Voyager takes on a crew of death-row prisoners that are being sent to their executions. Along the way, one of the prisoners named Iko suffers a head injury from one of the guards, and the Doctor uses Seven of Nine's nanoprobes to heal Iko's injury. However, it also causes him to develop a conscience for the crime he has committed and gains the sympathy of Seven as she and Captain Janeway help petition for the stay of his execution.
This episode provides examples of
- Bastard In Sheep's Clothing: Joleg plays the part of the innocent man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and convicted on circumstantial evidence. He then arranges for his brother to attack Voyager and tries to kill warden Yediq.
- Death Row: The inmates on the prison transport.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Benkarans, who make up 80% of the Nygean prison population, serve as a stand-in for African-Americans within the US prison system.
- Fake Defector: During the prison riot, Iko pretends to take the prisoners' side and demands to be the one to kill Yeddiq for the earlier beating. It's a ruse so that he can give Yeddiq a phaser to subdue the others.
- HeelFace Door-Slam: The repentant prisoner Iko is ultimately denied a stay of execution.
- Immune To Phasers: The Doctor shows off this feature when a phaser shot passes through him to strike at Iko.
- Karma Houdini: Seven of Nine says that it's unfair that one man had to pay for the price of killing another man with his life, while she herself goes without punishment after destroying thousands of lives through Borg assimilation. Captain Janeway tells Seven that losing twenty years of her life to the Borg is enough punishment for her.
- My God, What Have I Done?: When Iko's injuries are treated with Seven's nanoprobes, they inadvertently correct a congenital defect in his brain that had made him a sociopath. As a result, he suddenly feels overwhelming guilt over the crimes he committed.
- No Holds Barred Beat Down: Yediq and his goons deliver one to Iko after he obliquely threatens Yediq's children. Leads to a What the Hell, Hero? from Janeway.
- Playing Sick: Joleg tries to do this after the failed prison break, but it doesn't work.
- Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You: Thanks to his newly-awakened conscience, Iko believes that he deserves to die for his crimes. During his appeal to the family of his victim, he admits that he can accept his own death if that's what they want. When he learns that his execution stands, he calmly accepts it.
- Prison Episode: An odd case in that Voyager itself is converted into a prison.
- Shoot the Hostage: Since the Doctor is a hologram, this doesn't hurt him, but it does slightly mess with his holo-matrix.
- The Sociopath: Joleg is outwardly friendly and sympathetic — and turns Neelix into an Unwitting Pawn to orchestrate a prison break and put Voyager in danger.
- These Hands Have Killed: A time-delayed variant, but...Iko: You say I've changed, but I look at these hands every day and I see them squeezing that man's throat and I hear the sounds he made. I'm disgusting.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Iko, thanks to Seven's nanoprobes. He demonstrates this by giving his uneaten meal to another prisoner after he has been healed.
- You Have to Believe Me!: Said by Joleg when he tries to convince Neelix that he had nothing to do with his brother's attack on Voyager. Neelix doesn't buy it for a second.