Tom Paris is demoted to ensign and must spend thirty days in the brig after Voyager finds a vast inhabited ocean floating in space that is in danger of destruction.
The episode begins with Captain Janeway demoting Tom Paris to the rank of ensign and sentencing him to thirty days in the brig. There he begins dictating a letter to his father explaining why he has been sent to jail again. The story of his misadventure is interlaced with scenes over the course of his month-long confinement. Paris is doing push ups when Neelix suddenly enters. He jumps from 3 to 98 as soon as he notices. Neelix starts to make small talk about how Paris always exercises well while he is in jail. He then gives Paris his lunch. Paris is dismayed to find out that his lunch is Leola root stew. He informs Tom that the "warden", Captain Janeway, called for basic nutrition only.
As the story unfolds, we learn that Voyager has encountered a unique phenomenon, a planetoid whose entire surface is covered in ocean and inhabited by a species called the Moneans. The crew make contact with two representatives of the planet, Burkus and Riga, who explain that their lifestyle is based on harvesting oxygen from the ocean and living in contained underwater cities. Unfortunately, they also learn that the force keeping the ocean in place is weakening and that it may soon lose containment. Burkus explains to Janeway that the ocean lost seven percent of its volume last year alone. The ocean planet's residents do not have ships that can probe deep enough to determine the root of this containment problem. Fascinated with the planet due to his childhood fantasies of becoming a naval officer, Paris decides to take the Delta Flyer down to the depths to explore a possible solution.
Deep underneath the ocean's surface, Paris and the away team discover a hundred-thousand-year-old reactor, responsible for generating the containment field, which is somehow malfunctioning. However, they are forced to surface before fully downloading the information from the reactor due to a hull breach caused by a sea-dwelling predator. Seven of Nine informs the crew of the Delta Flyer that the animal is a giant electric eel.
Back on Voyager, the crew delves deeper into the mystery of the reactor problems, and ultimately determines that they are in fact caused by the Moneans' oxygen mining operations. Paris suggests to Burkus that some of these operations should be closed down to prevent containment loss that would result in evacuation, but he realizes that Burkus is a member of an inefficient bureaucracy that is not likely to take action.
Frustrated by this, he and Riga decide to return to the ocean in the Delta Flyer and attempt to shut down some of the oxygen mines using missiles. Once Captain Kathryn Janeway discovers that the shuttle is missing, she orders him to immediately return to Voyager and not meddle further in the affairs of this planet. Tom disobeys and fires the missiles anyway, but they are intercepted by torpedo fire from Voyager and the mission is a failure.
- "Captain's log, stardate 52179.4. After salvaging the Delta Flyer, we've resumed our course toward the Alpha Quadrant. I now have to turn my attention to a matter of discipline."
Paris returns to Voyager and is not received warmly by the Captain. She orders him to be confined to the brig and demotes him to the rank of ensign. At the conclusion of the episode, Paris is released, and makes sure to file the letter to his father away so that it can be delivered to him one day on Earth.
"Do the words "cruel and unusual" mean anything to her? I'm telling you, Neelix, the inmates are getting restless. She's going to have a full blown prison riot on her hands."
- - Paris
"It is in my nature to comply with the collective."
- - Seven of Nine
"I hereby reduce you to the rank of Ensign. And I sentence you to 30 days solitary confinement."
- - Janeway
- The working title for this episode was Down Deep
- After five years of references, the infamous Delaney sisters appear for the first time.
- Because of his actions in this episode, Tom Paris is reduced in rank to ensign.
- This is the second time in the Star Trek franchise that a main character is demoted in rank. The first occurred in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home when James T. Kirk was demoted from admiral to captain.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series. Trek nearly swept the category that year. Also nominated were VOY: "Dark Frontier", "Timeless" and DS9: "What You Leave Behind". "Dark Frontier" won.
Links and References
- Willie Garson as Riga
- Benjamin Livingston as Burkus
- Heidi Krämer as Megan Delaney and Demonica
- Alissa Krämer as Jenny Delaney and Malicia
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; brain probe; bread; brig; Captain Proton; Captains Courageous; consul; containment field; Culhane; deflector; Delta Flyer; depth charge; electric eel; Federation Naval Patrol; field reactor; Goodheart, Constance; gravimetric discharge; high school; immersive shielding; kinetic transfer system; leola root; mind control; Moby Dick; Monean; Monean Maritime Sovereignty; multiphasic energy; ocean; oxygen refinery; Paris, Owen; photon torpedo; pizza; Prime Directive; shock wave; structural integrity field; thermic discharge; Twin Mistresses of Evil, The; Verne, Jules; volt; Waters, The
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