Thursday, 26 December 2013

Review: Voyager 2.1: The '37s
Amelia Earthart and Captain Janeway.
Star Trek Voyager - Season Two, Episode One (Season One, Episode Twenty) - The '37s
Written 18/6/13

As we finally end Season One (I've gone and reviewed the other three "hold-back" episodes in production order, so the coming weeks should be comfortably confusing) and begin Season Two, we find an episode with a great sense of majesty to its proceedings and a plot that ultimately asks us to look at Voyager's core dilemma and assess whether it's worth it to try and get home. It also managed several impressibe technical feats that the show had been trying to do since the '60s.
     Voyager finds a 1937 Ford farmtruck floating through space, and follow an AM modulation (which they apparently can't scan for) to a planet, upon which they're forced to land Voyager to reach the surface. Once their, they find eight 1937 natives frozen in suspended animation, one of them being Amelia Earhart, and after some suspicion it is accepts that they and a great deal more people were abducted from Earth in the 1930s. The local human community, raised off of the ancestors of the awakened slaves, has created a civilisation that is almost on part with Federation technology, leading Janeway to suspect that some of the crew will elect to stay behind and make a new life for themselves. When she visits the cargo bay designated for leaving crew, she finds it empty and in her newfound confidence sets off towards home.
     I felt at times like the episode didn't know where it wanted to go. The ideas present were done more for fun than for any serious comment, especially the spectacle of having Amelia Earhart, a female icon in aviation, talking to the similarly iconic Janeway (in terms of representation of women in Star Trek, being the first female "protagonist" Captain.) There managed to be something both especially comedic and momentous about it, especially in the first half where the episodes bounces around humour based on the crew's lack of knowledge of the 20th Century (sometimes in way that put the characters down a bit, like when B'elanna fails to recognise manure, even with a tricorder.)
I was going to make a driving pun, but I don't know any.
     The episode's shift in the last act to considering whether or not people would want to stay on Voyager when the civilisation (hidden, but oft refered to) on the planet was so fruitful was good and bad in a number of ways. For the bad, it served only to once again assert the status quo, leaving a full crew complement and getting rid of our guest stars, which I feel is another stifling of the show's creativity. For the good, the scene where Janeway and Chakotay realise that no-one wants to leave them is incredibly heartwarming and emphasises the sorta familial spirit that Voyager has as a show.
     The '37s was an episode out to impress, be that by managing to convincingly show the landing of a starship on a planet's surface or by giving a comic explanation in-universe to the disappearance of Amelia Earheart. It was very muddled, not knowing where it was really going, but its final destination was somewhere that felt very right for both the episode and the series as a whole. Whether you think of The '37s as a finale to the first season or as a premiere to the second, it's an affirmation that despite its issues this show still has some get-up-and-go, and it's more than willing to use it.


NEXT WEEK: The Kazon appear yet again, as Chakotay is forced to convince a kid not to kill him Initiations

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