VOY Challenge, Ep. 9: Emanations

VOY_S01_E09TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge

One Geek’s quest to go where no abused Ensign has gone before.

OVERVIEW

The crew of the Voyager has discovered a new element. It’s the 247th known to science and they’ve found it among a group of asteroids. As Chakotay, Torres, and Kim beam down to investigate, they come across what looks like an alien burial ground. Chakotay wants to tread lightly and make observations with eyes only so as not to desecrate the site when a subspace vacuole forms. An emergency beam-out is requested, and Torres and Chakotay materialize on the transporter pad with a dead alien–and no Harry Kim.

Meanwhile, Ensign Kim finds himself trapped in some sort of pod and surrounded by a people called the Vhnori. The pod is a burial pod, used to euthanize one of their society that is close to death. It seems Kim has materialized in the pod following one of their rituals in place of a Vhnori–the corpse that just materialized aboard the Voyager.  The Vhnori now believe that Harry has come from their afterlife–the Next Emanation–and to make matters worse, Harry’s told them that he’s just come from a world where there’s a lot of dead people.  Whoops. That’s not going to square up with their belief system, I’m thinking.

Back aboard the ship, The Doctor revives the deceased Vhnori by removing her brain tumor and replacing some neural tissue. She’s clearly confused–she thought she was going to wind up in the Next Emanation and, now, here she is aboard a Starship. The situation degrades fast and The Doctor sedates her.

Harry Kim is visited by one of the Vhnori’s thanatologists–Neria–who questions him about what happened. Harry’s account and presence is offsetting to Hatil who himself is preparing to go to the Next Emanation. Apparently, this euthanasia is a voluntary thing and now Hatil has misgivings.

Voyager attempts to send the revived Vhnori back to the asteroid and the attempt fails, killing the woman. After the attempt, subspace vacuoles begin to appear on the ship, depositing Vhnori corpses in Engineering. It appears the warp core may be attracting the vacuoles. The Captain orders each corpse to be transported back down to the asteroid as they appear…and they’re starting to appear more frequently.  What’s more, the vacuoles are beginning to damage the Voyager’s warp core, so they can only remain there so long before needing to leave.

Meanwhile, Harry Kim is taken to a facility for further medical testing. He knows he has to get back to the ship, and there’s only one way he can think to do it. He speaks with Hatil and gets him to let Harry take his place in the pod. Since the person departing for the Next Emanation is wrapped like a mummy, it will be easy for Kim to take his place.  Hatil agrees, figuring he will spend his remaining days in the moutains, and Kim will wind up somewhere Voyager can find him. The only problem is, he’ll be dead since the pod does euthanize the occupant.

The ceremony begins…the Vhnori say goodbye to the shrouded body and the lid to the pod is closed.  Harry Kim begins to take off the shroud and settle in. A tube extends and connects with Harry’s neck and, just like that, he’s dead.

The Voyager is running out of time and they need to call off the search for Kim. Just then another vacuole opens aboard the ship and deposits another corpse–a human.  Harry is rushed to Sick Bay where The Doctor revives him.

Janeway finds Kim in the Voyager mess hall where he is recovering from his, y’know, having been dead. She gives him a couple of days off to reflect on his experiences and to absorb what happened. Harry considers the Vhnoori, and how they spend their lives waiting to go to this Next Emanation and how they wind up on an asteroid.  Janeway tells him that may not be the end of the story. She says that based on the energy emitting from the newly deposited bodies added to a more complex energy field around the asteroids which may itself be the Next Emanation.

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

  • The first of many abuses Harry Kim will have to endure across 7 seasons of Star Trek.
  • Veteran Actor Jerry Hardin as Neria. Hardin has appeared in several Star Trek episodes, notably as Mark Twain in TNG’s “Time’s Arrow,” and also as Radue in “When the Bough Breaks.” Genre fans will also recognize him as “Deep Throat” in multiple episodes of The X-Files.
  • Brannon Braga’s script is thought provoking, but it wanders a bit.
  • Janeway’s conversation with Kim in the Mess Hall is nice moment.
  • There’s a great POV shot with the camera when the Vhnoori is “resurrected” on the Sick Bay biobed. You really get the sense that she’s a bit bewildered by this experience.
  • Harry manages to undo a society’s entire belief structure in about 45 seconds. Way to go, Harry. It usually took Kirk an entire episode!

WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME

  • Since when are there multiple classes of humanoids? What’s more is that there’s a standard post-mortem resuscitation technique for Class V life forms? Huh?! So, death was irrelevant before Into Darkness?!
  • So the crew of the Voyager winds up with a dead alien woman, so what do they do?  They just REVIVE HER! Forget that we didn’t want to disrupt or desecrate the burial ground! Let’s just bring her back to life!
  • “This is what my people call a ‘First Contact Situation,’ and we’ve learned to be very careful about how much we tell alien cultures we’ve just met.” You mean like totally squashing their religion the moment you meet them, right, Harry?
  • No one’s going to notice that Kim has disappeared, but his uniform is left behind? No one?!

PHOTON TORPEDO COUNT

The Voyager didn’t fire any photon torpedoes this episode, so the count still stands at 37.

HARRY KIM TRACKER

Few members of Starfleet have been beaten down as much as Harry Kim has. Here’s a running tab of what’s happened to young Ensign to date:

Harry Kim’s Condition#Episode(s)
Abducted by Alien Race1Caretaker
Mysterious Illness1Parallax
Killed1
   Euthanized in Vhnori Death PodEmanations
Dejected over Mini-Wormhole1Eye of the Needle
Wormholes Named After Him1Eye of the Needle

We’ll keep this tab running through the series.

VERDICT

This episode is a bit of a heavy-handed treatment of “what happens when I die” but it also deals a bit in the quality of life/end of life debate. It seems like the focus is lost a little bit with all the ground it’s trying to cover and it should have focused squarely on one. It’s not a bad episode episode of television, but it’s also not a bad episode of Star Trek. Just past the mid-way point of Season 1, this is not a bad episode at all.  Emanations earns a respectable 2 and 1/2 Deltas out of a possible 5.

2halfdelts

 

 

 

 

NEXT TIME

The Voyager crew discovers a technology that could significantly shorten their journey home, but the people who own it have a non-interference directive of their own in Prime Factors.

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