Within the context of a mindset that elevated the baby's safety above all other considerations, Ree's choices were quite logical. True, as Deanna pointed out, by creating a hostage situation, Ree did generate a degree of risk, and that was where his judgment became questionable. But in his state of mind, he convinced himself that the risk was minimal, certainly in comparison to that of being on a starship on the verge of destruction.
My key point, Chris, is not whether or not his species's protective instincts are normally a good thing. It's that the analysis of how responsible he is for his actions and his state of mind is a critical step that should not be glossed over. You cited examples of people being externally influenced-- but many of those involve outright possession or mental control to a degree that was was not the case here. Ree made his own decisions, based on his instincts, driven by empathic influence... but his own decisions. During the incident he even verbally asserted his own rationality.
As for it being a massive Prime Directive violation, I stand by that statement. The Prime Directive has gray areas, and certainly room for debate in situations such as Droplet. However, I can't see any room for debate or shades of gray in a situation where a member of Starfleet lands on a PD-protected world, threatens members of that species, holds them hostage, and creates a public incident.I don't think the degree of violation Person A commits should be judged on how well Person B managed to clean it up. The fact that Tuvok and his team had to take action to clean up the mess is what damns Ree in this case, and the fact that they succeeded does not exonerate him.
I don't "have it in" for Ree. Frankly, he's been a favorite for me for the whole Titan series. But what happened here is quite a bombshell, and the underlying sense one gets here is that there isn't going to be any fallout from it, that all is forgiven... and that's something I've got a problem with.