Thursday, October 13, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Fair Haven"

“Fair Haven” introduces the worst of the annual holodeck themes. This time, it is a 19th century irish village full of so many stereotypes, I had to wonder while watching how many Irish fans threw something heavy at their television sets while watching. The episode has big problems aside from the setting. There is an implausible love story with a hologram, Janeway acting crazy, a very uncomfortable ending, and a boring B-story with faux danger. In total, an awful episode, but still a train wreck one needs to see to be believed.

Tom decides to write a holodeck program as far from life on Voyager as possible, so he settles on a 19th century Irish village. That is certainly what I would have gone with. Because there is an approaching radiation storm in which Voyager will be trapped for days, Neelix suggests keeping Fair Haven running all the time so the crew can come and go as they please. It will keep everyone’s spirits up. You know, that is one of the many things that baffles me about VOY. Neelix often says he is struggling to invent ways to keep up morale, but the crew always seems quite upbeat and happy. Even episodes in which terrible things happen end on a positive note. Maybe the characters are all self-aware to know the Magic reset Button is going to fix everything before the next episode, so why bother fretting?

Janeway comes to Fair Haven and falls for the town bartender, Michael Phillips. Remember our mantra--Star Trek never does romance or children-centric stories well Janeway and Phillips have no chemistry together, yet Janeway acts like a love struck teenage girl. She does so many odd, out of character things in an exaggerated manner--throwing rings, arm wrestling, and whatever group jig she is getting down with in the fourth act. Kate Mulgrew has a habit of going overboard in her mannerisms. I have rarely addressed the habit, but the hamming it up often adds to the Janeway is Crazy motif I have going. The woman acts like she is on drugs.

The Janeway we all know and fear returns with a vengeance in the second act after Phillips’ wife shows up. “Fair Haven” subsequently takes its turn towards the eewww. Janeway secretly enters another holodeck to bring up the Phillips character. She modifies him to suit her every whim. She makes him taller, adjusts his facial hair, increases his cultured demeanor, and finally--I kid thee not--his “pleasure parameters.” It is family show, but I am pretty sure that is 24th century lingo for make his penis bigger. There are two reasons this is obvious. One, she deletes his wife. Two, they engage in the mommy/daddy dance the next time she goes to Fair Haven.

To her credit, Janeway immediately regrets what she has done. She avoids Fair Haven for the remaining duration of the episode. Philips is heartbroken over her absence to the poin the starts bar brawl which embroils four members of the crew. His behavior prompts Janeway to confess to the Doctor, who has been playing a priest in Fair Haven, what she has done. Here is the point at which the ewww doubles. While it is not said, we know the Doctor has a thing for Seven. He wants to promote the idea that hologram/human sexual relations are fine so Seven will be convinced to give it a whirl, so he encourages Janeway to continue her relationship with Phillips. Whether Seven’s looking up to Janeway as a mentor/role model is on his mind is anyone’s guess, but one cannot help but entertain the possibility. I will also entertain the possibility the Doctor is being earnest. As the captain, Janeway cannot have romantic relationships with her subordinates. It could be a long journey back to Earth, so a holodeck relationship might be her only option. Star trek has never been too big on the idea romance between high ranking officers and subordinates is verboten and there has been a hint of a Janeway/Chakotay romance brewing, so I am not so sure the Doctor has a point a real relationship is out of reach for Janeway. It still sounds like enlightened self-interest regarding Seven to me.

I mentioned faux danger. Several times during the episode, the radiation storm acts up, triggering the standard console explosions on the bridge. The final turbulence as the ship exit the storm damages the holodeck. Only about ten percent of Fair haven can be salvaged, so Janeway goes down there to bring up Philips. He professes his love for her, but she tells him this is probably goodbye, but she plans to keep him in the database to possibly bring back in the future. For sex, one assumes.

If I have to explain to you what is wrong with this episode’s theme, you are probably to big a VOY fan to be convinced anything is wrong. Janeway creates a holographic gigolo to suit her personal desires, then when guilt over what she had done starts to gnaw at her, the Doctor swoops in to tell her it is all right because he is a hologram who secretly wants to have sex with Seven. Seeing the Doctor’s wisdom, but not his motives, Janeway keeps her holographic gigolo for future use. The summary speaks for itself. Stranger still, “Fair Haven” comes right after an episode dealing with Barclay’s holo addiction, and it is an episode that says indulging in holodeck relationships to deeply is a bad thing. As often happens, VOY cannot keep its moral viewpoints consistent in back-to-back episodes.

The only reason I can recommend watching “Fair Haven” is for the shock value of the twisted behavior. Watch the episode and marvel at how anyone could have thought it was a good idea.

Rating: * (out of 5)

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