Thu
Jun 9 2011 1:00pm
Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Haven”

Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “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.

15 comments
Jeff Weston
1. JWezy
I too loved Majel Barrett as Lwaxana Troi, the image of her "sweeping through the ship" assuming she is pulling all in her wake is wonderful. I think this was the point where I began to think this series had promise, if they could get that kind of energy and humor going (especially this and the previous episode, played back to back, begin to show real character development).

But, for reasons I have never been able to explain, I find Mr. Homn hilarious. Maybe it is just the way he plays along with Lwaxana's delusions, but somehow he manages to speak volumes just his face (and the occasional gong).
Ryon
2. Ryon
Just a thought regarding the fact that Troi would have to go with her husband, perhaps it is part of the Betazoid Culture? Arranged marriages obviously have faded away from human culture and most federation planets, so maybe Betazoids practice this? Someone break out the Bible!
Ryon
3. John R. Ellis
Yeah, I could never understand the bashing and despising certain parts of Trek fandom directed at Lwaxana, back in the day. Especially during these particularly pompous, artificial, and drab early episodes, where she popped the pretensions of pretty much everyone in a delightful way.
j p
4. sps49
I found the character of Lwaxana annoying. Maybe it's a personal distaste, maybe because RL people like that are incredibly annoying and closed-minded, and probably partly because I don't care for the actress.
Ryon
5. Christopher L. Bennett
I found this a reasonably entertaining episode, largely because of Dennis McCarthy's musical score. This was before Rick Berman had trained the composers to conform to his preference for subdued, non-melodic scores, so McCarthy was free to do the lush, romantic melodies that are one of his greatest strengths. It's a lovely score that elevates the romantic portions of the episode, despite their shortcomings. Aside from that, it's a fun episode overall, livelier than a lot of early TNG.

This episode spawned a major blooper in one of the earliest TNG roleplaying game tie-ins, FASA's ST:TNG Officer's Manual supplement from 1988. Because Lwaxana arrived on the Enterprise while it was orbiting the planet Haven, the authors of the manual were convinced that Haven was the Betazoids' home planet, and there were pages of material based on that assumption.
Ryon
6. John R. Ellis
"maybe because RL people like that are incredibly annoying and closed-minded"

Being an colorful extrovert=being a rude bigot?
rob mcCathy
7. roblewmac
sps 49 HERE HERE! Giving troi an obnoxius mother was the kind of character work TNG did when they could have been DOING something!
Ryon
8. Mike S.
I think you're very generous giving this episode a rating of 3/10. This is the type of episode that belongs more on a sitcom, except for the fact that it's not funny.
j p
9. sps49
@6-

Our definitions of "closed-minded" and "bigot" may differ, but a character who is so focused on their own wants, desires, and needs that they don't know, notice, or care that other people may not agree is- in my experience at least- obnoxious and frustrating.

My different personal preferences do not make me a hater.
Fake Name
10. ThePendragon
I agre with SPS, I dreaded every appearance of Lwaxana Troi. I hate that kind of person.
Ryon
11. Pendard
I think you're underrating this episode. It's clearly better than "The Last Outpost" and you rated them the same, for crying out loud!

Okay, yes, the plot is a little weird. The plot twist is pretty transparent and it isn't particularly clear why Deanna has to leave the Enterprise or why a sexually open society, somewhat matriarchal society like the Betazoids would have arrange marriages during childhood. (To be fair, Vulcan marriage customs are pretty arbitrary in "Amok Time" too.)

But this episode has so much more to offer than just its story. Let's give the writers some credit -- Lwaxana Troi started right here. And while some of the later Lwaxana episodes may be better ("Ménage à Troi" and "Cost of Living" especially comes to mind) I would take "Haven" over "Manhunt" or "Dark Page" any day. There are so many good scenes in this episode, like Lwaxana making Picard carry her extremely heavy suitcase, or the "petty bickering" at the rehearsal dinner, or Mr. Homn drinking. And then there's the scene where Lwaxana lets her façade drop and becomes Deanna's mom for a minute, reveals that she never expected to be held to the engagement and tells Deanna that she doesn't have to go through with the marriage if she doesn't want to.

So, maybe not the best story, but Lwaxana Troi springs fully formed from the head of the writing staff, and that alone is a quite an accomplishment.
Margot Virzana
12. LuvURphleb
Why does the girl from wyatts drawings turn out to be a woman who looks closer to forty in reality? The plague perhaps?
Ryon
13. castodivo
This episode introduces some very profound, yet, casually mentioned tidbits about some really important topics. There are also a lot of wholes this episode.

Soul mates: Apparently, it exists… well, sort of. If one can swallow the pill that Ariana and Wyatt knew each other across the universe in their dreams, why does Ariana know his name, but he doesn't know hers? What does Wrenn mean by " 'We' always thought you were a dream." All the Tarellians could all see him, too? Are the Tarellians telepathic? Huh?

Deanna's accent… the ever curiously weird "neutral" accent: It's mentioned! Apparently, Deanna has an accent that she got from her father. Still doesn't explain anything. Patrick Steward has this big ol' British accent in every episode and Sirtis does this weird thing with hers. Odd.

For some reason, there were humans (the Millers) living on Betazed. Even more curious, the father (Steven Miller) tracked Lwaxana down because they wanted the arranged marriage to take place. Why???? Especially when they live on Earth now!

It's not clear why Deanna and Lwaxana talk at all when they're in private. Lwaxana comments on Deanna's accent, which implies that Deanna and her don't speak (literally) all that often to each other. However, In "Imzadi II: Triange" it's talked about that Deanna prefers to not use telepathy. None of it makes sense. I mean, why would a woman who grew-up on Betazed, constantly using telepathy, prefer to not use it when there's finally someone else from Betazoid on the ship -- someone as close as her mother?

Someone, please, explain this to me.
Ryon
14. Ensign Jayburd
Question: are Haven and Betazed the same planet?

Comment: The Terellian's costumes were almost as ridiculous as the Edo's. Any dying race represented by a middle aged bald man captaining a psychedelic strobe-domed ship, donning an arm-slitted blue silk shirt as his uniform...deserves extinction. After watching the Enterprise viewscreen's slow dissolve to the interrior of the disco plague ship, Wyatt should have turned around, grabbed Deanna's hand, and taken her and his mullet down to the Holodeck for some sweet, naked wedding vows.
Ryon
15. ellisk
One of the great things about Star Trek is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. I like this episode a great deal, because I love Majel Barrett as Lwaxana (long with her ever-present valet, Mr. Homm). I remember cringing when Nurse Chapel appeared as Troi's mother years ago when I first saw this thing, but Barrett loses herself in the role, and is surprisingly excellent. I know this episode is silly and stupid, and it's not going to be to everyone's taste, and I can understand that. It all boils down to whether you are enchanted by Barrett's portrayal of Lwaxana. I loved it. You see a different side of every character as they play against Lwaxana--it takes the Star Fleet stuffed shirt out of every one of them. Thumbs up.

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