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The Great Hunters Letter Debate! Did She Or Didn't She?

How it all started...
11 Feb 1998

Mrs. Mac: Torres certainly had time to get the rest of the letter from Tom's father. After all, in the end she tells Janeway that she retrieved most of the encrypted messages and a few more letters. Since Tom's letter was in transit before that, just how was it lost? Mac thinks Torres is holding out on Tom.

Martha: My only complaint-- Why didn't B'Elanna get all of Tom's message? As he was heading out the door she almost had it.

Ruth: Mrs. Mac wrote: Torres certainly had time to get the rest of the letter from Tom's father. Afterall, in the end she tells Janeway that she retrieved most of the encrypted messages and a few more letters. Since Tom's letter was in transit before that, just how was it lost? Mac thinks Torres is holding out on Tom.

Oooh! I hadn't thought of this. It would be interesting, and this episode shows that TPTB can follow up on some story threads when they want to do so. If the letter was a scathing indictment of Our Tom, she might have not wanted to show it to him. (Although Ginny is right -- he would suffer beautifully)

Mr. Mac: Not only that Ruth, I think that Torres may have gotten a letter herself. Wasn't she holding one more padd when she was speaking to Tom? We really don't know if Torres got a letter or not, but it's possible! I love it!

Vickie T.: Torres censoring Tom's mail? Like Ruth, I never even thought of that, but it makes a lot of sense. I also wondered how Torres could possibly not have gotten Tom's letter when she was already downloading it before the fighting started. I like the idea.

Regarding whether or not Tom and B'Elanna have slept together...Mr. Mac, come on, wake up and smell the coffee! Of course they have! They've gotten way too comfortable with one another to still be in that "I want you body, but I don't know if should do it" manic phase of the relationship.

G'Inny: And the thing that pisses me off most in this episode? The completely bogus way in which Tom's letter was handled. It is completely ridiculous to think that Harry's letter, which B'Elanna apparently retrieved after Tom's letter, made it through, and Tom's didn't. My first thought was, hold on-that doesn't make any sense. My second thought was--B'Elanna decided not to give it to him because of the content. Wow. If that, indeed, turns out to be the case, then I will rescind my current pissed off status and stand amazed and impressed at TPTB's audacity.

Diane: I was left hanging about Paris' letter. Most people on this board, and other boards, think that B'Elanna held back the information received. I would like to think so, but I am afraid TPTB will drop the ball, like they did with the lack of Kes references and scenes in Year of Hell. Just a feeling. If B'Elanna did hold back the real letter, then this could add some spice to their story. If not, as I suspect, they have now completed Paris' redemption with a Blah ending. That's it, no great story of Paris coming to terms with his father. No explanation, no mental anguish, just a nice resolution.

SuzyQ: - Tom's Lost Message: Balderdash! Tom's message came through before Harry's and Harry gets his while Tom's is lost? Grrrrr...and, no I don't think B'Elanna held out on him or lost it on purpose because of harsh contents. That seems too dishonest for our crew. Wish the writers would have given him at least a partial one, maybe half received. That way his dad's feelings could still be a mystery to all.

Mr. Mac: I don't know guys. I just looked at the last Janeway and Torres scene where Torres has downloaded the last of the messages. She was very somber and *insisted* very quickly that she deliver the messages herself. When Janeway said that Neelix could deliver them she said, "No need. Anyway, there's one I want to do personally." Therefore, there WAS a letter, and there was something in one of those letters that

1) Affected HER emotionally, and 2) She didn't want Neelix to read.

I do not think that the one she was concerned about was Harry's because she delivered his kind of nonchalantly. She was still troubled when she walked over to Tom. So, if there was an important letter to deliver, and it was Tom's, then she *didn't* give it to him. I definitely think she is holding back something from Tom.

Joyce: Then the issue of Tom's letter. *What* was going on here? Interesting theory over at the Coffee Nebula, that there *was* a letter and B'Elanna suppressed it. The proponents of this theory say that she seemed disturbed when she told the Captain that she wanted to deliver the letters herself. Well, if this is true, I guess we'll find out in upcoming episodes. (Wow! Episodes that actually refer back to events in previous episodes! What a concept!)

Mrs. Mac: Hi Terry. If you are implying that Tom's letter was encrypted then I disagree. I think (although I could be wrong) that only the Starfleet messages/maps were encrypted. I don't believe the letters were. After all, both Janeway and Torres were reading them as they were coming through but the encrypted messages required Harry to do some work on them. Remember the last Torres/Janeway scene? Torres suggested that Harry should work on the encrypted messages but that she was going to deliver the letters.

Terry: Anyway, I worded my statements above too strongly. Encryption doesn't have to be applied to an entire file so that "miss part, miss all" applies. But if it wasn't encrypted, then Tom should have known that part of the message came through. Again, maybe they only recovered the message header as the data was scrambled.

Diane: Mr. Mac., Even though hour theory is intriguing, remember, Voyager is not a Soap Opera type show. I don't think B'Lanna has held back anything. Because she could not get the entire message, and she new how this news would affect Tom, she delivered the bad new herself. It's that simple. This follows along with Jeri Taylor's book MOSAIC.

Have you read it? It's no literary masterpiece, but it does show that Admiral Owen Paris was not an ogre. He cared deeply for Tom and was extremely proud of him. What it may be leading up to is a show where Tom deals with his changing feelings for his dad. Jeri Taylor stated earlier in the season that Paris would be dealing with this relationship. Maybe it will be in the Upcoming episode "Demons" that Carol mentioned. The title is appropriate.

Martha: Well, first let me say I agree with you that it would be in character for B'Ellana to hide a letter for herself. She wouldn't want to be caught up in sharing her "what's going on in my part of the AQ" conversations that are probably happening all over Voyager. *But* I think that if it comes out that B'Ellana with held a letter to Tom, then lied to him about it, in order to "protect" his feelings he would hit the roof. He has been an emotional loaner all these years, and while we've seen his shell start to break down, it's clearly still there to some degree. I think that it would even be cause for a break up, he would claim he wouldn't know how to trust her.

Mrs. Mac: I agree, Martha! I think this is a perfect scenario for causing complications in the P/T relationship. I'm sure it won't go over too happily with the P/Ters but I'm equally sure that if there are any problems they will be eventually resolved.

Season ending cliffhanger: "Will B'Elanna and Tom resolve their feelings after B'Elanna hid the letter from Tom's father and Tom found it? Stay tuned to Season V on UPN!"

I read Mac's posts and rewatched the scenes he was talking about. There is also the part when P/T embrace and Tom says that he really does care what his father things. Lo and behold, what if B'Elanna got the entire message and it was a nasty note from daddy! After hearing what Tom said she just might be inclined to hold back a disappointing letter.

G'Inny: ... and I'd be the first one to leap up and cheer if "the course of true love never did run smooth" for Tom and B'Elanna (who have become too relaxed and comfortable with each other too soon IMHO), because she withheld Tom's letter. However, I find it highly unlikely that Admiral Paris would have sent a nasty letter to Tom. I'm inclined to think that it would be more along the lines of a very awkward, very formal letter that, essentially, said nothing of real emotional substance.

Shawnster -- 17 Feb 98, 11:18 PM

I seem to have a different take on Tom's letter from his dad than everyone else (although I will admit I skimmed the posts. It's hard having to go through almost a week's worth of postings). It seems the majority feel B'Elanna is keeping something from Tom, some sort of dirt to hold over his head at a later time (if I'm off-base, let me know)

I got a different feeling about it. B'Elanna called Tom down, hoping he would be excited about having a letter from his dad. Tom reacted in a very negative way. B'Elanna was sorry she hurt Tom like this because it obviously does matter what Owen Paris thinks about his son. Tom agreed, guessing she was right.

I know she got all the letter. It's obvious since she got other information later in the show, after the scene with Tom. She then proceeds to go to the bridge, lie to Tom and say she didn't get all of it (and I think if Tom thinks about it, he'll see through the lie) and tells him "you could imagine he said he's proud of you" bla, bla, bla, yaddi, yaddi, yaddi.

Really though, B'Elanna received the letter and read it. In the letter she read that Owen Paris is exactly how Tom remembers him and paints him to the rest of the crew ie a very opinionated, stubborn man set in his ways. Everyone is wrong and he is right. After four years of no contact and thinking Tom was dead, Admiral Owen Paris has NOTHING good to say about Tom. He's not proud of him, he's not happy his son is alive. No, Owen Paris is still acting the same, not forgiving and forgetting, not letting go. He chooses this opportunity to berate Tom yet again.

B'Elanna didn't want Tom to hurt any more than he already was. After all, it is obvious he still cares what his father thinks and if he found out that, after four years of being missing, it is apparent that his dad is more concerned about getting the last word in ("I told you so" "You're such a disappointment" "If you had listened to me you wouldn't be lost in the Delta Quadrant") it would only crush his spirit that much more. So, B'Elanna made sure no one else could deliver this letter to him. She delivered the letters herself so she could protect Tom from any more hurt.

Note to Mr. Mac: Yep, they did it. No doubt about it. Look at all the episodes after the Pon Farr episode. Look at how the relationship has developed. The sneaking around, the make out session on the engineering console. They did it.

This is what I get for having to watch Voyager on Sunday and not having Internet access at home. I feel so left out of the loop now (and I don't want to read everyone's posts for fear of spoilers...). Oh well, at least I can still watch Voyager.

Terry -- 18 Feb 1998, 12:28 AM

I don't believe that anyone suggested that B'Elanna held the letter back out of spite. Rather they believe as you do that she did it to spare his feelings. Well, everyone except me. It sounds like a good idea but I doubt it. I think people are reading too much into the situation. The letter was just not retrieved. End of story.

Vickie T -- 18 Feb 1998, 8:01 AM

...after reading everyone's posts and thinking about it for the last week, I agree with you. I think B'Elanna *could* have done just what folks have suggested: retrieved an unsympathetic letter from Tom's Dad and decided to hide it from Tom in order to spare his feelings. But, I don't think that is the case for two reasons.

First, even if Tom's Father didn't want to bury the hatchet, he would certainly at least have killed Tom in on what was going on with his family. Admiral Paris may be demanding, stubborn and unforgiving, but he has not been portrayed as a monster. B'Elanna could have just as easily deleted all the negative portions of the message, given Tom the family news, and simply told him that she could only get art of the message.

No, I think when B'Elanna told Janeway there was one message she wanted to deliver personally, she simply wanted to talk to Tom and deliver the (bad? good?) news in person. She knew this was an emotional issue for him and wanted to be there to offer whatever support might be needed.

As for whether it makes sense that B'Elanna was able to retreive later messages but not Tom's, I think the writers either didn't think about that inconsistency or just didn't care. After all, this certainly wouldn't be the first time some glaring inconsistency has simply been ignored!

Mrs. Mac -- 18 Feb 1998, 8:16 AM

As Ginny suggested, it's far more intriguing to suggest that B'Elanna is holding out on Tom. The good news is that the possibility that letters for Tom and for B'Elanna exist is there! If even the writers screwed up, the door is open for the future for these letters to appear.

I think there was a letter because of the way B'Elanna looked down at them when she insisted on delivering them herself. There seemed to be a definite connection between bad news and a physical letter.

I agree that B'Elanna could have, if she wanted to, deleted any uncomfortable news from Tom's father if she wanted to. That's also an interesting premise. Say B'Elanna says to Tom, "Tom, I was only able to retrieve part of the message," and it turns out to be family related stuff. Tom is okay about it and B'Elanna is off the hook. Well, that kind of deadens the possible story lines unless B'Elanna has an extreme Catholic guilt trip and confesses.

There are so many interesting possibilities here! There seems to be a lot of interesting discussion over this possible letter all over the place. I imagine some PTB is going to pick up on it and roll with it in some direction.

Diane -- 18 Feb 1998, 7:55 AM

Terry, I too do not believe B'Lanna is holding out on Tom. If anyone has read Taylor's "Mosaic" they will know that Jeri Taylor has not painted Owen Paris as an oger. He is painted as a man with extremely high standards, but one who loves his family. I doubt Ms. Taylor would change her conception of Adm Paris. Everything on Adm Paris presented on Voyager has been presented through Tom's eyes.

In fact, Jeri Taylor stated earlier this year that she planned on having Paris come to terms with, and this is how she put it, "the ghosts of his relationship with his father. " This leads me to believe that the show "Demons" with the "Doppleganger Effect", which is a double that haunts a person like a ghost, may deal with this issue.

Mrs. Mac -- 18 Feb 1998, 8:28 AM

Well, then you have yet ANOTHER possibility! What IF there was a letter and it was an absolutely beautiful one from his father? Full of hugs and kisses, etc. Then the whole last scene would be pointless. It would be pointless for B'Elanna to say to Tom, "You can assume that he loves you ..." if that's what the letter was all about!

So you have the following possibilities:

1) There is a letter to Tom, it's formal, B'Elanna holds out. Good future possibilities. I think this is case.

2) There is no letter. Makes no sense based on the scene with B'Elanna and Janeway. CLEARLY there is something somber that she wants to deliver personally but doesn't want Neelix to do. She could have simply given the letters to Neelix to deliver and given Tom the message herself that she was unable to retrieve the message.

3) There is a letter, B'Elanna deleted the bad stuff, left the good stuff. Makes no sense. Then she should have delivered the good stuff. She didn't.

Vickie T -- 18 Feb 1998, 9:18 AM

I do hope that I'm wrong and you are right. The story possibilities are so much more intriguing if B'Elanna *is* holding out on Tom.

Diane -- 18 Feb 1998, 9:25 AM

The bet, what else "COFFEE" if your trip is still on in April. If by that time, the writers have not revealed that Tom's Beloved withheld info, you pay.

As far as the encryption goes, several messages can be scrambled and piggybacked. Let's just say, if my hubby told you how they do it, he'd have to kill ya. Said with German accent "The Federation have their ways."

Mrs. Mac -- 18 Feb 1998, 9:28 AM

Woops forgot: Diane wrote: c. Admiral Paris' message was the most encrypted with the directions home. This resulted in a totally unreadable message that got electronicaly zapped when the grid went down. Kinda like lightning...

In B'Elanna's own words, the encrypted messages Harry would have to translate later so she wouldn't know it was jumbled nonsense or not.

However, I may lose this bet because it's perfect for being part of the cliffhanger and MAY not be resolved until the 5th season opening.

Picture this... Tom is rummaging through B'Elanna's room looking for the jock strap he tossed carelessly the night before. He finds it, it catches on something that falls to the floor. What's this? A letter to me? B'Elanna had this all along? He starts to read...Dear Tom... [fade out until season 5]

Meanwhile, B'Elanna is strangling a Hirogen that looks strangely What is she saying? I am not a crab head? Will Andy die? [fade out until season 5]

Well, you suckered me into this bet. but mark my words, THERE IS A LETTER! I'll pay up and even throw a muffin it to boot! Mrs. MacVulcan. There is a sucker born everyday.

Mike D. -- 18 Feb 1998, 10:33 AM

Well, I didn't want to get involved in what will surely go down in Coffee Neb history as "The Great Letter Debate" :^) till I re-watched the episode again in-depth. HOWEVER, there is one thing some of you have been saying that doesn't sit well with me based on what I remember from one viewing.

For example:

Mrs. Mac the Vulcan ;^) said: "I think there was a letter because of the way B'Elanna looked down at them when she insisted on delivering them herself. There seemed to be a definite connection between bad news and a physical letter."

I didn't see it that way. I saw the simple lack of there being any letter at all, has being the bad news that gave her the somber look. Also, she saw there was a letter for Harry, which *she* wanted to deliver herself.

Mrs. Mac the V also said:

"There is no letter. Makes no sense based on the scene with B'Elanna and Janeway. CLEARLY there is something somber that she wants to deliver personally but doesn't want Neelix to do. She could have simply given the letters to Neelix to deliver and given Tom the message herself that she was unable to retrieve the message."

I thought that B'Elanna wanted to deliver the letters herself because she saw there was one for *Harry*. Remember, B'Elanna did have that run in with Harry earlier in the episode and I think she wanted to be the one who told him the good news that he received a letter from his parents. B'Elanna knew that the letter would make Harry very happy. She also wanted to be the one to tell Tom he *did not* receive the letter from his Dad. I believe that these two reasons *combined* are why Torres insisted on delivering the letters herself to her friend Harry and her lover Tom.

Like I said, I really have to watch the episode again to be sure. This is based purely on my first viewing impression. I could have sworn there was a scene where B'Elanna put Harry down because everyone knew he had a thing for Seven, then she felt bad when she found out he was upset waiting for a letter from his parents. I always felt Torres cared for Harry. Delivering that happy message to him was very special for her.

Gosh I hope my memory about that episode is correct. Hey, Macs, are we ever going to be on the same side in one of these 'Great Debates' ? :^) Mike

...after I rewatch the episode and take extensive notes :^). My wife has been insisting we watch the Olympics every night, so I haven't had a chance to see 'Hunters' again yet.

I do have a few additional comments now (you knew I would ;^). I don't give the writers enough credit to really have a follow-up to Tom's letter in mind for a later episode. They can't even remember Kes warned the crew about 'Year of Hell' for crying out loud. Also, it would be way out of character for the Admiral Paris I read about in Mosaic to write Tom a nasty letter. Admiral Paris is also a great friend and mentor of Janeway's, he was responsible for her getting into command instead of science, I would think that Janeway would show some interest in what happened to the letter from her friend admiral Paris to his son Tom. J.T. did write both this episode and Mosaic. Janeway would probably show interest in all the letters received by her crew and would take note, if Torres pocketed one, especially from her mentor/friend. I'm sure there would be computer logs showing what letters were received even if Torres hid the pad meant for delivery to Tom. I find it hard to believe a letter could be removed without anyone noticing it was received in the computer logs. These logs will be examined in depth by Harry (as **Torres** suggested), not by Torres herself, to extract the Star fleet info. If Torres were trying to hide something, she probably wouldn't have suggested Harry be assigned to decrypt the Federation data from the transmissions.

Mike (sorry for the grammer, I rushed this cause I was due at a boring meeting five minutes ago. Hey, I do have my priorities and this comes first ;^).

Jim C. -- 18 Feb 1998

It may not be very consistent for B'Elanna to be sloppy and forget details (what? a character inconsistency from the Voyager writers? say it ain't so), but that would be the perfect plot device someday down the road.

Imagine Harry going through the logs. Later, during a racquetball game Harry says to Tom; "Hey, you never told me that you got a letter from your father."

Tom says, "What are you talking about?"

"The one from the array," Harry replies.

Whereupon Tom slams down his racket and high tails it for B'Elanna's quarters.

In this corner Tom "babyface" Paris, weighing in at 185lbs., with a record of 32-0 with 14 knockouts.

In this corner B'Elanna "skull cracker" Torres, weighing in at a muscular 135 lbs., with a record of 103-0 with 103 knockouts.

LLLLLet'sss Get RRRRRRRReady To RRRRRRumble!!!

Aunt Joy -- 18 Feb 1998

YES, SHE DID HOLD BACK THE LETTER! And I forsee big trouble ahead! I may have to eat my words, but Dawson is too good an actress to give such a mistaken impression in that final scene on the bridge.

Also, I read a report of an interview or con report w/Dawson awhile back where she said (regarding P/T) that the relationship was continuing, but temporary breakups were possible.

I smell a set-up for a breakup regarding the letter. Aunt Joy

Ruth -- 18 Feb 1998, 5:18 PM

Alright, I decided to jump in on this topic again. I admit -- logically, the letter probably was lost. The explanations about losing the entire file when the entire thing wasn't received makes sense. And to be honest, I don't think they will return to the question of the letter given the show's track record of forgetting or glossing over things (Kes's warning; the Starfleet/Maquis conflict).

However, as far as the show goes, an angry, or at least cold, letter would be more interesting., and that is why emotionally, I can't hope that this is what happened. Not because I want Voyager to turn into a soap opera, but because it will introduce conflict not only into the P/T relationship, but also in the P/Voyager relationship -- in other words, I've heard a lot of people on this board talk about how the first season Paris character drew them into the show. Unfortunately, the only episode I've seen in "Caretaker," but I also felt an immediate attraction to Tom (and NOT just for the obvious reason). In many ways he was set up to be much more like Spock than Tuvok was -- an emotional version of our favorite TOS Vulcan, someone constantly striving to be his best because he wasn't a happy, emotionally fulfilled person who felt comfortable with himself.

A Tom who felt he still didn't live up to his father's expectations, and who feels betrayed by the woman he loves, could be very interesting. Heck, if you could Janeway to tell him she was giving his Rogaine replicator credits to Harry so he could have a new clarinet, our Tommy could be Hamlet.

One thing that keeps coming up over again, is that the Admiral Paris of MOSAIC was a proud father, and caring mentor for Janeway. That man, so the theory goes, would not write a bitter letter to his only son once he learned that not only is Tom alive, but he is apparently living up to his potential for the first time. This next statement is mere speculation, but what if terrible things had happened to the Paris family as a result of Tom's imprisonment and presumed death. We can't know if Mrs. Paris died, as someone suggested in something Terry read, but we can assume that Tom's problems reflected on his father's career with Starfleet. The Owen Paris of MOSAIC was proud of his son with the gift for flight, and of "by the book" Janeway, not the father of a convicted traitor. (And, yes, I know Jeri Taylor wrote both, so she probably most identifies with the benign Owen).

Mike, I also thought for a while about the scene with Harry as the reason why she wanted to deliver the letter, but decided, like Mrs. Mac -- why would B'Elanna look somber about taking good news to Harry?

Anyhow, I was going to go ahead and look at the episode again and make some more comments, but since we have a new episode tonight, and this issue will be put back off the burner for a while, I'll close. Ruth

Mike D -- 19 Feb 1998, 10:58 AM

Ruth said: "Mike, I also thought for a while about the scene with Harry as the reason why she wanted to deliver the letter, but decided, like Mrs. Mac -- why would B'Elanna look somber about taking good news to Harry?"

Ruth, like I said, it was a combination of two things that motovated her to deliver the letters herself. Giving Harry the good news and Tom the bad. She was somber because she had to tell Tom his letter did not come through like she had hoped. My point about Harry was to show a duel reason for her wanting to deliver the letters herself, rather than let Neelix do it. esides Torres is not known for happy expressions on her face, she is a somber personality.

Mike (PS-hope we find out someday what the truth is :^)

Jules -- 26 Feb 1998, 2:55 PM

I need to see the end of the episode again...but I'm going to stick my neck out anyway, and give my considered (sort-of) opinion based on just the one viewing. I'm not 100% sure of the conspiracy theory - although I'm very much in love with the idea of it. But... there was something rather odd in B'Elanna's phrasing when she told Tom that she hadn't got the letter. You'd have expected her to have expressed it in rather more straightforward terms.

So... maybe she did get the letter. And read it. Neelix will tell you it's pretty hard to avoid the first few sentences when you're looking for the name of the addressee. And maybe, to B'Elanna, who doesn't after all know Admiral Paris - except for the little that Tom has told her, and he's hardly the most objective person to give an accurate character portrait of the man - maybe the letter did read a little harsh, a little unbending, a little hurtful to Tom. So she hid it.

And, just maybe, if Tom read the same letter, he'd see the gruff, stiff-necked, embarrassed father underneath the Admiral... and interpret the letter rather differently. So, maybe B'Elanna's played post censor with the best of intentions when it wasn't really necessary in the first place. That way we can have the rocks in the road of the T/P relationship to be dealt with and keep the Jeri Taylor concept that Tom's troubles with his father are mostly in his mind.