(written from a Production point of view)
A trip to "Planet Hell" proves therapeutic for Tom Paris and Neelix.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Memorable quotes
- 3 Background information
- 4 Links and references
Kes has started to train on operating a shuttle, and Tom Paris is instructing her in a shuttle simulation. It's going well, and Kes is jokingly berating Paris for putting her through a scenario involving clogged plasma injectors, calling his training challenge a 'dirty trick.' During their discussion, though, another problem in the scenario causes the simulated shuttle to throw Kes off her feet and right into Paris' arms. Paris hesitates before releasing her, creating a brief awkward moment. However, they leave the simulation joking and laughing, while Neelix is revealed to be hiding around a corner from the holodeck, watching the pair depart.
Meanwhile, Chakotay reports to Captain Janeway in her ready room that there is a Class M planet a day away. It shows high amino acid and protein readings, indicating a healthy plant life that can replenish their decreasing reserves, however, a long range sensor scan can't confirm plant life due to EM interference. Without any other probable prospects to help their growing food crisis, Janeway decides to take the risk and go "Planet Hell," the nickname given by stellar cartography.
After the shuttle simulation, Paris goes to Harry Kim's quarters, interrupting Kim's clarinet practice. Encouraging him to keep playing, Paris tries to hang out, but Kim sees something is wrong. Paris confides that he has fallen in love with Kes, to the shock of Kim, who cautions him that he needs to tread lightly.
Meanwhile, Kes is shown having a romantic, candle light dinner with Neelix. As she recounts the shuttle simulation earlier in the day, Neelix becomes more and more agitated. Despite efforts to hide his jealousy, Neelix's bad mood is picked up on by Kes and the dinner become tense.
The USS Voyager arrives at the planet, and it's confirmed that it can support humanoid life. The Doctor calls in, having eavesdropped on the communication between Janeway and Chakotay on the bridge. After berating them for not including their Chief medical officer in their conversations, he proactively says he has a dermal osmotic sealant that will help with the skin irritation caused by the trigemic vapor they are detecting. Janeway thanks him, but asks him not to eavesdrop any more. After she cuts his protest off, B'Elanna Torres says they won't be able to transport to the surface, so they'll need to take a shuttle down.
Paris and Kim arrive in the mess hall. Paris was hoping to avoid Kes but, unfortunately, she is there, eating alone. Under the pretense of discussing bridge subjects, they sit by themselves, but Kim is soon called away. Paris stays where he is, but Kes knows what's happening and leaves. Then, Neelix confronts Paris and they get in a brawl, during which Paris' and Kim's Alfarian hair pastas end up on himself and Neelix. Janeway then calls both of them to her ready room, forcing them to display the hair pasta stains to her. She informs them they'll be flying down to retrieve food sources. Paris suggests Ensign Baytart, but Janeway disagrees and simply says whatever their conflict is they need to work it out.
During a senior staff meeting in the briefing room, Torres says she has no more luck with the transporter, and Kim says there may be windows in the EM disturbances to beam supplies, but they are not very predictable at the moment. Paris and Neelix are uncomfortable and it shows to Kes as they leave. Paris completely ignores her, and Neelix won't discuss it until after he gets back.
Kes goes back to sickbay frustrated, and noticeably so to The Doctor. His programming forces him to ask about it, and Kes eventually explains what happened. The Doctor notes to her Paris' obvious affection toward her, something she assumed was platonic. Kes isn't sure what to do, as at home these situations never occurred. He recommends she may not be able to do anything.
Paris and Neelix reluctantly start their mission, and the tension is palpable and thinly-veiled. Soon, it drops as the EM interference causes the shuttle to go down. Tuvok sees the shuttle has entered a deep descent, and Janeway now knows the shuttle is in trouble. It's up to Torres to work out the transporter issues.
The shuttle has crashed on the surface, but Paris and Neelix survived with no discernable injuries. Paris knows that Voyager is trying to find them, but it may take days for a rescue team to arrive. The high levels of trigemic vapors cause Paris and Neelix to search for food and a cave in which to shelter, all the while continuing to argue. After sealing themselves in, they heat up some rocks with a phaser and Neelix proceeds to bicker some more when they hear noises.
Orbiting around the planet, the crew attempts to search for the crashed shuttle, but are attacked by an alien ship. The ship positions itself between the planet and Voyager, apparently protecting something.
Torres suggests they take the Voyager through the next opening in the EM interference so as to get a better transporter lock on Paris and Neelix. Kim is left to get a better prediction of that window while Janeway tasks Tuvok with getting around the alien ship. Tuvok proposes taking advantage of a slight phase retraction in their shield configuration with a covariant phaser pulse, disabling their weapons systems with minimal damage to the ship. Janeway agrees and sets the crew in motion.
Neelix and Paris discover that the species is sentient, and Paris intends to leave before its mother comes. Neelix insists they are now responsible for its care, as they have probably cut it off from its mother. The baby needs food, and it is getting weaker. Paris eventually relents, and they observe the infant. It's shivering, so Neelix picks it up in his jacket. After rejecting the field rations, they find out that the vapors contain the nutrients the infant needs. They'll need to go outside.
Meanwhile, Voyager disables the weapons of the alien ship, and descends into the planet's atmosphere. The other ship follows.
Paris and Neelix take the infant outside, but it's seemingly too weak to take in enough vapor. Neelix panics and insists they use the cordrazine in their bag, but Paris disagrees, not knowing its body chemistry. He then gets the idea to fill the hypospray with the vapor, concentrating it. He applies it directly to its mouth, and it finally recovers. The two congratulate each other, and Neelix starts to apologize to Paris, admitting he hears other crewmembers talking about Paris and it influenced his behavior. Paris admits he is attracted to Kes, but respects Neelix enough to stay away and, further, he wants a better reputation for himself, and wants to change. The two become cordial now, and soon after, Paris is able to contact the ship.
Janeway wants to immediately beam them out, but Neelix insists they wait until they're sure the infant is all right. They detect an adult of the species coming close, and Paris and Neelix plead to wait the maximum amount of time in case the adult rejects the baby. She agrees to wait a minute, and, sure enough, they see the adult arrive and accept the baby. With a loud roar of protest at their presence, Paris calls for the beam-out.
When Neelix and Paris are beamed back aboard Voyager, they are greeted by Kes. She is both relieved to find them alive and shocked to find that Neelix and Paris have apparently resolved their fight over her. Furthermore, Neelix leads the pair to the mess hall in order to open a bottle of Potak cold fowl that he had been saving for a special occasion.
"We lost communication with Voyager thirty seconds ago. You don't have to impress me with your technobabble."
- - Neelix, to Paris
"Captain, I don't know what we'll find when we get to the surface, flora or fauna, friend or foe."
- - Chakotay
"Set a course for Planet Hell, Commander."
- - Janeway, to Chakotay
"Clogging someone's plasma injectors is a dirty trick!"
"Ah, yes well, I'm famous for my dirty tricks, you know?"
- - Kes and Tom Paris
"Oh, a guy just can't win…"
- - Tom Paris
"You subclass genus!"
"I beg your pardon?"
- - Neelix and Tom Paris
"I'm going to kill you!"
"Too late! I'm betting your hair pasta already did the trick!"
- - Neelix and Tom Paris
"Oh Harry, I'm in trouble."
"I think I'm in love."
- - Tom Paris and Harry Kim
- - Paris, to Kim indicating Kim's clarinet
"Play something different."
- - Paris, to Kim after he plays a melody from the first movement of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A Major, KV622.
"You should consider it a high compliment. Throughout history, men have fought over the love of a woman. Why, I can quote you autopsy reports from duels as far back as 1538."
"That's not funny."
"It's not meant to be. You've always been interested in autopsies."
- - The Doctor and Kes
"Are all Talaxians so jealous?"
"I wouldn't know. I've only met one."
- - Kes and The Doctor, regarding Neelix's jealousy
"I'd say it's becoming more and more evident we chose the wrong cave."
- - Neelix, to Tom Paris after spotting footprints
"On my homeworld, it's so much simpler. You choose a mate for life; there's no distrust, no jealousy, no envy, no betrayal…"
"Hm. Your homeworld must have very dry literature."
- - Kes and The Doctor
"There is an old Chinese expression: 'Stay out of harm's way'."
"That's not a Chinese expression."
"If it works, use it."
- - Kim and Paris
"The moment we came in here, it became our responsibility."
"And you expect to take care of this thing until what? It graduates from high school? College?"
- - Neelix and Paris
"You know, if you skip lunch, the result might be a lower blood sugar level, which could… I'm sorry. It's in my program. I see something wrong, I must attempt to diagnose it."
- - The Doctor
- - The Doctor
"Lock onto us Voyager. If you hear muffled screams, consider that a request for a beam-out.'"
- - Paris
Script, story, and title
- This episode's stardate is not mentioned in the episode's final version but is established in the episode's shooting script. (Star Trek: Voyager Companion (p. 69))
- This episode was partly written as an attempt to remedy the fact that Voyager's producers felt the character of Tom Paris had been underused in the first season. (Star Trek Monthly issue 6; Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 91)
- The episode's script was also motivated by concerns that executive producer Michael Piller had about Neelix, because Piller feared that the character was becoming too comical and the writers wanted to deal with his jealousy and possessiveness towards Kes, qualities that Piller thought were becoming irritating. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) In addition, the writers wanted to put an end to unfriendly tension between Neelix and Paris, regarding Kes. Executive producer Jeri Taylor explained, "We wanted to resolve what had been a lingering bitterness between Paris and Neelix. It just becomes unattractive to have Neelix continually responding in that way and we didn't want to perpetuate it. What is Kes going to say after a while? Stop being such an asshole? No. So we wanted to create the feeling of a family, not a lot of people with resentments. So we were looking for a way for Paris and Neelix to resolve their differences and this plot worked out very nicely." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 84)
- This episode's plot follows a template previously used in numerous films. Jeri Taylor remarked, "It's a classic formula–Three Men and a Baby [for example]." In fact, the formula dates back to the Western movie 3 Godfathers. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 84)
- Despite bearing the writing credit of Tom Szollosi alone, this episode was the subject of an uncredited rewrite by Michael Piller. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 88)
- The Voyager crew's nickname for the planet in this episode is an inside joke, as "Planet Hell" is the unofficial name used by Star Trek production staff for their generic and oft-reused cave set on Paramount Stage 16, a naming tradition that originally began during production on Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Star Trek: Voyager Companion (p. 71))
- The episode's final draft script was submitted on 24 July 1995. 
- The installment had the working titles "Fog" and "Echolocation".  The term ultimately used as the episode's title, "parturition," is defined as 'The act of giving birth.' (Star Trek Monthly issue 9, p. 10)
Cast and characters
- The episode facilitated an uncommon collaboration between Paris actor Robert Duncan McNeill and Neelix actor Ethan Phillips. After working on the episode, director Jonathan Frakes recalled, "[It] was primarily with Ethan Phillips and Robert Duncan McNeill, who […] ended up having great chemistry. They very rarely got to work together on the show before this episode so they loved it. They came together wonderfully." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 105, p. 50) McNeill himself explained, "Ethan Phillips and I really get along well outside the show, so when we did the episode 'Parturition', it was really nice to get an opportunity to play around for a whole episode together." (Star Trek Monthly issue 20) He also noted, "Ethan Phillips and I laughed all day." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 11) Phillips commented, "It was nice to work with Robbie, because I get along with him really well, and we had some good, funny times." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 106) In addition, Phillips remarked, "It was cool to work with Robby in 'Parturition'. We don't normally get to spend that much time working together so it was really good fun." A scene that Phillips particularly enjoyed performing with McNeill involved the hair pasta. He noted, "Frankly it was fun to throw that pasta on Robby in a jealous rage." (Star Trek Monthly issue 20)
- Both Robert Duncan McNeill and Ethan Phillips thoroughly enjoyed this episode in general. Speaking midway through Voyager's third season, McNeill declared of this installment, "That's my favorite episode so far. I loved that one. It was a perfect combination of really good character development combined with some jeopardy and a little bit of action." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 11) During the fourth season, McNeill stated that the episode "was […] a lot of fun." (Star Trek Monthly issue 37, p. 44) Ethan Phillips agreed, "I think it was a really good show." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 107)
- The storyline involving a development of romantic feelings between Paris and Kes did not win the approval of Robert Duncan McNeill, so he was grateful that it is brought to an end here. McNeill admitted, "I never thought the Kes thing was right. It made Paris look really bad, flirting with Kes. Luckily,  they really cleared it up and dropped it so Neelix and Paris could become the odd couple." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 11) McNeill also felt that his character of Paris allowed himself to become somewhat vulnerable here. The actor related, "I think Paris let his guard down quite a bit in that one." (Star Trek Monthly issue 37, p. 44)
- This was the second of three episodes of Star Trek: Voyager to be directed by Jonathan Frakes, the other episodes being "Projections" and "Prototype". Frakes would also appear briefly as Riker in "Death Wish". Both Robert Duncan McNeill and Ethan Phillips enjoyed collaborating with Frakes on this episode. McNeill said, "Jonathan Frakes was a blast to work with on that one." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 11) Likewise, Ethan Phillips related that, while working on this installment, he found Frakes to be extremely funny but also very efficient and made working conditions seem casual. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 106)
- The infant reptohumanoid in this episode was a cable-operated puppet. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 84) Moments after describing the puppet as "that 'rubber chicken,'" Ethan Phillips commented, "It took six guys to operate that chicken. Six guys and two girls, they were an eight-man team. There were all kinds of wires and levers and prods. It was very complicated but it was very realistic." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 107)
- Although his Talaxian makeup made Ethan Phillips feel particularly uncomfortable, he was relieved that the production period was generally informal fun. "It was kind of goofy down there with that [baby reptile puppet], and we had quite a few jokes with that," Phillips recalled. "There was a lot of smoke on the set. When you have the smoke you can't have the air conditioning. So I was not only hotter than normal, everything was more irritating than normal, for like seven days. But Jonathan [Frakes] was just so great that I didn't notice it as much as I normally might." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, pp. 106-107)
- A scene in which Janeway, Chakotay, Torres and Kim are at Kim's ops station, planning a way to get through electromagnetic disturbance in the atmosphere of this episode's planet, was one of many for which video coordinator Denise Okuda had to decide what displays would play on the bridge's monitors. She also had to keep track of the graphics, including each animation's placement on the bridge set. To help her with the latter task, she had a typical breakdown sheet for the scene. Okuda remarked, "In scene #46 [i.e., the aforementioned scene], I have to know what's going on. Is the Bridge on Red Alert, or in Normal Condition? What would be appropriate for a particular character's monitor?" (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 8, pp. 43-44)
- This episode was filmed in its entirety by the time the earlier-produced "Projections," which aired four weeks before this episode, was first broadcast. (Star Trek Monthly issue 8)
- The holographic wormhole that Tom Paris and Kes fly through in the holodeck shuttle simulation is a re-use of the interior of the Harry Kim wormhole from VOY: "Eye of the Needle".
- The ships featured in the holodeck simulation are Jem'Hadar attack ships from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In fact, the footage seen is from the DS9 Season 3 premiere "The Search, Part I". This episode marks the only appearance of Dominion ships on Star Trek: Voyager as well as their only appearance outside of Deep Space Nine.
Continuity and miscellaneous trivia
- Voyager loses a third shuttle in this episode, having previously lost one in "Initiations" and one in "Non Sequitur".
- Captain Janeway wears her hair more along the lines of her style from seasons four through seven in this episode as opposed to her traditional season one and two "bun."
- This is the first time that wet food was spilled on the costumes. Prior to this, only dry food was allowed to spill on the uniforms (as washing the costumes took a lot of time and money).
- This episode contains at least two lines of dialogue that appear in other sci-fi productions. When Tuvok suggests a plan to combat the alien ship, he adds, "But, of course, I cannot guarantee its success," which is exactly what Spock says of his own plan to find humpback whales in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. In addition, when the alien hatchling won't feed, Paris says, "Come on, kid, ya gotta eat," a line spoken to another fussy reptilian infant in the film Enemy Mine.
- This episode marks one of two occurrences where the word "Technobabble" is used in dialog. Specifically in the scene where Paris and Neelix are on-board the shuttle to Planet Hell. The other being DS9: "Q-Less".
- This episode serves as a turning point in Neelix's possessiveness towards Kes, a quality in their relationship that can be seen in such previous episodes as "Phage", "Elogium" and "Twisted". Before working on this episode, Kes actress Jennifer Lien commented, "I think Kes and Neelix still need to explore some issues of trust. I think Neelix's jealousy is getting to be minimal because the character is learning. They've grown in this relationship. When it becomes too obsessive, it becomes scary, and I don't think that's what the character of Neelix is about." (Sci-Fi Universe, September 1996 ed.; Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) Following production on Voyager's second season, Ethan Phillips said of the writers, "This past year they have played up the jealousy aspect, but by the end of 'Parturition' I think Neelix basically said good-bye to that part of his character, and I don't think the writers are going to pick up on that so much anymore." (Star Trek Monthly issue 21) Phillips further explained, "I think they've started to play that down. I think they've explored that as much as they've wanted to. Sometimes people liked it and sometimes it made for some tedious drama." (Star Trek Monthly issue 20)
- This episode also involves an end to hostilities between Neelix and Paris, the former having previously been suspicious of the latter's encounters with Kes in each of the three aforementioned episodes. Remarking on the nature of the relationship between Neelix and Paris before this episode and how it changed here, Ethan Phillips stated, "First they had that incredible clashing over Kes and the jealousy thing which I think, while at the time it was not particularly pleasing to watch, it was a nice motivation for what happened in 'Parturition'–a nice build-up to that. Even though it hasn't been explored a whole lot since 'Parturition,' I think that that stays with the fans and informs everything that's happened between Tom and Neelix since then. Which has been nothing but mutual admiration and friendship." (Star Trek: Voyager Companion (p. 250))
Reception and aftermath
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 5.6 million homes, and a 9% share. Star Trek Monthly issue 11, p. 14) The installment also achieved an NTI (National Television Index) rating of 8.2. (
- In a review of this episode published in the lead-up to its release on VHS, Star Trek Magazine reviewer Stuart Clark rated the installment 2 out of 5 stars, defined as "Impulse Power only", but commented that Robert Duncan McNeill and Ethan Phillips "interact well and convincingly." (Star Trek Monthly issue 13, p. 50)
- Cinefantastique gave the installment 2 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 83)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 75) scored the episode 4 out of 10.
- Ethan Phillips enjoyed throwing pasta on Robert Duncan McNeill here to such a degree that Phillips hoped for a similar scene in the future. Shortly after beginning work on the third season, Phillips speculated, "Maybe I'll get to throw something else on him this season!" (Star Trek Monthly issue 20)
Video and DVD releases
- CIC Video released the four season 1 "hold-over" episodes in their production order, as part of the first season release. This is the third episode in the second season release. From this point, releases follow the normal broadcast order.
- As part of the VOY Season 2 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Biggs-Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Jennifer Lien as Kes
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
- John Copage as Voyager sciences officer
- Sue Henley as Brooks
- Louis Ortiz as Culhane
- Richard Sarstedt as William McKenzie
- Allan Shaw as Reptohumanoid officer
- John Tampoya as Kashimuro Nozawa
1538; 2369; ability; aft; aftershave; Alfarian; Alfarian hair pasta; Alpha Quadrant; amino acid; analysis; autopsy report; Baytart, Pablo; black pepper; brain; bridge operations; cave; Chinese; clarinet; Clarinet Concerto; class M; cold-blooded; computer simulation; cordrazine; covariant phaser pulse; creature; data analysis; Delta Quadrant; dermal osmotic sealant; deuterium flow; driver coil; duel; dunghill bird; driver coil; Earth; electromagnetic disturbance; emergency medical holographic channel; epidermis; evasive maneuvers (aka evasive action); expression; eye dropper; fall; family reunion; Felaran rose; field coil; flight instructor; flight record; flush; garnesite; genus; glandular secretion; godmother; "good afternoon"; hair follicle; Hatchling; hatching; high school; holodeck; humanoid; hypoglycemia; inertial dampers; itch; jacket; Jem'Hadar fighter (hologram); junk dealer; kilometer; Kim, Mary; leola root broth; lime; mess hall; Milky Way Galaxy; Molière comedy; Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus; nest; niece; Ocampa; Ocampa (planet); orange; Palliantyne pea; Paris, Owen; pattern; phase retraction; Planetary Geosciences Division; photon torpedoes; pilot; "Planet Hell"; plant; plasma injector; playing favorites; Potak III; Potak cold fowl; protein; pupil; quote; ram; red alert; replicator ration; reptilian species; Reptohumanoid; Reptohumanoid vessel; result; search and rescue operation; sentient (sentient lifeform); shedding season; skeletal system; Starfleet; Starfleet Academy; Talaxian; Tanzian flu; technobabble; transport; transporter; transporter range; trigemic density; trigemic vapor; turbolift; Type 8 shuttlecraft (unnamed, hologram); uncle; weapon systems; welt; west
- Duty Roster – Planetary Geosciences Division: Bernard, Alan; Bernard, David; Bosché, Mary Ellen; Braga, Brannon; Brownfield, Dick; Chamberlin, Mandy; Chess, Joe; Chronister, Richard; Conley, Tom; Dean, Doug; Fleck, Jerry; Fukai, Arlene; Genovese, Cosmo; Gocke, Bill; Jacobson, Phil; Johnson, Ralph; Kunz, Carol; Longo, Joe; McKnight, Scott; Mees, Jim; Moore, Tom; Nesterowicz, John; Peets, Bill; Russo, Charles; Ramirez, Maricella; Rowe, Rick; Sepulveda, Fernando; Sims, Alan; Simmons, Adele; Smothers, Waverly; Sordal, Bob; Stimson, Mark; Stradling, Michael; Thompson, Kim; Thoms, Bill; Thorpe, Jim; Vescio, Elaina; Ward, Lazard; Wiltz, Murphy; Wright, Edmond; Yacobian, Brad
- "Parturition" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Parturition" at Wikipedia
- "Parturition" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
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