Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Haven”

“Haven”
Written by Tracey Tormé and Lan O’Kun
Directed by Richard Compton
Season 1, Episode 10
Production episode 40271-105
Original air date: November 30, 1987
Stardate: 41294.5

Captain’s Log: The Enterprise arrives at Haven, a planet renowned for its placidity. An object is beamed aboard that activates at Troi’s presence. (It’s unclear why Troi happens to walk into the transporter room at that particular moment, but we’ll let that go.) A face starts to talk, announcing that it’s time for Troi’s wedding.

It turns out that, years ago, Troi’s parents arranged a marriage with Wyatt Miller, the human son of Troi’s father’s best friend. The Millers beam aboard: Wyatt’s parents and Wyatt himself, who seems surprised at the sight of his fiancée.

Then Troi’s mother beams on board, along with her new valet, Mr. Homn. Lwaxana is, to say the least, a forceful personality, blowing through the ship like a tornado, getting Picard to carry her luggage, and carrying on about how dreary the Millers have become over the years.

Wyatt has seen a face in his mind ever since he was a boy. He’s drawn several pictures of her, and he assumed it to be Troi, since she’s a Betazoid, but it’s instead some blonde or other. Wyatt is not an artist, as Troi suspected, but a medical doctor, and they discuss the possibility of forming a practice together, a physician and a psychologist.

Haven, meanwhile, reports that a ship has come into their system without communicating. The Enterprise rendezvouses with it to discover that it’s a Tarellian vessel. The Tarellians wiped themselves out with biological weapons, so finding survivors is a bit of a surprise.

At a reception for the newly affianced, the Millers and Lwaxana argue over the type of ceremony they are to have, and argue over about a thousand other things too before Troi gets fed up and leaves. She joins Riker—who had gotten fed up and left several minutes earlier—on the holodeck. Riker is having trouble dealing with this, given the relationship he and Troi had on Betazed years ago. Wyatt then arrives, saying that they’ve reached a compromise: a part-human and part-Betazoid wedding.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise finally makes contact with the Tarellian ship—among whose number is the woman in Wyatt’s drawings. There are only eight of them left, and they’ve come to Haven to die.

Wyatt, however, joins them. He sneaks off the Enterprise, beaming onto the Tarellian ship, devoting himself to helping cure them.

Star Trek: The Next Generation episode

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: When the woman in Wyatt’s drawings appears on the viewer, Troi stands up, walks across the bridge, and says, “The woman in Wyatt’s drawings!”

She also amusingly refers to Riker as “Bill,” which was his nickname in the original bible, and which only was used in this episode, “Encounter at Farpoint,” and “The Naked Now.” She is chastised by her mother for letting her telepathic gifts atrophy, even though she supposedly only feels emotions from anyone save for non-Betazoids and the occasional lover (like Riker).

And the prospect of marrying her is apparently so devastating that her fiancé beams to a plague ship to avoid it….

What Happens On The Holodeck, Stays On The Holodeck: Riker has a small holograph of two women playing harps in his quarters, and then later he goes to the holodeck and creates a desert setting to be alone—only to be joined by Troi and then Wyatt.

Star Trek: The Next Generation episode

No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: Apparently being betrothed is enough to go all kissy-face, as Troi and Wyatt make out in the holodeck despite having just met (and having bugger-all for chemistry). Meanwhile, Lwaxana assumes that everyone is in love with her, notably Homn’s predecessor as valet and Picard.

If I Only Had a Brain…: Data is fascinated by the human rituals unfolding during the engagement dinner, to the point that Picard chastises him for circling the room like a buzzard.

Star Trek: The Next Generation episode

Welcome Aboard. This one has a ton of guests, starting, of course, with the debut of the late Majel Barrett as Lwaxana Troi. The wife of Gene Roddenberry, Barrett had already played Number One in the original Star Trek pilot “The Cage,” Christine Chapel in the original series and the movies, and the voice of the computer throughout the franchise’s history (even the 2009 J.J. Abrams film, her final role). She’s joined, as she often is, by Carel Struycken as the towering Mr. Homn (who speaks his one and only line of dialogue in this episode). There’s also Robert Ellenstein, the Federation President in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, as Steven Miller, and Armin Shimerman as the gift box (since “Haven” was filmed first, this was technically his first appearance, even though his guest turn as a Ferengi in “The Last Outpost” was aired first).

But the guest star that blew me away rewatching this episode was Wyatt Miller, played by Robert Knepper with a mullet. A character actor who has made a name for himself playing criminals and psychopaths (most notably T-Bag in Prison Break and Breakout Kings), Knepper here is wasted as a wussy doctor with absolutely no personality. It’s the only role Knepper’s ever played where he’s boring….

I Believe I Said That: “Could you please continue the petty bickering? I find it most intriguing.”

Data at the party, to the chagrin of everyone else. They faded to commercial, so it’s unknown if anyone slugged him….

A Time For War A Time For Peace by Keith DeCandidoTrivial Matters: This is the the first of several writing credits in the first couple of seasons for Tormé, the son of Mel, who would go on to co-create Sliders, and also the first of many appearances on both this show and Deep Space Nine by the character of Lwaxana Troi, as well her omnipresent valet, Mr. Homn.

The TNG novel Imzadi by Peter David would fill in Riker and Troi’s time on Betazed, including Riker’s first experience with a Betazoid wedding. (When asked why humans have so much hair on their bodies, Riker replies, “Traction.”)

Oh, and in one novel written by some idiot hack with a too-long last name, Wyatt Miller was accidentally referred to as Kevin Wyatt. That guy obviously didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. (Yeah, it was one of mine: A Time for War, a Time for Peace; talk about embarrassing.)

Make It So: What a painful episode. All the worst sci-fi TV show clichés are in evidence here, from the arranged marriage to the artificial suspense of Troi’s allegedly imminent departure to the 1930s radio-drama-style “petty bickering” to the painfully inevitable payoff of Wyatt’s artwork.

And why does Troi have to depart, anyhow? The notion that a woman must go off with her husband once she gets married is mired in sexist values that were out of date when TNG first aired in 1987, and which are particularly nonsensical on a 24th-century ship in an allegedly egalitarian future that has families aboard—why can’t Wyatt just sign onto the Enterprise?

There’s not a single surprise here, and precious little to make the lack of surprise palatable. There are moments, such as Data’s fascination with the bickering, but they’re not enough to make up for the weak plot, the tiresome predictability, and the tee-hee teenage-level snickering during the discussions of nudity during Betazoid wedding ceremonies. Plus there’s the tendency, seen far too often in the show’s first season, for characters to talk about their cultures as if quoting from a textbook rather than actual experiences, not to mention the smug, unsubtle moralizing about those moronic primitive cultures and their biological weapons.

And the presence of Wyatt’s blonde on the Tarellian ship qualifies as the least surprising event of the first season of the show, followed quickly by Wyatt’s decision to beam over to that ship. It would’ve been nice if there was some kind of sparkage between Troi and Wyatt, some sense that the loss of their marriage was a tragedy, but it has no weight, no substance, no consequence.

The one saving grace of the episode is the ever-radiant Barrett. She takes on the role of the Troi matriarch with gusto and verve, and this episode sets the stage for her subsequent appearances, particularly in her relationship with Picard.

 

Warp factor rating: 3.


Keith R.A. DeCandido has been both a writer and an editor of Star Trek fiction since the turn of the century. His Lwaxana Troi short story in Tales of the Dominion War won the Psi Phi Award for Best Star Trek Short Story of 2004. You can follow Keith online at his blog or on Facebook or Twitter under the username KRADeC.

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