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Recap / Star Trek Voyager S 6 E 17 Spirit Folk

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Running the Fair Haven program nonstop has destroyed the holodeck protocols keeping the characters from becoming self aware.

This episode provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Normally the holodeck protocols prevent the computer characters from noticing the inconsistencies of the users as they act outside of the programmed expectations. However, running continuously has somehow broken those protocols, causing the holodeck characters to discuss the unusual people.
  • Ambiguously Christian: The Doctor's playing a collared priest in a presumably Catholic town, but his church and sermon both contain no overtly religious elements whatsoever.
  • Animal Reaction Shot: When the Doctor insists that the cow can't be Maggie because he saw her earlier, the Maggie!Cow bellows angrily.
  • And You Were There:
    • Once outside the holodeck and walking Voyager hallways, Michael Sullivan picks out crewmembers to Janeway, identifying them as customers of his tavern.
    • Maggie regarding her 'dream' that she was walking through the town wearing only a bell around her neck.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In-universe. The holodeck characters become self-aware of the strange comings and goings of the Voyager crew.
  • Brick Joke: In "Fair Haven", Tom said he wasn't going to include leprechauns in the program. Here the townspeople conclude that Neelix must be one.
  • Burn the Witch!: With their attempts at banishment a failure and Michael apparently disappeared, the townsfolk start to gather the kindling.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Any Sufficiently Advanced Humans are indistinguishable from spirit folk.
  • Cool Car: Shamus loves Tom's horseless carriage.....until he sees Tom use the computer to fix the broken axle.
  • Continuity Snarl: The nightclub program in Deep Space Nine also ran nonstop for a long time, but none of the characters showed any signs of self-awareness or other malfunctions (except Vic Fontaine, but he was programmed that way from the start). Maybe the Cardassians just have better holo-tech, or DS9 can call on holodeck specialists from the Federation.
  • Disapproving Look: When Tom promises that no inhabitants of Fair Haven will ever be turned into cows again (referring to his prank on Harry, which escalated a possibly manageable situation into hysteria), Janeway rolls her eyes.
  • Easily Forgiven: Once the people of Fair Haven learn to accept the Voyager crew as time-travelling spacemen rather than The Fair Folk, everything is more-or-less back to normal.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Michael Sullivan overhears Tom and Harry discussing how his perception filter is damaged. Thanks to Janeway increasing his education in "Fair Haven" he can make some sense of their technobabble, so he pretends to have been 'fixed'.
  • The Fair Folk: What the Fair Haven characters think the Voyager crew are.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Seamus trying to banish Tom and Harry back to the Other World.
  • Forced Transformation: Maggie, thanks to Tom turning her into a cow as a prank.
  • Holodeck Malfunction:
    • The malfunction this week is that the "perception filter" is broken, meaning that, while still in the confines of their program, the characters notice things which they ordinarily shouldn't (such as Tom ordering the computer to fix his broken axle).
    • Later a holodeck panel gets shot by alarmed locals, causing the grid to jam so the Voyager crew can't just shut it down. And as usual, the holodeck safeties are offline.
  • I Can't Believe a Starship Captain Like You Would Notice Me
    Michael: My door is always open. But you're the captain of a starship, I'm a barkeep.
    Janeway: Just because we're from different worlds doesn't mean we can't care for each other.
  • Idiot Ball: Tom Paris once again tries to talk with the Fair Haven people that there's some mistake and they shouldn't be capturing them... instead of immediately pausing the program considering they are aware the holocharacters are not behaving the way they should be. This of course leads to the holocharacters somehow managing to shoot a holodeck panel (as Tom once again tries to explain instead of act) and cause it to malfunction so that the security protocols are offline.
  • I Know Your True Name:
    • Played with... Shamus tries to get power over the hypnotized Doctor by asking his true name, only to get the honest answer "I haven't picked one yet."
    • Michael jokes that as he knows her true name now, he's impervious to Janeway's charms.
  • Inescapable Net: Tom and Harry are trapped under one, until they use the "Freeze Program" command to escape. Temporarily.
  • Incoming Ham: The Doctor throws open the doors to the church. "SINNERS!"
  • Irony
    • Sullivan's argument for coexisting with the crew is that they've never used their seemingly magical abilities against them. Even assuming they're willing to overlook the Forced Transformation that Maggie was subjected to earlier in this very episode, he might want to ask his wife about that.
    • The townsfolk grumble about Tom Paris "coming and going through town as if he built the place." Which he did!
  • Kiss Me, I'm Virtual: Janeway's virtual bartender boyfriend Michael Sullivan gets to meet with her outside the holodeck.
  • Moral Myopia: Janeway insists the Fair Haven characters are real enough that they shouldn't just purge the program to save Harry and Tom. She also ignores how, by following that train of logic, her previous tampering with the program can basically be described as her murdering Michael's wife and then brainwashing him and every else in town to forget she ever existed.
  • More Hypnotizable Than He Thinks: The Doctor, because he's connected to the holodeck program once his mobile emitter is removed.
  • Mythology Gag: On getting beamed into Voyager, Michael comments that he had a cousin who went to America and saw some strange things, "but nothing like this." The last time a holodeck character escaped his confines, he assumed he'd gone to America.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Janeway refuses to consider just shutting down the program to save Tom and Harry on the grounds that it might damage the Fair Haven characters. Instead she sends in the Doctor to try talking down the villagers, only for said plan to fail instantly and result in them stealing the Doctor’s mobile emitter... therefore meaning Janeway now can’t just shut down the program for fear of potentially deleting the ship’s only medical officer.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Although he doesn't quite understand what's going on, Michael pretends he's been successfully reprogrammed so Tom and Harry will discuss their plans in front of him.
  • Oireland: Of all the plot lines to follow up on, we just had to go back to the Irish stereotypes.
  • Only Sane Man: Michael Sullivan tries to stop everything from getting out of control. Of the Voyager crew, B'Elanna whose idea of pulling the plug is the one that makes the most sense.
  • Plot Hole: Things really start to go to hell when the townsfolk spot the control panel Tom and Harry were working on and Milo shoots it, causing the holodeck to get locked out and the safety protocols to go offline (of course). Except the safeties were working just fine until the panel was shot, so how could holographic bullets have done any damage to it?
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder
    Doctor: After all, one spiteful act deserves another, right? (congregation nods) Wrong!
  • Saying Too Much: Father Mulligan starts talking about "man or woman, husband and wife, photons and forcefields..."
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: At one point Janeway comments that Michael runs on "300 deciwatts". Not only is "300 tenths of a watt" an odd way to say "30 watts", it's a shockingly low power draw. (Modern PC GPUs can draw anywhere from 80 to 100w).
  • Sequel Episode: For "Fair Haven".
  • Shaming the Mob: The Doctor tries this as Father Mulligan, but the townspeople just take him prisoner too, having seen him 'disappear' on a previous occasion. Janeway and Michael are more effective in talking down the mob later on.
  • Shout-Out: Michael gives Janeway a gift of The Faerie Queene to test the idea that she is one. Later Janeway uses The Time Machine to suggest to Michael that they're time travelers, and hands him a copy of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
  • Stealth Sequel: The episode is basically Fair Haven, Part II.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: At least the Voyager crew is smart enough to know that telling the Fair Haven residents they're just holograms is a bad idea.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Or shotguns and in-can-tations! Not to mention red twine and ash berries.
  • Urban Legend: Legend has it that in 1846 the spirit folk made the inhabitants of an entire town vanish into thin air, after first ruining the potato crop. Of course, that was during the Irish Famine when a lot of people either died or emigrated to avoid dying.
  • With All Due Respect: B'Elanna's What the Hell, Hero? to Janeway.
    B'Elanna: With all due respect, Captain; Michael can be reprogrammed. Tom and Harry can't.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: B'Elanna suggests they simply cut the power to the holodeck which would also erase the program, but Janeway is unwilling to just discard the Fair Haven inhabitants, whom the crew have become attached to.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Chakotay suggests that if they can't repair Michael Sullivan, Janeway should just tell the truth. Janeway points out that explaining she's a starship captain and he's a 300 deciwatt holodeck programme might be difficult. In the end she settles for a Half-Truth and A Form You Are Comfortable With; letting the inhabitants of Fair Haven think they're real, while revealing who Voyager's crew are, but claiming they've traveled back in time to visit the past.
  • You Talk Too Much!: Listening to the Doctor preaching away to his captive audience, a woman in the congregation mutters, "He loves the sound of his own voice."