Today I am joined for this review by my fabulous feminist friend, Lucia Lorenzi! You can read her writing at Rabble.ca and her own blog, https://lucialorenzi.wordpress.com/, and follow her on Twitter @empathywarrior. Her comments are in bold.
One day a bunch of Star Trek: Voyager writers were sitting around trying to think of a story.
Writer 1: I know! Harry Kim dies but then something happens with an anomaly and he’s not really dead.
Writer 2: Nah. I mean don’t get me wrong, I making bad stuff happen to Harry as much as the next guy, but that’s been done.
Writer 3: I know! Neelix is stuck on a planet of people who are sort of like 20th century humans, and they give him a cooking show.
All: God, no.
Writer 2: Wait, I know! A holodeck story!
Writer 1: Great idea. Captain Proton again?
Writer 2: No. We need something new. Something…with Irish stereotypes.
Writer 3: Yes! That worked like gangbusters in “Up the Long Ladder.”
All: (high fives)
And from that discussion (at least, in my mind) came “Fair Haven.”
Enter Paris walking down a cobblestone street to the sound of an Irish flute. Now, meet Seamus, who’s having troubles with his wife and needs some spare change.
Of course his name is Seamus.
Paris moves on and runs into Harry Kim, who is wearing the perfect hat.
He needs to be in a barbershop quartet.
Paris warns Kim about chasing after Maggie O’Halloran, whose “pig farmer” fiance would totally beat Kim up. When Kim suggests changing the situation…
Paris: I’m not changing a thing. Fair Haven is perfect just the way it is.
Kim (in a bad imitation of an Irish accent): Tommy boy, you forgot the leprechauns.
Paris: No. No leprechauns, no aliens, no starships. I want this to be a place where the crew can unwind.
Well that’s great, as long as you’re cool unwinding in a place where Starfleet officers put on fake Irish accents for a laugh, where men treat their girlfriends like property and where the Catholic Church, fronted by the Doctor as a local priest, holds considerable sway.
But really, what better way is there to unwind than by arm-wrestling?
Janeway marches in and smiles tenderly at Kim’s and his holographic opponent’s display of masculinity.
Writer 1: But wait, how can we give our characters an excuse to spend more time here? They have, like, jobs and shit, theoretically.
Writer 2: Got it covered.
See, a storm’s a coming. A space storm. And everyone’s stressed because they can’t do anything but sit still and batten down the hatches. Neelix suggests they make Fair Haven open to everyone.
And that’s how Janeway ends up back in Fair Haven, still not dressed up (although she was all over period costumes in her fake Jane Eyre program back in Season 1), meeting bartender Michael Sullivan.
After tea, he turns on the charm…if that’s what this is:
Sullivan: Oh no, stay awhile. Didn’t your auntie teach you that it’s impolite to leave without playing a game of rings?
Janeway: I really can’t, but thanks for the tea.
Michael: Afraid you’d lose?
Janeway: I rarely lose.
Michael: Prove it.
So it turns out she does lose. She suggests arm-wrestling but part of the charm of Fair Haven is that men, Sullivan in this case, say things like: “That’s not a woman’s game, Katie. You could get hurt.”
She argues she’s stronger than she looks but has to use two hands and brace her leg against the bar to even get to a draw. Basically, Sullivan proves himself stronger and better at rings and Janeway’s like, “This is the man of my dreams!”
Anyway, then Sullivan’s wife, Frances walks in. Turns out Janeway’s been hanging with Sullivan all night, but Frances acts like this is no big deal. “Happens all the time that I find strange women keeping my husband up all night arm wrestling in the back room!” she thinks.
Almost immediately after leaving the holodeck, Janeway goes to the lab to make edits to Sullivan’s program. This is important because it tells us what Janeway’s looking for in her ideal man.
First, she makes him have a better education, because earlier when she brought up Jonathan Swift she got a blank stare, and you can’t have that! Second, she wants him “more outspoken, more confident, not so reserved.” Um, he seemed pretty confident to me when he was challenging you to rings and calling you out on cheating at arm wrestling. She also wants him taller.
At this point we haven’t seen a lot of Janeway love interests but this is the second that she’s chosen through a holodeck. Back in Season 1 Janeway plays a version of Jane Eyre, a governess in love with her dark, brooding master. I’m uneasy because this is the second time Janeway specifically wants a romantic interest who can hold power over her.
In the Jane Eyre program she literally plays the guy’s servant. In Fair Haven, she is drawn to Sullivan seemingly because he challenges her to a competition and repeatedly wins, She then chooses to make him even more “confident,” educated and taller.
Oh, and we can’t forget her infamous line: “Computer, delete the wife.”
Delete the wife? Who is this person? I don’t recognize her at all. You’d expect this from Paris or Riker, but not Janeway.
This is weird, right?
This is totally weird and especially problematic because we have the Doctor on the ship. Janeway should know holograms can be more than objects and have more respect for them.
Janeway comes back to the holodeck in a dress and old-timey bun, not to be confused with the tighter bun of command. She finds Sullvian at the train station, reading. Soon she’s laughing – you could even say tittering – at jokes that aren’t even funny. She also seems way happier now he’s the one bringing up poets and authors she’s never heard of.
After a romantic walk, Chakotay comes upon them in the street.
Later, on the bridge Chakotay questions her about her poetry books and teases her about it. He’s super perceptive – even notices the height change.
Chakotay: You seemed embarrassed when I ran into you. There was no reason to be. It was nice to see you having a little fun.
Chakotay, you are making this so much more embarrassing though.
Janeway: He is rather charming, isn’t he? Too bad he’s made of photons and forcefields.
Chakotay: I never let that stand in my way.
Wait, is Chakotay shagging holo-partners on a regular basis? I am so, so glad they didn’t make those episodes.
Later, in Fair Haven, Janeway finds herself dancing with Sullivan. At a particularly romantic moment, she has the computer remove all the other characters so there are just the two of them. Thank goodness no one else from the crew happened to be at this huge dance at the pub in Fair Haven, I mean since the holodeck was open to everyone and no one had other shit to do.
Anyway, they totally make out and she’s really into it, but then later, back in her quarters, she has second thoughts.
Back in Fair Haven Sullivan is getting drunk and angry over Janeway’s disappearance. He gets in a bar fight with Paris, who is just trying to calm him down and suggesting maybe “Katie O’Clare” just wasn’t that into him.
Paris: Are you sure you didn’t misinterpret her interests? I mean, we’re all friends here. Maybe she was just being friendly.
Sullivan: Are you calling me a liar?
Paris: No, no, not at all.
Sullivan: I thought Katie and me were in love.
Paris: (quietly) I may have to do some reprogramming.
Sullivan: What’s the matter? You don’t think I’m good enough for her?
Paris: No, I, I didn’t say that.
Michael: Well, tell me where she’s gone.
Paris: I don’t know.
Sullivan: Well, I think you do. (grabs Paris and punches him)
Yup. This guy’s a catch.
In Sickbay, the Doc patches up the humans hurt in the fight.
Her love life actually endangered her crew.
The Doctor then takes Janeway aside to talk.
Doctor: I don’t mean to pry, Captain, but we’ve got a broken-hearted hologram who believed that the two of you were in love.
Janeway: Oh, I was sure he’d be on to the next lass by now. I hope he’s all right.
Doctor: Far from it. The fight spilled out onto the street. Before long, he’d climbed up a tree and began shouting your name. Mister Neelix managed to talk him down.
Janeway says she’s felt awful because she found herself wanting to change every little thing about him that bothered her, up to and including his snoring.
The Doctor says a hologram might be her only relationship option, other than “the occasional dalliance with a passing alien.”
“Maybe I just needed to be sure he’d love me back,” Janeway says.
Doctor: All I know is Michael Sullivan was up in that tree shouting your name
All I know is your boyfriend got drunk, punched your subordinate, then climbed a tree and woke the whole town caterwauling your fake name, because he doesn’t even know who you really are. That sounds like love to me!
Before she can go back to Fair Haven the storm hits. At the last minute, Janeway’s forced to choose to let much of the hologrid, including much of Fair Haven, be destroyed as part of saving the ship. So at the end of the day, even him being a hologram didn’t save her from having to choose her ship and crew over him.
After the storm passes, it turns out the character is ok, but Paris and Kim have a big job to do restoring Fair Haven.
Janeway again goes to the lab and calls up Sullivan’s program. She tells him she’s leaving Fair Haven. When she assures him there’s no other man he again brings up that maybe her friends don’t approve of him. Geez, for a guy whom she engineered to be more confident, he sure is insecure.
He says he loves her and she says if he waits about six weeks she might stop by. That’s kind of a jerk move:
“I love you!”
“Um…Cool….maybe see you in six weeks?”
The last thing she does after saying goodbye is to take the Doctor’s advice and deny herself access to changing Sullivan’s behavioural subroutines.
Bechdel Test: Fail. Janeway chats with Michael’s wife, but about Michael, as well as with an unnamed female vendor, again about Michael. In the scene in astrometrics, the women don’t converse with each other