Star Trek 590: Fair Haven

590. Fair Haven

FORMULA: Alter Ego + Up the Long Ladder

WHY WE LIKE IT: Mulgrew's acting.

WHY WE DON'T: The naughty thoughts it puts in our heads.

REVIEW: Introducing Fair Haven, Tom Paris' new holodeck hangout, a quaint village filled with Irish clichés. He's created it just in time, apparently, as the ship needs to batten down the hatches and "drop anchor" as a powerful space storm overtakes them for a few days. It's a good excuse for everyone to spend a few days on the holodeck, and the episode is generally handled with a light touch (Tuvok's motion sickness, Seven getting hit on by Seamus).

At the centre of the story is Janeway, newly minted Irish history aficionado (is it so silly to have her take an interest in Tom's program without retconning her a new hobby?), who gets romantically involved with one of the holograms. Despite the fact that he's not a real person, their initial courtship is quite light and lively - Janeway as I like her. But being the control freak she is, she goes and modifies Michael Sullivan to her specifications, getting rid of a pesky wife and boosting the man's education. As she gets deeper and deeper, she makes more changes, engineers situations... it's the perfect relationship. But as she confesses to the Doctor (brilliantly costumed as a Catholic priest), the power she wields only reminds her he's not real.

It's well done commentary on how people try to change their partners (and what if they instantly could?), and a good episode for Janeway. Her embarrassment is palpable, and not just when Chakotay teases her about it (is he showing signs of jealousy?). And indeed, once she breaks it off, Sullivan's program goes all screwy, Eve destroying Eden if you will, and there's no way the crew doesn't know about her holo-tryst. I do commend the writers for not indulging in a little deus ex machina at the end, even if it was available to them. Though Fair Haven is largely destroyed, Michael Sullivan is not, so it's with a conscious decision that she would delete him. And then she doesn't, though she takes away her power to change him again. Well done, and beautifully carried off throughout by Mulgrew.

However. If you look under the surface, not very deeply at all, you'll find that this is a story about the captain's glorified dildo. There. I said it. The implication is that they DID have intimate relations, and while that's all well and good when we're talking about a sentient hologram like the Doctor, I don't think Sullivan is there yet. In fact, he's her artificial love slave. This is realistic, mind you. People in the Trek world would struggle with this sort of thing all the time (what do you think Quark's caters to?), but it's still a romance episode about a blow-up doll. The Doctor's advice almost sounds like he's telling her she needs sexual relief. When you think about it, it's rather icky, which is what makes me think the writers really DIDN'T think about it. Just like there's little thought given to the implications of the EMH posing as a priest. It suits him, but some might deem it in bad taste unless he really has the faith.

LESSON: Starfleet captains love their toys.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: I'm really of two minds on this one. I enjoyed the romance and its SF implications, but at the same time, the subject matter is thoughtlessly in bad taste.


Unknown said...

Long time reader, First time commenter.

I have to say that I've been waiting to write a review on this episode for a long time, And it certainly delivered.

Fredericksburg Texas Informant said...

I remember seeing this episode and feeling like I needed a shower and a cigarette when I was done. I think you explained why I felt that way. Really creepy episode!

Siskoid said...

Unwittingly creepy, yes!

LiamKav said...

Of course, maybe having sex with a hologram will not be considered a big thing in the future. Just as how masturbation has gone from an evil sin (and definitely never done by women lest they burn in hell) to something generally considered as pleasant fun to be had by all, the 24th century person might treat having sex on the holodeck as no worse than locking yourself in the toilet with a copy of Andorian Babes Monthly.

I mean, I'm sure there's more than one instance in TNG where it was implied that Riker was going off to the holodeck to, ahem, relieve himself.

Siskoid said...

My evidence here is the way Quark's special holosuite programs are perceived as perverse.


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