In the eleventh episode of the sixth season of Voyager, I like pretty much one thing about this episode: it’s all about Janeway. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
This episode lost me pretty early for a number of reasons I’ll detail at the start, and that’s unfortunate. It’s not really a terrible idea, and Janeway is one of favorite Trek characters period. I love spending any time focusing on her character! However, I have problems with this.
I simply cannot believe that the entire Voyager crew – or, at least, a sizable portion of it – has the same obsession with Earth history and nostalgia as Tom Paris. I can’t believe that! I thought the Parisian bar was fucking weird, but this is leaps and bounds weirder than that universe. At least a bar made some sense! It’s a place where people can unwind, have a drink, social with other members of the crew… which would have described The Lamb and The Ox. Except that somehow, Tom Paris thought that accurately creating this village was a way to help the crew relax? What other things are there to do? Do they have to do work? DOES HE EXPECT THEM TO GO TO CHURCH. HOW IS THAT ENJOYABLE. No offense to the Doctor, who is honestly way too suited for the role of a Catholic priest in an Irish seaside village. But it felt like a lot to ask the audience to accept that this was something the whole crew was enamored by.
There is not a recognizable conflict – at least not one worth paying attention to – for nearly a half hour of this episode! Sure, the “storm” might exist for some tension and to push forward Janeway’s dilemma, but the problem is largely dealt with by having the ship “anchored” to the storm so that it can ride it out. Thus, it’s a non-issue until the writers need something to derail the Janeway plot, so it feels cheap. Unimportant. Distracting! Look, I’m all for the writers trying something new, but the lack of structure made for one slow episode.
I know, I know, I’ll never get over this. Single-episode love affairs are just not my thing, and that’s my bias. I recognize this, and I still feel like this episode suffers from something completely unbelievable. The one great part of Fair Haven is that it explores Janeway’s loneliness, and that part is incredibly powerful. But asking the audience to accept that after a brief interaction, Janeway would more or less program her perfect boyfriend is a stretch. It’s a lot to ask of us! It’s a lot to assume that Janeway wouldn’t be aware of the immense problems of programming a character who is in a PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE HOLODECK EXPERIENCE. Like, did she think she’d be able to interact with the owner of the main and only pub in the entire town without one other crew member noticing? That’s absurd! Janeway is not that foolish at all! And yet, that’s what I feel this script is trying to get us to accept: that Janeway made major judgmental errors in the span of three days because she developed a crush on a hologram.
Love in Time of Command
There’s one redeeming aspect of this episode: the deliberate acknowledgement that Janeway is stuck in loneliness. Because she’s in command of Voyager, she cannot begin a romantic relationship with anyone on the ship. If the script for “Fair Haven” had started with this point, instead of bringing it to the fore more than halfway through the episode, I believe that this episode wouldn’t have suffered from many of its key problems. We would have been able to sympathize with her predicament from the start, and her decisions wouldn’t have been so jarring. I appreciated her conversation with the Doctor so much, and I wanted more!!! It’s the best part of the whole thing, especially since it invokes the Doctor’s own humanity alongside Janeway’s. What if this is the only way for Janeway to experience companionship? I WANT TO SEE MORE OF THIS.
Instead, the focus is more on the heartbroken Michael Sullivan. No, go back to Janeway! She’s more important! The end result of all this isn’t terribly satisfying because there’s only a hint that Janeway might pursue a holographic romance rather than anything concrete. It doesn’t feel like a resolution to her central problem: her loneliness. The episode concludes that Janeway should just delay things because she’s captain and that’s it. Not very fair, is it?
The video for “Fair Haven” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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