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Is Neelix a leprechaun? Are Tom Paris and Harry Kim faeries? Inquiring Irish minds want to know.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Fresh from the graduation ceremonies at the James T. Kirk School of Driving on Sigma Iotia II, Tom Paris barrels through the streets of Fair Haven in a horseless carriage with all the natural skill of a roller-blading manatee.
Oh, and he's dressed for it, too. White coat and hat, what might have been called aviator goggles if the airplane had been invented by then, face smudged with the soot of unpaved country roads and no windshield and the trauma of traveling faster than ever man was meant to... Tom Paris is the very picture of reckless young aristocracy in this one-horse Irish town.
Fair Haven is a place with no traffic signs or bobbies to maintain order. So Tom runs roughshod through the streets, upsetting apple carts, tipping over tipsy patrons fresh from Sullivan's tavern, frightening herds of sheep and earning the wrath of dogs who seem to mistake the motorcar for a slow-moving squirrel. (The motorcar has always been the natural enemy of the canine.)
"Get out of the way!" Tom yells, sending yet another pedestrian fleeing. He honks. He shouts warnings. He offers over-the-shoulder apologies. It's clear this newfangled contraption is not entirely under Helm Boy's control. It's kinda like taking Astro for a walk on the uncooperative treadmill. "Janeway--stop this crazy thing!"
Ah, the perils of modern technology. Driving in Fair Haven might well be a violation of the Prime Directive.
I'm sure there's a metaphor in there somewhere. But you didn't hear that from me.
When Seamus--the portly and amiable drunk whose sole purpose in the program is to hit Paris up for cash, earning his place in the Holodeck by being appropriately charming about his beggary--waves to "Tommy me boy," Paris loses control completely.
Fortunately, there are large wooden barrels handy to crash into. Tom's vehicle has a top speed of five miles per weekend, so the impact isn't exactly life-threatening.
Well, whaddya know? Another stealth metaphor . . .
Nevertheless, Seamus rushes to assist. Heaven forbid the gravy train might get derailed . . . "Did you hurt yourself, Tommy-boy?"
Paris laughs weakly as he exits the carriage, and removes his cap and goggles. "I think I zigged when I should have zagged." He walks around the front of the car to inspect the damage.
"Well, maybe you ought to stick to a horse and carriage. Still, she's a beauty. The world must be treating you well to afford such a thing." Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, cough up the cash, ye rich bastard . . .
You don't need a degree in psychology to see where Seamus is headed with this. Tom, picking up the white-walled front left wheel, which fell off the car in the accident, rolls his eyes. "Uh, just dipping into my inheritance."
You hear the bells ring when Seamus blinks--Ka-Chinng! He does his best to sound sincere in his condolences, however. "Oh, come into some money, did you? So who's passed on?"
Paris thinks fast--for Paris. "Um, my grandfather on my mother's side. An aristocrat, God rest his soul."
"Sounds like he was a fine man," Seamus says, genuflecting. "I'd drink a toast to him, if I had a shilling to me name . . ." Right on cue, Seamus' hand stretches out plaintively, his big ole puppy dog eyes glistening. In the distance, a violinist begins tuning his instrument.
Paris laughs, and reaches into his pocket. He drops a coin into the scruffy man's palm. "Here. It's on me."
Beggars can't be choosers, but Seamus can apparently haggle like a champ. He looks on the coin with disappointment. "It'll take three pints to do a proper job, Tommy-boy. And this isn't even enough for two." He clucks his tongue as though it would be unseemly for such a fine young lad as Tommy-boy to be so niggardly in his devotion to his dearly departed grandfather.
Tom grins and bears it, and coughs up another coin. "There. That's all I've got."
Seamus clenches the fist in triumph. Another day, another three pints paid from another man's purse. "You're a generous man. Care to join me at Sullivan's?" He's already halfway there.
"Ah, I wish I could," Tom says, "but I'm on my way to Castle O'Dell."
Seamus manages to break the gravimetric pull of the tavern and return to Tommy's side. "Night's coming," Seamus warns. "And they say when the sun goes down the Queen of the Faerie-folk reclaims the castle."
[Note to self: insert gratuitous Elton John reference here.]
"Ah," says Tom. "I'll give her your regards."
Seamus shrugs. "Don't say I didn't warn you." Sullivan's calls--and resistance is futile.
Tom looks at the tire in his hands and sighs. He could change it himself, but why bother? He looks around to make sure nobody's looking, and whispers, "Computer--replace damaged tire."
Thanks to the miracle of photonic technology, the car is instantly roadworthy again--or would be, with a better driver behind the wheel. Tom smiles with satisfaction.
Tom didn't count on Seamus, though--the old fart heard the computer chirp and turned around just in time to witness the wizardry.
Seamus almost forgets about drinking. "Saints preserve us . . . " he breathes, making the sign of the cross once again--and this time, meaning it.
Question--do the prayers of the photonic faithful reach heaven?
* * *
If nothing else, Seamus' story should assure him free drinks in perpetuity.
In Sullivan's, a crowd has gathered as Seamus tosses back yet another therapeutic pint of liquid joy. "I thought I would die for the shock of it!" he wails, milking his trauma for all it's worth.
"Now, Seamus, you're not a great one for telling things the way they were," Michael Sullivan counters.
"I'll admit I've been known to add a little color to stories from time to time to liven things up," Seamus huffs. "But with God as my witness, I saw Tom Paris using unnatural powers to fix that wheel of his!"
Michael is dubious. "Tommy-boy? Practicing unholy magic? Next thing you'll be telling me is, you want to pay for your own drinks." The laughter in the room is testament to Seamus' reputation.
Seamus is nonplused. "Make fun if you like! But he was heading up to Castle O'Dell only an hour before dark!" This does elicit a few gasps--testament to the reputation of Castle O'Dell and the faerie folk who dwell there.
A youngish, dapper sort soon to be known as "Doc" isn't all that impressed. "Oh, leave it alone, Seamus. Can't one day go by without you making an ass of yourself?" I'm not sure, but I think this might be the first time the word "ass" has been used in televised Star Trek. Someone on the writing staff needs to have his mouth washed out with Irish Spring . . .
An old guy with bushy sideburns, however--who will eventually be referred to as Milo--unexpectedly comes to Seamus' defense. "But that Tom Paris is an odd one. Coming and going through town as if he built the place." Ah, irony . . .
Seamus runs with the support. "That's right! And where does he go?" Nobody knows, of course.
"Oh, he's a shifty one," Milo agrees. "And for that matter, so are his friends."
This gets Michael's Irish up. "If you're talking about Katie O'Clare, you'd better watch your mouth!"
Milo stands up to the bartender. "Well, you know what they say, Sullivan: birds of a feather . . . " [Gratuitous "flock" pun removed. -ed.]
Michael's grin brings thunderclouds, and a murmur runs through the crowd from his words. "They also say: superstition is the religion of fools."
You don't make your way through life mooching off others without knowing how to read a room, though, and Seamus leaps in with a two-word reply that brings everyone up short. "Kilmanin. 1846."
It means something to Seamus, but he seems to be alone. Well, not completely alone--old Milo also seems to quiver slightly at the reference.
Michael Sullivan just shrugs. "What?"
"Old Patsy down in County Meath spoke of a band of spirit folk who came to Kilmanin in '46." The crowd settles down a bit--this story is new to them, and nobody spins a yarn like Seamus.
Time for another free pint.
"Kilmanin?" Michael asks. "Did you ever hear of it, Doc?"
Doc shrugs. "No, this is the first."
Old Milo speaks up, his voice hollow as the grave. "Ah, but you won't find it on any map. Not anymore."
"It was a town. Not much different than Fair Haven. That is, until this group of strangers arrived," says Seamus. "The townsfolk welcomed them with open arms."
Seamus gives that smarmy look you'd expect to find on a bad travel brochure. "After all, 'a stranger is just a friend you haven't met yet,'" he sneers. "But they regretted their hospitality soon enough."
Milo picks up the baton. "The cows stopped giving milk. The potatoes grew rotten in the ground."
"Then people started to go missing," Seamus adds gravely.
"Oh, go on!" Doc scoffs.
"It's true!" Seamus insists.
Michael Sullivan urges Seamus back to the story. "What happened to them?"
"They were taken to the Other World," Milo says cryptically.
Seamus plays to the back rows. "When winter came, and the nights grew longer, the entire town vanished! Every post, every nail--poof! Into thin air, never to be seen again."
A murmur runs through the crowd--no longer so skeptical of the town lush.
Doc isn't impressed. "Are you suggesting that Fair Haven is going to go the way of Kilmanin, just because we have a few new folks in town?"
"I'm suggesting you keep an eye on Tom Paris and his cohorts!" Seamus says. Then he looks meaningfully at Michael Sullivan. "Not to mention that lady friend of yours."
I suspect Michael won't have any problem keeping an eye on Katie O'Clare. Even so, Michael gives that dangerous smile of his. "So--Katie's some kind of goblin now, is that it?"
Seamus leers. "She's certainly cast a spell on you!"
"Well, if you ask me--" Milo says.
All eyes turn to Kathryn Janeway, who stands in the doorway attired in period costume. The hair bun is back. "Am I interrupting?"
Michael hurries over to her. The rest of the townsfolk keep a respectful distance. "Aw, just some nonsense," Michael says, beaming. "Seamus is up to his old tricks again. Well, it's good to see you. What will it be?"
"The usual, please," says Janeway.
"One cup of tea coming right up," Michael says, fetching it for her. Saying it loud enough for the room to hear, he asks, "Did you snatch any children on the way into town, Katie?"
"What?" Janeway asks, confused, but not losing her beatific smile.
Michael shakes his head. "Never mind. I missed your smile. What have you been doing with yourself?"
"Nothing terribly exciting. Just helping my aunt and uncle out on the farm. They're not as spry as they used to be." Then her looks grows mischievous. "Although, they've got a goat that could argue Mossie Donegan's talking pig under the table!"
Michael chuckles. "You'll have to bring him into the bar the next time you're up. We'll arrange a debate."
"I'll see that I do," Janeway says. Her easy smile lights up the room. "I hear they opened a nickelodeon in Dooleen. I thought it might be nice to go to a show."
"I've got to tend the bar," Michael says. He looks disappointed. "I wish you'd let me know you were coming; I would've made arrangements."
"That's all right. We can go some other time."
"No, I mean, you've already made the trip. It'd be a shame if you had to leave."
Janeway smiles coyly. "Well, I could be convinced to stay if you'd be up to a game of--"
Michael Sullivan is way ahead of her. He holds up his hand; his fingers caress the tossing rings. He smiles gamely. (Curse you, Tom Swiftie! ["I'm bleeding!" She gushed.])
"--Rings," Janeway finishes with a merry laugh. "Let's go."
Meanwhile, Harry Kim is all dressed up in Fair Haven-friendly attire with somewhere to go. "Computer--one dozen Broadway lilies," Harry tells the mess hall replicator. The flowers appear; he inhales deeply.
"Something tells me that's not lunch," Tom Paris says.
"Already ate." Harry's got a hungry look.
"Ah. Who are they for?" he asks him knowingly.
"A friend," Harry says evasively.
Paris snickers. "Oh, and this friend wouldn't happen to be a lovely Irish lass, now, would she?"
"Aren't you due on the bridge?" Harry brushes past his buddy. Romance calls.
"Ah, you'd better watch yourself, Harry. These country girls aren't as simple as you think. Maggie O'Halloran could be a little more than you can handle."
Harry decides to bring up something Tom couldn't handle. "Heard about your little traffic accident."
Tom is scandalized. It wouldn't do for the crew to know their #1 helm boy couldn't drive a measly automobile. "That was a clutch malfunction. It wasn't my fault!" Uh huh.
One thing we never really learned in Fair Haven is what B'Elanna Torres thought about the whole Fair Haven scenario. As luck would have it, we're about to find out.
B'Elanna's arms are crossed. This does not bode well.
"If you ask me, that whole program is an accident waiting to happen," Torres grouses. "You've been running Fair Haven around the clock. Just yesterday, I had to replace three holo-emitters!"
Tom doesn't want to hear it. "I ran a full diagnostic this morning. Everything is fine!"
"Whatever you say," B'Elanna says. "But, when your quaint, little seaside town starts to depolarize, don't come running to me."
Harry takes this little tiff as his cue to exit. "If you'll excuse me, I'm late for a moonlight stroll."
"Are you sure you don't need a chaperone?" Tom teases.
"Not with your driving record," Harry says with a parting laugh.
Nobody makes fun of Tommy Boy and then romances his Holodeck creations and gets away with it! Tom rubs his hands together deviously. "I think I know just what'll make his date just a little more interesting." Tom follows his friend out the door.
"Just don't blow out any more holo-emitters," B'Elanna grumbles, to nobody in particular.
Tom skulks through the moonlit streets of Fair Haven, up to no good.
Ahead of Tom, we can hear Harry Kim and the flirtatious voice of Maggie O'Halloran; the young lovers are blissfully unaware of Tom's presence.
Behind Tom, we can see Seamus and Milo, of whose presence Tom is blissfully unaware.
"What are we doing out here, Seamus? Skulking about in the dark, spying on folks?"
"What's the matter, Milo? You got a case of the willies?"
"Well, what if you're right? What if this Tom Paris is some kind of demon? If we're caught, he'll cast a spell on us!"
"Then stop your squawking, or he'll catch us for sure!" Seamus scolds.
Tom goes on the move again, ducking behind a horse and a cart full of hay. "Come on, man. He's getting away!" Seamus orders. They follow.
Oblivious to all the skulking and spying, Harry and Maggie take a leisurely stroll along the cobbled streets. "It must be lonely out there on the sea with only the stars to guide you," Maggie says, hanging on Harry like a tailored coat.
Harry drinks in the adoration. "Sometimes, during the night watch--with the timbers creaking, and the dark water stretching out as far as the eye can see--you can believe you're the only man in the world."
"Maybe you should think about settling down on dry land," Maggie suggests.
"Believe me, I do," Harry says. "As often as I think of you." Oh, gag me.
Maggie beams. "Can I ask you something, Harry?"
"Would you like to hold my hand?"
Oh, she's a sly one . . . but the girls from County Jersey are known for their cunning.
Harry lights up like a neon sign. "If you promise to hold mine back."
Tom hears the whole exchange, and gets an evil glint in his eye. He pulls out a PADD.
"Look!" Seamus whispers. "He's got some sort of contraption in his hand!"
"Ooh, maybe we're going about this the wrong way," Milo says nervously. "We should go down to St. Mary's and tell Father Mulligan the whole story."
"He's not going to listen to talk of the supernatural!" Seamus says.
"Aw, if you fill his collection box, he'll listen to anything."
Seamus shrugs and nods. "That's true."
Harry and Maggie hold hands now as they walk. "I thought you were promised to Ray Ewan," Harry says carefully.
"Not anymore," Maggie says. (One suspects that Harry had a hand in that, learning a thing or two from his wife-deleting captain.) "Can I ask you something else, Harry?"
"Please," says Harry, who had no complaints about her first question.
"Would you like to kiss me?"
She's two for two. "Is that a trick question?" Harry asks with a wink and a rebel yell.
Their lips draw closer to each other.
Then, with a flourish, Tom Paris taps a command on his PADD.
And by the time their lips meet, Maggie O'Halloran has undergone a bit of a change.
One the one hand, she's now wearing less than Jennifer Lopez on Grammy night.
On the other, she now weighs more than the average Sumo wrestling tag team.
That Jersey maid is now a jerseymaid. Maggie is a moo cow.
"Daaaaaaamn!" says Harry, backing away rapidly from the big sloppy bovine tongue.
"Holy mother of God!" Milo whispers.
"I need a drink," Seamus says.
"hahahahahahaha!" Tom says, rolling on the ground, wildly amused by his prank.
"Moo," lows Maggie.
Harry hears Tom's laughter and runs over behind the cart. "Tom! Don't you have anything better to do?!"
Tom continues to laugh raucously as Seamus and Milo look on in horror.
"Very funny!" Harry rages. "I could have been trampled!"
"Relax!" Tom says. "The Holodeck safeties are on. There's nothing to worry about!" (Foreshadowing . . .)
"All right, all right. You've had your fun!" Harry yells, demanding that Tom change the foxy Maggie back into human form.
Before they get the chance, duty calls. "Chakotay to Paris and Kim. Report to the bridge."
"On our way," says Tom, still cracking himself up over the sight of the Jersey maid.
"What about Maggie?" Harry demands.
"She'll be fine. Let her graze--" Harry smacks Tom on the shoulder as they make their way to the exit.
Milo and Seamus are stunned by the shocking turn of events. "Did you hear that?!" Seamus whispers.
Just like Kilmanin . . .
* * *
It was only a matter of time before we saw the good Doctor in his role as the parish priest of Fair Haven. St. Mary's is a smallish church, and I'm told by my more devoutly Catholic friends that many of the details aren't right--the Doctor's priestly robes are incorrect, and some of the more obvious symbols common to a house of worship are missing.
And as sermons go, Doc seems more the Fire and Brimstone type.
"Please be seated," Father Doc says from the pulpit. "I recently heard a tale of two farmers--who shall remain nameless for the sake of this sermon," he says, glowering at his flock. "It seems one broke the other's plow and refused to replace it. His comeuppance was served to him--not by the hand of God, but by the other farmer . . . in the form of a clogged irrigation ditch. Now, do you think their disagreement stopped there? Of course not! They go on...just as the heathen did of old."
Doc leers at the congregation. "After all, one spiteful act deserves another, right?"
The audience nods their heads, murmuring their agreement.
"Wrong!" Doc rages, cowing the crowd. (ba dum boom). "What these sinners have forgotten is that they are neighbors!"
"He's in love with the sound of his own voice," a dark-haired woman mutters to her neighbor.
She has no idea. "Whether we are man or woman, parent or child...flesh and blood or photons and force fields--"
Whoops. The congregation wonders at these strange tongues.
"It has been said--" Doc says, recovering his composure.
"On the other hand, perhaps he's been nipping at the sacramental wine," the woman mutters.
"And, as such, our community is everything," Doc says. "It is our world, and we are a part of it, just as a branch is part of a tree."
Doc's righteous wrath begins to crescendo. "Do you see...branches, tearing leaves off one another? No!" He slams his hand down on the pulpit, and the congregation jumps.
His voice grows louder still. "Roots? Hoarding water from the trunk? NO!!!" He slams his hand down again, practically splintering the podium. "DO YOU SEE--?"
"Moooooooo . . ."
Yup, he's really got the congregation cowed. Hello, Maggie.
Doc casts a withering look at Seamus and Milo, who do their best to herd Maggie O'Halloran into the chapel. "Did you make a wrong turn on your way to the milking shed?" Doc asks, amused.
"Weren't nothing like that at all, Father. Something terrible's happened!"
"What are you talking about?" Doc asks.
"This was Maggie O'Halloran. The spirits have turned her into a cow!"
"Maggie O'Halloran's been eaten by a cow?" The dark-haired woman asks.
Doc isn't impressed. "Did you see these spirits?"
"That we did," says Seamus. "Tom Paris, and Harry Kim."
Doc just sighs. "I hate to disappoint you, but it sounds as though you've been the victim of a practical joke. Tom Paris is a known prankster." Aha! So he's Loki! ("It was the mask, I tell you . . .")
Milo trembles with sincerity. "Oh... It was unholy magic, I tell you! We saw it with our own eyes!"
Doc steps off the platform and walks down the aisle. "When did this--alleged transformation take place?" he asks nonchalantly. Last night, Seamus says. "Well then, that settles it. This couldn't possibly be Maggie O'Halloran. I saw Maggie this morning on my way into church," Doc says. "She was at her cart tending her flowers. She's probably there now."
"Mooooooooo," says Maggie.
"Well, I think that's enough excitement for one morning," Doc says. "This mass is over. Go in peace."
The congregation begins to file out.
"Uh...leave the cow," Doc says.
"Oh...All right, Father. Excuse us, Maggie," Milo says reluctantly before exiting.
"Take care, Maggie," Seamus says.
Doc holds onto Maggie as the room clears. "Whoa," he says to her.
Maggie's flower stand is untended in the daylight.
Then it is tended. Maggie appears out of nowhere, looking a bit rumpled and very disoriented.
Seamus and Milo appear a moment later. "Maggie!"
"Well, good morning, boys," Maggie says, though it's clear she's not exactly herself today.
"Is everything all right?" Seamus asks. "Y-you're looking a little out of sorts this morning."
"Yes," Maggie agrees, looking for a place to sit. "Well, I must admit I'm not quite myself today." Oh? Seamus asks. "Well, this is going to sound very odd. But I feel like I just woke up from the strangest dream. And I don't remember going to sleep!"
"You're right, that does sound odd," Milo says.
"Do you remember anything about last night?"
"Well, I was out with Harry Kim," Maggie says, smiling a bit at the memory. "He chatted me up at the Ox and Lamb, and we were off on a walk before I knew it."
"What did you do on your walk?" Milo asks.
"We talked," Maggie glares. "What kind of a girl do you think I am?" Well, that's easy . . .
"Now, Maggie, we weren't implying anything," Seamus says, seeing the fire in Maggie's Irish eyes.
"NO!" Milo agrees.
Oh, hey, don't look at me. Tom's the one who turned her into a cow.
"Do you recall anything else about the evening? Aye, did anything out of the, um, ordinary happen? Anything at all," Seamus urges. I don't remember, Maggie says. "Well, tell us about the dream, then."
"Oh, it was most unpleasant. I was walking around town with nothing but a bell around my neck. Well, somehow, I wound up in church. Everyone was staring at me. You were there, Seamus..."
Gulp. "Oh, was I?"
"And you, too, Milo!"
"Oh, no . . ."
"The next thing I knew, I was tending my flowers--just as you boys walked up."
Seamus and Milo share a bleak look. "Well, that's quite a story, Maggie," Seamus says.
Milo holds up two fingers. "Time for a quick one?"
"Maybe just a wee taste."
Ah, stereotypes. You've gotta love 'em.
Sullivan's is a packed house as Milo and Seamus--joined by Maggie--try once more to alert the good people of Fair Haven to the evil presence that is Tom Paris and his friends.
"So, I said to young Harry, 'I'm not one for rainy days and gray skies.' As soon as the words were out of my mouth, he called up the spirits to do his bidding!" Milo says over a pint. "A second later, there wasn't a cloud in the sky."
The crowd seems to be in a mood to listen this time.
A blonde woman has another tale. "I was up near Ballahick farm with little Mary. She was playing near the well. Somehow, she lost her footing and fell in. I was so frightened! I didn't know what to do. So, I ran to the Colbys to get some help...but...when we returned, there was Mary in the meadow--talking with Katie O'Clare. There wasn't a scratch on her! Katie said I must've been mistaken when I saw her fall. There was no mistake!"
More murmuring from the townsfolk.
The dark-haired woman who isn't that fond of the Doctor's sermons has another tale to tell. "I saw something strange, too! Well, I hesitated to say anything for fear you'd think me mad, but after listening to your stories today I feel you've a right to know."
"Well? Speak up!" Milo says.
"Last Sunday, after his sermon--I saw Father Mulligan vanish into thin air."
Milo's eyes go wide. "He's one of them, right enough! Father Mulligan, Tommy-boy, Katie and the rest--they're . . . spirit-folk!" He whispers the last.
Maggie jumps into the fray. "Well, what about that Neelix fellow who runs the Ox and Lamb? Well, if he doesn't look like a leprechaun I don't know who does." Snort. True enough.
"They're all probably up at Castle O'Dell, conspiring against us!" Seamus says dangerously. You know, he's a lot nicer when he's hitting people up for drink money.
Michael Sullivan decides it's time to end the hysteria. "Now... That's enough! I can't deny there's been some unusual goings-on. Well, what are you proposing? That we run Katie and her friends out of town? Or maybe we should . . . line them up in front of a firing squad--is that what you want?"
From the looks of some of these people, that's not entirely out of the question.
Michael looks disappointed. "These people have been our neighbors. We've become friends. Let's not forget that."
"Well, we can't just sit here and do nothing while they take over Fair Haven!" Seamus counters.
"I'm not saying we do nothing...but let's go about this like civilized people!" Michael pleads.
"What do you suggest--we sit them down and discuss it over tea?" Milo asks.
Janeway enters the darkened tavern. The only other person here is Michael Sullivan, who has a pot of tea brewing at a table by the roaring fireplace.
Michael smiles. "You're looking lovelier than ever, Katie."
Janeway beams. "Thank you."
Michael hands her a wrapped gift. "Open it," he urges.
Janeway smiles. "The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser. Thank you, Michael!" She caresses the spine of the book as Michael leads her to her seat.
"It's the longest poem in the English language--and the first to use a nine-line stanza."
"I'll start reading it tonight," Janeway promises. "I love epic poetry!"
"Really? I didn't know that." Michael's expression is sad.
Janeway looks up as Michael sighs.
"It seems as if there's a lot of things I don't know about you," he says. "I thought you'd want to know there's been some talk about you and your friends. Strange things have been happening around town. Folk are saying you're to blame."
Janeway is instantly on alert. "What kind of strange things?" she asks evenly.
"People using 'unholy magic'," he says, suggesting he doesn't believe it, but is merely passing along the information. "Vanishing into thin air...changing the weather."
Janeway considers this. She knows that such events are not at all hard to believe, but they'd be very difficult to explain. "By any chance would all this have anything to do with your reading suggestion?" she asks, holding up the book.
Michael smiles. "As a matter of fact."
"Don't tell me," Janeway says with an enigmatic smile. "They say I'm the Faerie Queene."
Michael smiles. "Frankly, they could tell me you're the devil himself, and I wouldn't care."
Janeway chuckles. "I'll try not to take that personally."
Michael's expression turns serious. "The sad truth of the matter is...I don't know who you are."
Red alert! "What do you mean?"
"You've been lying to me, Katie. I've been doing some checking with friends of mine in County Clare. Seems nobody's heard of you there."
Uh oh. "It's a big county," Janeway says, her tone a challenge.
"And I've got a lot of friends," he says in turn. Touché. Janeway has no response.
Sullivan is not an excitable guy. His tone is melancholy. His soft tone is the mild rebuke of a wronged man. "You've been evasive from the day we met. I was a fool not to see it. Where do you go when you leave here? There've been times I wanted to talk to you--tell you about my day, about a book I'd read...just to say Hello...but I can't, because I don't know where to find you."
The large eyes regard Janeway. "What are you hiding, Katie?"
Janeway treads carefully. "I'll admit I have misled you about some things. But never about anything important. And I wasn't lying when I said I care about you."
"I wish I could believe that."
"You can," Janeway assures him. "I didn't want to deceive you...but under the circumstances, I had no choice."
"Michael...there are things about me you may not be able to understand."
Janeway looks away.
"Who are you, Katie? Where are you really from? The truth."
Janeway looks back at Michael Sullivan. Rather, she looks at the mass of photons and force fields that is no longer fulfilling its purpose, which is to distract her during her off hours.
Rising from the table, Janeway offers her answer for the moment.
"Computer, end program."
* * *
Janeway, still in her period costume, talks with Tom Paris in the corridor. "How did he know? Those are questions no Holodeck character should be asking! What exactly did you do to that program?"
"Well, I-I just added a few bells and whistles to make the characters more realistic. Nothing too fancy." Cows are realistic?
"Well, something's gone wrong. The people of Fair Haven aren't simple country folk anymore."
The two arrive in Engineering. "Report," Janeway orders.
"It looks like we've worn out our welcome," B'Elanna Torres reports.
"It's the first time we've tried running a Holodeck program nonstop. We're lucky it lasted this long."
Torres doesn't seem at all sympathetic. "There are damaged subroutines in all of the character files."
"So much for my open door policy," Tom groans.
Janeway makes the call. "Shut it down. And repair the damaged systems."
The work begins in the Holodeck research lab. "As I recall," Harry grumbles, "everything was fine until someone started turning people into cows." (For the record, we know from the teaser that this isn't true. They knew before the cow thing--Seamus saw Tom fix the tire, and the townsfolk were reporting other events that occurred earlier. But the cow thing was the straw that broke through the fourth wall.)
Paris chuckles, though. It's not like this is life-threatening; they're just holograms. "Computer, display Fair Haven character Michael Sullivan."
Sullivan appears--sorta. He sizzles a bit before resolving--a sure sign that all is not well in Fair Haven.
"Where am I? Where's Katie?" Michael demands.
Tom's eyes go wide. "He shouldn't be aware that he's in the lab."
Harry works on the problem. "I've isolated the damaged subroutines."
Michael begins to pace. "I said, where the hell am I?!"
"It's all right, Michael. Take it easy!" Tom urges.
"What is this place?!"
"Try to relax."
Michael doesn't look relaxed. "If someone doesn't tell me where I am I'm going to start busting heads!"
This is not good.
"His perceptual filters are malfunctioning," Harry says.
"What's he saying?" Michael demands. "What's a perceptual filter?"
Tom begins to panic, but tries to calm Michael while Harry handles the programming end of things. "It's uh, it's uh, It's okay. We're trying to help you."
"There. Look at these," Harry says. "Those are the algorithms designed to keep him oblivious to anything outside the program's parameters."
Paris looks down. "They're off-line." I guess that would be the blinking things. You've got to love 24th-century programming. If only debugging were so easy in the 20th century.
"Give me a minute," Harry says, running his fingers across the command panel. "That should do it."
While the two tech-heads yammer, Michael Sullivan realizes that whatever's happening, he's a long way from Fair Haven. We see the eyes as he decides that playing along is the best short-term approach.
Up goes the innocent smile.
"How are you feeling, Michael?" Tom asks.
"Never better," Michael says pleasantly. "Harry, Liam's been looking for you. You're the only man in four counties to beat him at arm wrestling. He wants a rematch."
Harry breathes easier. "Tell him he's got one."
Michael keeps the smile going. "I'll do that."
"That was easy enough," Tom says. Michael keeps the smile going, but his eyes show clear relief--he just got away with something, and the two faeries seem not to have caught on.
"Unfortunately, it looks like all the other characters have the same malfunction," Harry says.
"Don't tell me we're going to have to go through every one of them?" Tom groans.
Harry has an idea. "If we reactivate the program, use the primary control port in Sullivan's pub, we could reset all the perceptual filters with a single command sequence." Michael's eyes go wide for a moment, but Tom doesn't notice, and he recovers in time.
Tom likes the sound of that--short and sweet. Tom gives Michael Sullivan a happy smile. "I guess we'll be seeing you later."
"Looking forward to it," Michael says. Paris tells the computer to spirit Michael back to his bar.
Michael finds himself behind the bar--but he doesn't stay there long. He rushes into the street, where he sees a boy rolling a hoop with a stick. "Danny! Danny, come here. Fetch Doc Fitzgerald. Tell him to meet me in the church. Go on, hurry, lad!"
It doesn't take Tom and Harry long to realize that they goofed. They report to Janeway on the bridge.
"We thought we'd reset his perceptual filters--until we took a closer look at his subroutines. Turns out he was just playing along."
Janeway smiles in spite of herself. "Never underestimate an Irish hologram," she says, wagging a finger.
"We'll have to reprogram Michael when we do the others," Harry says as he works the control board.
"Let's just hope he didn't share the experience with too many others."
"Got it. These resequenced algorithms should do the trick," Harry says. Janeway wishes them luck, and off they go.
Janeway sighs dramatically on her way back to her seat. "What the hell was I thinking?"
"A minor malfunction," Chakotay says mildly.
"Well, that's the problem," says Janeway, making a semi-comical face as she plops down in the chair, then leans forward to stage-whisper her embarrassing little secret. "I've got a boyfriend who malfunctions."
If you can't come up with your own joke here, you're simply not trying.
"Tom and Harry will fix it," Chakotay assures her.
"And if they can't?"
"One piece of advice you've always given me--tell the truth."
First Michael, now Chakotay. Sigh. Janeway play-acts that little conversation. "'Hate to break the news to you, Michael, but I'm a starship captain--and you're a 300 deciwatt Holodeck program.'" Janeway shakes her head. "I couldn't do it."
Chakotay shrugs. "In that case...you'll have to get creative."
Time to start memorizing The Faerie Queen . . .
Of lovers sad calamities of old, full many piteous stories do remain, but none more piteous ever was told, then that of Amoret's hard-binding chain, and this of Florimel's unworthy pain: The dear compassion of whose bitter fit my softened heart so sorely doth constrain, that I with tears full of do pity it, and oftentimes do wish it never had been writ...
"I'm not a superstitious man, Doc--but I've been seeing things I can't explain," Michael tells the young, bearded doctor (not our Doc) in the front pew of the church. They are alone.
"You're not the only one," Doc says. "At first I thought we had an epidemic on our hands. But this is no fever."
"No, it's not. Last night I was talking to Katie, and the next thing I knew I was being spirited away to God knows where."
Doc's eyes go wide. "They took you?! Where?"
"Maybe it was the Other World. I don't know. Tom Paris was there. Young Harry, too."
"What did they want with you?"
"I'm not sure," Michael confesses. "They were talking about me like I wasn't there. Saying things about Fair Haven--that we knew too much about them."
Seamus' words come back to haunt them. "Oh, Lord."
"And that's not all," Michael says. "They were saying something about coming to the pub tonight to change the town somehow."
"What does that mean?"
"I'm damned if I know," Michael confesses.
"How did you get away?" Doc asks.
"With all the talk about us knowing too much about them, I figured that if I pretended nothing was out of the ordinary they might let me go. And sure enough, that's exactly what they did."
A long silence falls.
"I wonder if this is how things started in Kilmanin back in '46," Doc whispers.
"I'm not sure what they have in mind," Michael says softly. "But we'd better be prepared."
Tom and Harry sneak into Sullivan's. It's night, and the pub is empty.
"We're in luck. Nobody's home," Harry says. They head for the far wall and open a wooden panel, behind which is a Holodeck control panel. They begin to make their modifications.
The two are unaware of the dark-haired woman who watches from outside, her eyes wide with horror at the strange magic being conducted by the strangers.
Seamus drops a massive leather-bound book onto the table with a dust-clouding thud. "If we're going to fight them, we've got to use the right ammunition! Biddy Ramsey gave me this before she passed on. She knew a thing or two about faerie magic and how to fight it. Everything she learned she learned from this book!"
The church is a busy place. Women knit nets of red twine. Men prepare rifles. Others simply stand around and fret, or take solace in the fact that they're on holy ground.
"I doubt if it says anything about using rifles," Michael says, not happy to see the guns.
"You'd be surprised how many things a bullet will stop," Milo counters.
"I don't like this one bit. Guns, Seamus!"
Doc seems more sympathetic. "Under normal circumstances, I'd agree with you, Michael...but these aren't normal circumstances."
"Maybe you'd still like us to be acting civilized," Milo says, spitting the word like a curse. "Where did that get you before? A ticket to the Other World, that's what!"
"We don't know what the spirit-folk have in store for us."
"That's just it! We don't know much about anything, do we?" Michael asks. "We've got Milo here acting like a holy war has been declared!"
"Relax, Sullivan," Seamus says. "The rifles are only a last resort. Besides, we've got in-can-tey-shuns, which are more lethal to spirit-folk than any weapons forged by man! That's how we're going to force them back into their realm. And we've got red twine to stop them from changing shape." The knitting womenfolk nod as they work.
"And don't forget about the ash berries!" Milo urges. Others work to gather berries into buckets.
"Ash berries, right," Seamus says. "That's how you keep them from using their powers against yeh. They've been walking amongst us for weeks now, pretending to be our friends. Lying to us, making mischief! What's next?!"
Wow, Seamus is really worked up. Give him a good bath, a change of clothes and a shave, and he could be Teddy Kennedy.
"I for one am not going to stand by and let them run roughshod over our town!" Seamus bellows. The crowd agrees lustily. "We can't rest until we've driven every one of them out!" The angry cheers grow louder.
Yeah, drive 'em out. Just don't let Seamus behind the wheel.
The dark-haired woman enters, gasping for breath. "They're here! Tom Paris and Harry Kim--they're in Sullivan's right now!"
"Who's with me!?!" Seamus bellows. Just about everyone screams agreement.
"Come on!" Seamus leads the way.
Tom and Harry don't get a chance to finish their work. They hear the crowd mere seconds before the gun-toting locals surround them, toss red nets over their heads, and drag them away from the Holodeck control panel.
"Seamus, let us explain. You're making a mistake!" Tom yells. Why not go for the gut, Tommy-boy? Threaten to cut off his drink money . . .
"The only mistake we made was letting you into Fair Haven!" Milo counters, holding the gun threateningly. He sees the control panel as though for the first time, becomes frightened by it. "What's that?"
"Shoot it!" Seamus yells.
Tom is frantic now. "No, wait, wait. That's a delicate piece of tech--"
BOOM. Holographic bullet strikes control panel. Bad idea.
"Warning--Holodeck controls and safety protocols are off-line." Uh oh. That means that anyone can die at any time.
Tom and Harry are toast.
Milo freaks. "A voice from the Other World!" He shoots again, and the control panel begins to sizzle sickly.
"Emergency overrides are malfunctioning." Great. Now they can't shut the thing off.
"Computer, freeze program!" Paris yells.
Well, some of the people freeze. Not nearly enough, though. "Only 62% compliance," the computer reports apologetically.
Naturally, the guys with guns are among the unfrozen. They're completely wigged out by the sight of their inanimate neighbors. More faerie magic!
Tom and Harry make a run for it. "They're getting away!" Seamus yells.
The chase leads outside. Tom calls for the exit arch, but it fades out of existence before they can reach it.
A moment later, the mob is upon them.
Uh oh. They're in deep cabbage now.
* * *
The senior staff assembles. Tom and Harry, otherwise occupied, are excused.
Topic: Fair Haven.
"Gunfire?" Janeway asks.
"Two shots directly at the primary controls," Chakotay says. "We can't deactivate the program or get the safeties back on-line."
Janeway doesn't seem that concerned. "Where are Tom and Harry now?"
"St. Mary's," says Torres, who seems quite concerned. She glares at the Doctor. "Looks like some of your Parishioners are holding them captive."
Neelix chides B'Elanna gently. "We can't blame them for being frightened. They must think we're some kind of sorcerers."
"Well, we could use a little magic--because that's about the only way we're going to get our people back," says Chakotay.
Holodeck malfunctions. You don't see those every day. Maybe they can crash a shuttle into a transporter pad and go back in time while they're at it.
"Transporters?" Janeway asks. Chakotay says there are too many stray photons, qualifying him for the Dumb Science Comment of the Week. Maybe they should just flood the Holodeck with antiphotons, otherwise known as darktrons--in short, turn out the dang lights. Or maybe they could modify the deuterium scoopers to target stray photons. Or maybe they could counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor . . .
But I digress.
Seven of Nine offers the direct approach. "We should enter the Holodeck with a security team and take them by force."
Tuvok disagrees. "Need I remind you that the holo-characters have weapons as well. We'd be risking armed conflict." Yeah, flintlocks versus phasers could make for quite a pitched battle. For about 4.7 seconds.
"Well, then let's just pull the plug!" Torres says, fed up with the whole Fair Haven scenario. "Cut power to the holo-grid."
Neelix is horrified. "That would purge the program from our database!"
"Exactly," Torres says, who quite likes the sound of that outcome.
"But we'd lose Fair Haven and all its people!"
"They're not people. They're holograms," Seven of Nine points out. B'Elanna feels torn. On the one hand, she's got someone agreeing with her. On the other, it's Seven of Nine.
And now Janeway's mad at B'Elanna; nobody, and I mean nobody pulls the plug on the captain's boyfriend. "And they weren't programmed to be violent. I don't believe they'd harm anyone."
"You can't be certain!" B'Elanna counters. (Speaking of which, why is nobody monitoring the situation? They should have a HostageCam up and running at all times.)
"Well, I am certain," says Janeway, glowering. "And I'd like to find a less drastic solution."
"With all due respect, Captain. Michael can be reprogrammed--Tom and Harry can't." B'Elanna gives a righteous glower of her own. And it's a pretty good point.
Janeway isn't swayed. "One problem at a time, B'Elanna. The people of Fair Haven may not be real, but our feelings toward them are. I won't destroy these relationships if we can find another way." Torres is, for the moment, silenced.
Janeway looks around. Nobody else takes her on. "Now. If we could attach transport enhancers onto Tom and Harry, would that be enough to cut through the interference?" Tuvok says he believes so. Unlike the legendary Spock, he doesn't offer probability percentage to the second decimal. The weenie.
"Good. Then, we just need to get someone close to them." Janeway walks over to the logical choice. "Doctor."
Doc shrugs. "A few words of inspiration should get me within reach." Oy. There's a plot complication just waiting to happen.
"I suggest you use your mobile emitter," Seven suggests. "It will isolate you from the malfunctions."
"Good idea," Janeway says. Then she looks at Torres. "Stand by to cut power to the holo-grid in case things get out of hand."
Now that's an order B'Elanna has no trouble following. "Aye, Captain."
Janeway gives the Doctor a merry look. "In the meantime, I believe your flock needs tending."
Tom and Harry are tied to chairs in St. Mary's with red twine. Women kneel by the chairs, dropping salt in a circular pattern around the captives to keep evil at bay. Townsfolk sprinkle holy water at the two like rice at a FOX-produced wedding special (When Multimillionaire Bachelors Attack!) Seamus stands at the pulpit, reading the words of the incantation that will send Tom and Harry back to the infernal realm from whence they came:
Ex labis caelstium sanctorum super ad aures atorum larvarum mentientium!
Then, for the Latin impaired, he repeats it in English.
From the lips of the heavenly saints above, to the ears of the dark and lying spirits--may your spectral forms be cast back to the Other World!
The townsfolk peer into the circle to watch the holy miracle unfold.
The townsfolk look over at Seamus.
"Back to the Other World!" he repeats.
The townsfolk peer back into the circle.
Tom and Harry are still there. They shrug. Love to help, guys. How about "Beam me up, Scotty"?
Like a game of Exorcism Tennis, the crowd looks back at Seamus.
Seamus shrugs helplessly. "There must be some trick to these incantations."
Milo appears, carrying the toolbox that Harry brought into Sullivan's. He places it on the pulpit. "What do you make of this, Seamus?" Seamus grabs one of the PADDs, holds it up triumphantly, and scurries off the dais.
"We should just tell them the truth!" Harry whispers.
"Oh, good idea, Harry," Tom mutters. "Do you want to tell them they're only holograms, or should I?"
Seamus waves the PADD at Tom and Harry. "I see you left your box of [lucky] charms at Sullivan's. I believe this is the talisman you used on Maggie. Maybe we should turn them into cows!" The crowd likes that idea.
"No, no, there's been a misunderstanding!" Tom says, trying to laugh the accusation away. "We are not spirit-folk!"
"I think we've heard enough of your lies, Tommy-boy," says Milo. "I say we tie them up to the lamppost in the square and show them how spirit-folk were dealt with in the olden days!" More cheers from the mob.
Michael comes to their defense. "Leave them alone! It's bad enough you've got them trussed up like Christmas turkeys. There's no need for foolish threats!"
The combined IQ of any mob is essentially a constant--the larger the irate assembly, the lower the average smarts of any given individual. Milo is probably hovering in the mid-teens at the moment [gratuitous Notre Dame football fan reference deleted]. "You'd better watch whose side you're on," Milo growls at Sullivan. "You're not above suspicion yourself!"
Michael glares at the manic old fart. "We're going to start turning on one another now, is that it?"
"We are if you're choosing them over your own people!"
Well, now's about a good time for a healthy dose of righteous indignation.
The Doctor bursts through the doors of the church like an avenging angel. His voice rolls like thunder over the stunned crowd.
"SINNERS! Sinners, all of you!"
"SINNERS! Sinners, all of you!"
That gets their attention.
"You have the audacity to turn a house of worship into a prison? This is where we gather to pledge our love for our fellow man--not condemnation. You should all be ashamed of yourselves!"
It's quite a performance. Some even seem a bit, er, cowed by the Doctor's wrath.
Not, however, Seamus and Milo, the two ringleaders of this little photonic uprising. "Quite a rousing sermon, Father. But I'm afraid you're not going to find too many takers tonight."
"Not after your little vanishing act," adds Milo. "It seems Grace Declan saw you disappear into thin air on Sunday."
"I'd say that sounds a wee bit unholy," Seamus scoffs, and succeeds in winning back the mob. "You're in league with them, aren't you? Tie him up with the others."
The townsfolk comply, and soon Doc is plopped down on his own chair and tied up with red twine.
"Listen to yourselves!" Doc protests. "You're letting confusion and fear get the best of you!"
He fails to persuade. The parishoners rough him up real good.
"Doctor to Janeway!"
"What's this?" Seamus asks, showing the mob the pattern enhancers.
"Fire and brimstone don't seem to be working . . ." Doc yells.
"Look here, Seamus! Another talisman!" Milo finds the portable holoemitter.
"Quick, get it off of him!" Milo yanks it off--and the Doc flickers a bit, then resolves into solidity as the Fair Haven program grabs hold of his matrix, fully integrating him into the unfolding insanity.
"Beam him out of there!" Janeway orders.
"His program's been disengaged from the mobile emitter," Tuvok regrets to report.
"And what were you planning on doing with these?" Seamus demands, holding up the pattern enhancers.
"Those are the devices that will allow us to leave," Harry says. "Just put them on our coats and we'll be on our way!"
"You'd like us to believe that, wouldn't you?" Milo demands.
"Something tells me these are spirit charms," Seamus shouts. "We pin them on you and God knows what powers you'll have!"
Michael takes a close look at the portable emitter. "This is no charm. It's some kind of a machine."
"It doesn't matter!" Milo yells. "They won't be telling us the truth about any of it."
"Oh, they'll tell us the truth, all right," Seamus rumbles. "There's more than one way to pluck the wings off a pixie." He pats the book of charms in his hands and opens it to a particular page (470, naturally). "We'll induce a trance. Give me Billy Ramsey's spoon." (It may be Biddy. CC said Billy.)
Milo grabs the spoon and hands it to Seamus, who waves it in front of the Doctor's face. "Keep your eyes on the silverware, Father."
Doc sighs. "I hope you know this is blasphemous," he mutters.
The spoon moves back and forth like a pendulum. Back and forth. Back and forth. Baaaaasfa;jl sdal;jfsd;alfj zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
[Cough] Sorry. Nodded off for a moment there.
"Oh, this is ridiculous," Doc moans. "I can't be hypnotized…"
Back and forth goes the spoon. Baaacckkkkkkkkkkkk………..
"I can't isolate the Doctor's program," Chakotay says, working at the terminal by his chair.
"He's been integrated into the Fair Haven matrix," Janeway sighs. "He's vulnerable."
"Tell us the words," Seamus demands. "How do we banish the spirit-folk to the Other World?"
Doc was wrong; apparently holograms CAN be hypnotized. His voice is dreamy. "There is no Other World. Only Voyager."
"Voyager?" The word ripples through the crowd.
"Federation Starship, Intrepid class, registry number N-C-C-Seven-Four-Six-Five-Six . . ."
This grabs Michael Sullivan's attention. "You're from some sort of vessel?"
"He's talking gibberish!" Seamus rages.
"Maybe he's not," says Michael. "This ship of yours--is that where you took me?"
"Look here!" Seamus says, reading. "It says if you can get a spirit to reveal his true name you'll render yourself impervious to his charms."
Milo yelps with triumph, and demands of the Doctor, "What is your true name?!"
Doc gets a funny look on his face. "I haven't decided on one yet."
Who didn't see THAT coming?
Michael gets back to the relevant issue. He looks at Tom Paris. "Katie's on that ship, isn't she? Tell me where to find her so I can get to the bottom of this!"
Paris shrugs helplessly. "I'm sorry, Michael. I can't do that."
"Then I guess I'm asking the wrong person." Michael leans down and addresses the doctor. "Tell me how to get to Voyager."
"What are you doing, Sullivan?" Milo demands.
"No man who's gone to the Other World has ever come back!" Seamus says.
"I have," says Michael confidently. He looks at Doc again. "How do I get there?"
Doc inclines his head, nodding at the hand holding the holoemitter."
"Captain, the mobile emitter has been activated," Tuvok reports.
"Lock onto the signal!"
Janeway looks to where she expects to find the Doctor.
Instead, her boyfriend shows up.
Though which of the two is more shocked at the moment is anyone's guess.
At least Janeway has the advantage of being seated. Michael staggers.
* * *
Michael is wide-eyed, but not quite panicked. "I had a cousin, went to America. He saw some strange things...but nothing like this!"
"You're not in America," Janeway says carefully. "This is a Starship." She stands. "It's called--"
"Voyager," Michael says first. "I know." A smile is frozen on his face. At least the captive Paris, Kim and Doctor were truthful; there's not a spirit folk in sight.
Good thing Kes didn't pick this week to show up.
"Should I transfer him back to the Holodeck?" Tuvok asks.
"No," Janeway says softly. She approaches Michael. "My name isn't Katie O'Clare. It's Kathryn Janeway. Captain Kathryn Janeway." She sighs. "It's going to be difficult to explain. Maybe it's best if I just show you."
Michael shrugs. "You've seen my world. It seems fair that I should have a chance to see yours."
Chakotay stands. Caution fills his voice. "Captain--"
Janeway silences him with a look. Several, actually--first, a look of stern warning. Then a bemused look. You told me to get creative . . .
Besides, how often does she get to show her significant other around the workplace?
Janeway picks the scenic route. Windows line the corridor, affording a breathtaking view of space.
Michael Sullivan is enthralled. "So this really is a Starship," he says, drinking it in. "But how can that be possible?"
Janeway gives it some thought. "Have you ever read The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells?"
Michael gapes. "Are you telling me you've traveled back through time?"
Janeway smiles. "In a manner of speaking." Hmmm. Not a bad half-truth. Probably better than "you're not real."
Two men, one tall as a wookie, the other short as Janeway, pass by. They offer a surprised look but a welcoming nod to the Irish barkeep.
Michael is stunned. "That's Patrick Gibson and his cousin, Frank. They work on (cc: in) the wharf. They're in my pub every Saturday night for the rings tournament."
"You'll find a lot of familiar faces on Voyager," Janeway says. "We've been visiting your town for months."
The crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe. (Frank Zappa) The crux of the current crisis in Fair Haven, though, is this very question. "Why?"
And there's no good answer. Janeway goes for the half-truth. "We're explorers."
Michael grins. "I'm not letting you off the hook that easy, Kathryn Janeway." He waves out toward the stars. "There must be more interesting places to explore than Fair Haven."
Janeway sees her opening. "Can you think of any place you'd rather be?" Touché.
No arguing with that. Michael nods; his tone grows husky, and the subtext is clear. "I guess that leaves but one question. How long are you planning on staying?"
"Well, that depends...if we're still welcome."
Michael smiles warmly. "My door is always open." Then his smile fades. "But you're the Captain of a Starship. I'm a barkeep."
It's Janeway's turn to offer an encouraging smile. "Just because we're from different worlds doesn't mean we can't care for each other."
I'd make a comment about enraged J/C fans at this point, but I'm afraid they're still mad at me over the "Fair Haven" review.
"Tuvok to Janeway."
"Go ahead," Janeway says.
"The situation has escalated."
"The townspeople have started to pile kindling at the base of three lampposts in the village square," Tuvok says.
Given all the crud Tom and Harry have piled on Tuvok over the years, it's no surprise that the tone of his voice is decidedly this: "no hurry, though. May I recommend the airponics bay; the bouquet is particularly lovely this evening . . ."
We see Tuvok breaking out a fresh videotape to capture the event for posterity.
"Stand by," says Janeway.
The mob is interrupted by another bursting through the doors of St. Mary's.
Michael Sullivan and Kathryn Janeway are here.
"Stay back!" Milo warns, waving his rifle.
"What are you doing?" Doc Fitzgerald demands.
"That might not be Michael Sullivan. A demon could have taken his shape!"
Michael shakes his head. No more free drinks for Milo. "It's me, Milo! I've been to the place they call Voyager, and I've brought Katie back with me."
Janeway opens her arms to show she's unarmed. "I've come in hopes that we can resolve our differences peacefully."
"Peacefully?" Milo scoffs. "I'm sure that's what you told the people of Kilmanin."
"They had nothing to do with what happened in Kilmanin!" Michael shouts. "If it happened at all."
"We're truly sorry for what's happened here," Janeway says. "We never meant to frighten anyone."
"Seamus--you were right about one thing," Michael says. "They are quite different from us. But not in so many ways that we can't be friends."
"And we're not spirit-folk," Janeway assures them. "Some of our technology may seem like magic, but I assure you it's not." That's right--it breaks far too often to be magic.
"Katie showed me things that are beyond our comprehension," Michael says. "They have machines that I can't begin to describe--but not once have they used them against us! Quite the opposite, in fact."
Michael looks at Milo. "Milo, you said you didn't like the rain. And young Harry Kim made it go away."
Michael looks at the crowd. "Edith Mulchaey herself said that Katie O'Clare pulled her daughter from the well, and out of harm's way. These are not the deeds of spirits and mischief-makers!"
"But they turned Maggie into a cow!" Seamus wails.
Oh, great--they would bring that one up.
"That'll never happen again," Tom says penitently. "I swear!"
"There, you see?" Michael says, matching eyes with everyone in the room. "We have his word. And if we can't trust a man's word in Fair Haven . . . what can we trust?"
Cooler heads begin to prevail. Soft answers turn away wrath.
"If you want...we'll leave, and never bother you again," Janeway vows. "But we'd prefer to find some way to keep our friendship alive."
Janeway, smiling, takes the holoemitter from Michael Sullivan, and attaches it to the still-entranced Doctor. When she activates it, the Doctor flickers for a moment, then returns--in spirit as well as in body.
Apparently he was hypnotizable because he was tied into the malfunctioning Fair Haven holomatrix--at least, that's his story, and he's sticking to it. "Captain?"
"Shh . . . "
Michael has the crowd in his hands. And he drives the point home in good old-fashioned Fair Haven manner--with a smile and a wink and a friendly handshake. "I, for one, would like to keep playing rings with Harry and Tom. Keep having Neelix's steamed cabbage at the Ox and Lamb."
Michael smiles broadly at his high-ranking ladyfriend. "And keep taking walks with Katie."
It's clear the other townsfolk would like to do those things as well.
"Let's not turn our backs on these good people. If we do, we're only punishing ourselves. Just because we're from different worlds doesn't mean we can't care for each other."
And thus, on a happy note, ends the Siege of St. Mary's.
By the time the drinks stop flowing, of course, Seamus' incantations will indeed have driven out the spirit folk (even as he hits the exorcised Tom up for more shillings), and Maggie's metamorphoses will have become the stuff of song and story.
Much of it ribald.
That's Fair Haven for you. Never a dull moment.
The post-game wrap up takes place in Engineering.
"If we're going to retain the program we can't keep running it around the clock," Torres says. And she couldn't be happier about it.
"Not until we've repaired these damaged systems," Tom says, hoping B'Elanna's won't be the final word."
"Not ever!" B'Elanna says. "We've pushed the limits of holo-technology--and they pushed back. If we try it again, we're just asking for trouble."
The decision, of course, is Janeway's--and she sides with her chief engineer. "I'm afraid we're going to have to close your open door policy," Janeway says, almost apologetically. Yes, ma'am, Tom says glumly.
"What about the characters? Should I purge their memories of the last few days?" B'Elanna asks.
Janeway thinks about it for a moment. "No. Leave them."
Doc blinks. "They think we're space men from the future. It won't exactly be like old times . . ."
Janeway shrugs. "We learn to accept alien species with new technologies. Let's hope the people of Fair Haven will learn to accept us." [Hello, they're holograms! You can PROGRAM them to accept you! But what do I know.] "But before we shut down the program and begin repairs, what do you say to one more round at Sullivan's? My treat."
Ah, Fair Haven. The sun is shining, the air smells like warm Guinness, and laughter is the word of the day.
"You may be from the moon, Tommy-boy, but I've got three shillings that says I can still whip you at rings!" Milo jeers.
"Ho! You're on!" Paris counters, laughing merrily.
Maggie dances up to Ensign Kim. "Hello, Harry," she moos. I mean, coos.
"I'll catch up with you later," Tom says, leaving Harry alone with the udderly affectionate main squeeze.
Yeah, folks, I'm gonna milk this running gag for all it's worth. And I'm still just skimming the surface. Sure, only 50% may be funny, but I'll settle for half and half.
Okay, okay, put the guns down.
Seamus shows up next, eager to put the unpleasantness of the past few days behind them, and get to some serious mooching. "Tommy-boy! I've been told there's a pot of gold somewhere in Glen Abbey. Would you be able to find it with one of those fancy machines of yours?"
Tom chortles. "Just follow the rainbow, Seamus."
"The rainbow, eh?"
Meanwhile, Harry and Maggie walk together. "I didn't think you'd ever speak to me again," Harry says.
"Well, I suppose I can forgive and forget," Maggie purrs. "It's not that often you meet a handsome young man from outer space . . ."
Jennifer Lopez to wardrobe . . .
And on to the other fine couple. "What's this, Christmas come early?" Michael Sullivan asks, noticing the wrapped gift in Janeway's hand.
"It has for you. Open it."
Michael does--and true to the common interest of this couple, it's a book. "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, by Mark Twain. I've read some of his books, but not this one."
Janeway smiles knowingly. "It's about two people from different times who . . . fall in love, among other things."
Michael returns the smile. "Sounds familiar. Maybe I have read it." He laughs. "Thank you, Katie. Or Kathryn now, is it?"
Janeway gives him a low-level skunk eye and a smack to the shoulder. "Oh!"
"They say if you know a spirit's true name that it renders you impervious against her charm," Michael teases. "Do you think there's any truth in that?"
Janeway's grin is enigmatic. "Not a word."
"I'm glad to hear it," Michael says.
Laughing together, the two enter Sullivan's.
And all is right with the world . . .
"Logic and practical information do not seem to apply here."
"You admit that?"
"To deny the facts would be illogical, Doctor."
--Spock and McCoy, "A Piece of the Action"
From the rumblings I've heard online, I know that this isn't exactly a crowd favorite.
Now, granted--if logic and sense and sensibility and attention to detail are minimal requirements for you, this episode pretty much sucks. Continuity and characterization aren't exactly in fine form this week either, though it works well enough for farce. The "trouble on the Holodeck" concept was done to death long before Voyager even premiered, and they haven't been at all shy about digging up that dead horse to lay the smack down on it again and again--it's just too tempting a plot device to pass up.
And though I agree to a point with Janeway about the legitimacy of the crew's feelings for the Holodeck characters, the idea of allowing crewmen to remain in danger just for the sake of negotiating with something you programmed for entertainment seems specious at best. (And why, even now, they still insist on not doing regular backups is beyond me.) The whole Irish Spring / Lucky Charms veneer of Fair Haven has its endearing qualities, but I wouldn't be surprised if it offended at least some modern Irish people. And I suspect irate nuns will be storming Paramount to give Bryan Fuller a good catechistic knuckle-rapping over his execrable Father Holodoc dialog. I'm not even Catholic, and I could have written a more convincing mass.
You know me. I'm one of the three people watching Cleopatra 2525 and Jack of All Trades, for heck's sake. I'm a sucker for cheese, and this puppy's got queso to spare. If an episode can get me to laugh, and laugh often, I tend to be very forgiving.
This episode made me laugh a lot.
This episode was a farce, pure and simple. You can get away with stuff in a farce that you otherwise couldn't. Think of all those Vince Gilligan and Darin Morgan episodes of the X Files--which happen to be some of my favorites. "Jose Chung" and "Coprophage," just to name two. Or the "Mudd's Planet" episode of the original series, where illogic was used as a weapon to deactivate all those identical androids. Or "A Piece of the Action," though there was a plot buried in the bad driving and Tommy guns and bad gangster slang. Hardly high water marks in the canon, but they're fun--and in my book, entertainment is the Prime Directive.
I do like Trek when it (insert appropriately reverent music here) Means Something. I don't expect that every week, though. Sometimes a show has to be given the freedom to not take itself so seriously.
I found this episode far more amusing than "Bride of Chaotica." Turning people temporarily into cows in mid-kiss strikes me as more inherently amusing than the deaths of sentient creatures from another dimension. Though Tom and Harry were taken captive, and the mob did develop evil intent, the danger never felt all that real--it felt more inconvenient than anything. Which, in a farce, IS THE POINT. What was a glaring weakness in "Collective," worked fine here--we knew there wasn't any true danger to Tom and Harry that a simple off switch couldn't remedy, if it came to that. So in the meantime, let Seamus spew Latin and throw holy water and hypnotize the Doctor for one more "Doc with no name" joke--after six years, the longest-running gag of the series. It's all in good fun.
Sure, there's the old argument, "the folks of Fair Haven aren't real." I've said it before, and I'll say it again. "News flash, Chester--NONE of it is real." Janeway's point that the folks of Fair Haven matter because of the crew's feelings for them is exactly the argument we give: the crew of Voyager isn't real, but our feelings for the characters are.
We care what happens to these people. We care about their relationships, and their development as characters. We don't like it when characters we think we know are yanked around like marionettes to suit the plot of the week. We hate the Reset Button™.
You could almost think of Fair Haven as a metaphor for Trek as television. Especially when there are many fans out there thinking it might not be a bad idea to Pull The Plug on Voyager. Ironic, that.
So when the thing malfunctions and the open door policy is ended, it's a wake-up call. Change the channel, head outside, smell the roses, and get a life.
Works for me. Starting next week, I'm gonna start reviewing JAG instead. Catherine Bell makes me happy.
It's been real, all. Peace.
I'm not reading anything much into this episode. I had a good time watching it, I got several good chuckles, and some weeks that's all I need. I wouldn't want it every week, but neither do I want an unremitting series of bloated, agenda-driven, self-important socially-conscious Message episodes, either. I remember those from TNG's early days, and they were painful. "Drugs are bad." Wow; good thing Trek took a stand on that dicey issue; it's not like Blossom or Family Ties or Diff'rent Strokes were chomping at the bit to tackle that one. You might as well take a hard stand on being pro-puppy. And if you do pick a divisive issue, you risk alienating whichever half of the audience whose side you don't pick. I'll tell you right now, if Janeway becomes the Feminist Messiah or lesbian avenger or Cherokee Hausfrau some seem to want her to be, I'm packing up my keyboard and going home.
We have fans parsing every line to stoke the fires of their indignation that their favorite actor is being short-changed for dialog. We have others who look for any reason to play hackey-sack with the scrota of the powers that be because their favorite character isn't being written the way they'd like. We have relationshippers who make Rosie from Terre Haute look like the poster girl for Prozac, whose week is shot to hell if an episode doesn't give them their regular reaffirmation that the show isn't abandoning their favorite couple. For those whose favorite pairings have long since been shredded, this makes each new episode another arrow through the heart. The hard-science fans may take offense at each technical shortcoming. The plot-oriented may wail when logic collapses. The performance-minded cringe when the guest stars aren't up to snuff or the regulars seem to be phoning in their roles.
Is there justification for these sentiments? Sure. Everyone watches for different reasons, and I'm not going to say anyone is wrong for how they feel about the series. I think we'd all agree that Voyager is nowhere near perfect.
This isn't exactly news. We've been hearing these same arguments since season one. Heck, I've been around long enough to remember the irate deconstructions of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan.
Getting our panties in a bunch is about 60% of the fun of being a fan. We gripe, therefore we are.
Which makes me wonder whether we're all just gluttons for punishment . . . or if some of us have simply learned to enjoy the show in spite of its flaws. Some, believe it or not, even consider Voyager their FAVORITE series, who are quite happy with what they're offered. To all those who have to reach for the Rolaids every Wednesday night because Braga has personally made nice-nice in your popcorn, I say that you're perfectly within your rights to feel that way. But those who receive these episodes like manna from heaven are just as entitled to their opinion that life couldn't be better in Trekdom. (I fall somewhere in the middle. Voyager's not my favorite series, but it doesn't have to be--I'm enjoying it well enough.)
We live in busy times. We've all got plenty on our plates. I could certainly fill my time doing other things. Why do I keep writing? Why do I keep reviewing? Because I still enjoy the show. Even on weeks like this. Truth be told, especially on weeks like this.
Could the show be better? Sure.
Can I forgive it for not being better? Absolutely.
Just call me Pollyanna.
It wouldn't be the first time.
After six years, this shouldn't be much of a surprise. I suspect you know what I like, and why I'm likely to like it. Although I'm capable, on occasion, of serious analysis and interpretation, there are weeks that I simply want to sit back with a litre of Mountain Dew and snacky cakes, turn off the left brain, and be entertained for an hour.
I was entertained. 'nuff said.
As a nod to the party poopers who think this episode was to Star Trek what kryptonite is to Superman, I'll give it (* * *) out of four. One star off for turning Maggie into the wrong kind of cow. Everyone knows that breed wasn't indigenous to 19th-century Ireland . . .
Next week: Harry's losing streak continues: he falls in love with a dead girl. I could be mistaken, but I think it's Catherine Bell.