A Tom Paris >= Nicholas Locarno Query

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Voyager' started by FuBi0, Sep 5, 2010.

  1. FuBi0

    FuBi0 Ensign Newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2010
    We know that Tom Paris' character was based on Nick Locarno from TNG but that it wasn't intended to be the same character. However, I've been re-watching Voyager recently and came to the episode "Drive"(s07e03) in which Tom Paris remarks that nursery rhymes of sorts got him through the academy, to which B'Elanna Torres responds DIRECTLY "You were expelled".

    Now, from all I've gathered researching Tom Paris' history as well as all the information presented in the episodes, Tom graduated and was posted on the USS Exeter. So my question is when/where was Tom expelled from the Academy? If he was then how was he stationed on the Exeter and later Caldik Prime where the purported incident that got him expelled from Starfleet took place? At that time he would had to have been a graduate of Starfleet Academy. Furthermore it's mentioned that he spent four years at the Academy before he graduated which is the supposed minimum, which doesn't allow for the time of an expulsion period and reinstatement.

    I've tried to rationalize this but the most I can come up with is some merging of Tom Paris and Nick Locarno by the writers at some point. In the premier episode "Caretaker" it's established that the name, incident, timing, and body counts do not match but the only way I can see this expulsion from Starfleet Academy plausible is if at some point they decided in essence that Tom was Nick, who WAS expelled from the Academy. If true, this would make the information presented in "Caretaker" faulty.

    I'm thinking that maybe my Trek knowledge isn't that great and I'm missing something or otherwise something went completely unmentioned. So could someone maybe enlighten me on this?
     
  2. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Location:
    A type 13 planet in its final stage
    I don't have specifics of episodes memorized so I can't really help, except to say the only reason Tom Paris isn't Nick Locarno is to avoid paying royalties to the writer of "The First Duty" for every single episode. I always assumed they were meant to be the same person in a vague don't-look-too-closely, don't-overthink-it kind of way. IIRC Voyager didn't have the greatest internal consistancy for the characters they created themselves, either - is Chakotay vegetarian?
     
  3. Cepstrum

    Cepstrum Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2010
    Location:
    State of Oregon, USA
    Tom Paris > Nick Locarno

    evaluates as "true".



    Seriously, though: it was more than the royalties thing. Nick was much more villianous. Tom reported the crash to be his fault. He was discharged and, because he loved flying and wanted to succeed at something, offered to fly for the Maquis. He did not want to rebel against the UFP really. He was quickly caught, jailed, and became a "model prisoner".

    He had a bit of a loner/rebel streak in him after that; I believe it was a manifestion of clinical depression. He felt so embarrassed for not living up to the Paris name and failing at everything. Once he got a chance to be the conn officer on Voyager, he became a well-liked, loyal, friendly, daring guy. In the beginning he even saved Chakotay's life, despite the fact that Chakotay hated him.

    And at the beginning, Paris was disliked by everyone — Starfleet and Maquis — simply by reputation (except for Harry, who he tried to protect at Quark's).

    He went on to become quite mature, helping Tuvok and Janeway unmask Jonas by acting artificially rudely/surly (on their orders), saved Voyager, went on many near-suicide missions (such as retrieving Seven in Dark Frontier), matured to the point of becoming a husband and father (to the difficult to hoodwink B'Elanna, no less), and became a principled — if misguided — activist by helping the Moneans and willingly serving his sentence in the brig.

    I don't see Nick doing anything but looking out for himself. I think the creators thought Nick was beyond redemption: he got his subordinates to perform an illegal flight pattern, which killed a guy, then he lied about it, telling everyone it was the hapless dead guy's own fault. And he tried to coerce others into lying. Those are big, bad, crimes: disobeying regulations, ordering your subordinates to do so, manslaughter, perjury, obstruction of justice, slander, and attempting to order others to commit perjury. Tom was not like that.


    And the thing about him being "expelled": that was just a writing goof. *All* other accounts indicate he graduated, majoring in astrophysics. He was made a field medic on Voyager because he took an entire year of — optional — biochemistry. Janeway wouldn't — and couldn't — have gotten Nick released from prison, let alone on a Starfleet vessel. And she never would've promoted him to lieutenant jg.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2010
  4. Analog Kid

    Analog Kid Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Location:
    North of England
    I always thought they could have altered Tom's backhistory more. It seems like they essentially wanted Nick Locarno, just without the irredeemability factor. As he was, it was very easy to confuse the two which is possibly what the writer of Drive did and it just wasn't picked up.
     
  5. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Location:
    The visitor's bullpen
    I think RDM said once that while Tom may seem, on the outside, like a jerk, inside he's really a nice person. Locarno is the opposite: He appears charming and likeable, but is really a slime.
     
  6. Cepstrum

    Cepstrum Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2010
    Location:
    State of Oregon, USA
    Another possible explanation is that the writer confused being expelled from the Academy (which he wasn't) with being discharged from Starfleet (which he was).

    You don't get expelled from Starfleet.


    And the creators have said they wanted Tom to be better than Nick, for they realized Nick *was* not redeemable. They just wanted a character with a similar background.
     
  7. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2000
    Location:
    In the lap of squalor I assure you.
    There's no such thing as a writing goofs in Star Trek Cepstrum, because just like Christians with that book of theirs, we have to reconcile impossible and conflicting facts into a linear and coherent story which is incontestably the truth.

    That's a pretty cool find FuBiO.

    Tom is considerably older than Harry, a sap who couldn't get to Lieutenant in about the same time Tom got there THREE TIMES!
     
  8. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Location:
    The visitor's bullpen
    How do we know that? I wasn't aware that either of them had any references to their ages in an episode.
     
  9. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2000
    Location:
    In the lap of squalor I assure you.
    My encyclopaedia says harry was born in 2349, same as Wesley.

    In the beginning, Tom treats Harry like a child, but there's probably more infomration at hand than that elsewhere. I assumed he was close to 25 at the time.
     
  10. Analog Kid

    Analog Kid Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Location:
    North of England
    That's part of what I don't get. They could have wrote any number of circumstances to set Tom apart from Starfleet, if the charming young rebel type is what they wanted. Instead we got a character who was the double of another character which more or less the same thing happened to both of them, the only difference being their reactions and responsibility or lack of. The parallels kind of defy the odds. If anyone had thought of bringing up Tom and Nick's files side-by-side, they'd think there was some very peculiar synchronicity going on in the universe.

    Strikes me as a bit lazy is all. Like "We can't be bothered to think up a different backhistory, so we'll just plagiarise Nick Locarno's and tweak three details: It's three people killed rather than one, it happens after graduation and he admits it. There, character done. Next?"
     
  11. Cepstrum

    Cepstrum Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2010
    Location:
    State of Oregon, USA
    You make good points.

    I think an important consideration is that the creators, Piller, Taylor, and Berman did *not* want to create a new show so soon. Paramount/UPN, however, forced them to hastily cobble together something. If you read the story of VOY's creation, it quickly becomes clear how little time they had and how much pressure they were under. Things were literally shaping up on the fly. They couldn't even find the right actress for Janeway until after they finished shooting most of Caretaker!

    Plus, Paramount interfered quite a bit. And Taylor was hung up on mimicking TNG. Even the mild episode "Learning Curve" had to get permission to air from a Paramount exec, according to Berman: Paramount put quite a few limits on what they could and could not do (so did Taylor initially). There was to be little to no intra-crew conflict, minimal serialized stories/continuity, etc. It was a far different writing environment from the syndicated DS9. That series had a lot more freedom, and its close-knit team of writers/producers got the chance to experiment with many things, including serialization.

    It's not much of a surprise that they readily jumped at the chance to incorporate a fairly ready-made character in Tom: it saved them the time and effort of creating and casting a role.

    I still believe, however, that Tom is sufficiently better than Nick. That guy was just plain bad. He didn't make it through school, and the accident he caused was not for a mission but just to show off. Tom was, IMO, immediately more likeable, even if highly derivative.

    At least it allowed them to show a picture of a much younger "Tom" on his father's desk! ;)
     
  12. FuBi0

    FuBi0 Ensign Newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2010
    Oh, but let's not forget that Tom initially falsified reports concerning the incident before turning him self in. He jokingly remarked that he ended up admitting his guilt because three dead officers came to him in the middle of the night and taught him the true meaning of Christmas. In my opinion this draws even more parallels between Locarno and Paris because this would make Tom basically Locarno without Wesley pointing the finger at him(SHUT UP WESLEY!). Though we can't say for certain if Nick would have EVER confessed, they both were guilty of a crime and took measures to cover it up. This appears to be the main point of animosity between Tom and the other Starfleet officers in the beginning. Obviously Paris admitted his guilt, but from a character standpoint shouldn't it be that being a Starfleet officer responsible for three deaths and falsifying reports should be more irredeemable than some young cadet in the Academy who cost the life of another by showboating during a training exercise?

    You make a great point concerning the eventual problems that this would cause later in the series and his involvement as Locarno probably wouldn't even be usable at all as a Starfleet officer.. then again, Paris was only supposed to be an observer and circumstance led to him becoming Lieutenant. With a little change in backstory it could be possible for Locarno to have joined the crew if the writers deemed him fit.

    This was actually my first thought! There have been continuity errors throughout the series' as KingDaniel stated, especially when it comes to things written during pre-production but from what I've noticed these are usually minor adjustments(ie. World War III, specifics of the Romulan War, Data's ability to conjugate and smile). I was surprised that Paris was included in a conversation that put him at an event that couldn't have possibly happened without a major change to his backstory. That's why I came here to ask if maybe the staff had let it leak somewhere that they did in fact intend him to become virtually merged with Nick. Curious why they couldn't have just left the specifics on Toms "mistake" a little more vague so that there wouldn't be such confusion. If royalties were the case at any point they could have sidestepped it by including less information but it really seemed like they intended to differentiate Paris from Locarno in early episodes yet keep the aspect of having him involved in an accident which caused the death(s) of others in Starfleet. Over time though I had started to think of them as the same character though I knew it wasn't true so it was odd to notice something that might confirm that.

    It's also simply possible that perhaps Voyager's writers just weren't as meticilulous as their forebears because..

    Looks like the most plausible explanation.. or maybe a hint at what the writers may have originally wanted to do, bringing back McNeill as Nick Locarno. After all, we remember the picture on Admiral Paris' desk. =]

    Either way it's still quite a gaffe for any Star Trek.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2010
  13. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Location:
    Moncton, NB
    And the irony is, they repealed that whole "Pay royalties to original writers" thing when it comes to individual characters like Locarno. If VOY was simply made after DS9 (like Berman wanted) then it wouldn't have been a problem and it WOULD have been Locarno.
     
  14. Avon

    Avon Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 7, 2010
    Location:
    Avon
    i don't get the idea of locarno not being redeemable. the maquis were terrorists and no one really cared so i dont see why it would have mattered, royalties aside.
     
  15. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Location:
    The visitor's bullpen
    I'm not following. :confused:

    Besides, VOY *was* made after DS9...it started two years after DS9 did.
     
  16. sevenstars

    sevenstars Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Location:
    Solaria
    Actually, beyond some surface "bad boy" features, Locarno and Paris seemed to have rather different character profiles to me. Locarno was an extremely driven, charismatic and self-centered leader, whose power outstripped his maturity. I don't think he was "irredeemable," however.

    Paris never seemed like that to me at all: his relationships with people looked far more lateral, and inherently friendly and respectful. I just always assumed the character was roughly inspired by a great performance in TNG, but I'd have a really hard time time trying to merge the two into the same person...
     
  17. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Location:
    Moncton, NB
    The whole "Pay royalties to original writers for single-episode creations" thing was resolved after VOY started but not before the Paris-Locarno thing.

    What I mean by "after" is "after the show was finished". Berman thought it was a bad idea to have two shows on at the same time, and felt DS9 should get the whole audience. He wanted to wait a year or so after DS9 had finished to do another show (like 2000 or 2001), and hire a new writing staff.
     
  18. Cepstrum

    Cepstrum Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2010
    Location:
    State of Oregon, USA
    ^^^

    that's the point I was trying to make earlier. VOY was hastily rushed into production. That's why I guess the creators brought back the Nick-like Tom. It was a nearly ready-made character with an actor to play him.

    Someone referred to it as "lazy writing". I think it was more the immense pressure UPN put the creators under to quickly create a flagship show for their network. Plus, their constant interference with the show's direction made it far more episodic, tied the hands of the writers (as I mentioned, the mild "Learning Curve" was as far as the network execs would let them explore intra-crew conflict), and resulted in less coherency than the syndicated DS9.

    Now don't get me wrong: I *love* VOY. But I agree with Berman that, had he et el. been allowed to create VOY more towards the end (or after) DS9's run, and do it in syndication (the whole UPN experiment failed anyway), then VOY could have far more consistent, well-planned, allowed to experiment (as DS9 did) and probably would have a close-knit writing team instead of having, I believe, more than 70 writers contribute to the series (and not have gone through executive producers every few seasons).
     
  19. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2000
    Location:
    In the lap of squalor I assure you.
    There is of course the arguent that they are the same person but he went to the Academy under an assumed name to avoid any favouritism because his father was an admiral... Ridiculous? Then why did Owen have a sill from the first duty on his mantle(somewhere) in his quarters as defference to his "son" unless there was some sort of Parent trap bullshit going on and the whole accident with some spooky Twin interconnection magic claptrap?

    Cloning people is illegal, no matter what Polaski thinks she can get away with.
     
  20. Lynx

    Lynx Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2001
    Location:
    Lynx Empire
    If we look at Nick Locarno's and Tom Paris's background stories, the differences are:

    Nick Locarno was studying at the Academy when the accident occured and was the squadron leader of his team. The other members of his squadron were Wesley Crusher, Joshua Albert, Sito Jaxa and Jean Hajar. While practising the forbidden "Kolvoord Starburst", Albert is killed. Locarno persuades the others to lie about the accident, thus blaming Albert for it. During the trial, Wesley Crusher (due to pressure from Jean-Luc Picard) changes his mind and tells the truth about the accident. As a result of it, Locarno is kicked out from Starfleet Academy.

    Tom Paris was the squadron leader of another team. The other members were Charlie Day, Oddile Launay and Bruno Katajavuori. During a practise in which they were targeting and destroying asteroids, Paris makes an error which makes two of the other team members crash into asteroids and the third is blown up in the following explosions. Back on Earth, a panicking Tom Paris lies about the accident, blaming Bruno Katajavuori for it. Paris's story is accepted and he graduate from Starfleet Academy and is assigned to the USS Copernicus as a pilot.

    After an brief romantic encounter with a Betazoid woman, Paris can no longer shut of the guilt and remorse he's been trying to surpress. He starts to hallucinate, seeing his dead friends in the middle of the night. Then he gets a nervous breakdown and requests that he must go back to Earth. Back on Earth he confesses his previous lies about the accident and is expelled from Starfleet.

    So Tom was actually in Starfleet , Locarno wasn't.

    Obviously it was planned that Nick Locarno should have been the character on Voyager. Exactly why they changed their minds and created a similar character in Tom Paris instead is a bit unclear. There are two versions:

    One version states that it was for copyright reasons. Having the character Nick Locarno on Voyager would have ment that they had to pay a sum of money to the one who wrote the Locarno episode every time Nick Locarno was in a Voyager episode. The other explanation is that those in charge changed their mind about using Nick Locarno as a main character, finding him too unsympathetic and his crime too severs to have him as a main character. Therefore they came up with the slightly altered Tom Paris story instead, making Paris more acceptable for the viewers.

    One can wonder why theh had to come up with a story which was so close to the original Locarno story. Maybe they should have settled with Paris leaving Starfleet to join the Maquis for some reason and then being captured to the chagrin of his father, the Admiral.

    Note also a certain similarity when it comes to the name. Locarno is a town in Switzerland while Paris is the capital of France. :)