Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch: “Haven”

Written by Trace Tormé (Story by Trace Tormé and Lan O’Kun)
Directed by Richard Compton

Season 1, Episode 11
Original air date: November 30, 1987
Star date: 41294.5

Mission summary

Enterprise visits Haven for a brief respite, but the peaceful planet is no safe harbor for Counselor Troi: Her eccentric Betazoid mother ambushes her there, along with Troi’s long-forgotten human fiancé and his parents.

She meets her soon-to-be husband, Wyatt Miller, for the first time since they were genetically bonded as kids in a game of house that went too far. He seems strangely disappointed when he sees her again, as if she weren’t quite what he was expecting. She gets that a lot.

When Lwaxana Troi—Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed—beams aboard, she isn’t what anyone was expecting. A full Betazoid, she’s a powerful telepath and she isn’t shy about flaunting it. She and Captain Picard hit it off right away. The same can’t be said for the bride’s mother and Wyatt’s parents, not to mention Commander Riker and Troi’s beau.

Everyone is relieved when a B-plot appears to distract from Troi’s budding romance: a plague ship bearing the last survivors of Tarella, a world destroyed by biological warfare. The ship is on course for Haven and refuses all attempts at communication. The First Electorine of Haven is somewhat freaked by the whole thing and demands Picard destroy the approaching vessel.

Meanwhile, Troi visits Wyatt in his quarters to get to know him a little better, where she discovers his collection of sketches of another woman. Awkward. The tall, blonde stranger is literally the girl of his dreams; he’s seen her face and heard her whispering his name since he was a boy. He’d just assumed it was Troi reaching out to him with her Betazoid mind, because that would have been totally normal and healthy.

The Tarellian ship continues to ignore Enterprise’s urgent hails, so Picard is forced to hold the refugees in a tractor beam to prevent them from transporting down to Haven. That gets their attention. The ship’s captain contacts them and introduces his daughter, Ariana, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Wyatt’s dream girl! Troi dramatically states the obvious: “It’s the woman in Wyatt’s drawings.” Dr. Crusher, meanwhile, works with Wyatt–a medical doctor who took a class on the Terellian plague once (really!)–to put together a “good luck, don’t ever call” care package of medicine that may be a promising start to research for a cure.

The Tarellians just want to settle on a quiet island somewhere on Haven to die off, but that’s not Picard’s call to make. Wyatt saves them all the trouble by beaming over to the vessel to meet up with Ariana, who has been dreaming of him, too, for all these years. Turns out, she’s always wanted to marry a doctor—someone who might be able to cure their disease. Now that Wyatt’s infected, he can never leave the ship. Looks like the wedding’s off and the Millers haven’t gained a daughter, they’ve lost a son. No one seems surprised or put out by this completely unexpected development, least of all Riker.

Lwaxana Troi departs, firing off one last joke to embarrass Captain Picard. With all that drama behind them, it’s off to the next mission. “Our destiny is elsewhere,” Picard says. “But I’m happy that yours is here with us, Counselor.”

That makes one of us.


The introduction of Lwaxana Troi rescues this episode from complete mediocrity, but doesn’t entirely redeem it. Many of the recurring character’s appearances on TNG and DS9 are fan favorites and she is one of the most interesting and nuanced guest roles on these series, largely thanks to Majel Barrett’s superb performances. Her flirtatious interactions with Captain Picard are pure comic gold, because they push him well out of his comfort zone. Patrick Stewart also reveals his considerable comedic skill; his subtle reaction when he lifted Lwaxana’s luggage was a laugh out loud moment for me in an episode that more frequently elicited sighs of frustration and eye-rolling.

Alas, as wonderful as Lwaxana Troi is, her surprise visits on TNG also somehow make Deanna Troi even more annoying, making her act like a whiny teenager instead of her usual role as a whiny counselor. Admittedly, this is realistic behavior—how many of us revert to childish petulance around our parents? But that doesn’t mean it’s something I want to watch.

“Haven” feels more like a clumsy soap opera than a space opera, with Riker sullen, aggressive, and jealous of Wyatt, brooding his way through the episode. As Troi’s former Imzadi, “Bill” feels perfectly justified in behaving as though he has some claim over her, or as if she should wait around for him forever. Wyatt handles the entire situation graciously, as graciously as Picard handles Lwaxana, and I was amused when Troi and her boyfriend took over Riker’s holodeck program to make out. (But seriously, why can anyone walk into another person’s holodeck program whenever they feel like it?) The “chameleon rose” Troi toted around for a while also came off as forced symbolism, and never really pays off.

It might seem silly to complain about the ridiculous psychic connection that inexplicably has linked Ariana and Wyatt over a lifetime in an episode that features a telepath, but it seems too incredible, kind of clichéd, and too melodramatic. It turns the premise into an argument for fate and mysticism: They’re meant to be together, they coincidentally arrived at Haven at just the right moment to meet, and oh, he’s  the only person who can save the Tarellians’ lives. Did M. Night Shyamalan write this? We’re set up for a happy, magical ending with Picard’s innocuous comment in the teaser that legends “have a way of sometimes coming true,” but that bit of foreshadowing isn’t enough to make me buy what he’s selling.

On the plus side, we get some interesting background on the Betazed culture, including their famous naked wedding ceremony. I liked the idea behind the Tarellians and their plight, and had their story been the focus of the plot, the story of the forgotten betrothal even might have worked. Unfortunately, these plot points were not only wasted, but they were used as justification for further moralizing by the writers–and the enlightened Starfleet crew. About Troi’s arranged marriage, Picard says, “It seems to me that she is trapped by a custom of her home world which the facts of the twenty-fourth century life have made unwise and unworkable. I wish I could intervene.” Methinks there’s some thinly veiled criticism of how appropriate such agreements are in the twentieth century as well.

And then there’s this little exchange:

DATA: Tarella was class M, much like your Earth, with similar humanoid life forms. Unfortunately they faced the old story of hatred outpowering intelligence.
PICARD: There were hostilities?
DATA: Between the inhabitants of their two land masses, resulting in one group unleashing a deadly biological weapon on the other.
CRUSHER: And in the end the other became infected as well. Makes one question the sanity of humanoid forms.

Finally, I have to point out that it doesn’t make much sense for the tractor beam to prevent the Tarellians from beaming down to Haven but not prevent Wyatt from beaming over to their ship from Enterprise. Or maybe their transporter beams are just so much better?

This episode is sometimes humorous but more often annoying, the “twist” and resolution are predictable, and–worst of all–it’s frankly boring.

Eugene’s Rating: Warp 2 (on a scale of 1-6)

Thread Alert: It’s hard to choose just one outfit to hold up for ridicule among all the others, but I think the prize goes to Deanna’s party outfit, which is just an even more ridiculous variation on her usual wardrobe. No wonder they want her to be nude at her wedding: She just has no fashion sense, no matter what intoxicated Yar says.

Best Line: MR. HOMN: Thank you for the drinks. (We should all follow Homn’s example as we try to get through the rest of this season.)

Trivia/Other Notes: Armin Shimerman played the role of the Betazoid gift box.

Richard Compton (director) appeared twice on Star Trek, as Washburn in “The Doomsday Machine” and as a Romulan officer in “The Enterprise Incident.”

Previous episode: Season 1, Episode 10 – “Hide and Q.”

Next episode: Season 1, Episode 12 – “The Big Goodbye.”

About Eugene Myers

E(ugene).C. Myers was assembled in the U.S. from Korean and German parts. He has published four novels and short stories in various magazines and anthologies, most recently 1985: Stori3s from SOS. His first novel, Fair Coin, won the 2012 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult SF and Fantasy. He currently writes for the science fiction serial ReMade from Serial Box Publishing.