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The Trek Nation - Spirit Folk

Spirit Folk

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:26 PM GMT

See Also: 'Spirit Folk' Episode Guide

When Paris reprograms Fair Haven's Maggie O'Halloran to turn into a cow as Kim kisses her, Seamus sees the transformation and cites it as proof that Tom, Harry, and the rest of the visiting Voyager crewmembers are wicked "spirit folk." The townspeople are inclined to agree, since they've all seen strange things, like the priest vanishing into thin air and the clouds disappearing with a single command. Michael Sullivan, who's been accused of being bewitched by "Katie O'Clare," argues that he's sure the friendly folk have just been playing some practical jokes. The priest - really Voyager's Doctor - confirms Sullivan's beliefs.

But when Paris and Kim remove Sullivan from the program in an attempt to learn why the character has become sentient, Sullivan pretends his perceptual filters have been corrected so that he can listen to the ensigns' converse. Realizing that his girlfriend "Katie" and her friends have deceived everyone in Fair Haven, he calls a meeting at the town church, where he admits he heard Tom and Harry plotting to make alterations in his bar. Armed Irishmen blast the holodeck controls with an ancient rifle, turning off the safeties and the emergency overrides. They also take Paris and Kim prisoner. When the Doctor tries to rescue them by posing as the priest, he is tied up as well. Seamus' attempts at exorcizing the demons with herbs and incantations have little effect on the crew, but when the Doctor's mobile emitter is discovered and removed, he becomes part of the program...and admits the truth about Voyager.

Seamus and his crowd are in favor of burning the foreigners as witches, but Sullivan insists that the Voyager people have always been friendly, if not honest. He puts on the Doctor's mobile emitter and leaves the holodeck, ending up on the bridge, where Janeway is forced to tell him her real identity. Sullivan worries that a starship captain could never love a barkeep. Their discussion is cut short when Tuvok warns Janeway that the townspeople are gathering kindling to burn the others at the stake. The captain goes with Sullivan to Fair Haven, where the two admit the truth and promise to live peacefully with the residents.

Off the holodeck, Janeway and Torres agree that the open-door policy of keeping the program running all the time must stop, but the captain insists that the people of Fair Haven should keep their memories and knowledge of the starship. Maggie is happy to be dating a handsome young man from outer space. Janeway gives Sullivan a copy of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, the story of a time-travel romance, and he jokes that he might be able to resist her now that he knows her real name.

Analysis:

This episode had a few lines that made me scream aloud with laughter. Unfortunately, I don't mean that in a good way. I was so embarrassed for Kathryn Janeway, and by extension anyone who still admires or relates to her, that I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. For all the problems with holographic love, it is supposed to offer one unfailing advantage: privacy. No one has to know, when you leave the holodeck flushed and glowing, whether you've been making love or playing Velocity. So how come Janeway, who's too uptight to give her junior officers hugs, has no problem with her crew ridiculing her romance with an inflatable man?

The first award-winning moment was the captain's giggly admission to her first officer, on the bridge in earshot of the entire command crew, that she's embarrassed to have a boyfriend who malfunctions. Boy, Janeway really has loosened up, both joking with Chakotay and about sex. But I find the captain who went berserk about Paris and Torres making out in engineering to be a lot more respectable. My second shrieking moment came after Torres' rant when Janeway refused to shut down the holodeck and risk her holographic sex toy. "With all due respect, Michael can be reprogrammed. Tom and Harry can't." Go, B'Elanna! Tom's girlfriend has a healthy contempt for Fair Haven and Paris' obsession with phony life. Maybe Paris should be dating Janeway, given their mutual preferences for artificial relationships.

But the final priceless moment was Michael Sullivan's declaration of faith in Janeway, since neither she nor her crew ever did anything bad to anyone in Fair Haven with their witchcraft. I am so terribly disappointed that no one in town remembers Michael used to have a wife, whom Kathryn deleted! I am very sorry the writers passed up the opportunity to make the captain do some real soul-searching by having her get arrested for Mrs. Sullivan's murder. Turning Maggie into a cow pales next to that atrocity. Yet it looks like Katie's going to get away with it.

A pity, because I'm sure that if Janeway were about to be burned at the stake, Chakotay would have the sense to delete the whole Fair Haven program, even if it meant having to deal with a sniveling, frustrated captain afterwards. He ought to be used to that by now, anyway. And the rest of us would have a guarantee that we would never again have to see this bad recycling of TNG's Barclay episodes - minus all the warnings about not letting holograms take over one's real life. Seven of Nine barely appeared in this episode, and do you know...I missed her. Whatever objections I may have to her dominating nearly every storyline on Voyager, at least I have not had to worry about her falling in love with a hologram. Yet.

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.