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Star Trek Voyager: The 37s

‘Am I the only one who's so intent on getting home? Is it just me? Am I leading the crew on a forlorn mission with no real hope of success?’

When Voyager discovers a 1930s truck floating in space, they follow its trail to a story of alien abduction, new worlds and a difficult decision for the crew.

Amelia Earhart was abducted by aliens and put into stasis in the Delta Quadrant. This is one of those rare episodes of Star Trek that deal with ‘real’ alien conspiracy theories, and that aspect of it is rather fun. It’s total nonsense, but who wouldn’t like to think that Amelia Earhart and her navigator are living out their lives together on some planet somewhere, rather than lying at the bottom of the ocean? It’s also rather nice to see Voyager doing a story about a pioneering female pilot, and Kate Mulgrew plays Janeway’s discovery of a woman who was one of her heroes with enthusiasm.

This episode also establishes that Voyager, unlike it’s huge and unwieldy forerunners, can actually land on planets (without crashing). Apparently the atmosphere on the planet is too highly charged with some technobabble to use the transporters or shuttlecraft – though, naturally, it’s still fine for everyone to wander around unprotected on the surface. Essentially, when the producers want to show off some shiny effects for the sweeps, this is what happens.

Being a 1990s show, Voyager is a little slower-paced than most current dramas, which run to 41 or 42 minutes to Voyager’s 46. Mostly, this is a good thing, allowing for quiet, reflective scenes, especially at episode conclusions. Sometimes, on the other hand, it results in some really daft padding. In this case, that would be the frankly ridiculous sequence where Janeway, Paris, Kim and Kes are held hostage by a group of people who mostly don’t know each other, have just woken up from a sleep longer than Rip van Winkle and have one ancient firearm between them. Why weren’t Tuvok and the security team supervising this delicate and unpredictable operation? How have this crew ever managed to win any fights anywhere ever if they can’t face down one man with an antiquated firearm? No wonder Voyager gets taken over by enemies so often.

The true point of this episode, though, is to put a real decision in front of Voyager’s crew. Stranded in the Delta Quadrant because of Captain Janeway’s choice, forcibly merged into a Federation crew at her command and ordered to fly home without really considering their options, again by Janeway, in this episode every crewmember gets to make their own choice for once. They can decide whether to give up on the potentially-75-year journey ‘home’ (presumably it’s even further for some of the aliens onboard, and Kes and Neelix are flying away from home) and settle on a new world, or whether to re-join Voyager and try to reach their homes and families again. It’s hard not to feel a little emotional when every single member of the crew decides to stay with Janeway after all, and Mulgrew plays her quiet joy beautifully.

‘The 37s’ is one of several episodes held back from Voyager’s first season and incorporated into the second. It was originally intended to be the Season 1 finale, and it shows – the decision the crew faces and the emotional resolution as they all decide to carry on are very obviously designed to conclude Season 1’s introductory story arc (and this would have made a much better finale than ‘Learning Curve.’ But then, so would almost anything). I can see why it became the second season premiere instead, as it more or less works in that context – it’s got the impressive special effects, a story designed to have widespread appeal and encourage new viewers in by making use of a famous and popular figure, and it introduces new viewers to Voyager’s situation in detail. But something about it just feels so much like a conclusion, rather than a beginning, which is unfortunate in a season opener.

Bits and pieces

 - This is the episode that introduces us, for plot-based reasons, to Paris’ interest in ‘antique vehicles.’ We therefore have this to thank for Paris as a rather sexy mechanic in Season 4. Thank you, 'The 37s'.

 - Everyone running and ducking when the car backfires is hilarious.

 - When Paris says he’s never landed a starship before, I have visions of Galaxy Quest. Neelix’s insistence on preparing dishes from each of the 37s’ native countries is also distinctly reminiscent of that film.

 - Chakotay thinks they couldn’t operate the ship with fewer than 100 crewmembers. Luckily they obviously made some significant improvements to the automated systems by the time of Season 4’s ‘One.’

 - Janeway flirting watch: Chakotay gets flirty with her, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder.


Chakotay: “It is a tempting prospect. But when I hold it up against the prospect of seeing the sun rise over the Arizona desert, or swimming in the Gulf of Mexico on a summer's day, there's just no comparison. I wanna go home.”

Janeway (as they take off): “Let’s do it. Take us up.”

A bit dull, but the resolution makes this more than the sum of its parts. Two and a half out of four antique vehicles.

Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.


  1. Ahhhhh

    The one with Amerlia Earheart. Oups Juliette, it's Amelia LOL


    On the other hand, I've just seen that you have a DVD set signed by Brian Blessed !!??!! Mega wow. I've rarely seen him, but his 2 presences on Space 1999, and that was a LONG time ago, left a powerful impression on me. He's THAT good.

    Cool....(cool cool)

  2. Typo fixed! :)

    Brain Blessed is completely awesome. He was lovely, and very entertaining!

  3. Good !

    Now Amelia can rest in Peace LOL

    I confess that I envy my "electronic" American friend (we never met face to face, the age of the Web) who lives relatively close to LA and has the chance of seeing some of my fave actors/actresses.

    Living In Montreal, shame on me, the local ones do not interest me.

  4. "How have this crew ever managed to win any fights anywhere ever if they can’t face down one man with an antiquated firearm? No wonder Voyager gets taken over by enemies so often."

    ROFL!!! A good question for many shows and movies! Another one would be how Stormtroopers ever made it through the Imperial Academy if they never manage to shoot our heroes! :p

    I have a goofy confession to make... this episode was the spark that ignited a dream/daydream (for years!) of mine in which I was in a similar situation as the 37s and found by the Enterprise! At first Next Gen stories, later Enterprise... *blush* ;o)

    I didn't know this was originally intended as a season finale... you're right Juliette, it makes much more sense that way!

  5. Cris

    Je t'envoie une couple de Klingons mal foutus, mal engueulés, mal habiles et un tantinet maladroits pour aller te kidnapper dans ton salon !

  6. Seulement si juste après tu envois l'Enterprise à ma rescousse! ;o)

  7. heuhhh

    Le D ? Le E ? celui du reboot de Monsieur Abrams ? Ou bien le classique 1701 ? Ou encore le prédécesseur NX-01 ????

  8. LOL

    Complètement folle. ne changes surtout pas. Le E reste mon préféré de tous; j'avais poussé un OH d'admiration quand le vaisseau est apparu au tout début de ST First Contact....un vrai bijou !

  9. Ah merde !!!!

    Le film est sorti en 96 !!! Déjà 16 ans et demi !

  10. Bien suuuur ! (ah, au diable les accents !)

    Pour ça que :

    a) je passe du temps sur ce site

    b) je viens tout juste d’être nommé président canadien de ton fan club LMAO Allez hop ! Vas te rouler un peu à terre !


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