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The Trek Nation - Fair Haven

Fair Haven

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:21 PM GMT

See Also: 'Fair Haven' Episode Guide

Tom Paris has programmed an Irish holographic village named Fair Haven, where crewmembers and holograms congregate at a pub called Sullivan's. Janeway comes in to warn the command crew that a radiation-filled anomaly of vast size and speed is approaching the ship, but before she leaves, she meets the attractive bartender Michael Sullivan. In astrometrics, Seven reports that the anomaly is too large to outrun, so Janeway suggests the equivalent of dropping anchor and riding out the storm. When Neelix becomes concerned about ship morale, Janeway allows him to leave the Fair Haven program running, and drops by herself for some late-night armwrestling with Sullivan.

Ten hours into the storm, with nearly three days to go, Janeway decides to have some fun. She reprograms Michael Sullivan to be taller, to have an education, and not to have the wife Paris gave him in the original program parameters. "Pleased to meet you," she then says to the vacant-faced hologram, whom she later seeks out for some discussion of Irish literature and a sojourn to a nearby castle. Chakotay spots the captain with her hologram and teases her, but assures Janeway that he's never let a partner's artificiality stand in the way of a good time. Returning to the holodeck despite bad news about the radiation levels, Janeway dances with Sullivan and his friends, then deletes the rest of the party so that they can have a romantic moment alone. She looks nervous at first about kissing a hologram, but gets over it.

Later, however, Janeway recycles the Irish literature she has been reading and tells Neelix she won't be returning to Fair Haven. "I have work to do. I'd rather stick to reality right now." Meanwhile, in the program, Sullivan gets drunk even though Paris programmed him not to drink, then he pours out the story of his doomed love affair with "Katie." Paris and Kim realize whom he's talking about just before the bartender starts a brawl. Janeway finds her injured crewmen in sickbay. The Doctor reports that Sullivan was calling her name, but adds that he's not worried about the hologram; he's worried about the captain.

Embarrassed, Janeway admits that she became involved with a hologram, but realized that the relationship was unrealistic when she found herself altering his program even for little things like stopping him from snoring. The Doctor advises that since she obviously can't date a subordinate, it makes sense for Janeway to date an artificial man. He suggests that she not run away next time, since romance is born of differences and it's a worthwhile risk.

The captain goes to the bridge, where a crisis has occurred with the warp field. They can save the ship, but because they can't shut down the holodeck, Fair Haven may be destroyed. Once they clear the anomaly, Paris surveys the damage and tells the captain he thinks he can rebuild the program, but he'd like to know what she wants to salvage. Janeway goes to the holodeck and activates Michael, telling him she's leaving Fair Haven, but she might be back to visit in a few weeks. He professes love for her, and she kisses his cheek before ending the program. Before she leaves, she tells the computer to deny her access to the subroutines which would allow her to reprogram him to her own specifications.

Analysis:

One of the great rewards of reviewing on the internet is that I get letters of comment from all over the world. When I wrote my reaction to the plot of "Fair Haven" a few weeks ago - despite the fact that the episode had not yet aired - I received some highly enjoyable opinions in return. Some of the writers chastised me for judging an episode that hadn't aired yet, but many people agreed that the whole concept of a starship captain falling for a hologram belonged in the "fanfic not canon" pile. And then I received a note from a wonderful reader named Lisa Cox, who pointed out what a doofus I am. For her, "Fair Haven" is proof not of Janeway's idiocy, but of the idiocy of the male writers of Voyager.

"With the combination of advanced cloning techniques, in-vitro fertilization, genetic manipulation that allows for 'designer' babies, AND holodecks that allow you to program a nanny, droves of teachers, and provide controlled social guidance and development, sex would no longer be a requirement of procreation or child rearing," writes Ms. Cox. "Now TPTB are suggesting holograms can emotionally and sexually satisfy women? Then what the hell do women in the 24th century need real men for? They already can do everything a man can. Now they can program their perfect mate and turn him off or reprogram him on a whim. Natural selection just marked the male gender for extinction!"

Lisa: I love you madly, perhaps even as madly as I might love a perfect programmable holographic version of you. When it comes right down to it, the men who surround Janeway are all losers, even if the Doc politely called them "subordinates." According to Janeway's official biography, Jeri Taylor's Mosaic, the good captain has never been able to find a man who could live up to the standard set by that paragon of men, her Daddy. And in her current circumstances - stranded with dating options like a First Officer who has the depth of a pancake, a married emotionless security officer who can't stop shuttle thefts under his own nose, a hotshot pilot who's already in love with himself, and a very hairy Talaxian - how could Janeway even contemplate a long-term relationship? Why put up with these inferior specimens, or set herself up for heartbreak by saving herself for an alien who turns out to be a mass-murdering xenophobe, or an evil entity pretending to be her now-married ex-boyfriend?

I take back my prior criticisms of "Fair Haven." A hologram is perfect for Janeway, especially now that she has been humiliated in front of the entire crew by having her holo-romance cause a fight with the safeties off. But I don't think the crew will mind. In fact, they probably think a holo-boyfriend might save the captain from her obsession with Princess Seven. Our resident Borg declared in last season's "Someone To Watch Over Me" that there's no one on the ship good enough to date - not even the holographic Doctor, who should offer to loan the captain his holo-emitter on a regular basis so she can get it on with Hollow Man in her quarters, her ready room, the Jeffries Tube, or other exciting places on the ship. I love that the Doctor encouraged Janeway to keep chasing a hologram. No ulterior motive on his part in arguing against dating real people, no sir. And why shouldn't she? Even malleable hologram Michael has more independent personality than Chakotay does at this point, since the writers have made it obvious that only a total wuss would serve willingly under a woman. Though Janeway wouldn't want her hologram to get too independent, or it might want to jump ship like the Doc in next week's episode, "Virtuoso."

In the feminist sci-fi classic The Female Man, Joanna Russ' novel of utopia (or dystopia, depending on your gender), the women of Earth have to exterminate all the men before they can be free from male meddling. But in Brannon Braga's Star Trek, as Lisa Cox points out, women could just breed men out of the species. So what's stopping them? I think Janeway didn't go far enough in reprogramming Michael: she allowed him to keep annoying male habits like snoring and the unshaven scruffiness that can feel so rough on tender thighs. If we're going to have made-to-order men, as if Janeway doesn't have enough of those on her ship already where everyone barks when she says "heel," she might as well go all-out without guilt. I would, if I had to live under the constraints she has to live with - the morality of the 19th century superimposed on her life in the 24th.

The Doctor says it's "the unexpected" that makes romance happen. I say, bah! Torres gets "the unexpected" all the time when Tom blows her off so he can play on the holodeck. Based on her absence this episode, she doesn't appear to have any interest in "the unexpected," nor in Fair Haven. Smart girl. How come she ever bothers with the real, self-absorbed Tom Paris, when she could program someone who looks and talks like Tom but pays attention to her needs? B'Elanna could spend all her time with Fan Fiction Tom! Even Seven could create a holographic mate good enough for her. Or maybe Ms. Multiple Personalities would refuse to get locked into one life partner - she could concoct a series of luscious entertainments if one hologram alone couldn't satisfy her. As Jerry Herman wrote, instead of one dandy dish, pass 'em the candy dish.

The best thing about a programmable future is that men like the misgynistic skanks who write Voyager would become extinct. In a world with holograms, who'd want to mate with them? Once they've been eradicated in favor of the fantasy figures which they themselves have encouraged as the only appropriate partners for powerful women, the remaining humans can engineer new, improved men. We just have to get rid of the bad seeds, and I don't mean genetically - I don't believe males are victims of testosterone any more than I believe females are inherently hysterical. Chauvinistic behavior is perpetuated primarily because men have so many bad role models. Just look at the television network executives who reshape formerly forward-thinking franchises for the young male demographic by shunting aside the original cast members in favor of a catsuit with attitude.

Imagine a Star Trek series written in a world of feminists - the diametric opposite of the all-boys club which wrote Voyager for so long. Though "Fair Haven" actually had a woman involved - apparently one of the younger crop who go along with the boys about any woman over 40 being too old for a meaningful and exciting relationship. With her in charge, we'd probably still get too many episodes in which Seven of Nine and Naomi Wildman save the ship, but at least maybe they wouldn't be characterized as perpetual cute young things, and Seven could wear some real clothing. Hopefully we wouldn't ever again hear about Paris' cars or Harry's space STDs. More importantly, maybe the captain would be shown the respect she no longer gets from the patronizing doctor and the vacuous first officer who now prefers holograms over her. If Janeway could program the ideal man, I think she should take the next step and try programming a universe without men.

Now there's an idea for the next Trek series.

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.