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The Trek Nation - Haven

Haven

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at May 11, 2007 - 9:13 PM GMT

See Also: 'Haven' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: Counselor Troi's mother Lwaxana sends an automated emissary with jewels, then appears herself, to announce that it is time for Deanna to honor the betrothal her father arranged according to Betazed custom to the son of a good friend. Wyatt Miller, the intended groom, arrives with his parents, though they as well as the crew are somewhat scandalized by Lwaxana, who believes every man from the groom's father to Captain Picard harbors lustful thoughts about her and who insists that the wedding be performed according to strict Betazed tradition - such as an entirely naked wedding party and guests - though Deanna, who feels ambivalent enough about marrying a stranger and who still has romantic feelings for Riker, opposes many of her mother's demands. Wyatt has misgivings too: since he was a child, he has seen visions of a beautiful woman whom he expected to be his fiancée, but when she appears, it is aboard a Tarellian plague ship carrying the last survivors of a deadly epidemic. The ship wishes to bring the survivors to the planet Haven, which has legendary healing properties, but the planetary leaders call on Picard and the Federation to protect them from the disease. Wyatt, who specialized in infectious diseases in medical school, takes supplies from sickbay and beams to the Tarellian ship to join his beloved and research a cure, though he knows he can never return home.


Analysis: When I complain about The Next Generation's first season, I forget that it has delightful moments like the ones in "Haven" - which is not, I fear, a terribly good episode, yet remains quite likeable nonetheless. It would be a keeper for no other reason than the introduction of Lwaxana Troi, played to witty effect by Majel Barrett who was stuck being serious and dour as Nurse Chapel on the original series. Here she gets to perform physical comedy, make the sort of snide comments about Picard that nobody else save Q can get away with and generally shake people up, which is something the show really needs at this point. The plot itself is somewhat formulaic - like "Amok Time" a crewmember must abruptly and painfully come to terms with an arranged marriage while the intended spouse is dreaming of someone else, and we know from the start that Troi won't really wed and leave the ship forever, so it's a matter of seeing how she gets out of the social expectations placed on her. As it happens, she lucks out, and the groom takes the responsibility off her head.

The ostensible A-storyline for "Haven" concerns a visit to a paradise planet rumored to have miraculous healing properties, but we see the planet only via the viewscreen; this is a bottle show, which has the bonus of forcing the writers to focus on the Enterprise crewmembers rather than the distant menace, in this case a cool-looking translucent spaceship that might either be showing its engines or flashing a warning for other ships to see. Since the B-story, Troi's wedding, is much better developed and more interesting, it's not clear why the planet Haven figures into the drama at all until the Tarellians show up with Wyatt's dream girl aboard. Picard relates the curious legend that Haven can even heal broken hearts, though it doesn't seem to be helping the crew much from a distance: Riker is distracting himself with beautiful holographic musicians before he learns of Troi's impending nuptials and Troi very nearly bursts into tears when her wedding gifts arrive, before she has laid eyes on the fairly appealing groom. For a few minutes, it appears as though everything might work out in the long run: they're strangers, sure, but they both appear committed to honoring tradition, they're both in healing professions, and neither is terribly jealous that the other has a fantasy lover considered out of reach. And that's sort of a disappointment. We all want the other shoe to drop.

And oh, it does, but not before a bit of My Big Fat Greek Wedding-style antics with Wyatt's mother in the role of the uptight white-bread future in-law, Wyatt's father as the repressed-but-wanting-to-break-free traditionalist who set this all in motion and Lwaxana as the pushy, preoccupied, life-loving mother of the bride who despite being an empath refuses to acknowledge how uncomfortable it makes people when she makes comments about their sexual fantasies and allows her butler to keep banging a gong until it appears that many are plotting to take the gong and whack him with it. Data watches these proceedings with obvious delight: "Could you please continue the petty bickering? I find it most intriguing," he says at one point.

Riker has a much harder time keeping his sense of humor, though Troi keeps saying that she senses what he wants most in life is to be a starship captain. (This is rather poignant in retrospect, considering the number of times he will evade such a promotion to remain Number One to Jean-Luc Picard, and considering that when he finally gets his own command, Deanna will be his bride.) He seems as unfazed by Lwaxana - who at one point attempts a liaison with him - as is Wyatt, who seems to be watching the proceedings as if they're happening to someone else. Wyatt claims his life's calling is to be a doctor, but Deanna correctly guesses that his artwork is just as important to him, even before the two of them know there is a connection. Ultimately it is Wyatt who chooses to follow his destiny over Deanna, and she lets him go as gracefully as she was prepared to let Riker mutate from lover to platonic friend...something he says is quite difficult for him, suggesting it's an old Earth tradition.

Much of this episode is about the tug of war between love and tradition, and it's ironic that nobody really finds haven but everyone ends up satisfied. Wyatt must forego all further contact with the society he has always known, but he is with the woman he has dreamed of all his life, and she is with the man she has long believed will save her people; Troi gets to remain on the Enterprise and whatever possibility remains in the future for her and Riker; Lwaxana gets to go on proclaiming herself the Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed, without having to demand that her daughter enter into a marriage she would not have chosen. Everyone, even Wyatt's parents, seems content with the way things have turned out...particularly Mr. Homm, who breaks his long silence to thank Picard for the drinks.


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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green is a news writer for the Trek Nation. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.