I re-watched “The 37s” a few weeks ago but I’ve been struggling to come up with exactly what to say about it. It’s an enjoyable episode but it didn’t stand out to me now as much as it did when I was a kid.
Back then, I was practically biting my nails waiting for this to air. I was nine years old and idolized Captain Janeway. When I watched the episode and found Janeway idolized Amelia Earhart, it prompted a minor Earhart obsession of mine. At ten I read two Earhart biographies and longed to cut my hair short like hers (that turned out to be a brutal failure, resulting in some seriously embarrassing school photos).
Re-watching, I feel like they could almost have done more with Earhart. It’s such an awesome concept to have Voyager discover Earhart and others who disappeared in 1937. Overall, the episode works. There is some great acting by Kate Mulgrew as Janeway contemplates the future of the crew, plus a kick-ass scene where she leads the away team out of the caves and ambushes the people who are shooting at them. And I love the geeky scene where Janeway explains who Amelia Earhart is to the senior staff.
But here are what I felt were the weaknesses:
- They made Amelia’s navigator Fred Noonan a much more dynamic character who has a key role in the conflict. By contrast, Amelia really has very little tension so her role is a bit overshadowed.
- The show makes a really big deal about it being the first episode where they land Voyager on a planet. It was cool at the time but in retrospect maybe those scenes could’ve been a bit shorter to allow more time for more interesting things.
- The characters talk about how beautiful and impressive the cities are on the planet, but we never get to see them, which is disappointing.
- It seems kind of weird and insensitive in a way that they’d automatically consider staying on this planet because the inhabitants are humans. Why is there an assumption that everyone will feel more at home, even the non-human crew?
So overall, great idea, solid execution, but I would have loved for it to have a bit more tension, and for us to have seen a more feisty side of Amelia Earhart.
Bechdel-Wallace Test: Pass – Janeway talks with Amelia Earhart