Written by Robin Burger
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 6, Episode 11
Production episode 231
Original air date: January 12, 2000
Captain’s log. We open on Fair Haven, a coastal town in Ireland around the turn of the twentieth century. It’s the latest holodeck program created by Paris, who is enjoying the ambience alongside Kim and the EMH (who is cosplaying as the local priest). This includes being hit up for a shilling by a guy named Seamus whose wife threw him out and flirting with a woman named Maggie, who has a dubious reputation.
Later, they’re in the local pub, where Kim actually wins an arm-wrestling competition (to Seamus’ regret, as he bet on the other guy). Janeway arrives and, after admiring the cut of the landlord’s jib, says that they have to get back to work.
Turns out, they’re on a collision course with a neutronic wavefront. It’s neutralized their warp drive, and it’s too big to go around at impulse, so they have to ride it out. They use an inverse warp field to keep themselves stationary in space, and then get pounded by the storm for three days. Neelix suggests to Janeway that they leave Fair Haven running constantly as a place for the crew to relax. Janeway agrees. No provision is made for people who think that a town full of tiresome Irish stereotypes is a lousy place to go and relax.
Janeway herself visits again, and finds the pub empty save for the landlord, Michael Sullivan. They share a pot of tea and then play rings, and even arm wrestle. Janeway finds herself very much intrigued by the bartender right up until the part where he introduces his wife.
Paris asks Janeway to expand the scenario to the other holodeck, and Janeway agrees. So even less consideration for anyone who wants a different type of recreation.
A wavefront slams into the ship, doing minor damage.
Janeway finds herself unable to stop thinking about Sullivan, and goes into the holodeck controls and modifies the character to give him more of an intellectual bent, to make him a bit taller, and to also lose the wife.
She gets into costume and returns to the holodeck, chatting with Sullivan when he sits at the train station reading poetry. Their chemistry is even greater now—though at one point, Janeway sees Chakotay and is modest about what’s going on. (Chakotay, of course, knows exactly what’s going on.)
Later, she attends a shindig at the pub, and after dancing with Sullivan, deletes all the other people in the pub (thank goodness no other Voyager crew were present, or that would’ve been embarrassing) and smooches him.
After they spend the night together, though, she backs off. She recycles the poetry books she’s replicated and avoids the holodeck. Since the program is running constantly, the character of Sullivan is distraught at the fact that his lady love hasn’t returned. In fact, he’s so despondent, that he winds up instigating a bar brawl in the pub.
Janeway is appalled to find out that she was indirectly responsible for the brawling. The EMH tries to get her to say what’s bothering her, and she eventually opens up. She doesn’t want to get into a relationship with a hologram, especially one she can reprogram at will. The EMH points out that she can’t get involved with someone under her command, so where does that leave her beyond the occasional random alien?
Voyager encounters a nasty part of the wavefront. It’s buffeting the ship something fierce, doing considerable damage, and also making Tuvok (and presumably other Vulcans on board) ill. They need to boost power to the deflectors, taking power from wherever they can—including the holodeck. (How they can divert power from the holodeck when it was established in the early first seasons that the systems were incompatible for such things is left as an exercise for the viewer.) Unfortunately, doing so without taking the time to shut down properly (which they don’t have time to do) will result in the program needing to be reprogrammed from jump. Janeway agrees, and they ride out the storm.
Paris says it will take six to seven weeks to reconstruct the Fair Haven program, because apparently it never occurred to anyone to say, “Computer, save program.” Janeway goes to holodeck control, calls up the Sullivan character and says a proper goodbye to him before making one final modification: to not allow Janeway to ever modify the character again.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? After establishing early on that holodeck power can’t be diverted to other systems as a feeble excuse to keep doing holodeck stories, now they can divert holodeck power to other systems. Of course, my complaint at the time was that Starfleet engineers should be able to figure out a way around that, and maybe they finally did some time in the last five years…
Mr. Vulcan. The wavefront at one point makes Tuvok queasy. He demurs from Seven’s suggestion that he go to sickbay, but then he overhears Neelix, Paris, and Kim describe waves crashing on the coast and also some of the more bizarre examples of Irish food, at which point an even-more-ill-looking Tuvok gets up and announces that he’s going to sickbay.
Everybody comes to Neelix’s. Neelix is the one who suggests the holodeck run Fair Haven 24/7, and also starts learning how to make Irish food, for some inexplicable reason.
Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH plays the role of the town priest, and at one point asks for a bigger role. Paris’ suggestion is to have him go to a monastery and take a vow of silence.
The EMH also plays the role of counselor (appropriate both in his role as a physician and as a fake priest) to help Janeway through her difficulties.
Resistance is futile. Seven proves adept at rings, to the admiration of Seamus, though that isn’t what Seamus is actually admiring. Wah-HEY!
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Janeway knocks boots with a hologram, and she acts like it’s some kind of weird thing when you know that that’s how most people use the holodeck, really…
What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. For reasons that are never adequately explained, they lost 90% of the program when the wavefront hits and they have to shut it down, even though holodeck programs can easily be saved and stored.
“Oh, you know the story: girl meets boy, girl modifies boy’s subroutines…”
–Janeway being all romantic.
Welcome aboard. The great character actor Richard Riehle attempts an Irish accent as Seamus. He previously played Batai in TNG’s “The Inner Light,” and will also play Dr. Lucas in the Enterprise episodes “Cold Station 12” and “The Augments.” Fintan McKeown plays Michael, Jan Claire plays Frannie, Henriette Ivanas plays Maggie, and Duffie McIntire plays Grace. Aside from Claire, all of the above will return for the inexplicable sequel, “Spirit Folk,” later this season.
Trivial matters: This is the first Voyager script by Robin Burger, who joined the staff as a producer in this season. She previously wrote the TNG episode “The Hunted,” writing as Robin Bernheim.
Fair Haven will be revisited in “Spirit Folk,” which aired six weeks after this one, exactly the amount of time Paris said he would need to reconstruct the program.
Jane Eldon and Sean Gogerty are both fictional poets. It’s not clear why Burger didn’t have Janeway and Sullivan reading any actual Irish poets, of which there are more than a few.
Set a course for home. “A stranger is a friend you just haven’t met yet.” According to an interview Bryan Fuller did for Star Trek: The Magazine in 2001, there were several candidates for the latest recurring holodeck program, following up on Chez Sandrine, the Paxau Resort, and Captain Proton. Fuller listed an aircraft carrier, an Agatha Christie-style drawing-room mystery, a haunted castle, and a movie studio.
Any of those would have been significantly more interesting than this utter nonsense. Apparently they didn’t feel like they offended enough Irish people in TNG’s “Up the Long Ladder,” which after all, only took up about half the episode. No, much better to devote a full episode (and a sequel!) to doing so!
The setting is just revolting, indulging in all kinds of tired stereotypes, most of which have their root in racist assumptions made about Irish immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries here in the United States: drunken, lazy, philandering, etc. (Plus, of course, they were Catholics, coming to a country dominated by Protestants, an issue faced by Italians who immigrated to the U.S. as well.)
Also Voyager has a crew complement in the low three figures, and not all of them are human, and even the humans aren’t all from Earth. I find it impossible to credit that a plurality of them are going to find this particular setting so compelling that it’s worth devoting all the holodeck time to it. Especially since we don’t really see much of it beyond the pub…
And it’s all in service of a story is just not that compelling. Creating characters you can flirt with and/or have sex with is a perfectly reasonable thing to be doing on the holodeck. The whole point of the holodeck is a place to indulge yourself, and Janeway getting all skittish about recreating with a hologram just seems absurd. And the technobabble plot is lame even by Voyager‘s low standards of lame technobabble plots, as it’s just riding out rough waters, but in space! Which, apparently, is exactly the same as it would be on water, complete with “dropping anchor” and some folks getting nauseous. Snore.
On top of that, the ending where the program is irretrievably damaged makes absolutely no sense, not based on the way computers work in general and how holodecks on three different shows have always worked in particular. It’s just there to create artificial pathos, which is necessary, as there’s no real pathos here to speak of. Just a tiresome, pointless bit of nonsense.
Warp factor rating: 0
Keith R.A. DeCandido will be part of a three-night virtual event celebrating the release of the charity anthology Turning the Tied held by the University Bookstore, on the 25th, 26th, and 27th of May at 9pm Eastern time. The anthology features stories about various public-domain characters, and benefits the World Literacy Foundation. Keith will be participating in the first night’s panel, alongside the anthology’s co-editor Robert Greenberger, and fellow contributors David Boop, Jennifer Brozek, Steven Paul Leiva, Yvonne Navarro, and Weston Ochse. The other two nights will feature the other co-editor, Jean Rabe, and authors Rigel Ailur, Derek Tyler Attico, Greg Cox, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Nancy Holder, Jonathan Maberry, Will McDermott, Scott Pearson, Ben H. Rome, Aaron Rosenberg, Stephen D. Sullivan, Robert Vardeman, and Tim Waggoner. Details here!