Thoughts on “One Perfect Moment”

Written by  on January 31, 2001 

Thoughts by Thomas Lee

By Thomas Lee

After the momentous events of the previous stories of Mike’s K/7 saga (and especially HOPE), it’s only natural that Mike’s K/7 saga would produce what could be called an "intermission" story. As one might infer from its title, it’s basically a chance for the readers (and the characters) to relax, catch their breath, and take stock of all that has happened in the momentous 8 months since Janeway first decided to take Voyager into a certain nebula before IOHEFY.

The ‘main attraction’ of OPM—the Paris/Torres wedding—was the anticipated follow-up to the P/T engagement seen at the end of HOPE. More than a few P/T fans were disappointed that "Drive" [VOY] kept the ‘real’ P/T wedding off-screen, and Mike went out of his way to showcase a P/T wedding that was IMHO much more true to who Tom and B’Elanna are than the cookie-cutter Starfleet wedding seen in "Course: Oblivion" [VOY].

Even so, OPM is not merely a sideshow recounting the P/T marriage in Mike’s K/7 saga. As Mike intended, it not only touched upon the immediate aftermath of the harrowing ordeal Voyager‘s crew (especially Harry and Seven) had undergone in HOPE, but it was also an opportunity to see how Voyager‘s crew has changed since we first met them and to tie up the saga’s loose ends—not to mention taking the time for the social satire and commentary Trek is known for—and to witness Harry and Seven begin the final leg of their journey from "I" to "we."

Many aspects of OPM’s P/T wedding were reminiscent of the ‘P/T’ wedding seen in "Course: Oblivion"—but also different in many respects as well to reflect the Tom & B’Elanna we’ve seen in Mike’s stories. Roxann Dawson recently stated in an interview that the reason why the ‘real’ P/T wedding was not done in "Drive" was because the writers felt that the wedding seen in "Course: Oblivion" was an accurate representation of what had happened off-screen in "Drive," and therefore they (and she) felt that it was pointless to do the P/T wedding again. As such, it is with no small amount of irony that two of the most irregular characters to have served on a Starfleet starship’s senior staff had a military marriage that was almost as by-the-book as that of Benjamin Lafayette Sisko and Kassidy Shameeka Yates. ("’Til Death Do Us Part" [DS9]) In contrast, the Tom and B’Elanna of Mike’s stories have emphasized their rough edges—and as such, given Tom and B’Elanna’s characteristic disrespect for the minutiae of rules, regulations, and tradition, it’s not surprising that their wedding was as informal as Mike portrayed it to be in OPM (which brought to mind Auntie Jam’s own barefoot, casual-wear P/T wedding in her masterpiece "Warmth." From the dress code, to the leola root cigars (which reminded me of the leola root-based alcoholic beverages in Lesa’s "Destination Determined," to the ‘modifications’ made to Voyager‘s hardware for the reception—the whole event screamed "Thomas Eugene Paris" from start to finish—and it served as an impressive testament to Mike’s abilities to be more faithful to the characters he writes about than TPTB themselves, even for those who are not the primary focus of his stories.

In contrast, Harry’s vision of his fantasy wedding is very different from both TPTB’s and Mike’s version of Tom and B’Elanna’s wedding, and yet it is equally befitting of his character as Mike’s P/T wedding was of Tom and B’Elanna. As someone who was very close to his biological family and placed a great deal of importance on them, it is almost a given that he would wish for a traditional wedding (just as his parents and relatives had done) with all of his relatives in attendance (especially given his confidence in their acceptance of Seven). Furthermore, Harry’s envisioning of the Doctor ‘giving away’ Seven at his wedding is a powerful reminder of his words to the Doctor at the end of THON that he would insist on the Doctor always being a part of Seven’s life (besides, Jeri Lynn Ryan’s maiden name is Zimmerman)—and the strongest proof yet not only of the high esteem he holds the Doctor in, but that his pre-THON fears about an EMH/7 relationship have been long forgotten (not to mention that it would symbolically represent the transition from the ill-considered EMH/7 of "Someone to Watch Over Me" [VOY] to the K/7 of Mike’s saga).

Throughout Mike’s K/7 saga, the K/7 relationship has been evolving so much that, whenever one looks back at an earlier story in Mike’s saga, the differences are immediately apparent in details both big and small. At this point in time, it is natural that Harry would remember his previous relationship with Libby—and compare how far his relationship with Seven has come in comparison with it. (His toast to Voyager‘s anticipated return home could apply just as strongly to his relationship with Seven).

Since IOHEFY, we’ve seen the blossoming of Harry’s faith in Seven as a committed romantic partner, his shift from an exclusively day-to-day approach to their relationship to one that includes long-term planning, and the improvement of his self-confidence (though how he handled the discussions on married family names and Tom’s bachelor party shows that he still has quite a ways to go. Of course, for the soon-to-be-married-to-B’Elanna Tom Paris, seeing what came out of the cake was probably one of the most frightening sights he could have imagined—being kissed by the result of B’Elanna’s own modification holoprogram probably came as a relief.) Of course, some aspects of Harry haven’t changed nearly as much—his unconditional love for and acceptance of Seven has remained a constant throughout Mike’s K/7 saga. His discussion with Seven about her infertility not only served to show how much he cared for her, but it neatly picked up on her insecurity about a subject first raised in FCL (Granted, the section in question in FCL gave the impression that Harry already had a similar discussion with Seven prior to that story, but it’s very understandable that Seven would still need reassurances from time to time).

Likewise, many aspects of Seven’s behavior, such as Seven’s questioning of the day-to-day activities and traditions of human society, have remained constant even though it is now Harry being asked instead of the Doctor—they are an essential part of who Seven as a character is. Nonetheless, it also serves to show the differences between Harry and the Doctor when it comes to interacting with Seven, and why EMH/7 carries a stigma that K/7 is free of even when both involve Seven approaching her partner with questions about human society. For the Doctor, as her father figure, it’s sufficient to merely say, "That’s the way it is" and leave it at that. In contrast, Harry holds himself as Seven’s societal equal—and thus give-and-takes in which Harry readily accepts the questioning of his reasoning are the norm.

In addition, just as with Harry (and almost certainly more so), many aspects of Seven’s behavior are markedly different from the start of IOHEFY and even HOPE, and also reflect how she has grown and changed. First, there is Seven electing to wear something other than one of her unitards (even makeup) outside of the holodeck (the costume worn in HOPE on the bridge was due to being forced to leave the holodeck ahead of schedule), which neatly addressed Seven’s thoughts about women’s clothing back in HOPE. (The bit about Naomi’s efforts to be helpful reminded me of her "big line" at the end of FCL—in both cases, Naomi’s social immaturity caused her attempts at beneficence to be more hurtful than helpful.) More importantly in regard to the K/7 relationship itself, though, is how she now approaches her intimacy with Harry. After IOHEFY, Seven had compiled her database on sexual techniques as a ‘brute force’ method of compensating for her insecurities about her love for Harry. Now that she is confident in her love for Harry in the aftermath of HOPE, she no longer needs that crutch—and the results bear out Janeway’s thoughts in IOHEFY that "The finest sexual techniques in the entire universe couldn’t hold a candle to the one thing that made sex truly great—love," not to mention the Doc’s prediction back in THON about how the K/7 relationship would "be a beautiful thing to behold" when (not if) Seven declared her love for Harry.

In a way, the story of K/7 in Mike’s saga, compared with the K/7 in the Bragaverse, can be summed up in how Seven obtained B’Elanna’s thrown bouquet. In the Bragaverse (assuming that this detail was identical between the P/T weddings in "Course: Oblivion" and "Drive"), the bouquet simply dropped into Seven’s hands—much like how Harry constantly offered Seven friendship and consideration even though, as Seven admitted in THON, she had done nothing to deserve it. In contrast, in OPM, Seven had to actively try to get the bouquet (much like the effort she has been putting into her relationship with Harry), even to the point of resorting to unconventional means when it was apparent that the bouquet was going to land where Jenkins was standing. (The revelation about Jenkins’s relationship with Pablo Baytart was an amusing reminder that K/7 and P/T weren’t the only ones to benefit relationshipwise from the ordeal in HOPE.) It says much about Seven’s progress as a member of human society that she no longer seriously considers simply knocking Jenkins aside—and just as much about Seven’s integration into Voyager‘s society that her use of her assimilation tubules to snag the bouquet didn’t trigger a mass panic (not to mention serving as another reminder that Harry loves all parts of Seven, Borg hardware and all).

One aspect of many Star Trek episodes is the addressing of present-day issues (with the more memorable attempts tending to employ unconventional presentations such as how "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" [TOS] dealt with racism, and "Angel One" [TNG] with institutional sexism). It has been one of the major reasons why Star Trek has been as compelling as it has been, and thus it is not unexpected that Mike’s K/7 saga has produced an "issue-heavy" story in OPM (even if the issues were raised in more conventional ways than the aforementioned Trek episodes).

B’Elanna’s and Seven’s ambushing of Tom on the subject of married names brought to mind a milder exchange at the end of "Drive." Of course, Federation society isn’t perfectly egalitarian, but if "Angel One" [TNG] was any indication, Federation women have to be pretty careful about accusing their male contemporaries of sexism since the charge can easily boomerang. "Angel One" left more than a few Trek nitpickers with the impression that while Federation men are socially evolved enough to be offended by the (past) overt sexism of the Ferengi, the same couldn’t be said of their female counterparts in regard to the similarly obnoxious sexism of the matriarchal Angel One—a trait that has been a part of Mike’s portrayal of B’Elanna and Seven (who aren’t exactly on firm ground to be making a call for sexual egalitarianism).

Despite a certain ’24th Century’ assertion of B’Elanna in "Drive," the Star Trek Encyclopedia itself works under the assumption that in Federation marriages, the wife replaces her maiden family name with her husband’s (the subject of homosexual marriages has been taboo in canonical Trek to the point where, AFAIK, there have been no examples as to how such a name change, if any, would be handled)—for example, the future wife of Geordi La Forge, known only as ‘Leah’ in "All Good Things" [AGT], was described as "Leah La Forge" in the Encyclopedia. In addition, after her marriage to Miles Edward O’Brien, Keiko Ishikawa was known exclusively as Keiko O’Brien—and the former Dr. Beverly Howard was known only by her married name of Dr. Beverly Crusher while she was the Chief Medical Officer of the Enterprise-D (and as "Captain Picard" in the anti-time future devised by Q in "All Good Things" [TNG]). Although the subject of Captain Kassidy Yates’s married name was not brought up on DS9 AFIAK, the novelization of "What You Leave Behind" refers to her as both ‘Kassidy Yates’ and ‘Kassidy Sisko,’ though not in conversation.

Regarding the ‘married Klingon names’ for P/T—I was surprised to see Tom (whose interest in Klingon culture is arguably higher than B’Elanna’s) mess up the names somewhat (but hey, the guy was being ‘roasted’ two-on-one). Klingon ancestry is what sociologists term ‘parallel decent’—males only trace their ancestry through their father, paternal grandfather, the paternal grandfather’s father, etc.; while females only trace their ancestry through their mother, maternal grandmother, the maternal grandmother’s mother, and so on. Since, as we saw in "Sons and Daughters" [DS9], Klingon naming practice dispenses with hereditary surnames, Tom and B’Elanna would be respectively known as "Thomas, son of Owen," and "B’Elanna, daughter of Miral" before and after their marriage. However, they would NOT be either of the "House of Paris" or the "House of Torres," since a Klingon House is named after the given name of the senior married male in the family, and thus its name would change from generation to generation (as we saw in "The House of Quark" [DS9]).

If Admiral Owen Paris fits that description, then, by Klingon custom, both Tom and B’Elanna would also be considered a "Member of the House of Owen." In the event, though, that that description applies to Tom instead, then he and B’Elanna would be considered part of "The House of Thomas," with B’Elanna gaining the title of "Mistress of the House of Thomas." (This title is not ceremonial, for reasons that will be explained shortly.) As for Seven’s counter-suggestion of a gender-reversed Klingon name for Tom—first, it wasn’t just a simple role reversal (‘B’Elanna, female of the House of Paris’ anyone?), not to mention that B’Elanna is no longer considered part of her father’s ‘House’ due to her father’s divorce from her mother ("Barge of the Dead" pointedly made no reference to B’Elanna or Miral being of any House). But more importantly, it is a very good thing that Seven did not suggest her idea of a such a role-reversal in front of any citizens of the Klingon Empire—the males would have been rolling on the ground in laughter, while the females would have been lunging for the throat of the p’takh who would dare suggest such a thing.

You see… if the Klingon tradition was reversed so that Tom joined "the House of B’Elanna"—then B’Elanna not only would not be considered a "Mistress of the House," but Tom would be considered the "Master of the House of B’Elanna." That’s because the Klingons assign all of a House’s social and domestic power to the spouse of the House’s namesake (and, within other married couples inside of the House, to the partner who is of the opposite sex of the House’s namesake)—keeping the prestige and power separate, as it were. (This is why Klingon women are so sanguine about their men having complete dominance of the Empire’s political arenas—the women have a similarly complete dominance of the Empire’s social and domestic arenas). The power of "Mistress (or Master) of the House" includes, among other things, the final authority to decide when to have children, how many, and of which gender each child will be (not to mention, as we saw in "You Are Cordially Invited" [DS9], the ultimate approval needed for any marriages that the children want to be part of). Thus, it could be said that it would very acceptable to Tom Paris to be "of the House of B’Elanna"… but it certainly would be unacceptable from B’Elanna’s perspective! (No wonder she cut off the ‘roasting’ at that point! <g>)

In regards to the naming practice employed in both North America and the Federation (it was not, and never was, a practice adopted worldwide—at least not by the year A.D. 2001), the patrilineal, hereditary surname that can be used by anyone regardless of gender, occupation, or appearance is relatively recent in the English-speaking Western world (though the universal adoption of hereditary surnames has been law in China since 2852 B.C.). The 1974 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica remarked that, in the Middle Ages, "noble families often identified their [household] head by suffixing [to his name] the name of the estate," and that by the 11th Century, the estate name "began to be taken by the younger sons and to be considered hereditary." Prior to the society-wide adoption of hereditary surnames centuries later (which took until the 16th Century for England and the 18th Century for the rest of the United Kingdom), surnames were used as a literal description of the identified person, with many societies employing literal patronymics (and some, like the Icelanders, still do) and other non-hereditary surnames (such as the American Indians’ totem-based names). As such, there was no point then in changing one’s surname upon marriage—when "Kathryn, Edward’s daughter," married "Mark, John’s son," that obviously didn’t make her "Kathryn, John’s son." (Matronymics were far less common, usually being reserved for children who were offspring of famous women and/or had no legal father. Indeed, Arabic cultures forbid the use of matronymics except for ‘Isa ibn Maryam’—Jesus, Son of Mary.) The Encyclopedia Britannica had the following to say about how family names came to be a common societal practice:

In regard to family names, the most important regulation was made at the Council of Trent (1563); it was decreed that every parish must keep complete registers of Baptisms, with the names of the child and those of his parents and grandparents. This had been done before but not so systematically. The new practice (soon followed in Protestant parishes) helped to establish the family names.

After 1563, many patronymics (and a few matronymics) were subsequently transformed into proper surnames for use in the general population—for example McDonald (and MacDonald) is Scottish for ‘son of Donald,’ ‘O’Brien’ is Irish for ‘grandson of Brien,’ and ‘Ben-Zvi’ is Hebrew for ‘son of Zvi.’ (Note: Because ‘Gorbachev’ is Russian for, literally, ‘son of humpback,’ the Russian subtitles for Star Trek 4 described the humpback whales as a different species, lest Scotty’s query of ‘Humpbacked… people?’ be taken the wrong way.) Likewise, many ‘Place Names’ (Hill, Wood, March), ‘Craft Names’ (Smith, Baker, Carpenter), and even nicknames (Black, Long, Rich, Armstrong) became hereditary surnames as well. The adoption of hereditary surnames for the purposes of tracking lineage (and to tell one John from another) meant that it was only a matter of time before the question of how marriage affected one’s surname arose, and as the Encyclopedia Britannica put it, "There is not much legislation concerning family names, because two basic assumptions are made: that the bride will accept the bridegroom’s family name by marriage and that their children will automatically have the family name of the parents." In addition, the title of ‘Mrs. [Husband’s full name]’ also evolved as a married woman’s symbolic title of being married. Nonetheless, the North American system of lineage is regarded by professional sociologists as being only slightly biased towards men because, in contrast to a true patrilineal society, the North American system uses what is called ‘bilateral decent’—that is, for a given person, all ancestors (and all of their descendants) are considered proper relatives and both male and female children are considered part of the families of both their parents. (In a true patrilineal society, one’s recognized relatives and ancestors are identified solely by matching surnames—with both daughters and sons receiving the father’s surname and the mother’s surname remaining unchanged at marriage.) For more about the study of descent systems and family organizations around Earth, go here.

Even so, regardless of its degree, the male bias in the North American naming practice was considered by more than a few to be incompatible with the United States’s proclamations of equality, and as such, devising and advocating a gender-neutral version has been one of the oldest issues in the American women’s movement, nearly dating back to Seneca Falls. Ever since Lucy Stone became the first legally married American woman not to adopt her husband’s name in 1855 (with her husband’s approval and support) and wrote "My name is the symbol of my identity and must not be lost," more than a few American women have followed her lead, one of the most famous being Amelia Mary Earhart (who had been married to publisher George Putnam for 6 years prior to her disappearance in 1937). In addition, maiden names have also served as "pen names" for both writers and public celebrities. Aside from the commonly cited concerns of egalitarianism and preserving a singular identity throughout one’s lifetime, many other reasons have been forwarded for women not to follow the custom of changing one’s name at marriage. For example, there are the legal documents that have to be amended to recognize a new post-marriage name (which has recently influenced a number of governments like Quebec’s to discourage or even forbid the legal changing of family names upon marriage). This may not be a significant concern in the fully computerized society of the Federation (which makes a name change and keeping track of past surnames nearly as convenient as obtaining a diamond ring for one’s beloved from the replicator), but many often-cited reasons would still apply to B’Elanna’s not wanting to replace her maiden family name with Tom’s. It’s not for nothing that in discussions about "Faces" [VOY] the Klingon half was called "B’Elanna" and the Human half was "Torres"—for most of her adult life, B’Elanna’s identity of "B’Elanna Torres" was her way of deliberately distancing herself from her Klingon mother and heritage (which she blamed more for her miserable childhood than her absent father). Furthermore, her duty as Voyager‘s Chief Engineer was attained under her human identity, as were the happiest years of her life (a major contrast to her pre-Voyager days). Thus, it’s not surprising that she is more than a little reluctant to part with it. (For more about the point of view of the ‘Lucy Stoners,’ go here.)

Nonetheless, the explanation/accusation that the practice of wives adopting their husbands’ surnames is a simply an expression of sexism is not sufficient. Following a decline in the United States during in the 1970s and 80s, the practice has since 1992 recovered most of its former popularity among first-time American brides in their twenties despite it having very little, if any, basis in law (not to mention the aforementioned headaches involved in changing one’s name on legal documents). Indeed, according to a 1994 American Demographics poll (which is still cited in numerous news articles about this subject to this day), 90% of married American women replaced their maiden surname with the husband’s, with another 5% using hyphenated names (as did B’Elanna in OPM) and a further 3% employing the maiden name as a middle name (or some other alternative)—and many older women take considerable offense when addressed by names other than ‘Mrs. [Husband’s full name],’ especially if she is a widow. Furthermore, Lucy Stone’s cause was not particularly popular among feminists during her lifetime (but then, neither was legal abortion)—indeed, most married feminists of the 19th and 20th Centuries made it a point to adopt their husbands’ surnames. One such example was a certain writer named Elizabeth Hall who married Eliot Janeway (yes, this was the same Elizabeth Hall Janeway who was the good captain’s namesake)—and a few went as far as to legally adopt their husbands’ middle name as well as his surname (as did the pianist Jessie Gregg when she married Edgar Stillman Kelley in 1891).

As such, some women and men have explored the non-sexist motivations behind the ‘traditional’ method (which would continue to appeal to a modern society) in an effort to avoid, as Carol Lloyd put it in her article about a related subject, ‘ham-fisted stereotypes’ of women as ‘self-hating wimps’ and men as ‘old-fashioned swine.’ Many proponents have regarded it as a rite of passage for a married woman that not only represents her new life as a married adult, but also serves as a symbolic declaration of her love for her husband and her commitment to their marriage. (Indeed, some of the more assertive proponents—especially if they are female—are likely to declare that B’Elanna’s less-than-full adoption of Tom’s surname is symbolic of her queasiness regarding a marriage with Tom back in HOPE, not to mention her fragile self-image. In any case, ‘hyphenation’ also has its own practical problems beyond having all of the legal headaches involved in the ‘traditional’ way as well: It’s considered feminist to place the wife’s name last in the joined name—and let’s not get into where, prior to marriage, both partners already have hyphenated surnames and are trying to sort out which surname goes in which order, not to mention trying to maintain the practice beyond two generations.) Furthermore, since the mother’s maiden surname is assigned by default to children born out of wedlock for obvious reasons, giving children the father’s name is regarded by proponents as a means of conferring legitimacy, with the mother also adopting the father’s surname so as not to appear socially separate from her husband and children. Of course, this does beg the question as to why the wife, and not the husband (or both) is the one to adopt the other partner’s surname in the interests of preserving one partner’s nominal lineage, and the most thorough explanation I’ve found so far is provided by an essay titled "What’s Your Name?" by Amy A. Kass and Leon R. Kass (related by marriage), which has the following to say about the subject:

Although we know from modern biology the equal contributions both parents make to the genetic identity of a child, it is still true to say that the mother is the "more natural" parent, that is, the parent by birth. A woman can give up a child for adoption or, thanks to modern reproductive technologies, can even bear a child not genetically her own. But there is no way to deny out of whose body the new life sprung, whose substance it fed on, who labored to produce it, who wondrously bore it forth. The father’s role in all this is minuscule and invisible; in contrast to the mother, there is no naturally manifest way to demonstrate his responsibility.

The father is thus a parent more by choice and agreement than by nature (and not only because he cannot know with absolute certainty that the woman’s child is indeed his own). One can thus explain the giving of the paternal surname in the following way: the father symbolically announces "his choice" that the child is his, fully and freely accepting responsibility for its conception and, more importantly, for its protection and support, and answering in advance the question which only wise children are said to be able to answer correctly: Who’s my Dad? Patrilineal surnames are, in truth, less a sign of paternal prerogative than of paternal duty and professed commitment, reinforced psychologically by gratifying the father’s vanity in the perpetuation of his name and by offering this nominal incentive to do his duty both to mother and child. Such human speech and naming enables the father explicitly to choose to become the parent-by-choice that he, more than the mother, must necessarily be.

The change of the woman’s name, from family of origin to family of perpetuation, is the perfect emblem for the desired exogamy* of human sexuality and generation. The woman in marriage not only expresses her humanity in love (as does the man); she also embraces the meaning of marriage by accepting the meaning of her womanly nature as generative. In shedding the name of her family of origin, she tacitly affirms that children of her womb can be legitimated only exogamously*. Her children will not bear the same name as—will not "belong to"—her father; moreover, her new name allows also her father to recognize formally the mature woman his daughter has become."

*—Exogamy is the exclusion of incestuous marriages between parents and children or between brothers and sisters.

In short, the North American system was never intended to be flawlessly egalitarian at every detail—but was instead an attempt to be fair in an overall societal and biological sense, and to do so in a way that emphasized family unity, linage, exogamy, and the father’s duty to his wife and children while being practical to uniformly implement through an indeterminate number of generations. As such, it would appeal to a Federation where individuality is tempered with an equally strong sense of societal duty (there is no other way a moneyless society can work).

Furthermore, Federation medical science has not only not made obsolete the underlying motivation of uncertain paternity, but has in fact reinforced it. Given the advanced state of DNA resequencing techniques in the 24th Century Federation, it is no longer possible to determine with absolute certainty if a person truly is of his or her stated lineage (even if one’s gender, ethnicity, and species remain beyond question). ("Bloodlines" [TNG], "Sons of Mogh" [DS9]) Thus, by the 24th Century, legal paternity is once again, for all practical purposes, ultimately dependant on a father’s sense of duty and the word of the mother.

In the end, though, I doubt that the majority of American women who follow the North American convention of naming go to the trouble of finding out how it came about in the first place before electing to follow it. It certainly isn’t the only gender-specific part of American culture (think of dress codes, acceptable given names, et cetera), and for most people, that the idea made it into long-standing popular practice is usually a good enough reason in of itself for them to follow it as well. Most probably (as did the married female relatives I asked about this subject) regard it as simply something that was done at marriage, and never gave it a second thought. As such, Harry is probably right in that the foremost reason why the majority of Federation women still follow the North American convention of naming is pretty much the same reason why most married American women follow it too—tradition.

Tradition, I think, is a pre-defined means of doing things so that, in the process, you confirm your identity as part of a given society through a relatively uniform set of behaviors. Societies are, by their nature, arbitrary constructs, so it makes sense that many means of confirming one’s membership in a society will seem arbitrary as well, especially as time passes from the establishment of the tradition. Tradition does have the benefit of minimizing the need for one to constantly ‘reinvent the wheel’ as to how to do things—but like any benefit, it can be harmful if taken to an extreme.

During her discussion with Harry about marriage, Seven described tradition being ‘irrelevant.’ However, the Borg themselves are hardly on solid ground to dismiss tradition as ‘irrelevant’—in many ways, they are a textbook case of a tradition-bound (even crippled) ‘civilization’ with central customs and procedures that, that, if subjected to the same scrutiny as any other society’s, falls apart just as readily. From the Borg Queen’s body to the use of data screens and control consoles, there are lots of anachronisms, both constructed and procedural, that the Borg Collective, through its technology (and indeed, its basic nature), should have been able to dispense with for their benefit. Many aspects of ‘building’ a drone—particularly the severing of healthy arms and eyes—are pointless at best and detrimental at worst (as we saw in "First Contact", organic hands are still mandatory for non-destructive manipulation and construction—and in "Dark Frontier," the drone that was once Magnus Hansen still had both organic eyes), to say nothing of spending so much effort to construct a drone from its organic self, and yet having no qualms about wasting it in endeavors of questionable value (adapting to weapons fire can be more easily done by mass-replicated remote-control robots). Most importantly, the Borg have the greatest signature quality of a ‘civilization’ that values tradition above all else—the inability to learn and grow on its own.

Seven’s epiphany of the Borg Collective as a ‘house of cards’ reminds me of the parallels that have been drawn between the Borg Collective and the Socialist dictatorships of 20th Century Earth (such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union). However, Mike has taken OPM’s comparison further than most—he shows through Seven’s thoughts how the Borg not only have many of the weaknesses of a totalitarian system, but have them to a degree beyond any human society that has existed so far.

As James F. Dunnigan and Albert A. Nofi wrote in "Dirty Little Secrets of the Vietnam War," Socialist dictatorships were "…scams that involved promising more than you could deliver and encouraging ‘any means necessary’ (including a permanent police state and, as needed, mass murder) to hasten the time when the new age of peace and plenty would arrive." Not surprisingly, the ‘new age of peace and plenty’ kept slipping further into the future with each passing year. This immediately lends itself to a comparison with the Borg Collective’s pursuit of ‘perfection’—both in terms of the futility of their perpetual pursuits (whose nature renders it self-defeating) of an ill-defined goal and in the destruction and suffering caused in the process. In addition, the Collective’s suppression of individualism (not to mention their obsession with ‘relevancy’) is a fundamental reason for their stagnation—without free expression of individualism, there is no one to challenge the status quo, to provide a different perspective from which to approach a problem, or to even think up answers to problems that had not been considered yet (or deemed irrelevant). One of the most devastating revelations about the Borg in "Scorpion" and "Dark Frontier" is that what we thought was the Borg "adapting" was merely their accessing their databanks for what was already in place due to their assimilating someone else who had solved the problem beforehand—when the problem was something that was both outside of the pre-assimilation experience of any of the Borg Collective’s members and assimilation-proof (such as Species 8472), the Collective was helpless.

Furthermore, the Borg Collective is also reminiscent of a past foe of the Federation—a self-proclaimed warrior society named the Klingon Empire (which was once also a candidate for a comparison with the Soviet Union). Like so many warrior societies on Earth, the Klingon Empire could only survive so long as it had weaker political entities to prey upon—if its neighbors became strong enough to fight back or even just hold their own, the Empire would die off from its inability to support itself. Likewise, the Borg Collective is a galactic parasite that will only survive as long as it has weaker powers to assimilate sentients and technology from—otherwise, it will stagnate and collapse due to its sheer inability to learn and grow on its own, if not destroyed outright (as Species 8472 demonstrated in their war against the Borg). However, the Klingon Empire managed to swerve away from this self-destructive path (as symbolized by the rise of General Martok to Chancellor of the Empire)—and now its survival as a healthy political power is assured for the foreseeable future. In contrast, the mind-controlled Borg collective simply lacks the means by which the status quo can be challenged without the Collective’s destruction (with the exception of the scenario presented in Jim Wright’s half-serious "The Best of Both Girls." As previously discussed, the most efficient means of beneficially challenging the status quo lies in the free expression of individualism and the exploration of possibility—and few countries on Earth have encouraged and glorified individualism (and the challenging of the impossible) more than the United States of America.

As anyone who has read IOHEFY knows, political asides on the United States of America certainly aren’t off limits in Mike’s K/7 saga. Come to think of it, they are probably inevitable, given Tom Paris’s fascination with the 20th Century (and the USA’s rise to the role of the superpower of the planet from a baker’s dozen of heterogeneous colonies in under three centuries). It’s an amusing role reversal where Chakotay, who is of American Indian decent, stereotypes American culture to much the same degree as a number of Hollywood films have stereotyped American Indians. (The Doctor might want to be careful about his remarks about cheeseburgers—for all we know, Seven may discover that she shares Jeri Lynn Ryan’s fondness for Big Macs. <g>) It should be noted that, despite Trek’s usual assertions of a moneyless society in the Federation, the forces that drove the creation of the concept of money (such as scarcity) are alive and well on Voyager, as ‘replicator rations’ certainly serve most of the roles of money onboard Voyager. Money was simply a means of organizing barter-based trade into a more systematic, convenient, universal, and efficient form. (As for Tom’s statements about the poor quality of art in the post-money economy—I can’t say that I’d be surprised. I think one only has to look towards the stuff subsidized by the US National Endowment for the Arts as an example of the, um, ‘art’ that might flourish in an environment free of commercial concerns.) Of course, as Janeway pointed out, the United States is very far from perfect (but then, what political entity isn’t?). But the quest for riches in the United States has played a crucial role in motivating the countless inventions and research efforts that have propelled America to the cutting edge of both technology and the application thereof (just as it did for Zefram Cochrane in "Star Trek: First Contact").

This brings us to another aspect of the United States discussed in OPM: its space programs (both in RL and in Trek). It was not for nothing that President John F. Kennedy intended the moon race as a demonstration of the technical and industrial (not to mention financial) capabilities of the United States—such a feat could not be accomplished by simply adapting the rockets existing in 1961 to the task, but required the development of giant launch vehicles and lunar spacecraft that were far beyond the abilities of any nation on Earth to build at the time. Perhaps the most spectacular examples of the technological gap that existed by the end of the moon race were the moon rockets the United States and the Soviet Union developed (or, in the case of the latter, tried to) in order to send manned spacecraft to the moon. The American Saturn-V rocket not only could send three astronauts to lunar orbit (and two on Moon), but it did so with a perfect 13-for-13 launch record—which included Earth’s first manned circumlunar flight, a lunar landing dress rehearsal, 7 manned lunar landing missions, and the launching of the Skylab space station. In contrast, the Soviet N-1 rocket was not only theoretically less capable (it was expected to put only two cosmonauts into lunar orbit and one on the moon), but it never had a successful flight—of its four test flights, the fourth blew up in mid-air, while the first three literally crashed and exploded (indeed, the second even managed to crash directly into its own launch pad). Tom Paris wasn’t kidding about a chemically propelled moon rocket being a ‘giant firecracker’—if anything he was understating the risk, since a moon rocket with its some 2,500 metric tons of high-energy fuel literally had the explosive potential of a ‘small’ nuclear weapon. (Note: Had the N-1 ever proven successful, the Soviets would have named it either ‘Lenin’ or ‘Kommunism’—which, as history has shown, turned out to be fitting names for the failed moon rocket after all.) For those who want to read more about the Saturn-V and N-1 moon rockets, go here for the former and here for the latter.

However, even for the Americans, manned lunar landing missions remained intolerant of malfunctions (and still are)—an Apollo-Saturn-V rocket has some 6 million parts, and Apollo 13 was a nerve-wracking example of what could happen if one part malfunctioned. As such, many people began to wonder after Apollo 11 (and especially after Apollo 13), if the benefits of a manned lunar mission were really worth the risks it involved to the astronauts and the money spent on it (especially since many scientists vociferously argued that the extra expense required for a spacecraft to have life support and the ability to safely return to Earth could be better spent on unmanned probes). In regard to the concern of money, in 10 years, the lunar landing program cost the United States about $125 billion in today’s money—and, even as early as 1969, many powerful interest groups advocated that the money being spent on the lunar landing program be diverted to what they felt were more worthy goals (public education, welfare, environmental programs, et cetera). Thus, with the advent of budget cuts, NASA was not only forced to give up its (serious) plans for a permanent moon base and a manned flight to Mars by 1980, but it had to cancel three of its ten lunar landing missions as well (so that the last of the Apollo Moon missions was Apollo 17 instead of Apollo 20). IMHO, the concerns over life and money in regards to the Moon program were ironic given the concurrence of the Vietnam War—astronauts hardly had to be drafted to fly to the moon (indeed, one of the Apollo 13 astronauts subsequently signed up for the next available slot on a lunar landing mission), and Arthur C. Clark is reputed to have said that the money the United States spent on the Vietnam War—a total of nearly $800 billion in current US dollars—could have paid for all of the space hardware seen in the movie "2001": space stations, moon base, USS Discovery, HAL 9000 and all (BTW, the United States government plans to spend over $1.8 trillion dollars in the year 2001—a .pdf document about the US budget is available online. OTOH, the Soviet Union abandoned its own manned lunar landing program when it became clear that they had not only failed to beat the United States to the moon, but they couldn’t even attempt a landing until long after the United States ended its own program. In short, they aborted their efforts simply because cosmonauts landing on the moon no longer had any propaganda value. (To that end, while NASA’s two leftover Saturn-Vs went to museums, the Soviets dismantled their two remaining N-1s so as not to leave what the Communist leadership considered to be monuments to failure.)

In any case, Star Trek’s NASA was far more active than its real life counterpart—the former launched at least six "Voyager" probes during the 20th century ("Star Trek: The Motion Picture") compared with two for the latter. Indeed, in the Trek timeline at least, the United States of America certainly made up with a vengeance its half-century sabbatical in the pushing back of the final frontier. Not only, as Tom pointed out, did the United States lead the missions to Mars, but NASA’s manned mission to Saturn under the command of Colonel Shaun Geoffrey Christopher ("Tomorrow is Yesterday" [TOS]) was probably underway at the same time as the Aires Four mission—and on July 23, 2037, only five years after the ill-fated Aires Four Mars mission, NASA launched its third manned mission to explore beyond the solar system—out to two and a half times Pluto’s distance from the sun, to be more precise. ("The Royale" [TNG])

Furthermore, in "Space Seed" [TOS], it was established that suspended animation technology was employed by various Earth spacecraft at least from the 1990s to 2018—and this has not been disavowed by Voyager’s writers if the model of a DY-100 sleeper ship (complete with 6 strap-on solid-rocket boosters) on Rain Robinson’s desk at SETI was any indication ("Future’s End" [VOY]). That suspended animation technology was relegated to a backup system in terms of spaceflight after 2018 strongly implies that the United States had perfected ships capable of high sublight speeds—and thus, I would not have put it beyond Star Trek’s NASA to have built and dispatched starships capable of relativistic sublight speeds to the star systems of Alpha Centauri and perhaps even 40 Eridani (Vulcan’s star system) prior to the Third World War. Perhaps, in "Star Trek: First Contact," the Vulcan lander T’plana-Hath was sent to Earth in response to a NASA starship that made First Contact with them. (It would explain why it is customary for Federation ships to share the name prefix "USS" with their NASA and US Navy counterparts. The Vulcans certainly handled "First Contact" better than one might expect given the major differences in culture and language—perhaps they were prepared ahead of time by an intrepid NASA crew?). From returning to the Moon in the early 2020s to planting the Stars and Stripes on one of Alpha Centauri’s planets in 2048, NASA had moved from orbital to interstellar manned missions in less than thirty years—and if the Third World War had not intervened, the commercially-minded Cochrane would doubtless have approached NASA with his theories on warp drive (he did make his first warp flight from a US State). Thus, it’s no wonder that, as Mike wrote in IOHEFY, ‘this America ruled the world, and did pretty much as it pleased’—and as such, I agree with Tom Paris’s assessment that, in the absence of a Third World War in the Trek timeline, interstellar flight could have been an American-only enterprise (no pun intended) for a very long time, if not to the ‘present’ day of Voyager.

Did the United States cease to exist as a political entity after World War 3? Personally, I doubt it. According to "The Royale" [TNG], the United States of America possessed a flag with 52 stars (maybe the 51st and 52nd states are Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico?) between 2033 and 2079—the latter date indicating that the United States was one of the ‘very few governments’ to have survived World War 3. Furthermore, the SS Valiant, a much larger (and purpose-built) starship than Cochrane’s Phoenix, was ready for service less than 2 years after Cochrane’s warp flight ("Where No Man Has Gone Before" [TOS]), and who better to provide the interstellar starships to adapt to warp drive than the NASA of Trek’s timeline? As such, I prefer to believe that the United States still exists in the 24th Century with 53+ states—especially since the dedication plaque of the 24th Century starship USS Tsiolkovsky indicated it was built by a fleet yard in the USSR (when "The Naked Now" [TNG] was written in 1987, the writers had no idea how dated the USSR reference on that plaque would become, not to mention the ‘Leningrad’ reference in Star Trek 4—though neither was quite so egregious as Chekov declaring in the novelization of Star Trek 4 that the Soviet Union was the political entity that most resembled the United Federation of Planets in terms of its ‘moneyless’ economy in 20th Century Earth).

Harry’s thoughts on the ‘Equinox Five’ bring to mind some remarks made by a number of reviewers of "Equinox" [VOY] on the differences between the crews of the USS Voyager and the USS Equinox. A common theme is that, while the Equinox ran on a first name basis, Voyager has been compared to a benevolent dictatorship (as symbolized by Janeway’s monopoly on the self-destruct authorization codes). There may have been no ‘formal’ checks and balances on Ransom’s authority on the Equinox, but the informal checks were plainly evident when Burke refused to obey Ransom’s order to surrender (most obeyed Ransom’s suggestions because they couldn’t suggest any better ideas for survival). In contrast, though some of the formal checks were still in place on Voyager, Janeway usually has little trouble steamrolling over them (as we saw in "Equinox"). Thus, IMHO, the problems Harry found with the Equinox‘s way of command applied much more strongly to Voyager.

In any case, Harry’s questions about tolerating evil conduct from his Captain have already been answered to the audience (and Janeway). The falling down of Voyager‘s dedication plaque was an ominous indication that, in their pursuit of the Equinox, Janeway had clearly crossed the line—and her crew mostly aided and abetted (with dissenters removed from active duty). As such, the ending of "Equinox" clearly indicated that, had their experiences in the Delta Quadrant been reversed, it could easily have been Captain Ransom pursuing a renegade Captain Janeway. Harry is right in that "a person could forgive a buddy of many more things than they could of someone who was merely a superior officer." But the "Nuremberg defense" didn’t come about because the accused followed suggestions from buddies—"I was only following orders" was one of the most commonly used phrases to defend one’s participation in Earth’s most horrific atrocities. In this context, it is fortunate for Janeway that the Borg tried to use her ship to carry the ‘assimilation virus’ into the Federation—it lent a badly-needed gloss of necessity over Janeway’s otherwise reprehensible actions in "Equinox" (though it is true that Janeway had no way of knowing about the virus’s existence then, and thus was not influenced at all by it).

"Sure, a wedding license is a scrap of paper, but so is an employment contract, your paycheck, a twenty-dollar bill, the deed to your home, and the Constitution of the United States."
—Dr. David Hubbard, ‘Homemade,’ July 1989.

Regarding Harry and Seven’s discussion of marriage—the benefits of marriage have been discussed in a number of books (one of the better examples being "The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially" by Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher), all of which make a much better case than Harry did (but hey, like Tom and the subject of married names, he didn’t exactly have a chance to research it). That marriage is still regarded as more than a meaningless tradition was demonstrated by B’Elanna’s pre-HOPE refusal to accept Tom’s offers of marriage.

In today’s resource-limited, imperfect, non-utopian society, it is true that marriage (and the nuclear family) is an important social construct that, through a few thousand years of trial and error, was found to be the best way of raising children (very few single parents can match either the earning power or the emotional resources of the average two-parent family—and the sharing between a married couple enables them to require much less in the way of material resources than two unmarried individuals). But it is also a public statement that the partners can not only expect to depend on each other in innumerable ways that would not be extended to anyone else (it’s a whole lot more efficient to simply state "we’re married" than to try to list all of the aspects associated with being married), but that the relationship is expected to be a lifelong commitment that wouldn’t be ended at a whim by either partner (as Harry feared in THON and Seven in FCL and HOPE), and thus the partners can afford to make emotional and material investments in each other that one would not otherwise dare to (such as confiding personal secrets or one partner electing to take five to twenty years away from a career in order to care for their children). The psychological effect of oath taking is still considered significant in the Federation—witness the oaths that need to be sworn by Starfleet officers. In addition, given that the Federation’s moneyless society has actually worked for at least two centuries without the Federation becoming an interstellar welfare state (indeed, quite the opposite), this speaks of a powerful and universal sense of honor and duty among the general population that would more than make up for the removal of the financial incentives for marriage. It is a testament to how solid and interdependent the K/7 relationship currently is (or maybe, given how suddenly the cracks appeared in it in FCL and HOPE, that should be, ‘how it appears to be’?) that the aforementioned emotional benefits of marriage are immediately invisible to not only Seven, but Harry as well.

As for Seven’s point that "the Federation permits individuals to procreate in any manner they see fit" and Harry’s thoughts that ‘On Earth and other Federation planets, nobody gave it a second thought if an unmarried woman chose to have a child’—while single parents are generally accepted in the Federation, AFAIK the ones we have seen in Trek did not set out to be single parents (more of an allowing for circumstances instead of complete neutrality on the subject). I’m not quite so sure that a society that, as Seven pointed out in IOHEFY, frowns on cybernetic and genetic enhancement would be any more approving of the use of purely technological means to conceive and gestate a child when the individual in question is single from the outset—especially after the Dominion War, where artificial reproduction will be looked upon with a particularly disapproving eye due to its association with the Jem’Hadar and the Vorta. (There is also the unspoken accusation of emotional immaturity—if you can’t make the compromises needed to have been married to a partner, how can society expect you to make the greater compromises needed to raise a child?) Furthermore, while single-parent families may not be a big deal for 24th Century Federation citizens, they certainly are for the 20th and 21st Century franchise writers who write about them and the actors and actresses who portray them. According to the DS9 Companion, "What You Leave Behind" [DS9] originally ended with Captain Sisko bidding Kassidy and the linear realm a permanent goodbye—but Avery Brooks and the writers were troubled by the story ending with a black woman being left alone to raise her child, and thus the ending was changed to an open-ended question of when—not if—Sisko will return to the linear realm and rejoin his family.

Seven’s thoughts about her name continue a plot line first established in HOPE—her sense of self and identity. As anyone who has watched "Dark Frontier" knows, though Seven has been described as being a six-year-old girl in some ways, she is definitely unlike the Annika Hansen we saw in that telemovie, and thus her reluctance to assume that identity again is easily understandable. However, as we saw in HOPE, it is even more clear that the woman who still calls herself "Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One" is at least as far removed from—and even violently opposed to—both the Borg drone of that designation when it was severed from the collective back in "Scorpion Part 2" [VOY] and the ex-drone who also went by that designation for nearly two years afterward. As such, it’s not a surprise that Janeway has begun dropping hints that Seven should resume her old human identity—at worst, it’s no more ill-suited than Seven’s Borg designation, especially given her newfound hatred towards the Borg Collective.

The glaring irony of Seven clinging to her "Borg Identity" is that, except for ‘Locutus of Borg,’ the Borg routinely changed the designations of their drones to reflect current tasks and assignments. Throughout her existence in the Borg, the former Annika Hansen was almost certainly known by various numbers and roles—she might have been "Two of Four, Auxiliary Processor of Unimatrix Four-Seven" one month and "Six of Eight, Primary Adjunct of Unimatrix Nine-Three" the next. As such, given that the "Borg Identity" is a deliberately impermanent and impersonal designation that exclusively reflects one’s rank and job, I think that Harry’s ‘Borg name’ would go something like, "Five of Nine, Senior Operations Manager of the Federation Starship Voyager," the "Five of Nine" indicating his relative rank in the 9-member Senior Staff at the time of OPM. Thus, Seven would be more properly described in Borg nomenclature as something like "One of Nine, Senior Astrometrics Specialist of the Federation Starship Voyager" (though it can be argued that "Seven of Nine" was how Seven often viewed herself in Voyager‘s rank structure prior to IOHEFY). Even so, Seven’s disapproval of the idea of Harry taking on her Borg designation not only reflects what a Borg designation really means, but also her discomfort about the notion of Harry being ‘assimilated into Seven’s collective’ given the events of HOPE (and the precise cause of Harry’s near-assimilation).

Of course, as Seven indirectly acknowledged through her statement that she will ‘become part of the Kim Collective,’ there is the option of Seven simply choosing "Annika Kim" as her married identity and forgoing an intermediate step of resuming her old human identity of "Annika Hansen." (Given her reluctance to regard "Annika Hansen" as a proper identity and her resentment towards Magnus and Erin Hansen, I really doubt Seven would even consider "Annika Hansen-Kim" or even "Annika Hansen Kim" at this point.) This would neatly divide Seven’s existence into the three very different lives she led—as the child Annika Hansen, as the Borg (and Borg-like ex-drone) Seven of Nine, and as the human ex-Borg Annika Kim. One of the aforementioned reasons sometimes cited by women who elect to change their names upon marriage is that, by doing so, they are symbolically declaring their new identity and their departure from their previous life—which could certainly apply to the journey of growth, love, and discovery that Seven has undertaken since the start of IOHEFY.

The meeting of Harry and Seven with Will Chapman and Jenny Delaney helped bring one aspect of the K/7 relationship full circle. Back in IOHEFY, one catalyst for the K/7 relationship was B’Elanna’s reaction to Jenny’s public flirting with then-ladies’ man Will Chapman. A parallel that readily suggests itself is that, just as Seven had an ill-fated holodeck date with Chapman in "Someone to Watch Over Me," so did Harry with Jenny Delaney just before "Prime Factors" [VOY]. But, just as with the K/7 relationship, what made the Jenny/Chapman relationship work is that they compliment each other’s personalities and strengths. (Jenny’s nickname for Chapman is reminiscent of Seven’s own private nickname for Harry selected back in FCL.)

Most of all, however, the scene served to emphasize the time that has passed since the opening scenes of IOHEFY—and how much the four of them have changed since then. At the start of Mike’s K/7 saga, the four of them were single—but eight months later, not only have Harry and Seven become a romantic couple, but it turns out that Chapman had likewise found his romantic match with Jenny Delaney (which belies B’Elanna’s contemptuous description of Jenny Delaney as "Voyager‘s welcome wagon"—and bore out Harry’s faith in Jenny as a good person, just as his faith in Seven has been rewarded). Furthermore, all four have grown and changed from their relationships, as shown by Chapman’s reminisces on what he gained from his relationship with Jenny, Seven’s amusement at Chapman’s unintentional joke about how her date with him had ended less than a year before (which contrasts with her fuming in reaction to a nearly identical joke at the start of IOHEFY), and Seven’s lack of offense at Jenny’s casual field repair of the former’s hairdo (not to mention Seven’s post-FCL socialization with her ‘girlfriends’ at Harry’s encouragement—and how her humanity has benefited from it). All in all, the scene showcased the kind of character development that, far too often, has been notable on Voyager only by its absence.

For all of Mike’s dislike of EMH/7, he tries very hard to portray the Doctor as a likable and unique character in his own right (as he would do for any other crewmember of Voyager), and OPM was a strong success in this regard. The Doctor’s experimentation with a ‘suntan’ (not to mention his ‘drink’) was a welcome expression of the Doctor exploring his identity as a hologram that has a different set of limits than those of humans. Perhaps more importantly for EMH fans, Mike’s saga has gone a long way to repairing the damage done to the EMH as a character since "The Gift" [VOY]. His views on unhealthy habits such as inebriation and smoking are not only appropriate for a Medical hologram, but a deliberate repudiation of the self-absorbed Doctor we saw in "Body and Soul" [VOY].

Furthermore, the revelation that the Doctor had created a wardrobe of civilian clothing for Seven to use, but that Seven chose to continue wearing the unitards, not only clears the Doctor of the unspoken accusation that he took advantage of Seven’s naiveté (and shows him to be someone who tries to accommodate Seven’s wishes), but it also reinforces the point that Seven shared responsibility with the Doc for her growth (or lack thereof) as a human being prior to her relationship with Harry. From the Doctor’s low point (at least in Mike’s timeline) in "Someone To Watch Over Me," OPM has shown beyond a doubt (that is, if there were any left after THON) that Mike has truly returned the Doctor to the heights he once enjoyed prior to "The Gift" [VOY]. (Except for any diehard EMH/7 fans.)

All in all, aside from a few uncomfortable moments for Tom and Harry, OPM indeed lived up to Mike’s billing as the first of his K/7 saga stories to ‘take it easy’ and not put K/7 through the emotional meatgrinder. It also served to show that, even after Seven’s pivotal declaration of love for Harry in HOPE, her journey of growth, love, and discovery with Harry is by no means over, but stretches out before her in a lifetime’s worth of possibilities.

Of course, thanks to OPM not employing an ex post facto reset button regarding the transwarp coils obtained in HOPE, Earth is now within reach of Voyager—and Mike has warned us that OPM’s sequel is going to be a real roller coaster of a ride.

Memorable Quotes from "One Perfect Moment":

  • "Have I told you how lovely you look today?"
    "You have complemented my appearance many times today, Harry. However, if you wish to do so again, you may. I do not tire of hearing it."
    —Harry and Seven
  • "Relax, Marin. All’s fair in love and war. Besides, just think about how relieved poor Pablo must be right now."
    —Megan Delaney to Marin Jenkins about Seven’s snatching of B’Elanna’s bouquet
  • "What do you have planned for an encore, Tom? Did you modify the deflector array into a disco ball?"
    —Chakotay about Tom’s use of Voyager’s hardware for the reception
  • "You know, I dont think anybody really knows anymore. Its one of those great unsolved mysteries of the 20th Century, like the secret formula for Coca Cola."
    —Harry to Seven about the meaning of the lyrics to ‘Louie, Louie’
  • "I propose a toast—to love! The last remaining source of misery on Planet Earth!"
  • "America without money? That’s like Christians without Christ!"
  • "There, you see? Youre starting to become a nature lover already."
    "On the contrary, Harry. Nature is irrelevant. It is the fact that it is relevant to you that makes it worthwhile to me."
    —Harry and Seven
  • "Yes. I want to marry you, Seven of Nine."
    —Harry’s full response to Seven’s proposal of marriage
  • "They might well believe it to be a mathematical equation."
    "Well, isn’t that what it is, in a way? One Harry plus one Seven equals love and happiness."
    "A most agreeable formula."
    —Seven and Harry about Harry’s tree carving
  • "You actually kiss Harry with that mouth?"
    "Indeed, I have done far more than kiss Harry with my mouth. I have…"
    —Tom and Seven after the latter’s repetition of the former’s earlier profanity.
  • "Seven, I’m shocked! First profanity and now drunkenness? What’s next, gambling and chewing tobacco?!"
    —The Doctor
  • "You got tanked on only three sips of booze? Jeez, talk about the ultimate cheap date!"
    —Tom to Seven
  • "I do not feel particularly beautiful at this moment, Harry."
    "Hey, you’re always beautiful to me."
    —Seven and Harry

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