Thoughts on “When You Wish”

Written by  on January 3, 2001 

Thoughts by Thomas Lee

By Thomas Lee

With Lesa’s release of "When You Wish" [WYW], K/7 fans have finally received the sequel to Michael Roy Hollihan’s "I Wish, I Hope" [IWIH]. Back in IWIH, Seven failed to reconcile with Harry after STWOM because she had always acted on two assumptions—that she could afford to dismiss such important aspects of interpersonal interactions like emotions as irrelevant simply because she couldn’t understand the need for them; and that, no matter what she did or said, those who offer friendship to her will always do so. As such, Seven failed to realize that it was Harry’s (emotional) hope of a relationship with her that had sustained his friendship with her for two years in the face of behavior that was not compatible with a friendship. Thus, once she had thoroughly crushed his hopes for a relationship, she had removed the only major incentive Harry had to continue the friendship—from Harry’s perspective, the K/7 ‘friendship’ was revealed to be a black hole into which he was wasting his emotional strength. As a result, Seven ended up destroying through her ignorance and callousness the very friendship she had intended to preserve.

In contrast, WYW was, IMHO, a far less gloomy story whose Seven-angst came with a strong flavor of poetic justice (especially after a rereading of IWIH). As inferred from the title (and the famous Disney song), WYW is strongly based on Seven’s newfound (and long-shot) wish to regain what she had so arrogantly and carelessly wasted (not to mention having proven so unworthy of). As such, there’s another popular phrase regarding wishes that applies to the K & 7 interaction between IWIH and the ‘present day’ of WYW—"Be careful about what you wish for—you just might get it." For two years, Seven has been ridiculing Harry’s attempts to treat her as a fellow human being, and implicitly demanding that he treat her as a Borg drone. Now, Harry has finally taken her statements and put-downs at face-value and put them into practice—and Seven soon comes to realize that the interaction she had demanded of Harry was NOT what she really wanted.

Frankly, I can’t disagree with the resentment of the ‘diehard Fleeters’ regarding Harry Kim’s lack of advancement. In his review of "The Disease," even Jim Wright acidly noted that good Ensigns were promoted in less than a year—and, by the time of WYW, it’s been nearly five years (yes, I do know that in his review of "Nightingale," the same Jim Wright smugly noted how that episode justified Harry being stuck as an Ensign…).

Furthermore, ‘Warhead’ highlighted the differences between the Senior Staff and the rest of Voyager‘s crew when it comes to appreciating Harry’s efforts (much more from the latter than the former)—it’s little wonder that, after "Warhead" in the WYW timeline, Harry has shifted his emotional energies to the far larger subset of Voyager‘s inhabitants who do (or, at least in light of Harry’s bitter musings in IWIH, now) appreciate him. To add insult to injury, Voyager‘s "problem children" (especially Seven and the Doc) have had, for the most part, free reign over their actions—for them, mistreating fellow crewmates, disobeying orders, and even endangering the ship are simply shrugged off with little or no consequences. Indeed, for all practical purposes, Seven has been granted many inordinate command rank privileges (such as a staff to abuse in Astrometrics and her ability to tell off and even defy the Captain with few, if any, consequences—come to think of it, just how many replicator rations are being sacrificed daily in order to provide Seven with all the regeneration she wants?). Is it any wonder that Harry had begun to change his on-duty behavior and actions in an attempt to reflect what he sees as Janeway’s wishes, especially since being the ‘perfect Starfleet Officer’ doesn’t appear to have won him any favor in Janeway’s eyes?

I do believe that the ‘diehard Fleeters,’ as Harry’s friends, wish that Harry could find a desirable alternative to trying to out-do Tom Paris in terms of odds-beating and death-cheating (after all, recklessness just isn’t the Starfleet way—it’s more the Maquis way). But, if this was the means Harry decided on to wrest the Captain’s attention away from her ‘problem children’ and gain the recognition he rightfully deserves, then they are, as friends, willing to lend him their moral support for his efforts (as well as to help him succeed and improve his odds of survival). After all, given the misbehavior Janeway has repeatedly tolerated from Seven and the Doc (not to mention her own questionable decisions), it’s not easy to argue that safe, by-the-book approaches are still what Captain Janeway really wants from her crew—and from Janeway’s newly favorable treatment of Harry over even Seven, Harry’s strategy certainly seemes to be working.

Regarding the ‘diehard Fleeters’ being Harry’s post-IWIH friends—in many ways, I do find them to be the sort of friends that someone like Harry deserves, as they actively reciprocate his friendship and support in both good times and bad—which certainly still can’t be said of P/T in the Bragaverse, if "Inside Man" was any indication. Unlike Tom, B’Elanna, and Seven (P/T & 7), they weren’t content to coast on the benefits friendship with Harry brings—they’re only too happy to go out of their way to extend those same benefits back to Harry, whether it’s bucking up his spirits, lending encouragement and support to his decisions, requesting his input for group activities, participating in the activities he requests of them, or even just giving him compliments.

Of particular note is the repeated hailing of / meetings with Harry Kim in Astrometrics by his new friends. I think they were intended to not only buck up Harry’s spirits while in Seven’s presence, but to remind both Harry and Seven that, just because Harry’s ‘friendship’ with Seven has collapsed, Harry is far from being left as friendless as Seven was—and that, in contrast to Seven, they value Harry’s opinions and suggestions, not to mention Harry himself as a person. Indeed, Seven had always used work as a refuge from the outside world and the social consequences of her errors—and the ‘intrusions’ of Harry’s new friends into Astrometrics could not be better calculated to deprive her of that escape. Their hails and visits forced her to realize that, while Harry Kim is moving on to new and more deserving friends, Seven had ruined her friendship with the adult on Voyager who was truly capable of being her friend—and the warmth and kindness Harry displays towards Jenkins emphasizes to Seven just what and how much she had lost through her ignorance and selfishness. (What she learns about and sees of the EMH in WYW probably has her questioning her trust in the medical hologram as well.)

Seven’s reminiscence of the events between IWIH and the ‘present’ time of WYW was excellently done, and credibly served to show how the story can move from Harry being emotionally devastated by Seven’s crushing of his hopes, to the unusual role reversal of Seven being crushed along with her hopes of a K/7 relationship by Harry. Harry’s relatively mild, yet systematic reciprocation of Seven’s past behavior towards him was an elegant form of poetic justice, making WYW unique in this regard AFAIK (indeed, Harry got the gist of Seven’s past behavior without descending to her level of social crudity).

In the days between IWIH and WYW, Harry’s focused insensitivity, as well as his new attitude of ‘Seven is just a drone for whom emotion is irrelevant,’ gradually forces Seven to realize through painful first-hand experience just how hurtful being held in such regard truly is. He ignores her subtle overtures. He brings in a group of his new friends for a practice she had hoped would be private. He publicly associates with Ensign Jenkins, leaving Seven standing alone (an ironic counterpart to how Seven had often publicly appeared with the Doctor). Most notable, however, was Lesa’s classic moment of Harry’s dismissal of Seven’s efforts on the holodeck. Harry’s casual debasement of Seven’s motivations, and her horrified thoughts in response to it, brought to mind Seven’s request for ‘copulation’ back in "Revulsion"—it was as if Harry had taken Seven’s words that night, combined it with what she told him in IWIH and her current actions, and then drew the ruthlessly logical conclusion. I think that Seven now has an appreciation of how badly she had mishandled Harry’s offer that night two years ago—and, through her first-hand experience, just how much it took out of Harry over the past two years to simply be civil to her in the face of her behavior towards him, never mind continue to offer her a friendship that she did not deserve. It was certainly evident after Seven hastily departed the holodeck that her ability to shrug off cutting remarks was nowhere near as strong as Harry’s was (not to mention that, despite being treated in a similar manner to what she once routinely used towards ‘a good friend’ like Harry Kim, she still took considerable offense).

When Harry described Jenkins as being ‘very low maintenance’ and ‘not being "risk adverse,"’ I immediately thought of just how well those descriptions applied to Harry and his mostly one-sided friendships with P/T & 7. However, as P/T & 7 have now realized, ‘very low maintenance’ and ‘not being "risk adverse"’ are NOT the same as ‘maintenance-free’ and ‘risk ignorant.’ Harry Kim’s legendary capacity for friendship, understanding, and forgiveness lends itself to a comparison to a millionaire who is generous in handing out money to the needy. Among the vast majority of Federation citizens (like the ‘diehard Fleeters’), Harry’s character traits would be readily recognized and appreciated for the society-enhancing qualities that they are. However, for Seven (and P/T to a much lesser extent), it had only encouraged her to ‘run up the bills’ with appalling recklessness… and finally, in IWIH, her ‘credit limit’ of Harry’s kindness had been reached, manifesting itself in not just Harry’s restraint of his once unlimited warmth and openness. Harry had also learned from STWOM and IWIH is that it is pointless to expend his generosity and efforts on those who don’t appreciate it—especially when there are well over a hundred other individuals on Voyager who would. As a result, the formerly close people in his life who took his friendship for granted (like P/T & 7) are now finding out just how much their behavior towards Harry hurts him through their own personal experiences. (Indeed, the revelations of IWIH caused Harry’s optimistic presumption of friendship on Seven’s part to be replaced with the pessimistic assessment that she had no idea of how to be a friend, let alone anything more).

It’s unfortunate that it took Harry’s cold shoulder to wake up P/T & 7 to how badly they have been treating someone who deserves far better. As the saying goes, Seven didn’t realize how good Harry’s friendship was until she lost it. Her pleading for the return of the ‘old’ Harry Kim is rather shaky, given that—at least in the WYW plot—it’s not apparent that Seven would ever have appreciated the ‘old’ Harry Kim if he had not left in the first place. When Seven begged Harry for a second chance at being his friend, it isn’t surprising that he didn’t quite leap at the chance given how she had so coldly misused her first chance—but that Harry didn’t refuse her outright (or even laugh in her face) was a testimonial to his forgiveness and generosity, and a sign that the damage is not yet irreparable. It was tremendously helpful that Seven readily acknowledged that it was her fault alone that the feelings Harry once felt for her are no longer what they once were—and that she now understands that Harry’s friendship and affections are desirables she will have to earn. Indeed, that Harry was willing to forgo an evening with his new friends (including the openly affectionate Jenkins) in favor of a talk with Seven so soon goes a long way to show that, despite Harry’s misgivings, his affections for Seven are still capable of returning to their former intensity. (Though I hope the aftermath of WYW will NOT result in Harry dumping his new friends now that he is on the way to regaining his old ones—that would make him little better than P/T & 7 were.)

The conclusion of WYW—Seven’s new quarters and the potential rearrangement of her regeneration habits (not to mention her healing relationship with Harry) seems to firmly place WYW as an AU story (especially given the paucity of K/7 in Season 6). Not that that’s really something to complain about—"reset button" stories aren’t that satisfying to read anyway (and certainly not as much as WYW is!). In a way, I’m glad that Lesa waited until 2001 to post this masterpiece of a story—it gives K/7 fan fiction an excellent start for the year! Lesa, you deserve lots of cube-sized kudos for writing what IMHO is your best work yet!

Memorable Quotes from "When You Wish":

  • "That’s not the way that you treat a friend."
    —B’Elanna’s comment on how she and Tom had behaved towards Harry
  • "I don’t know what Harry sees in her."
    "She tells him that he is wonderful. I have never even told him that he is acceptable."
    —B’Elanna and Seven about Jenkins
  • ‘His words struck like a physical blow. He believed that her actions were merely to keep him safe. That she had offered herself simply as a way to extricate him from his new companions, emotionlessly, like a drone, completing a task in the most efficient way possible.’
    —Seven’s thoughts about Harry’s reaction to her efforts to form a romantic affiliation
  • "Hey, she’s got a lot of ‘admirable’ qualities."
    "Such as?"
    "For one thing, she’s not ‘risk adverse.’ Matter of fact, she’s made it perfectly clear she’s not adverse to just about anything I’d like to do."
    —Harry and Seven about Jenkins
  • "Who the hell are you to tell me who my friends are?"
    "I am someone who cares for you. At one time you considered me your friend."
    "You have no idea what that word really means."
    —Harry and Seven
  • "I did not realize that something as precious as friendship must be nurtured, or it will wither and die. I may have called you a friend, but I did not act as one."
    —Seven to Harry

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