Star Trek: Voyager
Air date: 5/5/1999
Teleplay by Joe Menosky
Story by Joe Menosky & Brannon Braga
Directed by David Livingston
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"To family..." — Captain Janeway's toast
Nutshell: Not riveting execution, but some good feelings and intentions.
"11:59" is a sincerely written reflection upon histories and feelings. It's without a doubt the quietest episode of the season, with no aliens, no action, no gimmicks, and no cheats. The most common complaint I've heard about this episode is that it's "filler." I don't quite understand such an assessment. Just how do you define filler? A story that doesn't advance us to ... what? A story that doesn't have ... what? Explosions? Aliens? An expensive-looking budget? A plot that gets us 10 years closer to the Alpha Quadrant?
"11:59" is different in that it doesn't follow the conventional Voyager pattern. There are no threats to the crew, no sci-fi anomalies. Just some ideas about the past, as Janeway thinks back to memories of her childhood, where she held an ancestor in high regard as her hero and inspiration.
She tells the tale of Shannon O'Donnel, a quiet, lonesome, and uncertain adventurer who sought a role in life that would offer an avenue toward the future.
The story is told in a sort of 400-year flashback, as we follow O'Donnel (played by Mulgrew) through the events of the days prior to New Year's 2001. O'Donnel, in her failing decades-old car, happens upon the small town of Portage Creek, Indiana. There she meets widower Henry Janeway (Kevin Tighe) and his son, Jason (Bradley Pierce). The town is caught up in a controversy involving something called the "Millenium Gate," an ultra-expensive, highly experimental futuristic community that a large corporation hopes to build in the area. The town wants the gate. But standing in the way is Henry Janeway, a man who values books and history and doesn't want to see the town leveled for some newfangled idea of the "future." He's adamantly refusing to sell his bookstore, and if he doesn't do so by midnight on New Year's Eve, the corporation will take their grandiose building plans elsewhere.
O'Donnel's car breaks down, and in order to pay the repair bill, she needs work. Janeway agrees to offer her board for a few days in exchange for work in the bookstore. The rest of the tale shows how O'Donnel's and Janeway's views of the world collide, albeit not in remotely unpleasant ways. Janeway lives in the past, O'Donnel looks toward the future, and a dialog opens between them that offers the viewer two reasonable viewpoints.
It might not be the most original story ever told, but it does make for an hour of friendly themes that are relevant to Kathryn Janeway as a character. One of the interesting aspects of the show is the way the captain holds this ancestor in hero status based on the obstacles she supposedly faced. But through the course of the hour Janeway comes to realize that her learned version of history might not have been the actual truth. Paris is also familiar with history, and he doesn't remember any O'Donnels being on any of the Mars missions, the history of which he has memorized. This leads Janeway to do some deeper research, until she realizes that O'Donnel was a relatively minor player in the Millenium Gate construction, and not quite the audacious adventurer Janeway long believed she was. (It's a revisit to the theme of historical accuracy that was the focus of last season's "Living Witness.")
The flashback story seems to capture some bits of atmosphere of a small Midwest town fairly well, and I appreciated the simple problems of the story and David Bell's appropriate musical accompaniment. We learn O'Donnel has had some tough career luck of late, and one of the corporate officials, Gerald Moss (John Carroll Lynch), offers her an opportunity to work on the groundbreaking engineering project—if she can convince Janeway to let go of the past. (But I must say that given the job market today, I find the idea of a brilliant, apparently respected engineer unable to find work to be slightly dubious.)
"11:59" invests a lot of time in the flashback characters. And perhaps the biggest problem with the episode is that it relies too heavily on the acting chemistry between Mulgrew and Tighe—a chemistry that comes off with mixed results.
There are some good scenes between these two, particularly where they argue their differences concerning the role of people and technology. Henry's son is an example of a youth who is more interested in the future than the past, which makes it pretty hard for Henry to remain so adamant. But despite the decent execution of several quiet dialog scenes, I don't think one key scene that really needed to work well ended up having the emotional payoff if seemed to want.
I'm referring to Henry Janeway's inevitable eleventh-hour change of heart, and especially O'Donnel's realization—through the taste of chocolate-chip cookies, no less—that she has developed such strong feelings for Henry and this town that she has to stay. The sequence is somewhat lackluster sentiment, and I wish it had been more believable. O'Donnel's realization doesn't seem heartfelt; it seems scripted. An earlier scene should've better established her feelings.
Fortunately, I think the impact of this tale on Kathryn Janeway—especially learning that history is not always what it seems—works far better. It's always something of a wake-up call to learn that your childhood hero was just a person with their own agendas and needs, and Janeway finds herself somewhat depressed by that all-too-simple realization.
The episode also knows that "family" is where its heart is at. Sentiment in the flashback sequences may have fallen somewhat flat, but I can't help but admit an affection for the group photo at the end—an image that speaks louder about the Voyager family unit than dialog probably could've.
"11:59" is a pleasant episode. It might not break much new ground and might lack emotional punch in a few important places, but it accomplishes its goal of telling a quiet tale about some people—with no strings attached. I'm inclined to think those who call it "filler" are mislabeling it. Perhaps it's simply an hour of peace, and a plot without the gimmicks we've come to expect.
Next week: Seven takes a trip through the fourth dimension.
Previous episode: Someone to Watch Over Me
Next episode: Relativity
Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.
98 comments on this post
Sun, May 18, 2008, 6:24am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 31, 2008, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 8, 2009, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 18, 2010, 5:43pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 6, 2010, 5:05pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 4, 2010, 7:12pm (UTC -5)
Anyway, about the show. Two thirds of it is set in the 20th century, saving the crew (the studio crew, that is) having to come up with special effects and decor. Hey, why bother painstakingly creating a 24th-century environment, when you can just go out of the studio on to the street outside to shoot the episode!
Janeway became a captain because of some broad from four centuries previously?! Yeah right. I'll become a blacksmith, how about that!
A really boring and pointless episode, with no "sci" and way too much "fi" of the wrong sort. Wrong century, wrong focus, wrong plot. Unlike the previous abortion of an episode (Someone to Watch...), this one wasn't even funny. 0.5 stars and even that's being generous.
Thu, Jul 15, 2010, 2:49am (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 1, 2010, 6:12pm (UTC -5)
These kinds of episodes strike me as an excuse for a writer who desires to write something other than sci-fi, but can only get it out there by turning it into a story for a popular sci-fi series.
At least have some humour and/or a strong story to make them interesting. DS9's Far Beyond the Stars, is a good example of a filler done well. This is slow, boring, and of no relevance to Voyager.
Sun, Dec 26, 2010, 12:06pm (UTC -5)
It doesn't apply to this in the slightest.
I don't see why episodes should need to have the flashing lights and a space battles every time without fail (I guess Voyager did attract people who like to be spoon fed the same recipe week after week as unfortunately that's the way it went from about S3/4).
The thing about it is that yes it's about a spaceship tens of thousands of light years away trying to get home but it also has characters. I do think they deserve to be treated as characters once in a while and not just props like they have been in seasons 4 and 5 in particular. As such I loved this little insight into Janeway's view of her ancestry and it warmed me somewhat (not before time) to her again.
After a season of mostly using her as "hard headed Captain" it was nice to see the human side again and I enjoyed this quiet and sincere little tale. I'm not saying it should be (have been, rather) like this all the time, it is after all about space and exploration. But it's like (let's use a Voyager Style Random Analogy!) music can't be all peak/chorus, it needs the quieter, slower interludes as well to make it complete.
Sat, Mar 12, 2011, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
This episode made me enjoy that idiot Neelix's nonsensical ramblings.
All in all none of this matters, none of it feels real, and I have no reason to care about anyone in this story.
Fri, Jun 10, 2011, 10:14pm (UTC -5)
Hey, why build this on top of a town anyway? Has anyone driven through Indiana? They have lots of empty spaces where you could build a crazy shopping mall/biodome/plot contrivance.
Fri, Aug 12, 2011, 8:32pm (UTC -5)
Maybe the episode was set 10 years too early because, right now, I definitly believe, and have experienced, respected and brilliant people out of work and unable to find a job.
Sat, Aug 13, 2011, 12:57am (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 15, 2011, 8:55am (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 4, 2011, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
Another warning against tossing around throwaway lines that can easily be done without.
Wed, Nov 9, 2011, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
They have eminent domain for highways. Though in certain cases they may be able to do it for economic development (thank you Kelo v. New London) it's extremely rare. One relatively modern example of a holdout affecting plans is the Citigroup Center in NYC: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citigroup_Center#Early_engineering_details
(Actually I-95 was held up for a while due to local opposition, with the final alignment being somewhat different from the original plans; I-70 was never finished, and ends at a park and ride on the city limits. The recently-published book "The Big Roads" about the origins of the Interstates goes into detail about Baltimore's plans.)
Wed, Nov 9, 2011, 10:36pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 9, 2012, 8:21am (UTC -5)
I also find it something of a stretch that Janeway's great great whatever grandmother was also her identical twin.
Sat, Jan 14, 2012, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 1, 2012, 7:18pm (UTC -5)
The scenes on Voyager, however, are totally charming and funny, some of the best crew interaction scenes in the series. They don't completely redeem the episode, but I'm very glad to have seen them.
Wed, Mar 28, 2012, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
Of course, as a resident of Canton, Ohio (also Brannon Braga's hometown), I got a kick out of the repeated references.
Sun, May 6, 2012, 3:20pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 11, 2012, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 5, 2012, 9:24pm (UTC -5)
Might point out that the opposite is true regarding space exploration/settlement. If the earth gets too bad, it would force people into space to find a new place to live. In Asimov's Robots and Empire, the robots purposely cause earth to slowly be uninhabitable in order to force humans into space. People are not going to permanently settle space unless there are economic or social reasons to do so. That's just the way it is. To be honest, I wouldn't mind if global warming forces us into space.
Tue, Jul 10, 2012, 10:10pm (UTC -5)
This was about people, their interactions and their finding themselves. And it was good getting away from the ship for a change, into a normal. real world.
I admit that their wasn't real chemistry between O'Donnell & Janeway; they needed to have something more substantial before the "cookie affect". But episodes are not perfect and, despite that failing, this episode was most enjoyable.
Fri, Nov 2, 2012, 12:32pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 23, 2013, 8:18am (UTC -5)
As for the O'Donnell story, it didn't work for me at all. One of the reasons is that I completely agreed with Henry Janeway's wish to protect what he cherished most even when it is an inconvenience for a large corporation.
Thu, Jun 20, 2013, 12:16am (UTC -5)
Overall, I was engaged by the story that was being told, I was interested to see where it was going, and I was reasonably satisfied by its conclusion. It wasn't a great episode by any measure, but it really doesn't deserve the vitriol it receives in many circles.
Fri, Jun 21, 2013, 8:26am (UTC -5)
That may sound like a discredit to '11:59' but I did enjoy it, I think there was intentional fluffiness added because this is the way we often nostalgically reflect and eagerly recount family stories. It managed to be heart warming even while I shook my head at some of the unlikely details of the tale...which is again true with many of the tall tales our parents and aunties love to tell!
I liked the change of pace and it felt well-earned when the crew had their family moment. Given the plot summaries for the last 3 episodes, it looks like the calm before the storm has passed!
I'd give this sentimental, enjoyable and feel-good episode 3 stars. Too bad Enterprises' take on this sort of story (Carbon Creek) was rubbish!
Fri, Jul 26, 2013, 1:51am (UTC -5)
2nd. Since the so-called milleanium gate is, of course, fiction it was silly to put the story in the present day (more or less). It would have been better and obeyed the previous continuity to simply make it a project in the near future.
Thu, Aug 8, 2013, 11:50am (UTC -5)
secondly, my favorite part of the episode was harry kim's story about his ancestors. i liked that whole seen in the lounge.
although, i like the more action mystery episodes, i would say this was good. but maybe only 2 or 2.5.
in truth, i cant wait for next episode. "relativity."wheni think of Voyager i always think of the next episode in season 5.
Sat, Aug 10, 2013, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
That said, I found the episode rather dull. The characters of O'Donnell and Henry did not engage me and the episode did not hold my attention.
Mon, Sep 2, 2013, 8:02pm (UTC -5)
Just wait 8 years, Jammer.
Sun, Sep 22, 2013, 6:11pm (UTC -5)
I'm quite sure we won't really begin to explore space for new worlds etc until forced to by environmental or economic pressures.
Pleasant enough ep., but like others I didn't especially buy the chemistry between Janeway and O'Donnell, although I'm generally in favour of these more quiet, background episodes.
Sun, Dec 15, 2013, 11:06am (UTC -5)
The plot set-up was a little hokey - nice touch with the gender roles reversal, very progressive. However, I'm sure Janeway got a good settlement from the corporation for his dusty used book shop and perhaps eventually opened a slightly more upscale place in the new shiny millennium gate; people gotta read right?
Sun, Jan 19, 2014, 7:46pm (UTC -5)
(I know its an old comment, but maybe someone will read it and learn something)
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 5:32pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 10:17pm (UTC -5)
More importantly, I have a strong distaste for anyone manipulating science for their own agenda, regardless of what agenda that is. The "Skeptical" Science website is anything but. Science is about questioning one's hypotheses and accepting the facts wherever they might lead. It is not about massaging said facts to fit one's political agenda (an all too often circumstance in academia, I'm afraid). John Cook, and many so-called scientists who merely spout the party line about settled science or consensus or whatever without truly engaging real arguments are an affront to my screen name (named after Robert Boyle's famous book that practically created modern chemistry). Instead of seeking to understand and to learn, the site cherry picks and ignores data, conflates multiple issues, and spends time on multiple straw men as proof of other claims.
That's not to say that Ian is correct about everything (although yeah, peak oil is hypothetical math rather than reality). Frank Herbert was wrong; it is not religion and politics being put in the same cart that causes the whirlwind, but rather science and politics. Combining those two is a travesty for both science and politics.
Thu, Apr 24, 2014, 3:22am (UTC -5)
Sat, May 17, 2014, 7:22am (UTC -5)
Showing that the problems of today can be solved is not a flaw, it is a strength. If problems cannot be solved then complaining about problems becomes nothing more than bleating. The only people who solve problems are those who believe they can be solved. If a century ago, someone wrote a story about smallpox being eradicated and polio nearly so, many would have laughed.
At the same time, that problems can be solved doesn't mean the doesn't justify the pseudo-skepticism of thinking they the problems don't exist.
Sun, Jun 1, 2014, 4:09pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 14, 2015, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
The Voyager scenes work really well, but the Millenium Gate story was beyond boring. I just couldn't bring myself to care about anyone involved.
And like Jeff Bedard says, why would Voyager have so much history in their database? Same issue I complained about back in 'Once Upon a Time'. There is no reason for Voyager to have this in their database, just like there was no reason for them to have children's stories stored in the holodeck.
Mostly a pointless episode. The only thing worth remembering this for is the nice 'Voyager crew as a family' scenes. The Millenium Gate story itself amounts to nothing and is best left forgotten, if you ask me.
Sat, Nov 21, 2015, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
"Can't stand it myself. It's made well, but I really can't bring myself to watch it if I rerun the show on DVD, as it just has nothing to do with Star Trek."
I agree 101 percent. I also appreciate the comment from the person who noted that in "Future's End" Janeway said she had no idea what her ancestors were doing at the end of the twentieth century. Maybe if they remaster "Voyager" they can redo that scene.
Fri, Dec 18, 2015, 5:26am (UTC -5)
Now, I am NOT AT ALL disagreeing that science should be separate from politics, but in the case of climate change, it is the politicians who grabbed it and are hanging on for dear life and spending tons of money to prove that warming is not occurring.
In a world where you can't wear white while visiting Hong Kong, and climate scientists are suffering from PTSD because of the abuse they receive, and a politician says,
“Not to diminish anything about the climate at all, but Mr. President, I believe most of us would think that a beheading is a far greater threat than a sunburn," do we not need some scientists fighting back?
Bottom line for me, even if global warming is completely a myth, the things the left wants to do are things like limit factories that spew choking smoke in the air, and I am on board with that. I have spent enough time driving past places that made my eyes tear up that I would like to see some limits on that kind of stuff. So if we make good changes for the wrong reason--is that bad?
Sat, Mar 5, 2016, 11:51am (UTC -5)
Indeed probably the only redeeming factor in this is the final scene, which has some genuine heart, and some of the earlier Voyager scenes. 1.5 stars.
Fri, May 27, 2016, 11:46am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed it. Fun? No.... but interesting.
I think the best part of this episode is that it reveals a problem that most everyone has which makes out heroes more human. We all at one time or another hold someone (or an event) up and it or they motivate us. Many times in the future the truth comes out and we are disappointed.
"Her life captured your imagination. Historical details are irrelevant.
TUVOK: I concur with that analysis.
CHAKOTAY: If it weren't for Shannon O'Donnel, you never would have joined Starfleet."
It doesn't matter what motivates you as long as you are motivated.
Solid hour of no explosions/aliens/shields at 47%. I enjoyed meeting Shannon.
3.5 stars (and we get that great picture of the entire cast)
Wed, Sep 7, 2016, 5:33am (UTC -5)
Thu, Oct 6, 2016, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
"Frank Herbert was wrong; it is not religion and politics being put in the same cart that causes the whirlwind, but rather science and politics. Combining those two is a travesty for both science and politics."
What we face now in politics and science might be annoying, but Herbert was talking about a whirlwind that would cause the death of billions and enslave all of humanity for generations. If you think mixing science and politics is a danger to that level of magnitude, then I would suggest that this would be a particular case of science being used *as* as a religion, to scare people or sway them with rhetoric. It religion is what captures belief and imagination, and politics is how the levers are pulled, then religion as such need not be defined merely as that which deals with 'spiritual' matters. All public frenzy is religious in nature.
Tue, Oct 25, 2016, 1:47pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Oct 28, 2016, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 12, 2016, 11:09am (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 10, 2016, 1:40pm (UTC -5)
That said, speaking of "Past Tense" there is a similar kind of artificiality I feel in both of these episodes. Maybe it's the studio backlot setting which is almost real but not quite, or the strangely quiet and somewhat stilted acting which might be a symptom of being outside the actors' comfort zones, but both these episodes have something of a Truman Show feel to them that doesn't sit quite right with me.
Wed, Jan 4, 2017, 11:54am (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 1, 2017, 1:19am (UTC -5)
I can't fathom why he is watching these shows if he hates them all... unless they are action adventure shows with no character moments, they are crap to him.
Strange way to spend his spare time. I prefer to spend my personal time doing things I enjoy.
Wed, Feb 1, 2017, 1:56am (UTC -5)
You know, I'm a communications student, and am in a class examining audience and reception, and one thing that came up was the idea of "hate watching" something.
Essentially, it's watching something you hate, and getting enjoyment from poking holes in it. Now, to regular fans of something, such as Star Trek, to see this is confusing, and can maybe sometimes feel like you may be personally attacked for liking this thing that someone enjoys ripping to shreds. But to better understand this, one need not look further than the Phantom Menace. Yes, there are those who enjoy the movie, but I would hazard to guess that many more watch it to point out just how and where in it's narrative, characterization and runtime that movie failed, if for nothing else to make jokes at it's expense. And not to get political, but to merely give a recent example, it's no doubt a factor in the interest in American politics, talk shows tapping into that "hate watch" mentality that anti-Trump fans have in regards to his Presidency.
Regardless of that political example and my hypothisizing about it (seriously, I've seen how heated that stuff can get and want to avoid interjecting into it) though and instead focusing soley on pop culture, hate watching something is just another way to consume mass media, and strange as it may seem to those that like the thing being torn apart, it is just as legitamate way to consume pop culture as any other, as it is very much so an individual thing, unique to each viewer.
That said, I totally get the initial defensiveness to it though, like, "hey, stop ragging on this thing I like." I just try to view that stuff instead as what it is, a differing perspective and read growing out of different experiences, circumstances, and dispositions, which in turn, helps me to expand my understanding of the world and the people on it, so I can be more understanding of others.
Wed, Feb 1, 2017, 2:09am (UTC -5)
As such, if that person is still around and reading comments, I would like to say that, despite disagreeing on some fundamental issues, I was still out of line and am offering my apologies to you. Even if it is months later and we've all moved on.
Thu, Mar 30, 2017, 5:15pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 25, 2017, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
In episodes like "Mortal Coil" the characters went through a major crisis you could genuinely care about. In this case, Janeway was concerned that an ancestor from a long time ago that you'd never heard of before wasn't quite the person she thought. There were no "stakes" though. Janeway wasn't an insecure child desperately drawing her strength from the heroic image of the stories of her ancestors. She's a successful starship captain. If it had turned out Janeway's ancestor was actually a cannibalistic serial killer, Janeway might have been disappointed but she'd still have been the same person and would have just moved on. There was no drama to any of that. Even in the past, it was a foregone conclusion that the Millennium Gate would be built (as we were told at the start of the episode) so there was no drama to that either (it also didn't help that we learnt immediately that Henry's name was Janeway so we didn't exactly get shocked they ended up together).
It wasn't a bad episode. It was inoffensive. At the same time, it wasn't fun, silly, exciting, dramatic, challenging, innovative, mindless entertainment or necessary exposition. There was no clear reason why this episode took place which is why it felt like filler.
Mon, Jun 26, 2017, 9:35am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jul 1, 2017, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
The biggest problem is that Kate Mulgrew has never been well served by the writing where Janeway spouts pseudo-profundities (usually in the last 5 minutes of many episodes). Unfortunately, this episode is chock full of her Shannon O'Donnel doing exactly that, and then you have Kevin Tighe spewing his own set of BS platitudes. The episode would have been marginally better if Mulgrew tried to not play O'Donnel pretty much exactly as Janeway, and better still if they got an entirely different actress to play the character. But it still would have been a bad episode.
And as others noted, there is so much that is just off. A skyscraper biosphere mixed with a shopping mall? People who pretend they are dining in Paris by propping a book open? TV news keeping a 24 hour vigil outside a holdout business?
And finally, I am bothered that the show was not true to Star Trek by (a) portraying a monstrous commercial development as some kind of moral progress and (b) giving early and mid-21st century Earth a bucolic depiction, ignoring prior continuity that it was instead a giant sh*t show (Bell Riots, First Contact).
Wed, Sep 13, 2017, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 29, 2017, 7:45pm (UTC -5)
Enterprise was set in 2151 to 2155, was it not?
Sat, Nov 25, 2017, 12:40am (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 27, 2017, 11:16pm (UTC -5)
Oddly enough, one of my favorite moments was Harry Kim talking about one of his ancestors in one of the early deep space missions. I don't know why I loved it so much. It just rang so true. Of course early deep space exploration would be filled with that kind of trial and error. I thought it was neat.
Agreed about the chemistry between O'Donnell and Janeway. Definitely didn't ring true.
Wed, Jan 10, 2018, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
The two arcs of the episode are:
1) in the future, Kathryn had believed that her ancestor Shannon O'Donnell was essential for the creation of the Millennium Gate, but then learns she was "just" an ordinary person;
2) in the past, Shannon believed herself isolated, but manages to build a life with Henry in the Millennium Biodome thing.
The structure sort of suggests that we're meant to see that Shannon, despite superficially being much more ordinary than the woman Kathryn had believed her to be, still *did* have a decisive role in letting the Millennium Gate happened, albeit on a much smaller, personal scale. Besides saying something about how our heroes are still worth admiring even if they didn't do things that would be considered overtly heroic, I think it's maybe suggesting that Janeway needs to recalibrate her picture of what heroism actually is, and seeing smaller, more personal things as being as important as the big space battles. (Voyager, the series, take note!) Along those lines, Shannon does proto-captain's logs, some relatively low-impact addictions (coffee for Kathryn, junk food for Shannon), is ambitious, has an exploratory attitude, and is very socially isolated, at least initially. She seems to be in a permanent self-imposed isolation/funk after her failure to succeed at NASA, and over the course of the episode learns to reopen her heart, and in doing so also manages to restart her career -- which is a benefit, but a mostly incidental one. This season has emphasized Kathryn's isolation throughout, sometimes effectively and sometimes less so, but, as suggested in Night, the way out for Kathryn is to stop punishing herself and to accept that other people can share her burden, that her life isn't over because she's "failed" (in Kathryn's case, I guess, because she's starting to feel like her Caretaker decision was wrong). I'm unclear on whether Kathryn actually sees enough of the December 2000 story to be able to get that message, but it does end with two family snapshots linking the two Melgrew characters, so, maybe she gets it, at least in part.
I don't really find the story riveting and I somehow don't quite get how Kathryn somehow got this impression of absolute certainty about her ancestor's accomplishments without her scientist-explorer mind ever thinking to crack open a history textbook to see if these family rumours were correct. Why would the Janeway/O'Donnell clan spread this story anyway? I don't quite get it. And a lot of time is spent on Henry Janeway's reactionary, living-in-the-past beliefs, only for him to drop them out of ~love~ at the last minute, which seems a little convenient. Still, I think the acting is generally good and the characterization more or less effective. 3 stars.
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
But Tuvok only had one line.
Thu, May 3, 2018, 9:27pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 4, 2018, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 25, 2018, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
It's far from flawless though as the story has some holes, for me. I didn't buy O'Donnel being an engineer but taking a beat up boat of a car on an exploration drive across the midwest without a dollar to her name. Yes, random encounters can pop up but the eventual romance/marriage seems a bit of a stretch given the philosophical differences (and it seems age difference).
The giving-in by Henry Janeway at 11:59 seemed abrupt especially with how much at odds he was with O'Donnel. It did seem a bit contrived with how fixated the two were on such opposing philosophies (past vs. future) -- but through this, good arguments were made on both sides. The bit about O'Donnel and the cookies not tasting right was an interesting way of bringing about the denouement.
Captain Janeway may have wished for O'Donnel to have had a bigger part to play in the Millennium Gate, but what's important is that she believed O'Donnel was somebody really important and was thus inspired and eager to learn about her history.
The flashbacks worked well because there weren't too many of them. It created a good vibe with all the ship's important cast getting into this family origins kick. The role of a photo can be a strong one and all it represents works well here.
2.5 stars for "11:59" -- VOY can put forth some very different kinds of episodes every now and then and it generally works well here in terms of getting the message across about family, reflecting on those who came before and laying the groundwork for what we do or aspire to do. Good performance from Mulgrew as O'Donnel but the Henry Janeway character seemed very hard-headed for the most part before giving in at the last second.
Fri, Aug 17, 2018, 10:19am (UTC -5)
I agree that this episode feels like filler.
Thu, Aug 23, 2018, 1:15am (UTC -5)
Boy. This one is just... boy.
I didn't like it during the original run, agreeing with the forced feel of the whole thing. I did attempt to give it a shot during my re-watch, as I've seen quite a few episodes in a new light as I've slowly crept along...
But no. To me, it was cringe-inducing. And not just for the forced feel, but for the forced drama of a small town in Indiana having to decide if it wants to be razed to the ground.
I lived in small town (1,800) Michigan, near the Indiana border, when this first aired, and now live in small town South-central Indiana. I'm thinking this town looks about the size of Austin. One main drag going through and that's about it. So I'd peg the town shown here to be around 1,500 to 2,500 people. Now, most of the towns this size in Indiana are not that big geographically, not their town parts anyway. Nearly all of them, if you drive two miles (or less, sometimes much less) from downtown in any direction, put you in areas with huge acreages of farmland. For me, I just could not wrap my head around why they'd want to destroy Austin (for example), instead of building it at the edge of town. They'd need a bar, a few restaurants, gas stations, and interstate access. Bang! Build it so it stops just outside of town, and you have all of these things.
Destroying the small town to plop this thing down on top of it was just stupid to me, and all I thought was it must have been written by someone who had not been to small-town America for a while, if ever.
And I don't believe it was a larger city with 15,000 or so people, because it just didn't look that big. If they wiped out Seymour or Columbus, they'd not only lose all the shops, but also the motels and the hospital. Nope, it looked village-sized to me.
They'd not bother to buy out all of those business people, and the townsfolk. They'd buy up farmland close to an interstate, and make an off-ramp for it.
And that... is why I dislike this episode. It must be thumbs down...
Fri, Aug 24, 2018, 9:55am (UTC -5)
...actually there's a fourth sin:
4.) Midwest in winter. There are few things so depressing.
This episode seems to enthusiastically commit all three (four) sins with the knobs turned way up. I've watched every episode of Star Trek and might say that this is as bad as it ever got. At least the cheesy holodeck episodes have interesting sets and goofy actors. At least 'Maneuvers' has good special effects and acting. At least the babe episodes have hot babes and take place on the actual ship. I'm off to memory alpha to read the behind the scenes about the production, curious to learn how this happened.
Fri, Oct 19, 2018, 12:27am (UTC -5)
I was sorry to see Canton miss out, though. Buckeyes > Hoosiers, any century of the millennium.
Reminded me of that Enterprise ep, where T'Pol tells the story pic her grandmother on Earth.
Fri, Oct 19, 2018, 6:02pm (UTC -5)
--the Henry Janeway role was badly miscast. Just no chemistry. I guess they were going for ordinary small town guy, but Mulgrew has a strong, somewhat unusual look to her, and it just didn't work.
--The title makes me think that Janeway is running out of time somehow. That, at some point, it will be late in the day, almost too late in the day, and she'll have to make a decision. But it may not be foreshadowing, may just be about her general isolation and her need to connect with others before it's too late.
Mon, Jan 14, 2019, 12:56am (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 11, 2019, 6:46am (UTC -5)
Thu, Aug 8, 2019, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 9, 2019, 10:03am (UTC -5)
You should feel ashamed.
Slap yourself in the face and get back in front of that TV!! :-)
Sun, Aug 11, 2019, 7:42pm (UTC -5)
I needed that!
Tue, Oct 8, 2019, 2:17pm (UTC -5)
After half a dozen more or less forgettable episodes in the middle of season 5, I'm really glad things are shaping up just as we are nearing the end.
Things I liked about 11:59:
-Mulgrew once again giving a grandiose performance. She really is the pillar of Voyager.
-"Ferengi talk about Wall Street as if it were Holy Ground."
-That out of focus "Fish Tales" pinball machine in the background at the pub.
-Harry Kim's family story.
-Neelix theorizing about 7of9.5
-The NYE feeling.
Things I didn't like:
-Neelix and Paris battle of useless earth trivia.
-Paris being a human encyclopedia of Mars projects from the 1970's 'til current Star date. (really? wtf)
3 Solid stars.
Tue, Nov 19, 2019, 8:47am (UTC -5)
On another note, see The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh paperback triology for an interesting take on The Eugenics Wars and 90s issues, like nuclear testing and global warming and terrorism. It also has Gary 7, nicely conflates Trek and our past.
By the way, I know it’s an old comment from a few years back but any website they calls itself Skeptical Science is probably anything but, science is by definition skeptical and shouldn’t have to go out of its way to proclaim that. It is trying to use science to justify politics and corporate goals that are not supported by a majority of scientific opinion, as well as our own eyes and common sense. In the last ten years beaches in California and Hawaii shrink or disappear, fire season lasts all year and gets more intense as whole towns burn every year now, and hurricanes now threaten Ireland and New York City.
Tue, Nov 19, 2019, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
As for World War III - that didn't happen until the mid-21st century. This story is set at least 40 years before. And First Contact with the Vulcans didn't happen until 2063.
Mon, Nov 25, 2019, 8:47pm (UTC -5)
Also, we alREADy have communities capable of sustainable settlement. They’re called “small farm towns in the Midwest.”
As a native of the Midwest, I found the town itself , its apparent demographics, and its geography rather vague and contradictory. It had very much the vibe of a northern Indiana small city (and there IS a Portage there). The fender-bending scene looked to be set in a city of 15,000 or more - a Columbus or Bloomington would have been believable. But one line refers to going “up” to Bloomington, which almost has to set it south of that location (because otherwise, you’d go “up” to Indianapolis.
The night scenes do look more like small-town southern Indiana - but I lived here at that time, and I’m unaware of any 2-story bookstores in any town down in these parts. THAT looks more like an urban thing. Also, unless it was Evansville, one of the towns across the river from Louisville, Terre Haute, or Bloomington itself...there would certainly be no towns with TV stations putting news crews on the street to follow such a little drama.
If the production folks had REALLY wanted to localize it convincingly, a shot of a town square and courthouse would have screamed “Indiana” at the top of its cinematic little lungs. For that matter, Huntingburg (which had hosted Hollywood for “A League of Their Own” and “Hard Rain” in the 90s, would have made the production welcome.
Also, 13-14 year-old Janeway Junior couldn’t have casually walked into a sports bar looking for Shannon. Geez.
So yeah. It’s Hollywood getting the small town America of Flyover Country wrong-wrong-wrong, building it out of tropes, tripe, and stereotypes. We’re used to it, but it’s still annoying. Couldn’t they even bother to look at a map and give it some thought?
What was historically right: the cars, the way the ignition failure of the clapped-out 80s wagon sounded and behaved, and the dirty frosted windows. I felt right at home in those scenes. Also, Interstate cookies do suck.
Incomprehensible: why would a show which aired in May 1999 set a massive fictional building project just 18 months into the future? The Gate would already have to have been well into advanced planning by the production date - and, well, it just wasn’t. Odd.
But all those niggling niggles aside, I’m ok with a quiet episode. I think Janeway herself delivered the line which gives her ancestor’s story relevant emotional resonance. In the disappointment of realizing Shannon had not been the important personage she’d previously thought, doesn’t she say something to the effect of “yeah, my great ancestor was a failure who couldn’t follow through on her ambitions, and now I’ve failed by losing my crew halfway across the galaxy”?
I’ll agree that Shannon and Henry didn’t have smoldering chemistry. But I think that’s consistent with the tired, second-chance vibe of the episode. At the moment, neither is where they must have thought they’d be in life, and yeah one looks forward and the other looks back (another element tying in with the NY’s eve theme).
But they’re both literate, intelligent, articulate people with wide-ranging interests, they enjoy each others’ company (in a limited social/cultural environment where there are not endless options), and Shannon feels something for the good kid, whose personality speaks well of Henry’s values. They like each other, and they recognize a good solid thing when they see it. Neither, as they say, is getting any younger. They’re mature and world-weary enough to be beyond lust-fueled passion.
Love doesn’t have to consume. The family picture from decades later suggests that they made a good life for themselves. That’s believable.
And yeah the episode is quiet. But does drama always have to be dramatic?
Sun, Mar 22, 2020, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Sep 14, 2020, 10:04am (UTC -5)
There were a number of other things I enjoyed about the episode:
- Jason is a level-headed kid that has a good relationship with his father. I appreciated that.
- The project manager who offered O'Donnell the job could easily have been a stereotypical corporate villain, but he was written and played as a quiet and reasonable man. There really is no villain in this story, and it works just fine without one.
- I enjoyed the story's theme that we can be inspired by what family from generations ago did.
Overall, it was a quiet, enjoyable story, and a chance for Kate Mulgrew to do something a little different.
Mon, Oct 19, 2020, 12:52pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 27, 2020, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
I don't think this story was a winking reference, which is an impressive bit of non-tinuity...
Anyway, I do like this episode a lot.
Sat, Mar 6, 2021, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 17, 2021, 8:34am (UTC -5)
Accepting the limits of the medium (a television hour, one episode in a 20+ episode season), I think this was an effective main plot that imparted a thoughtful message. Who says sci-fi needs lasers, battles, and technobabble? Reflecting on history, the limits of our ability to "know" what happened in the past, and thinking about the real lives of living, breathing people who came centuries before us makes for good, thoughtful fiction. So what if the A plot resolves itself in a very Christmas movie sort of way? This was not as good as Living Witness, but it was a thoughtful departure from the norm. The B plot could have been better: Janeway's sulky response to learning her ancestor was not who she thought she was, Paris's conveniently encyclopedic knowledge of "every" Mars mission, the ease with which Janeway could have and would have figured out the true story of a family hero -- this was weak stuff, and it had me rolling my eyes a bit. Then again, there's only so much you can cram into 45 minutes of screen time.
I think 3 stars is fair.
Thu, Apr 1, 2021, 11:39pm (UTC -5)
Who I am not sure is even an active user here anymore, but they said this:
"I guess Voyager did attract people who like to be spoon fed the same recipe week after week as unfortunately that's the way it went from about S3/4"
I would add "From about Season 3 or 4 until now" :smirk: I happened on this episode and realized that I'd never seen it before, because at that time (May 1999) my family was in a heavily transitional state, having moved to Alabama during a brief 9 month period while my dad sought work in Nashville and looked for a house. I missed this one the first time around.
I feel like Marty McFly, talking to his future father in Back to the Future: "Get outta here! I never knew you did anything creative!" :D hehehe
It's nice, actually, to meet an unformulaic Voyager episode. It's a little bit "Wifetime Network Glurge" but not so much so that it's a bad bit of TV.
It does make me nostalgic for the pre-9/11 days a bit. Boy howdy things did not stay the way they're presented here. :( Ugh.
Sat, May 8, 2021, 6:10pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 16, 2021, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
Well said Proteus...l really liked your allusion to 'the tired second-chance vibe of the episode.' I especially enjoyed the Henry Janeway casting...precisely because he isn't a great romantic figure to sweep Shannon off her feet.
The last thing the story needed was a Mr. Perfect middle-aged hottie with some carefully thought out strategy for taking on big business. It needed, instead, somebody with no real plan, but some kind of authenticity which, believe it or not, some women do find attractive.
I think the chocolate chip cookie revelation thing came out of nowhere....and would have been better done as a revelation arising out of a book given to Shannon by Henry when she hit-the-road to say no hard feelings. The book should have been about the Pharos lighthouse, mentioned earlier by Seven, which would given Shannon the idea that the Millennium Gate could have a SETI beacon installed at the top. That idea would have captivated Henry, who clearly revered the Hellenistic cultural milieu.
The whole Martian Colony angle was a waste. The writers should have focused on O'donel's supposed role in relation to what was to happen after her death, during First Contact.
Paris could still do a faux pas line bumming Captain Janeway out: 'I never heard about an O'Donel doing anything during First Contact'. We the viewers would know however, that the Pharos beacon had attracted the Vulcans to get close enough to Earth to pick up Cochrane's warp flight at the crucial juncture.
3 stars from me. I also loved the music, as it was well-suited to the message.
Thu, Sep 16, 2021, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
The last episode of voyager I watched so I could say I watched the entire series, and the 3 most boring ones including this were all on the same disk! What torture! I had the display on half the time so I knew when it would be over. At least Threshold was fun.
Fri, Feb 4, 2022, 4:54pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Oct 13, 2022, 6:39am (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 31, 2022, 10:59pm (UTC -5)
This is one of my favorite episodes and has become a new year's tradition for me. I always watch it before midnight on December 31st, just like tonight. I'm posting this at 11:59 by the way! Kind of silly I guess but it sure beats watching that stupid ball drop every year. I like the second photo at the end and the way it instantly fades to black, sort of indicating that photo was probably lost to time.
Submit a comment
◄ Season Index