Star Trek: Voyager
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
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88 comments on this post
Mon, Mar 17, 2008, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
I have to say that the F/X were exceptional during this episode as those shots made the episode really worth it.
Sun, Jun 29, 2008, 6:33pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 29, 2008, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 31, 2008, 1:53pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 28, 2009, 2:33am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Dec 4, 2010, 6:34am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Dec 8, 2010, 9:35pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 28, 2011, 11:48am (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 3, 2011, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 8, 2011, 2:24am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 31, 2012, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
Tue, May 8, 2012, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, May 8, 2012, 8:17pm (UTC -5)
Wed, May 9, 2012, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 12, 2013, 1:51am (UTC -5)
Sun, May 5, 2013, 10:33am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 4, 2013, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Aug 24, 2013, 9:38am (UTC -5)
" 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.
Mon, Aug 26, 2013, 9:04am (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 25, 2013, 9:26am (UTC -5)
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 :)
Wed, Dec 18, 2013, 2:49am (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 3:31am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, May 3, 2014, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
Trek wants it both ways.
Sun, May 4, 2014, 6:46pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 11:01am (UTC -5)
You cannot have it both ways.
Even the best intentions can go wrong (except in Trek).
Fri, Aug 29, 2014, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Sep 29, 2014, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Apr 30, 2015, 8:03pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, May 1, 2015, 6:39am (UTC -5)
Even people that MURDER other crewmen get confined to quarters and Tuvok is allowed to visit.
Thu, Jul 30, 2015, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
They have encountered many cultures with innovative means of punishment. Why would they ever use one which is of questionable ethics?
Sat, Dec 26, 2015, 6:25am (UTC -5)
"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!
Sat, Jan 9, 2016, 4:46pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 29, 2016, 1:34pm (UTC -5)
Impressive production values, yes. And the Delaney sisters, no less. But still 1.5 stars.
Wed, May 25, 2016, 10:18am (UTC -5)
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.
"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.
Thu, Jul 14, 2016, 7:26pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Aug 10, 2016, 2:35am (UTC -5)
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.'
Wed, Aug 10, 2016, 6:21am (UTC -5)
24th century "solitary" isn't like what I was referring to... I'm sure you can make that distinction. So what is your point?
Mon, Sep 5, 2016, 7:11pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 11:48am (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 2:48pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 2:56pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Nov 10, 2016, 6:06am (UTC -5)
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
Thu, Nov 10, 2016, 6:36am (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 19, 2016, 8:03am (UTC -5)
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...
Sat, Dec 3, 2016, 6:27pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Dec 16, 2016, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
And something I forgot about last week's episode - why haven't they just programmed holographic nurses for the doctor? Apparently, that's super easy in the 24th century.
Mon, Feb 13, 2017, 10:08am (UTC -5)
However, the most ridiculous thing was when the scientist of this space-faring civilization said that he believed the giant ball of liquid water encapsulated in a force field was created naturally in space.
Tue, May 30, 2017, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
There is a fine line between being benevolent and being a busybody. I feel Paris crosses that line. Give the aliens all information, then let them decide. As Xylar pointed out, Voyager has been there for 3 days. It's their planet, let them decide.
I do feel Tom's punishment was a little harsh. Perhaps demote him to Ensign, but only for the length of his confinement, with the understanding that once his confinement is up he will be returned to his old rank (or maybe to Lt J.G.).
Sat, Jun 10, 2017, 8:42am (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 6, 2017, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
Paris as an interesting character became a lost cause in season four when he began to be written as an insufferable man child. So full disclosure I have a difficult time caring about episodes in which he is featured. Maybe the story itself is decent. Maybe with a different character I'd have enjoyed it more. I don't know but as presented I wasn't the least bit interested in Paris' rogue behavior or him trying to articulate to his dad about his actions or being demoted or being thrown in the brig
Tue, Nov 28, 2017, 11:15am (UTC -5)
Let's start with this. When Riker defied the Prime Directive and Picard's direct order to try to save Soren in The Outcast, it was for romantic love and compassion for another being. When O'Brien defied Sisko's orders and endangered diplomatic relations with new species to help Tosk escape in Captive Pursuit, it was for friendship and compassion for another being. Here, Tom defies Janeway's direct orders, maybe brings a conflict with a new species, and violates the spirit of the Prime Directive (though he tries to squeeze through on a technicality). His actions, if successful, could have helped save the Moean civilization from collapse and total evacuation in a few years; would have helped Riga in particular; and could also have saved the various undersea life forms (like that sea monster they run into in the action sequence), but Tom doesn't seem particularly interested in any of those. The bottom line is he cares about that ocean, and wants to save it. He likes Riga but otherwise doesn't seem interested in the civilization he's saving (and whose rules he's breaking), so it's not that Tom is acting out of a patriarchal belief that he knows better than them what is good for *their society*; it's that he sees them as abusing a beloved property. There is precedent for people to put other moral concerns over duty and Starfleet responsibility, but has anyone else done so pretty much primarily out of passion for a non-living beautiful thing? The closest place Paris comes to his "cause" being about a person is his desire to preserve the ocean in part because it was a great feat of engineering by a long-extinct civilization, and I think that on this point, as well as with his burgeoning friendship with Riga, Paris seems to feel he has common cause with people because they share his passion for the ocean, and wants to defend their passion as his own.
It reminds me of some studies done with children, where they got them to play with dolls or tonka trucks or some such, and they described it as person-orientation versus thing-orientation. I think the study was had mostly to do with evaluating gender differences in interest, but that's less relevant to what I'm talking about here as that it occurs to me that Tom is *very* "thing"-oriented, and has especially been characterized that way in the past year or so. He preferred spending time fixing up an old car in the holodeck than with his girlfriend in Vis a Vis; his big passion project was the construction of the Delta Flyer; his Captain Proton hobby is full of excitement for gizmos and gadgets. He's like a Tim Taylor-from-Home Improvement type guy. But whereas Geordi La Forge's difficulty relating to people as opposed to machines or machine/humanoid hybrids (the Enterprise, the Leah hologram, Hugh, Data) was framed as something that frustrated him, Tom was even something of a lothario before, and is extraverted and social, but on some level his biggest passions don't quite get directed toward people but to things he's obsessed with. Hence the flashback with his father where his father chastises him for playing with toys.
Anyway I find this all interesting because it makes Tom's rebellion particularly weird in comparison to how most others would behave. The main equivalent off hand is Seven's religious experience for a molecule in The Omega Directive, but otherwise Tom's viewing a ball of water/engineering monument from a dead civilization as something worth risking his life and sacrificing Federation principles for is really unusual. It's also worth noting that while humans occasionally take big risks and do industrial sabotage or whatever to protect the planet/the oceans/etc., it's generally at least got the justification that the planet is a shared resource, that we need to save the oceans because we need to *have* the oceans. (Note: not getting into the morality of industrial sabotage, just drawing a contrast with Paris here.) But Tom doesn't expect to "have" that ocean world, but is planning on leaving. He just wants that ocean world to continue existing, on some level, like it matters to him that there exists some perfect place in the universe, and he doesn't think that the Moneans have a right to destroy it. The letter to his father which is supposed to explain himself to him may inadvertently widen the gap; would Admiral Paris, who seems to dedicate himself to Federation principles, be able to understand the degree of Tom's passionate attachment to a ball of water?
So I agree that the Moeans are mishandling their situation, letting bureaucracy and myopia blind them to the catastrophe just around the corner, but I don't agree that makes Tom "right," not just because the Prime Directive would indicate that the Moeans' being right or wrong is irrelevant anyway, but because that's not Tom's motivation. I mean, they aren't wholly irrelevant; I think it's important that while Tom is defying the wishes of the Moean government, he is not really intending to permanently harm their civilization, just defy their will. But while I think Riga can be reasonably seen as heroically trying to protect his people from themselves, Tom barely factors the Moeans into his calculations at all.
It makes me think that Tom's values in some way really have to do with the idea of beauty -- beautiful things, beautiful accomplishments (like breaking speed barriers, like great flying, like beautiful engineering displays) -- as a source of meaning in life, and that these put him so out of sync with those around him who have more traditionally Federation values where beauty of things is important but comes far below happiness and abstract knowledge and well-being, that he has a hard time having relationships beyond shallow ones. Tom's desire to be a hero in a Captain Proton-esque story and his ongoing interest in the 20th century all seem to be his attempts to figure out how he can be heroic when he's already failed his father's definition of a hero, and in some way he wants to have some idea of heroism that emphasizes gizmos and daring-do that both is something he could achieve and also is something that he grasps, rather than the more high-falutin' Picard-style 24th century Renaissance Man scientist-philosopher idea man or Sisko-style Emissary people-oriented community or the Admiral Paris-style duty-bound rule-enforcer leader roles (with Janeway being something of a combination) that seem to be the main actual ways to be heroic in the Federation standards, none of which are really something that Tom can either be or even fully understand. This all makes Tom a sort of tragic character, being gradually redeemed, in that as we see, he's capable of incredible passion for something beautiful and is willing to risk his life for it, but it's somewhat out of step with values that can actually make the Federation function.
I think that's why the suddenness of Tom's obsession with the ocean sort of rankles a lot of viewers, including me to an extent; the obsession has to be a major hobby that is sufficient for him to defy orders to protect, without really any other reason besides that he loves the ocean. It's still consistent with his character that he'd buck authority and be unable to rein himself in by others' principles when his own passion is activated, and that he's still working toward something rather than peaceful rebellion is character growth as mentioned. I mostly understand Tom's reaction, too, especially the feeling of helplessness at the idea of something beautiful that has lasted a hundred thousand years being depleted by short-sightedness, and Tom's idea that the Moeans may claim property rights but that it's unjust for them to strikes me as the kind of thing that may even be true, but is totally unsustainable for Voyager to take as a guiding principle, hence why he necessarily has to break Janeway's orders to get to it.
I like that when Tom tells Janeway about his love of the ocean, he mentions reading Verne over and over again, but he does not mention that his father used to read it to him (as he does later in his letter); Tom seems to instinctively delete any positive experiences with his father from his telling of it, the pain of his father's rejection runs so deep.
As far as Janeway's actions: I agree that Tom defied orders and that Janeway had to deal with it. And frankly, yeah, in some ways he got off easy. I don't think he could have been executed (as Peter implies), but he's shown himself to be untrustworthy and committed acts that could have led to war, albeit one Voyager could have won. There's really no place in the Voyager chain of command for his actions. And yet, solitary is supposed to be pretty bad psychologically for people, and beyond punishment I think it probably will make Paris just more unruly and harder to control, rather than the reverse, as well as do some damage to him. When he starts yelling at the Doctor that he's going crazy, I can't quite understand why the Doctor is so blase about it; what I know about him would suggest he *would* be concerned (and might defy Janeway's orders to treat him psychologically). So what's funny is that I think that the solitary confinement -- which even Suder, who got visits from Tuvok, didn't get -- is a bad idea, but in other respects the punishment is too light. In a real way, Tom shouldn't be allowed near sensitive systems where he can get access to other civilizations lest this incident repeats itself, and I feel as if Janeway should maybe have simply taken him off conn altogether and made him be a permanent nurse, which they probably need anyway. Janeway doesn't want to do that, so I think she uses the solitary confinement (and the pain this causes him) as power play so that she doesn't have to do the hard work of replacing him from his everyday duties but can force him to see who's boss.
A minor point, but I find the use of the captain's log in the middle of the flashbacks representing Tom's letter to his father kind of on the goofy side. It seems as if the episode should just have flashbacks from Tom's POV, really.
I think the episode does end up being a bit thin, though it got me thinking about what makes Tom tick, which is good. The ocean-love being strong enough to defy orders and commit crimes is a huge buy and one I don't think the episode sufficiently sells. But it's got some interesting elements. 2.5 stars.
Thu, Dec 28, 2017, 11:28am (UTC -5)
The Atlantic and Pacific combined total well over a billion cubic kilometers of water. The ocean world in this episode is only about 900 million cubic kilometers. So it's actually smaller.
Also the pressure at the center of the water planet would be about 500 atmospheres, not 60,000. The equivilant of being at a depth of about 5km on earth. The deepest part of the oceans here on earth have a pressure of about 1100 atmospheres.
500 atmospheres would certainly still cause the delta flyer to fill up with water almost instantly if it had a hull breach, if not be crushed.
But all that's not really very important. :)
It's an ok episode.
2 1/2 stars.
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 10:40am (UTC -5)
Except the usual getting pissed at Janeway's arbitrary regard for the Federation doctrine of non-interference. In this episode, Janeway must let the aliens destroy their own world, but an episode later, Janeway is putting the entire ship in danger to get involved in some other civilization's treatment of telepathic refugees.
Fri, Apr 20, 2018, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Apr 21, 2018, 11:49am (UTC -5)
I agree with what Jammers says here, but unfortunately we've had 4 seasons of Lt. One-Liner now. At this point, THAT is his character. So this sudden love of the ocean making him willing to disobey orders is a big character flip. Not as bad as if they made Harry or Neelix suddenly go rogue, because at least there is SOMETHING is Tom's backstory that foreshadows it.
I feel like these new character traits, ie Tom's love of all things oceanic, seem to be conjured up to serve one episode's plot, so it is hard to take seriously. Does it ever come up again in future episodes? At least his Hot Rod fetish, and Holodeck programming is consistent enough.
Wed, Jul 4, 2018, 8:28pm (UTC -5)
Not every episode we see Janeway really having to discipline a senior staff member -- I think this is one thing Mulgrew acts well doing. Paris explains himself -- he comes across as very passionate and not somebody who is just immature. So this was also a good scene. Paris has clearly grown and had an exemplary record with Voyager so this had to be pretty tough on Janeway.
Another cool thing was seeing the Voyager torpedo hit the one the Delta Flyer was shooting at the oxygen refineries -- was it meant to do this or meant to hit the DF? I thought Janeway was firing at the Delta Flyer.
There are some valid allegories to pollution and its effect on the ocean and diplomats trying to save their political careers instead of spending money to fix an environmental problem. There was a line early in the episode about how the ocean was created -- whether by the divine or naturally. Of course, the big reactor at the bottom of the ocean solves that issue -- some interesting sci-fi here.
The flashbacks also worked well -- little updates on Paris' solitary confinement like Harry telling him to write to his dad provided good breaks from the story that got him in trouble.
3 stars for "Thirty Days" -- was good to see how far Paris would go and how far Janeway would go to stop him. A good setup to test this aspect of her command and Paris' character to get back to what makes it tick. Something new and original here -- the underwater scenes were cool.
Tue, Jul 17, 2018, 6:35pm (UTC -5)
Get real man, he was doing it to save the planet but janeway condemmed them with no fucks given. But when it's janeway interfering with other cultures she goes "lol captain prerogative" can do whatever the fuck she wants. Krenim? Force her way through them. Borg? Help them create a new weapon to fight a war. Smuggling telepaths. The swarm? shoot them into submission. Trabe? ally with them to help them lure the kazon.
Mon, Oct 8, 2018, 11:01pm (UTC -5)
Mostly good stuff, the biggest flaw, IMO, was the inadequate reaction to Paris' insubordination - that was one wild stunt he pulled. How could he ever really be trusted again?
Mon, Dec 3, 2018, 8:36am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 30, 2019, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 2, 2019, 4:38pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Oct 3, 2019, 2:35am (UTC -5)
Harry Kim is probably the only worse character, so the fact that he and Tom are close friends just makes it all the more mundane. There is absolutely nothing endearing about either of these characters and I couldn't really care less if they lived or died. Tom never really evolves or matures as a character. His romantic status changes and he has a kid, but he himself is pretty much the same from day one.
Thu, Oct 3, 2019, 4:04am (UTC -5)
Friendly sort, aren't you?
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 5, 2020, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
Admiral Paris: “Welcome back, how did you...”
Admiral’s 2394 iPhone: (“You’ve got mail!”)
Wed, May 13, 2020, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
But once Voyager entered the Delta quadrant this circle was broken. Janeway didn't have to answer to admirals so she became all powerful on the ship and had to answer to NO ONE. This is made worse in that the crew doesn't have the ability to transfer to another assignment or practically disembark. They are totally imprisoned by Janeway's power.
The writers (except for Ron Moore) never questioned this. We should have seen the crew second guessing Janeway more...we should have seen some semblances of democracy and maybe even elections like what we saw on Battlestar. Maybe Janeway stays captain but there are citizen councils that decide important things like punishment and what missions to partake in.
Wed, May 13, 2020, 12:35pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 1, 2020, 12:47am (UTC -5)
Tue, Aug 11, 2020, 10:47pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Aug 13, 2020, 4:57am (UTC -5)
Exactly what I was going to say! I guess the writers had a brain fart and mixed up 0700 with 1900.
Fri, Aug 21, 2020, 11:47am (UTC -5)
#1: It's none of Voyager's or Starfleet's business what a species does with its own homestead. Does the U.F.P. have universal jurisdiction to interfere even where there's a genocide in progress, let alone environmental abuse, perpetrated by pre- or post-Warp species? (I genuinely don't know so would appreciate an answer from someone more clued-in. My understanding is that the Prime Directive is non-derogable.)
#2: Voyager's crewmen can't be going freelancing it according to their personal moral imperatives. Ignoring a direct order to release a tractor beam is one thing; ignoring an order to not tear-ass through another species' planet and destroying its important economic resource is quite another.
As for Tommy himself, he's almost as forgettable as Harry "Can't-Get-A-Lock-On-Anything-Ever" Kim, although more likable. I like Torres and him but his personal backstory and ever proceeding from it doesn't inspire me in the least.
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 7, 2021, 8:25am (UTC -5)
I'm on Janeway's side with this one Tom had no right and deserved to be dressed down ...wasn't what he did basically terrorism? I just wish she'd kept the same enery for The Doctor on several upcoming occasions.
Someone in this thread compared Janeway to Trump ...no words just wow.
Thu, May 20, 2021, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
Also ‘Eugene’ is obviously a reference to Gene Roddenberry who himself gave Wesley Crusher the middle name Eugene.
But no doubt you already know that.
Thu, Jun 3, 2021, 8:02am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 11, 2021, 10:40am (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 4, 2021, 9:48pm (UTC -5)
Paris induces Riga to undertake a terrorist attack on a state facility, furnishing the means to do so which Riga would not have had otherwise. The Delta Flyer is not Tom's personal hotrod, but he decided the rules were written differently for him , and that he could 'save the world'. It was noble in a way, but also dangerous, and let's face it, the plan basically was little more than a redux of the Captain Proton holodeck simulation seen at the start of the show.
Net effect of the stunt:
Another irreplaceable photon torpedo is expended to neutralize Riga's attack on the oxygen plant.
Paris is busted in rank and given 30 days in the brig for insubordination and for endangering his crew. It was a pretty light stretch all things considered. Janeway was great as she meted out discipline. Not sure that he's redeemable at this point.
Thu, Sep 9, 2021, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
I didn't find the plot as engaging; I simply couldn't shake it reminding me of SeaQuest DSV (I didn't particularly dislike SeaQuest, by the way, it was just not what I expected from a VOY episode and it threw me) - but I agree it was a decent enough Paris episode, and that it was a nice nod to see the Delaney sisters at long last.
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 4:00pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 1, 2021, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 25, 2021, 5:24am (UTC -5)
Thu, May 19, 2022, 10:58pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 13, 2022, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
I just couldn't buy Tom's motivations for a moment. Ridiculous.
I agree with the above that Tom Paris is just a really boring character. He's supposed to be some rebel but comes across as Ritchie Cunningham.
Thu, Apr 27, 2023, 1:43pm (UTC -5)
If I were Tom, I’d accept my punishment, because Janeway is technically right in this situation, but in the back of my mind I’d have some major resentment and doubt about Janeway as a leader. I imagine many of the maquis on board might feel the same.
I also thought it might be more interesting if Tom had balked at his punishment a bit on the basis that he sees the delta flyer as HIS ship. He designed it, he pushed for it, he led the way building it, it’s even custom fit for his captain proton fantasy. What if he didn’t view it as just another shuttle, but actually saw it as ostensibly belonging to him? Thus all he did was take his ship out to help an alien pal save his planet, none of the federation’s business thank you very much. At least this might go a ways to explain why Janeway came down so hard on Paris, when others, including herself, have done similar things.
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