The 37sBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 2:00 PM GMT
See Also: 'Initiations' Episode Guide
Voyager picks up rust readings and beams aboard an ancient truck which has been floating in space. They follow an old-style radio signal to a nearby planet, but interference makes it impossible to figure out who is sending the signal. Janeway decides to take the ship down to the surface to investigate, and Paris lands it near what turns out to be a Lockheed Electra from the 1930s.
Meanwhile, the crew discovers a cave with the cryogenically frozen bodies of several humans. Janeway decides to revive them and finds herself face to face with Amelia Earhart, who was apparently abducted by aliens during her round-the-world flight in 1937. The other humans were also taken from Earth that year. Janeway manages to convince Earhart that it really is the 24th century and that she commands a starship, but when they leave the cave, they are attacked. Their attackers also prove to be human - the descendants of others abducted from Earth centuries before. The humans invite the Voyager crew and "The 37s" to remain and settle among them.
Janeway decides that she must let members of her crew decide for themselves if they want to stay and build a human civilization in the Delta Quadrant, though she fears that if too many decide to remain, the ship will be unable to continue its journey. All of the 37s elect to remain among their descendants, but none of the Voyager crew chooses to leave the ship. The journey continues.
This episode was produced as the season one finale but aired as the season two opener, which is unfortunate because it seems a little bombastic for a continuing mission, but it's still a lovely hour of television. Janeway absolutely glowed in this episode - this was probably her strongest outing as a captain, and her decisions were very interesting. Landing the ship seems a terrible risk on a planet where it wasn't safe to transport or take a shuttle, but it ended up being a good risk - the kind of gamble Kirk would have taken. Similarly, giving her crew freedom of choice about whether or not to continue the mission was quite a risk - but one which paid off, and bonded them to her in a way that no order could have.
I loved watching her interact with Earhart as well; OK, so the setup was hokey, but if Kirk could meet Abraham Lincoln, this should be no big deal. As an Earhart buff I couldn't help but be amused that the show bought into some of the more spectacular myths about the pilot - that she was on a spy mission, that her navigator was in love with her - but, again, who cares? It was so exciting to see two female explorers overcoming their differences and joining forces, and I was as disappointed as Janeway when Earhart didn't take her up on her offer to travel the quadrant with the crew.
As for the scene between Earhart and Noonan, when the navigator thought he was dying and declared his feelings...I couldn't help but think that there were blatant parallels with another female captain and her XO, especially considering that Chakotay's role in this episode was essentially as Janeway's navigator. When she wondered whether getting home really mattered, he steered her in the direction we all knew Voyager would ultimately take, and he even took on what's usually her own role - putting a hand on her shoulder, supporting her during a difficult moment - just before they went together to find out how many crewmembers they would be losing.
I find it a little implausible that NOBODY wanted to stay behind, but since the producers elected to save money by not showing us the beautiful cities on the planet, it was easier to accept that no one else was impressed enough by them. I wouldn't have jumped ship on this captain either. I hope the rest of the season remains on this high note.
Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.