Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Spirit Folk"

“Spirit Folk” is a return to the fair town of fair haven, and that ain’t fair. Was anyone clamoring to revisit the worst of the annual holodeck settings? Our second visit to Fair Haven is even worse than the first because every holodeck malfunction cliché is waiting to greet us. Welcome to a main contender for worst episode of VOY ever.

The crew has kept the Fair Haven running with an open door policy since tom restored it. The problem is the characters have begun to notice the Voyager are not who they claim to be. The townspeople witness alterations to the program, the arch appearing, and the computer voice. They suspect witchcraft, which is confirmed in their minds when Tom replaces harry’s girlfriend with a cow just as they are about tyo smooch. Excruciatingly long story short, they capture the two in order to cleanse Fair Haven of evil spirits. Barring that, they will burn them alive. The safety protocols are offline, of course.

I would like to be fair--just to use that word yet again--and give “Spirit Folk” credit for any shred of orinality, but there is none to be had. Star Trek has already dealt with the issue of whether holodeck characters are sentient with Dr. Moriarty on TNG. It has already established holograms can work just fine knowing their surroundings are not real with Vic Fontaine on DS9. Lord knows, we have seen numerous stories about crewmembers put in danger because the safety protocols are offline. “Spirit folk’ ignors everything that has gone before it. The writers seem to be forgetting we have seen this all before and note that whatever is not contradictory to what has gone before is so cliché, the episode writes itself in the audience’s minds.

In case you were able to overlook all that, there is plenty of willful stupidity on behalf of the regular characters to ruin things. I will tell you how bad it gets--the voice of reason is Torres. Torres. when he remaining senior staff brainstorms ways to save tom and Harry, Torres, frustrated with the slow progress, asks why they do not just cut power to the holodeck. That sounds like a solution that should have occurred to them in the first place. No, says janeway, because--wait for it--the crew is emotionally attached to Fair Haven and she does not want to destroy it if she does not have to do so. That is right. Janeway is going to risk the lives of two of her crewmen because of emotional attachment to a fictional place--a fictional place that can be recreated from scratch later. We know that it can be recreated with no problems because it already has been once before! Yes, folks. Janeway is crazy.

The catalyst for the rescue of Tom and Harry involves one of the townspeople successfully hypnotizing the Doctor. No more needs to be said about "Spirit Folk."

There is no reason whatsoever to watch “Spirit Folk.” It is not exciting. It is not funny. There is no human drama in it. You have seen every bit of it before in past holodeck-centric episodes, so you will either be bored to see the same old same old or irritated at the ignoring of established themes. That is right. You will either hate that you have seen it all before or hate that it is contradictory to all that you have seen before. The episode cannot win. Skip it at all costs.

Rating; * (out of 5)

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