Star Trek 563: Thirty Days

563. Thirty Days

FORMULA: The Ambergris Element + The Chute + Home Soil

WHY WE LIKE IT: The underwater environment. The Delaney Sisters.

WHY WE DON'T: Prime Directive blues.

REVIEW: Told as Tom's confession during 30 days of incarceration - though it breaks its own rules by sometimes going to other characters - Thirty Days will perhaps be best remembered for its gorgeous special effects. The ocean planet, its underwater city, all the marine action... It's very, very pretty. And an unusual environment, which we haven't nearly gotten enough of in Trek.

The story itself is more usual however. Thirty Days is an ecological fable about respecting the oceans, and a warning that Man can upset its balance and cause untold disaster. Scientists good, politicians bad. The sort of thing we see all the time. Perhaps we should count ourselves lucky that the center of the sphere didn't house its "true inhabitants"(TM).

Of course, the real focus is Tom Paris who remains unconvincing as the bad boy, and indeed, doesn't do anything here that's truly objectionable. Plus, he was goaded into it by his girlfriend! Bad boy indeed. At least there are consequences this time, and one could imagine a solitary cell with a revolving door on Voyager if one wanted to. The show is so wildly inconsistent on such things that it's doubtful such punishment is doled out with any regularity, but it's interesting to see it at least once. Gonna have to get used to thinking of Paris as an ensign, but as an ex-con, he probably shouldn't have gotten better from day 1.

And speaking of being inconsistent, the episode would be loads better if the writers actually understood the Prime Directive. You can't trot it out as a plot element and not know what it is. In Thirty Days, it's plainly wrong for Paris to shut down a refinery or two, but giving the aliens information and technology that will most likely change/save their culture seems fine. I remember the days when you couldn't help any more than you could harm, but the Moneans here get handed the same technology Janeway wouldn't give to the Kazon only just 4 years ago.

The episode does score extra points for a Captain Proton sequence starring the Delaney Sisters, twins mentioned throughout the first season, but never seen.

LESSON: Day 10 is when you crack.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: By all means, watch it for the Emmy-nominated effects. The story's a little limp, but the show looks so good, you hardly mind.

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