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Some Irish eyes are smiling...for Janeway.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Steam rises from the tracks as the locomotive horn blares. A steamer trunk is hefted onto the platform by a sturdy pair of lads. Another load of baggage is wheeled along as the camera pulls up, showing the bustle of activity--and the bustle of a passing lass in blue gingham--on what the sign calls Fair Haven.
The town is slowly revealed. Cobblestone streets. Sheep driven hither, a horse-drawn carriage heading yon. The attire is late nineteenth century, and the hills and the myriad shades of green and the ageless mists--and the breathy woodwind instrument doing a passing Chieftains variation--tell us this could only be small-town Ireland.
The broad spectrum of red hair on male and female alike is simply icing on the cake.
Heaven…I'm in heaven…
As the parade of Gaelic humanity passes for review, we see one strolling figure who strikes us as familiar. Tall, meaty in that healthy Irish tradition, wearing a long-sleeved white shirt with the top button undone and a homespun vest, his Federation sideburns trimmed to protocol. He drinks in his surroundings, tipping his cap to one and all.
The ladies in particular.
"Good marning, Tom!" a fetching woman with a broom says; the lilt in her voice is the last nail in the coffin of doubt.
"Good marning, Grace," Tom returns grandly, matching her accent. Standing in the road, taking in the sights and sounds and smells, Tom exhales with satisfaction.
An older man, grizzled, fleshy, wearing a derby, looking like an Irish Wimpy ("I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a haggis today"), approaches our Tommy, disrupting his reverie. "So, where you heading?" asks the man we will (eventually) be told is named Seamus.
Paris smiles knowingly. "Sullivan's. Care to join me?"
"Oh, I wish I could," Seamus says sadly. "But there's a bit of a problem." Uh oh--I feel a story comin' on. The BlarneyMeter is starting to hover.
"Oh, really?" Tom asks. He senses it as well, and battens down to ride out the storm of prose he knows is coming. Not with dread, though--Seamus and his stories seem to be an integral aspect of the experience.
Seamus goes for it. "Well, you see, Tommy-me-boy, the Good Lord blessed me with a fine wife. I'll never forget the day I met her. I was on me way to the Fair in Dooleen...Or was it Kilkee? Ah, there's some fine trout fishing to be had in Kilkee this time of year--"
Tom, who had been following fairly well to this point, interrupts. "Who said anything about trout?"
Seamus doesn't even blink. He's a practiced tale-spinner. He acts appropriately surprised that Tom doesn't know. "Timothy Ryan. God rest his soul. He was one for the trout. The poor man's been dead a fortnight. Some say he had the croup, but don't you believe it!" he warns, waving his finger. "The widow Moore gave him the Evil Eye."
Paris blinks. Then blinks again. Seamus, though charming, does tend to digress. "And...your point?"
Seamus sighs heavily. "Me wife and I--well, we've hit a bit of a rough patch. A better woman never walked the face of the earth--!" He wags his finger again so nary a harsh word may escape Tom's tongue, even in the defense of his friend.
Tom smirks sympathetically. "She threw you out again."
A sigh. "With nothing but the clothes on me back."
Tom's eyes roll. "How much?" Clearly, this isn't the first time.
"A shilling--or two!--should suffice."
Seamus looks suitably humble, but the gleam in his eye at the sight of the coins in Tom's hand put Tom in a generous mood. And his story was sufficiently entertaining. Tom does sigh patiently for effect, but drops the asked-for coins into the callused palm of the old man. "Keep the change."
Seamus cheerfully pokes Tom in the chest. "God bless you, Tommy-me-boy." Tom laughs as Seamus scampers away to put his shillings to good use. He turns slowly there in the middle of the street, once again basking in the perfection of his environment. He breathes deeply the charms of Fair Haven.
Then he sighs when he sees another familiar face chatting up someone else by a flower cart, and moves to intercept.
"Harry, weren't you supposed to meet me at Sullivan's?"
Harry, decked out in his gentleman earth tones and his straw hat and too busy admiring the fine young lass in the white flower-print skirt and hair the color of sunrise, finally looks up. "Uh! Sorry. I got distracted by the…scenery. This is Maggie."
Maggie blushes coyly.
Paris rolls his eyes. "We've met. Could you excuse us?" He drags Harry away.
"Charmed to have met you, Harry," Maggie says, her voice an invitation.
"Charmed," Harry says in return. Then, to Paris, "What's the hurry?"
Tom keeps walking until they're safely out of range from Maggie. "A word to the wise. Stay away from Maggie O'Halloran. She's promised to a pig farmer with a very large rake."
"Does she have a sister?"
Harry grins. "Nothing an adjustment to the holomatrix wouldn't fix."
Tom is shocked. "No, no. I'm not changing a thing! Fair Haven is perfect just the way it is."
Harry launches into his own brogue. "Tommy boy, you forgot the leprechauns."
Tom chortles. "No. No leprechauns, no aliens, no starships. I want this to be a place where the crew can unwind."
Tom Paris has always had a knack for Holodeck hangouts. Sandrines, the modifications to Neelix's resort program, Captain Proton. Fair Haven is his most ambitious effort to date--and at first glance, it's a winner.
The doctor, decked out in priestly robes, rides into the scene on a bicycle. Awkwardly. Seeing Tom and Harry, Doc rings his bike bell to catch their attention.
"Ah," says Tom, his eyes dancing. "Heard any good confessions lately?"
"Doctor-patient confidentiality, Mr. Paris," Doc reminds him, wagging a finger.
"Harry hasn't seen Sullivan's yet," Tom says. "Do you care to join us?"
"Don't mind if I do," Doc says, leading the way up the iron-railed stairs. "I'll need to leave no later than 1300 hours."
"Medical emergency?" Tom asks.
"Not exactly. I'm working on my homily for Sunday's mass." Doc leans against the rail, his stentorian gaze stabbing downward on the Ensigns. "And I expect both you sinners to be in attendance." His long black robes flapping in the gentle breeze, Doc enters Sullivan's.
Tom looks at Harry. "He's kidding, right?"
Harry shrugs. "You wanted authenticity."
Tom sighs. A bit more meekly now, the two take the five concrete steps and enter.
We see the lion's head and the Irish harp that announce Sullivan's to the perfect little town.
Though there's something about the harp…
* * *
Sullivan's is a popular place. It's a place where the optimists see the glass as half empty--because it means you're that much closer to the next full pint.
There are women here, but the bulk--in every sense of the word--of the crowd is male. All ages are represented. Beer glasses and Guinness on Tap are put through their paces. We see a large man with sideburns Neelix would envy doing some stretching and knuckle-cracking exercises. We see Seamus doing some drinking exercises.
And we see Tommy Boy doing some gambling exercises. His hat held out to accept the wagers, he shouts, "Everybody, place your bets!"
"Three bob on Liam," Seamus says, spending some more of Tom's money.
But Tom doesn't mind; "Three bob it is," he grins, taking the coins.
"Five shillings on Liam," Doc says, plopping five large coins in the hat.
Tom glares. "You're going to hurt Harry's feelings!"
"Oh, very well. Two shillings on Mr. Kim--and I'll pray for a miracle." Doc pulls three coins back from the hat.
Seamus intercepts the Doctor. "Excuse me, Father, but I'm needing a bit of counsel."
"I'm off duty right now," Doc says.
"But I've broken the fifth commandment again!" For those playing the home game, the fifth commandment is, "Thou shalt not have red wine with fish." (Nah. It's actually, "Honor thy father and mother.")
Doc sighs. "Say ten 'Our Fathers' and call me in the morning."
Seamus, relieved, genuflects. "Thank you, Father."
Doc takes his empty beer mug over to the table where Harry and Liam, the very large man with the big sideburns, now sit, hands locked. "Gentlemen!" Doc shouts, then raps the table three times with the glass.
The struggle begins. Men shout their encouragement to both combatants, and Doc--with his two shillings on the line--isn't shy about bellowing his own hopes into Harry's ear. "Come on, Ensign, you can do it! Show him what for!"
The scene shifts slightly, so we hear but don't see the action. A lone bartender wipes down the counter as Captain Janeway--wearing her Starfleet uniform, the first we've seen so far--enters. He sees her looking around, and she--seeing him--approaches the bar, showing us the whites of her teeth.
"What'll it be?"
"I'm looking for some friends of mine," Janeway says, grinning.
"Well, we're all friends here." Michael is a little bit taller than Janeway, a little bit deadpan, a little bit stilted. He seems to have the emotional range of Max Burke from "Equinox."
But he's got a certain…something. The captain can't help but notice.
Janeway's smile widens. "Well, then, have you seen Tom Paris?"
The bartender, whom we'll eventually call Michael Sullivan, nods toward the center of commotion. "He's right over there, with young Harry. Poor sod. I'm afraid no one's whipped Liam in three years."
Janeway looks over at the crowd, and smiles. "There's a first time for everything."
"An optimist, are you?"
Janeway looks back at the bartender. "A realist." Giving the bartender her patented over-the-shoulder limbo farewell, slinks away from the bar before marching toward the contest.
Doc is shouting at Harry, who is not faring well. "Try! Try!"
Seamus does the same to the hirsute Liam. "Come on, me boy. Push! Push!" Liam has a manic look in his eyes, but he's gritting his teeth.
Harry is stiff competition. "I'm trying!" Harry grunts.
"Come on! Try harder!" Doc yells.
"You got him! You got him, lad! You got him!" Seamus shouts.
But Harry screams the scream of an ensign being eaten alive by Species 8472 DNA. It does the trick--Harry has just drawn a full foamy-headed pint of whupass. Slowly, he gains ground until the locked palms are back at midpoint.
Liam's eyes go wide with surprise. Seamus seethes. "What?! What in God's name?! Come on, Liam! Push!"
Harry continues to grunt and grit, and as the crowd howls, he finishes with a flourish. Liam's arm thuds against the wooden table.
"Yes! Yeeeeesssss!" Harry yells, clenching his upraised fists in victory.
Seamus grumbles. "Good for nothing!" he says, glaring at Liam as the crowd disperses.
Doc, however, beams. "I knew you could do it, Ensign!" he says, holding out his hand to collect his winnings, casting Tom a warning glance--gambler/bookie confidentiality and all that.
Janeway wades in, clapping Tom, Doc and Harry on the shoulders. "So, this is the program I've been hearing so much about!"
"Welcome, weary traveler," Tom says.
"You have outdone yourself this time," Janeway says sincerely. "Everything is authentic--except for one tiny detail." She pokes Tom in the chest for emphasis.
"Oh?" Tom asks.
"The harp on the sign. It's backwards." Janeway smirks. Only the captain--and a few million Celts--would know that.
I knew it!
Tom deflates just a little. "Everybody's a critic," he huffs, as he hands out the winnings to the few smart enough to wager on Harry--after his percentage, of course.
But if that's all Janeway could find fault with, Tom did pretty darn well.
"As I recall, the Captain is quite an aficionado of Irish history," Doc points out to soften the blow.
"I hate to break up the party," the captain says, "but there's a neutronic wavefront approaching--class nine."
Harry's eyes widen. "Class nine?" Paris and Kim instantly switch to Officer mode. Paris puts on his now empty cap and follows Janeway out. "Sorry, boys, duty calls." Harry deftly puts his own straw hat on, showing off just a little.
Seamus catches Tom before he reaches the door. "Aaaahhh…'Wavefront'? Now, what in the name of God is that?"
Paris looks at Janeway, whose hands rest on her hips. Tom finds a way to put it in nineteenth century terms. "Uh, a wee bit of bad weather." He squeezes his thumb and forefinger together. Ooh, Seamus says, as Janeway smiles.
But before she leaves, Kathryn Janeway spares one final glance back at the bar, and the man behind it.
Michael Sullivan glances back.
Tom and B'Elanna, Chakotay and Janeway, and Seven of Nine view the anomaly on the main Astrometrics screen.
The massive blue ring is heading right for them.
"Borg classification 34792 particle density anomaly," Seven of Nine explains. Where'd it come from? Tom asks, and Seven explains. "I believe it was formed by the collision of two neutron stars. The wavefront is traveling at a velocity of 200,000 kilometers per second, and it extends for 3.6 light-years."
"How long before it hits?" Chakotay asks. Approximately 15 hours, Seven says.
Pay attention, because this is B'Elanna's only line of the week. But she gives it her all. "We're already feeling its effects. The neutron radiation is disrupting plasma flow. We can't jump to warp."
"Impulse power won't be enough to outrun that thing," Tom adds.
Janeway stares hard at the screen. "Then we'll have to ride it out. We'll generate an inverse warp field and drop anchor. That should protect us from the turbulence."
Chakotay frowns. "What about the radiation? It'll only get worse."
"Have the doctor prepare inoculations for the crew. Go to yellow alert," Janeway orders. "Tom, B'Elanna, get started on converting the warp core."
"Yes, ma'am," Tom says.
Janeway nods; the plan is in place. "Let's batten down the hatches."
Once that's done, there won't be much to do for the next few days but…pass the time.
Later that night, Janeway relaxes alone with a PADD and a coffee mug in the Mess Hall. She sits over in the corner, on the big poofy couch.
Neelix, dressed up more than usual, enters--he probably has the place wired and noticed a light was on. He notices Janeway and walks over. "Captain!" he says.
"Just burning the midnight oil," Janeway says, showing the contents of her hands.
"Midnight's come and gone," Neelix points out.
Janeway tosses aside her PADD and slaps her knee for emphasis. "Then it's time for a break."
"Do you mind?" Neelix asks, gesturing timidly to the couch. (Oh, he is SO in love with her…)
"I could use the company," Janeway says, smiling that inviting smile of hers. He sits next to her.
Janeway brings her feet up on the couch, sitting on her heels, holding her knees in her hands. "This approaching wavefront--it's bringing back some unpleasant memories." How so? Neelix asks. "You know I grew up on a farm in Indiana. We used to have some terrible thunderstorms during the summer months. At the first bolt of lightning I'd bolt under the bed." Even so, Janeway almost sounds nostalgic about it.
"We had some pretty nasty weather on Talax, too. I always enjoyed a good ion storm," he confesses.
"Give me clear skies any day," Janeway says.
"Now that you bring it up, I am concerned with keeping up morale over the next few days. The crew is not used to sitting still."
Janeway nods, accepting his diagnosis as the ship's morale officer. "Suggestions?"
"Everyone seems to love Fair Haven. I was thinking we might initiate an open-door protocol on the Holodeck and keep the program running 24 hours a day." Janeway reaches for her coffee mug. "Let people come and go as they please," Neelix suggests.
Janeway raises the mug in toast. "Permission granted. Fair Haven's just become our port in the storm."
The captain takes a sip as Neelix stands, self-consciously wringing a dark piece of cloth in his hands as he summons the courage for what comes next. "I'm heading down there myself if you'd like to join me. There's a charming little inn called the Ox and Lamb. The owner offered to share some of his recipes."
Janeway gives him a warm smile. "No, thanks. I still have work to do." Neelix nods, and exits.
But the thought has been planted. Janeway is keenly aware of how alone she is in the mess hall.
Sullivan's is also empty when Janeway enters. But not for long. As she looks around, she hears a noise behind her--a wooden clomp.
She turns toward the sound, and sees Michael Sullivan putting up the chairs for the night.
"What'll it be?" Michael asks, almost formally.
Janeway thinks, then smiles. "A cup of tea would be nice." Good call--yer in tea country now, lass.
"I just made one," Michael says, gesturing to the table with the teapot. Cream?" he asks, heading for the cupboard. Please, Janeway says, taking a seat.
"So, what brings you to Fair Haven, Miss...?"
"Kathryn. I'm just passing through on my way home."
How long have you been on the road? he asks. "Five years. Almost six," Janeway says. Must be homesick, he observes. "No," Janeway says, then corrects herself. "Sometimes."
Sullivan pours Janeway a cup of tea, then adds the cream. "Thank you," Janeway says.
Sullivan stares at her with discomfiting intimacy. "Cead mil failte," he says. (The closed captioning had it wrong, BTW; the actual spelling is "Ciad Mille Failte" which is the slogan of the town of Cape Breton. Thanks, Caroline.) (Now Sara from Ireland tells me it's CEAD MILE FAILTE. You know what? I think they could all be right, depending on where you are and who you ask. It's a great saying however it's spelled, and I can easily imagine it being used by many, with slight variations.) Translation? Janeway asks. "'A hundred thousand welcomes.' It's an old Irish saying. We're all friends here."
Sullivan's an interesting guy. He's just a little off, but he's so close. It's easy to see why Janeway is intrigued by him, and just as easy to see why she's not completely taken. When he's charming, he's hard to resist. But his charm seems to run hot and cold.
"I had an aunt who used to have a saying like that. 'A stranger is a friend you just haven't met yet,'" the captain quotes.
Janeway smiles. "She had an Irish temper, too. She and my uncle had a place not far from here. In County Clare."
Sullivan nods. "Ah. Then you're closer to home than you think--Katie. O'Clare."
I won't be at all surprised if there are at least a few people using that pseudonym online before the week is out.
But the designation seems to leave Janeway a bit cold. The spoon clatters against the tea saucer. "You know, it's later than I thought and I've kept you long enough." She rises to leave.
"No, stay awhile. Didn't your auntie teach you that it's impolite to leave without--" (think fast, man!)"--playing a game of rings?"
Janeway gives Michael an over-the-shoulder look as she walks to the door. "I really can't, but thanks for the tea." She waves goodbye.
"Afraid you'd lose?" Michael calls after her.
Janeway halts in her tracks.
Uh oh. That got her Irish up.
Katie O'Clare turns around and looks at the photonic bartender. Her eyes blaze. Her hair glows. "I rarely lose." Her teeth bare in challenge.
"Prove it," Michael says.
Janeway waggles a finger at him--but steps back into Sullivan's. "One game…" she declares.
Michael smiles. He also waves a finger--at the rings. "I'll set them up."
Score one for charm.
* * *
The ring pegs are modestly populated. The basket beneath has its share as well.
Another ring is hooked onto the center peg. "Another ringer!" Michael says.
Janeway leans against the bar. "And I'm not surprised. You stepped over the beer stain," she says, her voice accusing.
"You did, too--by half a boot! And then you moved back, hoping I wouldn't notice," Janeway says. But it's clear she's teasing, not making a federal case.
Michael defends his honor. "These boots--are half a size too large, so in reality my toes never crossed the line." It's blarney, but at this time of night, it is enough.
"Your turn," he says.
Janeway kisses her ring with a wet smack. "For luck."
Michael grins. "Getting sweet with the rings isn't gonna help you."
"We'll see," Janeway promises.
And that we do--we see the ring clatter off the playing board and pachinko its way into the basket.
"Damn!" Janeway says.
"The devil won't help you, either," Michael says dryly.
Janeway reclines against the bar. "Well, maybe rings aren't my forte after all. Would you care to arm wrestle?" She plops her elbow on the counter.
Michael Sullivan, holographic bartender, shakes his head. "That's not a woman's game, Katie. You could get hurt."
"I'm stronger than I look." Reluctantly, Michael takes her hand--and Janeway immediately cheats, almost pinning him before he manages to recover. "Ah!" he says, and they laugh.
The contest begins in earnest. "Now, that's quite a grip you have," Michael says.
"Not bad yourself," Janeway grunts.
She seems to be holding her own. Michael looks over to her side of the bar. "I couldn't help but notice that you have your leg braced against the bar."
Caught red-shouldered, Janeway continues to struggle. "Well, how else do you expect me to win?" She plops her other hand onto the pile and practically does chin ups, but the iron grip of Michael Sullivan barely budges.
"Will we call it a draw?" Michael asks, having the good grace to make it sounds like a favor.
"It sounds…good...to me!" Janeway says, with one final but futile effort to win. When they finally break, Janeway's gasping for breath.
"Shall we run a foot race down to the station and back?" Michael teases, and Janeway laughs merrily.
"It's good to make a new friend. You have a nice way about you," Sullivan says, smiling warmly.
Janeway wags a finger. "'Flattery's the food of fools,'" she quotes.
Sullivan frowns; he doesn't get the reference. "Another pearl of wisdom from your auntie?" Janeway laughs, horrified. No! she says; Jonathan Swift!
"Swift? Never heard of him."
Janeway is properly scandalized. "He was an author!"
"Ah. I was never one for reading." There's another strike against him. Janeway's a reader.
"Well, that's too bad," Janeway says, meaning it. "Some of the greatest writers in the world are Irish."
Sullivan meekly looks away. For a hologram, he seems embarrassed. "Well, they say that Dr. Gilroy has a library of books and, well, next time I see him I'll ask him: Can I borrow one or two?" You'd almost feel sorry for him, if he were real. Here he's landed himself a feisty devil woman, but he can see her interest waning.
And if that didn't beat all…
"Good mornin'," a full-bosomed redhead says, entering the pub.
"Good mornin'," Sullivan says awkwardly, then realizes what he just said. "Oh, my God, will you look at the time? Frannie, come here. There's someone I want you to meet. Katie O'Clare, this is my wife, Francis."
"Pleased to meet you," Janeway says, shaking hands.
"I hope Michael hasn't been bending your ear all night."
Janeway recovers somewhat, and laughs. "My ear, my elbow..."
"We were arm wrestling," Michael explains.
"Mmm, such a gentleman," Frannie says.
"Well, thank you very much for your hospitality--and now I really must be leaving," Janeway says, practically sprinting for the door.
"And, uh, drop in again before you leave town," Michael says, not nearly so eager to keep her here with the little woman in the room.
"I will," Janeway semi-promises, waving over her shoulder with both hands, but not looking back.
In Sickbay, Doc and Paris handle the radiation inoculations.
"If you experience any dizziness report to sick bay immediately," Doc tells a blonde crewman, who nods silently, then hops off the bed and exits.
Janeway catches the door on her way in. "Good morning, gentlemen," she says, hopping on the bed and pulling down her collar.
"I believe it's afternoon," Doc says. "Oversleep?"
Paris smiles. "Fair Haven?"
"Welcome, weary traveler," Janeway says with a smile as Doc gives her the injection. She leans back, reveling in the jocular tone of the moment.
"Even I have to admit--Mr. Paris's latest effort is quite a tour de force," Doc says.
Janeway gives the Doctor a coquettish look. "Ooh, high praise from a hologram!"
Paris takes advantage of Janeway's high spirits. "Oh, I was thinking, Captain--now that we've got this open-door policy, maybe I could expand Fair Haven into Holodeck Two. It would give me some room to create the seacoast."
Janeway leans forward, the smooth motion of her body almost feline. "By all means." Tom beams.
"Speaking of revisions, I was hoping I could give my character a more active role," Doc says. Tom winces audibly; Janeway squeezes her eyes shut. "In the period you've created, the village priest was the most prominent member of the community...held in the highest regard."
Oh, boy. Here it comes.
"Yep, that's a great idea, Doc," Tom says. Janeway is almost surprised; she looks at Tom, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"We could send Father Mulligan on a--retreat to a nearby monastery--"
Janeway gets That Look. That "I can't take the boy anywhere" look. She hops off the table and heads for Tom before Doc rethinks the Hippocratic Oath.
"--where he takes a vow of silence and never speaks again!" Tom finishes. But the last word hasn't stopped echoing before Janeway, grabs Tom with both hands and drags him away.
No doubt to the woodshed.
Doc shouts after them. "Try it!" The door shuts.
Doc ends with a fierce mutter. "And you'll be saying Hail Mary's till St. Patrick's Day."
But by the time the turbolift deposits Janeway and Paris on the bridge, they're both laughing raucously.
"Time?" Janeway asks, returning to business as Tom takes his seat. 30 seconds, Tuvok says. Janeway takes her own position in the Big Chair. "Let's see it."
We see it. And dang--it's intimidating. Big blue waves of Smurfy annihilation.
"All hands, this is the Captain. Secure your stations and brace for impact."
We see the clouds rolling in. Then we see the edge of it strike the screen.
Well, you know the rest. Ship meets anomaly, anomaly gets medieval on ship, panels explode, hair goes akimbo as crewmen are jostled about. It's a tense and bumpy few seconds, but eventually the worst of it is over.
"We've cleared the leading edge," Tuvok reports. "Turbulence is decreasing. Shields are holding."
"Damage?" Janeway asks Harry.
"We've got a ruptured plasma conduit, deck nine."
"Send a repair team. Maintain yellow alert." Harry nods.
Janeway sighs. "Let's hope that was the worst of it."
Shyeah, right. As if.
The storm flows by the stationary Voyager.
Captain's personal log. It's been ten hours since the storm hit. We estimate another three days before we're clear of it. The crew's in good spirits, and many of them have taken the opportunity to visit Fair Haven. I met an interesting man there--and for a while, I almost forgot he was a hologram. We weren't exactly compatible. Then again, Mr. Paris didn't program him to my specifications.
We see Janeway walking alone through Voyager's corridors. The look on her face is devious, like a cat pondering the cage between it and the canary.
She stops at the door of the Holographic Research Lab, a smaller version of the Holodeck usually reserved for examining individual elements of a larger program. Casting her eyes about so as not to be noticed, Janeway punches in the access code and gains entry.
"Computer, display Fair Haven character…Michael Sullivan."
I wonder if Tom Paris knows his perfect program is about to be hacked.
Sullivan appears, but he does not move. He seems incongruous in the 24th-century setting. His yellow cotton shirt, his woolen vest, his non-Starfleet hairstyle, and that week-old growth of stubble are all throwbacks to a bygone era.
He also has those lifeless eyes and a rather humorless expression. Tom most likely gave minimal attention to Sullivan, preferring to spend the time getting the details right on the likes of Maggie O'Halloran.
Janeway walks around Holo-Sullivan, circling like a shark. "Adjust his parameters to the following specifications: Give him the education of a 19th century...third-year student at Trinity College."
A moment later, the computer chirps. Modification complete.
Janeway licks her lips. Her voice goes a little husky, and she darn near whispers her command. All the while, she looks at the hologram the way an Orca regards a baby seal around suppertime. "Now. Access the character's interactive subroutines. Make him more provocative."
Specify, the computer says.
Janeway sighs. "Give him a more complicated personality."
Specify, the computer says again.
Not so easy, is it, lady? Janeway shuts her eyes, counts to ten. Then tries again. "More outspoken...more confident, not so reserved. And make him more curious about the world around him."
Modification complete, the computer says a moment later.
"Good," Janeway says, taking a few steps toward her upgraded plaything. We can see a brighter light in the Sullivan eyes, a slight uptick in the corners of his mouth. This Sullivan, frozen in place, nonetheless looks a good deal more alive.
"Now...Increase the character's height by..." she thinks about it for a moment. "Three centimeters." Sullivan fades out--and returns, a little over an inch taller than before.
Janeway's hungry look intensifies. "Remove the facial hair." Bzzt--the shadow fades, and the face is…well, not exactly smooth. "No, no, I don't like that. Put some back--about two days' growth." Another blur, then Sullivan has that Don Johnson in Miami Vice look about him.
"Better," Janeway says, clearly pleased. Then a wolfish look crosses her face. "Oh, one more thing. Access his…interpersonal…subroutine. Familial characters." The computer chirps. "Delete the wife." (There's one for the highlight reel.)
Janeway smiles broadly. She steps forward, invades the hologram's personal space. Looks up at her edited masterpiece. Her eyes dance. "Pleased to meet you, Mr. Sullivan."
Though immobile, Sullivan has that look about him. The pleasure is mutual.
* * *
The next act begins in the mess hall. But whoever's running the camera really needs to get his eyes checked. The view is blurred and kinda nauseating.
Then the picture sharpens, as the focus is placed on Tuvok--who is on the verge of blowing an O ring of plomeek soup.
Seven of Nine approaches Tuvok's table with her tray of food. "Are you ill, Commander?"
"I am experiencing a slight loss of [Urp] equilibrium--and some [frrt] gastrointestinal distress." Oh, poor Vulcan. (and poor crewmates; his half-empty tray is piled with asparagus.)
"Space sickness?" Seven asks, having the good grace to not look amused.
"Unlikely," Tuvok says. "I'm not prone to that condition." Even so, he's looking mighty green about now.
Seven takes a seat beside him. "Perhaps you should go to sick bay."
"I'll be fine," Tuvok insists.
We'll see about that.
In come Tom and Harry, arguing over whether the Fair Haven seacoast should have fog, or not.
"I'm telling you, we should add more fog!" Harry says.
"Fog is depressing!" Tom counters.
Spotting Seven and Tuvok, Tom and Harry head for the table.
"All right, we could add a lighthouse."
"It's Fair Haven, Harry...Sunshine?"
Harry claps poor Tuvok on the shoulder. "Tuvok, what do you think? The Irish seacoast--fog or no fog?"
Tuvok silently pleads for everyone to just go away. "I have no opinion," he says, holding his head.
"He hasn't visited our little paradise yet," Tom points out. Nor do I intend to, Tuvok says.
"I think you'd like it, Commander," Harry says. "It's a great place to meditate."
Tom helps Tuvok visualize the experience. While he talks, Harry pantomimes. "Imagine yourself sitting high on a bluff overlooking the ocean. Salt air...The rhythm of the waves rising and crashing against the rocks...A tiny fishing boat bobbing on the water below...Up and down. Uuuuup and dowwwwwwn…."
You can almost hear the churning in the Vulcan's gut. Even the eyebrows are doing dry heaves. "I get the idea, Ensign," Tuvok mutters. "Thank you." Seven of Nine smirks but says nothing.
Neelix joins the act. "Mutton, creamed cabbage or blood pudding?" he asks Tom. Explain, Seven says. "I'm preparing a traditional Irish meal at the Ox and Lamb this afternoon and I cannot decide on a main course."
Tuvok turns even greener.
"Oh, blood pudding--you can't lose!" Tom says.
Tuvok sighs. When it rains, it pours.
"That was my first choice, too," Neelix tells Tom. "But replicating the lamb's intestines--it could be tricky. And every time I try to heat the blood, it coagulates in the milk."
Tuvok can't stands no more. "If you'll excuse me. I think I will consult the doctor." Tom and Neelix and Harry look after him with questioning looks.
Seven just smiles.
Kathryn Janeway--Katie O'Clare--is now dressed to fit the setting of Fair Haven. She crosses the street and asks Grace (I believe) if she's seen Michael Sullivan. "Oh, you might try the pub," she says, but Janeway explains she was just there. "Oh, then he'll be at the train station." Janeway thanks her and heads in that direction. It is a pleasant exchange, and Janeway seems for the first time to truly warm up to her surroundings.
And it's only going to get warmer.
We see Michael Sullivan on a bench beside the train station, a small book of poetry in hand. The differences between this Michael Sullivan and the original are apparent.
For one thing, he's outside. The book is another clue. He's dressed a bit more stylishly. But above all, there are his eyes and the perpetual, good-humored smile.
"Excuse me, sir," Janeway says, as she leans against a wooden pole showing directions and distances to other destinations. The tease. "Is the train to Galway running on time?"
Michael looks up--and beams. "Um, I'm afraid you've just missed it. Have a seat. Wait for the next one." Janeway readily accepts, drinking in his appreciation.
"Do you know Jane Eldon?" he asks her.
"Eldon? No, I've never met her."
Michael grins. "Well, I'd be terrified if you had. She's been dead 70 years." His eyes dance with mirth, and Janeway bursts into fits of giggles. "No, I was, uh...I was thinking about her poetry. It's too pastoral for my taste, don't you agree?"
"I'm not familiar with her work," Janeway admits, caught momentarily off guard.
"Really?" Michael says, surprised. "Well, what about Sean Gogarty? They have similar rhyming schemes."
Janeway draws a complete blank. Flustered, she can only laugh more.
"You have some catching up to do," Michael teases, and Janeway, laughing, nods her agreement.
"Well, I'm here every afternoon. You should join me sometime. I tried talking poetry with Seamus, but all he can do is recite limericks."
Janeway continues her merry laughter. "I'd love to." She looks around. "Strange place to read, though."
Michael smiles. "Not at all. I love the sound of the trains coming and going. It gets me thinking about places I'd like to visit. Have you traveled much yourself?"
Janeway smirks. "As a matter of fact...but there's one place I haven't been yet: Castle O'Dell."
Michael considers this. "It's a steep climb--but from the top of the battlement you can see all the way to Dublin." He stands, and extends his arm. "We'd better be moving."
The two walk arm in arm through the cobbled streets.
"They say when the sun goes down the king of the Faeries reclaims the castle," Michael says.
"Maybe he'll invite us to supper!"
"Eh, you'll be dining alone without me," Michael says somberly. "One taste of the Faerie's banquet and you'll never return to this world." (Hmmm--nothing subtle about that allusion, is there?)
"Oh, don't tell me you believe those stories," Janeway teases.
"Believe? No. But I do respect them." And that, Janeway can agree with.
"Can I ask you something, Katie?" Michael asks. Please, she says. "Have you a man waiting for you at home?"
Ooh--big question. "No."
"Are you looking for one?"
Janeway laughs. "Why? Do you have somebody?"
"In Fair Haven? Not unless you fancy a pig farmer."
Janeway smiles. "Oh, not my type."
Michael stops walking. "Well, what about a barkeeper who reads poetry in strange places?"
Before Janeway can respond--and she was about to--the reverie is interrupted by a familiar face in inconsistent attire. "Captain?" Chakotay, still in his uniform, asks.
Michael smiles. Janeway looks like she'd like nothing more than to hide.
"I thought that was you!" Chakotay says, beaming.
"Just…getting in the spirit," Janeway laughs nervously.
"I can see that." He turns to Sullivan. "I don't believe we've met."
"Sullivan. Michael Sullivan."
"Chakotay." The two men size each other up a little.
You know, there is a passing resemblance between the two…
"That's a fine tattoo. Are you off a ship?"
Chakotay smirks. "You could say that."
"We're on the way up to the old castle," Michael says. "You're welcome to come with us."
"Thanks, but, uh...I'm meeting Neelix at the Ox and Lamb," Chakotay says. He looks at Janeway. "You two have fun." Then he enters through the nearest door and is gone.
Janeway watches him go.
"Is it my imagination," Michael says, "or did he call you Captain?"
This breaks Janeway out of her reverie. "Did he?"
The stroll resumes.
Some time later, as Voyager continues riding out the storm…
The bridge is active. Janeway and Chakotay are here, as are Kim, Paris and Tuvok.
Chakotay, carrying a PADD, apparently just got here. "Looks like the worst is yet to come….I just came from Astrometrics. Seven's found an increase in the neutronic gradient at the trailing edge of the wavefront. It's going to be a rough ride when it hits."
"We've still got two days," Janeway says. "Start working on a new shield modulation," she orders Ensign Kim, who responds with the expected Yes, ma'am.
"That could explain my recent space sickness," Tuvok says. "The Vulcan physiology is highly sensitive to neutronic gradients."
From Helm, Tom Paris can't help himself. "You'd make a good barometer, Tuvok! Every time you get queasy, we go to red alert."
Tuvok has been practicing; he gives Tom a skunk eye worthy of the Auburn One herself.
Janeway goes all quiet. "Thanks for your report, Commander." She seems unwilling to look at him.
"Don't mention it." But then Chakotay picks up the small hardbound book on the armrest of the captain's chair. "'Hills most green, hearts unseen.'"
Busted! "Yes," Janeway admits. "Jane Eldon. I'm catching up on a little reading."
"Those hills and hearts wouldn't happen to be in Ireland?" Chakotay gently teases.
Janeway glares…but there's not much heat there. Most of the flush is in her cheeks. "You can wipe that smirk off your face. It's not what you think."
"I wasn't thinking anything," Chakotay assures her. "But, now that you mentioned it..." Ooh, he's evil.
Janeway sounds exactly like a Valley teen as she says, "I have an interest in Irish culture…" Hello, duh, check the hair, dude…
Chakotay is having the time of his life, it's clear. "It's understandable. They've produced great writers for hundreds of years," he says. Then adds, "Not to mention great bartenders."
Janeway tries to laugh it off. "He's a hologram." She's not very convincing.
"I couldn't help but notice--he seemed a little taller than the last time I saw him. "
Yup, she's stone-cold busted. "Yes, I made a few modifications," she says, as if it were no big whoop.
"In the interest of Irish culture," Chakotay suggests. Exactly, Janeway confirms.
Chakotay smiles warmly, with a sincere expression. "You seemed embarrassed when I ran into you."
Janeway looks away, refusing to meet his eyes.
"There was no reason to be. It was nice to see you having a little fun!"
It takes a few seconds, but Janeway seems grateful to have someone to let in on her little secret. She looks at Chakotay, rests her chin on her hand. "He is rather charming, isn't he?" she asks, her eyes twinkling. "Too bad he's made of photons and force fields."
Chakotay brushes that aside. "I never let that stand in my way," he says. (It's okay, everyone does it…)
Of course, as we've seen, Chakotay doesn't let much stand in his way. He's mashed lips and merged minds with Borg and with Species 8472. For one brief, shining moment, he even broke through those captainly shields on a faraway planet and reached the tender heart underneath.
While she may not require it, having Chakotay's encouragement to proceed knocks aside one more, large obstacle on her path to happiness.
Janeway's back in Sullivan's, dancing a raucous jig. The place is nice and crowded, and smiles are required.
Janeway and Michael are among the revelers. Even now, there is a bit of competition between them.
"The boys are getting tired," Michael says.
"Them, or you?" Janeway counters, eyes alight.
Michael takes the hint. "Faster, boys!"
They dance and they laugh and they spin and cavort and a fine time is had by all. Seamus is here, clapping along with the non-dancing crowd.
By the time the song ends, Janeway is breathless. But not from the dancing.
But not so breathless as to change the mood. "Computer...Remove all characters except for Michael Sullivan."
Sullivan seems not to notice anything but her. "Can I ask you something, Katie?"
"Please," she rasps.
"Would you mind if I kissed you?"
Janeway sighs. Her knees go weak. "I might even kiss you back."
"There's no point in waiting any longer, is there?"
"Oh, I think I've waited long enough." Slowly, they close the distance between their lips. It's a lingering, but tentative connection. Janeway looks uncertain when they pull apart.
"Is there something wrong?"
Janeway looks at the man before her. Photons and forcefields. Not real. The product of Tom Paris' fertile imagination--think about THAT, people--with a little customization of her own.
We have no idea of knowing how a Holodeck character feels, but the suggestion from episodes of TNG and DS9 and Voyager is that they are close enough for jazz.
"No," Janeway says. Nothing wrong. She shakes her head. Her eyes flutter shut as she leans in for another kiss--and this time, Katie O'Clare holds nothing back.
* * *
Time has passed. Janeway is alone in her quarters and back in uniform. But she looks pensive. Seated on an Ottoman, Janeway looks down on a stack of five small hardbound poetry books, weathered with age and redolent of Guinness and passion. She lifts them from the glass reading table; the thin volumes fit in her hands, but they appear to bear a burden far beyond their mass.
Slowly, with sad determination, the captain walks the books across the room, where she places them on her replicator. After another lingering glance at the ancient verse, she gives a morose command. "Computer, recycle."
The disappearance of the books does not lighten her mood.
The door chimes; Neelix enters. "I thought you'd like to know we've organized a rings tournament tonight at Sullivan's," he says, his mood cheerful.
"Thanks, Neelix, but I have work to do," Janeway says, her tone quietly dismissive, her eyes not meeting his.
Neelix tries again. "The doctor's going to sing something called 'Danny Boy,' and Mossie Donegan's promised to bring his talking pig." He snickers at the thought.
Janeway's look is at once a go-away and a cry for help. "Well, let's just say I'd rather stick to reality right now."
Neelix's smile fades. He doesn't press. "1900 hours...if you change your mind."
The center post is crowded. But not so crowded as to reject yet another ring tossed with smooth perfection.
"Saints preserve us…" Seamus whispers with reverent awe.
"I possess superior hand-eye coordination," Seven of Nine says, reaching for another ring.
"That's not all that's superior. The Lily and the Rose are staging a competition in your face…"
Leaning against the bar behind Seven and Seamus, Tom, Doc and Harry--all in their period attire--observe the Borg and the Blarney with equal disbelief.
Seven looks at the portly coot with curiosity. "Clarify."
"The fullness of your lips, and the paleness of your cheeks--it's enough to make a man faint!" Spoken, of course, with an effulgence of adoration, and a smile in the Irish eyes.
Seven's own orbs twinkle as well. "Then, in that case, perhaps we should sit down." She tosses the last ring over her shoulder--and it lands on the center post. Seamus, shaking his head with wonder, follows.
"I don't believe it," Harry mutters.
"It's called 'old-world charm,' Harry," Tom says, clapping his pal on the shoulder.
"What'll it be, gentlemen?" Neelix asks from behind the bar.
"Nothing for me," Doc says, holding up a hand. "'Temperance is a virtue.'"
"Where's Michael?" Tom asks, surprised to see Neelix manning the taps at Sullivan's. Over there, Neelix says, pointing to a very lonely table where sits a man and a tall brown bottle and a tall half-empty tumbler.
"That's strange. I programmed him not to drink," Tom says.
"Must be a glitch in his subroutine," Neelix says softly.
Tom and Doc head over to the table. "Are these seats taken?" Doc asks.
"Sit anywhere you like," Michael says. His tone says it all--he's suffering. Tom and Doc share a look, then take their seats at the table.
Michael Takes a hefty swig, gasps, then slams the tumbler against the heavy wooden table. "Vile. It's been 15 years since I touched the stuff."
"You making up for lost time?" Tom asks.
"I was hoping it might…ease the pain."
"Are you in discomfort?" Doc asks, breaking character for a moment.
"Agony's more like it." Michael casts his eyes heavenward. "How could you do this to me, Lord?" Then he looks at Doc, clad in his priestly robes. "Why don't you ask him? You've got his ear, don't you?"
"Three days...the happiest three days of my life. I was a fool to think she felt the same."
Michael stands. The soft anguish in his voice gives way to loud anger. "I was such a fool!" The tumbler goes flying, shattering into a dozen pieces.
"Aw, sit down, Sullivan!" Seamus shouts.
"Shut your mouth, man, or I'll shut it for you!" Michael shouts back.
Seamus lumbers out of his seat and advances. "Oh, you will, will you?"
Tom leaps out of his seat to calm things down. "Hey, hey, hey!...take it easy." It seems to break the tension. He turns to Michael Sullivan. "Um...why don't you tell us what happened?"
Michael sighs. He stares off into space as the happy memory with the sad ending returns. "We...we spent a perfect day together by the lake. I drifted off to sleep and...when I woke up, she was gone."
Michael looks at Paris hopefully. "Where is she, Tom?"
"Who?" Tom asks.
Keep in mind, Tom is the master architect of Fair Haven. He decreed that no changes would be made to his perfect program. He has no clue what Janeway has done to Michael's character; for all he knows, Sullivan is still married. Janeway's not exactly advertising her relationship; how is Tom to know?
"Katie O'Clare--who else?" Michael says.
Tom is lost. "Katie O'Clare?" It's nobody he created.
Tom's still lost, but when Doc bolts to his feet and gives him a warning look, he quickly puts the pieces together. Oh, boy. "Um...are you sure you didn't...um...misinterpret her interests? I mean, we're all friends here. Maybe she was just being friendly."
Wrong answer. "You calling me a liar?" Michael demands.
"N-no, no, not at all."
"I thought...Katie and me were in love!" Michael says.
Paris whispers to Doc, "I may have to do some reprogramming..."
"What's the matter?" Michael seethes. "You don't think I'm good enough for her?"
Danger, Will Robinson! "No, I-I didn't say that." Tom can feel the mood in the room change.
"Well, tell me where she's gone!" Michael demands. I don't know, Tom insists. "Well, I think you do!"
Michael launches himself at Tom. The whole room follows, a wave of shouting humanity and flailing arms.
Doc wades in, trying to break it up. "Gentlemen, please! 'Love thy neighbor!'"
Hmmm. A drunken Irish bar brawl. There's something you don't see every day…
Outside of Hollywood and casa de Kennedy, I mean.
Sickbay is a busy place. Doc tends to Neelix's wounds while Tom Paris, ignoring his own abrasions and bruises, fixes up the bloodied Harry Kim. They're all still wearing their Fair Haven clothes.
"Let's see...I remember trying to reach the Holodeck controls," Harry says. "Then, uh, somebody grabbed my leg."
"Maybe it was the talking pig," Tom says.
"If it was, he had one hell of a left hook," Harry says with a smirk, and the two share a chuckle.
Janeway enters, looking moderately amused. "What's all this?"
"I'm afraid there's been some trouble in paradise," Doc explains. "An altercation in the pub this afternoon. Several crewmen were injured--nothing serious."
Notice how wherever there's a bar, Tom and Harry ultimately end up in a fight? It's uncanny.
Janeway smirks, walks over to the bed where Tom is mending Harry. "Arm wrestling get out of hand, boys?" she asks.
"Not exactly," Neelix says sadly.
Harry explains. "It was Michael Sullivan, Captain. He was--"
Doc clears his throat so loudly it halts conversations on three decks. Harry gets the hint. "…Looking…for…someone."
Janeway looks annoyed. She doesn't like secrets.
"Why don't we...take a little walk?" Doc suggests to Janeway.
From the look on her face, there are some things she likes even less than secrets.
But there's no arguing with the priest.
It's an odd sight--Janeway strolling through the corridors, speaking in hushed tones with a man of the cloth.
"Let me guess--that someone is me."
"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 waves dismissively. "Oh, I was sure he'd be on to the next lass by now." Her tone grows wistful. "I hope he's all right."
"Far from it. The fight spilled out onto the street. Before long, he'd climbed up a tree and began shouting your name. Mr. Neelix managed to...talk him down."
Janeway seems touched, but then shakes the thought away. "Could be a malfunction in his behavioral subroutines," she suggests.
"I've already checked that. His subroutines are fine...but I did notice you'd made quite a number of alterations to his program."
"To make him more appealing?"
Janeway holds up a warning finger. "You're starting to pry, Doctor." She begins to walk away.
"I apologize for overstepping my bounds--but I'm worried about you. Michael Sullivan is a hologram. His broken heart can be mended with the flick of a switch. Your feelings, however, are a little more...complicated."
Janeway laughs. "I'm not going to be climbing any trees, if that's what you're worried about."
Doc senses this isn't going anywhere. "If you decide you want to talk, I've been hearing a lot of confessions lately. Let me know." He begins to walk back to Sickbay.
Janeway stands in place. Doesn't look at him, doesn't look over her shoulder. But she raises her voice, as though in challenge. "You want a confession, Doctor?"
Doc is surprised, but doesn't waste time walking back to her.
Janeway grabs his arm with both hands. "All right," she whispers, dragging him to a less populated corridor where they can speak more freely.
Janeway is a bit more candid now. In for a pence, in for a punt. "I've become romantically involved with a hologram--if that's possible."
Surely she jests. According to Tom Paris in "Alter Ego," EVERYONE falls for a hologram from time to time. In the case of Vorik, it was practically a medical prescription.
Well, perhaps she just questions whether it's possible for HER to do so.
Doc expected as much. "Tell me what happened."
"Well, you know the story--girl meets boy; girl modifies boy's subroutines…" Janeway tries to make a joke of it, but there's truth in that jest.
"Did you have--intimate relations?"
The captain's eyes flare. "That's none of your business." But then she softens her tone. "Let's just say it was a memorable three days."
In other words--yup.
"I don't see the problem," Doc says.
Janeway stops walking. "Don't you? Michael Sullivan is exactly my type--attractive, intelligent...we share the same interests."
"And if there's something I don't like..." Janeway snaps her fingers. "I can simply change it." This seems to be the crux of her concerns. One of them, at least.
"I've noticed that humans usually try to change the people they fall in love with. What's the difference?"
Janeway casts Doc a guilty look. "In this case, it works." She sees someone approaching, and yanks Doc into yet another unpopulated--and darkened--corridor.
Finding themselves alone, Janeway whispers the whole story.
"We had a picnic by the lake yesterday afternoon. Michael drifted off to sleep. His head was lying on my shoulder--and I remember thinking, 'this is close to perfect.' Then he began to snore."
"Did I nudge him with my elbow hoping he'd roll over and stop? Did I whisper in his ear to wake him? No. Why bother? When I could simply access the computer and alter his vocal algorithms? And that's exactly what I was about to do!"
Janeway's whisper grows harsh, slightly disdainful. "That's when I realized that everything around me was an illusion, including him."
"So, I left. I almost wrote him a note to say, 'good-bye.' Can you believe that--a 'Dear John' letter to a hologram?"
Janeway's all done talking. She heads back for the corridors. But Doc catches up with her, deactivating the turbolift controls before Janeway can run away.
"I understand your trepidation...But you're the captain. You can't have a relationship with a member of your crew. They're all your subordinates! So, where does that leave you--the occasional dalliance with a passing alien? Voyager could be in the Delta Quadrant for a very long time."
I could hear the howls of protest from Janeway relationshippers even through my flu-clogged ears when Doc uttered this little monologue. I'll address this further in the analysis, but suffice to say that while you may disagree--some of you violently so-- this has consistently been Janeway's attitude throughout the past five-plus seasons. She's said so aloud, time and time again. Whatever you think the situation SHOULD be, this is absolutely consistent with what IS.
As long as she's captain, and as long as Voyager is on its way home, Janeway has precluded any and all possibility of romance with a member of her crew. Think what you or I will of her self-imposed restraints, the FACT of those restraints is beyond dispute. In terms of what has actually aired the past five years, this is classic, consummate Janeway.
"A hologram may be the only logical alternative," Doc concludes.
"He's. Not. Real."
"He's as real as I am!" Doc says with some heat. Then he softens. "Photons and force fields; flesh and blood--it's all the same, as long as your feelings are real. He makes a joke; you laugh. Is that an illusion? He says something that makes you think. Does it matter how his molecules are aligned?"
Janeway considers this.
Doc presses on. "Did it ever occur to you that it's not just a question of whether or not he's real?"
"What do you mean?" Janeway asks, caught off guard.
"I think you should stop trying to control every aspect of this relationship. Romance is born out of differences as well as similarities...out of the unexpected, as well as the familiar."
You gotta hand it to Doc--he's been giving this love-with-a-hologram stuff a lot of thought since "Someone to Watch Over Me."
And his comments have the desired effect; Janeway's resistance dissolves. "Maybe I just needed to be sure…that he'd love me back," Janeway whispers, her voice breaking.
"But isn't that the risk you always take, hologram or not?" (well, with a hologram, not necessarily; flick of the switch and all that.) "All I know is, Michael Sullivan was up in that tree, shouting your name." Doc delivers this last line with a flourish.
Janeway looks away, at nothing in particular. "I've never been afraid of taking risks." You got that right, lady.
"Then perhaps next time you should just...let him snore."
Leaving Janeway with the thought, Doc reactivates the turbolift. The captain enters, faces the doors, her expression hard to read as the doors slide shut.
* * *
But there are more important concerns at the moment; the outer edge of the storm is rapidly approaching. We see in an exterior view that Voyager is being tossed around a little, straining against its anchor.
The whole crew is on the bridge, except Torres, who's on an active channel from Engineering.
"The neutronic gradient's rising--30 million tarajoules...40 million," Harry says.
"Shields?" Janeway asks. Holding, Tuvok reports.
Doesn't feel like it. The ship is bucking like a mechanical bull.
"60 million!" Harry shouts.
The bridge lights up like a magnesium flare for a moment as the obligatory station bursts into flames. (I think they set some parts of the bridge aside for just such a purpose.) When the burning subsides, the ceiling is obscured by thick smoke.
Well, Harry wanted fog…
"Torres to bridge. The inverse warp field is destabilizing. We're losing our anchor." Well, what do you know--I was wrong. She got two lines this week.
"Acknowledged," Janeway says, then turns to Paris. "How long before we're clear?" At least another five minutes, Tom says. Harry says that's about four minutes too long.
"The gradient's rising fast--90 million!" Harry yells.
"Stabilizers are off-line!" Tom shouts.
The view goes external again. Voyager is rocking like a ship in a storm-tossed sea.
Thrusters, Chakotay orders. "No effect!" Tom shouts, as the pummeling continues.
"Shields are failing," Tuvok reports. More things explode on the bridge. The lights go out.
"How close are we to the perimeter?" Chakotay asks.
"A thousand kilometers--but we're being pulled along with the storm," Tom says--which means they'll have to do something fast or they'll never close the gap…or get pulled in further.
Janeway senses that Chakotay's onto something. "What have you got in mind?"
Chakotay works furiously at the computer terminal. "The deflector beam--we might be able to cut a path through the wavefront."
"It's possible, but we'd have to route all available power to the emitters," Tuvok says.
"That won't be enough. Primary systems are down," Harry says.
Janeway grits her teeth. "Then transfer all secondary power sources--transporters, replicators, Holodecks." (Holodecks? I thought that energy wasn't compatible? See "Parallax".)
Harry blanches at that last one. "Captain, there's not enough time to go through the hologrid shutdown sequence. We'd lose most of Fair Haven." Tom, to his credit, focuses on the job at hand, but he squirms in his seat.
A shadow passes over Janeway's face, but she battens down. "Do it."
More explosions. More jostling. "Hull fractures, deck six and seven!" Chakotay reports.
"You've got all the secondary power, Tuvok. Is that enough?" Harry asks. Negative, Tuvok says.
"Siphon energy from the plasma network--every last deciwatt!" Chakotay orders.
That does it. "Deflector beam active."
We see a thin but fierce blue beam shoot out from the deflector dish, lashing out at the paler blue storm front. Where it touches, the clouds begin to part.
"We're approaching the perimeter!" Tom shouts. "500 kilometers...400..."
Another big boom.
"Deflector output is dropping," Tuvok warns.
Janeway grunts with frustration. "Give him everything we've got--life support, environmental control. Scrape the residual ions off the sonic showers if you have to!"
Paging Joe Carey…
The ship's hull screeches its protest. Control panels explode. A random ensign bursts into flames. But just before the deflector beam fizzles out, we see the comforting starry blackness of open space. They're not out yet, but they're close.
After a few final jolts, there is calm, and clear skies.
Janeway lets out a sigh of relief. Chakotay pries his fingers from the dented arms of his chair.
It’s over. Voyager is safe.
The same cannot be said of Fair Haven.
The cobbled streets are strewn with leaves and debris. Townsfolk go about their business, largely ignoring the damage.
There are a lot fewer people than before. And the electric sizzle and translucency that scars many of the buildings and other props and people of Fair Haven suggest strongly that things will never be quite the same.
"Doesn't look good, Tom," Harry says, waving his tricorder about. "With this much photonic decay we'll be able to save five, maybe ten percent."
"So much for the luck of the Irish," Tom says sadly.
"It might be easier to start from scratch," Harry suggests.
But Tom doesn't like that. "It wouldn't be the same! Like trying to rewrite a novel after the only copy of the data file has been deleted. All the details, the nuances--they're all gone!"
"Morning, lads," a translucent Seamus says, tipping his see-through cap at Tom and Harry.
"Hey, Seamus," Harry says.
"Looks like a storm brewing," Seamus says, looking up at the western sky, where the metallic Holodeck framework is fairly visible.
"A storm?" Tom asks.
"Heading in from the west. Could be a big one." Tom and Harry see where he's looking.
"Oh..." Tom says, smiling sadly. "You're right."
"I don't suppose you could spare a shilling or two? Me wife and I made up last night and I wanted to buy her a new parasol--"
But there'll be no chance of that. Seamus disappears in a puff of photonic oblivion.
Tom closes his eyes in brief tribute to a beloved creation. "The grid's destabilizing. We'd better get started on those repairs."
Harry nods. "So, what do we try and save? The Ox and Lamb? The church?" He waggles his eyebrows. "Maggie O'Halloran?"
Tom gives his friend a serious look. "There's someone I should talk to before we decide."
Janeway sits alone in her ready room, a PADD resting on her lap. Her eyes are closed.
They open when the door chimes. "Come in."
It's Tom. He can't seem to decide whether to go for formal report or friendly bit of bad news. He shrugs, throws his hands out helplessly. "Fair Haven didn't fare too well," he says.
Janeway nods slightly. "I'll break the news to the crew."
"With your permission…I'd like to try to reconstruct the program."
"How long will it take?"
"Six or seven weeks." Janeway doesn't react.
"Harry tells me that we should be able to save about ten percent of the existing elements," Tom says." His tone is full of compassion as he adds, "I thought you might have a suggestion or two."
Janeway's head rocks up and down, almost imperceptibly. Her eyes close, then look down, then back up at Tom.
There is gratitude in her eyes. The program is Tom's--but the choice is hers.
The question is, what will she decide?
The captain returns to the Holodeck Research Lab, enters the necessary access commands, and enters.
As before, she seems to hesitate. But, she came this far, and there's still a few minutes left in the hour.
"Computer, is Fair Haven character Michael Sullivan still intact?"
Janeway takes a deep breath. "Activate him."
I always wonder what it is the holocharacter sees at a moment like this. The research lab doesn't bother to dress up the environment. Sullivan appears, but appears in a very alien setting.
Then again, this is Michael Sullivan. He has eyes only for Katie.
"Hello," Janeway says.
"You disappeared on me, Katie. I woke up and you were gone." His voice is sad, but there's a bit of hope as well.
"I had some thinking to do."
"Are you done?"
Janeway smiles at that refreshing directness of his. But then the smile fades. "Yes. I'm leaving Fair Haven."
Michael blinks. "Why?" Because, Janeway says. "That's not a very good reason," he counters. He's got that right.
"The situation is…complicated," Janeway says.
"Another man?" He asks. No, she assures him. "Your friends...they don't approve of me?" They think you're charming, she says.
"Are you not ready to settle down yet?"
Janeway's throaty voice trembles as she says, "I'm as ready as I'll ever be."
Michael shakes his head, totally confused. "You're not making any sense."
Janeway shrugs, shakes her head. "No. I guess I'm not."
La donna e mobile…
Hologram or not, the guy is hurting, and it hurts Janeway to see it.
Michael Sullivan can no longer meet Janeway's gaze. His eyes cast downward in defeat, he mutters what could very well be a prayer. "Well, I have a feeling that you won't be forgetting this that easily. Fair Haven has that effect on people."
Janeway's eyes confirm the truth of it.
But then, Michael summons the courage to look at her once more. His eyes lock with hers. "But there's one thing I want you to know. I love you, Katie."
Oh, now, that's not playing fair.
Janeway's breath catches in her throat. An eternity later, she sighs. "I might actually be passing this way in, uh... Six or seven weeks." She smiles coyly. "Maybe I'll stop by the pub."
Michael smiles with real hope. "See that you do."
Janeway, wearing a full-lipped smile, approaches her Irish suitor. She stands on her tiptoes, grabs his meaty arms for support, and kisses him on his stubble-darkened cheek.
Breaking contact, she drinks in one last look at the man, and sighs. "Oh, computer, end program…."
As quickly as he appeared, Michael Sullivan is gone. Janeway stares at the now-empty space with a classic boo-boo face.
She heads for the door. Then stops. She places her hand on the top of the control terminals, then pivots around to face the camera. "Wait. I want to make one more modification to the character."
Janeway thinks. Then a grin spreads over her face. "Deny Kathryn Janeway any future access to his behavioral subroutines."
A chirp, a confirmation. Modification complete.
Janeway leans in close, and whispers the final command. "Save…Program."
A final chirp--it is done. With a Cheshire grin and a spring in her step, Janeway exits the lab, and to a future relationship over which she no longer has absolute control.
First things first. I've already had a few people ask. These are just quick takes.
I checked the Internet, and I didn't find any pages mentioning Jane Eldon or Sean Gogarty. They may well be actual 19th-century Irish poets, but not as far as my search engines are concerned. If you're interested in pursuing this on your own, I suggest checking the home page of Trinity College Dublin at http://www.tcd.ie/. Maybe they've got it in their library.
Second: I loved the town of Fair Haven. It bears no resemblance to Roddy Doyle's Dublin (The Commitments, The Van) which I visited in 1996, but it's an absolutely charming setting, and I'd like to think that little slice of Eire exists somewhere, somewhen. (BTW, I hear it will be coming back in an episode later this season.)
Third: Although I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Janeway fan, I do not personally relate to Michael Sullivan. I suspect my lot is more along the lines of Seamus. But hey, I could do worse than the town comic relief.
Fourth: Janeway looks great in period costume. The bun is back, and it looks good. Though her shorter hair also looked quite nice.
Fifth: Is it just me, or do Tom and Harry ALWAYS get into fights in bars?
Sixth: Is Neelix in love with Janeway, or what? I'm not suggesting anything, I'm just asking.
Seventh: The promo was typically horrible. They played up the B Plot, which was minimal, and made no mention of the A plot.
Eighth: Since when can Holodeck energy be used outside the Holodeck? I think maybe "Killing Game," but I'm not positive that resolves the issue raised in "Parallax."
Ninth: B'Elanna had exactly two lines this week. It was a shame not to see her spend some time with Tom in Fair Haven.
Tenth: do you think Paris rigged the program so Harry could beat Liam? It's the only way I can figure he won…
Okay. That's the quick stuff.
I've been struggling with this section, rewritten it several times. It's not getting any easier.
The issue is obvious: Janeway is the first woman captain with her own series. There's a lot of women fans. And many of them don't like the way Janeway is being written. A lot do, but it's the dissatisfied who tend to speak up the most.
I sympathize. But only to a point.
Yes, there's a gender distinction. Most folks don't complain if Captain Viagra finds a love interest for himself in every port. But let a female captain do the same thing, and she gets branded with an unsavory reputation (pick your favorite epithet). In the era of the American Caligula, men are expected to be ruled by their dumbsticks but still competent to run starships and governments, but women aren't quite there yet. Personally, I'm glad they're not. Equality shouldn't mean women descend to our level. They're better than that.
In Roddenberry's vision, sex is simply an itch to be scratched. RELATIONSHIPS--that's the dirty word he wanted his enlightened humanity to avoid like the plague or organized religion. So the ultimate irony is that the first time we get a woman heading her own series and sitting in the big chair, people complain because she's not looking for someone--usually a very particular tattooed someone--to do the R Word with. They made her engaged in "Caretaker," I think, in the hopes of avoiding the issue entirely, though they threw that advantage away in "Hunters."
DS9 bucked the trend and showed that relationships can work out, but it's interesting to note how few of these were between two Starfleet colleagues. The one major exception--Worf/Jadzia, included an episode that showed just how dangerous it can be to send lovers on a mission together. Picard had a similar experience from a more relevant captain's perspective, and he ended up booting his significant other off his ship because he didn't want to send her into harm's way. "I love you; get lost." The bald-headed creep.
Clearly, this is not an option Janeway has. Ain't no ships to transfer to in the Delta Quadrant.
I really don't want to argue the whole J/C thing. As far as I'm concerned, fanfic owns J/C, because the official series abandoned it long ago. It's dead, it's buried, it's been dug up and kicked a few times, and it's getting annoying. Move on.
The Doctor suggested that Janeway "can't" have a romantic relationship with a member of her crew. It's the philosophy Janeway herself has often expressed, and whether or not you agree is irrelevant. It's been her consistent policy from Day One, infuriating or not, and she'd as soon blow you out an airlock than change her mind.
What this says about Janeway is somewhat relevant, but we've already determined that she's a little nuts. But so was Kirk; in some ways, it's a survival trait. Picard wasn't nuts, but he was duller than dirt most weeks, and so were most of the Enterprise-D's milk runs, mercy missions, and Rescue 911s. Sisko--definitely nuts, and my kinda captain. So maybe she's nuts for not going for Chakotay--accept it, and move on.
Or don't--and leave me out of it.
Now that I've alienated half the audience…
This week's A plot, which had nothing to do with the promos, concerns Janeway's social life, or lack thereof. Girl meets Hologram, girl reprograms Hologram, Hologram sweeps girl off her feet, girl feels guilty about reprogramming hologram, hologram starts bar fight.
It's an old story.
Holodecks have been acting as sexual stress relief since, likely, before they were released to the public. Every major technological and artistic advance seems to have one guaranteed killer application--lust. From cave drawings to sculpture and pottery, pen and paper to the printing press, telephones to photography to VCRs, the internet to virtual reality--if it can be used to convey a message, there's a strong likelihood the message will be obscene.
In the Roddenberry era, sex is no big whoop, so Holodecks are the perfect guilt-free solution to a lonely Friday night. The Doctor even prescribed a Holodeck encounter for Vorik in the episode "Blood Fever." It's not everyone's cup of tea, but there's no 24th-century stigma attached to Holodeck dial-a-date.
Relationships--that's another matter. The Great Bird hated relationships. They were like taking seats away in Musical Chairs; it reduced the likelihood that anyone could fall into the sack with anyone else. Of course, during the era of the American Caligula, the reactionary movement is toward stable relationships, not away from them. DS9 was a hotbed of faithful monogamy, except in the evil mirror universe.
It's the thought that Janeway would form a relationship with a hologram that has some folks irate. And yes, I can sympathize with that position. Harry was chastised by Tom for falling in love with a hologram, even though he also admitted, "everybody does eventually." It's hard not to like something that makes you feel good.
But if it's not "real," then there can be problems. We see that today; there are a lot of "virtual" affairs going on online. Whether they're pretending to be something they're not or letting it all hang out, whether they meet by chance or head to a sexual superstore and break out the VISA card and rent, people exercise the large sexual organ known as the mind.
And many are, by doing so, being unfaithful to a spouse or significant other. "Delete the wife," indeed.
The Holodeck is not too many steps removed from what's available now online. You can actually feel the hologram, but it's still essentially an exercise in fantasy-fulfillment, where the imagination is stimulated to overload. You program the scenario to your specifications, log in, turn on, and go crazy.
But the flipside is, it's not real. It's a microcosm of reality, geared toward a very localized aspect of the human experience. And because it's so localized and so intense, it's potentially addictive.
To Janeway's credit, she wants more than just a roll in the hay. She wants someone she can talk to, laugh with, learn from, be challenged by. Sullivan initially intrigued her by challenging her--they had a silent wager over whether Harry would win the arm-wrestling match. Later, they spent the night competing with rings, arm wrestling, etc. Janeway doesn't get a lot of that from her crew, and when she does, she usually tosses them in the brig or out an airlock. Which makes dating difficult.
But what Janeway found, after running her initial round of modifications, was that she couldn't stop tweaking. And that bothered her for the very reason that it underscored the non-reality of the relationship. He snores? Flick a switch. She's in absolute control of her partner. But in order for it to be a relationship, she has to give up some of that control, which Janeway is not exactly known for doing.
Hologram or not, that's pretty much the case--if one person's doing all the controlling, holds all the cards, it's not much of a relationship. Some prefer the illusion--the trophy wife, the doormat, the rose-colored glasses, etc. But then reality sets in, and that's when the divorce rate skyrockets.
I humbly submit that a relationship between Janeway and a hologram is, on its surface, no less unrealistic or illusory than a whole lotta Hollywood marriages. The good thing is, Janeway's thinking about this stuff, and she's trying to build a character who can perhaps stand the test of time, or at least last her until they get home, where (the optimists fervently hope) Chakotay will finally be a viable option. She's already passed the first hurdle--she's let go, and let Michael Sullivan live free of her under-the-hood modifications.
Not that she won't try to control him in other ways--that's normal. But now there's no guarantee it'll work, and from what I saw, he's got no trouble at all pushing back.
Who knows. Michael Sullivan didn't start out the perfect boyfriend…but neither did the EMH activate into full-fledged sentience from day one. The Doctor has evolved over time and through experience. Leave Sullivan on long enough, and you never know. I'm sure there's some sort of photonic Turing Test that could be applied, when necessary, to determine sentience, and I know there are several who could probably pass it--the EMH, Moriarty, Vic Fontaine, and for a brief moment, Minuet. Starfleet already determined in a court of law that Data--the creation of human hands--was sentient. There's no reason why a software-based lifeform couldn't also qualify.
Janeway herself has been forced to reconsider her attitude towards holograms in the case of the Doctor--he's a full-fledged member of her crew with rights as well as duties. It was only fitting that her father-confessor regarding her relationship with a hologram was the Doctor, who gave her some rather sage advice. He got to the crux of her concern--not that he wasn't real, but that she was too easily able to manipulate him. The less she tried, the more real--and attractive--he became to her.
Real is as real does. Can a hologram feel love? Doc thinks so, and he's got some experience. Janeway created a complex Michael Sullivan, and he managed to surprise her more than once. Only time will truly tell.
Now that I've offended everyone…
This whole argument, to be frank, gives me a headache. This isn't an episode that really needs to be thought about much. It's meant to be a light episode that touches your heart. Before the crapstorm flooded my inbox, that's how I took it.
I enjoyed watching Mulgrew in this episode. She got to stretch in ways she's rarely given the chance to because of her mostly cloistered existence. She got to laugh and smile and dance and cheat and drink and look guilty and look lustfully on a man…and may I say, I loved every minute of it. Fair Haven suits her.
The guy playing Michael Sullivan did fairly well, for playing the same guy twice. In the first incarnation, he wasn't Janeway's type at all, but there were glimmers. He managed the transition from drab Paris-created character to vibrant Janeway-modified character. I wouldn't call him the most handsome guy around, but for personality, he was a good fit. You gotta love that Irish charm. I loved the accent; it was understated, not nearly the Lucky Charms Leprochaun approach that Seamus took (which, don't get me wrong, was perfect for his character). He reminded me a little of Liam Neeson in Michael Collins.
Chakotay's approach to the whole thing was interesting, but not that unexpected. He knows how Janeway feels about him. He knows she'll never make him her love slave as long as they're homeward bound. He's the Angry Warrior who's now her devoted servant, and he wants her to be happy and well adjusted. Well, duh--it makes his life and his job a whole lot easier when she's not nuts. But he also cares about her, and wants her to be happy, even if she finds that happiness with someone else. It's not like he's been a monk the last five years.
But he did have fun teasing her, and coaxing her to get past her reticence and open up to him, and in that capacity did his job well. He can be an evil little beast, though; that scene on the bridge was Chakotay at his best.
Tuvok didn’t have much to do this week, but he did have some amusing moments--looking nauseous in the mess hall, then glaring at Tom over the "Barometer" crack later. The nausea scene was a bit cliché, but in the overall lighthearted spirit of the episode, it fit.
The Doctor had quite a week. He really got into his role as the priest, which played well for comic relief, and which took on a larger significance in his corridor counseling session with Janeway. The overt religiosity of the episode was intriguing; lots of Catholic in-jokes. I'm glad they didn't shy away from it, but I hope nobody took offense. It was 19th-century Ireland, after all; it was an integral part of the culture.
One of my favorite moments, just because I'm a closet J/Per, was when Doc and Paris started bantering in Sickbay, and Janeway dragged Tom away when it started to get nasty. The look on her face when she hopped off the table and latched onto the boy was priceless.
All told, I enjoyed this one. You'll note I didn't say much about the cosmic whatzit that brought the crew back to the 24th century for a few minutes, because I really didn't give a rat's patoot about it. It was an excuse to spend more time in Fair Haven, and that's it. It was even a little bit annoying, truth be told, when they used it to nuke Fair Haven and force a somewhat hackneyed decision on Janeway.
I mean, come on. I've had timed, automatic saves and backups on my Windows PC for years, and on my DOS PC for years before that, and have rarely lost more than a few minutes' work even in some pretty nasty hard drive crashes where I hadn't manually saved for a while. And we're to believe that Fair Haven was 90% destroyed just because it was left open? Puhleeze. Mainly, I think, it's an excuse to not bring the characters back for a while, and to recast some of the parts on a more recurring basis. But I could be wrong; it wouldn't be the first time.
This was an interesting episode for hearing about the nuts and bolts of Holodeck programming, though.
I give it (* * *). Half a star off for the B plot, and half a star off for irritating a whole lot of rabid J/Cers--and, because I have to listen to them gripe, me. But overall, this was a thoroughly entertaining hour of TV. First-timer Robin Burger did nice work, and I hope to see her name in the credits again soon.
Next Week: A world grows up quick--Neanderthals at breakfast, warp-capable by lunch, kicking Voyager's technological tail around dinnertime.