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Northern Exposure Wiki
"Oy, Wilderness"
Season 3, Episode 3 (18)
Airdate October 7, 1991
Writer(s) Robin Green
Director Miles Watkins
Guest star(s)

←   Episode sequence   →
"Only You" "Animals R Us"


An emergency landing in Maggie's plane sends her foraging for food in the wilderness, while Joel sits idly by blubbering about the menu. Back in Cicely, the arrival of Shelly's best friend triggers a tiff--and reminiscences over lost youth.


As Joel and Maggie are flying back from a vaccination, Joel is paranoid that the plane will crash. A malfunction occurs, and Joel begins screaming and praying as Maggie makes an emergency landing. They touch down in a nature preserve, days from where anybody will be able to reach them. Maggie is ready to face their situation but Joel is fearful of visits by wild animals.

Back in town, a young woman arrives at The Brick looking for Shelly. The woman turns out to be Cindy, Shelly's best friend from home. Cindy says that Wayne finally told her that he and Shelly were still married, even though Cindy and Wayne have been married for six months. However, Shelly is unwilling to get a divorce, since she's still resentful of the fact that Cindy stole away her husband. After Shelly stops speaking to her, Holling finally sits down with Cindy and talks to her about her past with Shelly. Cindy complains to Holling about how she was always second to Shelly, and now Shelly won't even let go of Wayne, whom she doesn't want anymore. Holling, however sympathetic, has trouble comprehending Cindy's concerns because of their age difference.

As Maggie puts up the tent, Joel sits on the ground, worrying about how they are going to eat. Maggie tells Joel to forget about the "spoiled urban act", and Joel points out that he is out in the wilderness by coercion, and not by choice. Maggie is a little sympathetic, and endeavors to be more civil towards Joel. That night, as Maggie is asleep, Joel lies awake, getting startled at every sound he hears outside the protection of their tent. Finally, after Maggie's pleading, he lays down and attempts to get some rest.

The next morning, Maggie begins repairing her plane while Joel's mood has not brightened. Joel is unable to stomach the whale blubber which was given to them as a gift for the vaccinations, so Maggie goes to look for food. Before she goes off, she succumbs to Joel's whining, and gives him a pistol and whistle to use if anything attacks while she's gone. As he tries to cook some seal liver over the campfire, he is practicing with a Spanish language tape. Suddenly, he hears sounds from the bushes and begins frantically blowing the whistle only to see Maggie emerge. Maggie finds Joel's behavior childish and barely tolerable.

Back in town, Cindy is busy performing hair makeovers and manicures for several townspeople. Shelly finally snaps from all the attention Cindy is getting and the two engage in another argument. Eventually, they cool down and end up discussing their respective roles in high school: Shelly, the perfect D-cup with 17-inch thighs, and Cindy, the second-rate friend who got to take all of Shelly's "strays". After Cindy complains about her role, Shelly tells of the difficulty of always having to be perfect. The two end up crying and decide to forget their past arguments.

In a dream sequence, Maggie is a cavewoman attempting to cook a meal, while Joel is a caveman painting a hamburger on their wall. Maggie complains that Joel can not catch and kill food for their children but then they become affectionate. In the tent, Maggie and Joel begin kissing, but suddenly wake up and turn away from each other in shock.

The next morning, Maggie is stumped about her engine problems. Joel asks Maggie if the engine has valves, but Maggie rejects any of his suggestions. At Joel's insistent hunger, Maggie flies off in a rage and goes off to kill something for them to eat. By the time she returns with a squirrel, her anger has subsided and the two talk a little as the squirrel is roasting. Maggie tells Joel that she is almost ready to go off on her own to find a way back, certain that no one is coming to rescue them.

Back in Cicely, Shelly and Cindy convince Chris to perform a divorce for them over the radio. While Maurice and Holling stand witness, Shelly in-person and Wayne on the phone denounce their vows for each other and are thus spearated by Chris. Cindy thanks Shelly for being so kind and then talks to Wayne on the phone.

As Maggie returns from an unsuccessful search expedition, she finds Joel deep in the work of repairing her engine. Maggie is livid since she knows that Joel knows nothing about engines. Joel points out that the human heart has valves similar to an engine's, and he cleaned out one of the valves that appeared to be clogged. Maggie refuses to listen to his excuses, but finally consents to trying to start the aircraft one more time. The engine roars to life and, as Maggie sits, incredulous, Joel runs around screaming, "I did it! Me!"

In front of The Brick, Cindy and Shelly say a tearful farewell while Holling and Maurice watch in confusion. That night, Holling tells Shelly that if she really wants to leave and go to be with her high school friends he doesn't want to stop her. Shelly responds by telling Holling that from now on she's going to make him feel young again.


Joel: What are wolverines anyway? Are they little wolves that swarm all over you and nibble you to death?




  1. Cyndy?
  2. John Hurley? Sharon Cash? Smoggy Valley Boys? Not Jack McDuff.
  3. Also in 3-8, 3-11, 3-20, 4-1, and 5-9.
  4. Cindy arrives at The Brick.
  5. Holling and Cindy talk about dating and marriage.
  6. Joel cooks and tries to eat seal blubber.
  7. Cindy gives Marilyn a manicure. Cindy and Shelly fight in the bathroom.
  8. Shely and Cindy talk on the bed and make up. Shelly and Cindy say goodbye; Shelly and Holling snuggle in bed.
  9. Holling talks to Chris about Shelly at the radio station.
  10. Shelly and Cindy ask Chris to perform a radio divorce.
  11. Chris performs the divorce on the air.
  12. Or "Keketticut" ("on the great river"), a Native American place name in Middleborough, Massachusetts