Thursday, March 19, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: The 37s

I'm just gonna get to it--this is the one where Janeway finds Amelia Earhart on a planet in the Delta Quadrant and wakes her up.

It all starts when they come upon a 1930s truck spewing rust into space and then follow an SOS signal to a planet where a bunch of people have been stored on ice for the last couple hundred years. (One of them happens to be Amelia Earhart.) Soon, some other humans show up and spill the beans about how, back in the 30s, a ton of people were abducted from earth and brought to the Delta Quadrant as slaves but they revolted and took the planet for themselves and now they have a great (apparently--we never see it) society that's a lot like Earth. They offer the 37s (the humans who've been in cold storage this whole time) and the Voyager crew the option of staying and making a home there.

Alright, in spite of this episode's slight unevenness, I always find it really endearing. It's the Season 2 opener but it feels a lot more like the Season 1 finale--probably because it was actually written to be so. There's not a lot of danger here. There's not any alien race bearing down on them. There's no phaser fight or dangerous space sickness or imminent need for fuel or any of the stuff the Voyager crew often face. Yet, this is a uniquely Voyager episode. No other Trek  crew would've needed to even consider an offer to stay on an alien planet. Only the Voyager crew, so far away from home, might be tempted by an earth-like society populated by real, actual humans (and not just folks who look like humans but have some variation of a turtlehead or points on their ears) and that's what ultimately makes this episode special.

The last two acts of this one are spent with characters discussing who might stay behind. B'Elanna and Harry consider their options. "Do you really want to be trapped on a ship forever? Don't you want to feel the breeze?" (or something like that) And, when Neelix is questioned by the 37s about whether crew members will elect to stay on Voyager, he becomes more and more unsure as the conversation goes on.

In the end, Janeway has a heart-to-heart with Amelia about the whole issue. She says the crew members who've decided to leave will be in the cargo bay and she's headed there now.

And here's the moment that so endears not only this episode to me but Janeway and, beyond that, Kate Mulgrew. Her performance, as she enters the cargo bay and realizes that no one has decided to leave--that each and every one of her crewmen will stay on Voyager--is beautiful and true. Janeway's glad they're all staying because it shows loyalty and a commitment to their mission and a commitment to her but, more than that, it must be a relief for this character. After all, it was the choice she made that stranded them all in the Delta Quadrant. She must have felt some level of guilt about this over the last six months and now, when her entire crew makes the choice to stay with Voyager--to stay with her--it must be a powerful comfort. They're in this together and, for the first time, this crew really feels like a family.

Bonus Points:
-Holy crap, they land the freaking ship. Seriously. They land Voyager. What more do you need?


  1. I watched this one last night with the DVD special feature of Trivia bubbles up on the screen. Things I retained: this is the first of five times in the entire series that Voyager lands. It's also the first time in all of Trek that a starship touches down (as opposed to crashing) and returns to space. It was one of three times in all of Trek that the particular (doodad) compression rifles were seen on-screen. Sharon Lawrence (Amelia Earhart) jumped at the chance to play the character in-part, because she was a longtime fan of Kate Mulgrew. And The 37's was one of four episodes in season two that were actually shot for season one. (I didn't know it was meant to be the finale.) There were also several reveals about previous names for Neelix, Kes, Harry, Tuvok, the Doctor and Janeway prior to filming, though (other than "Doctor Zimmerman" and "Nicole Janeway") I cannot remember them. There was some overacting in this episode from the guest stars, but I really enjoyed the concept, and I remember being "wowed" by watching Voyager on the ground. It occurred to my last night how nice it was to see blue skies and sunshine outside the windows when the crew convened around the meeting table. : )

    1. Oh wow! The only series I had on DVD was TNG and I never saw any trivia bubbles! I used to leave the DVD menu on and let the bridge sounds put me to sleep. It was lovely. Anyway, Nicole Janeway? It just seems ridiculous. And yes, I completely agree about seeing the sun and blue sky outside Voyager's windows. I remember watching that scene and thinking, "Oh that's lovely. Why is that different? Oh yeah, we're not in space." Took me a second.

  2. Thinking about Janeway’s guilt feelings in this episode – and in “Night” – it seems the script writers undermined the feminist implications of a woman captain, by identifying her with an original ‘error.’ Instead of Eve choosing to eat the apple out of ambition or curiosity, Janeway’s choice protects the Ocampa, whom she barely knew, from the Kazon, stranding Voyager. Her ‘tragic flaw’ of being too altruistic or self-sacrificing turns out to be a quality the rest of the crew shares as well.

    1. Because they all want to see the journey through to fruition, out of support for/dependence on each another? Is that the tragic flaw of Janeway, her crew, or humanity in this proposed era? :-)

  3. I loved “Voyager” and basically thought the first episode did a fine job of setting up the arc and the characters, so this is only “nitpicking”… but Janeway sided with the Ocampa too easily, ignoring Tuvok’s warnings, accepting everything the Caretaker said and destroying the array solely on his wishes. Her vague explanation for breaking the prime directive-- "We didn't ask to be involved, but we are"--is noble-sounding but the decision seems weak and arbitrary, as the writers conceived it.
    Couldn’t help seeing a parallel to a Paradise Lost theme-- a long return home to earth, set in motion by an initial mistake.

    Of course the growing loyalty, support and commitment the crew shows in “The 37’s” is a positive direction throughout the show.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...