This was a good episode, it may have lacked spectacular special effects laden action but the prison was suitably claustrophobic and the mind-effecting clamps they were forced to wear added to that feeling. While one knows that they will ultimately get out their method was never clear, especially when we learn the nature of their prison. This episode gave Garrett Wang chance to shine as Harry Kim while Robert Duncan McNeill's Tom Paris took the secondary role after getting wounded.
When Janeway learns about this from the locals, she finds that they are mighty unfriendly. So, she decides to look for the real bombers. They catch them...but there is a SERIOUS problem. The folks from this $&%@ planet don't care and won't release Paris and Kim! And, considering that Paris just got stabbed, he won't last much longer!
This episode has a lot to say about prisons and rehabilitation. I also liked how awful and stupid the aliens were in this one! Overall, creative, filled with action and among the better season two episodes.
Going from refusing to be boarded in one scene to using the exact same lines the planet leader used when she found the terrorist/freedom-fighter's ship had me face-palming. She then hauls off to the planet preparing to turn a fourteen year old girl and her big brother over to a regime that obviously doesn't deal with criminals in a fair and just manner without even any of the moral angsting she's so fond of. Then, when the planet leader is inexplicably uncooperative (you'd think he'd be more interested in the actual terrorists), she demands the big brother tell her how to get into the prison since he just happens to have the access codes (and a small cargo ship that resembled Neelix's - so why he never carried out his own rescue mission is unknown). Then, when he demanded to be allow to rescue his own people, she threatened to send them to the planet out of hand. Rather than pointing out the obvious fact that she would thereby sacrifice both her bargaining chips and the only people remotely willing to help, he capitulated and gave up his only bargaining chip.
Then Janeway jumps blindly down a chute into an unknown hostile environment. I know there's no Riker demanding she stay safe on the ship, but COME ON. Tuvok doesn't have a SWAT team he can call into action in situations like this so the next best thing is to send the CAPTAIN?? THEN they fly off into the sunset without a backward glance at the political prisoners of a corrupt regime being beaten, starved, tortured, and murdered.
REALLY?!? The only saving grace of this show was the environment inside the prison. They averted the noble sympathetic local forehead with Mr. Manifesto. He was exactly what you'd expect a philosophical political activist to be after years in an environment designed to make him crazy.
How did they get here? Why has Voyager made yet another unnecessary stop, and allowed their two officers to be tried and convicted of a crime they didn't commit? We'll never know, since it all took place before the beginning of the episode! Yes, another nightmarish premise from outer space is off and running!
Kim is the wimpiest washcloth of a human being I've ever seen, and with him leading the breakout effort you can be sure you'll be in prison for a loooong time. This episode does get bumped up a full letter grade for the scene in which Harry finally climbs to the top of the chute and finds that he's actually imprisoned in a floating space-station penal colony, a bad dream come true if ever there was one.
Eventually Janeway slides down the chute and saves both of their sorry asses. Why couldn't they have just started the episode here? GRADE: B-
This is a cheap episode; cheaply written and cheaply produced. The so-called "Chute" that dumps new prisoners inside, is a poorly disguised air conditioning duct that moves as people try to crawl through it.
Most disappointing however, is that this episode adds absolutely nothing to the understanding of any characters in the show, other civilizations, or anything about Voyager's saga through the Delta Quadrant. Consequently, the best thing about "The Chute" is that it is an episode worth skipping; there's nothing you'll miss!