(written from a Production point of view)
En route to a scientific conference on Ledos, Chakotay and Seven's shuttle is driven out of control by a force field layer over a wilderness area. Meanwhile, Paris gets a speeding ticket in the Delta Flyer, and is sentenced to a three-day safety course.
Commander Chakotay and Seven of Nine are in a shuttle heading to a four-day conference on Ledos about warp field dynamics. Since they have some time before the beginning of the conference, Chakotay takes a scenic detour to admire the lush forests of the planet. When Seven objects that they may be late to the conference, Chakotay points out that warp field dynamics can be studied any day, but opportunities to enjoy natural beauty are rare. However, they suddenly detect an energy barrier right below them, and they start bouncing off it. They quickly lose engines. Seven of Nine reconfigures the phasers and punches a hole in the barrier, just in time for them to beam to the surface as the shuttle tumbles and breaks up.
In orbit of Ledos, Tom Paris is in the Delta Flyer II navigating orbital traffic when a controller notifies him of an infraction. He is ordered to shut off his engines, and to take the standard punishment. When he returns to USS Voyager, he finds out that the punishment is flight lessons. He considers this ridiculous, but Captain Kathryn Janeway says that local laws must be followed, much to Paris' dismay.
Seven and Chakotay find the wreckage of the shuttle and find it is unrecoverable. However, they also detect some humanoid life signs which are similar to those of Ledosians, but aren't Ledosian. When they examine the people, they are found to be primitives of pre-Bronze Age level. Chakotay's leg becomes infected, and he hides out of sight while Seven goes to recover more parts.
When she finds something useful, she contacts him. Unfortunately, he is surrounded by the primitives, amazed at the talking com badge, and can't answer. They smash it out of fear and take him with them. When she finds their camp, they are startled by her, but Chakotay says they are friendly. He suggests they get some rest, since this is shelter, after all.
On Voyager, Harry Kim, B'Elanna Torres, and Neelix are talking about beaming down to the planet for shore leave, and teasing Paris about his flying lesson. When the instructor, Kleg, beams up, Paris gets off on the wrong foot; they have to review safety procedures for four hours just to start, and Neelix, Torres, and Kim beam down to the surface.
Chakotay learns to communicate with the primitives. They use sign language to communicate, and trade him for one of his collar pips. Seven is unimpressed, but says she has found the shuttle's deflector, and can use salvaged components to create a tetryon-based signaling device. The commander suggests she have the natives guide her, but she wants to limit contact with them, and goes alone. Before long, she trips, and loses her tricorder down a hole. When she cannot recover it, she leaves it.
Chakotay receives a walking stick to support his weight, and finds that some of the natives are beginning to paint symbols on their foreheads like his.
When Seven gets stuck by a thunderstorm, a native girl (who has been following her) starts a fire using an exothermic reaction from rocks. Seven is appreciative, and goes to sleep.
On Voyager, Tom Paris fails to make any headway with his piloting lessons. Kleg first goes over the ship, finding safety violations in everything from access of the pilot's seat to the polarity thrusters they use. When Paris suggests he blame his mistake on the ship, not him, Kleg informs him that he researched the ship thoroughly, and finds it was Paris who was its chief designer.
When Seven of Nine awakens, the native leads her first to an oasis, where she stays for a while. Chakotay begins to worry about her, especially when some of the natives take shuttle debris as jewelry. He has them take him where she's going as well. Eventually, she does find the shuttle's deflector, with the native girl following her, and begins to work on it.
On Voyager, Tuvok informs Captain Janeway that Chakotay and Seven never showed up for the conference. Their scans show a wing floating in midair, resting on an energy barrier which required their Borg sensors to detect. They cannot scan below the barrier, so while Tuvok suggests they may have survived, there is no way to know.
The captain contacts the Ledosian ambassador, and he doesn't believe they survived. Even if they did, there is nothing they can do about the barrier. It was put up by aliens to protect an indigenous society, the Ventu, from the Ledosians in their past. He cannot see Voyager knocking down the barrier.
- "Captain's log, stardate 54827.7. Although the Ledosians are skeptical, they're allowing us to try to locate our people. Meanwhile, we've begun to analyze the shuttle fragment."
Torres finds burn marks consistent with tetryon flux, and Tuvok identifies the technology, as Seven did, in the Borg database. Based on the damage feedback from the phasers destroyed the shuttle, meaning they could have used that to cut through the barrier. If Voyager tried the same thing, the risk of breaking the ship apart would be the same.
As Seven assembles the transmitter, the native girl plays with some magnetic rocks. When the deflector fails, and Chakotay shows up to assist, Seven scans the area. There is a magnetic field which is preventing her from generating a deflector beam. She could generate one several kilometers away if the natives helped them move the 500 kilogram deflector, and also add a dampening field to get it through the barrier. Chakotay, having changed his mind, says no initially, but Seven assures him they can beam themselves (and all of the loose technology) off the planet once this is all over.
Paris has moved on to actually flying. He fails to get out of the test again, because Kleg insists that all of his students take the entire course.
The natives finish hauling the deflector, and while they are connecting it, Voyager attempts to penetrate the barrier with phasers. However, they begin to overload within seconds. As Tuvok is configuring a photon torpedo, Seven activates the deflector on the surface. The natives are fascinated, and the young girl reaches out to touch the ship, and is shocked unconscious. The captain is surprised to see the barrier go down, but opens a channel to Seven. She tells the captain to beam up Chakotay and down a medkit.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. Seven has remained on the surface to tend to the injured Ventu girl, while Chakotay's being treated in sickbay."
The Doctor is impressed that the pulp the Ventu used to treat Chakotay's leg has healed the fracture and the infection. Chakotay says that all of the shuttle debris should also be beamed aboard, and the captain agrees.
Seven of Nine says goodbye, and accepts a blanket from the girl as part of their customs. However, she encounters a Ledosian expedition, led by Barus. They intend to study and develop these people, now that the barrier has finally been lowered.
When she returns aboard, Chakotay says they should restore the barrier, but Seven isn't sure; she believes the Ledosians could help improve their potential, but doing so would also end their resourcefulness and unique way of life. The captain decides the barrier will have to be returned, if anything to recover their technology.
She tells this to the ambassador, but he doesn't like it. He says they have been waiting a long time. She cites the strict sharing of technology policy, and asks if an hour will be enough for an evacuation. The response of the government is to send a fighter to disable Voyager's transporters with a well-targeted shot. The ambassador calls it restrained, and tells the captain to leave orbit.
With transporters down, the captain calls upon Tom Paris, who is still taking his piloting lesson. She transmits encrypted orders, and he exhibits reckless behavior, which is necessary to carry them out. He rushes within transporter range of the surface, and beams up the expeditionary force, dodging an attack by the same Ledosian vessel. After being told by Kleg that he cannot pilot a vessel in Ledosian space again, his transporters are knocked out, and so he flies close to the surface, destroys the deflector, and rushes into orbit just before the barrier reinitializes.
Afterward, Seven worries to Chakotay that her modifications may be duplicated by the Ledosians someday. She also thanks him for their adventure, since warp mechanics can be studied any day.
"So you can execute a turn at less than three hundred kph. Well done, lieutenant."
- - Kleg about Tom Paris during a flying lesson
"Seven, are you all right?"
"I need your tricorder."
"Nice to see you, too."
- - Chakotay and Seven of Nine
"You don't see natural beauty like this everyday."
- - Chakotay
"They're impressive people."
- - Chakotay, on the Ventu
"You're getting very close to becoming an adequate pilot."
- - Kleg, to Tom Paris
"I'm sorry to inform you, Mister Paris, but you have failed this examination. You will no longer be allowed to operate a vessel within Ledosian space."
"Something tells me that's not going to be a problem."
- - Kleg and Tom Paris
"Well, if we have to be stranded somewhere, you couldn't ask for a better place."
"We wouldn't be stranded at all if you hadn't insisted on admiring the view!"
- - Chakotay and Seven
- In this episode Seven can shortly be seen sleeping outside a Borg alcove, the same applies to VOY: "Human Error".
- Neil Vipond previously played Darok in the I AM ERROR episode "Once More Unto the Breach".
- Ivar Brogger previously played Orum in the I AM ERROR episode "Unity". His costume from this episode was sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. 
- Three-time Star Trek guest actor Albie Selznick was responsible for the Ventu movements and received credit as "Ventu" Choreographer in the end credits.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 7.11, 24 December 2001
- As part of the VOY Season 7 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
- Paul Sandman as a Healer
- Autumn Reeser as a Girl
- Robert Curtis Brown as the Ledosian Ambassador
- Neil C. Vipond as Kleg
- Ivar Brogger as Barus
- Matt McKenzie as Port Authority Officer
- Brooke Benko as Transporter N.D.
- Majel Barrett as Computer Voice
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Marina Freeman as Ledosian scientist
- Dieter Hornemann as Ventu man
- Shauna Lewis as Ledosian scientist
- Tim McGrath as Ventu man
- Michael Moutsatsos as Ledosian scientist
- Stephen Pisani as operations division officer
- Unknown performers as
arboretum; assimilation; auxiliary power; Barus; beacon; blanket; Chell; Class 2 shuttle; dampening field; debris; Delta Flyer II; docking permit; distress signal; Earth; energy barrier; evolution; Flame Gardens; flight safety course; foliate; gesture; hairline fracture; impulse engine; kilometer; lateral sensor array; Ledos; Ledos Port Control; Ledosian; Ledosian patrol ship; logic; magnetism; medkit; navigational deflector; phaser; photon torpedo; pilot error; piloting violation 256; polarity thruster; poultice; relay; sensor analysis; shore leave; socks; Species 312; tetryon; tetryon-based signaling device; tricorder; Ventu; Ventu language; visual display system; warp field dynamics; weapons array
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