becomes a rebel arc" that took place back in season two and culminated with his spy mission in "Investigations").

Most important about Tom taking matters into his own hands are the reasons behind it—and I for one thought his speech at the end was effective. Unlike in his past days with the Maquis, his actions in "Thirty Days" were for a cause he believed in and was passionate about. In short, he disobeyed orders for a reason. That to me is somewhat interesting, because it reveals a "real" Tom Paris. Not one who is watered down to brainless compliance, resulting in the token Lt. One-Liner we've often seen. Nor is it the pretense of brainless rebellion like in the "Investigations" arc or in "Vis A Vis." This is focused and motivated.

The flashback narrative makes a lot of his introspection possible. Since we know that Paris is to be demoted and thrown in the brig, the story becomes a sort of documentary of his downfall and what he thinks in looking back at it all. It's pretty clear that if he could do it all over again he wouldn't change anything—and that a demotion and 30 days of jail is a small price to pay for something he believes was the right thing to do.

I also enjoyed the little character details. Somehow, although we're not sure exactly how, Tom's problems all come back to his relationship with his father—a relationship where neither truly understood the other. Harry pressing the matter of Tom's letter provides a good voice for a friendly but forceful kick in the rear.

And to shift gears—at last, after nearly four years of throwaway lines, the much-talked-about Delaney sisters, Megan (Heidi Kramer) and Jenny (Alissa Kramer), finally make an appearance. Hopefully it won't be their last. I'd hate to think their limited screen time in this episode constitutes the extent of their screen presence. It would seem like an awful waste of such a long-standing Voyager gag. Regardless, their participation in the Captain Proton holonovel was fun.

I think that about covers it. "Thirty Days" is not a breakout installment of Voyager, but it's a good, fairly understated character outing that gets the job done through the use of personalities and choices. It's nice to see the show take some risks by somewhat regressing Paris in the eyes of Janeway and others in the crew. Let's just hope some of this sticks for a while.

Next week: Janeway is "sleeping with the enemy" on an all-new Voyager. Ack.

Previous episode: Nothing Human
Next episode: Counterpoint

◄ Season Index

48 comments on this review

David Forrest
Mon, Mar 17, 2008, 10:49pm (UTC -6)
I would agree with most of your review here---this was defintely a solid outing from Voyager and a solid outing for Paris.

I have to say that the F/X were exceptional during this episode as those shots made the episode really worth it.
Rob
Sun, Jun 29, 2008, 6:33pm (UTC -6)
I liked the episode but I found the punishment a bit harsh based on the last time something like this happened. When Tuvok decided to take matters into his own hands in "Prime Factors", he got a slap on the wrist. Yet Tom is demoted and thrown in the brig for doing the same thing? I guess the captain does play favorites.
Rob
Sun, Jun 29, 2008, 6:34pm (UTC -6)
I liked the episode but I found the punishment a bit harsh based on the last time something like this happened. When Tuvok decided to take matters into his own hands in "Prime Factors", he got a slap on the wrist. Yet Tom is demoted and thrown in the brig for doing the same thing? I guess the captain does play favorites.
Aaron
Thu, Jul 31, 2008, 1:53pm (UTC -6)
When Sanford from "Sex And The City" as the fish guy explains in technobabble how the ocean works (and it's total Trek ridiculousness,) and Janeway says "makes sense," it totally reminded me of how much I missed this so-bad-its-great show.
EP
Sat, Feb 28, 2009, 2:33am (UTC -6)
The production of the episode is okay, no better or no worse than many of VOY's average episodes. I can't help but smile when I see those B&W Captain Proton sequences. And finally, the Delaney sisters make an appearance!

The internal logic of the script, however, is totally bogus. There have been numerous previous episodes where other characters have disobeyed direct orders (Tuvok, Seven, Torres, et. al), and every time punishment needs to be handed down, Janeway delivers a very logical and understandable "I want to punish you, but I can't afford to have you out of action, so life goes on." Makes perfect sense - Voyager's only been losing crew over the years.

But this time, she sentences a vitally important member of the bridge crew to 30 days restriction? I guess it's a good thing that Voyager didn't encounter the Borg, or the Hirogen, or 8472, or she might have had let him out early for expediency's sake.

Not to mention the fact that Paris gets demoted and promoted to Lieutenant faster than Harry can get to LTJG.
Cloudane
Sat, Dec 4, 2010, 6:34am (UTC -6)
Wow. I said after the recent Seven episode that Voyager could do with some character development (or regression) involving characters other than Seven for a change... I wasn't expecting it to actually happen. :)

And another thing that Voyager hasn't done for years: consequences that go beyond the single bottled episode. I was fully expecting Paris to, for whatever reason, be re-promoted to Lieutenant by the end of the episode. Glad to see I was wrong. I bet it happens within a couple more episodes though!

Got to say I have mixed feelings on the likeability of Janeway sometimes. She's pretty ruthless. Picard and Sisko certainly knew when to put their foot down but always with some air of fairness and sympathy. Janeway just does a lot of growling and seems a bit too comfortable sometimes about the idea of destroying ships and murdering people when in her eyes they are wrong (Tuvix, the toxic waste aliens, the intention to kill Paris etc). We've had Sisko gas an entire planet - after warning them to leave - which was probably his moment of being a jerk. But Janeway seems to be like that a lot more often. Scary lady.
Wilbur
Wed, Dec 8, 2010, 9:35pm (UTC -6)
Why would a planet made out of water need a gravity machine at its center to hold it together? Gas giants don't need gravity machines. Maybe the planet was too small to generate a large enough gravity field to hold itself together, but if that were the case, it would have been nice if the episode had actually SAID so. Europa (6th moon of Jupiter) is one big ocean covered by a layer of ice. But even if the ice melted, the water wouldn't just start floating away into space! (Europa has a silicate mantle and a metallic core, but that's not the point. Even if it were water all the way through, it still would generate enough gravity to hold itself together. Right? I'd be happy to be corrected by any astrophysicists in the room.)
Jay
Fri, Jan 28, 2011, 11:48am (UTC -6)
A planet that is oceanic all the way to its core would probably have pressures in the interior capable of forming exotic ices (like VII) due to pressure rather than temperature.
James
Sat, Sep 3, 2011, 4:55pm (UTC -6)
I noticed that the brig cells lack any kind of waste extraction facility...
Nathan
Tue, Nov 8, 2011, 2:24am (UTC -6)
James, they make Harry beam it out. Sucks when he can't get a pattern lock due to gaseous interference.
Rosario
Sat, Mar 31, 2012, 8:19pm (UTC -6)
This episode was pure drivel. I'm supposed to feel pity for Tom Paris? He's whining in that cell like a child within minutes. Holo-deck priveleges? "I had to try"? You're in solitary confinement. They should have turned the lights off. Janeway was 100% correct. We gave them the information, it is THEIR planet and THEIR choice to act upon, Voyager has NO right to interfere. This was not a Prime Directive issue, that only applies to pre-warp civilizations - this was a First Contact situation. Janeway should have court-martialled him and given him over to "local" justice for punishment.
Paul York
Tue, May 8, 2012, 8:00pm (UTC -6)
In response to the comment: "While I generally don't respond much to messages like "ruining oceans with unsafe technology is bad," I do appreciate the notion of a bureaucracy that refuses to see the big picture; it strikes me as realistic."

But it really is more than a case of bureaucracy, both in this fictional world and in our own, which this episode serves as a commentary on. The issue is maintaining an unsustainable status quo for the sake of endless economic profit. Mining operations in the fictional ocean and on Earth are responsible for environment destruction. And on Earth industrial development has led to the death of the oceans through global warming and pollution and over-fishing. I am glad for a fictional social commentary through Star Trek. Humans learn through narrative (vis-a-vis "Darmok"). The fictional government is much like Canadian and American governments today that ignore the hazards of what they're doing to the Earth's oceans. The popularity of Star Trek has a lot to do with its social commentary and its vision of a sustainable humane future. I don't understand the point of denying that.
Paul York
Tue, May 8, 2012, 8:17pm (UTC -6)
I think Paris' and Rega's actions were justified in this case. Earth Liberation Front (E.L.F.) would agree. Captain Janeway's approach would condemn that society and that ocean to death within five years. The Federation is not supposed to violate the Prime Directive, but that principle should be violated in situations where the good of the society and the environment and individuals' basic rights are at stake. It is a principle that make sense to prevent colonialism, not inaction in the face of injustice.
Nic
Wed, May 9, 2012, 2:50pm (UTC -6)
Yeah, that's a pretty strange mistake, isn't it? Maybe Torres was working the night shift, and as such would really want to have dinner at 7 a.m. :)
Michael
Fri, Apr 12, 2013, 1:51am (UTC -6)
Does the Prime Directive even apply to a warp-capable civilization? I think the Federation's non-interference policies (in foreign governments) are the issue here, but they have historically played fast and loose with those (Picard and the Klingons, Sisko and the Bajorans for examples).
mike
Sun, May 5, 2013, 10:33am (UTC -6)
Didn't move me. First off, a planet entirely of water is just as possible as a planet entirely of gas. We didn't need all this technobabble junk science to explain its existence. Secondly I don't think we learned anything more about what makes Tom Paris tick than we already knew. Paris is hot dog who bucks authority. Yeah, we know, and so what? We still need an interesting motive and this ecology story doesn't do it. The story failed to convey the danger the aliens-of-the-week were in. It was just some technobabble danger that really didn't impose itself visually. The water world was loosing its cohension? Ridiculous! The Delta Flyer can fire phasers underwater? Ridiculous! And let's get back to Paris again for a moment. You would think someone whose is no stranger to prison wouldn't act so stir crazy about 30 days in a brig. And how come Kim got to visit him INSIDE the cell no less but no one else could? Don't even get me started about the Captain Proton nonsense. It's the only thing sillier and more boring than Fair haven. I won't be viewing this episode again.


Jo Jo Meastro
Tue, Jun 4, 2013, 12:04pm (UTC -6)
I liked it, the way that the episode is simple yet effective in its' approach is very refreshing and there was a hint of vintage sci-fi about it which is my cup of tea. There's plenty of little touches and an attention to detail to help you really buy the story, not to mention Captian Proton is the best holodeck programme yet! So yeah, simple and very effective and quietly memorable is how I'd describe 30 Days. Jammer mentioned somewhere that so far season 5 has a tendency to split between really good Voyager to bland or bad Voyager each episode, not as consistent as I remembered season 4 being but I'm happy with the highs this season is hitting so long as it avoids too many lows.

I noticed a theme for season 5; characters on a low or struggles within themselves. We had Janeway in The Void, Torress in Extreme Risk, alternate Harry in Timeless, the Delta Flyer crew in Once Upon A Time, Seven in Infinite Regress, possibly the Doc et al in last episode and Tom in 30 Days. Interesting.
Mike P
Sat, Aug 24, 2013, 9:38am (UTC -6)
@Paul York
" I think Paris' and Rega's actions were justified in this case. Earth Liberation Front (E.L.F.) would agree"

Well, at least your consistent. In the comments for Nothing Human your arguments would put animal rights on par with human rights, an agenda P.E.T.A would be proud of.

Now, in Thirty Days, you advocate for E.L.F.

Dude, the fact E.L.F. would agree is definitely not proof an action was justified. Its would actually define a particular action as a terrorist act.
Strejda
Mon, Aug 26, 2013, 9:04am (UTC -6)
@Rosario what about that alien who asked him for help? I'm not saying Paris was in the right but is it really that horrible to do something that wouldn't really harm anyone that would save milions of lives? If our planet was about to be destroyed, and some alien would try to help even against will of our leaders, would you really blame him?
Caine
Mon, Nov 25, 2013, 9:26am (UTC -6)
HAHAAA!

Underwater buldings, submarine action, attack of the 50-foot killer croc-dino ... I love it!

This is probably my favorite action-episode on Voyager so far. Paris as the rogue hero, flying in the face of authority and beurocracy to take action ad "do the right thing" really made me root for him.
The "shock-start" with Paris' demotion and incarceration, Janeway forced to fire at the Delta Flyer, Paris' letter to his dad - lots of great dtials in this episode!

Sure, there are (as always on Voyager) stuff that doesn't make much sense ... but this is one of the episodes where this nonsensical stuff doesn't steal focus from the story, at least not for me. Maybe that's also due to the great pacing of this episode ... someone barely says somehitng moronic, then we're off into the underwater adventure on planet Raindrop.

I love it! 3,5 stars from me :)
john
Wed, Dec 18, 2013, 2:49am (UTC -6)
I think the capt was being a bitch. Anyone in their right mind would have stop the idiots wrecking the ocean if it was in their power to do so. She should have helped Tom, not stopped him.
Ric
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 3:31am (UTC -6)
"I think the capt was being a bitch. Anyone in their right mind would have stop the idiots wrecking the ocean if it was in their power to do so. She should have helped Tom, not stopped him"

Yeah, because that's what Trek is about. About saying to other people, cultures, countries, planets or civilizations, what they should do with their destinies. Even more: forcing them to do what Voyager/we think is "for their own good". Nope fellows, that's just us in the 21st century US. And it seems there is not immediate hope for us in this century if we think it's pretty normal to do so.

That said, I find it amusing that people think Paris did not deserve that much of a punishment. He did not only disobey a direct order. He technically commited an act of terrorism in a foreing friendly planet! Not to mention interfere in the inner businness of a foreign planet (guys, having warp tech only means the civilization can be contacted, not treated as a puppet). Paris' punishment is the least he deserves. Let's just imagine that in all similar situations each crew member will just go there in a Rambo style imposing to other planets what Voyager decides to be better for them!

Now, it is not to mean that the episode was bad. On the contrary, it was a joy to watch. From the character development that was long needed for Paris, to the outstanding visual effects for that time in a TV show, from the acting to the plot itself and how it was played. I really liked this one. By the way, it is amazing how seasons 4 and now the 5th have shown huge quality improvement.
DLPB
Sat, May 3, 2014, 4:35pm (UTC -6)
Ric, if Star Trek was being consistent, they wouldn't be communicating with any culture when passing by. By communicating they are already interfering, or placing themselves in a position where they will.

Trek wants it both ways.
Ric
Sun, May 4, 2014, 6:46pm (UTC -6)
DLPB, sorry but no.

I have no idea from what show did you get such a concept. It is pretty established since much earlier in the franchise, that Starfleet ships and officers should avoid contacting civilizations without warp-drive, not "any culture when passing by". However, they should avoid interfering in the business of any culture, warp-drive or not, with quite strict exceptions (like being asked for help when it does not alter balance of power, etc).

So, these are two different things: not contacting pre-warp civs (exaclty because in that case just by contacting they would be interfering in their existence), and not interfering in any other way the business of any warp-drive civ.
DLPB
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 11:01am (UTC -6)
Making contact with any race is by definition, interfering. By turning up at someone's planet, you are already making a possible situation POSSIBLE. It's that simple. You either accept that by meeting new races you are risking a problem, or you don't meet new races.

You cannot have it both ways.

Even the best intentions can go wrong (except in Trek).
Shaen
Fri, Aug 29, 2014, 4:19pm (UTC -6)
The main reason I didn't enjoy this one was because it seemed to be such an arbitrary story to try to develop Tom's character. As others have said, there have been plenty of instances in previous episodes where a crew member disobeyed orders and struck out on their own, yet each time it just led to a conversation between Janeway and Chakotay that included "What am I supposed to do, confine them to quarters? Throw them in the brig?". But somehow this time it was different. The Voyager writers had a lot of flaws, but the biggest one by far was their inconsistency.
Craig
Mon, Sep 29, 2014, 12:33pm (UTC -6)
Another perfect example of Janeway being an idiot and the prime directive not working. Even though Paris had already gone through with it she decides to condemn the entire planet to death, perhaps some of the humanoids would evacuate but it doesn't even look like they're prepared to do that.

I don't buy the argument that the prime directive prevents them from saving that planet, who is to say that the oceans belongs to that humanoid species that is destroying it? There was mention of other lifeforms in that ocean and since they weren't even aware of anything below 1000ft or so then who's to judge the intelligence of other the animals in the ocean? In essence a Federation vessel has caused the death of countless species by allowing one to be reckless.
Xylar
Thu, Apr 30, 2015, 8:03pm (UTC -6)
I'm with Janeway on this one. The aliens contacted her for help. She gave it to them, determined the problem and suggested the solution. What they do with that information is up to them. All Voyager can do is say, that's your problem right there and this technology can provide the solution.
Their government is made aware of the situation on every level they can expect from Voyager. What they do with it after Voyager leaves is up to them. It's not their place to enforce a solution they perceive as right onto a foreign civilization. Even if it means possibly damning that civilization.
Paris was in the wrong. Like minister fish-face points out: We've been living here hundreds of years. You've only been here 3 days and you presume to tell us what to do with OUR planet? It's just not right.

On a completely unrelated sidenote, though, I was thoroughly impressed with the visuals of the water planet, the underwater cityn the diving scenes and the aquatic creature that attacked them. Great job on that. I liked the episode as a whole, but there is no doubt in my mind that Janeway did what was right this time.
Robert
Fri, May 1, 2015, 6:39am (UTC -6)
I thought the demotion and firing on him were justified. 30 days in (basically) solitary confinement might have been a bit much.

Even people that MURDER other crewmen get confined to quarters and Tuvok is allowed to visit.
Cosette
Thu, Jul 30, 2015, 5:38pm (UTC -6)
I have to agree with Robert. We are uncovering information now that indicates solitary confinement might be akin to torture. At the very least, many people currently consider it inhumane. I have a very hard time believing that Janeway would consider it an appropriate punishment for a member of her crew.

They have encountered many cultures with innovative means of punishment. Why would they ever use one which is of questionable ethics?
John
Sat, Dec 26, 2015, 6:25am (UTC -6)
Paul York - Tue, May 8, 2012 - 8:00pm (USA Central)

"But it really is more than a case of bureaucracy, both in this fictional world and in our own, which this episode serves as a commentary on. The issue is maintaining an unsustainable status quo for the sake of endless economic profit. Mining operations in the fictional ocean and on Earth are responsible for environment destruction. And on Earth industrial development has led to the death of the oceans through global warming and pollution and over-fishing."

First animal rights terrorism and now this fictional tree hugging crap? May I assume you also smoke weed and refuse to shower for days on end?

Paul York - Tue, May 8, 2012 - 8:17pm (USA Central)

"I think Paris' and Rega's actions were justified in this case. Earth Liberation Front (E.L.F.) would agree."

Just how many eco-terrorist organizations are you affiliated with? PETA and ELF? Should I inform the FBI? Hopefully, the NSA already did.

"Captain Janeway's approach would condemn that society and that ocean to death within five years."

Um, no, the decision of that government condemns that society. It is not Janeway's place to interfere. Please get off your high horse.

"The Federation is not supposed to violate the Prime Directive, but that principle should be violated in situations where the good of the society and the environment and individuals' basic rights are at stake."

No, it shouldn't. You want to baby an entire species and shield them from the consequences of their own actions just because your horseshit tree hugging sensibilities are offended? You are a tyrant!

"It is a principle that make sense to prevent colonialism, not inaction in the face of injustice."

Who the fuck are you to determine what is or is not an injustice for a group of aliens? If they want to destroy themselves, you have no right to wag your pathetic hippie finger and say "but that's wrong" like some flower power Disney bimbo!

Get over yourself! Accept that people have a right to make their own choices without your totalitarian moralizing. Your personal disapproval of those choices means exactly nothing. This is what I hate the most about eco-terrorists. You're the most arrogant self-righteous tyrants that this world has seen in a while. I hope you're all arrested and imprisoned where you can scream "global warming" at a padded wall until it gets boring!
Phoebe
Sat, Jan 9, 2016, 4:46pm (UTC -6)
I know that Paris was wrong to do what he did. Regardless of Voyager being stranded in the Delta quadrant, they still must adhere to the Prime Directive and not interfere in another alien race's problems, although, I have major qualms over the fact that Kathryn was willing to fire on her OWN OFFICER and claim that he forfeited his right of being a protected member of the crew because he violated a direct order from her and the PD? Uh, I call bs on that. Tuvok freaking stole a device from an alien race because he thought I could bring them home and Kathryn gave him a slap on the wrist. He was merely given a stern reprimand and, besides that, she left him alone. In this episode, however, she was going to destroy Tom and Friga - a member of the alien race whose affairs they cannot intervene in. Why didn't Kathryn tell Tuvok to fire on Tom's torpedo instead of the Delta Flyer itself? That would have been murder, plain and simple and inconsistent with Kathryn's character. The writers did a crap arse job with her development in this episode. She made the same kind of decision in Tuvix. I understand why some fans claim that she is bipolar. Why wouldn't they when there are episodes like this which rob her of her humanity? Smh...
Diamond Dave
Mon, Feb 29, 2016, 1:34pm (UTC -6)
To my mind, a desperately clunky environmental message episode that we haven't seen the likes of since early TNG. I'm all for character development - and God knows Paris needs some - but the fact he 'loves the sea' comes so out of left field it really undermines any attempt to give weight to his actions.

Impressive production values, yes. And the Delaney sisters, no less. But still 1.5 stars.
Yanks
Wed, May 25, 2016, 10:18am (UTC -6)
Jammer: "In the opening moments of "Thirty Days," Janeway demotes Paris to ensign and sentences him to 30 days in the brig. Why? Well, that's what the episode is all about."

Yeah, but I think it would have been more effective has they not shown us this. I'm not a fan of giving away the ending at the beginning. Enterprise did this a few times too.

For all you Janeway haters.... she did exactly what she should have done. They asked for help, she gave them what they needed. It's not her place to shove it down their throats.

As for the punishment, Janeway is right again. Tom disobeyed orders and committed an act of terrorism! Only environmentalist whackos eco-terrorists could think his actions were justified. I think it's probably appropriate. It's not like it's solitary. He had visitors. The demotion in rank was appropriate too.

Oh and....

"PARIS: Thanks. But Captain Proton's not going to be able to save the day this time, is he?
TORRES: What about Tom Paris?"

So, B'Elanna urged him to "save the day"? hmmmm....

One does wonder where he uses the bathroom... maybe they escort him out somewhere to take care of that.

The visuals in this episode are incredible for a TV series. Just think, this was made 20 years ago and it still holds up!!

One has to wonder how excessive mining of O2 can affect anything (scratches head)

The whole letter to dad thing was fine as was Tom's interest in the sea. Good lord, some folks here need to get over themselves. We can't know everything about everyone onboard. This was as good a way to find out something about Tom as any.

Once again, someone can seemingly at will steal a damn shuttle craft... Tuvok should look into these things.

But nit-pics aside, this was an enjoyable episode. I'll go a solid 3 stars.
XyXz
Thu, Jul 14, 2016, 7:26pm (UTC -6)
*John
Our planet is from year to year more and more fucked up, because of goverments as ours, and because of brainwashed sheeps as you are.

Destroying our oceans and our rainforests by greedy corporations is OK, you say, and if someone has desire to protect at least what's left from our nature, he is a terrorist. Hmm... Nice.
Pete
Wed, Aug 10, 2016, 2:35am (UTC -6)
@Yanks: "It's note like it's solitary."

Janeway: "I sentence you to 30 days solitary confinement."

From Amnesty: '... solitary confinement, defined by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as "the physical and social isolation of individuals who are confined to their cells for 22 to 24 hours a day"... It is a management tool that has been criticized by human rights bodies, and is being increasingly challenged by US penal experts and others, as costly, ineffective and inhumane. ... In recognition of the psychological harm that can result from isolating people even for relatively brief periods, international human rights experts and organizations have called on governments to restrict their use of solitary confinement so that it is applied only in exceptional circumstances, for the shortest possible period of time.'
Yanks
Wed, Aug 10, 2016, 6:21am (UTC -6)
Pete,

24th century "solitary" isn't like what I was referring to... I'm sure you can make that distinction. So what is your point?
mephyve
Mon, Sep 5, 2016, 7:11pm (UTC -6)
Good episode. Janeway is not only an idiot, she is a hypocrite. The doctor gave her a direct order and she ignored him with no consequences.
(***)





















9888
Peter G.
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 11:48am (UTC -6)
It's really quite astonishing how far off many viewers are from understanding the severity of the prime directive. It's not some 'general principle' or guideline for 'certain situations.' It's a very harsh and difficult rule that is enforced very sternly (unless your name is Kirk or Picard). It's not supposed to be easy to follow, and it's not even supposed to be humane. It's for 'the good' of other races, but for no race in particular. It might actually do considerable harm to a particular pre-warp race that does need help, but that's not the point. If one made exceptions on a case-by-case basis we'd be back to starship captains having their way with primitive worlds like we saw several times in TOS.

And yes, the prime directive both involves not contacting pre-warp species, as well as not interfering with the affairs of post-warp species. And the former stipulation seems to have come into effect sometime between TOS and TNG, because Kirk's Enterprise contacted pre-warp species all the time. They were just forbidden from doing anything uninvited.

It should also be noted that in Kirk's time we are told as canon that violating the prime directive is the only crime punishable in the Federation by death. We don't know whether this punishment was retained by the time of Voyager, but suffice to say that the directive itself specifies that a captain must do anything up to and including sacrificing the ship and crew rather than violate the directive even once. Obviously Janeway doesn't take this part of it seriously, but as a punishment for aggressively interfering with another species 30 days in the brig is completely trivial, as is the minor demotion. In theory Paris could have been executed for that, not that Janeway has any kind of moral high ground with her track record.
William B
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 12:01pm (UTC -6)
"In theory Paris could have been executed for that, not that Janeway has any kind of moral high ground with her track record."

Well, Starfleet code only has the death penalty for Talos IV, if I remember my Treklore correctly. I actually think that Janeway would have been within her (legal) rights according to Starfleet charter to shoot Paris down before he interfered, for the same reason that she'd be within her rights to sacrifice the ship to avoid any PD violation. But I don't think she could punish him with death afterwards legally.

But generally, yeah, like, 30 days and a demotion is nothing. It's mostly ceremonial. I don't really blame Janeway for not permanently relieving him of duty given their situation, and that he's both their best pilot and apparently their only non-holographic medical officer, but she could have legitimately given him a permanent dishonourable discharge.
Peter G.
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 12:10pm (UTC -6)
There was a TOS episode - I want to say Turnabout Intruder, but I can't be certain - where there is mention of execution as a punishment in the Federation. Maybe I'll go back and watch it tonight to see what they said.
William B
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 2:48pm (UTC -6)
I was going off The Menagerie:

KIRK: What every ship Captain knows. General Order 7, no vessel under any condition, emergency or otherwise, is to visit Talos Four.
MENDEZ: And to do so is the only death penalty left on our books. Only Fleet Command knows why. Not even this file explains that.

However, in Turnabout Intruder we have this dialogue, after Lester-as-Kirk sentences death for the mutineers:

CHEKOV: Starfleet expressly forbids the death penalty.
KIRK: All my senior officers turning against me?
SULU: The death penalty is forbidden. There's only one exception.
CHEKOV: General Order Four. It has not been violated by any officer on the Enterprise.

The most probable explanations on the writer's level are, to me: 1. the writer was thinking about The Menagerie but misremembered the number (confusing Talos Four with General Order Seven), or 2. the writer just threw in that there is an exception because it sounded reasonable that Starfleet might occasionally have the death penalty. I think 1 is more likely -- I feel like the line plays more as callback than dramatically necessary for the scene, and the use of "General Order" suggests it's probably a reference to the earlier dialogue -- but I'm not sure. In-universe, either Chekov is misremembering the number (important to remember that he's an ensign and maybe not that much of an expert) of the General Order, or Starfleet has changed the rules surrounding death penalty recently, apparently reducing the penalty on General Order Seven while upping it on Four. Or maybe Starfleet simply renumbered their General Orders.

More broadly, though, it could just be a retcon which results from the changing dramatic needs of the universe.
Peter G.
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 2:56pm (UTC -6)
Good research, William. For some reason I remembered it as being about the prime directive, and even as a numerical error it seems to me strange that breach of any general order beneath #1 could carry a more severe penalty than that of #1 itself. IIRC they are numbered in order of importance, which you would think means the punishments decrease linearly as you progress down. I'm sure the writers simply made the number up as you suggest, since they didn't have a continuity team like the Okudas that could be consulted. Then again past TNG it seems like they were dismissed anyhow :p

For now I'll have to settle on having remembered wrongly, unless some other episode (like Patterns of Force, etc.) mentions something about it. For my own personal 'inner Trek world' I'll choose to go on assuming that the supreme penalty comes from breaking the supreme directive. If it's serious enough to warrant the destruction of a ship and crew, the death of one person - albeit after the fact - doesn't seem quite so extreme any more.
William B
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 4:01pm (UTC -6)
Thanks. I agree that a sensible ordering of General Orders would have the most important first, and have the most important have the greatest punishment, in general; if Starfleet as any death penalty, it should generally apply to the Prime Directive?

My suspicion -- putting aside that they didn't have the Okudas, of course -- is that the Prime Directive is aka General Order One, and then there were five other General Orders of high importance by the time The Cage happened. I suppose according to Enterprise, Starfleet predates both the Federation and the Prime Directive, so let's assume that at some point the Prime Directive and other such rules were instituted. Either a few General Orders were instituted at once, or a few were established and then gradually others were added. If they were all instituted at once, they would all be in descending order of importance; otherwise, they'd probably be put in chronologically.

Whatever the case for the first six General Orders, General Order Seven is "don't go to Talos IV," which seems to have been thrown in, ad hoc, in the handful of years between The Cage and The Menagerie. Seeing what the Talosians could do with their mind control, Starfleet immediately created a new general order. I think the reason they added "death" here was probably a result of newfound panic that the Talosians could take over the universe if people got to close to them, which is probably a little bit exaggerated. I forget whether the Talos IV ban is ever brought up explicitly post-TOS; I would imagine that given enough time, and especially after encountering all the Godlike beings they encounter in TOS, the Talosian threat would seem less existential, or at least, less *uniquely* existential.

What's interesting is why Starfleet Command kept Talos IV, and why one shouldn't go there, a secret, and imposed the death penalty, which they apparently don't even give for the Prime Directive, as their deterrent. Probably they recognized how easily people would be taken in by the Talosians if they knew that the Talosians could give them whatever they wanted, and wanted to keep it a secret. However, given that they've kept it a secret, they cannot properly explain why going to Talos IV is so strictly forbidden. While they trust that Starfleet officers will abide by regulations that they understand, Picard's interpretation as he says to Data in Redemption, is that Starfleet would rather have people who don't blindly follow orders (without there being a good reason). So usually, while the Prime Directive comes with all sorts of ethical and pragmatic arguments, which they assume will be enough to (mostly) deter people, "Don't go to Talos IV" comes with none, and Starfleet falls back on death threats. It's perhaps overly optimistic to believe that less deterrent is necessary for the Prime Directive because there is an ethical argument for it, especially since (as we see in this site, for example), the general principles that justify the Prime Directive often break down in individual instances or break down under many ethical frameworks.
Mikey
Thu, Nov 10, 2016, 6:06am (UTC -6)
Ah the voyager sledgehammer metaphor. These people are like us because they're ignoring the damage they're doing to their ocean. But come on: if there was indisputable scientific evidence that we are FIVE YEARS away from ruining earth do you think our bureaucracy would do nothing? I'm sure some people will think I'm naive, but I'm sure we're not that stupid. This alien race is beyond idiotic. Natural selection should take care of them.

Yes, there is strong evidence that our planet is being harmed (whether you believe it is man-made or not is irrelevant) . Whilst many people think we're not doing enough (l'm one of them) the steps taken worldwide over the last 20 or so years are significant. Whilst the bureaucracy is slow moving, it is moving. I think a lot of people miss that point.

Back to this episode:
I laughed out loud at the leak in the hull. If they were 600kms underwater, without shields, they must have some seriously strong alloys making up the hull. But even still, a hole the size of a pinprick would cause water to enter at tremendous pressure. If Paris stood under that leak it would have sliced through his entire body in an instant.

Then there's the issue of Paris interfering in alien domestic affairs. The arrogance of his actions (whilst understandable) is breathtaking. The federation is not a galactic police force. And it's not as though the aliens were facing extinction. They even said at the start that they are a nomadic people and most live aboard their vessels, so at worst they would just have to abandon their home and wander off somewhere else.

Which brings me to Janeway. They go to "investigate" an interesting ocean planet: fair enough. But when ships come out of the ocean and fire on voyager, she fires back? Why? This episode should have ended where it started. Janeway should have said "ok, we're not welcome here, let's go". But instead she fires on people defending their planet? Bullshit.

Sorry for ranting but this episode really annoyed me. 1 star
Peremensoe
Thu, Nov 10, 2016, 6:36am (UTC -6)
Mikey, this is a bad time to be arguing that "the bureaucracy is moving" to address climate change and environmental threats generally. Trump is assembling a Cabinet that will feature anti-science climate-change-deniers and oilmen running EPA, Energy, and Interior.
Mikey
Sat, Nov 19, 2016, 8:03am (UTC -6)
@Peremensoe: yeah, you're probably right. My bad.

What I was trying to get across though is that there has been significant progress in the last couple of decades. Whilst I understand that a lot of people don't think it's enough, I still do believe the metaphor of the episode was silly.

I guess time will tell...

Btw I'm an Australian so I didn't vote, but if I could have? I don't have a fucking clue. They're both despicable if you ask me...
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Sat, Dec 3, 2016, 6:27pm (UTC -6)
Thank you Mikey for bringing up the hull breach issue. It's not even that the stream of water would slice Tom in half, but the tiniest breach would instantly crush everyone inside to pink goo. Futurama made this same mistake (though probably deliberately) after conceding that a spaceship's design considerations are completely opposite that of a submarine.

LEELA: Depth at 45 hundred feet, 48 hundred, 50 hundred! 5000 feet!
FARNSWORTH: Dear Lord, that's over 150 atmospheres of pressure.
FRY: How many atmospheres can this ship withstand?
FARNSWORTH: Well it's a spaceship, so I'd say anywhere between zero and one.

Assuming the gravitational field holding this planet together is similar to the gravity we experience on Earth, at 600km in depth, they'd be subjected to nearly 60,000 atmospheres of pressure, or 875,000 pounds per square inch. And they were able to survive without the shields? Then there's the question of how exactly they can propel and maneuver the Delta Flyer underwater. I can see them technobabbling a way out of it, but firing phasers too? The science makes me sad.

I do think the overall idea of the planet needing an artificial gravity generator to maintain containment is sound though. At 600km in radius, this ball of water is only 1/3 the size of our moon. That's no gas giant. An all-water planet of this size wouldn't generate enough of its own gravity to prevent atmospheric escape losses. Basically the planet would evaporate away, or be blown away by solar winds without a magnetic field and other help.

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